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Engaging with Nigerians is our concern, says Osinbajo

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has said that the constant engagement on issues of justice, peace, security, and the social contract cannot be let through the cracks.

Osinbajo was speaking on Wednesday during a farewell courtesy call at the Presidential Villa by the outgoing United Nations Resident Coordinator in Nigeria, Mr Edward Kallon.

Senior Special Assistant to the Vice President on Media and Publicity, Laolu Akande, disclosed this on Thursday in a statement titled, ‘Engaging with the people and their needs remain our major concern, Osinbajo says.’

Meeting with the outgoing UN top official in Nigeria, the Vice President stated that “constant engagement on issues of justice, peace, security, and the social contract cannot be let to fall through the cracks, these are critical issues.

“You cannot avoid engaging with the people in such a way that you are trusted, and on an ongoing basis, people should see that you are committed enough to their concerns.

“People must feel that the government is committed to their welfare, security and especially on issues of healthcare and education of their children. So, a social compact is crucial. As a matter of fact, it is both a current concern and aspiration for those of us who have been fortunate to be elected into positions in government and the politics of our country.”

Earlier, the UN Resident Coordinator had raised with the VP the issue of the importance of a social contract between the people and their government while recounting his experience during his more than five-year stay in Nigeria, adding that maintaining peace and security is crucial.

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Osinbajo also commended the support and partnership of development partners, particularly under the auspices of the United Nations system, coordinated by Kallon over the years, noting that “we certainly enjoyed the work that you did as UN Resident Coordinator for Nigeria for the past few years”.

Recalling some of Kallon’s efforts, he said “practically, on every occasion where we have had to look at serious issues, you have been available which I think is very important.

“We found that you were very hands-on, you were everywhere, you attended major meetings that we have had and you were all over the country.

“Your being available and ready to engage is really commendable and very helpful for us as a government.”

On his part, Kallon thanked the President and the Vice President for the support he enjoyed during his tenure as Coordinator of the UN in Nigeria, especially in addressing some of the concerns around humanitarian assistance.

He praised Nigeria’s COVID-19 response, dubbing it a miracle, and commended the Vice President’s commitment and leadership of the economic recovery initiative, noting that “I am really impressed with your leadership in addressing the impact of COVID-19 in Nigeria.”

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He added that Nigeria’s efforts remain a model as to how a well-coordinated national response can deliver positive results and urged the government to explore opportunities in the country as well as creatively manage the risks therein.

Earlier, the Osinbajo received members of a Presidential Defence Reform Committee who briefed him on their progress so far which has now reached the implementation stage in the reform process.

The Vice President observed that “the choice of Committee members is wise and informed because your experience is what is required. You are the ones who can tell us this is what to do.”

According to the Committee Chairman, Major General Alwali Kazir (retd.), “The purpose of our visit is to appraise you of the work done so far and seek your counsel for a seamless implementation.”

Also on the delegation were several former military chiefs including Lt. Generals Chikadibia Obiakor (retd.), Lamidi Adeosun (retd.), Abel Akale (retd.), Major-Generals L.P Ngubane (retd.), Ahmed Jibrin (retd.), S. Wali (retd.), Brigadier-General Jonathan Temlong (retd.), Rear Admiral Jacob Ajani (retd.), and Group Captain Sadeeq Shehu (retd.), among others.

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OAU student’s death: Adedoyin to remain in custody as bail application fails

A suspect in the investigation into the death of a master’s student of the Obafemi Awolowo University, Dr Ramon Adegoke Adedoyin, will remain in custody after a Federal High Court sitting in Abuja denied his bail application, The Nation reports.

Adedoyin had filed an ex-parte motion with a fundamental rights enforcement suit to grant him bail pending the conclusion of a police investigation or pending the determination of his fundamental rights suit.

On the other hand, he asked for access to quality healthcare facilities of his choosing, while the police conclude its investigation before his possible arraignment.

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Adedoyin, who is said to be the owner of the Hilton Hotel, Ile Ife in Osun State, has been in custody since November 15, after he was arrested, for his involvement in the alleged murder of Timothy Adegoke.

Justice Inyang Ekwo, who gave the ruling, declined to grant any of the prayers, after listening to Kunle Adegoke, SAN, who led a team of lawyers for Adedoyin.

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The judge, however, ordered Adedoyin to serve the motion and other processes in the case on the sole respondent – the Inspector General of Police – before adjourning the matter till December 9 for hearing.

