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Vigilance group member docked for allegedly slashing man’s hand, leg with a cutlass



A member of a vigilance group, Ayo Oladimeji, 23, who allegedly slashed a man’s hand and leg with a cutlass, on Friday appeared  in an Ikeja Magistrates’ Court, Lagos state.

The police charged Oladimeji, who resides in Oke-odo area of Agege, with conspiracy and assault.

The Prosecution Counsel, Insp. Ishola Samuel, told the court that Oladimeji slashed Usman Fashola’s hand and leg with a cutlass on Aug. 15, at Omo Israel Street in the  Oke-odo, Agege area of Lagos.

He alleged that  the defendant attacked Fashola when he challenged members of the group to stop sitting idle in  their duty post.

The prosecution said that the offence contravened the provisions of  sections 411 and 173 of the Criminal Law of Lagos State, 2015 .

The accused pleaded not guilty to the charge.

Magistrate A.I. Abina admitted the defendant to bail in the sum of N500,000 with two sureties in like sum and adjourned the case to October 21 for mention.


Edited by Azubuike Okeh/Sadiya Hamza


Spotlight: Turkish health experts call for vigilance amid reopening of restaurants




Turkey has taken an important step towards normalization on Monday, allowing restaurants, cafes and many shops to reopen after more than two months of COVID-19 lockdown restrictions, but health specialists call for vigilance.

Restaurants and cafes were permitted to serve customers again, as long as they adhere to physical distancing rules established by the health ministry.

Museums, some gyms and pools, and also public parks also opened their doors. Worshippers were allowed to return to mosques for prayers, wearing masks and obeying distancing rules.

Istanbul’s landmarks, the Grand Bazaar and the ottoman Topkapi palace, have begun to receive visitors.

Despite cloudy weather following a rainy weekend, many young people returned to the cafes in downtown Ankara.

“We have been waiting for this day for a long time, we really want to go to normal life, as possible as we can. It is difficult to stay at home when the weather is so good (in previous weeks),” Ece Tekin, a university student, told Xinhua in a shop located on the busy Tunali Hilmi Avenue.

The young women, who was sipping coffee with a mask under her chin, said that she was still alert about the situation.

“I will try to make the best of this time because I don’t know if it will last. People are talking of a new wave of outbreak, I hope it will not be the case and hopefully we will wake up from what seems a science fiction movie,” she said.

The restaurant staff are required to wear masks and gloves. Social distancing rules also limited the businesses to run at around 50 percent capacity.

“It’s hot and wearing with this protective gear is not easy, but we must do, at least the customers are back,” said a waiter. “Although we cannot accommodate them all, we are glad to be back and trying to adapt to this.”

Tables were also moved further apart and disinfectants were placed on them.

In the Segmenler and Kugulu parks located nearby, people were enjoying timid rays of sunshine, but some of them were not wearing masks.

The two-month lockdown brings significant setback for most of the restaurants and cafes, which were already hit by high inflation before the outbreak.

Some shops have closed in downtown Kizilay, as they were unable to afford the rent and personnel wages during the lockdown.

The number of new infections in Turkey has been dropping each day, according to health officials who still urged for vigilance against a resurgence of the pandemic.

“We must remain vigilant and wear masks when we go outside. Whether there will be a resurgence depends on how we are protecting ourselves and others. We can do it if we abide by three rules: masks, distancing and hygiene,” tweeted professor Tevfik Ozlu, a virologist and member of the Coronavirus Science Board.

Some citizens and scientists are uneasy about the progress of normalization, which they argued is too fast as daily infections numbers are still around 800-900.

“While the outbreak is not fully under control, opening kindergartens, shopping centers and gyms, which are common places, poses a serious risk,” said public health expert Tugrul Erbaydar.

“This normalization is going too fast,” he stressed, hoping that the country doesn’t return back “to square one” in its fight against the coronavirus.

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Merkel urges vigilance as officials probe restaurant virus outbreak



Health officials in north-western Germany were pursuing an investigation into a coronavirus outbreak at a restaurant in Lower Saxony on Monday, as the number of people testing positive rose.

Seven people initially tested positive for coronavirus after visiting the Alte Scheune restaurant in Moormerland, a municipality in the district of Leer in the north-western state, earlier this month.

That number had increased to 14 by Sunday, while four additional cases of people who had contracted the virus since then were also reported.

A total of 118 people have been placed under quarantine at home, up from an initial 50.

Regional authorities in Leer district said it was likely that the four additional infections had occurred following visits to the restaurant.

The outbreak is the first to have taken place in a restaurant since they were allowed to reopen in stages across Germany’s 16 states from May 9.

Chancellor Angela Merkel called on the governments of Germany’s states to be “courageous and watchful” as they ease restrictions imposed since mid-March to contain the pandemic.

