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SARS: Between Gov Zulum and Hypocrisy – By Idoko Ainoko

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Yesterday, it was reported that the Borno House of Assembly honoured the State Commander of the now disbanded Special Anti Robbery Squad, SARS, police unit, CSP Ibrahim Mohammed. The SARS Commander was honoured with a plague for what the House of Assembly said was for his gallantry in the fight against insurgency in the state.

Members of the Borno Assembly from reports gleaned, said they were impressed with the way the Commander and his team had on three different occasions, 13th, 14th and 21st July, encountered the Boko Haram terrorists at Mainok in Kaga LGA, Auno -Jakana- Damaturu road and on the Maiduguri-Damaturu road and engaged the terrorists in fierce battles while recovering several arms from them.

It is a good thing that the people of Borno have started acknowledging the efforts of security agencies in fighting terrorism and honouring those who have put in efforts to secure the nation. In the past, they had, save for the occasional commendations, carried on as if such efforts don’t matter.

But still, one cannot fail to notice the of hypocrisy in the so called honour given to the boss of the defunct SARS in Borno State. The honour coming at the time it did and the manner it was presented suggests there is more to the issue of the award than meets the eye. The first is the timing. Military operations have been going on in Borno State and other parts of the Northeast for more than 10 years, but no arm of the state government has deemed it fit to honour all the gallant men that have sacrificed their lives to ensure their safety until now.

Curious still, is the fact that the latest of all the three instances sited by the Borno House of Assembly where it says the SARS encountered Boko Haram happened almost three months ago but the Borno Assembly which has been in session all these days did not see the need to hoounur the police unit until a groundswell of opinion has been established about their unprofessional conducts and protesters rose in their thousands and succeeded in getting the government to disband the outfit.

Another thing is that the SARS team has not been the only security agency operating in the Northeast that has done creditably well in securing the territorial integrity of the nation.
If the award does not have political undertone, other heads of agencies that have done well on fighting terrorism would have equally been honoured alongside the Commander of the defunct SARS.

It is well known that the Nigeria Armed Forces with all its components of the Army, Airforce and Navy have been engaged in military operations in the Northeast and have more than 300 instances of where it had either repelled, killed, captured or destroyed the camps of the terrorists.

The military it was that entered Sambisa Forest and pummeled the base of the insurgents and they fled leaving their weapons and emblems which were recovered and presented to President Muhammadu Buhari.
This year alone, between April and May, Nigerian troops, using both aerial and surface tactics killed over 3,000 of the insurgents, captured their weapons, arrested their top commanders and informants as well as rescued captives. But all these seem to have been lost on the Borno State Government.

Added to that, the Borno State governor, Prof. Babagana Zulum had on two occasions being saved from harm by the military yet no arm of the state government has yet deemed it fit to honour the military for its efforts.
Other agencies like the Nigeria Civil Defence Corps, NCDC, the Department of State Security Services, DSS, and many others have also made their contributions towards defending the territorial integrity of the nation as well, but at no time did the Borno State government considered them worthy of such an honour.

It would appear that since there is a nationwide protest against SARS and the Borno State Government had in the past used the unit to portray the military in bad light, all it wants to achieve by honouring the police unit is to downplay the sacrifice of the military and the other security agencies in Borno.

Otherwise, it is difficult juxtaposing how the rescue of two soldiers by the SARS would be hyped and overblown over the many instances the military had equally rescued and defended policemen.

When the insurgents overran the Mobile Police Training Camp at Gwoza, Borno State, it was the military that went in and took it back; when the terrorists sacked the police barracks at Bama, it was equally the military that recaptured it. Yet no arm of the Borno State Government ever remembers that. Rather, the Borno State Government have done the contrary, by making disparaging remarks about military operations in the Northeast.

Under the administration of President Goodluck Jonathan, elders in Borno State outrightly demanded that troops be withdrawn from the state.
The current governor of Borno State, Prof. Babagana Zulum and other state government officials even made worse allegations on the military by accusing the military of extorting money from motorists plying the Maiduguri- Damaturu road, accusing the military of abandoning their posts at Auno, when some travellers were killed on that route and also accusing the military of being behind the attack on his convoy at a small town near Baga.

