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Foreign

Over 260 Mongolian nationals return home amid COVID-19 pandemic

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More than 260 Mongolian nationals onboard a chartered flight arrived at the Chinggis Khaan International Airport from Southeast early Sunday amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the country’s State Emergency Commission (SEC) said Sunday.

The passengers consisted of pregnant women, the elderly, children, disabled and sick people, and those with financial and other problems, the SEC said, adding that they flew to the South Korean capital Seoul from eight Southeast Asian countries before boarding the flight.

The repatriated people will be isolated at designated facilities for 21 days.

Since the COVID-19 outbreak, Mongolia has chartered flights and evacuated around 11,000 nationals from different parts of the world, according to the SEC.

As of Sunday morning, Mongolia has reported a total of 204 COVID-19 cases, all of which were imported.

No local transmissions or deaths have been reported in Mongolia so far.

(XINHUA)

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Defence/Security

Police recover 2 anti-aircraft guns, others in Borno

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The Police Command in Borno says it has recovered two anti-aircraft machine guns and eight AK 47 rifles along MaiduguriDamaturu road.

Mr Mohammed Aliyu, Commissioner of Police made this known while briefing newsmen on Tuesday in Maiduguri.

Aliyu said the command also recovered at the scene two magazines with 51 rounds, 270 rounds of machine gun ammunitions and four spare barrels.

Aliyu said the guns were recovered by the command’s Rapid Response Squad (RRS) stationed at Auto village from an accident vehicle on the busy road on Monday.

He said members of the squad had noticed a cut off in vehicular movement on the road and became curious.

“The squad suspected something was wrong and their suspicion was further heightened after a report of an ambush on a military team by insurgents.

“Our men move in on rescue and came across an overturned vehicle on fire and a corpse in civilian dress believed to be member of a Boko Haram.

According to Aliyu, the weapons are in the command’s custody.

Besides, the commissioner also paraded five suspects arrested for various offences, including alleged car theft and stealing of rams.

Edited By: Joe Idika/Felix Ajide (NAN)

 

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Foreign

DR Congo police fire tear gas to disperse protests over election chief

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Thousands of opposition activists marched across Democratic Republic of Congo’s capital Kinshasa on Monday in renewed protest against the nomination of the election commission’s new head.

Demonstrators braved rain and a ban on protests because of the COVID-19 outbreak to voice their opposition to the proposed appointment of Ronsard Malonda as president of the Independent National Electoral Commission (CENI).

Critics in Congo say Malonda is too close to former President Joseph Kabila, who still wields strong influence, and say his oversight of a contested 2018 election was problematic.

Police used tear gas to disperse crowds near parliament and in the east of the capital, where Jean-Pierre Bemba, a senior figure in the opposition party alliance of LAMUKA, led a march of thousands, a Reuters witness said.

At least three people died in nationwide protests over Malonda’s appointment last week.

Malonda was a senior member of CENI during the 2018 election which was marred by accusations the commission tampered with results to deny victory to LAMUKA’s candidate Martin Fayulu.

“We do not want Ronsard Malonda at the head of the CENI, he is the driving force behind electoral cheating,” said a LAMUKA supporter named Edmond, who declined to give his full name.

Last week LAMUKA in a statement called Malonda an “agent” of Kabila’s FCC political alliance, and demanded a financial and operational audit of CENI.

The last month has seen rising tensions in the ruling coalition between supporters of President Felix Tshisekedi and those of his predecessor Joseph Kabila, who maintains extensive power through his parliamentary majority.

IAA

Edited By: Isaac Aregbesola (NAN)

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Defence/Security

Buratai lauds Zamfara Ruga project, urges other governors to take cue

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The Chief of Army Staff, Lt.-Gen. Tukur Buratai, has lauded Gov. Bello Matawalle of Zamfara for undertaking the Ruga Settlement project in Maradun to address farmer-herders clashes in the state.

Buratai gave the commendation in an interview with newsmen when he was led on tour to the project site by the Governor on Tuesday.

He also called on other governors to embark on similar projects in their states in order to address such security challenges occasioned by farmer-herder clashes.

