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    Trade war unsettles stocks in US, China
    The trade war ignited by U.S President Donald Trump against China has caused a dip in the stock markets of both countries..

    The Dow Jones industrial average dropped more than 700 points as investors worried that trade tensions between the worlds largest economies would escalate, reports on Friday.

    The planned sanctions include tariffs on $60 billion worth of Chinese imports as well as restrictions on Chinese investments.

    Mr Trump said he is taking those steps in response to theft of American technology but the Chinese government was quick to confirm it will defend itself.

    Investors are worried that trade tensions would hurt US companies and harm the world economy.

    On Thursday they fled stocks and bought bonds, which sent bond prices higher and yields lower.

    With interest rates falling, banks took some of the worst losses. Technology and industrial companies, basic materials makers and healthcare companies also fell sharply.

    Peter Donisanu, an investment strategy analyst for the Wells Fargo Investment Institute, said the risk of a damaging trade war is still low because the Trump administration is targeting specific goods that are not central to Chinas economy.

    That could change if it puts tariffs on products like electronics or appliances imported from China.

    also reports that war between the worlds two largest economies jolted Chinas markets on Friday, with the countrys main stock indexes tumbling the most in six weeks, while bond yields fell as investors rushed into less risky assets.

    But in contrast to stock market ructions, the countrys currency markets remained quiet, with analysts expecting that any Chinese response to U.S. trade actions is unlikely to include changes in its foreign exchange policy.

    China shares fell sharply after Beijing unveiled plans for tariffs on up to $3 billion of U.S. imports in retaliation to U.S. duties on Chinese steel and aluminium products went into effect on Friday.

    China urged the United States to pull back from the brink, while its embassy in Washington vowed Beijing would fight to the end in any trade war with the United States.

    The Shanghai Composite index closed down 3.6 percent at 3,152.76 points, its lowest close since Feb 9.

    Chinas blue-chip CSI300 index was down 2.9 percent at 3,891.47, its lowest close since Feb. 12.

    Source: NAN

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    Food insecurity imminent in African Sahel region
    Report by UN and EU on food crisis has predicted that the impact of severe dry weather on crop and livestock production is likely to heighten food insecurity in pastoral areas.

    The areas are Somalia, southeastern Ethiopia and eastern Kenya, and in the Sahel in Senegal, Chad, Niger, Mali, Mauritania and Burkina Faso, the report said.

    The report said that Nigeria, Somalia and South Sudan are among the countries that faced the worst food crises in 2017, the UN and EU said Thursday.

    Yemen also features among the countries that hosted some 124 million people worldwide whose food security was under acute threat, the two organisations said in an annual report.

    Conflicts and climate-related shocks have recently sent levels of world hunger marching back up, following decades of steady decline.

    The figure of 124 million is 15 per cent higher than the number in 2016.

    The report says was untouched while pointing out that in Africa, the Middle East and in parts of South Asia, conflict and insecurity undermined food security.

    Likewise, persistent drought in the Horn of Africa, floods in Asia, and hurricanes in Latin America and the Caribbean have all contributed to the spread and intensification of hunger.

    Looking ahead, the report said that conflict and insecurity were likely to remain major drivers of food security crises in 2018, affecting Afghanistan, Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of Congo, north-east Nigeria and the Lake Chad region, South Sudan, Syria and Yemen as well as Libya and the central Sahel (Mali and Niger).

    Yemen will continue to be the largest food crisis by far, the report said.

    The situation is expected to deteriorate, particularly because of restricted access, economic collapse and outbreaks of disease.

    On a more optimistic note, the report predicted that southern Africa was headed for a better year thanks to bumper cereal production in 2017 and falling food prices.

    The report was presented by the European Union, the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) and the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP).

    Source:

    Source: NAN

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    Boko Haram steps up use of girls as bombers

    The United Nations (UN) has noted that Boko Haram fighters have stepped up the use of women and girls for suicide bombings.

    Noting a progress in the war against the jihadist by the four countries of Nigeria, Chad, Niger and Cameroon, the UN said while children were deployed in 135 such attacks in 2017 a five-fold increase over the previous year.

    Therefore, UN Deputy Secretary-General, Ms Amina Mohammed, said it was critical to shore up areas of Lake Chad Basin that have been freed from the grip of Boko Haram terrorists.

    Mohammed, in a video address to the Security Council, also called for efforts to rebuild the lives of women and girls that had suffered at the hands of the terrorist group.

    She said recent joint efforts of Nigeria, Chad, Cameroon and Niger had resulted in considerable progress in the fight against the extremists.

