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“How campaign funds were disbursed,” Belgore tells court

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A Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Dele Belgore, on Wednesday told a Federal High Court, Lagos that Kwara stakeholders of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) authorised the sharing of the N450million campaign fund.

Belgore was testifying under cross examination, in a Money laundering charge preferred against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

EFCC charged Belgore and a former Minister of National Planning, Abubakar Sulaiman, on a nine-count charge bordering on the alleged offences.

They had, however, pleaded not guilty to the charge and were granted bail.

Belgore, who is a former campaign coordinator of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in Kwara State, had concluded his testimony in defence of the charge on April 12, while the court had adjourned for cross examination.

At the last adjourned date on May 6, a second defence counsel, Mr Tayo Oyetibo had comcluded his cross examination of Belgore.

When trial resumed on Wednesday, Mr Rotimi Oyedepo, appeared for the prosecution, while Mr Ebun Shofunde (SAN) appeared for Belgore.

Under cross examination by the prosecutor, Mr Rotimi Oyedepo, the defendant told the court that the stakeholders also authorised the formula with which the disbursement was made.

According to him, the decision to disburse the campaign funds and the list of recipients was made at a meeting of the state’s PDP stakeholders.

Querried further by Oyedepo, he also said that he did not give any written instructions to share the money to the stakeholders, contending that the instructions came from his party.

He told the court that he did not have a copy of that instruction.

The defendant denied that N80mIllion was apportioned to the campaign coordinator or his office, contending that funds allocated was on the instructions of the stakeholders.

He told the court that the stakeholders’ meeting was to allocate funds to Local Governments and their Chairmen and that the funds were to be given to the Chairmen and representatives, adding that he was not aware if it was changed.

The defendant confirmed that at the stakeholders’ meeting, people were nominated to collect monies, but denied knowledge about collection of the said monies as he was not there.

Justice Rilwan Aikawa had adjourned until June 17 for continuation of cross examination by the prosecution, at 10 a.m.

In the nine count charge, the EFCC alleged that Diezani (said to be at large) conspired with Belgore and Sulaiman on or about March 27, 2015, to directly take possession of the sum of N450 million, which they reasonably ought to have known forms part of proceeds of an unlawful act.

They were also alleged to have taken the said funds in cash, which exceeded the amount authorised by law, without going through the financial institutions.

Judiciary

Alleged N450m fraud: Court adjouns until June 19 for Belgore, ex-minister’s trial

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A Federal High Court Lagos, Monday, fixed June 19, for continuation of trial of a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Dele Belgore, and a former Minister of National Planning, Abubakar Sulaiman, standing trial over N450 million fraud,

EFCC charged them on nine counts bordering on the alleged offences.

They, had however, pleaded not guilty to the charges, and were granted bails

On Monday, Mr Rotimi Oyedepo appeared for the prosecution while Messrs Ebun Shofunde (SAN), and Tayo Oyetibo appeared for the first and second defendants respectively.

Oyetibo then informed the court that the second defendant was not in court as he had missed his flight to Lagos, adding that same had been communicated to the prosecutor.

He told the court that it was not in the character of the second defendant, to be away from court, as he had always appeared in court to face his trial.

He then urged the court to graciously grant a short adjournment.

The prosecutor confirmed to the court that he was informed of the position, but said that he would “grudgingly” concede to the request, adding that since the case was for him to conclude his cross examination, it should be fixed for Wednesday.

Following agreement of parties. Justice Rilwan Aikawa adjourned the case until June 19 for continuation of trial by 2pm.

Belgore, who is a former campaign coordinator of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in Kwara State had concluded his testimony in defence of the allegation on April 12, while the court had adjourned for cross examination.

He had told the court that he was innocent of the charges preferred against him by EFCC, adding that the prosecution pressed charges against him, even though he did not benefit from the N450 million which is subject of the charge.

He had told the court that in his statement to EFCC, he had given detailed information about those who took possession, disbursed and used the said N450 million.

According to him, while he was being investigated by the EFCC on the alleged offence, he had given account of the role he played adding that he neither admitted orally to have committed the offences nor made any statement to admit that he was guilty of the offences.

