The two chambers of the National Assembly will now resume from the two-week Sallah break on Thursday, four days earlier than the Tuesday, June 2 resumption date. This is to enable both the Senators and House reps the opportunity to deliberate the amended 2020 Appropriations bill which was transmitted to the National Assembly last week by the Executive
The federal lawmakers had on Tuesday, May 19 proceeded on a two-week Sallah break and were to reconvene on Tuesday, June 2, 2020. But a letter dated Tuesday, May 26, signed by the Clerk of the National Assembly, Alhaji Mohammed Sani-Omolori, and addressed to all Senators and House members, stated that the lawmakers will resume plenary on Thursday to consider the appropriation of (Amendment) bill, 2020.
The one-page letter read in part, ”This is to inform all Distinguished Senators and Honourable Members that resumption of Plenary Session earlier scheduled for Tuesday, 2nd June, 2020 has been rescheduled to Thursday, 28 May, 2020 to enable members consider the Appropriation (Amendment) bill, 2020.
”All Distinguished Senators and Honourable Members are expected to resume in Plenary by 10.00am on Thursday, 28th May, 2020, please.”
No fewer than 28 aspirants are jostling for the jobs of Ondo State Governor, Rotimi Akeredolu, and his Edo State counterpart, Godwin Obaseki, in the forthcoming governorship elections in the two states. The electoral umpire; the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) yesterday released the elections’ guidelines stipulating the mode of campaign approved for contesting political parties, given the restrictive protocols of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) on public gatherings amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The guidelines favored electronic campaigns and discouraged rallies that could lead to large gatherings that could endanger the health of the electorate.
As the race for the October 2020 election peaks, at least 20 aspirants have indicated their interest to challenge the re-election of Akeredolu. The major aspirants are from three political parties- the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), the main opposition, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the African Democratic Congress (ADC). However, only one person, Prince Eniola Onajuni, a native of Ilaje Local Government Area of the state has indicated interest to run on the platform of ADC.
In the APC, strong aspirants comprise those who contested the 2016 primary against Akeredolu and new entrants while the PDP has both the former candidate of the party and also new entrants. Prominent among the APC candidates is Olusegun Abraham, a Lagos-based businessman, who contested against the incumbent in 2016 and came second in the primary.
Abraham is from Ikare in Akoko North-East Local Government in Ondo North. A major obstacle against Abraham, who is close to the party national leadership, is the insinuation that he usually leaves the state after every election and comes back when another election approaches.
Although there are many political parties that are likely to field candidates in the governorship election coming up in Edo State on September 19, only the APC and the PDP are firmly on the ground. From the PDP end, three aspirants have so far indicated their interest to contest in the party primaries.
They are Hon. Omoregie Ogbeide-Ihama, the member, representing Oredo Federal Constituency in the House of Representatives; Kenneth Imansuangbon, a lawyer and Abuja-based school proprietor; and Mr. Gideon Ikhine, a retired senior staff of Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC).
In APC, five aspirants have emerged namely: Obaseki and former Secretary to Edo State Government and 2016 governorship candidate of the PDP, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu. Others are retired Executive Director (Upstream), Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and former Minister of State for Works, Dr. Chris Ogiemwonyi; immediate past Deputy Governor of Edo State, Pius Odubu; and Maj-Gen Charles Airhiavbere (rtd), who was the candidate of PDP in the 2012 governorship election.
From the guidelines released by the national leadership of the two parties, APC fixed its primary election for June 22 while PDP slated its race for 23 and 24 of June. It’s on this premise that the battle of who clinches the party ticket, especially in the APC has become more fierce as the day draws closer because of the crisis in the party, which has led to factionalisation with one camp supporting the National Chairman, Adams Oshiomhole, and the other belonging to Obaseki. To achieve their quest of ensuring Obaseki is defeated at the primary election, some leaders of APC made a move to have a consensus candidate to face Obaseki, which ended in a deadlock as the meeting was postponed. However, it was gathered that consultation is still ongoing and a fresh meeting was rescheduled without any date given.
The meeting, which held at the residence of a former deputy governor of the state, Lucky Imasuen, was allegedly disrupted during the process of trying to agree on modalities to be used for the shadow election. It was learnt that trouble started when some persons queried the rationale behind the inclusion of the 14 members-elect of Edo State House of Assembly who are yet to resume sitting to vote in the meeting.
Eventually, when they were allowed to vote, another controversy erupted as most of them were said to be supporting Ize-Iyamu. It was gathered that the contest was fierce, especially amongst the trio of Ize-Iyamu, Odubu and Ogiemwonyi. It was also gathered that Ogiemwonyi left the meeting for his home shortly after the meeting was disrupted.
According to a source close to the meeting, “The consensus meeting was presided over by Prof. Julius Ihonvbere, member, representing Owan Federal Constituency in the House of Representatives.
“Another concern raised at the meeting was the number of delegates from Edo Central and Edo North some of whom were said to have stepped down for Ize-Iyamu to boost his chances while others raised the issue of sponsorship of delegates to the meeting that eventually led to its postponement to another undisclosed date.”
A wave of apprehension is sweeping through Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) as President Muhammadu Buhari begins a probe into the office of the late Chief of Staff Abba Kyari. The investigation may lead to all appointments and approvals made by Kyari without Buhari’s permission being cancelled. This is as pundits said the volte face by the president in directing a reversal of over 100 decisions by Kyari could create more problems than it is trying to solve.
Also, a source within the Presidential Villa suggested that the power block that produced the new Chief of Staff Ibrahim Gambari might be the force fighting back. Sleep might have already begun eluding many officials in the MDA’s on account of contracts okayed without Buhari’s approval. If this is what the president is targeting with a view to shoring up his sagging profile, analysts say trouble looms for those who cut illegal deals with the late CoS.
Though no reason was given for the president’s action, reports suggested no less than 150 memos that didn’t have his authorization may have been uncovered. The Special Adviser on Media and Publicity Femi Adesina declined to confirm or refute the report. The directive might just be a continuation of the bickering that produced a deep crack within the ranks of the president’s men last February. The first sign that all was not okay within Buhari’s inner cabinet emerged in December 2019 when National Security Adviser Babagana Monguno wrote a memo to the president alleging interference by Abba Kyari. He accused the late Kyari of usurping presidential powers and directed service chiefs to ignore instructions by the latter.
Monguno’s account of a connection between Kyari’s alleged ‘meddlesomeness’ and an acute spectre of insecurity that had gripped the country was contained in a series of confidential circulars he addressed to top administration officials on national security. The NSA also accused the chief of staff of sidestepping the president’s directive, to impose his own decision for implementation; a claim some analysts said was all but a direct accusation of treason against Kyari.
The revelations, first published by an online portal, appeared to undercut an integral aspect of the president’s response to critics: that there is unity among security chiefs towards the common interest of defeating terrorists and armed bandits, rather than an admission of clumsiness or crack in his team. In media interviews after the memo leaked, Chief of Army Staff Tukur Buratai said insecurity was being confronted across board in the Buhari administration. But Monguno’s memo showed he and other service chiefs had been taking controversial orders from Kyari, despite warnings from the NSA that such a practice was not only unconventional but also in violation of the constitution.
The first signs of war between the NSA and the CoS, two of Buhari’s most powerful aides, was the open letter which revealed both men locked in a bitter confrontation amid raging insecurity. Perhaps the most potent of allegations raised against the chief of staff by the NSA at the time was that he had been flagrantly discarding decisions already taken by the president and imposing his own recommendation(s).Observers saw this as a jarring allegation bordering on treasonable felony.
Since Buhari settled down in office in 2015, Kyari’s role as the chief of staff made him, perhaps, the most-courted associate of the president, arguably more than the president’s wife and other family members. The chief of staff’s influence exposed him to some of the worst scandals of the Buhari administration. Shortly after telecoms giant, MTN, was slammed with a record fine in 2015, Kyari was the one who allegedly played the middleman in negotiating the fines, a role that threw up allegations of fraud when the scandal broke.
An MTN official who allegedly played a key role in the negotiation was said to have lost her job amid the controversy. But Kyari held on to his position, going forward to take part in bigger deals on government’s behalf. Kyari’s influence was also a matter of serious concern for Aisha Buhari, the president’s wife, who had repeatedly lashed out at the chief of staff for allegedly ‘caging’ her husband and making her redundant in the government.
