All posts by Olamide Noble

Noble Reporters - World's Iconic News & Media Site

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Thanks so much fans, due to some adventures, we’ve moved to a new domain (www.normtimes.wordpress.com).

Visit Noble Reporters Media, NoRM Times Edition for more of our everyday news. Thanks.

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Haiti ‘prison break’ birth 25 deaths.

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One of the prisoners who died was gang leader Arnel Joseph, who was gunned down on Friday at a police check 120 kilometers (75 miles) north of the prison.

More than 200 prisoners were on the run in Haiti on Friday, a day after they escaped from jail in a violent breakout that left 25 people dead including the prison director, officials said.

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About 400 inmates fled on Thursday, with AFP photographs showing at least three dead bodies lying outside the prison and some captured prisoners under armed guard in the back of a truck.

“Twenty-five people died including six prisoners and Divisional Inspector Paul Hector Joseph who was in charge of the prison,” Secretary of Communication Frantz Exantus said of the mass escape from the jail in the suburbs of capital Port-au-Prince.

“Among those killed were some ordinary citizens who were killed by the prisoners during their escape.”

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About 200 prisoners were still at large, but “the police are working hard to get them back. Some are in handcuffs, they will not be able to go far,” Exantus said.

One of the prisoners who died was gang leader Arnel Joseph, who was gunned down on Friday at a police check 120 kilometers (75 miles) north of the prison.

“Arnel Joseph was killed while attacking a police patrol which had stopped the motorcycle he was on. The police responded and Arnel Joseph is dead,” Exantus said.

Joseph, allegedly head of one of Haiti’s main criminal networks, was arrested in 2019 and had tried to escape from the prison last July after advertising his plan in a social media video a few days before the attempt.

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While serving a sentence for murder, Joseph had already escaped twice from another prison, in Port-au-Prince, in 2010 and 2017.

Inaugurated in 2012, the high-security Croix-des-Bouquets prison was built with funding from Canada and has a maximum capacity of 872 inmates, although nearly double that number were incarcerated there before the escape.

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#Newsworthy

Ganduje’s aide ‘locked up’ after comments on Buhari Gov’t.

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Besides, Yakasai had insisted that the Governors and ruling All Progressives Congress APC have failed in their primary responsibility to secure lives and property of citizenry.

Special Adviser to Governor Abdullah Umar Ganduje on social media, Salihu Tanko Yakasai has been arrested by security agents.

Salihu, a social media activist was picked Friday evening at his resident few hours after his social media outburst against president Muhammad Buhari.

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Elder stateman and second republic Commissioner for Information in Kano, Alh. Tanko Yakasai confirmed the arrest of his son to journalists through a telephone call on Saturday.

Alh. Yakasai, who was not specific on the identity of the operatives, said his son was apprehended in his neighbourhood on his way to the salon. According to him, Salihu has been moved to Abuja.

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Spokesperson of Kano state police command, DSP Abdullai Haruna told NoRM‘s known Media he was not aware of the development. He however pleaded for time to cross check and revert back.

Ostensibly depressed with the recent security situation in the country, Salihu in his verified twitter challenged the President to nip the tons of insecurity threatening the country in the bond or better still tender his resignation.

Besides, Yakasai had insisted that the Governors and ruling All Progressives Congress APC have failed in their primary responsibility to secure lives and property of citizenry.

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Yakasai lambasted the Nigeria Government on his verified twitter handle @dawisu on Friday in reaction to Thursday night abduction of about 317 female students of Government Girls Secondary School in Jangebe, Talata Mafara Local Government Area of Zamfara State.

In the social media coment, Yakasai said, “clearly, we as APC government, at all levels, have failed Nigerians in the number 1 duty we were elected to do which is to secure lives & properties. Not a single day goes by without some sort of insecurity in this land. This is a shame! Deal with terrorists decisively or resign.”

“Just last week it was #freekagaraboys, today we have a new hashtag #RescueJangebeGirls, who knows tomorrow what hashtag we will come up with? Perhaps one for ourselves when we get caught up in one of these daring attacks. This is sad & heartbreaking, I feel helpless & hopeless,” Yakasai tweeted.

“I completely agree. Hypocrisy is in our dna. Imagine what’s happening in the North now was under GEJ or OBJ, sai dai ka ji ana makiyin arewa ne, makiyin musulmi ne (meaning you will hear it’s the enemy of the North and Muslims), but here we are, being ravaged by all sorts of insecurity but no collective rage, sai useless lamentations. SMDH.”

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This is not the first time Yakasai is lambasting Nigeria Government on failure to end incessant security threat. The last utterances on President Buhari sometimes last year led to his two months suspension.

Yakasai who voiced against the president silent reaction to the EndSARS protest noted on the same twitter handle, :I’ ve never seen a govt with zero empathy like that of Buhari, So many times when his people are going through difficult time and expect some sort of shoulder to reassure them that he is in charge but he failed to do so.”

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#Newsworthy

Ganduje’s Gov’t to enact forestry law on Kano.

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Commenting on the environmental exercise, Ibrahim-Getso said the exercise is designed to enhance waste and drain clearance to enhance sanitation.

The Kano State Government said it has initiated a process to enact forestry law to check indiscriminate felling of trees and protect the environment.

Dr Kabiru Ibrahim-Getso, the Commissioner for Environment, stated this while inspecting the monthly environmental sanitation exercise on Saturday in Kano.

Ibrahim-Getso who decried the spate of tree felling, said the law will provide sanctions and penalties for those engaged in the act.

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He said the state relied on the National Environmental Laws, adding that the new law will check tree felling, control flooding and preserve the ecosystem.

Commenting on the environmental exercise, Ibrahim-Getso said the exercise is designed to enhance waste and drain clearance to enhance sanitation.

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While commending security agencies for their support, the Commissioner also urged residents of the state to participate in the exercise.

“We observed that people complied with the restriction of movement between 7 a.m. and 10 a.m.
“However, there is the need for them to participate in waste clearance to keep a clean and healthy environment,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Kano State Environmental Mobile Court has convicted and sealed a rice mill and a mall for violating the monthly environmental sanitation exercise in the state.

