Partial compliance with rules as churches reopen in FCT, Osun, Kwara, Imo [Nation]

Christians in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) and some other parts of the country on Sunday trooped out for worship at churches.

This followed the lifting of ban on worship centres across the country by the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19.

But there were mixed reactions to the reopening of the worship centres across the country.

While many worshippers praised the government for the action, others decried their inability to feel free during service.

In a church in Abuja, some children were seen sitting on the floor without face masks, though they were said to have washed their hands before entering the worship centre.

It was not clear last night who cleared them for the service without giving them face masks.

The Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA) hailed the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) and other church leaders for ensuring compliance with the COVID-19 guidelines for religious organisations.

Chairman of FCT Ministerial Task Team on Enforcement of COVID-19 Restrictions, Mr Ikharo Attah, spoke when he led the team on an inspection of some churches to ensure compliance.

Members of the Living Faith Church (a.k.a. Winners Chapel) at Lagere, washing and sanitizing their hands before entering the church for Sunday Service, after two months lockdown, at Lagere Ile-Ife in Osun on Sunday (7/6/20).

02665/7/6/2020/Dorcas Elusogbon/BJO/NAN

The team was at the First Baptist Church on Gimbiya Street in Area 11, ECWA Church in Maitama, and at the Holy Trinity Catholic Church in Maitama, Abuja, where it met with Bishop Anselm Umoren.

Many churches in Osun State on Sunday witnessed low turnout but compiled with the guidelines given by the state government to curb the spread of Coronavirus.

Governor Adegboyega Oyetola, last Wednesday, lifted the ban on religious gatherings and asked worshippers to obey the guidelines.

Our correspondent monitored services at Living Faith Church, Oke-Onitea; All Saints Church, Balogun Agoro; Grace Baptist Church, Odi-Olowo; St. Benedict’s Catholic Church, all in Osogbo.

At Living Faith Church, Osogbo, an official, who pleaded not to be named, said: “In the first service today, we had about 543 worshippers and 479 in the second service. I believe it’s because aged people and children that did not attend our services.”

In Kwara State, many churches held services and adhered to Federal Government’s safety protocols on COVID-19.

Those in Ilorin, the state capital, complied with major protocols, the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) Implementation Compliance Committee/Task Force said.

The Imo COVID-19 Task Force on Sunday expressed satisfaction with level of compliance by some churches with the Coronavirus protocols in the state.

This, the task force said, included wearing of face masks, washing of hands and maintaining social distancing.

The Chairman of the task force, Prof. Maurice Iwu, spoke when he led his team to visit some churches in Owerri, the state capital, to ascertain level of compliance by worshippers to the coronavirus guidelines.

 

Lawan: we passed Buhari’s $5.5b loan request to save 20m jobs [Nation]

The passage of the $5.513 billion loan request by President Muhammadu Buhari will save 20 million jobs, President of the Senate Ahmed Lawan said at the weekend.

Dr. Lawan explained that the national Assembly did not give frivolous approval.

He said Nigeria was able to get concessionary, multilateral or bilateral loans with very favourable conditions of one per cent, 10 years or 20 year moratorium.

He also claimed that over 400 bills are being processed in the national assembly to add value to Nigerians’ lives.

He said there has been less friction between the Legislature and the Executive because a Special Committee is working behind-the-scene to avert feuds as it was between the two arms during the Eighth Assembly.

Lawan said: “We are not doing that in a frivolous way. We are very mindful, we are very patriotic on the way and manner we grant or endorse these requests and we are also very meticulous. Our Committees on Foreign and Domestic Loans have gone through all the papers to ensure that there is justification for those loans. And in fact, in the Senate, we didn’t pass all the loan requests.

“We passed only the request for $5.513b. There was $1.5b request for states. We could not see the justification and we said no. So, it was not everything that was requested that was was granted by the Senate.

“I want to assure Nigerians that we would always be guided by the need for our country to be prudent; by the need for our government to be prudent and efficient in the deployment of resources. And of course in the process, we should also explore other means of funding our projects like the partnership with the private sector. All we need to do is to create the environment for the private sector to participate.”

Lawan explained that the loans were necessary to complete important infrastructural projects.

He said: “Well, we have a shortfall of almost $14.2b funding gap for 2020 Budget. And with COVID-19, came so many negative things that have visited adverse outcomes on our people. We didn’t make hay while the sun shone when we had our crude selling for over $140 per barrel in the past.

“We didn’t diversify the economy, we didn’t invest in the real sectors of the economy and most of the resources were frittered.

“Now, we have come to a point where we have to address the infrastructure gap that we have but the resources are so low. Crude at one point was selling for $10 and $11 per barrel, especially when this COVID-19 thing started around March.

“We have very significant projects that we need to put in place like the Second Niger Bridge, the Mambilla Hydro-Power Project; the East-West Road, Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, Lagos- Kano Rail Line; Port Harcourt-Maiduguri Rail Line and so many other projects that are as well important. But we don’t have the money.

“Tell me, if you don’t have the resources and you still needed these projects because with some of them you can pay back what you owe once they are operational. Would you because you don’t want to obtain the loans, you will say let me abandon these projects. Or, you will say I will take the loans but I will ensure that all the loans I take and every other resource I put on these projects are properly, efficiently and prudently applied and deployed.”

He said if the loans were not approved, the nation’s economy may slip into recession.

He added: “For us in the National Assembly, we are conscious of the fact that this economy, as affected by COVID-19, if it persists, you could lose over 20million jobs in this country.

“The economy could go into serious recession probably up to -4% or even -5 % of the GDP. So, you need to have the resources to invest so that the economy does not go into recession and also to ensure that people don’t lose their jobs.

“Therefore, when the Federal Government was able to get concessionary, multilateral or bilateral loans with very favourable conditions of maybe 1%, 10 years or 20 year moratorium, what can you do? You cannot run away from your challenges.

