FG Bows To Pressure, Reverses Reopening Of Schools [Leadership]

The federal government yesterday caved in and reversed its earlier decision to reopen schools for graduating students sit for their exams.

It announced that no school will participate in the West African Senior School Certificate Examinations scheduled to hold between August 5 and September 5.

Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu, disclosed this to State House correspondents after the virtual federal executive council meeting presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari, at the Presidential Villa.

Minister of state for Education , Chukwuemeka Nwajiuba, had a few days ago announced the reopening of schools for graduating students.

But Adamu said yesterday that Nigerian schools would not reopen any time soon until it is safe to do so due to the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.

He therefore declared that final year students preparing for the Senior Secondary Certificate Examination (SSCE) would not be allowed to return to school contrary to the earlier announcement.

Adamu stated that the West African Examinations Council (WAEC) could not determine the resumption date of schools for Nigeria, saying he would prefer that Nigerian students lose an academic year than to expose them to danger.

The minister stated: “I don’t know whether you journalists are misquoting the minister of state for Education or maybe quoting what WAEC said and made it into a story. Schools under the supervision of the Federal Ministry of Education will not be opened on August 4 or anytime soon.

“Our schools will only open when we believe it’s safe for our children and that is when the situation is right, not when the incidence of the infection is going up in the nation. I just want to make it clear.

“We will not open soon for examination or for any reason, unless it is safe for our children, even WAEC. WAEC will not determine for us what we do. Schools will remain closed”.

According to the minister, the federal government held a stakeholders meeting to assess the situation and receive proper advice on the reopening of schools. But before the meeting was concluded, WAEC announced its preferred dates for the SSCE examination.

He said, “Yesterday we called on stakeholders who will tell us the situation and the way it should be done for it to be safe. While the meeting was ongoing, WAEC announced that they are starting examinations. Let’s see who they are going to start with.”

He, however, appealed to state governors who had ordered resumption of school activities in their various states to rescind such order, so as to ensure the safety of pupils.

Adamu continued: “I will also like to use this position to ask those states that have already announced (reopening), I appeal to them. I think it is not safe. I feel responsible for all the children, not just those who are in federal government controlled schools. Please let’s save our children from this.

“One infected child is enough to infect a whole class. When they close from class they go into the dormitory, this is not the right time to open schools. I appeal to the states that have already announced to reconsider it”.

When pointedly asked if Nigeria would be the only country to miss out in the WAEC examinations, the minister said, “Me as minister of Education, if I’m given the chance, I don’t mind Nigeria losing a whole school year than exposing our children to danger. WAEC is a parastatal of the Ministry of Education, they cannot determine for the government what it does”.

 

Meals Skipped, Passengers With Temp Above 37C Turned Back As Flights Resume [Leadership]

After about three months of restriction due to the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, four local airlines yesterday started domestic flight operations from the Lagos airport.

The airlines include  Air Peace, Arik Air, Max Air and Ibom Air.

As early as 5am, passengers were seen driving into the Lagos airport terminal to commence boarding formalities.

There were rigorous checks by airport officials, even as social distancing was strictly enforced.

On arrival, all passengers were made to sanitise their hands, just as their temperatures were checked and their baggage disinfected before going into the terminal to queue for boarding.

The restart commenced with Arik Air’s 7am Lagos-Abuja flight with about 50 per cent load factor.

Although the flight was scheduled for 7am, it actually took off at about 7:16am. The passengers boarded from the General Aviation Terminal 1 (GAT) under the supervision of officials of the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) and other airport officials.

Assessing the level of compliance, spokesman for Arik Air, Mr Banji Ola told LEADERSHIP that he was satisfied with the passenger traffic, the orderliness and their cooperation.

Mr Banji also disclosed that, the last two flights of the day would have more passengers than the numbers recorded in the morning, based on the number of tickets sold so far.

Meanwhile, Air Peace had urged its customers to embrace online booking and check-in, employing its user-friendly Mobile App, as a means of minimising physical contact.

Speaking on the restart, the airline’s spokesperson, Stanley Olisa, disclosed that Air Peace has put in place reliable measures to protect both passengers and staff pre-flight, in-flight and post-flight, adding that the flying public need not worry but comply with all health protocols.

He said the airline has thoroughly disinfected all its aircraft and the flight crew are current as well as COVID-19 conscious.

