Anxiety in Kano over Continuing Deaths, People Leaving Ancient City in Droves

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•FG escalates deployment, opens three additional mobile test centres
•Kano, a litmus test in battle against pandemic, Atiku posits
•If only we’d shut down earlier, number won’t stop climbing till June, July, says Fayemi
•NCDC reports 220 new cases, total now 2,388 confirmed cases, 385 discharged and 85 deaths
•SGF: With everyone’s cooperation battle is winnable
•Osinbajo optimistic Nigeria will come out stronger
•Buhari commends media for role in fight against virus

Our Correspondents

Anxiety has continued to mount over Kano State, especially its response to the COVID-19 pandemic, believed to be responsible for the growing number of deaths recorded daily in the state.

People of the state are now living in fear of the unknown, many have started to leave the ancient city in droves and may be inadvertently spreading the virus to neighbouring states.
Relatedly, yesterday the federal government escalated its containment efforts by opening additional three mobile testing centres to strengthen the war against the virus in the state.
Curiously however, Governor Abdulahi Ganduje, has despite the disturbing situation in the state, relaxed the lockdown order for Ramadan purposes, with increased deaths in the last 24 hours, including the passing of the Emir of Rano, Alhaji Tafida Abubakar Ila and the state’s Head of Communications, UNICEF, Malam Rabiu Musa. These have further heightened fear of residents. Particularly worrisome many of the almajiris who have left the city have tested positive to the coronavirus.

Also, in obedience to Islamic injunctions, which prescribe immediate burial for Muslims, the cause of a majority of the deaths have been largely unknown, fuelling speculations between some unknown and unverified illness and the ravaging COVID-19 because testing is not being done.

But the Chairman of Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) and Ekiti State Governor, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, yesterday, said the current spate of community spread of COVID-19 could have been averted had the country shut down its borders earlier than it did in late March.
Fayemi, who said the situation has though not affected the commendable response of the Nigerian governments at all levels to the challenge posed by the pandemic, however hinted that the numbers would not stop climbing until sometime in June or July, when the curve would begin to flatten.

Yesterday night at 11. 55pm NCDC disclosed that 220 new cases had been confirmed bringing the total cases so far to 2388, while those discharged stood at 385 and deaths so far stood at 85. Lagos top yesterday confirmed cases with 62 new cases, followed be FCT with 52 cases, Kaduna 31, Sokoto 13, Kebbi 10, Yobe 9, Borno 6, Edo 5, Bauchi 5, Gombe 4, Enugu 4, Oyo 4, Zamfara 3, Nasarawa 2, Osun 2, Ebonyi 2, Kwara 2, Kano 2, Plateau 2.
This notwithstanding, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha has said the battle against COVID-19 was winnable but with the full cooperation and support of the Nigerian people by adhering to all the safety rules and protocols.

In the same spirit, Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo, yesterday, while participating in an annual event, The Platform, hosted by Pastor Poju Oyemade and which held its first online edition in lieu of the COVID-19 challenge, said Nigeria and Nigerians would get through this phase together, much stronger economically and as a people because of their resilience.
Not unexpectedly, however, President Muhammadu Buhari, while celebrating the World Press Freedom Day today, recognised and commended the Nigerian media “for the good work they have done, and are still doing,” as the country intensifies the fight against COVID-19.

But commenting on the state of the nation as far as the battle against the virus is concerned, former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, Saturday, drew attention of the nation to the situation in Kano, which he referred to as a litmus test in the concerted efforts to defeat Covid-19.

Also, in a move that showed increasing capacity in the fight against Coronavirus, the Edo State government claimed it had screened over 40,000 persons in the state for Covid-19, albeit leveraging a strategic partnership with private hospitals, clinics and pharmacies to complement the screening exercise ongoing across designated government centres.

Meanwhile, the leadership of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has opposed moves by the House of Representatives to pass the Infectious Disease Control Bill without recourse to the laid down procedure of public hearing to allow Nigerians participate in the process of making the law.