He explained the rationale behind the creation of Special Committee to reduce the friction between the Legislature and the Executive.

But he also clarified that the National Assembly will never compromise its mandate.

He said: “I am pleased to say that we have done so much. The Senate started and remains united. We are bi-partisan and this is obvious and we have been working with other arms of government very closely in such a manner that our productivity level in the Senate is higher than most previous sessions. And that is to say that it is because we have more time to be focused and concentrate on delivering legislative interventions as may be required from time to time.

“We need not spend any time on unnecessary Executive-Legislature conflict and bickering. Certainly not obviously before the public. We have given this kind of environment; we have done significantly very well compared to most of the previous sessions.

“Here, I am not talking about the number of bills passed because we were doing everything fine until COVID-19 pandemic from February to June. Unfortunately with the COVID-18 pandemic effects, it is clear that everybody is working far below his capacity whether as an individual or as an institution. This is because of the situation that requires lockdown, easing of lockdown and the National Assembly and the Senate cannot be different.

“Certainly, we sit at the moment once in a legislative week or sometimes at best two days in a legislative week. That is not the way it should be but because of the current situation, there is hardly anything anybody could do until the situation of COVID-19 becomes easy and better for us to go full blast and full operation.

“But, I am happy to say that, at least, given all these difficult situations, the Senate has done fairly well. We have over 400 bills in different stages of legislative processing. And of course, we have done so many confirmations compared to any other Senate in one year. We have done about 27 or 28 confirmation requests from the Executive arm of government. And we consider that very significant because this is the way to make government efficient when you have the governing boards, the governing councils and the management in place as against an individual, probably a Minister, or someone who could take advantage of no governing board or management to run government organisations.

“So, we are very happy with what we have done so far. Let me also say this. In order to sustain the relationship that enhances our productivity, we have a Special Committee. This Special Committee is between the Executive and Legislative arms of government that works behind-the-scene. It is not an official body, you don’t see it, you don’t hear it but it is very effective and efficient.

“The members are the Senate Leader, the House Leader, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on National Assembly (Senate), the Senior Special Assistant to the President on National Assembly (House); the representative of the Office of the Attorney-General of the Federation and relevant committee chairmen when there is a bill that has to do with an area a committee oversights.

“And this is a conscious decision between the Legislature and the Executive that whenever there is going to be a bill that is significant and could cause misunderstanding, the Executive should bring that bill, we will sit down to let them explain to that committee and let them work on it. Where the legislators feel this is too obvious we cannot accept this and this is the way we think it should be, we will argue and then we will have the bill that will eventually come to the National Assembly.

He said the creation of the Special Committee does not erode the Principle of Separation of Powers between the Legislature and the Executive.

He added: “The Principle of Separation of Powers is what establishes and sustains government. I believe in it strongly. I also believe that separation of powers should also be considered along checks and balances.

Regarding the proposed e-voting by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Lawan said the National Assembly was expecting details from the electoral body.

He said: “This is something we need to sit down with INEC, because INEC is the operator of the electoral environment, and anything it thinks is necessary for us to operate during this time of COVID-19 challenge, we should look into it but before then, we believe that the electoral environment should be as dynamic as it is, should receive our attention that will make it possible for elections to hold and outcomes to achieve the integrity that we will have the confidence of voters. I don’t want to comment too much on what INEC said because they need to explain to us what they mean by e-voting, the scope, what type of technologies they are going to deploy, how they are going to do it. I don’t want to comment further on that so that I don’t cause unnecessary debate about it.

“We want to do constitutional amendment as well as amendment of the electoral act to further make the process better and we want to see a situation where all pre-election matters are determined before the elections, that’s to say that if there are issues regarding the primaries by political parties and their candidates, then such legal matters should be settled, before anybody is presented for election so that you don’t go with pre-election problems or matters into the general election.

“We want to ensure that in our constitutional amendment, local government autonomy is further entrenched because we’ve lost it, we don’t talk about local governments anymore like they don’t exist. This is a tier of government that can do a lot to help us to deal with small and local issues. We believe that we should work to ensure that local government autonomy is protected by the constitution. We have a lot of interest in ensuring that we carry out constitutional amendment as well as working on the electoral act.”

On the controversy trailing the proposed renovation of the National Assembly complex, he said the estimated cost has been reduced from N37b to N9.2b.

He added: As for National Assembly renovation, how I wish I am not a member of the National Assembly so that when I talk about it, people will not read meaning into it. This guest house leaks but this is personal to me, nobody is talking about it. But that National Assembly represents Nigeria, it tells our story; it is Nigeria personified. Go round the National Assembly, even from outside start from the Dome, you will be ashamed of Nigeria.

“The National Assembly renovation was misunderstood. Sometimes, you allow criticisms so that you give people the feeling that this is a democracy. People criticized it, we took it calmly and we assumed that we need to educate Nigerians about it.

“First of all, it is not a National Assembly building; it is the Federal Capital Development Authority’s building. National Assembly is to be accommodated by the Federal Government of Nigeria. If tomorrow, the location or our accommodation is changed to the International Conference Centre, that is where we are going to stay.”

 

Obaseki, Oshiomhole put Presidency in dilemma [Nation]

  • Buhari may push for NEC meeting over mode of primary
  • Direct primary ‘will guarantee social distancing’

The mode of picking the All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate for the September 19 governorship election remained contentious on Sunday night.

There is yet no final decision on whether the shadow poll billed for June 22 will be conducted using direct primary or indirect primary.

Both options are permitted by the party’s constitution.

While the National Working Committee (NWC) of APC has approved the use of direct primary, a system that will enable all card-carrying members of the party to participate in picking the candidate, Governor Godwin Obaseki and his supporters are rooting for indirect primary, in which delegates will pick the candidate on behalf of party members.

