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2nd Term Inauguration: Ultra-modern Ebonyi Ecumenical Centre to host first event on Sunday



The ultra-modern Ecumenical Centre constructed by the Ebonyi Government will on Sunday, May 26, host its inaugural event.

The event is the night of praise service to mark the beginning of activities to herald Gov. David Umahi’s second term inauguration.

Sen. Emmanuel Onwe, the Commissioner for Information and Orientation, made the disclosure on Monday in Abakaliki while addressing members of the media and publicity sub-committee of the inauguration which he heads.

Onwe noted that the programme which would attract a huge audience from across the country and beyond would commence at 5 p.m. at the multi-million Naira edifice.

“The media chat where the governor will be addressing the entire country will hold on May 27 at 7 p.m. and the representatives of media houses are expected to be present.

“The inspection of projects constructed by the Umahi-led administration will  be on May 28,” he said.

The commissioner urged members of the sub-committee to bring their expertise to bear in ensuring that the governor’s numerous achievements were effectively highlighted.

“You are expected to contribute your quota in ensuring smooth transition from one term to another as the reporters in particular, are expected to receive instructions from their team leaders.

“The Chairman of the Central Organising Committee and the National Vice-Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), South-East zone, Chief Austin Umahi, has promised that the best sub-committee will be adequately recognised.

“We should ensure that we emerge the best sub-committee and prove that the governor is the best in terms of achievements,” he said.

He noted that the budget of the sub-committee and the responsibilities attached to each budget would be reviewed while updates and how it intended  to achieve its aim would be steadily given.

The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the sub- committee had  several journalists, social media experts among others as members, while the members are expected to distinguish themselves from other sub-committees all through the inauguration activities.


Community seeks remediation on environmental impact of Agip’s Export Terminal



The Brass Community in Bayelsa has demanded for remediation on the environmental and economic damages to the Brass Canal by the Brass Crude Export Terminal in the past 48 years.

The demand was contained in a letter dated May 25 by the community to the Managing Director of Nigerian Agip Oil Company (NAOC), via a law firm Ntephe, Smith and Wills for the Brass settlement.

NAOC, an affiliate of Italian Energy firm Eni, operates the offshore oil terminal along with some onshore oil block in the swamps of Bayelsa in addition to Joint Venture stakes in other fields operated by Shell in the state.

According to the letter, a copy of which was seen by the News Agency of Nigeria in Yenagoa on Wednesday, the remediation of the Brass Canal was overdue and being delayed by the oil firm.

The community recalled that despite a subsisting regulatory directive to conduct a Comprehensive Impact Assessment (CIA) to determine the effect of the facility and proffer remedy and compensation, the oil firm was foot-dragging.

According to them, the oil firm has also delayed the implementation of a joint inter-agency site visit to resolve the issue and commence remediation of the impacted areas.

“In furtherance of the human security, economic and environmental interests of your hosts, Brass Kingdom, touching also on Nigeria’s national interests and Bayelsa state’s strategic interest, we remind you to overdue obligation on the Brass Canal viz.

“Proper remediation of ecological damage caused by continuous discharge of toxic wastes at your Brass Terminal everyday for the past 48 years.

“Adequate compensation based on impartial impact assessment, a restoration and pollution prevention plan as per best practices.

“We put you on notice to stop desperate attempts by your officers to compromise or induce key interests, aimed at evading regulatory compliance, frustrating the Ministerial directive for an independent Comprehensive Impact Assessment as a basis for adequate remediation and compensation,” the letter read in art.

The community also wanted the oil firm to refrain from efforts to waive NAOC’s environmental obligations to the people of Brass Kingdom by inserting obnoxius clauses into draft Memorandum of Understanding with the people.

According to the letter, the community ascertained during a visit to the Brass Canal in 2015 by Environmental and Legal experts that daily discharge of some 150,000 barrels of toxic waste consisting of untreated produce water and sludge.

The community said that on a cumulative basis the volume of toxic discharge to the Brass Canal amounts to 54.8 million barrels annually and approximately 2.6 billion barrels for the past 48 years.

They said that it was also ascertained that contaminant rate in the Brass Canal ranged from 200 per cent to 1,000 per cent above regulatory limits as well as soil, ground water and air quality pollution are also adversely affecting public health.

The community therefore urged Agip to in the interest of justice and amicable resolution indicate interest to cooperate with the inter-agency regulatory team in the conduct of a credible assessment with equal representation by both parties.

However, when contacted for comments Eni, the parent company of NAOC, declined comments.

Cionni Marilia, the Media Relations Manager in charge of Sub-Saharan Africa, had pledged to look into the matter and revert to NAN, but is yet to do so.

Edited By: Celine-Damilola Oyewole/Muhammad Suleiman Tola (NAN)

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Aftermath of fire at residential area in Manila




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Residents look for their belongings from their charred home after a fire at a residential area in Manila, the Philippines on June 2, 2020. (Xinhua/Rouelle Umali)

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Man, 45, bags 15-year jail term for raping his tenant’s niece



An Igbosere High Court in Lagos, on Monday sentenced an ex-staff of an oil company, James Onuoha, to 15 years at the correctional centre for raping his tenant’s 14-year-old niece.

