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Tanzania, Rwanda, Zimbabwe join Nigeria to recall toxic J&J cough syrup

J&J cough syrup, Tanzania, Rwanda, Zimbabwe, Nigeria, Kenya, South Africa, Recall
Benylin Paediatric

Tanzania, Rwanda, Zimbabwe join Nigeria to recall toxic J&J cough syrup

Drug regulators in Tanzania, Rwanda and Zimbabwe have recalled a batch of Johnson & Johnson children’s cough syrup as a precautionary measure after their Nigerian counterpart said laboratory tests found high levels of toxicity.

The countries join Nigeria, Kenya and South Africa in recalling the same batch of the syrup, which is used to treat coughs, hay fever and other allergic reactions in children. South Africa has also recalled an additional batch.

READ ALSO: Nigeria recalls J&J children’s cough syrup due to fatal toxic substance

Laboratory tests on the syrup by Nigeria’s health regulator showed a high level of diethylene glycol, which has been linked to the deaths of dozens of children in Gambia, Uzbekistan and Cameroon since 2022 in one of the world’s worst waves of poisoning from oral medication.

Diethylene glycol is toxic to humans when consumed and can result in acute kidney failure.

The batch of Benylin Paediatric syrup recalled was made by J&J in South Africa in May 2021, although Kenvue now owns the brand after a spin-off from J&J last year.

Tanzania Medicines and Medical Devices Authority (TMDA) said it had begun the recall on April 12 after hearing about the Nigerian test results.

READ ALSO: After Nigeria, South Africa recalls J&J’s Benylin paediatric cough syrup over suspected toxicity

“This is an exercise that does not involve investigation but rather monitoring to ensure that those affected drugs are removed from the market,” TMDA spokesperson Gaudensia Simwanza told Reuters on Monday.

A spokesperson for Kenya’s drug regulator said its test results on the syrup would likely be ready on Wednesday.

“A review of our safety database doesn’t reveal any adverse events reported,” the Rwanda Food and Drugs Authority said in a statement dated April 12. “However, Rwanda FDA issues the present recall for precautionary measures.”

READ ALSO: Weight loss in children may be sign of tuberculosis – Experts

Zimbabwe’s Medicines Control Agency said that it did not have a record of the product’s importation into Zimbabwe, but that it was concerned the syrup could enter the local market illegally. It said it would step up inspections in case.

Kenvue said in a statement that it was conducting its own assessment and working with health authorities to determine a course of action.

FINANCIAL CRIMES: Why Ganduje can’t be arraigned tomorrow

Abdullahi Ganduje, BRIBERY, No arragnment
Ganduje

FINANCIAL CRIMES: Why Ganduje can’t be arraigned tomorrow

The highly anticipated arraignment of former Kano State governor, Abdullahu Umar Ganduje, may not hold tomorrow (Wednesday).

Ganduje is expected to be arraigned Wednesday over offences bothering on bribery and misappropriation of public funds.

But Wednesday’s arraignment is unlikely to take place as service of court processes on Ganduje was impossible because of his absence from the country.

READ ALSO: Ganduje arraignment, Kano government and presidency involvement

Ganduje has been in Saudi Arabia on lesser Hajj and is yet to be back.

Lack of service of the charges on him is a huge impedement that will stall his arraignment, as he is technically unaware of the case at the moment.

He is sure not to be in court, and he cannot be penalised for his absence if there’s no proof that he had been served with the charges.

If the lack of service continues beyond tomorrow, the case will continue to suffer adjournment until the service is effected on him.

READ ALSO: Ganduje, wife, son to be arraigned April 17

Nigerian Sketch has been told that the prosecution is likely to seek the leave of court to serve Ganduje in absentia, a procedure lawyers call ‘substituted service.’

A Kano-based legal practitioner who’s familiar with the case revealed that the prosecution will seek to serve Ganduje through newspapers in Nigeria, a service the court recognizes as efficient enough to notify him of the case even when he is out of the country.

Fresh charges

Meanwhile, the prosecuting agency in Ganduje’s case, the Kano State Anti-Corruption and Public Complaints Commission (PCACC) has announced new corruption charges against the ex-governor.

The commission’s chairman, Muhuyi Magaji Rimingado, said on Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily programme on Tuesday that further investigations have uncovered the diversion of N51.3 billion from local government funds to unauthorized individuals during Ganduje’s tenure.

READ ALSO: Kano govt files criminal charges against Ganduje, wife, son, others

He alleged that the Ganduje administration withdrew N1 billion monthly from state coffers before its tenure ended in May 2023. He said the money was meant for road renovation, but diverted to Bureau de Change operators instead.

He also cited a case involving N4 billion transferred to an agricultural company from Kano’s consolidated revenue account.

 

 

Elon Musk’s Tesla sacks 14000 staff worldwide

Elon Musk, Tesla, sacks staff, global workforce, Dwindling revenue, Low demand
Elon Musk...

Elon Musk’s Tesla sacks 14000 staff worldwide

Billionaire business magnate Elon Musk has sacked 10 per cent of Tesla’s 140,000 global workforce amid dwindling revenue, high operational costs and a low demand for electric vehicles (EVs).

Musk conveyed the dismissal in bulk emails late Sunday and noted that it was a difficult decision that “must be done,” according to Bloomberg, a British business paper that viewed the email.

“As we prepare the company for our next phase of growth, it is extremely important to look at every aspect of the company for cost reductions and increasing productivity,” Bloomberg cited Musk as writing in the email.

READ ALSO: Elon Musk loses Forbes’ real-time world’s richest person position, as Bernard Arnault takes over 

“As part of this effort, we have done a thorough review of the organization and made the difficult decision to reduce our headcount by more than 10 per cent globally,” the Tesla CEO added. “There is nothing I hate more, but it must be done.”

The dismissal, effective immediately, would result in the loss of jobs for at least 14,000 Tesla employees in different nations.

Already, Andrew Baglino —who until Sunday served as Tesla’s senior vice president for battery development — announced his termination on X, which got a response from Mr Musk

“I made the difficult decision to move on from Tesla after 18 years yesterday,” Mr Baglino said. “I will always have a warm spot for the people of Tesla and Tesla products in my heart and wish the team and company the best in the future.”

READ ALSO: World’s richest man, Elon Musk, takes control of Twitter, fires executives

In response, Mr Musk wrote, “Thanks for everything you’ve done for Tesla. Few have contributed as much as you.”

But analysts said the large layoffs were “ominous” and hinted at a much deeper challenge than Tesla was letting on.

“It’s an ominous sign of some dark days ahead,” LA Times cited Dan Ives, Wedbush Securities’ managing director as saying.  “Streamlining is one thing, but the size of this cut is a concern for a company that’s still in growth mode.”

SALMAN RUSHDIE: ‘Loss of one eye upsets me every day’

SALMAN RUSHDIE, Loss of eye, Upset
Salman Rushdie

SALMAN RUSHDIE: ‘Loss of one eye upsets me every day’

Indian-British author, Salman Rushdie, has opened up about the ongoing emotional struggle he faces every day following the loss of one eye.

The traumatic attack that made Rushdie lose one eye happened during a speaking engagement at the Chautauqua Institution in western New York in August 2022.

In a recent interview with the BBC on April 15, Rushdie revealed that the profound loss continues to affect him on a daily basis. “Losing one eye upsets me every day, he said.

READ ALSO: Apply here as Ben Okri, others launch ‘The Writing Room’ for budding writers 

The author said his eyes “looked swollen and it was kinda hanging out of my face like a soft-boil egg.”

With his voice laden with emotions, he said, “And I’m blind.”

Rushdie said he’s using his new book, ‘Knife’ (mediations after an attempted murder), as a way of fighting back

Recalling how the assailant attacked him in the tragic incident that happened almost 2 years ago, the 76-year-old author said, “I couldn’t have fought him; I couldn’t have run away from him.”

