Curfew: Lagos doctors begin indefinite sit-at-home [Sun]

The Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) last night began an indefinite sit-at-home strike to protest harassment by security agents enforcing the 8pm-6am curfew in Lagos.

The association gave the directive in a joint statement signed by its Chairman and Secretary, Dr. Saliu Oseni and Dr Ramon Moronkola, respectively.

To strengthen compliance of the curfew, the police in Lagos on Tuesday mounted road blocks in different parts of Lagos by 8pm and arrested several people, including essential workers that were presumed to have flouted the curfew directive.

President Muhammadu Buhari, had ordered restriction of movements between 8pm and 6am on April 27 interstate restriction of movement nationwide to contain the spread of COVID-19.

He, however, exempted healthcare workers, media, agriculture, oil and gas, among others, as essential workers.

But on Tuesday, Adamu held a virtual meeting with zonal assistant-inspectors general of police and state commissioners of police, where he directed strict enforcement of the curfew, following reports on its breach with security operatives being blamed for poor enforcement.

The IGP had reportedly ordered that anyone found on the streets beyond 8pm should be detained.

The NMA leaders said decision to embark on a sit-at-home action was necessitated by incessant harassment of healthcare workers by security agents.

“The Lagos State branch of the NMA has resolved that it is presently unsafe for its members to continue to provide healthcare services under the present confused arrangement.

“We resolve that all doctors under the auspices of the Nigerian Medical Association in Lagos to proceed on a sit-at-home starting from 6p.m today, May 20, indefinitely.

“Until such time when the state government and the Commissioner of Police, are clear on how they wish to operationalise the lockdown/restriction of movement directive as it relates to essential service and service providers, including healthcare services and doctors.”

NMA leaders demanded a written statement signed by the state government and the appropriate police authorities with clear terms on the status of essential services, including healthcare services and its providers, should be issued.

“It should be advertised in the social and mainstream media, and a copy submitted to the Secretariat of the Lagos State Branch of NMA.

“Whereas, the directives of President Muhamadu Buhari, through the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, was clear on the exemption of essential workers including doctors and other health-workers from the ongoing lockdown/movement restrictions.

“The Commissioner of Police in Lagos State, Mr Hakeem Odumosu, has been issuing conflicting directives on social and mainstream media to the effect that essential workers, including doctors and other health workers are not exempted.

“As a direct result of the conflicting directives of the government and the Lagos State Commissioner of Police, the Lagos State branch of Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) was inundated yesterday evening with several cases of harassments and intimidation of doctors and other health-workers by officers and men of the Police Command in Lagos State.

“The healthcare workers were either resuming duty, returning home, or on-transit to heed an emergency call.

“There was a most disturbing case of an ambulance conveying an injured patient which was prevented from moving to destination, while the attending health workers were harassed and temporarily detained.”

They recalled that similar situation occurred sometimes in the early phase of the ongoing lockdown/restriction of movement based on similar conflicting directives from the Commissioner of Police.

“It took the intervention of the state governor, following a petition by the association, for normalcy to be restored,” they said.

According to them, it is presently unclear how the state government and the CSP wish to operationalise the lockdown/restriction of movement directive, vis-à-vis the status of essential workers.

 

COVID-19: Umahi bars almajirai from entering Ebonyi [Sun]

Ebonyi Governor, David Umahi, yesterday barred almajirai from migrating into the state as part of measures adopted by his government to curtain the spread of coronavirus.

Umahi made the declaration, yesterday in Abakaliki during a live broadcast after the state security council meeting.

The governor said traveling under the COVID-19 pandemic was unacceptable, stressing that this is the time for everyone to remain wherever he/she is until the pandemic has been properly contained and checkmated.

Umahi also called on the herdsmen to keep their cows in check, warning that he would auction any cow that obstruct his convoy again.

He said: “We will not allow amajiriai in Ebonyi State. Ebonyi will not allow amajiriai, they should go to their state of origin. We have to tell ourselves the truth.

“I have directed the chief security officer to meet with the security people. I don’t want to see any cow within the premises of the Centenary City. How can I be struggling with cows to come into government house. In the entire Centenary City, I don’t want to see any cow. Not just government house, anywhere that is called Centenary City; international market, the mall. This is insulting. Security people should do meeting with the cattle rearers whether it is Hausa cows or Igbo cows because I can also see some Igbo cows and I don’t want to see them again.

“The attorney general will get court order to auction any cow arrested. We will not allow that again,” he said.

 

Court hears suit seeking Kalu’s release from prison June 2 [Sun]

The Federal High Court, Lagos, has fixed June 2 to hear a motion on notice seeking the release from prison of Senate Chief Whip and former Abia State governor, Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu.

The motion will be heard by Justice Mohammed Liman.

Kalu, who  is currently in custody of the Correctional Service Centre in Kuje, Abuja, filed the suit after the Supreme Court nullified his conviction by  Justice Muhammed Idris.

The Senate’s Chief Whip has hired 12 lawyers, including six Senior Advocates of Nigeria (SANs) to seek his freedom.