Justice Adedayo Akintoye sentenced Onuoha, 42, and an engineer , without an option of fine.

On Jan. 14, the court had adjourned the case until March 25, for judgment, after the parties adopted their final written addresses.

But judgement  could not be pronounced  due to the COVID- 19 pandemic, which led to lockdown of almost all sectors of the economy in March, including the Judiciary.

At the resumed hearing on Monday, the Lagos State Prosecuting Counsel, Mr Babatunde Sunmonu, and the defence counsel, Dr Victor Olowonla, announced their appearance.

Before the verdict was handed down, Olowonla, in his allocutus, pleaded with the court to tamper  justice with mercy as Onuoha was a first-time offender.

“My lord, he is a first-time offender; he is a family man with wife and children, and also the bread winner of his family.

“He has lost his job since this case came up; going by the circumstances of this case, I urge my lord to tamper justice with mercy,” he said.

Onouah, who was charged to court  by the Lagos State Government, was first arraigned in January 2016 at the Magistrates’ Court on a four-count charge bordering on defilement.

Onuoha was remanded in Kirikiri correctional centre pending legal advice of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP).

Following his indictment by the DPP, the case was transferred to the high court for trial.

The state government accused Onuoha of committing the alleged offences on Jan. 4, 2016, at No.25, Samuel Amoore Street, Idowu Estate, Ike-Ira Nla, Ajah, Lagos.

The prosecution said the defendant willfully had an unlawful sexual act with the teenager.

He said the offences contravened Sections 137 and 258 of the Criminal Law of Lagos State, 2011.

Onuoha, however, pleaded not guilty to the charge, hence the prosecution opened its case and called witnesses, including the victim.

After the prosecution closed its case, Onuoha opened his defence,  narrating to the court how he visited his house at the above address to ask for rent from his tenant who was not at home at the time of his visit.

Onuoha said the victim was the only person at home, adding that he entered the apartment to inspect it and thereafter gave the victim N1, 000 as Christmas gift.

Edited By: Joe Idika (NAN)

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Commentary: China determined to further open up despite COVID-19 epidemic




At this critical juncture when the COVID-19 epidemic is still ravaging the globe, China is opening its door wider to the world instead of trying to close it.

China on Monday announced it will build its island province of Hainan into a free trade port, a move that demonstrates the resolve to contribute to a stable world economy by continuing to advance reform and opening-up, widen market access, improve the business environment and expand imports and outbound investment.

By building a free trade port, Hainan will implement zero tariffs and low taxes, simplify the tax system, and offer special policies in trade, investment, capital flow, visa and entry, transportation, and flow of data, thus becoming a new hub for reform and opening up in China.

It will bring tremendous opportunities to countries across the world. Global companies, either multinationals or small and medium ones, can tap into the Chinese market or expand their market shares in China through Hainan free trade port.

As the coronavirus epidemic continues to deal a body blow to the global economy, it’s not easy to overcome external challenges to start development of a free trade port. However, China never wavers in its determination to further open up, and always goes all out to fulfill its promise.

China advocates building a community with a shared future for humanity. No country can isolate itself from the interconnected world. To bolster wider opening-up is what China says and what China does, as always.

For instance, the China International Import Expo, the world‘s first national-level exhibition dedicated to import, will be held for the third year in Shanghai. More than 1,400 companies have signed up. More countries and overseas companies are sharing China‘s large cake of the market.

The construction of a free trade port in Hainan is not only China‘s latest move to expand opening up, but also comes as a confidence booster to the world which is facing economic recession and rising protectionism.

The epidemic will eventually be defeated by mankind, after which globalization is expected to accelerate.

The future lies in openness and win-win cooperation, and China is ready to embrace the world at a new level.


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Ogbeh drums support for Adesina’s 2nd term as AfDB President



Chief Audu Ogbeh, the former Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, has drummed support for the President of the African Development Bank (AfDB), Dr Akinwumi Adesina.

Ogbeh, who succeeded Adesina as minister, told News Agency of Nigeria , that the AfDB president had demonstrated deep concern and understanding of the economic challenges facing the continent.

He said the president had also proven to know the desperate need to find investment capital to stimulate economic growth, especially in the areas of agriculture and infrastructure.

“I speak out in support of Dr Adesina and his continued management of the AfDB.

“I also congratulate African leaders, past and present, who have declared their support for Adesina’s second term in office.

“The truth is that he has demonstrated deep concern and understanding of the economic challenges facing the continent,’’ he said.

Ogbeh described the insistence by the United States for a probe other than the one done by the ethics committee of the Bank as ‘a needle in haystack’ to justify his removal.

According to him, prejudice and scorn for Africa have all combined to keep us down for too long, inflicting pain and penury upon us with no sign of relief in sight.

NAN recalls that Adesina had been accused in a 20-point allegation of non-respect for internal rules and regulations in recruitment, unethical conduct and impediment to efficiency by unnamed employees.

Other allegations are preferential treatment, adversely affecting confidence in integrity, among others.

