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Johnson told to drive out ‘dinosaur mentality’ from Tory party after race row

dinosaur mentality

Johnson told to drive out ‘dinosaur mentality’ from Tory party after race row

Boris Johnson has been urged to drive out a “dinosaur mentality” from the Conservative party amid warnings that an MP mixing up two ministers of Asian heritage was “not an isolated incident”.

James Gray confused his Tory colleagues Nadhim Zahawi and Sajid Javid at a charity reception in parliament last month, allegedly saying “they all look the same to me,” it emerged on Tuesday.

It was the second time in less than a month that Javid, the health secretary, was mistaken for another minister of Asian heritage. He was confused with Alok Sharma, the Cop26 president, at Conservative party conference in Manchester. A fellow delegate commented on him being driven in a gas-guzzling car despite supposedly being in charge of the climate summit, it is understood.

On Tuesday, Gray, the MP for North Wiltshire, was called in for a meeting with the chief whip and reminded of the standards expected of him. St John Ambulance, which appointed Gray as a commander last year, stripped him of the role after the alleged racist remark made at an event held in honour of its volunteers in September.

Gray, who was hosting its reception, tried to introduce Javid but incorrectly called Zahawi, the education secretary, up to the front. When the mistake was pointed out, the MP was said by a witness quoted in the Daily Mail to have told the audience: “They all look the same to me.” The witness added that Zahawi pulled Gray to one side for a private conversation afterwards.

Gray denied making that specific remark, telling the BBC he thought he might have said “I mixed you up” and adding it was a “very silly non-story”. In a statement to the Daily Mail on Monday night Gray insisted he had said the ministers “look very alike” and that he was “sorry if I got you two mixed up”. He added that the two were close friends of his and that “the notion this is some sort of racist remark is ridiculous”. His office did not respond to requests for further comment.

A spokesperson for St John Ambulance said it “does not tolerate racism in any way, shape or form”, adding: “We spoke with James Gray following the event about our values as an open, inclusive and progressive charity.”

The revelation about Gray’s comment prompted criticism from Sajjad Karim, a Tory former MEP. “He should have apologised immediately,” he said. “It’s certainly demonstrative of the huge journey the Conservative party needs to go on when it comes to the issue of diversity and – dare I say it – levelling up internally.”

Karim told the Guardian it was “not an isolated incident at all” and that he had lost count of the number of times other minority ethnic Conservatives had recounted being confused with someone else or he had experienced it personally, including being mistaken for the innovation secretary, Syed Kamall.

He said it was symptomatic of a “dinosaur mentality” and signalled his concern at the seemingly soft action taken against Gray. Karim said Gray should at the very least apologise and undergo diversity training, adding: “It is a clear signal that such behaviour and flippant reactions by perpetrators are still regarded as the order of the day. Back to the 50s, 60s and 70s, it is.”

A Tory anti-racist activist, who asked not to be named, called Gray’s remark “unpleasant and sloppy” and said comments like his would not have been accepted under past Conservative leaders but “in the post-2016 era, we seem to have to accept mediocrity”. Nick Lowles, chief executive of Hope Not Hate, said it was a “sign of an endemic inability and lack of political will to tackle racism”.

A Conservative party spokesperson said: “These comments were misjudged. We do not tolerate racism or discrimination of any kind.”


Woman who masterminded self-kidnap, two others nabbed in Benin

A Benin, Edo State-based woman, Blessing Ogunu, who allegedly masterminded her own kidnap has been arrested by police operatives in the State.

The woman who is now cooling her feet with two other suspects in police custody, was arrested on 23 March, 2024.

The Command’s spokesman, SP Chidi Nwabuzor, in a statement on Monday in Benin, said the suspect was arrested with two other accomplices, Esther Anthony and Ukpebor Joel.

According to him, “The Anti-Kidnapping and Cyber Crime Unit received a complaint from one Samuel Prince Omomuzo, of No 102 Ihama Road, GRA, Benin City who reported that one Blessing Ogunu, a staff of Bliss Legacy Limited, Benin City was kidnapped in Benin and the kidnappers demanded for four million, eight hundred thousand naira (N4,800,000.00) ransom.

“The operatives, using technical intelligence, arrested the supposed victim of the kidnap, one Blessing Ogunu, Esther Anthony and Ukpebor Joel.

“During interrogation, the supposed Blessing Ogunu confessed that she masterminded her self-kidnap because her company refused to allocate land to a customer whom they have received money from.”

Nwanbuzor disclosed that the suspects would soon be charged to court.

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NAF airstrikes eliminate 30 terrorist kingpins, fighters in Borno

The Air component of the Operation Hadin Kai (OPHK), has executed a precision airstrike on the hideouts of ISWAP terrorists, killing over 30 of their fighters within Kolleram village along the shores of Lake Chad.

This is contained in a statement by AVM Edward Gabkwet, the Director, Public Relations and Information, Nigerian Air Force (NAF), on Tuesday in Abuja.

Gabkwet said the airstrikes conducted on April 13, were a decisive blow against terrorism in the North-East.

He said the operation yielded significant success as the Battle Damage Assessment (BDA) post-strike conducted revealed the neutralisation of over 30 terrorists.

Gabkwet said that among those neutralised were some senior commanders of the insurgents including Ali Dawud, Bakura Fallujah, and Mallam Ari.

“Additionally, numerous vehicles, motorcycles, and logistical assets were destroyed, severely hampering the terrorists’ operational capabilities.

“Intelligence gathered after the air strike further indicated that the aerial bombardment effectively obliterated a key facility within the Kolleram enclave, which served as a hub for the terrorists’ food processing activities, including grinding machines.

“The success of these airstrikes underscores NAF’s commitment to eradicating terrorism and ensuring the safety and security of Nigerian citizens.

“By neutralising key terrorist figures and destroying their logistical infrastructure, the operation has significantly degraded the capabilities of the ISWAP group in the region.

“These airstrikes complement the ongoing efforts of ground forces in the Lake Chad flank and represent a crucial step forward in the fight against terrorism in Nigeria,” he said.


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Francis Okoye arrested in Anambra bound commercial bus with firearms, POS machine

A 22-year-old man, Francis Obinna Okoye, has been arrested by operatives of Edo State Police Command’s Monitoring Unit for alleged possession of firearm.
Also recovered from him was a blue-coloured pos machine.
Okoye who resides at No 26, Jatto Street, Okolo, Lagos State, was arrested on 7 April, 2024.
A statement by the Command’s spokesman, SP Chidi Nwabuzor, said the suspect was apprehended by the  operatives while on stop and search duty along Lagos-Benin expressway, by Ovia river axis.
He was intercepted in a commercial bus loaded with passengers from Lagos state heading to Anambra state.
The suspect allegedly confessed in his statement that one Emma whose surname is unknown, gave him the gun to threaten his uncle, Mr. Paul Okoye, who was alleged to have killed his father with chams.
However, when operatives of the Command took him to Lagos on Monday, 8 April, 2024, to arrest Mr. Paul Okoye, they found out that the suspect lied to the operatives.
“The suspect will soon be process to
court,” the Edo Police Command spokesperson said.
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