Banks, offices, churches, mosques to reopen fully [Sun]

  • Curfew relaxed from 10pm to 4am •Flights resume June 21, but schools to remain shut

Notwithstanding the spike in the nation’s confirmed COVID-19 cases, the Federal Government, yesterday, took far-reaching measures in the gradual easing of the lockdown across the country as it gave banks the nod to resume full operations based on prescribed  directives while regular church and mosques are permitted to hold based on state governments’ protocols.

It also announced review of curfew from 8pm to 6am to 10pm to 4am and the resumption of flights from June 21, but ordered that schools should remain shut until further notice while interstate travels and gathering of over 20 persons outside of workplace and religious services is prohibited.

While it announced easing of the total lockdown of Kano State, it said hotels may reopen but bars, gyms, niteclubs, cinemas and parks remain closed until further evaluation.

Chairman of the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19, Secretary of the Government of the Federation (SGF), Boss Mustapha, who made the disclosure during the COVID-19 daily briefing in Abuja, yesterday, said the measures were approved by President Muhammadu Buhari and would run over the next four weeks (June 2 to June 29) subject to review.

The task force boss warned that Nigeria was yet to hit the peak and the war against COVID-19 was a long-term battle.

“This is still a fight for life and our advancement to phase two does not mean that COVID-19 has ended. It is still potent and highly wasteful of human lives. I implore all Nigerians and corporate citizens to take responsibility and play the expected role,” he said.

Mustapha urged Nigerian to pursue a strategy that would aid the sustainable control of the spread of the disease, stressing that risk communications and community engagement should remain top priority.

He also gave cautious advance into the second phase of the national response to COVID-19, application of science and data to guide the targeting of areas of on-going high transmission of COVID-19 in the country.

Said Mustapha: “This means mobilisation of all resources at state and local government levels to create public awareness on COVID-19 and improve compliance with non-pharmaceutical interventions within communities. Sustenance of key non-pharmaceutical interventions that would apply nationwide and include: ban of gatherings of more than 20 people outside of a workplace. Relaxation of restriction on places of worship, based on guidelines issued by the PTF and protocols agreed by state governments.

“Managed access to markets and locations of economic activity to limit the risk of transmission, ban on interstate travels except for movement of agricultural produce, petroleum products, manufactured goods and essential services, mandatory use of non-medical face masks in public places; mandatory provision of hand-washing facilities/sanitisers in all public places. Extensive temperature checks in public places,maintaining two metres between people in public places, strengthening infection prevention and control at healthcare facilities.

“Isolation of vulnerable populations elderly and those with underlying health conditions, massive information and education campaigns.

“Deepening of collaborative efforts with community leaders, civil society, faith-based organisations, traditional institutions, continuous mobilisation of state governments to take up greater role in the implementation of the guidelines and advisories provided by the PTF,” he said.

Evacuation of Nigerians abroad remains suspended

The Federal Government said the evacuation of Nigerians abroad remains suspended until a new policy on mandatory supervised isolation of persons arriving the country is completed.

According to the National Coordinator of PTF, Dr. Sani Aliyu: “Mandatory supervised isolation of persons arriving outside the country will continue to be for 14 days until a new policy comes into place. There will be no further evacuation of Nigerians until the new policy that is currently being developed with the private sector comes into place. Any prior arrangements of evacuation of Nigerians from outside of the country is suspended until the new policy comes into place.

“Mandatory supervised isolation of persons arriving outside the country will continue to be for 14 days until a new policy comes into place. There will be no further evacuation of Nigerians until the new policy that is currently being developed with the private sector comes into place.

“Any prior arrangements of evacuation of Nigerians from outside of the country is suspended until the new policy comes into place. All these measures will need to include compliance on non-pharmaceutical interventions,” Aliyu said.

He said that the goal of phase two of the ease of lockdown over the next four weeks is to balance public safety with protecting lives as well as allowing full restoration of economic activities across the country.

Domestic flights likely to resume June 21

The Federal Government has said domestic flights may likely resume operations by June 21.

The country’s airports and airspace were shut in March as part of efforts to contain the COVID-19 pandemic.

Commercial flight operations, both local and international, had stopped, but President Muhammadu Buhari directives allowed the operation of essential flights, including those for medical and evacuation purposes, amongst others.

“The aviation industry is requested to start developing protocols to allow for domestic flights to resume anytime from  June 21 onwards.

“Airlines must ensure physical distancing by reducing passenger capacity and ensure the provision of sanitisers and personal protective equipment as well as carrying out temperature checks at the point of entry and departure and ensuring that airports are not congested by either travellers or airports staff,” Aliyu he said.

Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, on his part said  industry stakeholders should start developing protocols towards flight resumption.

He said the aircraft that have been packed for the past three months should be serviced to ensure they are airworthy.

“The maintenance of the aircraft is either usage or calendar time, whichever comes first and then protocols to storages of this aircraft either for short or long time. That is being done currently. The aviation needs to bring these aircraft to safe operations.

“There is also the issues of medicals that every pilot should have a license of medical permit that states that he is medically fit, well enough to carry out safe operations. Within this period, some of them may fall short and they need to do their medicals,” he said.

He said his ministry has been gradually engaging stakeholders ahead of the opening of the industry  via social media platforms, zoom meetings among others to get them ready to be able to face the challenges of reopening of the airports.

He said the aviation industry has been the worst hit from COVID-19 and is eager to reopen for business.

“But we must start in a very orderly, organised,safe and in an efficient manner so that we will achieve the intent and purpose of air travels, which is safety, efficiency and very secured manner. So please bear with us.

“I have said here that because it is a service industry, if you don’t sell tickets today and you don’t fly, I have lost it. For three months  people have not flown, which means salaries have not been paid, no income has been made because it is a service sector,” he said.

On when international flights will open, he said: “Today, we will begin to receive directives or suggestions or practices and standards from International Civil Aviation Organisation. We have factored that in. Today, we had a meeting on how we will start operations again. Some countries will definitely run faster than others, but I can tell you that countries with a huge population and aviation activities such as Nigeria, will definitely need to be cautious, will need to reflect on safety and efficiency of the industry.  Two hundred million people with  923,766 square kilometers is really enormous and calls for every single action that will hitherto ensure safe operations.”