He filed the motion on May 12 asking the court to order his release since the Supreme Court had nullified his conviction on the grounds that Justice Idris had no jurisdiction to have delivered the judgment, having been promoted to the Court of Appeal.

Justice Idris of the Federal High Court, last December 5, convicted Kalu, and a former Director of Finance in the Abia State Government House, Ude Jones Udeogu of the offence bordering on alleged fraud.

Following Udeogu’s appeal, the Supreme Court on May 8 held that the fiat issued to Justice Idris to conclude the case after he had been elevated to the Court of Appeal was “a nullity”.

The apex court set aside Justice Idris’ verdict and  ordered Udeogu’s freedom and the retrial of his case.

Since Kalu and Udeogu were tried and convicted together by Justice Idris, the senator is now contending that no legal basis exists for his continued incarceration as the Supreme Court had declared his conviction and sentencing a nullity.

 

FEC approves N4.08b for projects [Nation]

  • Plateau Varsity, Customs to benefit

The Federal Executive Council (FEC) on Wednesday approved another N4,080,261,992 for projects in Works and Housing, Aviation, Transportation, and Petroleum Resources ministries.

The FEC meeting in Abuja was presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari, with other top government officials, like Vice-President Professor Yemi Osinbajo (SAN), Secretary to Government of the Federation (SGF) Boss Mustapha, Chief of Staff to the President, Professor Ibrahim Gambari and the National Security Adviser, Major General Babagana Monguno (retd.), in attendance.

Addressing State House Correspondents after the meeting, Ministers of Information and Culture as well as Transportation, and the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources – Alhaji Lai Mohammed, Rotimi Amaechi and Chief Timipre Sylva – gave details of the approvals.

Mohammed said FEC approved an augmentation for the contract sum for the construction of Oseakwa Bridge in Anambra State.

He explained that the contract was awarded to Messrs Horizon Construction Limited at N896,863,516.25 for the 90-metre long bridge with two kilometres approach road and completion period of 12 months.

The Information Minister also explained that the contract, having attained 87.91 per cent completion, was stalled in 2012 as two kilometres approach road to the bridge could not be completed due to flood that ravaged the vicinity of the project.

“It appears flooding was not envisaged at the time of the award and thus necessary provision for its containment not made in the contract sum.

“Having sought and obtained Presidential approval for submitting variation in respect of project above 15 per cent (according to extant act), the ministry sought and obtained BPP due process certificate of ‘no objection’ in the sum of N118,061,552.99, thereby revising total contract sum to N1,014,925,069.25.

“A total of 285 jobs, comprising 187 skilled and 98 unskilled, are expected to be created, thereby mitigating the effect of COVID-19 on unemployment,” he said.

Mohammed said FEC approved N101 million for the provision of a flight simulator building at the Nigeria College of Aviation, Zaria, Kaduna State.

“The memo was presented by the Minister of Aviation and an approval was given for the revised estimated cost for the construction of Boeing 737 full flight simulator building for the Nigerian College Aviation Technology, Zaria, originally awarded for N993,484,980.60 and is being reviewed to N1,095,475,750.04,” he said.

Amaechi said FEC approved the award of Consultancy Training Services contract to Swets Marine Consultancy at $454,050 for sea-time training for the Nigerian Seafarers Development Programme for cadets on-board foreign-going vessels by the Nigerian Maritime Administration and safety Agency (NIMASA).

The consultancy sum, calculated at N350 to $1 (official rate), amounted to 158,917,500.

He said: “Messr SWETS Marine, the contractor, accepted BPP downward review of the ministry’s offer from $510,000 to $454,050.”

The minister said the contract had been adequately provided for “in the 2019 and 2020 budgets at N1,338,093,214 and N1,008,093,214.23 respectively”.

Also, the FEC yesterday approved proposals by the ministries of Education as well as Finance, Budget and National Planning for projects estimated at over N1,348,057,600.

Mohammed said while the Ministry of Education got approval for the construction of the Health Faculty at the Plateau State University, Bokkos (PSUB) at the cost of N610,355,221.82, as well as a N114,357,60z0 project for the procurement of furniture and other equipment.

 

Lagos to admit only severe cases at isolation centres [Nation]

             Patients with mild symptoms for home care

             State records 199 of 284 new cases

             Virus spread fear grips security agents

Lagos State has intensified home treatment for coronavirus patients with mild symptoms as positive cases continue to rise.

Wednesday night, out of the 284 new cases announced by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), the state recorded 199.

Ten other states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) recorded  as follows: Rivers (26); Oyo (19); eight each in FCT and Borno; Plateau (seven); Jigawa (six); Kano (five); Abia (two) and one each in Ekiti, Delta, Kwara and Taraba.

The NCDC put the national tally at 6,677, discharged patients at 1840 and the recorded deaths at 200.

Lagos State is running out of bed spaces as a result of the number of cases being recorded.

