Thursday Update: Matawalle’s Quest, Sadiq Daba & Nigerians’ Appetite For Covid Vaccine

Good morning,

We are leading with Governor Bello Matawalle’s quest for peace in Zamfara, the death of a beloved actor, and Nigeria’s burgeoning COVID-19 vaccination program.

Matawalle’s Thirst For Peace In Zamfara

Zamfara State Governor Bello Matawalle has said he is ready to resign if it will lead to peace in Zamfara. Nigerian politicians rarely leave public office voluntarily, so while his resignation is not expected, the comment is a metaphor for how seriously he wants to be taken on his desire to secure Zamfara.

The Governor, who appeared on Wednesday as a guest on Channels Television’s Politics Today, also approved of President Muhammadu Buhari’s ‘no-fly-zone’ if it will end insecurity in the region, although he was displeased that he had not been consulted before the directive was issued.

Also, the Governor has been at the forefront of negotiating with bandits, an approach that the Federal Government has frowned on for its tendency to burnish the ragged reputation of criminals. But his approach, which Matawalle has described as both ‘kinetic and non-kinetic’ helped to free hundreds of schoolgirls kidnapped in Jangebe on Friday.

Jangebe Reunion: Security officials shot at an angry crowd as the recently released 279 schoolgirls were being reunited with their families in a remote part of Zamfara.

Babagana Zulum: To end insecurity in the North-East, the Borno State Governor has urged the Federal Government to seek support from neigbouring countries.

Sadiq Daba Goes Home

Veteran Nigerian broacaster and actor Sadiq Daba has died.

His death was confirmed by filmmaker Kunle Afolayan to Channels Television. Mr. Daba had worked with Afolayan on his 2020 movie, Citation.

According to Mr. Afolayan, the ace broadcaster died on Wednesday from his protracted battle with leukaemia and prostate cancer.

Afolayan said the news was confirmed to him by Mr. Daba’s wife and son.

He further shared that at the time he worked with Mr. Daba on Citation in 2020, he was hale and hearty, although he always had his oxygen supply around him.

Apart from being an ace broadcaster, Sadiq Daba was renowned for acting in the classic ‘Cock Crow at Dawn’ and ‘October 1st’.

Johnson & Johnson vaccine vials against the COVID-19 coronavirus are seen at the Klerksdorp Hospital as South Africa proceeds with its inoculation campaign on February 18, 2021. Phill Magakoe / AFP
Johnson & Johnson vaccine vials against the COVID-19 coronavirus are seen at the Klerksdorp Hospital as South Africa proceeds with its inoculation campaign on February 18, 2021.
Phill Magakoe / AFP

Nigerians Show Appetite For COVID-19 Vaccine

Almost four million doses of COVID-19 vaccines arrived in Nigeria on Tuesday and Nigerians are showing massive interest in the remedy.

In less than 24 hours of a government registration portal going live, more than two million Nigerians signed up to receive the vaccine, according to the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA).

It had been feared that many Nigerians would reject the vaccine. While such fears remain a major concern for public health officials and policymakers, the ‘early rush’ is an encouraging sign.

The first batch of vaccines is expected to be administered to frontline workers and strategic leaders, but Nigeria is also expecting an additional 41 million doses of vaccine from the African Union.

Although health experts have warned that relying solely on vaccines will not solve the pandemic crisis, it can be a very potent weapon.

What else is happening?

Food Blockage: The Amalgamated Union of Foodstuff and Cattle Dealers of Nigeria said it has lifted its ban on the transportation of food items to the southern part of the country.

NIN: The Federal Government has approved the establishment of dedicated Subscriber Identity Module (SIM) swap centres in each of the 774 local government areas in the country.

Niger State: Less than three weeks after 40 passengers were kidnapped, gunmen have again abducted over 50 passengers along the Tegina-Minna road in Rafi Local Government Area.

Apapa Cleanup: Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanow-Olu, has warned that the state will not spare anyone who flouts the electronic call-up system introduced in Apapa to ease gridlock in the area.

Winifred Oyo-Ita: A Federal High Court in Abuja has ordered a stay of proceedings in the ongoing trial of the former Head of Service of the Federation and others.

