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Fire guts Accountant-General’s Office

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There was a fire outbreak on Wednesday at the Office of the Accountant General of the Federation, also known as the Treasury House, in Abuja.

A staff of the office, who preferred anonymity, told Nigeria News Agency that the fire started at about 10.15 a.m. when some workers were already at work.

The FCT Police Commissioner, CP Bala Ciroma, who briefed newsmen at the scene of the incident, said investigation into the cause of the fire had commenced.

He advised motorist to use alternative routes into the area, noting that the Ladoke Akintola Boulevard would be condoned off during the investigation into the cause of the fire.

Ciroma, who disclosed that parts of the building had been damaged by the incident, said the fire was successfully put out without any casualties.

NAN reports that the fire was put out by a combined efforts of the Federal Fire Service, FCT Fire Service, Nigerian Navy Fire Department, Julius Berger PLC, NNPC Fire Department and the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA).

Edited By: Ismail Abdulaziz
(NAN)

Lydia Beshel: is a graduate and a professionally trained journalist, with experience in national news reporting/editing and verification at the News Agency of Nigeria. NNN is a Nigerian online news portal that publishes breaking news in Nigeria, and across the world. Our journalists are honest, fair, accurate, thorough and courageous in gathering, reporting and interpreting news in the best interest of the public, because truth is the cornerstone of journalism and they strive diligently to ascertain the truth in every news report. Contact: editor[at]nnn.com.ng

Foreign

More African countries should heed UN call for global ceasefire: Guterres

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More African countries should heed the UN call for a global ceasefire to push back deadly COVID-19, said UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Monday.

Marking Africa Day, the annual commemoration of the foundation of the Organization of African Unity, now the African Union (AU), on May 25, 1963, the UN chief said in his message that the COVID-19 pandemic “threatens to derail progress” which would enable countries to reach the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and development targets set out in the African Union’s Agenda 2063.

The AU has established a task force to develop a continent-wide strategy and appointed special envoys to mobilize international support, said the UN chief. Its Peace and Security Council has also taken steps to counter the negative impact of COVID-19 on the implementation of critical peace agreements and reconciliation efforts.

He noted that the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention established a response fund, while African member states have undertaken “robust measures to contain the spread of the virus and mitigate the socio-economic impacts.”

Guterres welcomed the AU’s support for his global ceasefire call, an imperative that also reflects the AU’s 2020 theme: “Silencing the Guns: Creating Conducive Conditions for Africa’s Development.”

“Armed groups in Cameroon, Sudan and South Sudan have responded to the call and declared unilateral ceasefires. I implore other armed movements and governments in Africa to do likewise. I also welcome the support of African countries for my call for peace in the home, and an end to all forms of violence, including against women and girls,” he added.

Some 20 African countries are scheduled to hold elections this year, some of which are likely to be postponed due to the pandemic, with potential consequences for stability and peace, noted the secretary-general.

“I urge African political actors to engage in inclusive and sustained political dialogue to ease tensions around elections and uphold democratic practices.”

Last week, the UN issued a policy brief outlining the impacts of the pandemic on the continent. “We are calling for debt relief and action to maintain food supplies, protect jobs and cushion the continent against lost income and export earnings. African countries, like everyone, everywhere, should also have quick, equal and affordable access to any eventual vaccine and treatment.”

An opportunity now exists, for African governments to “use this moment” to shape new policies that bolster health systems, improve social protection and pursue climate-friendly pathways, he said.

Targeting measures to those employed in the informal sector, the vast majority of whom are women, will be an important step to recovery, said Guterres, as will empowering women to ensure their full participation and leadership.

“The inclusion and leadership of young people will also be crucial every step of the way,” said Guterres.

(XINHUA)

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Foreign

Roundup: Afghans’ ceasefire remains intact as President Ghani promises to release 2,000 more Taliban prisoners

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Afghanistan’s President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani has welcomed the three-day ceasefire announced by the Taliban outfit on Saturday and vowed to set free 2,000 more Taliban detainees to expedite the peace process.

