​Water Sanitation: Nutrition Committee lauds Kaduna RUWASSA

By Habila Victor, Kaduna

The Kaduna State Committee on Food and Nutrition (SCFN) has commended the state’s Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Agency (RUWASSA), for improving water and sanitation services in rural communities.

The SCFN gave the commendation when its members, supported by Civil Society-Scaling Up Nutrition in Nigeria (CS-SUNN) visited the Director-General of the agency, Mr Ahmed Munir in Kaduna.   
Malam Salisu Lawal, Director, Development Aid Coordination, Planning and Budget Commission, who led the delegation, described Kaduna RUWASSA as one of the “strongest pillars” of the committee.

Lawal explained that the major challenge affecting nutrition intervention in the state was the absence of a nutrition budget line in relevant ministries, departments, and agencies.

He pointed out that Kaduna RUWASSA not only has a nutrition budget line, but also records outstanding budget performance over the years, adding that access to water, sanitation and hygiene ensures a better impact of programmes designed to combat malnutrition.

“We are aware of your feats in providing water, sanitation and hygiene facilities in rural communities which is significantly helping in winning the war against Open Defecation (ODF) and malnutrition. We are here to say thank you and encourage you to continue with the good work.”

Also reacting, Ms Jessica Bartholomew, the Coordinator of CS-SUNN in the state, said that the visit was to further strengthen partnership and collaboration in addressing the scourge of malnutrition in the state.

Bartholomew pointed out that CS-SUNN recent budget tracking of nutrition interventions in the state showed that Kaduna RUWASSA was the only agency that recorded 94 per cent budget performance.

“This is commendable, and we want you to continue to do more,” she said.

CS-SUNN’s Chairman, Mr Ifedilichuku Ekene-Innocent, described the feat as very “encouraging”, adding that access to water, sanitation and hygiene facilities was key to ending malnutrition in rural communities.

“I am particularly impressed with your commitment to ending open defecation in rural communities and ensuring access to water and sanitation facilities.
“For us, this is key in improving the indices of malnutrition in Kaduna State and I urged you to continue with this laudable commitment,” he said.   

Responding, the D-G, who was represented by the Director, Sanitation and Hygiene, Mr Zubairu Abdulkareem, thanked the committee for acknowledging the efforts of the agency.

Munir said that the agency was doing all that it can to eliminate open defecation in the state by 2023 ahead of the national target of 2025.

He said that Jaba Local Government Area (LGA) and 3,500 communities across the state have been certified open defecation free, adding that three other LGAs would also be certified by the end of February.

EFCC urges court not to vacate order against Maina

Counsel to the EFCC, Mohammed Abubakar, told Justice Okon Abang to reject Maina’s request on the ground that it was made to delay justice in his trial.

The ex-pension reformed boss had, in an interlocutory injunction motion dated Feb. 9 and filed Feb. 10, urged the court to set aside its Nov. 18 order that his trial should proceed in absentia.

Recall that after Maina jumped bail, the court, on Nov. 18, 2020, revoked his bail and ordered his arrest anywhere he was found.

The court also granted the EFCC’s request that his trial in the fraud charges be conducted in his absence.

After his arrest and subsequent production in court on Dec. 4, 2020, Justice Abang again made an order that Maina be remanded in prison until the hearing and final determination of his matter.

However, Maina, in separate applications, applied for a bail on medical ground and for the setting aside of the order for his trial to continue in his absence.

At the resumed hearing of Maina’s interlocutory injunction, his counsel, Anayo Adibe, said though his client was not in court, the motion could be heard in his (Maina’s) absence in line with Section 266(b) of Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA), 2015.

The EFCC’s lawyer, Abubakar, did not disagree with Adibe.

Moving the motion, Adibe said he sought the order of the court setting aside the earlier order that the trial should continue in Maina’s absence.

He said the request was a very harmless application because the order sought to be set aside was one that ordinarily should lapse.

”The reason for our bringing this application is that the 1st defendant (Maina) having been rearrested, the order that the trial continues in his absence should lapse.