United States Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin had signed a letter to the board rejecting an internal investigation that cleared Adesina.

Edited By: Chinyere Bassey/Donald Ugwu (NAN)

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Spotlight: Washington faces blast at home, abroad for “terminating” ties with WHO




The U.S. government has been slammed at home and abroad after announcing on Friday “terminating” its relationship with the World Health Organization (WHO).

U.S. health experts and lawmakers have expressed concern over the decision announced by President Donald Trump amid the COVID-19 outbreak.

Patrice Harris, president of the American Medical Association, described Trump’s move as a “senseless” action with “significant, harmful repercussions.”

COVID-19 affects us all and does not respect borders; defeating it requires the entire world working together,” Harris was quoted by CNN as saying, urging Trump to reverse the course.

Lawrence Gostin, a professor of global health law and director of the O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law at Georgetown University, described the move as “foolish and arrogant” in his Twitter account.

“Trump’s action is an enormous disruption and distraction during an unprecedented health crisis,” said Gostin, also the director of the WHO collaborating center on national and global health law. “The President has made us less safe.”

Democratic Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia said that “the United States cannot eliminate this virus on its own and to withdraw from the World Health Organization — the world‘s leading public health body — is nothing short of reckless,” according to a CNN report.

Even within the Republican party, some Republicans also expressed their disagreement. Senate Health Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander reportedly said he disagreed with Trump’s decision, because, without U.S. funding, clinical trials to develop a COVID-19 vaccine might be hampered.

In addition, the European Union (EU) has urged the United States to reconsider its termination of ties with the WHO, warning that Trump’s move would erode global efforts to curb the spread of the virus.

The WHO needs to continue being able to lead the international response to pandemics, current and future. For this, the participation and support of all is required and very much needed. In the face of this global threat, now is the time for enhanced cooperation and common solutions. Actions that weaken international results must be avoided,” Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Commission, and Josep Borrell, the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, said in the statement on Saturday.

“In this context, we urge the U.S. to reconsider its announced decision,” the statement said.

German Health Minister Jens Spahn tweeted that Trump’s move was “a disappointing backlash for International Health.”

The EU must take a leading role and engage more financially,” Spahn said, noting that this would be one of Germany’s priorities when it becomes the bloc’s rotating presidency on July 1.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson‘s spokesperson said earlier that Britian “has no plans to stop funding the WHO, which has an important role to play in leading the global health response.”

“Coronavirus is a global challenge and it is essential that countries work together to tackle this shared threat,” the spokesperson was quoted by The Guardian as saying.

Irish Minister for Health Simon Harris on Friday described Trump’s move as an “awful decision.”

“A global pandemic requires the world working together … We should unite in our fight against it (COVID-19) & not fight each other,” Harris tweeted.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova told TASS news agency that Washington “dealt a blow” to the international framework for cooperation in healthcare at the moment when the world needed to join forces.


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Aftermath of protests in Minneapolis, U.S.




Protesters hold signs during a gathering outside the 5th Precinct where riots occurred the night prior in Minneapolis, the United States, on May 30, 2020. Thousands of protesters took to the streets of Minneapolis Friday night, defying a citywide 8 p.m. curfew that had been announced earlier that day. Businesses were burned and vandalized, as the rioting continued, said local media reports. (Photo by Angus Alexander/Xinhua)

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Cuba backs WHO after U.S. announces terminating relationship




The Cuban government declared on Saturday its full support of the World Health Organization (WHO) after the United States announced it is terminating its relationship with the global organization.

Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez wrote on his Twitter account that Cuba lends “its full support” to the WHO and its management of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Rodriguez said that the decision of the United States to end its relationship with the multilateral organization “reflects the growing isolation” of Washington, adding that the decision is “contrary to multilateralism and undermines international efforts to guarantee health and save lives.”

U.S. President Donald Trump said on Friday that his country is “terminating” its relationship with the WHO.

In a letter to WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus earlier this month, Trump threatened to permanently cut off the nation’s funding to the WHO and “reconsider our membership” if the international body does not commit to what he called “substantive improvements within the next 30 days.”


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EU reaffirms support to WHO, urges U.S. to reconsider termination




The European Union(EU)‘s chief executive and top diplomat said in a statement on Saturday that the bloc continues to support the World Health Organization (WHO) and urges the U.S. to reconsider its termination of ties with the WHO.

U.S. President Donald Trump said on Friday that his country is “terminating” its relationship with the WHO and redirecting the funds elsewhere.

Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Commission, and Josep Borrell, the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, said in the statement that “the WHO needs to continue being able to lead the international response to pandemics, current and future. For this, the participation and support of all is required and very much needed. In the face of this global threat, now is the time for enhanced cooperation and common solutions. Actions that weaken international results must be avoided.”

“In this context, we urge the U.S. to reconsider its announced decision,” they said in the statement.

As the world continues to fight the COVID-19 pandemic, the main task for everyone is to save lives and contain and mitigate this pandemic. The European Union continues to support the WHO in this regard and has already provided additional funding, the statement said, echoing calls around the world to rally around the WHO in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic.


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