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Judiciary

Plea bargain: Late Badeh loses coy, property to FG

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Property

Abuja, March 4, 2019(NNN)The late Chief of Defence Staff, Alex Badeh has lost his company, Iyalikam Nigeria Limited and other properties to the Federal Government through a plea bargain agreement entered with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, (EFCC).

This followed a judgment delivered by Justice Okon Abang at the Federal High Court, Abuja on Monday in a further amended charge brought by the EFCC where Badeh’s company was made the defendant following his demise.

At the resumed trial, the prosecuting counsel, Mr Oluwaleke Atolagbe said that the business of the day was for the second defendant to open defence since the first defendant(Badeh) was now deceased.

Atolagbe, however, informed the court that in view of an agreement reached between the prosecution and the defence, a further amended charge of 10 counts had been filed as well as a plea bargain agreement.

“My Lord, there is a development, the prosecution met with the defence and we have been able to reach an agreement.

“We filed a further amended charge dated March 1 and filed March 4 and we also filed a plea bargain agreement with regards to provisions of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, (ACJA).”

Atolagbe asked that the new charge be read in open court and in view of the plea bargain agreement, a guilty plea be entered for the defendant, (Iyalikam Nigeria Limited) by the court.

Following the reading of the ten count amended charge and the plea of guilty entered for the defendant by the court, the lawyer prayed the court to enter judgment based on the plea bargain agreement.

“For the avoidance of doubt, we ask that the court should order, as part of the sentence, the final forfeiture of all the properties affected in counts one to ten in the further amended charge as reflected in the plea bargain agreement.

“We further pray that the defendant be convicted and wound up based on the plea bargain agreement and Section 19 of the Money Laundering Act.”

Delivering judgement, the judge said that in view of the plea bargain agreement , the defendant was guilty as charged.

“I have before me a plea bargain agreement duly executed by Iyalikam Nigeria Limited and the EFCC.

“I hereby find the defendant guilty and accordingly convict the defendant of the 10-counts further amended charge.

“Having regards to the plea bargain agreement duly executed by the parties, Iyalikam Nigeria Limited is hereby wound up and the judgment shall be served on the Corporate Affairs Commission for execution,” the judge said.

Justice Abang also ordered forfeiture of a mansion situated at No.6 Ogun River Str., off Danube Str., Maitama Abuja, shopping mall situated at Plot 1386, Oda Crescent, Cadastral Zone, Wuse II Abuja and duplex located at No.19, Kumasi Crescent, Wuse II Abuja.

Others are a duplex at No. 14 Adzope Crescent, off Kumasi Cresent ,Wuse II, Abuja, Semi-detached duplex at No. 8A Embu Str. by Sigma Apartments Wuse II, Abuja and $1 million recovered from No.6 Ogun River Str., off Danube Str., Maitama, Abuja.”

The judge further ordered that in view of the fact that the first defendant, (Badeh) was reported dead, all processes against him were hereby terminated.

The News Agency of Nigeria, (NNN) reports that until his death, Badeh was standing trial on charges of alleged abuse of office, money laundering and converting public money to personal use to the tune N3.9bn.(NNN)

He was arraigned along with his company on a 14-count charge bordering on fraud, to which he entered a “not guilty” plea to all counts.

The diverted money was said to have been meant for arms purchase in the face of worsening destructions by Boko Haram terrorists.(NNN)
WS/SH

edited by Sadiya Hamza

Health

Monitor your children to curb drugs addiction, NGO pleads

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An NGO, Adicare Rehabilitation Home, has advised parents and guardians to monitor their children and wards to prevent avoid being influenced to drug abuse and addiction by negative peers.

The NGO’s Chief Executive Officer, Mrs Veronica Ezeh, told the News Agency of Nigeria on Wednesday in Lagos that parents, guardians and alike must take up the responsibility of mentoring their children and youths in the right way.

Ezeh said to check the acts of suicide, arson, violent crimes and violence against women in form of rape, there should be concerted efforts to stop youths from using hard drugs or becoming drug addict.

