The Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN) on Friday renewed the call for the immediate release of their embattled leader, Ibrahim El-Zakzaky, and his wife, Zeenah Ibrahim.
This comes after his wife reportedly contracted COVID-19 in detention at Kaduna Correctional center.
IMN spokesperson, Ibrahim Musa in a statement made available to Channels Television said six days after contracting COVID-19 while in detention, Zeenah Ibrahim has not been taken to any specialised hospital to receive proper medical care.
Musa notes that given her underlying medical conditions and age, her infection places her at heightened risk of severe illness or death, while on the other hand, Sheikh El-Zakzaky himself suffers from many underlying conditions that put him at high risk of developing life-threatening symptoms should he contract the virus.
“We all know that COVID-19 requires an immediate response of urgent adherence to medical advice, more so, Malama Zeenah Ibrahim has been denied treatment for acute medical conditions including severe arthritis of the knee for five years now. Yet she is still in Kaduna prison at the moment, yet to be hospitalised, and yet to receive proper health care.
“The couple are due to appear in court on Monday, January 25 to face the charges brought against them by the government.
“We believe Sheikh Zakzaky and his wife should not be in custody in the first place. A competent court in Abuja freed both of them on December 2, 2016, but the government refused to obey the judgement of the court.
“We call upon the well-meaning Nigerians and the international community to prevail over the Federal and Kaduna State Governments to ensure maximum health care for this patient that is in her 60s and still grieving the extra-judicial killing of her six children,” the IMN spokesperson said.
Musa maintained that President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration the Elrufa’i led Kaduna State government should be held responsible if anything bad happens to their leader, Sheikh Ibraheem Zakzaky, and his wife.
The trial of the former governor of Ekiti State, Ayodele Fayose over alleged N2.2billion fraud was stalled on Friday after a major witness scheduled to testify for the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) was absent.
Counsel to the Commission, Rotimi Jacobs at the Federal High Court in Lagos explained that the witness has contracted Coronavirus and that he only became aware of the development yesterday.
“The last session, I assured the court that my witness will be coming into Nigeria from abroad. The witness is in Nigeria. He contracted COVID-19.
“I have been monitoring the progress of his health. He is the main witness in this matter. I only became aware of his status yesterday, but he is unable to make it to court as I was informed that he is still very frail.
“The other witnesses whom I have contacted to come are unavailable. I have only one in court today. I intend to call four more witnesses,” the EFCC counsel said.
He added that the only available witness for him was secured on Thursday and they were only able to file her processes this morning.
The EFCC counsel maintained that he did not know it would take so long for the main witness to recover from COVID-19.
Counsel to Fayose, Ola Olanipekun (SAN) confirmed receipt of the additional proof of evidence filed on Friday morning for the witness who was available in court but requested time to go through the documents and prepare for the witness.
He said, “In the circumstance of the learned prosecutor, this document ought to have gotten to us some days before this trial, which would have facilitated our preparation to take this witness. Considering the fact that we have just been served this morning, we cannot take any witness for granted. We need to converse with the first defendant to properly prepare to take this witness. In the circumstances, we are not ready.”
Counsel to the second defendant (Spotless Investments Limited), Olalekan Ojo (SAN), aligned with this submission.
He said, “There is no correlation between not being able to produce that main witness and this additional proof of evidence filed in respect of an entirely new witness.
“In the circumstances, the defendants cannot be reasonably expected to be served with additional proof of evidence around 8.56 am and be expected to start with any proceedings. Our inability to continue was foisted on the defence by the prosecution.
“On the last note, I concede that the statement of the witness is only a six-page document but it has to be read from the context of the entire case. We ought to hear from the defendants as they are masters of the facts. Thus, time is needed to interface with the defendants so they can provide necessary facts to guide us in the conduct of their defence.”
The trial Judge, Justice Chukwujekwu Aneke has adjourned the proceedings to Jan 28 and 29 for the continuation of the trial.