Speaking through her spokesman Steffen Seibert, Merkel backed continuing “binding instructions” on social distancing, restriction of contact and hygiene rules.

Recommendations were insufficient, Seibert said, as federal officials continued discussions with their state-level counterparts on how to proceed with further easing.

The number of cases of the novel coronavirus had risen to more than 178,500 by Monday morning, according to figures from the individual states compiled by dpa.

At least 8,252 people diagnosed with the Sars-CoV-2 pathogen have died, up from 8,229 on Sunday morning.

Edited By: Emmanuel Yashim (NAN)

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Tunisia reports 3 news COVID-19 cases, authorities call for vigilance




After five days in a row with zero COVID-19 positive cases, Tunisia reported three new confirmed cases on Saturday, bringing the total number of infected to 1,035.

“Two COVID-19 cases were detected in Gafsa in southwestern Tunisia and only one case in Grand Tunis,” Nissaf Ben Alaya, director general of the National Observatory of New and Emerging Diseases, said at a press briefing in Tunis.

Ben Alaya said that Tunisia has not won the war against coronavirus. “The risk of triggering a second epidemiological wave still exists.”

“No return to normal life is expected soon, especially since the situation in Tunisia depends on that in the world,” added the health official.

According to Ben Alaya, the gradual opening of the economy remains dependent on people’s compliance with preventive measures, namely the wearing of masks, social distancing and hand hygiene.

“The authorities are still counting on the conscience of the Tunisian people to continue to curb the spread of this virus,” she concluded.

As of Friday night, a total of 802 patients have recovered in Tunisia while 45 deaths were reported in 13 provinces, according to the latest figures from the ministry of Health.

A total of 37,862 lab tests have been carried out since March 2, the day when the first COVID-19 case was found in Tunisia.


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Spotlight: Turkey reopens malls, barbershops, experts urge vigilance




Experts urged vigilance saying that the danger is not over yet, as Turkey inches towards normalization amid a downward trend of COVID-19 cases.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced last week that the country will normalize gradually from May to July within the framework of a “new normalization,” in order to kickstart the economy.

Most of the shopping malls, barbershops and beauty salons across Turkey resumed operations on Monday. Numerous factories in the country will also restart production in the next week.

Ahead of the reopening, the Council of Shopping Centers said that personnel and customers should wear masks and continue to observe social distancing rules in all malls.

Mall administrators should also use thermometers, decrease elevator capacities or limit usage, provide disinfectants, and take measures to prevent crowds, the group said in a press release.

Shops are also told to encourage contactless payment methods.

Turkey has over 450 shopping malls in big cities, such as Istanbul, Ankara and Izmir, and they are a distinctive fragment of Turkish economy, as they employ tens of thousands of people.

“I came to buy some groceries and also to look as fast as possible some clothing items for my children, but I am planning to do all of this within an hour,” said Aysel Goncu, a private company employee at the entrance of the 356 shopping center in downtown Ankara.

“I saw on television this morning that thorough disinfecting was made in malls so I am not very apprehensive, but i need to be fast, and not linger like we did before,” she added.

Another shopper, who declined to give his name, simply said that he was “bored at home” and came to do some window shopping.

People were not rushing to the center but there was still a queue of shoppers at the main entrance where security and mall employees were enforcing regulations.

Turkey has reported over 139,000 confirmed infections and 3,841 deaths while over 95,000 people have recovered from the novel coronavirus.

While Turkey is gradually and slowly relaxing lockdown restrictions with declining infection numbers, health experts are warning of risks, insisting that the pandemic is not over.

“The reopening of barbershops, hairdressers and shopping malls doesn’t mean that the outbreak is over. It means that the work load density in hospitals is decreasing and that if needed, there is a bed there for you,” said Alpay Azap, a virologist and also a member of the Coronavirus Science Board.

Asked during an interview on Fox broadcaster if he would go to a shopping mall, the doctor said that “I would not, and if I must, I would take all the precautionary measures and leave as soon as I finish my business.”

Bulent Ertugrul, another virologist, highlighted the risk of contaminated air in shopping centers.

“Ventilation and air conditioning systems in such places can be a serious health hazard and it should be closely monitored by officials. Disinfection alone will not be sufficient in shopping malls,” he said on NTV news channel.

He added that from now on until a vaccine is developed, “face masks have to become an extension of our daily clothing.”


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COVID-19: PDP urges Nigerians to redouble health vigilance



The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has called on Nigerians to redouble their health vigilance, particularly in observing all health safety directives by health authorities and the World Health Organization (WHO).

The party gave the advice in a statement issued by its National Publicity Secretary, Mr Kola Ologbondiyan on Thursday in Abuja.

