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Councillors demand better protection from abuse and death threats

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Councillors demand better protection from abuse and death threats

Council leaders have demanded urgent measures to tackle what they say is a tide of abuse against councillors, potentially including a specific law against intimidating public officials and a greater willingness to prosecute those who make threats.

A meeting of senior local government leaders from across England heard of regular death threats against councillors and routine abuse or accusations of corruption on social media and in comments under local newspaper website stories.

The executive advisory board of the Local Government Association (LGA), which groups together several dozen council leaders from various parties, had already begun gathering information about the issue before the killing of the Conservative MP Sir David Amess last week.

But in a meeting on Thursday, a series of councillors recounted receiving death threats, saying that the extent of intimidation risked seeing many people put off from putting themselves up for election.

“You shouldn’t have to be a brave superhero to want to stand and represent your community,” said Tudor Evans, the leader of the opposition on Plymouth council, who said he had once been sent a death threat because of a temporary traffic light scheme.

Evans recounted how the previous week in Plymouth, a man had gone into a cafe with a knife in his belt and made threats against local councillors.

Nick Forbes, the leader of Newcastle council, said he had quit almost all social media due to a “daily background” of messages containing homophobic comments or accusations of corruption.

Forbes said he and colleagues felt things were so bad that ministers needed to act. “In the same way that there is additional protection for, for example, police officers and NHS staff, we thought that there should be a specific offence of intimidating or harassing a public official,” he said.

Forbes said the police response to even direct threats was “patchy”, and called for officers and prosecutors to adopt a “zero tolerance approach to harassment”.

While saying that councillors had to make sure their discourse was “mature and sensible”, Forbes argued that some local papers played a role in fomenting hatred: “We need the media to take a responsible attitude, to not boiling complicated, complex issues down to good or bad, demons or heroes, providing clickbait and often using the language of aggression.”

Georgia Gould, the leader of Camden council in north London, said the extent of intimidation was such that councillors should be able to opt out of having their home address publicly visible. She said: “Most of us have probably received some kind of death threat, or other difficult visits to our homes, and I just don’t think it’s a safe situation.”

Isobel Seccombe, the leader of Warwickshire county council, who heads the LGA’s Conservative grouping, said she too had received threats, but was worried that it was becoming so routine that it was seen as inescapable.

She said: “That’s the problem, that we do accept this as a consequence of being a councillor. And our acceptance of it is, in a way, contributing to the problem.”

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Osun LP Guber Candidate, Lasun Rejoins PDP

Yusuf Lasun, a former deputy speaker of the house of representatives, has rejoined the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

The governor of Osun, Ademola Adeleke made the announcement on Wednesday at the PDP presidential rally in Osogbo, the Osun capital.

“The former deputy speaker has joined the PDP family. He used to be in PDP, but today, he has decided to come and join the PDP family,” the governor said.

Lasun, who was present at the rally, hailed supporters after a terse remark.

Lasun had contested the 2022 governorship election in Osun on the platform of the Labour Party (LP).

Adeleke came first in the election; Gboyega Oyetola of the APC placed second; Kehinde Atanda of the Action Democratic Party (ADP) came third; while Lasun came a distant fourth.

He was a member of the All Progressives Congress (APC) until February when he resigned from the party after losing the party’s governorship ticket.

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I Can’t Contest For President Again; It Will Diminish Me- Jonathan

Goodluck Jonathan, Nigeria’s former president, has said he will never contest for the Presidency of the country again.

The Ex-president said it would amount to diminishing himself if he should decide to begin to lobby people and campaign for election again.

Jonathan said this in an interview published in a book, ‘My Time As Chaplain In Aso Rock,” presented to the public on Tuesday.

The book written by Nathaniel Bivan contains the accounts of the Chaplain of the Aso Rock Villa Chapel during the Jonathan administration, Obioma Onwuzurumba.

“If you wake up tomorrow and see that I am President again, that means there may have been circumstances beyond my control. But not to go and pick one form and go and start lobbying people and running for campaigns; I can’t do that again. If I do that, I will diminish myself,” the former President said.

Jonathan said he enjoyed the drama that characterised the rumour earlier in the year that he had purchased a nomination form of the All Progressives Congress to enable him to contest for the party’s presidential ticket.

Ahead of the June 2022 APC presidential primary, a group, Nomadic Pastoralists and Almajirai Community, led by Ibrahim Abdullahi, purchased the N100m nomination and expression of interest forms in Jonathan’s name.

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NMDPRA Assures Nigerians Of Steady Fuel Supply

The Nigeria Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority (NMDPRA) says the queues at filling stations will soon disappear as marketers commence massive loading of petroleum products.

Mr Ahmed Farouk, Chief Executive of NMDPRA, gave the assurance during a stock monitoring exercise within depots in Lagos on Wednesday.

The NMDPRA boss led staff of the Authority to NIPCO, Total, Aiteo, OVH, Conoil, 11 Plc and HOGL depots in Apapa for on the spot assessment.

Farouk said the stock taking exercise was to ensure availability and effective distribution of petroleum products across the nation to reduce queues at filling stations.

“The essence of this exercise is to ensure that the entire states are wet with petroleum products to avoid scarcity and panic buying by commuters during this period.

“As an Authority, we are doing everything within our powers to make sure that there are enough petroleum products in the system to help alleviate the sufferings of commuters.

“With the issue of scarcity across the nation, l found it necessary that NMDPRA come and ensure that there is even distribution of petroleum products across the nation, especially petrol.

“I am comfortable with the the load-out of petrol across the depots.

“The current distribution of petrol across the nation will address the issue of tightness in the market,” he said.

The NMDPRA boss said all depots in Apapa had products and were loading massively to Lagos, Abuja, Port Harcourt and other states.

He said three vessels were also discharging petrol at Apapa jetty to MOMAN, DAPPMAN and other depots.

Farouk urged Nigerians not to panic and avoid panic buying, while assuring of availability of sufficient products at filling stations across the country.

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