A statement by the National Publicity Secretary of PDP, Mr. Kola Ologbondiyan, said, “This is especially as the bill seeks to prescribe clauses on critical issues, particularly that of vaccination, which has become globally controversial in the face of raging conspiracy theories on the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Ganduje, who announced the relaxation of the lockdown order by twelve hours in a week, meaning six hours each day from 10am to 4pm on Mondays and Thursdays, made this known at a press briefing organised by the State Taskforce on Covid-19, held at the Government House, Saturday.

He added that all the major markets in the state would remain closed, except Ya’nkaba and Ya’nlemo markets, where vegetables and fruits are sold.
Ganduje further stated that all supermarkets in the state would be allowed to operate within the six-hour timeframe, adding that customers must follow the Covid-19 protocols before they access the places.

“We have provided facemasks to be distributed to the people. I directed chairmen of the local government to also provide the facemasks for their people. Afterwards, we will make it compulsory to everybody to wear it,” he said.

He also expressed hope that with the increase in testing centers, the state would stamp out the pandemic, announcing that Aliko Dangote had donated mobile testing centers with capacity of testing 400 samples in a day and 1000 sample in a week.

“The more we are getting the test, the more people who contracted the virus would be exposed and the more we stamp out the disease in our state.
“What we just want is for the public to adhere strictly to the protocols of the COVID-19 and abide by the lockdown order in order to break the chain of the transmission,”
The governor also assured the public that the more they abide by the lockdown order, the more the government would be relaxing the directive as it monitors the situation.

Unfortunately, the governor is believed not to have paid deserving attention to the increasing number of deaths in the state, which observers believed were caused by COVID-19, even though the state refused to admit it was true.
The Emir of Rano, who died yesterday at a hospital in the state, passed away at the age of 74.

Turakin Rano and House of Representatives Member of Rano, Kibiya and Bunkure, Alhaji Kabir Alhassan Rururm, confirmed the death
Rururm said the late emir, who was survived by 17 children and two wives, would be buried this evening (yesterday) in the emirate.

Son of the Kaduna State governor, Bello El-Rufai, took to his Twitter handle @B_El-RUFAI to mourn the late monarch, when he wrote: “May the gentle soul of the Emir of Rano, Alhaji Tafida Abubakar, rest in peace. May Allah SWT grant his family the fortitude to bear this loss. It’s tragic news everywhere we turn.”

The UNICEF representative, also away at the age of 60 and his death was confirmed, according NAN, by his son, Musa Rabiu.
“My dad died at about 3.am on Saturday, after battling sickness for a few days. Although we noticed symptoms we suspected to be of Coronavirus, the result of the test conducted is not out yet.

“A week ago, he complained of a sore throat and malaria, but after a few days, of medication, he became normal. A few days later, he complained that he was finding it difficult to breathe.
“He also complained that no matter how short he walked, he lost his breath. So, he was taken to the National Orthopaedic Hospital in Dala, on Friday, where he gave up.”
He was immediately buried according to Islamic rites.

Shedding more light on what the country could have done differently, to stem the climbing numbers, Fayemi explained that, “We could have shut down earlier. Everything that came in came from abroad. We didn’t get Coronavirus here.

“So, if we had shut down, say like March 1, the situation could have been different. Malawi that is said to have the best record now in terms of Covid-19 shut down since February.
“So, between February 27 and March 29 is a pretty long time of traffic into Nigeria across all the airlines. And by the time we shut down the borders, we already had too many in,” he explained, insisting the government wasn’t doing badly still in the management of the situation.

Fayemi’s views, however, tallied with those of his Lagos State counterpart, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, who said days ago that the delayed closure of the country’s borders, seaport, and airports, including the failure of returnees to self-isolate, caused the spread of COVID-19. He spoke this during an Instalive interview with CNN on Wednesday.

