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More PDP witnesses testify against Sen. Ubah’s election

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More witnesses on Wednesday testified at the Elections Petition Tribunal sitting in Awka against the victory of Sen. Ifeanyi Ubah of the Young Progressives Party (YPP) in the Feb. 23 election Anambra South Senatorial District electio.

Uba had said he had no fewer than 32 witness to give evidences in his petition.

At the resumed hearing, counsel to Ubah, George Igbokwe (SAN) introduced Mr Ama Igwe, an Assistant Director in the ICT Department of Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Abuja as a witness.

But Obinna Adindu and Chukwuemeka Nwigwe, counsels to INEC and and Ubah respectively, objected that Igwe would not be allowed to testify nor his material evidence be admitted.

They argued that his introduction into the matter was outside the 21 days stipulated in the Electoral Act for petitioners to plead their evidence.

The defense counsel who told the court that they received Igwe’s statement on oath on July 23, said it would amount to abuse of process if the witness was allowed to testify or his documents admitted.

They prayed the tribunal not to accomodate the witness as it would amount to overreaching amendment of the process and flagrant abuse of the constitution and the Electoral Act.

In his response, Igbokwe told the tribunal that the witness was a product of court subpoena and was invited because of the substantial effect the evidence in his possession had in the matter.

The petitioner’s counsel said that the basis for the objection of the defence was misconceived and totally irrelevant to the case in point.

He said that the petitioner could not have been able to compel INEC to testify on his behalf if not for the order of court.

The senior advocate who cited CPLR 40859(2015) said Appeal Court upheld the admission of Subpoenaed witness to testify as it permited substantial justice to be done to the parties in the matter and the electorate they represented.

He prayed the tribunal to allow the subpoenaed witness to testify and discountenance the objections.

The Chairman of the tribunal, Thelma Okara, directed all parties to forward the authorities they relied on to the tribunal and reserved ruling on the admissibility of the subpoenaed witness for July 27.

In his testimony, Mr Pascal Okpala who said he worked as a PDP collation agent in Nnewi North Local Government Area added that he did not sign the result sheet which the defence showed him.

Okpala who earlier tendered results, voter register and INEC Smart Card Reader results from his party, said he did not know one Mr Arinze Ejimonye whose name appeared on the result sheet.

Foreign

Feature: Turks become more willing to quit smoking over health concerns amid COVID-19 outbreak

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Turkish smokers have become more willing to quit smoking during the COVID-19 outbreak, as health has become their major concerns, experts said.

Evidence suggests that smokers might be more vulnerable to COVID-19 as their fingers frequently touch their lips, increasing the likelihood of being infected with the virus through their hands.

Smokers may also have lung problems and reduced breathing capacity, which could affect their abilities to battle coronavirus.

“We have recorded a significant rise in the number of people contacting our organization to help them quit smoking during this pandemic,” said Mucahit Ozturk, president of a Turkish anti-addiction group Yesilay (Green Crescent).

He noted that the public health media coverage of the risks of smoking during the coronavirus outbreak has largely deterred smokers.

“People rushed to phones to call us asking for our help in quitting this bad habit, and we are happy to help them as this virus ferociously attacks lungs and may lead to severe pneumonia and death,” said Ozturk, a doctor specializing in lung diseases and psychiatry.

Smokers, according to Ozturk, are 14 times more predisposed to COVID-19 infections than non-smokers, suggesting smokers be isolated like the elderly and those with health problems.

“Using tobacco and tobacco products increases the risk of catching the coronavirus. Therefore, avoiding all addictive substances plays an important role in protecting ourselves against the virus,” he said.

“Smoking can cause damage to the lungs and block the cough reflex, so viruses and bacteria could stick to the airways and lungs, which could lead to serious infections,” the doctor added.

A public hotline set up to help smokers quit was used by more than 27 million people between 2015 and 2018, according to the Turkish health ministry’s data.

The World Health Organization has been urging smokers to stop and seclude themselves to avoid placing the lives of those around them in danger.