Continuing the minister said: “The private jets that want us to short circuit the system by which they were given approval for the flights, certainly, it is not for anybody that has money to fly on a private jet from Kano to Lagos or Port Harcourt. No. We still maintain and insist that it must be either for humanitarian, banking and finance, power, oil and gas, these are the ones that are allowed to fly on private jets. We have seen what happened to FlairJet the other time. And approval is only electronically done.”

He also debunked claims that money was paid for approval of flights.

“This is far from the truth, it is free and people should stop living in the past. For us in this government, we are very conscious of the weight of security in our hands. I have been minister for the past five years and I challenge anybody before these cameras that claims he has given me any money. There is FOI Act in place and we will give you all of the information.”

On May 6, Chairman of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, Boss Mustapha, had announced that the closure of the country’s airports and airspace were further extended by four weeks after due consultations with experts.

 

Oshiomhole endorses Akeredolu, says Edo gov yet to reject direct primaries [Sun]

The All Progressives Congress (APC) National Chairman, Adams Oshiomhole, has tacitly endorsed the reelection bid of Ondo Governor, Oluwarotimi Akeredeolu.

Speaking to newsmen after several hours meeting with the APC Progressive Governors Forum (PGF) at the party’s National Secretariat in Abuja, Oshiomhole noted that though the electorate have become more sophisticated, Governor Akeredeolu has done well such that the party does not entertain any fear about him.

On the contentious mode of primaries for the Edo governorship election, he said the national leadership of the party was yet to officially receive formal complaint from Governor Godwin Obaseki rejecting the proposed process.

Apparantly commenting on the reelection bid of the governors, Oshiomhole said: “You know that governors are assets to our party and once a candidate emerged, we all work and ensure that we do our best to persuade the people in the respective states to favour us with their votes.

“I am sure that by the special grace of God, the Ondo governor is here, he did well and electorate are more sophisticated now; so we have no fear about that. Obaseki is not here but issues of primaries are well spelt out in our constitution and we are following it as strictly as possible. So nothing to worry about at all.”

Asked if the party leadership will reconsider the mode of primaries following complaints from the Edo governor, he replied: “You are speculating, I don’t have any letter or document to that effect. These are very formal matters. So stop spreading rumours that the governor is against the primaries.”

He insisted that the party will go ahead with direct primaries, adding that apart from releasing the guidelines, the party has also notified INEC on the date for the primaries.

“We are honoured to host APC governors to discuss as we have always done  internal issues of the party which are basically to exploit ways and means of strengthening the party and ensuring that we continued to remain the most favoured party in Nigeria.

“We had a very helpful conversation, you know it is one APC, there are no two APC, so interacting and interfacing with our governors is something that is part of our tradition, it is not something we have just invented and today’s discussion was particularly helpful.

“So, we are grateful to the chairman and members of the Progressive Governors Forum who have come all the way.  What binds us together is so strong that coronavirus can not out asunder. I was particularly excited.

“We have since published our time table because under the law we are required to give INEC at least 21 days notice to monitor our primaries and to state the mode of our primaries and, of course, NWC had approved direct primaries for Edo. That of Ondo has not been discussed because that will come much later, because Edo will come about three weeks before Ondo. We have commenced the sale of forms, I think as of last Friday to my knowledge three people had picked the forms. I think by today more people have picked the forms.”

 

When love turns sour: Ex-lover seeks N9m compensation from Customs boss’ new wife [Sun]

  • No, I didn’t leak letter, says lawyer

When the Comptroller-General of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Col. Hameed Ibrahim Ali (rtd), got married to his new wife, Zainab Abdullahi Yahaya, in a quiet wedding ceremony in Kano State over the weekend, he expected a blissful marriage. He had lost his wife, Hadiza, in 2017 to an undisclosed illness and remarried last Saturday.

But barely 48 hours after he tied the knot with his new love, the wife’s ex-lover, Zubairu Dalhatu Malamai, sprang from the blues and demanded the sum of N9,081,207.45, being the money he claimed to have spent on her during their relationship, before she allegedly dumped him for the retired soldier.

The development immediately set the social media ablaze, as supporters of Zainab and Zubairu slugged it out in heated debates.

Zubairu, in a letter to Zainab through his lawyer, Ibrahim Isah Wangida, described the new bride as a “cheat.”

Wangida, in a telephone chat with Daily Sun, said the letter was true but insisted he did not leak it to the social media or any other media, as it was totally unethical to do so.

“I am his lawyer and I signed that letter. It’s not fake. But I disclaim the leakage to the social media,” he said.

In the letter, the bitter ex-boyfriend of Zainab insisted that he spent over N9 million on her, with the firm belief that the relationship was headed for the altar, after which they would become a couple.

The jilted lover, while chronicling how the N9 million was spent on Zainab, said he set up a business venture for her, aside from shouldering other needs of hers.

Zubairu, obviously smarting from the pains of a failed relationship, asked his ex-lover to return so many things both in cash and material or be drawn into a legal battle.

The letter read in part, “We are solicitors to Zubairu Dalhatu Malamai of No. 224, Durumin Zungura, Kano Municipal, Kano State, hereinafter referred to as ‘our client’ on whose instructions we write you.

“Our brief as disclosed to us is that, for over three years, you have been in a relationship with our client, where he has invested so much in your life, future and business when you consistently promised to marry him, even though you knew deep down in your heart you were deceiving our client but you allowed him to continuously spend money and resources on you while he was in the belief that he was doing that to his future wife.

“Be that as it may, we have our client’s brief that you have decided to pick another man for yourself as husband. And while our client congratulates you in your new home, we have our client’s instructions to also disclose his displeasure over your reaction few days before your new marriage by taking an unnecessary fight with him, thereby insulting and calling him all kinds of names and your claims that he calculate all you have collected from him both as loans, investments and trip tickets so you can pay him as you are no longer in his life.

