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Adamawa Announces Lockdown Of State Over Coronavirus

31 March 2020 - 4:13pm


 

The Adamawa State Government has announced a lockdown of the state for 14 days.

A statement by Press Secretary to the governor, Humwashi Wonosikou, said that the measure was necessary to contain the spread of Coronavirus.

The statement reads, “Governor Ahmadu Umaru Fintiri says though painful, the decision was necessary to save lives.

“Inter-state travel restriction is also imposed and international borders with Cameroon are to remain shut during this period.

“The ban also affects tricycle, taxis and bus operators throughout the state.

“Governor Ahmadu Umaru Fintiri regretted that the directive to workers on grade levels 1-14 to stay at home was not adhered to in the first instance.

“Therefore, government is left with no option than to impose the lockdown in the overall interest of the people as Covid-19 continues to spread in Nigeria.

“Social Activities such as clubbing and joints are banned, markets are also hereby restricted, except for those selling food items, pharmaceuticals, filling Stations, while banks are to provide skeletal services.

“The government however emphasises on the need to ensure basic hygiene practices of hand washing, social distancing and avoiding crowded places.”

 

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Panic As Result Of Three Suspected Coronavirus Cases In Delta Is Expected

31 March 2020 - 4:10pm


Google

 

There is panic in Delta State at the moment after it was announced that the result of three suspected Coronavirus cases are being expected.

Governor of the state, Ifeanyi Okowa, made the announcement on Tuesday evening during a statewide broadcast.

The governor, who ordered a total shutdown of activities within the state for 14 days with effect from April 1, 2020, solicited the support, patience and cooperation of residents in relation to the directive.

Okowa said, “Samples of the three suspected cases have been sent to the Specialist Hospital, Irua, Edo State, and the results are been expected and once they are received, we shall announce to Deltans the true position of the result.

“We are aware of the inconveniences this restriction will bring but we must realise that we are in an emergency. Life has no duplicate and people have to be alive to be able to work or do business.

“So far, the only way to stop or contain the spread of this disease is to prevent further transmission.

“Foodstuff sellers are permitted to conduct their businesses within the precinct of their homes and will be monitored to ensure they adhere strictly to the social distancing rules, traders who inflates their goods during the period of lockdown will have their goods confiscated by the state government and get prosecuted.”

 

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Staying Home Is Our Small Chance Of Containing Coronavirus Outbreak –NCDC Boss

31 March 2020 - 3:58pm


Chikwe Ihekweazu

Chikwe Ihekweazu

 

Director-General of the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control, Chikwe Ihekweazu, has said that the country’s only chance of controlling the spread of Coronavirus was for people to stay at home.

Ihekweazu, while speaking on Channels Television on Tuesday, said to keep the virus under control, Nigerians must stay apart for some time.

He said, “Do we have to really meet? We will be destroying the efforts we're making collectively. It's only by doing this and bearing this pain for a few weeks that we have a small chance of containing this outbreak.

“To keep it (the Coronavirus) out, we have to stay apart for a few weeks.”

Nigeria now has 139 confirmed cases of Coronavirus with two recorded deaths.  See Also PUBLIC HEALTH Coronavirus Cases Rise To 139 In Nigeria 0 Comments 7 Hours Ago

The worst-hit states in the country are Lagos, Abuja and Ogun, which have been locked down for 14 days by an order by President Muhammadu Buhari.

Though Ogun State is yet to implement the lockdown, all movements in Lagos and Abuja are restricted with security officials out to enforce the directive. 

 

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Allow Tanker Drivers Operate During Lockdown, NNPC Tells Law Enforcement Agencies

31 March 2020 - 3:53pm


 

The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation has appealed to law enforcement agencies across the country to allow petroleum products tanker drivers free movement during the lockdown ordered in parts of the country by President Muhammadu Buhari and some state governments.

A statement by NNPC’s Group General Manager, Group Public Affairs Division, Dr Kennie Obateru, said the exemption granted by President Buhari to certain categories of essential workers covers the operations of petroleum products tanker drivers.

The statement said that the Federal Government counts on the support of law enforcement agencies across the country to ensure smooth distribution of petroleum products during the period of restriction.

NNPC advised motorists not to engage in panic buying as there was enough supply to cater to the needs of the people.

 

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Coronavirus: Lagos, Ogun To Receive Ambulances, Test Kits From Oyedepo

31 March 2020 - 3:42pm


 

The Lagos and Ogun governments will any moment from now receive ambulances, test kits and other medical supplies to help combat and curtail the spread of Coronavirus pandemic in the country.

The donation was made by Presiding Bishop of the Living Faith Church Worldwide also known as Winners’ Chapel International, David Oyedepo.

Chairman of the church’s Editorial Board, Prof Sheriff Folarin, in a statement said, “Living Faith Church as a faith-based organisation with a global outreach, wishes to register its support, in entirety, to the Nigerian Government and global efforts to win the war against this unseen but common enemy of mankind.