ICPC: The anti-corruption agency said Nigeria is losing about $10 billion from multinationals who evade taxes.

United States: New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said he would not quit over sexual harassment allegations made against him by three women.

And that’s it for today. See you tomorrow.

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Wednesday Update: Zamfara Schoolgirls, COVID-19 Vaccines & Service Chiefs

Good morning.

We are leading with the return of schoolgirls in Zamfara, the arrival of COVID-19 vaccines, and the confirmation of security chiefs.

Some of the abducted girls after regaining their freedom. (Photo by Aminu ABUBAKAR / AFP)

Jangebe Schoolgirls Regain Freedom

Tuesday morning started on a bright note as schoolgirls kidnapped from Government Girls Secondary School, Jangebe, in Talata Mafara Local Government Area of Zamfara State last Friday were released.

Zamfara State Governor, Bello Matawalle said the girls were released with the help of repentant bandits without any ransom paid.

The Governor put the number of girls recovered at 279, although the police had earlier said 317 girls were taken.

President Muhammadu Buhari celebrated the release but called for greater vigilance. Later on Tuesday, the President declared a no-fly-zone across Zamfara State and banned all mining activities as part of measures to tackle the North-Western state’s security challenges.

Nigeria Receives First Batch of Vaccines

Nigeria finally took delivery of almost four million doses of COVID-19 vaccines on Tuesday.

The vaccines, donated by the WHO-backed COVAX, arrived at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, around noon via an Emirates airline (above) and were received by top government officials led by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr. Boss Mustapha.

Another 41 million vaccines are expected to arrive from the African Union.

Reaction: The President of the Nigerian Medical Association, Prof. Innocent Ujah, and the National Incident Manager of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, Dr. Mukhtar Muhammed said the arrival of the vaccine does not mean the pandemic has ended.

Newly appointed service chiefs

Senate Confirms Service Chiefs

The Senate has confirmed the appointment of the newly appointed Service Chiefs.

After the confirmation on Tuesday, Senate President Ahmad Lawan advised the new service chiefs to take the insurgency war to the terrorists and bandits and dislodge them from their enclaves.

Meanwhile, Boko Haram insurgents have attacked Dikwa local government area in Borno State and abducted at least seven aid workers. The United Nations said the insurgents had “directly targeted” aid facilities.

In its account of the attack, the army said it was able to repel the terrorists and denied that they were able to attack a United Nations base.

Mass Resignation: The House of Representatives has called for improved welfare for troops and effective delivery of welfare packages across the ranks after a total of 356 soldiers resigned in July 2020.

What else is happening?

Omoyele Sowore: The #RevolutionNow convener appeared in court with a ‘spiritual adviser’.

PDP: Former Senate President, Bukola Saraki on Tuesday led a group of party chieftains to a closed-door meeting with former President Olusegun Obasanjo.

Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom embraces his Bauchi counterpart, Bala Mohammed following their reconciliation on March 2, 2021 in Rivers State.


Herdsmen Crisis: Bauchi State Governor, Bala Mohammed and his Benue State counterpart, Samuel Ortom have settled their differences over comments made on AK-47 amid the security situation in the country.

Abdulrasheed Maina: Money recovered by the ex-Pension boss was used to fund the 2012 budget, a witness told the Federal High Court on Tuesday.

Ekiti State: Gunmen have kidnapped another foreigner along Igbemo Ekiti in Irepodun/Ifelodun Local Government Area.

Ebola: Guinea has launched a vaccination campaign after a fresh outbreak of the deadly disease struck the country this month, with officials hoping to eradicate the virus in six weeks.

Alexei Navalny: The United States has imposed sanctions on the director of Russia’s FSB security agency after finding it carried out the near-fatal poisoning of President Vladimir Putin’s leading critic.

And that’s it for today.

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US Imposes Sanctions On Russia Security Chief Over Navalny Poisoning



The United States on Tuesday imposed sanctions on the director of Russia’s FSB security agency after finding it carried out the near-fatal poisoning of President Vladimir Putin’s leading critic Alexei Navalny.

