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Suspension of LG Chairman: Zamfara Assembly’s action constitutional, says spokesman

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The Zamfara state House of Assembly says it has acted in good faith and in the exercise of its constitutional powers by suspending the chairman of Maradun Local Government Council, Alhaji Ahmad Abubakar.

The House’s Public Relations Officer(PRO), Malam Mustafa Jafaru-Kaura  made the clarification while reacting to the allegations by the Maradun local government councillors at a news conference in Gusau on Tuesday that the House did the suspension in error.

News Agency Nigeria reports that the state Assembly on July 31, suspended Abubakar for allegedly working against the state government’s directive on security matters.

The councillors in Maradun Local Government have last week at a news conference absolved Abubakar of complicity in the spate of insecurity in the area.

The councillors, who spoke under the aegis of Maradun Councillors Forum,  said that Abubakar had no hand in the insecurity problems bedevilling the area and accused the Assembly of violating the extant laws governing local governments in the state.

According to Jafaru-Kaura, the attention of the house was drawn to  “baseless untrue and unfounded allegations raised last week by the councillors forum of Maradun local government council regarding the suspension of the council’s chairman.

He said the state House of Assembly never took any decision that violated either the constitution or the standing rules of the House on the suspension of the chairman.

“If we recall, on the 30/07/2019 six petitioners all indigenes of Maradun local government area wrote an allegations against their local government chairman, Ahmad Abubakar of toying with sensitive security issue in that local government area.

“Considering the nature of the allegations, the House was left with no option than to invoke house’s rule order 8, rule 3, subsection 3, paragraphs 1, 2 and 3, which allow the house to deliberate on the petition which subsequently led to the suspension of the chairman.

“The case was referred to the House committee on local government and chieftaincy affairs for investigation after which the assembly would take final action on the matter

“The suspension would continue pending the conclusion of investigation by the committee”, he said.

According to Jafaru-Kaura, the suspension was in line with order 8, rule 7 as contained in the house’s  standing rules of 2012 (as amended).

Also section 7, sub section 1 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) provides for the powers of state house of assembly to suspend chairman or dissolve the local government council in every state of the federation.

“Section 101 of the same Constitution also provides for the powers of the state legislature to regulate its own procedure which is known as house standing rules.

“The provision of section 7(1), provides for the powers of the state under the law to ensure the existance, establishment, structure, composition, finance, and function of the local government within that state”, he explained.

“I ask the councillors forum, where did Zamfara state House of Assembly go wrong as regard to this matter.

“Therefore, I am using this medium to inform the general public that the Assembly did not in any way act outside the confines of the law by discharging its constitutional responsibilities with regard to the suspension of the Chairman of Maradun Local Government,” he said.

IZ/OSA/MTM

Edited by Shittu Obassa/Tukur Muntari.

Foreign

Domestic flight operations resume after 2-month suspension in Bangladesh

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A staff member gives hand sanitizer to a passenger at Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport in Dhaka, Bangladesh on June 1, 2020. More than two months after the Bangladeshi government imposed a nationwide lockdown due to COVID-19, domestic flight operations resumed in a limited scale. (Str/Xinhua)

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Foreign

Kuwait allows businesses to start activities after 3-week anti-coronavirus suspension

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The Kuwaiti government announced on Monday that businesses including banks can start their activities as part of the country’s phased plan to reopen economy.

The government has also assigned the Central Agency for Information Technology to establish a platform where citizens and residents can make an appointment before going to any governmental institutions in order to facilitate social distancing and curb the spread of coronavirus, said Tareq Al-Mezrem, the government spokesman, at a press conference.

He also said the government is “monitoring the results in the European countries and the world” in order to gradually return the air traffic to normal.

Earlier in the day, Kuwait Banking Association announced that banks will resume business from June 2 after a three-week suspension during the full curfew.

On May 31, Kuwait ended the full curfew and imposed a three-week partial curfew for a gradual return to normal.

Kuwait and China have been supporting each other and cooperating closely in combating the COVID-19 pandemic.

