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NSE’s key indices improve further by 1.25%

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Transactions on the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) remained upbeat on Thursday for four consecutive days, with the key performance indicators improving further by 1.25 per cent.

Consequently, the All-Share Index which opened at 24,452.23 rose by 306.16 points or 1.25 per cent to close at 24,758.39.

Also, the market capitalisation grew by N159 billion or 1.25 per cent to close at N12.902 trillion compared with N12.743 trillion recorded on Wednesday.

The uptrend was impacted by gains recorded in large and medium capitalised stocks, amongst which are: Mobil, BUA Cement, Unilever, Guinness Nigeria and Zenith Bank.

Experts at United Capital Plc attributed the market rally to recovery in share prices driven by rebalancing in the oil market which resulted in 94 per cent rebound in oil prices from 18 dollars per barrel to about 35 dollars per barrel within a month.

They also attributed the rally to increasing indications that governments around the world would reopen their economies regardless of the anxiety around COVID-19.

They said cheap market valuation of high quality stocks; sustained dividend declaration by corporates, translating into attractive dividend yield amid poor rates on T-bills and sizable market liquidity contributed to the market rally.

Market closed positively with 29 gainers and nine losers.

Sunu Assurances dominated the gainers’ trend in percentage terms, increasing by 10 per cent, to close at 22k, per share.

Red Star Express followed with a gain 9.97 per cent to close at N3.75, while Mobil rose by 9.95 per cent to close at N194.50, per share.

BUA Cement garnered 9.88 per cent to close at N35.60, while Cutix appreciated by 9.40 per cent to close at N1.63, per share.

Conversely, Arbico Plc led the losers’ chart in percentage terms, dropping by 9.91 per cent, to close at N2.09, per share.

Oando dipped 5.76 per cent to close at N2,62, while Flour Mills lost 4.76 per cent to close at N20, per share.

NPF Micro Finance Bank declined by 3.55 per cent to close at N1.90, while Union Diagnostic and Jaiz Bank shed 3.33 per cent each, to close at 29k and 58k, per share respectively.

However, the total volume traded declined by 19.70 per cent with an exchange of 350.77 million shares, worth N3.71 billion traded in 5,239 deals.

This was against a total of 436.84 million shares valued at N5.41 billion achieved in 5,195 deals on Wednesday.

Transactions in the shares of Zenith Bank topped the activity chart with 57.42 million shares valued at N961.39 million.

Ekocorp followed with 57.003 million shares worth N342.02 million, while FBN Holdings sold 44.36 million shares valued at N230.97 million.

Guaranty Trust Bank accounted for 32 million shares worth N764.79 million, while Lafarge Africa transacted 28.38 million shares valued at N312.42 million.

Edited By: Kamal Tayo Oropo/Salif Atojoko (NAN)

Foreign

New Zealand confirms no new case of COVID-19 for 14 consecutive days

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New Zealand reported no new case of COVID-19 for 14 consecutive days, with the combined total of confirmed and probable cases staying at 1,504, according to the Ministry of Health on Friday.

The total number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 reported to the World Health Organization remains at 1,154, said a ministry statement.

The number of COVID-19 related deaths in New Zealand remained at 22, with no additional deaths, according to the health ministry. There is no one in New Zealand receiving hospital-level care for COVID-19, it said.

The number of recovered cases is unchanged at 1,481. Only one case remains active, it added.

Laboratories nationwide completed 2,813 tests, bringing the total number of tests completed to date to 288,987, statistics showed.

The NZ COVID Tracer app has now recorded 501,000 registrations. That’s an increase of 6,000 on Thursday.

The decision to move down to Alert Level 1 will be made on June 8 and the country could move down to that alert level by June 10.

Restrictions on businesses will be removed under COVID-19 Alert Level 1, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said earlier this week as New Zealanders are seeing their lives returning to normal.

Strict border controls will still remain, Ardern said, adding restrictions on hospitality businesses, gatherings and community sport will be lifted.

