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Drug smugglers sing ‘Amazing Grace’ – As they are being executed

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Eight drug smugglers – including seven foreigners – executed in Indonesia went to their deaths singing hymns and praying.

The men refused to wear blindfolds as they were put to death in a jungle clearing near the prison on the island of Nusakambangan in Central Java.

Family members held a vigil nearby and heard the shots as the two Australians, four Nigerians, a Brazilian and an Indonesian were killed.

“The good thing is all prisoners were executed together while praying and singing,” Christina Widiantarti, a lawyer for the Brazilian convict and a witness to the execution, said.

“Before that they hugged each other, saying goodbye.”

The hymns, among them Amazing Grace, were sung as the convicts were being tied to posts four metres apart.

“When they were being put on the cross for execution they were singing on the crosses and we were in a tent not too far away from the execution place trying to support them,” Father Charlie Burrows told News Corp Australia.

The husband of Pastor Christie Buckingham, who gave spiritual guidance to one of the Australians, said his wife told him the men conducted themselves with “dignity and strength until the end”.

In Cilacap, the crossing point to the prison island and where the vigil was taking place, Amazing Grace was also sung and one person read out the names of the condemned.

Australia and Brazil both condemned the refusal to heed last-ditch pleas to save their nationals, but Indonesia’s attorney general insisted it was part of the “war” on drugs.

Muhammad Prasetyo said: “We are fighting a war against horrible drug crimes that threaten our nation’s survival.”

It reflects the hard line on enforcing the death penalty adopted by Indonesian President JokoWidodo when he came to office last July, damaging diplomatic relations with several countries.

One prisoner, Filipina housemaid Mary Jane Veloso, was spared at the last minute.

She was arrested in 2010 after she arrived in Indonesia with 2.6 kg of heroin, but will now be allowed to give evidence after a woman suspected of planting the drugs gave herself up to police in the Philippines on Tuesday.

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott said the execution of his countrymen, MyuranSukumaran and Andrew Chan, would have an effect on the countries’ relationship.

“We respect Indonesia’s sovereignty but we do deplore what’s been done and this cannot be simply business as usual.

“I want to stress that this is a very important relationship between Australia and Indonesia but it has suffered as a result of what’s been done over the last few hours.”

He confirmed Australia was recalling its ambassador to Jakarta, a step already taken by Brazil over the execution of another prisoner in January. The South American country is now considering what further action it will take.

Australia has deep commercial and political ties with its neighbouring country, but has said the executions would not affect trade relations. Brazil is also thought to be wary of risking valuable defence contracts

The United Nations described the executions as “extremely regrettable, extremely sad” and reiterated its appeal for Indonesia to reinstate its moratorium on the death penalty.

Under Indonesian law, death row convicts are shot by a firing squad of 12 police officers aiming at the heart, who are given the signal to fire by a commander dropping a sword.

However, only three of the squad will fire live rounds, so as not to identify the executioners.

If the first round of bullets does not kill them, they will be shot in the head.

 

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USAID begins Covid-19 testing in Imo rural areas

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USAID averts 25,000 unwanted pregnancies in Ebonyi, Kogi

…Umuagwo Varsity of Agric kicks-off October

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has begun Covid-19 testing in the 27 Local Government Areas of Imo State, “in a bid to reduce the impact of community spread of the virus in the rural areas of the state.

The Imo State Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Chief Declan Mbadiwe Emelumba disclosed this in Owerri while briefing newsmen on the outcome of the Weekly Executive Council meeting presided over by Governor Hope Uzodimma on Wednesday.

Chief Emelumba said so far, the USAID officials have carried out reasonable number of testing in Njaba LGA and reported that all those tested came out negative and that the council prayed that the result from other Local Government Areas will be the same.

He announced that the Nigerian Universities Commission (NUC) has approved the take off of the Imo State University for Agriculture and Environmental Sciences Umuagwo in October this year.

According to him, the approval underscores the efforts which the Imo State Government ably led by Governor Hope Uzodinma has made towards the establishment of a second university for the state.

Recently, the NUC panel was in Imo State to carry out the necessary verification exercises on the state facilities, human and physical infrastructures.

Mr. Declan Emelumba, who was flanked by the Commissioner for Education, Prof. Bernard Ikegwuoha, Commissioner for Health Dr. Damaris Osunkwo and the Chief Press Secretary/Media Adviser to the Governor Mr. Oguwike Nwachuku, informed that the Executive Council is happy that something new is happening in the Education Sector of the State.

Emelumba said that the Imo State University of Science and Environmental Sciences, Umuagwo will take off by October when other universities would be resuming for a new academic session.

