There was confrontation and disagreement on Wednesday after the Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA) Taskforce on Enforcement of COVID-19 Protocols stormed the venue of the Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF) promotion examination.
The task force led by the head of media and enlightenment, Ikharo Attah stormed the Event Centre where the examination was holding to stop it.
The task force officers raised concerns over violations of COVID-19 safety protocols at the examination venue.
Attah said they received calls from some staff that they weren’t comfortable with the arrangements made by the management team, asking that they come over.
He added that the examination was stopped because the NSITF did not obtain permits to hold the exercise in the first place and, the agency also failed to control the crowd.
“The management insisted they got permission to hold the examination but they failed to provide proof of such permission,” Attah added.
Those in charge of the examination were said to have absconded, leaving their cars behind, which were towed by the vehicle inspection officers.
Some of the staff who said they were happy the exercise was disrupted, claimed that over 1,200 staff were sitting for the promotion examination which was supposed to be held about two years ago.
Two more doctors have died of the coronavirus disease in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.
The Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA) disclosed this in a statement issued on Tuesday.
According to the statement issued by the Chief Press Secretary to the FCT Minister, Mr Anthony Ogunleye, the FCTA said a female doctor with the Gwarimpa General hospital, passed on two weeks ago while a private medical doctor died last week.
Following the recent developments, the known number of medical doctors that have succumbed to COVID-19 in the FCT now stands at four since the outbreak of the virus in March.
“Since the first case of COVID-19 was recorded in the FCT on March 27th, 2020, a total of 4 doctors working in both public and private hospitals have regrettably succumbed to the disease,” the statement partly read.
“The latest, being a female doctor from Gwarimpa General hospital, who passed on two weeks ago and a private medical doctor over the last one week.”
The statement was in reaction to a report credited to the Chairman of the FCT chapter of the Nigerian Medical Association, Dr Enema Amodu, that FCTA hospitals were currently rendering skeletal services due to the death of 20 medical doctors from COVID-19.
While making reference to the acting Secretary of the Health and Human Services Secretariat of the FCTA, Dr Mohammed Kawu, Ogunleye said all FCTA hospitals were operating at full capacity, inclusive of emergencies for adults and children, delivery and maternity services, theatre services, laboratory and pharmaceutical services, and hospital kitchens.
“All FCTA hospitals are operating at full capacity inclusive of emergencies for adults and children, delivery and maternity services, theatre services (operating 24 hour services), laboratory and pharmaceutical services, and hospital kitchens. All clinics will resume full services after the Christmas holidays on Tuesday, 29th of December, 2020.
“While there had been incidences where COVID-19 positive patients had infected some medical personnel, these personnel and indeed the patients have been treated and discharged and the affected hospital areas fully decontaminated without any adverse effect on the overall functionality of the hospitals.
“According to records available to the FCTA, since the first case of COVID-19 was recorded in the FCT on March 27th 2020, a total of 4 doctors working in both public and private hospitals have regrettably succumbed to the disease.
“The latest, being a female doctor from Gwarimpa General hospital, who passed on two weeks ago and a private medical doctor over the last one week,” he added.
It an unpleasant Wednesday morning for residents of Utako village in Abuja as officials from the Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA) stormed the settlement with bulldozers and armed officers of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps.
The residents who knew what the business of the officials was, were seen making last-minute moves to salvage their belongings on the sounds and sights of the men and their machinery.
Children also seen sitting beside a few of their properties had to watch over their belongings as their parents raced to retrieve more items before they got destroyed by the claws of the bulldozer.
Demolition Will Stop Land Racketeering
The demolition, according to the Director, FCTA Department of Development Control, Muktar Galadima, will put an end to land racketeering in the FCT.
Mr Galadima who spoke to journalists stressed that there was a need to correct all infractions and abuses of the Abuja Master Plan.
“The FCTA has already made it clear that the actions and activities of land racketeers cannot and will never be condoned.
“That is why we are removing all those illegal developments,” he said.
