Fed Govt fears surge in cases as schools, businesses reopen

THE Federal Government has expressed worries of a likely surge in the number of COVID-19 cases, as schools and businesses reopen.

It, therefore, urged states to scale up surveillance and review response plan to integrate new ways to deal with the disease. It also urged state governments to ramp up sample and testing in their respective states.

Also, the Nigeria Institute of Medical Research (NIMR) has developed a molecular test for COVID-19, which can give results in less than 40 minutes. It is ten times cheaper than a PCR test, and can be used by low skilled personnel with minimum training.

The Minister of State for Health, Dr. Adeleke Mamora, stated this during the Presidential Task Force briefing yesterday in Abuja.

He said: “The number of active cases has continued to drop as we revise our discharge criteria in line with new knowledge of the disease, even as we continue to strengthen our case management pillar to provide effective and efficient quality care to all those who test positive whether they are in our facilities or home care.

“As business and schools begin to open and as travels begin to pick up, we fear that we may have a surge in the number of cases unless we scale up surveillance and review our response plan to integrate new ways to deal with the disease.

“I shall again renew my appeal to state government to continue to ensure that we step up case findings, sample collection and testing. It is only by testing that we can identify those with the infection for isolation and treatment. This is the only way we can truly halt the spread of the disease and confirm that we have actually contained the pandemic.”

EFCC: No regret over my appointment as probe chair, says Salami

THERE is no regrets accepting to serve as Chairman of the Judicial Commission of Inquiry on the activities of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Justice Isa Ayo Salami said yesterday.
The former President of the Court of Appeal said he has handled more complex cases than that of the EFCC, stating that no one can dampen his spirit with propaganda.

Justice Salami said the panel will do a thorough investigation of the allegations against the suspended acting EFCC Chairman, Mr. Ibrahim Magu.

Speaking for the first time on the ongoing probe, Justice Salami said he and members of the panel will discharge their duties conscientiously.

He made the clarifications in a statement in Abuja against the backdrop of some purported comments that he regretted taking up the job.

He said the false reports were aimed at causing mischief and tarnishing his hard-earned reputation and integrity.

Justice Salami said: “My attention has been drawn to the false and mischievous reports circulating in the media about my purported regrets as Chairman of the Judicial Commission of Inquiry investigating the suspended Acting Chairman of the EFCC, Ibrahim Magu.

“Ordinarily, I would not have dignified the purveyors of this falsehood with any form of rebuttal, but the need to put the records straight and expose their barefaced lies has necessitated my response.

“No claims can be further from the truth than the outright falsehood contained in the said report.

“The reports were a figment of the wild imagination of the reporter, the two lawyers quoted as his sources and the medium that published the story.

“There was no time anything near the unthinkable scenario painted in the false story occurred in any meeting between myself and the lawyers to Magu or any other person, for that matter, since the Judicial Commission of Inquiry began its sittings.

“I have no cause to express any regret over my chairmanship of the commission, not to talk of betraying any form of emotion before anyone about it. I see my appointment to serve as the chairman of the Commission of Inquiry as an honour and call to service, thus my decision to accept diligently and patriotically discharge this responsibility.

“I have never appointed any of the two lawyers or any other person(s) to speak on my behalf as I can express myself without recourse to the lawyers of the person we are probing.

“As an eminent jurist, who retired as the President of the Court of Appeal, I have handled much more complex cases than the current one before the Commission.

“There is no doubt that the false reports were aimed at causing mischief and tarnishing my hard-earned reputation and integrity.”

He restated his determination to conduct a fair probe.

He added: “I remain resolute and committed to the service of the nation and ready to champion the ideals of justice and fairness.

”I want to point out that such wild claims against me and the Commission are not strange to me, given the manner in which the lawyers to Magu have been carrying on in the conduct of their client’s case before the Commission.

“Planting such lies in the media about proceedings at the panel has been their pastime. They believe that it is by engaging in such media propaganda against the commission that their client can be easily absolved of the various allegations that have been brought against him.

“I want to state here that these type of lies and blackmail will not deter me and other members of the Commission from discharging our duty conscientiously.

“I urge Nigerians to disregard the falsehood contained in the viral reports. No amount of propaganda can dampen my spirit and that of the members of the commission.

“I also want to assure Nigerians that the Judicial the Commission of Inquiry which I chair, will continue with its thorough investigation of the allegations against the suspended acting EFCC chairman with a view to unearthing the truth and ensuring justice is manifestly done.

