Police fired tear gas at protesters in one of Hong Kong’s busiest shopping districts on Sunday as growing numbers took to the street.
The protesters are in opposition to Beijing’s plans to impose a national security law that bypasses the local legislature.
Water cannon and armoured trucks were deployed across the city before protests even kicked off, as police prepared for mass protests, the first of their kind since the city got COVID-19 under control.
While some protesters dug up bricks from walkways, scenes largely included dozens of riot police, moving people on or blocking roads in line formations, determined to keep traffic moving for as long as possible.
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The demonstrations are expected to intensify throughout the day.
The Police issued two statements in quick succession, condemning protesters for turning up and flouting social distancing laws, after calls to gather were advertised online, despite not having the official go-ahead.
The Police also appealed to the public to get out of the area and stay safe, as they undertake “enforcement actions against rioters’’.
Widespread outrage has engulfed the city as new laws concerning national security led the discussions on Friday at the National People’s Congress rubber-stamp parliament in Beijing.
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Many Hong Kong citizens feel the new laws would infringe on the freedoms widely enjoyed by the semi-autonomous city as it would allow Chinese companies to set up security agencies.
Protesters, who can currently be arrested and fined for flouting social distancing laws and for illegal assembly, may also be charged with “local terrorism” under the new national security law if it is passed by Beijing.
International human rights organisations say the laws would mean the end of the “One Country, Two Systems” principle, the 1997 understanding implemented when Britain handed control of the city back to China, which left Hong Kong a degree of autonomy.
Hong Kong’s Chief Executive, Carrie Lam and Andrew Leung, the President of the territory’s Legislative Council (Legco), welcomed the move.
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Both politicians have been embroiled in a political stalemate between pro-establishment and pro-democratic camps in the local parliament, amid ongoing anti-government protests.
Tensions came to a peak last week in the Legco when opposing sides battled it out during an election for Chair of the House Committee, which reviews bills.
Some pro-democracy legislators were carried out of the chamber by security guards during the hour-long debacle.
The coronavirus pandemic temporarily shut down protests, but now that there are no new COVID-19 cases in Hong Kong, some have accused the government of keeping social distancing measures in place to quash the return of protests.
A heavy police presence could be seen throughout the day on Sunday, with the Police stopping and searching individuals, while groups of riot police could be seen loading weaponry with tear gas canisters and rubber bullets.
The Police came under fire during the protests last year for their use of tear gas as a dispersal weapon in densely populated areas.
JUST IN: OPEC Secretary-General, Barkindo, Is Dead
The Secretary-General of the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries, Muhammad Barkindo, is dead.
Barkindo died late Tuesday.
The Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, Mele Kyari, announced Barkindo’s death in a tweeted posted to his verified Twitter handle, @MKKyari, in the early hours of Wednesday.
“We lost our esteemed Dr Muhammad Sanusi Barkindo. He died at about 11pm yesterday 5th July 2022. Certainly a great loss to his immediate family, the NNPC, our country Nigeria, the OPEC and the global energy community. Burial arrangements will be announced shortly,” Kyari tweeted.
The President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), had, on Tuesday, honoured Barkindo, describing him as a worthy ambassador of the country, at the State House, Abuja.
Reacting to Barkindo’s death, a former lawmaker in the eighth Assembly, Senator Shehu Sani, tweeted to his Twitter page, “Muhammad Sanusi Barkindo, former GMD NNPC and until recently, @OPECSecretariat scribe, was honoured yesterday. He died 11pm yesternight. May Allah grant him Aljanna firdausi. Amin. That is the ephemerality and transience of life.”
‘Go Spiritual,’ Army Chief Tasks Troops To Complement Kinetic Efforts
The Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant General Farouk Yahaya, has asked troops to complement the Nigerian Army’s kinetic engagements with spiritual efforts.
He advised them to seek counselling, guidance, and divine supplications in ongoing military operations across the nation.
The Director of Army Public Relations, Brigadier General Onyema Nwachukwu, disclosed this in a statement on Sunday.
Yahaya gave the charge during an interdenominational church service to commemorate the Nigerian Army Day Celebration (NADCEL) 2022, held at Saint Mark Military Church (Protestant), 34 Brigade Obinze Barracks in Owerri, the Imo State capital.
The army chief who was represented by Major General Victor Ezugwu, according to Nwachukwu, noted that the theme of the interdenominational service “Promoting National Unity through Religious Tolerance and Peaceful Coexistence” was apt.
He urged the Christian faithful across the nation to continually promote peace and unity in complementing the efforts of the army to surmount contemporary security challenges bedevilling the nation.
Yahaya also appealed to all to desist from the use of misinformation, deceit, and issues capable of disintegrating the nation, stressing the unity in Nigeria’s unique diversity.
The interdenominational service was held in all formations and units of the army across the nation.
The church service had in attendance representatives of the President, Nigerian Army Officers’ Wives Association (NAOWA), principal staff officers from Defence and Army Headquarters, corps commanders, general officers commanding, commandants of Nigerian Army training institutions, soldiers, and their families.
Man Docked For Alleged Intimidation, Falsehood Against High Court Judge
A Minna, Niger State-based land speculator, Ibrahim Tukura, has been remanded in correctional custody till July, 7 on the orders of a Chief Magistrate, Hauwa Kulu Isah over alleged intimidation and injurious falsehood against a High court judge, Justice Bilkisu Yusuf Gambo in the state.
Tukura had allegedly filed a case before the Niger State Acting Chief Judge, Justice Halima Ibrahim Abdulmalik, and requested that his case over a parcel of land presided by Justice Gambo of High Court No 6 be transferred from her court.
The defendant claimed that the disputed parcel of land of which, he is claiming ownership with suit No: NSHC/MN/173/2021 was pending in High court No. 6 presided by Justice Gambo.
He alleged that the plaintiff in the disputed land, Malam Isah Nagoji, had given the said land to the presiding judge handling the case, hence his petition to the acting chief judge, demanding that the case be transferred from her court.
Justice Bilkisu Yusuf Gambo in her reaction filed a Direct Criminal Complaint against the defendant to the Chief Magistrate Court No., Hauwa Kulu Isah, requesting a police investigation into the allegations levelled against her by the defendant.
Chief Magistrate, Hauwa Kulu Isah, forwarded the complaint to the State Criminal Investigation and Intelligent Department (SCIID), for discreet investigation and afterwards, arraigned the defendant in court for prosecution.
The defendant was consequently, booked on a four-count charge of injurious falsehood, use of abusive or insulting language, criminal intimidation as well as inciting disturbance.
According to the head of the prosecution unit of the SCIID, Abdullahi Mayaki ASP, the charges contravened sections 393, 399, 397 (b), and 114 of the penal code.
However, when the presiding Chief Magistrate, Hauwa Kulu Isah read the charges to the defendant, he pleaded not guilty to the charges and was ordered to be remanded in Correctional custody.
Magistrate Isah then adjourned the case to July, 7 for further mention
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