Persecution of Muslims in China and India Reveals Important Facts About Religion and Geopolitics

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India, China and Myanmar are three Asian countries currently engrossed in carrying out physical and cultural genocides on their Muslim populations. While the plight of Rohingya Muslims and Uighur Muslims is well known, the recent introduction of a new law expressly aimed at dispossessing Muslims of Indian citizenship has alerted many to the reality that India’s ruling BJP government sees itself as Hindu first and foremost.

Questions such as “Why aren’t the rich Arab countries saying anything?” have come up, with the implicit inference that Muslim-dominated countries are supposed to stick up for Muslims everywhere in the world. Others have pointed out that despite suffering oppression in some parts of the world, Muslims are also responsible for brutal acts of oppression against other minority groups elsewhere, which allegedly negates the sufferings of the prior group.

In this article, I will pick through these questions and viewpoints with a goal of isolating some useful truths about how religion, geopolitics and human nature constantly interplay and produce much of the world around us.

Oppression is a Matter of Perspective

Which religion is the most oppressed? I like to troll my Christian friends with the image below whenever the topic comes up about some religion or the other allegedly imposing its will at their expense.

The truth is however, that this image could apply to just about every religion on earth. As a general rule of thumb, the only limiting factor on whether or not a religion functions as an oppressive tyranny in a particular jurisdiction is the proportion of the population that practises it there. Similarly, the only thing stopping any religion from being an oppressed and downtrodden identity is whether it is a small enough minority for that to be possible.

While Muslims in India, Myanmar and China are going through untold degrees of horror because of their religious identities, Muslims in places like Bangladesh, Indonesia, Afghanistan, Malaysia and Northern Nigeria are simultaneously visiting very similar horrors on Bah’ai, Shia Muslims, Christians, Budhists and other minorities in those areas. It turns out that the mere fact of belonging to a religious identity does not in fact, confer unrestricted global victimhood.

This point is important because it disproves the notion held by every major religion that its adherents follow a single set of standards and do things in the manner of a global “brotherhood.” In reality, Islam according to a Rohingya Muslim hiding from the Burmese military, and the same religion according to an itinerant herder in Kogi State bear almost no similarity to each other save for the most basic tenets. Environmental factors in fact have a bigger influence on how religions are practised than their own holy books. 

The current antics of India’s ruling BJP and its Hindu fundamentalist support base provide an important case in point as to how this works. Looking at the evolution of Hinduism from a passive philosophy into an openly militant ideology gives an important insight into how religion is in fact, a thoroughly contrived and amorphous set of ideas that can be changed, adjusted, aligned and revised at a moment’s notice in justification of anything at all. 

Hinduism traditionally sees itself as a religion of thoughtful, considered spirituality as against the angry dogmas of its Abrahamic neighbours, but something interesting is happening. Some argue that it started in the days of Gandhi, and some ascribe it to current Prime Minister Nanendra Modi, but whoever started it is a side note. The key point to note is that based on political factors, i.e anticolonial senitment against the British and anti-Muslim sentiment fueled by India’s national rivalry with Pakistan, Hinduism has somehow been coopted into the narrative of a jingoistic, monotheistic, mono-ethnic state which is  historical nonsense.

India has always been a pointedly pluralistic society, and in fact the geographical area now known as “India” does not even cover the geographical area of the India of antiquity. That India was a place of Hindus, Budhists, Muslims, Zoroastrians and everything in between. Hinduism never saw a problem with pluralism because Hinduism itself is a very plural religion – it has at least 13 major deities. The conversion of the Hindu identity into a political identity movement is a recent and contrived phenomenon first exploited by Gandhi as a means of opposing British colonialism, and now by Modi to oppose the Pakistanis/Muslims – it is a historical falsity.

The creation of Hindu fundamentalist movements like the RSS (which PM Modi belongs to) is something done in response to environmental factors. Spectacles like the RSS march below are evidence of yet another religion undergoing constant and ongoing evolution into whatever suits its purposes.

Something similar happened when medieval Europe turned into colonial Europe and European Christianity transitioned into a peaceful and pacifist ideology after centuries of being a bloodthirsty doctrine. The environmental factors that created the Crusades, the Spanish Inquisition, book burnings and witch hunts went away with the introduction of an industrial society, and thus the religion too transitioned.

In plain English, what all this means is that nobody actually practises a religion in the pure sense they imagine they do. Everyone who subscribes to a religion merely practises a version of it that is subject to the culture and circumstances of their environment and era. This is directly connected to the next major insight raised by these events.

Geopolitics is all About Self-Interest…Everyone Gets it Except Africa

While anti-Muslim violence has continued apace for years in China, Mynammar and India, the question has often been asked: “Why are the wealthy Arab nations not saying anything?” There is a perception that since the Arabian peninsula is the birthplace of Islam and Arabs – particularly Saudis – are viewed as the global gatekeepers of the faith, they must be at the forefront of promoting the interests of Muslims worldwide.

To many, the fabulous wealth and international influence that Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar and the UAE enjoy, in addition to the presence of two of Islam’s holiest cities – Mecca and Meddinah – in Saudi Arabia, means that they have a responsibility to speak for the global Muslim Ummah and stand up for them when they are unfairly targeted and mistreated. Unfortunately for such people, the wealthy nations of the Arab Gulf region tend to respond to such questions with little more than an irritated silence – and with good reason.

To begin with, these countries are not democracies led by the wishes of their almost uniformly Muslim populations. They are autocracies led by royal families who came to power in the colonially-influenced 20th century scramble for power and influence. Saudi Arabia, which houses Islam’s holiest sites, is named after the House of Saud, its royal family which came into power in its current form at the turn of the 19th century. The priority of the regimes in these countries first and foremost is self-preservation.

Self-preservation means that before throwing their significant diplomatic and economic weight behind any attempt to help out fellow Muslims, the first consideration is how doing so will benefit them. India for example, is a country that has close diplomatic ties with the UAE, and supplies most of their cheap labour for construction and low-skilled functions. India has even coordinated with UAE special forces to repatriate the dissident Princess Latika when she made an audacious escape attempt in 2018.

What does the UAE stand to gain if it napalms its diplomatic relationship with India by criticising Modi’s blatantly anti-Muslim policy direction? It might win a few brownie points with Islamic hardliners and possibly buy some goodwill among poor Muslims in South Asia, but how much is that worth? The regime and nation’s self-interest is best served by looking the other way, so that is exactly what they will do.

The Saudis make a similar calculation. At a time when they are investing heavily in military hardware to keep up with their eternal rivals Turkey and Iran, and simultaneously preparing for the end of oil by liberalising their society and economy, does it pay them to jump into an issue in India that does not particularly affect them? As the status of their diplomatic relationship with the U.S. remains unclear following the Jamal Khasshoggi incident, are they going to risk pissing off the Chinese because of Uighur Muslims?

In fact self-interest like that mentioned here is the basis of the considerations that underpin all international relations. Well I say “all,” but what I really meant to say was “all except African countries.” It is only African countries that take diplomatic decisions based on little more than flimsy emotions and feelings of religious affinity. Gambia for example, has dragged Myanmar before the UN and filed a genocide case against it on behalf of the Rohingya Muslims.

This would be commendable and great were it not that Gambia itself is hardly a human rights luminary, and generally has little business fighting an Asian battle when its own worse African battles lie unfought. The only thing Gambia stands to gain from fighting a diplomatic war that the rest of the world seems unwilling to touch is the temporary goodwill of a few Muslims in Asia and around the world – goodwill that cannot translate into something tangible for it.

To coin an aphorism from social media lingo, you could call it ”diplomatic clout chasing.’

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Nigerian Youths Should Choose Life, Not Death — Emmanuel Onwubiko

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Statistically, the global authority on health issues known as the World Health Organization (WHO) has released a highly frightening but realistic rate of suicides committed by members of the global humanity per annum. It says that close to 800 000 people die due to suicide every year, which is one person every 40 seconds.

Suicide the World Health Organisation observed succinctly, is a global phenomenon and occurs throughout the lifespan.

It reckons that effective and evidence-based interventions can be implemented at population, sub-population and individual levels to prevent suicide and suicide attempts. There are indications that for each adult who died by suicide there may have been more than 20 others attempting suicide.

Suicide occurs throughout the lifespan and is the second leading cause of death among 15-29-year-olds globally.

Suicide is a global phenomenon; in fact, 79% of suicides occurred in low- and middle-income countries in 2016. Suicide accounted for 1.4% of all deaths worldwide, making it the 18th leading cause of death in 2016, so says the global agency on health matters also known as World Health organization in its website just visited by this writer.

I must state that although the fact remains that suicide is a worldwide trend, but for us in Nigeria just like in other African nations, the death of someone is a huge loss not just to the immediate family but to the society and the nation at large. Given the African set up of the typical family tree, members of a given family belong to both the nuclear and the extended family units. So the matter of suicidal demise of any member brings about phenomenal amount of sorrows to a greater percentage of people in Nigeria.

However, due to a number of factors not unrelated with psychological, emotional, financial and sociological factors, a lot of young Nigerians have fallen into the traps of suicide in the last couple of years particularly in the last one year. Around June of last year, Samuel Elias, 25, a final year student of Department of Religion and Culture, University of Nigeria Nsukka allegedly committed suicide by drinking sniper.