Last November, reports emerged with documents showing Kyari overriding Vice President Yemi Osinbajo on a crucial decision on RUGA projects, a series of economic palliatives designed to curtail the herdsmen crisis. It was unclear when President Buhari began his friendship with Kyari, but there is little question that it remained deep and robust since 2015. When the president was re-elected in 2019, he issued a directive to all his appointees to clear files and memos through Kyari on any matter that required presidential attention. The president did not even single out his vice president as an exception to that restriction.
Monguno’s argument in his memo was that the chief of staff did not swear to a constitutional oath and should, therefore, not be seen issuing directives that carry serious implications for the nation. When it comes to national security, Kyari’s job “stops at conveying Mr. President’s written directives,” the NSA argued. Kyari, according to those conversant with the inner workings of Aso Villa, had his hand in every pie, because he was “leveraging his sound education, brilliant intellect and experience in bureaucracy and business.”
One area which was used to criticize Kyari’s competence was his stint at the failed Africa International Bank (AIB), which he presided over. His political opponents tried to define the late CoS as the architect of the negative public perception of the Buhari administration. They also contended that although every government throughout history is wont to harbor a kitchen cabinet, caucus or cabal, “the remarkable distinction is whether the kitchen cabinet is public-spirited or self-centered.”
The Acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Ibrahim Magu, has urged Nigerians in the United Kingdom (UK) to pressure the UK government to repatriate former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Diezani Allison-Madueke to face trial over graft charges. EFCC Spokesman, Dele Oyewale disclosed that Magu made the call at a Virtual Town Hall Meeting, an interaction with Nigerians in The Diaspora, anchored in London by the Host/Moderator of the group, Ade Omole.
Magu also asked them to support the anti-graft war and expose foreign assets of corrupt politicians by taking advantage of government’s whistle-blowing policy. “The EFCC needs collaborative engagements with you all,” he said, insisting that Nigerians abroad should assert more pressure on authorities and governments in their countries of residence to prosecute corrupt Nigerians taking refuge in their domains. He expressed displeasure over the continued huddles being faced by the EFCC to try Allison-Madueke, stressing that Nigerians in the UK should form pressure groups to demand her trial without further delay.
“Nigerians in the United Kingdom need to collaborate with the EFCC more and pressure the UK authorities to assist the EFCC in bringing Diezani to trial. Does it not bother Nigerians in that country that Diezani has not been tried for allegations of corruption against her?
“The public ownership of the fight against corruption should not be limited to Nigerians at home. We must all come forward, wherever we are, to insist that corruption must not continue,” he said. He gave accounts of the painstaking works of the EFCC in the conviction and recovery, assuring that the EFCC was on course in the pursuit of its assigned mandate. We are on course. In 2020 alone, in spite of the COVID- 19 pandemic, we have secured 213 convictions, which shows the commitment we are putting into the work,” he stressed.
Magu assured Nigerians in the Diaspora of protection of their businesses at home, stressing that local fraudsters frustrating them from investing in the country would henceforth be dealt with. ‘”The EFCC is aware of the frustrations, uncertainties and risks local fraudsters pose to credible businessmen and women abroad, who wish to invest in the Nigerian economy and the commission is ready to offer intelligence services to anyone seeking genuine business partners in Nigeria,” he added.
Responding, participants at the conference, numbering over 500, who were drawn from Europe, Asia, Africa, South and North America and other parts of the world, commended the EFCC for its fight against economic and financial crimes. Professor Adebisi Adewole of the University of Scotland commended the EFCC for its efforts to rid Nigeria of corruption, urging the commission to continue its commitment to free the country of corruption and economic crimes.
Pro-Obaseki stakeholders reject APC’s direct primaries for Edo polls
Dissenting views by stakeholders of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Edo State have greeted the direct primaries adopted in the coming gubernatorial election in the state. While Edo APC adopted the indirect mode of primaries, the National Working Committee (NWC) of the party insisted on direct primaries. Indirect mode means that delegates alone elect the party’s flag-bearer, while in direct mode, all registered party members participate in the election.
However, Edo APC chairman, Anslem Ojezua, during a meeting with stakeholders, said the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) was one of the reasons for the decision to use indirect mode, adding that having 300,000 individuals risking their lives in this period for the sake of primaries was unethical. He said the rebuilt Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium would host the statutory delegates.
According to him, Edo APC lacks a credible register of members, which makes the direct primaries unworkable. The indirect primaries will host about 3,500 delegates next month, according to the chairman. Corroborating the position of the chairman, Special Adviser to Edo State Governor on Political Matters, Chief Osaro Idah, opposed direct governorship primary election in the state.
Members of Edo APC will not allow the direct governorship primary election announced by members of the Adams Oshiomhole-led NWC, he asserted. Idah said forcing direct primary on Edo APC members would be against the decision of the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the party and the last meeting in 2018, which had not been reviewed, adding that it would not be proper to have a huge crowd at this crucial period of COVID-19.
Insisting that indirect primary must be used to pick the APC governorship candidate on June 22, for the crucial poll on September 19 this year, Idah argued, “It is not possible for the members of NWC to make such declaration (on direct primary), because it is not within their rights.
“The constitution of APC is very clear on who has the right to do so. The party at the state level has the right to determine the mode of primary election it prefers, which is subject to the last meeting (in 2018) of the NEC of APC in Abuja, where the instruction was approved. Since then, NEC has said nothing. So, nothing has changed,” he said.
The pro-Oshiomhole Edo APC faction has written to INEC alleging a sinister plot by Governor Obaseki to scuttle the party’s primaries with inflated cases of COVID-19.
Concerned about the unabated spread of COVID-19, President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday described the situation as frightening and appealed to Nigerians to adhere to the guidelines issued by the Ministry of Health to stay safe from the disease. The president’s concerns perhaps gained strength from reports yesterday that Lagos, the main epicenter of the disease, has run out of beds for patients, many of who are now being turned back at isolation and treatment centers in the state.
In fact, there has been an uptick in confirmed cases in the last one month with incidences rising from 981 as at April 24 to 7,839 as at yesterday with 313 new cases recorded. Also, 2,263 persons have been discharged, while 226 have died. The tally, therefore, shows an increment of 6,858 cases in one month on the back of an expansion in the nation’s testing capacity. As at yesterday, Nigeria has so far tested 44,458 people for the virus, according to the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC). It said: “Nigeria has so far recorded 7,839 cases of COVID-19, with 2,263 persons discharged, while 226 have unfortunately lost their lives.”
Reports are also rife of private health care facilities failing to report coronavirus-induced deaths, preferring to attribute them to other causes, including heart disease, in order to avoid closure for decontamination. Morgues, particularly in Lagos, Cross River, Edo, Imo and Kogi states have become full, raising concerns about the impact of the pandemic on the nation’s health system as mortuaries in less endemic states experience a rise in the number of bodies deposited.
Efforts to get reactions from the Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, and Lagos State Commissioner for Health, Prof. Akin Abayomi, were unsuccessful. But speaking after observing Eid-Fitr prayers in his residence at the State House, Buhari appealed to Nigerians to adhere to the guidelines issued by the Ministry of Health to stay safe from the disease.
The president, who commended the minister of health, whom he said has done well so far, added that the pandemic had brought both the developed and the developing countries to the same level.
Warning Nigerians to be meticulous about the potency of the disease, the president argued that developing countries, including Nigeria, had a lower rate of casualties than the developed countries.
He said: “Nigerians can see that the COVID-19 has reduced us, both the developing and developed countries, to the same level. In fact, we have the least casualties than they have. So, it’s a very frightening development and I advised Nigerians to be very careful and take the advice of the Ministry of Health. Minister of Health has been doing very well, speaking and educating the citizens on the deadly virus. So Nigeria, we should be very careful.”
Buhari, who prayed for a favorable raining season this year, expressed his desire for farmers to return to the farm now to pave the way for an abundance of food provisions for all. According to him, having sufficient food production this season is imperative because Nigeria does not have funds for food import. He said: “I hope the raining season would be bountiful so that we get a lot of food. “I wish the farmers will go to farms and save our lives so that we can produce what we need in sufficient quantity so that we don’t have to import food. “In any case, we don’t have any money to import food. So, we must produce what we are going to eat.’’
Also speaking, the First Lady, Mrs. Aisha Buhari, who observed the Eid prayer with her husband, thanked both the Ministry of Health and the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) for their efforts in containing the disease. “I wish to thank the Federal Ministry of Health and also the NCDC for their efforts in combating the pandemic,’’ she said.
