The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon Femi Gbajabiamila, says the House would not stand by while police brutalise and kill innocent Nigerians, insisting that those who indulge in the shameful act do not deserve to serve the country in such capacities, because they could not protect lives and property of citizens.
The Speaker said this at the public hearing conducted by the House Committee on Police Affairs on enhancing the police force for better service delivery.
The new assertion is coming in the wake of crisis engulfing Sagamu, Ogun State where operatives of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) allegedly killed Kazeem Tiamuyu (Kaka).
The anger over the alleged killing has turned to protests which have claimed more casualties.
The Speaker, in his speech, said the police are the closest to the people, but turn their brutality against them.
“More than any other institution of the State, it is the police force that relates to the citizens daily. In many communities across Nigeria, the Police Force is the only representative of the Nigerian state, and the connection between our citizens and the state is often defined by their interactions with the Nigeria Police.
“It is unfortunate and entirely unacceptable that the relationship between the police and many of these communities is now defined by fear, mutual antagonism and an absolute loss of faith in the ability of the police to protect and to serve.”
Gbajabiamila also blamed the situation on the failure of recruitment, welfare and training of police.
“We will not achieve much of substance if we shy away from confronting the failures of recruitment and training, remuneration and welfare, responsibility and accountability that have left us with a national police force that is too often unfit for purpose.
“We can no longer stand for this, and we will not. This House of Representatives has a responsibility to speak for our citizens and we will continue to do so even when it is inconvenient.”
The hearing was attended by the Minister of Police Affairs, Muhammed Maigari Dingyadi.
Similarly, the bill to confer immunity on the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives has scaled second reading despite opposition.
The bill also seeks to confer immunity on presiding officers of the state Houses of Assembly to shield them from prosecution when they are occupying their offices.
The bill sponsored by Hon Segun Odebunmi was considered, yesterday, and passed through second reading despite opposition from members.
The Presiding Officer, Hon Femi Gbajabimila, initially expressed reservation on presiding over the debate to prevent conflict of interest.
Gbajabimila said the bill should be tweaked to state that the current presiding officers will not benefit from it.
He, however, did not step aside as support for the bill came cross party lines.
“If it’s on presiding officers, I cannot preside on this bill; there is a conflict of interest. If the bill is on subsequent presiding officers, you should put a futuristic commencement date,” he said.
Leading the debate on the bill, Odebunmi said that, “in spite of the uninterrupted concentration required for carrying out effective legislative duty, this institution has suffered serious distractions in the past.
“Either genuine or not, such distractions have had serious negative impact on quality of legislation, as well as discouraging presiding officers of the legislative institution’s at national and state levels from taking the bull by the horn or take certain critical decisions when necessary for fear of unknown.”
In his contribution, Hon Sergious Ogun, rejected the bill, and called for the removal of the immunity clause preventing prosecution of the Executive.
Ogun said: “Where we are today in our democracy, many are asking that we remove the immunity of the President and governors. I don’t think we need such as a parliament. I think we need to lift the immunity of the president. If we have a judiciary that is working, there is any reason why we cannot have president or governor going to jail.”
The Minority Leader of the House, Hon Ndudi Elumelu, also opposed the bill, arguing that there are more pressing issues, such as insecurity which the House ought to pay more attention to.
“What is important is provision of security to our people; our people are desirous of good life, our people are being killed. In Isala, people were killed, when we are bringing the bill on immunity, the bill is coming at a wrong time. Just as you are saying that you do not want to benefit yourself. What are we saying or doing that we should have immunity for the presiding officer? I know you very well; you do not care if you are probed. This will send the wrong signal. This is wrong, and I totally disagree.”
However, the Majority Leader of the House, Hon Ado Doguwa, who is also the chairman of the House Committee on Constitution Amendment, led the support for the bill.
The Deputy Minority Leader, Hon Toby Okechukwu, the Chief Whip, Hon Muhammed Monguno, the Chairman of Committee on Rules and Business, Hon Abuabakar Fulata, also supported the bill.
Join Fight To Defeat COVID-19, Wike Urges Rivers People …Extends Curfew To 24 Hours …Monitors Level Of Compliance
The Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike has appealed to the people of the state to continue to support the efforts of the state government to check the spread of Coronavirus.
Speaking at the Government House, Port Harcourt, when he received food donations from Dufil Prima Foods Plc, producers of Indomie Noodles, Wike said it was better to be alive, than to die seeking food.