The mother of the deceased, Mrs. Kate Elias a staff of the university, told the News agency of Nigeria that the unfortunate incident happened on Monday June 17, around 5.30pm in her house at Justina Eze Street Nsukka.

Elias said she came back from work on that fateful day and discovered that the mood of her first child was bad and he was staggering when he came to collect a bottle of coke from the fridge

“I followed him immediately to his room and started talking to him but he could not respond and when I looked closely, I discovered that his teeth had tightened up.

“As I looked around, I saw an empty sniper bottle; at this point I raised alarm and my other children rushed to the room and we tried to give him red oil but his tightened teeth did not allow the oil to enter his mouth,” she said.

According to her, he was rushed to the hospital, where he eventually died.

“We immediately rushed him to Faith Foundation Hospital, Nsukka and were later referred to Bishop Shanahan Hospital, Nsukka, where he eventually died.

The mother of seven said her son could have died of depression, noting that he had been lamenting his inability to graduate from UNN because of his final year project, which he has been working on.

“I know two things he usually complained, his inability to graduate from UNN since 2016 because of the project that he has not finished as his classmates have all gone for their National Youth Service Corps.

“Also, how his father’s family in Ihechiowa in Arochukwu Local Government of Abia State abandoned us since their father died.

“Whenever he complained of these things, I usually advised him to trust God, who is capable of solving every problem.

“I do not know why he will go to this extent of committing suicide. I have seven children and he was my first child.

“It is still like a dream to me that my first son and first child has died,” she said in tears.

Reacting to this incident, Prof. Tagbo Ugwu, the Head of Department of Religion and Culture in UNN, said somebody called him and told him about the unfortunate incident.

“I received the news with shock and surprise.

“I will find out from his supervisor what is wrong from the project that has stopped him from graduating,” he said.

When contacted Mr Ebere Amaraizu, the Police Public Relations Office, in Enugu State, confirmed the incident and said police would investigate the circumstances surrounding the death.

“The police is aware of Samuel Elias’ death. He was a final year student of the Department of Religion and Culture in UNN, who committed suicide on Monday by drinking sniper.

“Police will investigate circumstances surrounding the death,” he said.

It would be recalled that barely five weeks after Chukwuemeka Akachi, a 400-level student of Department of English and Literary Studies in UNN ended his own life after taking a bottle of sniper. In August of last year, from the Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), came the story that the school community was thrown into mourning mood following the death of a final year student, Opeyemi Dara. The deceased was said to be a student of Faculty of Arts, Department of English Language, who allegedly committed suicide after taking a suspected dose of lethal substance popularly known as “sniper”. News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) learnt that she allegedly took her life following her poor academic performance, although the details of the incident were still sketchy.

The media stated that the authority of the institution confirmed that the deceased committed suicide following depression occasioned by poor academic records.

Dara’s academic records obtained by a journalist who worked on the story for one of the National dailies indicated that she had five outstanding courses and 12 Special Electives.

Also the Public Relations Officer of OAU, Mr Abiodun Olanrewaju confirmed the incident and promised that the institution would investigate and make its findings public. Olarewaju appealed to students not to contemplate committing suicide because of poor academic performance.

“We sympathize with the parents and guardian of the deceased known as Dara.” We just want our students and young ones to know that depression is not a thing they should encourage, no matter the situation or circumstance they find themselves. “ Some people in the past have passed through the same situation and circumstances and came out clean. “Now, suicide can never be an option and people, especially the young ones who believe that taking their own lives is an act of gallantry should know that it is not. “We want to appeal to students, particularly OAU students to take things easy. Any child that fails; that is why the university says you can rerun a course, you can resit a course.

“People out there also face challenges and when you are in school, failure or repetition of a course or particular subject is also part of the challenges students must face. “The university will get to the root of the incident and get back to the public,” Olarewaju said. Just before this case, there was another story from Edo state.

That was precisely at the Faculty of Arts, University of Benin, UNIBEN, main campus came the heartbreaking story that a final-year student jumped from the second floor of one of the hostels and died.

The deceased male student, whose identity is still unknown as at press time, committed suicide after failing his examinations, which made him suffer depression for failure to graduate. The next case is that of a girl that reportedly took her life following a break up of a relationship and this also happened at the University of Benin like the aforementioned the deceased was a three hundred level student.

The corpse of Miss Christabell Omoremime Buoro, aged 21, a 300-level student of the department of Medical Laboratory Science, University of Benin (UNIBEN), was discovered in her hostel flat at Plot 4 Uwaifo lane, Newton street, Ekosodin area, behind the university fence, so reports the newspapers. Miss Christabell reportedly was discovered after she allegedly took some deadly substance to end her life. It was gathered that the undergraduate linked her suicide to her breakup with her boyfriend.

The media states that an empty sachet of Klin detergent was found in the spot where she took her life.

According to the source of the media information, “A small girl of that age will take her life all because of one boy. The policemen that came to evacuate the body were very angry after reading out loud the note she dropped.

“Thank God that she even dropped a note, if not the roommates would have been in hot soup, because investigation would have began from that point.”

As are with all cases of suicide, the police officers in this case situated at the Ugbowo police station have invited two person for questioning over the content of the letter.

It was rumoured that the deceased Christabel mixed the deadly insecticide, popularly called Sniper with Sprite drink, and reportedly left a suicide note where she stated that she was about taking her life because the guy she loved didn’t love her in return after her boyfriend broke up with her.

Sadly, the year 2020 has also seen another case of suicide by a youngster and in this developing story we were told that the girl stated that she was depressed and that she no longer find life attractive.

The Enugu State Police Command only at the weekend confirmed that a serving National Youth Service Corp member in Enugu State, Miss Bolufemi Princess Motunrayo, has committed suicide.

It was gathered that Miss Motunrayo, a Batch ‘C’ corps member serving in Girls Secondary School, Ibagwa-Aka, Igbo-Eze South Local Government Area of Enugu State took her life on Friday, January 10, 2020, when she allegedly drank a substance suspected to be sniper.

The Corp member hailed from Ijumu Local Government Area of Kogi State and a graduate of Banking and Finance from Prince Abubakar Audu University formally called Kogi State University was reported to have taken two bottles of snipers.

One of the media reporters who worked on this emerging story said it was learnt that she had before committing suicide dropped a short note that read, “I did this because I see nothing worth living for in this world”.

Confirming the alleged suicide is the State Police Public Relations Officer, Ebere Amaraizu, who described the incident as unfortunate.

Amaraizu, a Superintendent of Police in a text message to the Punch newspaper correspondent said, “The incident has to do with the taking of sniper insecticide by one Bolufemi Moturayo Yetunde, a female corper from Kogi State but, doing her service with Girls High School, Ibeagwa-Aka, Igboeze South L.G.A on 10/1/2020.

“She was later rushed to the hospital where the doctor confirmed her dead,” he said.

In the version written by The Guardian, one of the friends of this absolutely beautiful graduate and a serving member of the National Youth Service scheme (NYSC) raised alarm that there is need for a thorough investigation of what triggered the ‘suicide’ because in the thinking of this person, the girl who killed herslf allegedly was having a swell time and was not known to have any case of depression or loneliness.

From all these and many other stories of suicide and suspected suicides especially the cases of suicide by Students, there is a glaring evidence of a lacuna fundamentally in the administration of these tertiary institutions. These cases of students killing themselves due to frustrations attendant with their inability to successfully graduate could be tackled if these schools can set up functional mechanisms for looking into all cases related to inability or otherwise of their students to graduate. There has to be a system in place to seamlessly monitor and ensure that the process of writing and supervision of projects of students are transparent and open to such an extent that no single person should become the last hope of any strident from graduation. The schools should have a reporting mechanisms whereby cases relating to inability to pass these projects and graduate are looked into by dedicated members of staff who should play the role of arbitrators for the students. The school system in Nigeria is too commercially oriented to an extent that Students are put under intense pressure to raise money from all means possible to bribe lecturers marking their papers to enable them graduate and most of these students who can’t raise money to pay their ways are left with no option than to be sexually abused by some professionally incompetent lecturers. The University and tertiary institutions must be made to put on a human and humane face even as there has to be a system in place to give access to students to step up and dialogue with dedicated teachers who would offer counselling and also hear cases related to frustrations witnessed at any stage of their educational journeys. The school must be prepared to vote cash to cater for this sort of important human relationship Counseling mechanisms to stave off the rising cases of suicide. The school must not be all about profitability.

The Nigerian police and other relevant law enforcement agencies like NAFDAC must monitor the activities of traders who deal in chemical and drugs related products such as snipers with a view to ascertaining identities of buyers and the use to which these products would be put into. There is also the need for state governments and the Federal government to embark on deliberate but massive public enlightenment programmes to warn youngsters to choose life over death and to resolutely beat back all suicidal tendencies through the cocktails of effective means of communication and getting counseling service from toll free lines that should be publicized for all Nigerians to be conversant with.