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The convicts are Alwabeel Rice Mill, Sharada and Jifatu Superstore, all in Kano metropolis.

Chief Magistrate Auwal Yusuf-Suleiman, also slammed an N500,000 fine on the rice mill and N200,000 on the store.

He said the convicted institutions were found guilty for operating within the stipulated hours of the sanitation exercise, contrary to Sections 98 and punishable under Section 99 of the Kano State Sanitation Act 2016.

The Magistrate, therefore, ordered the mill and store to be closed, adding that: “They will be reopened only after complying with extant rules and a written clearance by the State Ministry of Environment,” he said.

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Noble Reporters Media reports that the mobile court also convicted a number of motorists and passengers for flaunting the environmental laws.

Some of the areas visited for inspection during the exercise include Sharada Industrial area, Kofar Ruwa, Zoo, Katsina and Ibrahim Taiwo roads among others.

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#Newsworthy

UN amplifies condemnation of schoolgirls’ abduction.

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Matawalle noted that the visit was a further demonstration that governors and traditional rulers were working to find lasting peace in all parts of the country.

Gov. Aminu Tambuwal of Sokoto State has commiserated with the government and people of Zamfara over Friday’s abduction of 317 female students of Government Girls Secondary School, Jangebe.

Tambuwal was accompanied to Gusau on Friday by the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Sa’ad Abubakar III.

The duo expressed shock over the abduction of the students which occurred in the early hours of Friday.

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Tambuwal described the abduction as “dastardly, pathetic and an abuse to human dignity”.

He said the people of Sokoto state and indeed all other parts of the country share in the grief, noting that the people perpetrating these unfortunate acts should be ashamed of themselves.

On his part, the Sultan, who was returning to Sokoto from the Northern Governors Security meeting in Kaduna along with Tambuwal, prayed to God to make all criminals better citizens in the country.

Abubakar III urged the bandits to always have the fear of God in their ways of life.

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Responding, Gov. Bello Matawalle thanked them for their concern and brotherliness over the sad incident recorded in the state.

Matawalle noted that the visit was a further demonstration that governors and traditional rulers were working to find lasting peace in all parts of the country.

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#Newsworthy

Abducted students, teachers ‘set free.’

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The abducted students and staff from Government Science Secondary School Kagara, in Rafi Local Government Area of Niger State have been released, NoRM reported on Saturday morning.

This came almost two weeks after armed gang kidnapped 42 of them from the boarding school.

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A government official, who confirmed their release said the abductees are on their way to Minna, the state capital were they would be received by Governor Abubakar Bello.

The children were also released from a location close to where the fifty-three abductees were released a week ago, NoRM‘s known Media tv reported.

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#Newsworthy

Our Gov’t moves and reacts like snail – Sheikh Gumi.

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“There are governments that work with the speed of light and there are others that work at the speed of snail. Our government is like snail, and that is what is killing us. The response is not an issue of being positive or negative; it should be fast.”

Those were the assertion of prominent northern Islamic cleric, Sheikh Ahmad Gumi in reaction to efforts of governments at all levels to end banditry and other security challenges in the country.

Gumi’s assertion came just as at least 327 female students of Government Girls Secondary School (GGSS), Jangebe in Talata-Mafara Council of Zamfara State were abducted by gunmen suspected to be bandits in wee hours of yesterday.

Not less than 70 students were said to have escaped by hiding and did not come out until after the attackers had disappeared deep into thick forest with their victims.

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Meanwhile, seven out of the 317 students were said to have escaped from their captors and arrived home yesterday evening.

A resident close to the school, Mallam Sani Jangebe, said the bandits, who came in about seven vehicles, one of which had a GPMG-like rifle mounted on it, were in war mood, with some wearing military uniforms.

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He said: “They started with shouting, followed by sporadic shootings towards all directions before we began to hear our children in the school helplessly screaming for rescue, as the bandits forced them into the parked vehicles.”

Father of one of those abducted, Alhaji Bello Maikusa Jangebe, said the sounds of gunshots woke up the entire town at around 1:30am, adding: “We thought they have come to attack residents, as they usually do. Unfortunately, this time around, they aimed at the students and abducted about 327 of them. Later, we noticed that only few of the students were left behind.”

Some residents of the community said the bandits drove away with the abducted students towards the direction of Wuya Forest in Maru Council, one of the most dangerous axis the criminals have long occupied.

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A guardian of one of the victims, Mallam Sa’idu Kwairo, also said the gunmen drove into the town well armed in about seven Toyota Hilux vehicles, shooting sporadically to scare off any attempt for resistance.

“We could hear the helpless voices of the abducted girls screaming for help amidst unpleasant sounds of various dangerous rifles, as we noticed they had come to abduct the students in the school,” Kwairo added.

This came eight days after gunmen kidnapped dozens of students and workers and family members of Government Science College (GSC), Kagara, Niger State.

Bandits had earlier kidnapped travellers in a vehicle belonging to the state transport authority, who were released on Tuesday.

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Commissioner of Police, Mr. Abutu Yaro; the Force Commander, Operations Hadarin Daji, Maj-Gen. Aminu Bande; Commander, 1 Brigade of Nigeria Army in Gusau and other state government officials, led a heavily armed re-enforcement team to Jangebe to complement the ongoing rescue operation in the locations where the students were believed to have been taken to.

Yaro, while interfacing with the Principal of the school and parents, appealled to them to remain calm, as joint efforts of the Police and other security agencies would assuredly lead to the rescue of the students.

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Spokesperson of the state Police Command, Mr. Shehu Muhammad, said the Police, in collaboration with the military, have commenced a joint search and rescue operations to free the students.

Muhammad, in a press statement, said the Command was working hard to ensure protection of lives and properties of the people.

Following the incident, Governor Bello Matawalle, has ordered the closure of all boarding schools in the state.

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The Governor, who gave the directive in a broadcast, yesterday, said: “As we are making efforts to strengthen security around our schools, I have directed the immediate closure of all boarding secondary schools across the state.”

In Kaduna, Gumi told The Guardian that the abductors he has been negotiating with in the forests were not responsible for yesterday’s incident.

This is an indication that more splinter groups are beginning to emerge, making negotiation more difficult and increasing cases of banditry, as it may have become a thriving business.

