Another Eight Die In Bangladesh Factory Fire

Eight people were killed when a fire swept through a clothing factory in Bangladesh, police and an industry association official said on Thursday, as the death toll from the collapse of another factory building two weeks ago climbed above 900.

The fire, in an industrial district of Dhaka, comes amid global attention on safety standards in Bangladesh’s booming garment industry following the catastrophic collapse of Rana Plaza, on the outskirts of the city, in the world’s deadliest industrial accident since the Bhopal disaster in India in 1984.

“It is not clear to us how the accident happened, but we are trying to find out the cause,” Mohammad Atiqul Islam, president of the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA), told Reuters.

On Wednesday the Bangladesh government said it had shut down 18 garment factories for safety reasons following the April 24 collapse of Rana Plaza, which housed five garment factories making clothes for Western brands. Six were cleared to re-open on Thursday after inspectors issued safety certificates.

Salvage teams were still pulling bodies from the rubble of the Rana Plaza complex in Savar, around 20 miles northwest of Dhaka, and on Thursday a spokesman at the army control room coordinating the operation said the number of people confirmed to have been killed had reached 912.

Roughly 2,500 people were rescued from the building, including many injured, but there is no official estimate of the numbers still missing.

The government has blamed the owners and builders of the eight-storey complex for using shoddy building materials, including substandard rods, bricks and cement, and not obtaining the necessary clearances.

Bangladesh’s garment industry, which accounts for 80 percent of the poor South Asian country’s exports, has seen a series of deadly accidents, including a fire in November that killed 112 people.

The latest fire, in an 11-storey building in the Mirpur industrial district, broke out at a factory belonging to the Tung Hai Group, a large garment exporter.

“The factory was closed and all the workers had left the premises an hour earlier,” said fire service official Bhazan Sarker.

A fire service official and BGMEA president Islam said the Bangladeshi managing director of the company and a senior police officer were among the dead. The others killed were friends and personal staff of the factory boss, officials said.

Tung Hai Group says on its website that it has more than 1,000 employees and its customers include major Western retailers including Britain’s Primark, and Inditex Group of Spain. It makes products including cardigans, jumpers and pyjamas.

India Bus Accident Claims 30 lives

At least 30 passengers died after a bus fell into a river in northern India on Wednesday.The private vehicle was said to be overcrowded.

The incident occurred at around 4.00 p.m. (local time) near Jhiri, about 20 kilometres from the tourist town of Kullu. Officials said the number of deaths was expected to rise.

Bodies were fished out from the turbulent waters and the injured taken to hospital.

A huge crowd of people gathered at the site to watch and help in the salvage operations.

The accident site is popular for adventure sports.

Road accidents are common in India, where roads are often of poor quality and rash driving is very common.

Politicians Have Taken Over Media Houses- Maku

Minister of Information, Mr Labaran Maku has accused media houses of serving as puppets to politicians in Nigeria.

Speaking as a guest on Sunrise Daily, a programme on Channels Television, Maku said “Unfortunately we have allowed our political biases to infiltrate sometimes the media that we own”.

Maku who claimed to be a journalist further said “if you pick newspapers today, from the headlines you will know which one is pro-PDP, which one is ACN, which one is APC, which one is CPC”

He expressed worry over the bias displayed “not just on opinion pages, not just on editorial pages but right on front page including the casting of headlines”.

The minister likened the reporter to a doctor in the hospital who should not be told how to treat his patients be it owned by a politician or a businessman.

He charged Nigerians to set up an international panel to review media houses in other countries such as the England, USA, Canada, India, and South Africa with Nigeria quarterly.

These countries he said have “the traditions of our own liberal democracy”.

He said many journalists will be in jail if journalism is practiced the same way as in the aforementioned countries.

He also cleared the air on the controversy between the Leadership Newspaper journalists and the federal government.

Channels TV Joins Hillary Clinton’s Last Global Townterview

Channels Television on Tuesday flew the African flag in the live and last ‘Global Townterview’ with outgoing US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton.

The Secretary of State had her 59th Global ‘Townterview’ at the Newseum in Washington DC, her last in which she engaged young people around the world including young Nigerian professionals who were gathered inside ChannelsTV studio for the live interaction.

The event which was streamed live on the internet on YouTube had in attendance BBC London, MBC Beirut Lebanon, NDTV, New Delhi, India, NHK Tokyo, Japan, NTN24 Bogota, Colombia and representing Africa was Channels Television from Nigeria.

Nigeria’s 2015 Election

When Channels TV correspondent Maupe Ogun, asked the outgoing Secretary if she can pinpoint any African country that has strived to develop its institutions as President Obama advised in his speech when he visited Ghana in 2009, Mrs Clinton replied; “both politically and economically, I see progress happening in Africa.”

She described the successful transition in Malawi and the peaceful re-election of Ellen John Sirleaf in Liberia and the just concluded election in Ghana as big moves that showed that the countries are building their political institutions and the voice of people are hearkened to.