“The Nigerian press is hereby implored to respect and uphold the sanctity of the tenets of ethical journalism practice of verification of information, balancing reports and contacting appropriate sources before publishing their reports in the spirit of patriotism and national interest.”

Dr. Abdul Steps in as SDP National Chair ……as Prof. Adeniran Disengages

Dr. Abdul Ahmed has taken over as the National Chairman of the Social Democratic Party, (SDP), follow Prof. Tunde Adeniran disengagement from office.This was contained in a statement signed National Press Secretary, of the Party Ambassador Rufis B. Aiyenigba.The statement stated that Prof. Adeniran who was a former Minister of Education and Nigerian Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to Germany, announced the decision to the party at the sitting of the National Working Committee (NWC) on 29th September, 2020 in Abuja.The former National Chairman who is 75 years old said the decision was largely influenced by his family members who have desired over time that he stepped out of partisan politics.”In line with the provisions of Article 13 of the constitution of the party, Dr. Olu Agunloye, the Deputy National Chairman (South) who is from his zone and in the position to step in going by the provisions of the constitution was said not to be amenable to assuming the position”As such, Dr. Abdul Ahmed Isiaq, the Deputy National Chairman (North) has stepped in as the new Acting National Chairman of the party, pending necessary ratification by the National Executive Committee (NEC) and the next National Convention of the party.”The decision of the the former National Chairman has been duly communicated to INEC.”The former Chairman promised to continue to cherish and promote the vision of the party for a greater and egalitarian Nigerian society and to always support and wish the party well and to continue in promoting the true interest of Nigeria in his new satus as an elder statesman.Members of the NWC of the party congratulated him on his birthday and appreciated him for his great service and remarkable contributions to the party during his time as National Chairman. They also wished him well in his future endeavours.

N2.67bn school feeding funds found in private accounts –ICPC

The Chairman , Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission , Prof. Bolaji Owasanoye, says the agency has discovered N 2. 67bn meant for the school feeding programme in private accounts .

The agency, he added , also found over N 2. 5bn diverted by a deceased worker with the ministry of agriculture, noting that 18 buildings , 12 business premises and 25 plots of land , were also recovered in the ministry .

Owasanoye disclosed this in Abuja on Monday at the second National Summit on Diminishing Corruption in the Public Sector, which was organised in collaboration with the Office of the Secretary of the Government of the Federation .

The summit with the theme , ‘ Together against corruption’ , also included the launch of the National Ethics and Integrity Policy.

He said under the Open Treasury Portal review carried out between January and August 15, 2020, 72 out of 268 ministries , departments and agencies had cumulative infractions of N 90m .

According to him , while 33 MDAs explained that N 4. 1bn was transferred to sub-Treasury Single Account , N 4. 2bn paid to individuals had no satisfactory explanations .

He stated , “ We observed that transfers to sub-TSA were to prevent disbursement from being monitored. Nevertheless , we discovered payments to some federal colleges for school feeding in the sum of N 2. 67bn during lockdown when the children are not in school, and some of the money ended up in personal accounts . ”

The ICPC chairman also said under its 2020 constituency and executive projects tracking initiative, 722 projects with a threshold of N 100m ( 490 ZIP and 232 executive) were tracked across 16 states .

FG plans flood control project in Kaduna

The federal government has plans to establish flood control project in Kaduna to protect residents who battle with flood annually losing farmlands and properties whenever River Kaduna overflows it’s banks after heavy rainfalls.

This is just as Kaduna state government raised alarm over threats of pollution to River Kaduna as a result of human activities such as dumping of solid, faecal and industrial wastes, which have negative effects on purity of the river and marine lives that live in it. 

Kaduna state in recent years has suffered spates of floods leading to loss of lives, properties including houses, crops and even farmlands, but succour seems to be on the way following Federal Government’s plan to build flood walls around River Kaduna to protect the people and their properties, according to the Acting Director, National Water Resources Institute, Dr. Martin Edufie. 

Addressing the 2020 World Rivers Day on Monday in Kaduna with the theme: ‘Waterways in our Communities’, Edufie said the federal government’s plan was based on yearly study on flood in Kaduna state. 
“Very soon we are going to have a flood control project in Kaduna. We are going to have flood walls on both banks of River Kaduna to protect the people. 
“This is a result of our yearly study on flood in Kaduna state. Every year we study the flood in Kaduna and submit our report to our Minister. The Minister has taken steps to address the challenge. People are encroaching flood lane, we need to respect the waterways and ensure quality of water. Water serves several purposes. World River Day started in 2005, every fourth Sunday of September to highlight the importance of rivers,” he said.

