FRESH FM TOP NEWS THIS WEEK

The hottest and most trending news articles for this week in all categories captured in one shot. Find articles ranging from News to Sports, to Politics, to Entertainment, to Economy, to Metro plus, and many other categories. See below the top news for the week:

NEWS

  • Telcos submit 43 million NINs to NIMC for verification

About 43 million National Identity Numbers have been submitted by telecommunication companies to the National Identity Management Commission for verification in order to have them registered with their respective Subscriber Identification Modules. Also, as the deadline for telephone subscribers with NINs to register their SIMs with the identity numbers elapsed today (January 19, 2021), operators have said that SIMs with unlinked submitted NINs would not be blocked.

It was also gathered that so far the NIMC had been able to provide about 45 million NINs, as it was able to register about two million people in the last one month after the Federal Government ordered citizens to register their SIMs with valid NINs. Sources at the commission confirmed this to our newsmen, as they noted that the crowds that greeted the agency after the government’s directive had been overwhelming.

  • Akeredolu Orders Herdsmen To Vacate Ondo Forest Reserves, Bans Night-Grazing

Ondo State Governor, Rotimi Akeredolu, on Monday ordered herdsmen to vacate all forest reserves in the state within the next seven days. The Governor, who made the proclamation via Twitter, said the order had become imperative due to the increasing incidents of kidnap cases in the state.

The Governor also banned night-grazing with immediate effect “because most farm destruction takes place at night.” “Movement of cattle within cities and highways is prohibited,” he added. “Under-aged grazing of cattle is outlawed. “Our resolution to guarantee the safety of lives and property within the State shall remain utmost as security agencies have been directed to enforce the ban.”

The Governor noted that his administration “will give a grace period of seven days for those who wish to carry on with their cattle-rearing business to register with appropriate authorities.”

  • Order on herders to vacate forest: Presidency cautions Akeredolu

The Presidency on Tuesday cautioned Ondo State Governor, Rotimi Akeredolu (SAN), against breaching the constitution in securing the state. The presidency in a statement by Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu, the Presidency reacted saying: “The Presidency has been keenly monitoring events occurring in Ondo State and the ‘orders’ by the government of the state, ‘asking herders to vacate the forests in seven days.’ “What is emerging, is a lack of consistency in messaging, which in turn leads to various contradictions regarding the accuracy and the intent behind the message.

“There is little to be said other than to call for restraint on both sides and urge the state government and the leadership of the Fulani communities to continue their dialogue for a good understanding that will bring to an urgent end, the nightmarish security challenges facing the state. Akeredolu, in addition to ordering herders out of the forest, also banned night grazing following an upsurge of kidnapping. He would not allow few individuals to turn the state into a haven of dare-devil criminals.

  • Yoruba elders back Akeredolu on quit notice to herders in Ondo state

Elders in the South West under the aegis of Coalition of Oduduwa Elders have thrown their weight behind the governor of Ondo State, Rotimi Akeredolu’s quit notice order to herders in the state. The elders, who also took swipe at the Presidency over the latter’s statement cautioning the governor against his directive, accused the Presidency of undue meddlesomeness in issues within the purview of the state.

Akeredolu had given herdsmen a seven-day ultimatum to vacate the forest reserve areas to curb kidnappings in Ondo State, allegedly committed by criminals hiding in forests. After the Fulani leadership under the aegis of Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (MACBAN) cried out over the governor’s action, the Presidency in a statement by the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu, cautioned the governor against his action, saying the herders cannot leave the forests for any reason.

The development has drawn the attention of some Yoruba elders who accused the federal government of abandoning its core responsibilities to meddle in issues within the purview of state governors. The Yoruba elders, however, warned the Presidency to steer clear of governance issues in Ondo or any other state in the country, saying the governor’s action was the best in protecting the lives of Ondo citizens.

  • COVID-19: Kano Bans Viewing And Event Centres, Directs Civil Servants To Stay At Home

The Kano state government has announced the imposition of a fresh ban on the activities of viewing and event centres across the state following an increase in new COVID-19 cases. The State Commissioner for Information, Muhammad Garba, in a statement, said the measure was part of decision at a stakeholders meeting held at the Africa House, Kano on Monday.

He said all civil servants in the state have also been directed to stay at home pending further instruction. Garba, however, explained that workers on essential services such as the healthcare service providers, fire service, water board, teaching staff, security guards and the media are exempted from the ban.

  • CAN supports Oyo on guidelines on covid-19 protocols

The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Oyo State chapter, says it is in support of the state government’s decision to close down any church that flouts the COVID-19 prevention protocols. Apostle Joshua Akinyemiju, the CAN chairman, told the News Agency of Nigeria NAN in Ibadan yesterday that church leaders must continue to advise their congregation to comply with government directives.

“The stand of the government is that any church that defaults will be closed down, and that’s where we are. “Christians should ensure they remain alive at all costs, our God is a God of the living and He gave us life free of charge; so if out of disobedience the life is lost, there will be consequence. The CAN chairman also urged the government to increase the number of COVID-19 tests conducted as much as possible.