The governor has been lobbying the Presidency to overrule the NWC.

The President, it was learnt is in dilemma.

The rift over the mode of primary has shifted to the court as the camp of National Chairman Adams Oshionhole intensified its campaigns against Obaseki’s re’election bid.

Five aspirants will square it up Obaseki for the ticket. They  are: Pius Odubu, Osagie Ize-Iyamu, Chris Ogiemwonyi, Matthew Iduoriyekemwen and Osabo Obazee.

Edo Central APC leader, Chief Francis Inegbeniki, who is a loyalist of the former governor, has catalogued “50 sins” of Obaseki which are enough grounds to stop his renomination for second term.

He said majority of party members could no longer trust Obaseki and his deputy Philip Shaibu because of their infractions against the national chairman, other party chieftains and members of the House of Assembly.

A source said the governor’s camp, which is understandably jittery over the slim prospects of survival during the direct primary, is mustering all arsenals at its disposal to get a sympathetic ear of the Presidency.

The governor’s supporters have consistently pointed out the danger of a direct primary, which they claimed, does not permit social distance at this time of COVID-19 pandemic.

According to the source, the Presidency is contemplating compelling the party leadership to call a National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting.

However, to the anti-Obaseki forces, there should be no going back on direct primary because it more effectively guarantees social distancing.

They explained that, under the direct primary arrangement, party members are expected to vote in their wards, instead of travelling to Benin City, the state capital, for the shadow poll.

Apart from the advantage of inclusiveness and sense of belonging which the direct option can guarantee, collation of results which will reflect the general wish of the chapter on governorship standard bearer can be ascertained.

The pro-direct primary crusaders also fear that the indirect system will bring thousands of delegates together at a venue in Benin, thereby grossly violating social distancing in a congested venue.

The source said: “The generality of Edo APC, leaders and members have welcomed the directive of the NWC on direct primary. People are enthusiastic down to the wards. But the camp of Governor Obaseki is fueling the unfounded fear that a direct primary will violate social distancing.

“Now, the Presidency is contemplating a NEC meeting to discuss the Edo primary and take a final decision. The truth of the matter is that direct primary will enhance social distancing because party members will only vote at the wards and the results will be collated.

“This is a wide departure from indirect option whereby delegates in their thousands will converge on a hall in Benin. It will be congested and violate social distancing. But, as it is now, a final decision would still have to be taken on the Edo APC primary.”

Justifying why Obaseki cannot be trusted with a second term, Inegbeniki alleged that “in the last three and half years, the Obaseki government had made life difficult and almost unbearable for Edo people, and some party members victimised unjustly.”

He accused the governor of maltreatment, illegal arrests  and detention of chieftains, imposition of candidate for state and National Asembly elections, non-challant attitude that led to electoral defeat at his ward, constituency and district, illegal suspension of Gen. Charles Ariabhere and other chieftains from the ruling party, and refusal to inaugurate 14 APC members of House of Assembly.

The party stalwart in an advertorial also flayed the governor for the attack on state lawmakers by suspected thugs loyal to the state government, sacking of eight commissioners and special advisers loyal to Oshiomhole, litigation against the nomination of former Deputy Governor Pius Odubu as NIger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) chairman, illegal removal of council chairmen, hostility to the Edo Peoples Movement (EPM), disruption of party meetings and lobbying for the removal of Oshiomhole as chairman.

Inegbeniki said Obaseki sealed up the hotel belonging to Comrade Osakpomwan Eriyo, adding that he also ordered the seizure of his working equipment, including caterpillars and excavators.

He said on December 3 last year, Obaseki ordered that the seats of 14 state lawmakers-elect should be declared vacant, adding the electoral umpire should conduct by-elections to fill the positions.

Inegbeniki said the governor also banned political rallies and gatherings by threatening to revoke certificates of occupancy of venues hosting such gatherings.

Other “sins” include resistance to the defection of Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu to APC, lying against Oshiomhole that he was pushing for his impeachment, instigating thugs to attack Prof. Julius Ihonvbere’s constituency office, threatening to deal with Oshiomhole and demolition of the hotel belonging to Comrade Tony Kabaka Adun.

He said Obaseki revoked the C of O of properties belonging to Dr. Odubu, Ihonvbere, Chief Elamah and other party leaders.

Inegbeniki added: “Therefore, APC members, leaders in Edo State and the electorate cannot forget in a hurry all these activities under the governor’s watch. Affliction shall not rise up the second time. No second term for Godwin Obaseki in Edo State.”

But the governor’s camp has denied the allegations as tissues of lies that are baseless and unfounded.

Special Adviser to the governor on Media Crusoe Osagie urged residents to discountenance the infractions listed by the APC chief.

He described the allegation that the governor has no first-degree certificate as lame and baseless.

Osagie said the Edo People’s Movement (EPM), the platform opposed to Obaseki’s government, “is a dissident group created to destabilise the APC in Edo state.”

He said: “For the umpteenth time, we are saying clearly that the accusation is false. It is also a lie that Governor Obaseki did not win his ward during the last general election. Records don’t lie; people should substantiate their allegations with facts. His ward is Oredo Ward 4, they should go and check.”

On whether Obaseki obtained a first degree certificate, he urged the people behind the allegation to go and confirm from the management of the University of Ibadan.

He said: “The university has the records of its graduates. Governor Obaseki delivered the institution’s Alumni Lecture in 2018. Would they have invited him if he did not graduate from the university?

“These people should concede that they have lost power in Edo state and that will first be confirmed during the June 22 Primary Election and finally come September 19 governorship election. Governor Obaseki will win the elections.

“They just want to distract his attention with the allegations. We urged Nigerians and Edo people to discountenance the allegations by the EPM. There is no iota of truth in them.”

