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Breaking News In Nigeria This Morning, Friday, 17 July, 2020

Don't penalise Africa for fielding three heavyweights, Amina Mohamed tells WTO members.

Amina Mohamed, Kenya’s sports minister and candidate for the director-general of the World Trade Organization (WTO), says Africa should not be penalised for presenting three candidates for the job — but be commended for backing three heavyweights. 

Speaking with members and journalists at the WTO headquarters in Geneva, Mohamed said Africa takes the WTO seriously, and that it is a matter of strength to have three candidates.

“Africa takes the WTO very seriously and that’s the reason why the calibre of the candidates that have come forward is so distinct and so high, and I don’t think that Africa should be penalised for putting forward a number of candidates,” she said.

“There are 54 candidates on the continent after all and you know we have different parts of the continent, so basically, I think that one should not be penalised for putting candidates up to take a position that Africans attach a lot of importance to and that they feel they need to take seriously.

“I think that it is not a matter of weakness to have three candidates, I think it is actually a matter of strength. It shows how interested we are, how seriously we take the WTO.”

The Kenyan minister said all three candidates put forward by Africa — Nigeria’s Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Egypt’s Abdel-Hamid Mamdouh, and herself — are all very accomplished.

She asked the 164-member countries to take Africa seriously, and give a chance to the continent.

“The three of us are all very accomplished in our own rights, it was not a decision to just any candidate forward. I think we put forward heavyweights, that is a good thing, Africa should be commended for doing that,” she added.

“I do hope that of the three African candidates, that the membership will give serious consideration to having a leader from Africa. Africa has a big contribution to make. It is a continent that is young and inspirational.”

There are only eight candidates for the WTO top job for 2020 — and a majority, three of eight, are Africans.

BREAKING: COVID-19 case in Nigeria rise to 34,854 with 595 new cases.

Nigeria on Thursday night recorded 595 new cases of COVID-19

According to a tweet from Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), the total number of cases so far in Nigeria is now 34,894.

The NCDC further revealed that 769 people have died from the virus, with 14,292 patients discharged.

A beak-down state by state of the infected on Thursday night is as follows:

Lagos-156 Ondo-95 Rivers-53 Abia-43 Oyo-38 Enugu-29 Edo-24 FCT-23 Kaduna-20 Akwa Ibom-17 Anambra-17 Osun-17 Ogun-14 Kano-13 Imo-11 Delta-6 Ekiti-5 Gombe-4 Plateau-4 Cross River-2 Adamawa-1 Bauchi-1 Jigawa-1 Yobe-1.

Court decides El-Zakzaky, wife’s murder charges July 30.

The High Court of Kaduna State has fixed July 30 for the hearing of an application by the leader of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria, otherwise known as Shiites, Sheik Ibrahim El-Zakzaky, and his wife, Zeenat, who are praying for an order quashing the charges of murder of a soldier instituted against them by the state government.

Our correspondent on Thursday saw the hearing notice issued on July 14 by the court notifying parties to the case of the July 30 hearing.

In the application filed on April 29 on their behalf by their lawyers, Mr Femi Falana (SAN), and Marshal Abubakar, the defendants urged the court presided by Justice Gideon Kurada, to dismiss the entire eight counts for being an abuse of court process.

El-Zakzaky and his wife were arrested by the Army and handed over to the Department of State Services after a bloody clash between the soldiers in the entourage of the Chief of Army Staff, Lt.-Gen. Tukur Buratai, in Zaria, Kaduna State, on December 12, 2015.

El-Zakzaky and his wife were detained by the DSS for over two years without charge, until April 2018 when the Kaduna State Government eventually filed eight counts against the IMN leader, his wife and two others said to be at large.

The prosecution accused the defendants of, among other sundry offences, killing Corporal Yakuku Dankaduna, who was said to be in Buratai’s convoy during the December 2015 bloody clash between El-Zakzaky’s Shiite followers and the soldiers in the convoy.

 But their lawyers, in urging the court to dismiss all the eight counts, argued that Count 1 “in its entirety is violation of Section 36 (8) and (12) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) same being an abuse of court process and/ or devoid of proof of evidence or a disclosure of the offences and/ or failure to link the 1st and 2nd defendants respectively to the offences purportedly charged.”

They said all the Shiites arrested in connection with the clash had been arraigned, tried and had been discharged and acquitted.

WASSCE: Reps to lobby govs over school reopening.

The House of Representatives on Thursday met with stakeholders in the education sector on the ways schools could be reopened to allow pupils sit the West African Secondary School Certificate Examination.

