Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory of Nigeria has seen an influx of delegates representing the UK, US and others to attend the trial of Nnamdi Kanu, a rights activist and leader of Biafran pro-independence group , the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB).
Kanu, whose trial is scheduled to resume Monday, July 26, 2021, faces charges of treason and other unfounded crimes for calling for a referendum on an independent state of Biafra in the east of the country.
He was seized in Kenya and illegally repatriated to Nigeria after fleeing to Israel in 2017 when his home was raided by soldiers who killed scores of civilians in an attempt to assassinate him.
“We see here the presence of some well-known journalists from European countries. Some British and American delegates have also arrived,” said a source at a notable hotel in Abuja.
Ifeanyi Ejiofor, lawyer for the separatist leader, who confirmed the presence of journalists and members of the international community, called for calm between members of the separatist group and the country’s security agents who will be in court for the trial.
“I further wish to urge restraint and civility in all quarters tomorrow. It is your constitutional rights to be in court to witness Court’s proceedings but your engagement, dressing and conducts should be civil,” Ejiofor said in a statement on Sunday.
“The World is here already and they will be watching. All notable World class media houses are here already.
“I also wish to remind the security agents that the Court’s environment is a public place, accessible to everybody, and not a battleground, they should be civil in their engagement, as no violence is envisaged and none will happen. What we Demand for is justice and fair hearing,” he said.
Biafra: Economic activities shutdown again in eastern Nigeria
Economic activities were shutdown on Tuesday in Nigeria’s eastern region as separatists commemorate the victims of the 2017 military raid on the home of its leader Nnamdi Kanu.
At least 28 civilians were killed on September 14, 2017 when Nigerian forces raided Umuahia Palace in an attempt to assassinate the Biafra pro-independence leader after a high court granted him bail.
Markets were closed on Tuesday as traders lock their shops in accordance with a directive issued by the separatist group— Indigenous People Of Biafra (IPOB).
Restriction of vehicle movements led to violence in places like Enugu State, where suspected members of the separatist group set vehicles on fire and destroyed tricycles, violating the order.
No civilian deaths are confirmed in the civil protest which aims to cripple the Nigerian economy.
Mr. Kanu, the leader of the separatist group who faces charges of treason and other baseless crimes for calling for a referendum on an independent state known as Biafra, is still in captivity after being seized in Kenya in July and illegally repatriated to Nigeria.
Israel unveils remote-controlled armed robot to patrol battle zones
REX MKII unmanned vehicle to be deployed alongside ground troops to assist in combat situations
Israel’s state-owned Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) on Monday unveiled a remote-controlled armed robot for the purpose of keeping troops out of harm’s way during ground missions.
The “REX MKII” unmanned vehicle has the capabilities to patrol battle zones, assist in evacuation efforts, track infiltrators and execute remote attacks against threats, according to IAI.
The semi-autonomous machine was unveiled at DSEI 2021 in London, which claims to be the world’s largest gathering of the defense and security community.
Rani Avni, deputy head of the company’s autonomous systems division, said that the robot is operated by an electronic tablet and can be equipped with two machine guns, cameras and sensors.
The robot is reportedly the most advanced so far developed by IAI subsidiary ELTA Systems over the past 15 years.
“The need to support ground forces in the field to carry out various missions while minimizing threats to soldiers’ lives is at the heart of our values here at Israel Aerospace Industries,” Zvika Yarom, general manager of IAI’s Land Division, said.
The Israeli military is currently using a similar but smaller unmanned platform called the “Jaguar” to patrol the border with the Gaza Strip.
Catalan separatists hit streets ahead of Madrid talks
Thousands of Catalan separatists thronged the streets of Barcelona on Saturday in a test of their strength ahead of fresh negotiations with Spain’s government.
The protest coincides with Catalonia’s national day, or “Diada”, which commemorates the 1714 fall of Barcelona in the War of the Spanish Succession and the region’s subsequent loss of institutions.
As in other years, the march began at 17:14 (1514 GMT) — a nod to the year 1714. The slogan this year is: “We will fight for independence and win.”
At its peak in 2014, the annual demonstration brought an estimated 1.8 million people onto the streets. Though there were no provisional figures by early evening on Saturday’s attendance, thousands answered the call to gather and show their support for the cause as the afternoon drew on.
While Catalonia was the epicentre in July of a fresh wave of Covid-19 infections, the situation has since improved and a ban on gatherings of more than 10 people was recently lifted.
Jordi Cuixart, the leader of grassroots separatist movement Omnium Cultural, said he hoped to “bring hundreds of thousands of people onto the streets” this year to “prove once again that our movement is more alive than ever”.
But much has changed since the frenetic autumn of 2017 when Catalonia’s bid to break away from Spain triggered the country’s worst political crisis in decades going back to the end of the Franco dictatorship.
Leaders of the wealthy northeastern region, which has a population of 7.8 million, defied a government ban to organise a secession referendum and then issued a short-lived declaration of independence.
Those behind the move were arrested, tried and sentenced to long jail terms by Spain’s top court, while others fled abroad to avoid prosecution, leaving the movement sharply at odds over how to move forward.
The Spanish government’s pardon in June of nine Catalan separatist leaders, including Cuixart, has also removed a rallying cry for the pro-independence camp.
Only 600,000 people turned out for the Diada in 2019. Last year, coronavirus-related health restrictions reduced the celebrations to separate events which drew fewer than 60,000 people.
Some, including 70-year-old pensioner Narcis Vilar, say some pro-independence supporters feel a certain loss of faith in some of their leaders.
His friends, he told AFP, “have not stopped being independents but they are fed up with the politicians”, while he conceded the pandemic — which has hit the region hard — was another factor cooling passion for the cause.
This year’s protest comes as top-level talks on resolving the Catalan crisis are set to resume next week between Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez’s minority government and the separatist regional government of Catalonia.
Sanchez tweeted Saturday that he wanted “to advance towards what unites us” and work for a positive outcome for the region.
The separatists have two key demands — an amnesty for those involved in the failed independence bid, which would exonerate those who fled abroad, and a referendum on self-determination, this time with Spain’s approval.
But Madrid is implacably opposed to both.
Mireia Nieto, a 21-year-old student demonstrating Saturday, declared herself “totally opposed to this dialogue” in putting the hardline pro-independence case.
Tensions rose sharply this week after Spain’s central government suspended plans to expand Barcelona airport, citing a “lack of confidence” in Catalonia’s regional leadership.
Catalonia’s regional leader Pere Aragones denounced the suspension as “blackmail”.
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