“Among the medical/health resources are two state-of-the-art ambulances with capacity for first aid, test, and treatment of those infected or on emergency resulting from the infection.

“Each of the ambulances will be donated to Lagos and Ogun States to boost the disease control measures and treatment.

“Other items include 20 cartons of latex hand gloves, 10 cartons of disposable face masks, 40 pieces of infrared thermometers, 500 pieces of personal protective equipment, Hazmat suit, two boxes of pulse oximeters and two cartons of blood pressure monitor.

“Also donated are foodstuffs meant for immediate distribution as palliatives to the less privileged who are likely to be the worst hit by the lockdown.

“These are 400 bags of rice, 150 bags of beans, 400 bags of garri, 500 gallons of vegetable oil, among other items.”

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Coronavirus Cases Rise To 139 In Nigeria

31 March 2020 - 3:39pm


 

The number of confirmed Coronavirus cases rose to 139 in Nigeria on Tuesday after four new cases were discovered in Abuja and Lagos.

The Nigerian Centre for Disease Control made the announcement on Twitter.

The agency said, “Four new cases of COVID-19 have been reported in Nigeria; three in the FCT and one in Lagos.

“As of 08:00pm on 31st of March, there are 139 confirmed cases of COVID-19 reported in Nigeria. Nine have been discharged with two deaths.

“For a breakdown of cases by states in real time, Lagos currently has 82 cases, FCT- 28, Oyo- eight, Osun- five, Ogun- four, Kaduna- three, Enugu- two, Edo- two, Bauchi- two, Ekiti- one, Rivers- one, and Benue – one.” 

Four new cases of #COVID19 have been reported in Nigeria; 3 in the FCT and 1 in Lagos

As at 08:00 pm 31st March there are 139 confirmed cases of #COVID19 reported in Nigeria. Nine have been discharged with two deaths pic.twitter.com/d8EyMmyGIZ

— NCDC (@NCDCgov) March 31, 2020

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Group Hails Army Commander, Adeniyi, For Bravery, Patriotism In Boko Haram Fight After Removal By Buratai

31 March 2020 - 2:58pm


 

Concerned Nigerians, a civil society group, has commended Major General Olusegun Adeniyi for revealing challenges faced by troops fighting Boko Haram in Nigeria's North-East.

SaharaReporters had earlier reported that Adeniyi was removed as commander of Operation LAFIYA DOLE for revealing in a viral video that troops fighting Boko Haram terrorists lacked weapons and credible intelligence to execute their mission.  See Also Breaking News BREAKING: Nigerian Army Removes General In Viral Video Asking For Weapons To Fight Boko Haram 0 Comments 16 Hours Ago

The rights group in a statement by Convener, Deji Adeyanju, on Tuesday, said it was obvious Adeniyi was vilified for saying the truth and looking out for the safety of his men on the battlefield.

The statement reads, “We are greatly impressed with Major-General Adeniyi and his men for their unwavering patriotism, steadfastness and gallantry in fighting against these enemies of humanity. 
"We want to assure Major-General Adeniyi that Nigerian people look up to him and the boys, their devotion to duty, integrity and sense of honour and commitment to each other in the fight against Boko Haram is well appreciated and noted."

Adeyanju called on the Nigerian Government to launch a thorough investigation into the welfare of troops fighting Boko Haram terrorists as well as investing in tools for efficient intelligence gathering. 

FLASH: @HQNigerianArmy Removes General Adeniyi Who Disclosed Weakness of The Military Against Boko Haram In Leaked Video pic.twitter.com/7B2JZC5fwC

— Sahara Reporters (@SaharaReporters) March 31, 2020


 

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Nigerian Red Cross Calls For Support To Scale Up Coronavirus Response

31 March 2020 - 2:41pm



The Nigerian Red Cross has appealed to members of the public to support its ongoing efforts at creating more awareness on the dangers of Coronavirus and how citizens can avoid contracting the pandemic. 

In a briefing with journalists on Tuesday, the organisation said that support in form of food and other essential items were needed to distribute to households in order to help cushion the effect of the lockdown ordered by President Muhammadu Buhari on Sunday. 

The lockdown is to be observed in Lagos, Ogun and FCT.  

Head of Communications and Advocacy of Nigeria Red Cross, Nwakpa O. Nwakpa, said they will continue to work with relevant stakeholders to help curtail the spread of the virus in the country. 

Nwakpa said, "Following the first confirmed case in Nigeria, the Nigerian Red Cross Society trained and mobilised 100 volunteers in Lagos and Ogun states for intense mass mobilisation to create awareness on preventive measures through radio jingles, live radio shows, distribution of flyers, sensitisation in religious centres, markets, motor parks and streets for two weeks.

"As we all are aware, number of confirmed cases is still rising, thus there is urgent need for the Nigerian Red Cross Society to scale up her response in all affected states and neighbouring states. 