He had also told the court that the N450 million which was set aside as campaign fund for the 2015 General elections, was from series of fund raising activities done by the PDP.

Belgore had also refuted claims that the money was from a former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Diezani Alison-Madueke.

According to him, throughout his tenure as the campaign coordinator in Kwara State, he had no dealings with Allison-Madueke, and was not aware that the N450 million he signed for in 2015 came from her.

He had said that claims that the money was part of the N23 billion allegedly collected by Diezani from three oil marketers ahead of the 2015 General elections, were false.

In the nine count charge, the EFCC alleged that Diezani (said to be at large) conspired with Belgore and Sulaiman on or about March 27, 2015, to directly take possession of the sum of N450 million, which they reasonably ought to have known forms part of proceeds of unlawful act.

They were also alleged to have taken the said funds in cash, which exceeded the amount authorized by law, without going through the financial institutions

edited by Sadiya Hamza

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Judiciary

Alleged N450m fraud: Belgore denies complicity

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Trial

Lagos, April 12, 2019 A Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Dele Belgore, standing trial before a Federal High Court in Lagos for alleged N450 million fraud on Friday denied complicity in the crime.

He told Justice Rilwan Aikawa that he was innocent of the charge preferred against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

He said that the EFCC pressed the  charge against him though he did not benefit from the N450 million which was subject of the charge before the court.

EFCC charged Belgore and a former Minister of Planning, Abubakar Sulaiman,  on  nine counts.

They, however, had pleaded not guilty, and were granted bail.

On Friday, Belgore, a former campaign Coordinator of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Kwara, concluded his evidence before the court.

He was led in evidence by his counsel, Mr Ebun Shofunde (SAN).

He told the court that in his statement to EFCC, he gave detailed information about those who took possession, disbursed and used the N450 million.

“While  I am being investigated by the EFCC on the alleged offences, I have neither admitted orally to have committed the offences nor made any statement to admit that I am guilty of the offences.

“I denied all the charges against me, I have never made any payment to all the names mentioned in the charge.

“In order to assist the investigators, I gave them detailed information on who took possession of the fund and how it was disbursed and used; I didn’t benefit from the fund,” he testified.

He had earlier told the court that the N450 million, which was set aside as campaign fund for the 2015 General Elections, was from fund-raising activities done by the PDP.

He also denied claims that the money was from a former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Diezani Alison-Madueke.

Belgore said that throughout his tenure as the PDP campaign coordinator in Kwara, he had no dealings with Diezani and  was not aware that the N450 million  he signed for in 2015 came from her.

He added that claims by two EFCC investigators that the money was part of the N23 billion allegedly collected by Diezani from three oil marketers – Northern Belt Ltd., Actus Integrated Ltd., Midwestern Company – and one, Mr Leno Laitan, ahead of the 2015 General Elections, were false.

Justice Rilwan Aikawa has adjourned until May 6, for cross-examination of Belgore by both the second defence counsel and the prosecution.

Meanwhile, the court has granted leave to the second defendant to travel to Mecca for the lesser Hajj.

In granting the leave, the court ordered him to provide a surety who must be a civil servant resident in Lagos, or a landed property owner in the state.

The court ordered the defendant to return to the country before May 6.

In the nine-count charge, the EFCC alleged that Diezani conspired with Belgore and Sulaiman on or about March 27, 2015, to directly take possession of the sum of N450 million, which they reasonably ought to have known formed part of proceeds of unlawful act.

They were also alleged to have taken the said fund in cash, which exceeded the amount authorised by law, without going through the financial institutions

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Judiciary

N450m money laundering :Absence of defence counsel stalls trial of lawyer Dele Belgore

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Adjournment

Lagos, March 27, 2019 Absence of Mr Ebun Shofunde, SAN, defence counsel to Mr Dele Belgore, SAN, has stalled the his trial in the N450 million money laundering charge filed in a Federal High Court in Lagos.

Belgore is standing trial by the EFCC for allegedly benefiting N450m from the sum of $115m which a former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Diezani Alison-Madueke, allegedly doled out to influence the outcome of the 2015 general elections.

