Pope Francis has said that the Russian invasion of Ukraine is ‘not a military operation, but a war’ while criticizing President Vladimir Putin.
During his Angelus address to the world, the head of the Catholic Church led this Sunday’s prayer at the Vatican with the Russian invasion of Ukraine as his point of focus, making calls to stop the war and to allow humanitarian corridors to keep people safe.
In his address, the Pope said: ‘Rivers of blood and tears are flowing in Ukraine. This is not just a military operation but a war which is sowing death, destruction and misery.’
In a prayer said for the first Sunday of Lent, Pope Francis spoke at the Vatican in the Apostolic Palace overlooking St. Peter’s Square in Vatican City, facing thousands of people, with many holding Ukrainian flags or placards with messages of solidarity with the country under attack.
He said of the conflict: ‘True happiness and freedom do not lie in possessing, but in sharing, not taking advantage of others but in loving them, not in the obsession of power, but in the joy of service.
‘We must be vigilant because they often present themselves under an apparent form of good. In fact, the devil, who is cunning, always uses deception, and [he even knows] how to disguise himself with sacred, apparently religious motives.’
The Pope also noted that there are ‘no compromises with evil’, much like there has been little compromise from President Putin on his devastating actions on Ukraine.
‘Let us take time for silence and prayer, during which we can stop and look at what is stirring in our hearts…’ he said.
‘Placing ourselves before the Word of God in prayer, so that a positive fight against the evil that enslaves us, a fight for freedom, may take place within us.’
Death toll rises to nine
At least nine persons have been confirmed dead in a suspected gas explosion that occurred in Sabon Gari area of Kano State.
The blast which occurred on Tuesday morning at a building located at No. 01, Aba/Court Road, opposite Winners Kids Academy, affected some buildings and left several people injured, including school children.
The National Ergency Management Agency(NEMA) in a statement said nine corpses were recovered from the scene of the explosion.
NEMA’s spokesperson, Manzo Ezekiel, said the Director-General, Mustapha Habib, who visited the scene of the explosion, coordinated the rescue operations.
“Nine dead bodies have been recovered so far from the rubbles of a collapsed building beside a primary school following explosions from a gas cylinder at Aba Road in Sabon Gari area of Kano. Director-General National Emergency Management Agency, Mustapha Habib Ahmed, was at the site of the incident and coordinated the rescue operations,” the statement read.
“He mobilised excavators being used for the rescue operations and said NEMA team will ensure complete removal of the rubbles to retrieve all trapped persons.
“Furthermore, the DG instructed the NEMA rescue team to remain at the site until the conclusion of the rescue and to work together with security agencies and other response organisations present at the location.
“NEMA is presently coordinating the rescue operations involving members, Nigerian Red Cross, military, the Nigerian Police, Nigerian Security and Civil Defense Corps, Kano SEMA.”
The State Commissioner of Police, CP Samaila Dikko, had earlier confirmed that it was a gas explosion and not bomb as widely reported on social media.
A statement issued by spokesperson of the State Police Command, SP Abdullahi Haruna Kiyawa, said “preliminary Forensic Analysis revealed a suspected Gas Cylinder Explosion with the recovery of chemicals”
“Scene of the suspected explosion that led to a building collapse was cordoned up and four victims (3 Males and 1 Female) including a Wielder, named Mr. Ejike Vincent were removed and rushed to Murtala Mohammed Specialist Hospital Kano, where a Medical Doctor certified them dead,” the PPRO added.
Meanwhile, the Kano State Government in a statement clarified that the explosion did not occur in schools.
The state commissioner for information, Malam Muhammad Garba said the incident happened at an animal feed store opposite the school along Aba Road, Sabon Gari area of Fagge local government.
He said while the cause of the explosion and the damage it had done is yet to be officially ascertained, investigation has since commenced to determine the cause, impact and measures to be taken.
Malam Garba called on the people in the state particularly those living in the area where the incident occured to remain calm while government in collaboration with relevant agencies are working on the matter.
The commissioner assured that government would keep the public abreast on any development and warned people to desist from spreading unsubstantiated news.
Watford decline to sign Super Eagles player Peter Etebo permanently from Stoke City
Watford football club will not activate their option to sign Super Eagles midfielder Oghenekaro Peter Etebo permanently from Stoke City, according to new reports.
Watford based paper, the Watford Observer in a new report on Tuesday, May 17, said that the club’s new manager Rob Edwards doesn’t see him as part of his plans due to his injury concerns.
Following a nice start to his career at Watford, injury forced Etebo, 26, to miss out on months of football, after which he has been on the sidelines.
Watford have an option to sign him permanently should they wish to, but club sources have told the Watford Observer they do not think he will be needed.
The report reads;
New manager Rob Edwards is set for talks with club chiefs in the coming days, during which the current playing squad will be discussed, as the Hornets prepare to clear out players they think are either surplus to requirements, or will bring in money needed to help balance the books ahead of a season in the Championship.
And one such player who the club do not envisage as being part of their future plans is Etebo, who has been on loan from Stoke during the current campaign.
Decisions on the future of other players, like Juraj Kucka, whose contract Watford also have an option to extend by a further year, are yet to have been made and will depend on how those conversations with Edwards play out.
Rob Edwards was present at Vicarage Road for Sunday’s 5-1 defeat to Leicester City, as he saw his new club play in person for the first time since his appointment.
Etebo has featured in just 10 games in all competitions for the Hornets this season, nine Premier League appearances and one in the Carabao Cup.
He missed the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations in Cameroon due to injury but returned to the squad for the 2022 World Cup playoffs with the Black Stars of Ghana in March.
Kidnappers kill woman in Kaduna over failure to pay ransom
Kidnappers have killed a woman, Martina John in Kaduna State after her family failed to pay ransom at the specified date.
Acccording to her uncle, Makeri Danjuma Mohammad, the deceased was abducted two weeks ago from Katari village along Kaduna-Abuja highway.
She was brutally murdered by her abductors and her mutilated body dumped around Sabon Gayan Chikun Local Government Area of the state on May 13.
Martina was laid to rest on Saturday, May 14.
“Martina John is a niece to me. She was kidnapped from our community ten days ago and gruesomely murdered by her kidnappers for not paying the ransom at the time specified by them (kidnappers) May her soul rest in peace,” he wrote
“At the grave site of late Martina John today who was kidnapped from my community ten days ago, gruesomely murdered day before yesterday by her heartless kidnappers and her mutilated body dumped around Sabon Gayan near Kaduna. An unprecedented crowd of mourners graced her funeral today. May her soul rest in peace.”