Kuwait donated medical supplies worth 3 million United States dollars to China at the early stage of the COVID-19 outbreak.

On April 27, a team of Chinese medical experts visited Kuwait to assist the Arab country’s anti-coronavirus fight, sharing with their Kuwaiti counterparts the experience and expertise in the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of COVID-19.

(XINHUA)

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Foreign

Fiji Airways extends int’l flight suspension to end of July

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Fiji Airways, Fiji’s national airline, announced on Wednesday to extend the suspension of all its international flights to the end of July due to the impact of COVID-19.

Speaking in a statement on Wednesday, the airline attributed the extension of the flights suspension to prolonged border closures and travel restrictions as a consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Andre Viljoen, Fiji Airways Managing Director and CEO, said that given that there is still next to no demand for international air travel in the region, regrettably, they have been forced to cancel their July schedules, with further reductions expected in August this year.

He added that most of the airline’s international fleet remains in storage, except for aircraft utilized for freighter services. These services are keeping vital supply lines open between Fiji and its key trading partners. Border restrictions will need to ease in order for travel demand to return and international services to resume.

The airline had announced the cancellation of June international services earlier this month. A limited number of domestic Fiji Link services will continue to operate.

On Monday, Fiji Airways also announced to lay off more than 700 staff members including all cabin crew and all 79 expatriate pilots. Eight expatriate executives have also had their employment terminated, with five expatriate staff remaining, including Andre Viljoen.

The national carrier said that it has done the workforce adjustments as the COVID-19 crisis endures, causing the further suspension of scheduled international services and ensuring that the airline will receive virtually zero revenue in the coming months.

To help Fiji Airways keep afloat, the Fijian parliament also approved on Monday the motion for the government to guarantee the Fiji Airways borrowing of 455 million Fijian dollars (about 205.2 million U.S. dollars). This includes domestic borrowings of up to 191.1 million Fijian dollars (about 86.2 million U.S. dollars) and off-shore borrowings of up to 117.1 million U.S. dollars. And this will be valid for three years effective from May 30 this year.

(XINHUA)

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Economy

Group backs senate’s call for suspension of electricity tariffs increment

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A group, the Energy Consumer Rights and Responsibilities Initiative (ECRRI) on Monday backed Senate’s call for suspension of increment in electricity tariffs by electricity Distribution Companies (DisCos).

Mr Sural Fadairo, ECCRI National President, told the News Agency of Nigeria   in Lagos that the tariff increment billed to commence on July 1, should be suspended due to prevailing economic realities.

NAN reports that the Senate, had during  recent plenary advised the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) to suspend the increment to mitigate economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on Nigerians and businesses.

Fadairo said the move had shown that the lawmakers had the interest of ordinary Nigerians  who are being subjected to exploitative bills by the DisCos at heart.

He said: “We, as an electricity consumer group have been against any form of increment in tariffs because we feel it is not justifiable.

” Now with the economy being ravaged by Coronavirus, it is only proper that any move to increase tariffs be put on hold because Nigerians are struggling to survive.”

The ECCRI president also commended the Senate for its ongoing probe of the privatisation of the power sector.

He urged the lawmakers to do a thorough job that would help put the sector back on track.

Fadairo said: “It is our belief that the privatisation of the power sector has failed because the nation is still struggling to provide electricity for  citizens.

“We believe that the procedures and processes which led to it must be reviewed if Nigerians are to enjoy quality supply of electricity.”

According to him, the privatisation model of the telecommunications sector which has made the industry vibrant today should be emulated in the power sector.

“We have to look at increasing power generation,  transmission and distribution to end users and also examine whether those currently saddled with the responsibility have the capacity of actualising that.

” It is not good enough that a nation of almost 200 million people generates  less than 5, 000MW of electricity.

“We cannot achieve economic growth and national development under this situation, “Fadairo said.

—————-

Edited By: Chinyere Bassey/Oluwole Sogunle (NAN)

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General news

C’ River lifts suspension on public religious worship

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Gov. Ben Ayade of Cross River has lifted the suspension on public religious worship in the state.