 

COVID-19 : Trouble not yet over, Pope warns [Sun]

  • Kaigama frowns at arguments against re-opening of worship centres

Pope Francis on Sunday said people should not let down their guard and assume that they are safe from the novel coronavirus now that infection levels are dropping in many Western countries.

He gave the admonition during his sermon at the Vatican on Sunday.

“You can’t declare your victory too early,” he said during his weekly prayers at St Peter’s Square. “Keep on being careful!”

That means continuing to follow the rules set by local health authorities.

There have been several renewed outbreaks around the world – though not necessarily at Catholic churches – after people returned to in-person services when it seemed that the virus had died down in their region.

Francis said, “he is pleased that Italy seems to have the worst phase of the virus swell behind it”. But, without naming specific countries, he said “there are other places where infections are still spreading rapidly.”

“Just last Friday, there was one country where one person was dying a minute. Terrible!” he said, without naming it. He said that he was keeping those infected in his thoughts.

St Peter’s Cathedral and Square were roped off in March for health reasons, though both have now reopened, albeit only to limited numbers of simultaneous visitors.

Meanwhile, the Metropolitan Catholic Archbishop of Abuja, Ignatius Kaigama, has frowned at arguments against the re-opening of worship centres in the country.

Kaigama also said the  view  that  religion  was  a  non-essential  service  ignored  the  fact  that a  highly  religious  nation  such  as  Nigeria  relied on  religious  peace  and  harmony  for  its social  integration,  economic  and  political  progress.

The immediate past President of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria (CBCN) also picked holes in the murder of George Floyd, an African-American in Minnesota, Minneapolis, United States, saying that the killing was inhumane.

Delivering the homily to mark the Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity at the Holy Cross Catholic Church, Gwarimpa, Abuja, Kaigama said: “For some months now, we  have  not  been  able  to  gather  in  this  sort  of  liturgical assembly  to  praise,  glorify  and  worship  God.  This  has  been on  account  of  the  deadly coronavirus. The  threat  of  the  virus  has  not  gone,  but  we  are  determined  to  learn  to live  with  it  by going  on  with  our  daily  routines.  We  must  however  observe  those  strict measures  that  will  protect  us  from  infection.

“Our  civil  authorities  realize  that  in  addition to  the  medical  and  social  distancing  precautions,  the  spiritual  response  to  this  disease is a  very  powerful part  of  the  strategies  to  defeat  it.

Arguments  by  some  officials  that worship places are the breathing  grounds  for  the  virus  downplay the animated  effort  by  the COVID-19 Presidential  Task  Force  (PTF)  and Nigeria Centre for Disease Control  (NCDC)  in  promoting social  distancing  and  good  personal hygiene which are  the  ways  to  keep  us  safe  from  the  virus,” Kaigama said.

Kaigama further said the Catholic Archdiocese of Abuja’s guidelines and protocols for the resumption of public liturgical celebrations showed  how  seriously  the  matter  of providing  safe,  healthy  and  conducive  atmosphere  for  worship  had  been  taken.

“I believe  that  many  of  the  public  places  like  markets  and  shops where  people  are allowed  to  frequent  do  not  provide  the  disciplined  control  and  the  same  healthy environment  that  our  worship  centres  offer.  The health of worshippers is very  important  to  us.  The  view  that  religion  is  a  non-essential  service  ignores  the  fact  that a  highly  religious  nation  such  as  Nigeria  relies  on  religious  peace  and  harmony  for  its social  integration,  economic  and  political  progress.  To  argue  that  prayers  can  be  said at  home  and  not  necessarily  in  worship  places  is  to  betray  ignorance  of  the  potency and  efficacy  of  communal  prayers.

“I  commend  the FCT  Minister  who  in  dialogue  with  the  Christian,  Muslim  and  Traditional leaders,  following  the  guidelines  supplied  by  the  Federal  Government,  worked  out  the modality  for  the  reopening  of  Churches  and  Mosques  in  the  FCT,” Kaigama  also said.

 

Fresh crisis looms in APC over Edo primaries [Sun]

  • Ex-NWC accuses party chairman of electoral fraud

There is no letup in the crisis rocking the All Progressives Congress (APC) ahead of the Edo State governorship election as former National Auditor, Muhammad Bala Jibrin, has accused the National Chairman, Adams Oshiomhole of dictatorship in the administration of the party.

Capt. Jibrin, former National Working Committee (NWC) member and governorship aspirant in Bauchi State, also accused Oshiomhole of electoral fraud during the primaries to nominate candidates for the 2019 general elections.

He lamented that the ruling party has not only become a shadow of itself, but also at a crossroad, urging President Muhammadu Buhari and party leaders like Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu to rescue it before it finally crumbles under the weight of Oshiomhole’s impunity.

He accused Oshiomhole of fuelling crisis within the party.

“It is inexplicable that he remains at the centre of all the party’s crisis that has engulfed the state chapters of the party since November 2018. From Zamfara to Ogun, from Imo to Rivers, from Bauchi, Adamawa to now Edo, you can see his hands and his self-centred tendencies visibly.

“Rather than become a unifying factor, Oshiomhole has become the most divisive party chairman in the history of party politics in Nigeria. Because of the flagrant violation of the party’s Constitution by Oshiomhole, the APC has now become a shadow of its former self. Its 2013-2018 format, in which party members feel at home and have a say in the affairs of the party is no more.”

While giving more details on the subtopic he tagged ‘rigging and manipulation of internal party election process’ under Oshiomhome, Capt Bala  wrote: “In his bid to continue with illegalities and acts of impunity, which he perpetrated on a large scale during the November 2018 APC primary elections, Oshiomhole, without conscience and sense of fairness and justice, wrote a letter to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) that the APC had decided to adopt direct primary for the Edo State APC governorship.

