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Senate Confirms Chairman, Members of North-East Development Commission

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The Nigerian Senate on Tuesday confirmed a retired army major-general, Paul Tarfa, as chairman of the North-East Development Commission (NEDC).

The Senate also confirmed Mohammed Alkali as the Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of the commission and nine others as members of the board of the commission.

The members are Musa Yashi, ED Humanitarian Affairs; Mohammed Jawa, Executive Director, Admin and Finance; Omar Mohammed, Executive Director, Operations and David Kente, member representing North East zone.

Others are Asmau Mohammed, member representing North West zone; Benjamin Adanyi, Member representing North Central zone; Olawale Oshun, member representing South West zone; T.E.O Ekechi, member representing South-East and Obasuke McDonald, memb
er representing South-South zone.

The Senate, in October 2016, passed the bill for the establishment of the North East Development Commission to coordinate the rebuilding of the insurgency-ravaged North East region of Nigeria.

President Muhammadu Buhari assented to the bill in October, 2017.

The confirmation of the nominees was made after Abdulaziz Nyako, the chairman of the Senate Committee on Special Duties, presented the report of the committee.

He said all the nominees met the requirements for their appointment.

Prior to the confirmation, Binta Garba, frowned at the fact that the headquarters of the commission is located in Borno State and the MD of the commission, Mr Alkali, is also from the state.

“The commission is domiciled in Borno State and the CEO is also from Borno State. Is it in consonance with the ideal of the commission within and outside Nigeria?

“For example, the President of the United Nations is not from America. We need to get some clarifications. Late Wakili asked that the headquarters should be in Bauchi State but he was shut down,” she said.

In his response, Mr Nyako explained that during the debate at the Senate, the position was left open.

He said members of the House of Representatives, however, called for zoning and thus voted in that manner.

“In our bill, we left it open. During the public hearings, we agreed if the headquarters is in Borno then someone else should be the MD; but in concurrence with the House of Representatives, more inclined to the MD from Borno.

“It was the House bill that went with zoning and their votes were overwhelming than ours,” he said.

In his remark, Ibn Na’Allah, said the observations are valid because it relates to international organisations.

“Certain peculiarities demonstrate certain actions. The entire bill is associated to the beginning of insurgency in Borno State and Adamawa is close to it. In the selection, Tarfa is from Adamawa.

“The choice of Alkali is based on the assumption that there is quick establishment and its running. What swayed the Senate and reps to choose Alkali is entirely a legislative action,” he said.

The Senate Leader, Ahmed Lawan, said the nominees are eminently qualified and prepared to hit the ground running.

He, therefore, urged the committee on special duties to ensure the taking off of the commission as he said the situation in the North East requires it to take off immediately.

The Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, simply called for the commencement of an oversight for the commission.

“This is not the first time we are showing such concern. NDDC bill was originated by the National Assembly. The bill was vetoed by the executive but it was upturned. It shows the same character of concern.

“The NDDC is steeped in a lot of protocol and bureaucracy. So this commission should learn from that. The parliament should start an oversight of this agency.”

The Senate thereafter disolved into the committee of the whole to confirm the nominees.

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COVID-19: Fresh Lockdown Likely After Two Weeks – PTF

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The Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 on Monday lamented the increasing rate of COVID-19 cases among people in government, saying it was directly impacting on governance and security in the country.

The PTF Chairman and Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, who stated this at the task force press briefing in Abuja, also said the possibility of ordering a fresh total lockdown to curtail further spread of the virus could not be ruled out.

The SGF, who advised prominent Nigerians to take COVID-19 protocols seriously, said the virus does not respect status.

Mustapha’s warning came amid rising cases of COVID-19 among state governors and other prominent Nigerians.  Recently state governors, including David Umahi of Ebonyi, Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta and their Ondo State counterpart, Rotimi  Akeredolu, contracted the virus.

Warning people in authority, the SGF said,  “Of recent, we have witnessed a high rate of positive cases especially among people in authority. This has a direct impact on governance and security of our nation. We urge that vigilance and care should be exhibited by all Nigerians, irrespective of status. This virus does not discriminate and the PTF shall keep sustaining its sensitisation messaging.”

When asked if the task force would be considering a fresh lockdown in the face of what it observed as disregard for guidelines, Mustapha said events of coming weeks would determine the next line of action.

He said, “We will not speculate on what will happen in future but we will protect the lives of Nigerians.

“To achieve that, if it means to lock down again, we will not shy away from that responsibility. We will recommend to the President who will look at the report and take a decision on our recommendation. What happens in the next two three weeks will determine what we will do.”

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Cross River Finally Joins the Fray As Nigeria Records 575 New COVID-19 Cases

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The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) has announced 575 new cases of COVID-19, bringing the total number of confirmed cases in the country to 29,286.

Nine deaths were recorded from the virus on Monday bringing the total number of confirmed deaths from the virus to 654.