The cleric, in a short telephone interview with The Guardian, said the abduction was carried out by a splinter group of the Zamfara bandits, saying he had reached out to the bandit leaders recently, who claimed “they are not the ones that abducted the girls, but a splinter group.”

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When asked whether he would be going to Zamfara to meet the bandits for talks and plea for release of the schoolgirls, Gumi, who had taken his peace message to bandits hideouts in Zamfara in recent times, where about 500 were reported to have repented in Shinkafi Council, and also met with bandits at Sububu and Pakai Forests, simply said: “Maybe.”

Meanwhile, the Nigeria Police Force (NPF) has commenced a coordinated search and rescue operation, including the deployment of both ground and aerial assets, aimed at locating and rescuing the students.

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To ensure the success of the operation, Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, has ordered the immediate deployment of two operational surveillance helicopters to the state.

Force Public Relations Officer, Frank Mba, a Commissioner of Police (CP), who disclosed this yesterday in Abuja, said the deployment was in addition to the personnel of Operation Puff Adder II earlier deployed to support the state Command’s efforts to combat banditry, kidnapping and other related crimes.

“The IGP, while condemning the barbaric and callous abduction of the innocent female students, has assured that the Police and other security forces will not relent until the students are successfully rescued and reunited with their families.

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“The joint rescue operation is being carried out by the Police, the military and other members of the law enforcement community, with support from the state government and other stakeholders.

“The IGP has called for calm and enjoins members of the public, particularly the people of Zamfara State, not to hesitate in availing the Police and the law enforcement community with useful information that can assist in the rescue of the abducted school girls.”

In a related development, Mba said it would not hesitate to arrest and prosecute any person or group of persons found in possession of prohibited arms without due authorisation.

There have been calls by some governors and other prominent Nigeria for the Federal Government to allow Nigerians carry licenced guns to defend themselves amid the myriads of security challenges facing the country.

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The Police spokesman disclosed that the Force was currently carrying out a systematic mop-up of illegal arms/weapons from unauthorised individuals and groups to curb the menace of increasing proliferation of arms in the country.

On when banditry would end in the country, Gumi, who has been a go-between bandits and government in efforts to secure the release of kidnap victims and continuously refused to called the bandits as such, insisting there are militants and deserve amnesty, like granted the Niger Delta ex-militants by the Federal Government, was optimistic that it would be stopped very soon. “The amnesty should come with a package and it would be over.”

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He urged the Federal Government to urgently implement an amnesty for the armed Fulani herdsmen to save Nigeria from prolonged banditry, kidnapping and other security challenges plaguing the country.

He also said government should also compensate innocent families of the herdsmen who lost their lives during military operations that left their communities destroyed.

The cleric explained that the Federal Government has been adequately informed that Fulani herdsmen, in carrying arms, are acting in self-defence over attacks, killings of their kinsmen and rustling of their cattle, reiterating that it was time government came out with an amnesty package for the Fulani, whom he called militants.

Mba, reacting to the emergence of numerous security outfits and sudden resort to self-help by many individuals, communities and states across the country, disclosed that the Police have since stopped the issuance of licence to individuals or groups to bear prohibited firearms, while also reviewing licences already issued. “The duties and functions of the NPF are clearly enshrined in the constitution of Nigeria. It is only an Act of the law that can recognise and establish any group or organisation to bear arms and carry out policing functions.”

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“Our position on the right (or otherwise) of citizens to bear arms is based on the provisions of the law. According to the Firearms Act, it is manifestly illegal and criminal for any citizen to bear a prohibited weapon without licence or appropriate authorisation.

“Consequently, the NPF would not hesitate to arrest and prosecute any person or group of persons found in possession of prohibited arms without due authorisation.”

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He added that the Police was not oblivious of the various prevailing and emerging security threats in some parts of the country, but added: “As a responsible institution of government with clear understanding of our mandate in maintaining the internal security of the country, we are committed to continuous critical evaluation of the pattern and trend of crimes in the country.

“We do these by identifying the security threats and evolving anti-crime strategies to mitigate them.”

The Force spokesman informed that the Police was doing its very best in stabilising security and reclaiming the public space from criminal elements bent on threatening internal security order in the country and bringing them to book.

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“In achieving these mandates, the citizens also have a huge role to play, but certainly not by resorting to self-help of bearing illicit arms or weapons. That will take us back to pre-civilisation era when life was ‘nasty, brutish and short.’ That is not what we deserve or desire for a new and modern Nigeria.

“What is expected of every citizen in our various communities, especially areas with security hitches, is to remain vigilant, cooperate and support the Police in the herculean, but surmountable task of ensuring that the country is safe and secure for all to live and thrive.

“The citizens must imbibe the spirit of patriotism, come together with a focus to partner with the Police in identifying the security threats in their areas and solving them accordingly. That is the whole essence and purpose of community policing operating under the principle of shared responsibility.”

Mba added that the Police remain resolute in its commitment to identify, clamp down, arrest and bringing to book, those who are arming and funding individuals or groups against the interest of the country.

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“The activities become illegal or criminal once they operate extra-judicially. They are only permitted by law to carry out less lethal policing duties. They are not permitted to bear arms.

“Meanwhile, we are also working with government at all levels to ensure that the activities of groups they set-up are in conformity with the law. For those deliberately arming and funding individuals or groups against the interest of the state, we remain resolute in our commitment to identifying, clamping down, arresting and bringing them to book.”

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#Newsworthy

Parliamentary election begin months after Presidential election birth violence.

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Gbagbo was president during a turbulent period between 2000 and 2011, when civil warfare split the country.

Campaigning for parliamentary elections in Ivory Coast began on Friday, with the March 6 vote coming four months after a presidential election marred by violence.

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The opposition boycotted the presidential poll, calling for “civil disobedience”. But it has decided to take part in the vote to elect members of a National Assembly currently dominated by the ruling party.

For the first time in a decade, the branch of the Ivorian Popular Front (FPI) led by former president Laurent Gbagbo will put forth candidates, as part of coalition called Together for Democracy and Sovereignty (EDS).

