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COVID-19: Kano Surge Worries FG, Governor Ganduje Begs For Help

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The Federal Government on Tuesday said it was worried by the rising cases of COVID-19 in Kano State.

The Minister of State for Health, Dr Olorunnibe Mamora, who said this in Abuja at a media briefing of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, said the Federal Government would increase its support for the highly populated state to stop the spread of the virus.

Also, the National Coordinator of the PTF, Dr Sani Aliyu, at the briefing, said the task force was concerned about the increasing cases of the virus in the state.

He also commented on the recent multiple deaths in the state, which the state government on Monday said it was investigating.

Besides, some residents, in separate interviews with The PUNCH, said they were disturbed by the upsurge in COVID-19 cases in the state, which was free of the virus last month.

Kano State recorded its first COVID-19 case on April 11 when a retired ambassador, who had gone on a trip to the United Kingdom, was diagnosed with the virus.

The cases shot up to 59 on Monday as 23 more persons were infected with the virus, whose spread was hastened by the index case, who was reported to have attended a Jumat prayer in Kano.

Also, reports of recent increasing deaths in the state have worsened fear that cases of the virus in the highly populated state may be higher than what is being reported.

On his part, PTF coordinator, Aliyu said the Federal Government and the PTF had noted the rising cases of COVID-19 in the state. He said the task force was working with the state government to tackle the surge.

He said, “We are closely monitoring Kano, Osun, Oyo and Edo states. We note with particular concern, Kano State and we have engaged closely with the state government. (But) because we are increasing the number of tests as we ramp up, we are likely to have an increase in the number of cases.”

Also, the PTF said the state government had set up a team to investigate the increase in coronavirus cases in the state.

The PTF coordinator said the task force had been working closely with the state authorities in Kano. He added, “There is a possibility that we will continue to have more cases coming in as we increase the number of tests.

A journalist asked for Aliyu’s comment on multiple deaths and reports of mass burial in Kano.

Responding he said, “Over the weekend, we engaged directly with the state governor and, virtually, over the last two days, I have been talking to people in Kano to find out what is going on.

“It’s not very clear whether the reports we are getting are actually factual or not. But they (Kano State Government) have set up a team that will be investigating this further.

“In terms of what we are doing from the Abuja side, the Director-General of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control made an on-the-spot assessment yesterday. He just left Kano today (Tuesday).”

The national coordinator said the PTF had sent Rapid Response Teams to Kano, adding that the task force continued to engage with the government in terms of testing.

“The test centre in Kano started last week. We are also looking at opening more centres for taking samples so that we can increase the number of tests and also improve the efficiency of contact tracing.”

As the Federal Government stepped up efforts to curb COVID-19 in Kano, the state Governor, Abdullahi Ganduje, on Tuesday called for more testing centres in the state.

The governor, according to a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, by Abba Anwar, made the call when the NCDC, Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu, visited him at the Government House in Kano.

He stated, “We need additional testing centres in the state. We need vehicles and protection kits. We need coordination. We need rapid responses and we need palliative.

“Kano is the third on the list of states with a high number of COVID-19 cases and is the most populated state in the federation. We, therefore, need financial support from the Federal Government.”

Relatives attribute deaths to malaria-related ailment

In a related development, residents of Kano have explained the increase in deaths recorded in the city within the last three days.

Also some of the relatives of those who died attributed their deaths to a malaria-related ailment.

One of the residents and community leader, Alhaji Jafaru Gwarzo, in an interview with The PUNCH, said, “Most of the places that have recorded a high number of deaths are densely populated areas. So anybody that dies people will take the corpse to a nearby cemetery for burial due to the lockdown.

“So based on our findings, Abattoir cemetery in Fagge area recorded the highest number of burials because it is near densely populated areas like Gwammaja, Yola and Kulkul.”

Another resident, Mallam Musa Maiyara, said the number of death recorded within the last three days in the metropolis was alarming.

He stated, “People who died were mostly buried in three major cemeteries in the city. This heightened fear of the residents that the deceased might have died as a result of a strange ailment.

Some families of the deceased, who spoke on condition of anonymity, attributed the unusual deaths to an ailment related to malaria.

A resident said his father died as a result of malaria and was buried at the Abattoir cemetery on Saturday.

Another bereaved member of a family said he lost his mother, who had a fever on Friday and was buried at the same cemetery where some people who died as a result of similar ailment were buried.

A resident in Kano, Abdulmunini Giwa, attributed the COVID-19 fear in the state to its dense population.

Another resident, Musa Ado, said, “Kano, for instance, we are faced, with two major crises, health crisis arising from COVID-19 pandemic and hunger crisis, arising from the total lockdown.’’

 

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‘I Paid 42k Twice For COVID-19 Test’ — Sweden Returnee Laments Extortion In Abuja

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Ndubuisi Ekwulonu, a Nigerian who came into the country from Sweden, says he was extorted in Abuja, as he paid twice for the mandatory COVID-19 test for passengers on international flights.

It is compulsory for all passengers coming into the country to provide negative COVID-19 test results prior to boarding; passengers are also expected to pay for a repeat test, which will be done after arrival.

Speaking with Brekete Family, a reality programme focused on human rights, in a viral video, Ekwulonu said despite paying twice for the COVID-19 test, his name was not found on the list of people who were to be tested.

