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COVID-19: NCAC to Launch Campaign on Use of Face Mask

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Having successfully produced and kitted select frontline service providers and various care givers in the forefront of the battle against covid 19 pandemic, the Director General National Council for Arts and Culture (NCAC ), Otunba Segun Runsewe, has disclosed that the next stage of the culture agency focal agenda is to launch a nation wide campaign to encourage Nigerians to brace for the use of facemask in public places.

The NCAC boss had last week produced and kitted security agencies, the media and a select group of professionals in the front line of the covid 19 pandemic with branded facemasks made exclusively from adire and Ankara fabrics, and also gave out sanitizers made from the natural resources sourced locally in order to promote home grown efforts to the pandemic and also open certain cultural economy.

Explaining the need and exigency for the #protectnaijafacemask campaign, Otunba Runsewe stated that there are imperical facts that wearing facemask has about 100% capacity to prevent the spread of the micro droplets, usually transmitted through the mouth and sneezing through the nose.

“We at NCAC is the firm believe that a population wide facemask wearing is very important and essential to the suppression and prevention of the communial transmission of the covid 19 pandemic, hence the frontal awareness efforts by NCAC to prepare and positively change the attitude and minds of nigerians to facemasks lifestyle” he stated further.

Drawing key example from the Czech republic which successfully adopted facemask strategy and thereafter, with the consequent low covid 19 impact in the entire European countries, the NCAC boss who had in the past drove the national campaign to diversify the nigerian economy through tourism, with” oil is good but tourism better and sustainable” campaign, further disclosed that the nation wide awareness drive on the use of facemasks, will help create a post covid 19 cultural economy that will see the nigerian women, widows and youths producing facemasks as part of NCAC intervention.

” We are already grounded in providing skill acquisition as part of our cultural mandate and with this campaign in focus, we can through our various offices in the six geopolitical zones empower the rural women and unemployed youths to take to tailoring and produce an average of ten million facemasks in three days, made from local fabrics and according to our standard.

” This campaign is a must do and not talk and no action. This cultural agency of government is on strong footing to deliver on this expectations” Runsewe assured, noting that as much as covid 19 protocols of social distancing, strict hygiene are important, the desirability and importance of wearing facemask cannot be overemphasized.

“Indeed, the spread of the disease across our nation with a population of 200million people is a bit scary and despite the the great intervention of the National Center for Disease control, we must be seen to be culturally supportive through this campaign which also is not in any way the scientific solution to mitigating the scrouge but as a knowledge and awareness based effort from NCAC to empower Nigerians to wake up and live with reality of facemasks wearing in public places as a new way of life.

On getting a national musical and entertainment response to the #protectnaijawithfacemask campaign, the national and cum pan African cultural influncer, noted that the possibility would be exploited and be given the face of “we are the world” musical extravaganza of the 90s to raise fund and awareness about mitigating poverty in the world.

“You can bet we shall adopt that musical effort but it shall be cultural in content and context and we may request musical and cultural troupes to come up with something unique that will appeal to national unity and consciousness.

“The artistic community shall be part of this campaign and we are definitely looking beyond the covid 19 situation to the next level of truly responding and creating a new culture entrepreneurs that can challenge our collective national strength for a better cultural economic tomorrow, to project Nigeria to the world as a nation conscious of it’s richness in culture and with a people with strong resolve to overcome any challenge of life” He explained further.

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Family Petitions IG over Rape, Killing of Daughter by FCT SARS Officials

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The family of a 28-year-old graduate of the Institute of Management and Technology, Enugu, Ifeoma Abugu, has been thrown into mourning after she was allegedly sexually assaulted and killed by the personnel of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad, Federal Capital Territory Command, Abuja.

It was gathered that three policemen on September 10, 2020, around 5pm, stormed the residence of Ifeoma’s fiancé, Afam Ugwunwa, at Wumba village in the Lokogoma area of Abuja to arrest him.

PUNCH Metro learnt that in absence of Ugwunwa, the policemen arrested Ifeoma and took her away.

