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Navy Begins Sea Inspection, Promises Enhanced Security



The Nigerian Navy, on Friday, commenced the Chief of Naval Staff Sea Inspection tagged ‘Nchekwa Oshimili’, 2023.

The Minister of State for Defence, Alhaji Bello Matawalle, while flagging off the exercise on board the Nigerian Navy Ship Kada in Onne, Rivers State, charged the officers and men of the Nigerian Navy to keep up the good work in ensuring that the nation is secured for thriving economic activities.

As Matawalle said, the efforts of the Navy and its various operations to safeguard the maritime environment have led to a drastic reduction in crimes in the waterways, improved economic activities, and contributed to rising crude oil production.

Matawalle said the efforts put in by the Navy to organise the exercise were aimed at ridding the nation’s maritime environment of crimes in all their ramifications, which is impressive.

He said that the Sea Inspection exercise tagged ‘Nchekwa Oshimili, meaning “securing the sea,” is one of the several Nigerian Navy efforts at ensuring that the maritime domain is safe for commerce and economic activities for national prosperity.

He stated, “Pertinently, this exercise and other Nigerian Navy engagements would not have been possible without the support of the President.

“The operational activities of the Nigerian Navy within the last three months under the leadership of the Chief of Naval Staff have received varying degrees of success.

“I am aware of other operations and robust efforts through patrols and surveillance that the Navy is carrying out to ensure a safe and secure maritime environment for economic prosperity and national development.”

Continuing, he said, “These activities have led to the drastic reduction of maritime crimes, leading to improved economic activities.

“The oil production has increased in recent times, which is a testament to the effectiveness of the Nigerian Navy’s operations. Exercise Nchekwa Oshimili will further bolster the existing operations towards enhancing security in our water.”

Matawalle pledged maximum support to the Navy in order for them to effectively exercise their mandate.

The Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Emmanuel Ogalla, said in his welcome address that the four-day sea inspection was an annual exercise that assesses the operational capabilities of the navy fleet.

He said 13 warships, 88 gunboats, two helicopters, and two detachments of the navy’s Special Boat Service, equivalent to United States Navy Seals, would be deployed for the exercise.

Ogalla stated, “So, we are assessing the operational state and readiness of our fleet to enable us to counter emerging maritime security threats in line with our constitutional mandate.

“It is necessary for the Nigerian Navy to fully prepare, in all respects, to support existing domestic and regional maritime security initiatives of the Federal Government.

“Hence, this exercise is designed to improve cooperation and intelligence sharing towards enhancing the collective capabilities of maritime stakeholders against maritime crimes.”

The Navy chief said the inspection would take place in the nation’s maritime environment as well as in the Gulf of Guinea, a major sea lane for commerce and communication.

Ogalla said the Navy was determined to sustain the tempo that gave rise to crude oil production and expressed optimism that the nation would soon attain and surpass its daily production quota.

“It is also noteworthy that the International Maritime Bureau’s (IMB) reports have delisted Nigeria from the IMB List of piracy-prone nations.

“Also, reports from other regional maritime awareness centres have also indicated improvements in legitimate shipping activities due to a reduction in the crime rate in Nigeria’s waters,” he added.

On his part, the Flag Officer Commanding Eastern Naval Command, Rear Adm. Olusola Oluwagbire, said that 4,000 navy personnel would participate in the operation.

The FOC said the navy would also deploy four maritime domain awareness facilities: four operational bases, two support units, and four platforms belonging to stakeholders in the maritime sector.

The Rivers State Deputy Governor, Prof. Ngozi Odu, and commanders of various navy, army, and air force formations were other dignitaries at the event.


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3 million children at risk in Sudan as civil war engulfs – U.N



The war between the army and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces has killed 12,190 people, according to conservative estimates by the Armed Conflict Locations and Events Data project. It has displaced 5.4 million people inside the country, according to the UN, and sent over 1.3 million fleeing abroad.

Sudan’s raging civil war threatens the lives of almost 3 million children, the United Nations Children’s Fund said Thursday, as fighting imperils what had become a haven for hundreds of thousands of displaced people.

Fighting in the huge northeastern African nation has now reached Jazeera state, the country’s breadbasket with a population of 5.9 million people — half of whom are children, UNICEF said.

« This new wave of violence could leave children and families trapped between fighting lines or caught in the crossfire, with fatal consequences, » the organization’s executive director, Catherine Russell, said in a statement Thursday.

