Schools Resumption: Anxiety As Teachers, Students Grapple With COVID-19 Protocols [LEADERSHIP]

Barely a week after all schools resumed fully following federal government’s directive, there is palpable fear among Nigerians over new cases of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) across the country.

In a bid to avoid resurgence of the virus through contacts in schools, state governments and parents are mounting pressure of school authorities to ensure that teachers and students comply with the COVID-19 protocols and guidelines.

In many schools visited by our correspondents across the country, students struggled to adhere to the guidelines by putting on face masks and shields, while water was provided for washing hands in line with the protocols, but complained about not being able to cope with the situation.

In most schools, it was observed that students found it to maintain social distance.

Even though there was availability of hand hygiene facilities, temperature checks, use of face masks, the level of compliance was not encouraging in most schools visited, especially in the government-owned schools, as some of the private schools demonstrated a fair level of compliance.

At Federal Government Girls’ College, Bwari, hand hygiene facilities installed at the gates were ignored as several visitors, students who walked in did not have their temperatures checked or directed to wash their hands.

An insider who did not want his name in print told our correspondent that the sitting arrangement and hostel was still the same as they were before the outbreak of the pandemic.

The principal of Senior Secondary School Zuba, Abdulwahab Ibrahim, told our correspondent that that the school was running shifts to ensure physical distancing.

“Because of the population of students and the need for social distancing, we have decided to run classes on Shift,” he said.

But a staff at the Government Day Secondary School Bwari, who pleaded anonymity, insisted that it would be difficult for schools to maximally comply with the social distancing measures because there are no enough teachers.

For some of the private schools visited in Sokoto State, LEADERSHIP Sunday observed that there was a significant level of compliance with the guidelines, as pupils and students alike were seen wearing facemasks and their temperature checked before entering the school premises.

In the public schools, a good number of the pupils and students did not wear facemasks; they however washed their hands with soap and water with the hand washing tools provided by the state government.

 

Army Targets Cyberspace, Launches Operation Crocodile Smile [LEADERSHIP]

The Nigerian Army is set to commence Exercise Crocodile Smile V1 nationwide to halt criminal elements.

The acting director Army Public Relations, Colonel Sagir Musa, notes that the annual exercise is traditionally conducted in the last quarter of the year.

He said this year’s Exercise Crocodile Smile V1 is scheduled to begin from the 20th of October to the 31st of December 2020.

“The Exercise is deliberately intended to be all encompassing to include cyber warfare exercises designed to identify, track and counter negative propaganda in the social media and across the cyberspace.

“This is the first ever cyber warfare exercise to be conducted in the history of the African Armed Forces,” he said.

The Public Relations Officer added  that the exercise will also include positive identification component, aimed at identifying Boko Haram terrorists fleeing from the Northeast and other parts of the country, as a result of the ongoing operations in the various theatres of operations, especially in the Northeast, Northcentral and Northwest parts of Nigeria.

Meanwhile, troops of Operation SAFE HAVEN killed an armed robber along Bokkos-Barkin Ladi Road in Plateau State.

The coordinator Defence Media Operations, Major General John Enenche said the troops deployed at Kuba while responding to a distress call on armed robbery operation on 16 October 2020, along the road, swiftly mobilised to the scene and engaged the robbers.

“During the encounter, troops overwhelmed the robbers, thereby neutralising one while others escaped with gunshot wounds.

“The troops recovered one locally fabricated rifle, 2 mobile handsets, 4 rounds of 7.62mm Special ammunition and one jack knife. He noted that the troops have maintained vigilance in the general area, to deny criminals freedom of action.”

 

#EndSARS: Protests paralyse activities in Abuja, Lagos, Enugu, others [PUNCH]

The #EndSARS protests continued on Saturday as economic activities were paralysed in some places across the country, including Lagos, Abuja, and Enugu.

For instance, hundreds of protesters barricaded the Kubwa-Zuba Expressway in Abuja, grinding traffic to a halt.

While some of the campaigners blocked the Kubwa section of the expansive highway, close to the NNPC Junction, others were said to have also blocked off the Gwarimpa section, causing a gridlock in the area.

