By Eric Elezuo
Today marks exactly 100 days since the incursion of the dreaded coronavirus disease into Nigeria. The advent of Coronavirus, nicknamed COVID-19, in Nigeria on February 27, 2020 took many by surprise, but to many others, it was just the consequence of weeks of official indecision. The disease finally entered through the airport via an index-Italian, whose name is still unknown.
COVID-19 was first discovered in the Wuhan Province of China, and made public on December 31, 2019. It has been reported that the origin story of coronavirus says that someone at the now world-famous Huanan seafood market in Wuhan was infected with a virus from an animal. All fingers have been pointed at pangolins; a scaly mammal that looks like an anteater, suggesting this animal was the staging post for the virus before it spread to humans.
The rest is still an undeveloped history, but the fact of the matter remains that the spreading from that first cluster in the capital of China’s Hubei province to a pandemic that has killed over 315,000 people so far, globally.
In Nigeria, after 100 days of the first infection, the spread of the novel Disease continues to rise as the latest statistics provided by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control reveal there are about 12, 000 confirmed cases. Presently, with the 300 new confirmed cases and 8 deaths recorded on June 5, 2020, the country seems far from flattening the curve.
The NCDC said, “On the 5th of June 2020, 328 new confirmed cases and 10 deaths were recorded in Nigeria.
“No new state has reported a case in the last 24 hours.
“Till date, 11844 cases have been confirmed, 3696 cases have been discharged and 333 deaths have been recorded in 35 states and the Federal Capital Territory.
“The 328 new cases are reported from 14 states- Lagos (121), FCT (70), Bauchi (25), Rivers (18), Oyo (16), Kaduna (15), Gombe (14), Edo (13),Ogun (13), Jigawa (8), Enugu (6), Kano (5), Osun (2), Ondo (2).”
- Total Number of Cases – 11,844
- Total Number Discharged – 3,696
- Total Deaths – 333
- Total Tests Carried Out – 71,336±
The latest numbers bring Lagos state total confirmed cases to 5644, followed by Kano (975), Abuja at 862, Katsina (400), Edo (364), Borno (322), Kaduna (320), Oyo (334), Ogun (363), Rivers (308), Jigawa (282), Bauchi (281), Gombe (184), Kwara (127).
Delta State has recorded 116 cases, Sokoto (115), Plateau (113), Nasarawa (90), Ebonyi (80), Zamfara (76), Yobe (52), Osun (49) Imo (47), Akwa Ibom (45), Adamawa (42), Niger (41), Ondo (38), Kebbi (33), Bayelsa (30), Ekiti (25), Enugu (30), Taraba (18), Abia (15), Benue (13), Anambra (12), while Kogi state has recorded only 3 cases.
Of the COVID-19 related deaths so far recorded, President Muhammadu Buhari’s Chief of Staff, late Mallam Abba Kyari, remained the highest official to bow to the disease. The likes Bauchi State government, Bala Mohammed, Kaduna State governor, Nasir, el-Rufai, Oyo State, Seyi Makinde, Chairman, Daar Communications, Raymond Dokpesi, and his family among others have remained some of the big shots that tested positive to the disease, but got ‘cured’.
While trying to contain disease in the last 100 days, President Muhammadu Buhari, among iterating the regular safety measures as authorised by the World Health Organisation (WHO) directed the cessation of all movements in Lagos and the FCT and Ogun State for an initial period of 14 days, which took effect from 11 pm on Monday, 30th March 2020. The lockdown was renewed for another 14 days at the expiration on April 13, 2020.
On April 27, 2020, when the second 14 days expired, President Muhammadu Buhari took different measures. He declared an overnight curfew from 8pm to 6am across the country, as part of new measures to contain the spread of the COVID-19. This comes along with the phased and gradual easing of lockdown measures in FCT, Lagos, and Ogun States, which took effect from Saturday, 2nd May 2020, at 9am. The movement restrictions was partially put on hold with some businesses commencing operations from May 4.
By June 1, 2020, the Chairman of the Presidential Task Force, Boss Mustapha, announced that business activities as well as places of worship would reopen, but at the instance of the state governments, who were expected to implement the guidelines following.
Consequently, Lagos, the epicentre of the disease, has declared Friday, June 19 for the reopening of religious centres with special emphasis to churches and mosques. The reopening is inundated with strict guidelines.
Analysts believe that Nigeria may have fared well in 100 days in comparison to most European countries whose blew out of proportion within weeks of their index case. Others have however, said the situation in Nigeria could be worse if adequate testing is being carried out.
So far, Cross Rivers State remains the only state in Nigeria yet to record a COVID-19 case 100 days after.
Malami Recants, Says He Won’t Testify Before Salami Panel over Magu
The Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami (SAN), has written a letter to the Presidential panel probing the suspended acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Ibrahim Magu.
Malami, who is also the Minister of Justice, told the panel led by Justice Ayo Salami that he would not be able to appear before the investigative body because of the privileges of his office.
The development comes less than two weeks after the AGF boasted that he would appear before the panel to testify if he was invited.
Magu’s legal team led by Mr. Wahab Shittu, had subpoenaed Malami, demanding that he appear before the panel to substantiate the allegations he preferred against the suspended EFCC boss.
However, it was learnt that during the sitting of the panel on Wednesday, Salami read out a letter from Malami stating that he would no longer be able to appear.
Confirming the incident to The PUNCH on Thursday, a lawyer to Magu, Mr. Tosin Ojaomo, said they were all shocked when Justice Salami read out the letter.
He said, “We were all gathered at the Presidential Villa for the day’s proceedings when Justice Salami read out a letter from the AGF. The AGF stated that he would not be able to testify because his constitutional role does not include testifying. He said his duty was to prosecute and file charges.