Rushdie said he discovered the need for heightened caution while walking down the stairs, crossing streets, and even performing seemingly simple tasks like pouring water into a glass. However, he considers himself fortunate to have escaped without any brain damage.

READ ALSO: Wole Soyinka releases new novel in France

He indicated that his book is dedicated to “the man and women who saved my life.”

How Salman Rushdie lost his eye

Salman Rushdie lost sight in one eye as a result of a brutal attack he suffered while preparing to deliver a lecture at the Chautauqua Institution in New York state. The attack occurred on August 12, where Rushdie was stabbed in the neck and torso by a man named Hadi Matar.

The injuries sustained during this attack were severe and life-changing for Rushdie. According to his agent, Andrew Wylie, Rushdie’s wounds were profound, with three serious wounds in his neck, nerve damage that incapacitated one hand, and about 15 more wounds in his chest and torso. These injuries led to the loss of sight in one eye and the use of one hand for Rushdie.

After the attack, Rushdie underwent medical treatment for his injuries, including surgeries and rehabilitation. Despite the severity of the incident, Rushdie expressed gratitude towards the medical professionals who treated him and his family for their support during his recovery process. He mentioned that he had regained some feeling in his thumb and index finger, as well as in the bottom half of his palm after months of healing.

READ ALSO: Moroccan novelist Laila Lalami now distinguished professor at University of California

However, Rushdie also shared that he was facing challenges related to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) following the attack. He found it difficult to write due to a mental block and described experiencing a combination of blankness and difficulty producing meaningful content. This struggle impacted his ability to type effectively with his injured hand.

Rushdie attributed these writing difficulties to PTSD and acknowledged that he was still navigating through this mental obstacle. Despite these challenges, he remained optimistic about his recovery process and expressed determination to continue writing despite the setbacks caused by the attack.

Reason for Attack

Rushdie was attacked due to the fatwa issued against him by Ayatollah Khomeini in 1989 after the publication of “The Satanic Verses.”

The controversial content of his novel led to widespread outrage among certain groups who deemed it blasphemous, resulting in ongoing threats and ultimately culminating in the violent attack on Rushdie at Chautauqua Institution.

The fatwa called for Rushdie’s assassination, resulting in years of living under constant threat and fear for his life.

Investigation

The investigation into the stabbing of Salman Rushdie was led by the New York State Police with assistance from the FBI and local authorities. The suspect, Hadi Matar, was charged with attempted murder and assault following the attack on Rushdie.

 

Accelerating Growth in an Inclusive Rwandan and Pan-African Digital Economy

Diane Karusisi, Reda Helal, Accelerating growth, Inclusive, Rwanda, Pan-Africa, Digital Economy
Dr. Diane Karusisi and Dr. Reda Helal

Accelerating Growth in an Inclusive Rwandan and Pan-African Digital Economy

By Dr. Diane Karusisi and Dr. Reda Helal

One of the visible signs of a growing digital economy is its flourishing initiatives for financial inclusion and financial literacy.

Rwanda recognizes financial inclusion as a crucial component for realizing its development and economic prosperity and is a remarkable example of a country that is introducing such programs to aid in setting up a vast digital economy, which are increasingly gaining international recognition. The country has set an ambitious target to achieve 90% formal financial inclusion by 2024.

READ ALSO: Iwájú to air across Africa on Disney Channel

Building inclusivity by involving microfinance institutions, savings and credit cooperatives, and mobile network operators, as well as enabling interoperability in digital payments, play a critical role in ensuring accessibility for populations that have historically been unbanked and rely on cash-based transactions.

Digital transformation

Traditionally, Banks and FIs feel enormous pressure to grow their digital payments penetration in a landscape that is radically different from even five years ago. This pressure is accentuated when Fintechs and wallet operators are added to the mix. Everything from regulatory requirements, a competitive landscape and consumer expectations to product innovations has upended the “business as usual” outlook for digital payment providers. The industry is fraught with challenges that payments leaders must carefully navigate.

Financial institutions are increasingly recognizing the importance of digital transformation and access to data. A legislation on the protection of personal data and privacy that was passed in October 2021 serves as a foundation for enabling trusted and secure domestic and international data flows and maximising the economic and social benefits of data-driven technologies, such as artificial intelligence (AI), for businesses and individuals in Rwanda.

The Bank of Kigali is an interesting example of a financial institution that has transitioned from traditional banking processes and payments to a structured digital platform. Embarking on a digital journey four years ago, the bank introduced several measures including internet banking and a mobile app, ISO standardization, and cyber resilient systems tuned to ensure the safety of customers’ data while enabling digital transactions through mobile phone.

Internet penetration in Rwanda stood at 30.5 per cent of the total population in January 2023, with 4.25 million internet users.[1] Incidentally, the ownership of smartphones in Rwanda stands at 26.7 per cent among men and 21 per cent in women respectively, according to the 2022 Rwanda Population and Housing Census, with the number of mobile phone users standing at 11.7 million in June 2023. Mobile phone penetration of 87 per cent has consecutively increased the interest in digital payment solutions.

With the surge in mobile usage and e-commerce within the country, it is natural for banks to respond to the momentum and strengthen their digital payment services. The Bank of Kigali, for example, sought the advisory services of Network International (Network) to understand how to enhance and structure their product offering to cater to evolving customer behavior.

READ ALSO: Afreximbank’s Fund for Export Development in Africa inaugurates Kigali office

Network has been at the helm of accelerating digital transformation and has extensive experience in revolutionizing digital finance in the region with a deep understanding of digital payment offerings and technology usage. Network, using generational artificial intelligence and machine learning technologies, as well as market knowledge and data utilization, helps the Bank generate informed business decisions to refine their services proposition in accordance with consumer spending trends.

Threat landscape

In a rapidly evolving digital payments landscape, the threat of fraud looms large. According to TransUnion Africa, digital transactions in financial services surged by 12.2 per cent during the first half of 2023, and the alleged rate of suspected digital fraud attempts for transactions from Rwanda in financial services increased 252 per cent year-over-year (YoY) – the highest rise among industries analyzed. The Rwanda Investigation Bureau reported 254 cases of cybercrime involving up to RWF 416 million in 2021. While fintechs and other new stakeholders in the environment pave the way to superior banking services, they also ensure to bolster their systems with strategic analysis and secure data management systems to counter sophisticated fraudulent activity. In this regard, Network supported Bank of Kigali with an authorization strategy with detailed analysis focusing on authorization diagnostic, data and fraudulent transactions. Based on the findings of this analysis, Network provided recommendations to aid the Bank in improving operational efficiency, reducing risks, and accelerating growth.

Advanced tools and technology leave no room for error or vulnerabilities, in an environment that is seeing a growing dependence on mobile wallets, digital-only banking platforms, and contactless payments, which fosters adoption of digital payment solutions between merchants and consumers. This security allows for convenient access to digital payment services which include remittances, timely purchases, e-commerce and small businesses promotions, insurance payouts and more.

By enabling innovation and operational efficiency for financial institutions, Network International contributes to government-led financial inclusion initiatives and supports the sustainability of commerce among the masses.

Dr. Diane Karusisi is CEO, Bank of Kigali and Dr. Reda Helal is Group Managing Director – Processing, Africa and Co-Head Group Processing, Network International.

US-based young Nigerian bodybuilder dies of spinal injury after being shot by wife

Michael Chidozie, Keaiirra Shavoiyae Chidozie, Nigerian bodybuilder, Spinal injury, Died, Shot by wife
Michael Chidozie, and his wife, 28-year-old Keaiirra Shavoiyae Chidozie

US-based young Nigerian bodybuilder dies of spinal injury after being shot by wife

A bodybuilder has died weeks after he was gunned down by his wife in the middle of an argument in front of their children.

Michael Chidozie, a Nigerian, 26, died last week after his wife Keaiirra Shavoiyae Chidozie, 28, shot him four times in their home in Houston on March 21, police said.