"Thus, the Nigerian Red Cross Society is planing to scale her response to 20 states including the Federal Capital Territory. 

VIDEO: Nigerian Red Cross Boss Answers Question About Underreporting Of #COVID19 Cases In Nigeria @nrcs_ng @NCDCgov #Coronavirus #COVIDー19 #CoronaVirusNigeria #COVID19Nigeria pic.twitter.com/UJaWtolVsD

— Sahara Reporters (@SaharaReporters) March 31, 2020

"The Nigerian Red Cross hereby calls on donor agencies, international agencies, well-spirited Nigerians to partner with it to be able to scale up the fight against COVID-19 spread and imminent hardship should the lockdown persist.

"The Nigerian Red Cross therefore will be willing to receive support in cash, food, household items.

"All Nigerians should adhere strictly to government’s directives at all times including staying at home and observing optimal personal hygiene." 

 

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Nothing Must Happen To El-Zakzaky, Shiites Warn Buhari After Kaduna Prison Unrest

31 March 2020 - 10:19am


Members of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria have called on President Muhammadu Buhari to ensure the safety of their leader, Ibraheem El-Zakzaky, following a riot at Kaduna Prison by inmates on Tuesday. 

The movement handed down the warning in a statement by Secretary of the Academic Forum of the movement, Abdullahi Muhammad Musa.

SaharaReporters had earlier reported that inmates at the prison attempted a jailbreak after riot broke out over the Coronavirus pandemic in the country.  See Also Breaking News BREAKING: Inmates In Kaduna Prison Attempt Jailbreak Over Coronavirus, One Feared Killed 0 Comments 16 Hours Ago

The inmates, who feared that they could contract the deadly virus going by the poor ventilation and lack of protective items in the facility, mobilised in large numbers on Tuesday morning in an attempt to break free from the correctional centre.

Security personnel fired several gunshots around the facility to scare the inmates and bring the situation under control.

One person was feared to have been killed during the chaos while several prison officials, who sustained injuries, were rushed to a teaching hospital in city for urgent medical attention.

Reacting to the development, the IMN said, “Reliable information reaching us revealed that there is ongoing unrest in Kaduna Prison that started in the early hours of Tuesday, 31 March, 2020 over suspected cases of COVID-19.

“The incident led to chaos and government is presently deploying more armed security men to the prison.

“It is pertinent to state that his eminence, Sheikh Ibraheem El-Zakzaky, and his wife Malama Zeenah Ibraheem, are being detained in the same Kaduna Prison.

“We are rightly concerned about these developments and strongly call on all relevant authorities to ensure that the security and safety of the sheikh and his wife are guaranteed.

“We would hold the government responsible for any harm to them.

“It is the responsibility of government to protect all inmates in such homes, especially with the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic ravaging the world.”

The group called on the international community to help secure the release of their leader and his wife before they are infected with the virus.

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IGP, Police Spokesperson, 10 Others Test Negative For Coronavirus

31 March 2020 - 9:40am


IGP Mohammed Adamu

IGP Mohammed Adamu

IGP, Police Spokesperson, 10 Others Test Negative For Coronavirus

Nigeria’s Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, has tested negative for Coronavirus. 

The IGP received the result of the test on Tuesday after submitting samples on March 27, 2020. 

Other officers, who also tested negative include Force Public Relations Officer, DCP Frank Mba, Principal Staff Officer to the IGP, DCP Idowu Owohunwa, Head of the Force Technical Intelligence Unit, DCP Lanre Ogunlowo, Personal Physician to the IGP, CSP (Dr) Nonye Welle, Medical Officer, Police Clinic, Force Headquarters, Abuja, CSP (Dr) Titus Adegbite, Secretary to the IGP, SP Moses Jolugbo, and five other close aides to Adamu. 

While noting that policing was a high-contact job with its attendant risks, the IGP enjoined police officers nationwide to adhere strictly to all precautionary and safety measures in the course of their day-to-day activities.

Adamu, according to a statement by Mba, equally enjoined members of the public to voluntarily obey all restriction orders put in place by government.

Recall that Chief of Staff to President Muhammadu Buhari, Abba Kyari, who has tested positive for Coronavirus, earlier this month attended the wedding of the son of the IGP, thereby raising fears that all those he came in contact with including Adamu may have been infected.

Three of Kyari’s staff were later confirmed to be infected with the virus, leaving several others concerned.

Nigeria currently has 135 confirmed cases of Coronavirus and two recorded deaths.

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EXCLUSIVE: Viral Video Was Leaked By My Orderly, Army Commander, Olusegun Adeniyi, Says After Removal By Buratai

31 March 2020 - 9:04am


A senior Nigerian Army officer, Maj. Gen. Olusegun Adeniyi, who headed Operation LAFIYA DOLE and spearheaded the fight against Boko Haram terrorists in the country’s North-East region, has reacted to his redeployment to the Nigerian Army Resource Centre as Senior Research Fellow by Chief of Army Staff, Lt Gen Tukur Yusuf Buratai.

