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Five Killed During Kenya Anti-tax Protests

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Five people were shot dead and dozens wounded in Kenya on Tuesday in mounting anti-tax hike protests, NGOs said, after police clashed with demonstrators who stormed the parliament compound in Nairobi.

The military has been deployed to support police, who earlier fired tear gas, water cannon, rubber bullets and — according to a rights group — live ammunition against protesters, as tensions sharply escalated in protests that have caught the government off guard.

Despite the assurance by the government that the right to assembly would be protected and facilitated, today’s protests have spiraled into violence,” several NGOs, including Amnesty Kenya, said a joint statement that reported the dead and wounded.

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The White House appealed for calm and more than 10 Western nations — including Canada, Germany and Britain — said they were “especially shocked by the scenes witnessed outside the Kenyan Parliament”.

Mainly youth-led rallies have galvanised outrage over proposed tax hikes and simmering anger over a cost-of-living crisis to fuel rapidly growing demonstrations.

“This is the voice of the young people of Kenya,” said Elizabeth Nyaberi, 26, a lawyer at a protest. “They are tear gassing us, but we don’t care.”

We are here to speak for our generations and the generations to come,” she added.

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READ ALSO: Kenyan Policeman Shoots Judge In Court For Revoking Wife’s Bail

The protests had been largely peaceful but chaos erupted in the capital Tuesday, with crowds throwing stones at police, pushing past barricades and ultimately entering the grounds of Kenya’s parliament.

Amid the clashes, global web monitor NetBlocks reported that a “major disruption” had hit the country’s internet service.

– ‘Unleashed brute force’ –

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In the aftermath of the parliament compound breach, local TV showed images of ransacked rooms with smashed windows, while cars parked outside were vandalised and flags destroyed, according to an AFP reporter.

The governor’s office in Nairobi City Hall — just a few hundred metres from parliament — was set alight, footage on privately owned Citizen TV showed, with a water cannon attempting to douse the fire.

After reports that live ammunition was fired at protesters, Kenya’s main opposition coalition, Azimio, said the government had “unleashed brute force on our country’s children”.

“Kenya cannot afford to kill its children just because the children are asking for food, jobs and a listening ear,” it said in a statement.

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The military’s deployment was “in response to the security emergency” across Kenya, Defence Minister Aden Bare Duale said in a statement.

READ ALSO: Ruto Ready For ‘Conversation’ With Youth Protesters, Says Kenya’s Presidency

Earlier in the day, despite the heavy police presence, thousands of protesters had marched peacefully through Nairobi’s business district, pushing back against barricades as they headed towards parliament.

As protesters gained ground in their push towards parliament, many were livestreaming the action as they sang and beat drums.

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Crowds also marched in the port city of Mombasa, the opposition bastion of Kisumu, and Kenyan President William Ruto’s stronghold of Eldoret, images on Kenyan TV channels showed.

The Independent Policing Oversight Authority watchdog and rights groups said two people had died following last week’s rallies in Nairobi.

Several organisations, including Amnesty International Kenya, said at least 200 people were wounded in last week’s protests in Nairobi.

Amnesty’s Kenya chapter posted on X Tuesday that “the pattern of policing protests is deteriorating fast”, urging the government to respect demonstrators’ right to assembly.

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Rights watchdogs have also accused the authorities of abducting protesters.

The Kenya Human Rights Commission said the abductions had mostly occurred at night and were “conducted by police officers in civilian clothes and unmarked cars”, calling for the “unconditional release of all abductees”.

Police have not responded to AFP requests for comment on the allegations.

READ ALSO: One Dead, 200 Injured In Kenya Tax Protests

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Fuel price hikes –

The cash-strapped government agreed last week to roll back several tax increases.

But it still intends to raise other taxes, saying they are necessary for filling the state coffers and cutting reliance on external borrowing.

Kenya has a huge debt mountain whose servicing costs have ballooned because of a fall in the value of the local currency over the last two years, making interest payments on foreign-currency loans more expensive.

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The tax hikes will pile further pressure on Kenyans, with well-paid jobs remaining out of reach for many young people.

After the government agreed to scrap levies on bread purchases, car ownership and financial and mobile services, the treasury warned of a budget shortfall of 200 billion shillings ($1.56 billion).

The government now intends to target an increase in fuel prices and export taxes to fill the void left by the changes, a move critics say will make life more expensive in a country already saddled with high inflation.

Kenya has one of the most dynamic economies in East Africa but a third of its 52 million people live in poverty.

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AFP

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Meta Deletes 63,000 Accounts In ‘Yahoo Boys’ Crackdown

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Meta Platforms Inc., the parent company of Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp, has removed 63,000 accounts associated with the notorious “Yahoo Boys” scam group, the company announced in its Q1 2024 Adversarial Threat Report on Wednesday.

The accounts, deleted over the past few weeks, were used for financial sextortion scams and distributing blackmail scripts. Meta reported that a smaller network of 2,500 accounts, linked to around 20 individuals, primarily targeted adult men in the United States using fake identities.

Meta said it identified and disabled these accounts through a combination of advanced technical signals and comprehensive investigations, enhancing its automated detection systems.

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“Financial sextortion is a borderless crime, fueled in recent years by the increased activity of Yahoo Boys, loosely organised cybercriminals operating largely out of Nigeria that specialize in different types of scams,” the social media giant stated.