The Taliban leadership on Saturday evening, the eve of Eid al-Fitr, declared a three-day ceasefire, ordering its fighters to stay inside their bases and refrain from fighting.

Afghanistan, like other Muslim countries celebrated Eid al-Fitr on Sunday to mark the end of Muslims’ fasting month Ramadan.

In his short address after offering Eid al-Fitr prayer on Sunday, President Ghani welcomed the Taliban announcement for a ceasefire as a goodwill gesture towards peace and promised to set free 2,000 more prisoners.

Both the Taliban and Afghan government have exchanged more than 1,200 prisoners including more than 1,000 Taliban and some 200 security personnel since inking the U.S.-Taliban peace deal on Feb. 29.

The Afghan president, who ordered his forces to resume offensives on the armed group following deadly attacks on maternity in Kabul and funeral ceremony in Nangarhar weeks ago, also instructed his forces to return to a defensive position to support the ceasefire in the country in his speech on Sunday.

Calling upon the Taliban to reciprocate the release of prisoners and observe permanent ceasefire in the country, Ghani said his negotiating team “is ready to initiate dialogue” with the armed group to end the war in Afghanistan.

Since the observance of the ceasefire in Afghanistan on Sunday, no security incident has been reported.

Zabihullah Mujahid who claims to speak for the Taliban outfit told media that the group’s fighters are in defensive posture during the three-day Eid holidays.

Some countries including the United States, Qatar, Pakistan and India have welcomed the three-day ceasefire observed by warring sides during Eid al-Fitr holidays in Afghanistan.

(XINHUA)

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Foreign

“Significant” Australian bushfires increasing in frequency: experts

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Head of climate monitoring at Australia’s Bureau of Meteorology (BoM) Karl Braganza has warned that the devastating 2019-20 bushfires were not a “one-off event.”

Braganzaon on Monday fronted the first day of hearings for the landmark Royal Commission into National Natural Disaster Arrangements.

Braganza said that since 2003 every jurisdiction in Australia has experienced “really significant fire events,” the frequency of which “seem to be increasing.”

“Since the Canberra 2003 fires, every jurisdiction in Australia has seen some really significant fire events that have challenged what we do to respond to them and have really challenged what we thought fire weather looked like preceding this period,” he said.

“These large fire events when you look back over the 19th and 20th century were not as frequent as they were this century.”

More than 10 million hectares of land were burned by the bushfires, which Prime Minister Scott Morrison dubbed the “black summer”, killing more than 30 people and destroying thousands of homes and businesses.

Morrison established the royal commission in February with a focus on Australia’s preparedness for natural disasters and improving natural disaster coordination.

Helen Cleugh, a senior principal research scientist from the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), said that climate change was interacting with and exacerbating previous weather systems in a way never seen before, according to The Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

“This means that understanding the interaction between climate variability and these drivers and climate change is very important for building preparedness for the changing nature of climate risks into the future,” she said.

“Perhaps put more simply, climate change means that the past is no longer a guide to future climate-related impacts and risks.”

(XINHUA)

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Foreign

UN Chief welcomes Afghan ceasefire on Eid-el-Fitr

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United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has welcomed the ceasefire announced by the Taliban with the Afghan government to mark the Muslim festival of Eid el-Fitr.

“The secretary-general welcomes the announcement by the Government of Afghanistan and the Taliban of a ceasefire to enable the Afghan people to celebrate the Eid-el-Fitr holiday in peace.

“He urges all parties concerned to seize this opportunity and embrace an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace process.

“Only a peace settlement can bring an end to the suffering in Afghanistan,” Guterres’ spokesman, Mr Stephane Dujarric, said in a statement.

He reiterated the UN’s commitment to supporting media reports on the people and government of Afghanistan in their search for lasting peace and development.

Taliban militants were the first to declare a unilateral ceasefire on Saturday, saying they would only attack if attacked, according to media reports.

“Do not carry out any offensive operations against the enemy anywhere.

“If any action is taken against you by the enemy, defend yourself,” the BBC quoted Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid as saying.