For instance, the European Council on Human Rights has successfully repealed the death penalty because of the overwhelming rating of Right to life in Europe. In Article 2 of the European wide laws on human rights, it is legally provided that: “Everyone’s right to life shall be protected by law. This right is one of the most important of the Convention since without the right to life it is impossible to enjoy the other rights. No one shall be condemned to death penalty or executed. The abolition of death penalty is consecrated by Article 1 of Protocol No. 6.”

The Nigerian Constitution in Section 33(1) provides that “Everyone has a right to life. ”

*Emmanuel Onwubiko is the Head of the Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria.

The post Nigerian Youths Should Choose Life, Not Death — Emmanuel Onwubiko appeared first on Information Nigeria.

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24 family members burnt to death, others injured as two vehicles collide in Bauchi – Davina Diaries

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No fewer than 28 persons were burnt to death on Thursday in an auto crash that occurred on the Bauchi-Ningi Expressway in Bauchi State.

The victims, including 24 members of a family, were said to be going for a wedding.

The accident occurred around midnight when two vehicles had a head-on collision, according to Punch.

The Commander, Bauchi Sector Command, Federal Road Safety Corps, Abdulrazak Najume, confirmed the accident to a correspondent in a telephone interview.

He said the crash involved a Peugeot J5 bus with number plate ZRM 91 XA and a Toyota Hummer bus, whose number plate could not be ascertained as it was burnt beyond recognition.

Najume stated that the accident occurred when the driver of the Hummer bus fell asleep and lost control of the vehicle, which collided with the J5 bus, which was conveying cows.

The commander said he led officials of the FRSC to the scene of the crash around 6.49 am for rescue operations.

Najume stated, “Yes, the accident is true, it is not an illusion. The accident occurred at the Gubi Gari village along the Bauchi-Kano Expressway.

“The vehicle conveying the wedding guests took off from Dutsinma in Katsina State and was on its way to Adamawa State when the accident occurred. There were 29 people involved in the crash and only one survived.

“The driver of the Hummer bus dozed off only to suddenly wake up to see an oncoming vehicle, but he lost control and the bus had a head-on collision with the J5 bus.

“Immediately the crash occurred, the two vehicles were engulfed in flames and all the passengers and the cows were burnt beyond recognition. Only the driver of the Hummer bus survived with serious injuries.

“In all, 28 persons made up of 24 in the Hummer bus and four in the J5 bus were burnt beyond recognition. We could only determine that four of them were males, while the sexes of the others could not be ascertained because they were burnt beyond recognition.”

Najume said the charred remains of the deceased and the driver, who sustained serious injuries, were taken to the Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University Teaching Hospital, Bauchi, for confirmation and treatment.

The FRSC boss, who expressed sadness over the accident, cautioned drivers to be more careful on the roads to avoid loss of lives and properties.

He stated, “It is saddening and unfortunate losing 28 persons in a day to an accident. These drivers need a change of attitude.

“The bus driver was sleeping while driving and it was very late in the night. People should avoid night journeys because this accident was very fatal. I went there myself with my men and we saw how people got roasted. We saw a head inside the vehicle but there was no body, it’s very unfortunate.’

A relation of the victims, Abdullahi Yamadi, described the accident as “very sad.”

Yamadi, who is the Secretary, North-West Zone, Nigeria Union of Journalists, said 24 of the deceased were his relatives.

He said they were on their way to Yola, Adamawa State, for a wedding when the crash occurred.

He told correspondent, “Yes, the accident is true and all the deceased in one of the vehicles were my relatives.

“They were travelling to Yola, Adamawa State, for a wedding when the accident happened.

“They left Dutsinma, Katsina State, and they had passed through Jigawa State and were in Bauchi State when their vehicle had a head-on collision with another vehicle. There were 25 persons in the vehicle and all of them died except the driver.

“This is very sad news and very pathetic for 24 people from the same family to die in an accident in one day. It is really sad.”

In a similar incident, four persons lost their lives in a crash that occurred on the Ore-Sagamu Expressway in Ore, Odigbo Local Government Area of Ondo State, on Thursday.

Twenty-six people were said to have been injured in the crash, while the identities of the victims were not known as of the time of filing this report.

It was gathered that the accident involved two 14-passenger buses with number plates ACA 606 XT and AKL 846 YY.

An eyewitness said the vehicles belonged to different transport companies based in Lagos.

The eyewitness narrated that the vehicles were heading for Lagos State from the eastern part of the country, adding that the accident was caused by dangerous driving on the part of the drivers.

“The two vehicles were going to Lagos State. But their drivers were not careful and engaged in excessive speeding. That was why the accident happened,” he said.

Confirming the accident, the Commander, FRSC, Ondo State Command, Mr Rotimi Adeleye, said it was caused by speed limit violation by the drivers of the affected vehicles.

“Thirty persons were involved in the accident; two males and two females died, while 26 were injured,” Adeleye stated.

According to the FRSC boss, the injured victims have been taken to the Ore General Hospital, while the remains of the deceased have been deposited in the morgue of a private hospital in Ore.

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Proponents of death penalty for Hate Speech are real harbinger of hate speech -Gani Adams — Daily Times Nigeria

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The Aare Onakakanfo of Yorubaland, Iba Gani Abiodun Adams, has described those behind the controversial hate speech bill as pretenders.

Speaking during the 2019 edition of Ajagunmale Festival in Lekki, Lagos, Adams said though the National Assembly had bowed to pressures from Nigerians to remove the death clause for violators of hate speech, there is need for public enlightenment and education in order to change the narrative on the issue.

The Aareonakakanfo admitted also that many Nigerians are ignorant of issues relating to media information gathering and literacy, insisting that the law must be flexible to accommodate other people’s interests.

“It is a cheering news that the National Assembly and proponents of death penalty for violators of hate speech has bowed to pressures from Nigerians, but in a gathering like this, it is not out of place to raise and discuss issues that affect us holistically.

“The political game that had been playing out on the issue of hate speech and a death penalty for violators needed to be considered with utmost importance.

“I must confess truly, that I have been monitoring the reactions of eminent Nigerians on the issue, and I think those reactions are commendable. Those that spoke said death penalty for a violator of hate speech was barbaric and unacceptable.

“Actually hate speech can incite violence and damage relationships in a society, but we need to understand and protect the individuals’ rights to express their opinions freely and peacefully. It is also a fact that freedom of speech is an integral component of a free society. Therefore, imposing death penalty on violators is uncultured, barbaric, and not acceptable in our society,” he explained.

The Yoruba generalissimo flayed those behind the bill, saying politicians that are also the chief promoters of this bill are the harbinger of hate speech, describing them as products of hate speech, especially, during campaigns.

“Many of our politicians today are pretenders. During their campaigns, they promised you heaven on earth, and shortly after they are elected, you hear a different story entirely. I feel sad sometimes whenever I look back and see how Nigeria has drifted from its original ideals of our forefathers, but I always take solace in the belief that  one day, whether now or in the nearest future, we shall find our feet and get back on the right track”

In his remarks, Executive Chairman, Lekki Local Council Development Area (LCDA), Hon. Ogidan Mukadasi, said his administration will continue to support the Oodua Peoples’ Congress (OPC) and the Olokun Festival Foundation (OFF) on  ideas and projects that can launch the community positively to the world, adding that the huge attendance of guests at this year’s edition of Ajagunmale festival has really helped in boosting the tourism potentials of the community.

“It is our duty and responsibility to sustain this laudable programme, therefore, as a government, we will continue to play our role. We will continue to support the Olokun Festival Foundation to ensure that this festival becomes one of the most celebrated festivals in the state,” he said.

The Guest lecturer, Associate Professor Adams Kolade, from the Lagos state University (LASU) Ojo, spoke on the need to embrace the core values, culture and tradition of the Yoruba race.

He noted that Yoruba race is a gifted race with potentials to be the best, declaring that efforts should be made to sustain and promote the Yoruba cultural identity through festivals like this. He applauded the Aareonakakanfo of Yoruba land for the courage to sustain the laudable ideal of the organisation.

 “Language is an integral part of our culture. All over the world, the Yoruba tradition and heritage are next to none. As a race that have been so blessed with all these potentials, there is need for us to sustain all these and one of the best ways to sustain our cultural identities is to cultivate a new habit which will be directed at promoting what is truly ours,” he said.

The Onilekki of Lekki, Oba Olumuyiwa Ogunbekun, expressed delight at the success of the event, saying Ajagunmale Festival has come to stay in the area.

 He charged all members of the Oodua Peoples’ Congress not to relent in their efforts, declaring that the traditional institution across the South West will continue to support the foundation.

Meanwhile, Iba Gani Adams, said with the celebration of Ajagunmale Festival, Lekki will soon become a top investment destination in Lagos State.

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BREAKING NEWS: At least ten people shot in the New Orleans French Quarter | Daily Mail Online

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At least 11 people have been shot on Canal Street in the French Quarter of New Orleans.  

A suspect opened fire in the neighborhood popular for nightlife just before 3.30am Sunday. 

Two of the victims were hospitalized in critical condition. One had been shot in the chest and the other in the torso.  

NOPD Supt Shaun Ferguson confirmed that a person of interest has been detained. He emphasized that it’s unclear what involvement, if any, the person of interest had in the shooting.  