The redeployment of Adeniyi and over 50 senior officers was announced in a statement on Tuesday.

SaharaReporters had earlier reported that Adeniyi was removed as commander of Operation LAFIYA DOLE for revealing in a viral video that troops fighting Boko Haram terrorists lacked weapons and credible intelligence to execute their mission. 

FLASH: @HQNigerianArmy Removes General Adeniyi Who Disclosed Weakness of The Military Against Boko Haram In Leaked Video pic.twitter.com/7B2JZC5fwC

— Sahara Reporters (@SaharaReporters) March 31, 2020

In the viral video, Adeniyi was seen standing together with his men on the battle field and lamenting how the terrorists shelled their positions with heavy artillery and mortar bombs during an ambush where they recorded heavy casualty.

He disclosed that they lost several soldiers during the mission due to wrong intelligence provided by military authorities.

Reacting shortly after his redeployment on Tuesday, Adeniyi disclosed that the viral video was leaked by his orderly and his friend.  See Also Breaking News BREAKING: Nigerian Army Removes General In Viral Video Asking For Weapons To Fight Boko Haram 0 Comments 16 Hours Ago

In a message to some of his soldiers, he said that he had no regret over the leaked video because he served well and defended Nigeria’s territory with commitment. 

He said, “I am posted and also a happy man. Nobody should send any long pitiable message to me. 

“I have not failed, nor led irresponsibly. I have demanded your best which you gave. 

“Video meant for ASA leaked by my orderly and his friend could not have been helped. For even that there is nothing to be bitter about.

“We all had fun fighting Boko Haram together. God bless you.”

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Nigerian Army Redeploys Senior Officers In Major Shake-up

31 March 2020 - 8:26am


 

As earlier reported by SaharaReporters, the Nigerian Army has announced the redeployment of senior officers, claiming that the move was in a bid to add freshness into the war against terrorism in the country.

The posting, which was approved by the Chief of Army Staff, Lt Gen Tukur Yusuf Buratai, led to the removal of Maj. Gen. Olusegun Adeniyi as Theatre Command Operation LAFIYA DOLE, the group fighting Boko Haram terrorists in the North-East region of the country.

Adeniyi, who spoke out against the lack of weapons and accurate intelligence to fight terrorists in the region in a video that went viral a few days ago, was moved to the Nigerian Army Resource Centre as Senior Research Fellow after his outburst embarrassed the military authorities.  See Also Breaking News BREAKING: Nigerian Army Removes General In Viral Video Asking For Weapons To Fight Boko Haram 0 Comments 17 Hours Ago

In a statement on Tuesday, Acting Director Army Public Relations, Col. Sagir Musa, said, “The major highlight of the posting includes the posting and appointment of Maj Gen ACC Agundu from Special Task Force, Operation SAFE HAVEN, Jos, to Nigerian Army Resource Centre (NARC), Abuja, as Senior Research Fellow, Major General HI Bature from Defence Headquarters (DHQ), Defence Liaison Office, National Assembly Abuja, to Army Headquarters, Department of Civil Military Affairs and appointed Chief of Civil-Military Affairs, Maj Gen UM Mohammed from Nigerian Army Property Limited (NAPL) to the Office of the Chief of Army Staff and appointed Special Adviser Nigerian Army University Biu/Deputy Chairman Board of Trustees NAPL, while the erstwhile Special Adviser Nigerian Army University Biu Maj Gen CC Okonkwo now redeployed to STF Operation SAFE HAVEN Jos  and appointed Commander, Maj Gen F Yahaya from Headquarters 1 Division Kaduna to Headquarters.

“Theatre Command Operation LAFIYA DOLE (OPLD) Maiduguri and appointed Commander, while Maj Gen OG Adeniyi is redeployed from Headquarters Theatre Command OPLD Maiduguri to NARC as Senior Research Fellow, Maj Gen S Idris from Sector 2 OPLD Damaturu- Yobe State redeployed to DHQ Abuja and appointed Director Liaison. 

FLASH: @HQNigerianArmy Removes General Adeniyi Who Disclosed Weakness of The Military Against Boko Haram In Leaked Video pic.twitter.com/7B2JZC5fwC

— Sahara Reporters (@SaharaReporters) March 31, 2020

“Others affected include - Maj General AA Adesope from Office of the Chief of Army Staff Directorate of Audit and Financial Management to NAPL and appointed Group Managing Director, Maj Gen MG Ali from Headquarters Theatre Command OPLD Maiduguri to Headquarters 4 Special Forces Command Doma, Nasarawa State as Commander while the erstwhile Chief of Civil-Military Affairs AHQ Abuja Maj Gen US Mohammed has been redeployed to 1 Division Kaduna and appointed General Officer Commanding. 

