Govs Under Fire Over Alleged Hoarding Of Palliatives [LEADERSHIP]

Under fire, state governors have moved to clear the air over allegation that they hoarded palliatives meant cushion the effect of COVID-19 in their respective states.

The governors have vehemently denied hoarding the relief items insisting that information circulating in the social media are erroneous and mischievous.

Sevaral groups, the latest being the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), have asked the federal and state governments to immediately release all COVID-19 palliatives and welfare materials being looted by hoodlums from warehouses across the country to Nigerians.

NLC president, Comrade Ayuba Wabba, also called for the investigation of officials who hoarded the palliative provisions.

The Congress said it had followed with keen concern the unfolding incidents across the country of mass storming and looting of relief welfare materials and provisions stored away in different warehouses.

Wabba said these relief palliatives and provisions are believed to have been procured by government to relieve citizens of the impact of the COVID-19 lockdown and the associated hardship.

He said, “It is obvious that the palliative provisions that were procured by government for immediate distribution to the mass of our people at their critical time of need and to assuage the hardship occasioned by the lockdown were hoarded and held back by some government officials.

“The reasons for this have not been made known to the public. We also understand that many of the palliative provisions are already getting rotten in the warehouses where they were stored.

“While we condemn the ensuing mass looting of both the Covid-19 palliatives and non-Covid-19 palliatives and non-Covid-19 palliative materials, we equally deplore the conduct of some government officials who stored away relief materials that should have been distributed to the masses of our people at their very trying times of need.

“We call on the Federal Government to investigate the conduct of those who hoarded the palliative provisions. In order to forestall riotous plundering of the remaining relief palliatives, the Nigeria Labour Congress demands that the Federal Government should order the immediate release of all the welfare provisions and materials to citizens.

“As we had demanded in the past, the distribution of the palliative provisions should be transparent, and inclusive with active participation of mass-based citizen groups. This directive should apply to state governments many of which are chiefly culprit in this regards. Government officials cannot afford to create a scenario that precipitates mass unrest at this very delicate and fragile milieu in global history.”

But spurning the allegations, governors of the 36 states of the federation dismissed insinuations that states were hoarding the palliatives that were collected.

In a statement by the head, media affairs, of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF), Abdulrazaque Bello – Barkindo, the governors noted that since the #EndSARS demonstrations started, they held several meetings to address the underlying concerns, with members of the forum aligning themselves with the call for justice leading to the setting up of judicial panels in the States of the Federation against Police brutality.

Noting that a lot of the information circulating in the social media needed to be fact-checked, the governors pleaded with members of the public to desist from spreading rumours which further creates panic and stampede.

The statement noted: “For example, some of the properties stolen and vandalized, include palliatives set aside for vulnerable members of society.

 

Global Investments Moving Towards Cleaner, Cheaper Energy Options – Kyari [LEADERSHIP]

The group managing director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Mele Kyari, said global investments in energy is moving towards renewable, cleaner, cheaper and efficient energy options.

Kyari spoke yesterday at the Virtual Oil Trading and Logistics (OTL) Africa Petroleum Downstream Expo 2020.

He said that African downstream petroleum interests need to evolve and adapt to the changing business environment.

“The African downstream petroleum sector must prepare for the paradigm shift that lies ahead with the inroads renewable energy is making in the global energymix,” the GMD who was represented by managing director, Pipelines and Product Marketing Company (PPMC), Mr Musa Lawan, said.

Kyari noted that the move to deepen gas utilisation across the country was aimed at creating an alternative source of energy for Nigerians, especially with the deregulation of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS).

Chairman, Major Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria (MOMAN), Mr Tunji Oyebanji, said that Nigeria’s proven gas reserves currently stands at 203.16TCF.

Oyebanji said these reserves, with a vast majority still left untapped, were equivalent to 306 times the country’s annual consumption.

He said, “Nigeria’s vast reserves can feed into developing policies toward sustainable energy options for the downstream sector.

“Energy demands in Nigeria have been on the increase in the past three decades; however, the country still lacks in providing sufficient energy to run the economy.

“Nigeria – the continent’s largest economy – has only approximately 60 per cent of its population having access to electricity.

“There is evidence that access to energy is crucial to the reduction of poverty, the promotion of a country’s economic growth and a better standard of living for current and future population of Nigeria.”

According to him, finding a sustainable way of meeting the growing energy needs is a core challenge for Nigeria, which aptly creates the appetite for investment in renewable power generation.

While commending the government for its autogas initiative, he said that MOMAN was ready to key into the scheme because it would affect the economy positively.

Oyebanji said the scheme would create jobs, increase foreign exchange savings and help reduce carbon emissions in the country.

 

Army On Red Alert Over Security Threat [LEADERSHIP]

The Nigerian Army has directed its Principal Staff Officers (PSOs), General Officers Commanding (GOCs) and Field Commanders (CO) to be at alert over emerging threats to undermine Nigeria’s security following the violence that trailed the EndSARS protest across the country.

The Chief of Army Staff, Lt Gen Tukur Buratai, who charged the military top command to deal with subversive elements across the country in order to restore peace, however declared that the Army will ensure democratic stability in Nigeria because it is the only panacea for development and progress.

Buratai who gave the order after a meeting with PSOs, GCOs and Field Commanders at the Army Headquarters Abuja yesterday reaffirmed the Army’s loyalty to Nigerian and President Muhammadu Buhari.

He further warned that the Army will not allow any local or international force, elements or destabilising agents to set Nigeria on fire.

Disclosing that 10 AK-47 rifles had been lost to hoodlums in the last two weeks, he ordered a decisive response to any act of arson or attempt to kill or maim any military or security personnel.

