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.”
NSCDC Vows to Investigate Alleged Involvement of Officer in Banditry, Maintains Zero Tolerance to Criminality
By Eric Elezuo
The Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) has vowed to investigate the alleged involvement of one of its officers in banditry as a supposed video which has gone viral is suggesting.
Speaking through a statement, the Corps’ Director of Public Relations, DCC Olusola Odumosu, noted that there’s a possibility that the culprit is telling lies as most criminals are fond of impersonating security personnel.
He added that the Corps is disciplined, and will not condone criminality from anyone, especially a staff.
Odumosu further promised that a thorough investigation will be conducted, and members of the public will be informed of the outcome.
Read the full details:
The attention of the management of the Nigera Security and Civil Defence Corps has been drawn to a video clip already gone viral in relation to one Abdullah Saidu, an acclaimed Civil Defence personnel arrested in connection with a group of armed bandits terrorizing some parts of Koton Karfe Local Government Area of Kogi state.
It is pertinent to point out that the Nigera Security and Civil Defence Corps is a Federal security agency saddled with the responsibility of protecting lives and property amongst others, hence, would not in anyway condone any saboteur of National Security or sponsors of criminalities.
Based on the aforementioned, the Corps wishes to inform the public that the purported video where the alleged suspect openly confessed to the crime did not in anyway give credence to or affirm his membership of the Corps as experience has shown that criminals are fond of impersonating security operatives in order to divert attention, subvert investigation or get away with the crime.
However, due to the high premium placed on integrity, discipline and professionalism by management of the Corps, an intelligence based team has been set up to carry out thorough investigation on the matter and check available records to confirm the authenticity of his claim. Thereafter, the general public shall be adequately briefed on subsequent findings
We wish to reiterate that the Corps will continue to discharge it’s statutory mandates without compromise but with humility and integrity, while also synergizing with other sister agencies in combating all forms of criminalities in the Nation.
DCC OLUSOLA ODUMOSU
DIRECTOR OF PUBLIC RELATIONS
NSCDC NATIONAL HEADQUARTERS
Security Alert: Ogun Police Warn Against Praying in Forests at Night
The Police in Ogun on Sunday warned the public against organising prayer sessions at night, especially at forest area, to avoid being victims of kidnappers.
Police spokesman in the state, Abimbola Oyeyemi, gave the warning in a statement made available to journalists, in Ota, Ogun.
Mr Oyeyemi noted that the Ogun police command has observed “with great concern that, despite the series of warnings and security tips from the command, some members of public are still in the habit of organising prayer sessions in the forest, thereby making themselves easy prey for kidnappers”.
“However, in as much as the command is not oblivious of right to freedom of religion, it is worthy of note that the present security situation in the country does not favorably disposed to organizing prayer sessions in isolated places,” the PPRO said.
He appealed to the public to refrain from creating opportunities for kidnappers to operate as the command was working assiduously to get rid of the criminal elements, “who turned kidnapping into business”.
Mr Oyeyemi explained that security should be seen everybody’s business and “we should all play our part in securing ourselves and our property, adding that after all the scriptures even enjoined us to watch and pray.”
Safeguard the Nation or Be Removed, NSCDC Boss Tells Zonal Commanders, State Commandants
In view of the prevailing security situation in the country which has made it imperative to redouble effort towards ensuring effective delivery of the Corps mandate in the enforcement of peace and development of Nigeria, the Commandant General of Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, Ahmed Audi, PhD, mni, has charged all Zonal and State Commandants to function optimally by stepping up their operational activities in securing the nation and safeguarding critical assets and infrastructure.
A statement signed by the Director of Public Relations, DCC Olusola Odumosu, noted that the CG made this known during the Commandant General’s Conference at the Corps National Headquarters, Abuja, where he emphasized the need to justify the confidence reposed in the Corps by the Government through concerted effort and by making significant impact in the protection of Critical National Assets and Infrastructure, Disaster Management, supervision of Private Guard Companies and the protection of farmers and farmlands.
According to the CG, the wave, dynamics and sophistication of crisis such as terrorism, banditry, kidnapping, militancy, ethnic agitation, kidnapping, oil bunkering and so on has led to very serious devastation particularly on the economy, hence, the need for the corps to develop strategies that could best address this social menace.
Speaking further, Dr Audi decried the spate of Insecurity in Nigeria which has recently assumed an alarming Asymmetric dimension and affected every facet of Nigerian life, thus, leading to severe unimaginable social consequences across the six geographical regions but particularly the North-East, North Central and South-South.
He gave a stern warning to all zonal and state commandants to resist any attempt by criminals or any group of individuals to unleash terror and destroy the peace of Nigeria. ‘’The only way to justify your existence is to carry out your duties beyond reasonable doubt; our mandates are very clear, so, we must resist any attempt by criminal elements to subvert our peaceful coexistence and be able to show to Nigerians that we are collecting government salaries’’ Audi said.
He directed all the state Commandants to renew and strengthen their anti-vandalism drive by closing down more illegal refineries, arrest and prosecute oil thieves, illegal bunkering suspects and tankers loading, reloading and transloading crude oil across borders. Reiterating that, safeguarding the nation’s critical infrastructure is a task that must be done as it impacts directly on national prosperity, human capital development and survival of the people.
Therefore, any state commandant that perform below expectation would be removed immediately without delay.
The CG reminded the Corps formations of his vision to rejig, reinvigorate, revitalize, reengineer, refocus and reposition the Corps towards building a strong, virile and proactive organization that is knowledge driven, bearing in mind the need to improve on quality of service, productivity, professionalism and operational efficiency.
That one of the focuses of his administration is training and manpower development, bearing in mind the need to enhance the capacity of personnel to effectively deliver on its mandate and every State Command have been mandated to key into this policy.
He promised to introduce career development progression courses for each category of officers which will be the main determinant for their promotion and progression in service. In his words, the CG said ‘’What this means in essence and as a matter of policy is that you must have passed a prescribed career development course before you can be considered for promotion to the next rank.’’
Dr Audi encouraged the managers of affairs of the Corps to continue to sensitize the public on security consciousness and to seek their cooperation in getting credible information that could help in nipping crime in the bud.