The Treasury Department said that Alexander Bortnikov, who since 2008 has led the KGB’s successor, was one of seven senior Russian officials whose US assets will be frozen, with any US transactions with them subject to prosecution.

More to follow . . .

Founding Member Of The Wailers, Bunny Wailer, Dies At 73


File photo of reggae icon Bunny Wailer


Reggae legend Bunny Wailer, who co-founded The Wailers with Bob Marley in the 1960s, died Tuesday in Kingston at the age of 73, the Jamaican government said.

No cause of death was given but the culture ministry said Wailer — his real name was Neville Livingstone — had been hospitalized since December.

Wailer was the last surviving original member of the Wailers after Marley died of cancer in 1981, and Peter Tosh was murdered in 1987.

Wailer, who was a childhood friend of Marley, won three Grammys over the course of his career and in 2017 he was awarded Jamaica’s Order of Merit — the country’s fourth highest honor.

“We remain grateful for the role that Bunny Wailer played in the development and popularity of Reggae music across the world,” Culture Minister Olivia Grange said in a statement.

“We remember with great pride how Bunny, Bob Marley and Peter Tosh, took Reggae music to the four corners of the earth,” she added.


Ex-Barcelona President Released From Custody After ‘Barcagate’ Arrest

(FILES) In this file photo taken on August 19, 2020 Barcelona’s president Josep Maria Bartomeu removes his facemask during his official presentation at the Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona on August 19, 2020. Josep LAGO / AFP


Former Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu was conditionally released on Tuesday after appearing before a judge looking into last year’s “Barcagate” scandal, just days before the club holds presidential elections.

Bartomeu and his former advisor Jaume Masferrer exercised their right not to speak when they were questioned by the judge following a night in jail, the Barcelona court said in a statement.

Police arrested the pair along with two other club officials, and searched Barcelona’s stadium, on Monday as part of a probe into allegations the club carried out a defamation campaign against current and former players who were critical of Bartomeu.

Spanish radio station Cadena Ser claimed in February 2020 that Barca covered up inflated payments to a company called I3 Ventures which it had hired to boost the image of the club on social media.

Part of the social media campaign included criticising current and former players like Lionel Messi and Xavi Hernandez, and iconic coach Pep Guardiola.

Messi described the controversy as “strange” in an interview with Catalan newspaper Mundo Deportivo.

Cadena Ser claimed Barca made its payments to I3 Ventures in smaller, separate amounts to avoid the club’s financial controls.

Emili Rousaud, who resigned as Barcelona vice-president in March last year, said in an interview with RAC1 at the time: “If the auditors tell us the cost of these services is 100,000 euros and we have paid one million, it means someone has had their hand in the till.”

The club took legal action against him. He was among six Barca executives to leave their posts last year, with a joint letter citing the scandal as a key issue needing to be resolved.

– ‘Juggling everything’ –

The Barcelona court said Tuesday that the investigating judge wanted to question Bartomeu and Masferrer as part of an investigation opened in May 2020 into the suspected crimes of false administration and business corruption.

Bartomeu has said I3 Ventures had been hired only to monitor posts on social media.

“Let one thing be clear,” he said. “To the question: Have we commissioned the monitoring of social networks? The answer is yes.

“To the question: Have we commissioned to discredit people or institutions through social networks? The answer is no and we will take action against all those who accuse us of that.”

Bartomeu also announced an internal audit by PricewaterhouseCoopers, which cleared the club of financial corruption in July but found that “internal approval protocols were not respected” when the contract was awarded to I3 Ventures.

Bartomeu resigned in October, avoiding a vote of no confidence triggered after more than 20,000 club members signed a petition against him.

His departure came in the same month Barcelona announced losses of 97 million euros ($114 million) for last season and debts that had more than doubled to 488 million euros.

As well as a series of political blunders, Bartomeu had also overseen a dramatic decline in performances on the pitch and a personal falling-out with Messi, who tried to leave for free last summer.

Messi accused the club of “always juggling everything and plugging gaps” under Bartomeu’s leadership.

– Reputation hit –

Bartomeu’s successor is due to be elected on Sunday, when club members will choose between the final three candidates, Joan Laporta, Toni Freixa and Victor Font.