She is a Psychiatric Nurse at the Federal Neuro-Psychiatric Hospital, Yaba, Lagos.

Ezeh decried the high rate of drugs abuse among youths, urging parents and alike to join hands with the organisations in the campaign against illicit drug use.

She said the NGO on Feb. 26, concluded the first-phase of its sensitisation and education programme on the dangers of youth involvement in drug abuse.

Ezeh said the NGO was planning to kick-off the second-phase of the programme as soon as the pressure of COVID-19 calms down and the economy normalised.

She added that the sensitisation programme targeted youths, particularly the secondary school students within the age bracket of 13 to 19 years.

The psychiatrist said investigations revealed that most mental destitute on the streets were caused by abuse of drugs, which she said that youths were more vulnerable.

According to her, drug abuse is a habit done in secret, and the only way it can be identified in children is at the primary or secondary school levels.

Ezeh, therefore, advised parents and guardians to monitor the company, their children and wards.

She said that they should keep to know when they were getting involved in drugs, and thereby prevent them from going astray.

“I always say that parents should be able to monitor their children closely, because drug abuse is a secret habit which may be difficult to identify.

“But if a parent is close or friendly with his/her child, having established good relationship with the child, such parent will be able to know when the child is going astray or getting involved in illicit drugs.

“The moment a child starts school (either primary or secondary), try and keep a watch on him or her and monitor their daily activities.

“If they have phone, try to know their contacts and the kind of conversations they keep with their friends, and if possible, try to know their friends in person, including the families of their friends,” she cautioned.

According to her, majority of youths/students who get involved in drug abuse do not know the implications of what they are doing, rather, they take it because their friends or peers were taking.

Ezeh noted that parents were the firstline of people to educate the young ones on the dangers of drug abuse, mentor them and guide them right to grow and become responsible citizens, not drug addicts.

“It is on record that the use of hard drugs is the number one cause of mental illness, suicide, arson, violent crimes as well as violence against women worldwide.


Edited By: Olagoke Olatoye (NAN)

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Sport

Thuram, Plea dazzle in Gladbach rout of Union

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Marcus Thuram and Alassane Plea combined to score three goals as Borussia Moenchengladbach crushed Union Berlin 4-1 on Sunday to reclaim third place in the Bundesliga with five matches left.

The 22-year-old Thuram headed in at the far post from fellow Frenchman Plea’s cross in the 41st minute after Florian Neuhaus had put the hosts ahead in the 17th with a solo run.

Thuram went down on his knee in memory of George Floyd, an unarmed black man who died in Minnesota after a white police officer knelt on his neck, sparking widespread protests in the United States.

Sebastian Andersson briefly cut the deficit for the visitors five minutes after the restart.

But the hosts, playing fluid football in front of empty stands filled with cardboard cut-outs of fans, were far superior, constantly finding space to attack.

Thuram, the son of 1998 World Cup winner Lilian Thuram, grabbed his second goal on the hour, tapping in at the far post after Plea threaded another pass through the Union defence.

Plea turned scorer himself with a well-timed left-footed shot to join Thuram on 10 goals this season and put Gladbach back in the mix for a Champions League spot with their first win in three games.

The Bundesliga became the first major sports league to restart two weeks ago after a break of more than two months due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Foals, who next travel to Freiburg, are third in the standings on 56 points, ahead of Bayer Leverkusen on goal difference.

RB Leipzig, fifth on 55, take on Cologne on Monday.

Bayern Munich lead the standings on 67 following their 5-0 demolition of Fortuna Duesseldorf on Saturday.

Edited By: Emmanuel Okara/Abdulfatah Babatunde (NAN)

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Metro

COVID-19: Stakeholders plead for aviation industry bailouts in face of existential threat

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Stakeholders in the aviation sector have called for government’s urgent support to prevent complete collapse of the industry, amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

They made the plea at the AELEX Aviation Webinar II, tagged “Flying into Turbulent Skies, Safely Navigating COVID-19 Headwinds – Survival Strategies for Nigerian Aviation’’ on Wednesday in Lagos.