Ardern stressed coughing etiquette, adding risks remain as New Zealand heads into winter with more asymptomatic transmission.

(XINHUA)

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Defence/Security

Insecurity: Air chief visits Zamfara, seeks support on intelligence gathering

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Chief of Air Staff (CAS), Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar on Thursday visited Zamfara and sought for more support on intelligence gathering from people of the state.

He said the support would help in addressing security challenges in the state.

News Agency of Nigeria reports that Abubakar had earlier visited Gusau Government House where he met with Gov. Bello Matawalle behind closed door.

Speaking to newsmen after the meeting, the CAS said he was in the state on operational visit.

“I came to Zamfara on operational visit, l am here to check the air facilities on ground, to see our additional needs.

“We are here to make sure that those facilities are adequately working.

“I have seen all the facilities, they are all ok, they are doing well in air operation”, Abubakar said.

He said the Nigerian Air Force would continue to work very closely with other security agencies for the success of all security operations.

“We will continue to conduct air intervention missions.

“We need support from the general public, we need human intelligence, we need useful security information from people of the state.

“This is very important area where Zamfara government and communities should be willing to contribute.

“Though we are getting credible information, but not adequate; we are recording successes, but we are seeking for more support especially on intelligence gathering.

“We have so far, deployed 250 soldiers in the state and some aircraft.

“We will continue to do our best in terms of giving all the support that is required to deal with the issue of banditry in Zamfara and North west states”, he explained.


Edited By: Chioma Ugboma/Maharazu Ahmed (NAN)

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Politics

Insecurity: House of Reps invites NSA, security chiefs, IGP, DSS

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The House of Representatives have invited the National Security Adviser, all the security Chiefs, Director, Department of State Security and Inspector General of Police to brief the House on the state of insecurity in the country.

This was sequel to a motion by Rep. Sada Soli (APC-Katsina) which was unanimously adopted at plenary on Thursday.

Moving the motion earlier, Soli said that there was need for the security experts to brief the house on effort being made to ensure safety of lives and properties of citizens.

He said that there was need to know the way forward to bring an end to the killings, kidnapping and armed banditry at the next seating.

Soli said that that in recent time, the security situation in some parts of the country has degenerated.

The Rep said that cases of kidnapping, killings and armed banditry have become a daily occurrence across the country, especially in Niger, Sokoto, Zamfara Kaduna and Katsina.

He said that the Presidential directives had  not helped to drastically reduce cases of kidnaping, killings and banditry in the country.

According to him, “this is due to lack of sustained tempo in the intervention, these criminals have continued to regroup in different camps in the government reserve forests and surrounding villages across the country.

“The magnitude of the attacks on various communities have reached an alarming rate as these criminals have continued to perpetuate their criminal acts unabated.

“If this criminality is not urgently addressed, there will be an imminent present danger to our food security in the country.

“Any deferment by the security agencies to abridge the continuous horror and inhumanity will result to an enormous loss of lives, destruction of properties and immobilise the Socio-Economic and Educational activities of various communities,” he said.

Soli said that the country is battling to contain the dangerous community infection rate of COVID-19.

He added that with the persistent attacks by criminals on farming communities across the country, especially in the North-West and North Central, may result to serious food shortage.

According to him, about 500 Primary Schools and  2000 communities were completely destroyed across the country as a result of these incessant kidnappings, killings and armed banditry attacks.

He said that the criminals are armed to the teeth with weapons supplied by ‘ gun runners living in cosmopolitan cities across the country.

Rep. Gudaji Kazaure (APC-Jigawa) said that banditry had caused more havoc in the country than COVID-19

According to him, if government could give such attention to COVID-19, why have we not seen the same attention directed to banditry.

The lawmaker said the bandits come out in their hundreds and operate for hours without any intervention from security personnel.

He said if this is allowed to continue, there would be food shortages and people might resort to self help which would lead to a total breakdowns flaw and order.

Kazaure said that it was embarrassing for a sitting governor to be negotiating with bandits because security agencies had failed in their duties.