“In view of the above, we have our client’s instruction to demand from you the following;

“a. The sum of N2,778,207 only, being the sum for travel tickets for RSA on 20th March to 5th April 2018, UAE on 17th February to 27th February 2019, PRC April 2019, UAE on 13th June to 19th June, 2019, UAE on 5th July to 10th July 2019, UAE on 30 September to 13th October 2019, UK on 18th January to 23rd January 2020, UAE on 24th January to 25th January 2020.

“b. N1.5m loan for your investment,

“c. N200,000 only paid for you on behalf of Dan Tsanyawa.

“d. N450,000 only for clothing business at US.

“e. N280,000 only for shop rent at Haneefa Plaza on Court Road.

“f. N350,000 only you borrowed to give your father.

“g. N350,000 only house rent refund.

“h. N300,000 only you collected as loan, which you paid for your veils.

“l. N360,000 only for your China trip.

“j. N500,000 only you collected for your car purchase.

“k. N250,000 only for all chinchin investment.”

Other things demanded to be returned made by the lawyer on behalf of the ex-boyfriend to the customs’ CG’s new bride, include: “N1,763,000 only for LEFE clothes, six Abayas, which you took out of the 12 Abayas that were sewed.

“Company ID cards in the name of Zainab Abdullahi Yahaya, Fatima Abdullahi Muhammed and Adnan Abdullahi Yahaya,

“Company HP laptop given to you, company HP laptop given to Adnan Abdullahi Yahaya, company uniform given to you, a pair of shoes, one set of luggage (5 pieces) one piece of Samsonite luggage, car number plate bearing Bichi Local Government.

“In view of the above, we have our client’s instructions to demand from you and we hereby demand from you the immediate payment of the sum of N9,081,207 only.

“Failure to heed to same shall leave us with no other option than to proceed with legal action to recover the said sum. Your choice in this matter is our preference,” the letter concluded.

Staff of the NCS discussed the matter among themselves in the usual office gossip fashion. But there has been no official reaction to the issue since it is a private affair of the Customs boss.

“This is not an official business of Customs. It’s a private one”, a Customs source told Daily Sun.

Ali’s new wife, Zainab, could not be immediately reached for comments.

Many Nigerians who commented on the matter asked Zubairu to take the issue as one of those failed projects, while some others asked him to press his former lover strong enough to recover some of his investments.

 

Banks, hotels, others back as govt reopens businesses [Nation]

Businesses got on Monday a new lease of life as government commenced the phase two of the ease of lockdown by gradually reopening the economy.

Banks were given immediate clearance to operate fully. Hotels got the nod to reopen “but must observe all mandatory non-pharmaceutical intervention”.

The Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 Control unveiled the new guidelines on Monday at the end of the first phase of lockdown easing ordered by President Muhammadu Buhari on May 4.

National Coordinator of the PTF, Dr. Aliyu Sani, who announced the reopening of the financial sector, said restricted opening of worship centres will be granted by states subject to the PTF guidelines.

The Aviation Industry is also to be reopened this month.

Airlines and other stakeholders in the industry have been given till June 21 to work out all necessary plans and preparations for the resumption of domestic flights.

Dr. Sani said: “The goal of phase two over the next four weeks is to balance public safety with protecting livelihoods as well as allowing the full restoration of economic activities across the country.

“We are not opening places of worships across the board. We are saying that opening is conditional and it is based on these clear-cut guidelines and would only cover regular church and mosque services.

“Effective from tomorrow (today) Tuesday the 2nd of June, 2020, the easing of the lockdown will be characterised by the following:

“The nationwide curfew will remain in place but the timing of this will be reduced to 10pm to 4am. The purpose of the curfew is to limit social interactions and therefore reduce the risk of transmission of the virus.

“Persons that are on essential duty, including but not limited to those involved in the provision of health care services, media services, and critical infrastructure are exempted from the curfew.

“All interstate travels by individuals remain prohibited except for essential travels and the movement of goods and services. All restrictions on the free movement of goods and services is now removed in this phase.

“There will be full opening of the financial sector with banks now allowed to operate normal working hours-five days a week.

“The mass gathering of more than 20 people outside of the work place or places of worship remains prohibited.

“There will be controlled access to markets and locations of economic activities. But local authorities will continue to provide guidance on opening times.

“Restricted opening of places of worship will be based on state government protocols and restrict guidelines of physical distancing and other non-pharmaceutical interventions. This will apply to regular church and mosques services only.

“In terms of general movement, persons may go out for work, go to buy necessary food and for exercise provided that they abide by the curfew hours.

“Movement between local government areas is strongly discouraged unless for critical reasons such as healthcare and work.

“I will like to emphasize that it is still safer to stay at home and avoid crowds. The pandemic is not over in this country and the relaxation of some of the rules doesn’t mean that it is safer to go out. If you do not need to go out please continue to stay at home.

“Hawking and trading is also prohibited and we will be looking into this in later details with state authorities.

“The aviation industry requested to start developing protocols to allow for domestic flights to resume anytime from June 21 onwards. Airlines must ensure physical distancing by reducing passenger capacity, ensure the provision of hand sanitisers, and appropriate person protective equipment as well as carrying out temperature checks at points of entry and departure and ensuring that airports are not congested by either non-travelers or by airport staff.

“With interstate travels, movement across state borders remains restricted other than the free movement of goods and essential travels. Security services are requested to please cooperate with members of the public and ensure that goods are provided with free passage as this particular phase is directed at ensuring the economy starts moving again.

“With intra-state travel, we will implement new travel processes for areas of the country with high burden local government areas and this will be restricted to essential travel but for the moment with intra state travel all the prior guidelines will remain, including reduced occupancy for buses and taxis, the need for temperature check and where available, the provision of hand washing facilities and the maintenance of physical distancing.

“For the industry and labour sector in terms of working hours, normal working hours will apply to offices other than government offices provided this is kept within the curfew hours of 10pm to 4am.

“Offices are to maintain working at 75 per cent capacity while maintaining the two meter physical distancing.