  • Do Not Risk The Lives Of Your Citizens – Gov Fayemi Tells Gov Bello

Chairman of the Nigerian Governors Forum, Governor Kayode Fayemi, has urged the governor of Kogi State, Yahaya Bello to tread with care, following his recent statement suggesting that the COVID-19 vaccines are being introduced to kill the masses. Governor Bello had in a recent address said that the COVID-19 vaccines being produced in less than one year are used to introduce new diseases that will kill many.

Reacting to Bello’s claim, Governor Fayemi appealed to his Kogi counterpart, urging him not to risk the lives of the citizens. The Ekiti State Governor on Thursday said while the Kogi State Governor has a right to his reservations, the most appropriate response to a matter of such import is not to be dismissive.


ECONOMY

  • Nigeria’s debts may hit N60tr

Nigeria’s debts may rise above N60 trillion by the end of first quarter following a move by the Federal Government to convert its N11.91 trillion indebtedness to the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to formal securitised loans. Last year, the Federal Government obtained N2.86 billion through the “ways and means” of the CBN to partly finance the 2020 budget deficit of N6.15 trillion. With the outstanding balance of N9.04 trillion in 2019, the 2020 borrowings pushed government’s outstanding balance to the apex bank to N11.91 trillion.

Speaking at the 2021 budget breakdown session, Finance, Budget and National Planning Minister Mrs. Zainab Ahmed, said the government was working with the CBN to regularise the previous borrowing that have been made by turning them into formal borrowing by the local economy. Official reports by the Debt Management Office (DMO), which oversees Nigeria’s debt issuances and management, showed that Nigeria’s total debts stood at N47.8 trillion by the third quarter ended September 30, 2020. These consisted of external debts of N31.98 trillion and domestic debts of N15.846 trillion.

  • 1 million Nigerians to benefit from COVID-19 Cash Transfer – Osinbajo

No fewer than One million Nigerians are to benefit from the Federal Government’s COVID-19 Cash Transfer Project which aims to lift the urban poor affected by the pandemic out of poverty. The Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, said this on Tuesday in Abuja while inaugurating the COVID-19 Rapid Response Registration (RRR) Cash Transfer Project.

According to him, the project is a national initiative to build a shock responsive framework for capturing and registering the urban poor and vulnerable populations across Nigeria. Osinbajo said that the new register complements the already existing platforms under the World Bank supported National Social Safety nets Project (NASSP). “Through this project, we are currently injecting about N10billion directly into the hands of about two million poor and vulnerable households every month.”

According to him, the initiative is about the largest evidence-based effort by any administration on poverty reduction and its impact on the lives of the poor is huge. The project provides a sustainable framework that supports humanitarian disaster risk response delivery system and shock response in future emergencies.

  • 2021 Budget: SERAP Asks NASS To Stop Buhari From Selling Govt Properties

The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has asked the National Assembly to stop President Muhammadu Buhari from selling government properties to fund the 2021 budget. SERAP in a statement issued on Sunday by its deputy director, Kolawole Oluwadare, appealed to the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, and the Speaker of House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila to bar the President from carrying out such moves via a letter addressed on January 16.

The group wants the leadership of the National Assembly to “urgently review the 2021 appropriation legislation to stop the government of President Muhammadu Buhari from selling public properties to fund the 2021 budget, and to identify areas in the budget to cut such as salaries and allowances for members and the Presidency to make sayings to address the growing level of deficit and borrowing.”

The organisation also called for a change in the country’s fiscal situation through some combination of cuts in spending on salaries and allowances, and a freeze on spending in certain areas of the budget such as hardship and furniture allowances, entertainment allowances, international travels, and buying of motor vehicles and utilities for members and the Presidency.

  • CBN To Release 300,000mt Of Maize

The Central Bank of Nigeria on Monday said it is ready to release about 300,000 metric tonnes of maize into the country’s market in February. In a statement, the CBN said the move is being carried out through its Anchor Borrowers’ programme and is expected to help reduce the price of the commodity, raise demand, and improve farmers’ profits.

The planned release by the CBN follows efforts by critical stakeholders working with relevant government and security agencies, to end the challenges caused by middlemen and bandits in accessing the product. Maize currently sells at N155,000 per metric tonne.

  • Govt spent N1.85tr on food import during border closure

Nigeria spent N1.85 trillion to import food for nine months during the closure of international land borders, President Muhammadu Buhari’s chief economic adviser has said. According to him, this is a signal of the nation’s lack of capacity to feed itself. According to him, serious climatic concerns are undermining agricultural output with 2.5 million farmers being impacted by flooding in 2019.

Preliminary assessments suggest that 2020 was worse with persistence into 2021 to adversely affect output and food prices. Nigerians’ spending on food rose significantly in 2019, according to a report by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS). Salami said during the period, Nigeria’s cumulative trade deficit amounts to N4.6 trillion ($12 billion). On the upside, he said stay-at-home imposition implied greater use of telco/tech communication platforms.

  • Buhari: We borrow to finance budget because of dwindling revenues

President Muhammadu Buhari has explained that his administration has been borrowing money to finance the economy and development as a result of dwindling revenues. Speaking, virtually, on Thursday at the First National Tax Dialogue held at the Conference Hall of the State House in Abuja, President Buhari, however, tasked the Federal Inland Revenue Services (FIRS) and other relevant government agencies to explore all standard practices to boost revenue.