The Borno State Commissioner for Information, Alhaji Babakura Jatau, had at a time also accused the military of profiting from the war against insurgency.

It is my view that since the Borno State Government or any of its agencies have not been forthcoming in rewarding excellence, this so called honour might have been aimed at mocking the Military. If not then what is the motivation for the award?

Since the SARS has been disbanded, the award cannot be said to be to encourage them to do more. Since the award is selective it is viewed as discriminatory on the other agencies.

Hence one cannot really fathom the motive for giving such an award at this time. More worrisome is the fact that this kind of selective treatment is capable of demoralizing the gallant troops, that have continued to make sacrifices in defence of the fatherland.
The Borno State Government and its agencies need to be more circumspect in handling issues related to security in the state.

Ainoko is a public affairs analyst and wrote from Kaduna.

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Opinion

Armed Forces Day : PMB Ushers In Salvation At Last – By Philip Agbese

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Jesus Christ acquiesced to his challengers because he was on a divine mission. So, it was needless disrupting the course of its divine fulfilment. Nigeria’s leadership by President Muhammadu Buhari aligns with the same tenor.

Like Christ, the President is on a messianic, redemptive and regenerative mission in Nigeria. He came with an unalloyed mind and spirit. Therefore, he silently accepts senseless tantrums hurled at him; he accepts the hurtful banters with admirable mien; the criticisms, spleens, the meaningless blabs and painful persecutions from his adversaries and powermongers resiliently. He has never bulged.

I watched the horrors of the expired Year 2020 and wished it ebbed with the speed of a tornado for a fresh year. The resurgence of insecurities; lethal political combats by muscle-flexing politicians; the economic saboteurs; the inconveniences of the global pandemic Covid-19 and it’s induced economic catastrophes consistently animated my anger against a world and a destiny I deemed cruel.

Nigerians were mesmerized; the President was troubled and terrified at the rapidity of these occurrences which increasingly reinforced the sermons of life’s nothingness. We wrongly assumed the afflictions visited on us is the symbolic failure of President Buhari to offer genuine leadership to the nation.

But while we moaned, lamented and ferociously kicked at Mr. President, particularly on the touchy resurgent insecurities, he was busy working undercover to birth respite to us. I was thrilled when it started manifesting in relieving surges. And from mid- 2020 to this moment, our tormentors; evildoers, satanic agents, detractors, economic sabs, their conspirators and forces of darkness have been compelled to boil in their own pot of hot water.

Mr. had President vowed never to allow the enemies cast Nigeria to the ravenous dogs and cartel of armed criminal gangs and their patrons for a feast. So, the Service Chiefs re- bounced back to assiduous work with a renewed presidential order on quelling insecurities.

Nicely, in the last months, and from Zamfara to Bayelsa ; from Damboa to Idiroko, it’s being incessant hell let loose on our tormentors by our resilient Army. Now, even without the aid of artificial lenses, I have sighted those who schemed furiously to snatch our peace and security. They are languishing in pains and the self-consuming fire they lighted on themselves. They can no longer breathe like America’s Donald Trump. They have lost the nerve, zeal and energy to tether us to the stalk of servile insecurities. Our President is alive; our Armies are ever combat thirsty.

And President Buhari has continued to sustain the fires of organized armed gangs amassed against Nigeria. Even five days ago, in the Northeast region, I learnt troops of the newly launched “Operation Tura Takaibango” under the flagship of “Operation Lafiya Dole” squeezed living juice out of over 28 rampaging Boko Haram criminals at Gujba LGA of Yobe state who assembled in the vicinity and plotted to ambush troops. But it backfired, as the insurgents were neutralized, others severely wounded and weapons, including Anti-Aircraft Guns were seized from the terrorists.

Our troops of “Operation Sahel Sanity” are very impatient with armed bandits, kidnappers and cattle thieves in the Northwest region. I was excited to read news on last New Year day of the arrest of suspected armed bandits at Maraban Maigora in Faskari LGA who had planned to shatter the joy of our festivities. And some of those napped had criminal nexus with a notorious armed bandit leader in Madachi village in Sabuwa LGA of the state. Soldiers are on his trail.

