Dr. Charles Chinekezi, the Chairman, Civil Liberties Organisation, Aba chapter, has appealed to Gov. Okezie Ikpeazu of Abia to take urgent steps to halt the growing security challenges in the state.
He underscored the need for the governor to reorganise the state security architecture in order to ensure the safety of lives and property.
He said that the state of insecurity in Abia called for pragmatic measures by the governor, including issuing an ultimatum to security agencies in the state, “if things must change.”
The CLO chairman said: “You can see what happened between 2008 and 2010 when armed bandits literally sacked Aba residents, forcing many businesses to close down.
“Thanks to former President Goodluck Jonathan, who drafted the Nigerian Army to Aba to save the situation, which had already got out of hand.
“It got so bad that banks had to close down their operations and leave Aba for good.
“At a point, banks shut down their operations to protest the incessant attacks by hoodlums.
“Bandits were firing machine guns virtually everywhere in the city and the Aba end of the Enugu-Port Harcout Expressway.
“Very often, you hear gunshots that caused stampede among the residents and thoroughfarers, who had to run for their lives.
“We have been through that before but it was controlled. This new development, where people are being killed at every street corner, is becoming very worrisome.
Chinekezi recalled how a Super Eagle’s international was brutally killed around his father’s house at Ogbor Hill recently.
He also cited last week’s grusome murder of an unidentified young man and another young by unknown gunmen in different parts of the city a few weeks ago.
“This is getting too much and the governor needs to act to stir the security agencies up to action to save the lives of residents.”
Chinekezi said that it was not enough to restrict tricycle operations from 6am to 7pm, pointing out that the restriction had not yielded any significant results.
Iran allows reopening of restaurants, cafes after 2 months of closure over COVID-19
Besides, the cafes will begin their services without offering tobacco, said Farhadi in a video press conference. The use of Hukka is very popular in the Iranian tea houses and cafes.
Iran has gradually eased restrictions on economy and cultural activities since early April. The country suspended economic, sports and cultural activities since early March following the reports of first COVID-19 cases on Feb. 19.
Duterte wants Philippine schools closed until vaccine is ready
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte says schools will remain closed until a vaccine for the novel coronavirus is ready.
Without a vaccine, sending children to school “spells disaster,” Duterte said during a late-night television address on Monday.
“I will not allow the opening of classes where students will be near each other.
“Unless I am sure that they are really safe, it’s useless to be talking about opening of classes,” he said.
The Department of Education had set the opening of the school year for Aug. 24 due to the COVID-19 outbreak, three months after its traditional start in June.
But the department stressed that “school opening will not necessarily mean traditional face-to-face learning in (the) classroom.”
“The physical opening of schools will depend on the risk severity grading or classification of a locality,” it added when it announced the new school calendar.
Schools have been conducting online lessons for students who have access to computers and the internet at home.
However, this option is not available to all students, especially those in remote areas.
Some parents have turned to home-schooling their children, with the help of instructions from the schools.
There have been 14,319 confirmed COVID-19 cases in the Philippines as of Monday, including 873 deaths, according to the Department of Health.
Metro Manila and high-risk areas for infections are under relaxed lockdown until May 31, which has allowed some industries and establishments, such as malls, to resume limited operations.
Edited By: Emmanuel Yashim (NAN)
Australian domestic border closures has “crippling effect” on tourism industry: minister
Australia’s Tourism Minister asked the state and territory governments to come up with clear pathways to remove their border restrictions on Tuesday.
The governments of some states and territories have resisted calls to ease their border closures, which were set in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Simon Birmingham, minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment, told in an interview on Channel 9’s Today Show on Tuesday morning that border closures were exacerbating the economic impact of the pandemic on the tourism industry.
“I hope that the states and territories can come up with clear pathways to remove their border restrictions,” Birmingham said.
“Our tourism industry employs around one in 13 Australians.”
“And now obviously, there are no international visitors coming in at present and if we continue to have the situation where interstate travel is limited as well, then it has a crippling effect on those small businesses and the jobs they generate,” he added.
As at 3:00 p.m. local time on Monday, a total of 7,118 cases were reported in Australia, including 102 deaths and 6,532 recoveries from the COVID-19, which means the number of active cases fell below 500, according to the Department of Health.