Apart from shutting down the borders a bit late, another factor Fayemi reckoned could have accounted for the high number of new cases was the testing capacity of the country, which made it difficult to ascertain the number of carriers and non-carriers.

“After that, our testing capacity is also limited. We have five testing centres across the country. There are two in Lagos; one in Abuja; one in Ede in Osun and one in Irua, Edo. That’s all. But that also affected, because we couldn’t tell who had it or did not.”
Importantly, the Ekiti governor said, evidence suggested that, “The number is still on the upswing and will continue till June/July. That’s why the inter-state boundary shutdown is more important as against the intra-state approach.”

Fayemi said it was the same thinking that informed NGF’s suggestions to the president before his last address to the nation on the things that needed to be done, noting that the president bought into all their ideas and adopted them.

On his part, the SGF, Mustapha, while soliciting cooperation with the confidence that the battle was winnable said, “We’re not losing the battle and doing all we can. But the battle is not certain. However, as long as we have the cooperation and support of the Nigerian people, we’ll flatten the curve.

“And what do we need to flatten the curve? Observing physical distancing, wearing facemasks and staying safe at home except it is an essential trip that needs to be made. We must understand that this is an uncharted terrain and there’s nothing other than taking it a step at a time.

“We’ll get on top of this. I have no doubt. The prediction is that it would continue for a long time until we find a vaccine or able to build immunity. But, for now, let’s join hands together. There’s been a major disruption in our lives and we must cooperate to defeat Covid-19.”

Charging Nigerians to be resolute in the fight against a common enemy, Osinbajo, who was optimistic that the country and Nigerians would come out of it stronger, contended that,“There are a lot of challenges but they offer significant opportunities for us to turn things around.”

According to him, “I am very confident that Nigerians, with our resilience, our strength and our innovation, we will go through this in great shape,” reeling off some of the federal government’s efforts to address the economic fallouts of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Specifically on how the country could transform the challenges caused by the pandemic into opportunities for economic diversification and job creation, Osinbajo said prioritising use of local resources and creating local jobs in the construction and allied industry, amongst other things, would be critical in sustaining the economy in the post COVID-19 era.

“We have to prioritise the use of local resources in all public works. In road construction, for instance, it is cheaper to build concrete roads using limestone than spending resources on the importation of bitumen. We have limestone in abundance hence we should be looking in that direction. The road from the Apapa port to the Lagos –Ibadan expressway is being built with cement and is of high quality.

“In the housing sector, where we have a huge deficit, we need to focus on using local resources to build houses and in the process we will be creating opportunities for young engineers, architects and builders etc.”

In the area of agriculture, the vice president said government’s initial policies had saved the country from the huge forex burden of food imports and related activities.
“We think that by ramping up agriculture, especially, small holder agriculture and improving the value chain, especially in storage and processing facilities, more jobs will be created for many young people.

“We have found ourselves in a situation, where we realise that the way to go is to support the creation of the jobs in agriculture and reduce food imports and ultimately, address the issue of unemployment and food shortages. What we must do as much as we can is to change the narrative about Nigeria and provide more jobs.”

Still on how to mitigate the fallouts of the Covid-19 pandemic such as inflation, Osinbajo said government would focus on improving productivity and improving food stock across the country.
“If you can ramp up food production and the logistics of bringing food to the urban centres, inflation will be controlled to a large extent,” he said, adding that boosting agricultural production for export purposes and supporting the mining sector would also bolster the country’s foreign exchange earnings and reserves.

President Buhari has however recognised the role of the Nigerian media and commended them “for the good work they have done, and are still doing,” as the country intensifies the fight against COVID-19.

Buhari, a statement by his media adviser, Mr. Femi Adesina, stated, recognised the role of the press in educating and informing the public in the face of the desperation of the Coronavirus to overrun humanity.

“We cannot overemphasise the role of the media in keeping people informed and educated on the pernicious virus, which has no friend or foe. It simply seeks to mow down anyone and everyone in its path, and public awareness is very important, lest we become like sitting ducks. The media are doing this quite effectively,” he said.