He was rushed to Ben Taub Hospital after police found him with gunshot wounds and his wife in a panic holding their two kids, aged three and two.

READ ALSO: Nigerian court sends Chinese man to death over murder of Kano lover, as Judge prescribes mercy 

Chidozie lingered on life support as his family prayed for his recovery, but he suffered a devastating spinal injury and died of complications 18 days later.

Criminal charge

Michael Chidozie, Keaiirra Shavoiyae Chidozie, Nigerian bodybuilder, Spinal injury, Died, Shot by wife
Chidozie lingered on life support as his family prayed for his recovery, but he suffered a devastating spinal injury and died of complications 18 days later

Keaiirra Shavoiyae Chidozie, 28, was charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon after the shooting, and her charges have not been upgraded since his death

She claimed to have shot Chidozie in self-defense as she feared for her life during the argument when he followed her into their bedroom.

It’s unclear what the argument was over.

The argument began elsewhere in the house before she went to the bedroom, where she picked up a pistol and shot him.

READ ALSO: GORY! Nigerian military says it recovered decomposing hearts of soldiers killed in Delta

Chidozie was shot once in the arm, once in the chest, and twice in his torso and left to die on the bedroom floor.

Police found Keaiirra with the children in a nearby parking lot after witnesses called police to say she was frantically running around asking for help.

Friends said they never saw the couple be violent towards each other and were shocked that an argument escalated to something deadly

Chidozie’s family are trying to raise $70,000 to bring his body back to Nigeria for burial, as it was his dream to one day return to his homeland

‘His passing has left a profound void in the lives of all who knew and loved him. He was a devoted father, a cherished son, and a dear friend to many,’ they said.

READ ALSO: Danish national who killed Nigerian wife, daughter gets death sentence

‘Chidozie’s kind heart, infectious laughter, and unwavering love for his family will forever be remembered and cherished by all who were fortunate enough to know him.’

Keaiirra was released on bail and is set to next face court on May 23. Their children are being cared for by other family.

 

 

Kano APC reverses Ganduje’s suspension

Kano APC, Reversal, Ganduje’s suspension
Ganduje

Kano APC reverses Ganduje’s suspension

The State Working Committee of the All Progressive Congress (APC) in Kano has announced the suspension of some ward party leaders who earlier announced the suspension of the national chairman of the Party, Abdullahi Umar Ganduje.

The leadership of the party at Ganduje ward in Dawkin Tofa local government area has earlier announced the suspension of the party’s national chairman, saying the corruption charges filed against him must be settled.

READ ALSO: Kano ward exco suspends Ganduje from APC, urges him to clear his name in bribery case

But APC chairman in Dawakin Tofa local government, Inusa Suleiman Dawanau, told newsmen that those behind the act were caught in anti-party activities, with records of their meetings with the ruling opposition exposed.

Internal party politics

The conflicting suspensions highlight internal party politics and power struggles within the APC in Kano State. The initial suspension by the Ganduje ward executives was met with retaliation from higher-ranking party officials who deemed it invalid and imposed their own sanctions on those involved in suspending Ganduje.

READ ALSO: Ganduje arraignment, Kano government and presidency involvement

The legal battles and political maneuvers surrounding Ganduje’s suspension reflect broader issues of corruption allegations and power dynamics within Nigerian political parties. The situation underscores the complexities and challenges faced by political figures accused of misconduct, as well as the internal mechanisms parties use to address such controversies.

Kano ward exco suspends Ganduje from APC, urges him to clear his name in bribery case

Abdullahi Ganduje, Kano ward exco, Suspension, APC, Bribery case
Abdullahi Umar Ganduje

Kano ward exco suspends Ganduje from APC, urges him to clear his name in bribery case

The national chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Abdullahi Umar Ganduje, has been declared suspended from the party.

Ganduje’s suspension was said to have been effected by members of his ward, the Ganduje Ward in the Dawakin Tofa local government area of Kano State on Monday.

READ ALSO: Ganduje arraignment, Kano government and presidency involvement

He was said to have been suspended as a result of the alleged corruption charges levelled against him by the state government.

The executive council of Ganduje Ward led by Haruna Gwanjo, the legal adviser, disclosed this during a press briefing in Kano on Monday.

Gwanjo said the former governor has to clear his name of corruption allegations regarding his long-standing dollar case.

Expected arraignment

Reports have revealed that Ganduje will, on April 17, 2024, be arraigned on charges bothering on allegations of bribery, diversion, and misappropriation of funds, including the purported acceptance of $413,000 and N1.38bn in bribes.

The Kano State Attorney General and Commissioner of Justice, Haruna Dederi, who confirmed the development, said Ganduje would be arraigned alongside his wife and six others.

READ ALSO: EFCC says Nigerian bankers, government officials re-loot recovered Abacha loot

The accused individuals, as listed in the writ of summon, include Abdullahi Umar Ganduje, Hafsat Umar, Abubakar Bawuro, Umar Abdullahi Umar, Jibrilla Muhammad, Lamash Properties Ltd, Safari Textiles Ltd, and Lesage General Enterprises.

The Kano State Government, which initiated the criminal suit against the eight respondents, declared its readiness to present 15 witnesses to testify before Justice Usman Na’aba of the State High Court, according to a Vanguard report.

Ex-AGF Idris says he thought he won’t be tried in alleged N109b fraud

Ahmed Idris, Trial, N109b fraud
Ahmed Idris

Ex-AGF Idris says he thought he won’t be tried in alleged N109b fraud

Nigeria’s immediate past Accountant General of the Federation (AG-F), Ahmed Idris, has said he initially thought he would not be prosecuted for the alleged N109 billion fraud for which he and three others are facing trial.

Idris said he cooperated with Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) investigators by providing them with necessary information to help their probe in the belief that he would not be prosecuted.

The ex-AG-F said this in one of the 13 extra-judicial statements he made to EFCC investigators, which have been tendered before a High Court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), where he is being tried with others.

READ ALSO: EFCC arrests Accountant-General of Federation, Ahmed Idris, over alleged N80bn fraud

In the statement, dated May 25, 2022, he said: “All along, I have cooperated with the EFCC officials and have volunteered information to demonstrate my commitment to make the investigation as easier and speedy.

“Any statement I have made before or I am making now are based on my firm assumption, belief and understanding that by being open and aligning myself with statements made by principal suspects, such statements will not be used against me and eventually lead to my trial or prosecution.

“In view of foregoing statements, I wish to accept the net figure of N13.2 billion I am confronted with, subject to the reservations expressed in this statement.”

His lawyer, Chris Uche (SAN), has objected to the admissibility of the statements, claiming that investigators hoodwinked his client to make the statements, which contained some admissions.

READ ALSO: Ex-AGF Idris exposes complicit govt officials, as EFCC uncovers fresh N90b ‘fraud’

The EFCC is prosecuting Idris; his former Technical Assistant, Godfrey Olusegun Akindele; a director in the Office of the AG-F, Mohammed Kudu Usman; and Gezawa Commodity Market and Exchange Limited (said to belong to Idris) on a 14-count charge bordering on stealing and criminal breach of trust to the tune of N109 billion.

At the last hearing in the ongoing trial-within-trial to ascertain whether or not Idris offered the statements voluntarily, Uche insisted that the investigators promised his client that he would not be prosecuted.

But one of the investigators who interrogated the ex-AG-F, Mahmoud Tukur, denied Uche’s claim.

Tukur, the immediate past Head of Chairman Monitoring Unit (CMU) II of the EFCC, testified as the second prosecution’s witness in the trial-within-trial on March 20.

READ ALSO: SAD: EFCC witness tells court how sacked AGF, cronies shared public funds

He said: “We did not promise him (Idris) anything.”

When the prosecuting lawyer, Oluwaleke Atolagbe, asked if Tukur promised that Idris would not be prosecuted, he said: “I never did. And, as the head of the unit, I can answer authoritatively to that. The first defendant was a senior public servant. He knows that it is not within my capacity to make such promises because my duty is just to investigate and report my findings.

