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Monday, May 27, 2024

Nigerian newspapers headlines Tuesday morning

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COVID-19: IGP unveils new operational guidelines for police, security agencies [Sun]

The Inspector- General of Police (IGP),  Mohammed Adamu, has unveiled a new operational guideline for the police and other law enforcement agencies to curb the rising cases of rape, domestic violence, child molestation and incidents gender-based violence in the country.

The IGP, said the operational guidelines have become necessary as it would help coordinate and reshape the conducts of personnel of the police and other law enforcement agencies on the front line of operations in the enforcement of the COVID-19 prevention orders.

Adamu , said it would also serve as a standard code of conduct for police officers in similar operations in the future. Adamu, made this known at the official unveiling of  COVID-19 Guidelines / Protocols for Law Enforcement Officers at the Force Headquarters in Abuja.

While noting that the gesture was part of measures put in place to foster a harmonious relationship between the police and members of the public, Adamu said it is also aimed at deepening  respect for the rights of citizens, providing a new set of policing tools for tackling emerging crimes like domestic violence, rape, child molestation and other incidents of Gender-Based Violence (GBV).

Adamu,who lamented the rising cases in domestic violence, rape, defilement, cybercrime etc linked with the COVID-19 restrictions, said: “These unfortunate incidents have prompted the introduction of this operational guidelines which will help to adequately coordinate and reshape the conducts of personnel of the Force and other law enforcement agencies on the front line of operations in the enforcement of the COVID-19 prevention orders.”

He said he had ordered for the strengthening of the Gender-Desk Units and the Juvenile Welfare Centres (JWCs) across the country and deployed more investigative personnel to deal with gender related offences.

He further stated that the Cybercrime Unit of the Force had also been strengthened to deal with cybercrime connected with the COVID-19 pandemic, just as he directed the Assistant Inspectors General of Police and Commissioners of Police in zonal and state commands as well as heads of police departments/formations to make the guidelines subject of departmental briefings and lectures. The operational guidelines will also serve as a training manual in all police training institutions.

He  equally charged the Force Provost Department, the X-Squad, the Force Public Relations Department, the Complaint Response Unit and the Public Complaint Bureau to carry out their oversight roles of adequate evaluation and monitoring of officers to ensure compliance with the guidelines and bring erring personnel to book.


Edo APC primary: Court hears legal argument Thursday [Sun]

Federal High Court sitting in Benin, yesterday, adjourned legal arguments on an ex parte motion, seeking to restrain the National Working Committee (NWC) of the All Progressives Congress and the party’s National Chairman, Adams Oshiomhole, from using direct primary to elect Edo State governorship candidate of the party, till Thursday.

The court adjourned the matter yesterday to allow the parties in the suit to be served the relevant papers.

Joined in the suit, is the Independent National Electoral  Commission (INEC).

The presiding judge, Justice M. G. Umar, had earlier adjourned hearing of the motion to yesterday, following an argument that ensued after counsel to the defendants, led by H. O. Ogbodu (SAN), appeared in court and demanded to be served the motion papers.

Consequently, Justice Umar declined to grant the ex parte motion but instead gave the defendants three days to file their papers to show cause why the injunction should not be granted and adjourned the case till yesterday.

Factional state deputy chairman of the APC, Kenneth Asekomhe and a governorship aspirant of the party, Matthew Iduoriyekemwen, had approached the court to restrain the party from adopting the direct mode of primary.


Appointments, deployments in NNPC lopsided –PANDEF [Sun]

The Pan-Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF) has raised the alarm over lopsided appointments and deployments at the top management level of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) against persons from the southern part of the country.

Reacting to an article published by a national newspaper on Friday, June 5 that appointments in the state-oil firm were fair, the group in a statement by its spokesperson,  Ken Robinson said such a view was  “an upsetting gratuitous contrivance of fallacy.”

“It is preposterous that the author of the said article and his sponsors would have the boldface and temerity to assert that appointments and deployments are fair and just in that  the North West and North East zones have 13 and 12 top management positions, respectively. The glaringly evident message is that just about all the prime positions of the NNPC are beyond the competence of staff of South South, South West and South East geopolitical zones origin and in the entire oil and gas Industry from which to poach Nigerians of competence into the soul of national economy,” Robinson said.