One of our correspondents learnt that the protesters had earlier passed through the Gado Nasko Way, a major road in Kubwa, before taking over the highway.

The march caused motorists and commuters to be stranded on the 10-lane highway for many hours, with no security personnel seen in the vicinity.

Human and vehicular movements were also grounded on Saturday on major roads in Nsukka town, Nsukka Local Government Area of Enugu State, as a result of the #EndSARS protest.

A large number of protesters converged on the Union Primary School Nsukka, as early as 10 am, and went through Nsukka Barracks to Achara, Aku, Enugu road among others.

Also, as protests against police brutality continued in different parts of Benin, Edo State capital, on Saturday, there was gridlock in areas such as Ugbowo, Ramat Park at Ikpoba Hill and Agbor Park.

Meanwhile, the state Commissioner of Police, Babatunde Kokumo, has ordered the Homicide Section of the State Criminal Investigation Department to commence a full-scale investigation into the immediate and remote cause of Friday’s killing of a protester by gunmen.

Kokumo, in a statement by the state Police Public Relations Officer, Chidi Nwabuzor, vowed that the police would arrest the perpetrators of the dastardly act.

Some youths in their hundreds also on Saturday thronged the major streets of Makurdi, Benue State capital to join the protest.

Thugs attack protesters in Lagos, Abuja

There were also protests across Lagos, leading to gridlock and affecting economic activities. Many motorists and commuters were stranded on the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway as some protesters had blocked some sections of the road.

In Ikorodu, Lagos, hoodlums clashed as #EndSARS protesters continued with their agitation for an end to police brutality in the country.

Eyewitnesses told one of our correspondents that the #EndSARS protesters were peaceful but they barricaded the road at various sections, playing music and passing their message in non-violent ways until some hoodlums started to attack them around 1 pm.

Also, in Abuja, some thugs again attacked #EndSARS protesters, four days after a group of hoodlums violently disrupted the demonstration by the youths at Berger roundabout, Wuse. The protesters, who barricaded the Kubwa-Zuba Expressway, were violently assaulted by the hoodlums.

The campaigners fled as the thugs, allegedly armed with sticks, knives and machetes, chased them and removed the barricades placed on the road.

Eyewitnesses said policemen and soldiers who were monitoring the rally failed to intervene or caution the hoodlums.

 

#EndSARS: Police budgeted N2.8bn for SARS, others’ training in four years [PUNCH]

Despite the Nigeria Police Force budgeting over N2.8bn between 2015 and 2020 for local and international training for its personnel, including the recently dissolved Special Anti-Robbery Squad, there is a growing concern among many Nigerians that policemen in the country are poorly trained.

This concern has been part of the issues raised by the #EndSARS protesters, who have for days been staging demonstrations across the country.

The protesters, whose actions compelled the Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, to dissolve SARS on October 11, alleged that the manner SARS personnel violated people’s rights and subjected people, especially the youth, to harassment and brutality showed that the training of policemen in the country was faulty.

Meanwhile, documents on the website of the Budget Office of the Federation revealed that the amount budgeted by the police for local and international training of personnel in 2015, 2018, 2019 and 2020 totalled N2,833,674,510.

A sum of N1,444,348,560 comprising local training – N1,025,877,847; local travel and transport training – N268,352,974; international travel and transport training – N150,117,739, has however been similarly budgeted for in the 2021 Appropriation Bill, currently before the National Assembly for approval.

The training expenditure for 2016 and 2017 were not reflected in the documents on the website, but in 2015, the police budgeted N489,210,100 for local and international training of personnel, including the cost of transportation.

In 2018, N788,667,088 was budgeted for the training while in 2019 and 2020, the cost was N777,898,661 respectively. The total for the four years amounted to N2,833,674,510.

Few policemen properly trained, say ex-AIG, others

Reacting to some of the atrocities committed by the disbanded SARS officials, a retired Assistant Inspector-General of Police, Austin Iwar, told Sunday PUNCH in an interview that “very few officers in the Nigeria Police are properly trained. If you don’t train an officer well, you can’t expect the best from him. What you give is what you get,” he said.

