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Nigeria Records 170 New COVID-19 Cases, Total Now 2,558

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Nigeria has recorded 170 new cases of coronavirus, bringing the total number of infections in the country to 2,558.

The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control made this known via its Twitter handle on Sunday.

It also said fatalities from coronavirus-related complications have increased to 87.

It tweeted, “On the 3rd of May 2020, 170 new confirmed cases and two deaths were recorded in Nigeria.

“No new state has reported a case in the last 24 hours.

“Till date, 2558 cases have been confirmed, 400 cases have been discharged and 87 deaths have been recorded in 34 states and the Federal Capital Territory.

“The 170 new cases are reported from 12 states- Lagos(39), Kano(29), Ogun(24), Bauchi(18), Kaduna(15), FCT (12), Sokoto(12), Katsina(8), Borno(7), Nasarawa(3), Adamawa(2), Oyo(1).”

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COVID-19: WHO Suspends Trial of Hydroxychloroquine over Safety Concerns

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The World Health Organisation said Monday that it had “temporarily” suspended clinical trials of hydroxychloroquine as a potential treatment for COVID-19 being carried out across a range of countries as a precautionary measure.

The decision came after the publication last week of a study in the Lancet indicating that the using the drug on COVID-19 patients could increase their likelihood of dying, WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a virtual press conference, adding that the WHO-backed trials had been “suspended while the safety is reviewed.”

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U.S. Insists on Fresh Investigation into Allegations Against AfDB’s Adesina

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Despite being cleared of all allegations of impropriety and fraud by a board of directors, the President of the African Development Bank (AfDB), Akinwumi Adesina, still has another big hurdle to cross in his bid for re-election into office.

The United States government has demanded that a fresh and in-depth investigation be conducted into the allegations against Mr Adesina using an independent investigator.

On May 5, the ethics committee of the board of directors of the continental bank, headed by Takuji Yano, said in its report that Mr Adesina was not guilty on all counts.

Mr Yano is a Japanese executive director charged with the responsibility of investigating allegations by some concerned employees against the official.

The committee described the allegations that he (Mr Adesina) violated the code of conduct of the institution as “spurious and unfounded”.

In its petition, the concerned staff accused Mr Adesina of 20 breaches of the bank’s code of conduct, including “unethical conduct, private gain, an impediment to efficiency, preferential treatment, and involvement in political activities.”

The group, which noted their allegations were in line with AfDB’s whistle-blowing policy, said these activities adversely affected the confidence and integrity of the bank.

Jeune Afrique, which said in a report that it saw the board’s letter that exonerated Mr Adesina, quoted the chair of the board of governors, Niale Kaba, as saying the committee proposed “to adopt the conclusions of the investigation” after due consultations.

Regardless, the United States government expressed “deep reservations about the integrity of the committee’s process” and called for a fresh “in-depth investigation of the allegations.”

In a letter dated May 22, 2020 to Ms Kaba, the U.S. government, through the Secretary, Department of Treasury in Washington, D.C., faulted the decision of the committee to totally exonerate Mr Adesina of all allegations, saying it was not yet time to make such a declaration.

Excerpts of the letter signed by Steven Mnuchin is reproduced below:

“We have deep reservations about the integrity of the Committee’s process. Instead, we urge you to initiate an in-depth investigation of the allegations using the services of an independent outside investigator of high professional standing.

“We emphasise that undertaking an independent evaluation of facts, at any stage, is not at odds with a presumption of innocence.

“The allegations set out in the whistleblowers’ complaints submitted on January 19, 2020 raised significant issues that all relevant governing bodies of the Bank must handle with the utmost care, using all tools available to them.

“Had the Ethics Committee undertaken a proper preliminary examination that was in line with the Board of Governors Resolution B/BG/2008/11, standard practices at other international financial institutions, and the Bank’s own rules and procedures, it would have reviewed available facts that could be gathered by external counsel and found in internal Bank records.

“We fear that wholesale dismissal of all allegations without appropriate investigation will tarnish the reputation of this institution as one that does not uphold high standards of ethics and governance.

“This is a serious risk when we need strong confidence in the AfDB to play an influential role in the current global economic and health crisis, and when many shareholders are seeking legislative support for payments under the recently-concluded General Capital Increase.

“Therefore, the United States cannot support dismissing the allegations at this stage. We believe the Board of Governors must demonstrate that this institution takes governance, anti-corruption, and transparency seriously.

“We thus request that you take steps to initiate an impartial, independent investigation into these allegations. Whatever the outcome, the AfDB will emerge stronger for having taken seriously its obligations to uphold good governance.

“The United States sincerely wishes the AfDB to remain a high-quality institution with the capability to address the needs of the African continent, particularly at this critical time.

“Considering the scope, seriousness, and detail of these allegations against the sole candidate for Bank leadership over the next five years, we believe that further inquiry is necessary to ensure the AfDB’s President has broad support, confidence, and a clear mandate from shareholders.”

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Muslims in the North Shun NCDC Guidelines, Sultan’s Directives to Hold Sallah prayers

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Muslims in Kano,  Katsina, Borno,  Zamfara and Bauchi states on Sunday shunned a directive of the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji  Sa’ad Abubakar, and the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, which stated that there should be no large gatherings at Eid prayers.

Punch correspondents, who monitored prayer grounds in the states, observed that there were massive gatherings with the majority of the faithful not observing the PTF’s protocols such as social distancing and wearing of face masks.

Recall that states, including Kano, Katsina, Borno and Yobe, last week relaxed the Federal Government’s lockdown and allowed religious organisations to hold their congregational activities. They gave  Muslims the go-ahead to hold prayers at Eid at grounds to mark the end of 30 days fasting.

But the Nigeria Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs, led by the Sultan, on Wednesday contradicted the state governments.

In a statement by its Deputy Secretary General, Prof Salisu Shehu,  the NSCIA said massive gatherings at one Eid ground in a big city should be avoided. “Rather the Eid could be performed in area mosques to avoid unmanageable crowds,”  it stated.

On Thursday, Jama’atu Nasril Islam, also led by the Sultan, directed Muslims to observe Sallah prayers at home

In a statement  by its Secretary General, Dr Khalid Abubakar, the JNI said, “Eid-el-Fitr congregation on the outskirts of towns and cities should be temporarily suspended.”

It also directed that “Eid-el-Fitr prayer be observed at home with family members or alone in case there isn’t anyone with him or her, at home.”

At the press briefing of the PTF on Thursday, its Chairman, Mr Boss Mustapha,  advised against large gatherings of people during the Sallah celebration.

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