“In all the statements he wrote, he was cautioned and part of the cautionary words is that whatever he wrote might be used as evidence in court.”

Another EFCC operative who was part of the investigation, Hayatudeen Suleiman, while testifying as the prosecution’s first witness in the trial-within-trial, also denied that such a promise was ever made to Idris.

 

 

EFCC says Nigerian bankers, government officials re-loot recovered Abacha loot

Sani Abacha, EFCC, Nigerian bankers, government officials, Abacha loot
Sani Abacha

EFCC says Nigerian bankers, government officials re-loot recovered Abacha loot

Nigeria’s anti-graft agency, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has accused the country’s commercial banks of colluding with government officials to re-loot recovered loot of the late military ruler, Sani Abacha.

In December 2017, the federal government signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Switzerland on the return and monitoring of the $322 million Abacha loot.

The proceeds were intended for Conditional Cash Transfer under the Social Investment Programme which began in December 2016, under ex-president Muhammadu Buhari’s administration.

READ ALSO: EFCC clarifies ‘unclear’ publication on Beta Edu, others

The looted funds were meant to provide N5,000 monthly stipends to the most vulnerable Nigerians across the country.

However, on Sunday, a spokesperson for the EFCC, Dele Oyewale, in a statement, said that the anti-graft agency opened investigations into other alleged financial malpractices from the ministry; involving the COVID-19 funds and the World Bank-assisted loan coordinated by the Humanitarian Ministry to assist poor Nigerians.

Other fraudulent dealings

The EFCC said, “Discreet investigations by the EFCC have opened other fraudulent dealings involving COVID-19 funds, the World Bank loan, Abacha recovered loot released to the ministry by the federal government to execute its poverty alleviation mandate. Investigations have also linked several interdicted and suspended officials of the ministry to the alleged financial malfeasance.

“It is instructive to stress that the commission’s investigations are not about individuals. The EFCC is investigating a system and intricate web of fraudulent practices. Banks involved in the alleged fraud are being investigated. Managing directors of the indicted banks have made useful statements to investigators digging into the infractions. Those found wanting will be prosecuted accordingly.  Additionally, the EFCC has not cleared anyone allegedly involved in the fraud. Investigations are ongoing and advancing steadily. The public is enjoined to ignore any claim to the contrary.’’

READ ALSO: Judge sends Emefiele to EFCC custody over abuse of office

The commission also revealed that N32.7 billion and $445,000 had been recovered from both past and suspended officials of the humanitarian ministry.

It added that the commission initiated investigations into the affairs of the humanitarian ministry inviting former minister, Sadiya Umar-Farouq, and her successor, Beta Edu, suspended by President Bola Tinubu in January for alleged abuse of office.

EFCC clarifies ‘unclear’ publication on Beta Edu, others

Beta Edu, EFCC
Betta-Edu

EFCC clarifies ‘unclear’ publication on Beta Edu, others

Nigeria’s Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on Sunday said it had uncovered more fraud in the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs and Poverty Alleviation.

It said it had so far recovered a combined sum of N32.7 billion and $445,000 from investigations into the alleged fraud involving past and suspended officials of the ministry.

Edu’s threat

The suspended Minister of Humanitarian Affairs and Poverty Alleviation, Beta Edu, had threatened to sue the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) for allegedly defaming her personality with the report that N30 billion was retrieved from her.

BBC’s report was derived from EFCC’s unclear publication which appeared to suggest that recoveries were made from Edu.

READ ALSO: Judge sends Emefiele to EFCC custody over abuse of office

The March edition of the commission’s monthly e-magazine titled ‘EFCC Alert’, the chairman of the commission, Ola Olukoyede, said N30 billion was recovered from the probe and 50 bank accounts being investigated.

EFCC spokesman, Dele Oyewale, in a statement, clarified that the investigations that yielded recovery of N30 billion was not about individuals, but about the intricate web of fraudulent practices in the system.

He said the recovered sum was part of the fraudulent dealings involving COVID-19 funds, the World Bank loan, Abacha recovered loot that was released to the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs and Disaster Management and Social Development.

He said the fund was released by the federal government to execute its poverty alleviation mandate.

Edu, others not cleared yet

Oyewale, who further clarified that the officials of Humanitarian ministry, including Edu, who were invited by the commission as part of the probe have not been cleared by the anti-graft agency.

“The EFCC has noticed the rising tide of commentaries, opinions, assumptions and insinuations concerning its progressive investigations into the alleged financial misappropriation in the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development.

READ ALSO: EFCC takes over Binance case, to arraign executives Thursday, gets arrest warrant

“At the outset of investigations, past and suspended officials of the Humanitarian Ministry were invited by the commission and investigations into the alleged fraud involving them have yielded the recovery of N32.7billion and $445,000 so far.

“Discreet investigations by the EFCC have opened other fraudulent dealings involving COVID-19 funds, the World Bank loan, Abacha recovered loot released to the Ministry by the federal government to execute its poverty alleviation mandate.

“Investigations have also linked several interdicted and suspended officials of the ministry to the alleged financial malfeasance. It is instructive to stress that the commission’s investigations are not about individuals.

“The EFCC is investigating a system and intricate web of fraudulent practices. Banks involved in the alleged fraud are being investigated. Managing Directors of the indicted banks have made useful statements to investigators digging into the infractions.

“Additionally, the EFCC has not cleared anyone allegedly involved in the fraud. Investigations are ongoing and advancing steadily. The public is enjoined to ignore any claim to the contrary,” Oyewale said.

READ ALSO: Judge sends Emefiele to EFCC custody over abuse of office

He added that those found wanting would be prosecuted accordingly.

Earlier in the year, President Bola Tinubu had ordered the suspension and investigation of Edu and Halima Shehu, Chief Executive Officer of the National Social Investment Programme Authority (NSIPA) over alleged financial malfeasance.

Edu’s predecessor, Sadiya Umar Farouq, has also been under investigation.

Iran claims UN Council ‘hypocrites’ shielding Israel, as Guterres warns against conflict escalation

Antonio Guterres, Iran, UN Council, Hypocrites, Shielding Israel, Conflict escalation
António Guterres ..

Iran claims UN Council ‘hypocrites’ shielding Israel, as Guterres warns against conflict escalation

The people of the Middle East are facing a real danger of a devastating full-scale conflict, António Guterres said on Sunday, urging “maximum restraint” across a region “on the brink”, hours after Iran launched attack drones and missiles against Israel overnight Saturday.

“It is vital to avoid any action that could lead to major military confrontations on multiple fronts in the Middle East…Now is the time for maximum restraint,” the UN Secretary-General told delegates at the opening of an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council.

Mr. Guterres explained that the emergency session was called by Israel following what it described in a letter as ‘a direct attack launched by Iran… of more than 200 UAVs, cruise missiles, and ballistic missiles towards Israel in clear violation of international law.’

READ ALSO: Biden faults Netanyahu’s approach to war in Gaza

The UN chief added that in a separate letter, Iran stated that it had carried out a series of military strikes on Israeli military objectives ‘in the exercise of Iran’s inherent right to self-defence as outlined…in the UN Charter, and in response to…its armed attack on 1 April 2024 against Iranian diplomatic premises’ – in Damascus.

The aftermath

According to the latest reports, Iran launched hundreds of drones and missiles from its territory toward Israel, with most intercepted.

Several missiles reportedly struck within Israeli territory, one of which damaged an Israeli military facility in the south of the country.

“And overall, a few civilians were injured,” the Secretary-General reported, repeating his strong condemnation of the attacks and his call for an immediate cessation of these hostilities.

‘Responsibility to work for peace’

Recalling the international community’s shared responsibility to engage all parties to prevent further escalation, the Secretary-General added that there was a similar responsibility to secure an immediate humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza, the immediate and unconditional release of all hostages, and the unimpeded delivery of humanitarian aid.

