Minister Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, has said that it costs the Nigerian governments N3.5 million naira a month to feed Ibrahim El-Zakzaky, the leader of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria, IMN, otherwise known as Shiite.
Mr. Mohammed made the statement which has gone viral on social media on Wednesday, following the decision of the Kaduna court which denied the IMN leader bail.
The IMN leader and his wife have been in detention after they were arrested in Zaria, in December 2015.
They were first arraigned on May 15, 2018, and charged over an alleged murder, culpable homicide, unlawful assembly, and disruption of public peace, among others.
They have subsequently been denied bail severally while El-Zakzaky’s followers have continuously been having violent clashes with the security operatives, especially the Nigerian army.
After a bail application was entered again in court yesterday and was denied, the minister of Information was to have addressed some journalists where he informed them that El-Zakzaky was kept in a safe place.
He, however, added that it costs the Nigerian government a whopping sum of N3.5 million naira a month to feed the IMN leader who is in detention.
According to the minister, “the issue of whether, where he is, let’s keep it off record.
He is in a residence and eating; I mean, it costs the government N3.5 million naira every month to feed him.”
“I asked. We don’t want to inflame passion. Islamic Movement in Nigeria is a different kettle of fish.”
Meanwhile, MR. Mohammed’s statement has sparked outrage on social media with many expressing shock and disbelief at the minister’s claim on the feeding of the Shiite leader.
Some have even said it was not economical for the government to keep holding the IMN leader in detention if such cost is being incurred.
Shame on @MBuhari , @ProfOsinbajo @APCNigeria
Lei Moh says It cause the Govt 3.5M Naira to feed Sh #Zakzaky every month.There is no liar worst than Lie.@zinadabo1 @Tutsy22@segalink @farooqkperogi @Amaka_Ekwo @AgorasBlog @adeyanjudeji @ELBINAWI @PremiumTimesng @ChidiOdinkalu pic.twitter.com/WqoJDp41XD
— shuaib ahmad (@Sh4Zk) November 7, 2018
Nigerian Government Screening 19 Local Firms For COVID-19 Drugs Production, Ask Companies To Submit Samples To NAFDAC
The Federal Ministry of Health is screening 19 local firms for the production of herbal drugs that can possibly treat or cure COVID-19.
The firms, it was learnt, made many claims ranging from the outright cure for COVID-19 to the treatment of the symptoms.
It was learnt that the 19 firms had met with the leadership of the ministry and the Department of Complementary and Alternative Medicine.
The firms have, however, been asked to submit their samples to the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control out of which three would be picked and recommended for funding.
The Minister of State for Health, Senator Olorunnimbe Mamora, confirmed this during a chat with The PUNCH on Monday.
He said a meeting was held with the leadership of NAFDAC, the National Institute for Medical Research, the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria, and other relevant stakeholders.
Mamora said the ministry asked interested herbal manufacturers to tell the government what their challenges were.
The minister said some of them complained about funding as well as possible theft of their patent. Mamora said concerns over how to identify patients for the trial were also discussed.
He said, “We met with about 19 of them to know what remedies they have in place and to know how we can put them through the processes from listing the medicine to clinical trial and then we wanted to know the challenges they were having.
“They said those challenges essentially were funding and they needed assurances that their intellectual property would be protected and their product or remedy would not be stolen or repackaged by someone else.
“The other challenge is how to go about the clinical trial. Part of that is how they source for patients because they will need patients who are volunteers. These patients have to be volunteers since it is a new product that will be put out there.
“So, we are now in the process of screening the 19 of them and we will shortlist some of them. About three will be shortlisted for further assessment and we will recommend support for them in order to fast track the process of determining their efficacy.”
When asked if the drugs were for the outright cure of COVID-19 or just for the treatment, Mamora said it was too soon to say as discussions were still on.
He said NAFDAC would test the herbal solutions to see if they are safe for human consumption.
WHO suspends chloroquine trial, says Africa’s cases, deaths appear unreal
The World Health Organisation on Monday announced the suspension of clinical trials of hydroxychloroquine as a potential treatment for COVID-19.
The organization’s Director-General, Tedros Ghebreyesus, disclosed this in his opening remarks at a virtual press conference.
Ghebreyesus attributed the suspension to a recent report on the effect of the drug on patients.
He said, “As part of our continued response to the pandemic globally, WHO continues to work aggressively on research and development.
“As you know, more than two months ago, we initiated the solidarity trial to evaluate the safety and efficacy of four drugs and drug combinations against COVID-19.