In an address by the acting director Army Public Relations Colonel Sagir Musa, Gen Buratai warned the PSOs, GOCs and field commanders against disloyalty among all officers and soldiers of the Nigerian Army (NA).

The Army chief said, “The events of the past few days in our dear nation have shown the determination of some unscrupulous individuals and groups to destabilize Nigeria by all means.

“These individuals, groups and other undesirable elements have hijacked the peaceful #ENDSARS protest marches resulting to widespread violence, acts of wanton destruction and looting of public and private properties in many parts of the country. These acts led to the imposition of curfew in several states of the federation.

“The recent activities by unscrupulous elements have shown their desire to acquire arms and ammunition at all cost from security personnel.

“No less than 10 AK-47 rifles have been lost to these miscreants in the past 2 weeks across the country with attendant lost of lives of personnel”.

While charging the commanders to nip in the bud the emerging trend at all cost, the COAS directed them to warn their troops on internal security or on guard duties outside the barracks to be at maximum alert at all times and to deal decisively with any attack on their duty locations.

Buratai also directed the top military brass to reiterate to all their subordinates that the Nigeria Army was determined to ensure democratic stability in Nigeria as the only panacea for development and progress.

He added: “The best system of governance is democracy and we must all ensure that Nigeria’s democracy remains stable and steady. We will not allow any force, elements or destabilising agents in or outside our country to set our beloved country on fire.

“We remain resolute in doing everything possible to ensure that subversive elements, detractors and other enemies of this great nation do not achieve their aims and objectives of destabilisation”.

He revealed that the Army was aware of the grand design by the sponsors of the #ENDSARS protests to draw the Army into the crisis since the onset of the protest.

Buratai said, “The plan was to embark on massive propaganda to discredit the military and the government so as to set the people against the NA once it is called out to aid the civil authorities.

“The NA being aware of the devilish plan was careful not to be dragged in and issued the initial warning through a press release on 14 October 2020 of our resolve to secure and safeguard a United Nigeria.

“Now the detractors alongside their local and international collaborators have mischievously and deliberately misrepresented troops’ efforts to ensure compliance with the curfew imposed by legitimate civil authorities in Lagos and other states. These agitators are falsely accusing the NA of being responsible for the activities of the miscreants despite glaring evidence to the contrary”.

On the threats on visa ban and other sanctions, Buratai said, “They have continually threatened to report the NA to the International Criminal Court (ICC) and also threatened various forms of sanctions against personnel and their families.

“Thankfully however, a large percentage of Nigerians and the international community have started seeing through the smokescreen of falsehood and deliberate misrepresentation of facts being orchestrated by enemies of Nigeria and have retracted their earlier false publications.

“Despite all these, the NA has continued to exercise restraint, applied all the Principles of Internal Security Operations and fully abided by the internationally recognized Rules of Engagement as contained in our published Standard Operating Procedures for Internal Security Operations which are derived from the International Human Rights Laws and are in accordance with the international principles guiding the use of force”.

 

Protest ploy to destabilise Nigeria, army chief alleges [SUN]

The Nigerian Army, yesterday, claimed the #EndSARS protest was a ploy by its masterminds to discredit the Federal Government, incite the public against the army and set the nation on fire.

Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Lieutenant General Tukur Buratai, in his remarks during a meeting with Principal Staff Officers (POS), Commanding Officers (GOC) and field commanders in Abuja, said the army lost over 10 AK-47 rifles during the protest across the country, which he said was unacceptable.

He warned that the army would not allow subversive and unscrupulous elements destabilise the peace and stability of Nigeria.

While shedding more light on the #EndSARS protest, he said: “The plan was to embark on massive propaganda to discredit the military and the government so as to set the people against the Nigerian army once it is called out to aid the civil authorities”.

He told the PSOs, GOCs and field commanders that there would be no room for disloyalty among all officers and soldiers of the Nigerian Army. He directed them to reiterate to all their subordinates that the army was determined to ensure democratic stability in Nigeria as the only panacea for development and progress.

“We will not allow any force, elements or destabilising agents in or outside our country to set our beloved country on fire.

“We remain resolute in doing everything possible to ensure that subversive elements, detractors and other enemies of this great nation do not achieve their aims and objectives of destabilisation”.

Buratai stated that the events of the past few days had shown the determination of some unscrupulous individuals and groups to destabilise Nigeria by all means.

The COAS added that the army had been aware from the outset of the #EndSARS protest about the grand design by the sponsors of the protests to draw it into the crisis.

He said the army, being aware of the plan, was careful not to be dragged in, and issued the initial warning through a press release on October 14 of its resolve to secure and safeguard a united Nigeria.

“Now the detractors alongside their local and international collaborators have mischievously and deliberately misrepresented troops’ efforts to ensure compliance with the curfew imposed by legitimate civil authorities in Lagos and other states.

“These agitators are falsely accusing the army of being responsible for the activities of the miscreants in spite of glaring evidence to the contrary.

“They have continually threatened to report the army to the International Criminal Court (ICC) and also threatened various forms of sanctions against personnel and their families.

“Thankfully, however, a large percentage of Nigerians and the international community have started seeing through the smokescreen of falsehood, and deliberate misrepresentation of facts being orchestrated by enemies of Nigeria and have retracted their earlier false publications.”

 

Ohanaeze, Adebanjo, Ezeife, Falae kick [SUN]

However, the apex socio-cultural organisation of Ndigbo, Ohanaeze, Afenifere leader, Chief Ayo Adebanjo, former governor of Anambra State, Chukwuemeka Ezeife, and former Secretary to the Government of the Federation(SGF), Chief Olu Falae, have faulted the Army’s claim that the protest was a plot by subversive elements to destabilise the country. They described the protests as a spontaneous outburst from youths who were dissatisfied with the state of affairs.