“Similarly, Brig Gen HI Daniel from the Defunct  Army Special Forces Command Maiduguri to Headquarters Training and Doctrine Command Minna and appointed Director Army Training Support, Brig Gen BE Onyeuko is to remain in DHQ Abuja as Acting Director Defence Media Operation, Brig Gen NM Jega from Training and Doctrine Command Minna to Infantry Corps Centre Jaji and appointed Chief of Staff, Brig Gen LA Araba from Nigerian Army Welfare Limited by Guaranty Abuja now redeployed to Sector 2 OPLD Damaturu, Yobe State as Ag Commander, Brig Gen VO Ita from DHQ, Abuja to Headquarters 402 Special Forces Brigade Azare and appointed Commander while Brig Gen JAL Jimoh from Sector 3 Artillery Brigade OPLD Monguno to Headquarters 31 Brigade Minna and appointed Commander and Brig Gen GTO Ajetunmobi has been redeployed from 31 Brigade Minna to Nigeria Army Welfare Limited by Guaranty, Abuja as Executive Director Operation.  See Also Boko Haram How Boko Haram Terrorists Dealt Us Heavy Blow –Nigerian Army Commander 0 Comments 1 Day Ago

“Others are - Brig Gen LG Lepdung from Headquarters Infantry Corps Centre Jaji to DHQ Abuja and appointed Deputy Director Procurement (Logistics), Brig Gen MO Ihanuwaze to remain in Office of the Chief of Army Staff Directorate of Audit and Financial Management as Acting Director, Brig Gen EC Obi - Osang from the defunct Headquarters 707 Special Forces' Brigade Makurdi to Headquarters 401 Special Forces' Brigade Makurdi as Commander while Brig Gen GM Mutkut is redeployed from the Defunct Nigerian Army Amphibious Command OPLD Baga to Headquarters 403 Amphibious Brigade Baga and appointed Commander and Brig Gen JR Lar from Nigerian Army School of Artillery Kachia to Sector 3 Artillery Brigade OPLD Monguno as Commander.

“Also, Colonel DJ Abdullahi from the defunct Headquarters Nigerian Army Special Forces' Command Maiduguri to Headquarters 4 Special Forces' Command Doma Nasarawa State and appointed Acting Chief of Staff, Colonel EC Emere from Nigerian Army Archives to Nigerian Military School Zaria as Deputy Commandant and Col MO Agi is to remain in Headquarters Nigerian Army Armour Corps Bauchi as Acting Chief of Staff among others.

“All the postings and appointments take effect from the 1st of April 2020. 

“While wishing all the officers well in their respective appointments, the Chief of Army Staff enjoins them to take their new responsibilities/appointments seriously and discharge all duties professionally with utmost loyalty to the Nation and the Service.” 

FLASH: @HQNigerianArmy Generals Admit Boko Haram Challenges in Unusual Video pic.twitter.com/D8RXxsTPQj

— Sahara Reporters (@SaharaReporters) March 29, 2020

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Losing Her Religion: Nigeria’s Faith Unveiled In The Face Of COVID-19 By R. Evon Benson-Idahosa

31 March 2020 - 8:13am


Me, circa 1984, in my choir uniform and what was possibly the now infamous tambourine.


R. Evon Benson-Idahosa, Esq

R. Evon Benson-Idahosa, Esq

 

I remember falling asleep at a Tuesday evening church service as a 9 year old child. I had a tambourine on my lap and as I fell to the floor, it reverberated thunderously throughout the hall, drawing the attention of everyone who had been attentively listening to the dynamic preacherman. I awakened to piercing stares and side eyes- particularly from my father- whose message I had disrupted. Every Nigerian child knows that stare, that glare that silently speaks a thousand words, cloaks you in debilitating fear and assures your quivering being that there will be consequences. Needless to say, it was a quiet ride home and for the rest of the revival week, I was ushered to the front row where I forced my eyes open, humming tunes to myself to stay awake.

Me, circa 1984, in my choir uniform and what was possibly the now infamous tambourine.

Saying that I literally grew up in church would be an understatement. Week long revival services, such as the one I reference above, were customary. I was also in the choir, went to Sunday school before church services on Sunday, Agape Force Children’s meetings on Saturdays, mid-week services and the occasional 6:30 am morning prayer services, followed by our home bible study with Auntie B. And because my father was Archbishop Benson Idahosa, there were no negotiations. It just was.

At the age of10, shortly after the infamous “tambourine experience,” the truth of those messages became real and I earnestly became a follower of The Way. And so, as news began to sweep the globe of the novel corona virus and its import, I found myself immediately turning to my faith as a source of comfort and peace. I also called my mother, who now heads CGMI, the global ministry my father left when he passed away 22 years ago. Her words of encouragement and the tone of her voice assured me that, as we like to say in Nigeria, ‘it is well.’

And it will be.

