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COVID-19: NCDC Confirms 5 Cases In C’River, As FG Dispatched 17-Member Team For Authentication

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The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), dispatched a 17-man team to engage with the Cross River State Government in setting up the state’s COVID-19 response and aligning it with that of the national.
This comes at the heels of the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA), Cross River State branch, and withdrawal of its services over the handling of the coronavirus pandemic in the state.
The State NMA had chided the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control for not reflecting the five (5) COVID-19 confirmed cases from UCTH in its daily updates.
In a letter addressed to Minister of Health, dated July 5, 2020 with reference number NMA CRS/SG/2020/07/254 titled ‘Notice of Withdrawal of Medical Services,’ the Association also passed a vote of no confidence on the Health Commissioner, Dr Beta Edu, and referred her to a disciplinary committee.
The letter, which was signed by the State Chairman, Dr. Agam Ayuk and Secretary, Dr. Ezoke Epoke, and sighted by our reporter on Sunday evening read in part: “The Nigerian Medical Association Cross River State branch held an Emergency General Meeting on Sunday, July 5, 2020 to deliberate on the current issues of COVID-19 testing, surveillance, contact tracing, isolation, treatment and care in the State.

“The Association deeply appreciates the efforts of the Federal Ministry of Health through the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (NCDC) in declaring University of Calabar Teaching Hospital an Independent Test Centre and the eventual activation of University of Calabar Teaching Hospital Molecular Laboratory and Dr. Lawrence Henshaw Memorial Hospital Calabar for COVID-19 PCR Testing. We sincerely thank them for this.
“The Association demands explanation from NCDC, why, the five (5) COVID-19 confirmed cases from UCTH carried out at the NCDC accredited Molecular Laboratory at Alex Ekwueme University Teaching Hospital, Abakaliki, Ebonyi State have not reflected in the daily situation report of NCDC long after results had been transmitted to UCTH since July 1, 2020. Congress demands update of the NCDC situation report as a matter of urgent public health interest.

“Congress demands explanations from NCDC, why, epidemiology code numbers have to be generated by Cross River State Ministry of Health before results of samples sent by UCTH to an NCDC approved Molecular Laboratory can be published by NCDC, despite having approved UCTH as an independent Test Centre.
“The NCDC is put on notice that the Cross River State Government has abdicated her responsibility of contact tracing, treatment and care for the five (5) confirmed cases which may not be unconnected with the delay in publication of the results by NCDC. Congress demands the immediate activation of Adiabo Isolation Centre and commencement of surveillance and contact tracing in the State.
“The members of the Association and residents of Cross River State have been put in a precarious public health and safety situation due to the confusion and uncertainty created by the delayed updating of the results by NCDC.

“Congress demands explanation from NCDC, why, despite several complaints of compromised testing in the State, investigations have not commenced on the unethical activities carried out by Cross River State COVID-19 Task Force.”
Apart from the vote of no confidence, the NMA further referred Health Commissioner Edu to the “NMA National Disciplinary Committee and Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria (MDCN) for the unethical handling of COVID-19 testing in the State, thus putting lives at risk and bringing the Association to disrepute.”
It ordered all it members in public and private hospitals to observe “total and indefinite withdrawal of medical services until NCDC and the State Ministry of Health give urgent and prompt attention to the issues raised.”
However, mouths are now wagging from different quarters of what the state Governor, Prof. Ben Ayade and his Health Commissioner, would say after the said confirmation by the NCDC having insisted severally that Cross River was COVID-19 free.
From Friday Nwagbara, Calabar
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‘Senate Begins Constitution Review After Sallah’