Commissioner for Health Prof. Akin Abayomi, said: “We have exceeded the containment phase now. We are at the active community transmission stage.

“We will be concentrating on people with severe cases and isolating them while mild cases will be managed at home. Our attention is shifting to community-based isolation.”

Rapid testing for COVID-19 is ongoing in the armed forces and the police in Lagos following the discovery of many positive cases among officers and men, it was learnt.

Many security agents working in the state, the epicenter of the pandemic in the country, might have contracted Coronavirus in the course of duty because they are mostly medical officers, The Nation learnt yesterday.

It was also learnt that most of those on the front line in enforcing presidential COVID-19 prevention orders such as lockdown and social distancing had fallen sick and resorted to taking malaria drugs and other herbal mixtures.

Some of the operatives, The Nation gathered, were among those quarantined at isolation and treatment centres across the state.

A Naval Lieutenant commander died from coronavirus complications at the weekend, causing panic among officers and men of the Navy.

Flag Officer Commanding (FOC) of Western Naval Command Rear Admiral Oladele Daji, who confirmed the officer’s death, explained that he failed to survive because of his underlying ailment.

Rear Admiral Daji said: “He was on treatment but unfortunately, had complications on Saturday night and before we could rush him to the hospital, he gave up.

“All those that had contact with him have been traced. He lived alone. He was unmarried. Four people had contacts with him. They are someone who visited when he heard that the officer was in isolation; his driver, orderly and steward.

“Their samples have all been taken and they have been isolated, we are expecting that their results will come out but there’s no cause for alarm at all.”

The FOC said there are other eight positive cases of Naval officers/men in the command, adding that over 1,300 tests had been conducted.

General Officer Commanding (GOC) 81 Division, Major General Olu Irefin, said the division only recorded a confirmed case of a female soldier who has been receiving treatment.

He said precautions were immediately taken to prevent virus spread because personnel of the division were part of the larger society.

“It is not true that many of my personnel have COVID-19. But we know we are part of the larger society. We only have one case and it is a female soldier on course.

“She is receiving treatment. We have our COVID-19 response team formed by the Armed Forces of Nigeria and our isolation centre in Yaba. We have all the testing equipment and kits. We have been carrying out testing of our personnel when there is suspicion,” he said.

Police Commissioner Hakeem Odumosu said only two of his men were confirmed for COVID-19. He said they had been treated and discharged.

“You should know that there are many police formations in Lagos. When they say police in Lagos, it does not necessarily mean Lagos State Command. We have CP Railway, Command, Maritime, CP Airport, CP SFU, CP Anti-Fraud, among others and they have personnel too.

“But if you are referring to my command, I can tell you that only two persons had the virus and they have been treated and discharged.”

The Navy has mandated its personnel on joint operations to comply with all regulations on COVID-19 prevention. It was learnt that a taskforce had been put in place to ensure unscheduled visits to spots and to sanction those not maintaining social distancing or wearing face masks.

“Nose mask is compulsory. The command also produced pocket sanitisers that they gave to those of us on the field with strict warning to ensure we use it especially those who cannot avoid touching their faces.

“We were also given dedicated numbers to call medical workers for assistance should the need arise,” said a Naval rating.

Rear Admiral Daji said: “We have been taking precautions. We have been calling Lagos COVID-19 response to make sure tests are conducted because of the nature of our work. We have been sending samples for test.

“Thankfully, most of the cases are serving in the medical centres so it is possible that it was from there they got it. Because of this, Chief of Naval Staff (CNS) Vice Admiral Ibok-Ete Ibas procured 1,800 PPEs and we distributed them to all our medical personnel in Lagos.

“You know they have to touch and see patients and most of these patients are civilian patients that come to our hospitals because of the modern equipment in our hospital.

“The CNS directed that every medical personnel, before they see any patient, must have their personal protective equipment. We distributed to all medical facilities in Lagos so we believe with that, they would be confident to do their work and they will be protected at the same time.”

 

Cautious optimism as new leaders take over capital market [Nation]

The appointment of central banker Lamido Yuguda as substantive Director-General of Nigeria’s apex capital market regulator, Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and leading investment banker and broker, Mr Olatunde Amolegbe, as President of Chartered Institute of Stockbrokers (CIS) brought a new impetus as the capital market gropes for ways out of the Coronavirus pandemic. But many pundits remain cautious. Deputy Group Business Editor Taofik Salako and Assistant Editor Nduka Chiejina report

The Nigerian stock market made its biggest move in two weeks on Tuesday as the news of the appointment of a substantive Director-General (DG) for Nigeria’s apex capital market regulator, Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and a seamless change of baton at the Chartered Institute of Stockbrokers (CIS) filtered into the market. The benchmark index for the market rose by 1.09 per cent, equivalent to a net capital gain of N136 billion, the biggest gain in a day since May 07, 2020. The market sustained its rally with an average gain of 1.03 per cent yesterday, equivalent to net capital gain of N130 billion, bringing total gains since the announcements to N266 billion.