Mr Chris Aligbe, an industry consultant and CEO of Belujane Konsult, urged government to assist the industry through bailout to bounce back.

Aligbe said that the interjectory for the industry to get up for business lies in government intervention.

He urged the government, through the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), to make soft funding facility available to airlines through its stimulants package at three to four per cent interest rates and spread over two years repayment moratorium.

According to him, government should make fund available for the airline so that business can pick up at the postCOVID-19 economy plans.

“Our airports need to be privatised or concessionaire to meet up the global standard.

“Infrastructural development of the industry is also key and government should fast track the growth of the industry through effective reengineering to attract investment,’’ he said.

Aminu Ismail, Executive Director, Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) said that between 2012 and 2020, the corporation had injected over N50 billion into the aviation industry to stabilise airline operations.

Ismail said that AMCON’s intervention led to the purchase of about $1 billion of non-performing loans (NPL’s) from Nigerian banks owed by major Nigerian airlines including Aero Contractor and Arik Air among others.

He said that the aviation sector accounted for around eight per cent of AMCON’s restructuring portfolio.

He added that the loan restructuring loan of airlines operators protected a critical sector of the economy.

“The corporations are very much in support of the survival of the aviation industry and its commitment jobs within the sector and across its supply chain.

“For the survival of the industry in short term, the government would typically have more direct control over these measures.

“This could be by scrapping Value Added Tax (VAT) in the aviation industry, waivers on landing, parking and navigational for an extended.

“Also government should look into suspension or reduction of air passengers’ duty to reduce the cost of travel and encourage passengers to buy tickets,’’ he said.

For Mr Bismarck Rewane, CEO, Financial Derivatives, said that there was need for investment in infrastructure and airport concession to reduce average cost and increase profitability.

Rewane said that due to the pandemic, exchange rate volatility would affect dollar dominated air travel services-spares, training and maintenance cost.

He said that in Africa, due to the effects of the pandemic, external imbalances and commodity fragility will persist.

According to him, in Africa, trade balances will slide into negative territory ($-15bn), while external debts burden will widen.

Capt. Dapo Olumide, CEO, Ropeways Transport Ltd., urged the government to ensure effective disinfecting of the airport and put all mechanism in place before reopening the domestic airports.

Olumide, however, raised question on how the management of Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) would ensure disinfecting the counter and sensitive areas of the airport at every 15 minutes to meet the best standard.

He agreed that airline operators needed bailout to bounce back into business.

He also suggested that taking away some of the multiple taxation by regulatory agencies and the provision of requisite infrastructure as well as the steady supply of fuel would assist them in the short term to stabilise, even faster that getting direct government funds.

“Plagued by a myriad of problems that tend to stifle efforts at efficient service delivery to passengers, investors in Nigeria’s domestic airline industry have called for an urgent government bailout to save the industry from imminent collapse.

“Government to, as a matter of urgency, come up with a strategy to bring all parties to the negotiating table to seek direct funding intervention, for the first time, for airlines to save the sector from collapse.

“Without the airlines, there is no aviation,’’ Olumide said.

Edited By: Edwin Nwachukwu/Abdulfatah Babatunde (NAN)

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Foreign

British city hit by virus makes plea to PM for lifeline

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Liverpool made a desperate plea Tuesday to British Prime Minister Boris Johnson for a financial lifeline to cope with COVID-19 epidemic.

In a direct letter to 10 Downing Street, Liverpool City Region Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram and the six city and borough political leaders warned that recovery from the local health, economic and social crisis caused by COVID-19 represents the greatest challenge for the area since 1945.

They said the area has been experiencing higher infection and mortality rates than average.

In a report detailing its plight, Liverpool City Region says fighting the novel coronavirus over the next six months will cost an estimated 341 million pounds (419 million U.S. dollars).

“With only 100 million pounds (123 million U.S. dollars) allocated so far from the central government, concern is growing that local authorities here are staring into a funding black-hole of almost a quarter of a billion pounds (3 billion U.S. dollars),” the report alerted.