The EFCC had alleged that himself, and his co-defendant, a former Minister of National Planning, Prof Abubakar Sulaiman, went to a branch of Fidelity Bank in Ilorin on March 26, 2015, to sign for and collect the N450 million.

The defendants had each pleaded not guilty to the charges and were granted bails.

The case which was earlier slated on Wednesday, for continuation of trial, could not proceed as planned, as the court was informed that counsel to Shofunde was indisposed.

Counsel who appeared on behalf of Shofunde, prayed the court for an adjournment on this ground, after informing the court of the position.

The prosecution did not object to the oral application.

Justice Rilwan Aikawa, consequently, adjourned the case until April 10 for continuation of defence.

The EFCC had since closed the case for the prosecution, after calling several witnesses and tendering exhibits.

The defence had accordingly, opened his case, and is still leading evidences.

At the last adjourned date, the court had viewed electronic evidences in the case, which included two video clips, and the court adjourned for continuation of trial.

In the nine-count charge, EFCC, accused the defendants of making cash payments to a Kwara State Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC).

The commission said that they made cash payments without going through any financial institution.

EFCC said they “directly took possession of the sum N450 million,” which they allegedly indirectly spent, adding that they “reasonably ought to have known (that the money) forms part of the proceeds of unlawful act.”

The sums, the commission said, exceeded the amount authorised by law and violated the provisions of sections 1(a) and 16 (d) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) (Amendment) Act, of 2012.

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Judiciary

I thought N450m came from PDP campaign HQ not from Allison-Madueke”– Belgore testifies in court

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Trial

A Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Dele Belgore, Tuesday, told a Federal High in Lagos, that he thought the N450 million was sent from the PDP 2015 Presidential Campaign Headquarters in Abuja and not part of 115 million dollars, doled out by former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Diezani Alison-Madueke.

Beogore was being in evidence by his counsel, Mr Ebun Shofunde (SAN), at the resumed trial over N450 million money laundering charge preferred against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

“As campaign co-ordinator in Kwara for the 2015 election, we were informed that monies would be sent from the Presidential Campaign Headquarters in Abuja, to the PDP in Kara

“My lord, i have no information that the money was paid on the instructions of Allison-Madueke.

“ I have never met her, and i have never spoken with her.

“i have never dealt or spoken with anybody claiming to be acting on her behalf.

“In relation to me, in relation to PDP, in relation to the presidential campaign for which i was coordinator, and in relation to the said N450 million or any sums at all.

“As i have said before, as co-ordinator and stakeholder in Kwara State, we had asked the presidential campaign headquarters for funds for the election and we were told that there were no funds available.

“We were however informed that there will be series of fund raising activities, where funds will be raised; i also know that within a very short time, the heaquarter called me and said that the funds were available.

“So, all along, there was absolutely no case, no evidence, no indication, and nobody saying that the money came from any other place other than the presidential campaign headquarters.

“So, it was surprised when i received the proof of evidence in February 2017, and when Pw2 told the court in his evidence, of a different source of the money,” he said.

But Prosecution witnesses I and 2(PW1 and Pw 2) had in their testimonies alleged that the money from which the N450 million was brought, came from some oil marketers.

In response, Belgore said “Well, my lord, i do not know any of the said oil marketers that pw1 and 2 claimed provided the money.

“I have never met them;i have never dealt with them, or dealt with anybody who claimed to be acting on their behalf.

“I first heard of them in February 2017 when i was served with the proof of evidence,”

On the allegation that the monies were paid into the Fidelity bank account of these oil marketers, Belgore replied : “I have no information as regards that fact.

“ it is not a fact within my knowledge at the material time, and it has not been a fact within my knowledge ever since,”

Asked of his reaction to PW 1 and PW2 claim that the money was paid out on the instructions of Diezani Allison -Madueke,

The defendant said that as a matter fact, it was during investigations in November 2016, that he first heard from Pw2 that the said funds did not come from the presidential campaign headquarters, as he was made to believe.