President Muhammadu Buhari has approved the funding of six medical simulation, research and training facilities in six colleges of medicine through the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund). The facilities will see to the setting up of molecular science laboratories with capacity for testing and diagnostics of COVID-19, Lassa fever and related viral diseases. Already, Minister of Education Mallam Adamu Adamu has directed the Executive-Secretary (ES) of TETFund, Prof. Suleiman Bagoro, to select a university in each of the six geo-political zones where the projects would be executed.
The action came as the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) on Sunday confirmed 313 new cases of coronavirus across the country. The Sunday night update brings the total number confirmed coronavirus infections in the country to be 7839 cases, while 226 persons have died due to the virus complications. Lagos, the epicenter of the virus in Nigeria, has 148 new cases were added while Nigeria’s capital city, Abuja, had 36 new cases.
NCDC announced 27 cases of the virus for Rivers; Edo had 19 cases, while Kano had 13 new cases. In Ogun NCDC announced 12 new coronavirus, while Ebonyi had eleven new cases. Nasarawa and Delta got eight new cases each, while Oyo battles with new seven patents. Plateau had six new cases while Kaduna State got five new cases. NCDC announced four new cases in Kwara State, while Akwa Ibom and Bayelsa had three new cases each. Niger State had two more infection and Anambra is one case.
There has been an increase in the number of cases reported across the states despite Nigeria’s low figure of people tested for the virus. The Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, during the presidential task force briefing, cautioned Nigerians about their movements for Eid celebrations. Mustapha while wishing Muslims a happy and safe Eid celebrations cautioned on the need to wear a mask, keep physical distance, avoid large congregations, avoid unnecessary inter-state travels and observe personal hygiene.
On the funding of COVID-18 research, TETFund has also been mandated to establish 12 medical centres of excellence to be hosted by first, second and third generation universities. Two of the centres of excellence, according to the directive, will be sited in each of the six geo-political zones for spread and accessibility. Two separate statements, one by Director, Public Affairs, Mrs. Ngoba Priye Briggs, and the other by Director, Physical Infrastructure Development, TETFund, Buhari Mikailu, in Abuja said additional centres of excellence would be sited in state universities, polytechnics, and colleges of education in “subsequent years.”
“The focus areas of the centres of excellence, in line with contemporary practice and technologies, are mainly in science-based disciplines,” the minister said. The minister stressed that “ongoing research work in response to COVID-19, and similar diseases through the TETFund National Research Fund (NRF), the research community of the Federal Ministry of Education should undertake any other sundry contributions in support of the Presidential Task Force (PTF) in responding to the threat of COVID-19” in the country.
According to the statements, the presidential approval was initiated through the recommendation of TETFund Board of Trustees (BOT) which was endorsed by the minister.The approval was given as the Guild of Medical Directors (GMD) tackled the Federal Government over failure to fund research to aid the discovery of treatment or vaccines for the dreaded coronavirus disease.
In a statement after its virtual meeting, the First Vice President and Publicity Secretary of the Guild, Dr. Festus Oshoba, observed that Nigerian researchers were ignored when they requested funding. The group said its members were not aware of any research funded by the PTF or the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to aid the discovery of new treatment or vaccines for the dreaded disease.
The publicity secretary who decried the poor attitude of the Federal Government towards research funding in the country, lamented that “while other countries are pouring money into research, the PTF on COVID-19 is busy grandstanding in front of microphones holding sterile press conferences.”
“If there is any research that is being supported by the so-called PTF, let them tell the world. The so-called Madagascar cure, which has not been subjected to any standard trial, is being imported by the PTF, while Nigerian researchers are ignored when they make requests for funding. Meanwhile people are dying all over Nigeria. There is no sense of urgency,” the experts lamented.
According to Oshoba, “the guild is also aware that Vice President Yemi Osinbajo approved of a piece of research and had instructed the CBN governor to fund the research, but he bluntly refused to do so. This situation is lamentable because indeed, it is research that should guide policy, and not the groping in the dark that we are now doing in the country.”
Meanwhile, the Catholic Secretariat of Nigeria has urged the Federal Government to look inward for local herbal solutions that could be used to minimize the impact of COVID-19 so that businesses could reopen. The Secretary General of the secretariat, Rev Fr. Zacharia Samjumi appealed to the media to tell the story of COVID-19 in such a way that people would understand the reality and the enormity of the presence of the virus, not in a manner that would instill fear in them.
Nigerian Government has declared Monday 25th and Tuesday 26th May as public holidays for Eidul-Fitri celebration. In a statement released on Thursday, on behalf of the Minister by the Ministry’s director of Press and Public Relations, Mohammed Manga, Aregbesola called on Muslim to replicate the life of kindness, love, tolerance, peace and good neighborliness, as exemplified by the Holy Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon Him), also expressed his concern about the spate of ethnic conflicts that has resurfaced in some parts of Northern Nigeria in recent times.
He advised Nigerians to see themselves as a single entity and thus learn to tolerate one another despite their ethnic and religious differences. The statement further assured Nigerians that the Administration of President Muhammadu Buhari is fully committed to battling the scourge of COVID-19 with the cooperation of all Nigerians.
While commending the security agencies for the successes so far recorded in the fight against the Boko Haram insurgency in the North East, he advised Nigerians to take responsibility against the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic and also stay safe by observing physical and social distancing, personal and respiratory hygiene, as well as other regulations issued by relevant authorities.
As part of his admonition to Muslims on the celebration of Eidul-Fitr and his emphasis on individual responsibility for adherence to the COVID-19 guidelines and regulations, the Minister reminded them to always obey constituted authorities as stated in the Glorious Qu’ran 4:59 where Allah says:
“O ye who believe! Obey Allah, and obey the Messenger, and those charged with authority among you. If ye differ in anything among yourselves, refer it to Allah and His Messenger, if ye do believe in Allah and the Last Day: That is best, and most suitable for final determination.”
Ogbeni Aregbesola wishes all Muslims a happy Eidul -Fitr celebration.
Former Super Eagles Head Coach, Samson Siasia has asked Osaze Odemwingie to prove evidence of his malicious claims of his misdemeanor at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, China or shut his mouth. Odemwingie who was one of the three over-aged players in the Nigerian Under-23 Dream Team to the football event of the summer games in Beijing, had alleged as a guest on the Super Eagles Instagram Live Page during the week that he had issues with Siasia because he (Odemwingie) didn’t like his leadership style. He also alleged that some of the issues that were been whispered in camp (about Match-fixing) were responsible for the issues Siasia is challenging at the Court of Arbitration for Sports (CAS) after he was banned for life by FIFA on allegations of match fixing.
But in his swift reaction to Odemwingie’s claims, Siasia demanded proof of the allegations from the former West Bromwich Albion player or risk receiving court summons from his lawyers. “I am alive (to reply him). Osaze should better show me evidence of his allegations or shut up his mouth. The next letter will come from my lawyer, not me exchanging words with him,” Siasia said. Siasia’s reference to being alive to reply Odemwingie is alluding to inability of Late Stephen Keshi to reply the duo of Chinedu Ogbuke Obasi and Taye Taiwo who accused Super Eagles coaches of corruption prior to Nigeria’s participation at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
Odemwingie had alleged during the Instagram chat: “During the Olympic Games in Beijing, there were some rumors among the players because I did not play the qualifiers, that some dodgy things were going on, part of which he (Siasia) is being accused of at the moment. “I did not know the validity of it but there were talks of match-fixing. For us the players we played out our hearts and deservedly got to the final which everyone saw,” Osaze had stressed in that chat.
But a former Nigerian international that was part of the team in Beijing spoke on condition of anonymity yesterday that the beef between Odemwingie and Siasia was caused by the refusal of the coach to hand over the captain’s band to the former Bendel Insurance player. “I don’t want to be part of their wahala but what I can remember was that there was a problem between Coach (Siasia) and Osaze because he was not made the captain of the team. Osaze wanted it as the most experienced player in camp but coach insisted on Late Isaac Promise as his Captain. We all knew about this but it was not our business who was picked as Captain but to repeat the feat of the Nwankwo Kanu generation at Atlanta ‘96,” explained the former international player from his base in Europe.