“If your temperature reads above 37 degrees, you’ll be denied boarding. No loitering on the aisle of the aircraft. Hands must be sanitised and no more meals on board. This is to reduce crew-passenger contact. Flying will be somewhat different but we can guarantee your safety”, he aaded

Although Dana Air was not part of the flight restart that commenced yesterday, the carrier stated that it will resume its domestic flight services today, 2020.

The airline further assured that it will operate three daily flights from Lagos to Abuja and back, while the date for the addition of Port Harcourt and Owerri will be announced later.

The chief operating officer of Dana Air, Obi Mbanuzuo, while speaking on the preparedness of the airlines said, “Dana Air is ready to fly safely again from the 9th of July. We have worked round the clock with the NCAA to achieve this safe resumption of flights and we are introducing other initiatives soon in line with the present realities and the need to minimize contacts at the airport.

”We have disinfected all our aircraft, provided all our staff with the recommended Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), alcohol-based hand sanitisers have been made available at our check-in, boarding  gates and onboard the aircraft for guests and we have an optimised cleaning protocol in place as recommended by the World Health Organisation, (WHO), and the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA).

We have also created a boarding strategy which will give our passengers some sense of safety onboard our aircraft.

”We are distinctly positioned to reduce the impact of the concerns you might have, starting from proper maintenance schedule, pre-flight cleaning and boarding, to in-flight service and disembarkation — all aspects of our flights have been optimised for the safety and well-being of our guests.

”To stay ahead, our guests are advised to book their tickets online, use our self-service at MMA2 or download the Dana Air app for booking and reservation. Also in line with the new health protocols at the airports, we have advised our guests to arrive at the airport at least three hours to their flight. They are also required to wear a face mask at the airport and onboard our flights.”

 

Nigerians Divided Over Existence Of COVID-19 [Leadership]

After about six months of the outbreak of the dreaded Coronavirus and despite efforts by the federal and state governments to curb its spread, quite a number of Nigerians are still labouring under the delusion that the disease does not exist.

LEADERSHIP checks revealed that there is a widespread perception among people in major towns and cities across the country that the COVID-19 pandemic ravaging many parts of the world may be politically hyped. It was gathered that opinions about the reality of the disease vary even among the seemingly enlightened and educated people in spite of government’s awareness campaign on the virus.

While some believe it is a political/economic gimmick to receive money from charity organisations, others think it is an elitist illness, even as there are those in the rural areas who consider it as only limited to the cities. Some Nigerians who spoke to our correspondents  brought religious dimension to the ravaging global pandemic.

The attitude of Nigerians, it was learnt, has contributed to the high rate of infections in the country, as some people deliberately do not observe non-pharmaceutical interventions because they do not believe that the disease exists.

National coordinator of the presidential task force (PTF) on COVID 19, Dr Sani Aliyu, who acknowledged that doubt about the existence of the disease could be part of the reasons for the surge in confirmed cases in the country, noted however that the doubting ‘Thomases’ were in the minority.

He said, “Certainly if you don’t believe in something, you’re not going to take steps to protect yourself. However, our regular polls indicate that the non-believers are in the minority.”

Also, the minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, urged those who are in doubt to take extra precaution as they go out on daily basis.

“As the number of deaths related to COVID-19 cases in Nigeria continue to rise, I am urging citizens especially those who are in doubt to take extra pre-caution in their daily activities”, he said.

The minister told LEADERSHIP that the virus is a highly infectious disease that spreads easily among people, adding that “the more citizens obey preventive measures, the fewer the confirmed cases, and the less people obey, the more the cases; much depends on the people.”

Speaking with our correspondent, a middle-aged senior civil servant said, “We hear and are convinced that governments are using it to rake in money from international charity organizations such as the World Health Organization (WHO) and others.”

Thinking along the same line with the civil servant who pleaded anonymity, Mr Iheanyichukwu Amos, maintained that “as long as details of the so-called infected ones are never made public, the thing remains a scam.”

But Miss Ori Ukaegbu, a final year microbiology student, differed. She said, “Absolutely in the reality of the virus; I wish those who have been thinking otherwise change their opinion about it.”

A popular tailor in Aba, Hillary Obineche, who waxed spiritual, noted that the pandemic “is more of a spiritual attack”, even as Mallam Sani Maiminti, a confectionery hawker, said it was “a trial from Allah.