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Dowen College: Take over Sylvester Oromoni case -Reps to IGP

The House of Representatives has called on the Inspector-General of Police, IGP Usman Baba, to take over the case of alleged torture and eventual death of a Junior Secondary School 2 pupil of Dowen College, Lekki, in Lagos State, Sylvester Oromoni.

The House also called for stricter regulation of schools and their boarding facilities by the Federal Government.

While the father of the 12-year-old pupil who shares the same name with his son had alleged that the junior Oromoni died from the injuries sustained during an assault by five of his colleagues who wanted to initiate him into cultism, the school had claimed he died after sustaining an injury during a football match.

At the plenary on Tuesday, a member of the House, Unyime Idem, moved a motion of urgent public importance, titled ‘A Call to Condemn the Trend of Inhumane Treatment in Nigerian Boarding Schools Across the Country and Comprehensive Investigation into the Activities of Nigerian Boarding School System.’

Adopting the motion, the lawmakers “condemn in strong terms, the recent incidences of inhuman treatment and abuses happening in the boarding schools across the country,” urging the Federal Ministry of Education to set out guidelines for the operations of boarding schools across the country.

The House also mandated the “Inspector-General of Police to immediately commission and take over the investigation, prosecution and punishment of the perpetrators of the identified heinous crimes.”

Furthermore, the House mandated its Committees on Education, Youth Development, and Women Affairs and Social Development to follow up with the investigation, set up a committee to brainstorm and come up with modalities and report to the House within two weeks.

Leading the debate on the motion, Idem said, “These recent developments call for the attention of the lawmakers. These children that are being molested; these children that are being wasted, they are our constituents. We cannot watch this kind of situation happening in our constituency.

“If proper measures had been put in place, we would not be having this. There would have been a proper way of monitoring the activities of these children.”

Another member, Obinna Chidoka said, “It is very important to send a strong signal that our children cannot be treated this way. There was one case in Kwara that trended, where they were giving corporal punishment to students.

“On the criminal aspects (of the Dowen College case), the IGP should investigate thoroughly and give feedback.”

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Also, Babajide Obanikoro, who noted that the incident occurred within Eti Osa Federal Constituency in Lagos where he represents, said, “In this particular matter, there are five students that are involved. They are a flight risk; their names should be placed on ‘no flight’ list. And the school, as shut down by Lagos State, should remain shut until the school is cleared of all the allegations.”

In his submission, Victor Akinjo said, “There is nothing wrong with private schools because we operate an almost private economy, but there is something wrong with the regulators. You cannot leave the boarding schools without proper regulations.

“It is the responsibility of the regulators to do proper oversight; to do what is right and save Nigeria from this embarrassment. It is a huge embarrassment for those schools to be turned into a cultists’ medium (sic).”

In the motion, Idem recalled the incident leading to the death of 14-year-old Karen-Happuch Aondodoo Akpagher of Premier Academy, Lugbe, Abuja on June 22, 2021, which he described as “one that left many heartbroken.”

“Her parents narrated how their daughter was sexually assaulted and later died of complications as a result of a condom left in her private part. Six months later, there is still no news of a suspect being arrested,” the lawmaker further recalled.

Idem partly said, “The House is cognisant that following the two recent cases, some Nigerians on the social space have been voicing out their bitter experiences with the boarding school system of operation.

“The House is cognisant that the Federal Government should, without delay, launch a national campaign; the campaign should include advocacy, public sensitisation and social mobilisation, as it will take the joint effort of government, school managements and parents to curb ugly happenings in our boarding schools. All hands must be on deck to curb the spread of this new trend.”

Meanwhile, the House adopted a separate motion moved by another member, Mark Gbillah, which was titled, ‘Suspected Rape and Murder of 14–Years Old Miss Keren–Happuch Aondodoo Akpagher.’

Adopting the motion, the House urged the Nigeria Police Force to “thoroughly investigate mysteries surrounding the death of Keren, allegations of harassment and threat to the life of Keren’s family and the leader of a coalition of gender-based violence and his family.”

The House also asked the police to “carry out a DNA test, recover spermatozoa and test Premiere Academy staff to identify anyone liable and bring him to justice.”

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Furthermore, the House mandated its Committees on Woman Affairs; Human Rights; and Police Affairs to invite stakeholders to investigate the “circumstances surrounding the death of Keren–Happuch Aondodoo Akpagher.

The joint committee is to also probe the “allegations of the unwillingness of the Nigeria Police Force to initiate an investigation into the death of Keren; allegations of harassment and threat to the life of Keren’s family and the leader of an NGO and his family; previous cases of sexual harassment at Premiere Academy Abuja and other incidents of violence against women in Nigeria; probable lapses by other relevant agencies handling the incident.”