EDS has forged an alliance with the largest opposition party, the Democratic Party of Ivory Coast (PDCI), headed by former President Henri Konan Bedie, who was allied with the ruling RHDP in the last legislative elections in December 2016.

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Between the PDCI and RHDP, they obtained an absolute majority with 167 out of 255 seats.

Now Bedie says he intends to win the majority with Gbagbo to “avoid the consolidation of absolute power in our country” and “to reconcile the Ivorian people”.

The election could he held in the absence of Prime Minister Hamed Bakayoko, after the 55-year-old travelled to France for a week for medical treatment.

RHDP executive director Adama Bictogo said he “would have like for him to be by our side, so that together he and I could have launched this campaign”.

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The opposition’s participation in the vote comes after signs of appeasement from the government, including the conditional release of several opposition figures arrested after the presidential election of October 31, 2020.

That election was easily won by Ouattara, but the opposition contested the result, saying his bid for a third term was unconstitutional.

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The violence that followed the election left 87 dead and nearly 500 injured.

The bloodshed led to all parties calling for peaceful parliamentary elections.

The campaign, which officially ends on March 4, began as Gbagbo’s supporters eagerly await his return to Ivory Coast, announced by his party for mid-March.

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Gbagbo was president during a turbulent period between 2000 and 2011, when civil warfare split the country.

He refused to accept that Ouattara beat him in a 2010 presidential poll and some 3,000 people died in post-election violence before Gbagbo was arrested in April 2011.

He was transferred to the International Criminal Court in The Hague to be tried for crimes against humanity.

But Gbagbo was acquitted in January 2019, and has since lived in Brussels pending a possible appeal.

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The ICC has authorised Gbagbo to leave Belgium on the condition that the country he wishes to go to agrees to receive him.

Ouattara has stated several times stated he is in favour of Gbagbo’s return.

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#Newsworthy

KDSG restates commitment to improve healthcare.

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The Kaduna State Government has reiterated its commitment to invest more in the health sector, to give citizens access to quality health services.

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The State Deputy Governor, Dr Hadiza Balarabe, made the commitment on Friday in Kaduna at a Roundtable discussion on Public Investment in Health, organized by Palladium.

Balarabe said that the government had carefully designed programmes anchored toward improving the quality of lives of citizens through improvement in access to basic social service, particularly health care.

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She described health care as fundamental to human development, and a basic right.

According to her, lack of maintenance in the past had prevented citizens from getting very strong and functional health system.

Balarabe, however, said that the present administration in the state has been investing massively on transforming the health care system.

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The deputy governor said in spite of the investment, there is still the need for more funding and commitment for better outcome.

“We need to do a rethink on how we have been doing things; are they enough to give us better outcome and what other things contribute to effective health services.”

The deputy governor assured that the government would continue to do its best for better health care services across the state.

Balarabe called on relevant ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) and partners to continue to collaborate for more positive impact in the sector.

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She appreciated the team for the partnership and working for better health care services in the state.

On her part, Amina Baloni, the state Commissioner for Health, said a lot of work needed to be done in transforming the health sector.

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She saluted the state government for improving budgetary allocation and providing needed environment for the health sector.

The Commissioner, however, noted that priority should be accorded to operational and overhead funding, “so that we can move to areas where we can deliver services.”

“If we manage to get the social determinant right, we cut what we need in health by about 50 per cent.

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“Government has already committed more than 50 per cent of its budget to social sector in recognition that you have to have good water, sanitation, nutrition and education,” she added.

Earlier, Mustapha Jumare, the co-chair, maternal and child accountability mechanism and chairman, open government partnership, called on the state government to invest more in health care.

According to him, this will bring about more improvement in various sectors, including the economy.

He noted that funding remains the major challenge for the health sector in Kaduna State.

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“Investment in health does not only save lives, but is also vital to the wider economy, while poor health adversely affects education outcomes.”

Jumare advised the government to release funds for all approvals made, while the health ministry should track the utilisation of the funds.

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#Newsworthy

Protest rocks Armenia in demand for PM’s resignation.

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Fresh fighting erupted over the region in late September with Azerbaijani forces backed by ally Turkey making steady gains.

Several thousand opposition supporters marched through the capital of Armenia on Friday to demand Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan’s resignation over his handling of last year’s war with Azerbaijan which many see as a national humiliation.

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Columns of people angry with the prime minister flooded the streets of central Yerevan, waving Armenian flags and chanting anti-government slogans, hours before a planned meeting with the ex-Soviet country’s president.

Former Prime Minister Vazgen Manukyan, who has been put forward by the opposition to replace Pashinyan, called on all Armenians to join the protest.

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“The people must take to the street and express their will so that we can avoid bloodshed and turmoil,” he said at the rally.

“Either we get rid of them,” Manukyan said, referring to Pashinyan and his allies who control parliament, “or we will lose Armenia.”

The small South Caucasus nation plunged Thursday into a fresh political crisis as Pashinyan defied calls to resign, accused the military of an attempted coup and rallied some 20,000 supporters in Yerevan.

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But the opposition gathered some 10,000 of its own supporters, who erected barricades and set up tents and stoves outside the parliament building and vowed to hold round-the-clock demonstrations.

The crisis spilled into a second day after Pashinyan’s critics spent the night, then blocked streets near the parliament building in preparation for Friday’s rally.

The march led them to the presidency and then to the prime minister’s residence, ahead of a meeting with President Armen Sarkisian at 15:40 local time (1140 GMT).

War with Azerbaijan
A leader of the opposition Dashnaktsutyun party, Gegham Manukyan, told reporters that opposition parties would only speak with Pashinyan about “his resignation.”

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Pashinyan has said he is ready to start talks with the opposition to defuse tensions, but also threatened to arrest any opponents if they violate the law.

France on Friday urged talks based on the legitimacy of President Armen Sarkisian, who holds a largely ceremonial role but has vowed to resolve this crisis peacefully, and Pashinyan himself.

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“France would like that a dialogue takes hold in this country,” Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said after talks with Ukrainian counterpart Dmytro Kuleba.

“The elements of Armenian democracy must be able to be preserved,” he added.

Pashinyan has faced fierce criticism since he signed a peace deal brokered by Russia that ended the conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh, an ethnic Armenian region that broke from Azerbaijan’s control during a war in the early 1990s.

