A coalition of NGOs, the Rehoboth Community Advancement Initiative (RECAN), has condemned the recent invasion of the Federal Medical Centre (FMC), Lokoja, by suspected hoodlums who destroyed and carted away personal and hospital property.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that some hoodlums had, on July 1, invaded FMC Lokoja,during which they carried out the dastardly act.
The RECAN Executive Director, Mr Abaniwo Nathaniel, in a statement on Friday in Lokoja, expressed his heartfelt support to all health workers responding to COVID-19 pandemic, and those working tirelessly in other health care as well.
He stressed that healthcare workers, facilities and medical vehicles should never be a target of violence, while urging governments, communities and all weapon bearers to respect and protect health care workers and facilities at all times.
He urged the people to contribute to creating a protective environment in which health care services could be provided safely, saying, ”safety and protection of health care workers and healthcare infrastructure is paramount during the Coronavirus pandemic.
”Ensuring that health care workers are safe and able to carry out their jobs is crucial for their protection and that must be guaranteed by the government.
”Healthcare workers are often exposed to all forms of infectious diseases in their life-saving activities and they should not also be made vulnerable to any form of physical attack.
”Unfortunately, the deplorable state of our health institutions in Kogi State and the entire country remains a major concern to all and sundry.
”Violence against health care workers should not be tolerated. Therefore, we stand firmly against it and advised Kogi Government to build a state where health workers and patients are safe and well protected,”Nathaniel said.
He advised the Kogi Government to find a common ground in resolving the needless back-and-front argument on whether or not Coronavirus exists in the state.
He expressed the deep concern of RECAN over the avoidable trauma caregivers and patients of men and women, including children on admission at FMC Lokoja would have gone through while the attack was going on.
He sympathised with the caregivers and urged the State Government to rise up to her responsibilities of providing security for the residents of the state and particularly the healthcare workers whose life were constantly under threat.
”We urge the state government to urgently intervene by setting up a panel of enquiry to look into the immediate cause of this needless attack on FMC Lokoja,”he said.
He urged the security agencies to investigate the breach in security at the hospital, and anyone found culpable in the dishonourable act, be made to face the full wrath of the law.
He also called on the leadership of Kogi NGO Network (KONGONET) to develop implementable strategies to bring both Kogi Government and management of FMC to a discussion table where all issues could be resolved in the best interest of the state.
Nathaniel, however, advised the management of FMC Lokoja to reconsider the strike and reopen the hospital to admit patients in dare need of medical services.
He urged residents to continue to stay safe and strictly comply with NCDC COVID-19 protocols.
Edited By: Remi Koleoso/Peter Dada (NAN)
APC UK optimistic of Diezani’s prosecution by British Government
The All Progressives Congress (APC), UK chapter, says it has received favourable response from the British Government to prosecute former petroleum minister, Diezani Alison-Madueke and other Nigerians suspected of fraud, bribery and corruption offences, living in the United Kingdom.
According to a statement signed by Mr Jacob Ogunseye, the APC UK Publicity Secretary, issued on Tuesday in Abuja, the assurance was given by British Minister of State for Security, James Brokenshire.
In the statement made available to the News Agency of Nigeria , the British government also promised to help Nigeria fight corruption to a standstill.
It said Brokenshire’s promise followed a petition initiated by the APC UK legal department to the British government on the need to prosecute the former petroleum minister and other Nigerians suspected of fraud, bribery and corruption.
The statement said the petition was sequel to a plea by Ibrahim Magu, former Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) at a virtual meeting before his suspension.
It said that Magu had appealed to Nigerians in Diaspora to assist the commission in putting pressure on the British government to repatriate the former minister to Nigeria to answer charges against her.
It said the APC UK legal department took up Magu’s challenge by initiating a legal process reminding the British government of Alison-Madueke’s arrest on October 2, 2015 by its National Crime Agency (NCA) in London.
It recalled that Alison-Madueke was arrested along side four other persons on suspicion of bribery and corruption offences, but was released on bail.
The statement said the department also demanded for a speedy trial of the former petroleum minister in the UK or in the alternative, facilitate her immediate repatriation to Nigeria to face graft charges.
The statement quoted Mr Ade Omole, leader of the chapter, as saying that a fair trial as enshrined in Article 6 of the Human Rights Act would be followed if Madueke was repatriated to Nigeria to face trial.
“APC UK supported the legal process with petitions through Members of Parliament and Peers in the House of Lords, the British Government was left with no choice but respond promptly to the issues raised.
“The British government responding through its Minister of State for Security, Rt. Hon. James Brokenshire, promised to work with the Federal Republic of Nigeria in ensuring that corruption is fought to a standstill and persons involved in criminal acts are duly prosecuted,” Omole said.
He added that the response from the British government was a strong indication of good things to come regarding suspects hibernating in the UK.
He stressed that the APC in UK had a good strategy and dedicated legal team that would ensure that looters did not commit crime in Nigeria and run to the United Kingdom to hide.