Iwar added, “Successive Nigerian governments have given the police what you are seeing today and it is not just the police but also other government institutions. But because of the prominence of the police and the fact that they are closer to the people, they impact more on daily life; they are the most visible organ of government. That is why you are seeing what is happening.”

Despite the budgeted sum, some divisional police officers and heads of units in the Force told Sunday PUNCH on condition of anonymity that despite of the huge sums budgeted, inadequate training capacity, poor welfare and equipment were some of the factors responsible for the gross professional misconduct by SARS men and some other cops.

 

Aisha tweets song urging Buhari to tackle insecurity [PUNCH]

The First Lady, Aisha Buhari, on Saturday tweeted a song from an indigenous Hausa musician sending a plea to the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), to rescue the northern region from the ravaging insecurity.

The 22-second music video, whose singer could not yet be ascertained, shows the images of four military chiefs and the Inspector-General of Police during security meetings with President Buhari at the Presidential Villa.

This is just as a body of northern elders on Saturday urged the Federal Government to order an “independent forensic investigation into the expenditure of the Armed Forces from December 2015 till date.”

The song tweeted by Aisha was with the hashtag, #achehejamaa translating to save the people.

The song said, “Baba, please for God’s sake, consider our pleas for help; baba, please defend us; the North is crying, they are killing our people. They are burning our property; baba, please.”

 

Restructuring: Reps may allow states control railway, power, others [PUNCH]

The Federal Government may lose some of its powers to states of the federation, including its exclusive control of the power sector, railway, among others, with the ongoing review of the Constitution by the National Assembly.

The House of Representatives is considering devolution of power from the central government to the states through some bills seeking to move items from the Exclusive Legislative List to the Concurrent List.

Three bills sponsored by Mr Babajimi Benson at the House on Wednesday passed the first reading.

The first bill particularly seeks to amend Second Schedule in Part 11 of the Constitution especially Items 13 and 14 to allow public and private entities be involved in “generation, transmission and distribution of electricity within the state or from the state to any other state with the consent of the state governments concerned.”

The explanatory memorandum on the proposal reads, “This bill seeks to alter the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria Act (No 24) 1999 (as amended), to provide that state governments shall have Concurrent Legislative Authority, similar to that of the Federal Government, with respect to power and electricity within their states or from one state to another subject to the consent of the state governments concerned.”

Another bill also seeks to alter the Second Schedule of the Constitution “to provide that the Federal Government and the state governments shall have Concurrent Legislative Authority with respect to railway and matters related thereto.”

The third bill seeks to alter section 315(5)(d) of the Constitution “to remove the Land Use Act from the Acts listed in the section in order to make the amendment of the Act flexible and similar to other Acts of the National Assembly.”

Speaking with our correspondent on Friday, Benson, who is Chairman of the House Committee on Defence, linked the ongoing nationwide protests against the Special Anti-Robbery Squad of the Nigeria Police Force to the fault in the governance structure of the country.

When asked if he was indeed pushing for devolution of powers, Benson said, “Yes, this is trying to make the states more viable. The #EndSARS protests have shown that we need to think out of the box and create opportunities for our teeming youths.

“Devolution of powers, unbundling the Exclusive List is the way I feel we can make impact within states. We will reengineer states to be more productive and be able to do things that will add more wealth to our Gross Domestic Products.

 

Osun gov, deputy escape death at #EndSARS protest [THE NATION]

GOVERNOR Gboyega Oyetola of Osun State and his deputy, Mr. Benedict Alabi, narrowly escaped death on Saturday after they were attacked by armed men during an #EndSARS protest in Osogbo, the state capital.

Protesters also blocked Fajuyi road, Ado Ekiti that leads to government house.

Mothers took to the streets of Lagos to demand an end to police brutality, while protesters in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) blocked the Abuja-Kubwa highway.

Thugs later infiltrated the scene to unleash terror on the protesters.

Prayer walks also took place in parts of the country in another dimension to the protests.

Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos State led top officials of the state to the Surulere, Lagos residence of Mr. Ikechukwu Iloamauzo, who was shot dead last week during the protest.

He pledged that the widow and family of the deceased would get justice in the matter.

The Osogbo rally had started well when the protesters gathered  at Olaiya Junction only for suspected thugs to swoop on them with cutlasses and sticks.