According to him, the FIRS must ensure to plug all revenue leakages by ensuring strict compliance of tax payments by foreign companies operating in Nigeria, urging the deployment of more digital platforms and seamless connections. He, however, charged Nigerians to be alive to their tax obligations as taxation is a required sacrifice for citizens of any nation that is serious about development and progress. The President said the government had “inevitably resorted to deficit budgeting as a result of declining revenues for some years,’’ resulting in an increase in Nigeria’s debt profile.


POLITICS

  • 2023: Akande to meet Southwest leaders

Elder statesman and All Progressive Congress (APC) chieftain, Chief Bisi Akande, on Sunday unfolded plans to meet Yoruba leaders over 2023 presidential race. He is expected to discuss with them the entreaties by eminent Nigerians that the national leader, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, should declare his intention to run for president.

Akande’s decision to meet Yoruba leaders followed pleas by members of the Southwest Agenda for Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu(SWAGA) to persuade the former Lagos governor to join the presidential race. The SWAGA team was at Ila, Osun State, home of Chief Akande to felicitate with him on his 82nd birthday. During the visit, they brainstormed with him on the state of the nation, particularly the push for presidential zoning to the region.

  • South-West chair: Oyo PDP leaders back Fayose, endorse Olafeso

Some prominent leaders of the Peoples Democratic Party in Oyo State have endorsed Dr Eddy Olafeso as their candidate for the chairmanship position of the party in the South West. The leaders, including Chief Nureni Akanbi, Alhaji Bisi Olopoeyan, and Femi Babalola, and others said this on Wednesday in a statement after a meeting held in Ibadan.

The South West PDP is expected to hold its Congress to elect leaders of the party in the zone very soon but Governor Seyi Makinde and former Governor Ayo Fayose have been at loggerheads over the plan to return Olafeso, who is from Ondo State. While Fayose is backing Olafeso, Makinde appears to be against his plan to return to the position he resigned from to contest the PDP governorship primary in Ondo State in 2020.

  • Edo PDP, APC in war of words over Obaseki’s secret N18b loan bid

Edo State chapters of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and the All Progressives Congress (APC) are engaging in a war of words over Governor Godwin Obaseki’s secret N18 billion loan bid. A chieftain of APC, Prince John Mayaki, Wednesday first disclosed in an online statement that Obaseki of the PDP had finalised another secret N18 billion loan arrangements from an undisclosed bank, after the initial N25 billion loan last December, while accusing him of using debts to recover funds paid to PDP’s tax collectors.

Edo APC chairman also stated that the peace-loving people of the state were waiting to hear from Obaseki and the PDP, the true position of things, especially on the loans, while asking them to speak up and adding that Edo must move forward. Edo chapter of PDP, while reacting through its Publicity Secretary, Chris Nehikhare, however, asked APC leaders in the state to accept the serial defeat suffered in the hands of Obaseki, thereby stopping their “infantile and unwarranted” attacks on Edo governor and his administration.

  • Jonathan, Jega, Nwodo, Ogbe disagree on restructuring

There was a sharp divergence of views among eminent Nigerians on Thursday on how to restructure the country. Former President Goodluck Jonathan, a Peoples Redemption Party (PRP) leader Prof Attahiru Jega and elder statesman Chief Ayo Adebanjo proffered different modalities to restructuring the polity. Arewa Consultative Forum Chairman Chief Audu Ogbe, former Ohanaeze Ndigbo President-General Chief John Nwodo, among others, also shared ideas on how best federalism can work in the country. Northern Elders Forum (NEF) Director of Publicity, Dr. Hakeem Baba-Ahmed, said the North was not opposed to restructuring as some believe.

To Dr Jonathan, for restructuring to be meaningful, issues of nepotism, ethnic and religious differences and lack of patriotism must first be addressed. Jega proposes phased restructuring. He said there were no perfect federations or “true federalism” anywhere in the world. Chief Nwodo was of the view that restructuring ought to be done before the 2023 general elections. While Chief Adebanjo noted that restructuring is not a political philosophy. He opined that a new constitution needed

EDUCATION

  • FEC Approves Bill Seeking To Increase Retirement Age For Teachers

The Federal Executive Council (FEC) has approved a new bill seeking to increase the retirement age of teachers from 60 to 65 years. The bill which is called Harmonised Retirement Age for Teachers Bill, 2021, was approved on Wednesday during the weekly meeting at the Council Chambers in Abuja.

Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu who briefed journalists after the meeting said the bill which gives legal backing to new measures by the President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration will enhance the teaching profession in the country. Further disclosing details of the bill, the minister said the bill will be sent to the National Assembly for its consideration and passage. The minister also disclosed that the bill seeks to introduce bursary awards, special rural posting allowances, and other items that will encourage brilliant Nigerians to take to teaching.

  • Varsity workers begin nationwide strike Feb 5

Non-teaching staff in the universities Friday said it would commence a nationwide strike from February 5, 2021 over the Federal Government’s handling of the Integrated Personnel and Payroll Information System, sharing formula of the N40 billion earned academic allowances and non-payment of arrears of the new minimum wage.

