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Coronavirus’ effect on world economy grows more alarming

Singapore, on Tuesday announced its 2020 budget, pledging 5.6 billion Singapore dollars (or 4.02 billion U.S. dollars) to assist businesses and households affected financially by the coronavirus outbreak.

Concerns about the coronavirus outbreak’s threat to the world economy grew Saturday, even after United States, President Donald Trump, denounced criticism of his response to the threat as a “hoax” cooked up by his political enemies.

China’s manufacturing plunged in February by an even wider margin than expected after efforts to contain the virus shut down much of the world’s second-largest economy, an official survey showed.

The survey, coming as global stock markets fall sharply on fears that the virus will spread abroad, adds to mounting evidence of the vast cost of the disease that emerged in central China in December and its economic impact worldwide.

The list of countries touched by the virus has climbed to nearly 60, with new cases reported Saturday in Lebanon, Croatia, the Netherlands and Ecuador. More than 85,000 people worldwide have contracted the virus, with deaths topping 2,900.

Many cases have been relatively mild, and some of those infected are believed to show no symptoms at all. But that can allow for easier spread, and concern is mounting that prolonged quarantines, supply chain disruptions and a sharp reduction in tourism and business travel could weaken the global economy or even cause a recession.

The monthly purchasing managers’ index issued by the Chinese statistics agency and an industry group fell to 35.7 from January’s 50 on a 100-point scale on which numbers below 50 indicate activity contracting.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced a 270 billion yen ($2.5 billion) emergency economic package to help fight the virus. Abe said at a news conference that Japan is at critical juncture to determine whether the country can keep the outbreak under control ahead of the Tokyo summer Olympics.

Abe, whose announcement this past week of a plan to close all schools for more than a month through the end of the Japanese academic year sparked public criticism, said the emergency package includes financial support for parents and their employers affected by the closures.

“Frankly speaking, this battle cannot be won solely by the efforts of the government,” Abe said Saturday. “We cannot do it without understanding and cooperation from every one of you, including medical institutions, families, companies and local governments.”

As governments scrambled to control the spread and businesses wrestled with interruptions, researchers working to better understand the disease reported that the death rate may be lower than initially feared as more mild cases are counted.

A study by Chinese researchers published Friday in the New England Journal of Medicine analyzing 1,099 patients at more than 500 hospitals throughout China calculated a death rate of 1.4%, substantially lower than earlier studies that focused on patients in Wuhan, where it started and has been most severe.

Assuming there are many more cases with no or very mild symptoms, “the case fatality rate may be considerably less than 1%,” U.S. health officials wrote in an editorial in the journal.

That would make the new virus more like a severe seasonal flu than a disease similar to its genetic cousins SARS, severe acute respiratory syndrome, or MERS, Middle East respiratory syndrome.

Despite anxieties about a wider outbreak in the U.S., Trump has defended measures taken and lashed out at Democrats who have questioned his handling of the threat.

At a political rally Friday night in North Charleston, South Carolina, Trump asserted that Democratic complaints about his handling of the virus threat are “their new hoax,” echoing similar past complaints by the president about the Russia investigation and his impeachment.

Trump accused Democrats of “politicizing” the coronavirus threat and boasted about preventive steps he’s ordered in an attempt to keep the virus from spreading across the United States.

Shortly before Trump began to speak, health officials confirmed a second case of the virus in the U.S. in a person who didn’t travel internationally or have close contact with anyone who had the virus.

The outbreak’s spread around the globe has led to shuttered holy sites, canceled classes and changes to the daily lives of millions.

Italian authorities say the country now has more than 1,000 coronavirus cases. The head of Italy’s civil protection agency told a press conference that the total number reached 1,128 Saturday. Officials also reported eight more deaths of people with the virus, bring Italy’s total to 29.

Iran is preparing for the possibility of “tens of thousands” of people getting tested for the virus as the number of confirmed cases spiked again Saturday, an official said, underscoring the fear both at home and abroad over the outbreak in the Islamic Republic.

The virus and the COVID-19 illness it causes have killed 43 people out of 593 confirmed cases in Iran, Health Ministry spokesman Kianoush Jahanpour said. The new toll represents a jump of 205 cases — a 150% increase from the 388 reported the day before.

Earlier Saturday, Bahrain barred public gatherings for two weeks and threatened legal prosecution against travellers who came from Iran and hadn’t been tested for the virus.