    Mohammed, speaking via videoconference from Liberia where she participated in celebrations to mark the end of the UN peacekeeping mission noted the liberation of hostages as well as territorial gains.

    It is now key to stabilise the areas that have been reclaimed, and that we seize the opportunity to really promote sustainable development, she said.

    Mohamed was joined by Mohammed Bila, a representative of the Lake Chad Basin Commission based in NDjamena, and Senior Conflict Adviser at Adelphi, Chitra Nagarajan.

    They painted a picture of the factors behind peoples suffering in the Lake Chad Basin and driving some to terrorism one year after the Council adopted its first resolution on the activities of Boko Haram in the region.

    Boko Haram, an Islamist militant organisation based in north-east Nigeria, has carried out raids, suicide bombings and kidnappings across the Lake Chad region over the past decade.

    Their operations have led to displacement, insecurity, destruction of infrastructure and what Mohammed described as a complex and dire humanitarian situation, with nearly 11 million people requiring assistance.

    The group gained international notoriety in 2014 after abducting more than 270 girls from a Government school in Chibok, Nigeria.

    It is believed to be behind the kidnapping last month of 110 schoolgirls from the Nigerian town of Dapchi, most of whom were safely returned this week.

    Overall, Boko Haram has abducted more than 4,000 women and girls, according to the UN deputy chief, who added that those who return to their communities are often stigmatised.

    As the violation of human rights continues to fuel insecurity in the Lake Chad Basin region, Mohammed said investing in community justice mechanisms would be essential for reconciliation, as well as for ensuring accountability and promoting peace.

    She stressed the need to incorporate human rights and gender dimensions into activities aimed at countering terrorism or preventing violent extremism.

    She said the increase in Boko Harams use of women and girls as suicide bombers could be due to a lack of women security officers who could search other women at checkpoints.

    The UN deputy scribe also called for more international action to support children affected by the upheaval in the region.

    Also briefing, Nagarajan, who is based in northeast Nigeria, also used her briefing to touch on the gender-related aspects of the crisis and its impact on persons with disabilities.

    She spoke of how women and girls were pushed into early marriage with combatants, for example, or they fall victim to sexual abuse and exploitation, including at the hands of people who were supposed to protect them.

    Men and older boys are often the first to flee insecure areas, she said, speaking via videoconference from Maiduguri adding, women and girls were deliberately targeted, killed and forcibly recruited by armed groups.

    Theyre viewed with suspicion, arrested, and detained by security agencies, and they are involved in fighting, leaving women of all ages, as well as girls, younger boys and older men struggling to cope.

    Mohammed Bila, a Remote Sensing Expert with the Lake Chad Basin Commission, spoke of how climate change had had an impact on water governance.

    Bila said the shrinking of Lake Chad had affected communities which depended on its shoreline to grow crops, leading to increased competition for water, accusations of river diversion, loss of livelihoods and social tensions.

    He told the Council that the environmental monitoring network there was inadequate, sparse, poorly funded and operated, with only one water level measurement station for the entire lake.

    The environmental challenges facing the Lake Chad basin are interconnected to the challenges of climate change faced by the region of the Sahel of Africa.

    The Sahel is increasingly facing extreme variability of climate resulting in frequent droughts, short-duration high-intensity rainfall, desertification, water scarcity, land degradation, and ultimately food insecurity.

    Consequently, addressing the climatic root causes of local challenges through risk assessment and management will require a similar solution at the Sahel regional level, he said. (NAN)

    Source: NAN

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    Al-Shabab bomb kills 17 in Mogadishu
    No fewer than 17 people were killed and eight others injured in an explosion on Thursday outside a popular hotel in Somalias capital Mogadishu.

    A spokesman for the Ministry of Internal Security, Abdiaziz Ali Ibrahim, told the media that the wounded were being treated at the citys hospitals.

    Seventeen people died including a young girl, some workers and persons having tea at roadside teashops popularly known as bibiito, said Mr Ibrahim.

    He said a tricycle taxi, locally known as bajaaj, may have been used for the explosion.

    The blast occurred opposite one of Mogadishus oldest lodges, the Weheliye Hotel, along the busy Maka al-Mukarrama Avenue.

    The jihadist Al-Shabaab group claimed responsibility.

    The group carries out frequent attacks in Mogadishu as it seeks to overthrow the internationally recognised Somali government.

    In October last year, al Shabaab killed more than 500 people in the deadliest attack at a busy intersection in Mogadishu.

    Harakat al-Shabaab al-Mujahideen, more commonly known as al-Shabaab, is a jihadist fundamentalist group based in East Africa.