The panel is to report back within six weeks for further legislative action.

Moving the motion, Gbillah recalled how Akpagher, a 14-year-old SS1 boarding student of Premiere Academy, Lugbe, Abuja, was allegedly raped and eventually died on June 22, 2021, from medical complications as a result of rape.

The lawmaker also recalled how Keren was reported to have taken ill on June 16, 2021, without adequate medical care by Premiere Academy, until the mother took her to a hospital in Wuse Zone 6 in Abuja on June 19, 2021, where she eventually died three days later.

He said, “The House is worried that the medical examination before her death revealed a condom lodged in her private part, which had a milky effusion with the presence of dead spermatozoa within the fluid, which had caused an infection that developed into sepsis.

“The House is alarmed by the unwillingness of Premiere Academy to uncover the truth behind Keren’s death and the management’s media denial of previous cases of sexual harassment of students in the institution contrary to documentary evidence.

“The House is also alarmed by the lack of proactive and thorough investigation by the Nigeria Police Force, even after formal correspondence to the police by the deceased family’s lawyers and the allegations by Amnesty International of harassment and threat to the lives of Keren’s mother, Vivien Akpagher, her family and the leader of the coalition of gender-based violence responders and his family over their public campaigns and advocacy demanding justice for Keren.”

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Why I sympathise with Sanwo-Olu on EndSARS panel White Paper

Oludare Mayowa

The Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, appears to be a gentleman by all ramifications and also a well-intentioned governor who means well for the people of the state. His speeches and activities since he became the governor of the state, including his body language tend to portray him as a good guy and also showed that he would have turned out to be one of the best performing governors of the state since inception.

However, something tells me that Sanwo-Olu is a governor without the authority of his office. He is the one in charge of the affairs of the state without being the one running the show in the state. He has often time demonstrated courage in certain areas of governance through his speech and action, but in spite of such bravadoes, the outcome has often been far from what his word and action tend to portray.

One of such cases was his position on the payment of bogus pensions to former governors of the state, which was initiated during the administration of Bola Tinubu and passed and signed into law before his departure from office in 2007.

Sanwo-Olu had come out smoking about the inappropriateness of the pension and promised to review it to help alleviate the finance of the state.

His word; “Mr. Speaker and Honourable Members of the House, in light of keeping the costs of governance low and to signal selflessness in public service, we will be sending a draft executive bill to the House imminently for the repeal of the Public Office Holder (Payment of Pension Law 2007), which provides for payment of pension and other entitlements to former governors and their deputies.”

Sanwo-Olu had told Lagosians in November last year that the abolition of pension for former governors and deputies would reduce the cost of governance in the state.

“It is our firm belief that with dwindling revenues and the appurtenant inflationary growth rates, that we need to come up with innovative ways of keeping the costs of governance at a minimum while engendering a spirit of selflessness in public service,” Sanwo-Olu had said.

Alas! The more things change, the more they remain the same. His executive bill to the House of Assembly remained an exercise in futility as the legislators came out with their own version with a cosmetic change on the previous law and till today, past governors in the state are still laughing to the banks at the expense of the state treasury.

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Another case was the governor’s attempt to rid the street of Lagos of the menace of motorcycle riders, popularly known as Okada riders. Sanwo-Olu mounted campaign to show the world the menace of the commercial motorcycle riders and why they must be restricted from the streets of Lagos.

This was at the height of insecurity and rampant kidnapping and traffic robbery in the state. Many Lagosians believed that with the governor’s rigorous campaign, the end had come to the nonsense value of the okada rider in the state.

But what has become of the noise of the governor overtime? The okada riders are now more daring and have proved to be more powerful than the governor of the state.

His speech last Tuesday, which preceded the release of the White Paper on the EndSARS probe panel set up in the wake of the crisis that engulfed the state last year at the height of the protests was soughing and was received by many as a real voice of a leader who is desirous of peace and intended to bring closure to the event.

Prior to the release of the White Paper on Tuesday night, many Nigerians had commended the governor for his non-interference with the works of the probe panel and his comportment both during and after the incident at Lekki Toll gate.

He was seen as a bridge builder who could ameliorate the pains of those who lost their loved ones to the unfortunate incident even though many also blamed him for the action of the security agencies at the toll gate.

His speech later that day elicited some commendations and raised hope that justice was about to be done to those families who lost their loved ones to the unjust action of the security agencies at the Lekki toll gate on October 20, 2020.