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Fresh fighting erupted over the region in late September with Azerbaijani forces backed by ally Turkey making steady gains.

After six weeks of clashes and bombardments that claimed some 6,000 lives, a ceasefire agreement was signed that handed over significant territory to Azerbaijan and allowed for the deployment of Russian peacekeepers.

The agreement was seen as a national humiliation for many in Armenia, though Pashinyan has said he had no choice but to agree or see his country’s forces suffer even bigger losses.

“Nikol’s time is over,” Grigor Airapetyan, a 68-year-old pensioner, told AFP at Friday’s rally.

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“So many young boys were killed, we suffered a defeat in the war and the country’s sovereignty has been weakened.”

Armenia’s military had backed Pashinyan for months, but on Thursday the military’s general staff joined calls for him to step down, saying in a statement that he and his cabinet were “not capable of taking adequate decisions”.

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#Newsworthy

North Macedonia former minister’jailed’

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The 55-year-old reappeared Tuesday afternoon, claiming he had been in isolation for possible Covid-19 symptoms.

North Macedonia’s former secret police chief was handed 12 years in prison Friday for running a sprawling illegal wiretapping operation that plunged the country into a political crisis in 2015.

Saso Mijalkov, one of the most powerful figures in the former regime led by ex-prime minister Nikola Gruevski, was among 11 people sentenced for the surveillance campaign by the criminal court in Skopje.

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While delivering the verdict, which can be appealed, a judge said it was a message that “there are no untouchables” in the Balkan state.

“When officials with that kind of power break the law, it is a demolition of the foundations of the state”, said the leading judge in the case, Dzeneta Begtovic.

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According to the verdict, the secret service tapped almost 5,000 telephone numbers without a court order between 2008 and 2015, with the goal of gaining political and economic advantages.

Among the targets were politicians from both the government and the opposition, journalists, NGO leaders and other influential figures.

The scheme was revealed by then-opposition leader and now Prime Minister Zoran Zaev in February 2015, precipitating a political crisis that ended with Gruevski’s ouster after more than a decade in power.

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The former strongman later fled to Hungary to evade a corruption conviction in 2018.

Former intelligence chief Mijalkov, who is Gruevski’s first cousin, was feared to have followed a similar path earlier this week when police could not locate him for some 48 hours starting on Sunday.

The 55-year-old reappeared Tuesday afternoon, claiming he had been in isolation for possible Covid-19 symptoms.

He was taken into prison custody after the ruling.

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Also convicted was former interior minister Gordana Jankulovska, who was sentenced to four years in prison.

The harshest sentences of 15 years were delivered in absentia to two former secret service agents who have decamped to Greece.

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#Newsworthy

India exits Recession.

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The government has forecast economic growth of 11 percent in the 2021-22 financial year, in line with the International Monetary Fund’s prediction of 11.5 percent.

India’s economy grew 0.4 percent year-on-year in the final quarter of 2020, official data showed Friday, ending its first recession since independence as easing coronavirus restrictions sparked a modest recovery.

The country has struggled to claw back lost ground after a stringent, months-long lockdown caused the labour market to collapse and the economy to contract by nearly a quarter between April and June.

India entered a “technical recession” last year for the first time since gaining independence in 1947 after registering two successive quarters of contraction. The government now estimates annual GDP will fall eight percent in 2020-21.

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The latest figures, which fell shy of the expectations of a Bloomberg survey of economists pegging growth at 0.5 percent, will nonetheless bring some cheer to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s beleaguered government.

Key sectors such as construction and manufacturing showed an improvement compared to the same quarter last year, Friday’s data revealed.

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And in January car sales in the bellwether automobile sector increased by more than 11 percent compared to a year earlier, according to industry figures.

Restrictions have been relaxed as coronavirus infections have slowed in the country of 1.3 billion in recent weeks, allowing economic activity to resume.

But the government still faces the tough task of creating enough jobs for India’s overwhelmingly young population, as millions of migrant workers make their way back to cities, reversing a massive exodus sparked by the lockdown.

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“We can’t say we are completely out of the woods,” Mumbai-based economist Ashutosh Datar told AFP.

“The real test would be what happens next financial year. Today’s number is not a major surprise,” he said.

The government has forecast economic growth of 11 percent in the 2021-22 financial year, in line with the International Monetary Fund’s prediction of 11.5 percent.

But experts have warned that India, whose tally of 11.1 million infections is second only to the United States, could experience another wave and be hit by new variants of the virus, as has happened in Brazil, Britain and South Africa.

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The financial and film capital of Mumbai imposed fresh pandemic restrictions on Monday, banning religious gatherings and political rallies after infections spiked to levels last seen in October.

New Delhi is hoping that the economy will get a further boost from a massive vaccination drive that kicked off last month but which is already running behind schedule, with 12.2 million shots administered so far to health workers and other frontline staff.

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#Newsworthy

Yemi Osinbajo comments on cryptocurrencies ban.

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This restriction made some Nigerians looked for a way to circumnavigate the restrictions set by financial institutions..

Nigeria’s vice president Yemi Osinbajo Friday called for the regulation of cryptocurrencies in the country, as against the prohibition of digital currencies.

“There is a role for regulation here,” Osinbajo said at the Bankers Committee Vanguard in Lagos State.

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“And it is in the place of both our monetary authorities and SEC to provide a robust regulatory regime that addresses these serious concerns without killing the goose that might lay the golden eggs.

“So it should be thoughtful and knowledge-based regulation, not prohibition,” he added.

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The vice president is reacting to the recent clampdown on cryptocurrencies by the Central Bank of Nigeria.

CBN ordered commercial banks and other financial institutions to close down accounts associated with cryptocurrencies. The apex later clarified that the order was not a new order, but a reminder of a directive published in 2017.

In response, banks quickly cut ties with cryptocurrency companies, such as the Binance exchange and social payments app Bundle, which in turn stopped accepting deposits.

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Since July 2020, Nigerian banks have reduced the amount customers can spend abroad using debit cards as Nigeria’s economy continued to face dollar shortages due to the sharp fall in oil prices. As of now, banks limit customers to withdraw less than $100.