    Founded in 2006, the jihadists In 2012, it pledged allegiance to the militant Islamist organization Al-Qaeda.

    It emerged as the radical youth wing of Somalias now-defunct Union of Islamic Courts, which controlled Mogadishu in 2006, before being forced out by Ethiopian forces.

    There are numerous reports of foreign jihadists going to Somalia to help al-Shabab, from neighbouring countries, as well as the US and Europe.

    It is banned as a terrorist group by both the US and the UK and is believed to have between 7,000 and 9,000 fighters.

    Al-Shabab advocates the Saudi-inspired Wahhabi version of Islam, while most Somalis are Sufis.

    It has imposed a strict version of Sharia in areas under its control, including stoning to death women accused of adultery and amputating the hands of thieves.

    Source: NAN

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    Nigeria sends home ex-Cameroonian water minister
    Mr. Basile Kouna, Cameroons former water and energy minister, was arrested in Nigeria and flown home on Thursday.

    Kouna was removed from his ministerial position during President Paul Biyas March 2, cabinet reshuffle.

    In February, he was ordered not to leave the country.

    Kouna is in Cameroon. He was arrested in Nigeria and sent back to Cameroon.

    He arrived this evening, one police source, who asked not to be named as he was not authorised to speak to the press, told Reuters.

    Vision 4, a private television channel considered allied to Biya, reported that the former minister arrived at the international airport in the capital, Yaounde at 6:20 pm (1720 GMT) escorted by police officers.

    Another channel, Canal 2 International, also reported his arrest in Nigeria and subsequent extradition back to Cameroon.

    Cameroons government spokesman was not immediately reachable for comment. Neither were officials in neighbouring Nigeria.

    It was not clear what charges Atangana Kouna was facing, but there was speculation on Thursday that he was arrested as part of an anti-corruption drive known as Operation Sparrowhawk.

    A former Ministry of Public Works official, the head of a state company, and the ex-rector of the University of Douala, were arrested as part of the operation on Monday.

    Cameroons oil wealth has spawned a sprawling political patronage system fueled by revenues from crude exports.

    Transparency International ranked it 153 out of 180 countries on its annual corruption perceptions index.

    Biya has ruled virtually by decree since taking over from a retiring predecessor in 1982 and then winning an election with 99.98 per cent of the vote a year later.

    Now 85, Biya is expected to again seek re-election in presidential polls later in the year, but he is currently facing some of the biggest challenges to his 35-year rule.

    Cameroons oil-dependent economy has been crippled by low crude prices.

    And separatists are mounting a guerrilla campaign in the countrys two English-speaking provinces, demanding independence from the majority Francophone Central African nation.

    Nigeria had warned it will not be used as a staging post by any dissident to attack the Republic of Cameroon,

    The Security Adviser, Major. General Mohammed Monguno (rtd) at the opening of the 6th session of Cameroon-Nigeria Trans-Border Security Committee Meeting.

    He spoke amidst local and international outcry over the deportation by Nigeria of 47 Cameroonian Anglophone secessionist campaigners to Cameroon on 26 January.

    Although the NSA did not address the issue, he said President Paul Biya and the entire people of Cameroon have the full backing of President Buhari in finding solution to the countrys internal cisis and will not be pawn in the hand of any group that may want to destabilize Cameroon.

    It is critical for me to re-emphasize that His Excellency, President Muhammadu Buhari assures you that we will take all the necessary measures within the ambit of the law to ensure that Nigerias territory is not used as a staging area to destabilize another friendly sovereign country.

    Maj. Gen Monguno said it is the hope and belief of Nigeria that Cameroon will emerge from the challenges it currently faces as a stronger and more united country where peace, justice and prosperity reign.

    I hereby assure you that there should be no doubt whatsoever, of Nigerias support for the unity, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Cameroon. I need not stress that the bond of friendship and unity between our two countries is strong and can never be broken, he said.

    He, however, advised and encourage the Cameroonian authorities to engage all aggrieved parties in a constructive manner to de-escalate tensions in the Anglophone regions and facilitate the return of Cameroonian refuges that have crossed the borders into Nigerian territory due to heightened tension and apprehension.

    He said it is also important to observe that Nigeria as a signatory to most of the United Nations international protocols on the Rights of Refugees and their humane treatment, strictly enforces these provisions, not only as an obligation, but without prejudice to the cordial relations between our two countries.

    He said it is against this backdrop that the Abuja meeting is expected to exhaustively examine all these developments as well as build on the successes recorded so far in the actualization of peace and security along the common borders.