“For government offices, they can open between the hours of 9am to 2pm. So, no change in opening hours but can work from Mondays to Fridays.  Prior to this, we allowed a three-day working week. However, only persons that are within the grade level of 14 and above at both the federal and state government levels will be allowed to come into work. We will encourage staff to continue to work at home if possible, including the business and private sector, making the best use of technology that is now available.

“Hotels may reopen but must observe all mandatory non- pharmaceutical interventions.

“Restaurants, other than those in hotels must remain closed for eat -ins but are allowed to prioritise and continue practising the takeaway system.

“The Federal Ministry of Education has been instructed to work with school owners to prepare students that require exiting exams to allow them to take exams early in the next phase of the lifting of the lockdown.

“State governments and security agencies are enjoined to ensure effective and strict enforcement of these guidelines while respecting the exemptions that have been approved by Mr. President.”

 

Executive Order 10: An instrument for strengthening our constitutional institutions [Nation]

George Akume

The history of executive orders in Nigeria is traceable to the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended).  This implies that it carries the force of law and can be legally implemented. However there has been an endless challenge to its constitutionality and enforcement. Some of the contributors, hold the view that only the legislature and not the President, possesses the inherent powers to make laws; therefore, barking orders with any force of law for implementation is tantamount to a breach of the age long principle of separation of powers.

Looking deeply into the 1999 Constitution (as amended) it is clear that state powers in our current constitutional democracy are shared among the three arms of government, i.e  the executive, the legislature and the judiciary. It is worthy to note that while the drafters vested legislative and judicial powers in institutions, executive powers are vested in the president. However, both institutions and the office of the President are headed by individuals in a transient manner.

This constitution like the American constitution enshrines the concept of separation of powers into its structure. The powers of the Legislature, Executive and the Judiciary are contained in Sections 4, 5 and 6 of the Constitution respectively. The constitution however has no explicit provision declaring that the powers of the three branches of Government should be separated; the principle then is to guarantee the separate functioning of the branches of Government while complementing each other.

I have served as a state Governor, a federal legislator (Senator) and now a Minister of the Federal Republic.  In my years of public service, I experienced the use of the powers contained under Sections 4 and 5 of the constitution and can speak in this regards.

The provisions of section 5(1)(a) of the1999 constitution ( as amended) state that the powers “may be exercised by the President directly, or through the vice-president and ministers of the Government of the Federation or officers in the public service of the Federation.”

The constitution further states clearly the scope and purpose of this executive power as “for the execution and maintenance of the constitution, all laws made by the National Assembly and to all matters with respect to which the National Assembly has for the time being, power to make laws.”

In the case of a State Government, the said powers under Section 5(2)(a) of the constitution are to be exercised by the Governor directly or through the deputy Governor, Commissioners or officers of the state. There is however a clear caveat for the State governments not to exercise the powers to “impede or prejudice the exercise of the executive powers of the Federation”

Similarly, the same constitution under Section 315 (2) empowers the President or the Governor of a State (as the case may be) to make an order for the modifications of the text of any existing law as they consider necessary or expedient to bring that law into conformity with the provisions of the constitution. This bothers on a particular text in any Act or Law that are at variance with the provisions of the constitution. This principle is based on the concept of constitutional superiority and a clear indication that although the powers of lawmaking are vested in the Legislature, the Executive powers can be used to modify a text in an existing law for the purpose of making it to conform with the Constitution.

In exercise of his executive Powers under Section 5 of the 1999 Constitution of the FRN, then President Olusegun Obasanjo issued (Order) Statutory Instrument No. 9 of 2002 which modified certain provisions of the Allocation of Revenue (Federation Account, etc) Decree (No 106) of 1992, including the sharing formula.

All 36 State Governor including myself brought the matter before the Supreme Court for interpretation on the constitutionality of the action. The Supreme Court considered the exercise by the President not to be an abuse of the principle of the doctrine of separation of powers, but rather, an important action to preserve an existing law and give meaning to the constitutional provision it contravenes.

President Muhammadu Buhari has issued several Executive Orders since assumption of office. Most of the orders target the economy, the fight against corruption, the development of critical National Infrastructure especially roads and the regularization or voluntary declaration of offshore assets of Nigerian citizens for the purpose of filing appropriate tax returns. These Executive Orders have shaped the direction of the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari.

Having examined the history of Executive Orders and the usefulness as it were, my focus will now be on the recently signed Executive Oder no. 10 of May 20, 2020 which is for the implementation of financial autonomy for state legislature and judiciary. I envision the Order as a veritable tool for the sustenance and strengthening of our institutions especially constitutionally established bodies.

The concept of separation of powers which advocates for the independence of the three arms of government will not serve any purpose if the Legislature and the Judiciary will keep going cap in hand to the executive for handouts to run their affairs. This approach is responsible for the popular slogan referring to state legislatures as ‘rubber stamp’ and a clear case of “the piper dictating the tune”. Furthermore, section 121(3) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as Amended); provides for the financial autonomy at the state tier of government. To this end a Presidential Implementation Committee is already constituted to fashion out strategies and modalities for the implementation of financial autonomy to satisfy the Constitutional provision on financial autonomy for the two tiers of government at the state level.

Thank you Mr. President for taking a bold step in ensuring that the other important arms of government at state levels also enjoy their financial autonomy so as to guarantee free, fair and the effective provision of services rendered by these institutions without unnecessary external or executive interference.

The era of inevitability of instability of leadership of state legislatures may be over; Mr. President has strengthened and consolidated the foundation of democracy at the 2nd tier of government. Now is the time for commendation, not condemnation as we mark 21 years of uninterrupted democracy. And so Kudos to Mr President, the father of democratic renewal in the states.

  • Senator Akume is Minister for Special Duties and Intergovernmental Affairs.

 

 

Obaseki: my relationship with Oshiomhole still frosty [Nation]

There is no agreement between the National Working Committee (NWC) of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and Edo State Governor Godwin Obaseki on the mode of shadow poll for the choice of standard bearer for the September election.

Obaseki acknowledged that his relationship with Oshiomhole was still frosty.

He however said he was prepared to make sacrifice for peace and prevent what he described as bloodbath in the state.

National Chairman Adams Oshiomhole, who reiterated the NWC’s position in Abuja, maintained that there was no going back on the direct primary guidelines issued last week.

