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Boris Johnson Expected To Announce New Armed Forces Chief This Week

Boris Johnson

Boris Johnson expected to announce new armed forces chief this week

Boris Johnson has interviewed five candidates to head Britain’s armed forces, with navy chief Adm Tony Radakin and the general responsible for the SAS, Sir Patrick Sanders, frontrunners for the job.

Defence sources said the prime minister had been advised to pick a new military leader with “operational experience” to replace the outgoing Gen Sir Nick Carter, whose credibility was damaged by the chaotic exit from Afghanistan.

But there is uncertainty at the Ministry of Defence as to who Johnson will favour for the £270,000 a year post, although there is an expectation that Downing Street will announce the appointment this week now the final stage of interviews are complete.

All four armed forces officials are in the running, plus a more junior wild card candidate, Vice Adm Ben Key, responsible for joint operations, who was put in the field after No 10 wanted an extra, non-traditional name from the MoD.

Radakin, 55, the first sea lord, is seen as an experienced manager whose candidacy comes at a time when Johnson is pushing for greater use of British naval power, with the deployment of the Queen Elizabeth aircraft carrier in the Pacific.

But there is unhappiness in some quarters of Whitehall that the admiral has appeared eager to claim credit for the Aukus nuclear submarine pact with Australia and the US, when it was largely negotiated by No 10.

Sanders, 55, a special forces veteran who has served in Iraq and Afghanistan, has more combat experience, although he heads up strategic command, a disparate group that combines the military’s cyber forces plus the secretive SAS.

Both, though, are acknowledged to be the strongest communicators in the field. “Nobody wants a repeat of Carter after Afghanistan, where he hit the wrong tone in the aftermath of the Taliban’s seizure of Kabul,” said one defence source.

Days after the fall of Kabul last month, Carter labelled the Taliban as “country boys” who wanted an Afghanistan “inclusive for all” – although there have been repeated reports of violent reprisals by the country’s new rulers, who have also effectively banned the secondary education of girls since taking over the country.

Despite the faster than expected collapse of the previous Afghan government, Key is felt to have presided over what is seen as a relatively successful emergency airlift from Kabul last month, in which the RAF rescued 14,500 people. Promoting him over the more senior service chiefs would be a major upset however.

The interviews complete a two-stage process, which began with a series of grillings at the beginning of the month by an MoD panel headed by Ben Wallace, the defence secretary. Following that, Wallace sent his own recommendation to the prime minister, but the decision is ultimately Johnson’s.

A defence source said Johnson had been told by Stephen Lovegrove, the national security adviser, to seek somebody with “calm judgment”.

Among the other candidates is Sir Mark Carleton-Smith, 57, the head of the army, who was at school with Johnson at Eton, which some believe could yet give him a chance. “Boris does like to reward people who he thinks have loyalty to him,” a former Downing Street staffer said.

Completing the field is head of the RAF, Air Chief Marshal Sir Mike Wigston, who presides over the service seen as having the best record on diversity. But he is not seen to be as strong a public speaker as Radakin, and insiders say he does not fancy his own chances strongly.

Downing Street and the MoD declined to comment.

Runners and riders

Tony Radakin: Royal Navy chief seen as a good public speaker with an eye for a PR opportunity, only last week announcing the appointment of Bond actor Daniel Craig as an honorary commander, to act as an advocate for service families.

Patrick Sanders: Special forces veteran who served on every major deployment over the past 25 years. Recently admitted his experiences in Iraq had left him with suicidal thoughts, as he called for soldiers and veterans to seek help for PTSD.

Mark Carleton-Smith: Old Etonian and former SAS commander who took over as head of the army in 2018. Once in charge of the SAS’s hunt for Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan – although the al-Qaida leader was ultimately shot by the US.

Mike Wigston: Comprehensive educated Welsh former Tornado pilot. Last month said the RAF was prepared to launch fresh, long-range strikes in Afghanistan even though there could be instances of “unavoidable civilian casualties.”

Ben Key: Head of operations whose profile soared during the Afghanistan crisis. Led the day to day deployment of 1,000 British troops around the perimeter of Kabul airport allowing hasty two week evacuation of Britons and Afghans to proceed.

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TCN Restores National Grid

The Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN) has announced the restoration of the national grid after its partial collapse on Monday.

This was made known by Mrs Ndidi Mbah, TCN’s General Manager, Public Affairs in a statement in Abuja.

Mbah said that the national grid experienced partial system disturbance at about 10.51 am, as a result of a sudden drop in system frequency, which created system instability.

She said that the restoration of the affected grid commenced immediately at 11.55 am with Osogbo/Ihovbor, followed by Jebba/Osogbo, Kainji/Jebba, Benin/Onitsha, Shiroro/Kaduna, Shiroro/Katampe and Alaoji/Ikot-Ekpene.

Others are Lokoja/Gwagwalada, Odukpani/Ikot Ekpene, Benin/Omotosho, Oke-Aro/Ikeja west, Egbin/Oke-Aro and Kaduna/Kano.

She said the grid restoration has almost been completed, adding that the Nigerian Electricity Supply Industry (NESI) regrets any inconveniences caused.

Mbah said NESI appreciated the understanding of electricity customers within and outside the country.

According to her, NESI is committed to leveraging the concerted interventions instituted so far to enhance power supply reliability so that the issue of system disturbance will soon become outdated.

She said the National Control Centre would launch a full-scale investigation “to establish and ascertain the cause of the partial disturbance as this unwholesome event has resulted in aggregated generation loss.



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Chukwudi Ajaegbu, 35, Arraigned For $11,000 Fraud

A 35-year-old importer, Chukwudi Ajaegbu, has been arraigned before the Ogba Magistrate’s Court for allegedly obtaining $11,000 fraudulently from one Austine Ukaoha in the Ikeja area of Lagos State.

Ajaegbu appeared before Magistrate F.M. Onamusi on a three count charge.

The defendant, with others at large, were said to have conspired to commit felony, to wit stealing, thereby committing an offence punishable under Section 411 of the Criminal Laws of Lagos State, Nigeria 2015.

According to the police, sometime in 2010 on Bread Fraint Street, in the Balogun area of Lagos, the defendant, with others at large, conspired among themselves to obtain the sum under false pretences.

The charges read in part, “That you, Chukwudi Ajaegbu, on the same date, time and place, in the Lagos Magisterial District, did fraudulently obtain the sum of $11,000 from one Austine Ukaoha, under the pretence of importing goods from China, the presentation known to be false, thereby committing an offence punishable under Section 314 (3) of the Criminal Laws of Lagos State, Nigeria 2015.”

The defendant pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Magistrate Onamusi adjourned the matter till December 7, 2022.

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2023: NBC Tasks Broadcasters On Professionalism

The National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) has tasked broadcasters to handle political campaigns with professionalism.

The director-general of NBC, Balarabe Ilelah said this on Monday at a multi-stakeholders dialogue held in Abuja.

As campaigns for the 2023 elections are set to begin on September 28, Ilelah asked broadcasters to ensure not to allow hate speech or fake news on their platforms.

“This is in addition to ensuring equity in airtime allocation and coverage of political parties’ activities, particularly during prime times,” he said.

“It is also the time for you to make money from political adverts and campaigns, but ensure that this is done within the ambit of law.

“Broadcasters are also required to handle live political rallies with care and due professionalism. This is in addition to studio-based live political interviews/broadcasts. Because of the sensitivities of such programmes, broadcasters are advised to install delay mechanisms.

“Remember that broadcast stations are held responsible for any breach. The stations shall, therefore, assume and accept editorial responsibility”, he added.

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