Connect with us

News

PM to lead Commons tributes to David Amess as family call for unity

Published

on

Amess

PM to lead Commons tributes to David Amess as family call for unity

Boris Johnson will lead tributes to Sir David Amess in the House of Commons on Monday as debate rages about how drastically to step up security in the wake of the fatal attack on the Southend MP at his constituency surgery.

On Sunday night Amess’s family appealed for public unity, urging people to “set aside their differences and show kindness and love to all”. In a statement, his relatives said they were “absolutely broken” but had drawn strength from the tributes to him from across the political spectrum.

The attack sent shock waves through Westminster and reopened questions about MPs’ safety five years after the murder of Labour’s Jo Cox. The home secretary, Priti Patel, said on Sunday that she was considering offering MPs police protection at their surgeries, and the use of airport-style scanners was under consideration.

Asked how quickly such measures could be brought in, Patel told Sky News that all MPs were being contacted by their local police forces. “This isn’t a case of let’s wait for two weeks, three weeks, four weeks. These are immediate changes, and measures that are actively being put in place, and it starts with MPs.”

However, several MPs told the Guardian they had concerns that a police presence would deter constituents from attending surgeries or other public events. The former Brexit secretary David Davis said: “The people who come to your surgery are people who are at their wits’ end: they’ve been let down by their employer or their doctor or the NHS or the welfare system, and they’re often very fragile. They might well be put off by a big burly police officer on the door.”

The former shadow home secretary Diane Abbott, who represents Hackney North, said MPs might benefit from access to metal detectors or wands to check constituents, or plastic screens, but “if you put police officers outside our constituency advice surgeries it makes us look like agents of the state – and in Hackney that is not a good look.”

A senior backbench Conservative pointed out that resources would have to be directed at the MPs most under threat, but Amess would have been unlikely to have been identified as an obvious target.

Others said security measures put in place in the wake of Cox’s murder had only been partially implemented, in some cases because of a lack of police resources. Several told the Guardian they did not have the single point of contact at their local force that is meant to be at the heart of the system.

The shadow home secretary, Nick Thomas-Symonds, said: “It is right that we look at a range of options, to ensure we get the balance right between keeping MPs safe whilst doing their jobs, giving them confidence in the support available and to protect the unique nature of British democracy.”

A spokesperson for the parliamentary authorities, which oversee MPs’ security in cooperation with the police, said: “It is essential that we learn from this tragic event, identify any additional security requirements, and continue to encourage MPs to take up the existing measures available to them.”

A 25-year-old man, Ali Harbi Ali, a British national, was still being questioned at a London police station on Sunday in an investigation led by counter-terrorism officers from the Met. He was arrested on suspicion of murder on Friday after being detained by officers at the crime scene in Leigh-on-Sea, Essex.

Police can keep Ali in custody until Friday before deciding whether to charge him, under powers granted by terrorism legislation. The killing was assessed as being linked to an Islamist ideology because of developments in the investigation after the arrest, sources say.

A home in Kentish Town, north London, where Ali and his family are believed to have lived, was still being searched by police on Sunday. Two other addresses in the London area have been searched by counter-terrorism police.

The suspect was previously known to the Prevent scheme, the government programme to stop radicalisation, but his involvement was short, according to multiple sources. He did not appear on any current MI5 watchlist, sources added.

Ali’s father, Harbi Ali Kullane, is a former adviser to the prime minister of Somalia and now lives in the UK. He told reporters on Saturday he was feeling “very traumatised” by the violent incident.

Sources close to the investigation indicated on Sunday that Ali had booked an appointment to see Amess at his surgery on Friday. Details of the surgery had been advertised on social media and elsewhere in advance.

The Speaker of the House of Commons, Sir Lindsay Hoyle, has torn up the parliamentary timetable to allow MPs to spend much of Monday afternoon paying tribute to Amess, after a minute’s silence at 2.30pm. Johnson will lead a special debate in which MPs will be able to share their memories of the Essex MP, who was first elected in 1983.

Several including Hoyle have already made clear they believe the best tribute to him would be to carry out his long-held wish that Southend become a city, a hope that was echoed by Amess’s family in their statement on Sunday. “David was working hard for Southend to gain city status. In his memory, please show your support for this campaign,” they said.