“We now have over five consecutive weeks of days in which the growth rate of new cases in Australia has been less than half a percent,” said Greg Hunt, minister for health, on Monday.
Roundup: Iran reopens Muslim shrines on Eid al-Fitr after 2-month closure over COVID-19 pandemic
During the opening hours between an hour after dawn and an hour before dusk, the worshippers, however, were still not allowed to enter the interior covered spaces where the saints’ tombs lie, according to a statement by the health authorities.
Social distancing regulations must be obeyed, the statement noted.
In most of the shrines, the worshippers were checked for their body temperatures upon entrance and were asked to wear masks, the local media reported.
The reopening coincided with the Eid al-Fitr holiday, the Muslim festival of breaking the fast at the end of the holy month of Ramadan.
Along with other holy shrines across the country, Imamzadeh Saleh, an imamzadeh mosque located at Tajrish Square in Tehran’s northern Tajrish district, opened early morning on Monday.
The courtyard of the shrine had already been disinfected and incoming people were asked by the attendants to use their own prayer mats and books.
“Life without spirituality has no meaning. Worship is central to our life,” said a middle-aged attendant of the shrine, standing inside the courtyard and instructing the worshippers with health directives.
Sitting on a stretched prayer mat at a quiet corner of the yard of Imamzadeh Saleh, a young man facing toward the saint’s tomb was citing verses from the holy Quran.
“Praise God for this moment, on this happy Eid. People should appreciate the change of situation,” said the young man, who only identified himself as Matin, a Persian Literature student at Iran’s Islamic Azad University.
Egypt registers 702 new COVID-19 cases, tally close to 18,000
The Egyptian government on Monday announced 702 new cases of COVID-19, bringing the total number of infections in the North African country to 17,967.
Meanwhile, 19 new deaths were recorded, taking the total number of fatalities to 783, while 93 more fully recovered and were discharged from hospitals in the past 24 hours, bringing the total number of recoveries to 4,900, Health Ministry spokesman Khaled Megahed said in a statement.
Egypt announced its first confirmed case of COVID-19 on Feb. 14 and the first death on March 8, both foreigners.
During the six-day Eid al-Fitr holiday, which started on Sunday, the evening curfew in Egypt lasts 13 hours instead of nine to maintain social distancing and avoid gatherings amid the increasing COVID-19 infections.
After the Islamic holiday, the curfew will be reduced to 10 hours for two weeks, before the government will consider from mid-June easing restrictions and gradually resuming suspended activities.
Egypt has already started easing restrictions and gradually reopening services and offices that have been halted since mid-March amid the government’s coexistence plan to maintain anti-coronavirus precautionary measures while resuming services, businesses and economic activities.
Africa Day: Putin congratulates Africa, hails Russia-African close relationship
Russian President Vladmir Putin has congratulated African Countries and leaders on the occasion of the Africa Day celebration, hailing the close relationship between the Continent and Russia.
In a message signed by Putin and obtained from the Russian Embassy in Abuja on Monday, Putin said that the day symbolizes the aspiration of the countries of Africa to freedom, peace and prosperity.
He added that the celebration was significant to both Russia and Africa as it reaffirms the relationship of the duo which dates back to the colonial era.
“This holiday assumes special significance in the run-up to the 60th anniversary of the United Nations Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and people celebrated this year.
“Decades ago, when many African Peoples were just embarking on the path of sovereign development, our country provided them with active political support, extensive assistance in the social and economic sphere, and training of civilian and military personnel.
“Today, African Countries are Russia’s significant and promising partners, who enjoy well-deserved authority on the global arena and play an active role in addressing topical international issues,” he said.
Putin noted that the Russia-Africa Summit which held in 2019 in Sochi, turned out to be an exclusively important milestone in the development of Russian-African relations.
According to him, the dialogue between our Countries has been brought to a qualitatively new level.
“The Russia-Africa Partnership Forum established during the Summit will undoubtedly contribute to building up mutually beneficial cooperation in various fields and coordinating efforts to counter the threats and challenges of our time.
“I whole-heartedly wish you good health, prosperity and every success in your state activities, and peace and prosperity to all your compatriots,” Putin said.