Turkey is a country with a large number of smokers. In recent years, the number saw a relative decrease after government health campaigns and high taxes imposed on cigarettes, but a recent survey showed the number of smokers is on the rise again.

According to a nationwide health survey published on Friday by the Statistical Board (Tuik), 28 percent of people aged 15 and older in Turkey are smoking on a daily basis, a 1.5-percent rise compared with 2016 figures.

“100,000 people are dying in Turkey each year because of smoking and related health problems. This is extremely high, and the treatment is also very expensive,” a health official told Xinhua on condition of anonymity.

The official said restrictions imposed 10 years ago on smoking in public places and enclosed spaces had led to a drop of smokers, and the bans should be closely monitored these days as Turkey spends 25 billion United States dollars annually on smoking and related illnesses.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, a staunch teetotaler, is leading the anti-tobacco campaign.

On May 31, the World No Tobacco Day, he scathed the tobacco industry, saying it entrapped millions of young people into addiction.

In additional to anti-smoking efforts, Turkey banned in February the import of e-cigarettes and related products and also began implementing a new regulation for plain packaging to decrease the attractiveness of tobacco products to smokers.

Water pipe or hookah smoking is another problem in Turkey. Hookah lounges are temporarily closed due to the COVID-19 outbreak, but they are generally popular among young people in big cities such as Istanbul or Ankara.

Cevdet Erdol, president of Health Sciences University, sounded the alarm bell on hookah smoking during the coronavirus pandemic.

“Nargile (hookah) consumption is particularly hazardous as it can easily infect people within seconds,” warned Erdol, also a former health minister.

(XINHUA)

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Albanian president appeals for more efforts on environment protection

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Albanian President Ilir Meta on Friday appealed for more efforts on environment protection on World Environmental Day.

Via a Twitter post, Meta said that no one should allow mismanagement of urban waste and air pollution to damage citizens’ lives.

“Albania lacks nothing to be the ‘diamond’ of the Mediterranean and Europe,” Meta said, calling for everyone’s contribution in protecting the country’s nature.

Meta said he will support “civil society and honest activists that by protecting Albania’s environment and natural beauties protect the prosperous future of the country.”

On World Environment Day, Minister of Tourism and Environment Blendi Klosi said that Albania is not polluted, but unclean due to the mismanagement of urban waste.

Klosi visited Sharra landfill, a public investment of the government in the capital Tirana, calling this investment a turning point for the whole way of urban waste management in the country.

“Sharra landfill is an example of a real transformation of a harmful ‘hotspot’ for Tirana into a green lung for the city. Today we can say that we have made not only good laws but real investments for a clean Albania,” Klosi said.

He also mentioned a series of measures taken by the government for the environment, such as the law on banning the use of plastic bags and the decision on banning old cars from entering Albania.

(XINHUA)

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General news

Make Lagos more natural, greening, Expert urges Govt, corporate bodies

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Prof. Babajide Alo, former Deputy Vice-Chancellor, University of Lagos (UNILAG), has called on Lagos State Government, corporate bodies and individuals to embrace greening as a way of improving the health and wellbeing of the citizenry.

Alo made the call on Friday in Lagos, at a Virtual conference organised by the University of Lagos Green Club to commemorate the World Environment Day 2020 (WED).

He also urged the state government to return and improve on the parks and garden beautification era to provide and make the state more natural and greening.

The topic of the conference was: “Nurturing Nature Between the Town and Gown.”

The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the World Environment Day was observed annually on June 5.

It stresses on the importance of active participation in environment conservation and sustainable living.

The theme was: “Celebrate Biodiversity.”

Alo said that greening has a great impact on the health of citizens and the environment, by reducing the emission of carbon dioxide.

He said biodiversity was important to man as an ecological life support, providing functioning ecosystem that supply oxygen, clean air, water and other ecosystem services.

The expert, however, noted that biodiversity was under threat due to human activities.