There was a further shared responsibility to stop violence in the occupied West Bank, de-escalate the situation along the Blue Line, and re-establish safe navigation in the Red Sea.

READ ALSO: Israel kills US citizen, others in airstrike on aid workers in Gaza, Biden ‘outraged’ 

“We have a shared responsibility to work for peace. Regional – and indeed global — peace and security are being undermined by the hour.

Neither the region nor the world can afford more war,” Mr. Guterres concluded.

Israel has been ‘sounding the alarm’

Israeli Ambassador Gilad Erdan said Saturday night’s attacks had been launched from Iranian soil, as well as Lebanon, Syria, Yemen and Iraq.

“Last night the world witnessed an unprecedented escalation that is clear proof of what can happen when warnings are ignored … [Israel] was not crying wolf; it was trying to wake the world up to the dangers posed by Iran and Its proxies,” he said, adding: “Israel has been sounding the alarm bells.”

Israel’s representative showed a video of what he called an attack on the Temple Mount, and he asked the Security Council: “What have you done to protect the world from Iran?”

He said that Iran’s actions had long been clear, to arm, fund and train its terror proxies across the globe. But the mask of deniability has been removed: Iran had attacked Israel from its own territory; and Israel was surrounded by Iran’s proxies and being attacked on all fronts.

“The mask has come off and so the world’s complacency must also fall. The only option is to condemn Iran…and ensure that it knows that the world will no longer stand idle.”

“This attack crossed every red line and Israel reserves the right to retaliate,” he stated.

Council hypocrites shielding Israel

While emphasizing that Israel’s “false and unsubstantiated claims” deserved “no real response,” Ambassador Amir Saed Iravani reiterated Iran’s consistent position that it does not seek escalation or war in the region.

“Iran’s operation was entirely in the exercise of Iran’s inherent right to self-defense. This concluded action was necessary and proportionate. It was precise and only targeted military objectives and carried out carefully to minimize the potential for escalation and prevent civilian harm,” the Ambassador explained.

Yet, it was regrettable, he said, that today certain Council members, including the US, the UK, and France had chosen to “turn a blind eye to reality” and overlook the root causes contributing to the current situation.

READ ALSO: GAZA: ‘Babies slowly perishing under the world’s gaze,’ UNICEF warns

“In hypocritical behavior, these three countries falsely blamed and accused Iran without considering their own failures to uphold their international commitments to peace and security in the region,” said Ambassador Iravani, calling out what he saw as “lies and disinformation” being used to discredit Iran’s right to self-defense.

Moreover, the Council’s inaction faced with “Israeli war crimes against the Palestinian people has only emboldened this regime to continue its violations unchecked” he said, adding that the US and its allies blocked Security Council on Gaza for over six months, protecting Israel from accountability.

“While warning about any further military provocations by the Israeli regime, the Islamic Republic of Iran reaffirms its unwavering determination to defend its people, national security and interests… [we] will not hesitate to exercise this right when required,” he explained.

Council must hold Iran accountable

US Deputy Ambassador Robert Wood strongly condemned “the unprecedented attack on the State of Israel by the Islamic Republic of Iran and its militant proxies and partners,” and said, “Iran’s intent was to cause significant damage and death in Israel.”

“Iran’s reckless actions not only posed a threat to populations in Israel, but also to other UN Member States in the region, including Jordan and Iraq,” he said and added: “The Security Council has an obligation to not let Iran’s actions go unanswered.”

“Indeed, for far too long Iran has flagrantly violated its international legal obligations, notably through the actions of its Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps or IRGC,” he continued and noted: “Iran also was, in a broad sense, complicit in the October 7 attack on Israel because it has provided significant funding and training for the military wing of Hamas.”

READ ALSO: ISRAEL-GAZA WAR: US president sacrificing morality for electoral purposes – Prof Bolaji Akinyemi

“In the coming days, and in consultation with other member states, the United States will explore additional measures to hold Iran accountable here at the United Nations,” said Mr. Wood.

States or further action against Israel, Iran will be held responsible,” he said, and stressed: “The United States is not seeking escalation. Our actions have been purely defensive in nature.”

Hypocrisy, double standards must end

Syrian Ambassador Koussay Aldahhak said that what the Middle East witnessed on Saturday had been the natural and inevitable outcome of repeat aggressions and grave violations of international law and the UN Charter “perpetrated [by the Israeli occupation authorities] in Syria and other countries in the region.”

He said that these violations were carried out in the region with “blind and unlimited” support of the US and had “mistakenly led the Israeli occupation authorities to believe that they are above the United Nations, above international law and above UN resolutions…for decades … with no response and no consequence.”

The Syrian delegation had warned the United Nations about such activities and had called upon the Organization to put an end to Israel’s crimes. But in all cases, a few countries continued to shield Israel form accountability. Sadly, “the actions by these countries are nothing new.”

Finally, the Ambassador said that Syria holds the US Administration and Israel responsible for any further attacks and escalation in the region. “They must reconsider their destructive polices in our region and against our peoples; they must rectify their activities in the region. Our region has suffered enough,” he said, calling for an end to hypocrisy and double standards.

Moreover, the international community must end the Israeli occupation as well as take immediate action to end the “intentional starving” of the people of Gaza, ensure full humanitarian access to the Strip, and “end illegitimate existence of US military forces in my country, Syria.”

Ganduje arraignment, Kano government and presidency involvement

Abdullahi Ganduje, Kano ward exco, Suspension, APC, Bribery case
Abdullahi Umar Ganduje

Ganduje arraignment, Kano government and presidency involvement

The government of Kano State appears all set to arraign the immediate past governor of the state, Abdullahi Umar Ganduje on Wednesday, the 17th of April, 2024 in a corruption case that promises to be explosive if seen to its logical conclusion.

Ganduje was governor in Kano State for eight consecutive years (2015 to 2019, and 2019 to 2023), and the NNPP-led government of Abba Kabir Yusuf is claiming that gross misappropriation of public funds went unchecked within the period, and that the immediate family of the ex-governor was actively involved.

No one knew how Ganduje got himself ensnared in such an intricate web of alleged misdeed, his wife, Hafsat, and son, Umar, were equally named in the criminal charges he is facing.

READ ALSO: Ganduje, wife, son to be arraigned April 17

Some had expected that his daughters and their husbands may also be eventually added to the fray, but they were, at least, spared in Wednesday’s expected arraignment.

Political witch-hunt?

Beyond his arraignment, Ganduje’s name has featured in a judicial commission of inquiry constituted by Governor Yusuf to probe allegations of bribery, mis-allocation of government property and sundry issues under the ex-governor’s watch.

Ganduje has claimed that all these were aimed at denting his reputation as a way to undermine his political relevance. It was all about witch-hunt, he said.

He made two vital points that have gone really viral within the last week. One, which many observers said has very little appeal to sense and logic, was that Governor Yusuf should pay more attention to delivering good government rather than chasing him (Ganduje) as a way to mask his (Yusuf’s) incapabilities.

READ ALSO: Kano govt files criminal charges against Ganduje, wife, son, others

Commentators have responded that it is part of good government to bring people who have misgoverned the state to book. Ganduje did not appear to have gained any significant sympathy in this regard.

The second point, perhaps more pointedly stinging, was that such a probe should have accommodated a wider timeframe to include the governments before him, especially one that was also alleged to have grossly abused the allocation of government property in the state.

In essence, Ganduje wanted Governor Yusuf to also probe the previous government of Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso, a leader in the New Nigerian Peoples Party (NNPP) who single-handedly picked Yusuf as governorship candidate and who is father to Yusuf’s wife.

Kwankwaso allegedly sold properties belonging to educational institutions to his cronies, and dipped his hands into pensioners’ fund to construct estates and refused to deliver agreed properties to the retirees.