“I am very perplexed that even in the face of the toll the pandemic is taking humanly, economically, and perhaps politically, there are those who believe it is a hoax. Well, they are entitled to their opinion. May God help them”, he added.

Speaking to LEADERSHIP, a member of the state Inter-ministerial COVID-19 Committee with medical background argued in favour of the reality of the virus, calling for vigorous creation of awareness.

In Plateau state, it was learnt that some Nigerians go about their daily businesses without putting on face mask or observing other COVID- 19 protocols.

Our correspondent gathered that a particular Church along Rukuba road in Jos North local government does not allow its members to put on face mask during worship.

A member of the Church who did not want his name in print argued that COVID-19 was not real, adding that they are encouraging their members not to put on face mask because of the Churche’s belief that as children of God the pandemic will not come near their dwelling place.

In lmo, former chairman of the Nigerian Medical Association in the state, Dr Jideuma Egwim, cautioned that COVID- 19 exists in the state, even as he enjoined people to adhere to all safety protocols, especially physical distancing.

The senior consultant at the Federal Medical Center, Owerri, said he personally treated coronavirus patients at the facility.

 

COVID-19: Fed Govt pulls JSS 3, SSS 3 pupils out of WASSCE [Nation]

  • Environment not safe yet to sit for exams, says minister

THE Federal Government on Wednesday pulled the brake on the preparation to reopen schools to enable pupils in Primary Six, Junior Secondary School (JSSIII) and Senior Secondary School (SSSIII) write their final examinations.

Education Minister Mallam Adamu Adamu said SSSIII pupils will not be participating in the upcoming West African Examination Council (WAEC) examinations.

In a chat with reporters at the State House after the seventh weekly virtual Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting in Abuja, the minister said there is no date for resumption of schools yet.

The development negated a directive by the President Task Force (PTF) Control to states to begin the process of reopening schools for the resumption of pupils in exit classes.

Minister of State for Education Chukwuemeka Nwajiuba, who gave the directive during the Monday briefing of the PTF, said schools should reopen to prepare the pupils for the Senior Secondary School Certificate Examinations (SSSCE) scheduled to begin on August 4.

But, announcing the u-turn on Wednesday, Adamu said he would prefer that pupils lose an academic session than to expose them to dangers.

He appealed to state governments that had announced reopening of schools to reconsider their decision for the sake of the pupils’ safety.

 

Magu: Panel widens probe [Nation]

             Top EFCC, NFIU officials to testify

             Anti-graft chief grilled for 10 hours

             Salami promises fairness, justice

ACTING Chairman of Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) Ibrahim Magu was on Wednesday grilled for the third day over allegations levelled against him by Attorney-General and Minister of Justice Abubakar Malami.

He was quizzed for more than 10 hours, it was learnt, after which he was returned to the custody of the Force Criminal Investigation Department (FCID) where he is being detained.

The panel has expanded the scope of the probe by inviting top officials of the EFCC and the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU) to respond to questions as may be relevant to the departments they supervise.

Some of the allegations against Magu are:

             Alleged discrepancies in the reconciliation records of the EFCC and the Federal Ministry of Finance on recovered funds

             Declaration of N539billion as recovered funds instead of N504b earlier claimed

             Insubordination to the Office of the AGF by not seeking his approval on some decisions

             Not providing enough evidence for the extradition of ex-Minister of Petroleum Resources, Diezani Alison-Madueke

             Alleged late action on the investigation of Process and Industrial Development (P&ID) leading to legal dispute

             Not respecting court order to unfreeze a N7billion judgment in favour of a former executive director of First Bank

             Alleged delay in acting on two vessels seized by Nigerian Navy leading to the loss of crude

             Alleged favouring of some investigators called Magu’s Boys

             Reporting some judges to their presiding officers without deferring to the AGF

             Alleged sales of seized assets to cronies, associates and friends

             Alleged issuance of investigative activities to some media prejudicial to some cases.

Those invited by the Justice Ayo Salami-led Presidential Investigation Committee which has been conducting its sittings at the Presidential Villa Banquet Hall, are EFCC Secretary Ola Oluyede and Director of Operations, Mr. Mohammed Umar. The others are: Director of Finance and Administration, the Director of Internal Affairs, some Zonal/Sectional heads, heads of departments/units and the NFIU.

It was learnt that Chairman of the panel, Justice Salami, a former President of the Court of Appeal, assured Magu and others of fair hearing.