Edited By: Modupe Adeloye/Felix Ajide (NAN)
Roundup: Tokyo stocks close higher on hopes for full economic restart
Tokyo stocks closed higher Monday on hopes that Japan’s economy will be fully reopened as the government is poised to lift the remaining coronavirus-related state of emergency in Tokyo and nearby regions.
The 225-issue Nikkei Stock Average gained 353.49 points, or 1.73 percent, from Friday to close the day at 20,741.65.
The broader Topix index of all First Section issues on the Tokyo Stock Exchange, meanwhile, added 24.40 points, or 1.65 percent, to finish at 1,502.20.
Stocks recovered lost ground after retreating over the past two trading days, as investors’ risk appetite returned on expectations the government’s lifting of the state of emergency for Tokyo and four other prefectures would lead to a significant rise in economic activity.
The greater Tokyo area accounts for a significant percentage of Japan’s overall population and hence consumption, so eased restrictions on business activities and people’s movements amid a decline in coronavirus cases is a clear boon for Japan’s recession-hit economy, market analysts here said.
“The greater Tokyo area has 30 percent of Japan’s population and likely accounts for about half of its personal consumption, so opening it up will clearly help the economy. It is a bit earlier than expected and the opening is quite broad,” John Vail, chief global strategist at Nikko Asset Management, was quoted as saying.
Local brokers, meanwhile, said that cyclical issues like steelmakers and shipping lines found favor on hopes for Japan’s economic restart, while air transportation issues also rallied on expectations the easing of the virus emergency would see more domestic demand in the short term.
As such, Nippon Steel added 2.7 percent, while Kobe Steel climbed 3.5 percent. JFE Holdings, for its part, ended the day 4.0 percent higher.
Rising shipping stocks included Mitsui O.S.K. Lines advancing 3.5 percent and Kawasaki Kisen gaining 1.9 percent.
Japan Airlines surged 9.4 percent, while ANA Holdings also drew buying on hopes for increased patronage, ending the day 7.6 percent higher.
Similarly, rail transportation issues gained on hopes the eased emergency virus restrictions would lead to an increase in passengers commuting to work again, with West Japan Railway climbing 5.6 percent, while East Japan Railway closed 5 percent higher.
By the close of play, air and land transportation, and real estate-linked issues comprised those that gained the most, and issues that rose outpaced those that fell by 1,857 to 259 on the First Section, while 54 ended the day unchanged.
On the main section on Monday, 1.002 billion shares changed hands, dropping from Friday’s volume of 1.229 billion shares.
The turnover on the first trading day of the week came to 1.737 billion yen (16.127 billion U.S. dollars).
Aftermath of cyclone Amphan landfall in Kolkata, India
Aftermath of Cyclone Amphan in Kolkata, India
An Indian soldier chops a tree branch fallen on a road following the landfall of cyclone Amphan in Kolkata, India, on May 24, 2020. (Str/Xinhua)
Ghana close to easing COVID-19 restrictions: president
Ghana is close to announcing a roadmap toward easing of COVID-19 restrictions, Ghanaian President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo said Sunday.
Akufo-Addo said consultations are ongoing with relevant stakeholders on the form and timing of easing the restrictions.
Ghana banned social gatherings on March 15, following the outbreak of COVID-19 in the country. The country also shut its entry points on March 22.
The president said the proposed easing of restrictions intends to restore “social and economic lives.”
“I expect these consultations to conclude this week so that I can announce to Ghanaians a clear roadmap for easing the restrictions. We have to find a way back, but in safety, for we cannot be under these restrictions forever,” he said.
Ghana’s number of COVID-19 cases increased to 6,683 as of Sunday, with the number of recoveries increasing to 1,998 and the death toll reaching 32.
Lagos to close Marine Beach Bridge for 5 months
The Lagos State Government on Sunday announced a plan to effect partial closure of the Marine Beach Bridge, Apapa, to vehicular movement, from May 27 to Oct. 21.
The state Commissioner for Transportation, Dr Frederic Oladeinde, made the disclosure in a statement in Lagos.
He said that the closure would be to enable repair of the bridge which, he said, was long overdue.
“The repair by the Federal Ministry of Works is long overdue and is vital for the safety of the people of Lagos State, especially motorists that ply the bridge to access different parts of the state.