This restriction made some Nigerians looked for a way to circumnavigate the restrictions set by financial institutions, hence, taking advantage of the digital currencies for their transactions.

Nigeria has since become the world’s second-largest Bitcoin market after the United States, Quartz Africa said in a December report.

Although, Osinbajo said he “fully appreciate the strong position of the CBN, SEC, and some of the anti-corruption agencies on the possible abuses of cryptocurrencies and their other well-articulated concerns, but I believe that their position should be the subject of further reflection.”

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He said regulatory bodies must “act with knowledge and not fear” as the digital currencies disruption will only make “room for efficiency and progress.”

“The point I am making is that some of the exciting developments we see call for prudence and care in adopting them, but we must act with knowledge and not fear,” he said.

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#Newsworthy

New appeal to 2000 disappearance of Dubai princess – UK.

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The British broadcaster reported Thursday the 2018 letter now under UK police review had been sent by Latifa, and had appealed to them to re-investigate the disappearance of her sister.

British police said Thursday they were reviewing a recently received letter as part of an investigation into the disappearance of the ruler of Dubai’s daughter in Britain 21 years ago.

Cambridgeshire Constabulary said it was examining the letter, which is dated February 2018, as it reviews earlier probes of Sheikha Shamsa’s disappearance from the English city of Cambridge in 2000.

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The latest police probe follows a British court ruling last year that Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum, who is vice president and prime minister of the United Arab Emirates, orchestrated her forcible return home.

The High Court decision also found Shamsa’s younger sister Sheikha Latifa, the emir’s daughter from a later marriage, had suffered a similar fate after being detained at sea by Indian special forces and forcibly returned to Dubai in 2018.

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Her case prompted renewed concern this month after the BBC published video footage said to have been shot by Latifa claiming she was being held captive and feared for her life.

The British broadcaster reported Thursday the 2018 letter now under UK police review had been sent by Latifa, and had appealed to them to re-investigate the disappearance of her sister.

“The review into the disappearance of Princess Shamsa continues,” Cambridgeshire Constabulary said in a statement to AFP, describing the matter as “very complex and serious”.

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“We can confirm officers have recently received a letter, dated February 2018, in relation to this case which will be looked at as part of the ongoing review.”

The police force added it was also examining the contents of the recent BBC documentary “to identify whether it includes anything of significance to our case”.

The programme prompted the UN Human Rights Office to ask the UAE for evidence that 35-year-old Latifa, who has not been seen in public since a foiled attempt to escape from the emirate in March 2018, is alive.

The royal family of Dubai, one of the seven emirates, subsequently insisted Latifa was being “cared for at home”.

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Cambridgeshire Constabulary investigated Shamsa’s 2000 disappearance, when she was 19, but decided there was insufficient evidence to take any further action.

A review in 2017 came to a similar conclusion, but the force launched a renewed probe last March following the High Court ruling.

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#Newsworthy

Tears as NAF ‘lays’ falling officers to rest.

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The Nigerian Air Force (NAF) on Thursday in Abuja, buried its personnel who died in the Beechcraft King Air B350i crash on Feb. 21.
The officers were buried in National Military Cemetery, Karonmajigi, Airport Road, Abuja.

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The Chief of Air Staff (CAS), AVM Oladayo Amao, said that the officers had paid the supreme price in the service to the nation.

“I stand here today bearing my personal grief as well as the entire NAF and the country as we lay to rest the remains of our fallen colleagues while in active duty to the service of their fatherland.

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“I must confess that even at this moment, NAF is still in palpable shock and grieving very deeply upon this loss of our gallant and courageous heroes,” he said.

Amao said that it was in connection with the concerted efforts to secure the release of the staff and students abducted from the Government Science College Kagara, Niger that the officer died.

He advised that the death of the officers and airmen ought to spur the rest of Nigerians to relentlessly expose and fight crimes.

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“We must throw everything that we have into this fight to ensure that our departed colleagues did not die in vain.

“Their death is a huge loss to NAF family and indeed the entire nation.

“They will be greatly missed but fondly remembered for their invaluable services to the nation and humanity,” he said.

The CAS also assured the families of the late officers that the service is with them at this time, as well as others both within and outside the country.

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Earlier, the Director, NAF Chaplaincy Protestants, Group Capt. Dogo Gani, prayed that the remains of the fallen heroes continue to rest in peace.

Gani urged all the NAF personnel as well as the civilian staff of the service to make it a point of duty to pray for the souls of the fallen heroes to rest in the bosom hands of the Almighty God.

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#Newsworthy

Communication ministry to give draft policy on 5G network at FEC – Pantami.

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The public hearing was organised by the Senate Joint Committees on Communication, Science and Technology, ICT, Cyber-Crime and Primary Health Care.

The Ministry of Communication and Digital Economy, says it plans to present a draft national policy on the Five Generation network (5G) at the Federal Executive Council for consideration.

Minister of Communication and Digital Economy, Isa Pantami said this at an investigative hearing on the status and impact of the 5G network in Nigeria on Thursday in Abuja.

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The public hearing was organised by the Senate Joint Committees on Communication, Science and Technology, ICT, Cyber-Crime and Primary Health Care.

Pantami said the presentation of the draft policy would be done at the end of research on the 5G network.

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“We have not gotten there, whether we will deploy 5G, but we are on track conducting research, investigations, engaging stakeholders and definitely if all issues are addressed, the executive will support the deployment of 5G in Nigeria.

“We are not operating in circles, the Nigerian telecommunication sector is part and parcel of the International Telecommunication Union(ITU).

“Where issues of telecommunication technology and its impacts are been discussed.

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” At the international level, we are in the process of compiling our final position.

“And most of our position will be part of the draft national policy which will be presented at the Federal Executive Council. (FEC),” he said.

He said the primary concern of the government was to ensure the security and welfare of Nigerians, even in their activities in the telecommunication sector.

He said the trial on the impact of 5G in Nigeria was approved by the Federal Government in some selected cities like Abuja, Kano, Lagos, Ibadan, Abeokuta and Calabar.

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“On Sept. 25, 2019, we conducted the first trial on 5G in Nigeria. In order to demonstrate trust and prove leadership by example.