“He did this three day ahead of the meeting of NWC that was supposed to decide on the matter. Under normal circumstance, this immoral action is enough to remove him from office because it is not just an infraction but a desecration of anything just and fair. The NWC members are also culpable on that. It is important to note that the APC constitution did not define or explain the meaning of a direct primary election. Article 20 ii(a) stated that direct primary would be used in the nomination of councillorship election. Therefore, we can say that the contemplation of the drafters of the APC constitution is that direct primary means allowing all card-carrying party members to vote in a primary election. However, there are two issues that unless addressed the whole exercise will be subjected to abuse and manipulation, which is the clear intention of Oshiomhole.

“First, not every party member can vote or be voted for. Article 9.3 (i) states that: “Only fully registered and financially up-to-date members of the party shall have the right to vote and be voted for into any of the elective positions, subject to the provisions made for such elections pursuant to this constitution or other laws or regulations.

Consequently, non-financial members shall not enjoy the above rights.”

How do you verify, under this situation, who is a financial member or not? Given this clear provision, only the NEC can decide on who is a fully registered and financially up-to-date member of the party that is qualified to vote or be voted for, including the mode of the election of candidates during the primary election.

“Therefore, it is only proper for the NWC and Oshiomhole to subject themselves to NEC as the only constitutional body that has the final say on the issue. This means that to ensure checks and balances and roll back the creeping improprieties and his lawlessness, NEC should summon an emergency meeting and thrash out the issues once and for all.

“Second, to conduct a direct primary, the most elementary requirement is an authentic register of party members. Article 9.4 (i) states that: “the party shall update its membership records every six months and remit updated copies to appropriate Secretariats.”

“As we speak, the National Secretariat of the APC has no up-to-date register of members. The last time the register was updated was in 2017, and since then much water has passed under the bridge with the defection of some APC leaders, like Atiku, Kwankwaso, Saraki, Yakubu Dogara, etc. to PDP, and the decamping of some PDP leaders to APC. As lawyers say, you can’t build something on nothing.

“While the absence of up-to-date official register of members is a clear dereliction of duty on the part of the NWC, the insistence on adopting a direct primary without a register of members smacks of sinister motive to cause confusion and violence and manipulate the process to serve the whims and caprices of Adams Oshiomhole.

 

CAN, Ohanaeze, Afenifere challenge Miyetti Allah [Sun]

  • ‘You don’t own Nigeria,’ they tell northern group

Willy Eya, Chinelo Obogo, Sola Ojo, Kaduna, Stanley Uzoaru, Owerri, and Chuks Onuoha, Aba

The claim of Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (MACBAN) that Nigeria belongs to Fulani and its threat to roll out 100,000 vigilantes across the country has drawn the ire of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Afenifere, Middle Belt Forum, the Movement for the Actualisation of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB) and Aare Onakanfo of Yorubaland, Iba Ganiyu Adams.

Alhaji Abdullahi Bodejo,  national president of the group, had said the Fulani own Nigeria and will rule it forever.

He also said his organisation had concluded arrangements to flag off its own security outfit with about 5,000 to 100,000 vigilantes to be deployed across all the states of the country.

But in separate reactions, CAN, IPOB, MASSOB and others condemned the statement as one coming from those who did not want Nigerians to live in peace and unity.

CAN in the 19 northern states and FCT, in a statement by the vice chairman, Rev. John Joseph Hayab, maintained that Nigeria does not belong to any ethnic group, section or religion but to everyone.

“Making such false claims as that of Miyetti Allah’s president will only create tension and fuel crisis. CAN, therefore, calls on the Federal Government, through the DG SSS and IGP, to have a session with the ethnic superiority champion to school him on the diversity of Nigeria and the need for restraint from such reckless statements.

“All well-meaning members of the Miyetti Allah group need to urgently disassociate themselves from the provocative statement linked to the group as proof that the speaker is not playing a script.

“Without a doubt, there are members of Miyetti Allah who love this country genuinely, craving to see the country grow in peace and develop in every sphere (who) reckon that the statement credited to the group’s president is not a popular view, as such, needs to be publicly opposed.

“Nigeria’s problems are numerous; from insecurity to bad economy and now the COVID-19. CAN, therefore, does not want to add to the barrage of problems the country faces by letting unscrupulous people make grave and ungodly utterances that have dangerous security implications.

“Nigerians will wait and see what the Federal Government, through her security agencies, would do about this inflammatory statement, unless if we have separate laws for different groups of people in this country.”

Ohanaeze: It can’t happen

An apparently miffed Ohanaeze Ndigbo accused the group of plotting to dismember the country, saying the group’s utterances in the recent past were enough to trigger unintended chain reactions that could bring Nigeria to its knees.

In a statement by its deputy national publicity secretary, Chief Chuks Ibegbu, the apex-Igbo body noted that forests and bushes in Nigeria belonged to the people in the area and nobody had any right to settle there without informing the owners of the land.

Ibegbu, therefore, asked the Nigerian security agencies to flush out all illegal occupiers of forests and bushes in the country, while urging the owners to protect their land at all costs.

“Can an Ijaw or Yoruba man go to any bush in Katsina or Sokoto to occupy it and claim it as his own? It cannot happen. Let them come out and rent houses in the towns, as the world does not tolerate wandering by herders again. So, Bodejo should stop inflaming the already inflamed society with his queer theory.”

He insisted that it was such a mindset that has kept Nigeria stagnant over the years and Nigerians must oppose it.

Threatening Nigeria’s peace -Afenifere, MASSOB

Afenifere has said Miyetti Allah’s audacious pronouncement  showed that it enjoyed some powerful sponsors.

Speaking through its spokesman, Yinka Odumakin, the pan-Yoruba organisation said: “I don’t know any group in Nigeria today that can be making the kind of statement they are making and won’t be arrested. What did the Independent People of Biafra (IPOB) do when the Federal Government rolled out arms against them? IPOB didn’t threaten the peace of the country the way Miyetti Allah is doing, yet see what happened to them.