Like it happened at the 2005 FIFA Under-20 World Cup in Holland, Siasia’s team again lost to Lionel Messi-inspired Argentina team to return from Beijing 2008 with the men’s football silver medal. While Siasia returned from the Olympic to rise to become the head coach of the senior national team, again led Nigeria to win her only medal at Rio 2016 (a bronze). Odemwingie (now 38-years old) pulled curtain on his Nigerian career after attending two World Cups and four Africa Cup of Nations, as well as the silver at the 2008 Olympics in China.
President Muhammadu Buhari has approved the termination of the appointment of Prof Charles Uwakwe as the registrar and chief executive officer of the National Examinations Council (NECO).
“After due consideration of the investigative panel on the allegation of unsatisfactory conduct levelled against you and some management staff of the council, Mr. President in exercise of his powers, has approved your removal as the Registrar and Chief Executive Officer of National Examinations Council with effect from the date of your suspension from duty,” Permanent secretary of the Federal Ministry of Education, Sonny Echono said in a letter on behalf of the Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu.
Buhari also dismissed four members of the management of the exam body for various offences including alleged financial impropriety in a separate letter and appointed Abubakar Gana as NECO’s acting registrar.
Uwakwe was suspended May 2018 by the Federal Government over alleged financial mismanagement and abuse of office in awarding contracts worth N25 billion without following the due process.
The former registrar was accused of violating the Public Procurement Act (2007) and pursuant to PSR 030402 and Part 1 schedule 4 (i) of NECO Establishment Act.
NECO in a release on Wednesday confirmed that the suspended registrar had been relieved of his appointment by the President, while four members of the management had also been dismissed. Uwakwe was directed to hand over all the government property in his custody to the acting registrar.
The Nigerian Postal Service Headquarters was on Wednesday hit by an early morning fire, the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), reports.
The Federal Capital Territory Fire Service personnel were, however, on hand to contain the fire, which attracted a large crowd at the busy Area 10, Garki, in Abuja.
Efforts by a NAN correspondent to get information from officials of the service, on what led to the incident, were abortive. A security officer, who pleaded anonymity, told NAN that the fire started at about 8:40 a.m.
An eyewitness, Adamu Bala, said he drew the attention of the security officers guarding the building when he saw smoke coming from the back of the building.
President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday approved the extension of measures, exemptions; advisories and scope of entities allowed to reopen under phase one of the eased lockdown for another two weeks across the country effective from midnight Monday, May 18 – June, 1, 2020. Specifically, the nationwide curfew and the imposition of precision lockdown in states, or in metropolitan/high-burden LGAs that are reporting a rapidly increasing number of cases; the ban on interstate travel and the lockdown of Kano State, which had emerged the third epicenter of the pandemic, would continue until June 1, according to the Chairman of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, Boss Mustapha, who conveyed the presidential directive at the daily briefing of the task force in Abuja yesterday.
The president said that these steps were necessitated by the recommendations of the Presidential Taskforce on COVID-19 (PTF). Buhari had through a regulation signed on May 3 pursuant to the Quarantine Act eased the lockdown he had imposed on March 30, in an effort to balance the requirements of public health safety and the need to safeguard the economy from total collapse. Mustapha said Buhari granted the extension based on the recommendation of the task force.
the virus increased the number of its victims by 216 yesterday, bringing the total infection to 6,175 with 1,644 persons discharged and 191 dead.
Announcing this last night, the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) said Lagos recorded 74 new cases, Katsina 33, Oyo 19, Kano 17, Edo 13, Zamfara 10, Ogun, Gombe and Borno eight each, Bauchi and Kwara seven each, Federal Capital Territory (FCT) four, Kaduna and Enugu three each, while Rivers has two cases.
Meanwhile, the president has approved N1 trillion facility to agricultural and manufacturing companies to expand and set up new factories, just as he directed the suspension of repayment of all state government loans for one year to give the second tier of government ample financing room to pay salaries.
The Chairman of PTF and Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) Boss Mustapha who disclosed this at the daily briefing in Abuja, noted that the precision lockdown in states, or in metropolitan/high-burden local government areas would be complemented with the provision of palliatives and continued re-evaluation of the impact of the interventions while aggressive scale-up of efforts would be embarked upon to ensure that communities were informed, engaged and made to participate in the response with enhanced public awareness in high risk states.
Mustapha explained that the level of compliance had been reviewed and a specific directive had been issued to the security agencies to carry out a strict enforcement of all measures, including the nationwide curfew from 8:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m., ban on interstate travels and the wearing of face masks/coverings in public.
“The security agents are, however, urged to be mindful of the human rights of citizens, while citizens are equally urged to recognize the dangers posed to self, their loved ones and the entire community if they fail to take responsibility. The exemptions allowed under the phase one are still in place. Particularly, government remains conscious of the fact that we are in the rainy season and farming activities are critical to food and national security. They should, therefore, not be hindered.”
He said that these steps would help consolidate the gains made so far, and position the country to effectively overcome the pandemic, pointing out that in the interest of the nation, the role of the states and local governments remained critical to achieving success. He said the PTF would engage with the states on the effective implementation of the guidelines.
For the sustainability of the gains recorded, Mustapha said the PTF would support states by developing guidelines to shape decision-making for future steps in the response and aggressively scale up efforts to ensure effective community information. Mustapha reminded the governors that as contained in the address of the president on April 27, 2020, they were to align their states’ specific measures with the guidelines issued by the PTF.
The SGF disclosed that within the two weeks of the phase one of the eased lockdown, the following accomplishments were also recorded:
•increase in the number of laboratories in the COVID-19 network from 15 to 26; •conduct of additional 15,558 tests in the country (with a cumulative total of 35,098 tests and the number of tests per million increasing from 50 to 154;
•increase in the number of trained personnel to 11,409 health workers thereby boosting the capacity for case management; and
• procurement and distribution of additional personal protective equipment and ventilators across the country.
According to him, the doubling time of the virus has slowed down from seven days to 11 days while the number of beds available for isolation and case management increased from 3500 to 5000 beds nationwide;
“While maintaining a delicate balance between safety and economic survival in a precarious situation, President Buhari focused on ensuring that socio-economic difficulties experienced during the total lockdown were alleviated without compromising safety and allowing the healthcare sector to continue preparing the identified metrics needed to manage the response and any potential future outbreak nationwide.
“We are pleased to inform you that measures put in place yielded sufficient progress that requires consolidation to ensure that the health system and economy are in a position to adequately respond to any potential outcomes in the future – including a secondary outbreak.
“In recognition of the global impact of COVID-19 on economies and the need to stimulate and positively turn around our economy, the Federal Government has been implementing various stimulus packages offered to businesses and state governments through the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN). These include: reduction of interest rates from 9 percent to 5 percent for all CBN intervention facilities; restructuring of loans to longer tenors for all companies whose businesses are adversely impacted by COVID-19; giving N50billion facilities to household and businesses adversely impacted by COVID-19 through NIRSAL Micro Finance Bank; and giving N100billion facility to pharmaceutical and health sectors companies to retool their businesses,” Mustapha said.
He observed that the PTF relied largely on science, statistics, lessons learnt from other parts of the world and an evaluation of nation’s peculiar circumstances to draw its conclusions on the outcome of the last two weeks.
“For example, our surveillance, infection prevention and control activities identified nine high burden local government areas in the federation reporting high number of cases and accounting for 51per cent of the total number of infections in the country. All the nine are densely populated local government areas nationwide.We have also seen that though Nigeria’s caseload still lags behind several other countries’, our large population and relatively high degree of mobility and urbanisation (50%) place us at an increased risk for high transmissibility. Therefore, our consideration of ease of restrictions has to balance lives and livelihoods and the slow and gradually phased approach should be science- and data-driven”.
The SGF explained that”To arrive at our final recommendations to Mr. President, we objectively and frankly interrogated certain critical factors and wish to inform you as follows:
• Is the transmission of the virus under control?:–Measures put in place have collectively slowed down the transmission of the virus e.g. elongating the doubling time which has changed from 7 to 11 days; • Is the health care system equipped to detect, test, isolate and treat every case and trace every person who came in contact with a positive case? The health care system has been better equipped to detect, test, isolate and treat every case, and trace every person who came into contact with a positive case with the increase in the number of laboratories from 15 to 26 and ramping up of testing to a cumulative total of 35,098;
•Are outbreaks minimized in special settings like health facilities and nursing homes? Though we have recorded an infection of a number of medical personnel in our facilities, which is not peculiar to Nigeria, we have increased their training in care management and provided additional Personnel Protective Equipment (PPE);
•Are there measures in workplaces and schools to prevent the spread of the virus? With the gradual reopening of workplaces, markets, schools, among others, prescriptions have been made for the prevention of infection and spread of the virus;
•Are the risks of importing more cases from outside the country being managed? The risks associated with importation have been seriously minimised with the ban on flights, closure of borders and the mandatory 14 days quarantine for anyone arriving in Nigeria.”