Mujahid explained that the  ceasefire had been declared solely for Eid-el-Fitr, which marks the end of the holy month of Ramadan.

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani issued a statement welcoming the announcement with a promise of compliance by security and defence forces.

In a televised address from the presidential palace after Eid prayers, he said: “As a responsible government, we also want to take another step forward.

“I announce that the release of the Taliban prisoners will be accelerated and serious measures will be taken.”

The three-day ceasefire followed intensified attacks by the hardline Islamist group against government troops in recent weeks, according to the BBC.

“It is likely to raise hopes of a longer-term reduction in violence in the country”, but a similar ceasefire announced for the same festival in 2018 was not extended, the outlet reported.

Edited By: Chioma Ugboma/Donald Ugwu (NAN)

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Foreign

Tear gas fired as protests return to the streets of Hong Kong

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Police fired tear gas at protesters in one of Hong Kong’s busiest shopping districts on Sunday as growing numbers took to the street in opposition to Beijing’s plans to impose a national security law that bypasses the local legislature.

Water cannon and armoured trucks were deployed across the city before protests even kicked off, as police prepared for mass protests, the first of their kind since the city got COVID-19 under control.

While some protesters dug up bricks from walkways, scenes largely included dozens of riot police, moving people on or blocking roads in line formations, determined to keep traffic moving for as long as possible.

The demonstrations are expected to intensify throughout the day.

The Police issued two statements in quick succession, condemning protesters for turning up and flouting social distancing laws, after calls to gather were advertised online, despite not having the official go-ahead.

The Police also appealed to the public to get out of the area and stay safe, as they undertake “enforcement actions against rioters’’.

Widespread outrage has engulfed the city as new laws concerning national security led the discussions on Friday at the National People’s Congress rubber-stamp parliament in Beijing.

Many Hong Kong citizens feel the new laws would infringe on the freedoms widely enjoyed by the semi-autonomous city as it would allow Chinese companies to set up security agencies.

Protesters, who can currently be arrested and fined for flouting social distancing laws and for illegal assembly, may also be charged with “local terrorism” under the new national security law if it is passed by Beijing.

International human rights organisations say the laws would mean the end of the “One Country, Two Systems” principle, the 1997 understanding implemented when Britain handed control of the city back to China, which left Hong Kong a degree of autonomy.

Hong Kong’s Chief Executive, Carrie Lam and Andrew Leung, the President of the territory’s Legislative Council (Legco), welcomed the move.

Both politicians have been embroiled in a political stalemate between pro-establishment and pro-democratic camps in the local parliament, amid ongoing anti-government protests.

Tensions came to a peak last week in the Legco when opposing sides battled it out during an election for Chair of the House Committee, which reviews bills.

Some pro-democracy legislators were carried out of the chamber by security guards during the hour-long debacle.

The coronavirus pandemic temporarily shut down protests, but now that there are no new COVID-19 cases in Hong Kong, some have accused the government of keeping social distancing measures in place to quash the return of protests.

A heavy police presence could be seen throughout the day on Sunday, with the Police stopping and searching individuals, while groups of riot police could be seen loading weaponry with tear gas canisters and rubber bullets.

The Police came under fire during the protests last year for their use of tear gas as a dispersal weapon in densely populated areas.

AIB

Edited By: Abdulfatah Babatunde (NAN)

 
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Foreign

UN chief welcomes ceasefire announcement by Taliban, Afghan gov’t

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United Nations (UN) Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Saturday said he welcomed the announcement by the Taliban and the Afghan government of a ceasefire to enable the Afghan people to celebrate the Eid al-Fitr holiday in peace.

In a statement, the secretary-general urged all parties concerned to seize this opportunity and embrace an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace process.

Only a peaceful settlement can bring an end to the suffering in Afghanistan, said Stephane Dujarric, spokesman for Guterres, in the statement.

The UN has been committed to supporting the people and government of Afghanistan in this important endeavor, said the statement.

The Taliban have announced a three-day ceasefire during Eid al-Fitr, starting from Sunday. The Afghan government has reciprocated.