He was quoted as saying that the team would be open-minded and ensure justice for all.

The panel, also clarified that it had no information that Magu had been suspended from office.

Magu, it was learnt had promised to make available documents and files as may be requested. He is also believed to have told the panel that he never disobeyed the minister of Justice.

He also said he never threatened judges, especially Justice Binta Murtala-Nyako, who the AGF referred to in his memo to President Muhammadu Buhari.

Findings indicated that Magu was accorded courtesies by the panel which stated that it had no pre-determined agenda.

Justice Salami was quoted by sources as reaffirming that his panel was on fact-finding and will be open-minded.

He also said they had no bias but to ensure that justice is served to all.

According to one of the sources, being a large commission. It was the  embattled EFCC chair that reiterated that he would  want the  panel to invite all relevant heads of departments, heads of investigating unit, zonal heads and the NFIU to respond to specific allegations concerning their departments or units.

He said he opted to do so to demonstrate that he adopted a teamwork approach without personal gains.

Magu’s request was granted by the committee, leading to invitation being extended to them.

Part of Magu’s response to the allegations is that he reportedly told the committee that he  never disobeyed the AGF. He promised to make documents available to support his claim.

Regarding threats to judges, Magu was quoted to have said: “I have never threatened any judge. I also did not threaten Justice Binta Nyako. There was a case before her, the EFCC was uncomfortable with the treatment of the matter and raised some observations on the need to reassign the case to another judge. The Chief Judge of the Federal High Court looked at the EFCC’s complaints and exercised his discretion.”

Concerning the Process and Industrial Developments Limited (P&ID) $9.6billion judgment debt against Nigeria on the failure of a $6.6billion gas contract, Magu was said to have claimed that it was a 2010 case which preceded him in office having been appointed EFCC Chairman in 2015.

Sources at the panel said Magu insisted that there are documentary evidence that he did not delay the investigation of P&ID. He said he promptly investigated the matter.

 

Hushpuppi: More Nigerians doing positive things than negative abroad, says minister [Nation]

  • ‘Arrest of fraudsters not yardstick to stigmatise Nigerians abroad’

FOREIGN Affairs Minister Geoffrey Onyeama has said Nigeria and its image abroad should not be judged by the actions of a very few criminals.

Onyeama, who was the special guest on News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) Forum, said despite the involvement of a few Nigerians in the recently uncovered high profile scams, many more Nigerians were doing good and positive things abroad.

He described as unfortunate the perception in the media that bad news made better news than good news.

The minister urged the Nigerian media to shine its lights on the good deeds of Nigerians in the Diaspora.

According to him, no country in the world has taken action against Nigeria on the account of the bad deeds of an individual.

“Another thing we do is also to highlight the positive things that Nigerians are doing around the world. We believe that more Nigerians, many more Nigerians, are doing very good things and positive things around the world than Nigerians doing negative things.

“You, the media, of course, we all know that no news is good news. What sells and excites and interests people is sensational news. So, there is also that element.

“So, I think the challenge is for us to always bring up the good things that Nigerians are doing,” he said.

Also, the Chairman/Chief Executive Officer of the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NiDCOM), Mrs. Abike Dabiri-Erewa said Nigerians in Diaspora should not be judged by the activities of some bad elements among them.

In a statement by Gabriel Odu of the agency’s Media, Public Relations and Protocol Unit, Mrs. Dabiri-Erewa said: “Nigerians all over the world are known to be hardworking, diligent and determined and succeeding tremendously in their chosen careers wherever they are. Bad news travels fast.”

The statement referred to a Nigerian, Mr Ikenna Nweke, who received commendations from the Japanese government and its police for returning a lost wallet containing large sums of money and a credit card. Yet, it did not make headlines.”

Mrs. Dabiri-Erewa recalled that while the news of Hushpuppi was trending, a Nigerian in Russia, Dr Chidubem Obi, graduated with a 5.0 Grade Point Average (GPA), cleaning all established records in the university.

The NiCOM chief stressed that Nigerians are unarguably the most educated immigrants in the United States of America (U.S.A) and are hard-working, committed, determined and successful in their careers and professions.

Praising the Federal Bureau of Information (FBI) and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for tracking and tracing fraudsters, Mrs. Dabiri-Erewa stressed that the law must be allowed to take its cause.