He said that the primary function of government is the protection of lives and properties and government must raise up to its responsibilities.

Rep. Victor Mela (APC-Gombe) threatened to resign from the House of Representatives if nothing would be done to address the security situation within the next two months.

Speaker of the house, Rep. Femi Gbajabiamila, said that Rep. Victor Mela was very important and the house would not want to loose him.

He said that the leadership of the House would continue to engage all security agencies on a monthly basis on the progress being made until normalcy is restored.

EOO/

Edited By: Bola Akingbehin/Sadiya Hamza (NAN)

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Foreign

Interview: China’s global stewardship key to revitalizing biodiversity conservation: UNEP

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The international community can leverage on China‘s ecological stewardship to revitalize conservation of biodiversity amid threats linked to a warming planet and human activities, head of UN Environment Programme (UNEP) said on Thursday, ahead of World Environment Day to be marked on June 5.

Inger Andersen, executive director of the UNEP, said that China‘s track record in nature conservation that has been accompanied by rapid economic growth should serve as an inspiration to community of nations in their quest to protect biodiversity hotspots from harm.

China has done a lot of very important work domestically on environment, including turning around what was 15 to 20 years ago, largely decreasing population of pandas,” Andersen said during an online interview with Xinhua.

“What we would like to see now is China really showing the way in global leadership to help other countries come to a strong and viable new agreement on protecting nature,” She added.

She said the 2020 World Environment Day whose theme is biodiversity will serve as a clarion call for governments, corporations and multilateral institutions to rally behind efforts to protect ecosystems that underpin human survival.

Andersen said that the health of biodiversity globally has been declining in recent years, adding that a robust multilateral system with China at the driver’s seat, is key to reversing the worrying trend.

“The state of biodiversity is not where we would like to have it. So we can do more as a global community and look forward to the next Conference of Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) to be held in Kunming, China, and hope the world will agree on stronger commitments to protect species,” said Andersen.

She said that China hosting the global biodiversity summit will be a reaffirmation of Beijing’s commitment to providing leadership that is required to restore ecosystems and advance green development.

“We are very pleased that China has volunteered to be the host of the 15th Conference of Parties (COP 15) to the Convention on Biological Diversity. We look forward to China’s leadership in COP 15, and to the realization of ambitious targets to protect habitats,” said Andersen.

She said that China‘s ability to strike a balance between economic development and ecosystems protection should be emulated to help heal a planet grappling with climate change, pollution and biodiversity loss.

Andersen highlighted China‘s program of restoring degraded ecosystems, adding that the ecological civilization model espoused by Beijing could serve as a template for guiding the global biodiversity conservation agenda.

“Ecological civilization plays a significant part in Chinese direction,” said Andersen.

“And we look forward to that strategic direction forming a part of the global direction, where we need an ecological balance with our planet,” she added.

Andersen said the international community looks forward to tangible commitments that could inject vitality in the global biodiversity conservation agenda during the meeting in Kunming, capital city of southwest China’s Yunnan Province.

(XINHUA)

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Foreign

UN needs 103 mln USD to support Mozambique in pandemic, violence response

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The United Nations on Thursday made two appeals valued at more than 103 million U.S. dollars from the international community to support Mozambique to tackle with the COVID-19, natural disasters and the increasing violence in Cabo Delgado Province.

Launching the appeals with the National Institute for Disaster Management (INGC) in Maputo, UN’s Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for Mozambique, Myrta Kaulard called on the international partners to scale up its support for Mozambican government to protect the most vulnerable people amid the multiple challenges that the country was currently dealing with.

The first 68-million-USD COVID-19 Flash Appeal focusses on the most immediate and critical needs of millions of people already facing severe humanitarian conditions in the next nine months, said the UN official.

“The appeal will complement government’s efforts to alleviate the suffering of those who are experiencing additional hardship due to COVID-19, especially those still recovering from Cyclones Idai and Kenneth”, said Luisa Meque, Director-General of INGC at the ceremony.