(XINHUA)

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Foreign

Pakistan welcomes 3-day Eid al-Fitr ceasefire in Afghanistan

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Pakistan on Sunday welcomed the announcement of a three-day ceasefire by the Taliban and the Afghan government during the Muslim festival of Eid al-Fitr.

A Taliban statement said that the leadership of the Taliban has directed fighters “not to attack the enemy in any place” during Eid, starting from Sunday. Afghan President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani has welcomed the Taliban announcement.

Pakistani Foreign Ministry spokesperson Aisha Farooqui said on Sunday that her country welcomes the announcements by the Taliban and the Afghan government about the ceasefire on the occasion of Eid.

“While extending Eid greetings to our Afghan brethren, we pray for a peaceful, stable and prosperous Afghanistan,” Farooqui tweeted.

There had been repeated calls for a humanitarian ceasefire in Afghanistan by the international community in the wake of COVID-19 which has also affected the war-shattered country.

(XINHUA)

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Foreign

Afghanistan marks Eid al-Fitr festival in peace as Taliban, gov’t force observe ceasefire

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Afghans marked Eid al-Fitr festival by attending prayers amid peace as the Taliban outfit and government security forces observed a three-day ceasefire, starting from Sunday.

The three-day Eid al-Fitr is to be observed on Sunday to mark the end of Muslims fasting month of Ramadan.

Afghan President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani attended in Eid prayers together with senior officials and cabinet members in a mosque in Presidential Palace earlier on Sunday.

“I congratulate Eid al-Fitr to all my fellow Afghans and Muslims around the world,” Ghani said after offering the prayer, broadcast live by the state-run TV.

President Ghani welcomed Taliban’s announcement of observing a ceasefire during the Eid days.

In his short speech, the Afghan leader added that “we request the Taliban not to harm people of Afghanistan. As the majority of religious scholars are in the view that the current war in Afghanistan has no legitimacy anymore. Today the war has not legitimacy, I assure the Taliban and the people that the negotiation team of the government is ready to instantly conduct peace talks and negotiations.”

Ghani added that as commander in chief he has instructed Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF) to comply with the three-day truce and to defend only if attacked.

On Saturday, the Afghan gov’t urged citizens to respect lockdown during Eid al-Fitr days in big cities and towns, warning that the recent neglect of restrictions in the capital city Kabul had been a main factor for the increase of new coronavirus cases in the city.

(XINHUA)

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Foreign

Afghan Taliban announces 3-day ceasefire during Eid al-Fitr festival

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The Taliban outfit has announced a three-day ceasefire with the Afghan government during Eid al-Fitr, the second annual religious festival holidays, starting from Sunday, a Taliban spokesman confirmed.

“In order that our countrymen may celebrate their Eid festivities in ease and comfort, the leadership of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (name of the ousted Taliban regime) orders all the Mujahideen to adopt special preparatory measures for the safety of our countrymen and not to attack the enemy in any place but if there is attack from enemy in any place then a befitting defensive response shall be given,” Zabiullah Mujahid said in a statement reaching Xinhua Sunday.

The spokesman also urged the fighters not to go to areas under the control of the government.

Afghan President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani has welcomed the announcement.

“I welcome the ceasefire announcement by the Taliban. The Afghan government extends the offer of peace. As commander in chief I have instructed ANDSF (Afghan National Defense and Security Forces)to comply with the three days truce and to defend only if attacked,” Ghani tweeted.

The three-day Eid al-Fitr is to be observed on Sunday to mark the end of Muslims fasting month of Ramadan.

(XINHUA)

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Foreign

Taliban, Afghan president declare three-day Eid ceasefire from Sunday

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The Taliban declared a three-day Eid ceasefire in Afghanistan starting Sunday, via a tweet on Saturday from the hard-line Islamist group.

The country’s president said the government would reciprocate.

The move came as fighting between the two sides had intensified despite the coronavirus pandemic.

