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Bayelsa: We Can’t Conduct Fresh Poll, INEC Tells APC As Party Heads to S’Court

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The Independent National Electoral Commission on Sunday ruled out any fresh governorship election in Bayelsa State as requested by the All Progressives Congress.

INEC’s Director of Voter Education and Publicity, Oluwole Osaze-Uzzi, in an interview with one of our correspondents in Abuja, dismissed the APC’s demand for a fresh governorship poll in Bayelsa State.

He said the commission on Friday concluded its work on the Bayelsa State governorship poll.

Also, top officials of  INEC, who confided in The PUNCH on Sunday, said the commission had never granted such a request and that of the APC would not be the first.

One of the officials said, “The APC is asking for what is not possible. The party should forget a fresh governorship election in Bayelsa State.”

The APC National Chairman, Adams Oshiomhole, had in a letter dated February  14, 2020 and addressed to the INEC Chairman,  Mahmood Yakubu,  called for a fresh election in Bayelsa State.

The APC national chairman said the swearing-in of the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party,  Douye Diri,  as the state governor was unconstitutional as he did not meet the mandatory constitutional requirements.

The party said although the Supreme Court nullified its candidate, David Lyon’s victory, it stated that  Diri also failed to meet the mandatory requirements to become governor.

It said the court judgment did not void the votes of the APC  in the  November 16, 2019 governorship poll in Bayelsa State.   It, therefore, said its votes must be reckoned with.

The APC had said, ‘‘We are aware that Section 179(1)(b) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria mandatorily requires a candidate for an election to the office of governor of a state to have not less than one quarter of the votes cast at the election in each of at least two thirds of all the local government areas in the state before the candidate can be deemed to have been duly elected as the governor of the state. This mandatory requirement was affirmed by the Supreme Court in the judgment under reference.”

According to the party,  Bayelsa State has eight local government areas, hence the two thirds of at least eight local government areas will be approximately six local government areas.

The Supreme Court had on Thursday nullified the candidacy of Lyon and his running mate,   Biobarakuma Degi-Eremienyo, on the grounds that Degi-Eremienyo presented false information about his educational qualifications in his Form CF001 submitted to INEC as a candidate for the 2019 election.

Justice Ejembi Ekwo, who read the lead judgment, had said Degi-Eremienyo’s disqualification on the basis of submitting false information to INEC had infected the joint ticket with which he and Lyon contested the election and emerged victorious.

Shortly after the judgment was delivered, Oshiomhole had vowed that Diri would not be sworn in as the  Bayelsa State governor because he did not meet the constitutional spread of votes in the governorship poll.

But in their swift reactions, the PDP and the Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, dismissed the APC national chairman’s claim and insisted that Diri would be inaugurated.

After a meeting of its top management on Friday, INEC, at a press conference confirmed that Diri met the constitutional requirements.

It argued that votes of the APC candidates had been invalidated by the apex court judgment. It, therefore, presented a certificate of return to Diri, who was sworn in as the fifth governor of Bayelsa State on Friday.

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Nigeria’s Response to Coronavirus is Impressive, Says UN Chief

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The United Nations has praised Nigeria for it’s handling of the Coronavirus pandemic.

Nigeria, Africa’s most populated country with an estimated 200 million inhabitants, currently has 190 cases of COVID-19 but has managed to keep the death toll to just two.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, while speaking at a virtual news briefing in New York, referred to Nigeria as a ‘developing country’ that has “shown a remarkable capacity to respond to the coronavirus.”

“I have to say this: some of these developing countries have shown a remarkable capacity to respond.

“I was quite impressed to see, for instance, Nigeria putting in place and immediately establishing a hospital. “And I saw difficulties in countries that are much more developed to do quickly the same.”

He also renewed his call for a global ceasefire, urging countries in a conflict like Syria, Libya and Yemen to lay down arms and allow for unified combat against the coronavirus pandemic.

“The worst is yet to come,” Guterres said, referring to countries beset with fighting.

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Army Officer Becomes First Coronavirus Positive Case in Ondo

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The Ondo State governor, Rotimi Akeredolu, has confirmed the first coronavirus case in the state via his Twitter handle. He also said the patient is an army officer who recently returned from India.

Akeredolu was the first in the state to undergo COVID-19 test after fears he was in contact with the Chief of Staff to the President, Abba Kyari, who is currently undergoing treatment for the virus. The governor tested negative for the virus.