He, however, charged them to remain steadfast “till we get to safe harbour, when the world, and our country are finally free of this greatest health challenge in recent history.”
Reflecting on the theme of this year’s World Press Freedom Day tagged: “Media for Democracy: Journalism and Elections in Times of Disinformation,” Buhari noted that Nigeria has what he described as a very unhealthy experience of disinformation, fake news and hate news, which he said were purveyed by people using the media platforms, particularly the digital variant and regretted the adverse effects of fake news in the society.

“They don’t mean well for us, and no country can afford to close its eyes to the evil disinformation can cause. In a plural polity like ours, it has the potential to rupture relationships, sow seeds of discord, and set on the path of destabilisation.
“When fake and hate news are added unabashedly, it can only signpost doom. I urge the Press to use the occasion of World Press Freedom Day to see how this can be vigorously tackled,” the president was also quoted.

President, therefore, pledged to remain committed to the ideals of freedom of the press, pointing out that democracy thrives better in an atmosphere of transparency, as opposed to opacity.

“We appreciate the cooperation we have enjoyed from the media in tackling the Coronavirus, and look forward to same, post Covid-19, when all hands must be on deck to repair the damages done to our economic and social lives, “Buhari stated.

But sharing his concern on the Kano situation, Abubakar, who drew the attention of the nation to the development in the state, which he would rather term a litmus test to winning the battle against Covid-19, called on the federal government and all the agencies involved in the fight against the pandemic to collaborate with the Kano State government to stem the spread.

Atiku stressed that checkmating the pandemic in Kano was one sure way of ensuring the safety of people in the surrounding states to Kano, other parts of the North and the country.
While expressing his deepest condolences over the spate of deaths in the state in recent times, he counseled that efforts should be geared towards providing plausible explanation of the situation for the good of the people of the state.

In the same stretch, Abubakar has expressed sympathy and solidarity with the family of a media mogul, High Chief Raymond Dokpesi and members of his family, who tested positive for Covid-19.

The former vice president however called on all well-meaning Nigerians to put the matter of the speedy recovery of Dokpesi and his family, and other victims of the Covid-19 pandemic in prayers.

Atiku described Dokpesi as a patriotic and law-abiding Nigerian for the way he cooperated with the NCDC to carry out the test on him, his staff and entire family when it was earlier discovered that his son had tested positive.

He noted that Dokpesi was not among those people, who because of their position and influence shied away from performing a civic duty, sayimg, “He is indeed a role model worthy of emulation”.

Edo Screens Over 40,000 persons for COVID-19

The Edo State government yesterday claimed it had screened over 40,000 persons in the state for coronavirus, allegedly leveraging a strategic partnership with private hospitals, clinics and pharmacies, which complemented the screening exercise ongoing across designated government hospitals.

Governor Godwin Obaseki of the state disclosed this to journalists in Benin City, saying the government had adopted a robust and scientific approach to tackling the Covid-19 pandemic since its outbreak.

He claimed embarking on massive screening and testing of residents was a strategy to get a clearer picture of the spread of the pandemic in the state.
According to him, the screenings are conducted in designated Primary Healthcare Centres (PHCs) in the state’s 18 Local Government Areas (LGAs); mobile post screening centres that move across the 192 wards, as well as private medical facilities.

“We have made tremendous progress, especially in the areas of screening, testing and improved awareness of our citizens. Working closely with private hospitals, clinics and pharmacies, we have been able to screen over 40,000 and tested over 350 persons.
“Our improved efforts at screening and testing are the reason the number of cases is rising. As we aggressively push to screen our minimum target of 500,000 people and test 15,000 individuals in the next few weeks, we may record an astronomic rise in the number of cases.”

“We advise everyone to get screened at the numerous screening centres across the state. Our screening centres also offer free medical check-up, free multivitamins and facemasks. I am confident that we can beat this virus in Edo State if we take the necessary precautionary measures.”