The other appeal, the Rapid Response Plan for Cabo Delgado, seeks 35.5 million U.S. dollars and will prioritize the urgent needs of those who have been affected by the increasing violence in that province.

“The wave of armed attacks in the region since October 2017 have escalated significantly since January 2020, leaving tens of thousands of people without adequate access to food, water, sanitation or any basic services,” Kaulard said.

The resources of host communities are depleting and those who are trapped in areas with insecurity have no means to sustain themselves.

“Populations are completely exhausted and in desperate need for humanity and solidarity”, she said.

(XINHUA)

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Defence/Security

Lawmaker lauds FG, Sokoto State over response to Sabon Birni banditry attack 

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Alhaji Aminu Boza, a lawmaker representing Sabon Birni North at the Sokoto State House of Assembly has lauded the Federal Government for its quick response to banditry attack in his constituency.
Boza said this in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria in Sokoto on Thursday.
He
also commended the state government’s response to the attack, describing it as encouraging.
Today as I speak with you, we have noticed a lot of commitment by security agencies in addressing the security challenges bedeviling the eastern zone of Sokoto.
“We
experienced heinous activities by bandits that crippled our social and economic lives and has led to the loss of hundreds of lives and property worth billions of naira.
“However, the bloodiest attack happened on May 27, where more than 70 people were killed during bandits’ attacks across the eight Local Government Areas (LGAs) of the zone.
Presently, I am at  ease seeing the security formation in the area as directed by President Muhammadu Buhari,” he said.
The lawmaker appreciated Gov. Aminu Tambuwal for his dedication toward uplifting the living condition of the people in the affected areas.
He urge people to sustain  prayers toward addressing the ugly situation and continue to remain vigilant and report suspicious movements to relevant security agencies.


Edited By: Chioma Ugboma/Ali Baba-Inuwa (NAN)

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Foreign

More than 27 mln people face acute food insecurity in East Africa in 2019: report

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An estimated 27.6 million people were already food insecure in the Eastern Africa region in 2019 before the outbreak of COVID-19, a regional bloc said in a joint report released in Nairobi on Thursday.

The 27.6 million people were classified in Crisis or worse levels of acute food insecurity in 2019 in the bloc, which represents 20 percent of the total population facing food insecurity that required urgent action across the world, according to the 2020 Global Report on Food Crises by the regional bloc, Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD).

“Our region faces multiple threats to food security. We are living challenging times with extreme climate events and the worst desert locust invasion in decades. Currently, we are grappling with the severe challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic and widespread flooding of arable lands,” said Workneh Gebeyehu, IGAD executive secretary.

Without taking into account the effects of COVID-19, the report said, projections indicated that around 25 million people would face acute food insecurity in the region requiring urgent action in 2020, largely as a result of weather extremes, conflict/insecurity and economic shocks.

However, the report said the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic is likely to push the numbers of acutely food-insecure people well beyond these early 2020 forecasts.

“Our attention must now turn to what can be done to reduce the number of food-insecure people in the region,” said David Phiri, the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization subregional coordinator for Eastern Africa.

Phiri warned that the disruptive impact of COVID-19, the desert locust, recurrent flooding, and conflict/insecurity will continue to hamper the availability of food and people’s access to it across the subregion.

(XINHUA)

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Foreign

Roundup: Former United States defense secretary says Trump deliberately sows division among Americans

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Former United States Defense Secretary Jim Mattis broke silence on Wednesday amid the ongoing turbulent unrest across the United States, saying that President Donald Trump “tries to divide” the American people.

Donald Trump is the first president in my lifetime who does not try to unite the American people — does not even pretend to try. Instead, he tries to divide us,” said the revered Marine general, who resigned as the Pentagon chief in December 2018 in protest against Trump’s Syria policy.

“We are witnessing the consequences of three years of this deliberate effort. We are witnessing the consequences of three years without mature leadership,” Mattis continued in an article carried by the Atlantic magazine.