“Over 400 hospitals in 35 countries are actively recruiting patients and nearly 3,500 patients have been enrolled from 17 countries.
“On Friday, the Lancet published an observational study on hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine and its effects on COVID-19 patients that have been hospitalized.
“The authors reported that among patients receiving the drug, when used alone or with a macrolide, they estimated a higher mortality rate.
“The Executive Group of the Solidarity Trial, representing 10 of the participating countries, met on Saturday and has agreed to review a comprehensive analysis and critical appraisal of all evidence available globally.
“The review will consider data collected so far in the solidarity trial and in particular robust randomized available data, to adequately evaluate the potential benefits and harms from this drug.
“The Executive Group has implemented a temporary pause of the hydroxychloroquine arm within the solidarity trial, while the safety data is reviewed by the Data Safety Monitoring Board. The other arms of the trial are continuing.”
The WHO chief stated the concern relating to the use of hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine in COVID-19, reiterating that the drugs were accepted as generally safe for use in patients with autoimmune diseases or malaria.
He promised that the organization would provide further updates when there were more developments.
Ghebreyesus noted that the figures of confirmed cases and deaths as a result of the pandemic in Africa did not appear real.
He said, “So far, although around half of the countries in the region have community transmission, concentrated mainly in major cities, Africa is the least affected region globally in terms of the number of cases and deaths reported to WHO.
“Africa has just 1.5 percent of the world’s reported cases of COVID-19, and less than 0.1 percent of the world’s deaths. Of course, these numbers don’t paint the full picture.
“Testing capacity in Africa is still being ramped up and there is a likelihood that some cases may be missed.
“But even so, Africa appears to have so far been spared the scale of outbreaks we have seen in other regions.”
The WHO chief said the early set-up of a leaders coalition led by the African Union, under the chairmanship of President Ramaphosa of South Africa, was key to rapidly accelerate preparedness efforts and issuing comprehensive control measures.
He noted that countries across Africa had garnered a great deal of experience from tackling infectious diseases such as polio, measles, Ebola, yellow fever, influenza, and many more.
He added, “Africa’s knowledge and experience of suppressing infectious diseases have been critical to rapidly scale up an agile response to COVID-19.
“There have been solidarity across the continent. Labs in Senegal and South Africa were some of the first in the world to implement COVID-19 diagnostic testing.
“And beyond that, they worked together with Africa CDC and WHO to extend training for laboratory technicians for detection of COVID-19 and to build up the national capacity across the region.
“Furthermore, health clinicians, scientists, researchers, and academics from across Africa are collectively contributing to the worldwide understanding of COVID-19 disease.
“For many years and from the outset of this pandemic, WHO has been working through our country offices to support nations in health emergency preparedness and developing comprehensive national action plans to prevent, detect and respond to the virus.”
Meanwhile, the Ogun State Government on Monday, said COVID-19 had spread to 16 out of 20 local government areas of the state.
The Commissioner for Health in the state, Dr Tomi Coker, who disclosed in an interview with one of our correspondents, said only four local governments were free of COVID-19 in the state as of Monday afternoon.
The Commissioner, who mentioned three out of four councils that were free of the virus, said she did not remember the fourth one. She said she could not access her diary where the detailed report of the geography was recorded.
The commissioner said, “There are four local government areas that are free of these cases. Both Egbado North and South, Ijebu-Ode, there is one more that I cannot remember now, but, they are four.”
Lagos To Close Marine Beach Bridge For Five Months
The Lagos State Government on Sunday announced a plan to effect partial closure of the Marine Beach Bridge, Apapa, to vehicular movement, from May 27 to Oct. 21.
The state Commissioner for Transportation, Dr Frederic Oladeinde, made the disclosure in a statement in Lagos.
He said that the closure would be to enable repair of the bridge which, he said, was long overdue.
“The repair by the Federal Ministry of Works is long overdue and is vital for the safety of the people of Lagos State, especially motorists that ply the bridge to access different parts of the state.
“Necessary palliative works have been carried out on all alternative routes around the construction site to make them to be in good condition to ease movement during the construction period.
“The repair work, which comprise bearing and expansion joint replacement, is planned to be executed in two phases, with each phase focusing on one lane of the bridge at a time.
” The first phase will be handling the lane inbound Apapa while the second phase will be designated to work on the lane that conveys vehicles outside the axis,” he said.
Oladeinde said that the partial closure of the bridge by Total Gas, inward Apapa, would last for five months.
The commissioner said that the repair was in line with the vision of providing a seamless transportation system in the metropolis.