Laporta, a former Barcelona president who is the front-runner in the race, said the arrests “diminish the reputation of the club”.

Barcelona coach Ronald Koeman said Tuesday the arrests were “not good” for the image of the 26-time Spanish champions.

“We have to wait to see what happens,” Koeman said. “I feel bad for them, Bartomeu for me has always been an exceptional person,” he added.

Asked if the he felt that affair would hurt the Spanish league’s brand abroad, La Liga president Javier Tebas said: “I don’t think so, the brand La Liga has built in recent years is very strong and it won’t affect it.”

“But it is not good for the reputation of La Liga what happened yesterday, even if it does not affect it,” he added.


US Civil Rights Lawyer Vernon Jordan Dies At 85

Vernon Jordan and Barack Obama
FILES) In this file photo former US President Barack Obama laughs alongside Vernon Jordan (L) during the commencement ceremony for Howard University in Washington, DC, May 7, 2016. Vernon Jordan, a civil rights lawyer who worked on landmark cases desegregating schools for African-Americans and became a towering figure in Democratic politics, has died, his family said on March 2, 2021. Jordan’s death in Washington on Monday at the age of 85 was announced by his daughter, Vickee Jordan.


Vernon Jordan, a civil rights lawyer who worked on landmark cases desegregating schools for African-Americans and became a towering figure in Democratic politics, has died, his family said Tuesday.

Jordan’s death in Washington on Monday at the age of 85 was announced by his daughter, Vickee Jordan.

Jordan, who was seriously wounded in a 1980 assassination attempt by an avowed white supremacist, was a leading figure in the civil rights struggle of the 1960s and in the Democratic Party.

He was a close advisor to former US president Bill Clinton and served as chairman of his 1992 presidential transition team.

“From civil rights to business, Mr. Jordan demonstrated the highest quality of leadership and created a path forward for African-Americans where there were none,” said Jaime Harrison, chairman of the Democratic National Committee.

Derrick Johnson, president of the NAACP, a leading civil rights organization, said Jordan’s “contribution to moving our society toward justice is unparalleled.”

Nancy Pelosi, Democratic Speaker of the House of Representatives, described Jordan as a “giant of the Civil Rights movement.

“His leadership took our nation closer to its Founding promise: all are created equal,” Pelosi said.

Jordan was born in Atlanta, Georgia, and grew up in the southern city during a time of strict racial segregation.

After receiving a law degree from Howard University in Washington, he worked on a number of cases seeking to seeking to secure voting rights for African-Americans and to dismantle segregation.

He was notably involved in a 1961 lawsuit that paved the way for the first Black students to attend the University of Georgia.

Jordan worked for the NAACP before becoming president of the National Urban League, a civil rights organization.

He was seriously wounded by a sniper outside a hotel in Fort Wayne, Indiana, in May 1980.

A white supremacist was acquitted in 1982 of attempted murder but later confessed to shooting Jordan after being convicted in another case.

During the latter part of his life, Jordan was active in business, serving on the boards of a number of leading American companies including American Express, Revlon and Xerox

US Imposes Sanctions On Two Yemen Huthi Commanders

Fighters loyal to Yemen’s Huthi rebels chant slogans on their way to attend the funeral of fellow combatants killed in battles with Saudi-backed government troops, during a mass funeral inthe capital Sanaa’s al-Saleh mosque, on February 28, 2021. Huthi fighters have intensified operations against Saudi Arabia as air strikes by the Saudi-led military coalition pound rebel positions in the north of Yemen, in a bid to stop their offensive to seize the government’s last northern stronghold of Marib.
Mohammed HUWAIS / AFP


The United States on Tuesday imposed sanctions on two commanders of Yemen’s Huthi rebels, blaming them for civilian deaths and denouncing their ties with Iran as Washington seeks to halt the devastating war.

The Treasury Department said it would freeze any assets of the air force and naval commanders of the Huthis, who have defied international appeals by pursuing an offensive to seize the government’s last northern stronghold.

