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BREAKING: Ukraine delegation arrives Belarus for peace talks with Russia

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Report has it that Ukraine delegation has arrived for peace talks with Russia at the Belarus border.

Russia and Ukraine were preparing Monday for their first talks since Moscow’s invasion, as fighting raged and Western-led sanctions started to bite with the ruble collapsing.

Ukraine said Sunday it had agreed to send a delegation to meet Russian representatives on the border with Belarus, which would be the foes’ first public contact since war erupted.

Belarus announced Monday that the venue for the talks had been prepared and they would start as soon as the delegations arrived.

However, with his government reporting hundreds of civilian deaths and Russian troops besieging key cities, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said he was sceptical about the talks.

“As always: I do not really believe in the outcome of this meeting, but let them try,” he said.

Russia invaded on Thursday and quickly announced it had neutralised key military facilities, but fierce fighting has since raged and Ukraine forces are reporting some success.

“The Russian occupiers have reduced the pace of the offensive,” the general staff of the Ukraine armed forces said.

The United States has also said that Ukraine forces, backed by Western arms, are stymieing the advance of Russian troops.

Putin on Sunday ordered Russia’s nuclear forces onto high alert in response to what he called “unfriendly” steps by the West. Russia has the world’s largest arsenal of nuclear weapons and a huge cache of ballistic missiles.

The United States, the world’s second largest nuclear power, slammed Putin’s order as “totally unacceptable”.

Germany said Putin’s nuclear order was because his offensive had “halted” and was not going to plan.

– Economic pressure –
The campaign by the United States and its allies to build economic pressure on Russia also showed more signs on Monday of having an impact.

Russia’s central bank announced Monday it was more than doubling its key interest rate to 20 percent because the Russian economy’s situation had “drastically changed”.

The value of the ruble also continued to collapse against the dollar and the euro on the Moscow Stock Exchange on Monday.

And the European Central Bank warned Monday that the European subsidiary of the Russian state-owned Sberbank was facing bankruptcy.

The Kremlin has brushed off sanctions, including those targeting Putin personally, as a sign of Western impotence.

Among the sanctions, the West has said it would remove some Russian banks from the SWIFT bank messaging system, and freeze central bank assets.

The United States and its allies are seeking to continue building the diplomatic and military pressure, as well as economic.

EU member states closed their airspace to Russian planes and many pledged arms for Ukraine — but stressed they would not themselves intervene militarily.

Brussels announced it would provide 450 million euros ($500 million) for Ukraine to buy weapons and ban Russian central bank transactions, as well as restricting two Moscow-run media outlets.

British energy giant BP also said Sunday it was pulling its 19.75-percent stake in Rosneft, a blow to Russia’s key oil and gas sector, which is partly reliant on Western technology.

The White House said it would hold a secure call with allies and partners Monday to discuss “developments” in Russia’s attack on Ukraine and “coordinate our united response”.

The UN General Assembly will hold a rare emergency session Monday to discuss the conflict.

Also in response to hostilities, FIFA ordered Russia to play its home international fixtures in neutral venues and warned it was considering banning it from the 2022 World Cup.

– Defending cities  –
On day four of an invasion that stunned the world, Ukrainian forces said Sunday they had defeated a Russian incursion into Ukraine’s second city Kharkiv, 500 kilometres (310 miles) east of Kyiv.

Ukrainian officials said they were fighting off Russian forces in several other areas, and claimed that 4,300 Russian troops had been killed.

The Ukrainian army said Monday morning that Russian forces had “several times” attempted to storm the outskirts of Kyiv overnight, but all attacks were repelled.

“The situation in the capital of our homeland is under control,” said the army on Facebook.

Local media reported strong explosions heard throughout Sunday night in both Kyiv and Kharkiv.

Presidential advisor Oleksiy Arestovich said on Telegram early Monday the capital had been targeted overnight by three Russian missile strikes, one of which was intercepted.

The southern city of Berdiansk is now occupied by Russian soldiers, he added.

Ukraine has reported 352 civilian deaths, including 14 children, since the invasion began. Russia has acknowledged that a number of its forces had been killed or injured.

– ‘Humanitarian crisis’ –
The United Nations has put the civilian toll at 64 while the EU said more than seven million people could be displaced by the conflict.

“We are witnessing what could become the largest humanitarian crisis on our European continent in many, many years,” the EU commissioner for crisis management Janez Lenarcic said.

Ukraine has called on its own civilians to fight Russia, with a brewery in Lviv in the country’s west switching its production line from beers to bombs, making Molotov cocktails for the volunteer fighters.

At the Medyka border crossing with Poland, volunteer Jasinska said the long line of arrivals, mostly women and children, need warm clothes.