The protesters later reconvened and asked the governor to address them.

He did at about 2.45pm, joining the protesters in the walk from Alekuwodo area to Olaiya junction, singing with them and promising them that their demands would be looked into.  He assured them of his support, saying peaceful agitations were a part of the democratic process.

However, while still addressing the youths, the armed men and women unexpectedly started shooting and hurling stones at the governor’s car.

They also shot at the deputy governor, damaging his vehicles.

The Nation gathered that some of the state officials were wounded in the attack as vehicles in the convoy were damaged.

Pandemonium erupted with the  thugs taking  over the Ola-Iya junction where they made bonfires, and began to attack innocent people.

Some of the thugs who were armed with axes, broken bottles, and cutlasses mounted bikes and moved around town threatening the peace.

The Nation learnt that a resident was hit by a stray bullet at Oke-Ayiepe area when some suspected thugs invaded the area.

Information and Civic Orientation Commissioner, Funke Egbemode, who was also at the scene of the incident, said the attack was beyond the #EndSARS protest, but a premeditated attempt to take the governor out.

“It was an assassination attempt. This was certainly beyond the #EndSARS protest. The people who launched the attack were not protesters at all. They were hoodlums with evil intentions.

“Protests have been going on in the State for some days now, and there had been no attack on any government official since the beginning of the protest.

“However, today’s attack changed the narrative. It was not a spontaneous attempt. The attackers had it all planned. They had guns and other weapons. In fact, it was a woman who smashed the windscreen of the vehicle of the Secretary to the State Government, Prince Wole Oyebamiji  where  I was.

One of the damaged vehicles

“It is really sad that these people infiltrated the ranks of the peaceful protesters and took advantage of the Governor’s walk with the youths to execute their sinister intentions.

“It was simply a street coup to take out the governor, his deputy and the Secretary to the State Government, all of whom were exposed during the protest and had to be smuggled into vehicles when the attack was launched.”

 

Flooding: Buhari authorises dispatch of relief materials to affected states [THE NATION]

PRESIDENT Muhmmadu Buhari on Saturday authorised the immediate provision of assistance to 12 states most ravaged by the seasonal rains.

he move followed representations to him by the governors of the affected states.

His Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu, said last night that Kebbi, Niger, Kwara, Kogi, Edo, Anambra, Delta, Kano, Jigawa, Rivers, Bayelsa and Adamawa states would benefit from the assistance.

Some of the states that have been reached with the first wave of support from the Presidency are: Kebbi, Niger, Kwara, Sokoto, Jigawa and Kaduna.

President Muhammadu Buhari once again expressed the nation’s sympathy to the victims of the floods, many of whom had lost family members, homes and valued investments in agricultural crops and livestock.

The president underscored the need for additional coordination between the federal and state government agencies dealing with the issues, and for improved forecast and warning systems to avert similar calamities.

 

Controversy over Umahi’s ‘defection’ to APC [THE NATION]

Governor Dave Umahi of Ebonyi State has denied reports making the rounds that he has defected from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to All Progressives Congress (APC).

A member of the House of Representatives from Ebonyi State, Chinedu Ogah, had earlier yesterday said the governor had defected to the APC.

Ogah, who is the lone APC federal lawmaker from Ebonyi State, also went ahead to commend the governor for defecting to APC.

According to Ogah, Umahi defected to the APC after meeting several leaders of the party, including President Muhammadu Buhari.

He described it as a bold step and move in the right direction and went ahead to ask governors of Abia, Enugu and Anambra states to join the APC for stability in the polity and the Southeast.

“Yes, Governor Umahi’s defection to our great party, APC, is a step in the right direction. We cannot afford to remain in opposition. We must join the ruling party to continue to reap the dividends of democracy.

“I am calling on other governors in the Southeast to toe the line of Governor Umahi and join APC. We have to be at the centre; we have to join mainstream politics for overall development of our zone and the country in general.

President Muhammadu Buhari has done well. Everybody should join the APC to encourage him”, Ogah said.

But when contacted, Governor Umahi in a terse reply simply told our reporter, “it is not true’.

The governor’s media aide, Maze Francis, also debunked the allegations.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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