“I was shocked because Section 174 of the constitution does not give the AGF such privileges. Isn’t it funny that the AGF who levelled a series of allegations against Magu is now refusing to substantiate the allegations that emanated from his office?”
When contacted on the telephone, the Spokesman for the AGF, Dr. Umar Gwandu, asked our correspondent to send him a text message and he would respond appropriately.
However, he had yet to do so as of press time.
Magu was suspended in July based on some reports by investigative panels set up by the AGF.
Some of the allegations were that Magu was unable to account for the interest accrued to over N500bn in recovered funds and that he allegedly bought a house in Dubai for N570m.
The suspended EFCC boss was also said to be at loggerheads with the AGF and had refused to obey instructions from his office.
However, in the course of the investigation by the panel, the probe was extended to several other cases including that of convicted former Inspector-General of Police, Tafa Balogun.
Over 40 persons including those standing trial for corruption have testified before the panel, a move which has been criticised by Magu’s team and other anti-corruption groups.
The panel is supposed to have ended its sitting since last month but was given a six-week extension which lapses this month.
Kogi Tanker Explosion Claims Lives of Schoolchildren, Many Others, Buhari Mourns
President Muhammadu Buhari on Wednesday, said he was disturbed by the petroleum tanker explosion that claimed 23 lives earlier in the day in Lokoja, Kogi State.
Most of the victims of the tanker explosion, which occurred in the Felele area of Lokoja, along the Lokoja/Abuja Highway, were schoolchildren and students of the state-owned polytechnic located a short distance away from the scene.
A man from Okene was said to have lost six children to the inferno, while a family of five was wiped out in the accident that some referred to as the worst in the year so far.
The victims included five students of the Kogi State Polytechnic and three nursery pupils, who were on their way to school.
Also, pupils from the Baptist Academy, whose number had yet to be ascertained, were among those killed.
Also killed was a businessman, identified simply as Samson, alongside his wife and three children.
Samson was said that be dealing in sewing machines and wanted to drop off his children at school as had become his daily routine before opening his shop.
The 33,000-litre tanker, which was laden with Premium Motor Spirit and belonged to the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, was said to have suffered brake failure around 8am and rammed into five cars, two motorcycles and three tricycles, killing all the occupants.
Buhari said the tragedy represented “another disturbing and saddening incident in the litany of tragedies that have befallen our country.”
Buhari’s position was contained in a statement by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, titled: ‘President Buhari mourns victims of Lokoja tanker explosion’.
Shehu quoted the President as expressing worry over the frequency of what he called “large-scale tragedies” in the country.
Buhari was also said to have regretted that the frequent incidents, which he described as a national scandal, were mostly caused by people’s indifference to safety standards.
The President was quoted to have said, “I am seriously worried about the frequency of these unfortunate and large-scale tragedies in the country, which cause needless deaths.
“These frequent incidents that result in loss of lives and property are a national scandal caused by our indifference to safety standards.
“Many accidents are preventable if proper proactive and precautionary measures are put in place or properly observed as routine policies.
“Ours is a country where we move on whenever tragedies occur instead of taking preventive safety measures to forestall future calamities.”
The President therefore called on the county’s transport authorities, traffic and road management agencies as well as law enforcement officials to sit up and enforce safety standards with more seriousness.
He added, “Refusal to do the right thing can cause potential tragic problems that harm innocent people.
“Nigeria is not having a shortage of laws and regulations, but our problem is lack of zeal to enforce those laws and regulations for the sake of public safety.”
He condoled with the state government and the bereaved families.
“I was about crossing the road when I noticed the driver of the tanker signalling of the impending danger due to brake failure, and before one could say Jack Robinson, the 33,000-litre tanker conveying Premium Motor Spirit fell on its side and started spilling the content, which caught fire and burnt all vehicles in the vicinity,” an eyewitness, who spoke on condition anonymity, toldPUNCH Metro.
One of our correspondents, who got to the scene a few minutes after the explosion, counted five burnt cars, three tricycles and two motorcycles.
Although the Sector Commander of the Federal Road safety Corps in the state, Idris Fika Ali, said 23 persons lost their lives, sources said close to 40 casualties might have been recorded.
IPOB Declares October 1, Sit-at-Home in Solidarity with Oduduwa Agitation
The Indigenous People of Biafra has declared October 1 a sit-at-home day across states in the South-East region, which it described as Biafraland.
The IPOB stated that the sit-at-home declaration was in solidarity with its Yoruba brothers in the Diaspora agitating for Oduduwa Republic.
It said the decision was to avert what it called wild killing in the area by some terrorists.
The group said it got credible intelligence that terrorist groups planned to attack people of the region intending to celebrate the Independence Day.
In a statement by the group’s Media and Publicity Secretary, Emma Powerful, IPOB said its members would join its Yoruba brethren agitating for Oduduwa Republic, in public protests to mark the day.
The pro-Biafran group said a complete and total lockdown of Biafraland and other terror ravaged areas of the Middle Belt on 1st of October 2020 was sacrosanct, irreversible and non-negotiable.
The statement partly read, “We enjoin all Biafrans and every conscious Nigerian, especially those ethnic nationalities reeling from the triple double blow of state sponsored terrorism, bad governance and economic annihilation, to boycott every government organised ceremony designed to eulogise the failure that Nigeria has become.
“We, the global movement of the Indigenous People of Biafra, wish to announce to all Biafrans, friends of Biafra and lovers of freedom all over the world that Biafrans across the globe shall observe a sit-at-home in Biafraland and where permissible in the Diaspora, join our Yoruba brethren agitating for Oduduwa Republic in public protests to mark October 1, 2020.