“We have just received confirmation of our first positive #COVIDー19 case in Ondo State this evening,” Mr Akeredolu wrote on Friday evening.

“The infected person is currently under isolation and will be monitored. We have activated all necessary protocol to locate all contacts and will be working closely with @NCDCgov.”

The state during the week was in celebration after 12 persons suspected to be carrying the virus came out negative.

The case of a female resident in Arogbo Ijaw, in Ese Odo Local Government Area of the state, who was said to have recently returned from abroad, created a stir in the area, but after a laboratory test, she was found negative.

As of 11 a.m. on Friday, the total national figure for infected persons had risen to 190, with 20 persons treated and discharged and two deaths recorded.

With Ondo State joining the list of affected states, the number is now 191, although the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control is yet to formally announce the Ondo case.

“It is with great concern that the Ondo State Government announces the first index case. A suspected case tested positive to the COVID-19 pandemic,” the Commissioner for Information, Donald Ojogo, said in a statement on Friday evening.

“We thank God for His protection thus far. Ours has been a case of anxiety while we enjoyed a COVID-19-free state status.

“This development has, however, repudiated that enviable status even as we urge all to be vigilant and keep ourselves within the precincts of measures put in place.

“God help Ondo State.”

Mr Akeredolu followed his earlier tweet with another, clarifying that the coronavirus index in the state is a military officer who recently arrived from India.

The governor said the returnee from India had been in isolation since he returned and had been monitored by the medical team of the military and the Ondo State team through the period.

“Upon showing some symptoms, his samples were taken and the diagnosis confirmed by Nigeria Centre for Disease Control at their lab in Ede,” the governor said.

“We have now commenced the transfer of the officer to the state isolation center.”

The governor said there was no need for any panic as the infected officer was in a very stable condition and “we ask for calm from all in Ondo State.”

“We are on top of this and ask that our citizens continue to follow all preventive measures to ensure they remain safe,” he added.

In his statement, Mr Ojogo said the state government considered it necessary to allay the fears of the people and explain that the confirmed index case, an army officer, had voluntarily isolated himself as soon as he arrived in the country from India over a week ago.

“During this period of self isolation, he was monitored by the State Inter-Ministerial Committee in collaboration with the NCDC,” said Mr Ojogo.

“Necessary tests were carried out and result is what we have today.

“However, we appeal to all and sundry not to panic as both the NCDC and the State Inter-ministerial Committee have jointly commenced efforts to effect needful protocols in line with COVID-19.”

However, in spite of the measures taken to stem the spread of the disease, residents in the state have continued to flout the stay-at-home order and the closure of markets.

Some markets still opened for business on Friday, as well as some shops in the outskirts of Akure, where enforcement is minimal.

The popular Oda market where farm produce are usually sold, came alive in the early hours of the morning, where residents made brisk purchases. The market is a morning market.

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Chinese Medical Team to Arrive in Nigeria Soon, Says Health Minister

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The Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, on Friday, said that Chinese doctors, nurses and medical experts would arrive in Nigeria in a few days to assist in the fight against COVID-19.

The minister said this during a briefing of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 in Abuja.

Cases in Nigeria have reached 210 as the global figure also surpassed one million mark. He said Nigeria was also exploring the possibility of producing some medical equipment after key stakeholders met in Abuja on Thursday.

The coming of the Chinese medical experts was announced just as the Director-General of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu, said efforts to contain COVID-19 in Nigeria were being limited by finance, manpower and other indices despite the support from government and individuals.

Ehanire said, “The global number has crossed one million mark, barely three months after the first cases were first reported in Wuhan, China. It is an indication that it is a public health challenge that we must not take lightly.”

He continued, “We are already seeing what may be the indication of community transmission, in that 30 per cent of the cases have incomplete epidemiological information. 51 per cent are imported cases and 19 per cent are through contacts of known cases.

“Directors of the Federal Ministry of Health had discussions with the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment and Manufacturers Association of Nigeria to explore the potential for local production of medical consumables such as face masks, gloves, sanitisers and even ventilators.

“This is in view of looming global shortages of medical supplies for the response due to high demands from all countries. Clinical trials and other processes are ongoing to validate various therapeutic for COVID-19 treatment.”

After the briefing, Nigeria recorded 20 new cases: 11 in Lagos State, three in FCT, three in Edo State, two in Osun State and one in Ondo State.

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