He said evidence from its epidemiologists suggested that Covid-19 cases would continue to rise until it peaks late in June this year.
“We can reduce the spread of the virus by enforcing existing social distancing rules, maintaining good hand washing hygiene and wearing masks in public places. This evidence has undoubtedly informed the decision by the federal government to impose a nationwide curfew.”

Meanwhile, Obaseki has taken inventory of facilities, drugs and medical equipment at the Central Medical Store, Benin City, as the state ramps up efforts to check the spread of coronavirus.
The governor, who led other government functionaries on the inspection tour, said the Central Medical Store was strategic as the state received donations in the wake of the pandemic.

“I want to have a firsthand experience on what we do when we receive these donations; how we keep them, how the records are kept and how drugs are utilised.”
He noted that as part of the state’s response to Covid-19, the government was assessing how drugs and medical equipment were received, stored and dispensed.

PDP Opposes NCDC Bill, Insists on Public Hearing

The leadership of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Saturday opposed moves by the House of Representatives to pass the Infectious Disease Control Bill without recourse to public hearing to allow Nigerians participate in the process of making the law.
Those who sponsored the bill are the Speaker, House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, Pascal Obi and Tanko Sununu.

Some of the controversial aspects of bill include section 23, which stipulates the “arrest of persons on the streets suffering from infectious diseases.
An enforcement officer, police officer or any authorised officer may apprehend and take, any person suffering from any infectious disease whom the officer finds on any street, public, place, shop or public transportation to a hospital.

Section 24, which empowers enforcement officer to order destruction of house, building or anything states:
(1) An enforcement officer may obtain an order of court to destroy any building in which a case of infectious disease has occurred, or of any article or thing, which may be considered necessary in the interest of the public health.
(2) Any such order will be carried out in such manner, and by such person, as the enforcement officer may direct.

It was, however, gathered that the Speaker insisted on abridging the House rules for a quicker passage of the bill.
But the PDP considered moves to shut out Nigerians from public debate on such a crucial legislation as ominous and raising suspicions of sinister objectives as the nation combats the spread of COVID-19 pandemic.

Ologbondiyan said the PDP was alarmed that such an approach was already worsening public mistrust in the polity as well as heightening apprehension over the intentions of the presiding officers of the House of Representatives and the All Progressives Congress (APC)-led administration at this critical time.

The PDP insisted that Nigerians must be carried along in the decision making process of such a critical legislation, which seeks to make provisions that would directly affect their health as well as the overall safety and wellbeing.

PDP stressed that anything short of that would be counter productive and capable of breeding an avoidable public resistance, especially, given the deepening fear and anxiety in the polity over the COVID-19 pandemic.
The main opposition party, therefore, counseled Gbajabiamila to review his position and allow for public hearing on the bill.

“Our party also urges our lawmakers in both the House of Representatives and Senate to stand firm against the passage of the bill until there is a public hearing to get the inputs of Nigerians into the proposed law,” PDP stated.

Anambra Begins Search for People with Covid-19 Symptoms

Anambra State Governor, Willie Obiano has said his government would begin aggressive search for people with symptoms related to Covid-19 in communities across the state.
The governor stated this in a statewide broadcast Friday night, saying this became necessary, as the lockdown in the state has been eased.

Obiano told citizens of the state that two testing centres had been approved for the state by NCDC, and that once the centres become operational, most citizens of the state would be tested for the pandemic.
“I am delighted to announce that so far, we have conducted 72 tests on samples out of which one only returned positive. And that one was the Index Case, who has been treated and discharged.

“So, at this moment, there is no active Covid-19 case in Anambra State. As a result of this, our next battlefront with Covid-19 is to mount an active search for people with Covid-19 symptoms in all communities in Anambra State.

“The NCDC, WHO and UNICEF have assured us of their support to ensure the success of this effort. So, I implore you to cooperate with our specially trained Covid-19 team, when they visit your community by giving useful information that would help them to get the necessary samples for testing.”

