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HIV Transmission, Deaths Decline In Nigeria -NACA

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The Director-General of the National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA), Gambo Aliyu, on Monday said the rates of HIV transmission and deaths have been on a steady decline since the establishment of the agency.
NACA was established in February 2007 as the agency responsible for the multi-sectoral coordination of Nigeria’s HIV response.
Aliyu, while speaking at the presentation of stewardship of the HIV response in Nigeria (2007-2021) said annual AIDS-related deaths declined from 68,600 in 2010 to 52,392 in 2019.
He said the agency has made significant progress in capturing more people on HIV treatment since its establishment 14 years ago, explaining that as of 2007, the country had an HIV prevalence rate of 4.6 per cent with an estimated 2.9 million people living with HIV.
Aliyu who noted that 124,567 people were on treatment in only 25 treatment centres that existed as at the time however said following the Nigeria HIV/AIDS Indicator and Impact Survey (NAIIS) conducted in 2018, the number of those on treatment had grown to over 1.3 million people.
The survey which was the country’s largest ever, cost about $100 million, involved 185 survey teams, and covered more than 200,000 people.
Preliminary results indicated that there are 1.9 million people living with HIV (PLHIV) in the country — a 40 per cent reduction from the country’s official national HIV prevalence estimates for 2017.
Mr Aliyu said the federal government has increased ownership of the country’s HIV response and also placed more people on treatment to ensure viral load suppression among people living with HIV.
“There is increased ownership of the response as the federal government has continued to make good her promise of placing 50,000 persons on treatment annually,” he said.
He said despite achievements made, the HIV response is faced with challenges that threaten to erode the successes achieved.
Aliyu noted that the major challenge is the need for strategic and real-time data for decision making as well as providing financial resources to prosecute the fight against the virus.
He said the support of all stakeholders is required to win the fight against the virus through shared responsibility, stronger partnerships, responsible implementation and shared accountability in the response.
Also speaking, Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Boss Mustapha applauded the agency for sustaining the country’s HIV response even in the phase of the COVID-19 pandemic.
He said NACA has achieved so much in its mission to the aspiration of government in the past 14 years.
Mustapha noted that when NACA was inaugurated as an agency, its challenges were the burden of HIV related stigma, deficiency of the disease knowledge by health workers, poor access to treatment and absence of vigorous prevention efforts.
He said most of the challenges have been conquered, He reassured that the agency of the government‘s commitment to continue to support HIV response in the country.
Speaking at the event, UNAIDS Country Director, Erasmus Morah, said Nigeria was on the path to meeting the 90-90-90 target set by the UN.
The aim is to diagnose 90 per cent of all HIV positive persons, provide Antiretroviral Therapy (ARTs) for 90 per cent of those diagnosed, and achieve viral load suppression for 90 per cent of those treated by 2020.
At the dawn of the deadline, about 60 per cent of the people living with the virus in Nigeria are on treatment, data from the World Health Organisation (WHO) shows.
While the 60 per cent already shows a deficit of about 30 percentage points going by the 2020 target, Nigeria is off-track in other focus areas such as 90 per cent of the population knowing their status at the end of the deadline.

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Group Urges Police To Apologise To Protesters

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The Alliance on Surviving Covid-19 and Beyond (ASCAB), has asked the Nigeria Police to apologise for violating the fundamental right of the protesters to freedom of expression.
A statement by the human rights group yesterday, by its Interim Chair, Femi Falana (SAN), also accused the police of deliberately contravening Section 83 (4) of the Police Establishment Act 2020. 
The section provides that “Where a person or organization notifies the police of his or its intention to hold a public meeting, rally or procession on a public highway or such meetings in a place where the public has access to, the police officer responsible for the area where the meeting rally or procession will take place shall mobilize personnel to provide security cover for the meeting, rally or the procession.”
The group noted that Section 36 of the Constitution guarantees the fundamental right of the Nigerian people to freedom of expression including the right to protest against policies of the government. 
Many Nigerians in many states across the country trooped out on Saturday, June 12 to mark the day– Democracy Day – with protests against bad governance. 
The protesters chanted ‘Buhari must go’ in apparent dissatisfaction with the President Muhammadu Buhari-led government that has seen security, economy, youth employment rate and some other sectors and indices worsen. 
However, there were arrests and harassment of peaceful protesters by the policex particularly in Abuja, Lagos and Cross River. 
The group in the statement said, “For having the audacity to insist on their fundamental right to protest against unpopular policies of governments, teams of armed police personnel fired teargas to disperse the peaceful rallies. As if the unprovoked attack was not enough, the Police brutalised and arrested scores of protesters in Lagos, Abuja and Calabar (Cross River State capital). 
“Since the protesters who were arrested during the peaceful rallies did not commit any offence, they have since regained their liberty. But the police authorities ought to apologise for violating the fundamental right of the protesters to freedom of expression.
“More so that the Police had deliberately contravened Section 83 (4) of the Police Establishment Act 2020 which provides that ‘Where a person or organization notifies the police of his or its intention to hold a public meeting, rally or procession on a public highway or such meetings in a place where the public has access to, the police officer responsible for the area where the meeting rally or procession will take place shall mobilise personnel to provide security cover for the meeting, rally or the procession.’
“While commending the protesters for conducting the themselves in a matured and peaceful manner, we condemn the official lie that the protesters were teargassed to prevent hoodlums and miscreants from hijacking the peaceful rallies. Since the Police admitted that protesters committed no offence whatsoever why were some of them arrested? Why were the so-called hoodlums and miscreants who wanted to cause mayhem and unleash violence on the protesters not arrested? 
“Or were they treated like sacred cows because they had been hired to disrupt the peaceful rallies of the protesters? Why were the scanty pro-government protesters who were reported to have fought openly in Abuja over their booty not arrested for breach of the peace in the Federal Capital Territory?