Kaduna state Commissioner for Public Works and Infrastructure, Hajiya Balaraba Aliyu Inuwa, who was represented by the Permanent Secretary, Alhaji Bashir Umar Lere, decried river pollution and climate change as challenges facing river development. “The other major challenge is climate change and its pursuant effects. Climate change is having a multitude of immediate and longterm impacts on water resources across the world.

“These include flooding, drought, sea level rise in estuaries, drying up of rivers, poor water quality in surface and groundwater system. Even here in Kaduna, we are experiencing excessive rainfall which leads to flooding and damage to life and property across the city. The solution pivots on taking urgent action to utilise science technology and innovation policies relevant to water audit and management.”  

The Managing Director, Kaduna State Water Corporation, Malam Sanusi Maikudi, in his remarks, said, “We should respect river because it is source of employment, food, economic and recreation. It is time to start dredging river to make them navigable and improve water transportation.”

NYSC Working In Harmony With PTF To Reopen Orientation Camps – DG

The Director-General, National Youth Service Corps (NYSC), Brigadier-General Shuaibu Ibrahim has assured young Nigerians eagerly waiting to be mobilized for the National Service to exercise patience.

According to the DG, efforts are ongoing with the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 on safe Orientation Camp resumption, saying that NYSC is on the verge of reopening the camps.

Brigadier-General Ibrahim, in a statement on the official Facebook of the scheme, conveyed his deepest appreciation to all  Prospective Corps Members (PCMs) who have been at home in the past six months, waiting to be mobilised to the NYSC Orientation Camps nationwide for the commencement of the national service.

The DG said, “It is very important to state that nobody anticipated the sad disruption of the operations of the Scheme, and other national programmes arising from COVID-19,  a global challenge threatening over two hundred countries.

“The long period of waiting, no doubt has been quite challenging and frustrating as it seemingly constitutes a big drawback to all your planned actions for the year.

Abducted ex-ambassador freed after N11m ransom

Former ambassador to Venezuela, Senator Felix Oboro, has been freed by his abductors after 23 days in captivity.
His family said they paid N11 million to the kidnappers before they released him on Saturday.

Oboro is a one-time Secretary to the Bayelsa State Government (SSG) as well as a former Senator who represented Bayelsa West Senatorial district and currently a chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Bayelsa State.

He was kidnapped on Friday, September 4, 2020 at his hometown, Elemebiri in Sagbama Local Government Area of the state.

It was learnt that gunmen numbering about 15 stormed his residence, 24 hours after he returned to the community.

The kidnappers, who were said to be dressed in army uniforms, shot into the air before whisking him away.

It was gathered that the kidnappers, after abducting him, saw a bank alert balance of over N5m in his account and demanded a ransom payment of N50m which they later reduced to N11m.

A stepson of the former envoy, Tuebi Sapre-Obi, confirmed Oboro’s release on Saturday, saying that a three-man delegation of family members travelled on boat to drop the N11m ransom demanded by the gunmen.

Sapre-Obi said “contrary to the expectation of the family, Father (Felix Oboro) is strong and in a healthy state. When the news of his release came, everyone was happy and jubilating.”

Reacting to the development, a former Secretary of the Civil Liberties Organisation (CLO), Comrade Morris Alagoa and the National spokesman for the Ijaw Youth Council Worldwide, (IYC), Comrade Ebilade Eerekefe, condemned the abduction of the elder statesman.

They called on the security agencies to ensure the arrest of those who whisked him away.

Alagoa described the abduction and release of Ambassador Oboro as a very sad commentary.

Ekerefe on his part expressed concern over the development and condemned the abduction of Oboro, describing him as as a well-respected Ijaw leader and an elders statesman who had served the Ijaw nation and Nigeria in different capacities.

He stated: “It’s quite unfortunate that he was treated unfairly by his abductors. He does not deserve the kind of treatment he’s going through considering his health challenges as an elderly man.

“The IYC will beef up its intelligence gathering system within the clans to support the security agencies’ effort at bringing the kidnappers to book.”

The Bayelsa State Police Command led by CP Mike Okoli were said to have arrested possible suspects in Imo and Bayelsa states following phone calls kidnappers after tracking Felix Oboro’s number.

But the two suspects from Owerri and Yenagoa were said to have been released after interrogation showed they were mistakenly telephoned by the kidnappers.