Wike was represented by the Rivers State Commissioner for Special Duties, Hon Bariere Thomas.
He said: “We are aware that the COVID-19 is what we didn’t expect, but as Christians we are prayerful believing that the situation is not going to last forever. So, we are calling on our people to cooperate with the government and remain at home.
“It is better to stay hungry and be alive than to die while eating. We expect our people to cooperate with government even as we remain prayerful.”
Wike said the food donations will get to the less privileged.
“We want to assure you that the materials will be distributed to the needy. We also want to say that your company and other non-governmental organizations are equally expected to join hands with the government ensure that the hard time they face is handled.
“Let me on behalf of the governor of Rivers State and the good people of the state thank the Dufil Prima Food Plc for responding timely to the situation we have at hand”, he stated.
The governor said that he understands the hardship the people pass through, but pointed out that the sacrifice is necessary to defeat Coronavirus.
He said: “We are all aware of the order of government for our people to stay at home. The government is not equally unaware of the hard time we are facing as a result of this order, that is one of the reasons why we are most grateful for your company for considering this donation.”
The Head of Administration of Dufil Prima Foods Plc , Mr Chinedum Wali said that the food donation is aimed at assisting the less privileged as they sit-at-home.
He said: “We are all aware about the Coronavirus that is spreading across the country and the world. On behalf of the management, we have brought a token to assist and support the less privileged.
“With the situation and the lock down, we brought this to assist the needy. We have one thousand cartons of noodles and five hundred cartons of pastas.”
Meanwhile, The Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, yesterday, extended the curfew imposed on some parts of Port Harcourt City and Obio/Akpor local government areas of the state capital, warning that failure by residents of affected areas would be met with severe consequences.
Wike spoke yesterday, while monitoring the level of compliance of the curfew imposed by the state government on some densely populated areas, particularly, Obiri-Ikwerre Junction (Ozuoba, Rumualogu) to Choba and from Education Bus Stop to Agip Junction.
The curfew was aimed at ensuring that residents of the areas observe the sit-at-home directive to check the spread of Coronavirus in the state.
Wike imposed curfew on Obiri-Ikwerre Junction (Ozuoba, Rumualogu) to Choba and from Education Bus Stop to Agip Junction after residents of the area failed to comply with government directive closing markets across the state as part of measures to obey the social distancing rules.
Accompanied by Security Service Commanders, Wike started the monitoring exercise at Education Bus Stop up to Agip Junction.
The governor made his observations to the service commanders and operational service operatives on ground before proceeding to Obiri-Ikwerre Junction (Ozuoba, Rumualogu) to Choba where he made further observations on making the curfew effective to check the spread of Coronavirus.
It would be recalled that, yesterday, the Rivers State Government, had clarified that the curfew imposed at Education Bus Stop to Agip Junction, Ikwerre Road and Obiri Ikwerre Junction to Ozuoba, Rumualogu and Choba was for 24 hours with effect from March 31, 2020 till further notice.
During his state-wide broadcast, last Monday, Wike stated that the Rivers State Government would continue to take necessary measures to check the spread of Coronavirus.
He said: “Let me reiterate that this government will continue to do what is right no matter who is involved. As you are all aware, no conventional war has grounded global life and economy like Coronavirus has done.
“Everybody is affected. Therefore, all hands must be on deck to defeat Coronavirus. I want to sincerely express my heartfelt gratitude to our health professionals on the frontline of this fight. Let me also thank all the security agencies, individuals and organisations who are collaborating with us to make Rivers State safe.
“I am confident that with our collective resolve our dear state will contain the spread of this virus”.
Also speaking, the state Commissioner for Information and Communications, Pastor Paulinus Nsirim, clarified that the 24-hour curfew was meant to reinforce government’s desire to contain the spread of the virus in the state.
A statement by the commissioner, yesterday, said the measure was an improvement from the dusk-to-dawn curfew earlier announced by the governor.
He explained that it was in its quest to further prevent infection of the Coronavirus in the state, that the Rivers State Government imposed 24-hour curfew in identified key areas of the state with high human traffic.
The statement reads in part: “This is to inform members of the public that the curfew imposed at Education Bus Stop to Agip Junction, Ikwerre Road and Obiri Ikwerre Junction to Ozuoba, Rumualogu and Choba is for 24 hours with effect from today, March 31, 2020 till further notice.
“It has also come to the notice of the state government that some banks are closing down in the state. The curfew is targeted at only some parts of the state. Therefore, banks have no excuse to shut down their operations.
