Connect with us

News

Sri Lanka Bans Face Coverings After Easter Sunday Attacks

Published

on

By Sasha Ingber

Sri Lanka has banned its citizens from wearing face coverings under an emergency law, after terrorist attacks at prominent churches and upscale hotels left hundreds dead in the small island nation.

President Maithripala Sirisena said the ban was meant to ensure national security, helping authorities to identify people. He did not specifically mention the niqab and burka, types of facial coverings worn by Muslim women across the world, but critics say the new measure violates their rights.

Amid heightened safety concerns, a body of Islamic scholars in Sri Lanka advised last week that Muslim women “should not hinder the security forces in their efforts to maintain national security by wearing the face cover (Niqab).”

The government’s face-covering ban took effectMonday, days after a violent raid that was linked to the investigation of the Easter Sunday bombings.

In the April 21 attack, a string of explosions occurred at three luxury hotels frequented by foreigners and three churches holding Easter services in Sri Lanka’s capital, Colombo, as well as Negombo, to the north, and Batticaloa, to the east. At least 253 people were killed in the coordinated attacks. Another 15 people, including six children, died Friday in the country’s Eastern province after soldiers raided a house in search of suspects, a military spokesman said.

Authorities blamed the bombings on National Thowfeek Jamaath, a Muslim militant group that previously vandalized Buddhist statues in the majority Buddhist country. Sri Lanka was not seen as a hotbed for radical Islamist activity before the Easter attacks.

ISIS claimed responsibility for the bombings last week, triggering fears of further violence the terrorist group might inspire. Sri Lankan authorities have arrested dozens of suspects and are searching for more militants with suspected links to ISIS.

The terrorist attacks have exacerbated a rivalry between Sri Lanka’s president and prime minister, who belong to different political parties. In 2018, the president ousted Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe because of an alleged assassination attempt before later reappointing him.

But on Sunday, the two leaders attended a mass together in a rare display of unity, while Catholic churches were closed for safety.

Both men denied receiving intelligence warnings in the days before the coordinated bombings, yet both have been blamed for the attacks.

“At one level, if we are to be charitable it was a degree of incompetence and complacency,” Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu, executive director of the Center for Policy Alternatives in Colombo, tells NPR’s Michael Sullivan of the government’s response to the warnings.

“At another level, which is more insidious, is a notion that, you know, perhaps there were people who did not want anyone to act upon it and wanted the catastrophe to take place,” Saravanamuttu says, “because they have political or other benefits to be derived from it actually happening.”

Sri Lanka is set to hold presidential elections late this year. Gotabaya Rajapaksa, a former defense minister and the brother of former President Mahinda Rajapaksa, has emerged as a vocal candidate. He pledged to bring peace and “dismantle the networks” of radical Muslim militants in the country.

Wickremesinghe, the prime minister, has promised to enact new legislation to combat terrorism, saying, “Sri Lanka does not have any laws to arrest individuals who join foreign terrorist organizations,” according to the country’s state news agency.

Meanwhile, some top officials have been replaced since the bombings. Former Army Commander General S. H. Shantha Kottegoda was appointed as the new secretary to the Ministry of Defense on Monday, after the president requested former Defense Secretary Hemasiri Fernando resign.

Some Sri Lankans say they’re distrustful of their leaders’ motivations. John Ison Fernando, an events planner who is a member of St. Anthony’s Shrine, one of the bombed churches, tells NPR, “The prime minister wants to be the president in the next election. The current president wants to hold his position till next election.”

He added, “In this panicked situation, still they are callous.”

Courtesy NPR.org

Continue Reading
Advertisement

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

News

CP Alabi Confirms Lagos on Lockdown over Security Threats

Published

on

The Commissioner of Police in Lagos State, Abiodun Alabi, on Wednesday said that there was a partial lockdown of the state by security agencies due to the threats of attacks by unknown gunmen.

Alabi disclosed this in Lagos during the Lagos State Stakeholders’ Forum on Police Accountability quarterly meeting and awards.

Alabi gave a keynote address on ‘Police Community Partnership: Panacea for Effective Police Performance’ at the event supported by Open Society Initiative for West Africa.

Alabi said that the partial lockdown was for a purpose, stressing that the police and other security agencies in Lagos were ready for any intruders.

He said that there were stop-and-search points at different places that had become part of the security architectures in the state to combat any likely intruder.

The Lagos police boss who said that though the number of police personnel in the state were inadequate, added that with community/police partnership, the current number could tackle all crimes and criminality.

Alabi said that the force was committed to accountability, where those with excellent performances would always be rewarded amongst the personnel, and sanctions would be meted out to erring and unprofessional ones.

He noted that all the statutory duties of the police were about the protection of lives and properties.

He called on the various community stakeholders: traditional rulers, community leaders, religious leaders, and transporters to always engage the police in their areas for better policing.

The CP urged communities not to be afraid of giving information about crimes and criminality in their areas to the police and other security agencies.