Saudi Arabia has closed off Islam’s holiest sites in Mecca and Medina to foreign pilgrims, disrupting travel for thousands of Muslims already headed to the kingdom and potentially affecting plans later this year for millions more ahead of the fasting month of Ramadan and the annual hajj pilgrimage.

Even in isolated, sanctions-hit North Korea, leader Kim Jong Un called for stronger anti-virus efforts to guard against COVID-19, saying there will be “serious consequences” if the illness spreads to the country.

China has seen a slowdown in new infections and on Saturday morning reported 427 new cases over the past 24 hours along with 47 additional deaths. The city at the epicenter of the outbreak, Wuhan, accounted for the bulk of both. The ruling party is striving to restore public and business confidence and avert a deeper economic downturn and politically risky job losses after weeks of disruptions due to the viral outbreak.

South Korea, the second hardest hit country, reported 813 new cases Saturday — the highest daily jump since confirming its first patient in late January and raising its total to 3,150.

Streets were deserted in the city of Sapporo on Japan’s northernmost main island of Hokkaido, where a state of emergency was issued until mid-March. Seventy cases — the largest from a single prefecture in Japan — have been detected in the island prefecture.

In France, the archbishop of Paris advised parish priests not to administer communion by placing the sacramental bread in the mouths of worshippers. Instead, priests were told to place the bread in their hands. According to the Paris diocese, a priest tested positive for the virus Friday after returning from Italy.

The head of the World Health Organization on Friday announced that the risk of the virus spreading worldwide was “very high,” while U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said the “window of opportunity” for containing the virus was narrowing.

In Asia, Tokyo Disneyland and Universal Studios Japan announced they would close, and events that were expected to attract tens of thousands of people were called off, including a concert series by the K-pop group BTS.

Tourist arrivals in Thailand are down 50% compared with a year ago, and in Italy — which has the most reported cases of any country outside of Asia — hotel bookings are falling and Premier Giuseppe Conte raised the specter of recession.

Economists have forecast global growth will slip to 2.4% this year, the slowest since the Great Recession in 2009, and down from earlier expectations closer to 3%. For the United States, estimates are falling to as low as 1.7% growth this year, down from 2.3% in 2019.

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Coronavirus: Akwa Ibom urges residents not to panic

The state commissioner for health, Dr Dominic Ukpong, made the call in a telephone interview in Uyo on Saturday.

With the confirmation of the deadly Coronavirus case in Nigeria, the Akwa Ibom State Government has urged residents of the state not to panic.

The state commissioner for health, Dr Dominic Ukpong, made the call in a telephone interview in Uyo on Saturday.

He urged residents to take precautionary measures to protect themselves and others by a regular and thorough washing of hands with soap and running water.

He said that the state has beefed up security to sustain screening of passengers at the Victor Attah International Airport.

He said that the ministry has commenced training of health workers, staff and management of the airport and airlines operating within the state to acquaint them on modalities for screening passengers.

“All Akwa Ibomites should be conscious of COVID-19 and take all necessary precautionary measures to protect themselves and others.

“By ensuring regular washing of hands with soap and running water and regular use of alcohol hand sanitizers,” Ukpong said.

He said that the State Emergency Preparedness and Response Committee, key management of public and private health facilities in the state and the 31 Disease Surveillance and Notification Officers have been placed on red alert.

“I am meeting with the leadership of the church that is Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) at the Insight Bible church, Uyo, where I will be explaining the COVID-19

“I will also meet with Aviation Management of Uyo Airport alongside with the management of Ibom Airline.

“By tomorrow, I will be meeting with the Superintendent, Chief Medical Officers, Matrons of all hospitals, and Heads of Private Hospitals in the state and all cadre of health workers.

“We are preparing, we are all working because the case has already come into Nigeria. So, we must act immediately,’’ he said.

The commissioner said that the state ministry of health would continue to provide regular updates and keep up with measures required to prevent an outbreak in the state.

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Southern Kaduna: We’ve suffered greatest social disruption, economic deprivation, insecurity under Governor El-Rufai

“Governor Nasir El-Rufai has also intervened to ensure prompt settlement of the salary arrears that the local government councils owe to about 8500 primary school teachers that were employed in the second batch of recruitment of new teachers.