Also yesterday, President Buhari urged the PTF on COVID-19 to work closely with state governors to engender better harmony in checking the prevailing pandemic in the country.
The president who spoke during an online meeting with the Governors’ Forum, disclosed that the Mustapha-led PTF had briefed him on the next steps in the national response to the pandemic, “and I have directed that they work very closely with the governors.”
Buhari said the pandemic was “beyond technology, power, and resources,” noting that countries that had all those, were recording the highest casualties round the world.
“We have to be very careful. We need to continue to educate and persuade the people to accept the reality of the situation, and do all that is necessary to stay safe,” the president said.
A statement made available to newsmen by Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, yesterday explained that at the meeting, Buhari also discussed economic and security issues, among others, with the governors commending the president on the “leadership and direction” he had given the country in combating COVID-19.
There were indications at the weekend that President Buhari might address the nation yesterday on new procedures in the national response to the ravaging coronavirus, having received a progress report presented by the PTF.
Mustapha gave the hint on Sunday after the PTF briefed President Buhari at the Presidential Villa, Abuja. But the presidency, via Adesina, yesterday disclosed that the PTF on COVID-19 was poised to bring citizens up to speed on the Federal Government’s direction concerning the progress so far made by the country in the campaign against the ravaging virus.
Adesina, on his twitter handle @FemAdesina, posted 1:11p.m., on Monday, explained that there would be no need for President Buhari’s broadcast as there was no arrangement to that effect. He said: “No presidential broadcast on COVID-19 updates today. None was planned. Rather, the PTF will during its usual media briefings bring the nation up to speed on the next steps.”
Nigeria has recorded 339 new cases of COVID-19, bringing to 7,016 the total number of confirmed cases in the country. It has also recorded 11 new COVID-19 related deaths, raising the figures from 200 to 211 in the last 24 hours.
Announcing this Thursday, the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) said Lagos recorded 139 new cases, Kano and Oyo 28 each, Edo 25, Katsina 22, Kaduna 18, Jigawa 14, Yobe and Plateau 13 each, Federal Capital Territory (FCT) 11, Gombe eight, Ogun five, Bauchi and Nasarawa four each, Delta three, Ondo two, while Rivers and Adamawa one each. It said: “Nigeria has so far recorded 7,016 cases of COVID-19. 1907 persons have been discharged, while 211 have unfortunately lost their lives.”
The Federal government yesterday said that finding from the analysis of the 200 Covid-19 deaths recorded so far in the country shows that nearly half of them died at home. Health Minister, Dr Osagie Ehanire who disclosed this at the daily briefing by the Presidential Taskforce on COVID-19 noted that of those who died at home, about 50% did not show any symptom, underscoring the need for those who test positive to report for treatment. He urged those who have taken the test and are awaiting result to heed the advisory to self-isolate from friends, wear face masks and observe hand and respiratory hygiene until your result is releases stressing that by so doing, they will be protecting their family, friends and communities .
Ehanire observed that government is careful about our numbers to ensure that the figures being announced are accurate, adding that sometimes, “there are errors, but we correct them as soon as they are noticed. According to him, “We now have 26 laboratories spread in 17 states. This has increased our testing capacity. However, while our daily testing capacity is presently at 2,500, unfortunately, we are presently able to test less than 1,500. This is due largely to inadequate surveillance and contact tracing in the states. As more laboratories come on board, I would like to use this opportunity to call on state governments to increase the number of surveillance teams so that more testing can be done in the laboratories. We have developed new Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) to track surveillance strategic directions and programmes”
Meanwhile, the UK announced it will invest £20 million (about N8.84 billion) in the African Union’s (AU) Anti-COVID-19 Fund to tackle the disease and save lives. By this singular move, the UK has expanded the endowment announced last month by Cyril Ramaphosa, chairperson of the union and president of South Africa. The donation would address recruitment of health experts, their deployments to areas of great need, strengthening global tracking of the pandemic, combatting potentially harmful misinformation as well as providing training for health workers and making useful information accessible to the public.
Announcing the grant yesterday, the International Development Secretary, Anne-Marie Trevelyan, said: “As the UK faces its biggest peacetime challenge in tackling coronavirus, it’s never been more important to work with our partners in Africa to fight the disease. No one is safe until we are all safe, and this new funding and support for African leadership will help protect us all – in the UK, Africa and around the world – from the further spread of the virus.”
In her remarks, the British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Catriona Laing, noted: “The truly global scale of the current crisis means that international cooperation and solidarity is more important than ever.
“This £20 million UK funding contribution to the African Union will provide important additional support to Nigeria and other countries across Africa, and is testament to the fact that the UK stands shoulder to shoulder with Nigeria in our collective challenge to defeat this terrible virus.”
The gesture followed calls by the Minister for Africa at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, James Duddridge; AU Commissioner for Trade and Industry, Albert Muchanga; and his Social Affairs counterpart, Amira El-Fadil, at several events they highlighted the risks Africa faces from the pandemic, and how UK was working with partners on the continent to tackle these shared global issues.
$9.8bn P&ID Debt: US court grants FG access to Hedge Fund documents
A United States court has granted the Nigerian government permission to request documents from VR Capital Group Limited, the part-owner of Process & Industrial Developments (P& ID) Limited, a company that received a $9.8 billion arbitration award the federal government is trying to overturn.
Bloomberg reported that the United States’ District Judge, Paul Engelmayer, ordered in New York that Nigeria could subpoena information from London-based hedge fund VR Capital, four subsidiaries and three of its directors. The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) plans to use the data in its probe of British Virgin Islands-registered P& ID Limited and alleged corrupt government officials.
A Cayman Islands-registered unit of VR Capital acquired a 25 per cent interest in P&ID about two years ago and would have conducted due diligence on the firm that is “highly relevant” to the ongoing investigation, according to a court filing submitted by Nigeria’s Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami on May 12.
The successful court application is part of Nigeria’s efforts to show that a 2010 gas-supply contract with P&ID was a sham designed to fail by the company and government officials. Nigeria wants VR Capital to hand over documents concerning the company’s purchase of P&ID shares as well as the contract and arbitration proceedings, according to court filings. EFCC said its investigations showed that P&ID acknowledged destroying records “in or around January 2017” and VR Capital is “a logical source” for recovering such information, according to the filing by Malami.
VR Capital could still seek to quash the subpoena. Malami’s spokesman declined to comment. Questions sent to VR Capital by Bloomberg were referred to a spokesman for P&ID. Nigeria’s “efforts to seek information on a crime that never occurred from a party that was never involved with P&ID until years after the alleged events is prima facie evidence that it has no case at all,” London-based iNHouse Communications, representing P&ID, said by email.
“The claim that P&ID deliberately concealed documents by destroying them is totally false.”
VR Capital, which has offices in New York, London and Moscow, is an asset manager that focuses on distressed securities and “event-driven/special situations investments,” according to its website.
But Malami described the firm as a “vulture fund” in December in a statement to a UK court. P&ID has denied any wrongdoing, saying the Federal Government of Nigeria invented the allegations to evade its legal obligations. The dispute between the federal government and P&ID became a crisis for Africa’s biggest oil producer in August, when a UK judge ruled P&ID could enforce a 2017 arbitration tribunal’s decision that Nigeria breached the gas-supply contract. The resulting award now totals $9.8 billion including interest and is equivalent to about 30 per cent of the country’s foreign reserves.
An investigation by EFCC has already resulted in criminal charges in Nigeria and would form the basis of the government’s appeal against the ruling. The contract and arbitration award are P&ID’s “sole assets,” according to Nigeria’s filings to the District Court for the Southern District of New York. The company was supposed to build a gas-processing plant, while the government was to supply the raw material. “The only thing P&ID engineered was a fraudulent arbitration claim,” the federal government alleged.
The paramount ruler of Bakassi has called on the Federal Government and the international community to provide answers to the many unanswered questions of Bakassi since Nigeria lost the territory to Cameroon at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in 2002.