President Muhammadu Buhari announced the appointment of Mr Lamido Yuguda as the new substantive DG of SEC in a letter to the Senate, seeking confirmation of the appointment in line with the requirements of the Investment and Securities Act (ISA). Also to be confirmed are three nominees as full-time Commissioners for the Commission including Reginald Karawusa, Ibrahim Boyi and Mr. Obisan Joseph.

The President’s request was contained in a letter read by the Senate President, Senator Ahmad Lawan, during plenary in Abuja. Buhari’s letter reads “Pursuant to Section 3 and 5(1) of the Investment and Securities Act 2007, I write to request for confirmation by the Senate, the appointment of the following four nominees as Director-General and Commissioners of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).”

The appointment ended the uncertainties around the leadership of the Commission since the suspension of former Director-General, Mr Mounir Gwarzo by former Minister of Finance, Mrs Kemi Adeosun. The appointment also ended the tenure of Acting DG, Mary Uduk.

In a letter read at the Senate, Buhari requested the upper chamber to consider and approve the nomination of Mr. Lamido Yuguda as SEC DG in line with the requirements of the Investment and Securities Act (ISA).

Mr Olatunde Amolegbe, an investment banker and financier of nearly three decades, succeeded Mr Adedapo Adekoje as the President of the Chartered Institute of Stockbrokers (CIS) at the institute’s maiden virtual Annual General Meeting (AGM). The CIS is the regulatory body for the stockbroking profession in Nigeria. Stockbrokers form the largest body of operators at the capital market and are the majority owners of the stock exchanges. Also appointed into the council of CIS were Mr Oluwole Adeosun, former Second Vice President who becomes the First Vice President and Mr Oluropo Dada, who won a keenly contested election to emerge the new Second Vice President. Mr Garba Kurfi and Mrs Edoka Nkoli were reelected into the council while Mr Chiemeka Jude, Mr Babarinde Sunday, Mr Martins Olaolu and Dr Momoh Mohammed were also elected.

A new chapter

The appointment of Yuguda came nearly three years after former Minister of Finance, Mrs Kemi Adeosun, suspended former SEC DG, Mounir Gwarzo, in the heat of the controversies surrounding investigations into allegations of corrupt dealings at Oando. Oando has consistently denied any wrongdoing. Gwarzo was suspended on the allegations of financial impropriety, charges that he had denied vehemently. He had won the case instituted against him by the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) and also a suit challenging his suspension. Gwarzo, who had led several high-profile investigation and prosecution, alleged that his removal was due to his anti-corruption stance. With Nigeria losing its international ranking and the lack of substantive management holding down the Commission, most stakeholders see the new appointment as a relief for the market.

The President, Association for the Advancement of Rights of Nigerian Shareholders (AARNS), Dr Faruk Umar, noted that the Commission had gone through destabilising management crisis in the recent period with four DGs in two years.

The National Coordinator, Pragmatic Shareholders Association of Nigeria, Mrs Bisi Bakare, described the appointment as a “welcome development after so many years of vacancy”.

Shareholders’ leader and activist, Adebayo Adeleke, said the appointment was a good development for the market.

“It is a welcome development particularly at this crucial stage of the capital market. The appointment is long overdue. The appointment is coming when Nigerian investment community is of high expectations,” Chairman, Ibadan Zone Shareholders Association (IBZA), Mr Eric Akinduro said.

Former president of Chartered Institute of Stockbrokers (CIS) and former council member of the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE), Mr Ariyo Olushekun, said the election of Amolegbe signalled another era of milestones for the institute given Amolegbe’s training and experience.

Striking a balance?

Are stakeholders trying to strike a balance in the leadership of the market? Yuguda’s main career was at the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), but Amolegbe has worked for nearly three decades across the various segments and institutions of the core capital market.

Yuguda, currently on the board of Premium Pension Limited, worked at the CBN as an economist and investment manager. In 1984, Yuguda joined the CBN as Senior Supervisor, Foreign Operations Department where he oversaw Nigeria’s external debt records. Between 1985 and 1997, Yuguda, worked in various departments of the CBN including banking supervision department, debt conversion committee secretariat and foreign operations department where he rose through the ranks to become the Senior Manager, Investment Office.

In 1997, he joined the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in Washington DC, USA as an economist in the Africa Department with the mandate to assess “economic policies and management of balance of payment support programmes of African member countries of the IMF”. After his stint at the IMF, Yuguda went back to the CBN in 2001 where he led a team mandated to restructure and diversify the CBN’s growing foreign exchange reserve portfolio. Yuguda eventually rose to the position of Director of Reserve Management Department from 2010 to 2016 before retiring.

Yuguda obtained a B.Sc in Accounting in 1983 from Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria and an M.Soc.Sc in Money, Banking and Finance in 1991 from the University of Birmingham, United Kingdom. He also holds a Certificate in Financial Asset Management and Engineering from the Swiss Finance Institute, Geneva, Switzerland. He is a Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN) and a CFA charter holder.