With the rebels from the impoverished nation unlikely to have US bank accounts, the effects are largely symbolic but reinforce President Joe Biden’s sharp criticism of Iran even as he opens the door to diplomacy and distances his administration from Saudi Arabia, which has been waging a devastating campaign to dislodge the Huthis.

“These individuals command forces that are worsening the humanitarian crisis in Yemen,” said Andrea Gacki, the director of the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control.

“The United States remains committed to promoting accountability of Huthi leadership for their actions, which have contributed to the extraordinary suffering of the Yemeni people,” she said in a statement.

The Treasury Department said that both commanders had trained in Iran and acquired weapons from the clerical state, which has religious affinities with the Huthis and a shared hostility toward Saudi Arabia.

The Huthi naval commander, Mansur al-Saadi, masterminded deadly attacks against international shipping in the Red Sea and put fishermen and other civilians at risk with naval mines, the Treasury Department said.

The air force commander, Ahmad Ali Ahsan al-Hamzi, has carried out targeted drone strikes, it said.

The action comes after the Biden administration in one of its first acts rescinded a designation that the Huthis, formally known as Ansar Allah, are a terrorist organization.

Aid groups said that the label put their work at risk as they had no choice but to deal with the Huthis, who effectively are Yemen’s governing authority in much of the country including the capital Sanaa.

Former president Donald Trump’s administration, which fiercely opposed Iran and was closely aligned with Saudi Arabia, had branded the Huthis as terrorists in its final days in office.

The United Nations has called Yemen the world’s worst humanitarian crisis and voiced disappointment after a pledging conference Monday raised $1.7 billion in aid, far below the appeal of $3.85 billion.

Myanmar Security Forces Fire On Anti-Coup Protesters

A policeman (R) throws a projectile towards protesters during a demonstration against the military coup in the northwestern town of Kale on March 2, 2021.


Myanmar security forces fired live rounds and tear gas at protesters again on Tuesday, leaving at least three people critically injured as regional powers rebuked the junta over its deadly crackdown.

The country has seen weeks of mass protests demanding the military release civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who has been in detention since the February 1 coup.

Soldiers and police have steadily stepped up their use of force, deploying tear gas, water cannon, rubber bullets and, increasingly, live rounds.

Sunday was the bloodiest day since the military takeover, with the United Nations saying at least 18 protesters were killed across the country. AFP independently confirmed 11 deaths.

Another rally turned violent Tuesday in the northwestern town of Kale, where security forces opened fire on protesters, according to medics who witnessed events and treated those wounded.


READ ALSO: Armenia Struggles Through Crisis As War Wounds Fester


“About 20 people were injured in a morning crackdown by police and soldiers in Kale,” said a rescue worker, speaking on condition of anonymity for fear of repercussions.

“Three… were hit by live rounds and are in a critical condition,” he said.

Police had initially deployed tear gas and rubber bullets before doubling back with live rounds, he added.

A doctor who treated the patients in a local hospital confirmed the number of people in a critical condition.

“One was hit in his thigh and he’s now under operation. Another one got hit in the abdomen and he requires blood transfusions… Another one got hit in the chest,” he told AFP.

– ‘No mercy, just bullies’ –

The bloodshed came on the same day as a funeral in the commercial capital of Yangon for a student who died Sunday.

Mourners sang a revolutionary song as the coffin carrying Nyi Nyi Aung Htet Naing moved through a sea of thousands to an altar.

“No mercy, just bullies — dead bodies are here and there,” the mourners sang in unison as they flashed a three-finger salute that has become a symbol of opposition to the junta.

Protests also continued in several neighbourhoods of Yangon on Tuesday, with demonstrators wearing hard hats and wielding improvised home-made shields.

In San Chaung township hundreds of police came out in force.

“They used tear gas and were shooting as well,” said one resident.

About 15 minutes away near the popular shopping area Yuzana Plaza, local media live-streamed protesters chanting as what appeared to be smoke from tear gas whizzed their way.

“We threw wet blankets to the protesters for them to cover the canisters to prevent the tear gas (from spreading),” said one resident living by the plaza, who added that she saw some demonstrators being detained.

More than 1,200 people have been arrested, charged and sentenced since the coup, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners monitoring group, of which about 900 are still behind bars.