The former governor of Ekiti State, Ayo Fayose, and a firm, Spotless Investment Limited, were first arraigned before Justice Mojisola Olatoregun (now retired) on October 22, 2018, for alleged criminal breach of trust, theft, and money laundering.
He was re-arraigned before Justice Chukwujekwu Aneke on July 2, 2019, after the case was withdrawn from Justice Olatoregun at the instance of the EFCC.
His appeal comes less than a week after members of the movement renewed their demand for the release of their embattled leader, his wife, and other members of the group still in detention.
The Chairman Resource Forum of the IMN, Professor Abdullahi Danladi, said that four years after a federal high court freed El-Zakzaky and his wife, the Federal Government has refused to obey the court order.
El-Zakzaky was arrested in 2015 and is being tried by the Kaduna state government over allegations of culpable homicide, unlawful assembly, disruption of the public peace, and criminal conspiracy among others.
Kenya’s health ministry says two men have tested positive for a coronavirus strain first detected in South Africa, the first such cases detected in the East African country.
Both cases, which were asymptomatic, were detected in Kenya’s coastal county of Kilifi, and involved foreigners who had since returned home, the ministry’s director-general said Wednesday.
“We all know that this variant is 50 percent more transmissible, therefore posing a significant risk, in that more people will be infected and therefore could be able to stretch the healthcare system more,” said Dr Patrick Amoth.
No information was provided about the nationalities of the men who tested positive for the variant.
According to official figures released Thursday, Kenya has recorded 99,630 cases of coronavirus, of which 1,739 have been fatal, since the outset of the pandemic.
The outbreak surged in October, with the average percentage of positive cases returned in a week soaring to above 16 percent of all tests. That number dropped below three percent last week.
Kenya took quick measures to contain the virus when it was first detected in March, imposing a strict curfew, closing bars and restaurants and shutting schools.
The country has been under some form of nighttime curfew ever since, but other measures have eased somewhat and schools reopened to all students this month after some classes partially resumed in October.
In a briefing paper released Thursday, the Kenya Medical Research Institute forecast that Covid-19 cases and deaths would steadily rise until a peak in mid-March as a likely result of reopening schools.
The Ebonyi State Governor, David Umahi has banned night clubs from operating in the state following the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The governor also reduced the hours of worship in the state.
Governor Umahi gave the directive while flagging off of the COVID-19 compliance campaign in Abakaliki, the state capital.
The governor further instructed the state anti-COVID-19 committees to extend their supervision to schools and ensure patients are treated free of charge across the 13 Local Government Areas (LGA) in the state.
He said he is optimistic that 100,000 doses of vaccines will be available before the end of January.
In his first full day as US president, Joe Biden tackled his country’s staggering coronavirus caseload with a spate of new measures, including mask-wearing and quarantining requirements, as EU leaders “strongly discouraged” their constituents from non-essential travel.
Before signing 10 executive orders to strengthen the US fight against Covid, Biden confirmed earlier in the day that he had reversed his predecessor Donald Trump’s decision to quit the World Health Organization (WHO).
Under the new measures, travelers to the US, in addition to needing a negative Covid test result before flying, will now need to quarantine upon arrival, Biden said. This toughened existing regulations under Trump.
Biden’s other orders included reenergizing a so-far-stumbling vaccination program and expanding requirements to wear masks on public transport.
The longtime politician was a fierce critic of Trump’s approach to handling the virus in the US, which with more than 400,000 people dead is the world’s worst-hit nation.
The new president is seeking to vaccinate 100 million people in 100 days, increase the use of masks and testing, expand the public health workforce and offer more emergency relief to those struggling with the restrictions.
On Thursday alone the US registered 4,045 new deaths and more than 192,000 new cases over the past 24 hours.
With infection rates spiraling and vaccine campaigns still in their infancy — and with the global death toll now past two million — countries from Lebanon to Sierra Leone are tightening restrictions.
EU Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen and Council president Charles Michel encouraged Europeans to refrain from non-essential travel Thursday while warning that tougher restrictions on movement could come within days if efforts to curb the coronavirus fall short.