The workers under the Joint Action Committee, which is made up of Senior Staff Association of Nigeria Universities (SSANU) and the Non-Academic Staff Union of Educational and Associated Institutions (NASU), had last week embarked on a three-day protest over government’s failure to honour the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed with the unions on October 20, 2020. The committee said other contentious issues that informed the decision to embark on a nationwide industrial action next month include inconsistencies in IPPIS payment and the delay in the renegotiation of the FGN/ ASUU/SSANU 2009 Agreement.

  • Kaduna Govt Asks Schools To Remain Closed Till Further Notice

The Kaduna State Government has said that all public and private schools in the state remain closed till further notice. The Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Education, Mrs. Phoebe Yayi disclosed this in a statement on Monday.

She said that only Kaduna Polytechnic and the National Open University were exempted because they requested for them to open for students to write exams only. The Permanent Secretary while stating that no definite date has been set aside for the reopening of schools in Kaduna state, explains that the decision became necessary because the situation is different in Kaduna State, as the state has had increases in the number of COVID-19 cases.

  • OAU Announces Resumption Date, Cancels 2020/2021 Academic Session

The leadership of the Obafemi Awolowo University has announced the resumption date for the continuation of the 2019/2020 academic session, nearly 10 months after activities were suspended. The decision was said to have been reached after a meeting of the institution’s Senate. According to the statement, Final year students in the Faculty of Pharmacy, Clinical Students in the College of Health Sciences and year four (4) students in the Faculty of Agriculture are to resume 7th February 7, while all other students are to attend their classes virtually.

Lectures are expected to commence immediately on February 8 and staff and students have been urged to adheres strictly to all COVID-19 safety measures put in place to curb further spread of the virus. The institution, however, noted that the approved resumption programme is subject to periodic review in line with the realities and trend of the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition, the Senate approved cancellation of the 2020/2021 Academic Session.

  • Oyo to pay Osun N8bn for LAUTECH asset sharing

Oyo State Government has approved the payment of the sum of N8bn to the Osun State Government as an asset sharing agreement for taking over the ownership of the Ladoke Akintola University of Technology, Ogbomoso. The Commissioner for Education, Mr Olasunkanmi Olaleye, said the amount would be paid in three instalments over a period of three years.

“As a follow-up to the agreement reached with the Osun State Government on the issue of sole ownership of LAUTECH, the executive council of Oyo State approved today the payment of N8bn to the Osun State Government. It will be paid over a period of three years. “The breakdown of the payment goes as follows: N1bn will be paid in January 2021 and another N1bn will be paid in December 2021; N3bn will be paid in 2022 and the last N3bn will be paid in 2023. This was the decision of the council today,” the statement partly read.

  • ‘Allow girls finsh secondary school before marriage’

The Executive Secretary, Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC), Dr. Hamid Bobboyi, has called on parents to allow their girls complete their secondary education before marrying them off. Speaking at the inauguration of a girl-child community centre in Gafia village, Kaita Local Government Area of Katsina State, Bobboyi said girl-child education was vital to the development of any country.

While saying he was not against marriage, he advised that parents should allow their girls to continue the search for knowledge even after marriage.
He said the commission was happy with the Kastina State Government for its numerous policies of promoting basic education especially for the girl-child.


HEALTH

  • COVID-19: One In Every Five Persons Tested Last Week Was Positive – PTF Chairman

Chairman of the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19, Mr. Boss Mustapha says Nigeria and South Africa have continued to report the highest daily count of COVID-19 on the African continent. While giving his remarks on Monday, he noted that one in every five persons tested in Nigeria within the passing week turned out positive.

Boss Mustapha said South Africa, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Algeria, and Kenya now account for 76% of all cases in the African region. Mr Mustapha who doubles as Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) said from the foregoing, testing has proven to have become more significant in the nation’s response, adding that the PTF still urges the State Governments to enable their EOCs to step up on sample collection and to maximise the capacities of the PCR Laboratories already established in their States.

He further disclosed that the PTF has also authorized the NCDC to immediately implement the 450 tests per LGA plan, nationwide, immediately, beginning with States that are at the forefront of resourcing and infrastructure. The PTF Chairman reemphasized the need for all segments of the society to get involved in risk communication and community engagement.

  • COVID-19: FG Releases N10bn To Support Domestic Vaccine Production

The Federal Government has released the sum of N10billion to support domestic vaccine production. This is according to the Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire. Speaking on Monday at the briefing by the Presidential Task Force (PTF), Dr Ehanire said the Federal Government is working to develop the country’s own vaccines.

The minister said the government is exploring the option of local production of the vaccines in the country and have had discussions with a producer. He, however, noted that while the nation seeks to get its own vaccines, other options are being explored for licensed production in collaboration with recognized institutions.

Regarding reports of claims by some persons in Nigeria, to have COVID-19 vaccines for sale in the country, Dr Ehanire advised all citizens to disregard these claims as they are criminal.

  • Consider Malaria Symptoms As COVID-19 Until Proven Otherwise – Sanwo-Olu

The Lagos State Governor, Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu, has urged Lagosians to consider any malaria-like symptoms experienced as COVID-19 infection unless and until proven otherwise. The governor said this on Tuesday during a Press Conference on COVID-19 Update at the Lagos House, Ikeja, following the increase in number of recorded cases of coronavirus in the country.