As well as strengthening physical security around MPs, Patel suggested the government was looking at ways to ensure social media companies do their part in tackling what she called the “corrosive” state of online debate.

“We can’t just apply a binary approach, but there is something very, very corrosive,” she said. “We know that social media platforms advocate all sorts of things that are harmful to all aspects of society,” Patel said, adding that it was important to “really close that corrosive space where we see just dreadful behaviour.”

The government’s online safety bill is being scrutinised by MPs and there have been calls for it to be toughened up. Labour would like to see social media executives made personally responsible if their companies fail to uphold the codes of practice in the legislation.

Amess’s family paid tribute to his strength and courage in their statement. “He was a patriot and a man of peace. So we ask people to set aside their differences and show kindness and love to all. This is the only way forward. Set aside hatred and work towards togetherness. Whatever one’s race, religious or political beliefs, be tolerant and try to understand.”

They added: “As a family, we are trying to understand why this awful thing has occurred. Nobody should die in that way. Nobody Please let some good come from this tragedy. We are absolutely broken, but we will survive and carry on for the sake of a wonderful and inspiring man.”

On Sunday, the state of Qatar issued a statement condemning the attack on Amess, who was chairman of the All-Party Parliamentary British-Qatar Group, calling his stabbing “a horrific crime and a clear violation of human rights”. Amess had visited the nation last week.

Continue Reading
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

twelve − one =

News

On Father’s Day | The Harmattan News

Published

on

Professor Hope O’Rukevbe Eghagha

The whole world said June Sunday the 19th was Father’s Day, and different emojis flew into my social media space from biological and non-biological wards, from students I taught twenty, thirty years ago, from social media ‘off-springs. ‘Thanks for all that you have been to me’, one wrote. There was sour grape too. One father observed: which one is this again, bringing me more expenses? It’s Father’s Day I will still be the one to take them out, just as I did on Mother’s Day and Children’s Day! Hahahaha!

I didn’t grow up with the tradition of observing Father’s or Mother’s Day. Father was father, papa really. And Mother was mama, you know. Duty. Social responsibility. Provision of everything. Meeting all our needs from a modest civil servant’s income. It was a given. It was part of me, of us. The man in the house called the shots in a firm way but also ensured that we were comfortable within his means. What he could not afford now, he promised to get us later. And he did. Somehow, we knew our limits. We never asked for the moon. From deed and action, Papa taught us how to be a father, a dad, a friend. Friend? That came later, that is, after A ’Levels success and he bought me a beer at 18! I was dizzy after a glass. But a beer from Papa would not harm me, the same man who never spared the rod if I as much broke any of the rules of engagement like going to play football without permission! But all of this prepared me for fatherhood! To be a father by example…

I was 27 when I became a father. And a dad. That early morning in the hospital when I bore my tall thin baby girl in my arms, I stared at her for hours, wondering abut the beauty of a human being that had come out of my loins, my very first, (beginning of my strength’, the bible says) how the experience would change my life, how I would always have to reckon with three persons thenceforth, how I would have to ensure that she was fed regularly no matter how expensive baby formula was and how I would care for her no matter the circumstances. I had always wanted a girl, having come from an immediate family of seven boys and two girls, one five years older and the other six years younger, and how that deprived me of a close relationship with a girl at home. Odd, isn’t it? But that was it.

I also peered into the future, what I would do, what I wouldn’t do, and what direction I would give, religious, philosophical, spiritual, moral, and perhaps political. Sound education was a given. To pay fees for her through school without seeking support from my wife a given. But I did not foresee the world which she came into later as things began to tumble, as salaries were delayed, or withheld when ASUU was on strike, when our Take Home Pay could Not Take us Home, when inflation hit the roof, when the purchasing power of the naira took a terrible nose dive, or when herdsmen came into the narrative, when I ordered her to return home to Nigeria from the UK after an MSc to be able to meet a spouse and marry, how I changed my mind and asked my children to live anywhere in the world after my abductors threatened to kidnap my kids so I would be released from their custody to look for ransom money to free myself! That was not part of my vision!