The Southern Kaduna people have expressed concern that since the inception of Mal. Nasir Ahmad El-Rufai’s government in 2015, Adara people and indeed Southern Kaduna communities have suffered the greatest social disruptions, economic deprivations and insecurity.

The people said the government of the day is neither heard, nor practically seen to be genuinely interested in peaceful coexistence, security of lives and properties of the citizens of Southern Kaduna.

In a memorandum on the incessant crises in Kachia, Kajuru, Chikjn local government areas and surrounding communities, submitted to Judicial Commission of Inquiry set up by the Kaduna state government, the Southern Kaduna People’s Union, SOKAPU, added, “On the contrary, the actions and pronouncements of El- Rufai’s administration have institutionalized open discrimination, political and administrative exclusion and biases and full scale subjugation of the indigenous people of Kachia, and Kajuru and Chikun Local Government Areas, and indeed the whole of southern Kaduna, which have destroyed peace and security and instituted a regime of violence and crises in the communities.”

SOKAPU, in its memorandum to the commission of inquiry further explained, “Mal. Nasiru El-Rufai stated on the 6th of December 2016 when addressing reporters in his office as the Governor, that most of the armed Herdsmen come from Niger, Cameroun, Chad, Mali and Senegal to perpetrate the dastardly acts and that he had located and paid them compensation.

“Governor El-Rufai on Friday, 15th February 2019 said during a Press briefing at Sir Kashim Ibrahim House that just yesterday, I got a report of the Killing of 66 Fulanis at Maro in Kajuru Local Government” the Governor later changed this to 130 Fulanis killed. This we believe is deliberately designed to cause a reprisal and destabilize the Local Government during elections.

“Over the years, violence has been imported into the communities specified in the commission’s TORs by external forces, especially Hausa Fulani intent on imposing Sharia and Political suppression of Southern Kaduna. These attacks and acts of violence are not herder/farmer conflicts.”

The natives explained that the Muslim Fulani Herdsmen attack on the Southern Kaduna people began in Kidache in Chawai Chiefdom, Kauru local government area, in 2010 as a spill-over of the Muslim Fulani Herdsmen attacks in Plateau State, adding, “Since then, the terror attacks by the Fulani have become generalized and an out-and-out war on the communities of Southern Kaduna.”

SOKAPU further lamented, “Previously, the conflicts with herdsmen were over grazing and water sources for livestock. These conflicts have drastically changed due to an increasing quest by Fulani to take up land belonging to agrarian communities, and to settle and become agro-pastoralists. Climate change and environmental degradation have combined to push the Fulani from their traditional northern habitats to the Middle Belt region.

“Hausa Fulani governments in the north have failed to develop pasture resources for migratory cattle rearers who happen to be almost entirely Fulani. The earlier efforts to create grazing reserves by the defunct Northern Regional Government, have not been continued by the successive Northern States governments. On the contrary there are now efforts to encourage and support Fulani herdsmen to take over the land of indigenous and autochthonous communities in the Middle Belt, by force if possible, by supporting them in inter-communal conflicts in the name of religion.

“The National Assembly even entertained a bill for setting up grazing reserves, which proposes to take over land in any place in Nigeria to give to Fulani from any part of Africa, in the name of creating grazing reserves. Since southern Nigerian communities do not recognize and operate the Land Use Act, and since the northern Hausa communities will not give their land to the Fulani cattle rearers, only lands belonging to Middle Belt communities are the target for such patently ethnocentric policies.”

The Southern Kaduna people said the unholy quest for land ownership and takeover of land being the subject matter of this memo, “It brings us back to the fact among other things of the immediate causes of the violence which include Mal. Nasir Ahmad El-Rufais unilateral, unlawful, reckless, abrogation of districts and village areas, dismemberment of chiefdoms, changes of the nomenclatures of our chieftaincies and titles of our traditional institutions.

“In a circular letter Ref. No. SSG/KDS/508 dated 20th June. 2017, the Secretary to the State Government conveyed to the Chiefs the decision of the Governor of Kaduna State to restructure the Traditional Institutions in the State. The Terms of Reference of the Committee to Review the Existing Chieftaincy System in Kaduna State, and a circular from a Sub-committee on Nomenclature, addressed to individual Traditional Rulers in the State, stated that the Governor would CHANGE and replace the Existing Nomenclature of the graded chiefs which emphasizes ethnic identity , and replace them with New ones based on town/location of the chiefdom, and restructure existing chiefdoms and emirates, through regrouping and alternative system of boundary delineation between Emirate/Chiefdom.