The order lifting the suspension in the state, which would take effect from Sunday May 24,  was contained in a statement signed by Mr Christian Ita, Special Adviser, Media and Publicity to the Governor.

Ayade said conscious of the spiritual economy and in response to appeals by religious leaders in the state, lifting the suspension on public worship became necessary.

“The order suspending public worship in the state, is hereby lifted with effect from Sunday May 24, 2020.

“Consequently, starting from Sunday, May 24, 2020, church services are permitted but should be limited to the sitting capacity of the church, same applies to mosques.

“Use of face masks is compulsory for all worshipers, churches and mosques should provide buckets for hand washing, or sanitisers.

“Churches and mosques are hereby advised to strictly adhere to the instructions as the enforcement team will still go around to check compliance,” he said.

Gov. Ayade thanked Christians of various denominations, and the entire Muslim community for their support and cooperation during the period of suspension of public worship in the state in the wake of COVID-19 outbreak.

He added that the understanding and cooperation of religious leaders contributed immensely in keeping the state COVID-19 free thus far.

Edited By: Chioma Ugboma/Wale Ojetimi (NAN)

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Metro

COVID-19: FCT area council enforces suspension of motorcycle operations

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The Kuje Area Council in the FCT, has commenced enforcement of the suspension on all motorcycle operations in the area, aimed at curbing community spread of COVID-19.

Mr Abdullahi Sabo, Chairman, Motorcycle Operators Restructuring Committee in Kuje, disclosed this in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria on Wednesday.

NAN recalls that the council had on May 12, announced the suspension.

Sabo said that the development followed the daily rise in confirmed cases of the disease in the FCT, and influx of motorcycle riders to rural communities.

“The outcome of our meeting yesterday (Tuesday), with Keke NAPEP (tricycle) officials was very fruitful, we made them to understand the decision of the council.

“That Okada has just been suspended as a result of COVID-19 pandemic, and we feel we have to make use of keke to cushion the effect of absence of okada (motorcycle) riders.

“We did tell them the rules and regulations of the council, which is a national rule, they must not carry more than three persons, including the driver,” he said.

He, however, appealed to residents to take the lockdown order by the Federal Government seriously, noting that the fight to defeat the pandemic depended largely on complying with directives by government.

According to Sabo, persons that have to go out of their homes with genuine reasons, must wear face masks and observe the physical distancing rule everywhere they go, including markets and in vehicles.

“This is a tough decision that the executive chairman of the council has to take for us to stay alive.

“This suspension is temporary, it is just for a while, we all pray for quick exit of the COVID-19 pandemic so that life can return to normal.

“We want to appeal to them to be patient with us and persevere, while we continue to pray to God to see us through this global pandemic,” he said.

Awwal Yakubu, a tricycle operator, said every operator paid N4, 500 to register with the council and were each issued an ID card with a sticker.

Yakubu said the operators would be charging an average of N100 per person, depending on the distance and location in the council.

Edited By: Olawunmi Ashafa/Nyisom Fiyigon Dore (NAN)

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Politics

Senate seeks suspension of planned electricity tariff hike

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The Senate on Tuesday told  the Federal Government to suspend the planned electricity tariff increase, expected to take effect in July, citing  hardships caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

However, the upper legislative chamber lauded the Federal Government for its initiative to establish the N1.7 trillion COVID-19 Crisis Intervention Fund, designed to cater for critical issues on effective management of the disease.

It also called on government, through the Federal Ministry of Finance to include the electric power sector in the disbursement of the proposed N1.7 trillion COVID-19 Intervention Fund.

The senate’s resolution was sequel to the adoption of a motion, sponsored by Sen. Gabriel Suswam (PDP Benue) on Power Sector Recovery Plan and Impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Suswam, while leading debate on the general principles of the bill, said that stable and uninterrupted power supply was a critical factor in the management of COVID-19 patients at isolation and treatment centres nationwide.