PANDEF queried the criterion used in appointments such that no southerner was occupying core management positions as Group Managing Director; Chief Finance Officer; Chief Operating Officer,Gas and Power; Chief Operating Officer, Corporate Services; Chief Operating Officer, Refining and Petrochemicals and Corporate Secretary to the Corporation and Legal Adviser.

“The South South, which accounts for about 95 per cent of the country’s oil and gas reportedly occupies only 12 lower level management positions,” the group said.

It also expressed the worry that all NNPC strategic subsidiaries, departments and divisions were headed by persons from two of the six geopolitical zones,  including  National Petroleum Investment Management Services (NAPIMS), Pipelines and Product Marketing Company (PPMC), Nigeria Petroleum Development Company (NPDC),

NNPC Trading Company, Nigeria Gas Marketing Company, Nigeria Gas and Power Investment Company,  and Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR).

“Do the northern zones share in the ecological devastation that the Niger Delta Region continues to suffer day and night?”

The group said the South South had only one member in the NNPC Board as Minister of State for Petroleum, Chief Timipre Sylva, “only sits on Board at the discretion of President Buhari who has continued to allocate to himself the position of Petroleum Minister.”

PANDEF said the NNPC Act of 1977 provides that the Board of Directors of the Corporation shall consist of six members, but “President Buhari has continued to violate the Act by appointing six other members to the Board making it nine.”


COVID-19 caused 592 deaths in Kano, says FG [Sun]

More than 50 per cent of the “mysterious” deaths recorded in Kano in April may have been triggered by undetected COVID-19.

Minister of Health, Osagie Ehanire, who made the disclosure at the daily briefing of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 in Abuja, yesterday, said the discovery was contained in the report of the ministerial task team sent to Kano to support the state’s COVID-19 response with commodities, training, technical and confidence building measures.

He said the report confirmed that 979 deaths were recorded in eight municipal areas and the peak was in the second week of April.

He also confirmed that “by the beginning of May, the death rate reduced to 11 per day. The verbal autopsy revealed that about 56 per cent of deaths had occurred at home while 38 per cent were in a hospital. Most fatalities were over 65 years of age.”

Ehanire affirmed that the ministerial task team extended its fact-finding visit to five other states to offer support and training.

“With the observations and recommendations from the three-week assignment, the committee developed a Strategic Incident Action Plan to strengthen coordination capacity of the health workers and improve community engagement in line with our response plan,” he said.

He also confirmed that, “while over 150 health workers had been infected at the time of the arrival of the team, there was no report of infection among health workers who had received training on infection prevention and control, thus restoring confidence.

“Evidently, the intervention of the ministerial task force was a huge game changer for Kano and some northern states.”

FG announces new protocols, makes u-turn on home care

The Federal Government also announced new protocols for evacuating Nigerians stranded abroad as a result of the  pandemic.

FG had on May 27 suspended all evacuations of Nigerians stranded abroad over the COVID-19 pandemic pending when new protocols on testing will be in place.

The National Coordinator, Dr. Sani Aliyu, who announced the new protocols said Nigerians returning home will be required to undergo polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing within 14 days of their travel date.

Prior to boarding, they will also be required to, sign an undertaking to make themselves available for a repeat PCR test within 72 hours of arrival. They will be required to stay in their city of arrival (Abuja or Lagos) for a period of 14 days of self-isolation, at their own cost (this isolation can be at home). There will be supervision by health authorities during the isolation. He said the PTF was completing the revision of the protocols for evacuation of Nigerians abroad.

“We are working hard to ensure we get it right, and also make best use of resources available to us, so that the 4,000 Nigerians who want to return home can do so.”

Aliyu said the feeding and accommodation of returnees in isolation can no longer be sustained.

He said Nigerian missions abroad will coordinate and provide clearance for the evacuation. He said emphasis will be on people in challenging circumstances: short term visitors, those on medical and official trips, family holidays, pregnant women, the elderly and  students.

No date yet on reopening schools

Minister of State Education, Chukwuemeka Nwajiuba, has described reports that schools would re-open on June 21 as fake news.

He assured that any news on reopening of school would be communicated through the PTF.

“Any reopening of school would involve the advice of expert on when it is safer to reopen schools. This is to avoid the mistake of shipping the student in and out of school,” he said.