“It is now clear that these people are in the next level of their nefarious activities and they are seriously threatening the peace of Nigeria. We would not be addressing those thugs, we would be addressing their sponsors and collaborators to know that what they are playing at, they can only predict the beginning but they may not know the end and that is why they should be very careful. We are not expecting the Federal Government to say or take any action because in the past they have always made excuses for them,” Odumakin said.

Like Afenifere, the Movement for the Actualisation of the  Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB) said the cattle breeders may have secured strong backing from the Federal Government before making such a comment.

“For the Fulani to boldly issue this sacrilegious and abominable statement proves that the establishment of their security vigilantes is already in execution stage. They merely want to know the reactions of Igbo leaders, which will always be the temporal noisemaking.”

Madu said: “MASSOB wishes to reiterate our earlier resolution with other pro-Biafra coalition that Fulani security vigilance services will never be tolerated in Biafraland. They should establish their vigilante services in their Fulani villages in Arewaland not in Biafra.

“It is only the indigenous people of the tribes that make up Biafra with the spirit of heroism that will always withstand the Fulani herdsmen and militias. The people of Biafra are ever ready to defend and protect our land, lives and properties with every available means and method.”

Descent into chaos, anarchy -Gani Adams

In his reaction, Aare Ona Kakanfo of Yorubaland, Iba Gani Abiodun Adams, said the Miyetti Allah would soon wreak havoc on the country, if the authorities did not caution leaders of the group.

Noting that the country would descend into chaos and anarchy if such vigilantes were allowed in any southern state, Aare Adams urged the security operatives to urgently invite the leaders of Miyetti Allah for interrogation over their consistently provocative statements.

He said it was criminal for any group to invade parts of the country with arms-bearing young men purporting to be engaged in security services and charged governors of the states in the southern part of the country to be alert and nip such plans in the bud.

Aare Adams said it was evident that only the proper restructuring of the country could put a permanent end to the agitation by people from a section of the country to perpetuate themselves in power forever.

He recalled that the Nigerian state was designed to favour people from the North right from the start, noting that northerners were favoured by the colonial rulers in politics, military and other critical areas of national life. In his view, military and civilian political leaders have also followed the tradition.

“What gives them the confidence is that what has been happening from the past shows that the Fulani and Northerners indeed own Nigeria. That is what has been giving them the temerity to claim that they own Nigeria. When you look at the present security architecture, you will agree with them that they own Nigeria. When you see Northerners holding 90 per cent of the country’s architecture, you cannot deny their claims. How many Southerners have headed the Customs, Immigration? Look at the present composition, would you doubt that they own Nigeria?

“But the governors of the southern states must wake up and address this issue. They cannot because of trying to be politically correct keep quiet when they are supposed to talk,” he noted.

Joke taken too far -MBF

National president of the Middle-Belt Forum, Dr. Pogu Bitrus, said the statement o that Fulani owns Nigeria was a joke taken to far and cautioned that nobody could claim ownership of Nigeria.

“Let the Fulani tell us their domain. The Yoruba have their domain; the Igbo have their domain just like the Yoruba; even Chibok as small as they are have their domain and so others.

“If he thinks that the Fulani has the capacity to dominate other Nigerians, then he should know that they are asking for what is beyond them.”

Kanu mocks Igbo leaders

Leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Nnamdi Kanu, has mocked Igbo leaders for neglecting his earlier warning of purported plans of Fulani herdsmen to dominate the country.

Kanu, in a press statement by Emma Powerful, noted that the recent comment has justified his earlier claim that the Fulani-led Miyetti Allah had sinister motives to dominate the country.

“For years, IPOB warned, screamed and worked tirelessly hard to let the whole world understand what is happening and about to happen but I was ignored, insulted, spat at and ridiculed.

“This is what happens when cowards are in charge of your mainstream media and half-educated dimwitted buffoons see themselves as intellectuals. Shame on you.”

Ohaneze Ndigbo youths vow resistance

In a separate reaction, Ohaneze Ndigbo Youths said the claim of Miyetti Allah that it had rights to any part of the country is not only  misleading but capable of leading to break down of law and order.

The youths, in a statement by Kingsley Dozie, national deputy president, warned that any attempt by any group of people from outside Igboland  to assert themselves forcefully or illegally on Igbo would be met with resolute opposition.

“We are always ready to protect our territories from undue incursions in case they don’t know.”

 

Crisis looms as COVID-19 cases outnumber bed-spaces in states [Punch]

  • Nigeria with 6,994 bed-spaces as of Friday, battling with 8,065 active cases
  • Patients with diabetes, hypertension, others ruled out of home care

There are strong indications that a major crisis is looming in Nigeria’s battle against coronavirus as COVID-19 cases are rising compared to bed-spaces available for patients that are being treated for the disease.

On Saturday, COVID-19 cases in the country rose to 12,233, with 8, 065 of them active and 3,826 patients discharged.

But the Federal  Ministry of Health told The  PUNCH on Friday that there were 6,994 bed-spaces nationwide for COVID-19 patients.

The PUNCH gathered that between Friday and Sunday, additional bed-spaces had not been provided despite the rising cases.

However, the Federal Ministry of Health, in response to The PUNCH’s enquiries on Friday, said only few states such as Lagos and Kano were battling with a shortage of bed-spaces.

The ministry also gave more insights into its proposed home treatment for COVID-19 patients, saying home care would not be adopted for coronavirus patients with underlying conditions such as diabetes, hypertension and cardiovascular diseases.

The ministry stated these through its Director of Hospital Services, Dr Adebimpe Adebiyi, in its response to The PUNCH’s enquiries.

One of our correspondents had asked the ministry, the guidelines for home treatment and the number of bed-spaces available for COVID-19 patients in the country.

In her response, Adebiyi admitted that states such as Lagos with 5,729 cases and Kano, with 997 cases were battling with a shortage of bed-spaces.