Longstanding health inequalities in the Liverpool area mean residents are significantly prone to the physical and financial impacts of COVID-19, the report said.

“This is expenditure that we haven’t made by choice, but by necessity. We are putting food on the table for families who would otherwise go hungry, housing the homeless, co-ordinating a massive volunteer response, supporting those who are out of work due to the crisis, supplying PPE to our frontline workers and care homes, keeping transport running for essential journeys and doing everything we can to help local businesses stay afloat,” said Rotheram.

“For an area still fighting its way through funding cuts, whilst managing higher levels of deprivation and illness than other areas in the UK, it is a monumental task,” the mayor added.

Rotheram said the sums of money involved are a stark indication of the devastating impact of COVID-19 on communities in the Liverpool area.

“As the nation looks hopefully towards the recovery phase of this crisis, local leaders are warning that the Liverpool City Region will find it almost impossible to bounce back if its local authorities are devastated by funding deficits running into hundreds of millions and are not supported by government,” he said.

Local statistics show the COVID-19 infection and mortality rate across the city region is 353.1 per 100,000, significantly higher than the England rate of 259.0 per 100,000.

The mortality rate in Liverpool of 81.8 per 100,000 people is the highest amongst all of England’s core cities, and more than twice the national rate of 36.6 per 100,000. Birmingham is next highest at 77.5 per 100,000, followed by Manchester at 59.8.

While infections and deaths are reducing, it appears Liverpool is not coming down the other side of the epidemic curve as fast as other areas and regions, the report added.

(XINHUA)

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General news

Police extortion: Lawmaker pleads for calm over Badagry motorists’ protest

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A federal lawmaker, Rep. Babatunde Hunpe, on Saturday pleaded for calm as commercial motorists protested police extortion on the Lagos-Badagry highway.

Hunpe, representing Badagry Federal Constituency in the House of Representatives, made the appeal in a telephone interview with the News Agency of Nigeria in Badagry, near Lagos.

On May 22, commercial motorists protested what they described as “high rate of police extortion on the Lagos Badagry Expressway.

“I was not happy when I heard about the protest by motorists plying Lagos-Badagry Expressway on the extortion by the security agents.

“The extortion has been on for long and has become a recurring decimal.

“I have sent a high-powered delegation led by Rep. Setonji Balogun to the Area Commander of Area K Police Station, Morogbo over the protest.

“The area commander assured me that he had personally waded into the matter

“Thereafter, the area commander met with the motorists union, drivers and stakeholders and promised to reconvene another meeting after sallah holiday,” he said.

The lawmaker appealed to the protesting motorists to sheave their swords and wait for the outcome of the meeting with the security agents.

Hunpe also appealed to other security agencies, including the Nigeria Immigration Service, Customs, Federal Road Safety Corps, Vehicle Inspection Officers and the Lagos State Transport Management Authority, to consider the pain being passed to commuters.

Edited By: Gregory Mmaduakolam/Silas Nwoha (NAN)

 

 

 

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Entertainment

Actress Lori Loughlin, husband to plead guilty to U.S. college admission

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Full House” actress Lori Loughlin and her husband have agreed to plead guilty to U.S. charges they conspired to fraudulently secure their daughter’s admission to the University of Southern California, federal prosecutors said on Thursday.

Loughlin, 55, and her husband, fashion designer Mossimo Giannulli, 56, have agreed to serve two months and five months in prison, respectively, under plea agreements filed in federal court in Boston.

They are expected to plead guilty on Friday to conspiracy to commit wire and mail fraud. Loughlin and Giannulli also agreed to pay fines of $150,000 and $250,000, respectively.

U.S. Attorney Andrew Lelling in a statement said the plea deals ensure “these defendants will serve prison terms reflecting their respective roles in a conspiracy to corrupt the college admissions process.”

Their lawyers declined to comment.

Loughlin and Giannulli are among 53 people charged with participating in a scheme where wealthy parents conspired with a California college admissions consultant to use bribery and fraud to secure their children’s admission to top schools.