“Do not carry out any offensive operations against the enemy anywhere, if any action is taken against you by the enemy, defend yourself,’’ Zabihullah Mujahid, a Taliban spokesman, tweeted.

He added that the ceasefire was declared solely for Eid festivities marking the end of the holy month of Ramadan.

Afghanistan’s President Ashraf Ghani welcomed the Taliban’s ceasefire announcement and extended the offer of peace.

“As Commander-in-Chief, I have instructed ANDSF (Afghan National Defence and Security Forces) to comply with the three-days truce and to defend only if attacked,’’ he said in a tweet.

Last month, the Taliban rejected a government call for a ceasefire across Afghanistan for Ramadan, saying a truce was “not rational” as they ramped up attacks on Afghan forces.

At least 146 civilians were killed and 430 wounded by the Taliban during Ramadan, Javid Faisal, a spokesman for the country’s main intelligence and security office in Kabul, said on Saturday.

AIB

Edited By: Abdulfatah Babatunde (NAN)

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Foreign

1 killed, 5 injured in fire at construction site in Turkey’s Istanbul

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At least one worker was killed and five others were injured on Saturday when a fire erupted at a construction zone in Istanbul, local media said.

The fire broke out at a container of the workers in the building site of Istanbul Finance Center at the Umraniye district on the Asian part of the city, the Ihlas news agency reported.

The wounded workers have been rushed to nearby hospitals, and one worker who was stuck inside the container lost his life, Ihlas said.

The cause of the fire was not immediately clear, and police launched an investigation into the incident, press reports added.

(XINHUA)

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General news

Kano State Fire Service saves 77 lives, N820m goods in 1 month

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The Kano State Fire Service on Friday said it had saved 77 lives and property worth N820 million from 108 fire incidents in April.

 

The Service’s  Public Relations Officer (PRO) , Alhaji Saidu Muhammed, disclosed in a statement in Kano.

 

Muhammed said  that 26 died and property worth N254 million were destroyed by fire within the period.

 

He noted that the service received 54 rescue calls and 15 false alarms from residents.

 

He attributed the incidents to road accidents, open water, wells,  and the use of inferior electrical materials; use of boiling rings, as well as poor handling of electrical appliances and cooking gas.

 

The PRO advised the general public to always handle fire with care to avoid inferno.

 

He implored parents and the general public to warn their children from going to the local swimming ponds.

 

Edited By: Abiemwense Moru/Peter Dada (NAN)

 

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Economy

Ondo offshore fire: NIMASA dispatches team for investigation, cautions mariners to avoid area

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Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) has sent an investigative team to unravel the circumstances surrounding a recent fire incident at a wellhead offshore Ondo State.

The Director-General of NIMASA, Dr Bashir Jamoh, disclosed this in a statement signed by Mr Philip Kyanet, NIMASA Head of Corporate Communications, on Thursday in Lagos.

Jamoh pointed out that the incident involved a barge belonging to Michharry and Company Nigeria Limited, an offshore and onshore facilities provider for the oil and gas industry.

He noted that the officers from the Maritime Safety and Seafarers Standard Department (MSSSD) and Marine Environment Management (MEM) Department of the Agency would conduct both on the spot assessment and detailed analysis of the incident.

“As the national agency statutorily responsible for ensuring a clean, pollution free, and friendly marine environment for safe shipping activities, NIMASA has swung into action with our standard procedures to get to the root of this fire incident.

“A team of officers from the relevant departments of the agency has been dispatched to the site. We will do a thorough analysis of the situation with a view to unraveling the cause of the fire and preventing future occurrence.

“As the maritime industry regulator, we would also not hesitate to mete out sanctions where necessary to deter abuse.

“Certainly, the Nigerian maritime industry and the economy will be the beneficiaries of the outcome of our work on this incident,” he said.

Jamoh also advised mariners and other maritime stakeholders to steer clear of the areas affected by the fire for their own safety and to aid the investigative and remediation work at the location.

He disclosed the location to be Ororo1, in Oil Mining Lease (OML) 95, adding that the site was a Chevron platform sold to local investors.