He, therefore, advised that anyone with such symptoms should proceed to any of the state’s public health facilities or laboratories to get tested for free, noting that “seeking help early and quickly significantly improves the chances of survival for severe to critical cases.” Governor Sanwo-Olu also noted that it is important that residents begin to learn to live and act responsibly, in order to augment the government’s efforts and previous success of flattening the curve.

  • COVID-19: FG Releases N6.45bn For New Oxygen Plants In 38 Locations Nationwide

The Federal Government has approved N6.45 billion for the setting up of gas plants in 38 locations nationwide in a bid to enhance the treatment of COVID-19 patients who need oxygen. This disclosure emerged at the first National Economic Council meeting of the year presided over by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, with State Governors, Federal Capital Territory Minister, Central Bank Governor, and other senior government officials in attendance.

While briefing the NEC on the release of the funds, the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed said the President approved the release of the funds for the production of oxygen, necessitated by the increased number of patients who need oxygen due to the surge in Covid-19 infections in the country. Similarly at the meeting, the Health Minister Dr. Osagie Ehanire informed the Council that sequel to President Buhari’s decision to activate the Basic Healthcare Provision Fund based on the National Health Act. The Federal Government has also allocated N35billion for 2021 for the Fund.

  • NGO trains 400 in drug abuse prevention

The Global Initiative on Substance Abuse (GISA) has trained over 400 practitioners in evidence-based drug and substance abuse prevention. This comprises 40 national trainers, 295 practitioners, 34 school-based prevention specialists and 33 workplace prevention, management and policy specialists drawn from professions and organisations.

Founder/Executive Director of GISA Dr. Martin Agwogie, in a statement to mark the second year anniversary of the commencement of the Universal Prevention Curriculum (UPC) for substance use disorders, said participants cut across professions and organisations. GISA, he said, is collaborating with local and international organisations in delivering evidence-based substance abuse prevention interventions.


WORLD

  • Joe Biden Becomes 46th US President

Joe Biden on Wednesday became the 46th president of the United States, vowing a “new day” for the United States after four years of tumult under Donald Trump who in an extraordinary final act snubbed the inauguration.
Two weeks to the day after Trump supporters violently rampaged at the US Capitol to overturn the election results, Biden took the oath on the same very steps alongside Kamala Harris, who was sworn in moments earlier as the first woman vice president.

Biden, putting his hand on a family Bible, repeated after Chief Justice John Roberts the presidential oath — that he will “preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.” Biden, who at 78 is the oldest president in US history and only the second Catholic, took office amid enormous challenges with the still-raging Covid-19 pandemic having claimed 400,000 lives in the United States. Harris, the daughter of Indian and Jamaican immigrants, became the highest-ranking woman in US history and the first person of color as the nation’s number two.

For the first time in 152 years, the sitting president did not accompany his successor to the inauguration after Trump for two months falsely alleged that fraud cost him a second term. “We will be back in some form,” vowed Trump, who retains a hold on much of the Republican Party despite being the first president to be impeached twice. Trump did not address Biden by name but, in a rare hint of graciousness, wished the next administration “great luck and great success.”

  • Biden Reverses Trump’s Visa Ban On Nigeria, Other Countries

Newly inaugurated US President Joe Biden has reversed a Donald Trump policy that restricted the granting of immigrant visas to Nigerians. In January 2020, Trump had expanded curbs on immigration to include six more countries, including Nigeria. But the Biden administration, which campaigned partly on a message of diversity, is seeking to re-open America to the world.

The reversal is part of a 10-day onslaught of executive actions intended to overturn key Trump policies without waiting for Congress, on topics ranging from the COVID-19 pandemic to climate change and criminal justice, Bloomberg reported on Wednesday. Biden has halted the US exit from the World Health Organization, stopped construction of Trump’s cherished wall on the Mexican border, and rescinded a ban on visitors from several Muslim-majority nations. He has also committed the United States to rejoining the Paris climate accord, blocked an oil pipeline project, and froze Arctic drilling in a raft of executive orders signed hours after taking office Wednesday.

  • Fire Erupts At World’s Biggest Vaccine Maker In India

A fire broke out Thursday at India’s Serum Institute, the world’s largest maker of vaccines, but a source said production of the coronavirus vaccine was not affected. The Serum Institute is producing millions of doses of the Covishield coronavirus vaccine developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University.

India began one of the world’s biggest vaccine rollouts on Saturday, aiming to vaccinate 300 million people by July with both Covishield and Covaxin. Many other countries are relying on the Serum Institute to supply them with the vaccine. The country plans to offer 20 million doses to its South Asian neighbours, with Latin America, Africa and Central Asia next in line. Serum Institute, the world’s biggest vaccine maker by volume, also plans to supply 200 million doses to Covax, a World Health Organization-backed effort to procure and distribute inoculations to poor countries.

  • Covid: UK closes all travel corridors until at least 15 February

All UK travel corridors, which allow arrivals from some countries to avoid having to quarantine, have now closed. Travellers arriving in the UK, whether by boat, train or plane, also have to show proof of a negative Covid-19 test to be allowed entry.

The test must be taken in the 72 hours before travelling and anyone arriving without one faces a fine of up to £500. All passengers will still be required to quarantine for up to 10 days. The isolation period can be cut short with a negative test after five days. The government has said the travel corridor closure will be in force until at least 15 February.