A former editor of the defunct National Concord, Nsikak Essien, said this much about the governor’s speech; “Did you watch the broadcast by Governor Sanwo-Olu of Lagos State and those of Ministers Lai Muhammad and Festus Keyamo? All centred on #EndSARS protests.

“The governor seeks all avenues to achieve peace so that he too can sleep with two eyes closed. He sought enmity of nobody. He shares concern for everyone, law enforcement officers, ordinary people and the vulnerable.”

Perhaps, many of us were expecting too much from the governor, whom we know that even though he is in power, he does not possess the lever of authority of his office. It has been proved without time that there is a power behind the throne and Sanwo-Olu can only bark, he does not have the teeth to bite.

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The White Paper was nothing but a clear departure from the expectations of many Nigerians and that has further confirmed that no matter what the governor says or does, those who actually hold the levers of authority on his behalf will always have their ways in Lagos.

The rejection of the conclusion of the panel on the number of death that occurred at the Lekki toll gate was a mere affirmation of ‘his master’s voice.’

From all indications, any other conclusion by the governor on the White Paper would have been seen as an indictment of the Federal Government and the powers behind the throne in Lagos would not dare to confront Abuja with the truth, hence hell is let loose on his 2023 ambition.

It’s inconceivable that soldiers would visit a scene of a protest and released bullets into the crowd and only one person would have died from such a scenario.

The White Paper deliberately ignores the portion of the report that says security agencies carted away bodies of wounded and dead protesters in their truck after the shooting. Also, it carefully jettisons the testimonies of those who were wounded and came with amputated limbs to the panel to give evidence.

The governor himself on the second day of the incident visited many victims of the Lekki toll gate shooting in the hospital and those were people who were shot by the security agencies.

It’s obvious to all that there was a conspiracy against the dead, those who died during the protest at the Lekki toll gate are children of the commoners and they do not matter as long as the political interest of those in power is satisfied.

Despite the conspiracy of silence and all efforts to cover up the misdeed of the security agencies last year, we are sure that one day, the king that does not know Joseph will ascend the throne and the truth like a smoke will eventually come out.

  • Mayowa is a Lagos based investment and financial analysts

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Nnamdi Kanu hungry, starving in DSS custody — Lawyer

Ifeanyi Ejiofor, the lawyer of the detained leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra, Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, on Tuesday, claimed that his client is starving in the custody of the Department of State Services.

According to him, none of the pronouncements made by Justice Binta Nyako of a Federal High Court in Abuja on December 2, 2021, has been obeyed by the DSS.

Ejiofor said these in a statement titled: “Update on today’s visit to our indefatigable client – Onyendu Mazi Nnamdi Kanu at the Headquarters of the Department of State Services Abuja.”

He said, “The routine visit to our client — Onyendu Mazi Nnamdi Kanu was conducted on December 6, 2021, and in his usual practice, he extended his compliments to his millions of supporters. He remains profoundly grateful for the overwhelming support and show of solidarity thus far.

“However, we observed with dismay, and indeed very unfortunate and worrisome that notwithstanding the far-reaching orders made by Her Lordship in the open Court on December 2, 2021, the detaining authority being the DSS have in their usual style, flouted and/or ignored the said court orders.

“We were informed by our client – Onyendu Mazi Nnamdi Kanu that none of the pronouncements made by the Court on December 2 2021 has been obeyed by the DSS.

“They have unrepentantly continued to treat the orders of the Court with the greatest disdain. Our client — Onyendu Mazi Nnamdi Kanu further informed us that he had not eaten anything since yesterday (Sunday).”

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The lawyer further claimed that his client is being punished because he complained to the court about how he is being treated in the custody of the DSS.

Ejiofor said, “Apparently, he is being punished because we dared to complain to the court about the condition under which he is being held in custody. But, very, unfortunately, this should be the height of their reckless affront to the orders of Court.

“At the time Her Lordship made these far-reaching orders in open court, I did not mince words in informing the Court that the operatives of the DSS will flout these orders, pursuant to which the court specifically told me to come back to her with these facts if her order is flouted.”

Ejiofor noted that due to the development, he would approach the court tomorrow to reveal this ‘terrifying’ development. The lawyer said that the development is ‘totally unacceptable, grossly condemnable, and cannot be tolerated.’

He said, “Interestingly, we will be approaching the court tomorrow with this terrifying development, which is totally unacceptable, grossly condemnable, and cannot be tolerated.

“The facts must be placed in their proper perspectives: Our Client — Onyendu Mazi Nnamdi Kanu has not been convicted of committing any crime, he is still presumed innocent of every unfounded and frivolous allegation against him, and as such, the DSS has no power whatsoever to whittle down the enjoyment of any of his rights clearly protected under Chapter 4 of the constitution.