“I am quite impressed with work being done so far and the concept itself is unique in that this is the first of its type that has been quite comprehensive.

“You have the farmers, you have the facilities and you have seen the road network, the hospital, school and veterinary as well as the orchard.

“It is one of its kind and if this is replicated in the 36 states of the federation, it will bring the conflict that have been on between farmers and herders to an end.

“The other governors should take it as a challenge because security is quite fundamental.”

Buratai also commended the governor’s effort at ensuring that the state is secured and the need to ensure that people live in peace and harmony among themselves.

According to him, the project is a multipurpose settlement both in agriculture and industrial development, adding that it would spur industries like the leather, food and diary production.

He added that the settlement would attract foreign investors into state and the country.

On his part, Matawalle said he was impressed with progress of work at the settlement project and urged the contractor to put in more effort in order to complete the project in accordance with specification and time.

He said that the intention behind the project was to see how to bring an end to the issue of security and bring farmers and herders together as brothers.

According to him, the settlement is not just for Fulani alone but also for the farmers because we want to unite all of them and so we want to bring them here as soon as possible.

“You are all aware that this one of its kind in the whole of Nigeria and we are not just doing this project in Maradun alone, we are doing same in the three senatorial zone of the state.

“We have three Ruga, one in Maradun, one in Gidan Jaja and one in Sardau area in Maru Local Government Area.

“I am calling on the contractor to hasten the work so that he can mobilise to another place but I assure the people of Zamfara state that we are doing these projects not just for one entity but for all of us.

“A lot of investment opportunities will come up in this Ruga and we have started getting some people and companies who are interested in investing here,” he said.

The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the governor and Buratai proceeded to the palace of the Emir of Maradun, Alhaji Garba Tambari.

The emir, who spoke in hausa, commended the governor for the development of the emirate and the Ruga settlement project as well as his determination to end insecurity in the state.

He also commended Buratai and the Nigerian Army in their effort to bring about the needed peace in the state.

Edited By: Ismail Abdulaziz (NAN)

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Judiciary

Court remands man in State CID’s custody over alleged rape

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An Ile-Ife Magistrates’ Court in Osun on Tuesday remanded one Adeleke Abraham, 19, in the State Criminal Investigation Department’s (CID) custody over alleged rape.

Ayeni ordered the remand of the defendant pending the consideration of his bail and adjourned the case until Aug.11, for mention.

Earlier, the Prosecutor, ASP Joseph Adebayo, had told the court that the defendant was facing a two-count charge of rape and indecent assault.

Adebayo said that the defendant committed the offences on June 29, around 9:30 a.m., at No. 2, Stadium Road, Ile-Ife.

The prosecutor said that the defendant unlawfully had carnal knowledge of a 14-year-old girl (names withheld).

He added that the defendant unlawfully and indecently assaulted a 14-year-old girl (names withheld).

According to him, the offences are contrary to and punishable under Sections 31(1)(2) of the Child Rights Law of Osun State, 2007 and 360 of the Criminal Code, Laws of Osun, 2002.

The defendant, however, pleaded not guilty to the charges of rape and indecent assault.

The Defence Counsel, Mr Babawale Omodogbe, applied for bail for the defendant in the most liberal terms and promised that his client would not jump bail, but would produce reliable sureties.

Magistrate A.A. Ayeni directed the prosecutor to duplicate the case file for submission at the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPPs)in the Ministry of Justice for legal advice.

Edited By: Chidinma Agu/Peter Dada (NAN)

 

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Economy

LCCI seeks OPS inclusion in ESP Committee for economic recovery

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The Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) has called for inclusion and engagement of the Organised Private Sector (OPS) in the Economic Sustainability Plan (ESP) Committee for economic recovery during and after COVID-19 pandemic.

Mrs Toki Mabogunje, LCCI President, made the call at the Chamber’s third edition on the state of the Nigerian Economy Conference on Tuesday in Lagos.

Mabogunje said that inclusion of OPSN in the committee would ensure the economic sustainability plan achieved its desired outcomes, which would ultimately translate to improved living standards for the Nigerian citizenry.