READ ALSO: KANO’S COMMISSIONS OF INQUIRY: Ganduje demands probe of Kwankwaso’s era

Of course, the state governor had no answer to this challenge, except to say that he was not on any witch-hunt mission, and that the probe was part of his campaign promises.

Escape route?

Ganduje and his group are said to be desperately searching for a way to escape this looming travail.

In the typical Nigerian way, as an ex-governor who is now the national chairman of the country’s ruling party, there are expectations that he should be untouchable.

But no one seems to be ready to give him the so-called cover that former Edo State governor, Adams Oshiomole, so brazenly boasted about during the Buhari era. The ‘forgiven sins’ mantra tends not to be working for Ganduje. Why?

READ ALSO: LIKE GANDUJE LIKE YUSUF: Citizens blast Kano gov for involving relatives in govt

A chieftain of the APC at the national level told Nigerian Sketch in confidence that “The top wants him prosecuted. I’m aware that the APC itself was instigating all these moves against him. That’s why Abba Yusuf of Kano State was getting all this agitated.

“I don’t know why, but I sense that they want to use all these to scare him out of the party leadership. They are emboldening the Kano governor, I can assure you. The Presidency has a game plan in all these. Ganduje is a scape-goat.”

Moral question

A huge moral burden hanging over the government of Governor Yusuf in this engagement with Ganduje is the involvement of the erstwhile chairman of Kano State Public Complaint and Anti-corruption Commission (PCACC), Muhuyi Magaji Rimingado.

Rimingado was recently suspended by a court to allow for his probe in a corruption case of his own.

He was Ganduje’s pointman who enjoyed so much unfettered patronage from the ex-governor. The rot that was said to have been perpetrated by Rimingado in PCACC was so gross that he should have been arraigned alongside his former boss.

“But then, he has sinned all he wanted in APC and appears to have been forgiven by NNPP under Yusuf”, said the APC chieftain who declined to be named.

READ ALSO: Kano’s Gov Yusuf sets up commissions to probe misappropriation, violence under Ganduje

“While Kano State government failed to probe Rimingado for anything, it is challenging national anti-graft agencies not to probe or prosecute him. That smirked of reputational double standard, especially when he’s involved in the prosecution of Ganduje”, he added.

There is a general view that Governor Yusuf should avoid Rimingado like a plague if he wants to be taken seriously.

Possible outcome

An Abuja private lawyer who had worked with the Ganduje camp for years said he believe the case against Ganduje might stand, but that Ganduje’s lawyers will measure the waters to see how deeply the prosecution may have dug. He also said they will plant some legal landmines on the prosecution’s path.

“It depends on the lawyers they have and how good they are. We plan to constitute a stiff resistance and defend with everything. But that does not mean there could not be room to negotiate.”

This position was corroborated by a rising lawyer in Kano State government’s camp who said government may eventually settle for forfeitures as a way of plea bargain, but that will also mean Ganduje will let go of his present position in the APC.

 

GUINNESS WORLD RECORD: Nigerian plans 58-hour chess marathon at Times Square

Tunde Onakoya, GUINNESS WORLD RECORD, 58-hour, Chess marathon, Times Square
Tunde Onakoya...

GUINNESS WORLD RECORD: Nigerian plans 58-hour chess marathon at Times Square

Nigerian chess master, Tunde Onakoya, is aiming at a grueling 58-hour chess session in the bustling heart of Times Square.

He intends to break the Guinness World Record for the longest chess marathon.

Scheduled to begin at 10am on April 17 and conclude at 8pm on April 19, Onakoya’s attempt is not just a test of endurance but a poignant statement on educational access for African children.

READ ALSO: CHESS: Unbelievable eight-year-old Bodhana Sivanandan upsets master, grandmaster to wins European blitz championship

“On the 17th of April 2024, I will attempt to break the Guinness World Record for the longest chess marathon in the heart of Times Square, New York City, playing for 58 hours without conceding a game,” Onakoya tweeted recently.

“This endeavour is dedicated to the dreams of millions of children across Africa who lack educational opportunities,” he stated.

Tunde Onakoya, GUINNESS WORLD RECORD, 58-hour, Chess marathon, Times Square
Tunde Onakoya

Onakoya, the founder of Chess in Slums Africa, is motivated by a deep-seated empathy borne from his own experiences with poverty and lack of access. Through his organisation, he aims to empower underprivileged children by providing them with chess education and mentorship.

“We knew the pain of hunger. We knew the pain of not having access and that is the real tragedy of poverty. It’s not just not having money, you’re not having access; you’re completely removed from systems—you know, education, the rule of law, everything,” Onakoya expressed.

READ ALSO: Trump slams Biden for declaring Easter Sunday as transgender day

He added, “I instilled this empathy for p.eople who have gone through the same things that I did, to just understand their plight through a much different lens. A lot of that is deeply rooted in empathy and compassion, and that is why I think I have the capacity to do what I do and to do it so passionately without giving up even when it becomes hard. I know that I want to be who I needed to be when I was young to someone else.”

The record Onakoya aims to surpass is 56 hours, nine minutes, and 37 seconds, set by Norwegians Hallvard Haug Flatebø and Sjur Ferkingstad on November 11, 2018.

If successful, his feat will not only establish a new world record but also cast a spotlight on the transformative power of education through chess.

After Nigeria, South Africa recalls J&J’s Benylin paediatric cough syrup over suspected toxicity

J&J cough syrup, Tanzania, Rwanda, Zimbabwe, Nigeria, Kenya, South Africa, Recall
Benylin Paediatric

After Nigeria, South Africa recalls J&J’s Benylin paediatric cough syrup over suspected toxicity

South Africa’s health regulator said on Saturday it is recalling batches of Johnson & Johnson’s children’s cough syrup after detection of high levels of diethylene glycol.

The affected batches were sold in South Africa, Eswatini, Rwanda, Kenya, Tanzania and Nigeria, the statement added.

The recall follows a report by the regulator’s Nigerian counterpart on Wednesday, which first detected the toxin in a batch of Benylin Paediatric Syrup.

READ ALSO: Nigeria recalls J&J children’s cough syrup due to fatal toxic substance

Kenya and Nigeria have already issued recalls for the same syrup, which is used in the treatment of hay fever and other allergic conditions affecting the upper respiratory tract.

Kenvue, which now owns the Benylin brand after a spin-off from J&J last year, said in a statement that it is conducting its own assessment and working with health authorities to determine a course of action.

“A review of our global safety database for the period between product release in May 2021 and up to 11 April 2024 did not identify any serious adverse events for any batch of Benylin Paediatric Syrup,” it said.

READ ALSO: UN says 55 million people in Nigeria, Ghana, Sierra Leone, others to face hunger

High levels of diethylene glycol in cough syrup has been linked to the deaths of dozens of children in Gambia, Uzbekistan and Cameroon since 2022 in one of the world’s worst waves of poisoning from oral medication.

Afenifere and the progressive camp (2)

Afenifere, Progressive camp, Abiodun KOMOLAFE

Afenifere and the progressive camp (2)

In the course of the week, I had cause to be at the Akure, Ondo State-home of the Afenifere Leader, Reuben Fasoranti, and I saw modesty in its raw form.

From Fasoranti’s symbolic bungalow which has played host to presidents, governors and other crème-de-la-crème of the society in their monstrous agbada or Babarigas, to the information gleaned from Nigerians in and around his residence, yours sincerely couldn’t stop marveling at the Spartan lifestyle of this 97-year-old Awoist. Anyway, that’s a story for another day!

Well, the threatening truth is that Afenifere is down and the progressive camp is beaten! So, when will Yorubaland laugh and when will the progressive camp shout uhuru? When will our land smile again and when will Yoruba leaders wake up and face reality? When will they appropriate the social capital as it was in the days of Egbe Omo Oduduwa, whose existence wasn’t structured around tea party or ‘owambe’? Right now, the Yorubas are behind in terms of capital formation, financial intermediation and allied stuff. Of course, we have never been this behind in a century and a half! Even at the time of the Kiriji War, the Lagos Colony was very advanced, vis-à-vis the rest of Africa, save for South Africa.