Nwajiuba insisted that the ministry would not lead Nigerians into danger because it was in a hurry to reopen the schools, and that it would only reopen when it was safe to do so.

“Of all the thing I will love to  do is that I will not want to experiment with your children. What we are planning is to bring those that will be exiting from Junior Secondary to Senior and those who will be writing the West Africa Examination Council (WAEC) to write their promotion exam.

“We are however looking at when the inter state lockdown will be reopened so the children can move to write their exam in their schools,” he said.

Nwajiuba said that the ministry was studying the time table to know when it would be convenient as soon as there was ease on inter state lockdown.

NCDC set for 200,000 daily tests

The nation now has enough reagents to test 200,000 samples, across all the laboratories in the country, Director-General NCDC, Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu, has said.

He said the centre will now focus a lot of its response over the next few weeks on the states and the set of professionals (epidemiologist) that work in every state that have had to take on a lot more responsibilities.

He said in many states, there were also the  incident managers of the emergency operation centres and they are the heart of the collaboration with the state’s.

The NCDC boss also said the centre was working with the World Bank to design some high-impact interventions that will get support, which would lead to building an agile, flexible workforce for health security that will be responsive and able to react, use technology, have the best access to diagnostic and really make sure that we are much better position to prevent, detect and respond.

More deaths may occur from antibiotics abuse, WHO warns

The World Health Organization (WHO) has warned that the continued abuse and unauthorised use of antibiotics to treat COVID-19 may cause antibiotic resistance by some bacterial infections over time.

This is even as it added that more people may die during and after the COVID-19 pandemic because the available antibiotics may be insufficient and able to treat their infections.

It has, therefore, reiterated that the choice of antibiotics must be based on the clinical diagnosis, local epidemiology, and antibiotic susceptibility, as well as the treatment guideline.

WHO Country Representative, Dr. Fiona Braka, said: “The COVID-19 pandemic has led to an increased use of antibiotics, which ultimately leads to bacterial resistance, that will ultimately increase the burden of diseases and deaths during the pandemic and beyond.

“New antimicrobial resistance data released by WHO shows that globally, a worrying number of bacterial infections are increasingly resistant to the medicines at hand to treat them. We also know that based on evidence, only a small proportion of COVID-19 patients do need antibiotics to treat subsequent bacterial infections.

“The organisation has released new clinical management guidelines not to provide antibiotic therapy prophylaxis to patients with mild COVID-19 or to patients with suspected or confirmed moderate COVID-19 illness, unless there is a clinical indication to do so.”

Mental health programme for victims, families begin

Meanwhile, the process of integrating comprehensive psychological services programme into its activities through the provision of mental health care to help people cope with stress and isolation has commenced.

Chairman of Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 and  Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Boss Mustapha, said since the  commencement of the national response, a lot of priority has been given to physical health management of people who are affected.

He emphasised that a great majority of Nigerians are still susceptible to COVID 19, warning that “if we allow it to transmit easily between us, it may be even more deadly. If everyone diligently observes the guidelines, we can collectively control the spread of the virus, and help to protect our health facilities as well as save lives.”


Taraba killings: Outrage as Malami spares army mastermind, other soldiers trial [Punch]

  • Police arraign notorious kidnapper, Wadume, others
  • Military refuses to produce 10 policemen’s killers

The pan-Yoruba social cultural group, Afenifere; lawyers and activists on Monday lampooned the Attorney General of the Federation, Mr Abubakar Malami (SAN), for dropping the names of 10 soldiers named as accomplices in the kidnapping charges involving an alleged Taraba State kidnapping kingpin, Bala Hamisu, also known as Wadume, and others.

They demanded an explanation from the AGF.

The amendment to the charges announced at the Federal High Court in Abuja by the prosecuting counsel, Mr Shuaibu Labaran, on Monday, came days after the AGF took over the case from the Inspector-General of Police, Mr Mohammed Adamu, on June 3, 2020.

Labaran cited the “bureaucracy” involved in bringing the soldiers to court and the need to allow the case to begin as the reason for the amendment on Monday.

The development saw the number of defendants reducing from 20 to seven and the number of counts dropping from 16 to 13.