But, Obaseki, whose camp had suggested indirect primary, was at Aso Villa to brief President Muhammadu Buhari on his second term bid, after obtaining the nomination form from the APC national secretariat.

There was a fence-mending meeting between the APC governors rooting for Obaseki’s re-election bid and Oshiomhole but the national chairman maintained that he could not go against the NWC’s directive on the Edo primary.

APC governors’ fence mending meeting with Oshiomhole, followed a similar meeting held with the National Leader, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, in Lagos on Sunday night.

APC governors’ fence mending meeting with Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, in Lagos on Sunday night

The governors at the meeting include Chairman of Progressive Governors Forum and Kebbi State Governor Atiku Bagudu, Rotimi Akeredolu (Ondo), Babajide Sanwo-Olu (Lagos), Mohammed Inuwa (Gombe), Abdullahi Ganduje (Kano) and AbdulRaham Abdulrasaki (Kwara).

After the three-hour meeting Oshiomole insisted that the Edo primary would be based on direct primary.

Direct Primary

He told reporters: “The issues of primaries are well spelt out in our constitution and we are following it as strictly as possible. So nothing to worry about at all”.

He described as mere rumour the disagreement on the format of the primary, saying: “You are speculating, I don’t have any letter or document to that effect. These are very formal matters. So, stop spreading rumours.

“We have since published our time table because under the law we are required to give INEC at least 21 days notice to monitor our primaries and to state the mode of our primaries and of course the NWC had approved direct primaries for Edo.

“We have commenced the sale of forms. I think as of last Friday to my knowledge, three people had picked the forms. I think by today more people have picked the forms. So, we’re selling forms to all those who wish to buy based on the guidelines and, of course, as the Chairman of the Progressives Governors rightly said, we have ensured in our letter to INEC and even this morning, we had a virtual meeting with INEC leadership. We will conduct primaries taking into account the protocols on Covid-19 by the PTF and NCDC. I think everything has been going fine.

On the Ondo State governorship primary, the chairman said: “That of Ondo has not been discussed because that will come much later, because Edo will come about three weeks before Ondo.”

However, Oshiomhole said Governor Rotimi Akeredolu had done well.

Bagudu said the meeting with NWC was to discuss some sundry issues with the party leadership.

“This meeting was not a continuation of  yesterday’s (Lagos) meeting. The meeting was with the national leadership of our party to discuss issues between the Governor’s Forum and party leadership that will lead to the progress of our party.”

With Oshiomhole at the meeting were the Acting National Secretary Waziri Bulama, National Vice Chairman, North East Mustapha Salihu, National Vice Chairman, South West, Pastor Bankole Oluwalana National Organising Secretary, Emma Ibediro and National Woman Leader Salamatu Baiwa.

Obaseki at Villa

The governor presenting his Expression of Interest form to the president for blessing

President Buhari met behind closed door with Obaseki at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, where he sought for his blessing for his re-election bid.

Speaking with State House correspondents at the end of the meeting, Obaseki said he came to formally intimate the president of his intention to seek re-election on the platform of the APC.

The governor, who presented his Expression of Interest form to the president for blessing, said:

“I came to see Mr President to formally inform him of my desire and intention to seek re-election as governor of Edo State on the platform of the APC in the forthcoming gubernatorial election.

“As a father of the country, as our president I should not just assume or take things for granted – I have to come to inform him and solicit his support in my gubernatorial bid, and the president was quiet warm and quiet welcoming.

“When I showed him my Expression of Interest form, he looked through it and teased me that he would not have to go through this again and wished me good luck and assured me of his support.’’

On the political crisis in Edo, the governor said it was being instigated from outside the state.

Obaseki also described the political misunderstanding between him and Oshiohmole as very unfortunate, saying however, that he was ready to reach a truce with aggrieved members of the APC.

He said: “It is unfortunate that he (Oshiohmole) is taking the position he has taken. I believe that he was not properly guided.

“I am his governor and it is my responsibility to seek peace for my State and with all my citizens.

“I will continue to strive for peace, I will continue to pursue peace, seek the interest of our people and I am open, that we should talk about  how to move things forward.

Frosty relationship

“The relationship is still frosty but I am doing all I can to try and make it warm just for the sake of Edo people. I am committed to whatever it will take to have peace and not to lose lives in Edo, within the law, whatever I can do that is constitutional, I will do.’’

According to the governor, he has the full support of his counterparts, all the governors elected

on the platform of the APC, in line with the principles of the party, which encourages continuity.

Obaseki said the party chairman had stuck to his guns because he had been wrongly guided.

He said: “The problem in Edo is not from within Edo, it is from outside. So, the person I am competing or contesting against is not in Edo, he is Abuja.

Asked how far he was willing to go to find peace with Oshiomhole, the governor said: “Whatever I can do that is within the law, whatever I can do that is constitutional, I will do”.

Obaseki said his achievements across sectors would speak for him at the poll, adding that the people wanted him to conclude the programmes and policies initiated for their benefit.

“Well, I believe having been governor of the state for three years, you can check with Edo people whether as Governor, I have served creditably, I have served the people of Edo.

“The general consensus is that we have done well as a government and that people would like us to continue with the laudable programs and policies which we have been taking over in the last three years.

“If you recall when I got into power as governor one thing Edo was noted for was human trafficking. We had over 30,000 of Edo citizens, who were at Libya waiting to cross into Europe. Today, in less than three years we have stopped it.

“We’re celebrated globally, across the continent in terms of the reforms we’ve undertaken in basic education in this country.

“Those children, I can’t abandon them. We can’t stop what we have achieved to date. So based on that, we believe that because of a connection which we have created with our people, we have no doubt in our minds that we’ll win any elections, direct/indirect, general elections in Edo state”, he said.

 

CAN awaits details as FG opens churches, mosques, relaxes curfew [Punch]

  • Second phase of eased lockdown begins today, ends June 29
  • Final year students may sit for examinations in July

The Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 on Monday said the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd), had approved the relaxation of restriction   placed on churches and mosques starting from Tuesday (today).

