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Nations urged to phase out fossil fuels at UN climate talks

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The United Nations climate conference opens in Dubai on Thursday with nations urged to increase the pace of action on global warming and phase out fossil fuels, amid intense scrutiny of oil-rich hosts, the United Arab Emirates.

The two-week-long climate negotiations being held this year in the glitzy Gulf city come at a pivotal moment, with emissions still rising and this year likely to be the hottest in human history.

Britain’s King Charles III, world leaders, activists and lobbyists are among more than 97,000 people expected to attend what is being billed as the largest climate gathering of its kind.

The UN and hosts the United Arab Emirates say these talks, known as COP28, will be the most important since Paris in 2015, when nations agreed to limit global warming to well below 2 degrees Celsius since the preindustrial era, and preferably to a safer limit of 1.5C.
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Scientists say the world is not on track to achieve these targets and nations must make faster and deeper cuts to emissions to avert the most disastrous impacts of climate change.

On the eve of the summit, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said the conference should aim for a complete “phaseout” of fossil fuels, a contested proposal supported by many nations and scientists that has dogged negotiations past.

“Obviously, I am strongly in favour of language that includes (a) phaseout, even with a reasonable time framework,” Guterres told AFP before flying to Dubai.

A central focus will be a stocktake of the world’s limited progress on curbing global warming, which requires an official response at these talks.

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“Right now, we’re taking baby steps where we should be taking great leaps and great strides to get us to where we need to be,” said UN climate chief Simon Stiell on Wednesday.

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On Friday and Saturday, about 140 heads of state and government — Pope Francis had to cancel at the last minute due to the flu — are expected to articulate their ambition after a year of devastating floods, wildfires and storms across the globe.

Hosts under pressure

On Thursday, nations are expected to formally approve the launch of a “loss and damage” fund to compensate climate-vulnerable countries after a year of hard-fought negotiations over how it would work.

But it remains to be filled, with rich nations urged to make contributions so the money can start flowing.

The UAE sees itself as a bridge between the rich developed nations most responsible for historic emissions and the rest of the world, which has contributed less to global warming but suffers its worst consequences.

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But the decision for it to host has attracted a firestorm of criticism, particularly after the appointment of Sultan Al Jaber — the head of UAE oil giant ADNOC — to steer the talks as COP president.

The 50-year-old Emirati, who also chairs a clean energy company, has defended his record and resisted pressure from European and US lawmakers to stand aside.

Fears of a conflict of interest were given fresh life on the eve of COP28 when Jaber was accused of using the presidency to pursue fossil fuel deals in meetings with governments — accusations he strenuously denied.

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Guterres said Jaber was in a better position to tell the oil industry that the “solution of the climate problems requires the phaseout of fossil fuels” than “if he was the member of an NGO with a very solid pro-climate record.”

Thorny issues

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Nations will navigate a range of thorny issues between November 30 and December 12, and experts say geopolitical tensions and building trust could be a huge challenge.

Israeli President Isaac Herzog and Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas may cross paths on Friday, as they are scheduled to speak within minutes of each other.

Neither US President Joe Biden nor Chinese President Xi Jinping — heads of the world’s two biggest polluters — are attending, though Washington and Beijing did strike a rare common note on the climate this month that spurred optimism going into COP.

Sonia Dunlop, CEO of the Global Solar Council, said it was hoped that more than 100 countries would agree to triple renewable energy by 2030 — a flagship proposal being put forward by the COP hosts.

Rallying a common position on the future of fossil fuels will be more challenging.

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Any decisions at COP are made by consensus, meaning nearly 200 nations — whether dependent on oil, sinking beneath rising seas or locked in geopolitical rivalry — must traverse these fault lines to reach any agreement.

“In the end, the proof is in the pudding,” US climate envoy John Kerry said Wednesday.

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Crime

LAUTECH students seek justice after cop allegedly kills corper

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Some students of Ladoke Akintola University of Technology, Ogbomosho, Oyo State, have demanded a probe into the alleged killing of a corp member, Damilola Iyanda, by a trigger-happy policeman on Tuesday.

This is just as the students decried the prolonged brutality allegedly meted out to them by the police officer in a separate interview with Theheute on Tuesday.

Theheute had reported that a trigger-happy policeman allegedly shot a corps member identified as Iyanda Damilola to death in Ogbomoso Local Government Area of the state on Tuesday.