The soldiers, whose names were removed in the amended charges are Captain Tijjani Balarabe; Staff Sgt. David Isaiah; Sgt. Ibrahim Mohammed; Corporal Bartholomew Obanye; Private Mohammed Nura; Lance Corporal Okorozie Gideon; Corporal Markus Michael; L/Corporal Nvenaweimoeimi Akpagra;  Staff Sgt. Abdullahi Adamu, and Private Ebele Emmanuel.

Names of a policeman, ASP Aondona Iorbee, and one Ahmad Suleiman (aka Dan Ball), were also struck off the charge.

The defence lawyers for the remaining defendants did not oppose the amendment on Monday.

Following the approval of the amendment by Justice Binta Nyako, the amended 13 counts were read to the remaining seven defendants who pleaded not guilty to all the charges.

The remaining defendants arraigned were Inspector Aliyu Dadje, who was a station officer at police headquarters in Ibi Local Government Area of Taraba State, Wadume, Auwalu Bala, aka Omo Razor, Uba Bala (aka Uba Belu);  Bashir Waziri, (aka Baba runs); Zubairu Abdullahi (aka Basho); Hafizu Bala (aka Maiwelder); and Rayyanu Abdul.

Reacting to the removal of the names of the soldiers’ from the charges, spokesperson for Afenifere, Yinka Odumakin, noted that the development appeared to be a proof of a comment by a former Minister of Defence, Lt. Gen. Theophilus Danjuma (retd.), that there was collusion between criminals and security agents.

He said, “When Gen. T.Y. Danjuma said there was collusion between criminals and security agents, this is clear evidence he knew what he was saying.

“It is a tragedy for any polity where the people don’t know whom to run faster from between criminals and security agents. This must be a serious challenge for the top brass.”

Also, reacting to the removal of the soldiers’ names from the charge sheet, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Mr Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa, said except there was plan by the military to try them separately before a court martial, there was no justification for the removal of their names.

The SAN, however, said government should be given benefit of the doubt, as there might be a move to court-martial the soldiers.

Adegboruwa said, “Under the Armed Forces Act, the soldiers will probably go through the court martial, because the military have their own system of prosecution.

“So, it may be early to speculate as to the motive for the removal of the soldiers’ names; because if they are already penciled to appear before the court martial, they cannot be in the Federal High Court at the same time.

“It will be good to find out whether there is a move to prosecute them in the court martial, which will excuse the removal of their names from the charge sheet before the Federal High Court.

“But if they are not being prosecuted in the court martial, then there will be no justification for the removal of their names.”

A Lagos-based lawyer, Mr Jiti Ogunye, while sharing Adegboruwa’s view that there might be plan by the military to court-martial the soldiers, said it was important for the AGF to handle the case transparently and carry Nigerians along, rather than create room for speculation.

Ogunye said, “Ordinarily it ought not to be suspicious because those soldiers who were charged initially with the policemen and Wadume, except they have been dismissed, are still subject to service discipline, that is, the court martial jurisdiction; so, they can be tried separately by the court martial because they allegedly committed the offence while serving as military personnel.

“However, one would have thought that given the length of time it took for this arraignment to take place, the AGF, the police and the military would have put their house in order so that the issue does not continue to raise unnecessary eyebrow or generate a needless controversy.

“They ought to have come to a decision on the forum for trying all the accused persons; whether the soldiers would be tried separately by a court martial or tried together with others in the civil court, in which case, the military should have dismissed the soldiers.

“What needs to be done is that the AGF, given the sensitivity and importance of this case, has to handle it in a transparent manner. If names are being removed, it shouldn’t be left to speculation. The reason they are being removed should be furnished to Nigerians. So, transparency and honesty of purpose are required to ensure that things are done properly.”

A former President of the Committee for Defence of Human Rights,  Mr Malachy Ugwummadu, noted that the AGF office, created under Section 150 of the Nigerian Constitution, could, in exercise of its powers under Section 174 of the Constitution  “initiate, takeover or withdraw any criminal matter instituted in a court of law except matters in court martials.”

But Ugwummadu said the AGF must be aware that “the world is deeply interested in what happens to this particular matter that shook the world and more particularly the Nigerian security community.”