But the number is likely far higher — state-run media reported that on Sunday alone more than 1,300 people were arrested.

State-broadcaster MRTV said late Tuesday that 511 people in detention had been released in Yangon.

A Myanmar journalist was detained overnight in the southern city of Myeik — the latest among the country’s press to be targeted by security forces.

Reporters Without Borders says at least 10 journalists are in jail and 26 have been arrested since the coup.

– ‘Not acceptable’ –

The unrest came as foreign ministers from the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations bloc held a virtual meeting which included a Myanmar representative.

Some regional powers broke with diplomatic convention and issued unusually harsh rebukes of Myanmar’s junta.

“To use lethal force against civilians and unarmed demonstrators, I think it is just not acceptable,” Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong told the BBC.

After the meeting Indonesia’s foreign minister Retno Marsudi expressed concern over rising violence and deaths as well as frustration over a lack of cooperation from the Myanmar regime.

“It takes two to tango,” she said, calling for the restoration of democracy and the release of political detainees.

Philippines foreign secretary Teodoro Locsin said the first step should be the immediate release of Suu Kyi.

“The hurt of the small finger is felt by the whole body. Myanmar is not a small finger but a big part of the two hands that together make up the family of ASEAN 10,” he said.

There was no ASEAN joint communique or statement released after the meeting because the foreign ministers could not reach a consensus.

But Brunei, which chaired the meeting, issued a statement saying ASEAN called on all parties to “refrain from instigating further violence”.

Observers are sceptical about what difference the bloc can make, pointing to its policies of non-interference and making decisions based on consensus.


Abducted Zamfara Schoolgirls Regain Freedom

Schoolgirls kidnapped from Government Girls Secondary School, Jangebe, in Talata Mafara Local Government Area of Zamfara State last Friday have regained their freedom.

Zamfara State Governor, Bello Matawalle, who confirmed the news on Tuesday, said the girls were released with the help of repentant bandits without any ransom paid.

The Governor put the number of girls recovered at 279, although the police had earlier said 317 girls were kidnapped.

The released girls arrived at the Zamfara State Government House in Gusau early on Tuesday wearing face masks and light blue and brown chadors. They had breakfast and were scheduled to visit the hospital for checks before a reunion with their families.

The girls’ kidnapping on Friday was the latest in a series of school abductions that has rocked the country in the past three months.

“I am very exhausted and very devastated,” Governor Matwalle told reporters on Tuesday, “but I thank God that with the prayers of Nigerians we are able to secure their release.”

He said his government will continue to negotiate with bandits – some who may have been involved in the abduction – and convince them to accept a peace deal. “We want to bring everybody on board,” he said.

Governor Matawalle also noted that the released girls will undergo counseling.

Tuesday Update: Vaccine Arrival & Fuel Queues In Abuja

Good morning,

We are leading with the arrival of the COVID-19 vaccine in Nigeria, the emergence of fuel queues in the nation’s capital, and how the Benue State government is managing herdsmen’s activities.

Airport workers transport on dollies a shipment of Covid-19 vaccines from the Covax global Covid-19 vaccination programme, at the Kotoka International Airport in Accra on February 24, 2021. (Photo by Nipah Dennis / AFP)

The Vaccines are here

All things being equal, almost four million doses of COVID-19 vaccines will arrive in Nigeria today. The vaccines, supplied by the WHO-backed COVAX, will include the AstraZeneca and Johnson and Johnson types, according to the Minister of State for Health, Dr. Olorunnimbe Mamora.

But how will the vaccines be administered? The federal government, which launched a strategy (code-named ‘TEACH’) and an online registration portal on Monday, is planning to first inoculate frontline health workers and strategic leaders. Persons above the age of 50, especially those with pre-existing health conditions, will also be given priority.

Meanwhile, President Muhammadu Buhari and other key leaders are expected to receive the vaccine jab in public.

NCDC: Nigeria on Monday recorded 360 new cases and eight deaths as a result of the virus, according to the disease control agency.

Oyewale Tomori: The virology professor has warned that Nigerians must be cautious of their attitude towards the pandemic or risk a third wave, which could be deadlier.