The Chairman, Cross River State Traditional Rulers Council and Paramount Ruler of Bakassi Local Government Area, His Royal Majesty Etiyin Etim Okon Edet in a statement yesterday, made available to the media said: “several years after the ICJ judgement, Bakassi indigenes and Cross River State have continued to deal with the pains of losing the oil-rich peninsula to Cameroon.”
He stated that “from issues of disenfranchisement during elections to the state losing its status as an oil-producing state, plunging it into further financial problems, more losses are still being counted. Many persons displaced living in IDP camps and others (and) several pleas from several quarters on the Federal Government and the international community seems to be falling on deaf ears”.
He then asked; “will the Bakassi question ever be answered? Will the people ever find peace in proper relocation and resettlement by relevant authorities? These are among the myriad of questions still begging for answers” and the Federal government and the international community should address them; adding that, even with the pull out of the Bakassi Strike Force (BSF) from the creeks in 2018, nothing tangible to improve the lives of the Bakassi people has taken place to improve the area and its people. The BSF was in the forefront of the struggle for the liberation of Bakassi and implementation of the Green Tree Agreement
Recall that Nigeria lost Bakassi to Cameron at the ICJ 19 years ago and through the implementation of the 2006 Green Tree Agreement (GTA), Nigeria pulled out of Bakassi and the GTA which has come under serious criticisms had promised good and proper resettlement for the displaced people of Bakassi, empowerment.
There was a motion which was referred to two committees in the 5th senate of the National Assembly talking about the proper resettlement of the people of Bakassi and that included financial issues, border issues and others but it never saw the light of the day and the people of Bakassi are suffering.
The senate also talked about compensation in perpetuity to Cross River State and particularly the people of Bakassi because the Nigerian state gave up their land without a plebiscite, without them being consulted and through no fault of their own, their land was ceded.
A prominent lawyer in the state and counsel to the defunct BSF, Mr Ozinko Ozinko had at the time argued that “there are certain provisions in the GTA that have been seriously violated. That is article 6 and 8 of that agreement and government has done nothing about it…the GTA treaty is not a law in itself in Nigeria. By section 12 of the 1999 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended, no international treaty or agreement can automatically become enforceable in Nigeria except only if that agreement has been ratified and passed into law by the National Assembly.
“Koffi Annan and the French government are not the court of law. As far as we are concern we are aware of the United Nation (UN) which is governed by the UN charter and there are various laws at the international level, I have turned everything upside down I have never seen a particular body that sits down and make an agreement and it becomes heavier than the judge. That judgement was obtained by fraud and the enforcement was fraudulent. It goes with fraudulent intent”
The chairman of the Blaugrana Sports Group, promoters of FC Barca Academy Lagos, Leslie Oghomienor, has advised the Federal Government to rename the National Stadium, Lagos as the Sam Okwaraji Stadium, saying the gesture would send a positive message to serving athletes.
Speaking after the Blaugrana Sports Group International weekly strategic meeting, Oghomienor, who lamented ‘the shameful way such departed heroes as Okwaraji, Rashidi Yekini, Stephen Keshi and a host of others have been treated by the country,’ said the country would reap bountifully from other patriotic sportsmen and women if it behaves as a caring nation.
The sports promoter, who applauded Delta State government for naming the Asaba Stadium after Stephen Keshi, appealed to Sports Minister, Sunday Dare, to urge the Federal Government to immortalize Okwaraji by putting his name on the Lagos Stadium, where he died on national duty. He praised Dare for reaching out to the mother of Sam Okwaraji, whom he described as a very selfless and committed patriot, saying the minister’s gestures would tell serving sportsmen that the country would always reward them for their efforts.
Meanwhile, Oghomienor has advised that the raging COVID-19 pandemic that has made it impossible for athletes all over the world to access sports arenas for training and competition should not stop sportsmen from practicing their trade.
In Nigeria, all the stadiums and other sports venues have either been locked up or now serve as isolation centres for COVID-19 patients, just as all the national competitions have been postponed or cancelled outright. But Oghomienor believes the situation should push athletes to find ways of maintaining their fitness pending when the lockdown would be lifted. He advised athletes to see every available space as a good ground for training, adding that the world is daily devising ways of maintaining its way of life.
Picking on some countries’ preparation to resume football events, Oghomienor said, “it is quite certain that the clubs and countries involved, aside abiding with the guidelines of WHO and FIFA, must have put tested plans, competent medical teams, with the necessary equipment, and sustainable structures on ground to give them the boldness and courage to want to continue in their trade.
“This, to me, is like breathing, the absence of which there is no life. Even in real war situations, we have seen and read about instances where a sport event like football is organised between the warring parties,” he explained. He urged athletes to understand that sports is not all about competing in the Olympics or the World Cup, adding that current coronavirus pandemic should teach humanity other ways of doing things.
A Federal High Court in Lagos has fixed June 2 to hear an application filed by Sen. Orji Uzor Kalu, seeking his release from prison. The motion on notice will be heard by Justice Mohammed Liman.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Kalu is currently serving a 12 years jail term at the Correctional Service Centre in Kuje, Abuja for allegedly looting N7.2billion belonging to Abia State.
He was sentenced by Justice Mohammed Idris on Dec. 5, 2019, to 12 years imprisonment while his co-defendant, Jonnes Udeogo had bagged a 10 years jail term.
Kalu had hired a 12 man team of lawyers, including six Senior Advocates of Nigeria (SAN)s, to prosecute his freedom bid. He filed the motion on May 12 asking the court to nullify his conviction. NAN reports that following Udeogu’s appeal, the Supreme Court had on May 8 held that the fiat issued to Justice Idris to conclude the trial of the defendants after he had been elevated to the Court of Appeal was “a nullity”.
The apex court had consequently, set aside Idris’ verdict “as it relates to the appellant (Udeogu)”.
The court had ordered Udeogu’s freedom and the re-trial of his case. In his new pending motion, Kalu is contending that no legal basis exists for his continued incarceration following the Supreme Court’s judgment which declared his trial a nullity and freed Udeogu. The motion will be heard on June 2.
The Kaduna-based professor of microbiology and Covid-19 cure researcher, Ayodele Israel Adeleye, has vowed to access any isolation center, treat five patients on ventilators and five other confirmed positive coronavirus patients without wearing any personal protective gear during the exercise.
He also pledged to carry out the treatment of the 10 persons free of charge in any of the facilities nationwide to authenticate the efficacy of his therapy. “I intend to treat directly five patients that are positive without any protective gadget or jacket, and under the scrutiny of the media, especially television camera.”
Adeleye made the disclosures in a letter he handed over to the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) through the Kaduna State coordinator in respect of his coronavirus research findings in the capital.
He explained: “My cure research on the Covid-19 pandemic resulted in the production of the virus killer herbal medicine, which I am submitting to expedite action for those affected as quickly as possible in order to reduce the death rates and also save lives.
“The drug has been fully labelled as attached. Information for its awareness and other researches is attached. The drug acts fast, requiring only one wine glass dosage, and the patient is healed and may test negative from the second day onward.
“The drug gives protection (immunity) from further infection. Uninfected persons will also enjoy the same immunity and protection after taking it. There is no side effect whatsoever for user of the drug.”
He added: “It removed blockage of the lungs that allows patient to breathe freely. No ventilator is required after one wine glass treatment. I intend to treat five patients already on ventilator and five positive persons free of charge.
In a similar vein, the Minister of Science and Technology, Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu, yesterday said the ministry had begun verification of cure claims for the novel disease. He made the submission at the quarterly management meeting of the ministry and its agencies in Abuja.
The ministry had offered N36 million to scientists and innovators to research for cures for coronavirus and Lassa fever. Onu stated that all COVID-19 therapy submissions had been sent to the Academy of Science for verification and recommendations, adding that the ministry was working hard to develop homegrown solutions to the pandemic.
He hinted that encouraging results had been submitted and that in no distant time, their details would be made known to the nation. According to him, for Nigeria to have increased foreign earnings, it must look inwards for solutions to its problems and export same to other nations.
The predictions were somber and the doomsday predictions scary. The World Health Organization (WHO) warned African countries to “prepare for the worst”, while the UN Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) had in April predicted: “anywhere between 300,000 and 3.3 million African people could lose their lives as a direct result of COVID-19.” Melinda Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, in a CNN interview, said: “It’s going to be horrible in the developing world. And part of the reason you’re seeing that case numbers don’t look very bad is because they don’t have access to very many tests…Look at Ecuador. Look at what’s going on in Ecuador. They’re putting bodies out on the street. You’re going to see that in countries in Africa.”