According to him, motorists inward Wharf Road would be diverted to the other section of the bridge outward Apapa.
Oladeinde said that a contraflow of 200 metres had been designed for vehicles to realign with a proper direction inward Ajegunle or Wharf Road, Apapa.
He said that motorists descending to Total Gas would drive without any hindrance.
The commissioner said that operatives of the Lagos State Traffic Management Authority would be stationed at the construction locations to ease traffic.
Oladeinde appealed to motorists and residents of the area to cooperate with traffic management agencies deployed to the areas.
“The state government expresses its commitment to providing a transportation system that will meet the needs of a larger population in an emerging smart city,” he said.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the Public Affairs Unit of the State Ministry of Transportation (MOT) had on March 27 announced the closure of the Marine Bridge, partially from March 28 to Aug. 15 for repair.
However, on March 28, the ministry suspended the plan due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Cops Chasing Suspected Kidnappers Shoot Teenager Performing Ablution
A teenager, Sadiq Abubakar-Ibrahim, has undergone surgery at the National Hospital, Abuja after he was shot by policemen attached to the Special Tactical Squad.
According to PUNCH Metro, the victim was performing ablution around 1 pm in his place of residence in the Gwarinpa area on Monday, May 18, 2020, when the policemen scaled the fence into the compound.
They were said to have opened fire on Sadiq, who took to his heel thinking that the invaders were armed robbers or kidnappers.
Our correspondent learnt that the policemen claimed that they were after a suspected kidnapper, who allegedly entered the house.
The policemen were said to have arrested all male occupants of the house, including the victim, and detained them at the Guzate Police Station.
Sadiq’s family member, Fatima Babashehu, told our correspondent that after much pleading, the policemen released the victim for medical attention.
She said the police had refused to check on the victim or pay his medical bills since he was admitted last week Monday.
Babashehu stated, “Sadiq’s mother was beside the fence of the house trying to make barbeque fire last Monday when she heard people shouting and jumping over the neighbour’s fence into their house and she ran into the kitchen and closed the door.
“The men started banging the door and asking the occupants to open the door, and when they opened the door, the men dragged everybody out and searched for other members of the household.
“While they went round, they saw Sadiq, where he was performing ablution beside the house, but on sighting them, Sadiq thought they were armed robbers, he got scared and jumped over the fence to the neighbour’s house on the right side, but the invaders shot him in his hand.
“They followed him and started shooting so the neighbours gave Sadiq up and the owner of the house and two of his sons were also arrested. They brought everybody out and gathered them at the dining area and took all the male occupants away.
“Nobody knew where they came from at first; we thought they were kidnappers or armed robbers, because of the way they scaled the fence; they were in mufti and jackets. We started making calls to find out who took our people and we were able to confirm that they were policemen.
“We made more calls and we were able to gather that they came from the Guzate Police Station. We learnt that they were tracing a kidnapper, who was demanding ransom, and his location showed our house.
“We were taken to the commander of the squad and he told us that the officers told him a different story when they got to the station. He said a kidnap took place in Lokoja but the negotiator was around our house and when they traced him, they saw the kidnapper jumping into the house. He said the officers told him that it was not a gunshot that injured Sadiq’s hand, but a barbwire on the fence, while he was scaling the fence into the neighbour’s house.
“When we got to the police station, we saw Sadiq bleeding without any medical attention and we pleaded that he should be taken to hospital, but we were chased out on the grounds that we could not teach them their job.
“We were later made to sign an undertaking that we were the ones, who requested to take him to hospital, and I told Sadiq’s dad that if we should leave him with the police, he would die; so, we decided to take him to hospital and we requested that a police officer should follow us, because it was a gunshot injury and no hospital would attend to him without a police report or officer.
“They agreed that an officer would follow us and we drove to the National Hospital, Abuja, but when we got there, the officer was asked to write a statement, but he refused and we were told that they would not admit Sadiq until the officer submitted his particulars and phone number so they could reach him.
“Sadiq’s uncle was the one, who wrote the name and phone number of the police officer and the division he is attached to before he was attended to; and the officer left immediately and we have not seen him or any other police personnel since then.
“Sadiq is billed for surgery because the bullet pierced his bone and shattered it. We have not heard anything from the police; they did not reach out to us to know about the hospital bill.”
When contacted, the FCT police spokesman, Anjuguri Manzah, referred our correspondent to the force spokesperson, Frank Mba.
When Mba was contacted, his telephone was not reachable and an SMS requesting his comment on the matter had not been replied to as of the time of filing this report.