But for now, the pandemic continues to rage, as thousands succumb to its will. First China. Then South Korea. Japan. An epidemic. Then Italy, the UK, the US. Thousands upon thousands of cases were being reported and every day brought the reality closer to home. Then it became a global pandemic and as it stands, the WHO estimates that there are 719,700 confirmed cases globally, with almost 34,000 deaths.

On February 28th, Nigeria, Africa’s most populous nation, confirmed its index case of the corona virus which arrived the country via an Italian businessman. As I write, her Centre for Disease Control is reporting a total of 135 confirmed cases and two deaths, having conducted just several hundred tests, even though thousands of passengers have arrived from varying countries since the index. Self isolation has been deemed an advisory, not mandatory measure.

Four new cases of #COVID19 have been reported in Nigeria; 3 in Osun and 1 in Ogun

As at 11:15 am 31st March there are 135 confirmed cases of #COVID19 reported in Nigeria with 2 deaths pic.twitter.com/6ziPXCPVMu

— NCDC (@NCDCgov) March 31, 2020

Nigeria has taken what some would consider drastic, yet in this writer’s opinion, insufficient and strikingly Western style measures to address what is likely to come in the absence of a miracle. In addition to finally closing her borders from international travelers, including Nigerians, schools have been shut down, civil servants are being asked to work from home, “social distancing” policies are being enacted and several states, including my home state of Edo, have prohibited religious, social and public gatherings of more than 20 persons.

In a country where over 90% of her citizens profess to be religious, most Nigerians are accustomed to turning to their faith in times of crisis. The corona virus pandemic is no exception. Many who had strayed from God are now repenting of their sins and brandishing the sign of the cross as they leave their homes. Others are praying for a “Passover,” as CNN and other news outlets flood us with “end of the world,” doomsday messaging. As a result, many of us are yearning to collectively gather to pray.

Whether the desire to collectively gather is buttressed by denial (“coronavirus is not here” — “the spirit of corona virus is dead in Nigeria”) or stems from a deep seeded longing for God to show mercy to a healthcare system that is wholly unprepared to handle the worst case scenario, the fact remains that Nigeria’s religious faithfuls are unaccustomed to missing gatherings for anything. Services are considered sacred times to commune with God and to be encouraged by the brethren. Others hang on to every word of their clerics who, in some cases, insist on serving as a religious crutch- intermediaries between their congregants and God. Many believers who engage with God on a transactional basis come bearing tithes and/or offerings in the hopes that God will hear their prayers. (He hears them regardless.)

As such, the prohibition on religious gatherings of more than 20 (which essentially translates to a prohibition of services in general) has resulted in many Nigerian believers losing their ‘religion,’ i.e., left bewildered as to how to make the adjustment to a God who potentially exists outside the four walls of their churches; to a God who speaks directly to them in God’s long forgotten voice. Who, precisely, are Nigerian believers without our religions and religious houses of worship?

Could it be that for the first time in a long time, Nigerian believers are being presented with a church-less opportunity to develop even more meaningful personal relationships with their God; to ‘lay hands’ on themselves and speak words of healing into their children from a God who has always heard them? Could this pandemic serve as an opportunity for believers to be what Murray Bowen describes as a ‘non-anxious presence’ to those who may be paralyzed by fear? Or as a practical example, to give our hired staff the much deserved paid time off to assuage the fears of their own elderly parents? As we creatively consider our individual responses, it is imperative that we recognise that our actions are a reflection of what we truly believe about our faith and the One who implores us to be salt and light.

As the Church, however, it is unhelpful that some of our pastors are refusing to comply. The other day, I was tagged on a rather unfortunate video of a pastor irresponsibly screaming to congregants that the corona virus cannot withstand Nigeria’s “corrosive anointing.” However, even Jesus instructed us to obey the law of the land (render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s). This blatant refusal to consider the reality that may most aggressively affect those on the margins begs the question of why some churches are so adamant against temporarily closing their doors.

Sure, we all need hope and encouragement in these perilous and uncertain times, but have we not, after all these years, fed the flock enough “meat” to trust that they can and will turn to God for themselves? Or are we, draped in our own egos, more selfishly concerned that they may not return to our fold and thus, affect our financial bottom line?

It is not a lack of faith to use wisdom or to be practical. Even Jesus reached out his hand to save Peter when he could easily have let him drown and then used his “corrosive anointing” to raise him from the dead. Wisdom is profitable to direct and I believe my father, who I consider one of the greatest men of faith to ever walk this earth, would have done the needful to protect the sheep. My mother most certainly is.

To this end, some larger churches are offering their services online. However, for the working poor who faithfully make up the backbone of most Nigerian churches, internet connectivity and/or live streaming of an entire service make that option impractical and/or unaffordable. They are the ones, who because they live day to day, cannot afford to practice social distancing, “stay at home” and for some, even “wash your hands,” because soap becomes a luxury when one’s ‘daily bread’ is devoid of the ‘daily.’ If our government does not step up to courageously seek support that is tailored to our unique realities and then provide that support to those on the margins, the import of the corona virus in our beloved Nigeria could be felt by generations to come.