Crossing Medyka with his family, Ajmal Rahmani, an Afghan who fled Afghanistan for Ukraine four months before the US withdrawal, told AFP: “I run from one war, come to another country and another war starts. Very bad luck”.

Putin has said Russia’s actions are justified because it is defending Moscow-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine.

The rebels have been fighting Ukrainian government forces for eight years in a conflict that has killed more than 14,000 people.

AFP

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LASG DISBANDS M.O.T ENFORCEMENT TEAM

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The Lagos Ministry of Transportation has placed an indefinite ban on the operations of its enforcement team tagged M.O.T Taskforce.

The Special Adviser to the Governor on Transportation, Mr. Sola Giwa, stated that the decision was reached after a thorough appraisal and review of the enforcement teams operating under the Ministry of Transportation.

Giwa explained that the ban is part of measures initiated to streamline transport enforcement activities in Lagos State to achieve the required effectiveness in line with global best practices, warning that the ban is not an excuse for drivers to disobey the traffic laws of the State.

The Special Adviser averred that Traffic Management and Transportation is a cardinal pillar in the T.H.E.M.E.S Agenda of the administration of Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, stressing that the readjustment of the enforcement strategy was to enhance service delivery to the people of the State.

He, therefore, enjoined the general public to report the activities of any unauthorised enforcement team still operating with the tag M.O.T Taskforce to the Ministry of Transportation for prosecution.

Appealing to Lagosians to cooperate with the State Government in its effort to improve the traffic situation across the metropolis, the Special Adviser gave an assurance that a lot is ongoing behind the scene to bring the much-desired change in the transport sector.

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One million compatriots died to keep Nigeria together — Buhari

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PRESIDENT Muhammadu Buhari yesterday in Abuja said Nigeria has gone through all troubles from January 15,1966, to date which resulted in the killing of a million of the citizenry in order to keep the country together.

He also urged political leaders to stay focused and uphold the ultimate objective of promoting interest of the country, saying “we are Nigerians, God willing, we remain Nigerians, and Nigeria shall remain one.’’

Speaking when he received former state chairmen of the defunct Congress for Progressive Change, CPC, at State House, Buhari noted that the passion and zeal to improve the livelihood of Nigerians, which culminated in creation of the political party, had not dwindled, calling for more steadfastness as Nigerians.

He said the self-centeredness that led to the loss of about a million lives between 1967 and1970 must not be allowed to repeat itself.

While noting that the CPC was founded on the bedrock of patriotism and loyalty to the unity of Nigeria, the President said: “Our main objective is the Federal Republic of Nigeria. We are human beings. We have our weaknesses, but I can assure you that the patriotism in us is hard earned.

”We have gone through all the troubles from 15th of January 1966 to date. You know what I mean by this, we have killed a million of ourselves in order to keep this country together.

“I don’t think there can be any practical experience more than that. We are Nigerians, God willing we remain Nigerians and Nigeria will remain one.”

He urged all members of defunct CPC and political leaders to always be mindful of the larger picture by working towards preserving the unity, peace and integrity of the nation.

The President thanked former chairmen of the political party, which was merged to form the governing All Progressives Congress, APC, for always highlighting the achievements of the government, admitting that some areas will surely get more attention.

“I am delighted to welcome the forum of State Chairmen of the former Congress for Progressives’ Change to State House today. I accord great significance to this visit as it demonstrates a determination and commitment to identify with our administration.

“This visit recalls the solidarity with the successes that we have recorded in critical areas of our society. The visit also affords us the opportunity to discuss other issues of interest to the forum.

“I commend members of this forum and all members of the legacy party-CPC, for their continued dedication to the ideals of democratic governance that we all believed in.

“The doggedness with which we pursued our vision and goals that culminated into the success we recorded remain like bright stars in the history of our dear nation,’’ he added.

He said he was particularly grateful for the unalterable belief members of CPC and, by extension, the Nigerian electorate, had and still had in him as demonstrated in their unalloyed support for his electoral struggles which reflected in the results he consistently recorded at the polls over the years.’

Describing the President as the patriarch of the CPC’, the Chairman of Forum of State Chairmen of the defunct CPC and former chairman of the party in Niger State, Umar Shuaibu, said the party had maintained all its structures across the country, assuring President Buhari of their loyalty, especially in the forthcoming elections.

Shuaibu commended the President for providing strong leadership over the years, particularly in remaining balanced, fair and above board on electoral issues.

“Before you, the opposition was arrested and maltreated, but it is no longer so. You did not deny them what they denied you when they were in power,” he said.