The NIMASA DG said that preliminary investigation revealed that the barge, JUV Bellaton, a 300 Series SEWOP, owned by Michharry and operated by Guarantee Petroleum, had been working on the offshore oil rig, Grace 1 HWU, when it experienced leakages of gas and oil.

He noted that this was followed by a fire outbreak at the wellhead location, adding that there was no reported pollution following degenerative status of the platform due to the fire.

He pointed out that all crew were evacuated safely, and firefighters were engaged by the company to try to put out the fire.

He said that NIMASA was working with the National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA) on the incident investigation, in line with a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the two agencies.

“At this point, let me advise maritime stakeholders to keep away from the areas affected by the fire. This is for their own safety and to avoid anything that can jeopardise or hinder the ongoing investigation.

“Additionally, we advise operators in the country’s maritime domain to always report incidents at their locations to NIMASA in good time and shun actions capable of endangering their own safety and operations as well as those of others,” he said.

Edited By: Wale Ojetimi (NAN)

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Foreign

U.S. scientist fired for refusing to manipulate Florida’s COVID-19 data: media report

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A U.S. scientist who created Florida’s COVID-19 data website was fired earlier this week for refusing to manipulate data in the way the state officials need for reopening economy, according to a local newspaper report.

Florida Today reported Wednesday that Rebekah Jones, who was the chief architect of Florida’s COVID-19 data and surveillance dashboard intended to provide a real-time picture of the local coronavirus situation, was fired on Monday by the state Department of Health after she was removed from her position as its Geographic Information Systems manager on May 5.

The report quoted Jones as telling the CBS-12 news television station in West Palm Beach that she was fired because she refused to “manually change data to drum up support for the plan to reopen” as ordered.

Jones didn’t give further details, the report said.

The newspaper, which first reported Jones’ removal from her position in charge of Florida COVID-19 data portal, said Jones confirmed her dismissal in an email, writing, “I worked on it alone, sixteen hours a day for two months, most of which I was never paid for, and now that this has happened I’ll probably never get paid for.”

The report said that in an email Friday to researchers and other data users, Jones warned that there could be changes concerning the accessibility and transparency of the Florida COVID-19 dashboard data.

Local and other media reports about Jones’ dismissal has raised concern about the integrity of the COVID-19 data in Florida and beyond that are cited as the science base to support decisions on reopening local economy.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has said he based his decision to start reopening his state on science, and that the Florida data website had been praised by federal health experts.

(XINHUA)

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Science & Technology

Minister directs NIPOST to produce report on fire incident

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The Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr Isa Pantami, has directed management of the Nigerian Postal Service (NIPOST) to produce a report on the fire incident that occurred at its corporate headquarters on Wednesday.
Pantami gave the directive when he paid a visit to the NIPOST headquarters to assess the extent of damage at the office.
He directed that a comprehensive report about the fire incident be put together and forwarded to his office for further action.
The News agency of Nigeria reports that Pantami was received by the Postmaster-General, Dr Ismail Adewusi, the Chairman, NIPOST Governing Board, Mrs Maimuna Yaya-Abubakar, and members of the management.
The minister expressed happiness that the fire was contained early enough.
”Thank God that the fire was quickly contained and prevented from spreading to other offices in the building and from destroying sensitive documents of the organisation,” he said.
Adewusi had earlier told the minister that the report of the Federal Fire Service Report, which would reveal the cause of the fire incident, was being awaited.

Edited By: Ifeyinwa Okonkwo and (NAN)‘Wale Sadeeq

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Foreign

Pompeo doubles down on recommendation for Trump to fire State Department watchdog

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U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Wednesday doubled down on his request for President Donald Trump to fire State Department’s Inspector General (IG) Steve Linick amid bipartisan scrutiny.

“I recommended to the President that Steve Linick be terminated. Frankly, should’ve done it some time ago,” Pompeo told reporters during a briefing at the State Department.

Trump said last week that he was firing Linick because he did not have the fullest confidence in the official, who began his tenure as the State Department’s watchdog in 2013.