“We commend and recognise that the ESP, as submitted by the committee, seeking to foster new ways of working, producing, learning, and managing public health and safety in the years to come.

“This include building resilience across critical sectors, including aviation, education, healthcare, internal security, mining, water, and sanitation.

“However, we are concerned in the composition of the committee saddled with the ESP largely excluded the organised private sector and they were not actively represented in drawing this plan.

“While we see this as a significant omission on the part of the government, we would, however, advise that the OPS be actively involved in ensuring the implementation, as well as in monitoring the progress of the recommended activities going forward.

“As a concerned stakeholder in the Nigerian economy, we call on the Federal and State Governments to engage with the organised private sector, where and when necessary, to achieve its desired outcomes on the Economic Sustainability Plan,” she said.

Mabogunje noted that the business community continued to reel from the unprecedented crisis precipitated by the pandemic and associated containment measures.

She urged government to swiftly rescue sectors whose business models and earnings projections have substantially been disrupted by the pandemic.

“We note that activities are yet to resume in certain sectors such as tourism, hospitality, entertainment and education.

“Many businesses are presently in dire financial straits as they battle with escalating costs, high receivables, loss of credit lines and other contractual obligations amid revenue shocks.

“The impact is more pronounced on micro and small enterprises, with inadequate financial buffers to withstand shocks of this magnitude.

“While we acknowledge the efforts by the Federal and State Governments, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and private corporations toward assuaging the impact on the business community;

“We urge governments to swiftly come to the rescue of some sectors whose business models and earnings projections have substantially been disrupted by the pandemic,” she said.

The LCCI president also expressed deep concerns over the country’s rising debts portfolio.

She called for caution on the continued use of debt to meet fiscal obligations and advised the exploration of the option of equity financing to bridge the fiscal deficit gap.

“According to official statistics from the Debt Management Office, public debt stock increased by 4.5 per cent to N28.63 trillion as of March 31, 2020, from N27.40 trillion as of Dec. 31, 2019.

“We note the Federal Government’s resolve to raise funds locally and externally to bridge the deficit in the fiscal budget.

“Government have secured 3.4 billion dollars and 288.5 million dollars credit facilities from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and African Development Bank (AfDB)respectively.

“Discussions are ongoing for another 1.5 billion dollars facility from the World Bank.

“This could possibly push the country’s debts stock to around N33 trillion by year-end, equivalent to 22 per cent of GDP,” she said.

On the deregulation of the downstream oil sector, Mabogunje welcomed the removal of subsidy on Premium Motor Spirit.

She, however, said that price fixing by the Petroleum Product Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA) was not consistent with the philosophy of a market driven downstream sector as it was a contradiction in terms.

“Also, we are deeply concerned that despite various reviews of the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) in the last decade, the bill is yet to be signed into law.

“The non-passage of the bill has deprived the oil sector and the broader economy of enormous private investment inflows into the sector, among other benefits.

“The Lagos Chamber calls for an expeditious consideration and passage of the revised bill by the National Assembly,” Mabogunje said.

On electricity, she acknowledged the postponement of the planned hike in electricity tariff by the power distribution companies to the first quarter of 2021.

Mabogunje said that metering should be accorded high priority to engender the confidence of consumers in the billing process.

She expressed grave concerns over the astronomical increase in the number of positive COVID-19 cases in the nations.

The LCCI president expressed fear that continued disregard for safety protocols might accelerate the spike in the spread of the pandemic.

This, she noted, might prompted corresponding containment measures which would adversely affect the business environment and economy at large.

“We, therefore, urge strict compliance to ensure that economic activities are not impacted negatively due to negligence and non-compliance,” Mabogunje said.

Edited By: Edith Bolokor/Olagoke Olatoye (NAN)

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Health

Deputy Governor, Health Commissioner appeal to striking Lagos doctors 

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The Lagos Deputy Governor, Dr Obafemi Hamzat, on Tuesday appealed to doctors under the aegis of the Medical Guild in Lagos to call off their warning strike so as to protect the people they sworn to protect.