At least 11 people were shot when a suspect opened fire in the French Quarter of New Orleans in the early hours on Sunday morning. Two of the victims were hospitalized in critical condition

The shooting occurred on Canal Street in the heart of the popular neighborhood for nightlife

Local police had already increased their presence in the area because of the Bayou Classic football game between Grambling State University and Southern University on Saturday night.

Officers confirmed they were just a few feet away from the shooting, and initially thought they were being fired at but couldn’t tell where the shots were coming from.

An investigation is ongoing as authorities collect witness statements and surveillance footage near the scene.  

The victim’s identities, ages and genders have not been released, but officials said no officers were injured.   

One witness, Kenneth Culbreth, described the scene to NOLA.com. 

Culbreth said he was leaving a CVS pharmacy on Canal Street when he heard the shots ring out.  

‘I heard pops. It was so many, I couldn’t keep count,’ he said.

An employee at the CVS rushed to control the chaos that erupted after the shooting.  

‘I heard three rounds, and people started running,’ the unnamed employee said.  

This is a developing story.  

New Orleans Police had already increased their presence in the area (pictured in a file photo) because of the Bayou Classic football game between Grambling State University and Southern University on Saturday night  

BREAKING NEWS: At least ten people shot in the New Orleans French Quarter

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PDP woman leader burnt to death; home razed

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Bello condemns act, orders probe; Police confirm incident, begin investigation
As Dickson tenders video evidence of rigging, poll violence in Bayelsa
We have no business with Dickson —APC

By Clifford Ndujihe, Samuel Oyadongha, Johnbosco Agbakwuru, Dirisu Yakubu & Winifred Azubuike

LAGOS — The violence which hallmarked weekend’s governorship polls in Kogi and Bayelsa states  took a dangerous dimension, yesterday, as the Woman Leader of  Engineer Musa Wada/Aro Campaign Council, Mrs Acheju Abuh, was reportedly burnt alive in her home by suspected political thugs.

Head of Communications, Wada/Aro Campaign Council, Mr. Faruk Adejoh-Audu, in a statement alleged that jubilant supporters of the Kogi State governor, Yahaya Bello, and thugs said to be celebrating his victory carried out the act.

He claimed that thugs, chanting GYB 4+4, and shooting sporadically “arrived Mrs Abuh’s house at about 2pm, surrounded the house, and shut every entry and exit from outside. They then poured petrol on the building and set it ablaze as other terrorized villagers watched from hiding.

She reportedly attempted to escape through a window but was prevented by the burglary proof, with gunshots raining in her direction.

The bloodthirsty thugs waited, shooting and watching with relish as Mrs Abuh cried from inside the inferno until her voice died out. They reportedly left only when the entire house and Mrs Abuh had been burnt to ashes.”

The Police in Kogi confirmed the incident, just as Kogi State Government condemned the dastardly act and ordered immediate probe.

This happened on a day Governor Seriake Dickson of Bayelsa State tendered video evidence of electoral fraud and violence in Nembe, Ogbia, and Southern Ijaw LGAs of the state in Saturday’s election, and accused the Army of colluding with APC to rig the poll.

Also, the Inspector-General of Police, IGP, Mohammed Adamu, yesterday said the Police were aware of plans by politicians to sew police uniforms for their supporters during the Kogi and Bayelsa governorship elections.

Police confirm arson on PDP Women leader, as Kogi govt condemns act

The Kogi Stare Police Command confirmed the incident through its Public Relations Officer, DSP William Aya,  in a statement, titled “Culpable homicide/mischief by fire,” said:

“On 18/11/2019 at about 1630hrs, one Musa Ety of Ochadamu, Ofu LGA reported at the station that at about 10:30 of same date, there was a misunderstanding between one Awolu Zekeri, aged 35 years, member of APC and one Gowon Simeon, a member of PDP, both of Ochadamu, in the process Gowon Simeon stabbed Awolu Zekeri with a knife on his lap, he died on his way to the hospital.

“As a result, angry youths in the area mobilized to the house of one Simeon Abuh of same address who is an uncle to the suspect, set it ablaze, and  burnt one Salome Abuh, aged 60 years.”

Aya said three other houses were equally burnt, adding that the corpse had been moved to the University Teaching Hospital Mortuary, Anyigba, for autopsy.

He disclosed that the Police Mobile Force and Police Special Forces had been drafted to the area to prevent further breakdown of law and order, while investigation into the matter continued.

However, the state governor has directed his Special Adviser on Security, Jerry Omodara, to get to the root of the incident.

Governor Bello’s spokesman, Kingsley Fanwo, who confirmed this, expressed disappointment over what he described as “mindless attacks by rival parties in Ochadamu.”

He said: “We feel disturbed at reports of violence in Ochadamu that has led to the loss of lives and property in the community. It was reported that a supporter of the All Progressives Congress, APC, was stabbed to death while party members were jubilating over the outcome of the governorship election.

“The reprisal attack by alleged APC members which led to the death of an innocent woman is criminal and condemnable. Our government would not shield party members who break the laws of the land.

“Governor Yahaya Bello has directed security agents to quell the rising tension and also ensure that perpetrators of the murder and arson are brought to book. The governor is elected to protect all Kogi people regardless of their ethnic or political beliefs.”

Fanwo, who said the State Security Adviser, Commander Jerry Omodara, has been given orders to ensure the crisis is brought to an immediate end, urged the people of the community to maintain peace as justice would surely be served.

Idika Kalu condemns act

Four-time minister and elder statesman, Dr Kalu Idika Kalu, condemned the act, saying ‘’our common humanity has been called to question.’’

His words: “Surely, even for a beleaguered Nigeria, this, if true, is an unpardonable outrage and barbaric politics at its worst! A veritable tipping point, if countless other similar incidents are dubiously discounted!

“Our common humanity is called to question, whomsoever we are. .this crime, surely, is beyond partisan politics.  Our leaders in all spheres must declare a human tragedy in Kogi, indeed, in the entire nation.

“All men and women of goodwill, all who remotely regard themselves as leaders in this country, must demand full and prompt accountability for this dastardly act under whatever guise!

“Our creator will take vengeance for the bestiality displayed in the name of hateful party politics!

This is the last straw on the ceaseless assault on our civilization.”

How Bayelsa poll was rigged – Dickson

Meanwhile, Governor Seriake Dickson yesterday presented video evidence in support of the killings and election violence that characterised the conduct of last Saturday’s governorship election in Nembe local government area and other parts of the state.

Addressing a world press conference in Yenagoa, Dickson described the election as a charade and a carefully orchestrated plan to forcibly take over the state towards entrenching a one-party system.

He said: “This is not the first time we are having elections. People were killed, some ripped open and thrown into the river and up till now no arrest..

“As democrats, we believe in using democratic procedures in challenging what happened in Ogbia. In Ogbia, there was no collation done. In most of the areas, at the conclusion of voting, the soldiers came and rounded up everybody and forcibly took them to Ogbia town and asked all PDP leaders to leave to enable them replace with pre-written results. And so the results announced for Ogbia, like those for Southern Ijaw and Nembe were not real.

“What has happened in Bayelsa is one of the most brazen acts of distortion and rape of our democracy. What took place was not a democratic election. It was a military coup. It was the height of conspiracy by the federal government and security agencies to subvert the democratic rights of our people for the sole purpose of foisting the APC on the people.

“It has never been like this before. In 2015, it wasn’t as bad as this. In this case, not only was the Army directed to take over our place, but also to collude with APC thugs to unleash terror on our people.”

The governor urged Bayelsans to be calm, adding that the reprehensible acts against democracy would be addressed through democratic procedures.

Dickson also described as balderdash, the notion being bandied about by APC leaders that it was disagreement between him and former President Goodluck Jonathan that led to their pyrrhic victory, emphasizing that Jonathan remained a leader of the entire country whose image and reputation was too weighty to be dragged in the mud by the opposition party.

He explained that as a leader of the country, the former President was at liberty to receive visitors of the APC who paid him a visit but warned on the dangers posed by the satanic insinuations being weaved around the visit by the APC to sell their diabolic plot to turn Nigeria into a one party state and a vicious attempt to legitimize illegitimate and indefensible electoral outcomes.

He stressed that no politician had stood by Jonathan more than himself and that in the build up to the elections, he had visited Jonathan about sixteen times to meet with him on the way forward for the PDP.

“My reaction is that President Jonathan remains a leader of our country. He is at liberty to receive members of any political party but in the context of all that is going on I know that the insinuations are not misplaced.

“APC came to Bayelsa to take his state and people by force. With the comments they are making about him, Oshiomhole coming to Bayelsa to praise Jonathan. What they were doing is laying the foundation to perpetrate fraud and violence

“No politician has stood by Jonathan more than me. They simply used his name and image to legitimize an illegitimacy. I can see the strategic content. They used Jonathan to expand the notion of disagreement and after the rigging to go to him like Pontius Pilate to wash off their hands and put it at his doorsteps to say he sanctioned it…But let’s accord him the right to meet with other dignitaries.”

Fake policemen disrupted polls– IGP

Speaking on the violence that trailed the polls, IGP Mohammed Adamu, said the Police were aware of plans by politicians to sew police uniforms for their supporters during the exercises.