Vehicles queue for fuel in Abuja on March 1, 2021. Sodiq Adelakun/Channels TV

A Looming Fuel Scarcity?

Long queues of vehicles at petrol stations emerged in Abuja on Monday as fears grew over a rise in petrol prices.

On Sunday, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) had denied reports of any increment in the price of petrol in March.

But some of the Abuja motorists who spoke to Channels Television on Monday said they spent as much as five hours to access the product.

Context: As the global prices of oil increase, marketers believe the landing cost of fuel will also increase. But the NNPC, a government agency, is the only exporter of petrol into the country, due to foreign exchange scarcity, and can still determine, through its subsidiary, the Pipelines and Product Marketing Company, how much the product should cost. Perhaps once the messaging from the NNPC that it doesn’t plan to increase the price of the product in March gets through to marketers, the queues will disappear. Still, if global crude prices continue to rise, Nigerians will eventually have to pay more for petrol.

A picture showing the released cows and officials at the formal handover of the 210 cows.

Benue Goes Tough On Herdsmen

Amid reports of food blockages from the North to the South, the Benue government has continued to implement its anti-grazing policy.

The government recently released 210 cows confiscated by the state livestock guards at Mbala, Makurdi, and Gbajimba in Guma Local Government Area of the state.

The cows were returned to the owners after various fines worth N5 million, in total, were paid.

Significance: Hostilities against herdsmen have grown in recent years, especially among farmers who say farmlands are being destroyed by cattle grazing without restrictions. Although the Benue law has been in existence since 2017, its application could encourage the growth of ranches, an idea supported by most State Governors.

What else is happening?

Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala: The ex-World Bank chief officially assumed control of the World Trade Organisation on Monday.

Kaduna State: Bandits struck again for the umpteenth time in an attack on three villages which killed no fewer than ten people.

Femi Adesina: The Presidential spokesman said security will get better in Nigeria, but all citizens must take responsibility.

Hadi Sirika: The Minister of Aviation said the abduction of schoolgirls in Zamfara State will be the last of its kind under the Muhammadu Buhari administration.

Peter Obi: The former Anambra State Governor has called for the Federal Government to allow states to operate their regional security system.

Ondo State: The government has suspended the operations of the National Union of Road transport workers (NURTW) and the Road Transport Employers’ Association of Nigeria (RTEAN) in all the 18 local government areas of the state, with immediate effect.

Nicolas Sarkozy: The former French president was found guilty of corruption and handed a three-year prison sentence, in a ruling that deals a major blow to any lingering political ambitions.

And that’s it for today.

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FG Begins Online Registration Of Nigerians For COVID-19 Vaccination

Johnson & Johnson vaccine vials against the COVID-19 coronavirus are seen at the Klerksdorp Hospital as South Africa proceeds with its inoculation campaign on February 18, 2021. Phill Magakoe / AFP
Johnson & Johnson vaccine vials against the COVID-19 coronavirus are seen at the Klerksdorp Hospital as South Africa proceeds with its inoculation campaign on February 18, 2021. Phill Magakoe / AFP


The National Primary Health Care Development Agency on Monday announced that Nigerians can now register for the COVID-19 vaccination via its website.

“To register for #COVID19 Vaccination, visit our website and click on ‘COVID-19 Vaccination e-registration,” the agency said in a tweet.

Nigeria is expected to receive almost four million doses of the vaccine on Tuesday courtesy of COVAX, a global initiative backed by the World Health Organisation.

Earlier on Monday, the Minister of State for Health, Dr Olorunnimbe Mamora, noted that frontline health workers would be one of the first set of people to get the vaccine.

“The first will be the frontline health workers because they are facing the battle heavily,” he said. “They will come first then, secondly, we will look at the elderly – those above 60, 65 years and particularly with comorbidities (people who have existing health conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease – they will also be in that group.

“We will also be looking and the strategic leadership of the country, and then we would be looking at some other people like those at the point of entry, border post managers, and things like that; This will be the order in terms of priority for now.”

Monday Update: Zamfara Schoolgirls, COVID-19 Vaccines and Dangote Refinery

Good morning.