Hamzat made the appeal while speaking with newsmen in Lagos.

The News Agency of Nigeria reports that Medical Guild is the Association of Medical Doctors under the employment of the Lagos State Government.

The Guild had on Monday began a three-day warning strike over issues  affecting  their safety and welfare.

The deputy governor said it was not right for the doctors to go on strike,  especially at a time when the Coronavirus pandemic was ravaging the whole world.

“This is not the right time when there is a global issue. It is inhumane, wrong and we must call a spade a spade.

“Are we going to mortgage the lives of our people? Please go back to work so that you can serve and protect the people you have sworn to protect,” he said.

Dr Adebayo Aderiye, Chairman, Lagos State Health Commission, also expressed displeasure about the strike, saying that the present administration had made the health sector a top priority right from inception.

Aderiye appealed to the striking doctors to sheath their sword and go back to work.

Edited By: Edith Bolokor/Wale Ojetimi (NAN)

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Health

Coronavirus: NGO distributes palliatives to over 3,000 people in Osogbo

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An NGO, Osogbo Affairs Forum (OSAF), has distributed food items to over 3,000 vulnerable people across seven major communities in Osogbo, to ease the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Mr Rasheed Bolarinwa, Chairman, OSAF COVID-19 relief committee made the disclosure in a statement on Tuesday in Lagos.

The News Agency of Nigeria reports that OSAF is an NGO comprising Osogbo-born professionals in Nigeria and in the diaspora.

Bolarinwa in the statement, listed the benefitting communities as Ita-Olokan, Owo Ope, Ayegun-Gbonmi, Oke Baale, Isale Agbe, Isale Osun and Oke Popo.

“As concerned professionals, we felt the need to collectively reach out to the vulnerable and impact our immediate communities, where many have suffered untold hardship due to the earlier  lockdown to contain COVID-19,” he said.

He said that the group adopted a community-based and direct distribution system using the  existing zoning of the town into seven different communities for distribution of the food items.

“This allowed for the bulk food items made up of bags of rice, beans and semovita to first be distributed to the community heads.

”The heads will in turn package and deliver the food packs to the vulnerable in their communities under the supervision of the OSAF COVID-19 relief committee,” he said.

The statement also quoted Dr Mujidat Salawu, member of OSAF COVID-19 relief committee, as saying that the distribution approach was to enable the package get to the targeted members of the communities.

Salawu said that the heads of the zones were in the best position to identify the vulnerable among them.

It further said that leaders of  some of the benefitting communities in Osogbo, commended the organisation for the palliative

Chief Aliu Sonibare, head of  Ayegun-Gbonmi community,  said the gesture would go a long way to ease the economic burden of the people in this trying time.

Similarly, Chief Gabriel Oparanti, leader of Isale-Agbe community, expressed delight over the gesture saying,

“We are happy that successful sons and daughters of the land spread across the globe are giving back to their ancestral home at this time of need.

“We pray that God Almighty will continue to replenish the purse of everyone who contributed to make this possible,” Oparanti said.

Edited By: Chinyere Bassey and Isaac Ukpoju (NAN)

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Judiciary

3 men docked over alleged theft of N1.9m laptops

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Three men, Kareem Lateef, 32, Chinedu Agba, 32 and Henry Obiora, 43 were, on Tuesday, arraigned at an Igbosere Magistrates’ Court for allegedly stealing laptops worth N1.9 million.

Lateef, an employee of an LG Electronics Company, and two others were arraigned on a three-count charge of conspiracy, stealing and receiving stolen goods.

The Prosecutor, Sgt. Chinedu Njoku, told the court that the defendants committed the offences sometime between March and May this year, at No. 34, Awolowo Road, Ikoyi, Lagos.

He said that the first defendant, Lateef, stole his employer’s four LG laptops and a Hisense GSM, all valued at N1.9 million.

According to Njoku, the stolen laptops are with serial numbers – LG PC 132940501 NZQR043308; LG PC 14U530601 NQORM2309; LG PC 15U530307 NZNNO10657 and LG PC Z360 Ultra-Book 307 NZ5J004310.