“Necessary palliative works have been carried out on all alternative routes around the construction site to make them to be in good condition to ease movement during the construction period.
“The repair work, which comprise bearing and expansion joint replacement, is planned to be executed in two phases, with each phase focusing on one lane of the bridge at a time.
” The first phase will be handling the lane inbound Apapa while the second phase will be designated to work on the lane that conveys vehicles outside the axis,” he said.
Oladeinde said that the partial closure of the bridge by Total Gas, inward Apapa, would last for five months.
The commissioner said that the repair was in line with the vision of providing a seamless transportation system in the metropolis.
According to him, motorists inward Wharf Road would be diverted to the other section of the bridge outward Apapa.
Oladeinde said that a contraflow of 200 metres had been designed for vehicles to realign with a proper direction inward Ajegunle or Wharf Road, Apapa.
He said that motorists descending to Total Gas would drive without any hindrance.
The commissioner said that operatives of the Lagos State Traffic Management Authority would be stationed at the construction locations to ease traffic.
Oladeinde appealed to motorists and residents of the area to cooperate with traffic management agencies deployed to the areas.
“The state government expresses its commitment to providing a transportation system that will meet the needs of a larger population in an emerging smart city,” he said.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the Public Affairs Unit of the State Ministry of Transportation (MOT) had on March 27 announced the closure of the Marine Bridge, partially from March 28 to Aug. 15 for repair.
Edited /Ijeoma Popoola
Afghanistan closer to realizing peace than ever: FM
The fast-moving events in recent months have taken Afghanistan closer to peace than ever, but the road ahead is far from smooth, Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi said Sunday.
Wang made the remarks at a press conference on the sidelines of the annual national legislative session.
Border closure: OYSG seeks stakeholders’ cooperation
Olatubosun’s call is contained in a statement issued by Mr Taiwo Adisa, the Chief Press Secretary to the state governor on Saturday in Ibadan.
Olatunbosun, who led other members of the state COVID-19 taskforce’s media team, said that the concerted efforts of the stakeholders and the state’s security architecture in border towns were necessary to prevent illegal entries, which might pose threat to public health.
He added that both conventional and non-conventional security apparatuses were important in the bid to check illegal entry into the state.
The commissioner said that many towns and villages in the Oke-Ogun area share boundaries with neighbouring Kwara and the Benin Republic.
“In order to check the influx of illegal migrants, who might have contracted COVID-19 into the state, it has become imperative for all stakeholders to work together.
“Both conventional and non-conventional security agencies have roles to play in stopping the illegal immigrants through the borders,’’ Olatunbosun said.
He said that the state task force, under the leadership of Gov. Makinde was doing everything possible to fight the pandemic.
The commissioner remarked that the sensitisation was aimed at enlightening the people of the areas on how they could prevent COVID-19.
“Apart from sensitisation, the state government has been distributing face masks to residents of the areas.
The COVID-19 task force media team and the Nigeria Red Cross Society, represented by Mrs Adekunbi Oladipo, visited some markets and palaces in the Oke-Ogun communities to enlightening the people and distributed face masks freely to the people.
The residents were urged to adhere to all government’s directives on physical distancing, hand washing, the use of sanitisers and wearing of face masks.
Edited By: Modupe Adeloye/Abdulfatah Babatunde (NAN)
UN chief saddened by losses caused by Cyclone Amphan
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is saddened by the loss of life and the destruction as a result of Cyclone Amphan in India and Bangladesh, his spokesman said Saturday.
Guterres extended his deep condolences to those who have lost their loved ones and wished those injured and affected by the disaster a speedy recovery, said Stephane Dujarric, the spokesman, in a statement.
The secretary-general commended the governments, first responders and communities for their preemptive work to make people safe ahead of the storm and to meet their immediate needs afterward. The United Nations stands ready to support these efforts, said the statement.
Sallah: Wife of Bauchi governor distribute clothing materials to less privileged persons
Wife of Bauchi State Governor, Dr Aisha Mohammed, has donated clothing materials to 300 People With Disabilities (PWDs), Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) and Women groups in Bauchi state.