She, however, said the Federal Capital Territory and Ogun State had low bed occupancy rates.

The Director General of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu had, at the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 briefing on April 30, said the Federal Government was considering home treatment for COVID-19 patients because of a shortage of bed-spaces.

He said, “We are going to work with that to keep trying and making more spaces available but ultimately we might have to change our strategy a little bit, considering home care in certain circumstances where the person is able to provide a room where he or she can be managed sufficiently and secondly, we are able to support the care by enabling health workers to come to the house.”

But  Adebiyi, in an email sent to one of our correspondents by the ministry on Friday, said there were 7,522 active cases in the country with 6,994 beds.

She, however, said states were making efforts to increase the number of bed-spaces for COVID-19 patients.

The director stated, “There are currently 7,522 active cases in the country with 6,994 beds nationwide but states are continuing to make concerted efforts at expansion.

“The shortage of bed-spaces is occurring in only a few states such as Lagos and Kano where efforts are ongoing for expansion of bed-spaces, while some such as the FCT and Ogun State have low bed occupancy rates due to fewer numbers of confirmed or active cases.”

FG explains guidelines for home care

She also explained the criteria that must be met by COVID-19 patients and their families before home treatment could be granted.

Adebiyi said COVID-19 patients with hypertension, diabetes among others, would not be granted home care.

She stated COVID-19 positive patients would not be treated in homes where there were people with underlying conditions such as diabetes and hypertension.

The director stated, “Home-based treatment will be based on individual cases who meet the stringent criteria for such care. This emphasises ability to self-isolate in a single room with convenience for that individual, absence of co-morbidities such as hypertension and diabetes.  In addition, there should not be any person in the household with co-morbidities.

“The state should also make available health care workers to monitor the patients’ treatment at home. Meanwhile, the Federal Ministry of Health and her agencies including National Primary Healthcare Development Agency and the NCDC as well as relevant development partners are exploring various available options for expansion of supervised isolation.

“Discussions are at an advanced stage with high burden states for decentralisation of isolation and case management to the community through the establishment of community support centres which will be state led and community driven in line with approved guidelines and infection prevention and control protocols.”

Kano, Ogun, Edo, Oyo fail to disclose amount spent on COVID-19 tests

Kwara, Ogun, Kano, Edo and Oyo states on Sunday failed to disclose the amount they had spent on COVID-19 tests.

A few weeks ago, it was disclosed that Lagos State had spent N800m on COVID-19 tests.

The Lagos State Commissioner for Health, Prof Akin Abayomi,   said the average cost of a test was between N40,000 andN50,000. As of that time, the state had conducted 16,000 COVID-19 tests.

But efforts to get the amount spent by other states such as Kano, Ogun, Edo, Kano and Oyo states did not succeed.

The Chief Press Secretary to the Kwara State Governor, Rafiu Ajakaye, said the state government was not collecting money from people that were being tested for COVID-19.

He said, “The government does not charge patients treated for COVID-19 in the state.”

On the amount spent so far by the state government on COVID-19, the spokesperson said that it could not be revealed because the tests were still being conducted.

The Oyo State Government also said it had so far taken a full financial responsibility of the cost of testing and treatment for all reported 365 COVID-19 cases in the state.

It, however, said the financial records of the cost of testing and treatment of the patients were not readily available as a result of the ongoing partial lockdown in the state which affected the civil servants.

Taiwo Adisa, the Chief Press Secretary to Governor Seyi Makinde of Oyo State, disclosed this in a telephone interview with one of our correspondents on Sunday.

On its part, the Kano State Government said it had yet to ascertain the exact amount it was spending on each test conducted on COVID-19 patient in the state.

The Coordinator, Kano State Task Force Committee on COVID-19, Dr Tijjani Husain, stated this in a telephone interview with The PUNCH in Kano on Sunday.

But the Ogun State Government said neither the patients nor the state paid for the tests conducted for COVID-19 in the state.

The Commissioner for Health, Dr Tomi Coker, said this while responding to enquiries from one of our correspondents.

She  said, “Ogun State does not pay for the test because it is sponsored  by a donor.”

On how much has been  spent on COVID-19, Coker said, “I  do not know how much has been spent as there are many facets of COVID-19 response including humanitarian, security and health.”

The Edo State Government on Sunday said though the cost of the test for the novel coronavirus was expensive, but the government paid for it.

The Special Adviser to Governor Godwin Obaseki on Media and Communication Strategy, Mr Crusoe Osagie, told The PUNCH on the phone that he could not say exactly the amount each test cost and the amount the state government had expended so far on fighting the pandemic.

Akwa Ibom spends N11.5m on COVID-19 tests

But the Akwa Ibom State Government said it spent N50,000 on each COVID-19 test. As of June 2, according to the NCDC, the state had tested 231 people.

The state Commissioner of Health, Dr Dominic Ukpong on Sunday disclosed that the state spent  N50,000 and above on each test conducted for COVID-19 patient outside the state.

He stated, “We have calculated because we have just set up a laboratory and right now the NCDC is screening our laboratory for approval and I believe by tomorrow or Tuesday we will have the lab approved for testing.

“If you sit down and calculate the expenses on one test it’s in the region of N50,000 and above. The last calculation we made was in that region. Compare this to private hospitals. There are some private hospitals in Lagos, in addition to the  federal laboratories in Yaba.”

NCDC sends 100m COVID-19 text messages

Meanwhile, the NCDC in a statement to mark the first 100 days of COVID-19 in the country, said 100 million text messages had been sent to Nigerians since February as part of the campaign against the virus.

It said, “With the support of Nigeria’s telecommunication companies, over 100 million text messages have been sent out since February 2020 reminding Nigerians about measures that can be taken to protect themselves from COVID-19. The NCDC continues to work closely with the Federal Ministry of Information and Culture, as well as the National Orientation Agency to educate Nigerians on how to protect themselves.”

