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Myanmar’s Suu Kyi hit with new convictions, jail term

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A Myanmar junta court on Monday convicted Aung San Suu Kyi of three criminal charges, sentencing her to four years in prison in the latest in a slew of cases against the ousted civilian leader.

The Nobel laureate has been detained since February 1 when her government was forced out in an early morning coup, ending Myanmar’s short-lived experiment with democracy.

The generals’ power grab triggered widespread dissent, which security forces sought to quell with mass detentions and bloody crackdowns in which more than 1,400 civilians have been killed, according to a local monitoring group.

A source with knowledge of the case told AFP the 76-year-old was found guilty of two charges related to illegally importing and owning walkie-talkies and one of breaking coronavirus rules.

Junta spokesman Major General Zaw Min Tun confirmed the verdicts and sentences and told AFP Suu Kyi would remain under house arrest while other cases against her proceed.

The walkie-talkie charges stem from when soldiers raided her house on the day of the coup, allegedly discovering the contraband equipment.

Monday’s sentence adds to the penalties the court handed down in December when she was jailed for four years for incitement and breaching Covid-19 rules while campaigning.

Junta chief Min Aung Hlaing cut the sentence to two years and said she could serve her term under house arrest in the capital Naypyidaw.

– ‘Fear tactic’ –
December’s ruling drew international condemnation, and the Myanmar public reverted to old protesting tactics of banging pots and pans in a show of anger.

Ahead of the verdict, Manny Maung, a Human Rights Watch researcher, said further convictions would deepen nationwide discontent.

“The announcement of her last conviction resulted in one of the highest days of social media interactions from inside Myanmar, and deeply angered the public,” she told AFP.

“The military is calculating this (the cases) as a fear tactic but it only serves to direct more anger from the public.”

Journalists have been barred from attending hearings, and Suu Kyi’s lawyers have been muzzled from speaking to the media.

Under a previous junta regime, Suu Kyi spent long spells under house arrest in her family mansion in Yangon, Myanmar’s largest city. 

Today, she is confined to an undisclosed location in the capital, with her link to the outside world limited to brief pre-trial meetings with her lawyers.

Besides Monday’s cases, she is also facing multiple counts of corruption — each of which is punishable by 15 years in jail — and of violating the official secrets act.

In November, she and 15 other officials, including Myanmar’s president Win Myint, were also charged with alleged electoral fraud during the 2020 polls.

Her National League for Democracy party had swept the elections in a landslide, trouncing a military-aligned party by a wider margin than the previous 2015 election.

Since the coup, many of her political allies have been arrested, with one chief minister sentenced to 75 years in jail. Others are in hiding.

AFP

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Insecurity in schools: NSCDC sensitizes education stakeholders

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From Rose Ejembi, Makurdi

To forestall the increasing spate of insecurity in schools across the country, the Benue State Command of the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), has stressed the need for all security guards in all schools in the state to be duly registered and trained by licensed private guards. 

State Commandant of NSCDC, Dr. Philip Okoh stated this during a stakeholders’ meeting with key actors in the educational sector held at the state command of the Corps recently.

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Okoh, while addressing the stakeholders, said the training became necessary following reports of kidnapping and other vices linked to security guards in schools around the country and the need to prevent such occurrence in Benue.

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CBN slashes electronic transfer, ATM fees, others

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The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has slashed its electronic transfer, ATM and card maintenance fees.

The new charges were contained in the latest Guide to Charges by Banks and Other Financial Institutions just released by the CBN

The CBN said bank customers will now pay N10 for electronic transfers below N5,000, N25 for electronic transfer between N5,000 and N50,000, and N50 for electronic transfer above N50,000.

Previously, bank customers pay N50 charge for electronic transfers below N500,000.

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The CBN also slashed charges for cash withdrawal via Other bank’s ATM to “maximum of N35 after the third withdrawal within the same month” from “N65 after the third withdrawal within the same month”.

Also, the CBN removed Card Maintenance Fee (CAMF) on all cards linked to current accounts, among others.

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COVID-19 impact: Enugu govt partners AUDA-NEPAD on farmers’t

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The administration of Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Enugu State has taken measures in furtherance of its efforts to cushion the devastating impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the people and the economy of the state.

Enugu State office of the African Union Development Agency-New Partnership for African Development (AUDA-NEPAD), yesterday, held an interactive meeting with stakeholders in the state on the agency’s agricultural project aimed at empowering small holder farmers and boosting food production to cushion the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Addressing the stakeholders, Enugu State Commissioner for Special Duties and State Coordinator/Focal Person in charge of AUDA/NEPAD, Enugu Office, Mrs. Mabel Agbo, disclosed that AUDA-NEPAD Continental Office in collaboration with some international agencies took bold measures to cushion the impact of COVID-19 on the citizens by initiating the project, entitled “Innovative Strengthening of Small holder Farmers Capabilities Towards Productive Land Restoration Amid COVID-19 in Nigeria”.

Mrs. Agbo said “this project as the title connotes is aimed at empowering small holder farmers in our different communities in all agriculture value chains and segments (crops and livestock) to boost their capacity for food production, especially in the aftermath of the devastating impact of COVID-19 on our economy.

“To reduce the negative impact of this pandemic, we must step up efforts to enhance the capacity of our farmers to provide food for the wellbeing of our citizens.”

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She said both the African Union (AU) and Governor Ugwuanyi had ensured that the funding for the project was available.

She urged traditional rulers of autonomous communities in Enugu State and the presidents-general of town unions to ensure that lands were made available for use by the potential farmers.

Also speaking, the representative of the State Commissioner for Agriculture, Mr. Afam Ngene, described the project as laudable, commending the AUDA-NEPAD for the initiative.

The commissioner equally lauded Gov. Ugwuanyi for ensuring that the programme reaches all the nooks and crannies of Enugu State, for full actualization of the objectives in the interest of the farmers in particular and the state in general.

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