The consultant, William “Rick” Singer, pleaded guilty last year to facilitating cheating on college entrance exams and using bribery to secure the admission of parents’ children to schools as fake athletic recruits.

Prosecutors allege Loughlin and Giannulli agreed with Singer to pay $500,000 in bribes to have their two daughters named as fake University of Southern California rowing team recruits.

The couple had been scheduled to face trial in October alongside other parents. Their lawyers previously contended they believed their money was being used for university donations.

By Friday, 24 of the 36 parents charged will have pleaded guilty, including “Desperate Housewives” star Felicity Huffman, who received a 14-day prison sentence.

The longest sentence a parent has received was the nine-month term imposed on Douglas Hodge, the former chief executive of investment firm Pimco.

Edited By: Emmanuel Okara/Ephraims Sheyin (NAN)

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Foreign

AU chairperson pleads for developing countries to be assisted to fight COVID-19

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The African Union (AU) chairperson Cyril Ramaphosa on Monday called for the Africa continent to be assisted to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic while addressing the virtual 73rd session of the World Health Assembly (WHA).

“Africa is extremely vulnerable to the ravages of this virus and needs every possible support and assistance, including much-needed resources, to bolster its response and offset a potentially devastating social and economic fallout,” he said.

He said the AU has taken very deliberate steps to respond to the scourge.

“We have developed a comprehensive COVID-19 strategy, established an African Union COVID-19 Response Fund and embarked on a fundraising drive to strengthen the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention.,” said the South African President.

“The African Union has made a call for developing countries to be assisted in their efforts to combat the pandemic and to rebuild their economies,” Ramaphosa said, “this assistance needs to include debt relief, more Special Drawing Rights Allocations with the international financial institutions, and the provision of comprehensive and robust stimulus packages to vulnerable countries.

He called the international community to work together to fight against the pandemic.

“To turn back the frontiers of the pandemic, we also need to deepen international collaboration around research and development and investment in essential medical technologies, in COVID-19 diagnostics and therapeutics and in vaccines.”

Ramaphosa commended the WHO for guiding and support to African governments with early detection of the pandemic, training health workers and strengthening surveillance in communities.

He said the continent supports World Health Organization’s (WHO) call to develop and produce vaccines and therapeutics and ensure that they are distributed quickly and equitably across the globe.

“Let us also continue to work together to improve our emergency preparedness for potential future outbreaks of this nature and take forward the proposal made at the previous meeting of the WHA to develop a global disaster response plan. Let us continue to collaborate and to act in the best traditions of social solidarity,” he said.

The WHA annually meeting was meant to discuss major policy questions and the work program of the WHO.

(XINHUA)

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General news

Bribery: Gov. Matawalle extols EFCC, pleads for return of money

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Gov. Bello Matawalle of Zamfara has commended the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for exposing Chinese nationals who tried to block investigations against their alleged shoddy contract in the state.

The News Agency of Nigeria reports that officials of the anti-graft agency at its Sokoto zonal office are currently investigating a multi-billion naira contract by a Chinese company, which was awarded by the immediate past administration in the state.

Two of the Chinese nationals, representing the company allegedly approached the EFCC zonal officer with a bribe of N100 million.

Consequently, the officer asked the culprits to bring the money and on bringing half of it (N50 million), the Chinese men were arrested with the amount as exhibit.

Reacting to the development  Matawalle in a statement signed by his Special Adviser on Public Enlightenment, Media and Communications, Mr Zailani Bappa, in Gusau on Thursday, said the attempted bribery further confirmed his earlier accusation that the company only collected the contract sum without executing the project.

He was quoted as saying: “I want to specifically commend the leadership of Ibrahim Magu and his able Zonal Head in Sokoto, Alhaji Lawal Abdullahi, for moving this case to a significant stage by this arrest and further proving to the world our cries against the atrocities perpetrated by the immediate past administration in the state.’’