All the projections pointed to a calamity of immense proportion that would hit Africa, leaving the continent worse off than other regions of the world. But months since Covid-19 struck, Africa with its notorious poor health infrastructure has recorded the least number of deaths. Latest WHO figures show Africa has the least number of cases (58,663) and deaths with (1,710) compared to the Americas with the highest numbers of cases (1,966,932) and deaths (118,799). This is closely followed by Europe with 1,874 075 cases and 166,121 deaths; Eastern Mediterranean with 326,568 cases 9,841 deaths; Western Pacific with 167,546 cases and 6,730 deaths; and South-East Asia with 134,531 cases and 4,351 deaths.
The most impacted countries worldwide as of May 17, 2020 showed the USA topping the chart with 1,486,757 cases and over 90,000 deaths; Russia, 281,752 cases and 2,631 deaths; UK, 244,995 cases and 34,716 deaths; Brazil, 241,080 cases and 16,122 deaths; Spain, 230,698 cases and 27,563 deaths; Italy, 225,435 cases and 31,908; France, 179,693 and 28,111 deaths; Germany, 176,369 cases and 7,962 deaths; Turkey, 149,435 cases and 4,140 deaths; and Iran, 120,198cases and 6,988 deaths.
In contrast, in Africa, South Africa is worst hit with 14,355 cases and 261 deaths. It is distantly followed by Algeria with 6,821 and 542 deaths. Others include: Ghana, 5,735 cases and 29 deaths; Nigeria, 5,621 cases and 176 deaths; Cameroon, 3,047 cases and 139 deaths; and Guinea with 2,658 cases and 16 deaths. While the argument that low testing indicates many African countries are yet to encounter the monster, the absence of mass deaths or hospitalizations seem to suggest something is ticking favorably for the continent.
Former INEC chairman and President, Bioresources Development Group, Prof. Maurice Iwu, agreed that Africans might have some form of protection from the coronavirus. “An issue is high humidity in most African countries, not just hot temperatures. Because of the density of the virus in tropical Africa, it cannot travel far. That means the recommendation of two meters of social distancing does not apply here because the virus cannot go far.” Iwu also raised the diet factor. “Our food has more antioxidants. We take a lot of phytomedicines. A lot of our diets contain zinc, vitamin C and other antioxidants. People take all these on a daily basis without even thinking about it,” he said.
There’s also the social exclusion of Sub-Saharan Africa. He explained: “We are excluded from so many socio-economic activities going on in the West. The number of people who travel from just Milan to New York on a daily basis far outnumbers the air travels in most parts of Africa. So, the socio-economic exclusion from the global picture has protected us from the quick spread of the virus through frequent business travels and inter-continental movements.”
Iwu further cited the issue of seasonal flu vaccines common in most European and American countries. “Most of these countries use flu vaccine. Once you take the flu vaccine and a new strain comes in, it will cause all the defence mechanisms to relax. This scenario makes most countries that use the flu vaccine more vulnerable to COVID-19,” he said.
Indeed, a recent study published by Chinese researchers from Beihang University (BUAA) and Institute of Economics, School of Social Sciences, Tsinghua University, demonstrated how high temperature and high humidity reduce the transmission of COVID-19. The study was published in the journal SSRN. The researchers explained: “The paper investigated the influence of air temperature and relative humidity on the transmission of COVID-19. After estimating the serial interval of COVID-19 from 105 hand-collected pairs of the virus carrier and the infected, we calculate the daily effective reproductive number, R, for each of all 100 Chinese cities with more than 40 cases. Using the daily R-values from January 21 to 23, 2020 as proxies of non-intervened transmission intensity, we find, under a linear regression framework, high temperature and high humidity significantly reduce the transmission of COVID-19, respectively. One-degree Celsius increase in temperature and one per cent increase in relative humidity lower R by 0.0225 and 0.0158, respectively.
“This result is consistent with the fact that the high temperature and high humidity reduce the transmission of influenza and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). It indicates that the arrival of summer and rainy season in the northern hemisphere can effectively reduce the transmission of COVID-19.” Also, investigation revealed that most countries in malaria endemic regions/Sub-Saharan African nations have lower cases and deaths from COVID-19.
According the WHO Malaria Map and COVID-19 Map, most countries in Sub-Saharan Africa are endemic to malaria and are equally least affected by the coronavirus. In 2018, six countries accounted for more than half of all malaria cases worldwide: Nigeria (25%), the Democratic Republic of the Congo (12%), Uganda (5%), and Côte d’Ivoire, Mozambique and Niger (4% each). The WHO Malaria Map shows that more than 90% of countries worst hit by COVID-19 are not endemic to malaria including France, United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Spain, Italy, and Iran among others.
Unconfirmed reports suggest that no sickle cell anaemia patient has died of COVID-19 because they are invulnerable to malaria. Africa is endemic to sickle cell anaemia. In fact, more than 90% of all sickle cell anaemia cases exist on the continent. Another argument is that the BCG vaccination, which most Africans have, may be offering some protection.
The federal government Thursday kicked against large gathering during Sallah celebrations, saying it might put many people, particularly the elderly and immunocompromised, at risk of COVID-19 infection.
Some governors in the northern part of the country had relaxed the lockdown, imposed on their states to halt the spread of the virus, to enable their citizens to celebrate the Eid-ul-Fitr.
Speaking at the daily briefing of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, the Chairman, Mr. Boss Mustapha, warned that the relaxation of the lockdown by states might boomerang and appealed to the governors to be cautious in their responses to agitations for the opening of places of worship.
Specifically, Mustapha, who is also the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), warned against large gatherings of people during the Sallah celebration to mark the end of the Ramadan fasting by the Muslim faithful. He said the federal government was concerned that large gatherings at the Eid prayer grounds could inadvertently endanger the elderly, the sick, and those with underlying ailments.
He also reiterated the position of PTF that any large gathering of more than 20 persons remained prohibited and that all the protocols on safety should be adhered to. ”Mass gatherings for the purpose of the Eid or on Sunday, for now, expose the elderly to serious health problem. It exposes this category of people to serious danger and it is the responsibility of the government to ensure they are not exposed to those dangers. COVID-19 has come to stay with us. It has completely disrupted our ways of life and it is impossible to suddenly return that way of life,” Mustapha said.
PTF National Coordinator on COVID-19, Dr. Sani Aliyu, also warned Sallah revelers to ensure that they wear their face masks if they must at all be at the Eid grounds. Aliyu, who read the guidelines on the enforcement on easing of the lockdown, also said in terms of enforcement of the regulations, PTF would continue to work with local authorities for the immediate creation of mobile courts to try and prosecute offenders, particularly those who violate guidelines on face masks covering, measuring temperatures and institutions that fail to comply with the protocols.
”Effective from May 18, the easing of the lockdown remains largely the same and will be characterised by enforceable actions which will include mandatory use of non-medical face masks, mandatory provision of hand sanitisers in public places, the restriction on interstate travels and adaption of offices and businesses to observe social distancing, including crowd control and mass gathering reduction strategies,” Aliyu said.
”The public is warned to avoid unnecessary contact with people, interstate travel is restricted except for those that deal in supply chain travels such as goods and agricultural products with limited capacity and petroleum products, relief items, construction supplies, and registered courier service,” he added.
A Divisional Police Officer (DPO) of Ilemba Hausa Division, Ajamgbadi, Lagos State, Yahaya Adesina, a Chief Superintendent (CSP), has been arrested and detained at the State Criminal Investigation Department (SCID) for allegedly murdering a sergeant in his division. Until his death two weeks ago, the deceased sergeant, Onalaja Onajide, was attached to Ilemba Hausa Division as a station guard.
The DPO had blamed his death on an alleged attack by two dismissed soldiers, Mr. Kehinde Elijah and Eze Joseph, who have since been arrested. The sergeant’s bereaved family, however, had said they were told on good authority that the DPO shot him in cold blood.
Following the furor his death generated, Lagos State Commissioner of Police, Hakeem Odumosu, yesterday ordered that the case be transferred to SCID for investigation. He also ordered the arrest and detention of the DPO, while an investigation is ongoing, including the retrieval of his rifle for forensic examination.