As such, could this pandemic present an opportunity for churches to fill the glaring gaps and practically serve the last and the least in a manner that reveals who we profess to be as followers of The Way? Might this be an opportunity for the church to put our egos aside and creatively heed Jesus’ instructions to ‘feed my sheep’, to apply the Balm of Gilead, by serving those who will be most physically, mentally and economically impacted? Practically speaking, could we convert our sanctuaries to temporary hospitals or food pantries where those in need can obtain essentials? Can we use the funds of those who have faithfully donated over the years to buy ventilators and personal protective gear for our hospitals and health workers on the front lines? Can we purchase hygiene products and distribute them to those who may be confined to their homes? This, I believe, is our mandate.

At the end of the day, my faith in God runs deep. It has guided my life since I was 10 and I prayerfully trust that we will get through this. But as the Nigerian Church temporarily loses her ‘religion’ and her faith is unveiled in the face of COVID-19, she is presented with an opportunity to reverberate thunderously and rise up to be who she professes for such a novel time as this. After all, in the words of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, ‘the church is the church only when it exists for others…not dominating, but helping and serving.’

WRITTEN BY

R. Evon Benson-Idahosa, Esq.

Lead table turner and expert troublemaker at Pathfinders Justice Initiative (www.pathfindersji.org); creating more space for women at the table.

 

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NHRC Warns Security Agencies Against Torture, Impunity In Enforcement Of COVID-19 Lockdown

31 March 2020 - 7:37am


 

The National Human Rights Commission has warned that the enforcement of Covid-19 lockdown directives must be carried out without torture, inhuman and degrading treatment of Nigerians.

The commission called on law enforcement agencies across the country to ensure that they carried out their duties without undue violation of the rights of Nigerians.

The NHRC in a statement by its Executive Secretary, Mr Tony Ojukwu, stressed that any act of torture, cruel inhuman and other degrading treatments should not be employed in enforcing compliance, adding that any arrest connected to the implementation of the Covid-19 lockdown directives must be treated in accordance with national and international best practices. 

VIDEO: @HQNigerianArmy Assaulting Nigerians While Enforcing #Lockdown#COVID19 #Coronavirus #LockDownNigeria pic.twitter.com/lwVDlVsJkX

— Sahara Reporters (@SaharaReporters) March 31, 2020

Ojukwu said, “For the purposes of clarity, Article 2 of the Convention Against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading or Punishment which Nigeria is a signatory, states that “each state party shall take effective, administrative, judicial or other measures to prevent acts of torture in any territory under its jurisdiction.

“No exceptional circumstances whatsoever, whether a state of war, a threat of war, international political instability or any other public emergency, may be invoked as a justification of torture.”

The NHRC explained that it was imperative to note that an order from a superior officer or public authority cannot provide an excuse for any security personnel to perpetuate acts of torture or cruel treatment against innocent citizens.

The commission commended the efforts of the various health workers, who have exhibited professional and patriotic zeal to contain the virus and ensure the safety of all Nigerians.

 

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Sierra Leone Records First Coronavirus Case

31 March 2020 - 7:33am


 

Sierra Leone has recorded its first case of Coronavirus, the government said on Tuesday, making it the latest African country to register an infection.

According to AFP, President Julius Maada Bio said that a 37-year-old man, who arrived in the country from France on March 16 had tested positive.

“It was not a matter of whether, but when. Ladies and gentlemen, the when is here,” the President said.

Sierra Leone had been one of the few countries in Africa to have reported zero cases despite neighbouring Guinea and Liberia having detected infections.

On Tuesday, Bio said authorities were aggressively tracing people, who may have come into contact with the infected patient and urged people to report anyone with Coronavirus symptoms to the authorities.

Land borders are closed, international flights banned and schools were shut from Tuesday until further notice, among other measures.

“The government will respond rapidly to changes in the situation by announcing additional enhanced measures,” Bio said.

Six of Africa’s 54 nations have been spared the Coronavirus to date – South Sudan, Burundi, Sao Tome and Principe, Malawi, Lesotho and Comoros.


 

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Windstorm Destroys Broadcast Mast In Bayelsa

31 March 2020 - 7:13am




 

A fierce windstorm has destroyed the broadcast mast of Glory FM, a radio station owned by Bayelsa State Government.

The fallen mast, occasioned by a heavy downpour on Monday night in Yenagoa, the state capital, also destroyed part of the building housing the radio station. 

The collapsed mast also served the Nigerian Television Authority and Radio Nigeria Creek FM.

 

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BREAKING: Inmates In Kaduna Prison Attempt Jailbreak Over Coronavirus, One Feared Killed

31 March 2020 - 6:22am


 

Inmates in Kaduna Prison have attempted a jailbreak after riot broke out over the Coronavirus pandemic in the country.