He said, “Recall that the Nigerian Police and the country lost some of their best crack top cops in those avoidable circumstances that underpinned compromise and corruption. The Nigerian state, the security community, the Nigeria Police Force, in particular, the numerous victims of Wadume’s atrocious acts and the families of the fallen but gallant officers, including their leader will all be motivated to do more for this country or depressed and discouraged to make further sacrifices for this country depending on what happens with this case.

“Thus, as you exercise your full discretionary powers, Mr AGF, remember that the locus of justice and the interest of the Nigerian people in this matter are known.”

The Executive Secretary of YIAGA Africa, Samson Itodo, said the AGF owed the public an explanation over the development, saying it cast doubt on the commitment of the regime of the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), to institutionalising the fight against criminality.

He said, “This action casts doubt on the commitment of this administration to institutional accountability and the fight against criminality.

“The AGF owes the public an explanation for dropping the charges given the sensitivity of the case.”


Anambra fathers raped daughters more during lockdown [Punch]

No fewer than 80 rape cases were recorded in various parts of Anambra State during the COVID-19 lockdown between April and May

The Director of Child Welfare Services in the state Ministry of Women’s Affairs, Children and Social Welfare, Mrs. Nkechi Anazodo, stated this on Monday in Isuaniocha in the Awka North Local Government Area of the state.

Anazodo, who spoke during the United Nations Children’s Fund supported launch of integrated child protection community sensitisation campaign, said there were only 32 cases of rape in her ministry before the lockdown.

She said the upsurge had necessitated the need for the 10- day state-wide campaign in the 21 local government areas of the state.

She said, “Sexual violence has become the order of the day, especially during this period of lockdown.

“The most worrisome is that some fathers raped their daughters more during the lockdown. In most cases, fathers who rape their daughters threaten to kill them if they report.

“The problem, therefore, is that many people don’t report these cases because they feel that the victim might be stigmatised.

“That is why we are going round the 21 local government areas of the state to create awareness on this problem.”


50% of Kano 979 strange deaths caused by coronavirus, says FG [Punch]

  • S’East should’ve more cases over residents’ mobility – NCDC

The Director-General of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu, on Monday said the South-East geopolitical region was not conducting enough COVID-19 tests.

Ihekweazu, who stated this at the press briefing of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 in Abuja, said the low number of tests being conducted in the South-East was responsible for the fewer number of confirmed cases in the zone. He said  the situation did not reflect the reality on the ground.

The NCDC DG said this just as the PTF Chairman and Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr Boss Mustapha, at the press conference said the country had conducted 80,000 COVID-19 tests.

On his part, the Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, said investigations into strange deaths in Kano State in April showed that between 50 and 60 per cent of the 979 deaths in the state were caused by COVID-19.

We expect more cases from S’East – DG

The NCDC director- general, while responding to a question, said there was no reason why the South-East should not have more cases than it had because of the itinerant nature of the Igbo.

Ihekweazu was responding to a question on Abia State, which recorded 67 COVID-19 cases on Sunday bringing the total figure to 85.

The Abia State Government on Monday confirmed that the state Governor, Okezie Ikpeazu, had tested positive for COVID-19.

As of Sunday night, the six states in the South-West had recorded a total of 6,607 cases;  South-East, 315 cases; South-South, 956 cases; North-West, 2,267 cases; North- East, 976 cases and North-Central, 422 cases.

As of June 2 which was the last date the NCDC released test figures on its website, South-West had conducted 30,056 tests; South-East, 1,723; South-South, 4,992 tests; North -West, 12,797 tests; North-East, 6,509 tests and North Central, 4,156.

Low COVID-19 cases in S’East not reflection Igbo travelling nature – NCDC

But on Monday, the NCDC DG said the centre was not surprised by the upsurge in COVID-19 cases in Abia State.

He said, “We were in a way surprised and not too surprised because we know that the testing numbers in the South-East have been low and this has been an advocacy point for me.

“We have reached out to all the states in the South-East. We know the people in the South-East travel a lot and there is no reason why there won’t be more cases there given the tendency to travel.”

Ihekweazu noted that the PTF was worried about the insufficient data emanating from the region, adding that with improved testing capacity, more infections would be recorded.

According to him, more cases will enable the government to isolate the patients from the rest of society and prevent further infections.