He said “Until this time, no one, other than Pw2 and maybe Pw1, has told me that the N450 million did not come from the fund raising activity conducted by the presidential campaign organisation,”

Earlier, the defence had exhibited before the court, two CCTV footages of Fidelity Bank, which were displayed for about two and half hours in court.

But Belgore told the court that he was not in the footage.

He had said “I also note that in the video, there were various scenes or snap shots of different places, presumably different parts of the bank, but i did not see myself in the first video and also did not see myself in the second video.’’

.Justice Aikawa had adjourned the case until March 27 and April 10 for continuation of trial.

NNN reports that the anti graft Agency is prosecuting Belgore, alongside a former Minister of National Planning, Abubakar Sulaiman, over alleged money laundering to the tune of N450million.

The commission alleged that the money was part of a sum of 115 million dollars, which the former Minister of Petroleum Resources, (Alison-Madueke), doled out to influence the 2015 general elections. (NNN)

UNS/KOO/SH

Edited by Kevin Okunzuwa/Sadiya Hamza

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Judiciary

Court admits 3 members of banned IMN to N5m bail each on health grounds

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An FCT High Court on Monday admitted three members of the banned Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN) to bail in the sum of N5 million each on health grounds.

Delivering a ruling, Justice Sulaiman Belgore, also ordered Mohammed Mohammed, Imran Ayuba and Mohammed Kamisu to produce two sureties each in like sum.

The three defendants were arrested alongside 60 other IMN members during the July 22, 2019 protest at the Federal Secretariat, located in the Three Arms Zone of Abuja.

Justice Belgore said that he had gone through the medical reports attached to the application and came to the conclusion that the three defendants required medical attention.

“I have carefully perused the medical reports and came to the irresistible conclusion that the applicants require urgent medical and surgical attention,” he held.

He ordered that the sureties must be civil servants working and residing within the court’s jurisdiction.

The judge adjourned the case until May 20 for continuation of trial

Earlier, the defence counsel, Mr Bala Dakkum prayed the court to admit his clients to bail to enable them seek medical care outside the Kuje custodial centre where they were remanded by the court .

Dakkum told the court that his clients sustained varying degree of injuries during the July 22, 2019 protest.

The News Agency of Nigeria   reports that the protest led to the death of DCP Usman Umar and Precious Owolabi, a National Youth Service Corps member serving with Channels Television.

The defendants were first arraigned before the court on Nov. 27, 2019 by the police.

They were arraigned on charges bordering on homicide, disturbances of public peace and destruction of government properties.

The defendants pleaded not guilty to the charges preferred against them.

NEO /

Edited By: Kamal Tayo Oropo/Sadiya Hamza (NAN)

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Health

COVID-19: Kwara govt. lauds NCDC for technical support

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The Kwara government, on Tuesday, commended the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) for its technical support to the state’s medical team since the outbreak of COVID– 19 in the state.
The commendation was contained in a letter written to the NCDC team by the state Deputy Governor, Mr Kayode Alabi.
A statement issued by the Chief Press Secretary to Gov. AbdulRahman AbdulRazak, Mr Rafiu Ajakaye, on Tuesday in Ilorin quoted Alabi as commending the NCDC team for its ‘noble contributions.’
The deputy governor, who is also the Chairman of the state Technical Committee on COVID– 19, noted that the team would be leaving the state better prepared to manage COVID-19 and other similar cases in future.
“I write on behalf of the governor and the good people of Kwara to express our profound appreciation for your noble contributions while in the state, particularly in the fight against COVID-19.
“Your expertise and technical know-how have tremendously improved the state’s healthcare services, especially during this crucial time of combating the dreaded COVID-19 pandemic.
“It is also pertinent to state that the history of the present health challenges will not be complete without your contributions written in gold,” he said.
He said that the delegation, led by Dr Shuaib Belgore, arrived the state a few weeks ago to drill the state’s medical team on the handling of the pandemic.
This, he said, had resulted in the strengthening of the capacity and capability of the state to tackle the pandemic.
Meanwhile, the deputy governor has acknowledged the commendation of the health workers for the jumbo allowance given them by the state government for their proactive measures against spread of COVID-19 in the state.
“The Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) commended the state governor for delivering on his words to pay frontline health workers daily allowances, in appreciation of their work.
“Dr Kolade Solagberu, the state Chairman of NMA, said that AbdulRazaq has fulfilled his promise to pay decent allowances to all the health workers involved in the COVID-19 campaign.
“While medical doctors are being paid N25,000 daily, all other categories of health workers in the frontline are getting varying allowances on a daily basis, to encourage them to do more.
“This is no doubt motivating and an added impetus toward driving the ready spirit of the health workers,” he said.