Our correspondent learnt that all efforts to know the police station she was being taken to proved abortive as she was not found until Ugwunwa got a call the next day that Ifeoma had died and her corpse had been deposited in the morgue.

Ifeoma’s brother, Alex, who spoke to our correspondent on the telephone, said she had just concluded her National Youth Service Corps and was arrested and killed four days after she had her introduction with Ugwunwa in Enugu State.

He said, “I was in Lagos when one of my junior brothers called me that he learnt that SARS arrested our sister and she died in detention. I just came to Abuja today (Sunday) and I have asked some of my uncles, who have been to the police station, and they said that the policemen alleged that they met my sister unconscious on the bed and they carried her to hospital, where she died.

“When I asked my sister’s fiancé what happened, he said he went out and someone called him on the telephone that SARS had arrested my sister and when he came back, he called someone he knew at the SARS office to help in facilitating her release, but the person was unable to do it that night.

“The following morning, he gave the woman money to help facilitate the release, but the woman called back to tell him that Ifeoma was dead. When my uncles saw the picture of her corpse, they saw signs that she was sexually assaulted. We’re waiting for the result of an autopsy to come out to ascertain what happened to her.

“My sister was arrested four days after her introduction in the village and her wedding was slated for December. We want the killers to be brought to justice.”

When our correspondent contacted Ifeoma’s fiancé, he said he was too distraught to talk.

The family’s lawyer, Ifeanyi Mamah, who spoke to our correspondent on the telephone, urged the Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, to order a proper investigation into the matter.

He said, “She (Ifeoma) had just finished cooking that day, while her fiancé and her friend had finished eating and the friend left, while the fiancé went to see a friend in one of the neighbouring estates, when he received a call from a neighbour that the police had come to arrest his fiancée and she had been taken away and he received another call from Ifeoma that she was been taken away by SARS, but she didn’t know where they were taking her to.

“Ifeoma’s fiancé called a friend of his to help in looking for her and secure her release, but she was not found, only for the fiancé to receive a call the next day that she was dead and her corpse had been deposited in the morgue.

“The family of the deceased have not seen the corpse; the picture we have is the one the IPO snapped and sent to us when she went to the hospital, where her corpse was deposited; from the picture of the deceased, it appeared she was sexually assaulted before her death.

The SARS officers alleged that they met Ifeoma in an unconscious state and that when they got there, there was cocaine on the table and that they only helped to take her to hospital, where she was examined and pronounced dead, but they forgot that people witnessed when she was being taken away.

“We want justice to be served; we want the matter to be thoroughly investigated and assigned to good investigating officers, because the IPO that has been handling this matter is not erudite enough; that is why we do not have confidence in them. The officers, who perpetrated this act, must be brought to justice.”

Mamah’s petition to the IG read in part, “The IPO, Inspector Bullus, and DPO Usman informed us at the police station on September 15, 2020, in explanation that the deceased was met in an unconscious state by the officers. This explanation is contrary to the information from residents and our clients are not confident with the way the matter is being handled at the Apo Police Station.

“The SARS operatives, who did the arrest, are still not yet arrested and are freely walking the streets of Abuja. Our clients are not confident that the division will do justice in the matter, and the deceased body is still lying lifeless at Gwagwalada Specialist Hospital. Sir, we appeal that you use your highly esteemed office to ensure that proper investigation is carried out, that the culprits be brought to book and justice done.”

Our correspondent learnt the matter was first reported at the Apo Police Station and later transferred to the FCT Command.

When contacted by our correspondent, the FCT Police Public Relations Officer, Anjuguri Manzah, said he was not aware of the matter and urged the family of the victim to come to the command for further investigation.

“I’m not aware of this incident, but give me time to make enquiries. You can also link me up with the family of the victim so that they can come to the command,” he stated.

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14-Year-Old Girl Brutally Raped, Murdered in Ogun

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A 14-year-old secondary school pupil, Fathia Ojewoye, has been raped to death at the Agbeloba-Oriyonrin area of Abeokuta, Ogun State.