The IGP also said that ‘policemen’ alleged to have disrupted the November 16 governorship polls in parts of the two states were “fake” and not the personnel officially deployed for election duties.

Briefing State House correspondents after a security meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari at the State House, Abuja, Adamu stated that all security personnel who worked during the elections were given “special identification tags,” adding that anyone without the tags was on illegal duty.

The IGP, who said the security situation in the country was stable, however, said investigation was ongoing to unravel the identities of those that caused violence during the elections, adding that 11 arrests had been made.

On the alleged police extortion of motorists in South-East by police officers at check points, he advised that people should always copy the names of such police officers and report them to the police hierarchy in the area.

Jonathan’s loyalty is to Nigeria – Omokri

Speaking on why former President Goodluck Jonathan hosted APC leaders and comments that his support made APC win Bayelsa governorship election, Mr Reno Omokri, said the ex-President remained a member of the PDP but that his loyalty was to Nigeria.

In a statement issued yesterday, Omokri, a former aide of Jonathan, said the ex-President was, however, required to accept all Nigerians because of his role as an elder statesman.

Omokri was reacting to the controversy sparked off after Jonathan hosted some All Progressives Congress, APC, governors at his residence in Otuoke, following the victory of David Lyon, APC candidate in the Bayelsa governorship election.

Jonathan was said to have tacitly supported Lyon against Duoye Diri, candidate of the PDP.

Omokri said his former boss had no interest in partisan politics and that he welcomed anyone who paid him a courtesy visit.

According to him, it is more appropriate to say Jonathan’s “eternal party is Nigeria.”

“Former President Goodluck Jonathan is a member of the Peoples Democratic Party. Throughout his sojourn on earth, he has been a member of only one political party,” Omokri said.

“Dr. Jonathan is known for his stability and loyalty. These are character traits that have been lifelong companions of his. He is also an elder statesman and that role requires that he accepts all Nigerian citizens, and indeed all the world’s peoples, in the spirit of the brotherhood of man.

“As an elder statesman and Chairman of the Goodluck Jonathan Foundation, Dr. Jonathan will receive people of goodwill who apply to pay him a courtesy visit, irrespective of their political or religious leanings. Though a Christian, he has received Muslim groups and diverse other visitors.

“Dr. Jonathan intends to devote the rest of his life on Earth to building unity, and engendering opportunity for Nigerians and Africans and he has no desire, or reason to engage in partisan politics beyond being a loyal member of the Peoples Democratic Party.

“His being a member of the Peoples Democratic Party is institutional. In fact, it is more accurate to state that his eternal party is Nigeria, for which he reminds all Nigerians that they are brothers and sisters born from the womb of one Nigeria.”

PDP youths blame party leadership for Bayelsa defeat

Indeed, the failure of the PDP to retain the governorship seat in Bayelsa State has been blamed on the national leadership of the party.

A group of youths, under the auspices of PDP South-South Youth Vanguard, who stated this yesterday, also fingered what they called Governor Seriake Dickson’s high-handedness in the build up to selection of the party’s candidate for the election.

In a statement by its National Chairman, James Efe Akpofure, the youths claimed that monies exchanged hands between the party leadership and the governor over his choice of candidate.

The group further said Bayelsa people were not happy with Governor Dickson’s decision to feature a candidate that was not popular among the people, even as they described the choice of Diri as selfish.

Aside from blaming Dickson, the group also accused former President Jonathan of anti-party activities, stressing that no matter the issue, the governor, the party leadership and Jonathan ought to have found a way to resolve it.

The group said: “The failure of PDP to win Bayelsa State governorship election should be blamed on the party leadership led by Prince Uche Secondus.

“Governor Dickson failed to listen to the people. He brought an unpopular candidate, who does not have what it takes to win the election.

“The role of former President Jonathan didn’t help matters, rather, it escalated the situation.”

The Youth Vanguard called for the dissolution of the Prince Uche Secondus-led National Working Committee, NWC, of the party and also called for National Executive Committee, NEC, meeting to address pertinent issues affecting the party.

We have nothing with Dickson —APC

Reacting to Dickson allegation last night, APC’s National Publicity Secretary, Mallam Lanre Issa-Onilu, said:  ‘’What video?  Is it about the election?  We have moved past that stage.  We have nothing with Dickson.’’

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Forget Succession, Because Watchmen Has ArrivedAnd It Is GOOD

This is a preview of our pop culture newsletterThe Daily Beasts Obsessed,written by senior entertainment reporter Kevin Fallon. To receive the full newsletter in your inbox each week,sign up for it here.

Youre Going to LoveAnd Be So Confused ByWatchmen

Remember when everyone was like, Whats going to happen to HBO when Game of Thrones ends? And, like, Is TV dead as we know it?

I mean, I guess its understandable to want to stage a funeral for great television while watching that final season of Thrones. (Burn!) But two drama series have aired on the network in the time since Kings Landing fell, each of which I would rank leagues above Thrones on any year-end Best of TV list: Years and Years and the second season of Succession.

The former found a near-miraculous way to be topical about todays rabies-ridden sociopolitical discourse, while the latter took the mantle when it comes to watercooler buzz and, especially, with media and Twitter obsession. In addition to those two, the second season of Big Little Lies was a major ratings and press boon.

But with Watchmen, theres not just a third drama series of excellence entering the mix, but one that I think will, if not quite have the same reach as Thrones, fuel a fanbase of people who just will not stop talking about it.

Watchmen premieres Sunday and shares two unmistakable characteristics with that show: It is visually astonishing, with each frame more ambitious, stunning, and remarkable than the one before. You also have no idea what the hell is going on at any given moment. If you liked that about Game of Thrones, youll LOVE it about Watchmen.

That a series which poses such a fascinating narrative conundrum would count Damon Lindelof as its creator should come as no surprise; as the man behind Lost and The Leftovers, hes proven a penchant for a certain kind of dazzling befuddlement that evolves into brilliance. The series is an adaptation inspired by the revered DC Comics 12-part series from writer Alan Moore and artist Dave Gibbons, but which the HBO creative team involved refers to as more of a remix.

I have not read the comic series, so I have no idea what that means, but I can say that I didnt feel like I needed to have read it to enjoy the episodes of the HBO show that I watched. I also saw the notoriously maligned 2009 Zack Snyder film adaptation, but dont remember anything about it besides its insane sex scene: as Patrick Wilsons legendary bottom thrusts and a fully-nude Malin Ackerman gyrates, Leonard Cohens Hallelujah plays.

Anyway, what I am getting at is that you dont need to be familiar with these things to watch the show.

The show itself presents a sort of sci-fi alt-history, set in a contemporary America where Robert Redford is serving the longest presidential term in history. He has signed into law reparations for black Americans. Vietnam is a state. Things are…different. But as a jolting reminder of how not-different things are, or at least have been through history, the series starts with a violent, brutal dramatization of the very real 1921 Tulsa massacre, in which as many as 300 black citizens were killed.

That real history haunts the shows alt-history, where, in the present day, white supremacists are hunting down police officers. These officers now wear masks to conceal their identities for their own safety, and are working alongside masked vigilantes, like Regina Kings Sister Night, who is a former cop named Angela.

Theres a lot to say and untangle about the ties between white supremacy and institutions like the police force, as well as the very ideas of policing and justice in general, which are coming untethered among escalating racial tensions. What lands and what doesnt land is subjective in Watchmen, and you cant shake the feeling that you need to watch the series unfold entirely before ruling one way or the other.

Of course, the journalists and critics (hi!) telling you to watch this because its really damn good have had the luxury of seeing six full episodes. Id go ahead and comfort you by saying if youre intrigued enough by all of the huh? in episode one, you get many answers in episode twothough, my god, not all, not even close. Quote Kings Angela after a particularly baffling, though thrilling, moment: What the fuck?

Same, girl. And often. But by the time Jean Smart enters in episode three, you know I was on board, full-stop. She gives one of my favorite performances of the year as a former superhero-turned-FBI agent, a perfect complement to my nightly bingeing of her work as Charlene Frasier on Designing Womena TV series I have mentioned in this newsletter far more often than I really should.

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How my son went from gamer to compulsive gambler

The NHS has opened its first clinic for young people addicted to gaming and gambling, a year after a Gambling Commission report found that 55,000 11-to-16-year-olds in the UK were problem gamblers. For some the path to gambling begins with playing online games, as the BBC’s Becky Milligan heard from the father of one young man now getting help for his addiction.

“Not in a million years, not in a million years did I think that gaming could lead to compulsive gambling.”

Steve is sitting on a bench in a churchyard. He’s agreed to talk to me about his son’s gambling addiction. He’s nervous, he hasn’t done an interview before and I can feel his anxiety.

His son, now in his early 20s, is in recovery and doing well, “but we take one day at a time” he says.

“We’ve had a terrible three years. We wouldn’t want anyone to go through what we have gone through. When we first discovered our son had the compulsive gambling disorder we didn’t know what to do.”

I tell Steve that I’ve spoken to other parents whose children have developed gambling disorders, and they also paid off the debts at first, not realising the extent of their children’s addiction.

“We thought this was just a little glitch, this is what kids do,” one father told me. And that’s what Steve thought at first.