Ohanaeze, the umbrella body of the Igbo, admonished the Army to keep quiet and know that Nigeria was practicing democracy.

National publicity secretary of Ohanaeze, Uche Achi-Okpaga, said the Army was only trying to cover up its alleged complicity in the sponsoring of thugs to destabilise the protests.

“In a democracy, the Army should take orders from democratic authorities. They should be seen and not heard.”

Also, elder statesman and Afenifere leader, Chief Adebanjo, berated the Army.

He said the President could not pretend not to know how the Lekki Tollgate shooting was carried out.

“How can he say he does not know? Is it another case of unknown soldier, like what happened under Obasanjo? When Governor Sanwo-Olu was calling him, he made himself incommunicado. That is why restructuring is the only way forward. If the governor is the chief security officer of his state, would he have allowed his people to be killed?”

Former governor of Anambra State, Dr. Ezeife, said the protest was a result of the comprehensive failure of government.

“EndSARS  is signifying that the chickens have come home to roost. Anywhere in Nigeria, people are not happy with what is happening.”

On his part, Chief Falae urged the Army to either come out with information they have on the #EndSARS protests to authenticate their position or shut up.

“Given the way the young people conducted themselves, I don’t think they were sponsored by anybody. If the Army has any information on that, they should come out with it but, if not, they should shut up.”

 

#EndSARS: Ijaw, Igbo youths list 12 demands [SUN]

The Ijaw Youth Council (IYC) has accused the Federal Government of allowing the peaceful protest against police brutality get out of hand.

The group also  condemned the brute force on defenceless protesters at the Lekki toll gate in Lagos by soldiers calling on the Federal Government to constitute an independent panel of inquiry to unravel  the truth about the incident. They also called fo the restructuring of the country.

Spokesman of the IYC, Ebilade Ekerefe, who addressed  a press conference in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State, said Ijaw youths were not happy with the way the Federal Government handled the protests that it  snowballed into killings and loss of lives.

He  decried the violence in Port Harcourt in the guise of #EndsSARS protest, adding that the incident which led to the beheading of Oliver Igbani, a police inspector  from Otuokpoti by irate pro-Biafra youths, was unacceptable.

“Ijaw youths are unrepentant apostles of resource control. It is on this note we support the gold mining of Zamfara State government as that is the hallmark of true federalism. All we ask for is that the Niger Delta people should also be allowed to control our oil and gas resources. It is double standard and provocative when the Federal Government criminalises oil bunkering in the Niger Delta and support gold mining in Zamfara State.

“There’s no better time to restructure Nigeria than now. The agitations are unbecoming an the 2014 National Confab Report has addressed the concerns of a restructured Nigeria. We, therefore, demand for its immediate implementation.

“While we will collaborate with the military to fish out criminals from our creeks, we shall also not accept the invasion of such communities in the name of searching for alleged criminals. We demand that henceforth, this pattern should stop as most communities are still yet to recover socioeconomically from such invasions.”

Ekerefe said Ijaw youths were displeased with moves to retrench workers of Ijaw origin  from oil firms warning that it would not accept the sacking of Ijaw people working in the  oil sector.

The council also called on the Federal Government to take decisive steps to stop gas flaring, which over the years, had affected oil communities.

It also urged President Muhammadu Buhari to come to the aid of communities submerged  by flood in the Niger Delta and to sign without delay the bill establishing the Maritime University Okerenkoko.

Similarly, youths in the South East have also released a  five-point demand to the Federal Government as conditions to stop the ongoing protests across the region.

For two weeks, the peaceful EndSARS protests which later snowballed into violence and criminality, had paralysed economic activities in the zone.

But the youths in a meeting with governors and leaders of the zone on Sunday said they were willing to leave the streets and allow order to return if the Federal Government was ready to meet their demands.

Some of the conditions included the complete dredging of River Niger and upgrading of the Akanu Ibiam International Airport Enugu to the status of a truly international airport by approving the operations of airlines like the British Airways, Emirate, Quarter airways, Air France and  Delta Airline.

Chairman of the South East Governors Forum and Governor of  Ebonyi State, Chief David Umahi, who briefed journalists on the outcome of the meeting in Abakaliki Sunday night, said the youths also demanded that the Federal Government begin massive rehabilitation of all roads in the zone and ensure the completion of the second Niger Bridge to boost economic activities in the zone.

They equally demanded that certain percent of government’s budgets be reserved for youths to meet their welfare.

Umahi said  the governors and leaders of the zone condemned the shootings at Lekki Tollgate in Lagos which led to the death of some peaceful protesters, adding that leaders of the zone called for a thorough investigation of the matter with a view to bringing the perpetrators to justice.

 

SERAP fumes as NBC slams fines on Arise TV, Channels, AIT [SUN]

The National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) has sanctioned Arise Television, Channels Television and African Independent Television (AIT) for their report on the violence  that characterised the #EndSARS protest last week.

Acting Director-General of the NBC, Prof. Armstrong Idachaba, who handed down the sanctions in Abuja, said the affected media houses were liable to a fine of N2 million to N3 million.

Idachaba, while briefing journalists in Abuja, said the NBC was concerned about the professional misdemeanour of some broadcasting stations in the past couple of days.

He added that whereas it could be said that the Nigerian media,  especially the broadcast media, discharged its role professionally and most patriotic in confronting the challenge of #COVID-19 crisis, the same cannot be said of the coverage of the  #EndSARS campaign.