She added: “Let us focus more on the positive things Nigerians in the Diaspora are doing than the few negative narratives that purportedly give Nigeria a bad image.

“Some Nigerians are working three to four jobs per day. Yet, negative acts by those arrested for fraud are used to judge and stereotype them.”

Mrs. Dabiri-Erewa advised Nigerian youths to use their energies on honesty and integrity and uphold high moral values.

She added that one bad apple cannot spoil the whole bunch.

 

Panel probes Magu over alleged ownership of Dubai properties [Punch]

The suspended acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Ibrahim Magu’s problems worsened on Wednesday as the presidential panel investigating corruption allegations against him shifted its focus to properties he allegedly acquired in Dubai, the United Arab Emirates.

The suspended EFCC boss, who has been in the police custody since his arrest on Monday, was interrogated for the third time on Wednesday.

The PUNCH also gathered that fresh allegations emerged against Magu as the panel continued its sitting just as he was again detained after Wednesday’s interrogation.

Magu was accosted by security agents in plain clothes in front of the old EFCC headquarters on Fomella Street, Wuse 2, Abuja, at noon on Monday and compelled to appear before the panel.

He has been in police custody at the Force Criminal Investigation Department, Garki, since Monday from where he has been appearing before the panel to respond to questions on the allegations raised against him by the Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN).

Like what happened on Monday and Tuesday when the panel quizzed Magu for several hours, journalists were again on Wednesday not allowed access to the Old Banquet Hall of the Presidential Villa,  venue of the interrogation.

Some State House reporters who attempted to enter the press gallery located inside the building were politely turned back.

Even those who attempted to park their vehicles in the car park of the facility were asked to make use of other parks within the Presidential Villa.

The PUNCH gathered that the Justice Ayo Salami-led panel was interested in establishing if indeed Magu bought properties abroad, particularly in Dubai, where he was said to have travelled to several times on official and private visits.

It was further learnt that the panel also was preoccupied with allegations that  N39bn  had been diverted from the recovered loot.

Sources said the panel would carry out forensics on documents recovered from Magu’s house as well as an analysis of his earnings and bank records.

A source stated,  “The panel is working to verify allegations that Magu has properties in Dubai and other parts of the world. It is also probing an allegation that funds were diverted from recovered loot.

“I don’t know how far the panel has gone in exploring these interesting angles, but real estate titles and bank records would leave a trail that cannot be hidden. The panel planned to subject documents recovered from Magu’s residence and office to forensic analysis.”

After being questioned for eight hours on Wednesday,  Magu was taken back in police custody, where he spent Monday and Tuesday nights.

Magu faces fresh allegations

The PUNCH learnt that fresh allegations have continued to emerge in the course of investigation which had caused the investigation to linger.

For instance, Magu was alleged to have sold off or mysteriously released about 157 oil tankers without following due process.

The vehicles were alleged to have been seized by the Port Harcourt zonal office of the EFCC.

The money was said not to have been remitted to the government’s coffers while those released were said to have been done after bribes were given to senior EFCC officials loyal to Magu.

A report by the Auditor-General of the Federation last year also noted that about N13.96bn reported as salaries and wages in the consolidated financial statement of the EFCC were not in the anti-graft agency’s trial balance submitted for reconciliation.

Besides, the EFCC was listed as one of the agencies with “doubtful cash balance” of over N315m. These allegations are also being looked into.

A top government official said, “Magu is not just the chairman but the chief accounting officer of the EFCC. So, every allegation regarding diversion or misplaced funds must be directed at him.

“There are allegations that about 157 oil tankers seized by the Port Harcourt disappeared. Some were sold while some were returned to the owners after massive bribes were given through operatives we believe to be Magu’s proxies.

“We are also working on some reports from the Office of the Auditor-General and the Federal Inland Revenue Service regarding some financial lapses in the EFCC. For some of the allegations, Magu was not able to explain while for some, he offered explanations.

“Whenever he gives explanations, we investigate and cross-check and based on the outcome of the investigation, more questions are asked.”

When asked if it was not against the law to hold Magu beyond 48 hours in line with the constitutional provision, the source said Magu was being held by the police and he remains a member of that organisation.

He said, “Magu is a senior policeman. The police are also represented on the panel in the person of DIG Ogbezi. Magu is being kept in police custody in line with police rules just like the way other senior officers are detained during a probe. This is not an illegal detention.”