“Nigeria is a very important country in Africa and even the world. It really matters how well the next general election goes. Whether it is free and fair. It really matters whether the endemic corruption is finally pursued. So it is important that everybody in Nigeria does not feel like they are going to be left out” she stated.

The crisis in Mali is one issue Madam Secretary spoke passionately about; she noted how important it is for peace to rain in the country and the region as a whole.

Hillary Rodham Clinton’s feat in the first four years of the Obama administration cannot be over-emphasized and this has aroused speculations if she would be running for president in the next US election.

But responding to a question on her plans for the US Presidential in 2016, she responded that “I am not thinking anything about that now. I am working on concluding my tenure as the Secretary of State. I am also working on my 20 years of sleep deprivation.”

When two uniformly dressed radio dee-jays from Australia asked her what she would advise anyone to include on their CV to appeal for her office, the former First Lady of the United States cheerfully stated that “education, good looks and ability to meet people are the essentials needed to be a Secretary of States.”

The Townterview is a mix of a town hall and a television interview. The concept was first introduced by the Secretary when she entered office as a way to broaden people to people engagement.

Mrs Clinton is expected to resign as the US Secretary of State on Friday, 1st of February.

Former aspirant to White House, Senator John Kerry, was on Tuesday, confirmed as the next US Secretary of State.

7 Men Rape Passenger In India

Another gang rape has happened in India, police say a woman was gang-raped over the weekend by seven men after she boarded a bus at night.

Police arrested six suspects, including the bus driver, after the alleged Friday night attack in Gurdaspur district in Punjab.

Just like a gang rape in New Delhi that sparked international outrage last month, the new attack occurred after the woman got on a bus.

The bus sped past her stop, police said. By that time, the woman was the only passenger.

The bus driver and his helper then took the married 29-year-old woman to an undisclosed address where five others joined the two men and raped her throughout the night.

According to the victim who spoke to CNN “They threatened me with a sharp edged weapon and did wrong things with me,”

“They kept me confined all through the night and forced me to do what they want.”

The next day, the suspects dropped her off at her village, where she informed her family and alerted police.
A similar incident occurred on December 16 where attackers assaulted a woman after she boarded a bus. The men also brutally beat her and her male companion, robbed them of their belongings and later dumped them by the side of a road.

The Delhi incident triggered rallies nationwide and an uproar over the treatment of women.

The badly beaten 23-year-old woman was flown to Singapore for treatment after the attack.

She died about two weeks later while undergoing treatment.

Both New Delhi and Gurdaspur are in northern India.

Five Accused Of Rape Appear In Court

Five men accused of the gang rape and murder of an Indian student appeared in court on Monday to hear charges against them, after two of them offered evidence possibly in return for a lighter sentence in a case that has provoked widespread anger.

The five men, along with a teenager, are accused of raping the 23-year-old physiotherapy student when she boarded their bus after going to the cinema in New Delhi on December 16. She died two weeks later in a Singapore hospital.

The attack on the student has ignited protests against the government and anger towards the police for their perceived failure to protect women. It has also provoked a rare national debate about rising violence against women.

Following rowdy scenes in the packed court, the magistrate, Namrita Aggarwal, closed the hearing to the media and the public. The court was cleared and police were posted at its doors before the accused were brought in.

“Keeping in view the sensitivity of this case that has risen, the proceedings including the inquiry and trial are to be held in camera,” Aggarwal said, before ordering people not connected with the case out of the courtroom.

A police guard said the five men had their faces covered when they entered the court, where the magistrate was due to read charges against them. The five have already been charged with murder, rape and abduction along with other offences.

Aggarwal said the next hearing would be on January 10. She did not say when the case would go to trial in a separate, fast-track court, set up after the attack on the woman.


2013: The World Ushers In New Year With Fireworks

Nigeria has joined the rest of the world in ushering in a brand new year, the year 2013!!!

It was historical as Lagosians gathered to usher in the New Year in what many have been described as the biggest new party in Nigeria’s history.

Styled after the traditional new year cross over countdown parties in the western hemisphere, this inaugural Lagos countdown celebration attracted performances from big-name acts from the music industry as the spectators watched the clock tick into 2013.

The final countdown cheers gave way to spectacular display of fireworks as the old year gave way to the new.


Enebeli Elebuwa passes on in India

Veteran Nollywood actor, Enebeli Elebuwa, has passed on at the age of 65.

Enebeli gave up the ghost in the early hours of Wednesday morning at the New Delhi hospital in India after battling with a prolonged aliment.

The actor who has been down with stroke for more than a year, recently made the news with his controversial healing by the General Overseer of Perfect Christianity Ministry, Surulere, Pastor Sign Fireman.

The Pastor reportedly claimed to have healed him, posting a video of the frailed actor walking aroud the church on YouTube. However, Elebuwa’s family later debunked the Pastor’s claim.

Elebuwa was later moved to an Indian hospital with the aid of the Delta State government.

The late Enebeli hails from Upkane in Otagunu Local Government, Delta State.

He started his acting career in 1967 and the first soap opera he did was Mirror in the Sun.