“Universities have opened up more to the external world, and have given much attention to the diffusion and economic exploitation of their research.

“There is need to focus more on making the gown assist the town, our communities to conserve nature to protect biodiversity,” he said.

Alo said biodiversity and the ecosystem loss had generated tremendous concern globally, as the extinction of plants and animal species were decreasing earth’s biodiversity, thereby depriving humans of potential resources such as food, medicine and enjoyment of nature.

He identified global trade in wildlife and global shipping as issues affecting and destroying nature and biodiversity.

Alo said with the COVID-19 experience, there was need for action for nature.

“The outbreak and experience of Coronavirus disease has left a significant environmental and health impact in the world.

“The pandemic is teaching us to take biodiversity conservation and protection seriously, and it reminds us that biodiversity degration leads to destruction of Mother Earth and planet gets impacted.

“Hence, this pandemic must, therefore, be teaching us a lesson that it is time to re-build for people and the planet,” he said.

Alo called on the universities to develop systematic environmental and biodiversity data collection for improved management and application.

He said: “Universities can join in the vanguard to reverse the degration; we must encourage all experts in biodiversity.

“We must fund them and make our curricula to have compulsory courses in biodiversity conservation and protection.

“Universities should make our teaching and research at all levels incorporate nature studies, inclusion of studies and text on biodiversity conservation into the national primary and secondary education as stipulated in the 2015 National Implementation document.”


Edited By: Olagoke Olatoye (NAN)

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Foreign

Airline SAS to resume more flights to Europe after COVID-19 halt

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Airline

Stockholm, June 5, 2020 Scandinavian carrier SAS said on Friday it was to resume flights to 20 more destinations in Europe, amid the easing of coronavirus measures.

From its hub in the Danish capital Copenhagen the airline plans after mid-June to resume flights to 16 destinations in Belgium, Croatia, the Faroe Islands, France, Germany, Greece, Iceland,  Lithuania and Spain.

Flights would also later in June begin to operate from the Swedish capital of Stockholm to Palma de Mallorca in Spain, Nice in France, Athens and Thessaloniki in Greece, and some domestic destinations.

SAS is one of numerous airlines severely affected by the fall in demand in air travel due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Sweden’s current recommendation to avoid non-essential foreign travel is valid until July 15, while the Danish Foreign Ministry’s general advice against non-essential travel remains in place until Aug. 31.

Denmark was from June 15 to reopen its borders for tourists from neighbouring Germany, Norway and Iceland.

IAA

Edited By: Isaac Aregbesola (NAN)

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Foreign

Singapore reports 261 more COVID-19 cases

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Singapore’s Ministry of Health (MOH) reported 261 new COVID-19 cases on Friday, bringing the total confirmed cases in the country to 37,183.

Of the new cases, 97 percent are linked to known clusters, while the rest are pending contact tracing.

Overall, the number of new cases in the community has increased, from an average of five cases per day in the week before, to an average of six per day in the past week. The number of unlinked cases in the community has remained stable at an average of two per day in the past two weeks.

Another 305 cases of COVID-19 infection have been discharged from hospitals or community isolation facilities. In all, 24,209 have fully recovered from the infection and have been discharged from hospitals or community care facilities, the ministry said.

There are currently 307 confirmed cases who are still in hospital. Of these, most are stable or improving, and four are in critical condition in the intensive care unit. There are 12,643 isolated and cared for at community facilities. These are those who have mild symptoms, or are clinically well but still test positive for COVID-19. A total of 24 have passed away from complications due to COVID-19 infection.

(XINHUA)

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Foreign

Africa CDC urges more support to fight against COVID-19

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As the pandemic is rising on the continent, the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) on Friday urged more support to its initiative — Partnership to Accelerate COVID-19 Testing (PACT).

PACT is anchored on the Africa Joint Continental Strategy for COVID-19 endorsed by the AU bureau of heads of state and government to curb COVID-19 transmission in Africa, by strengthening the capacity to test, trace, and treat COVID-19 cases on the continent.