” I personally pledged to make a trial so if there is any security implication or medical implication, then I would be number one victim.

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“And if there is any relationship with COVID-19, I will be the first victim, to date I have not contracted the virus. And I did a test up to ten times, so I did the trial personally.

“The position is that we are almost at the final stage. So now, Nigeria is ready for 5G as long as we address the major challenges,” he said.

Pantami added: “The only issue being raised is about radiation, but people don’t realise that the radiation of 4G is more harmful than that of 5G.

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“The radiation of microwave oven at home is more harmful than that of the 5G.

“The radiation of even the smartphone itself is even more harmful than that of 5G.”

President of Senate, Ahmed Lawan, while declaring the event open said that the investigative hearing was crucial given the controversy surrounding the 5G network.

“We all remember the surrounding disagreements, following the outbreak of the COVID-19.

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“It was one controversy that needed clarifications, not just from the government or the public sector, but from the private sector,” he said.

He said there were concerns that COVID-19 was associated with the deployment of the 5G communication network.

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#Newsworthy

Fashola assures total reopening of Third Mainland Bridge.

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The repairs, expected to last six months, were extended from January to February because of the #EndSARS protests.

Minister of Works and Housing, Mr Babatunde Fashola, said on Thursday that the Third Mainland Bridge in Lagos undergoing repairs would be totally reopened to traffic ‘’this weekend’’.

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Noble Reporters Media reports that Fashola, who gave the assurance during a radio phone-in programme, did not specify which day of the weekend to expect the reopening.

“I can tell you now that this weekend, it will be opened definitely; my directors are still in Lagos; the major works have now been finished, so let me say that again by way of information.

“Definitely this weekend it will be reopened. I will announce the date toward Friday and the reason why I am holding back the exact date is that we are the government.

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“Any time we say something, people must reliably be able to plan their lives around what we say,’’ he said.

He said that lane markings and finishing touches would be done within the next 48 to 72 hours, adding that the total shutdown of the bridge to happen at midnight on Friday would be the last before the total reopening.

He thanked Lagos residents for their patience and understanding, assuring that the repairs had been completed and the contractor would soon pull out of site.

“The major works have now been finished, the piles, all the joints, all the bearings, everything is done. The last miles now are the works which were not in the contract but we insisted must be done.

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“We are asphalting some of the places on the pavement that have been affected by erosion; some of the lane markings have worn away so we want to do that,’’ he said.

Fashola explained that some of the repairs being concluded were not visible because they were underwater, adding that some diversion angles created had to be rebuilt within 48 to 72 hours.

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The minister said that some time was lost on the project during the #EndSARS protests in Lagos, adding that the bridge was now safer and better for use, assuring motorists of a smooth driving experience.

He urged Nigerians to visit the ministry’s Twitter handle to get details of construction activities carried out so far on the bridge.

NoRM reports that the Third Mainland Bridge, which was going through a series of repairs, was partially shut on July 24, 2020, for another round of rehabilitation.

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The repairs, expected to last six months, were extended from January to February because of the #EndSARS protests.

The construction was initially divided into two phases of three months on each carriageway, starting with the Oworonsoki-bound carriageway whose completion dragged to four months.

Traffic was partially diverted on a stretch of 3.5km where construction was on-going between Adeniji Adele Ramp and Ebute Meta, while different time belts were allotted for traffic diversions on the bridge.

The 11.8km bridge is the longest of the three bridges linking Lagos Island and the Mainland.

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The bridge starts from Oworonshoki, which is linked to the Apapa-Oshodi Expressway and the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway and ends at the Adeniji Adele Interchange on Lagos Island.

Constructed in 1990, the bridge was the longest in Africa; until 1996 when the Oct. 6 Bridge in Cairo was completed.

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#Newsworthy

COVID-19: Nigeria reports 655 cases; 11 deaths.

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The centre also said that 1,489,103 people had been tested since the first confirmed case of COVID-19 was announced on Feb. 27 2020.

The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) has recorded 655 new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday, bringing the total number of infections in the country to 153,842.

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The NCDC disclosed this on its official Twitter handle on Wednesday.

The centre also reported 11 COVID-19-related deaths, bringing the total fatality in the country to 1,885.

Till date, the NCDC said 130,818 patients were discharged after being treated.

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The NCDC stated that the new infections were registered across 20 states and the Federal Capital Territory.

According to the centre, Lagos topped the list with 240 infections, followed by Ogun with 88, Rivers with 56 and FCT with 51 cases.

Others are Kaduna 43, Kano 25, Plateau 21, Taraba 19, Edo 17, Abia 15, Delta 13 and Nasarawa 11, Akwa Ibom 10, Kwara 10, Oyo 10, Kebbi nine, Borno five, Bayelsa and Gombe confirmed four cases each, Ekiti and Osun reported two cases each.

The centre also said that 1,489,103 people had been tested since the first confirmed case of COVID-19 was announced on Feb. 27 2020.

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The centre said that the pandemic has shown a sign of receding in the country as active cases continue to decline, from 21,363 on Tuesday to 21,279.

The NCDC said that a multi-sectoral national Emergency Operations Centre has been activated at Level III, to coordinate response activities nationwide.

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#Newsworthy

I have no interest in Tinubu’s presidential race – Fayose.

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Former Governor of Ekiti State, Ayodele Fayose, on Wednesday, said he has no interest in the rumoured presidential ambition of All Progressives Congress chieftain, Bola Tinubu, in 2023.

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Fayose, who stated this on a Live interview, expressed confidence that his party, the Peoples Democratic Party, would produce Nigeria’s president in the 2023 general elections.

He said “Bola Tinubu is a leader in the West. It is a statement of fact” but noted that he has not met or spoken with the former Lagos State governor in years.

Fayose said, “I have never met former governor Ahmed Bola Tinubu in the last three years and I have never spoken with him on the phone once. So, I don’t how they are tying the relationship politically.

“To the best of my knowledge, I am not a member of APC. I have no influence on how he will become if he wants to become. I have no interest; the only interest I have is that a PDP president must be put in place.”

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“If this country exists for the peace and enjoyment of all us, we will not be talking about it is APC, it is PDP…A PDP man cannot attend a function with an APC man. An APC man cannot greet a PDP man, we can’t continue like that, it shows level of hypocrisy,” he added.

