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Macron: France to continue militants fight in Mali

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France will be uncompromising in its fight against militant Islamists in Mali and the Sahel region, President Emmanuel Macron said on Friday during his first visit outside Europe’s borders.

Speaking alongside Mali’s President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita at the Gao military base in the north of the country where some 1,600 troops are based, Macron also said France was determined to act for continued security in the region, and would seek to strengthen cooperation with France’s EU partner Germany to that end, reports Reuters.

“Germany is very present in back-up operations,” he said.

“I want to strengthen that partnership and make sure that this German commitment, which is already present, can be intensified.” “Germany knows what is at stake here (and) is also part of Europe’s security and our future. Neither France nor Germany are isolated islands.”

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Justice Ministry saves FG N4.5trn from effective defence, says Malami

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Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, yesterday disclosed that his ministry in the last two years saved the Federal Government a total of N4.5trillion through effective defence of cases filed against the government in various courts.

 

The minister stated this while briefing State House Correspondents on the score card of the Justice ministry, which he had presented to the Federal Executive Council (FEC).

 

FEC, which was presided by President Muhammadu Buhari commenced at about 11:00am and ended at 6:00pm.

 

Malami said: “Fundamentally, arising from the cases that were conducted by the Federal Ministry of Justice, the ministry has succeeded in saving the government around N4.5 trillion relating to the claims that were presented in respect of these cases, which cases were indeed conducted and concluded.”

 

The minister explained that the N4.5trillion was saved between the period of 2015 and 2017.

 

He said: “We presented a position as to the number of cases that were prosecuted, number of convictions that were procured and the number of discharges that were made relating to the cases and then made a presentation as to the road maps for the continuation of the process.

“Added area over which we presented our score card has equally to do with the prosecution of Boko Haram cases which is ongoing,” he added.

The Justice Minister said he made other presentations to council which relate to plea bargain arising from 15 high profile cases.

 

There are a lot of pending criminal cases in respect of which of the accused persons standing trials made offers for plea bargain.

 

“Again, there are high profile cases that we made our score card and gave an insight as to their respective positions. A presentation was made relating to national prosecution team as it relates to the cases they are expected to prosecute,” he said.

 

Council at its yesterday meeting approved various contracts including the construction of Ibadan-Kaduna rail line at a cost of $6.7billion for completion in three years.

 

Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Mohammed Bello, said council also approved a contract worth N1.9billion for the reconstruction of the 20 year-old Bill Clinton Drive along the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport Road in Abuja. The contract was awarded to CCECC for completion in seven months.

 

Bello said council also approved a contract of N273 million for supply of water treatment chemicals to the FCT Water Board.

 

Meanwhile, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, in his presentation, said President Buhari had recently approved various tranches of monies to offset debts owed by the country’s foreign missions abroad.

 

The most recent intervention he said was a N7billion released to the headquarters of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Wednesday.

 

Some of the debts, according to Onyeama have spanned over one decade.

 

Onyeama told reporters that the intervention became necessary when various Nigerian embassies abroad were failing in their responsibilities over paucity of funds.

 

He said: “Government approved special intervention funds to rescue many embassies in distress in several countries of the world.

 

 

“First was in 2016 when the Naira was fluctuating terribly against the dollars and our embassies were receiving a rate that were too low to sustain them. We received initially N16.3 billion and was successfully distributed to all embassies.

 

“The second one was N933 million for renovations and other debts released in October, 2017. The third was $32 million that were released for critically distressed 65 missions that were in serious debts and crisis. This was approved in November 2017 and we are in the process of distributing to the embassies around the world.

 

“Another one was $28 million and it is in the process of also being distributed and finally for ministry headquarters, the sum of N7 billion was made. A lot of the debts and the crisis in our embassies and missions around the world have been building up over the last 10 years and Mr. President decided that he will no longer accept the situation where we are sending Nigerians out to represent this country and not given them the resources to be able to carry out their tasks.”

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Education, key to exclusive breastfeeding – Survey

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The 2016- 2017 Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey (MICS 2016-17) has revealed that education is one of the most important tool in encouraging and promoting the campaign for 100 per cent attainment of exclusive breastfeeding by all mothers in Nigeria. Out of the 60 per cent child deaths attributed directly and indirectly to under nutrition, two third of child deaths have been attributed to improper feeding during the first year of a child’s existence.

 

A key finding in the survey indicates that 41.0 per cent of children under five in the country were exclusively breastfed by mothers who had attained one form of higher education or the other.

A further breakdown reveals that 30.6 of the children were exclusively breastfed by mothers who completed their secondary school education, 20.8 per cent was attributed to mothers who only attended primary school, 16.9 of the children were born to women who had non-formal education and 19.6 of the children were breastfed by mothers who had no access to any form of education whatsoever.

 

The United Children’s Education Fund, UNICEF (UNICEF), Evaluation Expert, Maureen Zubie-Okolo, told newsmen during a media dialogue on MICS5 2017 and Data Driven Reporting in Enugu, that “the percentage of children exclusively breastfed is not as high as those predominantly breastfed.”

 

According to Zubie-Okolo, a mother’s education has a great impact on the nutritional status of the child, as children born by mothers who were either unable to attain any form of education or only had access to lower education, were the ones mostly faced with issues of malnutrition.

 

She noted that the survey was proof that the more the number of educated mothers in the country, the higher the chances of an increased percentage of children exclusively breastfed as a result of access to adequate information and a better understanding of the benefits of feeding a child with only breast milk within the first six months after birth.

 

While noting that 54.0 percent of children in Nigeria were breastfed predominantly, and only 23.7 per cent were exclusively breastfed, she lamented that based on the survey, women in northern Nigeria ranked lowest in breastfeeding their children exclusively.

 

The figures from the North West shows only 18.5 per cent of children were breastfed exclusively and 56.6 per cent were predominantly breastfed, while 21.3 per cent were exclusively breastfed and 50.4 predominantly breastfed in the North East, as against the Southwest, where 70.5 per cent of children born were breastfed exclusively.

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Air Force sets up 10 units across country

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As part of efforts at curbing internal security threats across the country, the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) has established a total of 10 new Units.

 

That was as the NAF had concluded plans to set up Quick Response Wings (QRWs) across Nasarawa State, in a bid to tackle the herders/farmers clashes plaguing some states within the axis.

 

The disclosure was made by the Chief of Air Staff (CAS), Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar. A statement by the Director of Public Relations and Information, Air Vice Marshal (AVM) Olatokunbo Adesanya, said Abubakar spoke when he visited the Governor of Nasarawa State, Alh. Tanko Al-Makura. According to Adesanya, the QRWs will be inaugurated “in Lafia and other settlements, especially close to the border between Nasarawa and Benue states”.

 

He further quoted the CAS as saying that, “the NAF had already established 10 new units in the last two years with the aim of enabling the NAF to add value to the Internal Security situation in various parts of the country.

 

“One of such new establishments”, according to the CAS, “is the Headquarters Special Operations Command, which would also have oversight functions over the QRWs in Nasarawa State”.

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