“Gov. El-Rufai argued that because titles of traditional rulers elsewhere like Ooni of Ife, Oba of Benin, Emir of Kano, reflected locations and not ethnic groups, those of southern Kaduna Chiefdoms must be changed accordingly. The Governor further argued that Hausa, Igbo, Yoruba and Fulani speakers were resident in the Southern Kaduna Chiefdoms’ and therefore the Chiefdoms names must be changed. No Community or Chiefdom sent complaints to the Governor about their names. Hausa, Fulani, Yoruba, Igbo and other people living in indigenous Southern Kaduna chiefdoms did not send any complaints on nomenclatures to the Kaduna State Government.

“This ridiculous and unintelligent reasoning is unacceptable because Nigerias name cannot be changed because Ghanaians, Chadians, British and Americans reside in the country. It has transpired, however, that all the Hausa-Fulani settlements in Southern Kaduna except one, all in 2017, acting in concert within one month, applied to be made into Emirates, after which Governor El-Rufai set up his committee to “restructure” Chiefdoms.”

On the immediate causes to the crises, SOKAPU observed, “The number one individual responsible for the recurrence of crises in Chikun, Kajuru, Kachia and other parts of Southern Kaduna is Mal Nasiru El-Rufai both as a Person and his official capacity. El-Rufai instigated the Attacks on Southern Kaduna since 2012: On July 15th, 2012 Mal. El-Rufai tweeted on his twitter handle @elrufai that We will write this for all to read. Anyone soldier or not that kills the Fulani takes a loan payable one day no matter how long it takes. He tweeted this after the 2011 post-election crisis in which he alleged that Fulani herdsmen were killed in Southern Kaduna.

“Immediately El-Rufai assumed office as a Governor of Kaduna State in 2015, Southern part of Kaduna started witnessing incessant attacks by Fulani herdsmen. El-Rufai is fully aware and knows the attackers. This was after Nasir El-Rufai publicly announced that the Fulani had nothing to fear since, a Fulani was now the governor of the State.

“It is logical from the foregoing to conclude that the compensation by El-Rufai were actually funds given to the Fulani herdsmen to acquire more weapons and manpower for a better revenge. Hence, the Fulani Men were better equipped and thus spread the killings to the other parts of Southern Kaduna up to Kachia, Kajuru and Chikun Local Governments.

“El-Rufai’s attack on traditional institutions in Southern Kaduna; Sometimes in 2017 Mal. El-Rufai set up a committee that recommended the reduction of districts back to the number they were before the year 2000, when Chiefdoms were created in the State. Southern Kaduna Chiefdoms were badly mutilated by this exercise, In Adara Chiefdom 3 districts were created out of 26 districts that hitherto existed. This was a deliberate, provocative and premeditated act by El-Rufai done to weaken the Chiefdoms in Southern Kaduna and calculated to exclude thousands of Wards and Villages from local governance.”

SOKAPU stated that the Federal Government and Kaduna State Government and all state governments should treat the Fulani militia as terrorists, adding that they should be fought by the armed forces in the same way as the Boko Haram is being treated.

The memorandum suggested, “All Muslim Fulani Herdsmen militia must be disbanded, and their members arrested and prosecuted in accordance with the law.

“The United Nations should declare the killings and massacres in Chikun, Kajuru, Kachia and surrounding communities in Southern Kaduna as genocide and the perpetrators tried for crimes against humanity.

“The Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, the UN Charter and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights guarantee our right to life and the Federal and Kaduna State Governments must protect our lives and properties from attacks.

“The UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples has to be fully implemented by the Federal and State governments in Nigeria. All displaced persons and communities should be assisted to return to their lands and resume all their economic activities.

“The people of Chikun, Kajuru, Kachia and surrounding communities in Southern Kaduna have the right to their ancestral-lands and the Governor of Kaduna State must respect that right.

“The communities of Chikun, Kajuru, Kachia and surrounding and other communities in Southern Kaduna shall not give up their land for grazing reserves or to the Fulani, under whatever name and that position should be respected by the Federal and Kaduna state governments.

“No other grazing reserves should be created in Chikun, Kajuru, Kachia and surrounding communities in Southern Kaduna.