The prosecutor stated that Lateef sold the stolen laptops to the other defendants, Agba and Obiora, who received the items with the knowledge that they were stolen.

He said that the stolen goods belonged to the complainant, LG electronics showroom, Ikoyi, Lagos.

Njoku said that the offences contravened sections 287, 326 and 411 of the Criminal Law of Lagos State, 2015.

The trio, however, pleaded not guilty to the charge.

The Magistrate, Ms Kikelomo Ayeye, granted the defendants N500,000 bail each, with two sureties each in like sum.

She ordered that the sureties must show evidence of tax payments to the Lagos State Government and adjourned the case until Aug. 4 for mention.

Edited By: Folorunso Poroye/Abdulfatah Babatunde (NAN)

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General news

Coronavirus taking preference over other medical conditions- Concerned Nigerians

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Some concerned Nigerians have raised alarm that the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic, the response to it and its treatment among medical personnel have taken preference over other medical conditions.

They expressed their concern in separate interviews in Abuja on Tuesday with the News Agency of Nigeria and urged the relevant stakeholders to intervene in ensuring that other diseases are giving the desired attention.

Madam Alice Adesua, a lady living with a medical condition, said that the government and other related agencies should always consider the implication on the neglect of other diseases.

“Government should have a rethink over this because most people that were affected with the virus and lost their lives are with one underlying ailment or the other.

“As a result of this, one can now consider the number of people that are being affected with HIV and AIDS, diabetics, hepatitis, tuberculosis and other ailments, which must not be neglected.

“You can imagine the number of people at the grassroots that are affected with other medical conditions without adequate attention and treatments for them’’ she said.

A patient at the Asokoro General Hospital, Abuja, said on condition of anonymity that the outbreak of COVID-19 had affected his tuberculosis treatment at the hospital because according to him, he is not getting adequate attention.

He said that it was unfortunate that attention of the medical personnel had been diverted from the fight against tuberculosis and other ailments to COVID-19.

Also, Mr Kadiri Omitowoju, a resident of Abuja, said that the government ought to create an environment where other ailments could be given adequate response.

Omitowoju emphasized that the government need to invest in the management of the over-all wellness of citizens.

He noted that in view of the pandemic, government at all levels should henceforth give adequate priority to the health sector in terms of competent health workers that would ensure supervision of the sector.

Mrs Abike Ojuawo, another resident of Abuja, noted that she was diabetic and since the outbreak of COVID-19, her hospital had not been doing enough to give her adequate attention, as most focus had been on COVID-19.

She advised that hospital managements must be alert and open to new ways of delivering and receiving healthcare because.

Mrs Maureen Ogbona, a young mother, noted that the government should not allow the situation to get worsen as the pandemic had taken toll and interruptions in routine immunisation services in many hospitals.

She said government must act fast and do all things possible within its powers to prevent children from becoming victims of this development due to inability to access vaccine-preventable diseases such as measles, cough and diphtheria, among others.

Ogbona said there had been interruptions in routine immunisation services at almost all the government hospitals for the fear of contacting COVID-19.

She said that catch-up measures must be taken as quickly as possible and found new and innovative ways of reaching nursing mothers to ensure that most children would not miss their immunization.

Ogbona, however, advised mothers to always make adequate efforts in ensuring that they catch up as quickly as possible for every single dosage that they missed and to protect their babies from diseases that are preventable.

Most of them therefore called on government to strengthen all the health sector as it has strengthened the COVID-19 response with the volunteer programme that has brought additional hands on deck.

NAN reports that Nigeria detected COVID-19 in February, becoming the first to do so in sub-Saharan Africa.

The spread of novel Corona Virus Disease (COVID-19)in Nigeria continues to record significant increase as the latest statistics provided by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) reveal that Nigeria has 33,153 confirmed cases.

Out of this, 13,671 cases have been discharged and 744 deaths have been recorded in 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory.

A total of 183,294 tests have been carried out as of July 13.

Edited By: Hawa Lawal/Kayode Olaitan (NAN)

 

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