He further said monitoring reports available to the commission indicated that at the early stages of the conflict, the broadcast industry largely gave a fair and balanced coverage to the issues.

He, however, said the trend became completely reversed when violence, wonton destruction and looting were added to the dimensions.

Idachaba noted that Nigerians were at the stage of the nation’s history when  broadcasters in the country had a crucial responsibility for responsive and professional broadcasting.

He stated that by picking unverified, unsubstantiated social media sources and repeating the narratives,  broadcasters in the country have shown crass lack of professionalism and a disposition to be escalators of conflict and more seriously a threat to Nigeria.

Reacting, SERAP in a statement by its deputy director Kolawole Oluwadare said: “This action by the NBC is yet another example of Nigerian authorities’ push to silence independent media and voices. The NBC should drop the fines and uphold Nigerian constitution and international obligations to respect and protect freedom of expression and media freedom. We will sue the NBC if the unconstitutional fines are not rescinded within 48 hours. This is a new low in Nigeria’s protection of freedom of expression, and the ability of independent media to function in the country. The fines are detrimental to media freedom, and access to information, and the NBC must immediately withdraw the decision.”

“Media freedom and media plurality are a central part of the effective exercise of freedom of expression and access to information. The ability to practice journalism free from undue interference, to cover peaceful protests, and critical views are crucial to the exercise of many other rights and freedoms.

“The media has a vital role to play as ‘public watchdog’ in imparting information of serious public concern and should not be inhibited or intimidated from playing that role. The NBC should stop targeting and intimidating independent media and voices.”

“President Muhammadu Buhari should caution the NBC to stop intimidating and harassing independent media houses and to respect the Nigerian Constitution 1999 and the country’s international human rights obligations, including under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights.”

 

Protesters, lawyers tackle Buratai as Army chief dismisses ICC threat [PUNCH]

The Chief of Army Staff,   Lieutenant  General Tukur Buratai, on Monday dared human rights activists, who had threatened to drag him and other officers and soldiers of the Nigerian Army to the International Criminal Court.

Buratai, who stated this while addressing principal staff officers, general officers commanding and field commanders at a meeting in the NA headquarters, Abuja, said the commanders should not be afraid of the ICC while performing their duties.

He also ordered military commanders and troops to go after looters and hoodlums raiding warehouses and vandalising property across the country, adding that sponsors of  #EndSARS protests  were out to discredit the Army

There has been outrage over soldiers’  shooting of peaceful protesters on Tuesday last week in Lekki, Lagos, with some of those who condemned the incident threatening to take Buratai to the ICC.

Protests by youths calling for the scrapping of the Special Anti-Robbery of the Nigeria Police turned violent following the shooting in Lekki.

Also, mobs have been looting public and private property besides the burning of police stations and other government buildings.

But on Monday, Buratai did not comment on the allegation that soldiers shot protesters.

He, however,  denied that the army masterminded the miscreants involved in the arson, vandalism and looting of public and private property in many cities.

The chief of army staff made it clear to his men that there must be no room for disloyalty amongst all officers and soldiers of the Nigerian Army.

He said the PSOs, GOCs and field commanders must reiterate to all their subordinates that the army was determined to ensure democratic stability in the country as the only panacea for development and progress.

Buratai said, “The recent activities by unscrupulous elements have shown their desire to acquire arms and ammunition at all costs from security personnel. No less than 10 AK-47 rifles have been lost to these miscreants in the past two weeks across the country with attendant loss of lives of personnel.”

According to a statement read by the Army spokesman, Col. Sagir Musa, on behalf of the COAS, Buratai charged the commanders to nip in the bud the trend at all costs.

The statement was titled, ‘Press briefing on the Chief of Army Staff Lt. Gen. TY Buratai’s meeting with principal staff officers, general officers commanding and field commanders at the Army headquarters conference room, Abuja on October 26, 2020.’

In the statement, Buratai directed the commanders to warn their troops on internal security or guard duties outside the barracks to be at “maximum alert at all times and to also deal decisively with any attack on their duty locations.

“We will not allow any force, elements or destabilising agents in or outside our country to set our beloved country on fire. We remain resolute in doing everything possible to ensure that subversive elements, detractors and other enemies of this great nation do not achieve their aims and objectives of destabilisation,” he said.

The COAS said that the army was aware from the outset,  the plan by the organisers of the protests to  discredit the NA.

He stated, “The NA (Nigerian Army) has been aware of the grand design by the sponsors of the protests to draw it into the crisis.

“The plan was to embark on massive propaganda to discredit the military and the government so as to set the people against the NA once it is called out to aid the civil authorities. The NA being aware of the devilish plan was careful not to be dragged in and issued the initial warning through a press release on 14 October 2020 of our resolve to secure and safeguard a united Nigeria.

“Now the detractors alongside their local and international collaborators have mischievously and deliberately misrepresented troops’ efforts to ensure compliance with the curfew imposed by legitimate civil authorities in Lagos and other states.”

 

Police go after Osun mechanic for beheading five-year-old daughter [PUNCH]

A 25-year-old automobile mechanic, Albert Olaposi, on Monday, allegedly beheaded his five-year-old daughter, Mercy, in Gbongan, Osun State.

Until her death, Mercy was said to be living with her paternal grandmother in the Oke Oje area of Gbongan, while her parents live in another area of the town.

However, on Monday morning, Olaposi reportedly visited the residence of his mother and took away the deceased.

He then allegedly beheaded her.

In a chat with our correspondent, a resident of Oke Oje, who preferred anonymity, said the victim’s grandmother raised the alarm.

The resident said, “The suspect immediately fled the scene when the mother raised the alarm. People around tried to apprehend him, but they could not.”