“At the airport, there is a form the federal government said we would fill online before we leave where we are coming from. So after I filled the form, there are two options; either I pay with card or on arrival. Because of the bad network in Nigeria, I chose the option of paying on arrival,” he said.

“So, on getting to Nnamdi Azikiwe Airport in Abuja, I used my ATM card and I showed them a picture that I have filled the form and they saw the ‘capture’. They requested my passport number which I gave them and they filled it in on their computer and brought out their POS. I paid and was debited N42,750.

“I was given two options; one laboratory in Jabi, the other in Maitama. Because I live close to Maitama, I chose that. But if you put the address of the laboratory in Google, it will take you to Emab Plaza, one laboratory there.”

He said on getting there, the people at the lab said they were unaware of what he was asking for and told him to leave.

“So, I came out, met a gateman to direct me to the place. He said I should go to THISDAY Dome. I went there; they said I should go to the ministry of health in the secretariat. At the ministry, I was directed to MM, one conference center. So, I took the taxi there and found the lab.

“I told the guy that they will ban me from the country if I don’t do the test and he said he will forward my information to Lagos which he did.”

Ekwulonu said he waited at the laboratory the whole day for a response from Lagos, but unfortunately, none came.

“I went home, came back. He checked the system and said my name is not on the list they gave him. Luckily for me, two people on the same flight with me came and couldn’t find their names. Even my friend from Sweden couldn’t find his name,” he said.

“Then they said I will have to pay another money if I want to do the test. I paid another N42,750 and did the test.

“This morning… I am supposed to leave Nigeria on Saturday, they sent me a message that I have to pay again for another test.”

Ndubuisi, who was in tears, lamented the difficulty in securing a job as a Nigerian in Sweden. He said there are about 5,700 employees where he works, but 5,000 were sacked.

“And I was among those retained. It took me time to get this job because I am a Nigerian. Even a Rwandan will get a job before you and these are people you know, in every aspect of life, you are better than them. Just because you are carrying a Nigerian passport, to get a job will be hard, so how can I lose my job because I came into Nigeria?” he lamented as he burst into tears.

However, later on, Tuesday, the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (FCCPC), in a tweet, said Ndubuisi had been refunded.

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The Story Was Twisted Fundamentally Out Of Context, My Client Never Begged Salami Panel For Mercy —– Magu’s Lawyer

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Wahab Shittu, counsel to Ibrahim Magu, suspended chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), says his client never admitted to the allegations against him.

Magu is being investigated by a presidential panel over allegations of abuse of office and mismanagement of recovered assets under his watch as acting chairman of the EFCC.

Magu appeared before the panel last Friday to defend himself.

Shittu, in a statement on Tuesday, said the report that Magu confessed to the panel that he was overzealous as EFCC chairman and begged for mercy was misleading.

“We wish to state that this story was twisted fundamentally out of context by my client’s accusers who want to hit back at my client without justification,” he said.

“It is true that Magu and my humble self addressed the panel at the conclusion of his defense while Magu clarified that he threw himself to the job of acting chair because of his passion for the anti-corruption war, a situation that may be alleged overzealousness in some quarters.

“He however pleaded for justice and fair-play by the panel members in the context of his overall achievements and his fledgling career which hitherto remain unblemished and will terminate in two years’ time.

“Counsel to Magu also urged the panel members in the interest of fear of God and loyalty to their conscience to ensure justice in the matter and concluded by thanking them for patience and understanding throughout the proceedings.

“At no time did Magu admit to guilt to the allegations, the subject matter of the inquiry. Indeed the only thing going for Magu is the conviction of his innocence.

“A member of the panel had cause to inquire from me whether I am convinced that the panel will do justice to my client? I responded in the affirmative and I hope my optimism of the justice of the process at the end will not be illusory.”

He said as Nigerians wait on the Ayo Salami-led panel to do justice in this matter, commentators in the public space should comment based on facts and law.

According to the lawyer, the preoccupation of the inquiry is to reveal the truth without grandstanding, sensationalism, dramatization, or any attempt at the coloration of the truth.

“The danger is that these orchestrated stories in the public space may have the effect of shifting the real focus from the quest for facts and truth which is the real focus of the inquiry to sensationalism, half-truths, propaganda which will neither benefit either Nigerians who are interested in the real facts and truth nor the panel members who have toiled for days to execute the assignment including the subject of inquiry whose proclamation of guilt or innocence will define his future career and his perception in the public space,” he said.

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Nigerian Govt Orders DisCos To Suspend Electricity Tariff Hike

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The Federal Government has ordered the Electricity Distribution Companies in the country to suspend the recent hike in tariff.

The Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission issued the order on Tuesday night.

This followed an agreement reached by the Federal Government and Organised Labour for the suspension of the hike in tariff for 14 days.

According to the NERC, the tariff suspension will be from September 28, 2020, to October 2, 2020.

The Order, No. NERC/209/2020, with the title: “NERC Order on the suspension of the Multi-Year Tariff Order 2020 for the electricity distribution licensees,” was signed by the NERC Chairman, James Momoh; and the Commissioner, Legal, Licensing and Compliance, Dafe Akpeneye, and addressed to the country’s DisCos.

 

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