The Chairman of the task force and Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr Boss Mustapha, who disclosed this at the PTF press briefing in Abuja, said the reopening of churches and mosques would  be based on guidelines issued by the task force and protocols agreed on by states.

But the Coordinator of the PTF, Dr Sani Aliyu, gave detailed explanations of the recommendations approved by the President.

In its reaction, the Christian Association of Nigeria told The PUNCH that it was awaiting the details of the reopening of worship centres.

Mustapha said the ban on interstate movements, which the President, in his April 27 broadcast, imposed on the nation, remained. He stated that the second phase of eased lockdown would begin on Tuesday (today) and end on June 29.

Buhari had on April 27 imposed an 8pm to 6am curfew on the nation and introduced a total lockdown on Kano State, which recorded a surge in COVID-19 cases.

Mustapha said the PTF on Sunday submitted a report to the President based on its review of the eased lockdown. According to him, the second phase will be guided by “data and science.”

He said the PTF recommendations were, among others, based on the impacts of COVID-19 on the global economy and all national economies as well as pain the lockdown  brought upon the poor.

He said the PTF took into consideration the advisory of the World Health Organisation on the need to follow a slow and phased approach that is data driven.

The chairman said, under the eased lockdown, Nigeria’s confirmed cases increased, adding that the  majority of the confirmed cases were in 20 out of  the 774  local government areas in the country.

Second phase of eased lockdown begins Tuesday ends June 29

Mustpha stated, “The PTF submitted its recommendations and the President has approved the following for implementation over the next four weeks spanning June 2 to June 29 subject to review: cautious advance into the second phase of the national response to COVID-19.”

FG rolls out guidelines for second phase of eased lockdown

According to him, during the second phase, there will be mobilisation of resources at state and local government levels to create public awareness on COVID -19.

He also said there would be “ban on gatherings of more than 20 people outside of a workplace (and)  relaxation of restriction on places of worship based on guidelines issued by the PTF and protocols agreed by state governments.”

Other recommendations approved by the President, according to him, include “managed access to markets and locations of economic activity to limit the risk of transmission; ban on inter-state travels except for movement of agricultural produce, petroleum products, manufactured goods and essential services; mandatory use of non-medical face masks in public places and provision of hand washing facilities/sanitisers in all public places.”

There will also be  extensive temperature checks in public places; maintenance of two metres  between people in public places.

Mustapha said  the President also approved easing the total lockdown of Kano State and introduction of phase one of the eased lockdown in the state.

We lack infrastructure to isolate all COVID-19 patients – PTF

Mustapha also said government did not have not enough infrastructure to isolate everyone that tested positive for COVID-19.

The SGF said,  “We have been able to interrupt the level of transmission and we can now situate the level of transmission within 20 local government areas that account for the total figure of 60 per cent of 10, 107 that we have for today,” he said.

“What we need to do now is to apply a precision intervention process so that we can deal with the transmission at that level and those particular localities. Provide care for those that are infected and also put in place  home management guidelines because very soon as the figure scales out, we would not be able to provide isolation for everybody that has tested positive.

“It’s not done anywhere. We lack the infrastructure, we lack the capacity to do that. It is not even advisable. What we have to do is to provide care at the home management level for those that are asymptomatic and can’t dangerously transmit the virus.”

Curfew now between 10pm and  4am

But   the national coordinator of the PTF said the nationwide curfew would be between 10pm and 4am, with effect from Tuesday (today).

Aliyu said, “From tomorrow, Tuesday, 2nd of June, 2020, the easing of the lockdown will be characterised by the following: the nationwide curfew will remain in place but the timing of this will be reduced to 10pm – 4am. Vehicles that are on essential duty, including but not limited to those involved in the provision of health care services, media services and critical infrastructure, are exempted from the curfew.

“Open interstate travel by individuals remains prohibited except for essential travels and movement of goods and services. Just to make it clear: all restriction on the free movement of goods and services is now removed in this phase.

PTF tells banks to begin full operations

“There will be full opening of the financial sector, with banks now free to operate normal working hours, five days a week.

He, however, said state governments would supervise relaxation of worship centres

“Restricted opening of places of worship will be based on state governments’ protocols and with strict guidelines on physical distancing and other non-pharmaceutical interventions. Just to clarify: this will apply to regular church and mosque services only,” he said.

Aliyu also said the mandatory supervised isolation of persons arriving from outside the country would continue to be for 14 days until a new policy comes into place.

“Just to clarify again: there will be no further evacuation of Nigerians until the new policy that is currently being developed with the private sector comes into being. So, any prior arrangement for evacuation of Nigerians from outside the country is suspended until the new policy comes into place,” he stated.

COVID-19: FG  bans street trading, hawking

The PTF national coordinator further said while markets would be opened and artisans could run their business, street hawking was prohibited.

He said, “In terms of general movements, persons may go out for work, go out to buy necessary foods and for exercise, provided they abide by the curfew hours. Movement between local government areas is strongly discouraged unless for critical reasons such as health care and work.

“I will like to emphasise that it is still safer to stay at home and avoid crowds. The pandemic is not over in this country and the relaxation of some of the rules does not mean that it is safer to go out. If you do not need to go out, please continue to stay at home.

“Hawking and street trading is also prohibited and we will be looking into this in greater detail with state authorities.”

“With interstate travels, movement across state boundaries remains restricted other than the free movement of goods and essential travels. Security services are requested to please cooperate with members of the public and ensure that goods are provided with free passage, as this particular phase is directed at ensuring the economy starts moving again.

“With intrastate travel, we will implement new travel processes for areas of the country with high-burden local government areas, and this will be restricted to essential travels.”

The task force coordinator listed the new guidelines for  reopening of offices in the public and private sectors.

He said, “For the industry and labour sectors, in terms of working hours, normal working hours will apply to offices other than government offices, provided this is kept within (outside) the curfew hours of 10pm to 4am. Offices are to maintain working at 75 per cent capacity while maintaining the two-metre physical distancing.