READ ALSO: Democracy and Money Politics

Fatherhood was trying. Stressful sometimes. Did you worry about school fees sometimes? About what they would wear? About taking them to and bring them back from school, supervising homework, organizing private coaching, preparing them for entrance into secondary school and later JAMB examinations? And they passed the examinations. There was happiness. Sense of achievement. Accomplishment. So, fatherhood was joyful too. How could, how should a father from a conservative home handle ‘tabooed sexuality subjects’ with a child of the modern age? It was a tough question! Push some to the mother? Allow her to discover some?

So, it was that as I journeyed through the walls of education as a teacher, I encountered many students who made me a father, boys and girls who said daddy was absent in their lives, they didn’t know what it was like to have a father, how to bring a child into the world was not everything, how to provide material things was not fatherhood, how being an aggressive male in the house destroyed anything about fatherhood. And in a Creative Writing class, I asked my students to describe their relationship with their father and one of them broke down inconsolably as others wrote, and how she said the only thing about her father she knew was his photograph because he died when she was two or three. Or was it before she was born? I don’t remember now. But there were no dry eyes in the class of twenty-five that day when her experience of a no-dad hit the class, especially those who had taken presence of fatherhood for granted.

There were others too who said once a second wife came into the picture, they ‘lost’ their father to the charms of Mrs. New Wife! How he didn’t bother anymore about the details of their lives. Children of ‘Baby mamas’, who grew up with dad never visiting the child’s school. Love child with no open love for the child. What about the one who grew up in Yorubaland with a Yoruba mother, and who thought his dad was Yoruba, who spoke Yoruba, who was told that his father died when he was a baby, how he once attended a party with his mom and a cousin to his mom cornered and told him his father was from Imo State, and he was alive somewhere in Port Harcourt and before she could complete the story, his mother burst in on them and almost had a fight with the woman, how she warned him never to go to that woman in his life. Pained, as a final year student, what would he say was his home state when he went into politics, what would he tell his children, why did his mother blank out his father, why the bitterness? Questions. Questions! Questions!

VISIT US: @theharmattan1

Fatherhood and Father’s Day. Much later all the other kids came, and I learnt how to deal with each of them individually, separately, and together. They all came in their different ways, character, brilliance, attitude, food choices, choice of academic career, even marriage choices. So, as I was fathering kids, having eat-outs, having family dinner to encourage bonding, I was also a student of parenting too, learning things Papa never taught me, making mistakes even while correcting them, learning lessons which no book or teacher or guardian taught me. Leant that it was better to allow them blossom while you guided them into self-discovery and if they trusted you enough, everyday will be FATHER’S DAY in their lives, they would remember you positively and reciprocate proper fatherhood with good ‘children-hood! And of course, we soon moved to another level- that of a grandfather, welcoming a second generation of my own brood, male and female, a blessing which money cannot buy! Lessons learnt while grooming their parents may no longer be applicable while relating with your children’s children. It’s a new world, where a five-year old could put me through the intricacies of an android phone! Marveling about it all is part of the pride of being a father and a grandfather.

So, let everyday be a day for fathers, mothers, and for the children. So, when your son writes: ‘I’ve never really been a fan of Father’s and Mother’s Day because for me I believe my parents are special and I thank God for having you every day. I thank God because I was blessed to be able to grow up, stroll to the sitting room and have someone sitting there who I could ask any questions and from whom I could get wise answers’, one feels fulfilled. And let the spirit of love, parental, sibling, filial, govern the world. Perhaps if we had that consciousness, there would be less tension in the world!

Professor Hope O. Eghagha, Department of English, Faculty of Arts, University of Lagos, Akoka Lagos

Continue Reading

News

UN chief warns of ‘catastrophe’ from global food shortage

Published

on

UN chief warns of ‘catastrophe’ from global food shortage

The head of the United Nations warned Friday that the world faces “catastrophe” because of the growing shortage of food around the globe.

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said the war in Ukraine has added to the disruptions caused by climate change, the coronavirus pandemic and inequality to produce an “unprecedented global hunger crisis” already affecting hundreds of millions of people.

“There is a real risk that multiple famines will be declared in 2022,” he said in a video message to officials from dozens of rich and developing countries gathered in Berlin. “And 2023 could be even worse.”

