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Iran Executes Accused British Spy By Hanging

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Iran on Saturday executed former top defence official and dual British national, Alireza Akbari, who was accused of spying for United Kingdom intelligence, the judiciary reported.

Akbari was executed after being sentenced to death for “corruption on earth and harming the country’s internal and external security by passing on intelligence”, the judicial news agency Mizan Online reported.

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The actions of the British spy service in this case have shown the value of the convict, the importance of his access and the enemy’s trust in him,” it added.

READ ALSO: Iran Sentences Three More To Death Over Protests

Britain has demanded that Tehran halt what foreign minister James Cleverly has called a “politically motivated” execution.

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On Thursday, state media had reported that 61-year-old Akbari had held high positions in the country’s defence establishment.

His posts included “deputy minister of defence for foreign affairs” and a position in the “secretariat of the Supreme National Security Council.”

Akbari had also been an “advisor to the commander of the navy” as well as “heading a division at the defence ministry’s research centre”.

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In a video published by Iranian media, Akbari was seen apparently talking about his contacts with Britain.

He also said he was questioned by the British about Iran’s top nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, assassinated in November 2020 in an attack that Tehran blames on arch-foe Israel.

Akbari, a veteran of the Iran-Iraq war that raged from 1980-1988, was arrested sometime between March 2019 and March 2020, state media said.

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READ ALSO: Fraud Allegation: Adeniran Resigns As Yoruba Nation Chair

Mizan, citing a statement from Iran’s intelligence ministry, had said earlier this week that Akbari became a “key spy” for Britain’s Secret Intelligence Service, more commonly known as MI6, due to “the importance of his position”.

AFP

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78% Of Nigerians Don’t Trust INEC, Says Report

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Only 23 per cent of Nigerians say they trust the Independent National Electoral Commission “somewhat” or “a lot,” while more than three-fourths (78 per cent) express “just a little” or no trust at all in the election-management body, a joint report by NOI Polls, Afrobarometer, and CDD Ghana has shown.

The report titled, “Nigerians want competitive elections but don’t trust the electoral commission,” and published on Dispatch No. 598 of Afrobarometer, also revealed that trust in INEC had declined by 12 per cent since 2017.

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The Afrobarometer team in Nigeria, led by NOIPolls, said it interviewed a “nationally representative, random, stratified probability sample” of 1,600 adult Nigerians between 5 and 31 March 2022.

According to the research network, a sample of this size “yields country-level results with a margin of error of +/-2.5 percentage points at a 95 per cent confidence level”.

Previous standard surveys were conducted in Nigeria in 2000, 2003, 2005, 2008, 2013, 2015, 2017, and 2020 by the organisation.

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The PUNCH reports that the INEC Chairman, Mahmood Yakubu, has continuously promised Nigerians that their votes will count at the 2023 polls, assuring them that the season of rigging is over.

READ ALSO: Oyo: Police Uncover Plot To Attack Banks, Malls Over Naira, Fuel Scarcity

In addition to reservations about election quality, one red flag for Nigeria’s upcoming elections is citizens’ weak trust in the Independent National Electoral Commission,” a part of the report read.

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The report headlined by NOIPolls’ Head of Social Research, Raphael Mbaegbu, and Afrobarometer’s Coordinator for Anglophone West and North Africa also showed that trust in INEC had been “fairly weak throughout the past two decades” and had “declined by 12 percentage points since 2017”.

“Popular trust in the INEC is a central issue, and distrust is a major concern, especially in the southern states. The upcoming election is an opportunity for the electoral management body to regain the trust of the electorate by proving itself independent, credible, and competent,” the report added.
PUNCH

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Only Africans Can Solve Continent’s Problems – US General

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A top United States military officer Chase D. Patrick has stressed that the problems of Africa can only be solved by homegrown solutions.

The Director of Maritime Headquarters at U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa and Sixth Fleet made the remark at a press briefing of the Department of State’s Africa Regional Media Hub.

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Rear Admiral Patrick discussed Exercise Obangame Express 2023, one of three African regional exercises facilitated by his formation and sponsored by U.S. Africa Command.

The General responded to a question on how Obangame enables collaborative solutions to the insurgency problems across the coastline of West Africa.

Patrick said U.S. Naval Forces remain committed to being a reliable and long-term partner in Atlantic Africa as security on the waters surrounding the continent was critical to maintaining a safe global environment.

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The senior officer confirmed America was aware that the dynamic threat posed by violent extremist organizations do require creative and collaborative solutions.

Patrick commended African nations for taking the lead in pushing maritime security toward the top of their international agenda.

The U.S. Naval Forces, he continued, sees the development of maritime skills and enhanced relationships with African partners as a critical piece to enhancing maritime safety.

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Obangame Express provides the opportunity to collaborate and work on combined capabilities to combat maritime challenges, the Rear Admiral explained.

“From boarding procedures to legal jurisdiction and prosecution, we’re working together to become a stronger force.

READ ALSO: APC Supporters Clash At National Secretariat

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“We recognize that African problems can only be solved by African solutions, and that is why we’re here, to learn from each other and share ideas to enhance maritime security.”

Patrick added that building good relationships, training and operating together in the form of exercises ultimately builds trust, the foundation of any good relationship.

The General oversees all Africa partnership station exercises in West, North, and East Africa, which includes Obangame, Phoenix, and Cutlass Express.

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UK Police Drop Attempted Rape Charge Against Man Utd Star

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Charges of attempted rape and assault against Manchester United forward Mason Greenwood have been dropped by prosecutors, British police said on Thursday.

The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) said the withdrawal of key witnesses and new material coming to light were factors in their decision to stop the case against the 21-year-old.

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Greater Manchester Police said it was “only fair” that they announce that Greenwood, who was arrested in January last year, would no longer face criminal proceedings “given the significant media coverage of this case”.

The striker originally faced one count of attempted rape, one count of controlling and coercive behaviour and one count of assault occasioning actual bodily harm, all against the same complainant.

READ ALSO: bristWhat Nigeria Election Means Globally – British High Commission

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“In this case a combination of the withdrawal of key witnesses and new material that came to light meant there was no longer a realistic prospect of conviction,” the CPS said in a statement.

“In these circumstances, we are under a duty to stop the case.”

Greenwood, who has played 129 times for United, scoring 35 goals, last played for United against West Ham in January last year.

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“Given the significant media coverage of this case, it is only fair that we share the news that the 21-year-old man, who had been arrested and charged in connection with an investigation opened in January 2022, no longer faces criminal proceedings in relation to this,” said chief superintendent Michaela Kerr.

“The investigation team has remained in regular contact with the legal team, providing any updates of note, and so understand the rationale for the discontinuation of proceedings at this stage, and that this decision has not been taken lightly.

“Despite the media and public’s interest in this case, we have decided not to comment on it in any further detail.

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Greenwood, a product of United’s academy, and once considered one of English football’s brightest prospects, made his senior debut for the Red Devils in a Champions League victory at Paris Saint-Germain in March 2019.

READ ALSO: JUST IN: Boris Johnson Resigns As British Prime Minister

He signed a new contract at United in February 2021 that runs until at least 2025.

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The forward made his England debut against Iceland in September 2020, but he and Manchester City midfielder Phil Foden were sent home after breaching the team’s coronavirus guidelines.

Nike suspended and later terminated its sponsorship deal with the player, while Electronic Arts confirmed his removal from active squads on its FIFA 22 game following his arrest.

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