Besides Salami other members of the presidential panel investigating Magu are a  Deputy Inspector-General of Police, Mike Ogbizi representing the Nigeria Police Force; Hassan Abdullahi representing the Department of State Services and Douglas Ekwueme who is an official of the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit.

Others include Mallam Shamsudeen representing the Office of the Accountant-General of the Federation, Mohammed Abubakar from the Federal Ministry of Justice and Mr. Kazeem Atilebi representing Civil Society Organisations.

The six geopolitical zones in the country are also represented on the panel.

We’ll apply for bail today, says lawyer

Meanwhile, Magu’s lawyer, Mr. Tosin Ojaomo, has said he would be applying for the bail of the EFCC boss on Thursday (today).

Ojaomo told The PUNCH that he had approached the police on Wednesday but was asked to return on Thursday morning to seek his client’s bail.

The lawyer also described as untrue reports that Magu had been suspended and the Director of Operations, Mohammaed Umar, had taken over.

“The truth will soon be out. I was there today (Wednesday) but I couldn’t see him. They said I should come early in the morning so I will be there to apply for his bail. The news that someone has been appointed to replace him or that he is under suspension is not true. There is no letter of suspension. You will be shocked how this will end,” Ojaomo said.

Ojaomo said he visited Garki Area 10, in Abuja, to seek his bail, to no avail. He added, “I have not been shown any court order permitting his detention for more than 48 hours.

“I asked for the Deputy Inspector-General of Police in charge, to ask for information about what was going and possibly applied for his bail, but I was told he was not on seat.

Magu’s probe continued to generate reactions on Wednesday. A group, the Civil Society Network Against Corruption, attacked  Malami.

The group, which contended that the method adopted in Magu’s probe left  much to be desired, accused the AGF of “building a network of people opposed to accountability and transparency in governance.”

The group said this in a statement, titled, “Corrupt politicians must not celebrate over Magu’s ordeal,” signed by one of its promoters, Sina Odugbemi.

The group described as a mockery of the rule of law Magu’s detention by the panel meant to conduct an impartial probe into the allegations against him.

The CSNAC also faulted what it called the short notice given to Magu to appear before the panel, saying it was the same way the pioneer Chairman of the EFCC, Nuhu Ribadu, was humiliated out of office by a network of corrupt politicians.

But  the Coalition for Good Governance and Justice  urged those criticising  investigation of  Magu to allow the  Salami-led presidential panel to complete its tasks.

The Convener of the CCGC, Mr Emmanuel Umohinyang, told journalists on Wednesday that the investigation was an indication that the Buhari regime would not spare or sweep anything under the carpet.

He said, “I think the issue of Ibrahim Magu is a case of the hunter becoming the hunted and it also gives credence to the fact that the Buhari-led administration will not spare or sweep anything under the carpet.”

Another civil society group, the Anti-Corruption and Research-Based Data Initiative,  faulted the reactions of the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project and a member of the Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption, Prof. Femi Odekunle,  to the probe of Magu.

The anti-graft group said SERAP and Odekunle should encourage Magu to prove allegations levelled against him by Malami wrong.

The ARDI Executive Secretary, Chief Dennis Aghanya, in a statement in Abuja on Wednesday, said it was inappropriate for Odekunle, a presidential appointee on anti-graft,  to condemn the action taken to investigate alleged corruption and misconduct.

This was contained in a statement dated July 8, 2020, titled, ‘PACAC, SERAP should appreciate Malami for living up to his constitutional responsibilities as the Hon. Attorney-General of the Federation,’ signed by Aghanya.

SERAP and Odekunle had, in separate reactions to the arrest of Magu, criticised the action which they described as the result of the power play in the Presidency.

But responding to the criticism, Aghanya said, “Odekunle described the weighty allegations enunciated by the Honourable  Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, in his memo to Mr President and the quizzing of Magu for interrogation by a presidential panel, chaired by a former President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Ayo Salami as (implying) a witch-hunt.

“Odekunle’s outburst against the office of the Honourable Attorney General of the Federation, in our considered opinion, is the actual act of sabotage of Mr President’s fight against corruption, openly antagonising another constituted authority of the Federal Government.”

The group said SERAP should encourage Magu to debunk the allegations levelled against him.

PDP demands Magu’s prosecution for fraud

On its part, the Peoples Democratic Party on Wednesday  demanded  the prosecution of the suspended EFCC boss.