He, however, reiterated the administration’s stand to rid the nation’s capital of illegal structures, saying, the FCTA would not condone land racketeering and grabbing.
Nowhere To Go
Most of the residents, who eke out their living in the nation’s capital, were seen making calls in efforts to find an alternative shelter after the Wednesday demolition.
The demolition affected shops and houses that were already marked by the government agencies.
Residents of a community in a suburb of Abuja were left angry and picking up the pieces on Saturday after the Federal Capital Development Authority demolished their houses.
Officials of the FCDA stormed Apo NEPA in the early hours of the day and the bulldozers they commandeered quickly went to work pulling down buildings that had been deemed illegal.
By the time the bulldozers departed and the exercise, said to have been coordinated by the Chairman of the FCT Task Force on City Sanitation, Ikharo Attah, ended, residents said more than 100 houses had been demolished.
The exercise is said to have taken place months after the buildings were marked for demolition, according to officials who participated in the exercise. The community, whose residents are the original natives of the FCT, was reportedly on land meant for a road interchange and the residents had been asked to leave.
But the residents disagreed with the authorities and condemned the demolition, especially its timing with several of them telling Channels TV that some people were asleep when the crew arrived. They also said they were brutalised and tear-gassed.
Spokesman for the FCT natives, Yunusa Yusuf, insisted that the residents were not given adequate notice before the exercise was carried out.
According to him, the expected procedure is for the Department of Development Control of the FCDA to give a notice about the demolition.
“Nobody can say here that they came and gave a notice. There was no notice,” he told Channels Television. “Even if they say the people (in the community) settled here illegally, what notices did you give to them? How did you tell them that you were going to demolish their houses?”
Yusuf is also unhappy with the way the people were treated during the exercise.
“If you want to demolish houses, will the government now be the one tear-gassing people as if they are terrorists? How will you wake up by 4 am and by 4 am you have already taken over a community just because you want to access their houses?” he asked.
For Yusuf and many others in the community, the development increases the grievances of the natives of the FCT and exposes them to vices.
“This is the same government that has not been able to stop kidnapping, they have not been able to handle security, but, today, they can bring up to 300 security men to surround this community. It is very unfortunate. It is very unfortunate. This is not what we expect,” a visibly upset Yusuf lamented.
Officials said to be involved in the exercise could not be immediately reached for comments.
As residents went through the rubble of what was once their homes, several of them stopped to lament about what had happened. Their emotions ranged from anger, disappointment, sadness, and despair.
Some of the residents accused the security officials that came with the demolition crew of preventing them from getting their properties out before they pulled down their houses even though most of them were still asleep when they arrived.
“They can’t just come by 4 am just to demolish everywhere and chase us out. We don’t have access to pack our properties, we don’t have any means of surviving. Can the government live without the poor people?” a resident, who said he is a graduate of accounting but works as a dispatch rider because he couldn’t get a better job, lamented.
A woman backed his position, saying, “We were all sleeping in our houses before they brought caterpillars (bulldozers) with troops of mopols (mobile policemen), they started beating people – women, not even men. The women came out (and) were crying, they fired tear gas… They demolished everything.”
According to the woman, some people were still looking for their children at the time Channels TV visited the scene.
Continuing she said, “Without prior notice, you came at 4 am in the morning to demolish. Are we not Nigerians? Is this Nigeria not our country? After the lockdown, they never brought any palliative into this country. We stayed here for months, they locked us down; no work, no businesses. The next thing is to come and demolish our houses.”
The Federal Government has shut the Jabi Lake Mall indefinitely for violating the ban on public gathering.
The mall was closed by the Federal Capital Territory Ministerial Task Team on COVID-19.
In a tweet on its handle on Sunday, the closure is part of precautionary measures taken to curb the spread of the virus in the nation’s capital.
“The FCT Ministerial Task Team on #COVID19 seals up Jabi Lake Mall indefinitely for violating Presidential Task Force’s directives on the ban on public gatherings as part of measures to contain the spread of the dreaded pandemic in the territory,” FCTA said.