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‘MKO Most Acceptable Nigerian Democrat’

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Bauchi State Governor, Bala Mohammed, has described the late Chief Moshood Abiola, widely believed to have won the June 12, 1993 presidential poll, as “the most acceptable democrat cherished by Nigerians”.
Mohammed said this in Gamawa Local Government Area (LGA) of the state during the distribution of empowerment items to youths and women under the Kaura Economic Empowerment Programme (KEEP).
He said the empowerment scheme historic as it coincided with Democracy Day which he described as an unforgettable day in the history of Nigeria.
The governor, who was full of praises for the late business mogul, said Abiola provided the country with a lot of empowerment programmes without considering the tribe, language and geographical location of the beneficiaries.
“Our launching of this empowerment programne today is historic and passionate; we remember today is democracy day and we decided to do it on this day.
“This is because Chief Moshood Abiola, who we are celebrating, empowered several people.
“He did that across board without considering the religion, language and origin of those that benefited from the gestures.
“Abiola will remain in our memory as the most acceptable democrat or politician in Nigeria.
“We all voted for him and that is why myself, my deputy and the government decided honour to him this day by coming to Gamawa and Zaki to empower the people,” he said.
Mohammed noted that democracy day meant remembering people who had empowered the masses, adding that the late Abiola was in that category.
The gesture, he said, was also to show appreciation to the people who brought his administration to power, adding that his government had a lot to offer to the people.

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Buhari, Bello Greet Abubakar At 79

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President Muhammadu Buhari has felicitated former Head of State, retired Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar, on his 79th birthday, joining family members and friends to celebrate with the iconic leader.
The president’s congratulatory message is contained in a statement by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Malam Garba Shehu, in Abuja yesterday.
Buhari noted that Abubakar’s legacy of setting the country on the path of democracy and good governance, and passionate pursuit of peace had continued to yield results.
He congratulated the General for another age, appreciating his patriotism and visionary leadership style of always advocating unity, projecting maturity and wisdom on national discourse, and providing a rallying point for the future of the country.
The president noted the goodwill that the former Head of State had continued to attract to the country, both at national and international levels.
He particularly lauded him for sacrificing his time and resources to reach out to individuals and institutions on the need to work for the growth of Nigeria.
Buhari prayed for increase in wisdom, strength and long life for the former military leader that midwifed return of democracy to the country in 1999.
Similarly, Governor Abubakar Sani-Bello of Niger has felicitated former Military Head of State, Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar (Rtd), on his 79th birthday.
Sani-Bello, in a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Mrs Mary Noel-Berje, last Saturday in Minna eulogised Abubakar and described him as a “complete gentleman”.
According to him, the former head of state is a patriot who has remained “consistent and significant” in the progress and development of the country.
He said Niger and the country were indeed lucky to have an outstanding leader and statesman who had consistently remained on the path of promoting national unity and integration, as well as pursuit of global peace.
“Undoubtedly, your resolve to rededicate yourself to the service of our fatherland and humanity in general is a clear testimony of your statesmanship and influence which cuts across the length and breadth of the country,” Sani-Bello said.
He noted that at 79 years, Abdulsalami had remained a reference point for good governance, diplomacy and conflict resolution.
He prayed Allah to grant him sound health, many more years of wisdom, courage and determination to continue to offer selfless service to the nation and humanity.

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