There was an increase in the number of confirmed cases reported Monday compared to what was reported on Sunday (544).

The health agency in a tweet Monday night said the 575 new cases were reported in 20 states including Lagos, Federal Capital Territory ( FCT), Delta, Edo, Ogun, Katsina, Bayelsa, Rivers, Borno, Plateau, Ondo, Oyo, Kwara, Osun, Enugu, Nasarawa, Abia, Cross River, Kaduna and Ekiti.

All the reporting states already had at least a case of the virus.

As of the time of reporting, all 36 states and the FCT have recorded at least a case of the disease.

NCDC has officially recorded the confirmed cases reported in Cross River, after days of controversies on the cases.

Lagos remains the epicentre for the disease in the country while Zamfara has not reported any new confirmed case in the past 48 days.

“Till date, 29, 286 cases have been confirmed, 11, 828 cases have been discharged and 654 deaths have been recorded in 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory,” the NCDC stated.

The 575 new cases were reported from 20 states: Lagos – 123, FCT – 100, Delta – 58, Edo – 52, Ogun – 42, Katsina – 24, Bayelsa – 23, Rivers – 22, Borno – 19, Plateau – 18, Ondo – 18, Oyo – 17, Kwara – 15, Osun – 13, Enugu – 9, Nasarawa – 7, Abia – 6, Cross River – 5, Kaduna – 3 and Ekiti – 1.

Since the first case of COVID-19 was recorded in Nigeria in February, NCDC said, 152,952 samples have been tested.

As of the time of reporting, there are 16,804 active cases of COVID-19 in the country, while 11,828 have recovered and have been discharged.

A breakdown of the 29,286 confirmed cases shows that Lagos State has so far reported 11, 367 cases, followed by FCT – 2,281, Oyo – 1,530, Edo – 1,435, Delta – 1,285, Kano – 1,268, Rivers – 1,205, Ogun – 1,047, Kaduna – 868, Katsina – 628, Borno – 574, Gombe – 520, Bauchi – 518, Ebonyi – 503, Ondo – 474, Plateau – 454, Abia – 391, Enugu – 381, Imo – 352, Jigawa – 318, Kwara – 284, Bayelsa – 268, Nasarawa – 232, Osun – 178, Sokoto – 153, Niger – 122, Akwa Ibom – 112, Adamawa – 99, Benue – 97, Kebbi – 84, Zamfara – 76, Anambra – 73, Yobe – 61, Ekiti – 45, Taraba- 22, Kogi – 5, and Cross River – 5.

While confirmed cases of the virus have continued to increase in the country, the Minister of Health, Osagie Ehanire, said the government is trying to boost overall COVID-19 sample collection, by preparing all public and private hospitals nationwide to become collection hospitals sites.

This, he said will require working with state governments to identify the facilities and the space within them, to conduct training for the personnel selected and supply both PPEs and sample collection kits, as well as the logistics to go around to recover test samples.

“If logistics around sample collection and delivery to test sites are better organised, a lot more will be achieved.

“However, the more we test, the more confirmed cases we shall find, of which the vulnerable will have to be prioritised for admission to treatment centres, even if they are not yet showing symptoms,” he added.

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EFCC Acting Chair, Magu Spends Night in Police Custody

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The embattled acting chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Ibrahim Magu, spent the night in police custody on the orders of a presidential panel probing alleged infractions against him.

He was taken to the Presidential Villa, Abuja, where he appeared before a presidential panel investigating alleged corruption and insubordination.

The allegations of insubordination and ‘relooting of recovered funds’ were levelled against him by the Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami.

In separate statements Monday, the SSS denied arresting the anti-graft chief while the EFCC said Mr Magu was only invited for questioning.

Similarly, the Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption has also described Mr Magu as a victim of power play in the presidency.

Security and family sources informed PREMIUM TIMES Mr Magu was not allowed to go back home because the panel ordered his detention.

The EFCC official was grilled for several hours by members of the panel in the presence of an EFCC counsel, Rotimi Oyedepo.

When the panel rose for the day, it decided to send Mr Magu to Area 10 Force Criminal Investigation Department (FCID) of the police, sources said. He spent the night there, in police custody.

This newspaper learnt that several options of sanctions against Mr Magu were being weighed, pending the approval of President Muhammadu Buhari.

“They are planning to take him to court,” PREMIUM TIMES was told Monday afternoon by a source who asked not to be named because he lacked the authority to speak officially

Another source at the presidency said there is a lobby group advocating for a soft-landing for Mr Magu, a police commissioner.

“According to this power bloc, disgracing Mr Magu will leave a dent on the EFCC and the government’s fight against corruption,” the source said.

“You cannot claim successes in the fight against corruption and turn around to say the man leading the war is a corrupt, immoral person. That is part of the argument of Mr Magu’s sympathisers,” said the source late on Monday.

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