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Israel, Hamas extend truce as war resumes soonest



A truce between Israel and Hamas entered its fifth day on Tuesday, with the militant group promising to release more civilian hostages to delay the expected resumption of the war and Israel under growing pressure to spare Palestinian civilians when the fighting resumes.

The sides agreed to extend their truce through Wednesday, with another two planned exchanges of militant-held hostages for Palestinians imprisoned by Israel. But Israel has repeatedly vowed to resume the war with “full force” to destroy Hamas once it’s clear that no more hostages will be freed under the current agreement’s terms.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken is set to visit the region later this week for the third time since the start of the war, and is expected to press for an extension of the truce and the release of more hostages.

The Biden administration has told Israel it must avoid “significant further displacement” and mass casualties among Palestinian civilians if it resumes the offensive, and that it must operate with more precision in southern Gaza than it has in the north, according to U.S. officials. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity under ground rules set by the White House.

Meanwhile, U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres reiterated his call for a long-term cease-fire and the release of all hostages, reflecting broad international support for a cessation of hostilities.

Hamas and other militants are still holding about 160 people, out of the 240 seized in their Oct. 7 assault into southern Israel that ignited the war. That’s enough to potentially extend the truce for another two weeks under the existing framework brokered by the Qatar, Egypt and the U.S., but Hamas is expected to make much higher demands for the release of captive soldiers.

Either way, Israel says it is committed to resuming the war, which is already the deadliest round of Israeli-Palestinian violence in decades. It blames the soaring casualty toll on Hamas, accusing the militants of using civilians as human shields while operating in dense, residential areas.

Israel has vowed to end Hamas’ 16-year rule in Gaza and crush its military capabilities. That would almost certainly require expanding the ground offensive from northern Gaza — where entire residential areas have been pounded into rubble — to the south, where hundreds of thousands of displaced people have packed into overflowing United Nations shelters.

Hamas freed another 11 women and children on Monday in the fourth and final swap planned under the initial cease-fire agreement, which went into effect Friday. Israel released 33 Palestinian prisoners.

Monday’s releases bring to 51 the number of Israelis freed under the truce, along with 19 hostages of other nationalities. So far, 150 Palestinians have been released from Israeli prisons. Israel has said it would extend the cease-fire by one day for every 10 additional hostages released.

The Palestinian prisoners released so far have been mostly teenagers accused of throwing stones and firebombs during confrontations with Israeli forces. Some were convicted by Israeli courts of attempting to carry out deadly attacks. The prisoners are widely seen by Palestinians as heroes resisting occupation.

Most of the freed hostages appeared to be physically well, but an 84-year-old woman released Sunday was hospitalized in critical condition because she had not had access to her medication in captivity. They have mostly stayed out of the public eye, but details of their captivity have started to emerge.

In one of the first interviews with a freed hostage, 78-year-old Ruti Munder told Israel’s Channel 13 television that she was initially fed well in captivity but that conditions worsened as shortages took hold. She said she was kept in a “suffocating” room and slept on plastic chairs with a sheet for nearly 50 days.

Israel imposed a total blockade of Gaza at the start of the war and had only allowed a trickle of humanitarian aid to enter prior to the cease-fire, leading to widespread shortages of food, water, medicine and fuel to power generators amid a territory-wide power blackout.

The cease-fire has allowed residents who remained in Gaza City and other parts of the north to venture out to survey the destruction and try to locate and bury relatives. Footage from northern Gaza, the focus of the Israeli ground offensive, shows nearly every building damaged or destroyed.

A U.N.-led aid consortium estimates that over 234,000 homes have been damaged across Gaza and 46,000 have been completely destroyed, amounting to around 60% of the housing stock in the territory, which is home to some 2.3 million Palestinians. In the north, the destruction of homes and civilian infrastructure “severely compromises the ability to meet basic requirements to sustain life, » it said.

More than 13,300 Palestinians have been killed since the war began, roughly two-thirds of them women and minors, according to the Health Ministry in Hamas-ruled Gaza, which does not differentiate between civilians and combatants. More than 1,200 people have been killed on the Israeli side, mostly civilians killed in the initial attack. At least 77 soldiers have been killed in Israel’s ground offensive.

The toll on the Palestinian side is likely much higher, as the Health Ministry has only been able to sporadically update its count since Nov. 11, due to the breakdown of the health sector in the north. It also says thousands of people are missing and feared trapped or dead under the rubble.

Israel’s bombardment and ground offensive have displaced more than 1.8 million people, nearly 80% of Gaza’s population, with most having sought refuge in the south, according to the U.N. Office for Humanitarian Affairs. Israeli troops have barred people from returning to the north during the cease-fire.

Hundreds of thousands of people have packed into U.N.-run schools and other facilities, with many forced to sleep on the streets outside because of overcrowding. It’s unclear where they would go if Israel expands its ground operation, as Egypt has refused to accept refugees and Israel has sealed its border.

The U.N. says the truce made it possible to scale up the delivery of food, water and medicine to the largest volume since the start of the war. But the 160 to 200 trucks a day is still less than half what Gaza was importing before the fighting, even as humanitarian needs have soared.