The ex-governor of Ekiti also said he has not abandoned his ambition to be Nigeria’s president. “The office of the president is a noble one and I will love to be the president of Nigeria if the opportunity permits,” Fayose stated.

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#Newsworthy

Facebook ban Military accounts in support of Myanmar protesters.

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Facebook admitted that year it had failed to do enough to prevent the incitement of violence in Myanmar.

Facebook said it has banned all remaining accounts linked to the Myanmar military on Thursday, citing the junta’s use of deadly force against anti-coup demonstrators.

The move, which takes effect immediately, applies to the military and entities controlled by the armed forces on both Facebook and Instagram.

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It also bans “military-linked commercial entities” from advertising on the platforms.

“Events since the February 1 coup, including deadly violence, have precipitated a need for this ban,” the social media giant said in a statement.

“We believe the risks of allowing the Tatmadaw on Facebook and Instagram are too great,” it added, using the Myanmar name for the country’s armed forces.

The junta has steadily increased its use of force against a massive and largely peaceful civil disobedience campaign demanding Myanmar’s army leaders relinquish power.

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Three anti-coup protesters have been killed in demonstrations, while a man patrolling his Yangon neighbourhood against night arrests was also shot dead.

Facebook said its ban was intended to prevent Myanmar’s generals “from abusing our platform”.

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The military has used Facebook to boost its claims that voter fraud marred an election last November after ousted civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi’s party won in a landslide.

Since seizing power, the junta has arrested hundreds of anti-coup protesters, ordered nightly internet blackouts and banned social media platforms — including Facebook — in an effort to quell resistance.

Thursday’s announcement follows Facebook’s earlier decision to kick off a page run by the regime’s “True News” information service after the tech giant accused it of inciting violence.

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Pages for government offices now run by the junta remain unaffected.

“This ban does not cover government ministries and agencies engaged in the provision of essential public services,” the company said. “This includes the Ministry of Health and Sport, and the Ministry of Education.”

In recent years, hundreds of army-linked pages have been blocked by Facebook after the social media giant came under heavy criticism for its ineffective response to malicious posts in the country.

Junta chief Min Aung Hlaing and other top brass were booted from the platform in 2018, a year after a military-led crackdown forced around 750,000 members of the Rohingya Muslim community to flee into neighbouring Bangladesh.

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Facebook admitted that year it had failed to do enough to prevent the incitement of violence in Myanmar.

“We can and should do more,” Facebook executive Alex Warofka said at the time.

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#Newsworthy..

Newly affirm EFCC boss denies ‘selling seized assets.’

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The new EFCC boss also gave an assurance that under his administration, the commission must recover all stolen assets for the betterment of Nigerians.

The newly confirmed Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Abdulrasheed Bawa has denied selling off any assets seized by the commission in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State Capital.

He made this known on Wednesday while being screened for the new position by the Senate.

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According to him, the EFCC chairman has no power to dispose of assets.

Bawa further explained that it is the sole responsibility of the secretary of the commission.

The new EFCC boss also gave an assurance that under his administration, the commission must recover all stolen assets for the betterment of Nigerians.

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He said he will work with strategic partners around the world to see that Nigeria benefits from the repatriation of assets stolen from her coffers.

According to Mr. Bawa, the EFCC will achieve its independent objective by sharing information with its partners.

During the screening by the lawmakers, Bawa assured the lawmakers that the Constitution will guide his actions, should he be confirmed as EFCC Chairman.

He promised that at the end of his tenure, the EFCC will be a better place than he met it, noting that his training by the FBI and the National Crime Agency of the United States and the United Kingdom respectively will come in handy.

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Responding to questions regarding what he will do differently from his predecessors, Mr. Bawa said he will reposition the commission by ensuring that it strengthens its standard operating procedures and improve on them.

He also stated that there will be more transparency and accountability.

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#Newsworthy

I won’t apologize for supporting Fulani – Gov

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Bauchi Commissioner for Environment and Housing, Hamisu Shira, has said that Governor Ortom was covering up his non-performance with excuse herdsmen’s activities.

Bauchi State Governor, Bala Mohammed, has said that he will never apologise for opposing profiling of patriotic Fulani herders as killers and kidnappers.

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Mohammed had last week said that “herders who carry AK-47 around do so to defend themselves against cattle rustlers that are rendering them bankrupt.” The position generated mixed reactions across the country.

Speaking yesterday during the official launch of the 2020/2021 annual livestock vaccination campaign at Galambi Cattle Ranch in Bauchi, Mohammed said no tribe or group was free from criminality, so labelling a particular tribe was unfair and would breed disunity in the country.

Reacting to his Benue counterpart, Samuel Ortom, who asked him to apologise for defending carrying of weapons by herders, he said the Fulani, over the years, had been making so much sacrifice in their pastoral life, adding that the supply of beef would not have been possible without herders’ contribution.

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His words: “We kicked against the profiling of the Fulani as killers and kidnappers. We have no apology for what we have done because what we have done is to say the truth, that there is no tribe or group that is free from criminality. We are not saying that to spite anybody or spark unnecessary controversy, we have made our point.

“Nigerians have discussed it and I am happy to say that, from all indications, majority of sensible Nigerians have appreciated what we have said and that is the point. I need not mention anything of this matter for fear that controversy will be escalated, I will listen to voices of reason and keep quiet about it.”

He called on the Fulani to make their communities free of criminality.

“They must make sure that they fish out the bad eggs from among themselves because criminality is criminality. In as much as we will protect them from being profiled badly, they should make efforts to show that majority of them are good citizens, contributing positively to the growth and development of Nigeria,” he said.

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ALSO, Bauchi Commissioner for Environment and Housing, Hamisu Shira, has said that Governor Ortom was covering up his non-performance with excuse herdsmen’s activities. He urged Ortom to prioritise good governance in Benue like his Bauchi counterpart.

“This is a governor that could not afford to pay salaries while the workers resorted to demonstrations,” Shira said.At a press conference yesterday, the commissioner lamented that Ortom was distracting Mohammed with his comment.

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#Newsworthy