“We can unite without him, drawing on the strengths inherent in our civil society. This will not be easy, as the past few days have shown, but we owe it to our fellow citizens; to past generations that bled to defend our promise; and to our children,” he said.

Mattis’s excoriation came as Trump threatened to send in active-duty military forces to quell the ongoing protests against police brutality and racial discrimination that have spread to over 300 U.S. cities and towns following the killing of George Floyd, an unarmed black man in Minneapolis, by white police.

“We should use our military only when requested to do so, on very rare occasions, by state governors. Militarizing our response, as we witnessed in Washington, D.C., sets up a conflict — a false conflict — between the military and civilian society,” Mattis said.

Noting that the protesters were “rightly demanding” equal justice under law, Mattis said he has “watched this week’s unfolding events, angry and appalled.”

“It is a wholesome and unifying demand — one that all of us should be able to get behind. We must not be distracted by a small number of lawbreakers,” he continued. “The protests are defined by tens of thousands of people of conscience who are insisting that we live up to our values — our values as people and our values as a nation.”

“We must reject and hold accountable those in office who would make a mockery of our Constitution,” said the former defense secretary.

Mattis also bluntly berated Trump’s posing for a photo op in front of a fire-damaged church near the White House. The president, flanked by senior administration officials including Defense Secretary Mark Esper and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley, visited on Monday the St. John’s Church minutes after police used non-lethal weapons to disperse peaceful protesters nearby.

When I joined the military, some 50 years ago, I swore an oath to support and defend the Constitution,” Mattis wrote. “Never did I dream that troops taking that same oath would be ordered under any circumstance to violate the Constitutional rights of their fellow citizens — much less to provide a bizarre photo op for the elected commander-in-chief, with military leadership standing alongside.”

Apparently outraged by Mattis’s remarks, Trump took to Twitter to fight back, saying he “had the honor of firing Jim Mattis, the world‘s most overrated General.”

“His primary strength was not military, but rather personal public relations,” Trump said. “I didn’t like his ‘leadership’ style or much else about him, and many others agree. Glad he is gone!”

On May 25, 46-year-old Floyd died after a white police officer knelt on his neck for almost nine minutes until he stopped breathing.

In a video posted online, the victim is heard saying “I can’t breathe,” while three other police officers stand close by.

Referring to the death of Floyd and the ensuing nationwide unrest, former President Barack Obama — himself an African American — said Wednesday that “as tragic as these past few weeks have been, as difficult and scary and uncertain as they’ve been, they’ve also been an incredible opportunity for people to be awakened to some of these underlying trends.”

(XINHUA)

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Foreign

Former United States defense secretary says Trump deliberately sows division among Americans

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Former United States Defense Secretary Jim Mattis broke silence on Wednesday amid the ongoing turbulent unrest across the United States, saying that President Donald Trump “tries to divide” the American people.

Donald Trump is the first president in my lifetime who does not try to unite the American people — does not even pretend to try. Instead, he tries to divide us,” said the revered Marine general, who resigned as the Pentagon chief in December 2018 in protest against Trump’s Syria policy.

“We are witnessing the consequences of three years of this deliberate effort. We are witnessing the consequences of three years without mature leadership,” Mattis continued in an article carried by the Atlantic magazine.

“We can unite without him, drawing on the strengths inherent in our civil society. This will not be easy, as the past few days have shown, but we owe it to our fellow citizens; to past generations that bled to defend our promise; and to our children,” he said.

Mattis’s excoriation came as Trump threatened to send in active-duty military forces to quell the ongoing protests against police brutality and racial discrimination that have spread to over 300 U.S. cities and towns following the killing of George Floyd, an unarmed black man in Minneapolis, by white police.

“We should use our military only when requested to do so, on very rare occasions, by state governors. Militarizing our response, as we witnessed in Washington, D.C., sets up a conflict — a false conflict — between the military and civilian society,” Mattis said.

(XINHUA)

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