Obiano assured the people not to panic, saying it has been repeatedly proven that the pandemic was not a death sentence.
He said the government had taken some careful steps to ease the state from lockdown, after five weeks on keeping everyone indoors.

While the state boundaries would remain closed, traders can return to the market, teachers to school (without pupils), and civil servants to their offices, all with the use of facemasks.
He advised citizens to immediately bury their loved ones, who die, with a view to holding elaborate ceremonies for them later, in other not to over stretch the health facilities in the state.

Enugu Govt, Stakeholders Embrace Guided Relaxation

The Enugu State Government and other stakeholders in the state like the security agencies, leaders of Ogbete Main Market Traders Association and Ogbete Pharmaceutical Dealers Association, have unanimously resolved that there would be a partial and guided reopening of Ogbete Main Market.

This decision was part of the outcome of a meeting between Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of the state, leadership of the market associations and the security agencies, held at the Government House, Enugu.

A statement by the Secretary to the State Government, Prof. Simon Uchenna Ortuanya, disclosed that the schedule for the partial and guided opening of the Market would be Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays between 8am and 2pm Daily
This included the pharmaceutical dealers, provision sellers, restaurants and wholesale food sellers.

Other resolutions reached at the meeting, included “That the Market is open to shop owners only, to enable them serve their customers outside the Market. That under no circumstance shall customers be allowed to enter the Market and that the Akwatta Section of the Ogbete Main Market, Enugu, remains closed.

“That all shop owners entering the market must wear protective facemasks, maintain/observe proper personal hygiene and physical/social distancing protocol as stipulated by the Nigeria Center for Disease Control (NCDC), including regular hand washing with soap or sanitizer.

“That for the avoidance of doubt, no customer is allowed to enter the Ogbete Main Market, except shop owners, who will only act as vendors to their customers outside the Market.
“That the security agencies are hereby directed to enforce these decisions and any violation will be dealt with according to law. That these measures will be renewed on weekly basis.”

Osun Discharges Index Case, Records Another Fatality

Thirty-eight days after he was taken in, the Osun State, yesterday, discharged its Covid-19 index case after testing negative twice for the virus.
This is as the state recorded another Covid-19 fatality, a patient in her late 60s, at its isolation centre in Asubiaro, Osogbo.

The discharged index case had arrived Osun from the United Kingdom before being taken into the Isolation Centre, and subsequently to the care facility, where he had been receiving medical care until his full recovery on Friday.

Similarly, three health workers in the State who tested positive for Coronavirus had also tested negative for the second time and had become free from the virus.
Commissioner for Health, Dr. Rafiu Isamotu made this known in a statement on Saturday.
Isamotu recalled that the health workers had last Wednesday, tested negative for COVID-19 but had to be subjected to a second round of test, in line with the protocol of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC).

He revealed that the State government received results of the index case and those of the health workers on Friday evening from the NCDC accredited Testing Centre, the African Centre of Excellence in Genomics of Infectious Diseases, Ede.
“With the development, the total number of active cases in the State is now eight,” Isamotu disclosed.

Speaking on the latest death, the commissioner said, “On a sad note, we lost a COVID-19 patient in her late 60s at our isolation centre in Osogbo. We pray God grant her eternal rest and give her family the fortitude to bear the loss,” he said.
Isamotu urged frontline health workers to always use their Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) when discharging their duties and reiterated that only accredited isolation and treatment centres in the state were the ones allowed to attend to suspected COVID-19 patients.

Meanwhile, a traditional ruler in the state, Olowu of Kuta, Oba Adekunle Oyelude Makama, Tegbosun III, has urged the federal government to support the state government financially in its bid to contain the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.

The monarch asked the federal government to either wave the debts of the state or support it with fund so as to be on sound footing in the post COVID-19 experience.
Olowu, at a press briefing during the flag-off of Olori Fatima Adeola Makama Oyelude 2nd Community Empowerment Initiatives, said the fact that residents of the state had not trooped out to demand for financial assistance did not mean they were not suffering.