Home treatment dangerous, NMA insists, seeks bed-spaces in hotels,  others

Meanwhile, the Nigerian Medical Association on Sunday called on the federal and the state governments to create more bed-spaces in hotels and  public places for the treatment of COVID-19 patients.

The President of the NMA, Prof Innocent Ujah,  made the call in Jos, in an interview with one of our correspondents.

Ujah, who commented on the increasing number of COVID -19 active cases, which had exceeded the available bed-spaces in the country, insisted that home care for COVID-19 patients was dangerous.

The apex association of medical doctors in the country last month kicked against home treatment for coronavirus patients.

On Sunday, Ujah warned that allowing patients to be treated at home for the disease was capable of escalating the situation.

He explained that the initial practice of self -isolation for suspected cases which he noted was against Nigerian culture was responsible for community transmission of the disease

The NMA president said “Who says more bed-spaces cannot be created to accommodate new cases? Don’t forget, the initial practice of self-isolation gave room for community transmission because it has no room in our culture. When you return from abroad, some people would come and embrace you while greeting you and even your children. Would you send them away? That made the self- isolation strategy unworkable.

“If at that time, provisions were made in hotels to keep those who were returning from abroad and not asking  them to go on self-isolation, I believe that the community transmission of the disease could have been curtailed. So, the federal and state governments should create more bed-spaces in hotels and other public spaces for the treatment of COVID-19  because you cannot treat the disease at home otherwise it would not have qualified to be called an emergency health situation.”

 

I can’t open church, endanger people’s lives –Bakare [Punch]

The Serving Overseer of the Citadel Global Community Church, formerly known as Latter Rain Assembly, Pastor Tunde Bakare, has said he is not prepared to open his church yet at the risk of putting the lives of his congregants in danger of contracting coronavirus.

Bakare, who insisted that it was not yet time to open places of worship, said he was sorry for the country as some Christian and Muslim clerics were putting pressure on the government to open worship centres.

In a sermon titled, ‘You are free to dream again,’ which he delivered on Saturday and was posted on Youtube, Bakare wondered if the religious leaders pilling pressure on the government to open worship centres were planning to take people to the graveyards.

Bakare said, “I’m so sorry for our country at this juncture; I’m so sorry that we are pressurising the government to open churches and to open mosques; you want calamity upon calamity. The church has not been closed; nobody can close the church.

“Yes, it is true that buildings are closed but the church is marching on. No one can close the church. And government can shut down the buildings; they cannot force us to go back because I’m not going to endanger the lives of our people.”

Comparing the coronavirus pandemic with the biblical story of Noah and the flood, Bakare added, “Noah did not jump out of the ark; he sent the raven first to test the ground. The raven never returned. He sent the duck twice; on the third occasion, it did not return. He knew it was safe to go out but he still stayed there until God said, ‘Noah, come out!’

“He (God) locked him in and He brought him out. Let’s be patient. And they now want to start carrying people to their gravesides and be praying for their families. Let’s stay within until that time when the calamity is over.”

 

Govts can’t lock the world down forever – Adeboye [Punch]

The General Overseer, Redeemed Christian Church of God, Pastor Enoch Adeboye, has lauded the world leaders for their initiatives in fighting the COVID-19 pandemic that is currently ravaging human race, but says governments cannot lock the world down forever for fear of its spread.

Rather than doting solely on human solutions to the physical problem, he urged all believers to wait upon the Lord to overcome both physical and spiritual problems facing the world.

The cleric, who spoke during a sermon titled, ‘Flying over mountains’ on Dove Television Station, on Sunday, dwelt on the Holy Bible account in Isiah 40, 28-31 which talked on ‘Waiting upon the Lord.’

According to him, waiting on God requires perseverance, holiness and diligence. Explaining what it takes to be a waiter, the clergyman said, “The one who waits is called a waiter. The job of a waiter includes sitting a guest down. In a good hotel, a waiter brings you water; presents you the menu. He provides you food and waits on you or stands by you until you are fully satisfied.

“I assure you, you will fly over the mountain of physical lockdown. In Acts 16, 16-34, Paul was minding his business. The demonised girl began to bother him. He cast out the demon; he was doing the work of God. They grabbed him and threw him and Silas, his partner, into prison. They were thoroughly locked down with chains on their legs and hands, then they waited on the Lord and God sent an earthquake.

“We thank God for all that the governments have been doing, but you know what? You can’t lock down the whole world forever. Sooner or later, the lockdown would be over. For some people, it would be over sooner than later. You learn to worship the Almighty God and all of a sudden, you will discover that instead of the lockdown being a problem, it would become an asset.”

The cleric, who pointed out that the problem occasioned by spiritual lockdown was greater than the physical lockdown, stated, “If you worship the Almighty God and wait on him appropriately, you will fly over spiritual lockdown

“Physical lockdown is a minor thing. There is a saying that there are people who are prisoners, but who are not in the prison yard. They are in their homes. They can go in and come out but they are in prison also because they have problems; forces of darkness holding them in bondage.

“Look at the mad man of Gadara. He was locked down in a graveyard by forces of darkness. But when he saw Jesus Christ coming, he fell down at His feet and worshipped Him. That day, he was freed.”

Adeboye told the story of a wealthy woman who would always vomit her food after eating.

According to him, the woman visited many physicians but could not get her healing as doctors said that she was absolutely normal. As she was shouting Allelluyah at the church in Ebute Meta many years ago, she vomited a worm and her problem was over.

“If you wait on God, you can fly over the mountain of death. In 2nd Kings, Chapter 2, 9-11, Elijah went to heaven by whirlwind. When prayer fails, try praise. Wait on Him, please Him, sing His praise, thank Him for what is done, praise Him for who He is and you are likely to make it to the rapture,” Adeboye said.

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