He noted, “From the very beginning, we were always worried about the insufficient data coming out from the South-East. Initially, it was thought to be about testing, but we have improved access to testing capacity now.

“Yes, we have seen the number of cases being reported from Abia; I think that’s a good thing because the more you identify the number of cases, you are then able to institute and prioritise the measures you need to prevent further cases.

“You are able to exclude them from the rest of society, make sure they don’t transmit to others.”

The NCDC director said he observed a renewed vigour in the Abia State health workers during a virtual meeting with state epidemiologists last week.

He further encouraged every state to be proactive, noting that higher cases did not mean a state was not handling the pandemic well.

“Nobody is criticizing Lagos for having half of the cases in the country; in fact, we praise them for doing well because they have responded effectively. That is really what we want to encourage every state to do,” Ihekweazu stated.

The NCDC chief disclosed that the government was discussing with the World Bank on high intervention programmes which were expected to strengthen the healthcare system in the country and build the capacity of health workers.

Reacting to allegations of financial impropriety levelled against the NCDC, Ihekweazu said that the centre would account for the money it spent.

80,000 COVID-19 tests conducted – SGF

The PTF chairman said over 80,000 tests have been conducted in the country, adding that 13,000 health workers had been trained, increasing the human resources available for case management.

According to him, the number of beds available for isolation and case management has increased from 3000 beds to 5000 beds nationwide.

Kano recorded 979 strange deaths – FG

The minister of health said the committee that investigated strange deaths in Kano had submitted its report, saying between 50 and 60 per cent of the deaths were caused by COVID-19.

In April, no fewer than 800 people were reported to have died of illnesses that could not be explained.But the state government said that the deaths were not caused by COVID-19.

Ehanaire  on Monday  said many  of the deaths were caused by COVID-19.

He explained that graveyard records and verbal autopsy revealed that the majority of the recorded fatalities were above 65 years of age.

979 deaths in Kano 8 LGAs

Ehanire said, “With regard to unexplained deaths in Kano, which occurred in April, the team confirmed from graveyard records, that a total of 979 deaths were recorded in eight municipal LGAs in the state at a rate of 43 deaths per day, with a peak in the second week of April.

“By the beginning of May, the death rate had reduced to the 11 deaths per day it used to be.  The verbal autopsy revealed that about 56 per cent of deaths had occurred at home while 38 per cent were in hospitals.

“With circumstantial evidence as all to go by, investigation suggests that between 50 and 60 per cent of the deaths may have been triggered by or due to COVID-19, in the face of preexisting ailments. Most fatalities were over 65 years of age.”

Lack of bed spaces: FG considers moving patients to neighbouring states

Also, Ehanire said the Federal Government  would consider moving COVID-19 patients from some states to neighbouring ones once there were issues with bed-spaces.

The PUNCH had exclusively reported on Monday that states such as Lagos and Kano were facing the problem of a shortage of bed-spaces

In confirming the report, Ehanire said the government was considering movement of patients across state boundaries.

He said, “We are looking at states partnering  one  another. To do this, you need the necessary assets like ambulances.

“We have plans to move people who are moderately ill and whose medical conditions suddenly turn bad to intensive care unit across state boundaries, to a facility with the ICU.

“If one state does not have the ICU, you can do the movement that way. That possibility is there.

“If we have an overflow, we have the possibility of moving more positive patients from one facility to neighbouring states.”

Home treatment is last card – Minister

The minister added that home treatment for patients would be the last option for the government.

He said the option would only be considered for patients with mild symptoms.

Ehanire said, “Home care in COVID-19 management is something like a last card.

“If you have many cases turning up, you have your isolation and treatment centres full, then, you start considering other options.

“Those that have very mild symptoms are the categories that will be in home management.

“Before home management, we have other improvised measures that are being introduced by the National Primary Health Care Development Agency to use dormitories and other available empty buildings.

“The other day, we just got offers of some buildings where we can have people stay until there are no more infections. The real hospital beds will be reserved for those who are sick.

“For those with mild symptoms, the management they will need is not much of nursing but psychological management and things to occupy them with. The human resources you require for that is not so much; you need counsellors.

“That is why the primary health care comes in very useful and they can provide human resources, in their thousands, who can manage these cases successfully when it comes to that level.”