Ogun Extends Lockdown Till May 10

Ogun State Government has extended the period of lockdown in the state till Sunday, May 10.
Governor Dapo Abiodun also vowed to ensure strict enforcement of the 8pm to 6am daily curfew as announced by the federal government with the force of law.

Governor, while addressing the Media in his office at Oke-Mosan, Abeokuta, on the COVID-19 situation in the State, noted that the extension was in consideration of the one week of grace given to the state by President Muhammadu Buhari.

The governor stated that the usual relaxation window given to the people to conduct business activities and restock food items, would come up Monday May 4, Wednesday May 6 and Friday May 8 respectively, beginning from 7 o’clock in the morning till 5 in the evening.

“The extension of the lockdown will end on Sunday May 9, taking into consideration the initial one week grace by the President. The relaxation window will be on Monday May 4, Wednesday May 6 and Friday May 8.

“This will give our people time to conduct necessary economic activities and get to their homes before the commencement of the daily curfew. For the avoidance of doubt, the curfew is from 8pm to 6am and will be strictly enforced”, he emphasised.

Giving the COVID-19 situation in the state, Abiodun said the number of confirmed cases had doubled as 56 cases were reported on April 30 as against 35 last week, adding that eight cases had been discharged, while 47 active cases are receiving treatment from state medical personnel.

“The increase in the number is as a result of increased testing capacity and fast turnaround. Also, most of the new cases are as a result of influx of immigrants from the land borders and those from other States.

“A Joint Task Force of transporters and security agencies has been inaugurated to ensure that drivers and passengers wear facemask and enforce strict compliance on the inter-state travel. There will be no inter-state travel for persons living in Ogun State and working in any other State, including Lagos,” he clarified.

While warning that government would not tolerate any act of sabotage on inter-state travel by those on essential services, Abiodun said “vehicles on essential services should have five passengers including the driver, who must show prove of their connection with the vehicle and service the vehicle provides”.

Oil Firms Donate Delivery Van, Other Items to Delta

Delta State Government’s efforts at containing the COVID-19 pandemic received a boost at the weekend as a group of oil companies operating in the state donated a Nissan pickup van, facemasks and various food items in support of the government’s initiatives towards cushioning the impact of the Coronavirus.

Leader of the team, Mr. Williams Eboh, Community and Health Liaison Manager, Midwestern Oil, presented the vehicle and facemasks to Dr. Austin Obidi, Chairman, Delta State Medical Related Donations for COVID-19 Response and his team at the Central Hospital, Asaba, yesterday.

The group’s gesture was in response to Governor Ifeanyi Okowa’s call for support from corporate organisations and good-spirited individuals towards a collective fight against the Coronavirus disease, Eboh noted.

He listed the cluster companies (eight oil firms operating in the state) as including Midwestern Oil, Sun Trust, Newcross, Platform, Energia, Oando, Chorus and Pilla Oil.
The oil companies had at different times donated food items to their respective host communities to cushion the impact of the disease.

Obidi, who received the items on behalf of the state government, thanked the donors for the gesture and called on “other corporate citizens” to support the state in this fight.

Victims of Farmers, Herders Clash Get Palliatives

The federal government has through the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) commenced distribution of additional palliatives to victims of gun attacks as well as herders/farmers’ crisis in Benue State.
Head, NEMA delegation, Mr. Suliman Mohammed stated this on Saturday in Makurdi, during the flag off, saying victims from seven local governments would benefit from the palliatives.

Mohammed, who is also the Chief Planning Officer, NEMA headquarters, explained that the palliatives were part of FG’s support to the victims of the crisis as well as cushion the effect of COVID-19 on them.

He explained that Benue State witnessed series of gunmen and herders’ attacks between 2017 and 2019, prompting the FG to approve series of palliatives for the victims.
He named the benefiting local governments to include Makurdi, Logo, Gwer West, Guma, Agatu, Kwande and Okpokwu respectively.