“The people of Chikun, Kajuru, Kachia and surrounding communities in Southern Kaduna, should be fully compensated for the lives and property lost due to the various attacks by the Muslim Fulani Herdsmen militia.

Just as has proven to be the most effective measure in the North East, the security forces should work with our communities and organized youths to root out the terrorists from their camps and hideouts in Chikun, Kajuru, Kachia and surrounding communities in Southern Kaduna.

“Nasir Ahmad El-Rufai should be prosecuted for willfully and knowingly generating conflict in Kaduna State. Prof. Kabiru Mato, Alh. Sanusi Makudi, Dr. Abdulmalik Durungwa and their likes should be invited and interrogated by the appropriate law enforcement agencies to explain their role in upsetting the Status Quo of peace in Southern Kaduna and where found culpable be charged and prosecuted in accordance to the Law.”

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Enugu council poll: Police announce restriction of movement

The Nigeria Police Force says its investigation shows that Boko Haram, Ansaru and other terror groups are getting support from some Nigerians.

Police Command in Enugu State has announced the restriction of human and vehicular movements in the state on Saturday, Feb. 29, for Local Government Elections.

The Command’s Police Public Relations Officer, ASP Daniel Ndukwe, said in a statement in Enugu on Friday that the restriction on Saturday would last between the hours of 8 a.m. and 4 p.m.

Ndukwe noted that the restriction, which is to facilitate smooth conduct of the elections, excludes those on essential duties with appropriate approval, such as medical service providers, fire service personnel, those on emergencies and election duties.

“The Command, therefore, enjoins the electorate and the entire citizens of the state to go out on the day of the elections and exercise their franchise without fear of intimidation or harassment.

“They should abide by all the rules and regulations guiding the elections, as the command will ensure adequate provision of security and a level playing ground for all the political parties during and after the exercise,’’ he said.

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Gospel music sensation, Philadelphia Kes speaks on her new single ‘He Came Through’

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Philadelphia Ekesiena, popularly known as Philadelphia Kes, is a gospel musician committed to changing the gospel music with her brand. The Delta State-born artiste, in this interview with selected journalists in Lagos, speaks about her career and her works.

How did you discover your passion for music?

I literally grew up in the church, joined the children’s choir and became one of the best at the time. While in high school, I still kept at it, even during university days, when I knew music was my thing and I decided to do it for real. I love good music, fashion, intellectual conversations and honest people. When I’m not singing, I’m checking out new fashion styles, trends and all. I have five siblings and I’m the third of six children.

Can you recall your earliest musical memory? Was there a time when you thought of doing something different?

As a child, I did music for fun, I didn’t think of becoming a professional musician, but I kept sharpening my skill. It was when I went to the university to study and become an economist that I realised that my love for music is beyond just doing it for fun and that I’d like to do it full time. So, my undying love for music inspired my decision to go into it fully.

What are your greatest challenges?
It has not been easy putting out good music. I mean the whole process of producing, engineering and promoting. Having to keep up with the financial commitments has been a major challenge, but somehow, God has proved Himself through a divine backing. I am not bothered about the challenges anymore because I know it won’t last as I have a focus and a bigger vision. I see whatever I have passed through and still passing through as a stage and event to prepare me for the bigger stage. I am delighted for the grace and patience I have exercised so far. This has made the gospel more interesting for me.

What other things do you do aside music?
As I said earlier, I’m very good in clothing, fashion generally such that I have plans to set up a fashion outfit soonest.

Who are your role models?
I love Maranda Curtis and I want to be like her when I grow up. I also love Efe Nathan, her vocal strength is one which I covet. So, I keep working hard every day to be an endeared vessel.

What is your plan to impact lives and the industry in general?

I have a greater vision for my career and contributing my quota in the music fold. I want to establish my own or co-own a record label to promote up-and-coming artistes, especially to relieve them from unnecessary stress any rising artiste could go through as well as to make music making become easier and fun-filled.

What informed your decision to choose gospel music?

I grew up in church and gospel music is everything I have known as a child up till now even though I’m a wide listener and I listen to diverse genres. So, yes, the love for gospel came naturally. It is not as if I feel in love with it, but it is a divine call that I cannot hesitate to adhere to. I have no regret for the will of God, it has not only transformed my life, but has also made me a channel from God to His creatures.