Speaking while presenting the items, Mohammed said gesture was to enable the beneficiaries celebrate the Eid-el-Fitr like other citizens, and also cushion the hardship occasioned by measures put in place to check the spread of coronavirus.
“Beneficiaries are vulnerable members of the society, hence the need to improve on their well-being.
“The intention is for the PWD, IDPs and other women groups to have a sense of belonging in the society during the Eid-el-fitr celebrations,” she said.
Mohammed said that women groups cut across every strata, and therefore stressed the need for the items to reach them.
She admonished people of the state,particularly women, to abide by the guidelines of the state government on containing spread of COVID– 19.
She said that womenfolk should not be overwhelmed with activities during the celebration and should avoid violating recommended WHO practices on how to stay safe.
In her remarks on behalf of the beneficiaries, Mrs Shafa’u Ladan, Chairperson, National Council for Women Society (NCWS) in the sttate, commended the governor’s wife for extending Sallah gifts to the less privileged in the society.
Edited By: Chioma Ugboma (NAN)
Pakistan conveys condolences to India, Bangladesh over cyclone losses
Pakistan on Saturday extended condolences to India and Bangladesh over the human losses and destruction after severe cyclonic storm Amphan killed dozens in both countries and displaced thousands in recent days.
“The Government and people of Pakistan are saddened over the deaths and widespread devastation caused by Cyclone Amphan in Bangladesh and India,” Pakistan’s foreign ministry said in a statement.
“We extend sympathies and condolences to the families who have lost their loved ones and pray for speedy recovery of the affected regions,” it said.
On Friday, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi conveyed condolences to Pakistan over a passenger plane crash in Karachi.
Modi said in a twitter post that “deeply saddened by the loss of life due to a plane crash in Pakistan. Our condolences to the families of the deceased, and wishing speedy recovery to those injured.”
Tensions heightened between Pakistan and India after India scrapped special status to the Indian-controlled Kashmir in August 2019.
Pakistan rejected the Indian government’s decision as illegal and violation of the United Nations resolutions.
Iran to reopen touristic sites, holy shrines after 3-month closure over COVID-19
The announcement was made by President Hassan Rouhani on Saturday at a meeting of the National Headquarters for Managing and Fighting the Coronavirus.
Holy shrines will reopen on Monday, according to Rouhani.
The holy shrines would be open for three hours in the mornings and three hours in the afternoons, he said earlier.
Meanwhile, all workers in the country will return to work from May 30, the president noted.
Iran has implemented three stages regarding the coronavirus epidemic, according to Rouhani.
The first stage was announcing the disease and mobilizing the nation’s capacities to rein in the outbreak. The second involved controlling the disease through social distancing measures, and the third required smart distancing accompanied by gradual reopening of the country.
In the fourth stage, the authorities will aim to contain the novel coronavirus, he noted.
The growth of mortality rate over the virus in the country has begun to decline and hospitalizations are becoming shorter, Rouhani said.
On Saturday, Iran announced a total of 133,521 coronavirus infections since Feb. 19, of whom 7,359 have died.
Aid agencies helping Bangladesh after cyclone: UN
Aid agencies are helping the government of Bangladesh to distribute food and shelter items across the country, and set up clean water sources and latrines after Cyclone Amphan caused tremendous damage, a UN spokesman said Friday.
UN humanitarians report that 17 people have been killed in Bangladesh and 10 million people were impacted by the storm, said Stephane Dujarric, spokesman for UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.
“Early reports indicate there has been 130 million U.S. dollars in damage inflicted by the cyclone so far. Nearly 331,000 homes have been damaged and at least 100,000 people have been displaced,” he told a virtual press briefing.
The number of people displaced is in addition to the approximately 2 million people evacuated from their homes before the storm hit.
Amphan made landfall earlier this week near the western Bangladesh-India border. But high winds reached the eastern Bangladesh border and the sprawling refugee camps for more than 900,000 Rohingyas who fled from Myanmar.
In Cox’s Bazar refugee camps, more than 100 shelters reportedly have been destroyed and nearly 1,500 damaged, affecting more than 7,000 Rohingyas, Dujarric said.
No loss of life was reported in the camps. Refugee volunteers are working to support and protect the community, he said.
NiMet predicts cloudy, thundery activities Saturday to Monday
The Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NiMet) has predicted cloudy and thundery weather activities across the country from May 23 to May 25.