He and his wife had known for some time that their son enjoyed having the odd bet. But lots of their friends enjoyed a flutter and it didn’t seem to be out of the ordinary.

A year later, though, Steve was shocked to find out his son was gambling with other people’s money and losing large amounts.

“It was online roulette. That was his downfall,” he tells me.

Now Steve realised it was a very serious problem. He and his wife didn’t know what to do. They began to isolate themselves, avoid going out or seeing friends. They were worried what people would say.

“We were pretty helpless. We didn’t know which way to turn. We spent months finding the answers and doing our own research,” Steve says.

Last year, he and his wife went to a GamAnon meeting for families. Earlier this year his son also began to get help.

Steve has had a few months to do a great deal of research and he now believes his son’s addiction was sparked when he was 12 or 13 and was obsessed with playing online games, particularly football games.

He would play for hours and hours in his bedroom, Steve tells me, and all his mates were into to it as well. Steve didn’t really understand what the games were about, let alone the new technology the games used. And anyway, at least his son was occupied, he says.

“We all want an easy life, a quiet life. Parents can be lazy. If he was playing upstairs I would think, ‘It’s not doing any harm is it?'”

Steve now thinks that the football games promoted habits, including spending hours online, that “developed into gambling”.

Crucially, Steve’s son was encouraged to pay for extra products, such as “ultimate team packs”.

The identities of the players in these packs would only be revealed once he had paid, which Steve says introduced his son to the “thrill of gambling”, the game of chance and risk – including the chance of acquiring a star player who would make him unbeatable.

Steve thinks the difference between online gaming and gambling is very subtle, and that those children who excessively game online, like his son, are at risk of becoming compulsive gamblers later in life. It doesn’t matter, he says, whether the game involves winning or losing real money.

Dr Henrietta Bowden-Jones, a psychiatrist at the new NHS treatment centre, says no link between gaming-related activities “that may be toxic for young people” and gambling has yet been established. It’s currently a “big controversial conversation”, she says.

“I believe so little is known in this country about both these behavioural addictions in children, that we need to hear it on the ground, we need to understand what these people are doing then work with policy makers, politicians and public health professionals to change the environment they live in,” she told the BBC.


It has been a very hard few years for Steve and his family. He recently decided to leave his teaching job and set up a charity, GamFam, to help other parents who might be in a similar position.

However complicated it is, Steve says that parents need to know what their children are doing online, they need to become the experts in order to protect them.

“Do research, put the barriers in place, take control of the device, set up family time. Screen [the child’s activity] so that you are in control of what’s going on. And most importantly do not have any of your credit cards, debit cards linked to the account,” he says.

“There are horror stories where children are spending excessive amounts of money on in-game purchases. Many of these games promote themselves as free games but the loot boxes in the games [are not].”

Like the “ultimate team packs” that Steve’s son used to buy, loot boxes may contain virtual items such as weapons or shields that help a player win the game – and gamers don’t know what’s in them until they have bought them.

MPs on the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport committee recently recommended that the sale of loot boxes should be regulated as gambling, and that selling them to children should be banned entirely.

In a statement to the BBC, the association for UK interactive entertainment, Ukie, echoed Steve’s call for parents to monitor their children’s behaviour online.

“Alongside robust age-ratings for games, all major consoles and mobile devices offer smart and simple parental controls. Above all, we recommend that parents and carers engage directly with players, talk to them about the games they are playing and even join in,” the statement said.

Wes Himes, chief executive of the Remote Gambling Association, said it was very difficult for children to get through the verification process to gamble online. He added that the industry was not allowed to advertise near schools, or to target under-25s with its advertising.

Steve Ginnis of Ipsos Mori, however, told the BBC that focus groups conducted by his company showed that children and young people found aspects of existing gambling advertisements appealing – “in terms of promotional offers and use of celebrities and presenting it as fun or skilful”.


‘Part of the game’

Stewart Kenny, the Paddy Power founder who resigned in 2016 over what he saw as the failure to tackle problem gambling, says advertising is “normalising” gambling for children, and that it has become “nearly part of the game” when watching football.

“That is dangerous, because it is promoted by well-known people, it’s a constant barrage of advertising they see it before, during and after the match… It’s become normal for children to think gambling and soccer are the same thing.”


Steve says his family is now doing better. His son’s last bet was in February. They are not ashamed any more about what happened, but in order to protect his son, Steve doesn’t want to give his full name.

He hopes his new charity will be able to visit schools and talk to parents.

Steve says the problem of children’s gambling addiction has to be addressed. If nothing is done, he believes we will have an “epidemic on our hands of catastrophic proportions”.

At present, he says, the only help these youngsters have got is their parents.

“For me, if I don’t do this now, then I will never do it, I feel it is a calling, I need to do, I need to be putting the message out there and support the parents. I wouldn’t wish what we have been through on my worst enemy.”

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Eni Aluko: We all have moments in life when our morals are called into question

When the striker called out racism in the England camp, it ended her international career. She explains why the fight was worth it

Bullying

Eniola Aluko is one of only 11 female footballers to have played more than 100 times for England. She has scored some of the Lionesses most memorable goals, was the first female pundit on Match Of The Day, and is a qualified lawyer, having graduated from Brunel University London with a first in 2008. But it is as a whistleblower that she is destined to be best remembered. And, like many whistleblowers, she has spent the subsequent years being rubbished by those she exposed.

Now she has written a memoir. They Dont Teach This is a fascinating examination of her multiple identities British and Nigerian, a girl in a boys world, footballer and academic, a kid from an estate with upper-middle-class parents, a God-fearing rebel. But the book is at its best when she reveals exactly what happened after she accused the England management team of racism, and the Football Association of turning a blind eye to it. Aluko does not hold back and few people from the football establishment emerge with their reputation intact.

Aluko now plays for Juventus in Italy, but we meet at her old stomping ground, Brunel. She has been delayed by traffic, which gives me time to explore the sports centre. On the wall are three huge, framed posters of Brunel alumni sporting legends. Guess who they are, I say to Aluko when she arrives. Mo Farah, definitely, she says instantly. And? Erm oh, Usain Bolt! Obviously! He trained here. And the third? She is stumped. Then she looks. Oh. My. God! It is a poster of her playing for England. Wow! Thats amazing. She looks genuinely thrilled.

Aluko has a small, mobile face with striking features big, brown eyes and a huge, ear-to-ear smile. When she is unhappy, she makes no attempt to hide it; her glare is as forbidding as the smile is winning. And there havent been many times over the past five years that Aluko has had reason to smile.

Eniola
Eniola Aluko playing for England against Germany at Wembley in November 2014. Photograph: Alamy

It all started in January 2014, barely a month after Mark Sampson took over as manager of the Lionesses. Sampson was 30 years old, an inexperienced coach who had never played professional football. At 28, Aluko was virtually an England veteran, a first-team regular and a popular member of the squad who had used her legal skills to champion teammates notably helping to draw up a new central contract for the team. The striker was also a conscientious player, always keen to improve her game.

Her desire to better herself led to her taking advantage of a new system that enabled players to watch back games and analyse their own performance, while hearing the audio from the management team. After a match against Finland, a 3-1 win for England in which Aluko had scored a goal and made another, she reviewed the footage. Aluko had been pleased with her performance which made it more shocking when she heard the audio. The goalkeeping coach Lee Kendall said: Eni is lazy as fuck, and: Shes not fit enough. Then, when I lost the ball, he said: Oh, fuck off, Eni, she tells me. She heard no disparaging remarks about other players, nor any positive comments when she scored and assisted a goal.

Aluko was confused. She was in the form of her life, with six goals in six games for England. And, more to the point, she says, she had never been called lazy before. At the time, I didnt think too deeply about what was being said. I was just like: why is this being said about me on a portal that everyone can access? Then I started thinking about where has this come from. The more she thought about it, the more convinced she became that there was a racial connotation. Look, lazy is a generic term. Anybody can be called lazy if youre not tracking back. But if youre black and youre called lazy, its different. Some words have real context to them, and this dates back to slavery times. In that split second, Im sure Lee Kendall didnt think about racial connotations, but thats what racism can be.

One coach spoke to her in a fake Caribbean accent. I was tempted to speak to him in a Scottish accent, despite knowing he was Welsh. Aluko is fully aware, as are most football fans of a certain age, how charged the word lazy is in relation to black footballers. In 2004, the former Manchester United manager Ron Atkinson was sacked as a pundit on ITV (and as a Guardian columnist) after a microphone picked him up saying the French defender Marcel Desailly is what is known in some schools as a fucking lazy thick nigger. Aluko knew Kendalls comment bore no comparison, but she couldnt help thinking about it. She started to feel the management team had it in for her, but kept stumm. What Kendall had said was unpleasant, but it would be virtually impossible to prove it was anything more. If they didnt like her, she would show her worth on the pitch. And she did, finishing joint top scorer among all nations competing for qualification for the European Championships in 2015, with 13 goals.

But the comments continued now to her face. In November 2014, she told Sampson that her family was flying in from Nigeria for a friendly against Germany. He replied: Well, make sure they dont come over with Ebola. (Sampson denied saying this for a long time after.) Aluko says she laughed nervously but was left reeling. She told her England teammate Lianne Sanderson, but said she wasnt going to make a big deal of it. She wanted to focus on her football.