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“The detaining authority (DSS) is an agency clearly established by instrumentality of the laws and should operate within the confines of the same laws establishing them, and should not be seen as a lawless entity.”

The lawyer, hence, demanded that the DSS comply with the ruling of the court immediately as further attempts to flout these orders will be faced with strict sanctions by the court.

He said, “We hereby, demand without further ado, for the immediate compliance with all the orders of the Court clearly made on December 2, 2021, and further attempt to flout these orders must be faced with strict sanctions by the Court.

“We respectfully wish to assure our client’s teeming supporters that we cannot leave anything to chance towards ensuring that our client is sufficiently protected and his rights are upheld. The DSS must and shall certainly operate within the confines of the laws. They have no option on this.

“Be assured that we are not resting on oars whatsoever, to ensure that our Client is unconditionally released. This strategy isn’t being discussed here, but it will happen soon.”

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You’ve brought joy to my life, Saraki hails wife on 30th wedding anniversary

A former President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki, on Tuesday, eulogised his wife, Toyin, in commemoration of their 30th marriage anniversary.
The former Kwara State Governor took to his verified Facebook page to share a picture of himself and his wife, adding an emotional note to her.
He said, “Happy 30th wedding anniversary to my darling wife, Toyin! As we celebrate this special day, I thank God for the blessing and favour.
“I thank you for the wonderful years together, for the love and joy you have brought into my life, and I appreciate you for all the things that you do behind the scenes that you think I do not see!”
This comes a day after Mrs Saraki celebrated the 30th birthday of their first child, Tosin.
Taking to her verified Instagram page on Monday, she wrote, “Wishing our darling daughter, Tosin the happiest of 30th birthday today!
Saraki and his wife have four children together.

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BREAKING: NCDC reports three new cases of Omicron variant

The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control on Tuesday afternoon announced that three additional cases of the Omicron variant have been reported.

The new cases bring the total of the recently discovered variant of the COVID-19 virus in Nigeria to six.

The PUNCH reports that the Omicron variant, which was first reported by South Africa, has been designated a ‘variant of concern’ by the World Health Organization.

Though the global health body says it is still launching investigations into the new strain, several countries such as the United Kingdom, Singapore, Canada among others have issued travel restrictions into their territories.

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The NCDC in the statement signed by the Director-General, Ifedayo Adetifa further explained that the three additional cases were detected in passengers linked to South Africa in November.

The statement partly reads, “The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control has confirmed three more cases of COVID-19 with the B.1.1.529 SARS-CoV-2 lineage, i.e., the Omicron variant, in Nigeria.

“In addition to the three cases announced earlier on 1st December 2021, this brings the total number of confirmed cases of the Omicron variant detected in Nigeria to six. All the Omicron cases so far were detected in persons with recent travel history to South Africa in November.

“The NCDC through the National Reference Laboratory continues to coordinate genomic surveillance activities across the country to sequence all positive COVID-19 samples from international travellers arriving in Nigeria. This includes sequencing of positive samples from international travellers from October 2021 to date.

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“The Delta variant remains the dominant variant and so far, we have not seen the replacement of this variant by the new Omicron variant as observed elsewhere.”

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One in 10 adults living with diabetes – Report

A recent report from the International Diabetes Foundation revealed that one in 10 adults worldwide lived with diabetes in 2021.

These statistics amounted to over 567 million adults living with the disease and as seen in the 10th edition of the IDF Diabetes Atlas, this number was predicted to rise to 643 million by 2030 and 783 million by 2045.

The report discussed the continued global increase in diabetes prevalence, confirming diabetes as a significant global challenge to the health and well-being of individuals, families, and societies.

According to the report, 81 per cent of the affected adults (about four in five) lived in low and middle-income countries.

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Diabetes led to 6.7 million deaths in 2021 i.e one diabetes-related death occurred every five seconds, the report noted.

A South African Professor in Diabetes, Ayesha Motala, who was part of the research team, stated that the prevalence of COVID-19 has placed an additional burden on diabetic patients.

In her statement, published in The Conversation on Monday, Motala said, “The urgency is even greater because COVID-19 has placed an additional burden on people living with diabetes, making them more susceptible to the worst complications.

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“We are yet to see the impact of lockdowns, the use of masks, and the potential risk of COVID-induced diabetes on population health. There is a widely held concern that the pandemic may have caused a further rise in the prevalence of diabetes and its complications that will manifest over the coming years.”