When contacted, the Police Public Relations Officer in the state, Yemisi Opalola, said the remains of the deceased had been deposited in the morgue of the Obafemi Awolowo University Teaching Hospital, Ile-Ife.

She said the police had launched a manhunt for the suspect.

 

Why we haven’t called off strike –ASUU [PUNCH]

THE Academic Staff Union of Universities has said it has yet to call off its ongoing strike because it is waiting for the government to conduct an integrity test on the University Transparency and Accountability Solution.

The UTAS is the payment platform created by ASUU in place of government’s Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System.

ASSU President, Prof. Biodun Ogunyemi in an interview with The PUNCH said the government needed to give the clearance to National Information Technology Development Agency to conduct integrity test on UTAS.

“The integrity test will be handled by NITDA, it is government that will facilitate it because NITDA is a government, agency and unless you get clearance from the government that test cannot be conducted.”

While speaking on whether the government had accepted UTAS, Ogunyemi said, “We are still talking, we have given them the position of our members, we are thinking we should be able to hold a meeting this week if they have not changed plans. The meeting for Monday was postponed. In principal, they have accepted UTAS and told us to go for the test, and on our part, we have started the process. We had presented UTAS at three levels, starting with the Ministry of Education, Senate President and members of his team, officials of Ministry of Finance and Office of the Accountant General of the Federation, where all other stakeholders were present, including NITDA,  all stakeholders have witnessed the presentation and the next stage of integrity test is what we are moving in to. If government facilitates it, it is not something that should drag for too long at all. We don’t foresee any problem with UTAS; it also depends on how early the government makes it possible for the integrity test to be conducted.”

Ogunyemi also explained that ASUU was ready to resume academic activities if the government was ready to play its part.

“Our members are ready to resume work as early as government is ready to play its part. I’m sure you are not suggesting that our members should resume on empty stomach or the strike should be suspended without any concrete action on the side of the government. We don’t like to stay away from our work because we like our students, they are also our children.

As far as we are concerned, we don’t have issue with going back to work, but we want more sincerity on the side of government.

“We have not seen enough reasons to believe that they don’t mean what they are telling us but as soon as we see any sign to that effect. we will tell Nigerians.”

 

COVID-19: Expect protests’ consequences in two weeks, NCDC warns [PUNCH]

THE Director-General of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, Dr Chike Ihekweazu, has said that the curfew imposed by state governments to halt the looting of warehouses and destruction of property have slowed down testing for COVID-19.

He said posting of results on the centre’s social media handles was halted out of respect for those who lost their lives as a result of the incidents of the past days.

Speaking at a media briefing of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 in Abuja on Monday, Ihekweazu said the nation must be careful about the expected spike in COVID-19 cases on account of the nationwide street protests.

He said, “Forty to 60 per cent of our testing cases are reported from Lagos. Our labs in Lagos have not been able to perform as they normally would for the past two to three weeks.

“As we move into the next two weeks, it will not take a rocket scientist to know that we have to watch the numbers very carefully.

“The reasons are obvious; we have gathered in our masses for whatever reason and for now, we have to keep our eyes open for the potential consequences. Those consequences are not inevitable; we can still do our part to prevent them.”

Encouraging Nigerians against despondency, the DG said, “We cannot let down our guards; we cannot afford to add this to the many challenges that we have. Many states have done well by raising their testing capacity. So, we must stay on the ball.”

Meanwhile, the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 has condemned the ongoing nationwide looting of warehouses, where COVID-19 palliatives are stored.

The National Coordinator of the PTF, Dr Sani Aliyu, cautioned Nigerians against further looting of the items, noting that their distribution to households were being done in phases.

He said, “We also understand that palliatives need to be distributed with the greatest urgency so that millions of struggling Nigerians can receive the economic support.”

Aliyu noted that CACOVID had not only supported the country with the provision of PPEs and test kits, but also technical supports, including Nigeria’s international travel portal for passengers coming into the country.

He also noted that the body had been working with states and the Federal Capital Territory under the Nigerian Governors’ Forum to procure, deliver and distribute palliatives to 1.7 million Nigerians and the most vulnerable households across the 774,000 local government areas and 36 states of the federation, including the FCT.

Aliyu recalled that the partnership between PTF and CACOVID started in April, noting that the food programme was meant to be delivered “in a staggered and controlled manner.”

He said, Only the Lagos warehouse is a private property; the rest of the warehouses have been state warehouses.

PFT coordinator said, “Out of the 11.7 million supplies ordered, 11 million were confirmed to have been delivered. In terms of the schedule, 17 states had 100 per cent delivery and a kick-off was conducted. Twelve states had over 85 per cent of delivery.

“Only eight states did not have a flag-off or formal handover of these commodities. Of the eight states, two had 100 per cent of deliveries and the process for a kick-off is currently in place. The remaining six states had 68 per cent of deliveries reached.

“Since the relief efforts began with CACOVID and the state governments in early August, official flagging-off and handover of the palliatives have taken place in 28 states and the FCT, and these states have been distributing food at various stages.”

 

NEC panel to meet with youths on jobs, others [THE NATION]

The National Economic Council (NEC) has set up a committee to engage youths and other stakeholders on ways to address ‘deeper issues’ that led to the #EndSARS protests.

NEC, at a meeting chaired by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo (SAN), mandated the committee to focus on employment, social safety net programmes, national unity and other critical national issues.

A statement by the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Laolu Akande, said the committee is headed by Osinbajo.

NEC also expressed condolences to those who had lost their loved ones, sustained injuries or lost valuables to the violence that trailed the #EndSARS protests.

