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Strike: ASUU Appeals Ruling, Says FG Has Declared War

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The striking Academic Staff Union of Universities will on Friday (today) file an appeal against the ruling of the National Industrial Court which directed its members to resume work.

Counsel for ASUU, Femi Falana (SAN), disclosed this in an interview in Abuja on Thursday.

ASUU has been on strike since February 14 to press home its demands for improved funding for universities and a review of salaries for lecturers, among other issues.

Justice Polycarp Hamman on Wednesday ordered the union’s members back to work.

But Falana said, “We are filing the appeal tomorrow (Friday) morning. We just got the certified true copy of the judgment on Thursday. The appeal will be filed first thing Friday morning.”

Vice-Chancellors speak
Meanwhile, the Committee of Vice-Chancellors of Nigerian Universities has said the crisis between the Federal Government and ASUU is not an issue that should be taken to court.

While reacting to the court order asking ASUU to go back to class, the CVCNU chairman, Prof. Samuel Edoumiekumo, said, “The matter is not a court issue. A lecturing job is not one you force people to do because it is a knowledge-based job.

“The best is to mutually understand one another. If, as a student, you go to the class now and you are not given knowledge, what will be the outcome? We are pleading that ASUU, FG, and other stakeholders should come together and dialogue and settle it.”

‘FG declared war’
The Ebonyi State University’s ASUU Chairman, Ikechukwu Igwenyi, on Thursday, said with the court order, the Federal Government has declared “war” against members of the union.

This was as he pointed out that the “no work, no pay” policy of the government shows the authorities lack an understanding of the nature of the contract between the lecturers and their employees.

“The NIC ordered ASUU to call off the ongoing strike and return to the classroom with empty stomachs and unpaid bills pending the determination of the suit filed against the union by the Federal Government,” he said in Abakaliki, on Thursday.

IPPIS, UTAS failed Integrity test – NITDA
The leadership of the House of Representatives has invited the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha; Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige; Head of Civil Service of the Federation, Dr. Folashade Yemi-Esan; and the Director-General, Budget Office of the Federation, Ben Akabueze, among others over the lingering crisis.

Speaker of the House, Femi Gbajabiamila; and Deputy Speaker, Ahmed Wase, on Thursday, led chairmen of relevant committees to another meeting with Yemi-Esan, Nta, and other top officials on the government’s side.

At the meeting, National Information Technology Development Agency told the House leadership that the Integrated Payroll Personnel Information System, the University Transparency Accountability Solution proposed by ASUU, and the University Peculiar Personnel and Payroll System failed integrity tests.

However, another group of academic staff in public universities in the country, the Congress of University Academics, has urged vice-chancellors to immediately reopen universities across the country based on the industrial court’s ruling.

This was contained in a statement on Thursday by CONUA’s National Coordinator, Dr. Niyi Sunmonu.

Credit: The Punch

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JUST IN: 31-Yr-Old Belgium Star, Eden Hazard Quits International Football

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Belgium star Eden Hazard announced his retirement from international football on Wednesday, days after the team crashed out of the World Cup in the group stage.

The Real Madrid forward, 31, made the announcement on social media, saying “a page turns today”.

“Thank you for your unparalleled support,” he posted on Instagram.

“Thank you for all this happiness shared since 2008. I have decided to put an end to my international career.

“The succession is ready. I will miss you.”

Hazard was the standard-bearer of Belgium’s much-vaunted “golden generation”, which reached the semi-finals at the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

The ageing team failed to make it past the first round in Qatar, finishing third in Group F behind Morocco and Croatia.

 

Credit: AFP

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Post-COVID Protest: China Loosens Strict Restrictions 2-Yrs After Pandemic

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China announced Wednesday a nationwide loosening of Covid restrictions following protests against the hardline strategy that grew into calls for greater political freedoms.

Anger over China’s zero-Covid policy, which involved mass lockdowns, constant testing and quarantines even for people who are not infected, stoked unrest not seen since the 1989 pro-democracy protests.

Under the new guidelines announced by the National Health Commission, the frequency and scope of PCR testing — long a tedious mainstay of life in zero-Covid China — will be reduced.

Lockdowns will also be scaled down and people with non-severe Covid cases can isolate at home instead of centralised government facilities.

And people will no longer be required to show a green health code on their phone to enter public buildings and spaces, except for “nursing homes, medical institutions, kindergartens, middle and high schools.”

The new rules scrap the forced quarantines for people with no symptoms or with mild cases.

“Asymptomatic infected persons and mild cases who are eligible for home isolation are generally isolated at home, or they can voluntarily choose centralised isolation for treatment,” the new rules read.

“Mass PCR testing only carried out in schools, hospitals, nursing homes and high-risk work units; scope and frequency of PCR testing to be further reduced,” they added.

“People travelling across provinces do not need to provide a 48h test result and do not need to test upon arrival.”

China will also accelerate the vaccination of the elderly, the NHC said, long seen as a major obstacle to the relaxation of Beijing’s no-tolerance approach to Covid.

Rare demonstrations against the ruling Communist Party’s zero-Covid strategy broke out across China late last month.

They expanded into calls for more political freedoms, with some even calling for President Xi Jinping to resign.

Authorities cracked down on subsequent efforts to protest while easing a number of restrictions, with some Chinese cities tentatively rolling back mass testing and curbs on movement.

The capital Beijing, where many businesses have fully reopened, said this week that commuters were no longer required to show a negative virus test taken within 48 hours to use public transport.

Financial hub Shanghai, which underwent a brutal two-month lockdown this year, announced the same rules, with residents able to enter outdoor venues such as parks and tourist attractions without a recent test.

And once dominated by doom and gloom coverage of the dangers of the virus and scenes of pandemic chaos abroad, China’s tightly controlled media dramatically shifted tone to support a tentative moving away from zero-Covid.

The prevalent Omicron strain is “not at all like last year’s Delta variant,” Guangzhou-based medicine professor Chong Yutian said in an article published by the Communist Party-run China Youth Daily.

“After infection with the Omicron variant, the vast majority will have no or light symptoms, and very few will go on to have severe symptoms, this is already widely known,” he assured readers.

But analysts at Japanese firm Nomura on Monday calculated that 53 cities — home to nearly a third of China’s population — still had some restrictions in place.

Wednesday’s announcement came hours after the government released further data showing the crippling economic impacts of zero-Covid.

Imports and exports plunged in November to levels not seen since early 2020.

Imports in November fell 10.6 percent year-on-year, the biggest drop since May 2020, according to the General Administration of Customs. Exports fell 8.7 percent over the same period.

 

Credit: AFP

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19-Yr-Old Endurance Arrested After Defrauding A British Lady Of £450K And Using The Money To Buy Cars, Gold Chains, Others

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A 19-year-old  man, Iredia Endurance has been arrested by the operatives of Benin Zonal Command of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, for alleged fraud.

According to a statement released by Wilson Uwujaren, spokesperson of the anti-graft agencym says Endurance was recently arrested by the Commission following a petition by one Chrstine Brown, a British citizen, alleging that the suspect defrauded her of £450,000.00.

“Upon arrest, the suspect confessed he received £250,000.00 from the complainant in Bitcoin, FedEx and gift cards. On what he did with the money, the suspect averred that they were expanded on cars, gold chains, and landed properties, among others.

Some of the items recovered from the suspect include mobile  phones, laptops, sim cards and landed property.” He added that the suspect will be charged to court as soon as investigations are concluded.

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