Edited By: Chioma Ugboma and (NAN)‘Wale Sadeeq

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Judiciary

Appeal Court sets up special panels to preside over time-bound cases

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The Nigerian Court of Appeal has set up special panels with mandates to preside over time-bound matters during the period of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a circular dated April 24, the Acting President of the Court of Appeal, Justice M. B. Dongbam-Mensem, provides for the various justices to preside in divisions.

“You are hereby empanelled to sit in the undermentioned divisions, for now, to hear and determine time-bound motions and appeals pending in the said divisions.

“The presiding justices shall oversee and communicate the date of sittings,’’ Dongbam-Mensem said.

According to the circular, the Lagos division panel includes Justice M.L. Garba, Justice J.O.K. Oyewole, Justice H. A. Abiru, Justice B. B. Aliyu, Justice A. Obaseki-Adejumo, Justice U.A. Ogakwu and Justice G.O. Kolawole.

The presiding justices for the Kaduna division are Justice I. M. M. Saulawa, Justice A. D. Yahaya, Justice S. T. Hussein, Justice M. I. Shuaibu, Justice A. M. Talba and Justice T. Y. Hassan.

The Ibadan division has Justice H. M. Ogunwumiju, Justice A. O. Belgore, Justice J. S. Ikyegh, Justice F. O. Akinbani T. Abubakar, Justice I. A. Adefope-Okojie, Justice N. Okoronkwo and Justice E. Tobi.

For the Enugu division, there are Justice I. I. Agube, Justice M. O. Bolaji-Yusuf, and Justice A. I. Andenyangtso are to preside, while justices for the Benin division are Justice U. I. Anyawu, Justice Oseji, Justice B. A. Georgewill, Justice F. E. Oho and Justice B. M. Ugo.

Justices for the Jos division are Justice A.G. Mshelia, Justice J. H. Sankey and Justice M. Oniyangi while Porthacourt division is to be presided by Justice R. C. Agbo, Justice A. O. Lokulo-Sodipe, Justice M. A. A. Adumein, Justice O. F. Ogbuinya, Justice I. Jombo-Ofo, and Justice O. O. Daniel-Kalio.

The Abuja Panel I has Justice A. Aboki, Justice E. Agim and Justice Y. Nimpar are to preside while for Abuja panel II, Justice J. O. Bada, Justice. H. S. Tsammani and Justice M. Mustapha will preside

Justice S.J. Adah, Justice R. M. Abdullahi and Justice A. S. Umar are to preside at the Abuja panel III while Abuja panel IV has Justice A. Jauro, Justice. M. A Danjuma and Justice B. G. Sanga.

Presiding justices for Abuja panel V are Justice M. B. Dongbam-Mensen, Justice U. Onyemenam, Justice A. A. Wambai, Justice J. G. Abundaga and Justice M. B. Idris

Presiding justices for Abuja panel VI are Justice H. Mukhtar, Justice T. Akomolafe-Wilson and Justice J. T. Tukur while those of Abuja panel VII are Justice P. O. Ige, Justice F. A. Ojo and Justice P. A. Mahmoud.

For the Calabar division, Justice N. A. Owoade, Justice P. M. Egpe, Justice P. O. Elechi, Justice I. G. Mbaba and Justice J. E. Ekanem are to preside while Owerri division will be presided by Justice C. E. Nwosu-Iheme, Justice R. N. Pemu and Justice O. A. Otisi.