He said Nigerians should expect some traction on the near comatose criminal case involving the former petroleum minister going forward.
The statement quoted Brokenshire, as saying that: “The UK is continuing to lead international efforts to combat corruption, as evidenced by the commitments in the UK’s Anti-Corruption Strategy and the Economic Crime plan.”
He said the UK was determined to ensure that its society and economy remained hostile to illicit financial flows.
“As you will know, in 2018 the Financial Action Task Force assessed the UK as having the strongest controls of any country assessed to date.
“I am acutely aware of the negative impacts of grand corruption, including on developing countries.
“The International Anti-Corruption Coordination Centre, hosted by the NCA, is working to recover stolen assets, share intelligence across jurisdictions, and build capacity to support grand corruption cases in developing countries,” he said.
He added that the centre had supported a number of high profile arrests involving politicians and public officials across the world.
“We are working closely with the government of Nigeria to prevent corruption, including providing support in-country.
“The NCA runs a number of multi-agency projects in Nigeria which target corruption as one of the threats to the UK,” Brokenshire said.
According to him, these projects provided specialist training, equipment, buildings and infrastructure.
He said it also provided UK-based mentors and intelligence to fight corruption at all levels, adding that the Department for International Development funds programmes to tackle corruption in the Nigerian public sector and oil industry.
Brokenshire assured the APC UK of UK’s commitment to combating corruption in Nigeria and other African countries.
Edited By: Chioma Ugboma/Maharazu Ahmed (NAN)
Revival of ailing industries will strengthen currency -Expert
Mr Promise Amahah, an economic expert says revamping ailing industries and economic diversification in the country will help to strengthen the value of the Naira among world currencies.
He advised the Federal Government to also sustain the tempo in its diversification drive in different sectors of the economic to further boost the economy.
“The fall of the Naira did not just happen overnight. When Naira was stronger was when we had Peugeot Automobile Nigeria, Volkswagen Nigeria, Dunlop Nigeria Ltd, Michelin Nigeria, Bata and Lennards.
“Our Naira had value when we had Nigerian Airways, Steel Rolling Mills; Osogbo Steel Rolling Mill, Ajaokuta steel, Arewa Textile Mill, BEREC Batteries, General Motors and Kingsway among others,” he said.
Amahah, who is the Chief Executive Officer of Strategy Worth and Technology (SWAT), lauded Federal Government for its move to revive Ajaokuta Steel Company.
The expert said the commitment by the Central Bank of Nigeria to revive Nigerian Cotton Textile and Garment industries was the right step in the right direction.
Edited By: Ismail Abdulaziz (NAN)
Oil prices fall as rising coronavirus case numbers cast shadow over fuel demand pickup
This is just as major producers ramp up output.
The slide comes after WTI rose 1.8 per cent and Brent climbed 1.5 per cent on Monday on better-than-expected data on manufacturing activity in Asia, Europe and the United States.
“On the demand side, we had quite encouraging global manufacturing (data) … but there’s still quite a bit of evidence of the oil demand recovery stalling in quite a few markets with a resurgence of COVID-19,’’ said Lachlan Shaw, Head of commodity research at National Australia Bank (NAB).
Denting fuel demand, cities from Manila to Melbourne are tightening lockdowns to battle new infections, while Norway has stopped cruise ship traffic in the latest European travel alarm.
In a further sign of a patchy rebound in demand, analysts estimate United States refined product stockpiles rose last week, according to a preliminary Reuters’ poll ahead of data due from the American Petroleum Institute industry group later on Tuesday and the United States government on Wednesday.
Five analysts estimated, on average, that United States inventories of gasoline rose by 600,000 barrels.
Distillate stockpiles, which include diesel and heating oil, likely grew by 800,000 barrels, while crude stocks fell by 3.3 million barrels in the week to July 31.
At the same time producers in the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and its allies, together known as OPEC+, are stepping up output this month, adding around 1.5 million barrels a day of supply.
United States producers also plan to restart shut-in production and inventories remain near historical highs.
“I think it is fair to say that most oil market participants expected more downward pressure on oil to start the week with COVID-19 ravaging the landscape and OPEC+ adding more barrels into play,’’ said Stephen Innes, Chief Global Markets Strategist at AxiCorp, in a daily note.
Edited By: Abdulfatah Babatunde (NAN)
Algeria to reopen mosques for public – President
The president made the remarks during a meeting of the High Security Council attended by top military and security officials as well as cabinet members to assess the COVID-19 epidemic inside the country.
Tebboune instructed Prime Minister Abdelaziz Djerad to programme a gradual reopening of mosques.
He added that the first phase of the programme will be limited to 1,000 large mosques in the country, which “will be able to allow the essential physical distancing with the imperative wearing of masks by all’’.
The prime minister was authorised to estimate the reopening of beaches and other places for recreation and relaxation.
Mosques, beaches and parks in the country have been closed since mid-March, as part of measures taken by the authorities to stem the spread of the COVID-19 epidemic.
Edited By: Abdulfatah Babatunde (NAN)