The state police command’s spokesperson, Bala Elkana, a Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP), who confirmed the development, said: “The Commissioner of Police, Lagos State Command, CP Hakeem Odumosu, has ordered the transfer of the case, involving the shooting and killing of Sergeant Onalaja Onajide attached to Ilemba Hausa Division, to the State Criminal Investigation Department, Yaba for discreet investigation.
“This decision followed the reports received by the command alleging (accusing) the Divisional Police Officer Ilemba Hausa, CSP Yahaya Mohammed Adeshina, of shooting the sergeant while dispersing crowds that gathered in front of the station.
“The DPO has been arrested and detained at the State CID for investigation. His rifle has been retrieved for forensic examination. The commissioner has ordered that autopsy be carried out on the deceased person. The CP expressed his heartfelt condolences to the family and friends of the fallen colleague and assured them that the command will stand with them at this moment of grief and ensure that justice prevails.” The command also arrested one Inspector Okoro Charles for shooting and killing one Fatai Oladipupo, a cleric.
Elkana said: “The Inspector is being subjected to internal disciplinary procedures, known as Orderly Room Trial at the State Provost Department and if found guilty, he will be handed over to the State Criminal Investigation Department, Yaba for the prosecution in conventional court. Investigation is ongoing to unravel the circumstances surrounding the shooting incident.
“The Commissioner of Police condoles with the family and friends of the deceased and calls for calm.
He assures them that justice will prevail. Members of the public will be updated on the outcome of the investigation.”
Former Chief of General Staff and de-facto Military Vice President, Lt. Gen. Oladipo Diya, has lost his beloved junior wife, Chief (Mrs) Rebecca Folashade Diya, to Coronavirus; causing members of the household, including General Diya to enter the mandatory 14-day self-isolation.
A press statement released by Olawale Adekoya, Special Adviser (Media & Strategy) to Gen Diya, said the late Mrs. Diya died late Monday night at 66.
“With grief in our hearts but gratitude to Almighty God, we announce the transition onto eternal glory of Chief Mrs. Deborah Folashade Diya (JP), wife of His Excellency, Lt. Gen. Oladipo Diya (Rtd); whose death occurred on Monday, May 18, 2020. She was aged 66.
“Madam Deborah Folashade Diya was preparing and looking forward to her 66th birthday celebration on May 23, 2020 (this week). But as man proposes, God disposes. Six days ago, she took ill and was taken to the hospital, where she took her last breath on Monday, May 18,” the statement read in parts.
According to the statement, the late Otunba Folashade dedicated her life to the emancipation of humanity and service of the Almighty God. “She was a devout Christian, a loyal and dedicated wife, a loving mother, an alluring grandmother and a passionate chorister at United African Methodist (Evangelical) Church, Abule Ijesha, Yaba, Lagos. She was a chorister who sang and danced for the Lord all the way.”
President Muhammadu Buhari has commiserated with Lt. Gen Diya on the death of his wife. A statement on Wednesday by Femi Adesina, Special Adviser on Media to President Buhari, said the President commiserated with Lt. Gen. Diya, praying that the Almighty God will comfort the family.
“The President joins family members, friends and associates of Chief Folashade Diya, particularly members of the United African Methodist (Evangelical) Church, in mourning the devout Christian, who dedicated her time on earth to serving God, and working for the good of others.
“President Buhari affirms that the wife of the former Chief of General Staff lived to encourage and inspire many on faith in God, demonstrating love, kindness and generosity through focus on helping the underprivileged, and counselling many. The President prays that the soul of the departed will find rest in God,” the statement read.
The federal government has announced that it has received a batch of 292 stranded Nigerians from Saudi Arabia. The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, who tweeted from his verified twitter handle, said that the returnees are doing well and have all settled down in hotels for the mandatory 14-day quarantine.
He noted that the evacuees with a large number of nursing mothers and children were flown to Abuja on Tuesday. Onyeama tweeted: “We received 292 evacuees stranded in Saudi Arabia yesterday. The Saudi government transported them to Abuja. A large number are nursing mothers and children and they are all comfortably settled in hotels under the mandatory 14 days quarantine.”
The country had successfully evacuated Nigerians from United Arab Emirate (265); United Kingdom (253) and the United States (160). The latest returnees bring to 970 the total number of stranded Nigerians who have been evacuated.
The anti-graft agency, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, (EFCC) said its attention has been drawn to the antics of some few elements in the social media, employing desperate antics of blackmail, and smear campaigns against the successful war being fought against corrupt practices by the Commission and its courageous Chairman, Ibrahim Magu.
EFCC in a statement yesterday in Abuja by its Spokesperson, Dele Oyewale As a law enforcement agency, disclosed that the EFCC has enough facts about the sponsors of such insidious campaigns, adding that It is an unflattering fact that corruption will always fight back and the Commission was not surprised that such a campaign could be coming from some overseas-based, politically-exposed and disgraced elements being investigated for unnerving acts of corruption.
Oyewale said: “For his courage, consistence and never-say-die spirit, Magu, would undoubtedly, have a tribe of hard critics, cynics and bitter foes. However, it is uncharitable to link him with the ownership of some buildings belonging to other individuals with verifiable addresses. It is even ridiculous to allege that he shied away from being served a fictitious writ of summons over a matter long decided by the Judiciary”
“The Commission finds every unfounded claim against it and its helmsman, as desperate backlash from disreputable elements suffering its uncompromising works against corrupt practices. We are not worried about such retrograde moves. Members of the public only need to ignore tendencies aimed at blackmailing the EFCC and its workforce”
“Lastly, the Commission is on the trail of all the blackmailers and paid agents of darkness armed against it. Massive investigations of the platforms being used and their promoters have commenced. Facts about their operations shall be made known to the public and outcome of investigations being carried out shall also be released to the public. Appropriate legal actions are also being taken against bloggers and their promoters embarking on a campaign of calumny against the Commission”
“The EFCC, its helmsman and entire workforce would not be dismayed or distracted in any way. The task of fighting corruption is sacrosanct and no reactionary antics of detractors will succeed against the Commission.”
A former director general of the Nigerian Institute of Advanced Legal Studies, Prof. Epiphany Azinge (SAN), has served a notice of class action against the National Health Commission of the Peoples Republic of China, demanding the immediate payment of $200billion (N80 trillion) as the compensation for the spread of Coronavirus to Nigerians.
The professor of law, in a letter addressed to the minister, Chinese Health Commission in Beijing and dated May 18, 2020, said the demand was on behalf of Nigerians who were injured and adversely affected by the coronavirus pandemic that broke out in Wuhan, China.
According to the senior advocate, the commission has within the next 14 days to effect the payment, adding that failure to so do by June 1, 2020, his firm would commence appropriate legal action against them in Nigeria without further notice.
“Our clients and the peoples of Nigeria and elsewhere have, in consequence of the situation, been forced to commit scarce resources in combatting the COVID-19 pandemic. With the completely paralysed economic situation in the country, Nigeria has been losing $2.7billion worth of business daily with no sign of possible recovery, affecting the ports, oil and gas, markets, transportation (land sea and air), stock trading, services, ports, among others. Our clients and the citizens of Nigeria have suffered greatly.
“Various palliative measures are being undertaken through cash transfers, food supplies, and so on, funded through further external borrowings and more. All these have adversely affected the welfare of our clients.
“Be informed, therefore, that this letter serves as a notice to bring to your attention, that as a result of the stated injuries suffered by our clients, we demand the payment of the said $200 billion within the next 14 days from the receipt of this letter by you/your office and through the embassy of China in Nigeria,” Azinge declared.
According to the lawyer, the Wuhan Institute of Virology is administered by the Chinese Academy of Science and also accountable to the Chinese Centre for Disease Control and Prevention; all of which are subordinate agencies to the National Health Commission. In consequence, he said, the conduct of the institute is attributable to the government of China.
His words: “China owes other nations a duty of care not to cause injuries to their interest or embark on acts likely to cause them harm like the COVID-19. Also, China is a signatory of several international protocols and conventions prohibiting wrongful acts likely to cause harm, disaster or loss of lives. The conduct of the institute and consequently China demonstrates gross negligence and wrongful conduct. The instrument binding states, which is the Responsibility of States for Internationally Wrongful Acts 2001 provides in article one ‘that every international wrongful act of a state entails the inter-national responsibility of the state’”.