“This is so because it has been overtaken by event and as such, the legal essence of this application is to bring the proceedings of the court going forward within the parameters of the Provision of Section 36 of the constitution,” he said.

The lawyer said that was why he did not asked that the court should set aside previous proceedings in Maina’s trial.

Adibe said the application brought asking the court to recall the EFCC’s witnesses, who had testified before he took over the case, was withdrawn.

“That is why we submit that setting aside of the order sought to be set aside should take effect from the day it was set aside; the day the application was made,” he said.

The lawyer, who said Abubakar misconstrued the purpose of the application, urged the court to grant his request in the interest of justice.

But Abubakar, who informed the court that an 8-paragraph counter affidavit dated Feb. 22 was filed alongside other processes, urged the court not to grant the plea.

He argued that the further affidavit filed by Maina and his reply on point of law had all confirmed the anti-corruption agency’s depositions in the counter affidavit.

But this is not what this motion is praying for and not what the ground no 1 upon which the relief is made.

He said Maina’s prayer in the motion paper asking the court to set aside the order made was at variance with his lawyer’s argument.

“I submit that on the face of the motion paper, the 1st defendant applicant (Maina) is praying the court to set aside the order made to hear the case of Maina in absentia.

“Granting the prayer is tantamount to setting aside all the proceedings conducted by this court in the absence of 1st defendant applicant,” he said.

Abubakar, who reminded that on Dec. 10, 2020, Maina feigned illness before the court, said if the Nov. 18 order subsisted, it would ensure that his trial was not stalled in such circumstance.

“On Dec. 10 in the course of proceeding, Maina feigned illness and stage a drama before the court.

“In such circumstances similar to what happened, the order of the court made on Nov 18 will still be useful so that the matter can proceed in his absence by virtue of the subsisting order of Nov. 18,” he said.

The EFCC lawyer further said that Maina’s first relief that the court should vacate its order that he be kept in prison pending the hearing and final determination of the matter was an abuse of court process.

“Such relief is incompetent; the 1st defendant having filed a motion for bail and argued before this court which application has been adjourned for ruling,” he said.

But Adibe urged the court to discountenance all arguments by Abubakar.

“I want to draw the attention of the court to Section 352 of ACJA Subsection 4. It is the foundation upon which the order sought to be set aside was made.

“The principal word in that provision is the absence of the defendant. But the defendant is no longer absent and as such, the order should lapse.

“We also submit that the submission of Abubakar as to setting aside, varying or discharging an order are all semantics.

“The court is a court of justice, not a court of technicalities,” he said.

Adibe, who said what happened on Dec. 10, 2020 when Maina slumped in the court was factual, prayed the court to disregard Abubakar’s submission.

“We urge your lordship to strike out his submission as it relates with the quote of the drama that played out in 2020.

“Whatever happened in 2020 was factual. if he wants to make claim on that he should depose to affidavit.

“His failure to do that render that submission as untenable and should be discountenance by the court

“Finally, prayer four on our motion paper is an omnibus prayer which gives the court the power to make appropriate order based on every case present before the court,” he said.

Justice Abang, who adjourned until Feb. 25, said a ruling would be delivered on all the three applications, including the bail plea, filed by Maina.

NAN reports that Maina had, on Jan. 20, approached Justice Abang for another bail after his arrest for jumping the first bail.

Maina, in a motion on notice dated and filed on Dec. 24, 2020 brought by one of his lawyer, Anayo Adibe, said the application became necessary over his worsening health condition.

In the motion, the ex-pension boss told the court that he had reasonable and responsible sureties who were willing to act as sureties if granted bail.

​COVID-19 vaccines safe for Nigerians – PSN

The Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria, PSN, on Wednesday declared that given the scientific evidence available at their disposal as well as professional competence in the science and technology of vaccines formulation protocol that COVID-19 vaccines are safe for Nigerians.