RELATED: Afenifere and the progressive camp (1)

For now, what Yorubaland refers to as strength is just the property values of a few capital cities like Lagos and Ibadan. Take that away, what remains is zero capital strength, compared to what obtained in the 1920s and the 1940s, up to the 1960s. So it’s like basking in the euphoria of past glories! Take, for example, the Banks created by our heroes past were not just Banks but strategic financial institutions. Had successful generations of Yoruba leaders stayed faithful to the cause, National Bank and Wema Bank would have become the biggest, dominant financial institutions in Africa outside of Standard Bank in South Africa for, whereas Central Bank of Nigeria is talking about N500 billion naira paid-up capital, Standard Bank of South Africa already has a paid-up capital of $13 billion, which of course makes ours a joke.

So, how can Afenifere restore the strength of the Yorubas and let their eyes receive sight and how can the progressive camp make everything perfect at its time? Interestingly, while the former seems to have been demobilized by political partisanship, the latter, as it is, is walking on its knees and somebody needs to create a positive narrative before players in the sector completely hijack its ideological relevance.

Talking about the progressive camp, yours sincerely wasn’t a small boy during the ‘June 12’ crises and the roles played by Frank Ovie Kokori and other prominent Nigerians, all in a bid to bequeath a lasting democracy to Nigeria. The then Secretary General of the National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG) was hounded into prison and could only heave a sigh of relief after death struck Sani Abacha like a thief in the night. Thereafter, Kokori lived unsung and died like a pauper, which was a devastating indictment on the progressives.

READ ALSO: Osun APC and some hard home truths 1

When he launched his book, ‘Frank Kokori: The struggle for June 12’ in 2014, reports had it that only Segun Osoba attended the event among “the ensemble of characters who led the famous June 12 struggle.” Others simply slept beside their wives in the comfort of their homes, which was a disgrace of monumental proportion to the bent. It’s even on record that when Kokori was in Bama Prison in Borno State, only Osoba was paying regular visits and rendering financial assistance to his (Kokori’s) family. Yes, that’s the kind of progressive class we are dealing with in Nigeria!

But Kokori wasn’t alone in this progressive embarrassment. Ola Oni! Akin Makinde! Chima Ubani! And others! They’re an unforgettable part of the struggles that eventually brought Nigeria to where she is. But didn’t the country they served with all their strengths abandon them when they needed it most? I doubt if any of the friends in power even remembers the likes of Alfred Rewane, Babatunde Elegbede, Olu Omotehinwa, Bisoye Tejuosho, Suliat Adedeji, Shola Omosola and Bagauda Kaltho who paid the ultimate price for us to get to this pass! Abiola and Kudirat, his wife, are only lucky that they have some few monuments named after them; and the reason is simple! We are even hearing that Governor Ademola Adeleke is planning to rename MKO Abiola Airport in Ido Osun, Osun State after Isiaka Adetunji, his late brother and former governor of the state. Well, Nigerians hope it’s fake news; and it had better be!

In sane climes, the progressives are supposed to be the main drivers of social change. But is that happening in this part of the world? If we couldn’t honour people like Kokori for their active, frontline roles while they lived, it only goes to show that everything about democracy in Nigeria is self-centered, half-hearted and transactional. Had Kokori for example been honoured, maybe the man would still be alive today!

READ ALSO: Osun APC and some hard home truths – (2)

John McCain was an American senator who had his own distinct mind. He went to school. He also maintained tradition. He was a “soldier of soldiers” who fought for his fatherland. In the process, he was captured and almost killed. But, as fate would have it, McCain ‘graduated’ to a Prisoner of War (POW). After his release, he came back to the USA, again, to serve his fatherland until death. Even, in death, the Senator from Arizona remained justified for the actions he took while he lived. Now, look at McCain’s children and what they are achieving for selves and fatherland?

In the considered opinion of this writer, this is not the time to forget those who risked what they had for what the country needed but now lack the voice and the mobility because of dispensational factors or nature of their creation. To get out of the woods therefore, Afenifere has to set out the real development agenda with the ferocious finesse that will define its very boundaries and prescribe the landscape of institutional democracy for the Yoruba nation. It is unfortunate that the region is falling so behind, especially in times of credit and this is not too good for us! So, we need a leadership that will celebrate not only the generations of love among us but also the legacy, inspiration and the testimony of our founding fathers.

More than ever, the Yoruba nation needs an established culture of political consciousness that can demand and stand for its rights and a Development Agenda that can truly negotiate the future, capture the interests of the race, synthesize and stick to the needs of the people, and entrench a system of democratic awareness in the people. Again, this is where DAWN Document and Yoruba Academy come in! Let Afenifere rethink its vision and work with the state governments in the region on how to make things happen!

READ ALSO: Dilemma of unending promises in democracy

As a Yorubaman, President Bola Tinubu has an important role to play in ensuring that the race doesn’t go extinct and this is a historic opportunity for him to spearhead a federalist agenda, which was what Awolowo and, indeed, most of his colleagues from the other regions, had always believed in and fought for. A proper federalism is what is of utmost benefit to Yorubaland and everything will fall into place! Of course, that’s the biggest legacy Tinubu can bequeath to Nigerians!

Last of all, isn’t there an urgent need for the progressive icons in Nigeria to call a solemn assembly for the revival of the hopes of their forefathers?

May the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world, grant us peace in Nigeria!

*Concluded.

*KOMOLAFE wrote in from Ijebu-Jesa, Osun State, Nigeria ([email protected])

WHO confirms Nigeria as first country to introduce ‘revolutionary’ meningitis vaccine

Nigeria, WHO, Revolutionary, Meningitis vaccine
WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus PHOTO: WHO/Christopher Black

WHO confirms Nigeria as first country to introduce ‘revolutionary’ meningitis vaccine

Nigeria has become the first country to roll out a “revolutionary” five-in-one vaccine against meningitis, the World Health Organization (WHO) said in a statement on Friday.

The Men5CV vaccine offers a powerful shield against the five major strains of the meningococcal bacteria – A, C, W, Y and X – which cause the disease.

Known by the brand name MenFive, it provides broader protection than the vaccine currently used in much of Africa, which is only effective against the A strain.

READ ALSO: Untreated Hearing Loss Threatens Nearly 2.5 Billion People Worldwide – WHO

Defeating a ‘deadly foe’

“Meningitis is an old and deadly foe, but this new vaccine holds the potential to change the trajectory of the disease, preventing future outbreaks and saving many lives,” said Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the WHO Director-General.

The rollout in Nigeria represents one step closer towards the goal of total elimination by 2030, he added.

Meningitis is the inflammation of the tissues surrounding the brain and spinal cord and can be fatal. Symptoms often include headache, fever and stiff neck.

READ ALSO: WHO report says Hepatitis killing thousands daily

There are multiple causes, including viral, bacterial, fungal and parasitic pathogens. The most serious – bacterial meningitis – can also result in blood poisoning and can seriously disable or kill within 24 hours after being contracted.

Vaccination campaign

Nigeria is among the 26 meningitis hyper-endemic countries of Africa, an area known as the African Meningitis Belt.

WHO said 153 people died in an outbreak in Nigeria between 1 October 2023 and 11 March of this year. A vaccination campaign was launched in late March to reach more than a million people aged 29 and under.

“Northern Nigeria, particularly the states of Jigawa, Bauchi and Yobe were badly hit by the deadly outbreak of meningitis, and this vaccine provides health workers with a new tool to both stop this outbreak but also put the country on a path to elimination,” said Prof. Muhammad Ali Pate of the Nigerian Ministry of Health and Social Welfare.

READ ALSO: Global tobacco use declining despite industry interference, says WHO

WHO said the new vaccine has the potential to significantly reduce meningitis cases and advance progress in defeating the disease, which is especially important for countries like Nigeria where multiple serogroups are prevalent.