NiMet`s weather outlook released on Friday in Abuja forecast cloudy conditions over northern region in the morning hours of Saturday with prospects of overnight into early morning light thunderstorms over Yobe and southern Borno axis.
According to the forecast, during the afternoon/evening period, there are chances of increased cloudiness with slim chances of thunderstorms over parts of Kaduna, Kano, Jigawa, northern Borno, Gombe and Taraba axis.
It further forecast other parts of the north to be mostly cloudy with intervals of sunshine.
“The central cities are likely to be cloudy during the morning hours.
“However, parts of Niger, Lokoja, southern Nasarawa, and Benue are expected to experience overnight into early morning thunderstorms with little rains.
“ The afternoon and evening hours hold better prospects of weather activities as isolated thunderstorms are expected over Abuja, Benue, Kogi, Niger and Kwara axis.
“The inland areas of the south and coastal belts should be predominately cloudy with few isolated thunderstorms over Ado Ekiti, Abeokuta and Ondo, Calabar, Lagos, Bayelsa, Port Harcourt and Ijebu-Ode axis during the morning period.
“Isolated thunderstorms are expected over most places in the inland and coastal areas in the afternoon/evening hours.’’
NiMet predicted Cloudy conditions with prospects of isolated thunderstorms over Bauchi, Gombe, Yobe, Biu, Jigawa, Kaduna, Kano and Katsina in the northern region during the morning hours of Sunday.
The agency also predicted isolated thunderstorms over the north to affect parts of Borno, Yobe, Bauchi, Gombe, Kano and Katsina axis and environs during the afternoon/evening period.
It envisaged increased cloudiness over the central region with chances of early morning thunderstorms over parts of Kwara, Benue, Nasarawa and Jos axis.
According to NiMet, there are prospects of isolated thunderstorms over the high ground areas to affect Jos, Abuja, Kogi, Niger and Makurdi areas in the afternoon and evening period.
It further envisaged cloudy conditions over the inland cities with prospect of few thunderstorms during the afternoon/evening hours.
NiMet predicted light thunderstorms over Lagos, Ijebu-Ode, Benin and Port Harcourt in the coastal region during the morning hours with isolated thunderstorm over most places in the coastal region later in the day.
“For Monday, cloudy skies with spells of sunshine are expected over the northern region in the morning hours.
“During the afternoon and evening period, cloudiness with spells of few thunderstorms are expected over Yelwa, Zaria, Potiskum, Nguru, Dutse, Kebbi, Jalingo and Yola.
“ The rest of the cities over this region are likely to remain cloudy with intervals of sunshine. The central region is expected to be mostly cloudy.
“ However, we anticipate isolated thunderstorms to affect parts of Abuja, Jos, Kogi and Kwara axis during the afternoon/evening period.
“ Increased cloudiness is expected over the inland and the coastal areas of the south during the morning hours with prospects of thunderstorms over the region in the afternoon and evening hours,’’ it said.
Edited By: Chioma Ugboma/Silas Nwoha (NAN)
Saudi Arabia, UAE mosques to stay closed for Eid prayers
Mosques will remain closed for prayers on the Eid-Ul-Fitr festival, Saudi and United Arab Emirates officials said on Friday.
They call on the population to adhere to safety guidelines to avoid the spread of the novel coronavirus.
The Eid, which marks the end of the holy fasting month of Ramadan, may fall on Saturday or Sunday in the Gulf region.
“Saudi Islamic Affairs Minister, Abdullatif al-Sheikh, gave instructions not to have Eid prayers in mosques.
“Muslims will hold the Eid prayer at home because of the pandemic,’’ the Saudi Press Agency cited Sheikh Abdul Bari al-Thubaiti, the prayer leader, of the Prophet’s Mosque in Medina, said in the Friday sermon.
During Ramadan, prayers without worshippers were held by Imams in the two holy mosques of Mecca and Medina, in the west of the kingdom.
In the UAE, the Dubai government’s media office said on Twitter that mosques will remain closed and listed a series of Eid customs that should not be observed, including family visits and giving gifts or money to children.
Edited By: Abiodun Oluleye/Abdulfatah Babatunde (NAN)