What is your assessment of gospel music in Nigeria?

Gospel music in Nigeria is still growing, it has got a lot of potential even across the West Africa and the entire world. What we have so far are a lot of very talented gospel artistes, but we still need much help in the area of awareness, promotion, distribution and production. Though many media oganisations have supported the industry greatly, we need more exposure. I will say the industry is coming up and we’ve got room for improvement. I just want to advise fellow artistes and stakeholders not to relent in their effort to take the industry to a greater height.

The gospel music industry seems to be overcrowded. How do you intend to stand out?

I have a sound I’m set to project. I want to be as original as possible. With that, I’m sure I’ll stand out and in turn break even.

Where do you see yourself in five years?
I see myself proclaiming the name of Jesus around the world and anywhere my feet step on. I’m sold out to making Jesus famous through my songs as that’s the whole essence of salvation.

What inspired your new work entitled: “He Came Through”?

There was a time in my life where depression, regular mood swings were the order of the day. Then my cousin came up with the song and we wrote it together. That was how I was able to really express myself through the lyrics of the song. It took about five years to produce the song because we had the song since my university days and decided to revamp it four years after graduation.

How do you intend to make a complete album?
Yes, of course, a couple of other songs are cooking already and I have some other songs too. Plans are underway to have a complete album.

Are you not scared that Gospel music could only bring you fame and not sustainable income?

I am Never scared. As a child of God we are not meant to be. I have plans for show business and the more technical side of the industry. Being famous for the RIGHT reason is good and I am sure sustainable income will come with the territory God willing.

Are you in a relationship? Take us into your family life?

I am currently not in a relationship as I just want to concentrate on my career for now. I have a very loving and supportive family. Growing up my parents noticed that I was always humming and sometimes singing to songs so they encouraged me and I developed it with the help of Vocal trainers and other professionals.

What’s your view of the reception of Nigerian gospel music globally?

Gospel music is gaining popularity and positive attention to Nigeria . A few Nigerian artists are already representing us well and there is room for more artists. Many artists are now working with reputable record labels who can help improve and promote their work positively. We are making progress and by the way thanks to media outlets like yourselves for the love and support you continue to shower on us

Has anyone ever shared a testimony about the impact of your music/voice in their lives?

To the glory of God several people have shared with me and I hope the song is a source of inspiration, healing and motivation for people. As for the voice I get that quite often as I am a member of the choir in my Church . This Present House and I cannot thank Pastor Tony Rapu enough for his leadership, direction and teaching.

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Car Theft: Court Grants Musician, Iyanya, N20m Bail

Justice Mobolanle Okikiolu-Ighile of the Igbosere High Court in Lagos has granted a bail of N20m to Nigerian musician, Iyanya Mbuk, over a case of alleged car theft.

The judge, in her ruling on Thursday, said that Iyanya must provide a surety in like sum.

Iyanya was dragged before the court by the Special Fraud Unit of the Nigeria Police Force. 

The musician was accused of conversion of a vehicle to his own.

The offence, according to the police, was contrary to sections 278(1)(b), and 279(1)(2) of the Criminal Law of Lagos State 2011, and punishable under Section 285(10) of the same law.

Justice Mobolanle Okikiolu-Ighile, while granting Iyanya bail, said, “I have perused the affidavit and the counter-affidavit of the parties; there is a prima facie case of criminal conversion against him.

“However, there is nothing to show that the defendant will interfere with the proceedings of this case and nothing to show that he will jump bail if granted.

“Bail is, therefore, granted to the defendant in the sum of N20m with one surety in like sum.”

She ordered that the surety should have a landed property in Lagos and possess its certificate of occupancy.

The judge adjourned the case until May 27 for trial.

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FRSC will not condone two passengers in front seat – spokesperson

The Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) on Monday said that it would clamp down on motorists with either fake or expired driver’s licence

The Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) has restated its stand on the ban of two passengers occupying the front seat of commercial vehicles across the country.

The Corps Public Education Officer (CPEO) Mr Bisi Kazeem disclosed this in an interview with newsmen on Friday in Abuja.

Kazeem said that FRSC was still in the business of enforcing compliance on all traffic laws, adding that the Corps would not relent in ensuring safety at all cost.

According to him, the law is very clear on overloading, and the corps is sustaining existing efforts to ensure that the law is obeyed by all.