Guterres noted that harvests across Asia, Africa and the Americas will take a hit as farmers around the world struggle to cope with rising fertilizer and energy prices.

“This year’s food access issues could become next year’s global food shortage,” he said. “No country will be immune to the social and economic repercussions of such a catastrophe.”

Guterres said U.N. negotiators were working on a deal that would enable Ukraine to export food, including via the Black Sea, and let Russia bring food and fertilizer to world markets without restrictions.

He also called for debt relief for poor countries to help keep their economies afloat and for the private sector to help stabilize global food markets.

The Berlin meeting’s host, German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock, said Moscow’s claim that Western sanctions imposed over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine were to blame for food shortages was “completely untenable.”

Russia exported as much wheat in May and June this year as in the same months of 2021, Baerbock said.

She echoed Guterres’ comments that several factors underlie the growing hunger crisis around the world.

“But it was Russia’s war of attack against Ukraine that turned a wave into a tsunami,” Baerbock said.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken insisted that Russia has no excuse for holding back vital goods from world markets.

“The sanctions that we’ve imposed on Russia collectively and with many other countries exempt food, exempt food products, exempt fertilizers, exempt insurers, exempt shippers,” he said.

Continue Reading

News

Bandits release Zamfara wedding guests after payment of ransom

Published

on

Bandits release Zamfara wedding guests after payment of ransom

Local and federal highways in the North-west have become vulnerable as bandits continue to ambush and abduct travellers.

The gunmen who abducted 29 people returning to Zamfara State from Sokoto State where they had gone to attend the wedding of colleagues have released them after the payment of an unspecified ransom.

The victims, who were mostly dealers of mobile phones and phone accessories at Bebeji Communication Market (Bebeji Plaza) in Gusau, the capital of Zamfara State were abducted in Sokoto 13 days ago.

Secretary of the GSM Dealers Association in the state, Ashiru Zurmi, confirmed the release of the victims but didn’t give details.

One of the victims reportedly died in captivity.

Though the amount paid as ransom to secure the release of the hostages has not been revealed, Abdullahi Lawal, whose brother was among those abducted, said their relatives were asked to make donations. He said his family raised N33,000 while the phone sellers’ association “provided the remaining money.”

“Every family was told to gather N400,000 while the members of the plaza and their colleagues in the state provided the remaining money. Some family members were able to raise the money in full, but we couldn’t. I took the money to the plaza and I was told that they were still negotiating with the bandits” he said.

He said he didn’t know how much was given to the bandits “but I’m happy that my brother is okay,” he said.

From N5m to N700,000

A phone accessories seller, Sharhabilu Muhammad, told PREMIUM TIMES over the phone that the officials of the phone dealers association negotiated with the bandits to reduce the ransom they originally demanded to release the captives.

“You know that the initial money they said was N5m for each of the captives but our officials kept negotiating with them (bandits) until they reduced the money to N700k,” he said.

When asked about the person who reportedly died in captivity, Mr Muhammed said his identity has not been revealed.

“We don’t know because even the bandits didn’t tell but we’ll surely find out when they (captives) arrive at Gusau tonight,” he added.

The police command spokesman, Mohammed Shehu, didn’t respond to calls and SMS sent to him on the development.

Backstory

PREMIUM TIMES reported that the wedding guests were abducted when bandits opened fire on the two buses they were travelling in a few kilometres after Bimasa in the Dogon Awo junction, Sokoto State.

They were returning from Tambuwal town in Sokoto State where they had attended the wedding of a colleague, Jamil Umar.

The captives were travelling on a Toyota Coaster bus belonging to the Universal Basic Education Commission UBEC and another bus owned by Gusau Local Government.

The bandits had demanded a ransom of N145 million to release the 29 hostages.

Bandits have been terrorising North-west states and a part of North-central Nigeria, killing and displacing hundreds of people and rustling domestic animals.

Travelling on federal and local highways is becoming dangerous as bandits block roads, abduct and kill motorists.

Major federal highways including Abuja-Kaduna, Gusau-Sokoto-Birnin Kebbi, and Birnin Gwari-Kaduna have become travellers’ nightmares with attacks and abduction or killing of travellers becoming a daily occurrence.

Continue Reading
Advertisement

Trending