After a four-hour summit by video link with the heads of government of the 27-nation bloc, the pair emphasized the EU wanted to avoid a repeat of the height of the region’s first wave, in March last year.
“All non-essential travel should be strongly discouraged both within the country and of course across borders,” von der Leyen told a media conference.
Gasping for breath
Brazil announced that it would finally receive two million doses on Friday of the British AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine that were made in India. The jabs, which were originally due to arrive last week, will allow the second worst-hit country in terms of deaths to ramp up its Covid-fighting campaign.
In northwest Brazil hospitals are battling drastic shortages of oxygen and hospital beds, with health workers describing harrowing scenes with dying patients gasping for breath due to the lack of available oxygen.
Elsewhere in Latin America, Colombia surpassed 50,000 Covid-19 deaths Thursday, while Mexico notched two new records with 1,803 deaths and 22,339 new infections over the past 24 hours.
More contagious coronavirus variants have traveled quickly around the globe — including from Brazil — tempering optimism that mass vaccination campaigns would bring a swift end to the worst phase of the pandemic.
Meanwhile the WHO has repeatedly warned that richer countries are hogging the vaccine — and they are paying less for their doses, after negotiating favorable deals with manufacturers.
South Africa, for example, will pay 2.5 times more than most European countries for each Oxford-AstraZeneca shot, the South African health ministry has confirmed.
The US provided a boost to efforts to share out vaccines across the world, however, by announcing it intends to join the Covax initiative, a pool of doses supplied by countries and companies.
Glastonbury cancelled again
In Japan, questions are intensifying about the viability of hosting the Tokyo Olympic Games in six months’ time — an event which would require thousands of athletes to fly in from around the world.
Olympic chief Thomas Bach said there was “no reason whatsoever” to believe the games would not go ahead.
But many organizers of large-scale events are already grappling with the reality that the return to pre-pandemic normality may come later than previously hoped.
The Swiss edition of international art fair Art Basel has been postponed from June until September, while in Britain, which is facing record daily death tolls, the storied Glastonbury music festival was axed for another year.
But the same urgency is not being felt everywhere.
The Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan plans to vaccinate its entire population, but not until after March 13 because the period before has been deemed “inauspicious.”
The second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic worsened in Nigeria on Thursday as the nation reported a record number of new infections in one day.
In a late-night tweet, the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control said 1,964 new cases and seven deaths had been recorded across the country within 24 hours.
This brings the total number of recorded cases to 116,655, with 93,646 discharged cases and a total death toll of 1,485.
Lagos, the epicentre of the pandemic in Nigeria, reported 824 new cases while the FCT posted 246 infections.
Other regions with new cases include Plateau (166), Kaduna (128), Ogun (76), Nasarawa (74), Anambra (69), Edo (50), Rivers (45), Ondo (44), Niger (40), Oyo (38), Adamawa (35), Kano (31), Akwa Ibom (27), Gombe (19), Kwara (13), Ekiti (12), Delta (6), Kebbi (6), Bauchi (5), Ebonyi (4), Osun (3), and Zamfara (1).
The Nigeria Governor’s Forum, which had expressed alarm over the spread of the virus, on Thursday said it was setting up a team to advise on procurement and administration of COVID-19 vaccines.
According to NGF Chairman and Governor of Ekiti State, Kayode Fayemi, Nigeria is expected to take delivery of a tranche of COVID-19 vaccines by the end of February.
The novel coronavirus has killed at least 2,075,698 people since the outbreak emerged in China in December 2019, according to a tally from official sources compiled by AFP at 1100 GMT on Thursday.
At least 96,825,840 cases have been registered.
These figures are based on daily tolls provided by health authorities in each country and excludes later re-evaluations by statistical organisations, as has happened in Russia, Spain and Britain.
On Wednesday, 17,502 new deaths and 674,124 new cases were recorded worldwide.