    In carrying out the mandate of Presidents of both Nigeria and Cameroon especially in the area of sub-regional security, the Security Adviser acknowledged the close cooperation Nigeria continues to receive from Cameroon in the fight against the Boko Haram terrorist group and other transborder criminal elements.

    To Cameroon, he said your steadfast commitment and resolve has no doubt contributed significantly campaign and other security concerns in the sub-region.

    (Reuters/NAN)

    Source: NAN

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    2m tax fraud: Xabi Alonso risks 5-year jail
    Spains prosecutor says it is seeking a five-year jail sentence and a fine of four million euros (3.5 million) for former football player Xabi Alonso over accusations of tax fraud.

    The prosecutor said in a statement on Wednesday that Alonso was accused of defrauding the Spanish state some two million euros between 2010 and 2012.

    The prosecutor called for the same sentence to be applied to Alonsos financial advisor Ivan Azcuenaga and the administrator of consultancy shell company, Ignasi Casanova.

    Source: NAN

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    APC constitutes 24-member committee on crisis

    Ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) has constituted a 24-member committee to reconcile feuding members of the Executive and the Legislature.

    The resolution, according to the Leader of the Senate, Sen. Ahmed Lawan, was taken at a meeting between the National Working Committee (NWC) of the party and the APC Caucus in the Senate, in Abuja on Wednesday.

    Lawan said after the meeting that membership of the committee would be drawn from the Executive, Legislature, the Governors Forum and the partys National Secretariat.

    He said that the team would be charged with the responsibility of reducing the level of misunderstanding among members of the party across board.

    Lawan explained that constitution of the committee was pertinent in probing the disagreements at different levels of the party so as not to allow them to cause clog in its fortunes ahead of the 2019 general elections.

    Discussions at the meeting, he explained, centred on how to forestall crisis envisaged from the reordered sequence of elections adopted by the National Assembly in the Electoral Act (amendment) Bill.

    The meeting discussed happenings in the party across the country and across all levels of government.

    Senators took turn to express the way out of some of the issues bedeviling the party and I believe that it was a worthwhile, very frank discussion.

    The party will soon constitute a team that will comprise of the executive, the legislature, the party itself and representatives from our governors and we have 24 of them.

    We are very happy as a caucus that the interaction was worthwhile and I am sure that our party was also glad to be here with us this afternoon.

    We, as members of the National Assembly are and will remain committed to ensuring that we continue to support the change agenda of our administration led by President Muhammadu Buhari.

    The party is the platform for all of us, both the legislative and executive and in my own view, the party has done well by coming.

    This is our party; this is our government, our administration. We shouldnt be fighting dirty in the open, the lawmaker said.

    In his remarks before the closed-door meeting, National Chairman of APC, Chief John Odigie- Oyegun, said the meeting was aimed at discussing issues that had arisen in the polity recently.

    He said happenings in the polity necessitated the party leadership to meet with the Senate caucus to reason and strategise for 2019 election.

    We hope to have a better party after the meeting, he said.

    The NWC was led to the meeting by Odigie-Oyegun while President of the Senate, Dr Bukola Saraki, led the APC Senate Caucus to the meeting which lasted two and half hours at the national assembly. (NAN)

    Source: NAN

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    Sarkozy blasts trial for lack of evidence
    Former French president Nicolas Sarkozy blasted what he said was a lack of evidence for the corruption charges against him.

    He is being accused that late Libyan dictator Moamer Kadhafi funded his 2007 election campaign.

    In his court statement published Thursday morning after he was charged in one of Frances most explosive political scandals in years, the 63-year-old rightwinger said he had been in living hell since the allegations first emerged in 2011.

    Demanding he be treated as a witness rather than a suspect, he urged magistrates to consider the violence of the injustice if it was proven, as he claims, that the accusations are a manipulation by the dictator Kadhafi or his gang.

    In the 24 hours of my detention I have tried with all my might to show that the serious corroborating evidence required to charge someone did not exist, Sarkozy said in his statement.

    I stand accused without any tangible evidence through comments made by Mr Kadhafi, his son, his nephew, his cousin, his spokesman, his former prime minister, he added.

    Judges decided they had enough evidence to charge the combative one-term president Wednesday after five years of investigation and two days of questioning in police custody.

    Sarkozy, who served from 2007-2012, was charged with corruption, illegal campaign financing and concealment of Libyan public money.

    Ive been living the hell of this slander since March 11, 2011 when Kadhafi first made the allegations, Sarkozy said.