Channels Television learnt that the decision to close the mall for the next 2 weeks followed an order of a mobile court presided by Chief Magistrate Idayat Akanni.
It was gathered that hip-hop artiste, Azeez Fashola, alias Naira Marley, held a concert at the mall on Saturday in contravention of the directive of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 as part of measures to curb the spread of the virus.
Following the concert, most Nigerians took to social media to express worry over the concert held at the car park of the mall on Saturday, June 13.
Prosecutors filed a three-charge against the management of the mall. The defendants pleaded not guilty to the charges
Channels Media Group has donated 400 bags of 25 kilograms of rice to the Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA), as its contribution to support efforts at cushioning the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on the poor and vulnerable in the nation’s capital.
The Minister of State for the FCT, Dr. Ramatu Aliyu while receiving the items on Thursday commended the kind gesture.
She noted that the items will increase the next round of the administration’s palliative distribution.
The FCT Minister, Malam Muhammad Musa Bello, on Wednesday June 3 2020, chaired a meeting of the FCT Administration and leadership of the FCT Christian Association of Nigeria and League of FCT Imams Initiative to review the guidelines issued by the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 particularly as they concern places of worship.
While reviewing the guidelines, the meeting received briefings from the FCT COVID-19 Emergency Response Team on the situation of the pandemic in the FCT.
The report of the Committee set up by the Honourable Minister on May 19, 2020, to draw up protocols to be adopted for possible re-opening of places of worship, was equally received at the meeting.
After extensive deliberations, the meeting agreed to adopt the Guidelines as released by the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 with regards to the re-opening of places of worship in the FCT under the second phase of the ease of lockdown for the next four weeks.
The Minister expressed the appreciation of the FCT Administration to the religious leaders for their cooperation and commitment towards a safe re-opening of places of worship in the Territory.
He also urged residents to use the opportunity provided by the re-opening of Churches and Mosques to pray fervently for the early end to the Covid -19 pandemic.
The religious leaders expressed their appreciation to the FCT Administration for always consulting and taking into consideration the opinions of the religious organisations on important societal issues like the COVID-19 pandemic.
Following this consensus, between the FCT Administration and the religious leaders, the protocols guiding the re-opening of places of worship in the Territory are as follows:
A. All places of worship must sign up to full compliance with all aspects of non- pharmaceutical interventions required to protect the public from COVID-19, including but not limited to:
i. Ensuring the supply of running water and soap/alcohol sanitisers at entry and exit points and in all high-contact locations including bathrooms;
ii. Worshippers must sanitise their hands before entry;
iii. Provision of temperature checks before entry;
iv. Mandatory use of face masks;
v. Strongly discourage all close contact including shaking hands, hugging, kissing, handing out of materials and sharing of worship implements including prayer mats, musical organs, microphones etc;
vi. Churches and mosques within the FCT must limit the capacity of their facilities to allow for physical distancing of at least 2 meters between persons.
vii. Religious leaders are encouraged to consider the use of floor/surface markings to guide distancing and also encourage people from same household to stay together;
viii. Volunteers providing support at places of worship should be limited to exact numbers needed and none should have an underlying medical condition or be above the age of 55 years; and
ix. The leadership of the mosques/churches will be responsible for full compliance with these rules.
B. Limit congregational contact times, with places of worship only opening for regular church and mosque services;
i. Churches are to open from 5am and close by 8pm and each service shall be for a maximum of 1 hour with an interval of 30 mins in between services to allow time for disinfection;
ii. Mosques are to open 15 mins before Adhan and close 10 mins after prayers for the five prayers. Waiting period between Adhan and Iqamah should not be more than 10 minutes. Prayers are to be shortened to reduce duration of contact between congregations;
iii. For Friday prayers, mosques in the FCT are to open 20 minutes before prayers and close 20 minutes after prayers. Total time for Friday prayers including sermons should not exceed 1 hour;
iv. Islamiyah schools, All-Night Vigils, Sunday Schools and children activities are to remain suspended. For mosques, only the five daily prayers and Friday prayer services are allowed;
v. Mass gatherings that make compliance with physical distancing impossible are not allowed. Prayer sessions should be staggered if necessary, to encourage greater opportunity for physical distancing. Worshippers are encouraged to sign up for preferred service time and virtual worship option should be made available;
vi. Churches and mosques should make provisions for separate entry and exit points and measures should be taken to direct the flow of people to avoid crowding and breach of physical distancing rules;
vii. There should be no social gatherings either before or after worship; and
viii. Business outlets within the church or mosque premises should remain closed.