There are countless positive narratives of fruitful decapitations of armed bandits and kidnappers in the New Year. We have assailed them on all fronts. Troops of “Operation Hadarin Daji” accosted the criminal gangs and rescued seven kidnapped victims at Gidan Dan Nunu and Dutsi villages in Zurmi LGA of Zamfara state.

Likewise, on the eve of New Year, two women and a child kidnapped at Kimbisawa village of Batsari LGA in the same state were rescued by our gallant troops who are always gallivanting the troubled areas. In the same New Year, troops encounter with armed bandits in Kuriya village of Kaura Namoda LGA of Zamfara state also sniffed life out of no fewer than 50 armed bandits in a single operation.

Our determined troops are working day and night to deny all criminal elements the opportunity to operate freely in any location in the Northwest. Zamfara state has regained her lost peace. Furthermore, our courageous troops of “Operation Accord,” descended a sledge hammer on armed bandits and rescued some kidnapped victims, also on New Year day at Tungar Ruwa village in Anka LGA of Zamfara State; while soldiers of the “Operation Sahel Sanity,” crushed an armed banditry gang at at Garin Garus and recovered assorted weapons.

And the dossier of victories speaks volumes about the professional competence of the COAS and leader of the counter-insurgency operations, Lt. Gen. TY Buratai. Also troops of “Operation Safe Heaven” apprehended suspected gunrunners at Kafanchan and at Ungwan Carpenter village in Jema’a LGA of Kaduna state as well as in Fobur village in Jos East LGA of Plateau state this year. What about the Kankara and Mahuta schoolchildren?

I was pained that since Nigerians loudly wailed about resurgent insecurities; critics had a field day in lampooning President Buhari and scolding of the Service Chiefs as “expired” military officers; while the National Assembly distracted itself by suspending legislation and oversight functions to resort to frequent passage of somewhat dubious resolutions against Mr. President and the Service Chiefs. But it’s a different tale now. Incredible positive results on extinguishing the fires of resurrected insurgency and insurrections have condemned the vilifiers.

Except some of us who are blind; or have chosen to be blind or veiled by partisan lenses, we can attest that in the last few months, Nigerian troops have neutralized over 2,403 terrorists and armed criminals throughout Nigeria. I believe it is a big blow on the human resources’ strength of these armed gangs.

And the good news is really troops’ rescue of over 864 of our brothers and sisters; whether adults or children from the claws of kidnappers in different locations in Nigeria. On the economic plane, troops have recovered a total of 9,684,797 litres of stolen AGO and 33,516,000 litres of DPK from maritime specialized armed criminal gangs; 46,581.8 barrels of stolen crude oil and 22,881,257 litres of stolen Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) were recovered by the troops of the Armed Forces of Nigeria in Southern Nigeria in these few months.

And can we truly seek to obviate or beat the records of troops which shows that over 1,910 criminals have been arrested and large cache of arms, ammunitions and equipment are confiscated from them? Who is not excited that our troops overpowered these satanic forces; conquered these terrorists and armed gangs at the point of unleashing their planned heist on us very destructively?

Therefore, when I reviewed the year just ended and the magnitude of successes of the ongoing counter-insurgency operations in 2021, I was religiously humbled. I must be economical with the truth, if I fail to admit in all ramifications that the disparaged President Buhari and the Service Chiefs have ushered in the much desired and long-awaited salvation for our country.

The enemies of Nigeria are now in pains. They have made up their minds to let us go; they have no alternative than to free us like the Biblical King Pharaoh who reluctantly released the Israelites’ from bondage by God’s divine command.

Let me ask Nigerians in truth; If we have our ways to sack the Service Chiefs, as vigorously campaigned earlier, would anyone be courageous to agitate for it again for any genuine and patriotic reasons? The answer is obviously NO! I can sense some quietness now. Those who wanted the Service Chiefs sacked have relapsed into what I can best describe as a state of amnesia.