  • Samsung Chief Jailed For 2.5 Years Over Corruption Scandal

The de facto chief of South Korea’s Samsung business empire was convicted Monday over a huge corruption scandal and jailed for two and a half years, in a ruling that deprives the tech giant of its top decision-maker. Lee Jae-yong, vice-chairman of Samsung Electronics, the world’s biggest smartphone and memory chip maker, was found guilty of bribery and embezzlement in connection with the scandal that brought down president Park Geun-hye.

Lee “actively provided bribes and implicitly asked the president to use her power to help his smooth succession” at the head of the sprawling conglomerate, the Seoul Central District Court said in its verdict. It jailed him for two and a half years, concluding a retrial that was the latest step in a long-running legal process that has hung over Samsung for years.

  • Oxford Given £100m For Antibiotic Resistance Research

Britain’s Oxford University has received a donation of £100 million (112 million euros, $136 million) to research growing resistance to antibiotics, the university announced on Tuesday. The sum, from British chemicals multinational Ineos, is one of the largest donations given to Oxford University in its long history.

The funding will be used to launch a new institute to combat the growing phenomenon of antimicrobial resistance (AMR), caused by the increasing exposure of animals and humans to the medicines which treat diseases caused by bacteria. Oxford’s vice-chancellor Professor Louise Richardson said the coronavirus pandemic had shown the urgent need to deal with the “cataclysmic” threat posed to public health by antibiotic resistance.

  • Alexei Navalny: EU and US demand release of poisoned Putin critic

The United States and several European governments have demanded the release of opposition politician Alexei Navalny from Russian detention. Mr Navalny, 44, was detained by police soon after his flight from Germany landed in Moscow on Sunday. He was returning to the country five months after he was almost killed in a nerve-agent attack he blamed on Russian authorities. Moscow denied any role.

Russia’s foreign minister has dismissed the international condemnation.
Sergei Lavrov said Western politicians were using it as a way to “divert attention” from domestic problems. Russia’s prison service on Sunday said the Kremlin critic had violated the terms of his suspended sentence for embezzlement. Officials said he would remain in custody until a court ruling. Lawyers for Mr Navalny say they have not been granted access to him.

  • UN Seeks $76 million In Emergency Aid For Madagascar

The United Nations said Tuesday that $76 million was urgently needed to help over one million people in southern Madagascar facing potentially life-threating shortages of food, water and health assistance. The UN humanitarian agency OCHA issued its so-called flash appeal after the impoverished island country in eastern Africa saw its agricultural season ruined by the worst drought in a decade.

At the same time, the economic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic and the lockdowns implemented to halt the spread of the virus have amplified the hit from the drought — the third in a row. The assistance would help improve food security for 1.1 million people, provide water access for over 400,000 people and give nutritional support to 300,000 children under the age of five, he said. It would also help provide essential health services to nearly a quarter of a million people.

  • Thief Threatened To Call Police On Mom That Left Child In The Car He Stole

A car thief who found a child in the backseat of the car he stole in Oregon, drove back and scolded the mother for leaving the child unattended. According to Oregon police, when the suspect saw the child, he returned to the mother and reprimanded her, threatened to call the police on her and then drove away in her car.

The crime took place at a meat market in Beaverton, where Crystal Leary left the engine of her car running and doors unlocked before going inside for a few minutes to purchase meat and a gallon of milk. A store employee told authorities the woman was in the market for a few minutes before someone began driving away with the SUV. The little boy was returned unharmed, police said. The car, a 2013 silver Honda Pilot, was recovered a few hours later in Portland, just 8 miles away from Beaverton. Police are still searching for the thief, according to Henderson.

  • Italy Probes ‘TikTok Challenge’ Death Of 10-Year-Old Girl

Italian prosecutors have opened a probe into the accidental death of a 10-year-old girl who allegedly took part in a “blackout challenge” on the video-sharing network TikTok. The girl died in a Palermo hospital after being discovered Wednesday by her five-year-old sister in her family bathroom with her cellphone, which was seized by police.

TikTok, which is owned by Chinese company ByteDance, said Friday it had not managed to identify any content on its site that could have encouraged the girl to participate in any such challenge, but was helping the authorities in the probe over possible “incitement to suicide”.

Medical experts have warned about the danger of the challenge being taken up by some young people, who refer to it as “scarfing” or “the choking game” in which restricted oxygen to the brain results in a high. The girls’ parents told La Repubblica newspaper that another daughter explained that her sister “was playing the blackout game”.


ENTERTAINMENT

  • Burna Boy’s song makes Biden-Harris inauguration playlist

It will be a historic moment in the United States of America on January 20, 2020, as President-elect Joe Biden and vice-president-elect Kamala Harris, will be sworn into office. Ahead of Inauguration Day, the president-elect and vice president-elect have released a 46-song playlist in honour of their upcoming administration.

One of Burna Boy’s song, Destiny, has made the official 46-track playlist by US President-elect Joe Biden and vice-president-elect Kamala Harris ahead of their inauguration on January 20, 2020. The song, ‘Destiny,’ is about the power of providence and divination. The song is off Burna Boy’s Grammy-nominated album, African Giant. The playlist was put together by American music producer and rapper DJ D-Nice and actress, Issa Rae’s Raedio in partnership with the Presidential Inaugural Committee.