It was gathered that an operative of the disbanded Special Anti-Robbery Squad of the Nigeria Police Force was recognised by the students of the institution for alleged shooting.

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The deceased’s brother, Oluwafemi Iyanda, who graduated from LAUTECH, told our correspondent on Tuesday that he sustained wounds from the bullet shots.

Oluwafemi, a graduate of Accounting and Management Sciences from the institution, narrated that the deceased was his brother who had attended his convocation, after which they headed for an after-party the same day where he was shot dead by the trigger-happy cop.

According to him, the late Damilola was serving in Ibadan, the Oyo State capital.

He said, “Yesterday was our convocation, and we were at a lounge in the Under-G area for a convocation party around 2 am when we heard that some people were fighting outside. When we discovered that the place was getting rowdy, we stepped out only to see policemen dispersing the crowd and shooting directly at the people.

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“I sustained bullet wounds, but my brother, who came for my convocation, was shot in the head. He was confirmed dead at the LAUTECH Teaching Hospital and was taken to the mortuary this morning.

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“As I speak with you, I am at the clinic for my treatment. The wounds are deep, and I cannot but seek justice for my innocent brother.”

Asked if he could recognise the policemen who came for the operation, Oluwafemi said he was sure of one operative, stressing that the cop led the team that dispersed the crowd.

“I saw him handling the gun; he was shooting with one hand until he shot my brother,” he alleged.

Our correspondent gathered that the incident generated palpable tension among the students who took to the streets to protest but shelved the protest so as not to disrupt the ongoing convocation activities.

An eyewitness who pleaded anonymity, because he was authorised to speak, told Theheute that the students shut the gate of the institution, leading to a temporary delay in starting the grand finale of its 16th convocation ceremony on Tuesday.

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The source said, “What happened was that the celebration at the Under-G area resulted in an argument and this led to a fracas. It was during the altercation that the security agent was invited to settle the matter by the owner of the hotel.

“While attempting to settle the matter, the officer reportedly shot sporadically into the air. It was during this period that a student was allegedly shot, while two others sustained injury.”

Reacting to the incident, a student, Michael Oladipupo, alleged that the trigger-happy policeman was in the habit of brutalising students. He, however, urged relevant authorities to investigate the incident and bring the officer to justice.

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“We are sure that it was a member of the police team who killed the boy because students were present. This is not the first time this particular police officer is involved in brutalising students.

“The school should also join us to demand justice for those who were killed and injured yesterday. We also want the lounge where the incident happened to be probed,” Oladipupo said.

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Another student, Muhiz Alaka, urged the state government to probe the killing, stressing that the death of Damilola could not have been a mistake.

“We want justice for our brother that we lost, we want everyone involved in his death to be brought to book. The Oyo State Government should intervene and prosecute the culprit. The school management has not said anything on the matter yet, but all we want is for the perpetrator to be brought to book.

“An eyewitness said it was not a case of a stray bullet but an intentional act. This officer who is accused by students is known for brutalising students. He visits their hostels and bullies them. He has been constituting a nuisance in the university community for a while now.”

Similarly, another student, Oluwatobiloba Ojediran, also sought the probe and prosecution of the alleged officer if found guilty of the accusation levelled against him.

“One was slain, one was injured, and yesterday was the convocation. Two brothers from one parent are victims of this brutality, it is unfair if we keep mute. Justice must prevail, and the police officer must face the wrath of the law.”

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When contacted, the spokesperson for the state police command, Adewale Osifeso, disclosed that an investigation had begun into the incident.

“Investigation is ongoing. Updates will be provided accordingly, please,” Osifeso said.

Meanwhile, the Oyo State Coordinator of the National Youth Service Corps, Odoba Oche, confirmed that the deceased was a Corp member.

He said, “We have confirmed that the deceased was a Corp member serving in Ibadan North Local Government. He was reportedly invited to his brother’s convocation in LAUTECH where the unfortunate incident happened.”

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CBN releases more dollars as naira weakens to 1,300/$

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The naira depreciated further against the United States dollar at the official market on Tuesday, closing at 1,300/$.

This came as the Central Bank of Nigeria stepped up efforts to stem the tide, selling more dollars to Bureau De Change operators.

The apex bank disclosed the dollar sale in a new circular referenced TEM/FEM/PUB/001/013 and uploaded to its website on Tuesday.

It was signed by the CBN Director, Trade and Exchange Department Dr Hassan Mahmud.

