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Nigeria votes: Polls open amid security fears in northern states | Elections 2018 News

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Abuja, Nigeria – Explosions have rocked Maiduguri, the capital of northeast Borno state, two hours before polls were to open in presidential and legislative elections after a week-long delay.

The explosions, which occurred at 05:00 GMT on Saturday, sent residents of Maiduguri scampering for safety, witnesses told Al Jazeera.

“Shortly after prayers, we heard seven blasts. Nobody knows what is going on. This is really unfortunate because it will make some people not go out today to vote,” Jubril Abdulrahman said. “We are all in our homes and waiting to find out what exactly is going on,” Abdulrahman said.

About 120,000 polling stations opened at 07:00 GMT across Africa’s most populous nation and leading oil producer for four years. Results are expected from early next week.

Al Jazeera’s Ahmed Idris, reporting from a polling station in Maiduguri, said armed group Boko Haram had vowed to disrupt the elections.

“This is what foreign embassies in Nigeria warned their citizens about long before this election. This morning we woke up to the sound of explosions here in Maiduguri, some are talking about at least a dozen explosions.

“The fighting, or the explosions we have heard so far, has not deterred some of the voters who are eager to cast their ballots in the election,” Idris added.

“Since the break of dawn, people were on the road, trying to access polling stations, trying to exercise their rights as citizens of this country. But of course the delay has discouraged at least some people who had to travel long distances.”





 

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) last Saturday announced a one-week delay to the election, just hours before it was due to get under way.

That angered voters who had already travelled to their home towns and villages to participate, and saw the main parties accuse the other of conspiring with INEC to rig the result.

While the INEC has promised safety for voters in Saturday’s polls, many in the restive north have said they would not venture out of their homes to vote.

“I will remain indoor with my children. I don’t think I will go out to vote because anything can happen,” Hadiza Idris, another Maiduguri resident, told Al Jazeera.

Suspected members of Boko Haram on Saturday have also attacked Geidam city in neighboring Yobe state, where residents were forced to flee their homes and hide in the bush.

The attacks in the northeast come on the back of an ambush against a convoy of Borno state governor Kashim Shetima, on his way to a campaign rally in Gamboru Ngala.

The attack left scores dead and several people abducted by suspected Boko Haram fighters.

Northeast Nigeria has been hit by the decade-long Boko Haram campaign with attacks in recent months carried out by the offshoot Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS) in West Africa Province. More than 20,000 people have been killed by the group.

In a crowded field of 73 presidential hopefuls, the two frontrunners – incumbent Muhammadu Buhari, 76, and former vice president Atiku Abubakar, 72 – are expected to vote in their home towns.

Electors are also choosing 360 members of the House of Representatives and 109 senators from a choice of 6,500 candidates.

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Ottawa announces new funding to combat online child abuse

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Ottawa has announced $22 million in funding to fight online child abuse.

Noting that police-reported incidents of child pornography in Canada increased by 288 per cent between 2010 and 2017, Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale made the announcement Tuesday.

It follows a London meeting last week that focused on the exploitation of children between Goodale and his counterparts from the United States, Britain, Australia and New Zealand, collectively known as the Five Eyes intelligence group.

Major internet companies, including Facebook, Google and Microsoft, were also at the meeting and agreed to a set of rules the members of the group proposed to remove child pornography from the internet quicker.

On Tuesday, Goodale warned internet companies they had to be better, faster and more open when in comes to fighting child abuse on line.

In this Friday, Jan. 12, 2018 photo, detectives use the Cellebrite system to extract information from cellphones at the State Police facility in Hamilton Township, N.J. “Operation Safety Net,” the results of which were announced in December, netted 79 people suspected of exploiting children. (Thomas P. Costello/Asbury Park Press/Canadian Press)

“If human harm is done, if a child is terrorized for the rest of their life because of what happened to them on the internet, if there are other damages and costs, then maybe the platform that made that possible should bear the financial consequences,” Goodale said.

The government plan includes $2.1 million to intensify engagement with digital industry to develop new tools online and support effective operating principles, $4.9 million for research, public engagement, awareness and collaboration with non-governmental organizations and $15.25 million to internet child exploitation units in provincial and municipal police forces across the country.

Goodale said the strategy recognizes that technology is “increasingly facilitating the easy borderless access to vast volumes of abhorrent images.”

That, he said, makes investigations increasingly complex,

“This is a race where the course is always getting longer and more complicated and advancing into brand new areas that hadn’t been anticipated five years ago or a year ago or even a week ago,” Goodale said.

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Gas prices expected to dip in Ottawa

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If you can wait an extra day to fill up the gas tank, your bank account might thank you.

Roger McKnight of Enpro is predicting a five cent dip in gas prices Wednesday night at midnight.

This comes after a four cent drop this past Friday, just ahead of the August long weekend.

McKnight said the reason for the drop, both last week and this week, is due to comments made by US President Donald Trump. 

He says after the drop, the price will be, on average, 118.9 cents/litre in the Ottawa region.

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Oka asks Ottawa to freeze Mohawk land deal, send RCMP to Kanesatake

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The town of Oka is asking the federal and provincial governments to slap a moratorium on a proposed land grant to the local Mohawk community in Kanesatake and to establish an RCMP detachment on the First Nations territory to deal with illegal cannabis sales outlets.

The requests were contained in two resolutions adopted Tuesday night by the Oka town council.

The administration of Oka Mayor Pascal Quevillon held its first public meeting since the start of the controversy that pitted the town council against the Kanesatake band council over a decision by a local promoter to give local lands to the Mohawk community.

The three resolutions are addressed to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government, Quebec Premier François Legault’s government and the Kanesatake band council led by Grand Chief Serge Otsi Simon.

As each resolution was read into the record, Quevillon stressed that the town of Oka was only looking to live in peaceful cohabitation with the Mohawk community.

The town also called upon Ottawa to establish a consultation process that would take into account the concerns of residents in Oka and  Kanesatake.

Quevillon’s administration also wants access to the plans detailing what lands are at the centre of negotiations between the federal government and the Mohawk community for purchase, suggesting the talks are simply a disguised form of expropriation.

“They’re giving money to (the Mohawks) to buy our land and annex it to their territory,” Quevillon said.

Despite its demands, the Oka council adopted an official statement addressed to the Kanesatake band council saying the town’s population wanted dialogue and peaceful cohabitation, with Quevillon citing the 300 years of close links between the two communities.

During the council meeting’s question period, some residents suggested that the council deal with other groups that say they are speaking for Kanesatake, including Mohawk traditionalists. Mayor Quevillon replied that the town would only deal with the band council and did so out of respect for Grand Chief Simon.

The mayor also argued that the RCMP, a federal police force, was best suited to be deployed in Kanesatake, where it would ensure the law would be respected, particularly on the issue of illegal cannabis shops.

Quevillon contended such a deployment was the only way for both communities to work together toward their mutual economic development.

Meanwhile, the apology Grand Chief Simon has said he is expecting from Quevillon for remarks he made earlier this summer about the Mohawk community in Kanesatake does not appear to be coming any time soon.

Asked by a resident if he would apologize, Quevillon left the answer to those citizens who attended the meeting, the vast majority of whom replied, “no.”

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