Something pricks me fervently that if the Senate has any option today, they would rather demand that the current set of Service Chiefs be given another five more years to stay on board in order to thoroughly cleanse Nigeria of these conspiratorially armed gangs. This is nothing but the truth. But it’s rather unfortunate that the sack or sustained retention of the Service Chiefs is what only the Commander-In-Chief, President Buhari can determine. And he is satisfied with their performance.

However, let us be human enough to confess that truth has finally prevailed. Our salvation has come. The end of insecurities has come. Our total resolve that a full kinetic approach be given to the resurgent violence and bloodshed is now paying off. I appreciate the Chief of Army Staff for bringing salvation to us.

I eulogize the Nigerian Military for our salvation; I thank President Buhari for being the symbol of our salvation and the Nigerian Armed Forces for beating the drums of our liberation in loud symphonies and gingering exciting dance gyrations. Happy Armed Forces Day to all the citizens of our great country.

Agbese is a publisher and patriot writing from Agila, Benue State.

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Opinion

2021: As Nigerian Military Conducts Mass Burial For Wailers – By Philip Agbese

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All President Muhammadu Buhari’s media aides occupy a special place in my heart. It is not easy to discharge the arduous obligation of defending a leader who is deliberately and nastily persecuted. Of all the aides, however, Mr Femi Adesina and Mallam Garba Shehu have caught my endless admiration.

Each time I read their pieces and analyses of national issues, it gives me a feeling of soul-renewal and rebirth. Their catchy dictions, choice of words, simplicity, composition mien, conciseness and potency of the message expressed in a subtle ricochet of an otherwise, explosive national issue, disarms and impresses me infinitely.

Just on Sunday, Mallam Garba Shehu stole my heart again when he appeared on a Television Continental (TVC) programme. Mallam Shehu was expected to be all Greek to a question on his superior’s insistence on the current Service Chiefs. However, Mallam Shehu displayed bravery, calmness and aptitude with his response, stating that President Buhari sees what his critics don’t. It was a befitting reply that is not only true about a leader and his followers but an unassailable fact in every clime.

I know, some people hate President Buhari. The irony is that some of those who hate him cannot give any real reason. All they know is that some leaders must be hated; they must be despised and belittled. But my President does not care about it. He loves everyone and every Nigerian. He believes we all have a shared destiny in this country and everyone should act his part.

But in spite of his apathy to the invasive eruptions of haters and the indifference to their antics against his administration, others have chosen to become wailers. They are nervous that he does not care about their bellicose vituperations on him. So, this clan of Nigerians freely whine about President Buhari. They obtrude faces and cheeks with dry tears every now and then over his “change” administration. They condemn every of his decision.

Sometimes, certain people make me feel the democratic doctrine of the rule of the majority is an ass. But it is not! We cannot all perish with twine on our necks because of the silly and sinister indiscretions of others.

I know a few of the wailers. Where are the wailers now? The obsession now is with the Military and President Buhari’s discretion to retain the Service Chiefs. The wailers want them out by all means. We think President Buhari is brainless enough and so, must govern Nigeria with the template defined by each one of us. Where are those who want the military out of Borno? Where are the political jobbers who want the Service Chiefs sacked? The howling irony is that the campaigners fail to convince me and the man on the street over their verdict on the Service Chiefs.

They tell us the Service Chiefs have overstayed their tenures in office. This is too simplistic. The few sane ones say the Service Chiefs are not performing enough in quelling Nigeria’s litany of insecurities. Therefore, their sight is perpetually blurred to notice the much Nigeria’s Service Chiefs have done in securing the country.

But yesterday, the same scoffed Service Chiefs secured the freedom of the kidnapped Kankara and Mahuta schoolchildren. And today, it is public knowledge that the formerly invincible Boko Haram factional leader, Abubakar Shekau is crippled in the frontlines and cannot lead his co-fighters to battle against Nigeria. Today, Nigeria is no longer sharing any part of her territory with insurgents or terrorists. But our lips are too heavy to echo a simple and priceless “thank you.”

I am excited that the permanent wailers are silent now. They are hibernating in their cocoons and in shame. The Military has silenced them all. Our service chiefs have put all the naysayers to shame and conducted their mass “funeral”. And in conformity with our sworn idiosyncrasies, we have refused to recognize that the Chief of Army Staff and his men were fully on the ground throughout the last Yuletide/New Year festivities and thwarted all the plans of the enemies to cause us pains.

