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David Amess killing: suspect referred to Channel counter-terror scheme in 2014

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David Amess killing: suspect referred to Channel counter-terror scheme in 2014

The suspect in the killing of the MP David Amess received extensive support under the government’s Channel counter-terrorism programme before his case was closed, the Guardian has learned.

Ali Harbi Ali was first referred to Prevent, the early intervention scheme designed to turn people away from the risk of supporting violence, as a teenager in 2014.

Each year a small proportion of the thousands referred to Prevent are then referred on to the Channel programme for more intensive support, overseen by a panel with expertise in deradicalisation and helping those deemed vulnerable to being drawn into terrorism. Both programmes are voluntary and do not involve criminal sanctions.

Ali’s months-long referral to Channel may raise questions for ministers, police and security services. Officials point out that seven years elapsed between him being on Channel and being arrested on Friday on suspicion of murder, and believe his engagement with Channel was properly handled.

Ali was referred to the scheme while he was attending an educational establishment in London in 2014 over concerns about him being drawn towards an Islamist ideology. A source with knowledge of the case said: “He went through the process and was discharged.”

He was among the higher cohort of concern of people referred to Prevent. He voluntarily accepted referral to the scheme and went though its processes.

This involved having his vulnerability assessed and accepting support, the source said, adding: “He was not thought to pose a threat of terrorist violence and the case was closed.”

Official guidance says individuals with a “terrorism vulnerability” should be helped by Channel while those who are thought to pose a “terrorism risk” require action to be taken by police. The source said: “If we can stop people at a young age becoming criminals, that is good for society and for them.”

In the year to March 2020 there were 6,287 referrals to Prevent and 1,424 referrals to a Channel panel, 697 of which were adopted because of concerns an individual was at risk of radicalisation.

Ali’s father is said by friends and former colleagues to have been an outspoken critic of terrorism during his time as a senior official in the Somalian government. That has compounded the family’s shock after Ali’s arrest at the scene where Amess was repeatedly stabbed while holding a constituency surgery at a church.

Amess was a Conservative MP in Essex for 38 years. His killing has been declared a suspected terrorist incident by police.

Ministers have commissioned a review of the Prevent and Channel programmes, led by William Shawcross, a former head of the Charity Commission.

Leaks on Monday suggested it would be fast-tracked in the light of Amess’s death, with proposals to make it more security-oriented, giving police a greater role in panels drawing up intervention schemes and expanding the role of the intelligence agency MI5.

But several in the policing and intelligence community expressed scepticism about that approach. Sir Peter Fahy, the former chief constable of Greater Manchester police, who was national lead for Prevent, said he was worried it could deter families and institutions from reporting concerns if the security involvement was more explicit.

“The danger is greater police involvement damages the confidence of families and friends and education professionals to make referrals, if they think it is more likely to go down the law enforcement and intelligence route,” he said.

“We have been trying to stress that Prevent is about safeguarding. If there is a stronger police involvement, it makes it less like safeguarding and closer to intelligence gathering or investigative basis for the programme.”

MI5 has been keen to operate at arm’s length from Prevent. A person who has worked closely with the intelligence agencies in the past said that if sharing information about individuals with the security service became the norm, “it is not easy to see why people should cooperate with it”.

Muslim communities have made a string of criticisms of Prevent, arguing that it unfairly targets them and has encouraged trivial referrals, including against children.

In June it emerged that an 11-year-old primary school pupil was referred to Prevent after a teacher mistook the word “alms” for “arms” when the boy said he wanted to give “alms to the oppressed”.

But a new report from the Henry Jackson Society, a rightwing thinktank, says Prevent and Channel have lost focus on Islamist extremism, which accounted for 22% of Prevent referrals and 30% of Channel cases last year, while 90% of those on MI5’s watchlist of current and former suspects were Islamist.

The report’s author, Dr Rakib Ehsan, said there was “an all too real prospect of Islamist extremists who present a significant security risk not being sufficiently monitored by the public authorities”.