In the same vein, the Council has approved the immediate relocation of Faculty of Engineering Imo State University Owerri to its permanent site at Okigwe, stressing that Government has put all processes and facilities on ground to ensure the immediate take–off of the faculty.

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Imo Governor’s aide visits Oziza FM Staff, Ogechi Iwu in hospital

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Imo Governor’s aide visits Oziza FM  Staff, Ogechi Iwu in hospital

The Chief Press Secretary and Media Adviser to Governor Hope Uzodimma of Imo State, Mr. Oguwike Nwachuku has visited Mr. Ogechi Iwu, a journalist with Osiza FM.

The media man is hospitalized at the Federal Medical Centre (FMC), Owerri over complications from diabetes that led to his right leg being amputated.

Mr. Nwachuku said the visit was to show solidarity on behalf of Governor Uzodimma to his professional colleague, assuring him of their prayers, particularly that of his principal, and the prayers of Mr. Iwu’s numerous friends and well wishers who are touched by his plight.

“I am here on behalf of my principal to associate with him in this time of health challenge and to encourage him not to see the sickness as a death sentence.”

Oge Iwu at fmc

L-R: Chief Akaraonye, Mr. Oguwike Nwachuku with Ogechi Iwu during the visit

Mr. Nwachuku urged Mr. Iwu to continue in the high spirit he saw him and trust God for his total recovery “because healing is a thing of mind and when a sick person is in high spirit the patient gets recovered quickly.”

The spokesman of the Governor promised to bring the plight of the journalist to the attention of his principal, and assured that the Governor will, in his usual manner of one with milk of human sympathy, show concern over Iwu’s plight.

Earlier, Mr. Iwu thanked the CPS/Media Adviser, the State Chairman of NUJ, Imo State, Chief Christopher Akaraonye and other journalists who were on the entourage, for coming to identify with him on his sick bed, and assured that God in his infinite mercy will quicken his recovery.

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Bishop Ugorji heads IMSU Governing Council

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Bishop Ugorji heads IMSU Governing Council

Imo State Governor, Senator Hope Uzodimma has inaugurated a new Governing Council, for the Imo State University, IMSU, Owerri.

At the inauguration ceremony on Monday, August 31, the governor named Most Rev. Lucius Ugorji as the Chairman of the Governing Council and Pro-Chancellor of the University.

Other members of the Council include: Chief Leo Stan Ekeh, Chief Tony Ezenna, Prof. (Ven.) Chinedu Nebo, Sir. Louis Ezeigwe, Chief Engr. Ernest Nwapa, Dr. (Mrs.) Uwandu Uzoma, Ugoeze Victoria Adaku Ekezie, Prof. Adaobi Obasi (Vice Chancellor) and others.

Speaking at the inauguration, Governor Uzodimma said the choice of the members is to infuse fresh air into the university because “It is in dire need to bounce back to reckoning.”
He added that the choice of the members was because they have carved a niche for themselves in their chosen fields of endeavour and that they have earned solid reputation as men and women of substance in their individual trade, indices that qualified them for the appointment.

He challenged the members to bring their reputation to bear on the University, bearing in mind the task for good quality scholarship in Imo State University as well as service to humanity.

The Governor urged the members to deploy their individual accomplishments, excellence, expertise, passion for service as effectively as necessary to actualize the dream of his administration of having a highly reputable University comparable to the best Universities in the World.

He also requested the Council to “restore in words and deeds the motto of Imo State University, which is Excellence in Service”.

“Imo State University currently is a classical example of a failed University,” Governor Uzodimma said but strongly believed that “with a star studded Governing Council such as the one inaugurated there is no doubt that Imo is on the track to realize the dreams of her founding fathers.”

He further enjoined the Council members to quickly hit the ground running and come up with policies and programmes that will reassure Imo people that the University that made them proud 20 years back is on track as he assured them of Government partnership in this regard.

In an acceptance speech, on behalf of the Council, the Chairman, Most Rev. Ugorji who is the Catholic Bishop of Umuahia thanked the Governor for the absolute confidence reposed in them by giving them the assignment and acknowledged that though the task is daunting he has a strong belief that with the calibre of members of the Council and support of the management, staff and students the University will be returned to a centre of excellence which was the dream of the founding fathers.

He said that Imo State University deserves the best and that he and his members as inaugurated will work acidulously to ensure that the target of the governor in making Imo State University one of the best universities in Africa is realised.

He congratulated fellow members and promised that God’s willing, they will not fail the government and people of Imo State.

Present at the inauguration were the Deputy Governor, Prof. Placid Njoku, the Speaker Imo State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Chiji Collins, the Secretary to the State Government, Chief Cosmas Iwu, and other members of the expanded State Executive Council.

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