The NCDC DG  said that there were  close to 12,000 reagents across all the laboratories in the country for COVID-19 testing.

Ihekweazu who called for support for state epidemiologists to efficiently and effectively  carry out their duties, said they were constrained by inadequate resources to work at the rural areas.

Evacuees to pay for  transport, accommodation

The National Coordinator of the PTF, Dr Sani Aliyu, said plans were almost concluded to evacuate the over 4,000 Nigerians outside the country, provided they agreed to meet the laid down protocols.

He said government could no longer bear the cost of the transport fares of the intending evacuees and their accommodation when they arrived home.

Students, pregnant women top priority

Listing pregnant women, the elderly, those on medical trips and students amongst Nigerians on its priority list for prompt evacuation, he said each evacuee must test negative for COVID-19 after a mandatory PCR test 14 days before boarding, and agree to adopt the country precautionary measures.

The World Health Organisation at the PTF briefing expressed concern over continued indiscriminate and unauthorised use of antibiotics to treat COVID-19 in Nigeria.

The organisation’s Country Director, Dr Fiona Braka,  said the increased use of antibiotics could lead to bacterial resistance and ultimately death.

She said, “The COVID-19 pandemic has led to an increased use of antibiotics, which ultimately leads to bacterial resistance, that will ultimately increase the burden of diseases and deaths during the pandemic and beyond.

“New antimicrobial resistance data released by WHO show that globally, a worrying number of bacterial infections are increasingly resistant to the medicines at hand to treat them.”

Schools will only reopen when it is safe, says FG

Also, the Minister of State for Education, Emeka Nwajiuba, stated that schools shut nationwide in March as part of measures to contain the spread of the COVID-19 would only be reopened when it was safe to do so.

It described as “fake news” the information circulating about scheduled date for school resumption.

The minister said, “We want to open when it is safe to do so. We have heard about neighbouring countries that opened and shut. We have heard about cases spiking with children getting into school. Of all the things I will like to do, I will not like to experiment with your children.

“We want a situation where once we are sure it is safe. We can then take them into school.

“I have just finished a meeting with the representatives of WAEC and NABTEB and I understand how that worries our parents at the moment and how anxious our children are to know what next.”


Govt worried about breach of rules by churches, mosques [Nation]

  • Nigerians still at risk of Coronavirus infection
  • 60% of 979 deaths in eight Kano councils COVID-related


WEEKEND’s reopening of churches and mosques in some states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) has become a source of worry to the Federal Government due to the breach of guidelines.

The Federal Government last week released protocols that should form the basis of discussions between the state governments and religious leaders before the reopening of worship centres.

Although Nigeria’s COVID-19 cases continue to rise, the government decided to unlock the country to save the economy from collapse.

There are fears over what will likely happen when worship centres are reopened in Lagos and Ogun states next week.

A Presidential Task Force (PTF) source said the panel was shocked at the way protocols were shunned in Abuja, Osun and Kwara states, where religious centres were reopened at the weekend.

As opposed to the rule barring children from worship centres, many kids were allowed into churches.

In many of the centres, there was no observance of social distancing.

Many churches also extended their services beyond the one hour limit.

Many worshippers also did not use face masks while big churches retained their large members as against the advisory to operate at 60 per cent capacity.

However, many churches provided water for hand washing which many worshippers used.

Many other used temperature measurement before allowing people into their auditorium.

Worshippers were also seen filing the at attendance register provided at churches.

On Monday, Chairman of the PTF Mr. Boss Mustapha, reiterated that Nigerians remained at great risk of Coronavirus infection.

He said at the daily briefing of the agency: “We urge our religious leaders and the entire populace to adhere to the guidelines issued by the PTF and the protocols agreed by the State Governments. The PTF continues to monitor compliance nationwide.

“If everyone diligently observes the guidelines, we can collectively control the spread of the virus, and help to protect our health facilities as well as save lives”.

He added: “over the last weekend, the ease of restriction on places of worship came into focus and that it is important to note that the guidelines gave states the latitude and the opportunity to negotiate protocols that meet their peculiarities.”

He also noted that the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic had exposed the weaknesses inherent in the nation’s health care systems and the need for urgent attention.