The police command in the state had a few days ago, through its spokesman, SP Asinim Butswat, assured Oboro’s family of his safe return, saying CP Okoli was on top of the matter to ensure freedom for Oboro.

Obaseki: we will do more in second term

Edo State Governor Godwin Obaseki has assured the people that he and his deputy, Philip Shaibu, will perform better in their second term than they are doing in the first term.

He said his administration will work for peace to pave the way for greater development of the state.

Obaseki spoke yesterday at Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium in Benin, then state capital, during the thanksgiving service organised by the state chapter of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) for him and Shaibu.

He said: “The victory is to show us that we must continue to do what we have been doing through sacrifice and service. God willing, we will do more than we did in our first term.

“We will continue to do things that will be pleasing in the sight of God and the people of our great state. I also assure everyone that we will work to create peace and harmony, without which we cannot continue to develop our state.”

NLC, TUC suspend nationwide protest fixed for today

The two major labour groups in Nigeria have suspended their planned nationwide protest scheduled to hold today.

The Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) and Trade Union Congress (TUC) had scheduled September 28 for a nationwide rally to protest increases in the prices of petrol and electricity.

They suspended the strike and rally after a late-night meeting with a federal government team at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

They also resolved to review their decision in another two weeks to see if their agreement with the government is being complied with.

The suspension of the protest was announced by the minister of labour and employment, Chris Ngige, and contained in a communiqué signed by all the parties involved in the meeting which ended in the early hours of Monday.Mr Ngige said the unions decided to suspend the strike after fruitful deliberation.

“Consequently, the NLC and TUC agreed to suspend the planned industrial action,” he said.

Speaking on the electricity tariff, Mr Ngige said the parties agreed to set up a Technical Committee comprising Ministries, Departments and Agencies of government as well as the NLC and TUC, which will work for a duration of two weeks from today.

He said the responsibility of the committee is to examine the justifications for the new policy in view of the need for the validation of the basis for the new cost-reflective tariff as a result of conflicting information from the field.

#BBNaijaFinale: Laycon emerges winner of BBNaija lockdown edition 2020

Big brother Naija housemate and top finalist, Olamilekan Agbeleshe, popularly known as Laycon has emerged the winner of the Lockdown edition 2020.

Laycon was declared the winner of the 2020 lockdown edition of the show on Sunday after he beat other housemates with the highest number of votes from viewers.

Fellow housemate, Dorathy, emerged the 1st runner up while Nengi was declared the 2nd runner up.

Laycon led by 60 per cent votes followed by Dorathy with 21.85 per cent votes. However, Nengi had 15.03 per cent votes while Neo and Vee had 1.94 per cent and 1.18 per cent votes, respectively.

Many celebrities such as Eniola Badmus, Nkechi Blessing, Samklef, Odunlade Adekola, Broda Shaggi, Anita Joseph, Toyin Lawani, Yul Edochie, Reminisce, Small Doctor, Yvonne Jegede, Teni D Entertainer, Vector, Niniola, Di’Ja, DJ Nana, Ice Prince, Timi Dakolo, Joeboy, Stephanie Coker, Seyi Edun, Woli Agba and Funmi Awelewa all rooted for Laycon

Not being left behind are the youths in Ogun State, who on Thursday, staged a walk around Abeokuta, the state capital to drum support for Laycon.

The youths walked for about four hours; across major streets and markets in the state capital with a banner with an inscription “Ogun Youths Walk For Laycon,” gave away free recharge cards to passers-by for voting in support of the housemate.

The breakdown of the grand prize for BBNaija season five lockdown edition includes N30 million cash prize; a two-bedroom apartment courtesy Revolution Plus; a top of the range SUV from Nigerian automaker, Innoson Motors; a trip to Dublin courtesy Guinness; home appliances courtesy Scanfrost.

Others are a trip to Dubai packaged by Travelbeta; a year’s supply of Indomie noodles, Munch it, and Colgate toothpaste; a year’s supply of Pepsi, a branded chiller, trip to watch the UEFA Champions League finale; and a brand new Oppo mobile smartphone.

Last year, the BBNaija winner, Mercy Eke, won N30 million prize money, as well as other mouth-watering gifts.

The Chief Executive Officer, MultiChoice Nigeria, John Ugbe during the unveiling of the BBNaija lockdown edition said, “The fifth season of BBNaija marks a major milestone in the reality TV series. We are making this season significant by not only increasing the winnings but also implementing other creative and innovative ways to ensure the show lives up to the premium entertainment especially during the current pandemic.”