He also implored them to always be interested in the activities of the police and see the police as their family members and not mere friends.

Earlier, the Coordinator of SFPA, Mr Okechukwu Nwanguma, said that the forum was established in 2018 as an outcome of CSOs and other stakeholders’ engagement with police command in Lagos on issues of police accountability.

Nwanguma, who is also the Executive Director of Rule of Law and Accountability Advocacy Centre, said the forum had been and would continue to offer formalised and structured engagement with the various complaints and disciplinary units in the society.

He added that it would also stand as the liaison between the police and communities in Lagos state.

“Accountability is not an easily acceptable issue in the NPF. This is why we are happy that the current police leadership under I-GP Usman Baba has embraced and priotised accountability as an essential means of rooting out corruption and abuse in the force,” he said.

Nwanguma commended the Inspector General of Police for punishing those involved in various unprofessional conducts in the past, stressing that this action was an indication that the IGP was ready to combat corrupt practices and unprofessional conducts.

Continue Reading

News

Navy Personnel Accused of Sodomy Dismissed

Published

on

A Nigerian Navy personnel, SLT VN Ukpawanne, has been dismissed for allegedly committing sodomy with a teenager (name withheld).

Ukpawanne was arraigned before a court-martial set up by the Nigerian Navy in Delta state on four counts.

He was said to have been found guilty of disobeying standing order, attempting to commit sodomy; disgraceful conduct and wrong use of drugs.

The offences were said to be punishable under sections 57, 95; 93; 65 (1) of the AFA CAP A20 LFN 2004.

In a memo sighted by our correspondent on Tuesday, the officer was awarded one-year loss of seniority, six months imprisonment, another six months imprisonment and lastly one-year imprisonment for all four offences.

The memo with Reference: NHQ: 08/68/93/A/Vol.XVIII/399 was titled, ‘Confirmation of court martial punishment -SLT VN Ukpawanne NN/4440’.

It read, “Sequel to Reference A regarding NHQ approval and Confirmation of Court Martial Punishment for the officer named above who attempted to commit Sodomy amidst other offences on 27 Oct 21 with one teenager, (name withheld), close to Sapele Stadium, On 15 Aug 22 at about 1035, the officer was officially paraded and his sentences were read accordingly.

The charges against the officer include the following:

2004: Disobedience to Standing Order – punishable under section 57 of the AFA CAP A20 LFN 2004.

2004: Attempt to Commit Sodomy – punishable under section 95 of the AFA CAP A20 LFN 2004.

2004: Disgraceful Conduct – punishable under section 93 of the AFA CAP A20 LFN 2004.

2004: Wrongful use of drug/Controlled Substance – punishable under section 65 (1) of the AFA CAP A20 LFN 2004.

Accordingly, the officer in violation of all sections listed above was awarded one-year loss of seniority, six months imprisonment, another six months imprisonment and lastly one-year imprisonment for all four offences.

Pertinently, all imprisonment sentences are to run concurrently.

“The dismissed officer is currently awaiting medical clearance from the Naval Medical Centre before handing over to Sapele Correctional Center for commencement of imprisonment term.”

The Punch

Continue Reading

News

First Set of Winners Emerge in Union Bank’s Save & Win Palli Promo 2 

Published

on

Leading financial institution Union Bank of Nigeria has rewarded the first set of winners in the second edition of its Save & Win Palli promo. 

The first live draw of this season, which took place at Union Bank’s Head office in Lagos, saw 50 customers win cash prizes of ₦105,000 each. The winners were selected randomly through a transparent, and electronically generated draw supervised by relevant regulatory bodies.

Save & Win Palli Promo is a nationwide campaign aimed at rewarding customers with cash prices and other exciting gifts worth over N55,000,000. The goal is to encourage and promote a healthy savings culture. The promo is open to new and existing customers who save a minimum amount of N10,000 monthly.

Savers who qualify to participate in the monthly draws stand a chance to win N105,000 each, while 5 winners will go home with N500,000 each in two of the quarterly draws. One lucky customer will snag the star price of N5,000,000 during the grand finale set to hold in December alongside other consolation prices.

Speaking concerning the draw, the Head of Retail Deposits at Union Bank, John Obichie, said: “Union Bank is pleased to reward our customers through initiatives like this that encourage them to save. This promo was introduced to support our customers during these trying times and to reward them for being consistent with their saving habits.

The savings promo which kicked off in July will run until the end of the year and will see more winners emerge during the monthly, quarterly and end-of-year draws so there’s still a chance to participate and win!

If you are an existing Union Bank customer you can continue to top up your savings in multiples of N10,000 monthly to increase your chances of winning.

Prospective customers can download the UnionMobile app on their mobile phones to open an account or they can simply walk into any Union Bank branch. To reactivate existing accounts, returning customers can call the 24-hour Contact Centre on 07007007000 or also visit any of Union Bank’s branches across the country.

For more updates on the Save & Win Palli promo, follow Union Bank on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

Continue Reading