The teenager had on Wednesday been declared missing by her parents, but her corpse was found three days after with some of her personal effects in an uncompleted building in the area.

When our correspondent visited the residence of the deceased’s mother, who had separated from her husband, sympathisers were seen consoling her.

When PUNCH Metro attempted to speak to her, she asked to be left alone.

She, however, vowed to ensure that the killer(s) of Fathia, whom she gave birth to while in secondary school, was brought to justice.

A source in the area told our correspondent that Fathia was sent on an errand by her mother to refill the gas cylinder around the area, but she did not return home.

The teenager was reported to have been last seen with a young man, while she was going to the gas station.

The young man, who lives around the area, was said to have run away, apparently to avoid arrest.

It was gathered that her corpse was found in an uncompleted building near her grandmother’s residence.

She was reportedly defiled in a brutal way and later murdered by yet-to-be identified person(s).

The Police Public Relations Officer in the state, Abimbola Oyeyemi, confirmed the incident.

Oyeyemi said investigation into the brutal killing of the teenager had commenced.

He gave an assurance that the command would ensure that the perpetrators were apprehended soon.

The police spokesman said the corpse had been deposited in the morgue of the State Hospital, Sokenu, Abeokuta.

Oyeyemi added that arrangement was being made to conduct an autopsy on the corpse.

Meanwhile, the Ogun State Child Protection Network, a coalition of non-governmental and civil society organisations, has condemned the incident.

The network, in a statement by its Coordinator, Alfred Soleye, expressed shock over the brutal murder of Fathia.

It urged the police to carry out detailed investigation and accurate forensics on exhibits recovered from the crime scene to ensure that the perpetrators were brought to justice.

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Passengers Feared Dead As Bus Carrying Church Members Plunges Into River

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A 30-passenger bus carrying church members returning from a burial in Afikpo, Ebonyi State plunged into a river along Akaeze-Ishiagu bridge on Friday, with many people missing.

A woman out of the five persons rescued by local divers as of 10pm was said to have died in a hospital. The accident occurred around 6pm.

This is just as emergency agencies responded to a tanker explosion at Anthony inward Gbagada area of Lagos. While two vehicles were burnt, casualty figures could not be ascertained as of 11pm.

In the Ebonyi accident, Saturday PUNCH learnt that the bus driver wanted to overtake a truck when he lost control and skidded off the bridge.

The Federal Road Safety Sector Commander in the state, Stella Uchegbu, who confirmed the crash to our correspondent on the phone, said the number of people on board could not be ascertained as the bus was still trapped.

She said, “The accident involved a 608 bus carrying members of a church returning from a burial. They were coming from Afikpo to Enugu. The bus lost control on Akaeze Bridge while trying to overtake a truck or while the truck was trying to overtake it. It lost control and plunged into the river.

“I learnt about five people were rescued by divers organised by the local government area chairman and they were taken to a hospital. We could not ascertain the number of people on board because the vehicle has not been found.

“Being a group outing, we do not know whether they observed COVID-19 protocols. That kind of bus normally carries up to 30 or more passengers. We do not know whether it was fully-laden. Search and rescue is still on and our men are on the ground. The divers said it was already dark and they could not continue.”

The police spokesperson in Ebonyi, DSP Loveth Odah, told our correspondent that one of the rescued victims had died while the four others were receiving treatment.

“The bus is still trapped in the river. We don’t know the number of passengers in the bus,” she added.

A preliminary report on the tanker explosion released by the General Manager, Lagos State Emergency Management Agency, Dr Olufemi Oke-Osanyintolu, indicated that the petrol-laden tanker fell while in motion.

It read, “The agency responded to distress calls and upon arrival at the scene of the incident, it was discovered that a tanker with unknown registration number conveying PMS lost control while in motion and subsequently fell sideways. This led to an explosion in which two unidentified vehicles were burnt.

“A joint team of responders led by LASEMA, LASG fire service, LRU fire unit, Nigeria Police and LASTMA are working together to curb the inferno from escalating further. Casualties cannot be ascertained at this time (11pm) Rescue operation is ongoing.”

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