We never experienced the carnivals of bloodbath akin to such seasons. In Zamfara state alone, over 50 bandits were killed and several of their evil camps and dens, destroyed in less than 30 days by men of “Operation Sahel Sanity.” This milestone forced Deji Adeyanju, one of the paid critics of the Buhari administration to say, 2021 is a year of the Nigerian Army. Lt. Gen TY Buratai is doing the wonders. He is doing all the magic and performing the miracles on insecurities. He desires and labours to see all Nigerians sleep with two eyes closed.

Now, can we sight salvation at last or see the wisdom in President Buhari’s decision to maintain his Service Chiefs or forever remain blind critics. Like my brother and friend, Mallam Garba Shehu said; “it is indeed true that President Buhari sees what wailers cannot see.” The President knows the Service Chiefs by their names; he knows the traits of each one of them and he knows their professional competence. He knows the problem of insecurities in Nigeria and can still tell how best to resolve the challenges.

Not all valleys are decked by blue colours at sunset. The decisions of a leader may not appeal to the peripheral senses of some of us. But incontrovertibly, these actions are proven to be worthy with time, as the issue of Service Chiefs. No leader plans to fail; every leader angles to succeed. In the quiet moments of a leader, his mind is invaded with multiple incongruent thoughts; both genuine and fake. He must be imbued with King Solomon’s wisdom to break even.

Regrettably, unknown to a reasonable proportion of homo sapiens, the most dangerous and tormenting times, one’s life is the bubbles of undulating thoughts in sober moments. I initially underrated sobriety as merely one of the several mysteries of nature. But I have come to understand these moments as the most perilous of times in one’s life.

And it does not matter whether sobriety grips a leader, such as a President, Governor or parliamentarian. The unalterable truth is that sober moments are no respecter of persons, gender, marital status, biological roots or professional calling, urchins and even beggars. We find ourselves on the same plane.

At such lone moments, it becomes extremely difficult to filter from the surfeit of conflicting views, chaffs from the grain or perspectives which are genuine or fake. That’s when a man, especially a leader needs to be careful to allow his conscience and soul speak truth to his person. It’s worse for leaders, who are bombarded with irrationalities in the guise of advice and counsels. These advisory pressures emanate from disparate backgrounds and interests.

Any wrong step or decision automatically translates into an irreversible calamity proportionate to the prophesied apocalypse. Our leaders face this dilemma every day, they wake up and go to bed for a night rest. The faint-hearted hardly withstand these pressures; only the strong breed deflates them to the end in glorious ambience.

My heart is gladdened because President Buhari has overcome these leadership foibles. He easily wades off unnecessary pressures of lobbyists and critics. He sighted the treasures in the Service Chiefs and punched the pressures to retain them.

And like Garba inferred; “The engagement of the Service Chiefs is not a tenured appointment. There is no part of the law that says the Chief of Army staff must serve for two years. Then, after two years, he must go. He serves at the pleasure of the President. Now, the President has said he will make changes. When will he make those changes? It is entirely up to him. I think Nigerians should give him the benefit of the doubt.”

I am a proud nationalist and fully in support of the Armed Forces of Nigeria now. I am in support of Gen. TY Buratai and the Nigerian Army. I am a proud supporter of the Buhari Presidency. Nigeria must succeed. No turning back. And in 2021, the Nigerian Army will continue to conduct mass burial for its wailers and maligners. So help us, God!

Agbese is the Okanga 1 of AgilaLand and wrote from Benue State.

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Opinion

Call For Sanction On Nigeria: UK Parliamentarians Should Be Careful! – By Sharon Pande

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It is obvious that members of United Kingdom House of Lords who called on the UK Government to apply sanctions on Nigeria due to their shallow understanding of what constitutes the security problems in the country are, were not looking at the big picture.

From all indication, their conclusion is projected on a myopic mindset at variance with what can be referred to as the general good of the people.

They assume that the regime of sanctions is imperative only to an administration without scrutinizing the merit for such calls.