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We will bring back PDP members — Duke

Former Governor of Cross River State and a Peoples Democratic Party member, Mr Donald Duke, says he will woo back to the party former members of the party currently in All Progressives Congress.

Duke made the vow on Monday while receiving former PDP state party Chairman, Ntufam Ekpo Okon, who defected from the PDP to the APC to contest election as the deputy governorship candidate in 2019.

According to Duke, “From time to time you leave your institution and go for a sabbatical. I have had experience because I went on sabbatical too when I left the party to another party.

“And today we have our colleagues who made the party tick. We are not going to rest on our oars. We have worked for this party since 1998. A strange element came and took our party.

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“We even allowed the strange elements to occupy seats that we the owners ought to have occupied. I will tell you without equivocation that the state today ought to be among the richest states in Nigeria. So we have to recall all our ‘lecturers’ who went on sabbatical back to the party. We are receiving and harvesting all our members who left the PDP for a sabbatical in batches.”

Speaking during the event, the former PDP state party Chairman Ntufam Ekpo Okon said he was happy to be received back to the fold and assured the party faithful of his total loyalty to the PDP.

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According to him, he and Duke were able to attain the height which they did through the support of the PDP members he has returned to rub shoulders with once again.

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Omicron: Student, work visa applications will be processed despite travel restrictions — UK

The United Kingdom on Monday said that student and work visa applications will be processed despite travel restrictions imposed on Nigeria amid the outbreak of the Omicron COVID-19 variant.

The British High Commission, Abuja, made this known in a statement titled, ‘Statement from British High Commission on UK visa applications’.

The High Commission had on Sunday said it will “pause making decisions on visitor visa applications in all red list countries, including Nigeria, until travel restrictions are lifted”.

But in an update on Monday, the UK said visa applications in other categories such as for persons who wish to study, work or live permanently, will continue to be processed.

“To support the UK Government’s aim to protect public health from COVID 19 and associated variants of concern, UK Visas & Immigration have paused making decisions on visitor visa applications in all red list countries until travel restrictions are lifted.

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“Applications in other categories (student/work/live permanently in the UK) will continue to be processed.

“If you have been in a red list country in the 10 days before you arrive in England, once you arrive you must quarantine for 10 full days in a managed quarantine hotel (the day you arrive in England is day 0),” the statement read in part.

Britain had on Saturday banned Nigerian travellers after it said it discovered 21 cases of the Omicron variant in people who recently visited Nigeria, saying the measure was a temporary measure aimed at protecting its public health.

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The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, subsequently said the Presidential Steering Committee on COVID-19 would respond to the travel ban.

Mohammed, at a press conference in Abuja on Monday, described the travel ban as discriminatory.

Also, Nigeria’s High Commissioner to the UK, Sharafa Ishola, described the travel ban as apartheid.

President of the African Development Bank, Akinwunmi Adesina, had also described the travel ban by the West on African countries as discriminatory.

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Kwara Gov pledges regular training for workforce

Governor of Kwara State, Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq, on Monday reassured the labour unions in the state of his government’s commitment to continue to develop the civil service through regular capacity building for the workforce.

The Governor was speaking at the opening session of the 2021 NLC Harmattan School organised by the national headquarters of the Nigeria Labour Congress held at the Michael Imoudu National Institute for Labour Studies, Ilorin, the state capital.

The Governor, who noted that the training exercise will improve the skills of the labour leaders in managing industrial relations, enjoined participants to deploy the gains from the training for maximum productivity and efficient service delivery.

He said, “Our administration recognises the importance of quality human resources in the public policy process. We are, therefore, committed to train and retrain our workforce to promote and build a virile and result-oriented public servants.

“It is my hope that this training programme will drive purposeful and objective ideas that will better the lives of the workers and the general public at large.”

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In his remarks, Minister of state for Labour, Festus Keyamo, said the training excercise was a product of collaboration between the NLC and the labour institute to engender emancipation, empowerment, gender equity, poverty eradication, inclusive growth and development.

Commending the NLC/MINILS partnership for the benefits it offers the country, the Minister disclosed that his Ministry’s vision tallies with Governor AbdulRazaq’s calls for the upgrade of the institute to a full-fledged university for labour studies, hoping the step will make the school a pride of Africa.

“By the prompting of the Governor of the state and of course our vision for this place, we are seriously thinking upon upgrading this school to a full-fledged university of labour studies. We seriously need this because we have the infrastructure, personnel and right environment,” Keyamo said.