The meeting also expressed support for the steps so far taken by President Muhammadu Buhari in tackling the protests and commended the security agencies for their management of the crisis.

The membership of the committee is drawn from each of the geo-political zones of the country, including governors of Sokoto State, Borno State, Niger State, Ondo State, Ebonyi State and Delta State.

The statement reads: “Rising from the emergency meeting of the NEC held Monday, 26th October 2020, members commiserated and expressed sincere condolences to all those who have been injured, suffered the death of a loved one or lost property since the hijacking of the #EndSARS demonstrations by criminals and hoodlums across the country.

“The Council observed the low morale of security operatives during the period and members resolved to commend the Nigerian Police and other security agencies for their handling of what is clearly an unprecedented problem.

“Council affirmed an unequivocal belief and assurance that most members of the nation’s security personnel are law-abiding and are capable of restoring law and order in the country.

“NEC also supported President Buhari’s commitment to a complete overhaul of the country’s security services by improving the capacity of security officers across the rank and file while providing them with the necessary equipment to carry out their jobs effectively”.

It also called on the Coalition of Private Sector operators against COVID-19, also known as CACOVID, to enlighten the citizens on its palliative distribution mode and its works with state governments.

“NEC enjoined the CACOVID leadership to come out with an independent statement on the status of the distribution of palliatives donated to States which should clearly explain the circumstances behind the delay in the distribution of food items domiciled in warehouses across the country”, it said.

On the activities of groups like the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), the Council emphasised the need for an urgent action to be taken, especially in the light of their tendencies to always subvert genuine agitations to cause mayhem.

The statement added: “Council reviewed the activities of IPOB and other secessionist groups, stressing that these subterranean and violent tendencies must be quickly addressed given that they have continually hijacked demonstrations and caused mayhem and lawlessness across parts of the country.

“Council decried the irresponsible use of social media in fueling misinformation and increasing social tensions.

 

Police abandon streets in Lagos, Abuja [THE NATION]

Fear has gripped residents of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja and Lagos State due to the absence of policemen on the streets.

They have also withdrawn from major highways since the weekend.

Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu last Saturday ordered the mobilisation of all police operational assets and resources to bring an end to the violence, killings, looting and destruction of public and private property in parts of the country, but has been largely ignored.

Hoodlums in Lagos have been having a field day as they mount roadblocks on major roads to extort motorists.

Aggrieved policemen in most cities have retreated to their barracks following the murder of their colleagues and the torching and looting of their stations by criminals who hijacked the #ENDSARS protests.

Police sources said officers and men felt unappreciated by both the government and citizens that they suffer discomfort to protect.

They went into their shells in silent protest, a source said.

In Lagos, terrified residents recounted how armed hoodlums mounted roadblocks on all major roads, streets and had a field day extorting motorists.

From Adekunle, the University of Lagos Road through Ikorodu Road to Lagos-Abeokuta Expressway and Agege Motor Road, hoodlums have held sway.

They mounted scores of illegal barricades, coercing road users to pay between N500 and N1,000 at each roadblock.

Our correspondent who went round some parts of Lagos observed there was no security presence.

From Okota through Cele Bus Stop to Ojuelegba, as well as Daleko and Iyana Isolo, no policeman was seen on the road.

There were no traffic wardens and officials of the Lagos State Traffic Management Agency (LASTMA). The case was similar at Abule Egba, Ikorodu and Yaba areas.

A resident said he encountered about 20 artificial toll gates mounted by street boys from Anthony to Mile 12 on Friday.

He described the situation as “the huge cost of protest; the agony of anarchy in an improperly ‘articulated’ and decaying society, whose predicament is now compounded by the demobilisation and ‘demoralisation’ of the police, making life to be nearly short, brutish and nasty.”

Another resident on essential duty, who left the office around 11 pm on Sunday, relived how ran into thugs as he made to make a U-turn at the Abule Egba Bridge along the Lagos-Abeokuta Expressway.

He said: “I encountered two roadblocks mounted by unclad area boys under the flyover at Abule Egba. I didn’t see any police checkpoints from Oshodi through Capitol Road (Agege axis where I dropped off a colleague) to Iyana Ipaja.

“Approaching the U-turn under the Abule Egbe flyover, two cars that took ‘one-way’ nearly ran into me. As I wondered why they took one-way, I met the first roadblock. I slowed down slightly, expecting to see policemen. Suddenly the boys appeared.

 

409 held in Abuja, Ilorin, Ondo [THE NATION]

More arrests were made on Monday as security agencies intensified manhunt for those who looted palliative items and raided private homes to cart away valuables.

No fewer than 409 suspects have been arrested in Abuja, Kwara, Plateau and Benue states.

Police in Plateau State arrested additional 174 people to raise the number of suspects in the net to 307 in the state.

In Calabar where 80 suspects were apprehended, Governor Ben Ayade announced a N100,000 bounty for whoever offers a useful information that will lead to more arrests.

Many looted items were abandoned at various street corners by fleeing looters as police intensified the house-to-house search directed by the government.

Cross River Commissioner of Police Abdulkadir Jimoh  said many looted items had been recovered.

The items included tricycles and stage and sound equipment from Calabar International Conference Centre (CICC).

He urged the traditional institutions, community leaders, faith groups, youths as well as community policing committees to expose looters.

“We have arrested over 80 suspects and they are under going interrogation in various security facilities. Looters have 24 hours to return all looted items before the house-to-house search gets to them as recovery of looted items is on going.

He warned landlords, parents, community and religious leaders not to hide or cover up for any criminal in thier environment, adding that the house-to-house search which was in effect was not business as usual .