Juliette Toma, a spokesperson for the U.N. agency for Palestinian refugees, said people come to shelters asking for heavy clothes, mattresses and blankets, and that some are sleeping in damaged vehicles.

“The needs are overwhelming,” she told The Associated Press. “They lost everything, and they need everything.”


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Nigeria community tells President Tinubu: Many citizens are dying in Côte d’Ivoire prison



The Nigerian community in Cote d’Ivoire led by High Chief Michael Emeka Ownuchelu has called on His Excellency President Bola Ahmed Tinubu to rescue many Nigerians in Cote d’Ivoire prison, while many are already dying as a result of improper care.

In a statement released by the Nigerian Community PRO, Hon. Davidson Ogbu Tabel reads:

“It is very pertinent at this time to call on the Federal Government of Nigeria led by His Excellency President Bola Ahmed Tinubu for urgent intervention of rescuing Nigerians out of Abidjan prisons. Many are being detained for wrong offense and we understand that some are already dying in prison custody. As Nigeria community in Côte d’Ivoire, we have been trying our best day and night to ensure we help our brothers but we believe our government can make it faster with our host country.

“Not many people in prison are criminals, some got there wrongly, while some are overdue for release because of some clauses which can only be from the government. We believe in the government of President Bola Ahmed and we are hoping that the government will attend to this issue in Côte d’Ivoire.

Hon. Tabel revealed that the Nigerian community is stabilized under the leadership of High Chief Micheal and has vowed to deal with issues surrounding Nigerians in the country.

“We are doing our best in the Nigerian community to maintain law and order among our brothers and sisters, we respect the laws of the host country and as a matter of fact, the president has ensured he treated issues surrounding Nigerians accordingly.

“The president general of the Nigerian community has repatriated over 600 girls since he assumed office in 2021. Most Nigerians are being trafficked to this country, and this is not good for our image here. When the president assumed office in 2021, he made a vowed that he was going to address the issues that Nigerians are facing.”

The government of High Chief Michael Emeka Ownuchelu also achieve the introduction of the Biometric Indentification system called (Carte Consulaire Biométrique) valid ID cards issued to Nigerians living in Côté Ivoire. All these were done in support from the Nigerian Embassy.

He advised the Nigerian government to include the Diaspora fund in the subsequent budget in Nigeria.

“There is a need for the Nigerian Diaspora to be recognized by the Federal Government of Nigeria. It is also important for this current administration led by President Bola Ahmed Tinubu to use his good office to establish a budget for Nigerians in the Diaspora.

“The fact remains that many of these representatives in Nigerian communities across Africa are spending their money to empower Nigerians in various countries. It is something the federal government should look at. They have been assisting the growth of Nigeria without means of funding. For example, many times President Michael Emeka had used his money to deport young girls back home against trafficking, sex prostitution, rape and others. He provides them accommodation, feeding and lots more.”

The Nigerian community is accepted and recognized by the Côté Ivoire government.


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Ambassador Olonisakin Gets Rousing Sent-forth In Cameroon



The Nigeria High Commission has honored Ambassador Abayomi Olonisakin who served as High Commissioner with a cocktail to end his duty of tour in Cameroon.
The outgoing Nigerian Ambassador was described as a team leader who bequeathed a laudable legacy to Nigerians in Cameroon who, in turn, organized a send-forth ceremony in his honor.

The send-forth ceremony included a remarkable speech by the Ambassador, goodwill messages from Home base officers, Nigerian Community and invited guests, held at the residence of the Nigeria High Commission Yaounde, on Wednesday, 25th October, 2023.

Representative of the Cameroon Minister of Foreign Affairs, Members of the Diplomatic Corps in Cameroon, Representative of the Consul General of Nigeria, Buea, Home based and local staff of the Nigeria High Commission and Defense Section, members of the Nigerian Community, Eze Gburu Gburu of Ohanaeze Ndigbo of Cameroon, Eze Jonathan Onyengubor, UBA Cameroon and Asky converged paif glowing tributes and bid him farewell.

Olonisakin acknowledged former President Muhammadu Buhari for finding him worthy to serve as Ambassador after retiring as Chief of Defense Staff in Nigeria.

The Ambassador also eulogized President Bola Tinubu for allowing him government to be part of the new as an Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

“It is with a deep sense of gratitude to the Almighty God that I make this speech today on the occasion of the send-forth dinner organized in my honor,” said Olonisakin

He continued: “Right from the moment I was informed that I had been appointed High Commissioner, I knew I had to create the purpose within me to be dedicated, loyal and committed to making a difference in whatever task am given to undertake all towards the service of our fatherland.”

“I want to use this opportunity to express my sincere appreciation to His Excellency, the former President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Nigeria Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR, who found me worthy and appointed me the Chief of Defense Staff of the Armed Forces of Nigeria and to His Excellency, President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Nigeria Bola Ahmed Tinubu, GCFR for granting me the honor to serve in his Administration.”

“This speech will not be complete without applauding the excellent working relationship I had with the government of Cameroon. On this note, I will like to most sincerely appreciate His Excellency, the President of Cameroon, Paul Biya for accepting Nigeria’s request for me to serve in this capacity in the Republic of Cameroon as well as the great honor accorded me with the award of Grand Officer of the National Order of Valor of the Republic of Cameroon.