Ologbondiyan prayed for the speedy recovery of all Nigerians battling the coronavirus currently ravaging the world.

He specifically prayed for the Founder of Daar Communications, High Chief Raymond Dokpesi, and members of his family who tested positive to the coronavirus and were receiving care in an isolation centre.

“The party urges compatriots, especially the sick as well as their families, not to give up on hope, and urged all citizens to continue in prayers and in supporting one another at this perilous time,” he said.

Ologbondiyan commended role of the media, particularly in sensitising Nigerians on health safety, social distancing and personal hygiene protocols in the overall effort to check spread of the pandemic in the country.

He also commended doctors, nurses as well as other health and essential service providers for their commitment, show of patriotism and labour of love for the nation and humanity in general despite the daunting challenges

“Our party is optimistic that with the commitment of all Nigerians, our nation will soon defeat this pandemic,” he said.

Edited By: Ifeyinwa Okonkwo/Oluwole Sogunle (NAN)


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General news

Lockdown: Ugwuanyi directs LG chairmen, vigilance groups, others to man boundaries



Gov Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Enugu State has directed the 17 Local Government chairmen, neigbourhood watch groups and traditional rulers to man their council borders to contain the spread of coronavirus in the state.

A statement by the Secretary to the State Government, Prof Simon Ortuanya in Enugu on Thursday said this followed  reports that persons on non-essential duties had continued to traverse the boundaries of the state.

The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the state recently recorded a new index case of COVID-19 after two previous cases were discharged.

The governor directed the council chairmen to also mobilise Development Centre administrators, councillors, town union Presidents General and youth leaders to man the boundaries that are contiguous with other states.

He also directed the Council Chairmen to liaise with members of National Union of Road Transport Workers, Association of Tricycle Riders Transport Union and Motorcycle Riders Union to ensure that intending passengers beyond Enugu State were not allowed to board vehicles in motor parks within their jurisdiction.

Ortuanya urged them to ensure that passengers conveyed from outside the state were not allowed to disembark within their Local Government Council Areas.

According to him, vehicles of erring operators will be impounded and handed over to law enforcement agents for appropriate action.

“This condemnable conduct compromises the current efforts of the state government to contain the ravaging COVID-19 pandemic.

“The border control activities in all Local Government Council Areas in Enugu State that are contiguous with other states will be intensified at night-time, which is the time most of the infractions occur,” he said.

The SSG warned that any person or group caught aiding and abetting the illegal traverse through the state borders would be arrested and handed over to security agencies for prosecution.

Ortuanya noted that these decisions were in furtherance of Gov. Ugwuanyi’s determination “as ever to contain the spread of the contagion in Enugu State and protect residents from avoidable morbidity and mortality.

In a related development, the state Commissioner for Health,  Prof Ikechukwu Obi has disclosed that it had began contact tracing of the new COVID-19 patient in the state.

Obi urged those that had contact with the woman who returned from Jos, Plateau to submit themselves for testing.

He said that the police had sealed the residence of the patient at No 66 Nike Road, Abakpa Nike for fumigation and contact tracing.


Edited By: Maureen Atuonwu (NAN)

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UN envoy asks for vigilance over COVID-19 spread in Syria




UN Special Envoy for Syria Geir Pedersen on Wednesday asked for vigilance over the spread of COVID-19 in the country despite low caseload at present.

While testing remains limited, the officially reported COVID-19 caseload in Syria is comparatively low — 42 reported cases in areas controlled by the Syrian government; one reported case in the northeast; and no reported cases in the northwest, Pedersen told the Security Council.

“We all hope that these low numbers will continue. But as in all countries, the risk of a major COVID-19 outbreak in Syria is there,” he warned.

The trend lines in the coming weeks will be very important, so will a ramping up of testing and treatment capacity in all parts of Syria, along with information-sharing between all parties, he said in a virtual briefing.

The Syrian government has continued to take increasingly significant steps to combat COVID-19, and so have the Syrian Opposition Coalition and other de facto authorities in areas outside government control. International donors have pledged and provided financial and material support, he noted.

Syria faces many challenges that can hamstring a response to the pandemic, he said. The country lacks sufficient health professionals, medical equipment and supplies. The health care system is degraded in some areas and destroyed in others, following nine years of armed conflict.

Pedersen stressed the need for full, sustained and unimpeded humanitarian access. Using all modalities, including scaled-up cross-line and cross-border access, is important, he said.

Pedersen said the UN and himself are working toward the waiver of sanctions that can undermine the capacity of Syria to ensure access to food, essential health supplies and COVID-19 medical support.

He stressed the need for large-scale and unilateral releases of detainees and abductees and more meaningful actions on missing persons.