“Any bank that is found to be closed will find it very difficult to reopen for business in the state”, the government warned.
COVID-19: NCDC Set To Increase Test Capacity To 1,500 Daily …As Confirmed Cases Of Coronavirus In Nigeria Rise To 139
The Director-General of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu, said, yesterday, that the centre would increase its capacity to test for the Coronavirus to 1,500 per day in the country.
Ihekweazu stated this at the Presidential Taskforce Briefing on COVID-19 in Abuja, yesterday.
He said the focus of NCDC efforts was to improve the number of people that could be tested for the disease.
He said: “Last week, we had the capacity to test 500 per day, by the end of this week we will be at 1000 a day.
“By next week, we are hoping to get to 1,500 a day.”
Ihekweazu, however, said that Nigerians need to reduce the demand side of the testing to those who really needed it.
He noted that the more the people force themselves into being tested, the less NCDC would have the capacity to test those who really need the screening.
In a related development, the Minister for Humanitarian Affairs and Disaster Management, Sadiya Umar Farouq, said that the ministry was unrelenting in its school children feeding.
She said the ministry would liaise with the state governments to work out the modalities to know how to go about the programme, despite the stay-at-home directive.
Farouq also disclosed that the ministry has about 2.6 million poor and vulnerable households on its social register.
However, the Federal Government has said it will be reaching more than 11 million Nigerians with palliatives to cushion the harsh effects of the measures set to fight back outbreak of the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Also, the government has said it will continue to increase capacity to test for cases of the novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) on weekly basis.
The Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Hajiya Sadiya Umar Farouk, while reacting to questions, yesterday, at the daily media briefing by the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 in Abuja, also disclosed that internally displaced persons (IDPs) in the North-East part of the country already received two months rations of relief materials.
Meanwhile, the Nigerian government has announced four new cases of COVID-19 in the country.
This brings the total number of cases so far confirmed on Tuesday to eight. Four cases were earlier confirmed Tuesday morning.
The total number of confirmed cases in the country is now 139 at the time of this report.
The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) said of the four new cases reported in Nigeria, three are in the FCT and one in Lagos.
The public health agency said “as at 08:00 pm 31st March there are 139 confirmed cases of COVID19 reported in Nigeria. Nine have been discharged with two deaths.”
Of the eight new cases reported on Tuesday, so far, three are in Osun, three are in the FCT, one in Lagos and one in Ogun State.
It said all new cases have mild to moderate symptoms and are currently receiving care.
A breakdown of cases by states show that Lagos is the epicentre for the COVID-19 in Nigeria. Cases have also been on the rise in FCT, Osun and Oyo states.
Although there has been an increase in the number of cases across the country, more are expected in days to come.
The government has intensified contact tracing to identify those who have been in contact with persons who tested positive to COVID-19. They have also improved the testing capacity by adding more laboratories to the ones available.
This implies that more diagnosis would be carried out daily.
The Director-General of NCDC, Chikwe Ihekweazu, said in Abuja Tuesday that efforts are on to test more people for the virus.
“Last week we had the capacity to test 500 per day, by the end of this week we will be at 1000 a day.
“By next week we are hoping to get to 1500 a day,” he said.
Also, a multi-sectoral national emergency operations centre (EOC), activated at level 3, continues to coordinate the national response activities.
2019/20 European Season Could Be Lost -UEFA
UEFA President Aleksander Ceferin has said that the current football season could be lost if it cannot be restarted by the end of June.
Most leagues in Europe are suspended because of the coronavirus pandemic, with this summer’s Euro 2020 tournament postponed for another year.
Ceferin says seasons could be finished behind closed doors.
“If we don’t succeed in restarting, the season will probably be lost,” the Slovenian said.
He told Tidesports source, “There is a plan A, B and C.
“The three options are to start again in mid-May, in June or at the end of June.
“There is also the possibility of starting again at the beginning of the next [season], starting the following one later. We will see the best solution for leagues and clubs.”
As it stands there are nine games to be completed by the majority of Premier League clubs, and up to 12 in the Football League.
All football in England is suspended until at least 30 April.
Ceferin says that playing remaining games behind closed doors would have to be an option across Europe.
“It’s hard for me to imagine all the matches behind closed doors, but we still don’t know whether we’ll resume, with or without spectators,” he said.
“If there was no alternative, it would be better to finish the championships.”
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