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COVID-19 blow for Senegal: Mendy, Koulibaly, Diedhiou isolated

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Goalkeeper Edouard Mendy and striker Famara Diedhiou will join captain Kalidou Koulibaly on the sidelines for Senegal’s opening match at the Africa Cup of Nations in Cameroon after both tested positive for COVID-19, the country’s football federation said on Sunday.

That leaves Senegal, already hit by six positive cases before they departed for the tournament, with a threadbare squad for their opening Group B clash against Zimbabwe in Bafoussam on Monday.

Koulibaly’s positive test was revealed by his club Napoli on Saturday, who said he was vaccinated and asymptomatic.

The Senegal federation then confirmed the Chelsea goalkeeper and Turkey-based striker, formerly with Bristol City, were in isolation.

Saliou Ciss, Bamba Dieng, Mame Baba Thiam, Pape Matar Sarr, Nampalys Mendy and second choice goalkeeper Alfred Gomis all remained in Dakar on Wednesday after testing positive as the team were to depart for the finals.

Ismaila Sarr, who Senegal insisted join their squad from Watford, is not available because of injury, as is Abdoulaye Seck, leaving coach Aliou Cisse with just 17 players.

“It’s a difficult and complicated situation,” Cisse told a news conference in Bafoussam on Sunday. “But we are going to be competitive and those there are going to play for those who are absent.

“We are still going into the game against Zimbabwe full of confidence.”

The Confederation of African Football has laid down strict rules regarding COVID-19.

If any player tests positive they will not be authorised to go to the stadium or participate in the match, while teams must play as long as they have a minimum of 11 players available.

If they have no goalkeeper available, another player must play in that position.

Teams that do not have a minimum of 11 players available will be considered to have lost the match 2-0, according to CAF.

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2 killed, houses burnt as suspected herdsmen attack Benue

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From Rose Ejembi, Makurdi

At least two persons have been reportedly killed after gunmen suspected to be herdsmen attacked Igama community in Ojugo wards, Okpokwu Local Government Area of Benue State.

Sources from the affected community disclosed that the gunmen invaded the community last Tuesday afternoon and burnt many houses. The invaders were said to have stormed the community in broad day light and shot sporadically in all directions while the locals scampered for safety.

When contacted on telephone, the Chairman of the council, Mrs Amina Audu, confirmed the report, saying it was the third time in the last two weeks that the attackers invaded her council. She told newsmen that the attack was perpetrated by herdsmen without any form of provocation.

“Fulani herdsmen came and attacked the community and burnt houses, and a woman was found dead after several days,” she said.

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Mrs Audu, who noted that the incident was reported to the police, said some security personnel were detailed to the area to forestall any breakdown of law and order, adding that men of the Livestock Guards were also sent to the area but the herders quickly ran away before the security men arrived.

“They have attacked the community for three consecutive times since January 13, 2022. They will just come into the community and attack them. They normally come in the afternoon. It is because the security people have been stationed on ground that we did not record many casualties.”

Audu, however, disclosed that those who were killed were immediately buried because their bodies were already decaying by the time they were found. The council boss appealed to the Federal Government to urgently rise to the occasion and stop the marauding herders from taking innocent lives.

When contacted, the Benue Police Public Relations Officer, (PPRO), SP Catherine Anene, said she was yet to receive any information about the incident.

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Anti-open Grazing Law: Bayelsa govt goes tough on violators,

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From Femi Folaranmi, Yenagoa

The Bayelsa State government has clamped down on violators of the Anti-open Grazing Law in the state.

To this end, it arrested 44 cows found grazing along Imiringi road, Ogbia Local Government Area of the state.

Governor Douye Diri had on March 10, 2021 signed into law the Anti-open Grazing Law known as Livestock Breeding Rearing and Marketing Regulation Law.

He also set up the Livestock Management Committee headed by the Commissioner for Agricultural Resources, Mr David Alagoa, with members drawn from the security agencies.

However, many farmers in Imiringi, Elebele and Emeyal in Ogbia Local Government Area, Tombia and Okutukutu in Yenagoa Local Government Area have been complaining of the destructive activities of cows despite the law.

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The farmers had lodged their complaint to Alagoa and the state task force to help arrest the situation before things got out of hand.

Alagoa had during a patrol at the weekend arrested the cows, while the herders escaped into the bush to evade arrest.

The arrest followed a complaint to the task force by farmers along Imiringi road near Megastar camp where the cows were said to have destroyed crops.

Alagoa said the task force would continue to take action to demonstrate that the state government would not condone flouting of its laws.

Meanwhile one of the farmers, Mr Tempo, explained that his farm at Elebele where he planted maize and cassava was destroyed by cows.

He urged the state government to take more action because any farmer that tries to confront the herders is usually threatened with attack.

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Boko Haram, ISWAP recruiting child soldiers – Army

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The Nigerian Army said it was studying the video of the Islamic State West Africa Province children fighters executing its personnel.

The video released by the ISWAP, according to the , was published on Tuesday by the SITE Intelligence Group, which monitors jihadi activities.

In the video, a man in the Nigerian Army uniform, who claimed that he was with the army special forces, was shot twice in the head by a boy of about 12.

Shortly after, another soldier, who said he was captured in April 2021, was shot in the head by one of the three masked fighters behind him.

Speaking with our correspondent on Friday, the Director of Army Public Relations, Brigadier General Onyema Nwachukwu, stated that the action of the terrorists had been a long time practice in terrorism across the world.

He said the terrorists were trying to embark on recruitment drive with the video as many of their fighters had surrendered to troops.

Nwachukwu stated, “We are studying the video. However, the action of the terrorists has been a long time practice in terrorism across the globe.

“They have always taken advantage of the vulnerable in society, particularly women and children, to advance their evil cause.

“Recall that the terrorist groups, ISWAP/Boko Haram, have in the past used women and children as suicide bombers. They have also conscripted children and minors, who they engage as child soldiers, and women, who they use as sex slaves.

“Having been depleted by our troops, the imbroglio in their ranks and the massive surrendering of Boko Haram, the terrorists in a desperate move are embarking on a recruitment drive to shore up their strength with child soldiers, who they can easily indoctrinate, manipulate and cheaply manage financially.

“We have raised this alarm before now and have since commenced sensitisation in the North-East to guard against and block their recruitment drive.”

Nwachukwu urged residents of the North-East not to be deceived by the gimmicks of ISWAP terrorists into releasing their children and wards for their evil cause.

He assured them that troops would remain resolute in decisively countering the terrorists.

AP had quoted the Executive Director, SITE Intelligence Group, Rita Katz, as saying that ISIS “is now more desperate than ever to keep its name in the global discussion…given the fact that it no longer has a physical ‘caliphate’ outside of relatively small bases in different countries.”

The video, she said, “demonstrates the immense focus ISIS is placing on Africa” and puts a “spotlight on Nigeria as one of its strongholds and projecting itself as an adaptive, enduring force to the world.”

The UN children’s agency estimates that globally, more than 93,000 children were recruited and used in conflicts between 2005 and 2020.

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