READ ALSO: Apple Challenges Meta In Virtual Reality, Unveils N1.6m Headset

It added, “We’ve removed around 63,000 accounts in Nigeria attempting to target people with financial sextortion scams, including a coordinated network of around 2,500 accounts.”

“We’ve also removed a set of Facebook accounts, Pages, and groups run by Yahoo Boys—banned under our Dangerous Organizations and Individuals policy—that were attempting to organize, recruit and train new scammers,” the company explained.

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During the investigation, Meta said it found that most scammers’ attempts were unsuccessful, though some had targeted minors. These cases were reported to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

Meta revealed that it also shared information with other tech companies via the Tech Coalition’s Lantern program to help curb these scams across platforms.

READ ALSO: FG Slashes Allowances Of Stranded Nigerians On Scholarship In Russia The Federal Gov

Further, the parent company of Facebook said it removed around 7,200 assets in Nigeria, including 1,300 Facebook accounts, 200 pages, and 5,700 groups that were providing scam-related resources.

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These assets were found offering scripts and guides for scams and sharing links to collections of photos for creating fake accounts, it expounded.

Since this disruption, Meta’s systems have been actively blocking attempts from these groups to return, continually improving their detection capabilities.

The company noted that it has also been working closely with law enforcement, supporting investigations and prosecutions by responding to legal requests and alerting authorities to imminent threats.

READ ALSO: Top 10 Richest People In The World

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The social media giant stated that its efforts extend beyond account removal.

“We also fund and support NCMEC and the International Justice Mission to run Project Boost, a program that trains law enforcement agencies around the world in processing and acting on NCMEC reports.

“We’ve conducted several training sessions so far, including in Nigeria and the Cote d’Ivoire, with our most recent session taking place just last month,” the firm revealed.

To protect users, especially teens, Meta disclosed that it has implemented stricter messaging settings for users under 16 (under 18 in certain countries) and displays safety notices to encourage cautious behaviour online.

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READ ALSO: FG Slashes Allowances Of Stranded Nigerians On Scholarship In Russia The Federal Gov

Last week, Meta was fined $220m by Nigeria’s Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission for multiple violations of data protection laws linked to WhatsApp.

The investigation, initiated in May 2021, found that Meta’s privacy policies infringed on users’ rights, including unauthorized data sharing and discriminatory practices.

Meta plans to appeal the decision, arguing that it disagrees with the findings and the imposed penalty. The FCCPC aims to ensure fair treatment of Nigerian users and compliance with local regulations.

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FG Slashes Allowances Of Stranded Nigerians On Scholarship In Russia The Federal Gov

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The Federal Government has announced a slash in allowances of foreign scholars who are currently studying in Moscow, Russia.

This is contained in a letter dated July 23, 2024, issued to the scholars’ association in country by the Federal Scholarship Board under the Federal Ministry of Education.

The students are studying under the Federal Government’s Bilateral Educational Agreement Scholarship, which is for the purpose of education exchange between Nigeria and the other countries.

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READ ALSO: Plane Crashes On Takeoff In Nepal With 19 Aboard

The letter, which was signed by the Director of the Federal Scholarship Board, Ndajiwo H.A., on behalf of the Minister of Education, Prof. Tahir Mamman reads, “A: FG slashes allowances of Nigerian foreign scholars over hardship”

According to the letter, the monthly allowances were slashed from $500 to $220; the graduation allowance from $2500 to $2000; and the PG research allowance was slashed from $1,000 to $500.

The total for the payments initially paid was $5,650 per student but will now be $4,370 but allowance for health insurance, pilot allowance and Medical allowance remains $200, $700 and $500 as before.

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READ ALSO: Plane Crashes On Takeoff In Nepal With 19 Aboard

The letter reads: “The Scholars’ Association is hereby notified that due to the prevailing economic situation, the payment mandate for the BEA scholars’ allowances will be as per the new adjustment.”

“The balances for the years 2023 and 2024 owed to scholars will be paid as soon as the funds are made available,” the letter reads.

Meanwhile, reports has it that the scholars have not been paid for close to eight months and have endured financial strain due to the delay in receiving their stipends.

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BREAKING: SGF, NSA, Ministers In Emergency Meeting Over Planned Nationwide Protest

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The Secretary to the Government of the Federation, SGF, George Akume, is currently meeting with ministers over the planned nationwide protest against economic hardship.

READ ALSO::Four Suspected Cultists Arrested With Arms In Edo

The meeting, which is taking place behind closed doors, has all the over 40 ministers in President Bola Tinubu’s cabinet in attendance.

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Some of the Ministers spotted are Nyesom Wike (FCT), Yusuf Tuggar (Foreign Affairs), Zephaniah Jisalo (Special Duties), Tahir Mamman (Education), and Abubakar Bagudu (Budget and Planning).

Others are Wale Edun (Finance), Mohammed Idris (Information), Bello Matawalle (Defence), David Umahi (Works), and the National Security Adviser (NSA) Nuhu Ribadu, amongst others.

Recall that the President had earlier on Tuesday pleaded with Nigerians to shelve the #EndBadGovernance protest slated to commence on August 1.

The protest against economic hardship, organized by faceless persons, has gained traction on social media and is scheduled to hold across the 36 states of the Federation and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja.

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Details shorly…

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