“There is only one formula to fight COVID-19 in Africa and that is the PACT initiative,” said Dr John Nkengasong, Director of Africa CDC, emphasizing that the daily figures show clearly that the pandemic is still on the rise.

Under the initiative, Africa CDC is working with AU member states and several partners to support pooled procurement, storage and distribution of diagnostics and other medical supplies; testing of at least 10 million individuals, and the deployment of one million community workers and community healthcare workers.

In a statement on Friday, the Centre said it has partnered with MasterCard Foundation, which is committing 40 million United States dollars to PACT.

The fund will be used for the purchase of one million test kits, and to train and deploy 10,000 community healthcare workers and 80 surveillance rapid responders to support contact tracing as well as strengthen Africa CDC‘s capacity to oversee a continental response to the pandemic, according the statement.

The Africa CDC undertakes these COVID-19 response measures in partnership with the African Field Epidemiology Network.

PACT will also support the deployment of technology platforms that will enhance testing, epidemiological modeling, and critical health forecasting, to support re-opening and recovery of economies.

“And to defeat the pandemic Africa needs greater cooperation with everybody, including the governments, the community, the media, and the development partners,” said Nkengasong,.

“We need to equip, deploy and train more healthcare workers as quickly as possible, and we expect that there will be more cooperation and solidarity through PACT,” he has noted.

Africa CDC has distributed more than 2.5 million tests and provided medical equipment such as personal protective equipment, thermal scanners, and ventilators, across Africa.

As of May 31, 2020, Africa CDC had deployed 164 community healthcare workers to support COVID-19 response across 14 Member States and at its headquarters in Ethiopia.

Africa CDC is rallying resources and support to bridge existing gaps in public health systems by meeting the PACT targets.

(XINHUA)

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Environment

World Environment Day: Association urges Lagos govt. to create more parks, gardens

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The Association of Lagos Landscapers on Friday called on the Lagos State Government to create more parks and gardens to actualise the state’s ‘Green Alternative’ drive.

The association made the call in a statement signed by the Publicity Secretary, Mr Olusegun Osadare and made available to the News Agency of Nigeria in Lagos.

The association, which is the umbrella body of horticulturists working with the Lagos State Parks and Gardens Agency (LASPARK), made the call to mark the 2020 World Environment Day with the theme: ‘Celebrating Biodiversity’.

An Executive member of the association, Mr Ismail Badejo, said that the association was in total support of Gov. Babajide Sanwo-Olu’s environmental policies to reduce the effects of climate change.

Badejo said that the association was working hard to ensure greener parks and gardens in the state; while applauding the numerous national and international recognition so far received by the state.

“The goal and aspiration of the group is to achieve greener parks, gardens and sites as it used to be years ago that earned the Lagos State Government various awards both local and international in the area of environment.

“We call and encourage the Ministry of the Environment to play a vital role by ensuring adequate attention is paid to activities of our supervisory agency.

“There is also need for government to ensure that policies that will promote greenish environment and tree planting to reduce the impact of climate change should be encouraged,” he said.

Badejo also urged the government to take the plight of the association’s workers into consideration, against the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic by paying their outstanding salaries.

He said that the development could hinder the efforts put into work to maintain a greener Lagos, which could lead to negligence by members.

“The same horticulturists that worked with the state years ago are still around working. Our association is trying its best but government needs to motivate us.

“In the last five years, payment of members of the association has not been regular. This often affected our performances,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Vice President of the association, Mr Padonu Amosu had earlier encouraged communities to understand the importance of tree planting and to key into the idea of conserving the environment.

Amosu said that tree planting and keeping of gardens were not only for the rich but explained that there were cheaper and available flowering and gardening options for everybody.

He debunked the myth that flowering and gardening was exclusively for the rich.


Edited By: Emmanuel Okara/Adeleye Ajayi (NAN)

 

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Environment

NGO advocates more awareness in Gombe communities to curb deforestation

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A Non-Governmental Organisation, Jewel Environmental Initiative (JEI) based in Gombe, has urged the state government and other stakeholders to spread awareness to its rural communities to help curb indiscriminate felling of trees.