He also featured as a police officer in the Village Headmaster and his first movie which was on celluloid, ‘Dinner with the Devil’ produced by Sanya Dosumu, was in 1974.

He also had a stint in the Nigerian Broadcast Industry where he served as a producer/ director at the National Television Authority (NTA).

FEC approves $77.73 million water project loan for Lagos and Cross River states

The Federal Executive Council (FEC) has approved a loan facility of $77.73 million to support urban water projects for Lagos and Cross River states.

Briefing State House correspondents after the council meeting, minister of information, Mr. Labaran Maku said the loan granted by the International Development Agency (IDA) is been given on a concessionary ground to the two states to rehabilitate urban water works.

While Cross River state will take $43.92 million, Lagos will take $33.83 million.

FEC also approved a contract for the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) to commence the rehabilitation of the ECOWAS parliament building located in theAsokoro District of the FCT. The facility which is said to have gone into a state of disrepair was awarded to the Julius Berger to the tune of N3.43 billion.

A contract for the construction of what it called a “strategic road” linking Sagbemi-Kiribo-Gada-Egbekigbo in Ondo state at the cost of N3.55 billion was also approved by the council. The road which is a 23 kilometer stretch is part of the post amnesty projects of the Niger Delta Ministry.

Apart from holding the council meeting in the First Lady’s conference room, the president used the opportunity to receive the trophies and plaques Nigerian nurses and midwives won in a recent Maternal and Child Health Competition held in India.

FEC apologized for the poor quality of telecommunication operators in the country and promised to raise sanctions for defaulting operators.

Apart from the contracts approved, the federal executive council is to spend another N454 million for the augmentation of the contract on the Ibadan-Ilorin road while the rehabilitation of the service lane on the Niger Bridge will cost N2.393 billion.



Polio Eradication: Expert scores Nigeria low on fighting scourge

The global Polio Eradication Initiative at the World Health Organisation says Nigeria is not on track to achieve eradication of polio despite the adequate tools and capacity to reverse the rising trends.

An official of the global body, Doctor Bruce Aylward made the observation at the expert review committee meeting on polio eradication and routine immunization in Abuja.

Doctor Alyward said if a country such as India is able to implement basic workable strategies towards total eradication, then Nigeria can achieve total eradication of the menace by 2013.

Kano awards 25 indigenes scholarship to study Marine Engineering

Kano State Government has sponsored 25 indigenes of the state to study Marine Engineering in India and the United States.

A statement issued in Kano on Saturday by Alhaji Baba Dantiye, the Director of Press to Gov. Rabiu Kwankwaso, said the four year course would cost the government $80 million annually.

According to the statement, Gov.  Rabi’u Kwankwaso said this during the graduation of over 1,000 youths under the government’s youth empowerment programme, tagged “Lafiya Jari.”

It said that the governor emphasised on the resolve of the administration to give priority to human capital development.

“We are doing all this because we need to see our youth everywhere in the world and reduce unemployment facing the state”, the statement quoted the governor as saying.

It added that Kwankwaso further revealed that the government had concluded plans to sponsor 100 students to study avionics and another 100 to study medicine abroad.

The statement said that the state government, through the Col. Yakubu Bako (Rtd.) Youth Employment Committee had secured over 200 jobs for indigenes of the state in various Federal Government establishments.

The “Lafiya Jari”, is a healthcare based empowerment scheme under the state Entrepreneurship Institute.

The scheme provides drugs and financial support to students who graduated from the Schools of Health Technology to set up their own businesses.

Indian envoy advices Nigeria to improve on healthcare delivery

The Indian government has advised Nigeria, to improve on the standard of health care facilities in order to ease the difficulties faced by Nigerians who go abroad for medical attention.

The Indian high commissioner to Nigeria, Mahesh Sachdev made this known over the weekend at the maiden Free Medical/Health Outreach provided by Primus Super Specialty Hospital, Abuja in collaboration with the Health and Human Services Secretariat of the Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA).

Mr Sachdev said, it is inhuman and risky taking sick people to far distances or even when the person is in a critical state is dangerous.

He said: “I think I could mention that primus initiative was taken by the chairman of the Primus Group in light of the large number of Nigerians going all the way to India to attend to her hospital medical facilities.

“It is difficult for a sick person to travel, and it is even more difficult when you are seriously sick to travel that distance, and it is only humane for us to endeavor to come closer to the patients as possible.

“So by bringing specialty care to Nigeria, we have approached the problem in a different and humane way. I think the success of the hospital in that past one and half year is a witness to this strategy.”

He further appreciated the efforts of Primus Hospital and FCTA Health on the free medical care being provided to the people of Wuse market.

Speaking also, the Secretary, Health and Human Services Secretariat of FCTA, Demola Onakomaiya encouraged the people of Wuse Market to make best of the improved medical facilities in the Nation’s Capital including 12 Secondary and 217 Primary Healthcare Centers.

Mr Onakomaiya added that the aim to create awareness on the importance of having regular check ups.