At one point, Kendall, a close friend of Sampson, started speaking to her in a fake Caribbean accent. It infuriated Aluko not least because she isnt from the Caribbean. I was often tempted to speak to him in a Scottish accent, despite knowing he was Welsh, just to make the point.

Eniola
Im an optimistic, positive person normally, but I was miserable during that time. Photograph: Perou/The Guardian

Then she started to notice other things happening to black members of the squad. In October 2015, Chelseas midfielder Drew Spence was called up to the England squad for the first time, for a trip to China. Spence told Aluko that, in a meeting of midfielders, Sampson turned to the newcomer and said: Havent you been arrested before, then? Four times, isnt it? Spence was the only non-white player in the room and has never been arrested. After making these remarks, Sampson never picked her again for England; she still has only two caps.

A few days later, the midfielder Jill Scott was feted when she won her 100th cap against Australia speeches were made, she captained the team, a video message was played from her family. In the same match, Sanderson won her 50th cap another considerable milestone, normally celebrated with a special shirt but this was ignored. Sanderson told Aluko she was devastated; with Alukos encouragement, she told Sampson how upset she was, but asked him not to make an issue of it in front of the team. The following day, he addressed the squad, said he had made a mistake in not acknowledging her 50th cap and presented her with a special shirt. Sanderson was never selected for England again.

While Sampson did not drop Aluko, he told her repeatedly that he couldnt rely on her, that she lacked stamina and heart, that she was selfish and didnt play for the team. After Aluko scored a hat-trick in a 10-0 thrashing of Montenegro, Sampson presented her with the ball, telling the team: We all know Eni is a pain in the arse, but she did well to score a hat-trick after I gave her the target of scoring five goals today.

Aluko was still reluctant to draw attention to Sampsons behaviour. As black players, you dont always want to be bringing these issues up. You want to just play football. You know that the accusations of playing the race card are going to come up. So I would bite my tongue. Id see the level of ignorance, roll my eyes and get on with it.

And so it continued. Aluko says the only thing that kept her going was her desperation to reach 100 caps and become the first British-African woman to do so. When it finally happened, in February 2016, the occasion was soured by Sampson. She says he refused to give her advanced notice she would be playing, so she could invite her family. Then, on the morning of the match, Sampson told her she wasnt in the starting 11 because he wanted to field his strongest team. In the end, he brought her on in the second half and the captain, Steph Houghton, handed her the captains band. But by then she was inconsolable.

Three months later, in May 2016, the FA invited Aluko to participate in a confidential culture review about her experiences as a black woman in the England team. She agreed to a phone interview in which she said that she felt demoralised, and that under Sampsons management her negative experiences outweighed the positive ones.

Twelve days later, she was visited by Sampson at Chelseas ground and told she was being dropped from the England squad for un-Lionness behaviour and a bad attitude in the previous camp. A shocked Aluko asked for examples. Sampson told her she had been withdrawn and that her behaviour differed depending on whether or not she was in the starting lineup. Aluko hasnt played for England since.

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Aluko gives evidence to the digital, culture, media and sport committee in October 2017. Photograph: AFP/Getty Images

She was convinced she had been dropped because Sampson had found out about the supposedly confidential culture review. In June, she wrote to the FA with a grievance report. In August 2016, the head of elite development finally replied, insisting the two were unrelated. The FA told her it would investigate her allegations, but at the same time announced that its Integrity Unit was investigating a consultancy role Aluko had with a football agency. The FA concluded that she would have to stop working for the agency or quit football, because she was in breach of FA intermediary roles. Aluko argued there was no conflict of interest, but surrendered her paid role.

She began to think she wasnt simply involved in a spat with the England management, but that she was at war with the FA. And, as far as Aluko was concerned, the FA was playing dirty.

***

Aluko calls herself an accidental whistleblower. She never planned to sacrifice her career on the altar of justice; she just planned to alert the confidential review to inappropriate behaviour. In a way, she says, all she has ever wanted to do is quietly conform and get on with playing football. But Aluko has always stood out.

Her parents, Sileola and Daniel, moved the family from Lagos to Birmingham when Aluko was six months old. Daniel returned to Nigeria to pursue a career in politics, while Sileola worked first as a nurse and then for a pharmaceutical company, bringing up her children in England. From the age of five, Aluko was the only girl on her estate who played football. She and her younger brother, Sone, also a professional footballer, spent their free time honing their skills. Until she went to secondary school, she says, she never had a female friend. Her football-playing male friends called her Eddie, because it was a bit easier than Eni and a lot easier than Eniola.

Some parents were hostile to Aluko playing football particularly as she was better than their sons. The young Eni was told she was different from all the other girls. She knows she should have been proud, but she felt crushed. If I was talking to my young self, Id say: dont be afraid to be individual. Because I was afraid to be different. When the parents at school said: Whys a girl playing football? it made me feel alien.

It wasnt only football ability that differentiated the Alukos. While the other children on the estate spoke with a broad Brummy accent, Sileola insisted Eni and Sone spoke the Queens English. They might have been living a working-class life, but they did not have working-class roots. In Nigeria, their father had become a prominent politician. Meanwhile, at school, she began to learn how complex prejudice can be. I didnt get racism from the white girls, but I got really bad bullying from the black Caribbean girls who saw something in me that they didnt understand. They used to call me African bhuttu, which was patois for unsophisticated. And they called me Coconut because I spoke well and hung around with white people.

At the age of 15, she joined Birmingham City Ladies, where her coach Marcus Bignot labelled her the Wayne Rooney of womens football; like Rooney, she was short and muscular with an explosive burst of pace. That year, she was called up to the England youth squad. At her first camp, her skills made her stand out. I flicked the ball over somebodys head, brought it down and did a Cruyff turn and Hope Powell [Sampsons predecessor at England] stopped the session and said: Its not the Eni show. I remember thinking: well, Im not going to do that again. Ill just get it and pass it. Now she says she wishes she had followed her instincts it would have made her a better player. For her, that was a big difference between the boys and girls games while boys were encouraged to nurture their individuality, girls were scolded for it.

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Aluko was once labelled the Wayne Rooney of womens football. Photograph: Perou/The Guardian

Despite that desire to conform, there was already something unusually forthright about her. After discovering her cousin Fola had become a high-flying lawyer in New York, and reading To Kill A Mockingbird, she decided she wanted to become Atticus Finch and save lives. By then, Aluko says, she saw an injustice lurking on every corner. A boy in her class was bullied for his afro. Rather than defending him, the school banned afros. Aluko was outraged not least because one boy had long, dyed-green hair and nothing was said about it. She went to see the headteacher, who heard her out and told her she was changing the rules enforcing short hair for all the boys. It taught her that justice doesnt always look the way you want it to. That Christmas, the school awarded her a special prize for speaking up for others.

***

After Aluko put her grievance into writing in 2016, an internal investigation cleared Sampson and the management team of any wrongdoing. Aluko threatened to take the FA to court. The FA held a second investigation, this time hiring the barrister Katharine Newton to examine the evidence. In March 2017, it again cleared Sampson and his staff of wrongdoing, but Aluko was paid 80,000 in an out-of-court settlement.

In August that year, the findings were leaked to the Daily Mail, along with information about the settlement. Aluko was horrified by the way she was portrayed. The Mail did not mention the racism, only that Aluko had made allegations of bullying and harassment against Sampson and his staff. It suggested that the FA paid her the money only because it wanted to avoid disruption in the buildup to Euro 2017, that she was making problems because she had lost her place in the squad, and that her teammates didnt like her. In fact, the payout was for loss of earnings.

As for the report itself, Aluko calls it a shambles. It basically said: Eni lied about racism. Mark Sampson never said anything racist. The team is very happy. Weve interviewed a lot of players, and they say its a great culture. How did she feel when she saw it? I was gutted. Gutted. I was publicly being called a liar.

Does she think the FA set out to destroy her? She nods. It wasnt about Mark Sampson any more. It was about Eni Aluko versus the FA David versus Goliath. The PR machine of the FA was Make Eni look as bad as possible. It was a smear campaign.

Did anything ring true? Well, she says, the report was accurate that she had become withdrawn. Im an optimistic, positive person normally, but I was miserable during that time. You have a lot of downtime on England camps, so I was in my room on my own trying to get through it. I didnt really socialise with anybody. How did she cope? I have a strong faith in God. Id watch stuff from my favourite preachers about opposition and how to face adversity. Did she lose faith at any point? No, I think my faith got stronger, because in that period thats all I had.

***

In August 2017, Aluko told her side of the story to Daniel Taylor of the Guardian (she is now a columnist for the sports pages of this paper). She revealed that Sampson had made the Ebola comment and asked an unnamed mixed-race England player how many times she had been arrested. A month later, Spence told the FA that she was the player in question and that everything Aluko had said was true. The Professional Footballers Association called for a new investigation, accusing the FA of holding a sham review that was not designed to establish the truth, but intended to protect Mark Sampson.