“The operational arm of Corps is effecting arrest on daily basis, but one thing you should know is that most of these offenders already know and avoid the areas where our patrol teams operates.

“But we are on top of this like we have been on any other challenge that militates against safety on our roads and I assure you that perpetrators are been arrested at all times,” he said.

On the security situation in the country, Kazeem said that FRSC was prepared to curtail the rising cases of kidnapping in the territory considering the wave of kidnapping on the highways in recent time.

He added that FRSC within the geographical sphere of the country as a paramilitary outfit was aware of the contemporary security situation in the country.

“I am happy to inform you that the Corps are tactical, highly proactive and will always play its role by providing intelligence to relevant security agencies.

“We believe that the collaborative efforts of our combined security apparatus will definitely overcome every form of insecurity that bedevils us in recent times.”

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Mikel Arteta blames Arsenal player as Gunners crash out of Europa League

Mikel Arteta watched Arsenal suffer late Europa League heartbreak against Olympiakos and said- It hurts, big time.

Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta has blamed his goalkeeper, Bernd Leno, for his side 2-1 loss to Olympiakos in the Europa League on Thursday.

He said the German could have done better after conceding from a set-piece toward the end of the match

The result meant that the Gunners have crashed out of the competition in the hands of the Greek team.

Arteta described the late winner which ended Arsenal Europa League campaign as “unacceptable.”

Youssef El-Arabi scored in 119th minute for Olympiacos at the Emirates as they won 2-1 on the night to progress to the last 16 on away goals.

The goal came from a needless corner kick conceded by Leno as the Arsenal keeper invited pressure rather than kicking the ball away.

Arteta admitted the Germany goal tender could have done better.

He also blamed the other players for failing to clear the resulting corner.

“Yes, obviously he could have kicked it out, but then there is another situation to defend,” said Arteta.

“It’s not only the first phase but it’s the second phase of that corner that we concede and the player steps in and just taps in the ball in the six-yard box, which is unacceptable.”

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Nigeria: 11 persons test negative to coronavirus

The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) has stated that 11 persons have so far tested negative to Coronavirus (COVID-19) in Nigeria.

The Director General, NCDC, Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu, who confirmed this to journalists in Abuja Thursday, said the tests were conducted by the NCDC National Reference Laboratory and Virology Laboratory at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH), and that Nigeria was free from the virus.

He said: “Four laboratories in Nigeria have the capacity to test for the coronavirus. These laboratories are within the NCDC laboratory network and are open 24/7. If a new case is confirmed, it will be reported accordingly.

“We are in close communication with the Lagos State Ministry of Health and other states, and will inform the public once there is a confirmed case in the country.”

Ihekweazu, who said the centre will continue to monitor the outbreak globally, urge Nigerians to disregard rumours over spread of the virus.

He said when a high-risk traveller with symptoms arrives in the country, the person would be taken from the airport to an isolation centre and samples would be collected immediately for testing.

“If confirmed, appropriate management will commence, but if negative, the person would still be monitored for 14 days and retested.

“When a high-risk traveller that is not symptomatic comes into the country, the person is advised to stay at home for 14 days and report immediately if he/she develops symptoms. We also ensure we collect contact details of the person while an official is attached to the person to monitor him/her daily for 14 days.

“If the person develops symptoms within 14 days of arrival in the country, samples would be collected for confirmation. If confirmed, the person goes into our isolation centre where he would be managed appropriately,” he said.

Ihekweazu described a high-risk traveller as someone who has had contact with a confirmed COVID-19 case or was travelling from China, particularly Wuhan.

While calling on Nigerians not to panic, he said that the Chinese authorities have intensified measures to prevent the exportation of COVID-19 such as screening travellers leaving China.

“In Nigeria, the NCDC conducts daily epidemic intelligence gathering to monitor the spread of the outbreak,” he said

He said that the Government of Nigeria through NCDC is working very hard to be better prepared in the event of a COVID-19 outbreak.

He disclosed that NCDC in collaboration with the National Orientation Agency (NOA) reviewed strategies to work together in the 36 states of the federation and the FCT to ensure that Nigerians are well informed.

Furthermore, Ihekweazu said that NCDC had revised the national case definition in line with changes in the epidemiology of the outbreak.

“With the ongoing local transmission in countries outside China, the focus had been expanded to include travellers from other countries.”

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