Amolegbe is a consummate stockbroker, investment analyst and asset manager with over 28 years’ experience in the finance industry covering virtually all aspects of the business at various levels. He became an Authorised Clerk of the NSE in 1993 and later, Associate Member of the Chartered Institute of Stockbroker. He is also an Associate of the Certified Pensions Institute. His professional work experience covers areas such as investment banking, corporate finance, asset and portfolio management, securities trading and investment analysis and research.

Now Managing Director of Arthur Steven Asset Management Limited, a dealing member of the NSE, Amolegbe had worked in many reputable organisations including IMB Securities Plc, a Subsidiary of IMB Plc; Securities Solutions Limited, a Subsidiary of FSB International Bank, and FCMB Pension Managers Ltd, Formerly Legacy Pensions PFA. Besides the orderly nature of the structured ladder-like top council appointment at CIS, Amolegbe was hailed by most pundits as a round peg in a round hole having served the CIS in various committees such as membership committees, CPD committee and the disciplinary tribunal. He was also a former Chairman of Education Committee and the Programmes Committees of the Institute. He was elected 2nd Vice President and later became the 1st Vice President.

Amolegbe had his early education in Kwara State and then proceeded to the University of Ilorin where he obtained a BSC Degree and an MBA. He subsequently obtained an M.SC, Corporate Finance from the University of Liverpool, United Kingdom.

High expectations

Most pundits are cautiously optimistic that the new leadership at the market, especially at SEC, which determines the overall colouration of the market, will impact positively on market performance and mitigate risks during this challenging period.

“We expect him, with his board, to position the capital market for greater impact on the economy,” Adeleke said on the main task before Yuguda.

Publicity Secretary, Independent Shareholders Association of Nigeria (ISAN), Mr Moses Igbrude, said the new SEC DG should bring new thinking, new ideas and new approach of doing things for the advancement of Commission.

According to him, the new SEC DG should be ready to change the narrative by adopting a collaborative approach in handling investors-related matters and work with all stakeholders in the Nigerian capital market.

Faruk expressed optimism that Yuguda will bring back investors’ confidence to the market, urging him to as a matter of urgency, resolve the Oando issue amicably so that shareholders can have their Annual General Meeting sooner than later.

He called on all to give the new DG necessary support in order to succeed in his assignment.

A Professor of Capital Market, Nasarawa State University, Prof. Uche Uwaleke, said he expected Yuguda to continue with the implementation of the strategic master plan for the capital market development.

According to him, over the past administrations, the major agenda has been the implementation of the Capital Market Master Plan, so, the new DG already has his job well cut out for him.

Many pundits cautioned that running the capital market, which is more entrepreneurial and creative, with the monetary mentality of the apex bank may lead to serious negative consequences.

The period ahead will determine the propriety of leadership decisions. But, it is a relief that the capital market now has substantive leadership that stakeholders can look up to for direction as Nigeria, and the world, gropes for ways to recovery in the post-COVID-19 pandemic.

 

Lagos begs doctors as NMA orders indefinite sit-at-home [Punch]

The Nigerian Medical Association in Lagos State has asked its members to embark on an indefinite ‘sit-at-home’ over alleged harassment and intimidation of medical workers by security agents in the state.

The NMA on Wednesday gave the directive in a statement signed by its Chairman, Dr Saliu Oseni, and Secretary, Dr Ramon Moronkola, adding that the directive took effect from 6pm on Wednesday.

The Lagos NMA accused police officers in Lagos of acting contrary to the directives of the Federal Government on lockdown order, noting that their members were unsafe.

“As a direct result of the conflicting directives of the government and the Lagos State Commissioner of Police, Hakeem Odumosu, the Lagos State branch of Nigerian Medical Association was inundated yesterday (Tuesday) evening of several cases of harassment and intimidation of doctors and other health workers by officers and men of the Lagos State Police Command to the extent that even ambulances carrying patients with emergency cases were impounded. This has become a recurrent issue.

“The Lagos State branch of the NMA has resolved that it is presently unsafe for members to continue to provide healthcare services under the present confused arrangement.

“You are hereby advised to proceed on a sit-at-home, in your best interest, starting from 6pm today, Wednesday, 20th May, 2020 indefinitely, until otherwise advised,” the statement said.

However, the Lagos State Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Mr Gbenga Omotosho, said the issue had been resolved.

He said, “Before it got to this level last night (Tuesday), the Lagos State Government intervened and called the top hierarchy of the police and told them the confusion we had in town and immediately the matter was resolved.

“When the NMA said it was going on strike, the commissioner for health and everybody have been on it and they have spoken to them that the police had reversed themselves and there was no need to go on strike and they agreed.”

 

Oshiomhole’s lawlessness will destroy APC, says deputy chairman [Punch]

The Deputy National Chairman (North), of the All Progressives Congress, Lawal Shuaibu, on Wednesday, warned that the party stood the risk of disintegration should the alleged arbitrariness of its National Chairman, Adams Oshiomhole, was left unchecked.