He stated that uninterrupted electricity was also key in the proposed upgrade of health facilities and in the manufacturing sector of the economy.

According to him, if the negative impact of COVID-19 on the sector continues without any emergency financial intervention from the Federal Government, Distribution Companies (DisCos), may not meet their remittance obligation to the electricity market.

He said that the financial obligation of Generating Companies (GenCos) and gas to power suppliers would also be negatively impacted.

Following supportive contributions of senators on the motion, the senate mandated its committee on power to investigate all interventions by government in the power sector since its privatisation to date and report back in four weeks.

It also mandated the committee to investigate the activities of all market participants in the sector.

The senate also told the Central Bank of Nigeria to allow operators in the sector access to foreign exchange for procurement of equipment and materials as obtained in both the aviation and oil industries.

The upper legislative chamber also urged government to consider additional tariff support to cushion the effect of shock over a fixed period, to allow the Transmission Company of Nigeria and DisCos to access funds.

The senate noted that the funds would help operators to implement their performance improvement investments that would support increased tariffs to certain classes of customers, especially during the pandemic.

The Senate President, Alhaji Ahmad Lawan, said however, that it was obvious that the DisCos had no capacity at the moment to supply power to Nigerians.

Lawan noted that GenCos also had their own challenges in generating electricity, adding that it was not a good commentary to continue to give money to the GenCos.

“The way it is, I think there is need to review this privatisation and see what has really happened because something is certainly not right,” Lawan stated.

The senate, thereafter, adjoined its plenary to June 2.

Edited By: Chinyere Nwachukwu/Silas Nwoha (NAN)

 

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Foreign

Pakistan extends suspension of int’l flights, resumes domestic operations partially

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The Pakistani government has extended the suspension of international flight operations by the end of the ongoing month and announced partial resumption of domestic flight operations, local media reported Saturday.

Local media quoted Aviation Minister Ghulam Sarwar Khan as saying that the suspension of international flights has been extended up to May 31 but special, cargo and relief planes holding special approval would be allowed to continue operations as per the permissions granted to them.

Pakistan suspended the international flight operations on March 21 following the arrival of COVID-19 cases from abroad, especially from Iran and the Gulf states.

The minister said that the main aim of the extension in the suspension of international flight operations is to avoid further spread of COVID-19 in the country, according to the reports.

Meanwhile, the Pakistan Civil Aviation Authority on Friday announced to resume limited domestic flight operations from the major airports of the country, allowing the Pakistan International Airlines and private airlines to conduct the operations.

The minister said around 20 percent of the domestic flights would resume operations from five major airports in Islamabad, Karachi, Lahore, Quetta, and Peshawar, according to the reports.

“Disinfection, social distancing and other health safety measures would be followed based on the seats in the airplane and capacity to fill 50 percent of the seats would be maintained to provide passengers with the opportunity to travel safely,” the minister was quoted as saying.

The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases has risen to 38,799, with 834 deaths and 10,880 recoveries in Pakistan, according to the data updated by the country’s health ministry on Saturday morning.

(XINHUA)

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Foreign

Solomon Airlines extends suspension of international flights

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Solomon Islands’ national carrier, Solomon Airlines has announced that the suspension on their international flights will be extended till July 15 as the COVID-19 pandemic continued.

The suspension was originally planned to end on May 31, however, after consulting with the Solomon Islands government, management decided to extend for a further seven weeks.

“This action has been taken in consultation with the Solomon Islands Government and is a necessary precaution due to the uncertainty of COVID-19 and the resulting current border restrictions,” Solomon Airlines Manager Commercial Colin Sigimanu said Monday.

However, he added that the suspension could be terminated earlier if the situation becomes more favorable to international flights.

“We will continue to closely monitor border restrictions in place with our Pacific neighbours and we will provide further updates if there are any changes to this time frame,” he said.

As of Tuesday, Solomon Islands remained one of few countries in the world free of COVID-19, with the government taking extensive measures to keep it that way for fears that a local outbreak could overstretch the nation’s public health system.

(XINHUA)

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