Earlier, House of Representatives members for Makurdi/Guma Mr. Benjamin Mzoudo and his counterpart from Logo, Ukum and Katsina-ala, Comrade Richard Gbande commended President Muhammadu Buhari for providing the palliatives the victims.

Police Intercept Sokoto Travellers at Osun-Ibadan Boundary

Men of the Nigeria Police have apprehended 11 travellers from Sokoto State, who defied the inter-state lockdown order of the Oyo State Government, in their bid to sneak into Akure, Ondo State.

Governor of Oyo State, Seyi Makinde, in a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Taiwo Adisa, has, however declared that the travellers would not be released to the Sokoto State Government until they undergo Covid-19 tests, adding that the tests had begun already.

Commissioner of Police in the state, Sina Olukolu, who briefed Governor Makinde on his arrival at the Gbagi Police Station, where the culprits were detained overnight, said the travellers were apprehended at the Asejire Dam axis of the Ibadan-Osun boundary, adding that they claimed that they were travelling from Sokoto enroute to Akure, Ondo State.

While noting that the travellers would remain isolated until the results of their Covid-19 tests were received from the state, Makinde said: “We are not able to explain how they got here in the first place, because there is inter-state lockdown throughout the country. They claimed they came from Sokoto and they must have passed through so many states.”

The governor also explained that he has given directives to the effect that the travellers would be kept isolated in Ibadan until the results of their Covid-19 tests are received.
He said he was in touch with the Sokoto State governor, Hon. Aminu Tambuwal, and that the travellers would be sent back to Sokoto State, adding that the state would intensify ongoing strategies for inter-state lockdown.

“I am also in discussion with the governor of Sokoto State. We are more than likely going to return them to Sokoto,” he added.
Driver of the bus, who identified himself as Muhammad Idris, said they passed through old roads and bushes from Sokoto to Niger and Kwara and then got into Ogbomoso, from where they entered Ibadan.
He added that they were going to Akure “to reconcile with their family members.”

Kwara Records 2 New Covid-19 Cases

Kwara State government on Saturday night said it has recorded two new positive cases of Covid-19.
The government had earlier on Friday announced three new cases, while announcing the relaxation of the lockdown.

With the two fresh cases, it thus brought the total to 16 with two persons already discharged.
The two new cases emerged on Saturday, when the state government had already begun aggressive contract tracing as a result of three new cases recorded on Friday.
Spokesman of the Technical Committee on Covid-19, in the state, Rafiu Ajakaye, who confirmed the development, said the two new cases were not recorded through community transmission.

“Not through community transmission, please. They are from our previous cases and have always been under close watch before the test confirmed their status”.
Ajakaye said on Friday, “Dear Kwarans, we are not out of the woods. Just today, Kwara has recorded three more new cases of COVID-19. That takes us to 14 confirmed cases in Kwara.

“Of these, 12 are active as we had earlier discharged two. All our cases are stable and in the best spirits. We want to emphasise that one of the three new cases was imported while the remaining two are contacts of our earlier cases.

“Aggressive contact tracing has since begun. This incident of another imported case explains why we are now deploying military personnel to man our borders while police and other security agencies maintain their hold internally.”

Senator Ubah Distributes Palliative in 21 LGAs

Senator Ifeanyi Ubah has commenced the distribution of palliatives across the 21 local government areas in Anambra State as part of measures to alleviate the effects of the pandemic.

Ubah, who represents Anambra South in the Senate said this period is unsettling and difficult for Anambra people as the disruption of their daily sources of livelihood and economic activities has impacted their ability to meet their basic needs.

He said this necessitated the need to combine public health efforts with palliative measures so as to prevent hunger and food insecurity from creating further health and social challenges in the state.
He assured the people that he has put in place capable hands and structures that would ensure equitable distribution of the palliatives across the state.