Since the EndSARS protest which ended in mass destruction of public property and loss of lives including those of security agents, those who had an axe to grind with the current administration of President Muhammadu Buhari decided to add the call for sanctions on Nigeria as part of their demand to achieve the partisan and parochial aim of bringing the administration to its knees.

The projection is based on the belief that when the sanctions are imposed on Nigeria and things begin to get difficult for the government and people, then the opposition elements could use the scenario to tar the administration in dour colours and claim it has failed.

But there is no way anyone with a fair knowledge about what is happening in the country would call for a sanction on Nigeria because, 1) there is absolutely no need for that, 2) it willl compound the socio economic problems in the country, 3) it would further encourage the terrorists and their sponsors to step up the campaign towards destabilising the country and 4) worsen the security problem in the country.

Sanctions generally are of different types and they could be applied  either diplomatically, economically, militarily or through sports.

Sanctions in the UK is said to fall under the authority of several different departments like the  Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) which is responsible for negotiating international sanctions and has overall responsibility for the UK’s policy on sanctions and embargoes; the HM Treasury (HMT) which is responsible for making designations under UK domestic financial sanctions and for the implementation and enforcement of all financial sanctions in the UK; the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills which implements some trade sanctions and embargoes.

The Sanctions and Anti-Money Laundering Act (2018) allows the UK to impose autonomous sanctions which includes specific provisions for sanctions that punish human rights violations around the world, allowing the UK government to target individuals, organizations, and regimes (rather than countries) that violate international laws.

This is said to be intended to help the UK address the unlawful killing of journalists, media workers and campaigners, along with human rights abuses that are motivated by religion or belief.

From mere observation, it is from this provision that those calling for sanctions on Nigeria and their sponsors wish to take advantage of.

This is not the first time the misguided elements would try to take this route but each time they try it, they’re seriously rebuffed.

Last year, the House of Commons held a debate  on whether sanctions should be imposed on members of the Nigerian government and security services involved in alleged human rights abuses in response to the activities of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad of the Nigerian police and the alleged killings of protestors at the Lekki toll gate.

This did not sail through.

Days before that, a young UK parliamentarian incurred the wrath of Nigerians when in the attempt to call for economic sanctions on Nigeria, claimed that its former Head of State, General Yakubu Gowon had ran away with half of the nation’s wealth.

It was clear he acting a script but has not done his homework well.

But from all available records, Nigeria does not fall into the category that warrants the call for the invocation of such measures.

This because since the Boko Haram terrorism started in 2009, the various Nigerian governments have tried to deal with it in ways they considered appropriate but none has been able to take the bold initiative of the current administration.

President Buhari for instance on assumption of office in May 2015, gave orders to the military to deal with threats to internal security in the country.

Within six months of the order, the operational headquarters of the millitary action against terrorism and insurgency moved to the Northeast of Nigeria leading to defeat of the terrorists and the capture of their operational headquarters while their leaders and few of their commanders fled.

Territories held by the insurgents were recaptured and many that fled from their homes and were putting up at camps for internally Displaced Persons returned to their communities.

The military has since then secured such places and have constantly repelled the terrorists from launching further attacks on towns and communities and driven them further to border communities.

The Nigerian military has also been commended for the professional manner it has conducted itself in the fight against terrorism and insurgency by avoiding civilian casualties and causing genuine repentant terrorists to surrender.

On the economic front, the Buhari administration has also been able to recover large sums of money that were stolen in previous administrations and has been able to put in place measures that have it made it difficult to siphon public funds which has revived Nigeria’s economy.

So it is shocking for anyone with a fair knowledge of Nigeria to call for sanction on this administration that has done so much to make life better for its citizens.

It is therefore in order to call the misguided House of Lords members to stop embarrassing themselves by getting their facts about Nigeria right before delving into issues they know nothing about.

It is also most appropriate to warn the UK parliamentarians against promoting meaures that would encourage activities of terrorists in Nigeria as calling on the UK to sanction Nigeria over organized falsehood promoted by terrorists and their sponsors will amount to promoting terrorism in Nigeria. It is a route no House of Lords member should contemplate. Nigeria and Nigerians deserve their peace.

Pande wrote from the United Kingdom.

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