“I will not end this speech without reminding you that Cameroon – Nigeria relations is currently enjoying an unprecedented peak, I therefore urge the over 4 Million Nigerians in Cameroon to remain steadfast and be law abiding so as to sustain the existing cordial relations enjoyed by both countries. Finally, I would like to sincerely appreciate all those who organized this befitting occasion. It is indeed both a sad and a joyous event for me.

Cameroon President, Paul Biya decorated Olonisakin with the rank of Grand Officer of the National Order of Valor, appreciating the departing envoy for exceptionally lifting the long-standing diplomatic ties between Cameroon and Nigeria several notches higher.

Olonisakin was decorated at a state dinner organized by the Minister of External Relations, Minister Jejeune Mbella Mbella, on behalf of President Paul Biya.


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Thirteen Nigerians Regain Freedom after Jail Terms in Cameroon.



The Consul General of Nigeria to North West and South West Regions of Cameroon, Amb. Lawal Bappah, mni, in conjunction with HRM Chief Jonathan Thomas Eze Gburu Gburu, secured the release of thirteen (13) Nigerian inmates at Buea Central Prison, in the Southwest Region of the Republic of Cameroon, on Thursday, 27th July, 2023.

Chief Eze Gburu Gburu (One) of Ohaneze Ndi Igbo in Cameroon is a Nigerian business mogul and philanthropist in Cameroon.

His Excellency the Consul General paid a Consular visit to the Nigerian inmates on 14th June, 2023, and personally assessed the welfare needs of the Nigerian inmates. During the visit, he discovered that there were some Nigerian inmates who completed their jail terms but could not be released due to non-payment of fines.

Thereafter, he sought the intervention of the local authorities to ameliorate the living conditions of the inmates and possibly to secure the release of those who had completed their jail terms but not released as a result of their inability to pay their fines.

The Consul General also reached out to HRM Chief Thomas Eze Gburu Gburu, who has a long-standing record of releasing Nigerians, Cameroonians, as well as other African nationals on humanitarian grounds.

Chief Eze Gburu Gburu readily accepted to join hands with the Consulate to secure the release of the thirteen Nigerians. Subsequently, the Consulate General and HRM Eze Gburu Gburu cleared the fines for the release of the thirteen Nigerians and got them set free on Thursday, 27th July, 2023.

In the same vein, HRM Chief Eze Gburu Gburu 1 of Ohaneze Ndi Igbo in Cameroon and Ambassador of Peace, chose to solely extend hands of kindness to five (5) Cameroonians who were languishing in the prison as a result of non-payment of their fines.

As a result, a total of eighteen (18) prisoners, comprising 13 Nigerians and 5 Cameroonians, regained their freedom from the Buea Central Prison on 27th July, 2023.

In the remarks of His Excellency, the Consul General, during the ceremony at the Buea Central Prison, he reminded the ex-convicts that they were still loved by their families, friends and most importantly by Nigeria. Speaking further, he charged them to eschew criminality; start living responsibly, and also to be very useful to their respective communities. He charged them to guard their loins and engage in legitimate businesses to become profitable members of the society.

Amb. Lawal Bappah seized the opportunity to disclose that the Consulate had prepared the necessary travel documents and transport fares to enable the affected Nigerian nationals to travel back to Nigeria.

He rounded off his speech by expressing profound appreciation to HRM Chief Eze Gburu Gburu 1 of Ohaneze Ndi Igbo in Cameroon and Ambassador of Peace; the Southwest Regional Delegate for Prison as well as the Superintendent of Buea Central Prison, for their understanding and cooperation in making the historic event a reality.

Speaking at the occasion, Chief Eze Gburu Gburu advised the ex-convicts to drop whatever grievances they might have had against any individuals and to start living new life. He urged them to avoid anything that could bring them back into the prison yard.

In furtherance of his speech, Chief Gburu Gburu opined that prison simply means correction. He stated that it is a school on its own and urged them to remember Nelson Mandela of South Africa, who was once a prisoner but one of the most celebrated world leaders today; even after his death. He ended his words of encouragement by asking the ex-conflicts to go and do good with their lives in their various communities.

While reacting to a question during a press interview, Chief Gburu Gburu stated that touching lives is what he lives for, and that is what he likes to be remembered for after leaving this world.

The ex-convicts thanked God for their freedom and expressed their heart felt gratitude to the Consul General of Nigeria and HRM Chief Gburu Gburu. They promised to desist from any forms of criminality that could land them in prison again.

Nigerian inmates released are: Edem Wisdom, Emeka Smith, Clement Okon, Eta Effiong, Ifiti Godpower Paul, Emmabong, Peter Kelechi, Emmanuel Thomas Akpan, Happy William, Elvis Effiong, Ady Etom George, Who Know Tomorrow and Silas Ekandem.

Cameroonian inmates released are: Akam Bernard Ojong, Peter Nganje Sambe, Agbor Ginola, Mbange Philip Moe, Eseme Salomon Moukwele

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