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The apex bank said it was set to sell $10,000 to BDCs at N1,021 per dollar and directed the operators to sell at a spread not more than 1.5 per cent above the CBN rate.

Amid the development, the naira maintained a depreciation trend against the United States dollar on Tuesday, falling to N1,300 per dollar at the Nigerian Autonomous Foreign Exchange Market.

The new rate is N66 per cent weaker than N1,234 per dollar recorded on Monday.

A summary of the forex transaction showed that the intra-day high depreciated by N22, closing at N1,317 per dollar from N1,295 per dollar. The intra-day low however gained to N1,000 from N1,051/$.

While the total daily turnover increased slightly to $133.65m from $110.17m on Monday.

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At the parallel market, currency traders sold the dollar between the rate of N1,300 and N1,320 on Tuesday from N1,260 recorded on Monday.

Earlier this month, the apex bank sold $10,000 to BDCs at a rate of N1101/$ and directed the BDCs to sell to eligible customers at a rate not exceeding 1.5 per cent above the purchase price.

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This initiative represents the second such occurrence this month and the fourth instance this year, underlining the CBN’s proactive strategy in managing currency volatility and ensuring the availability of essential foreign exchange.

Theheute reported on Monday that the Naira depreciated against the United States dollar reaching an exchange rate of N1,234 at the official foreign exchange market. This represents a decline of N65 or approximately 5.26 per cent from the previous rate of N1,169.99/$1 recorded on Friday. The fluctuation in exchange rates can have significant implications for trade and economic stability.

The statement read, “We write to inform you of the sale of $10,000 by the CBN to BDCs at the rate of 1,021/$. The BDCs are in turn to sell to eligible end users at a spread not more than 1.5 per cent of the purchase price.”

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This recent move follows the CBN’s resolve to continue to defend the naira as stated by the bank earlier.

The CBN directed all eligible BDCs to commence payment of naira deposit into the designated CBN accounts from April 22, 2024.

It also asked the operators to submit proof of payment and other documents at the appropriate CBN branches for disbursement.

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Crime

Yahaya Bello withdrew $720,000 from Kogi account to pay child’s school fees -EFCC chairman

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The Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Ola Olukoyede, has revealed that a former governor of Kogi State, Yahaya Bello, transferred $720,000 from the government’s coffers to a bureau de change before leaving office to pay in advance for his child’s school fee.

Olukoyede revealed this during an interview with journalists on Tuesday in Abuja.

He said, “A sitting governor, because he knows he is going, moved money directly from government to bureau de change, used it to pay the child’s school fee in advance, $720,000 in advance, in anticipation that he was going to leave the Government House.

“In a poor state like Kogi, and you want me to close my eyes to that under the guise of ‘I’m being used.’ Being used by who at this stage of my life?”

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Olukoyede further stated that he personally reached out to Bello, offering him a chance to clarify the situation in a respectful setting within the EFCC office but the ex-governor reportedly declined to cooperate, citing fears of harassment from an unnamed woman.

The EFCC boss added, “I didn’t initiate the case; I inherited the case file. I called for the file, and I said there are issues here.

“On my own, I called him, which I am not supposed to do, just to honour him as an immediate past governor. ‘Sir, there are issues. I’ve seen this case file. Can you just come let us clarify these issues?’

“He said, ‘Ha! Thank you, my brother. I know, but I can’t come. There’s one lady that has surrounded EFCC with over 100 people to come and embarrass me and intimitade me.’

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Bello was said to have suggested that the EFCC come to his village rather than conduct an investigation at the agency’s quarters.

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“I said if that is the issue, I’m going to pass you through my own gate, and you will come to my floor. We will accord you that respect. I will invite my operatives; they will interrogate and interview you in my own office. What could be more honourable than that to allay the fear?

“You know what he said: ‘Thank you, sir, but can’t they come to my village? Olukoyede added.

The chairman also highlighted the agency’s achievements during his tenure, stating, “We have recovered close to 120 billion and secured over 1,600 convictions in six months.

“I’m so passionate about the need for us to move forward in this country. We need the EFCC to survive. There are so many victims that we have wiped tears off their eyes, people that have been swindled in their millions. Every day, we keep recovering money for victims.”

Theheute reports that the EFCC chairman, Olukoyede, has vowed to resign from his position if Yahaya Bello is not prosecuted.

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The EFCC is seeking to arraign Bello on 19 counts bordering on alleged money laundering, breach of trust, and misappropriation of funds to the tune of N80.2 billion.

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