It’s a new day, a new week, and a new month.

We are leading with the continued search for schoolgirls abducted in Zamfara State, the imminent arrival of COVID-19 vaccines, and the importance of the soon-to-be-launched Dangote Refinery to the Nigerian economy.

More than 300 students were kidnapped from Government Girls Secondary School in Jangebe, Zamfara State on February 26, 2021.
More than 300 students were kidnapped from Government Girls Secondary School in Jangebe, Zamfara State on February 26, 2021.

Search for Jangebe Girls Continues

On Saturday, the students and staff abducted from Government Science Secondary School, Kagara in Niger State regained their freedom. A heartwarming development. But over 300 schoolgirls taken in a Junior Secondary School in Jangebe, Zamfara State are still missing,

Zamfara State Governor Bello Matawalle on Sunday said his administration is still working on the release of the girls.

Zamfara is one of the states negotiating peace treaties with bandits and despite the kidnapping, which took place on Friday, Governor Matawalle has vowed such diplomatic efforts will continue.

Ali Ndume: The Chairman of the Senate Committee on Army said blanket amnesty is not the solution to ending insecurity as it could lead to new forms of criminality.

Dig deeper: From Chibok to Dapchi to Jangebe, school kidnappings have become a major feature of terrorism in Nigeria.

A carton box of a Covishield vaccine developed by Pune based Serum Institute of India (SII) is unloaded at Mumbai airport on February 24, 2021, as part of the Covax scheme, which aims to procure and distribute inoculations fairly among all nations. INDRANIL MUKHERJEE / AFP

Nigeria Set for COVID-19 Vaccines

About 3.9 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines are expected to leave India today and arrive in Nigeria by Tuesday, more than a year after the country recorded its first coronavirus infection.

The Chairman of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, Boss Mustapha, announced this on Saturday.

The vaccines are courtesy COVAX, a global scheme backed by the World Health Organisation to ensure equitable distribution of vaccines across the world.

But there might still be delays. This isn’t the first time government officials have declared a date on which the vaccines might arrive.

“I can assure you that the vaccines are coming and they are coming very quickly barring any change in the delivery plan that has been released to us by UNICEF,” Mustapha said.

NCDC: On Sunday, Nigeria reported 240 new cases of the virus and two deaths, according to the disease control agency.

A file photo of Africa's richest man, Aliko Dangote. His refinery is expected to be one of the largest in the world.
A file photo of Africa’s richest man, Aliko Dangote. His refinery is expected to be one of the largest in the world.

Dangote’s Refinery nears Completion

Despite being one of the world’s largest producers of crude, Nigeria has lacked adequate refining capacity for decades. Most of the country’s refined petroleum products are imported, drawing on scarce foreign exchange resources.

But this is about to change with the near-completion of the Dangote Oil Refinery, a 650,000 barrels per day integrated refinery project on the outskirts of Lagos.

Chaperoned by Africa’s richest man, Aliko Dangote, the refinery is expected to be Africa’s biggest oil refinery and the world’s biggest single-train facility. Its pipeline infrastructure is the largest in the world and it is sustained by a 400MW power plant.

But the main allure for Governor of the Central Bank, Godwin Emefiele, who joined other high-powered executives to inspect the facility recently, is how the facility will help to conserve foreign exchange and strengthen the local economy

What else is happening?

Femi Falana: The senior lawyer has criticized the arrest of a former aide to Kano State Governor, Salisu Tanko Yakassai.

Wole Soyinka: The Nobel laureate suggested that States should consider shutting down their activities in protest when the next school abduction takes place.

Kaduna State: At least seven people were killed in separate bandit attacks across two local governments of the state.

Femi Fani-Kayode: The former aviation minister has warned that the current state of insecurity could lead to a civil war if not properly addressed.

Niger State: The government said it not sure when the boarding schools that were shut down over insecurity will reopen.

Chadwick Boseman: Six months after his death at the age of 43, the Black Panther actor won the Golden Globe for best actor in a drama for his poignant role in “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.”

Donald Trump: The ousted President said he is considering running for another term in 2024.

And that’s it for this morning. See you tomorrow for more updates.