The chief executive of the Presidential Inaugural Committee, Tony Allen, said: “These songs and artists reflect the relentless spirit and rich diversity of America. They are the score to a new chapter and will help bring people together as the Biden-Harris administration begins its important work to unite our country.”

  • Nigerian singers Waje, Ric Hassani spark wedding rumours

Sonorous Nigerian singers Waje and Ric Hassani have sparked wedding rumours due to a recent lovey-dovey picture the songstress posted on her Instagram account. In the picture, the singer was seen smiling lovingly at Hassani whose head was on her laps. Although Hassani’s full face did not show, Waje tagged him in the post, which she captioned, “It’s time.” Ever since she posted the picture, there have been speculations that wedding bells will ring soon.

Her comment section is filled with congratulatory messages, with an interesting one from her bestie, Omawumi, which states, “Heyy Jisox! Can I dance with my fowl to the altar?” Other Nigerian celebrities have sent congratulatory messages to the singer. Ghanian actress, Juliet Ibrahim wrote, “Awwww finally it’s here.”

Toyin Abraham, simply asked Waje’s best friend, Omawumi, where she can purchase the aso-ebi from. “How do we get our aso ebi. So we can start sewing mad style,” she queried. Mercy Johnson-Okojie simply signified interest in the bridal train. She commented, “Bridal train loading. Toke Makinwa, said, “Congratulations my friend, finally we can share the good news.”

  • Kim Kardashian, Kanye West stop attending marriage counselling

An official split between Kim Kardashian West and Kanye West may be fast-approaching, a source tells PEOPLE magazine. According to the source, the stars, who tied the knot in May 2014, have “completely” stopped going to marriage counselling. A separate insider had told PEOPLE earlier this month that the couple was in marital therapy in an effort to salvage their fractured relationship.

Kardashian and West share daughters North, 7, and Chicago, 3, and sons Saint, 5, and Psalm, who turns 2 in May. As the reality star works towards her law degree and continues to fight for criminal justice reform, she wants to keep her focus on her children and her career. According to sources, following nearly seven years of marriage, Kardashian feels her future doesn’t align with West’s, especially following his 2020 presidential run and controversial Twitter rants.

  • Simi shares tips on handle being insecure

Singer Simi has dished out tips to her fans on how to stop being insecure.
She took to her Instagram story to share the tips during a question and answer session.

A fan had asked the mother of one to share tips on how to stop being insecure and she replied “You need to realise your self-worth should never come from anyone that is not you. You’re enough because you are. You’re special because you are. Not because people say you are. Don’t let fickle human beings determine how you feel about yourself. When you see that you’re doing something to impress people, don’t do it. Be comfortable with people not liking something you like etc…Ya dig?” Another fan asked if she would be happy should her daughter Deja turn out to be a musician, Simi responded “I will be happy as long as she’s happy”. Simi further revealed that she is working on another album from her IG story.


SPORTS

  • Brighton goalkeeper Ryan joins Arsenal on loan

Australian international goalkeeper Mat Ryan has moved on loan to Arsenal for the rest of the season from Premier League rivals Brighton after losing his number one spot. The 28-year-old said he was overjoyed at joining the “first club I ever loved.” Ryan was Brighton’s first choice for almost three and a half seasons, before being overtaken by Rob Sanchez in mid-December.

Brighton head coach Graham Potter praised Ryan, who kept 28 clean sheets in 121 Premier League appearances, but said he understood the reason for his desire to move. “Mat has been a great servant to the club in the Premier League, and he has played no small part for the club at this level,” said Potter in a club statement. “Mat is a pleasure to work with, a consummate professional and someone who works incredibly hard at his game. We wish him well at Arsenal and will be watching his progress there.”

  • Real Madrid Coach Zidane Tests Positive For COVID-19

Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane has tested positive for COVID-19, the Spanish club announced Friday. Zidane has already had to self-isolate this month after coming into contact with a person infected with the virus.

After successive defeats in the Spanish Super Cup and Copa del Rey, the second a shock loss to third-tier Alcoyano, Zidane is again under pressure, and Real Madrid will try to reignite their La Liga title challenge away to Alaves. Zidane’s side are playing catch-up to Atletico Madrid, despite having played a game more, after draws against struggling Elche and Osasuna, two of the league’s bottom three, in recent weeks.

  • Japan Denies Cancelling Olympics

Japan dismissed a report claiming officials see cancelling the Tokyo Olympics as inevitable on Friday, as Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said he was “determined” to hold the Games. Deputy government spokesman Manabu Sakai there was “no truth” to the report in The Times, which quoted an unnamed ruling coalition source as saying “the consensus is that it’s too difficult” to hold the Games.

It is the latest article to cast doubt on the Games, which were postponed over the coronavirus last year but have been hit by a surge in cases and plunging public support. “I am determined to realise a safe and secure Tokyo Games as proof that mankind will have overcome the virus,” Suga insisted on Friday. Games organisers also said they were “fully focused on hosting the Games this summer”.