UN says 55 million people in Nigeria, Ghana, Sierra Leone, others to face hunger

Hunger, UN, 55 million people, Nigeria, Ghana, Sierra Leone
A family struggling to feed PHOTO: Al Jazeera

UN says 55 million people in Nigeria, Ghana, Sierra Leone, others to face hunger

Soaring prices have been causing a food crisis in West and Central Africa, where nearly 55 million people will struggle to feed themselves in the coming months, U.N. humanitarian agencies warned on Friday.

The number facing hunger during the June-August lean season has quadrupled over the last five years, they said, noting that economic challenges such as double-digit inflation and stagnating local production had become major drivers of the crisis, beyond recurrent conflicts in the region.

READ ALSO: GAZA: ‘Babies slowly perishing under the world’s gaze,’ UNICEF warns

Among the worst-affected countries are Nigeria, Ghana, Sierra Leone, and Mali, where around 2,600 people in northern areas are likely to experience catastrophic hunger, said the World Food Programme, U.N. children’s agency UNICEF, and the Food and Agriculture Organization in a joint statement.

“The time to act is now. We need all partners to step up … to prevent the situation from getting out of control,” said Margot Vandervelden, WFP’s acting regional director for West Africa.

Due to the food shortages, malnutrition is alarmingly high, the agencies said, estimating that 16.7 million children under the age of five are acutely malnourished across West and Central Africa.

READ ALSO: HUNGER: AfDB pledges $134m supports to Nigeria to boost food production

The region’s heavy dependence on food imports has tightened the squeeze, particularly for countries battling high inflation such as Ghana, Nigeria, and Sierra Leone.

Policies should be introduced to boost and diversify local food production “to respond to the unprecedented food and nutrition insecurity,” said Robert Guei, the FAO’s Sub-regional Coordinator for West Africa.

Iwájú to air across Africa on Disney Channel

Iwájú, Africa, Disney Channel
Iwájú

Iwájú to air across Africa on Disney Channel

Following the debut of Walt Disney Animation Studios and Pan-African Entertainment Company Kugali’s “Iwájú” on Disney+, the original animated series premieres on Disney Channel (DStv Channel 303) across Africa this April and May.

“Iwájú” will premiere each weekday from Monday, 22 – 26 April at 17:00(CAT) / 16:00(WAT) with a marathon on Saturday, 27 April from 14:00(CAT) / 13:00(WAT). Special repeat broadcasts will run from Monday, 29 April – Saturday, 4 May with a marathon on Sunday, 5 May from 13:35 (CAT) / 12:35(WAT) and, on Africa Day, Saturday 25 May, viewers will be able to view another 6-episode marathon from 11:00 (CAT) / 10:00(WAT).

READ ALSO: Universal Music Group acquires Don Jazzy’s Mavin Records 

The premiere of the original animated series gives viewers across the continent an opportunity to view the series in territories where Disney+ is not available. Set in a futuristic Lagos, “Iwájú” tells the exciting coming-of-age story of Tola, a young girl from the wealthy island, and her best friend, Kole, a self-taught tech expert, as they discover the secrets and dangers hidden in their different worlds.

“Iwájú” is a first-of-its-kind collaboration with Pan-African entertainment company, Kugali Media. It’s written and directed by Olufikayo “Ziki” Adeola, with Hamid Ibrahim as production designer and Tolu Olowofoyeku as cultural consultant.

Christina Chen from Disney Animation was the producer of the series, with Jennifer Lee (chief creative officer for Walt Disney Animation Studios) executive producing along with veteran Disney director Byron Howard (“Encanto,” “Zootopia,” “Tangled”). The screenplay is by Adeola and Halima Hudson from Disney Animation.

READ ALSO: Denzel Washington, only entertainer to receive Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2022

“We created ‘Iwájú’ as a love letter to Lagos, Nigeria, and an ode to the rich legacy of African storytelling,” said Writer and Director Olufikayo Ziki Adeola. “We’re proud to share this series and hope that it inspires more Africans across the world to share their stories and shape our collective narrative.”

Says Christine Service, Senior Vice President and General Manager of The Walt Disney Company Africa: “‘Iwájú’ is a true celebration of the creativity and storytelling excellence that is at the heart of Disney, bringing the immense talent and creative vision of home-grown filmmakers to the world. With the distribution of the series on Disney Channel, we are excited to give audiences across Africa the chance to experience this ambitious and uniquely innovative series.”

Kugali Media’s president and “Iwájú” cultural consultant Olowofoyeku explains: “The origin of “Iwájú” is part of a phrase in the Yoruba language that is actually ‘Ojó iwájú,’ which means ‘the day ahead’ or the future. Many of our main characters in the series are Yoruba (one of the main ethnic groups in Nigeria).”

READ ALSO: Rihanna dances to Davido’s song, chooses ‘Unavailable’ as her song of the year

Ibrahim, Kugali Media CEO and “Iwájú” production designer, adds: “We wanted to imagine the future of Lagos, set roughly 100 years from now, where the mainland is designed to house as many people as possible in huge towers, and the island where the richest people live is made to look beautiful like an art piece.”

The series has garnered positive reviews globally with it being hailed as “an exciting new step for Walt Disney” by ScreenRant.com while ABC News in Australia describes the series as “both uniquely African, and yet universal in its appeal” and “beautiful to look at and the story draws you in”.

Catch “Iwájú” in 3 special broadcasts, only on Disney Channel (DStv, Channel 303):

Weekdays from Monday, 22 – 26 April at 17:00(CAT) / 16:00(WAT) with a marathon on Saturday, 27 April from 14:00(CAT) / 13:00(WAT)

Special repeat broadcasts from Monday, 29 April – Saturday, 4 May and a marathon on Sunday, 5 May from 13:35 (CAT) / 12:35(WAT)

On Africa Day, Saturday 25 May, with another 6-episode marathon from 11:00 (CAT) / 10:00(WAT)

OJ Simpson of ‘If it doesn’t fit, you must acquit’, has died

OJ Simpson died
Simpson being sentenced in a Las Vegas hotel room in 2008. Photo: Issac Brekken-Pool/Getty Images

OJ Simpson of ‘If it doesn’t fit, you must acquit’, has died

OJ Simpson, the former American football star turned actor who was controversially cleared of double murder, has died aged 76.

San Francisco-born Orenthal James Simpson rose to fame in college before playing in the NFL.

In 1995, he was acquitted of the murder of his former wife Nicole Brown and her friend in a trial that gripped America.

In 2008, he was sentenced to 33 years’ imprisonment on unrelated charges of armed robbery. He was released in 2017.

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Simpson died of cancer on Wednesday “surrounded by his children and grandchildren”, a family statement read.

In 1994, Simpson was arrested as a suspect in the murder of his ex-wife Nicole Brown and her friend Ron Goldman. The pair were found stabbed to death outside Ms Brown’s home in Los Angeles. Simpson became an immediate person of interest in the case.

On the day he was due to turn himself in, he fled in a white Ford Bronco with a former teammate, and led the police on a slow-speed chase through the Los Angeles area.

That chase engrossed audiences in the United States and abroad as it was broadcast live on “rolling” 24-hour news channels still in their relative infancy.

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In the ensuing court case, dubbed the “trial of the century” by US media, prosecutors argued Simpson had killed Brown in a jealous fury. Evidence included blood, hair and fibre tests linking Simpson to the murders.

The defence argued Simpson was framed by police who were motivated by racism.

In one of the trial’s most memorable moments, prosecutors asked Simpson to put on a pair of blood-stained gloves allegedly found at the scene of the murder, but Simpson struggled to fit his hands into them. It led to one of Simpson’s lawyers, Johnnie Cochran, telling the jury in his closing arguments: “If it doesn’t fit, you must acquit.”

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The jury ultimately sided with Simpson, who had declared he was “absolutely 100% not guilty”. The acquittal proved hugely controversial.

BBC

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