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I Will Soon Start Signing Death Warrants- Bala Mohammed

Bauchi state governor, Bala Mohammed has disclosed that he will soon start to sign death warrants.

Mohammed made this known on Friday in Bauchi while signing the Violence against Persons Prohibition (VAPP) bill and a bill for the establishment of the Bauchi state penal code, into law.

In Nigeria, state governors are legally backed to sign the death warrants.

Since 2012, no governor has been reported to have signed death warrants.

“We will soon be signing some death sentences because there are many and because of justice which has to be taken to a logical conclusion

“I know some governors are running away from signing the death sentences because they exercise restraints on the basis that there may be some element of error.

“But to me, I will leave it to my lord (the chief judge) who will prosecute. It’s not my fault. If it is brought to my attention, I will do it.”

“As for the Violence against Persons Prohibition Act, we know that we are the first in the northern part of the country to enact the law, which is a member’s bill incidentally from the honourable speaker, and it has earned us a lot of respect in the country.

“But because of some noticed gaps, it was taken back and it was corrected. We thank the house for making the corrections.”

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Court Sacks 13 Ebonyi LG Bosses, 171 Councilors

A Federal High Court sitting in Abakaliki has again nullified the Ebonyi Local Government Elections and sacked all the 13 Council chairmen in the state.

The court also sacked all the councilors and 171 ward chairmen of the state.

The court had on Aug. 25, nullified the council polls of May 31.

Ruling on the matter with suit NO: FHC/AI/CS/224/2022 on Friday, Justice Fatun Riman ordered the seizure of the monthly federal allocation of the chairmen pending when rightful Chief Executives were elected into office.

Fatun restated that the councils election by the State Independent Electoral Commission (EBSIEC) on May 31 was illegal and unconstitutional.

Mr Mudi Erenede, Counsel to the plaintiff said he was happy over the judgment and commended the court.

“In the judgement today, the court has agreed that the Ebonyi State High court has no powers to override or set aside the judgment of the Federal High Court because it is not an Appeal Court.

“Those people, who are parading themselves as chairmen are not there legally.

“They were appointed by whoever that appointed them. CBN, Attorney General of the Federation, Federal Ministry of Finance are all defendants in this suits,” he stated.

The counsel to Ebonyi State Government, Mr Roy Nweze, said there was no need responding to a judgment that had already been delivered by the court.

Nweze said that the matter would be appealed without delay.

(NAN)

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Naval College Graduates 245 Officers, Personnel

The newly graduated personnel of the Officers’ Application Course 20 of the Nigerian Naval Engineering College (NNEC), Sapele in Delta, have been urged to remain committed to the service of the nation.

Rear Adm. Monday Unurhiere, the Flag Officer Commanding (FOC), Naval Training Command, made the plea at the graduation ceremony of the 245 Under Training Personnel of the Officers’ Application Course 20 in Sapele.

Unurhiere, represented by Rear Adm. Baratuaipri Iyalla, said that the call became necessary in view of the security, economic and social challenges currently facing the country.

The naval chief urged the graduands to make deliberate efforts to improve themselves on the job by way of taking advantage of modern technology and also tapping into the wealth of experience of their superiors.

“Let me remind you that as officers of the Nigerian Navy, you are charged with enormous responsibility and your unswerving allegiance is to the Nation.

“The confidence reposed in you must not be taking for granted, especially at this time that our national aspirations are being threatened by numerous security, economic and social challenges.

“As such, you may find yourself being called upon to serve beyond your technical capability due to the prevailing situation in the country,” he said.

Unurhiere acknowledged the efforts of the Chief of Naval Staff (CNS), Vice Adm. Awwal Gambo, for creating the enabling environment for training and continued financial support to NNEC.

According to him, this has helped the College to contribute more to the technological advancement of Nigerian Navy and the nation at large.

He urged the graduands, especially the under training personnel, to maintain the current tempo in sustaining training and other naval activities.

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