The opposition party said this in a statement titled, ‘Fraud: Magu Must Face Prosecution, says PDP, insists indictment reinforces graft allegations.’ The statement was signed by its National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan.

The party said after reviewing the reported circumstances surrounding the investigation of the indicted acting chairman of the EFCC, it was demanding his prosecution.

It explained that Magu’s indictment reinforced the PDP’s position that the war against corruption by the EFCC, under his watch, had been a huge scam by corrupt individuals to cover the plundering of public resources, harass political opponents, intimidate and extort money from innocent Nigerians.

Ologbondiyan said, “The revelations of  diversion of recovered funds and fraudulent sale of assets seized by the EFCC among other sleazes, as detailed in the memo by the Attorney -General and Minister of Justice, as well as the report of the Department of State Services on Magu’s activities have further exposed the racket that the fight against corruption has become under the All Progressives Congress government.”

“The development has also exposed why corruption has worsened under the Buhari administration, as documented by credible international organisations, including the Transparency International.

Umar assumes duty as EFCC acting chairman

The Head of Operations at the EFCC, Mohammed Umar, has resumed as the acting chairman of the agency.

Until his assumption, Umar, a deputy commissioner of police, was the second most senior official at the agency.

The PUNCH gathered that there was a push from some quarters in government for the Secretary of the EFCC, Ola Olukoyede, to be appointed as acting chairman pending the completion of the ongoing probe of Magu or the appointment of a new helmsman

However, the move met with stiff opposition and couldn’t succeed because Olukoyede is a civilian.

Face mask can cause failed ATM transactions – Banks [Punch]

Banks have advised customers to remove their face masks when carrying out transactions through Automated Teller Machines to ensure that their faces are properly recognised.

Findings revealed that some banks have installed face detection features in their ATMs which can prevent an ATM from dispensing cash if it is unable to recognise the face of the user.

While the banks have introduced the wearing of face masks as a condition to enter the banking halls, they have also advised customers to remove it when they want to withdraw money from ATMs.

In an email to its customers on measures to keep transactions protected, Fidelity Bank said, “Wearing of face masks is a safety and precautionary measure we must all adhere to in this period of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“However, we advise that you remove your face mask while making withdrawals or carrying out ATM transactions to allow our ATM properly recognise you.

“Fidelity Bank ATM machines have face detection features installed to curb incidences of fraudulent ATM withdrawals.

“Consequently, you may not be able to carry out any transaction if our ATMs are not able to properly recognise you. We apologise for the inconvenience that this may cause you.”

As lockdown continues to ease gradually, banks have continued to expand their operations.

In an email to its customers, Guaranty Trust Bank Plc listed its branches that would be accessible to customers.

It said, “When visiting any of our branches, kindly protect yourself by wearing a face mask at all times. It is also very important that you keep a safe distance when in a queue inside or outside the branch.

“Before visiting any of our branches, please remember that you can withdraw up to N150,000 at all our ATMs and that you can do most of your banking from the safety of your home.”

GTBank said the customers could bank through its e-payment platforms.

 

Our students can’t resume school, participate in WASSCE, says FG [Punch]

The Federal Government has put on hold the planned resumption of federal schools.

It also stopped students  from participating in the West African Senior School Certificate Examinations scheduled for between August 4 and September 5.

The Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu, disclosed these to State House Correspondents at the end of a meeting of the Federal Executive Council presided over by the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.).

The Minister of State for Education, Emeka Nwajiuba, had during the press briefing by the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 on Monday announced that the 2020 WASSCE conducted by WAEC would hold between August 4 and September 5.

Before then, the PTF had directed the reopening of schools for students in graduating classes of Primary 6, Junior Secondary School 3 and Senior Secondary School 3 to enable them  prepare for their final examinations.

But Adamu said on Wednesday that all federal schools would remain closed until it was safe to reopen them.

He also urged state governments that have announced school’s resumption plans to rescind such.

Adamu stated that WAEC could not determine the resumption date of schools for Nigeria.

He said he did “not mind Nigeria losing a whole school year than exposing our children to danger.”

The minister said, “Our schools will only open when we believe it is safe for our children and that is when the situation is right, not when the incidence of the infection is going up in the country. I just want to make it clear.

“We will not open soon for examination or for any reason unless it is safe for our children, even WAEC. WAEC will not determine for us what to do. Schools will remain closed.”

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