    And he lashed out at Franco-Lebanese businessman Ziad Takieddine who claims to have delivered three cash-stuffed suitcases from Kadhafi in 2006 and 2007, when Sarkozy was preparing his first run for president.

    Takieddine, who claimed he provided 1.5 to 2 million euros ($2.5 million) in 200-euro and 500-euro notes, has highly suspect characteristics and the questionable past, Sarkozy retorted. (AFP)

    Source: NAN

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    Dapchi schoolgirls: FG says PDP plumbs depth of infamy
    The Federal Government has accused the opposition Peoples Democratic
    Party (PDP) of plumbing the depths of infamy for saying the abduction
    and release of the Dapchi schoolgirls were stage-managed.

    In a statement issued in Abuja on Thursday, the Minister ofInformation and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, said such postulationportrays the PDP as an inhuman, insensitive, unpatriotic and unworthyparty.

    He said since the release of the Dapchi girls were negotiated byfriendly countries and reputable international organizations, it wouldhave taken a conspiracy of global proportion to have stage-managed the
    adoption and release of the girls.

    Alhaji Mohammed said the reaction of the PDP amounts to an expression
    of sour grapes, especially because the party failed woefully when itwas in power to quickly resolve a similar abduction of schoolgirls.

    As we have said many times since the abduction of the Dapchischoolgirls, no government is exempted from its own share oftragedies. What makes the difference is the way such tragedies aremanaged. Whereas it took the PDP all of 18 days to even acknowledge
    the abduction of the Chibok girls in 2014, the APC Federal Governmentacted promptly and responsively when the Dapchi schoolgirls wereabducted 19 Feb. 2018, hence their quick release, he said.

    The Minister said it is unfortunate that the PDP that failed woefullyas a ruling party has also failed grievously as an opposition party,going by its insensitive and crude response to the release of theDapchi schoolgirls a development that calls for non-partisancelebration.

    In its 16 years in power, the PDP redefined governance ascluelessness, massive looting of the public treasury and crudeexhibition of power. In its over three years in opposition, the PDP has again shown it does not understand the role of the opposition in ademocracy. How then can the PDP convince Nigerians that it has learntits lessons and that it is ready to rule the country again? Nigeriansmust say never again to this primitive and soulless party, hesaid.

    Alhaji Mohammed said the Federal Government has not been responding to
    the amateurish and jejune statements from the PDP precisely becausethe party has failed to learn the ropes of being an opposition party,even when we have advised them to take a crash course on the role ofthe opposition in a democracy.

    We broke our own rules this time because the PDP over-reached itselfand scored an own goal at a time it could simply have congratulatedthe government and people of Nigeria on the release of the girls or
    just keep quiet, he said.

    The Minister assured Nigerians that the Federal Government willintensify the ongoing efforts to secure the release of the remaining Chibokgirls and return them safely to their families, just like over 100
    other Chibok girls who have so far been released, unlike the PDP thatcould not secure the release of even one of the girls before it wasbooted out of power.

    Source: NAN

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    Alleged N5.6bn fraud: ICPC to declare Jang wanted

    The Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) said it may declare former Governor of Plateau, Sen. Jonah Jang, wanted for refusing to honour its invitations.

    Indication to this was given by Spokesperson of the commission, Mrs Rasheedat Okoduwa, in a statement on Thursday in Abuja.

    She said that Jang was being investigated over alleged fraud involving about N5.6 billion, but that he had continued to evade invitations to appear before the investigating team.

    According to Okoduwa, the Commission has been on the trail of the former governor, now a senator, since October, 2017, when it opened investigation into alleged corruption-related activities during his tenure.

    Evidence before the ICPC so far indicates that Sen. Jang allegedly committed the offences in March, 2015.

    He allegedly received N2 billion in cash illegally out of the money which was allocated to Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs), under the pretext of a loan to be spent on classified expenditure.

    She alleged that the former governor also illegally received N400 million of funds meant for Plateau State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB).

    She added that Jang also allegedly caused a former Commissioner for Finance in the state to illegally transfer N3.2 billion of SUBEB funds to the project account of the Ministry of Finance.

    ICPC has sent several invitations to Jang through both the Senate President and the Clerk of the National Assembly to come and clear his name but he has refused to honour the invitations.

    Also, efforts to procure an arrest warrant from two different Magistrates Courts in the Federal Capital Territory have been futile.

    The magistrates declined to sign them even after the requisite sworn affidavit had been presented by the Commission.

    In the light of the foregoing, the Commission may have no other option than to declare the former governor wanted, Okoduwa said.

    Source: NAN

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