Based on latest reports, the countries with the most new deaths were the United States with 4,261 new deaths, followed by the United Kingdom with 1,820 and Mexico with 1,539.
The United States remains the worst-affected country with 406,162 deaths from 24,438,935 cases.
After the US, the hardest-hit countries are Brazil with 212,831 deaths from 8,638,249 cases, India with 152,869 deaths from 10,610,883 cases, Mexico with 144,371 deaths from 1,688,944 cases, and the United Kingdom with 93,290 deaths from 3,505,754 cases.
The country with the highest number of deaths compared to its population is Belgium with 178 fatalities per 100,000 inhabitants, followed by the Czech Republic with 140, Italy 138 and Bosnia-Herzegovina 138.
Europe overall has 680,452 deaths from 31,318,790 cases, Latin America and the Caribbean 560,184 deaths from 17,709,669 infections, and the United States and Canada 424,583 deaths from 25,162,846 cases.
Asia has reported 233,109 deaths from 14,771,309 cases, the Middle East 94,664 deaths from 4,491,990 cases, Africa 81,761 deaths from 3,339,669 cases, and Oceania 945 deaths from 31,576 cases.
Since the start of the pandemic, the number of tests conducted has greatly increased while testing and reporting techniques have improved, leading to a rise in reported cases.
However the number of diagnosed cases is only a part of the real total number of infections as a significant number of less serious or asymptomatic cases always remain undetected.
As a result of corrections by national authorities or late publication of data, the figures updated over the past 24 hours may not correspond exactly to the previous day’s tallies.
The Federal Government has approved N6.45 billion for the setting up of gas plants in 38 locations nationwide in a bid to enhance the treatment of COVID-19 patients who need oxygen.
This disclosure emerged at the first National Economic Council meeting of the year presided over by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, with State Governors, Federal Capital Territory Minister, Central Bank Governor, and other senior government officials in attendance.
While briefing the NEC on the release of the funds, the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed said the President approved the release of the funds for the production of oxygen, necessitated by the increased number of patients who need oxygen due to the surge in Covid-19 infections in the country.
Similarly at the meeting, the Health Minister Dr. Osagie Ehanire informed the Council that sequel to President Buhari’s decision to activate the Basic Healthcare Provision Fund based on the National Health Act, N55.1billion was approved in 2018 and that 50% of the sum has since been released to the States and the FCT.
Besides, the Federal Government has also allocated N35billion for 2021 for the Fund.
It would be recalled that the Basic Health Care Provision Fund (BHCPF or “The Fund”) was established under Section 11 of the National Health Act (NHA Act), as the principal funding vehicle for the Basic Minimum Package of Health Services (BMPHS). The Fund serves to increase the fiscal space and overall financing to the health sector to assist Nigeria to achieve Universal Health Coverage (UHC).
Funding of the BHCPF would be derived from contributions including — an annual grant from the Federal Government of Nigeria of not less than one per cent (1%) of its Consolidated Revenue Fund (CRF) — grants by international donor partners; and funds from any other source.
Other updates at the NEC meeting include account balances as of 20th January 2020 given by the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, as follows:
Excess Crude Account (ECA), balance as of 20th January 2021, $72,411,197.80; Stabilization Account, balance as of 19th January 2021, N28, 800, 711,295.37; Natural Resources Development Fund Account, balance as at 19th January 2021, N95, 830,729,470.82.
Meanwhile, the Council also received an update from the Vice President who is the Chairman of Council’s Ad-Hoc Committee on Public Engagements regarding the fallouts of the EndSars protests of last year.
In the update, the NEC engagements will focus mainly on:
• Wealth creation, social safety nets and employment
• Education, digital economy and sports development
• Creative industry and hospitality
TARGET GROUPS AND AUDIENCE
Participants of the NEC engagements will be drawn from the following groups
• Young intellectuals and emerging industry leaders from diverse sectors, students of tertiary and other educational institutions, youths in the Diaspora who are interested in social political developments, entertainers and social influencers, trained artisans etc.