  • Ronaldo Becomes Top Scorer Of All Time As Disputes Persist Over Record

Cristiano Ronaldo scored his 760th career goal in Juventus’ 2-0 Italian Super Cup win over Napoli on Wednesday, prompting claims he is the top scorer of all time. However, doubts persist as to who actually holds the record. With five goals for Sporting Lisbon, 118 for Manchester United, 450 for Real Madrid, 85 for Juventus, and 102 for Portugal, there is little debate over Ronaldo’s own tally.

The Portuguese forward, who turns 36 next month, is the undisputed holder of several records, easily the leading scorer for Real Madrid and his country, and above Lionel Messi in the Champions League goalscoring charts. But uncertainty arises from the totals of his rivals from previous eras, with the likes of Brazilian duo Pele and Romario both claiming to have netted more than 1,000 goals.

  • Messi Banned For Two Matches After Historic Barca Red

Lionel Messi was handed a two-match ban on Tuesday following his first-ever sending off for Barcelona. The Argentine forward was shown a red card at the end of Sunday’s 3-2 extra-time defeat to Athletic Bilbao in the Spanish Super Cup final after lashing out at Asier Villalibre.

Messi had twice been sent off playing for Argentina, including at the 2019 Copa America, but never in 16 years and 753 matches with Barcelona’s first team. The six-time Ballon d’Or winner’s ban was announced by the Spanish Football Federation.

  • Arteta Focuses On New Signings As Arsenal Shed Fringe Players

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta is focusing on potential signings in the January transfer window after trimming his squad but refused to be drawn on a loan move for Real Madrid’s Martin Odegaard

Sokratis Papastathopoulos was released from his contract this week, while Mesut Ozil is on the brink of a transfer to Turkish club Fenerbahce. Sead Kolasinac and William Saliba have already left on loan deals as Arteta seeks to re-balance his squad.

  • Yusuf’s Move To Top Polish Club Excites Handball Federation Of Nigeria

The president of the Handball Federation of Nigeria (HFN), Mr Samuel Ocheho has described the transfer of National team player Farouk OluwaTobi Yusuf to top Polish Handball club Lombard KS Vive Kielce as a valuable move that will contribute to the development of the national teams.

Yusuf, who played for Seasiders Boys of Lagos completed the much-anticipated move to Lombard KS Vive Kielce where he will join the youth team and also train with the senior team. He is expected to sign a full professional contract with KS Vive Kielce in 2022 when he turns 18. This is his second stint outside the shores of Nigeria after playing for Morocco’s top handball team Montanda HC.


METRO PLUS

  • 13-yr-old house help jumps down from 2-storey building in Aba to evade punishment — NSCDC boss

The Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) in Abia has rescued 13-year-old Uduak Willy, a house help, who reportedly jumped down from a two-story building to evade punishment for alleged pilfering. The State Commandant of the corps, Mr Vincent Ogu, said this on Tuesday in his office in Umuahia, while briefing newsmen about the incident,0 which happened on January 8 at No. 204 Niger Stone on Enugu-Port Harcourt Expressway (near Ariaria Market, Aba), where Willy lived with a businessman, Emeka Igwe and his wife, Aniekan.

Ogu said the girl took the desperate action after she was accused of stealing N500 from the house and allegedly subjected to serious beating by Igwe and his wife. The commandant said that Igwe, along with his mother-in-law, 50-year-old Christiana Godwin, were “arrested for their alleged involvement in child-trafficking, child-labor, domestic violence and attempted murder”. He said that the command was alerted about the ugly incident by the Special Adviser to the Governor on Teenage Matters, Mrs Chinemenma Umesaka.

  • Vice Principal rapes, impregnates 12-year-old student in Katsina

Vice Principal of Community Secondary School, Kadandani, Rimi Local Government Area of Katsina State, Ibrahim Sale, 38, has allegedly raped and impregnated a 12-year-old student of the school. The victim, who is said to have also slept with other men in the area after collecting money from them, gave birth to a baby boy on Sunday.

Sale confessed to the crime when he was paraded alongside other suspected rapists at headquarters of the Katsina State Police Command on Wednesday.
According to the suspect, “I have three wives. I raped my 12-year-old student and she got pregnant. I do pay her N200, N300 and sometimes N500 before she agrees to have sexual intercourse with me. She gave birth to a boy on Sunday.”

Spokesman of the command, Gambo Isah, who paraded the suspects, said Sale lured the girl to his apartment in the community and repeatedly had unlawful carnal knowledge of her. “In fact, right now that I am speaking to you, this young girl had delivered a baby after Caesarean Section (CS) at the General Hospital Katsina, in which investigation is ongoing and that is why we are calling on parents to be vigilant.”

  • Girl’s death in Yobe govt lodge caused by overdose – Police

The Yobe State Police Command has blamed excessive drug intake for the death of a girl at the Yobe State Government lodge after an alleged sex bout with an official of the Ministry of Police Affairs.

The command in a statement on Tuesday by its Public Relations Officer, Dungus AbdulKareem, said the case against the four suspects arrested in connection with the crime was no longer homicide. He said the deceased died of cardio-respiratory failure resulting from excessive use of drugs. He said the Yobe State Police Command apprehended four suspects in connection with the death of a girl, who died at the government lodge, Damaturu. The case has been under investigation at the state CID, Damaturu.

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