That decision has sparked an inquiry by Democrats and scrutiny even from a number of Republicans, as Linick was reportedly looking into a number of issues relating to Pompeo, the Trump administration’s second secretary of state.

On Wednesday, Pompeo denied any knowledge of investigations being undertaken by Linick.

“I’ve seen the various stories that someone was walking my dog to sell arms to my dry cleaner, I mean, it’s just crazy,” he said, arguing that charges of political retaliation are “patently false.”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said on Wednesday that Pompeo should testify before Congress.

“Let’s see how this unfolds,” the California Democrat told reporters on Capitol Hill. “But what it is that we know so far is scandalous.”

As inspector general, Linick was responsible for, among other things, conducting administrative and criminal investigations of waste, fraud, mismanagement, and misconduct in the State Department, according to his online biography.

Besides Linick, Trump has moved in the past few weeks to fire Intelligence Community IG Michael Atkinson, acting Pentagon IG Glenn Fine, and Christi Grimm, principal deputy IG of the Department of Health and Human Services.

(XINHUA)

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General news

FEC approves N2.9bn for procurement fire service equipment for Odukpani Oil and Gas Park

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The Federal Executive Council (FEC) presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari on Wednesday approved N2.9billion for the provision of water and fire service equipment in the National Oil and Gas Park to be sited in Odukpani, Cross River State

The Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Mr Timipre Slyva, made this known at the end of the second session of the virtual meeting of the FEC coordinated from the Council Chamber of the State House, Abuja.

According to the minister, the project when completed, will provide additional infrastructural facility for the manufacturing of Oil and Gas components for the sector and boost economic activities in Cross River.

“Today, Council approved the provision of water and fire service equipment in the National Oil and Gas Park to be sited in Odukpani, Cross River State, in the sum of N2.9billion.

“The oil and gas scheme is to provide an environment, a corridor for citing industries that would produce components locally for the oil and gas industry.

“Of course, these parks will create jobs and also increase local capacity and participation in the oil and gas industry,’’ he said.

The Federal Executive Council also approved N610 million for the construction of a Faculty of Health Services at the Plateau State University, Bokkos, Plateau State.

The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, disclosed this while speaking on the outcome of the virtual FEC meeting.

He said: “The Minister of Education today presented a memo seeking approval of council for the award of contract for the construction, equipping and furnishing of a faculty of Health Sciences in Plateau State University, Bokkos.

“It was awarded at the cost of N610, 355, 221.82 and the completion period is for 52 weeks.

“Also, a procurement of furniture and equipment was awarded at N114, 357, 600 and completion period is 12 weeks.”

In his contribution, the Minister of Transportation, Mr Rotimi Amaechi, revealed that the Council approved 454,000 dollars for sea-time training for the Nigerian Seafarers Development Programme for cadets on-board Foreign-going Vessels by the Nigerian Maritime Administration and safety Agency (NIMASA).

The objectives of the Consultancy training services, according to the minister, are as follows:

1. To build capacity of the Nigerian Youths to take over the lucrative jobs available in the maritime sector, hitherto dominated by foreigners locally and to export excess Nigerian seamen to fill available spaces globally.

2. To enable over 1000 idling Nigeria seafarers that have graduated but yet to obtain requisite certificate of competency required of them, so as to be gainfully employed as officers and masters on board ships.

3. There is currently global scarcity of sea-time training spaces on-board merchant ship, thereby making it imperative for NIMASA to take advantage of the opportunity to build requisite capacity.

4. The need to further reduce unemployment rate in the country and the fact that Messr SWETS MARINE have given guarantee of adequate spaces to absorb 170 cadets, in addition to guaranteeing job placement on-board Chevron vessels for all cadets that would excel during the training.

Edited By: Wale Ojetimi (NAN)

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General news

Nigerian Postal Service headquarters on fire

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The Nigerian Postal Service Headquarters was on Wednesday hit by an early morning fire, the News Agency of Nigeria , reports.

The Federal Capital territory Fire Service personnel were, however, on hand to contain the fire, which attracted a large crowd at the busy Area 10, Garki, in Abuja.

