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Joe Biden suggests US would defend Taiwan against China, forcing fresh White House clarification

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Joe Biden suggests US would defend Taiwan against China, forcing fresh White House clarification

President Joe Biden has said the US would come to Taiwan’s defence and had a commitment to defend the island China claims as its own, forcing the White House to clarify for the second time in three months that US policy on the subject has not changed.

“Yes, we have a commitment to do that,” Biden said at a CNN town hall on Thursday night when asked if the US would come to the defence of Taiwan, which has complained of mounting military and political pressure from Beijing to accept Chinese sovereignty.

The president made a similar pledge in August during an ABC interview, insisting that the US would always defend key allies, including Taiwan, despite the withdrawal from Afghanistan. Biden said then the US made a “sacred commitment” to defend Nato allies in Canada and Europe and it was the “same with Japan, same with South Korea, same with Taiwan”.

The White House subsequently told reporters that US policy on Taiwan had not changed.

After Thursday’s town hall, a White House spokesperson said Biden was not announcing any change in US policy. “The US defence relationship with Taiwan is guided by the Taiwan Relations Act. We will uphold our commitment under the act, we will continue to support Taiwan’s self-defence, and we will continue to oppose any unilateral changes to the status quo,” the spokesperson said.

Biden said people should not worry about Washington’s military strength because “China, Russia and the rest of the world knows we’re the most powerful military in the history of the world”.

“What you do have to worry about is whether or not they’re going to engage in activities that would put them in a position where they may make a serious mistake,” he said.

Military tensions between Taiwan and China were at their worst in more than 40 years, Taiwan’s defence minister, Chiu Kuo-cheng, said this month. China would be capable of mounting a “full-scale” invasion by 2025, he added.

China claims Taiwan as its own territory, which should be taken by force if necessary, while Taiwan says it is an independent country and will defend its freedoms and democracy.

Washington is required by law to provide Taiwan with the means to defend itself, but it has long followed a policy of “strategic ambiguity” on whether it would intervene militarily to protect Taiwan in the event of a Chinese attack.

In August, a Biden administration official said US policy on Taiwan had not changed after the president appeared to suggest the US would defend the island if it were attacked.

Biden said on Thursday: “I don’t want a cold war with China. I just want China to understand that we’re not going to step back, that we’re not going to change any of our views.”

China says Taiwan is the most sensitive and important issue in its ties with the US and has denounced what it calls “collusion” between Washington and Taipei. Speaking to reporters earlier on Thursday, China’s United Nations ambassador, Zhang Jun, said the country was pursuing “peaceful reunification” with Taiwan and responding to “separatist attempts” by its ruling Democratic Progressive Party.

“We are not the troublemaker,” he said. “On the contrary, some countries – the US in particular – is taking dangerous actions, leading the situation in Taiwan Strait into a dangerous direction … Dragging Taiwan into a war definitely is in nobody’s interest.”

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NDLEA destroys 304,436kg, 40, 042 litres of illicit drugs seized in Lagos, Ogun

The National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, NDLEA, on Tuesday 16th April 2024 destroyed a total of 304,436kg kilograms and 40,042 litres of illicit substances seized from parts of Lagos and Ogun states.

Speaking at a brief ceremony where the seized drugs were publicly destroyed in Badagry Lagos, Chairman/Chief Executive Officer of the Agency, Brig Gen Mohamed Buba Marwa (Retd) said the open destruction of the seized illicit drugs followed court orders, even as he called for more public support for ongoing efforts by NDLEA and other stakeholders to curb the menace of substance abuse and illicit drug trafficking in Nigeria.

“Though a routine exercise and an established process of removing dangerous substances from our society, the public destruction of confiscated illicit drugs is usually conducted at the end of their related cases in court”, the NDLEA boss stated adding that the exhibits being destroyed were of mixed types, “which include illicit drugs in solid and liquid states as well as in various classes such as cocaine, heroin, cannabis, and tramadol, among others.”

He said the drugs were seized by NDLEA operatives across different formations of the Agency in Lagos and Ogun states from January 2022 till date especially at the Lagos seaports, airports, and land borders.

“To be destroyed here today on the order of the court are solid drugs, weighing 304,436.055kg and 40, 042. 621 litres of liquid drugs. The sheer volume of the drug haul speaks volumes about the extent of the nefarious activities of the drug underworld.”

He expressed appreciation to traditional rulers, heads of security agencies, the clergy, members of NGOs and CSOs as well as other stakeholders who witnessed the ceremony.

“The destruction of these seizures complies with the NDLEA Act, which mandates the Agency to destroy all drug exhibits after prosecution. We want to say that your presence here is a testament to this important occasion. To this end, we appreciate all stakeholders and members of the public for witnessing this exercise”, he added.

He seized the opportunity to acknowledge the support of the Agency’s local and international partners, “especially the American Drug Enforcement Administration (US-DEA); United Kingdom NCA, Border Force; the Germans, the French; Indian NCB, among others who had worked with us on a number of busts. Similarly, we appreciate the Nigerian military and other law enforcement agencies such as the Customs; Immigration; Police; Civil Defence; FRSC; NFIU,NAFDAC and others that have been supporting our efforts to rid Nigeria of illicit drugs.”
While assuring that NDLEA will not relent in its effort to end the drug scourge in the country, Marwa called for more public support for the activities of the Agency. “The safety of our society is the responsibility of every one of us. Every citizen shall be fulfilling his or her civic duty by assisting the Agency’s War Against Drug Abuse (WADA) campaign to clean up our communities and cities. Together, we can make this country secure”, he added.