The latest about of violence broke out on April 15, as Sudan’s military and a powerful paramilitary force vied for power. Since then, heavy fighting has left hundreds of thousands of people facing the agonizing decision of whether to flee their homes or stay and risk injury or death in the violence. Cease-fires have failed to halt the power struggle and fueled the growing humanitarian crisis.

Civilians are often caught up in the crossfire as neighborhoods are divided between the armed forces, led by Gen. Abdel Fattah Burhan and the Rapid Support Forces, led by Gen. Mohammed Hamdan Dagalo.

Some 9,000 people have been killed in the violence, according to the U.N., but local doctors groups and activists say the death toll is likely far higher.

Almost 300,000 people have fled Jazeera state, moving to the nearby Sennar state, the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said Wednesday.


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‘Nothing for me in Cameroon’: Waiting in Tunisia, one eye on Europe



Having lost everything and everyone precious to him, Joseph tries to hold things together, waiting to leave Africa.

Joseph Afumbom is a big man who has faced unimaginable tragedy.

The conflict in Cameroon between Anglophone separatists and the government killed the 27-year-old’s mother, father and siblings. It also took his home in Bamenda in the country’s northwest.

“I was there when the war started. The war took everyone,” he said, “It was three years ago. My brothers and sisters are all gone.”

With his home and family destroyed and no jobs available, Joseph felt he had no option but to gather his fiancee, Esther, and their three-year-old daughter and travel the 5,000km (more than 3,000 miles) overland to the Mediterranean coast. They arrived in Algeria, where they considered crossing into Tunisia and from there to Europe.

However, both Joseph’s fiancee and daughter died in El Menia. “They are all gone because of the cold,” he says. “That was last month.”

“I’m just trying to act normal, you know,” he tells Al Jazeera. “See, I’m smoking. I’m whiling away my thinking, trying to act like a normal person, but I’m not.”

He paused, allowing his thoughts to drift back. “We had been together for years. My daughter was three. I called her ‘Little Joy’.”

Eventually, Joseph crossed into Tunisia, making his way to the coastal city of Sfax before travelling by shared taxis to the capital, Tunis. He didn’t eat for two days.


“There is nothing left for me in Cameroon,” he says. “I will continue to Europe if I have the opportunity.”

This article is the third of a five-part series of portraits of refugees from different countries, with diverse backgrounds, bound by shared fears and hopes as they enter 2024. Read the first and second parts here.


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Chad: Supreme court approves ‘yes’ referendum vote



Chad’s Supreme Court definitively validated the results of the referendum for a new constitution organized by the military junta that has been in power for the past two and a half years, a key step intended to pave the way for elections in the country at the end of 2024.

According to the final results, the « yes » side won with 85.90% of the vote, while the « no » side won 14.10%, with a turnout of 62.8%, the president of the Supreme Court told a press conference.

For some members of the opposition and civil society, the result of this ballots a plebiscite resembles designed to pave the way for the election of the transitional president, General Mahamat Idriss Déby Itno.

The Supreme Court rejected an appeal by the Bloc Fédéral, an opposition coalition which had called for the results to be annulled on the grounds of several irregularities in the voting process.

The opposition, which had widely called for a boycott, denounced, in the words of Max Kemkoye, president of the Groupe de concertation des actors politiques (GCAP), « a second coup d’état by Mahamat Idriss Déby Itno », in the face of results which, in his view, were not credible.

The new constitutional text is not very different from the one already in force, and still gives great power to the Head of State.

Mahamat Déby, 37, was proclaimed transitional president by the army on April 20, 2021, at the head of a junta of 15 generals, following the death of his father Idriss Déby Itno, who was killed by rebels on his way to the front. Idriss Déby Itno had ruled the country with an iron fist for over 30 years.

The young general immediately promised elections after an 18-month transition period, and made a commitment to the African Union not to run. Eighteen months later, his regime extended the transition by two years and authorized him to stand in the presidential elections scheduled for late 2024.

On the anniversary of the 18-month transition, October 20, 2022, between 100 and more than 300 young men and teenagers were shot dead in N’Djamena by police and military, according to the opposition and national and international NGOs.

They were demonstrating against the two-year extension of the presidential term.

More than a thousand were imprisoned before being pardoned, but dozens were tortured or disappeared, according to NGOs and the opposition.


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