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The Deputy Senate President, Ovie Omo-Agege has said that work on altering the Constitution would commence after the Sallah break.
Omo-Agege, who chairs the Senate Committee on Review of the 1999 Constitution, disclosed this when two groups – Women Education Advocacy and Development Initiative (WEADI) and League of Women Voters of Nigeria (NILOWV) – paid him courtesy visits in Abuja.
He stated that rights of women and the girl-child would be protected in the exercise.
He added that his committee would take into account experiences from other African countries.
“Immediately after the Sallah, we are going to hit the ground running with Constitution review exercise. And there are a lot of bills dealing with women rights advancement.
“We will take the Ugandan and Rwandan experiences into account to see how we can meet up with the agitation of our women in the Constitution review exercise,” he stated.
Omo-Agege had said that Sexual Harassment Bill recently passed by the Senate was not targeted at lecturers in higher institutions of learning.
He said the bill was to flush out the few bad eggs tarnishing the image of their colleagues.
The lawmaker regretted that few educators were soiling the image of their colleagues, majority of whom he described as “decent”.
He said: “This bill is not targeted at our lecturers in tertiary institutions. To the extent that it is targeted at anybody, it is targeted at the errant few, the few predators in their midst. And we have them everywhere.
“So, this bill is targeted at the very insignificant few who cause most of these atrocities and we have decided that we should put a stop to it. I am sure that even most of these lecturers know that they are not the target.”
He expressed optimism that given the level of overwhelming support from the Presidency, it would get presidential assent once it receives concurrence from the House of Representatives.
The Bill to Prevent, Prohibit and Redress Sexual Harassment of Students in Tertiary Educational Institutions, 2020, which was passed by the Senate at its sitting on July 7, 2020, prohibits sexual harassment of students in tertiary institutions and prescribes jail term ranging from two to 14 years for various degrees of offences.
Sponsored by the Deputy President of the Senate and co-sponsored by 106 lawmakers, the proposed legislation also prescribes N5million fine for offenders.
When signed into law, any educator who whistles or winks at a student or makes sexually-complimentary or uncomplimentary remarks about a student’s physique would be liable to two years imprisonment or a fine of N1million, if found guilty.

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Court Bars NDDC From Executing Projects Without RSG Consent

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A state High Court sitting in Port Harcourt has ordered the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) to always seek the consent of the Rivers State Government before the execution of projects in any part of the state.
This was the judgment of the state High Court presided over by Justice Adolphus Enebeli, last Wednesday, in a suit by the Rivers State Government, Governor Nyesom Wike, and the Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice of Rivers State against the NDDC, and its former Managing Director, Nsima Ekere; former Executive Director, Finance and Administration, Derick Meene; and others instituted in 2017.
Justice Enebeli, in his ruling in the matter, granted a declaration sought by the claimants that under Rivers State Physical Planning Law, Rivers State Land Law, and Rivers State Urban Development Law, the NDDC or its agents have no power to claim any land or execute any project, including street lights, water supply, road, jetty, and other infrastructures in any part of Rivers State without the consent of the government.
The court, however, refused to grant the declaration sought by the claimants to invalidate or void Section 7 and 8 of the NDDC Act, which borders on the developmental roadmap of the nine states of the Niger Delta region without recourse to other Niger Delta states.
Justice Enebeli said the proposed 60 projects for execution across the state by the then NDDC-led management team, which was the subject of the litigation, if allowed, will affect urban development and undermine the Land Use Act as applicable to Rivers State.
He, therefore, ruled that there was need for the commission to seek the consent of the state government for the execution of such projects in the state as development agents.

 

 

Akujobi Amadi

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COVID-19: Group Provides Palliatives To Andoni Vulnerables

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Some prominent sons and daughters of Ikuru Town, Andoni Local Government Area of Rivers State under the aegis of Illustrious Sons and Daughters of Ikuru Town have donated Palliatives worth millions of naira to indigenes of the community.
The palliatives include thousands of bags of garri, face masks and others.
Some members of the organisation which include, Engr Emiyare Ikuru, chief Ndeng Ofik, Chief William Mike Omani, and Architect Ntimam Finomo told newsmen during the distribution exercise that the gesture was to cushion the effect of hunger in the community as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
Engr Ikuru particularly told newsmen that the exercise was the first of a series of programmes outlined for the community by its prominent sons and daughters.
According to him, the second phase of the programme will start within the next few months.
Meanwhile, the Okan-Ama of Ikuru Town, King Aaron Ikuru has charged indigenes of the community to observe all protocols against the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.
The King who spoke to newsmen during the distribution exercise said protocols put in place by government to check the spread of the disease were not meant to punish anyone.
He commended the illustrious sons and daughters of the community for the gesture and urged other illustrious sons and daughters of other communities in Andoni to emulate their counterparts in Ikuru Town by doing the same to their people.
A cross section of beneficiaries made up mostly of women and other vulnerable groups commended the donors for the gesture.

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