He said with the way the party chairman was running the party, it was obvious that lessons had yet to be learnt from the reversal of its electoral fortunes in Zamfara State.

The Supreme Court voided APC’s victory in all elections held in Zamfara State after the court held that the processes enshrined in the APC’s constitution, were ignored in the conduct of primaries which produced its candidates for the 2019 Governorship, National and State Assembly elections.

Shuaibu issued a fresh warning in a press statement captioned, “APC and its future, let us exercise caution.”

The party chieftain said many did not take his concerns seriously when he asked Oshiomhole to step down and allow the party refocus and rebuild.

He said the APC which was founded on the principles of constitutionalism and the rule of law “is now subject to arbitrary administration, without dictates of the law. The ruling party which ought to be a model for others in the upholding of the rule of law, is now the nest of lawlessness.”

Shuaibu had in a letter on May 28th, 2019 warned Oshiomhole about the dangerous direction the party was heading and advised him to honourably resign to allow the party reposition itself for the task ahead. Shuaibu’s advice earned him a disputed suspension from the party’s National Working Committee.

In his latest letter, the deputy national chairman said, “Interestingly, all the issues I raised in my said letter have come to pass. Till date, the party, founded on the principles of constitutionalism and rule of law, is now subject of arbitrary administration, without regard for the dictates of the law.

“The ruling party which ought to be a model for others in the upholding of the rule of law, is now the nest of lawlessness. The entire legal framework governing the party administration in Nigeria today, the Nigerian constitution, the party constitution, the Electoral Act and INEC regulations and guidelines are more honoured by the party in breaches than obedience.

“To buttress my above assertion, the following few examples will drive the point home. By (Article 9.1(ii) and 9.4 (i) of the APC Constitution as amended, pages 6 and 8) every member will be registered at his ward when his or her name is entered in the register by the Ward Executives.

“My understanding of this provision is that power in the party is exercised bottom up! What this means is that every member of the party is answerable to his constituency. Being a party member therefore is a constitutional issue embedded in the membership register.

“Also, the constitution of the party stipulates a mandatory meeting of the National Executive Committee (NEC) every three months (Article 25 B (i) of the APC constitution as amended.). This regular meeting is not only targeted at keeping the members abreast of developments, but ensuring collective responsibility of decision taken by the combined effect of the above provision and Article 18 of the APC Constitution as amended).

“NEC is the main decision-making organ after the convention, and shall meet every three months. The power to set up standing or ad-hoc committees of the party is vested in the same NEC.”

He queried Oshiomhole’s decision to personally constitute both the screening committees for the governorship and senatorial elections, as well as the final appeals committee, all in violation of the extant constitutional provisions of the party vesting the power in NEC.

According to him, to make an already bad situation worse, he violated the rule of natural justice, by appointing himself as chairman of both committees.

“It is this refusal to convene NEC to perform its role that has led the party to the comatose state it is now. My fear is, it is being repeated now for Ondo and Edo,” he added.

On the inauguration of Waziri Bulama as the party’s National Secretary, Shuiabu said,  “The APC Constitution in Article 20 (a) made it unambiguously clear, that all party posts prescribed or implied by this constitution shall be filled by democratically conducted elections at the respective convention (in the case of NWC or NEC) or congress (in the case of executive committees at state, local government or ward levels) et tal.

“There is nowhere in that same constitution where it was envisaged that an officer of the party could be appointed by the chairman nor the NWC.

“Not even NEC has the power to appoint any national officer of the party in any capacity. Let me ask this simple question, what is difficult in organising a midterm convention to elect the officers in line with the constitution so that even the officers will have confidence that they are elected like all other officers. The constitution of the party in Article 25 (A) (1) page 89 stipulates that there shall be a convention every two years.

“We had convention in 2018 and another one is due in 2020. What is the hurry in appointing an acting national secretary when we have the duly elected Deputy National Secretary who have been acting in that capacity since December 2018 in line with Article 14.4 of the constitution on page 58?”

The party leader further argued that all national working committee officers had offices of their deputies who were empowered to take charge of that office in the absence of the principal, in consonance with article 14 of the constitution in its entirety.

He wondered why an unconstitutional act was being given the force of law. Shuaibu also noted that by virtue of the illegal means adopted in the appointment of the party’s national secretary any nomination signed by “the acting National Secretary is a nullity and liable to be challenged by the opposition. Are we deaf and blind? Or is the chairman finally out to bury the party?”

Shuaibu also said, “What are the leaders of the party doing in the midst of this anarchy? Are they all equally fed up with the seeming collapsing party in the hands of a politically injured person that seems to be nursing political revenge? The leaders need to take a stand so that the followers know whether the party is now either a jungle or that entity of our collective dream at the inception.

“Majority of the members of the party are already perplexed, disillusioned and some even weighing their options. A stich in time, I believe, saves nine!