“For government offices, they can open between the hours of 9am and 2pm. So, no changes in opening hours but can work from Monday to Friday. Prior to this, we allowed three working days. However, all persons within the Grade Levels of 14 and above at both the federal and state governments will be allowed to come to work.”

…Bars, clubs, gyms to remain closed

Aliyu also announced that while hotels could reopen, their restaurants must obey safety guidelines. He, however, said bars, recreation parks and communal sports remain barred.

He said, “Hotels may reopen but must observe all mandatory non-pharmaceutical interventions. Restaurants other than those in hotels must remain closed for eat-in but are allowed to prioritise and continue practising the take-away system.

“Bars, gyms, cinemas and night-clubs are closed until further evaluation. We will continue to support the agricultural sector to ensure food security for our citizens, and in this regard, farmers are requested to please go ahead with their normal activities provided they observe all mandatory health interventions.”

…Schools remain closed, final year students to prepare for exams

He added, “All schools to remain closed until further evaluation. The Federal Ministry of Education is instructed to work with schools to start the process of preparing students that require exiting exams, to allow them to take exams early in the next phase of the lifting of the lockdown. But for the moment, schools are to remain closed.

“I have already mentioned places of worship. Restricted opening will apply subject to the guidelines issued by the PTF as well as the protocols agreed by respective state governments, working with religious leaders.

“Recreational parks and communal sports to remain closed until further evaluation.

He said for funerals, the task force was  limiting the crowd to 20 people including family, with physical distancing adhered to, as well as hand washing.

At the press conference, the Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire,  said the Federal Government was anticipating a second wave of COVID-19 infections after the relaxation of the lockdown.

FG sends technical team to Lagos over rising cases

Ehanire added that the Federal Ministry of Health had sent a technical team to Lagos State because of the “special situation” in the state which called for support and advice.

He said, “The mission of the Federal Ministry of Health led by the Executive Director of the National Primary Healthcare Development Agency has arrived in Lagos. It also includes the Department of Family Health and the Nigeria  Centre for Disease Control. They are there to see how Lagos is doing and finding ways in which the Federal Government can offer support and also share experiences. Before now, we had spoken of similar missions to Kano State.

“The experience we have is that once we have lockdown relaxed in certain places, you have a second wave of infections. Here, we are aware of that and we are anticipating that if anything like that happens, we should be able to counter with measures. That is why we have emphasised non-pharmaceutical interventions that are driven by not only the government but by citizens – everyone.

“Those who are vulnerable should stay at home – you are safest in your homes. If you live in a home of many people, keep your masks on at home. With all these non-pharmaceutical measures, we do hope we can temper the second wave if there is one.”

On the threat by resident doctors to embark on strike, the health minister urged them to allow the Federal Government to resolve their demands, saying the decision to go on strike should be shelved.

Reopening: We await further details, says CAN

Meanwhile, the Special Assistant  on Media and Communication to the CAN President, Adebayo Oladeji, said the association was awaiting further details.

He said, “We want to get the details before we will react fully. But in the interim, it is a welcome development. It is our prayer that God will surely deliver Nigeria from the pandemic in Jesus Name.

“If Christians and Muslims return to their worship places to pray for victory over COVID-19, God will surely answer us. The closure of the worship places is not acceptable to God. We thank God for opening the eyes of our government to the reality.

“The Church is ready for the reopening and willing to follow the NCDC guidelines and while waiting for them.  We have already directed all churches to keep to the hygienic regulations whenever they meet and to pray for the victory over COVID-19. The new development is as a result of our meeting with the religious leaders.”

 

IG deploys squad as protest rocks Benin over UNIBEN student’s killing [Punch]

The Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, has deployed investigation aid and forensic support to the Edo State Police Command to complement the ongoing probe of the death of a 100-level student of the University of Benin, Uwaila Omosuwa.

PUNCH Metro had reported that Uwaila had gone to study in the Redeemed Christian Church of God, Miracle Sanctuary Mega Parish, Edo Province 10, Ikpoba Hill area of Benin City on May 27, 2020, when she was raped and brutalised by her assailants.

The men had reportedly forced their way into the church, raped and smashed Uwaila’s head with a fire extinguisher.

It was gathered that the church security guard, who just resumed duty, found Uwaila in a pool of her own blood and called for help, while the victim was rushed to the University of Benin Teaching Hospital.

Uwaila did not recover from her state of unconsciousness until she died on Saturday.

Nigerians have urged the police to ensure that the assailants are brought to justice.

Some Nigerians and celebrities, on Monday, staged an indoor protest to demand a stop to rape and extrajudicial killings in the country.

The protesters took pictures and displayed placards with various inscriptions like: ‘Don’t tell me how to dress, tell them not to rape me. Enough is Enough’, ‘Stop raping women! Stop killing women! No means no’, ‘Say no to rape’, ‘Stop raping us’, ‘My body, my choice’, and ‘Don’t be a rape apologist.’

Musical artiste, Small Doctor, who also condemned rape on his Twitter page, @iam_smalldoctor, wrote, “Nothing Justifies Rape & Illegal Killings! STOP RAPING WOMEN. Use Your Voice However You. #justiceforTina #JusticeForUwa #StopRapingWomen #Justiceforall. _ iyanu MASHELE SOONEST.”

Actress, Mercy Aigbe, who also took a picture of herself with a placard with the inscription, ‘Enough is Enough. #We demand justice,’ wrote on her Instagram page, “I stand against Rape! I stand against Police Brutality! Enough is Enough! Justice must be served! #justicefortina #justiceforuwa #wedemandjustice.”

The former Senate President, Bukola Saraki, who condemned the action of the assailants on his verified Twitter handle, urged the police to bring the perpetrators to justice.

He tweeted, “The reports of the rape and murder of a 22-year-old undergraduate of the University of Benin, Uwa Omosuwa, in a church in Benin City, are extremely shocking. Such savagery has no place in the Nigerian society.

“As a people, we have to work to create safe spaces for our girls and women – in our homes, at work and in our places of worship – free from any sorts of sexual violation and I say this not just because I’m a #girldad, but because it is the right thing to do.