The inmates, who fear that they could contract the deadly virus going by the poor ventilation and lack of protective items in the facility, mobilised in large numbers on Tuesday morning in an attempt to break free from the correctional centre.

Security personnel fired several gunshots around the facility to scare the inmates and bring the situation under control.

One person is currently feared to have been killed during the chaos while several prison officials, who sustained injuries have been rushed to a teaching hospital in city for urgent medical attention.

An official of the facility, who spoke with SaharaReporters on Tuesday, said several sections of the facility were vandalised by the irate inmates.

“There was an attempted jail break and riot in the yard. Staff were injured and cells broken but security agencies in collaboration with armed squad officers are trying to restore normalcy,” the official said.

Recall that some prominent citizens had called on the Nigerian Government to decongest prisons by releasing minor offenders in a bid to curb the spread of Coronavirus.

SaharaReporters gathered that since inmates got a hold of the information, they had been making attempts to force their ways out since government was yet to respond to that call.

“We warned both federal and state governments last week to quickly decongest the prisons by releasing minor offenders and death-row inmates who have been in custody for over 10 years and those 60 years of age and above.

“Honourable Minister of Interior got the message and joined in the call but till now, nothing has been done.

“Eventually, jails will break and dangerous criminals will be out on the streets seeking means of survival,” a source familiar with prison operations in Nigeria said.

When contacted by SaharaReporters, spokesperson for the Kaduna State Police Command, Muhammad Jalige, said it was an internal problem between prison officials and inmates and that the police had been deployed to the area to arrest the situation.

He said, “It was just an internal problem between the staff and inmates and it has been managed. That is according to the Assistant Comptroller General in charge of the entire zone. Normalcy has been restored.”
 

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BREAKING: Nigerian Army Removes General In Viral Video Asking For Weapons To Fight Boko Haram

31 March 2020 - 6:06am



The Nigerian Army under the leadership of Lt. General Tukur Buratai, Chief of Army Staff, has removed General Olusegun Adeniyi, who appeared in a viral video urging military authorities to supply them with weapons and accurate intelligence to combat Boko Haram terrorists in the North-East region.

Adeniyi, who is Theatre Commander of Operation Lafiya Dole, in the viral video lamented how his men were outgunned and ambushed while on an operation in Borno.

SaharaReporters on Tuesday exclusively gathered that a massive shake-up involving the redeployment of over 50 senior officers would be carried out today and Adeniyi is one of persons affected. 

FLASH: @HQNigerianArmy Removes General Adeniyi Who Disclosed Weakness of The Military Against Boko Haram In Leaked Video pic.twitter.com/7B2JZC5fwC

— Sahara Reporters (@SaharaReporters) March 31, 2020

Several army generals would be removed on account of the viral video that caused the military authorities great embarrassment.

The Nigerian Army has in recent times suffered huge losses in the fight against Boko Haram due to lack of intelligence, sufficient weaponry to match the insurgents and neglect of troop welfare.

Terrorists recently ambushed and killed over 70 soldiers in Borno State.  

 

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BREAKING: Nigerian Doctor Dies Of Coronavirus In United Kingdom

31 March 2020 - 5:46am


Alfa Sa’adu

Alfa Sa’adu

 

A Nigerian medical doctor, Alfa Sa’adu, has died in the United Kingdom after being infected with Coronavirus.

The 68-year-old man, who is a native of Kwara State, died on Tuesday, March 31, 2020.

Until his demise, Sa’adu worked at Princess Alexandra Hospital NHS Trust and was a former Medical Director of London Hospital.

A family member, who confirmed the news to SaharaReporters on Tuesday, said that the victim’s wife is also a medical doctor in the UK.

Ahman Makams, a nephew of the late 68-year-old, told SaharaReporters that Dr Sa’adu contracted the virus after going to a hospital as a consultant to help patients struggling with the disease.

He said, “Just lost my uncle this morning In London. Until his death, he was Galadima of Patigi and former Medical Director of London Hospital.

“May his soul rest in peace and may Allah grant him with Aljannah.

“He went as a consultant to help and it was in the process that he contracted the virus."

Dr Sa’adu graduated from University College, London, with a BSC in Anatomy in 1973 and from University College Hospital Medical School with MB.BS in 1976.

He returned to Nigeria in 1979 for his National Youth Service before teaching and training at Ahmadu Bello University Teaching Hospital in Zaria, Kaduna State.

Sa’adu, who is the third Galadiman Patigi and was turbaned in March 2000, returned to London in 1984 and rose to become the Medical Director and Deputy Chief Executive at Ealing Hospital NHS Trust.



 

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BREAKING: Nigeria's Coronavirus Cases Rise By Four, Now 135

31 March 2020 - 4:12am


The Nigerian Centre for Disease Control has announced four new cases of Coronavirus in the country. 

This brings the total number of infections in Nigeria to 135. 

Three among the new cases are from Osun State while one was discovered in Ogun State.

So far, two persons have died of the virus in Nigeria.

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