Efforts by a NAN correspondent to get information from officials of the service, on what led to the incident, were abortive.

A security officer, who pleaded anonymity, told NAN that the fire started at about 8:40 a.m.

An eyewitness, Mr Adamu Bala, said he drew the attention of the security officers guarding the building when he saw smoke coming from the back of the building.

Edited By: Chioma Ugboma/Ismail Abdulaziz (NAN)

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Foreign

Australian experts call for overhaul of bushfire management to prevent “megafires”

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A landmark research from Australian National University (ANU) has revealed that bushfires have increased in size and frequency since the mid-1990s.

The study, which was published on Tuesday, has shown for the first time the full extent of the areas affected by bushfires in Victoria since 1995.

David Lindenmayer, a co-author from ANU, called for an overhaul of fire and land management in the state.

“This is the first time we’ve seen the full spatial extent of bushfires dating back 25 years,” he said in a media release.

“What we found is the state is burning more and more. Prior to 2000 we had one mega-fire in Victoria in 150 years of records. Since 2000 we’ve already had three.”

“We can also see the extensive and frequent re-burning of previously fire-damaged areas – sometimes with a gap as short as five or six years.”

“These results make a compelling case for a major policy shake-up, with the aim of reducing mega-fires, protecting unburnt areas and managing repeatedly damaged ecosystems,” he said.

Researchers found that approximately 1.5 million hectares were burned in Victoria during the 2019-20 “Black Summer” national bushfire crisis.

It was the biggest area affected by fires in Victoria since 1939.

Of the 1.5 million hectares burned in 2019-20, more than 600,000 have burned twice and 112,000 hectares three times since 1995.

“We can no long look at bushfires as unexpected out of the blue events. The data tells us they’re only becoming more frequent,” Lindenmayer said.

“This impairs the ability of the ecosystem to recover. This includes areas that provide people with access to water, as well as vital habitats and protected areas like state forests.”

(XINHUA)

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Foreign

Trump says state department watchdog fired under Pompeo’s request

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U.S. President Donald Trump said Monday that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo asked him to fire the State Department’s Inspector General (IG) Steve Linick, of whom the president said had never heard.

Asked about his Friday’s decision to oust Linick, Trump told reporters in the White House that “I don’t know him at all, I never even heard of him, but I was asked to by the state department, by Mike.”

“He is an Obama employee … they ask me to terminate him, I have the absolute right as president to terminate,” Trump said, adding that the removal should have been done a long time ago.

Trump also downplayed the reports about the state department watchdog was investigating if Pompeo had asked a staffer to run personal errands for him or his administration’s decision to expedite arms sales to Saudi Arabia by declaring an emergency last year.

In an interview with The Washington Post earlier in the day, Pompeo said that he asked Trump to fire Linick, but he noted that he was unaware of Linick’s ongoing investigation on him.

“It is not possible that this decision, or my recommendation rather, to the president rather, was based on any effort to retaliate for any investigation that was going on or is currently going on,” Pompeo said. “Because I simply don’t know. I’m not briefed on it. I usually see these investigations in final draft form 24 hours, 48 hours before the IG is prepared to release them.”

U.S. media reported Sunday that Linick was investigating whether Pompeo “made a staffer walk his dog, pick up his dry cleaning, and make dinner reservations” for him and his wife.

Eliot Engel, chairman of House Foreign Affairs Committee, told U.S. media on Monday that Linick’s office was also investigating Pompeo’s decision to fast-track 8 billion U.S. dollars arms sale to Saudi Arabia last year.

Trump’s decision to fire Linick is coming under bipartisan scrutiny. “The firings of multiple Inspectors General is unprecedented,” tweeted Senator Mitt Romney, a Utah Republican, and 2012 Republican presidential nominee. “Doing so without good cause chills the independence essential to their purpose.”

Engel and Senator Bob Menendez, ranking member of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, said Saturday that they had launched an investigation into the move, which they said was “politically-motivated.”

(XINHUA)

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