Delivering his keynote address, NLC President, Ayuba Waba, lamented that Nigerian workers suffered a lot during the COVID-19 pandemic, advocating that they deserve a social security programme that is properly structured from their employers.

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He charged participants at the training and other unionists in Nigeria to embrace quality education and prepare themselves well for leadership position in the labour movement.

He commended AbdulRazaq for being labour-friendly and for uniquely showing concern for agitations of the labour unions at all time.

“Once again, Your Excellency, I thank you for being here. In other states, when we have such programmes, they will run away because they don’t want to see the faces of their workers. I am happy you are here. In many states when we appear, they will disappear. We only see them on the pages of the newspapers or media platforms to say they don’t support NLC,” he said.

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NPC advocates birth registration in Gombe

The National Population Commission has urged residents and parents in Gombe State to ensure birth registration for all children.

Head OF Civil Registration and Vital Statistics in NPC Gombe, Adedeji Adeniyi,  made the appeal in an interview with newsmen on Tuesday.

Adeniyi said the call had become imperative in view of the large number of children whose births were not registered in the state, and the advantages of birth registration for policy implementation.

He stated that it was wrong for parents to bring a child into the world and not register the birth.

According to him, doing such means that the child exists without proper documentation and record with the government.

Adeniyi stated that registering a child at birth was the first official document that any child should get because“it gives the child an identity.”

“We are telling the public that whenever you give birth to any child, take the next step after naming, go and obtain a birth certificate; it is free for all children below 18 years,” he said.

Records obtained by the News Agency of Nigeria from the commission showed that between January and November, a total of 126, 674 births had been captured in the state.

These registrations were done in the 77 registration centres across the state.

Adeniyi stated that the commission in its effort to ensure that all children in the state were on the government’s record was partnering with different stakeholders in the state.

He stated that the partnership was “just to bring the birth certificate registration closer to the community.”

While appealing to parents in the state to always register their children, the NPC official said government and other local and international partners also used the records for programmes and policy implementation. 

(NAN)

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[JUST IN] Sylvester Oromoni: Two Dowen students at large, three in police custody, says Lagos CP

The Lagos State Commissioner of Police, Hakeem Odumosu, says that three students of Dowen College in the Lekki area of the state are currently in police custody for allegedly assaulting 12-year-old Sylvester Oromoni.

Odumosu, who spoke with The PUNCH on Tuesday morning, also said two other students of the school fingered in the assault, are now at large, adding that those in police custody are helping the Command with information on how to track them.

The Lagos CP added that the school principal, housemasters, and other officials of the Lekki-based school are also assisting the police with information as the Command launched a full-scale probe into the circumstances culminating in the death of Oromoni on November 30, 2021.

The father of the deceased boarding student had alleged that the Junior Secondary School 2 pupil died from the injuries sustained during an assault by five of his colleagues who wanted to initiate him into cultism but the school claimed he died after sustaining an injury during a football match.

Reports of the detention of the three of the students allegedly involved in the bullying of the deceased student filtered out on Tuesday.

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When asked on Tuesday whether three of the students are in police custody, the Lagos CP, in a phone interview with our correspondent, replied, “It is true.”

He further explained, “It is still an allegation until we conduct our investigation. We just started full investigation yesterday (Monday). Two out of those mentioned in the viral video are at large while three of the students are helping us to get others.”

“I am in contact with my counterpart in Delta State. I spoke with the parents yesterday, we are perfecting everything scientifically,” Odumosu added.

The PUNCH had earlier reported that the National Association of Nigerian Students alerted foreign missions to deny entry to the five students of Dowen College alleged to have bullied and beaten 12-year-old Oromoni to a point of coma which led to his eventual death.

Over 100,000 persons have also signed a petition domiciled on the Change.org platform seeking the arrest of those fingered in the incident and their swift prosecution.

With the national outrage the case has attracted since Oromoni’s death on November 30, 2021, federal and state governments have taken a number of actions.

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The Lagos State Government on Friday ordered the indefinite closure of the school and sealed it off pending the outcome of an investigation into the death of Oromoni.

Odumosu had also ordered the Homicide Section of the State Criminal Investigation Department, Panti, to take over the investigation of the case immediately.

Oromoni’s death is one of the disheartening deaths resulting from bullying and molestations in boarding secondary schools of late.

Karen-Happuch Akpagher of Premiere Academy, Lugbe, Abuja, had died of sexual molestation in June 2021 while Don Davies of Deeper Life High School, Uyo, had also narrowly escaped death in December 2020, when his mother raised the alarm of alleged sodomy of her emaciated son.