He said the arrest by the EFCC of Messrs Meng Wei Kun and Xu Koi of China Zhanghao for an attempt to bribe the Head of its Sokoto Zonal Office in order to quash investigation into the multi-billion naira contract fraud in Zamfara cannot simply pass unnoticed.

“Sometimes back, I cancelled the unexecuted multi-billion naira contract awarded to this same Chinese company and called for the refund of the money.

“I still call on Mr President to assist the state government to fast track the retrieval of this money and repatriate it to the state so that we can actually provide the water and electricity to the rural areas,” Matawalle appealed.

“It is pertinent here to call on President Muhammadu Buhari to further endorse his confidence on Mr Ibrahim Magu and his team as it is becoming obvious by the day that those calling for his removal actually have skeletons hiding in their wardrobes,” the governor said.

Edited By: Edwin Nwachukwu/Muhammad Suleiman Tola (NAN)

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General news

COVID-19: Don’t politicise distribution of palliative items, residents pleads with Ebonyi Govtt

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Some residents of Abakaliki have advised the Ebonyi Government to ensure that partisanship and political patronage do not play out in its distribution of the palliative items.

 

The items are parts of measures to cushion the effects of COVID-19 lockdown.

 

 

They gave the advice in separate interviews with the News Agency of Nigeria on Monday in Abakaliki.

 

They appealed to Gov. Dave Umahi to ensure that only people of credible integrity and character would be appointed to oversee the distribution of the relief items to would-be beneficiaries.

 

Mr Boniface Nwachukwu, a retired civil servant, said that care must be taken to ensure that the process was not hijacked by politicians in the state.

 

He added that efforts should be made to ensure transparency in the distribution of the palliative items.

 

“We have looked forward to getting the relief items to serve as relief to the hardship occasioned by the almost two months of economic and social lockdown, due to the novel Coronavirus pandemic.

 

He said that the state government had announced recently that it would distribute the palliative items from both the Federal and state governments to the people.

 

He described the announcement as cheering news.

 

He, however, said that he was afraid that the process might be hijacked.

 

“Government should ensure transparency, fairness and do everything to prevent politicians taking advantage of the process to favour their cronies and supporters.

 

“Everybody deserving to benefit from the governments’ palliative should receive irrespective of political affiliation or leaning,” Nwachukwu said.

 

Mr John Nwebonyi, a physically challenged person, urged the government to give preference to those living with disabilities during the sharing.

 

He argued that unemployed people living with disabilities were the worst affected by the lockdown; appealing to government to give special considerations to them.

 

“I heard that various committees had been inaugurated preparatory to the commencement of the distribution.

 

“But  it is very unfortunate that those living with disabilities were not included in the committees.

 

“The process should not be politicised or hijacked by strong and powerful politicians in the various communities,” he said.

 

Mr Ben Onwe, a teacher, also appealed to members of the distribution committees to be guided by good conscience and eschew temptations that would make them compromise.

 

“Our problem in Nigeria is our politicians who will stop at nothing to satisfy their selfish interests at any slightest opportunity and this exercise may not be an exception.

 

“Ebonyi people have eagerly waited for this opportunity; I appeal that our politicians should allow the process to work so as to ensure that the ordinary people benefit from the palliative items,” Onwe said.

 

NAN reports that Mr Francis Nwifuru, Speaker, Ebonyi House of Assembly, recently said that the state had concluded to start the distributing the palliative items to the residents of the state to cushion the effects of the lockdown.

 

According to him, the governor has made provisions for food items and condiments that will be distributed to everyone in the state, irrespective of social and economic status.

 

He said that no fewer than  200 persons in each  polling unit across the 1,785 polling units in the state would benefit from the relief materials; comprising of food stuffs and condiments.

 

Nwifuru, who is also Ebonyi COVID-19 Sub-Committee chairman on Welfare and Fund Raising, assured the residents of the state that they would all benefit from the items.

 

“We have set up committees, comprising representatives of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), the All Progressives Congress (APC) and Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) for the smooth distribution of the palliative items from both the Federal and the state governments,” he said.

 

 

Edited By: Kamal Tayo Oropo/Peter Dada (NAN)

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

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