“Within our national setting, the weaknesses inherent in our national health care systems were made glaring and needed urgent attention. Government determined immediately, to take on the lessons and to ensure that the healthcare system experienced tremendous leap in human and infrastructure development as well as policy focus, stability and direction,” he said.

The SGF said the PTF had commenced the process of introducing mental health services to the management of the COVID-19 pandemic, noting that enough priority attention had all along been devoted to the management of the health of victims and their families.

“I am pleased to inform you that PTF has commenced the process of integrating comprehensive psychological services programme into its activities. This will be for the benefit of people who are in isolation, wellbeing of their families and communities.

“In this regard, we wish to recognize the Federal Medical Centre, Jabi, FCT, for spearheading this drive, which shall inevitably assume a national dimension because of the importance of mental health”, he said.


Ikpeazu hands over to deputy after testing positive [Nation]

ABIA State Governor Okezie Ikpeazu has handed over to his deputy, Ude Oko Chukwu, after testing positive for COVID-19.

His Chief Press Secretary, Onyebuchi Ememanka, said in a statement that the governor, who earlier tested negative, underwent a second test.

“The governor, who has already commenced self-isolation under the careful watch of experienced medical personnel, directed that the Deputy Governor, Sir Oko Chukwu, shall hold the forte in his absence,” he said.

The governor is among the 67 who tested positive for COVID-19 in Abia, according to the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC).

Ikpeazu and his family earlier tested negative while some of his aides tested positive.

Sources said members of the State Executive Council, who were yet to undergo COVID-19 test, were scared of doing so, while those who did are reluctant to collect their results.

It was also noticed that some State House workers stayed away.

Sources said the governor is receiving treatment in Abuja, but Ememanka did not confirm or deny this. He, however, said Ikpeazu is stable and in high spirits.

“The governor, whose second COVID-19 test returned positive yesterday (Sunday), said his decision to present himself for a second test was to remove all doubts about his status, after testing negative initially.”

Ikpeazu said testing positive was not a death sentence.


Taraba ‘kidnap kingpin’ Wadume, six others arraigned [Nation]

  • Accused remanded in police custody

SUSPECTED kidnap kingpin, Alhaji Hamisu Bala (aka Wadume) was arraigned on Monday before a Federal High Court in Abuja.

He was arraigned with six others on an amended charge of 13 counts bordering on terrorism, kidnapping and related offences.

The others are: Aliyu Dadje (a police Inspector), Auwalu Bala (aka Omo Razor), Uba Bala (aka Uba Delu) Bashir Waziri (aka Baba Runs), Zubairu Abdullahi (aka Basho) and Rayyanu Abdul.

Wadume and others were arrested in Taraba State following last year’s ambush on a team of policemen who had gone to arrest Wadume.

Three policemen died in the incident.

The case was initiated through a 16-count charge filed on January 21, this year, by Simon Lough (an Assistant Commissioner of Police) in the name of the Inspector General of Police (IGP), with 20 defendants.

On June 3, this year, a lawyer from the Federal Ministry of Justice, Shuaibu Labaran, told the court that the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) had taken over the prosecution of the case pursuant to his power under Section 174(2) of the Constitution.

Labaran said the case file was handed to his office the previous day, adding that only six of the 20 defendants were present in court.

He sought time to enable the prosecution put its house in order, liaise with the arresting and investigating agencies to ensure that all the defendants are brought to court.

But only seven of the 20 defendants were in court on Monday.

Those absent included the 10 soldiers named in the earlier charge: Ahmed Tijani Balarabe (Captain), David Isiah (Staff Sergeant), Ibrahim Mohammed (Sergeant), Bartholomew Obanye (Corporal), Mohammed Nura (Private), Okoroze Gideon (Lnace Corporal), Markus Michael (Corporal), Nvenaweimoemi Akpagra (Lance Corporal), Abdullahi Adamu (Staff Sergeant) and Ebele Emmanuel (Private).

Also absent were: Aondona A. Iorbee, an Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP), Ahmad Suleiman (aka Dan Ball) and Hafizu Bala (aka Mai Welder).

Those arraigned on Monday pleaded not guilty when the charge was read to them.

Wadume’s lawyer Y. D. Dangan told the court that he had a pending bail application for his client, who he claimed to be critically ill and coughed out blood.


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