VANGUARD

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Prince Ifalade Ajasa Oyekan Hits the Right Safety Button with LNSA

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Since the inception of Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu’s Administration in 2019, there is one thing he reiterated in his manifesto and has sworn to uphold under his THEMES agenda where he highlighted Security as one of the pillars of his administration. In a bid to ensure all Lagosians can go about their lawful activities without fear of the unknown, he saddled himself with the responsibility as the Chief Security Officer of the state to ensure he puts the necessary security apparatus in place to ensure the safety of lives and properties. Without a doubt, Governor Sanwo-Olu delivered in every aspect as no stone was left unrolled. Taking the Security of lives and properties serious, he invested a heavy financial war chest in the acquisition of security gadgets for the Police, the Response Rapid Squad RRS and the Lagos State Neighborhood Agency LNSA headed by the indefatigable Prince Ifalade Ajasa Oyekan.

 

Since the Administrative commencement of the Agency in 2017 during the Past government till this moment, Mr. Governor has ensured proper funding for the safety outfit investing Billions of Naira to equip it so it can give the necessary security support in the aspect of surveillance to the necessary agency for a swift collaboration and a positive synergy for a better Lagos. When Ifalade took over in 2021, He was like a fresh Gust of Summer wind who had a loft idea owning to his background as a seasoned technocrat having worked at the Law Enforcement Training Institute LETI and his experience working with a dredging company and also as a season legal luminary. On assumption of office, one thing he ensured was to bring a different feel to consolidate the effort of Governor Sanwo-Olu in ensuring the agency functions optimally to ensure it lives up to its expected expectation. He used his good relationship to ensure Mr. Governor increases his stake in the affairs of the agency. The transformation agenda started by re-orientating his officers on proper conduct, proper dress code and proper ethics among the citizenry. He introduced the use of Body cameras for his officers. He also ensured they often attend LETI for proper updating of knowledge in discharging their duties. In addition to that, he also ensured proper welfare packages for his staff by raising a motion for life insurance for officers who are injured in the cause of discharging their duties or eventually loss of life. This was infused as many commended his effort that to protect lives and properties, one must be fully motivated to give his all. Falade did not only stop at that with the help of Mr. Governor, He also ensured several visiting routines were taken to ensure the functionality of each Local government and a general meeting with the head of commands where they relay their concerns on pressing issues and the challenges. This gives room for positive and negative feedback which the agency acts upon to be above board at all times.

 

In his process of rebranding, he also requests the permission of Mr Governor to further recruit more hands to enable adequate manpower for the agency to function well. Currently, the Agency is recruiting over one thousand officers who will be commissioned into the agency before the end of the year. In a bid to also spread its tentacles through a public and private partnership with the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons NAPTIP, the agency launched an anti-trafficking unit last year August in collaboration with NAPTIP on child and human trafficking among other vices. In a bid to rebrand, he has gotten the approval of Mr Governor to create several units in the agency that will also be supportive of intelligence gathering. The agency will create a research and documentation unit, Forensic unit, Situation Room, Water Ways surveillance, Drone deployment, Forest Monitor team and a host of others.

 

Over the week, at the Agency’s head office in Bolade, Oshodi, Falade and ensured the distribution of tactical materials like; caution tapes, Ropes, Scanners, Tasers, Shin and elbow guide, Generators, Riot Shield, LNSA Photo book and a host of items for administrative purposes and enforcement.

 

In his quest to show effectiveness in duty through proper monitoring, the agency under Falade’s watch also commissioned 16 zonal heads. The Zonal heads will monitor zonal local Government unit. He also handed out brand new patrol cars to the officers who emerged having gone through proper scrutiny, training and exams. The Zonal head will ensure the smooth running of their domain and ensure all unit functions optimally and report to the Agency’s head office. As part of the rebranding process, The Agency next month will commence the rebranding of all its offices across Lagos with full painting with the agency’s Blue and Yellow colour with visible signage to ensure uniformity. The agency will also commence building and furnishing of new offices for some units that run under a temporary office.

 

A close source disclosed that; all these giant strides and impeccable records would not have been possible if not for the full support and the quest for the protection of lives and property of the State Government under Governor Sanwo-Olu. In a quick conversation; Prince Ifalade averred that; “Mr Governor has been supportive in all ways. Our mode of operation now is different from what it used to be. Anytime we give Mr Governor a proposal on anything regarding security, he does not joke with it. In fact, he signed it with immediate alacrity. He has also told us to ensure that each time we have any request we should not hesitate to call his attention that he is ready to support us to the fullest so we can keep functioning at a higher capacity.”

 

“The Agency is not relenting despite some challenges we face. We will continue to intensify our effort to make Lagos a safe haven for all. We are also open to public and private partnerships. Every top individual and private firm in Lagos who wants to reach out through their Corporate Social Responsibility CSR, will also ease the burden on Government. Security is the responsibility of all sundry and should not be left to some selected people only. If all hands are on deck, Lagos will be a safer place”. He further concluded.

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