Lagos state governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu represented by Chairman, Badagry West Local Government, Mr. Olusegun Onilude expressed satisfaction with the efforts of NDLEA to tackle the scourge of illicit drugs in the country.

“Almost all crimes and criminalities are fueled by illicit drugs, so the Lagos state government appreciates NDLEA and its leadership in their resolute fight against illicit drugs.

“The volume of illicit drugs being destroyed here today speak volume and every right-thinking person should be worried”, he stated.

He also thanked the Agency for taking the War Against Drug Abuse (WADA) social advocacy campaign to schools and communities across Lagos State. “No doubt, NDLEA is working, and the state will continue to collaborate with the Agency and its leadership”, he assured.

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NSA receives 22 abducted students, staff of Zamfara varsity

The National Security Adviser, NSA, Nuhu Ribadu, on Monday, April 15, 2024, received 22 abducted students and staff of Federal University, Gusau in Zamfara, who were rescued after 207 days in captivity.

The victims, comprising 15 students and seven workers of the university, were abducted from the university in September 2023.

According to the NSA, the rescue operation was coordinated by the National Counter-Terrorism Centre, NCTC, on Sunday

Mr Ribadu who received the rescued victims on Monday in Abuja, urged them not to allow their experience to break them, but should rather make them stronger.

The NSA also thanked the parents of the rescued victims for their patience and understanding during the period and commended security agencies for their tireless work and sacrifices.

“On behalf of the President, I thank all those involved in the successful rescue of the victims without losing anyone of them or paying any ransom,” he said.

“This is yet again a success story in our efforts to free all those being unlawfully held in captivity.

“We have so far released over a thousand of such victims without noise and with complete respect to their privacy and safety.

“This occasion marks a final juncture in a series of rescues we have undertaken in the last few months, to free victims of recent cases of mass abductions.

“Going forward, we are strengthening law enforcement and security measures to prevent these abductions, and strengthen physical security across vulnerable communities,” he said.

Earlier, the National Coordinator, NCTC, Maj.-Gen. Adamu Laka recalled that those rescued were abducted from the school on Sept. 22, 2023, at about 0230hrs

Mr Laka said bandits armed with various weapons attacked three off-campus students’ hostels at Sabon Gida in Gusau and kidnapped a number of female students alongside some male artisans

Others, he said, were a private security guard and a protocol officer of the university.

He added that the bandits ransacked the hostels, and carted away foodstuffs, mobile phones, laptops, ATM cards, cash and other valuables.

According to him, the abductees were subsequently herded on motorcycles and foot to a location through a town in the Tsafe local government area of Zamfara.

“Search and rescue was conducted by a combined team of law enforcement agencies and the abductees were subsequently released in three batches, after 207 days in captivity,” he said.

“The first batch was rescued on March 15 while the second batch was rescued on April 12 and the last batch was rescued on April 14.

“All the abductees were profiled at NCTC while the ONSA Medical Team examined them and administered minor treatments on the bruises sustained by 3 of the abductees.

“Four of them were diagnosed with malaria and are being treated. None of the females was molested and all the females tested negative for pregnancy test,” he added.

One of the rescued victims, Hafsat Ibrahim, thanked God and the government for ensuring their safe return after 207 days in captivity.

Representative of the Zamfara government, Ibrahim Anka, commended the efforts of the NSA in coordinating the military and security operations that ensured the safe rescue of the victims.

Anka also commended the Federal Government for the efforts and recent positive improvement in security in the state.

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President Tinubu declares April 7, National Police day

President Bola Tinubu has declared April 7 as National Police Day.

Tinubu, represented by Vice President Kashim Shettima, made this known on Monday night during the maiden edition of the Nigeria Police Awards and Commendations ceremony held in the Transcorp Hilton, Abuja.

The president identified a complete overhaul of institutional mentality and memory of police officers as fundamental in his administration’s ongoing bid to transform the force into a modern, professional and accountable institution.

According to Tinubu, his administration had initiated wide-ranging reforms to revitalize the nation’s police force since assuming office in 2023.

He, therefore, stressed the need to engage men and women of the force in training and capacity-building to equip them with the expertise required to carry out the arduous task of modern policing.

He also disclosed that the Federal Government had approved the first week of April as police week and the last day of the week as the National Police Day.

“Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, in our tradition of honouring the Police Force in the life of this great nation, we have approved the adoption of the first week of April as Police Week.

“Furthermore, the last day of the week, April 7th, is hereby declared National Police Day in Nigeria.

“Tonight, I must remind you that we don’t see you as just the shields of the nation, we don’t see you as robots.

“This is why we are here; we are here to humanise you.

“At a time in Nigeria’s history, when the nation’s security architecture is being stretched beyond elastic limits, the citizens have been able to endure in the face of security threats as well as attacks on their lives and livelihoods due to the commitment of the police.

“Your exemplary valour doesn’t only represent the pinnacle of patriotism that binds us but also instils confidence that brighter days lie just beyond the horizon,” he said.

The president listed part of the comprehensive reforms by his administration to rejuvenate the police force to include investment in training and capacity-building.

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