Mr Ismail Bima, Chief Executive Officer of the NGO, made the call in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria in Gombe on Friday as part of its activities to commemorate this year’s World Environment Day.

NAN reports that the World Environment Day (WED) is the United Nations’ flagship day for promoting worldwide awareness and action for the environment and the theme for this year is ‘Celebrate Biodiversity’.

Bima said awareness needed to be taken to villages in Gombe state, saying that most of the communities in the state were not aware of the dangers of deforestation.

He said that alternative cooking energy sources should be made available to residents in rural areas, adding that if they had no alternatives to cooking their foods, they would fall back on the trees.

“The awareness will enlighten them more on the importance of having these trees in their environment. When they know, they will reduce cutting or tree felling; they will shave the trees instead of cutting them down,” he said.

Bima emphasised that tree felling for whatever purpose must be discouraged, saying that just a week ago, the organisation got a call from Kaltungo, where a Baobab tree of over 40 years was cut down completely.

“This is bad. We are just damaging our environment, culture and nature that help sustain our life,’’ the chief executive officer said.

He said the impact of environmental degradation was already being felt.

According to him, most hunters no longer see animals to hunt and even most of our kids do not know squirrels because they are becoming extinct.

“ The environment that sustains these animals has been depleted and so we no longer have the environment to keep these animals in our communities; so they have relocated.

“We must also reduce most of the chemicals that we use on soil while farming because they are also damaging the micro-organisms which we need in our environment to balance the ecosystem,” he said.

Bima, therefore, urged the state government to do more, especially in the area of strengthening environmental laws to discourage tree felling especially in the frontline local government areas where tree felling was still being practiced.

He also urged residents of Gombe communities to cultivate the habit of planting trees to complement efforts of the state government to plant one million trees every year.


Edited By: Chioma Ugboma/Adeleye Ajayi (NAN)

 

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Foreign

Epidemic curve flattens while more COVID-19 cases, deaths expected in Canada

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Canada is finally flattening the curve of new cases of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to data released on Thursday by the country’s Public Health Agency.

For the month of May, Canada’s reproduction rate (Rt) for the coronavirus disease was 1 or below, meaning that an infected person spread the virus to one or fewer people during that time. By comparison, the Rt was 2 or above in late March.

As of Thursday morning, 93,430 confirmed COVID-19 cases have been reported in Canada, with 7,543 deaths. More women than men have contracted the virus, representing 57 percent and 43 percent of all cases respectively.

People aged 60 or over comprised 94 percent of all deaths, and seniors living in long-time care and retirement homes represented 82 percent of COVID-19 fatalities, yet only 18 percent of all cases — a disparity highlighted by 900 outbreaks at nursing homes where conditions in many have been described as horrific.

But the largest outbreak in Canada, according to the Public Health Agency report, occurred at the Cargill meat-processing plant in the province of Alberta, which at one point had the largest COVID-19 outbreak in North America, with 1,560 cases that spread from workers into the community.

Overall, most of the Canadian cases, or over 90 percent of the total, have been concentrated in the country’s two largest provinces of Ontario and Quebec.

Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s chief public health officer, said at her daily news conference on Thursday that while there has been “significant progress to bring the epidemic under control … loosening distancing … must be accompanied by enhancement to other public health measures, including case detection, contact tracing and quarantine to prevent new introductions, and to identify and control any new transmission chains.”

“If we relax too much or too soon,” she warned, “the epidemic will most likely rebound with explosive growth as a distinct possibility.”

Canadian modeling numbers released on Thursday predict 97,990-107,454 cases and 7,700-9,400 deaths by June 15.

However, as Tam pointed out, Canada has been able to “bend and flatten the curve” of the epidemic sooner than several hard-hit countries, including the United States, Britain and Italy.

(XINHUA)

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