The Police commissioner said police had also recovered  four new tricycles, water heaters, bath tubs, air conditioners, musical speakers, executive chairs among other items mostly suspected to be stolen from the Campaign office of House of Representatives member Etta Mbora.

Other items include stage equipment at the CICC, sewing machines from garment factory, fumigating equipment, cartons of pesticides and so on.

Special Adviser, Media and Publicity to the Governor, Christian Ita, said in a statement in Calabar that whistle blowers should call 08034500531 to give such information.

In Kwara State, the police paraded 144 persons in connection with last week violent attack and looting of public and private property in Ilorin, the state capital.

The hoodlums attacked government warehouses,  office of the Nigeria Customs Service Command, Shoprite Mall and others. They also attacked and molested motorists and residents within the  the metropolis.

Police Commissioner Kayode Egbetokun said the arrest of the suspects was as a result of combined efforts of security agencies.

He called on those who still have looted property in their possession to voluntarily surrender them, adding that such people would not be prosecuted.

The police chief said looted property could be submitted at various religious centres like mosques, churches and even residences of community heads.

Also, Ondo State Police Command has launched a manhunt for robbers and looters of shops in Akure, the state capital, and other parts of the state.

No fewer than 10 persons have been arrested in different parts of the state.

In some areas, it was gathered that house-to-house search was conducted to recover looted goods.

It was also learnt that a dealer in electrical parts was shot dead on Sunday evening at his shop located at Sijuade area of Akure. The identity of the victim was not disclosed.

Police spokesman, ASP Tee-Leo Ikoro, confirmed the arrest of 10 for looting shops and armed robbery.

Ikoro explained that those arrested were not EndSARS protesters but looters.

He said the operation was still on to arrest other fleeing shop looters.

The Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Police Command arrested 51 suspected looters in Abuja.

Items recoverd from them at the Jabi-Daki-biu, Industrial Estate and Karimo axis were 54 bags of rice, clothes, oil and tomato pastes among others.

FCT Commissioner of Police Bala Ciroma, who briefed reporters while parading the suspects, said in compliance with the directives of the Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, the command has deployed tactical strategies such as diligent motorised and foot patrols to avert further breakdown of law and order.

Ciroma said his command had begun investigation into the death of three people during the stampede in Gwagwalada.

He said those arrested will be charged to court as soon as possible.

The commissioner appealed to residents to remain law-abiding and calm.

Ciroma said: “In the bid to ensure the protection of lives and property within the FCT, the command has arrested Fifty-one (51) suspected looters and made recoveries of some looted items at Jabi-Daki-biu, Idu Industrial Estate and Karimo axis, following the wanton looting cum vandalism of public and private warehouses with these area by some hoodlums.”

Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Minister Muhammad Bello ordered the arrest and prosecution of the people who broke into the FCT warehouse in Gwagwalada Area Council and looted food items.

Bello gave the order during an emergency security meeting with leaders of various security agencies in the city, on Monday in Abuja.

The minister, who asked those who looted the food items to return them immediately, said there would be massive deployments of security agencies to saveguard factories and warehouses at Idu industrial area.

Bello said what was ongoing was no longer #EndSARS protest, but broad-day light stealing by hoodlums.

 

Sanwo-Olu: Lagos’ll bounce back [THE NATION]

Why did you call for a curfew at 4.pm, which was later shifted to 9.pm, while soldiers attacked protesters at the Lekki Toll Gate at 7.30pm?

Did you consult with the army before the curfew was declared and did you call on the army to assist? We started witnessing complete breakdown of law in Lagos from Sunday and people were calling in that there has been mayhem.

We saw women being raped; being attacked; hoodlums and cultists involved in all sorts of violent attacks because a directive was given to the police not to get involved in the protests we have in the state. By Monday morning we felt that we can continue to engage with the protesters.

And what is the engagement we were talking about? We set up a panel which was inaugurated on Monday and we had expected that the panel will get down to work immediately over the grievances around the #EndSARS protests. However, by Tuesday morning, we saw attacks and destruction, especially, that of a police station in Orile, where we saw footage of policemen being killed and maimed.

We saw the police armoury being looted and arms carted away before the police station was razed. We also saw another police station in Ajeromi Ifelodun attacked, and almost immediately, the council’s headquarters being razed. We saw an attempt to break into the Apapa Port and it was pandemonium all over the place.

So, I needed to consult the Commissioner of Police in the state and members of my security team and I decided that we need to impose a curfew on the state starting from 4.pm.

The whole idea of 4.pm was to trigger the idea for people to know that the need to start going home. At about 4.pm, when we were reviewing the traffic situation, specifically around the Lekki Toll Gate, we got information that some of the protesters were insisting that they are not going anywhere. That was why we extended the commencement of the curfew to 9.pm and we immediately sent out notice to that effect.

The event that happened around 7.30 was a total shock to me and to everybody around me. I don’t’ know how we got into that kind of situation.

It was completely unbelievable when the first call came in from the wife of my cabinet member that they were hearing shootings around Lekki. I said it was not possible because the instruction was that the police will not be out until 10/11.pm, when we believe that almost everybody would have gotten home.

So, I don’t know how we all got it wrong; it was just something I couldn’t explain.

Who gave the orders for the military to be there is something that we are still investigating and I have escalated this with the highest level in the military and it is something that our government has totally condemned because this is not what I stand for. I have been part and parcel of the youths from day one. I was the very first chief executive of a state to have joined the protesters. I was with them on Monday and Tuesday; you saw all what I did to ensure that we hear from them and continue to engage with the youths.

So, it is very sad that this had to happen. It is something condemnable; we do not stand for it as a state and it is something everybody needs to continue to condemn.