“Article 2 of the APC Constitution, provides that subject to the provisions of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended) and any other laws for the time being in force in the Federal Republic of Nigeria, the provisions of this constitution SHALL be SUPREME PROVIDED that where any rule, regulation or any other enactment shall, to the extent of its inconsistency, be null and void and of no effect whatsoever. This document leaves no room for any form of aberration or brigandage.

He appealed to party leaders to urgently intervene to save the party from collapse noting that he had no personal ambition outside of saving the party which he and others laboured to build.

With regards to Ondo and Edo primary elections, the former lawmaker said, “There is already absence of transparency. The regulations issued that will guide the processes are already in violation of Article 20 (v) on page 76 of the APC constitution as amended where only the National Executive Committee is the only organ that SHALL approve such guidelines and regulations which includes the mode of nominating our candidates. I am crying for the APC inside me! Zamfara, here we come again.”

Attempts to get a response from the party’s National Publicity Secretary, Mallam Lanre Issa-Onilu, were unsuccessful.

His telephone line did not go through and a response to a text message sent to him on the subject was still being awaited as of the time of filing this report.

 

North has 54% of cases, 70% new infections – Northern govs [Punch]

  • WHO hails Nigeria’s response to Kano massive community transmission

Northern governors on Wednesday said the North accounted for 54 per cent of COVID-19 cases in the country.

The governors, who stated this at their fourth teleconference on the COVID-19 response, also disclosed that the region accounted for 70 per cent of the new coronavirus infections in Nigeria.

The Northern Governors’ Forum stated this in a statement by   Dr Macham Makut, the  Director of  Press and Public Affairs to the forum’s Chairman and Plateau State Governor, Solomon Lalong.

Also on Wednesday, the World Health Organisation said the  number of COVID-19 confirmed cases reported in Africa was far below the figure it expected from the continent.

It added that while the expectation was that the number of cases in West Africa would have been 1,260, 871 by May 17, the region recorded 24,345 cases.

The Director of the WHO Regional Office for Africa, Dr Matshidiso Moeti, said this on Wednesday during the Africa.com webinar series session 6 tagged “What’s the real story behind Africa’s COVID-19 figures?”

At the session,  the Director General of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu, disclosed that 10 local government areas  accounted for 50 per cent of COVID-19 cases in the country.

Although Nigeria recorded its COVID-19 index case on February 27, as of Tuesday, the country had had 6,401 cases of the virus. No fewer than 1,734 patients, who contracted coronavirus had been treated and discharged, while 192   people had died of the virus.

Lagos State has the highest number of cases with 2,755, followed by Kano State, which has  842 and the Federal Capital Territory with 427 cases.

Cases that have been recorded so far in other parts of the North include Katsina, 281 cases; Bauchi, 224; Borno, 227; Sokoto, 113, Zamfara, 84  and Kaduna, 152.

At their teleconference on Wednesday, northern governors expressed disappointment that despite several measures taken, including presidential orders, there were still violations as people moved from one state to another through compromised and use of illegal routes.

They promised to take further measures, including the deployment of members of their cabinets and civil servants where necessary, to protect their people.

The governor stated, “The forum resolved to continue its appeal to the Federal Government for support to deal with the coronavirus pandemic, as the northern region now has about 54 per cent of the national cases and 70 per cent of new infections.”

They also vowed to continue   the evacuation of Almajirai, adding that the exercise would strictly follow laid down protocols for profiling, quarantining, testing, transport, handing and taking over as well as reintegration.

Africa has COVID-19 cases fewer than we expected, says WHO

The WHO, according to the snippets on the Africa.com webinar series session,  posted on Africa.com, said Africa was succeeding in controlling the spread of COVID-19.

Its  Regional Director  for Africa,  Moeti,  at the session stated  that the WHO expected higher COVID-19 cases than what had been recorded in  Africa.

Moeti added that while the expectation was that the number of cases in West Africa would have been 1,260, 871 by May 17, the region recorded 24,345 cases.

She stated, “We are seeing fewer cases (in Africa) than expected.”  The WHO regional director said while West Africa recorded 16 per cent daily growth rate of confirmed cases before April 1, the rate had gone down to 6.5 per cent

In the case of Central Africa, she said the growth rate reduced from 14 per cent before April 1 to four per cent. She said while the number of cases expected in the region on May 17 was 149,353, the cases reported as of that day was 8,021.

She stated, “We are seeing fewer cases than expected. For West Africa, it was 16 per cent of daily growth rate before April 1. Number of cases expected on May 17 was 1,260, 871 but number of cases reported was 24,345. Daily growth rate is now 6.5 per cent.

“For Central Africa, it was 14 per cent of daily growth rate before April 1. Number of cases expected on May 17 was 149,353, but number of cases reported was 8,021. Daily growth rate is now 4 per cent.”

Africa’s measures in curtailing COVID-19 working – WHO

The WHO chief said public health and social measures appeared to have slowed the spread of COVID-19 across the continent.

“The WHO believes that Africa’s measures of curtailing the virus are working and are reporting a slowing down of the rate of spread,” Moeti declared.

She said countries with higher testing levels per 10,000 people and sharing of date suggested a true picture of the outbreak.