They also decried that even with the availability of funds and infrastructure Nigeria cannot produce vaccines due to the non-passage of the Pharmacy Bill into law. .

Addressing a press conference on the Rollout of COVID-19 Vaccines in Lagos, the President of the Society, Pharm Sam Ohuabunwa called for caution in the use of Ivermectin in the treatment of COVID-19.

Ohuabunwa who dismissed various conspiracy theories against the vaccines urged Nigerians to accept the vaccines when they become available.

“With our avowed responsibility to diligently nest medication safety of Nigerians, we make bold to say that the vaccines are safe and should be accepted when they become available to us.

“Vaccination has remained a veritable tool for disease prevention, control and possible elimination. For example, Nigeria, in August 2020 eradicated polio through effective vaccination. We should be proud that some Nigerians are involved in the development of the vaccines to save humanity from this dreaded disease.”

Represented by the National Publicity Secretary, Pharm. Ijeoma Okey-Ewurum, he pointed out that vaccination should be seen as public health good and should be delivered to all nooks and crannies of Nigeria.

Noting that the place of pharmacists who are the custodian of drugs was fundamental, he said participation of pharmacists must be secured to ensure the effectiveness of the vaccinations and generation of data for much needed local vaccine research.

He called for the filling up of funding gap in vaccine capacity building, enforcement of COVID-19 protocols even as vaccinations begins, strengthening the health system and infrastructure and improved budget allocation, as well as better management of COVID-19 palliatives in all states as well as considering community pharmacies as vaccination centres to reach a larger number of Nigerians within the shortest period of time.

He also pointed out that the COVID-19 experience which led countries including China to ban exportation of essential medicines should provoke the country to a resolution to make Nigeria a hub for active pharmaceutical ingredients and the revamping of abandoned vaccine plant.

“COVID-19 remains an emerging infectious disease. We must arise to make sure that another pandemic does not take us unawares. A multi-sectoral approach should be key to mobilising the stakeholders towards sustainable solutions that will put Nigeria on the path of medicines security, economic recovery and development.”

Speaking on Ivermectin, Ohuabunwa appealed to health professionals and Nigerians at large to exercise caution in the use of the drug for non approved indications such as COVID-19 as every drug is a poison and can cause under-reported side effect or adverse events especially when used for new indications with different dosing regimen.

“Ivermectin is a drug that has been around but what we are worried about is the protocol that is being proposed for even prophylaxis in COVID-19. In fact, the one that is being forward as curative is beyond what human beings can tolerate as of today. That is why Pharmacists have continued to scream it at every point because we are the custodians of drugs and we understand the chemistry of these drugs. We know what they do.

“We are also looking at the long time effect because as of today, there is no finished line. It is being taunted because nothing has been established. Some trials showed that the recovery period was shorter but it has not been reproduced here and no extensive study has been done, also COVID-19 is a viral infection which if you treat it, it takes two weeks if you don’t treat it, it takes a fortnight. If the immune system is working, people can recover on their own. Until we do our study in our environment we do not support people going to take ivermectin. Right now, it is being recommended that people should take every week or two weeks, no agreement as at today.

“The first instance is that this medication is proposed for a very short time therapy. You take it for two days in a period of a year or two years. This is now what people take every week or two. That is why Pharmacists are insisting that we must have empirical evidence before we can say yes to this.

Speaking on Vaccine production, he said Nigeria cannot produce vaccine currently due to the absence of a Pharmacy Law.

Ohuabunwa said Nigeria cannot do much about vaccine protocol until the pharmacy bill is signed into law. He said the Bill will enable NAFDAC to do the due diligence adding that. Most drugs produced in the country cannot ship abroad due to the absence of pharmacy law.

Corroborating his views, the National Secretary, Pharm. Olugbenga Falabi explained that the last assembly actually passed the Bill but it failed to receive the President assent, adding that the Bill has been represented all over again.

“We plead to Nigerians and the members of the National Assembly to see the need to do their work all over again. We also hope the Bill will receive the President’s assent before his tenure elapsed.”