Why is the army denying that they were not involved in the shootings in spite of overwhelming evidence from video footages?

The army does not report to me and I do not have any direct reporting line with the military but I have escalated this with the Chief of Army Staff and will also set up a panel of inquiry to look into the matter in order to get to its root cause. It is something that we are not going to gloss over; we are taking it very serious.

How many people died as a result of the incident?

There were several footages and information as regards the number of people who died. You saw on my Twitter handle that around 1.am on that day, I went round to some hospitals, where some of the casualties were taken to, and on Wednesday morning, I made a broadcast and stated that as at the time of the broadcast, we had no confirmed case of death.

Thereafter, I made a tweet, in which I said that there was a corpse that was brought into an hospital in Lekki but upon preliminary examination by medical personnel, it was discovered that there was no gun shot.

However, the hospital said there would be further examination to determine the cause of death.

Also, in the course of our investigation on Wednesday, we also got information that there was a corpse that was deposited at the Infectious Disease Hospital (IDH) in Yaba and we found out that there was a gunshot wound on the corpse.

The corpse was picked up by the police in Victoria Island but we don’t know whether it has any link with the Lekki incident. Apart from these two incidents, I do not have any other confirmed evidence of death.

Incidentally, Amnesty International and some other agencies reported that at least 12 persons were killed at the Lekki Toll Gate incident.

How do you plan to restore law and order as hoodlums are still on rampage and what level of support are you getting from the Federal Government?

The first thing is for all of us, leaders and citizens, to speak to our youths and children. Our traditional rulers, religious leaders and opinion molders should speak out now for the protests to stop. We need ourselves at this time more than ever before.

Whether the youths or hoodlums, they are coming from somewhere. So, all of us have to speak up now. On my part as the governor of Lagos State, I will continue to work with the security agencies to restore law and order in the state. But I think that it is beyond law and order because the whole thing started over police brutality, so we don’t want to keep them on the streets longer than necessary.

We need to restrain ourselves at the highest level, so that we can calm nerves down. This is not Lagos; this is not who we are; this is not what our forefathers bequeathed to us; this is not the Centre of Excellence and state all of us are proud of.

Lagos has remained the most peaceful part of Nigeria for decades, so we are not going to throw away what we’ve cherished for this number of years because of the ugly that happened.

So, I want to continue to appeal to parents, guardians as well as community leaders, traditional and religious leaders to come out and appeal to our citizens. Former President Olusegun Obasanjo and Prof. Wole Soyinka as well as others have spoken and I think it is just time for everybody to speak up and calm nerves, so that we can get the youths off the streets completely in order for us to bring our economy back. COVID-19 has just dealt a very big blow to all of us and we are just hoping that we don’t have a second wave of COVID though what we are just having now is even bigger than COVID.

But if we can come out stronger out of COVID, what we are having now shouldn’t define us; what we are; who we are and by extension, what we stand for. We should hold our hands and say that we are our brothers’ keepers in spite of the condemnable act that happened, so that we can pick the pieces together and move the state forward.

Let us stop the carnage, let us stop the destruction of property, innocent lives have been lost, policemen have been killed and this is something that should bother everyone in the state.

It is going to be huge and we are just coming out from a COVID infected budget, where the state had to reduce the total budget by over 22 per cent. If not for what has happened, I was meant to be talking our 2021 budget to the House of Assembly and roll out our plans for developmental projects in order to take our state to the next level post-COVID but here we are now.

However, I believe we are going to come out of this bigger and stronger. As the curfew continues, what is in place for people who are locked up because they will soon run out of food and what are your plans in the area of job creation as unemployment cannot be isolated from youths’ unrest? On lifting of the curfew; it is something that we’ve been monitoring on an hourly basis.

Once we see that there is normalcy around the state, it is a pronouncement we can make as early as possible to ease the lockdown, so that people can have the means to stock up of food and begin to about their businesses.

We want to put this behind us as quickly as possible. Lagos is not a state that you stop activities for a long time. Lagos is a state that runs 24/7 as it were; that is what we know our Lagos for and that  is what we want to restore as quickly as possible On job creation, I want to make it clear that post-COVID, we’ve set up a whole lot of machinery as a state to be able to directly to employ and take our youths off the streets.

About two weeks ago, we had direct interventions by the Lagos Trust Fund in which we set up what we call fashion and tourism hubs in order take our teeming youths off the streets. There are also deliberate plans in the 2021 budget and the reversed 2020 budget to empower a lot more people.

At the state level, we may not have the wherewithal to employ everyone but we want to create the enabling environment for small businesses to thrive. The small businesses were the worst hit by COVID-19, so part of the things we are doing is giving them soft loans, grants and reducing on interest rate on the loans.

We are also doing a lot of internship programmes and we have about 4,000 youths that we are putting in placement in various organisations. There is a plan that we have that would have provided direct jobs for about 20,000 youths in this month of October but here we are now.

That means we need to reset the button again and see how we will get it done. Is there mechanism in place by the Lagos State government to engage stakeholders, so that they can talk to the youth and get them off the streets, and what point will Lagosians see security personnel on the streets for them be assured of safety, while going about their normal businesses?

We’ve had discussions with opinion molders and our Community Development Associations as well as religious and traditional leaders. These are the people that have followership and I am reiterating my call for them to call on the youth to get off the streets.

We also have the various bodies and leaders of the ethnic nationalities, and we have been reaching out to them as well. We all need to come together in order to heal the pains we are all going through.

We also need everybody to rally round the government in order to solve this problem. Talking about presence of security personnel on the streets; we found out that some policemen serving in the state have been deployed to other parts of the country that were in distress before we got we are now in Lagos.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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