• Youth leaders in (a) civil Society Organization (b) Politics (c) religious organization (d) traditional institutions.
• Young women and young people with disabilities.
MODALITIES AND STAGES OF THE NEC ENGAGEMENTS
The engagement will evolve in three stages:
1. Stage One: State Government(and FCT) facilitated youth engagements, guided by a panel of seasoned professionals(for comprehensiveness, practicability and effectiveness). This will essentially be a youth-driven engagement organised by each State Government or the FCT Administration. As the initial engagement, it will allow for streamlining of the thought processes of the youths’ interaction with State Officials and the selection of representatives, who will participate in subsequent engagements at Zonal and National levels.
2. Stage Two: This is the zonal-level engagement where the issues of concern and the consensus reform ideas developed from the State-level engagements are presented by the individual States’ representatives. This engagement is a collaboration between the youths and the State Governments in the respective zones.
3. Stage Three: This the national engagement, where select representatives from States and the Federal Capital Territory participate in an interactive session with Federal and other Government officials. The youth representatives present the consensus issues of concern and reform ideas developed from the first two stages. The session will be people-centric, providing a platform for the Government to listen to the youth and focus less on presenting its own achievements or defending its perspectives.
Police in England will be able to issue bigger fines to those breaking coronavirus lockdown measures by partying, with penalties of up to £6,400 ($8,775, 7,200 euros), interior minister Priti Patel said Thursday.
The new fines regime, which comes into force next week, targets those attending house parties and other illegal gatherings, with penalties doubling for each offence.
People caught at parties of more than 15 will initially face £800 fines, and could then face a maximum of £6,400 for further breaches.
“The science is clear: such irresponsible behaviour poses a significant threat to public health,” Patel said at a Downing Street press conference.
“We will not stand by while a small minority put others at risk.”
Current fines stand at £200, with police only able to hit the organisers of events comprising 30 or more people with the highest penalties of £10,000.
London’s Metropolitan Police said earlier this week it had issued more than 140 fines totalling £39,000 over two days.
Twelve health workers comprising of three doctors and nine nurses have tested positive for COVID-19 at the Federal Medical centre, Jalingo, the Taraba state capital.
Confirming the incident to Newsmen in Jalingo, shortly after an emergency meeting of the technical committee, the acting head of clinical services of the hospital Ishaya Kola said the medical personnel are responding to treatment adequately.
”For this year alone, FMC has recorded 19 cases of COVID-19, out of which 12, unfortunately, are health workers,” he said.
”Among the health workers are three doctors and nine nurses of which none is dead.”
His counterpart the Chief Medical Director of the State’s Specialist hospital, Alex Maiyangwa, said mass testing is ongoing.
”In the last one month we tested 363 cases and 60 without the health workers turned out positive and fortunately, no mortality ”
Worried by the state of non-compliance, the state government through the technical committee has ordered for compulsory wearing of facemasks by residents in public places.
Chairman of the committee Innocent Vakkai says hands must be on deck to check further spread of the pandemic.
”The committee noted that there is an increase in the number of cases in the state which cuts across all the LGAs with the epocentre as the state capital Jalingo.
”In view of that, the committee is advocating that the populace should ensure the compulsory use of facemasks in public places.
”The number of cases is rising in Taraba and if nothing is done, it can lead to a catastrophic end.
”As we await the arrival of the vaccines, let me put it on record that it will first be given to front line health workers that are working directly on patients, either at isolation or treatment centres ”
“Just in case any corps member is found to be COVID-19 positive, the committee has put up measures on how they can be isolated.”
According to the NCDC, so far Taraba has a record of 296 cases, with 213 discharged while 71 are active.
While the NCDC says 12 persons have died of the deadly coronavirus in Taraba, the State government disagrees with the figure, insisting that no mortality has befallen the state as regards COVID-19.
Lack of PPEs and exposure of medical personnel to COVID-19 pandemic is one of the reasons why the Association of Resident Doctors are currently on strike in the state.