Presiding Justices for the Sokoto division Justice A. A. B. Gumel, Justice A. M. Bayero and Justice A. M. Lamido while the Yola division will be presided over by Justice C.N. Uwa, Justice S.J. Abiriyi and Justice A.M. Bayero.

The Akure division is to be presided by Justice O. F. Omoleye, Justice T. N. Orji-Abadua and Justice I. S. Bdiya.

Edited By: Edith Bolokor/Abdulfatah Babatunde (NAN)

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Health

COVID-19: Kwara Govt will continue to monitor discharged patients – Response Team

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Dr Ahmed Abubakar, the Team Lead of the Rapid Response Team, Covid-19 Technical Committee, says the Kwara Government will continue to monitor discharged Coronavirus patient who have tested negative.

Abubakar, who stated this while fielding questions from newsmen in Ilorin, explained that patients that are certified negative of Coronavirus are advised to be on self isolation for two weeks.

The News Agency of Nigeria reports that some countries, especially South Korea have reported cases of relapse by Covid-19 patients.

NAN reports that the South Korean Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) had recorded about 179 relapse cases of Covid-19.

Speaking further, Abubakar pointed out that, the state government will continue their monitoring also on monthly basis, to be sure that patients will not relapse.

He urged people to obey directives on social and physical distancing and maintain hygiene at all times.

Also speaking with newsmen also, Dr Shuaib Belgore, Nigerian Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), team leader in Kwara, said that Covid-19 is a “serious business”.

He said serious efforts must be put in place by stakeholders to ensure that Africa does not become the next epicentre for the virus.

According to him, the virus is developing and the only way to slowdown the fiction rate is to stay away and maintain social distancing.

” This virus is not only killing people with underlining health conditions but killing young and healthy people,” he said.

He urged newsmen in particular to use their profession to save lives through objective and fair reporting of the pandemic.

Edited By: Felix Ajide (NAN)

 

 

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Health

COVID-19: Kwara Govt tasks journalists on professional reportage 

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The Kwara Government has urged journalists in the state to be professional in their reportage of the COVID- 19 pandemic in the state.

Dr Raji Razak  the state Commissioner  for Health, made the call on Saturday in Ilorin during a training organised for journalists by the State Government.

He implored newsmen to be objective and be fair in their reportage of COVID-19, adding that there is a challenge as social media are being used by rumor mongers to mislead people.

Razak also enjoined the newsmen to assist the state government in correcting any misleading rumours circulating around.

“Everybody, including the government at all levels have their roles to play in terms of reporting the issues professionally,” he said.

He said presently in state, there are 128 samples of COVID-19 cases, out of which 66 are negative, 53 pending, nine positive, seven active  while 2 have been discharged.

The Representative of World Health Organisation (WHO), Dr Ayinla Katibi, commended the state Ministry of Health for organising the seminar, describing it as timely.

He called on journalists to inform Nigerians to institutionalise all health etiquettes, such as regular and proper hand washing, use of face mask and the physical distancing, which he said must continue, even after war against the pandemic would have been won.

Speaking on the theme: “Enriching the journalists arsenal on COVID-19”, Dr Oluwatosin Fakayode, Director of Public Health in the Ministry of Health, also appealed to newsmen to assist the government in ensuring people flatten the curve on Coronavirus by adhering to the lockdown.

He said that though the ministry has established the Risk Communication team to monitor rumours and misinformation, the media has the capacity to reach audiences and can get readily available information at the ministry

Dr Shuaib Belgore, the state Team Lead of the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), warned that the world was afraid Africa may become the next epicenter because of our low healthcare system.

He observed that if most of the cases of COVID-19 affected five medical personnel in Kwara, what would then become of ordinary citizens who don’t know anything about medicine.

Belgore noted that the disease kept on evolving and people must ensure they keep to the total lockdown as that was the assured way to protect oneself.

He therefore urged newsmen to use all at their disposal to educate and inform the public on how to protect and save their lives.

Edited By: Abiodun uhammad Suleiman Tola (NAN)

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Contact US: editor @nnn.com.ng, nnnnews247 @gmail.com

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