Nigeria responded quickly to Kano community spread – WHO

Moeti lauded the Federal Government’s response to the outbreak of the virus in Kano saying, “For COVID-19 in Kano State Nigeria, authorities responded quickly to community alerts.”

She identified the key challenges in COVID-19 response to include community misconceptions and misinformation; need to balance between saving lives and protecting livelihoods; as well as global supply shortages and transport challenges.

50% of Nigerian cases reported in 10  local government areas – NCDC

The NCDC boss disclosed that about 50 per cent of confirmed cases recorded in Nigeria were from 10 local government areas.

He said, “We are now looking at our surveillance data with a bit more depth. About 50 per cent of all COVID-19 cases are reported in 10 high incidence local government areas. We’ll focus our resources in areas where they are needed most.”

Ihekweazu further disclosed that the centre was using SORMAS, a software for outbreak and epidemic surveillance, to monitor data for responses most recently on Lassa fever and COVID-19.

He stated, “As COVID-19 in Nigeria accelerates, we utilise @SORMAS_NG software for real-time data collation and analysis.

“This data guides our response strategy to the outbreak and ensures our country leadership stay informed,” he added.

32 doctors, others health workers test positive in Bauchi, Zamfara

Meanwhile, no fewer than 32 medical personnel, including doctors and nurses, have been infected with COVID-19 in Bauchi and Zamfara states.

The Executive Chairman of the Bauchi State Primary Health Care Development Agency, Dr Rilwan Mohammed, and the Vice-chairman of the Zamfara State branch of Nigerian Medical Association,  Dr  Mannir Bature, stated this in separate interviews on Wednesday.

The NMA and the National Association of Nigerian Nurses and Midwives have consistently decried non-provision of personal protective  equipment for health workers.

The NMA President, Dr Francis Faduyile, in an interview with The PUNCH, said the PPE should be provided for not only  COVID-19 frontline workers, but all  health personnel in all hospital wards.

The Executive Chairman of the Bauchi State Primary Health Care Development Agency,  Mohammed, in an interview with The PUNCH, said  24 medical personnel, including doctors and nurses, had been diagnosed with COVID-19 in the state since March 24 when the index case was recorded in the state.

He said 12 of them were medical doctors in   Azare, which had been identified as a high risk area and in Bauchi, the state capital.

Mohammed, who is also the Chairman of the Surveillance and Contact Tracing sub-committee of the state Task Force on COVID-19 and Lassa Fever, said that 14 of the affected health workers had been discharged from isolation.

He said, “So far, we have 24 medical personnel in Bauchi State who have contracted coronavirus since the state recorded its index case.

“We have 12 medical doctors in both Azare in the Katagum Local Government Area and in Bauchi, the state capital, while the remaining 12 are nurses and physiotherapists.

In Zamfara State, the NMA Vice-Chairman,  Bature, told journalists that eight doctors had tested positive for COVID-19.

Bature declared that, “out of about 80 confirmed cases recorded so far in the state, 10 per cent are doctors who came into contact with the virus in the line of duty while trying to save lives especially at emergencies.”

Kano ulamas oppose lifting ban on congregational prayers

Meanwhile, the Kano State Council of Ulamas on Wednesday  opposed  the decision of  the state Governor, Abdullahi Ganduje, to allow mosques to resume group prayers.

The Islamic clerics warned the decision would increase COVID-19  infections in the state.

In an interview with  the BBC Hausa Service, the Chairman of the council, Sheik Ibrahim Khalil, said the government should have taken into consideration,  the  spread of the virus.

Recall that Ganduje a few days ago announced the lifting of the ban on congregational and ‘Eid’ prayers. He, however, said  congregants must continue to obey social distancing and the use of the face mask.

Stay at home, Kano Ulamas tell people with underlying illnesses

But in the BBC Hausa interview Sheik Khalil said, “In this period of epidemic, since the government has allowed congregational prayers to hold, individuals can also decide for themselves not to risk their lives. Especially those with underlying illnesses should stay at home instead.

“Those that feel they can go to mosque, if they don’t have any problem can go ahead and pray in congregations. There is no sin for anyone that doesn’t go to mosque as far as he has concrete reasons.”

However when contacted, a top government official who spoke on condition of anonymity, told The PUNCH that the governor’s decision was based on “recommendations by 30 Islamic scholars in the state.”

He said the 30 scholars who were representatives of all the sects in the state, asked Ganduje to allow Friday prayers to hold as well as Eid prayers.

He said the governor gave his directive “after a lengthy consultation with the Islamic scholars and other government officials.

According to the official, during the meeting, each of the representatives of the sects was given the chance to express his mind on whether they were in support of lifting the ban or not and the majority supported lifting the ban.

He added that after the meeting, Ganduje went ahead to select three of the ulamas from the 30 representatives and appointed them as members of the committee charged with the responsibility of ensuring that all Muslims comply with physical distancing and use of face masks during the Friday and Eid congregational prayers.

 

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