“I strongly appeal to our law enforcement agencies to leave no stone uncovered in finding the perpetrators of this heinous act and bringing them to justice. I pray that the Almighty comforts the Omozuwa family and strengthens them at this very difficult time.”

Some UNIBEN students and members of the public stormed the headquarters of the state police command in Benin to demand justice for Uwaila.

The protesters, who were clad in black attire, staged a walk from the King’s Square area of Benin City to the state police command headquarters at the GRA.

The Deputy Commissioner of Police, Operations, Ayoola Ajala, who received the protesters, assured them that investigation had commenced and arrests had been made in connection with the murder.

The victim’s father, Johnson Omozuwa, called on security agencies to fish out his daughter’s killers.

Johnson, who spoke with journalists at his No. 3 Michael Avenue, Ohovbe Quarter, Ikpoba Hill, Benin City, said Uwaila was attacked by hoodlums, adding that she was a member of the RCCG.

“I received calls from people living around the church, who saw my daughter in a pool of her own blood; photographs of the scene were taken, while a fire extinguisher cylinder, which the hoodlums used in inflicting injuries on her, was recovered,” he said.

Johnson said he took his daughter to the Enoma Hospital, Ogbeson Quarter, Ikpoba Hill, “and the management asked me to report the matter to the police, which I did at the Ikpoba-Okha Police Division.”

He added that the management of the hospital took Uwaila to the University of Benin Teaching Hospital for further treatment, but she passed away on Saturday night.

The victim’s mother said she was surprised that her daughter could suffer such a gruesome death after being raped.

She said Uwaila was a peaceful person and wondered why anyone would do such a thing to her.

The lawmaker representing the Ovia Federal Constituency, Dennis Idahosa; the Peoples Democratic Party and the General Overseer of the Omega Fire Ministries Worldwide, Pastor Johnson Suleiman, condemned the killing.

The IG, in a statement by the Force Public Relations Officer, Frank Mba, said the killers of Uwaila would be brought to justice.

The statement read, “As part of deliberate and concerted efforts by the Nigeria Police High Command to unravel the circumstances surrounding the brutal attack and unfortunate death of Miss Vera Uwaila Omosuwa in Benin, Edo State, on May 28 and 30, 2020, respectively, the Inspector-General of Police has deployed additional investigation aids and forensic support in the Edo State Police Command to complement and expedite action on the ongoing investigation into the unfortunate incident.

“The IG, while condemning the attack, commiserates with the family, friends and colleagues of the deceased. He calls for calm and gives the assurance that the force will surely bring the perpetrators of the callous act to justice in the shortest possible time.”

Edo State Governor, Godwin Obaseki, described Uwaila’s rape and murder as the height of criminality.

Obaseki, who spoke on the killing during his visit to the State House in Abuja on Monday, described it as gruesome and sheer madness, adding that the killers must be tracked down.

He said, “Fortunately, my new commissioner of police resumed today (Monday). I’m going back to Benin and that will be the first assignment. We must track down the killers, because their action is gruesome. It’s sheer madness.

“Why would you go to a church and rape a young girl? It’s the height of criminality and this is one reason I have decided to contest (seek re-election) and ensure that we impose a state of order in Edo and get rid of criminal gangs, even if they are in our politics (political party).”

The state Commissioner for Social Development and Gender Issues, Maria Edeko, gave an assurance that the family of Uwaila would get justice.

She gave the assurance while addressing protesting students, who stormed the Government House, Benin City, to register their displeasure over the gruesome murder of the undergraduate.

She said the police had been mandated to fish out, arrest and prosecute the masterminds of the heinous crime.

She said the administration was resolute in ensuring that the perpetrators of the crime to face the full wrath of the law, noting that the Violence Against Persons Prohibition Law had been domesticated in the state to deal with such crimes.

Edeko stated, “On behalf of the governor, I express deep pain over this incident. We are saddened over the matter, because the deceased represented the old and the young. In this age and time when so many persons do not even think of studying, Vera Uwaila went to the church to read.

“Her death is disheartening, more so that the heinous crime was committed in a sacred place of worship.”

The commissioner added that the state government’s delegation had visited the family of the deceased student to commiserate with them and extend the governor’s deepest condolences.

 

NMA, resident doctors knock Abiodun over comment on strike [Punch]

The Nigeria Medical Association, Ogun State chapter and the South-West caucus of the Association of Resident Doctors, on Monday, attacked the state governor, Dapo Abiodun, for berating doctors at the Olabisi Onabanjo Teaching Hospital, Sagamu.

The NMA said it was disappointed and ashamed of the governor for calling its members irresponsible for demanding their rights.

The NARD South-West stated its position in a statement by its leader, Dr Oiwoh Sebastine, to journalists in Abeokuta on Monday.

The NARD caucus comprising members in Ogun, Lagos, Oyo, Osun, Ekiti and Ondo states said the doctors’ demand was in line with international best practices needed for the care of the entire populace.

Abiodun was reported to have described the strike embarked upon by the Resident Doctors at the OOUTH, Sagamu, as irresponsible and politically motivated.

But the NMA on Monday expressed disappointment over the governor’s comment.

The NMA chairman, Ismail Lawal, said he was ashamed over the comment made by the governor.

He lamented that political leaders were fond of making doctors to beg for their rights.

Lawal said, “I am ashamed and disappointed. It implies that we are already grooming a constituted authority in the state. At our level, I believe that any doctor who passed through medical school for a minimum of six years to get NBBS, that person should have something to offer.

“It is unbecoming of political officers to see your asking for your rights as if they are doing you a favour.”

The NMA chairman urged the governor to implement the recommendations of a committee set up to look into the crisis at the OOUTH.

The NARD in its statement stated that without going pedestrian, the demand of the Ogun State doctors was not misplaced especially as the time of COVID-19 pandemic with Ogun State being one of the epicentres in Nigeria.

It added, “Surprisingly, owing to the outmost respect our members have for the seat of power in the state, our members had expected that His  Excellency, the governor of Ogun State will carefully holistically and needed pragmatism look into the demands devoid of any emotional blackmail

“But the use of unprintable words by the governor is in the least unbefitting and unacceptable from the occupant of that exalted seat.’’

 

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