“The pandemic makes this humanitarian imperative more urgent than ever. I continue to urge the Syrian government and all other Syrian parties to follow the lead of other governments around the world in releasing detainees. We really need to see this happening as part of all the efforts to stem the spread of the virus in Syria,” he said.

Noting that Syria faces extremely grave economic conditions, Pedersen said, “We have recently seen price increases and shortages among other further worsening trends. The measures rightly taken by the authorities to combat COVID-19 in Syria have, as in all countries, had an economic impact too.”

Syria needs a cease-fire arrangement that results in sustained calm and is nationwide in scope — one that does not see new assaults across lines of contact, and enables Syrians to access equipment and resources necessary to combat COVID-19, he said.

“We cannot afford hostilities which would surely lead to another surge in displaced vulnerable communities — something that we witnessed in horror only two months ago. We could not afford this scenario before the pandemic. The price could only be higher now,” he said.

The envoy asked relevant players to come together in a common effort to support sustained calm and scale up the response to the pandemic. This path could pave the way for progress on the broader political process in Syria, he said.


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WHO alerts on cyber attacks, calls for vigilance



The World Health Organisation (WHO) says it has seen a dramatic increase in the number of cyber attacks directed at its staff members and email scams targeting at the public since the start of COVID-19 pandemic.

WHO, in a statement on Thursday said that this week, 450 active WHO email addresses and passwords were leaked online along with thousands belonging to others working on the novel Coronavirus response.

“The leaked credentials did not put WHO systems at risk because the data was not recent.

“However, the attack did impact on older extranet system, used by current and retired staff as well as partners.

“WHO is now migrating affected systems to a more secure authentication system,” it said.

The world health agency warned that scammers impersonating WHO in emails have also increasingly targeted the general public to channel donations to a fictitious fund and not the authentic COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund.

It disclosed that the number of cyber attacks was now more than five times the number directed at the organisation in the same period last year.

Bernardo Mariano, WHO’s Chief Information Officer, said, “Ensuring the security of health information for Member States and the privacy of users interacting with us is a priority for WHO at all times, but also particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We are grateful for the alerts we receive from Member States and the private sector. We are all in this fight together.”

WHO said it was working with the private sector to establish more robust internal systems to strengthen security measures and educating staff members on cyber security risks.

The health agency advised the public to remain vigilant against fraudulent emails.

It recommend the use of reliable sources to obtain factual information about COVID-19 and other health issues.


Edited By: Olagoke Olatoye (NAN)

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Police confirm killing of vigilance group leader in Kogi



Kogi Police Command has confirmed the killing of Mr Attah Isah, Chairman of Egume Community Vigilance Group in Dekina Local Government Area by armed men on Sunday evening.

The Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), Kogi Command, Mr Williams Aya (DSP), who made the confirmation to News Agency of  Nigeria on Tuesday in Lokoja, said  Isah Enemaku, younger brother to the slain vigilance group chairman reported the incident.

The PPRO said that Enemaku had reported that the assailants came on a motorcycle, shot the victim twice and fled, adding that the deceased was rushed to the General Hospital, Eguma where he was confirmed dead.

Aya said the corpse had been deposited at the morgue for autopsy adding that the police were making efforts to arrest the perpetrators.

However, family sources said that the assailants who had monitored his movements during the day,  later confronted the deceased in front of his house at Efakwu area in Egume while he was relaxing on a chair at about 8.00pm.

The gunmen were said to have opened fire on him (Attah Isah) at a close range and before his family and friends could come out on hearing the gunshots, the assailants escaped on a standby motorbike.

The sources added that although the deceased appeared lifeless, the family had to rush him to the hospital where he was confirmed dead.

It would be recalled that the former chairman of Vigilance group in Egume, Malam Attah Wada, aka Ukpono, was assassinated while praying in front of his house at Egume on May 27, 2014 at about 6.30pm.

Same day, Chief Isah Edime, the Amana-Attah of Ojikpadala-Egume, and pioneer General Manager of Kogi State Broadcasting Corporation, suffered same gruesome murder in the hands of hoodlums  in the area who abducted and killed him.

Edime who also produced “Democracy in Action” at the Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria (FRCN)  Kaduna, was kidnapped from his house and murdered same day as Malam Attah Wada.

In his reaction, the National President of Egume Ome Descendants Union (EODU), Alhaji Mohammed Ibrahim,  expressed shock over the murder of Isah, describing the killing  as inhuman, horrific and evil.

Ibrahim noted bitterly that it was a calculated attempt by criminals to re awaken the insecurity saga that had scared Egume sons and daughters in diaspora from visiting home to contribute toward the development of their fatherland.

He, therefore, urged  Gov. Yahaya Bello to wade in and on all security agencies to rise to the security challenge and bring all the perpetrators to Justice.

Edited By: Chioma Ugboma/Donald Ugwu (NAN)

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