The House Committee on Basic Education and Services held a roundtable with the Federal Ministry of Education and West African Examination Council, Nigeria, to discuss the matter.

The House resolved to meet with the Nigerian Governors’ Forum, which is expected to lobby the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), to order reopening of schools.

The stakeholders at the meeting agreed that if the September date for the commencement of WASSCE is to be met, there was the need for Buhari and the NGF to be involved in coming up with a timely and effective decision.

They agreed that in the interest of the 1.6 million candidates registered for WASSCE, there was the need to agree on a date for the regional examination.

One of the options is to find an acceptable date.

The Head of WAEC National Office, Nigeria, Patrick Areghan, told the attendees about the logistics involved in the conduct of examinations, noting that it is a long process to print question papers, while preparedness for the examination takes so much from WAEC.

The WAEC boss, therefore, urged Nigeria to decide whether to allow its pupils to have COVID-19 certificate or a WAEC certificate.

The Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Education, Mr Sonny Echono, said WAEC is one of institutions that encourage regional cooperation, warning that organising a stand-alone examination for Nigeria will defeat the element of unity it portrays.

Echono further noted that if there was adequate funding, it should not take more than a week to get logistics ready for the examination in the 19, 000 centres across the country.

The Minister of State for Education, Emeka Nwajiuba, pointed out to the lawmakers that the issue was on the date of the examination and not resumption of schools.

The Chairman of the committee, Prof. Julius Ihonvbere, ruled that the lawmakers would get Buhari to use diplomatic means to get other countries in West Africa to agree with Nigeria on WASSCE postponement.

Only mosques, churches with approvals will reopen –Ekiti.

The EKITI State Commissioner for Environment, Gbenga Agbeyo, said on Thursday that only places of worship that met the stipulated COVID-19 guidelines and issued with the certificate of fitness would be allowed to reopen on Fridays and Sundays as earlier directed by the Governor, Dr Kayode Fayemi.

Mosques and churches, which had been shut down since March, have been given the go-ahead to reopen for worship; once a week on Friday for Muslims effective from July 17, and once a week on Sunday effective from July 19, for Christians.

However, Muslims in the state, under the aegis of Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs, Ekiti State Chapter, suspended reopening of all major mosques across the state since all the safety protocols could not be met within the timeframe stipulated by the government.

Agbeyo said in a statement in Ado Ekiti, the state capital, that all the churches and mosques must comply with the COVID-19 safety protocols to avert the spread of the deadly disease, saying provision of requisite facilities remained the prerequisite for reopening.

The commissioner listed the prerequisites to include that the religious centres must fumigate their premises and provide running water in front of their buildings to ensure regular hand washing.

 “Others include the use of alcohol-based hand sanitisers, ensuring they wear nose covers, making available infrared thermometers for body temperature, measurements and maintaining social distancing,” Agbeyo said.

We don’t support school resumption – NUT Lagos.

The Nigeria Union of Teachers, Lagos State chapter, has said it does not support the idea of reopening schools in the state.

The Lagos NUT Chairman, Mr Adesina Adedoyin, while reacting to the decision of the South-West governors to commence the West African Senior Secondary Examinations in August said it was disheartening that the governors and the Federal Government could not take a uniform decision.

He said, “The Federal Government is saying no resumption and the South-West governors are saying pupils should resume. There should be a synergy between the federal and state governments. The task force members know the extent of the pandemic and if the curve has not been flattened, they will not advise schools to reopen.”

He explained that the teachers and pupils were ready to resume, but the health of every stakeholder should be considered.

“It is people who are alive that can write examinations and use certificates for further studies. What is paramount now are the children; they are the most vulnerable. You don’t know where they have branched or visited on their way home. If we are not careful, the cases we have might increase,” Adedoyin said.

He added that the NUT in the state would not support school resumption because of the rising COVID-19 cases and the limited testing centres available in the state.

Meanwhile, the national body of the NUT has expressed concern over the inadequacy of primary school teachers in the country which, it said, has dropped from one million to about 600,000.

The union said it was unfortunate that states like Abia and Benue had been indebted to teachers with each of them owing between 10 and 11 months of salaries.

The NUT General Secretary, Dr Mike Ene, in an interview with our correspondent, called on the Federal Government to declare a state of emergency in the education sector.

“We used to have over one million teachers in the country; but today, we have about 600,000.

“Abia State is owing our teachers 10 months’ salaries, Benue State is owing 11 months’ salaries. We are urging the Federal Government to declare a state of emergency in the education sector,” Ene said.

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Amina Mohamed Kenya Nigeria WTO World Trade Organization


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