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WHO warns against use of convalescent plasma for COVID-19 treatment

The World Health Organisation on Tuesday warned against the use of convalescent plasma in the treatment of COVID-19.

This was contained in a statement titled, ‘WHO recommends against the use of convalescent plasma to treat COVID-19’, where the organisation noted that the procedure does not improve survival or reduce the need for mechanical ventilation.

The statement read, “WHO has updated its living guideline on COVID-19 therapeutics to include convalescent plasma. For non-severe COVID-19 patients, WHO recommends against its use, while it should only be used within clinical trials for severe and critical COVID-19 patients.

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“Convalescent plasma is a transfusion of blood plasma from someone who has recovered from COVID-19.

“Current evidence shows that convalescent plasma does not improve survival or reduce the need for mechanical ventilation, while it has significant costs.

“An independent panel of experts, the guidelines development group, looked at pooled data from 16 randomized controlled trials, including 16 236 patients with non-severe, severe, and critical covid-19 infection.

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“While the evidence that convalescent plasma has no benefit in non-severe patients was certain, it was less so in the case of severe and critically ill patients. So, randomized clinical trials for these subgroups should continue.”

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Benin Republic court sentences opposition leader to 10 years

A special court in Benin on Tuesday sentenced one of the country’s opposition figures, Joel Aivo, to 10 years in prison after a trial on treason and corruption charges.

The academic, who had been held for eight months, had said the charges of plotting against the state and money laundering were politically motivated.

He was convicted after a more than 16-hour trial, an AFP reporter said.

Several opposition leaders were detained before or just after the April 11 election that saw Benin President Patrice Talon win a second term with more than 86 per cent of the vote.

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Aivo, one of the opposition figures who was barred from running in the presidential election, had pleaded not guilty when the trial opened Monday.

Arrested on April 15, Aivo was tried at the Economic Crime and Terrorism Court in the West African country’s administrative capital, Porto-Novo.

The CRIET, a special court set up in 2016, has often been accused by critics of serving as a tool by Talon’s regime to crack down on the opposition.

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Once praised for its thriving multi-party democracy, critics say Benin has slipped steadily into authoritarian rule under former cotton magnate Talon.

Some opposition figures have fled the country while others were disqualified from running in elections, or targeted for investigation.

AFP

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Indonesia volcano eruption death toll rises to 34

The death toll from the eruption of Indonesia’s Mount Semeru volcano rose to 34 on Tuesday, the national disaster agency said, as aid was rushed to the affected region.

The mountain on the island of Java had thundered to life on Saturday, ejecting volcanic ash high into the sky and raining hot mud on villages as thousands of panicked people fled their homes.

The disaster swallowed entire homes and vehicles, blanketing villages such as Curah Kobokan in grey ash and leaving residents terrified of returning home.

“I’m traumatised, I asked my relatives if they were brave enough to go back to Curah Kobokan and they all said no, they’d rather sleep under a tree,” said Marzuki Suganda, a 30-year-old who works at a sand mine in the area.

“When the eruption happened, I really thought I was going to die here.”

Rescuers have been battling dangerous conditions since the deadly weekend eruption, searching for survivors and bodies in the volcanic debris, wrecked buildings and destroyed vehicles.

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Search crews deployed dogs on Tuesday to aid the operation.

“The latest update from the ground… (is) 34 people died, 17 are missing,” the disaster agency spokesman Abdul Muhari told AFP.

Almost 3,700 have been evacuated from the affected area, he added.

– Dangerous rescue operation –
Mt Semeru has remained active since Saturday, keeping emergency workers and area residents on edge.

There were three small eruptions on Tuesday, each spewing ash around a kilometre (3,300 ft) into the sky, authorities said.

The task for rescuers was made more difficult by the instability of the volcanic debris.

“What we are afraid of is the ground being cold outside but still hot inside,” said police officer Imam Mukson Rido. “If it’s hot inside, we must get away.”

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Officials have advised locals not to travel within five kilometres (3.1 miles) of Semeru’s crater, as the nearby air is highly polluted and could affect vulnerable groups.

Indonesian President Joko Widodo said during a trip to the area Tuesday that the government will look into moving homes away because of the threat posed by the volcano.

“I hope after things calm down we can start both fixing infrastructures and think about the possibility of relocation from areas we believe to be dangerous,” he told Indonesia’s Metro TV.

“Earlier I got a report (that) there are around 2,000 houses that must be relocated.”

Indonesia sits on the Pacific Ring of Fire, where the meeting of continental plates causes high volcanic and seismic activity, and the country has nearly 130 active volcanoes.

AFP

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