Five days after Spence came forward, England played Russia. Every member of the team raced to the bench to celebrate with Sampson after Nikita Parris scored the opener for England in a 6-0 win. Aluko says that was when she finally cracked. I cried my eyes out when I saw that. Players can celebrate how they want, but in the midst of the case I just thought it was too much. I felt really, really low at that point.

A day later, the FA sacked Sampson out of the blue, stressing that it was nothing to do with the racism allegations. It emerged that he was forced out because of a relationship he had had with a player three years earlier when he was managing Bristol Academy. In January 2019, Sampson received a payout from the FA for unfair dismissal.

Eniola
Aluko says she is comforted by the number of female footballers who have spoken out in the past couple of years. Since her case, the American womens team have pursued an equal pay dispute. And Ada Hegerberg, Norways top player has said: I dont like the way things are happening [regarding unequal pay]. Photograph: Perou/The Guardian. Adidas Originals track top 74.95, Adidas Originals, adidas.co.uk.

A third investigation was ordered into Alukos allegations and, in October 2017, Newton concluded that Sampson had racially abused Aluko and Spence. While stressing that she did not regard Sampson as a racist, Newton said: I have concluded that, on two separate occasions, Sampson has made ill-judged attempts at humour, which, as a matter of law, were discriminatory on the grounds of race within the meaning of the Equality Act 2010. The FA apologised to Aluko and Spence.

A month later, the FA was accused of a cover-up after saying that Kendall would not face action, while concealing the fact that he had admitted putting on a mock Caribbean accent to Aluko. Kendall resigned as goalkeeping coach and apologised to her.

This January, 16 months after losing his job, Sampson also apologised to Aluko and Spence, saying: As a white male, I needed to do more and Ive worked hard to educate myself. I spent six weeks with Kick It Out on their educational course for equality and diversity. I need to play a more active role in making a difference. Its something I will do for the rest of my life.

***

How did Aluko feel when she read the final report? Elated. Vindicated. Since the FAs apology, she says, they have been building bridges. After the case, they asked me to be part of the recommendations with UK Sport to build whistleblowing procedures. Where possible, she says, she wants to forgive. Forgiveness is an action, a decision. I had a decision to make. Am I going to hold on to a lot of this pain and frustration with how they treated me, or am I going to try to build a lasting relationship that will impact change moving forward? I had the opportunity to try to do something that was positive with the FA and I did that.

Have fellow players apologised to her? Silence. Erm a few of the Chelsea girls have, yeah. She mentions her former Chelsea teammates Fran Kirby and Karen Carney close friends and women she hugely respects. As for Spence, Aluko says their relationship is stronger than ever. Drew is somebody I probably speak to every other day more than anyone else in football. But Aluko is less forgiving towards members of the squad for not supporting her. To this day, Steph Houghton and a lot of leaders in that team have not come out and apologised to me for what I went through. People say: Dyou want them to sacrifice their careers for you? No, I dont. But I do expect a team of people to say: we do not share these values, we do not accept that what the manager said was correct. She bangs the table as she talks.

Would she go for a drink with them now? No. With quite a few of them, categorically no. Because what they represent is fundamentally the opposite to me. In what way? Just not being able to come out and say: for my teammate to go through this, for racism to be even talked about in this team, is unacceptable.

In June 2018, Aluko left England to play for Juventus. She has enjoyed a hugely successful year there winning the league and cup double, finishing the season as the clubs top scorer. But, despite her impressive form, Aluko did not make the England squad for this years World Cup.

Does she ever think how differently life might have turned out if she had kept her mouth shut? Yes. This summer I was doing media at the World Cup. But Im only 32 and I could have played. I think my England career would have lasted longer than it did. At the point I decided to tell the story, I knew it was going to cost me my England career.

She pauses, then says something surprising. And thats a very powerful position to be in. Why? Because a lot of players, all they can think about is their pay cheque and the fact that they want to play football, so they dont say anything. So they dont end up leaving any legacy for the next person who comes along, and its going to happen to them, too. I would like to think that, next time a player complains about something going on, and not just a black player, it wont be accepted.

One thing that has comforted her is the number of female footballers who have spoken out in the past couple of years. Im not going to take credit for this, but, since my case, both the Australia and New Zealand womens teams have publicly complained about the culture of fear; the American womens team are in an equal pay dispute and probably going to win. Ada Hegerberg, Norways top player and the best player in the world, said: I dont like the way things are happening [regarding unequal pay]. Im not playing in the World Cup. There are many examples of women standing up and saying: were not having this any more.

Unfortunately, this list includes few of her former teammates. Not surprisingly, she says, they now seem uncomfortable when they see her.

Will she ever make up with them? Aluko shakes her head. I dont need to. My life has moved on. Everybody knows what I stand for. That is far more powerful than being an England player who puts on an England shirt and plays well. As much as the England management and the FA, Aluko feels bitterly betrayed by her own colleagues. I would much rather be where Im sat than where theyre sat, because people question them to this day. People say it to me all the time: I find it difficult to support the womens team because of how they behaved. We all have moments in life when our fundamental morals are called into question. In the face of what happened to me, they did nothing. People remember that.

An exclusive extract from Alukos memoir: No one could teach me how to navigate this hyphenated identity

It was being called up to play for England that made me understand I wasnt officially British. Not yet, at least. Not on paper.

A few months after I joined the youth team of Birmingham City Ladies, in 2001, we were scheduled to play a tournament in Warwick, and our coach Marcus Bignot told us England scouts would be there. The final whistle blew on the tournament and I jogged over to my dad, who was visiting from Nigeria. One of the scouts approached, told me Id played well, took my details and said hed be in touch. That was it.

It wasnt long before the first letter from England landed on our doorstep. Mum! I called out. England want me to go to an under-15s trial! Later, she got the letter framed and hung it in the hallway. I think she saw it as something that anchored us even deeper in the UK; one of us could be representing the country.

The trial was at Loughborough University. As the date approached, Mum started to worry about what I was going to wear. Appearances have always been important to her. I told her Id just wear my training stuff, but she wouldnt hear of it. The week before the trial, we went shopping and bought a pencil skirt, a collared shirt, a suit jacket and high heels to match.

The day came and Mum drove me up to Loughborough. Parents were invited to stay for a short introductory briefing with the manager, Hope Powell. We pulled into the car park and I spotted a couple of other girls walking into the building.

Oh, God, I said, horrified. Theyre all wearing tracksuits.

We stepped inside the building, my stomach doing backflips. Thirty or 40 girls sat with their parents, every one of them in a tracksuit and trainers. I swear I heard a murmur ripple around the room, as the girls looked round and nudged each other. I lowered my head and clip-clopped over to a seat in the far back corner. A few minutes later, Powell walked into the room and launched into a business-like introduction. I didnt hear a word she said. The second the talk was over, I jumped up and ran off to change into my training gear. Ive never lived it down.

A few weeks later, a letter arrived saying Id been picked for a week-long camp. I scanned the letter and took it into the kitchen to show to Mum. I began reading it out loud, then I stopped. Oh no, I said. Mum, they want me to bring my passport. What are we going to do? Mum frowned. She had applied to make us all British citizens, but the paperwork, the checks, the tests it all took a long time. It had never crossed my mind I would need to be naturalised as British to play for England. We had leave to remain, which meant we could stay in the country as long as we wanted.

I felt entirely British. Id lived in England my whole life; it was the only home I knew. I was so tired of being the odd one out. I felt a familiar despair rising, one I was coming to associate with my British-Nigerian identity.

Passports were a big deal for the Nigerian community in the UK. A red British passport was a prized possession for those who had been in the UK long enough to own one alongside the Nigerian document, known as a green pali. To hold a British passport was a gateway to the world. Mum mentioned our problem to Dad, to her Nigerian friends and family. Listen, said one uncle, who liked to flaunt that he was a British citizen by birth. If she dares show up with green pali, theyll send that child straight back. She has to be Britico now, dont you know that?

I felt like an alien in my own country. If I wasnt British, then what was I? I thought back to my last visit to Nigeria. I felt like a foreigner there, too.

Every day Id wake up and hope the document would drop on to the doormat. Every day it wasnt there and the camp was another day nearer.

In the end, I took an acknowledgement from the Home Office proving Mum had applied for naturalisation, together with a note she wrote. It was all we had. Thankfully, the coaches were more relaxed than expected.

A few months later, my passport finally arrived. Mum emptied the burgundy books out on to the table, alongside our Nigerian documents. Now you can travel wherever you want, she said.

I saw for the first time what this process meant. Getting a red passport was more than a formality. It was about status. She had been an adult when she first came to the UK, and all this time she had been a foreigner. She had worked hard to forge new paths for herself and her children. I turned over the little red book in my hand and stroked the gold coat of arms on the front. I picked out my old Nigerian passport and held it in my other hand. Two passports, two identities.

No one could teach me how to navigate this hyphenated identity. For me, being British-Nigerian is a tightrope Ill be on for the rest of my life. And whenever I wobble, or feel others are trying to pull me in one direction or the other, I grab on to my hyphen and remember Ill always be both.

They Dont Teach This by Eniola Aluko is published by Yellow Jersey Press (14.99). To order a copy for 10.99, go to guardianbookshop.com. Free UK P&P on online orders over 15. Phone orders minimum P&P of 1.99.

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