C. Vulnerable individuals such as those aged 55 years and above, those with impaired immune systems (e.g. HIV, cancer treatment) and underlying co-morbidities such as diabetes and heart disease are hereby advised to stay at home and consider remote participation or non-contact attendance such as drive-in services.
D. Improve environmental hygiene and avoid surface contamination;
i. Churches and mosques are advised to make their premises free of carpets to allow easy and regular disinfection of floors and furniture;
ii. All windows in churches and mosques should be kept open during services and the use of non-enclosed spaces/open air services are encouraged to be used as much as possible;
iii. High-touch surfaces, high traffic areas, common areas, and bathrooms should be frequently cleaned and disinfected and
iv. Those responsible for sanitation should use dilute bleach (1000ppm) to disinfect all surfaces after removal of visible dirt. infected persons should be kept out to reduce the risk of onward transmission.
E. Public awareness campaign through effective messaging using conventional media and online outlets and placing of signages/notices at strategic locations. This should address common symptoms, risk of transmission, vulnerability to severe illness, etc;
ii. Worshippers should be encouraged not to attend in person if experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 including fever, cough, shortness of breath or have had close contact with an infected person in the last 14 days;
iii. All worshippers noted to have a temperature or are symptomatic on arrival at the place of worship should be excluded from participation;
iv. Up-to-date records of staffing including contact details and if possible, a full record of attendees at every service to enable contact tracing should be kept; and
v. Religious visits to homes by religious clerics are hereby discouraged
F. The FCT Administration has recognized the importance of places of worship in our social and cultural way of life. They have equally been proven to be major sources of easy spread of the disease. It is therefore imperative that all places of worship adhere very strictly to the guidelines enunciated above.
G. The meeting also acknowledged that the situation of COVID-19 in the FCT is still at a very critical stage and recognizes that there is the danger that if the established protocols are not adhered to, the cases of those infected and fatalities will increase. It is therefore essential that all residents of the FCT take personal responsibility in ensuring strict compliance.
The Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA) is seeking the permission of the federal government to commence the concessioning and tolling of the Airport Road in Abuja to raise the sum of N49 billion for the completion of on-going projects in the city.
The Minister of the FCT, Mallam Bala Mohammed made this known during Wednesday’s Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting where he reeled out the challenges faced by his administration, as part of the performance review of the different ministries.
According to the Minister, the concessioning and tolling is one of the areas through which the administration believes it can raise funds.
He added that the idea is to open up the city, to facilitate good governance.
He cited the Airport Road projects, the inner central ways, development of ten new districts, construction of new corridors into the city, and transportation as massive projects untaken by the FCDA with enormous challenges.
These challenges are posed by population explosion and lack of proper funding, hence the resort to concessioning.
N420 billion Fund
Mallam Mohammed stated that so far, the FCT depends on the private sector in the development of the city and that over $4.6 billion have been accessed from the private sector for such projects.
The FCTA also sought FEC’s permission to float a bond to offset debts totalling N420 billion if it must execute new projects and programmes in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
Also in his presentation the Minister of Labour, Mr. Emeka Wogu told the council that his ministry has transformed from negotiations between labour and government to creation of jobs for Nigerians.
Above this the Ministry claimed it maintained industrial harmony in the country including settlement of industrial disputes and increase in wages of workers, as well as training of trade union leaders.
Briefing state house correspondents after the council meeting, the Minister of Information said that in the last year under review the Labour Ministry has set a template to ensure that all contracts awarded by the various ministries are tied to job creation.