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ECOWAS lifts sanctions against Niger, Mali, Burkina Faso

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The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has lifted some sanctions imposed on Niger Republic, Mali and Burkina Faso — member nations that are ruled by the military.

The decision to lift the sanctions was reached at the extraordinary summit of the ECOWAS held in Abuja on Saturday.

The regional bloc also lifted sanctions on the Republic of Guinea-Bissau.

The military junta in Mali took over power in August 2020 while soldiers in Burkina Faso overthrew the democratic government in September 2022.

Also, soldiers in the Niger Republic in July 2023 sacked the democratic government in the country, forcing the authority of ECOWAS to impose sanctions on the three countries.

Omar Alieu Touray, president of the ECOWAS commission, read the resolution taken at the summit.

He said while the political and targeted sanctions on the Niger Republic remain, the regional bloc lifted some financial and economic sanctions on Guinea-Bissau and Mali.

Touray said the decision is based on humanitarian considerations especially because of the month of Lent and the approaching Ramadan.

“Now, let me make it very clear what I have listed is not exhaustive. Political sanctions have not been lifted. Border closures have been lifted. And commercial sanctions have been lifted. But there are targeted sanctions as well as political sanctions. That remain in force,” he said.

“I think our sanctions regime should be assessed correctly. The list I have given relates mainly to Niger because all the other countries still have political sanctions on them.

“So the border closures, the commercial sanctions and all that are on leisure and that is what the leaders have decided to lift. But individual sanctions as well as political sanctions remain in place in Niger.

“Now for other countries, political sanctions remain. That is the limited ability to attend ECOWAS Summit as well as ministerial sessions.”

Earlier, President Bola Tinubu who is the chairman of ECOWAS asked for the lifting of sanctions on the three member states.

In a statement, Ajuri Ngelale, presidential spokesperson, said Tinubu also said the decision to lift the sanctions was based on humanitarian considerations.

“Everything we did was in hopes of persuading our brothers that there existed a better path, a path that would lead to genuine improvement of their people’s welfare through democratic good governance. And this was a path each of our nations had solemnly agreed with one another pursuant to formal regional treaty and protocol,” the statement quoted Tinubu as saying.

“However, the sanctions that we contemplated might help lead our brothers to the negotiating table have become a harsh stumbling block. In my mind and heart, that which is hurtful yet ineffective serves no good purpose and should be abandoned.

“ECOWAS was established for the unassailable objective of improving the lives of the people of this region through fraternal cooperation among all member states. This edifice was cemented on the strong foundation and apt conviction that, united as one, we can be the true masters of our destiny.”

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Iran launches attack on Israel in retaliation move

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Iran has launched an attack on Israel with drones and missiles.

The drones are expected to take several hours to reach Israel.

The attack is believed to be a retaliatory move following an April 1 attack reportedly carried out by Israel on the Iranian embassy in Syria, which killed seven Iranian military officers.

The attack will escalate the tension in the Middle East amid the ongoing war between Isreal and Hamas, which has recorded high casualty.

The United States had earlier warned that Iran could launch a major attack on Israel with more than 100 drones and dozens of missiles aimed at military targets inside the country.

The US State Department has issued a travel advisory to Americans in Israel not to move outside major cities in order to be protected by the Dome missile defense system.

While addressing the nation, Benjamin Netanyahu, Israeli prime minister, said the country is ready for the attack and will respond accordingly.

“Citizens of Israel, in recent years, and even more so in recent weeks, Israel has been preparing for the possibility of a direct attack from Iran,” Netanyahu said.

“Our defense systems are deployed, and we are prepared for any scenario, both in defense and offense. The State of Israel is strong, the IDF is strong, the public is strong.”

Joe Biden, president of the United States, on Friday, said the country would defend Isreal in the event of an attack from Iran.

“We will support Israel; we will help defend Israel and Iran will not succeed,” Biden said.

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Watch the moment sun eclipsed in Dallas

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Nigerian United States-based couple in Dallas captures the moment of the total solar eclipse that crossed North America, passing over Mexico, the United States and Canada.

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration had earlier announced that on Monday, a total solar eclipse would traverse North America, spanning across Mexico, the United States, and Canada.

Watch video here

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Time, path, duration… what to know about today’s solar eclipse

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Today, April 8, the moon will block the sun for approximately four minutes in a natural phenomenon known as a solar eclipse.

The expected eclipse is an experience many say will be one of the recent most spectacular celestial events.

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) said a total solar eclipse occurs when the moon passes between the sun and the earth and, for a short time, completely blocks the face of the sun.

For residents of the United States, where some of the eclipse will be happening, it will particularly be a treat.

The last one was in August 2017 but an interval of seven years is unusual. The previous one before that took place in 1979, and the next one will be in 2044.

Here are some things to know about the solar eclipse.

WHY ARE ECLIPSES NOT FREQUENT?

There are different kinds of eclipses — solar, lunar, annular, partial, and hybrid.

Depending on how they align, they provide a unique, exciting view of either the sun or the moon.

While an eclipse season happens twice a year, a solar eclipse only happens occasionally, because the moon does not orbit in the same plane as the sun and earth do.

As such, people in the centre of the moon’s shadow will experience a total eclipse when it hits earth.

The sky will darken and if there is favourable weather, those located in the path of a total solar eclipse can see the sun’s corona, the outer atmosphere, which is otherwise usually obscured by the bright face of the sun.

WILL IT ONLY HAPPEN IN THE US?

Mexico’s Pacific coast is the first point of totality on the path, expected at 11:07 a.m. PT (19:07 p.m. local time) before the eclipse begins its journey across North America.

The total solar eclipse will be visible in parts of Mexico, Canada, and more than 10 US states, while a crescent-shaped partial eclipse is expected to appear in 49 other states — if the weather permits.

HOW TO VIEW SOLAR ECLIPSE

Except during the brief total phase when the moon shrouds the sun, solar viewing is not safe without specialised eye protection.

Those living in the path of totality have a front-row seat to the eclipse. However, people in a different zone can watch NASA’s live stream here.

Also, via NASA’s eclipse explorer, you can enter any US address or zip code to find out what will be visible from that location.

IMPACT ON THE PLANET (WEATHER CHANGES)

During a solar eclipse, sunlight wanes and stops heating the ground, leading to a cooling effect on the lower atmosphere. This cooling can impact various aspects of the weather, such as inducing thunderstorms in areas where it isn’t cloudy, affecting wind patterns, increasing relative humidity, and even causing clouds to dissipate, especially low-level cumulus clouds.

The eclipse’s influence on weather can be observed not only during the event but also in the aftermath, with changes in wind direction and speed being noted during and after eclipses.

HAS NIGERIA EVER EXPERIENCED A SOLAR ECLIPSE?

Nigeria has experienced a total solar eclipse in the past. The most recent total solar eclipse in Nigeria occurred on March 29, 2006, and lasted for about four minutes.

The eclipse was visible in parts of the country, including Benue, Katsina, Zamfara, Jigawa, and Oyo.

The next total solar eclipse in Nigeria is expected to occur in 2034.

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