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Members of the house of representatives have resolved to donate their salaries for two months to support the fight against coronavirus, according to Femi Gbajabiamila, the speaker.

In a video message on Tuesday, Gbajabiamila said the salary being forfeited to the federal government will be independent of the individual contributions the lawmakers may decide to make.

TheCable understands the monthly salary of each of the 360 members of the green chamber ranges from N600,000 to N1 million.

Senators and ministers earlier donated 50 percent of their salaries to the same cause.

The speaker said the money is meant to alleviate the hardship that their constituents face at this time of national emergency.

“We have in the house of representatives jointly committed to contributing one hundred per cent (100%) of our salaries for the next two months to the fight against COVID-19 in Nigeria,” Gbajabiamila said.

“Starting from March salary, the lawmakers’ donation will be transferred directly to the National Relief Fund account for the fight against COVID-19.

“Our contribution will support provisions for the welfare of front-line medical professionals and health workers, and other interventions to provide for the well-being of all Nigerians through these trying times.

“Accordingly, I have directed the clerk to the national assembly to see to it that all members’ salaries are transferred to the national relief fund for this month and the next.”

Gbajabiamila added that the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) should also make cash grants available to the 774 local government areas in the country to alleviate the suffering of the masses amid the pandemic.

He said the grant should be for the provision of food and other essentials to at-risk individuals and communities.

He also said relevant house committees have been mandated to oversee the distribution of items donated by local and foreign donors to ensure proper management.

“This crisis has exposed in the worst possible way the evident weaknesses of our health system,” the speaker added.

“After this is over and moving forward, we must do everything in our power to ensure that we will never again come upon a moment such as this, as ill-equipped as we are now.”

As of Tuesday morning, Nigeria has recorded 135 cases of the coronavirus out of which there two fatalities.

Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa, a human rights lawyer, says President Muhammadu Buhari should have declared a state of emergency instead of a lockdown over the coronavirus pandemic.

The president had ordered the lockdown of the federal capital territory (FCT), Lagos and Ogun states as a measure to curb the spread of COVID-19.

Adegboruwa on Monday described the order of the president restricting movements as “illegal”.

Defending the action of the president, Abubakar Malami, attorney-general of the federation (AGF,) said the Quarantine Act empowers the president to take such measures since COVID-19 has been declared an infectious disease.

Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo also said the Quarantine Act gives the president power to “make regulations of any kind”.

Responding to the vice-president and the AGF, Adegboruwa said: “The Quarantine Act has no provision for the restriction of the movement of any citizen.”

He said the act “is meant for the isolation, care and treatment of victims of infectious diseases simpliciter, for the purpose of isolating them away from interacting with other members of the public, generally”, and that it should not be “twisted” to restrain the uninfected.

The senior advocate of Nigeria also said for the president to be entitled to make any regulation under sections 4 and 8 of the Quarantine Act, he should have published in a national newspaper “stating the particular place affected as an Infected Local Area and such must be a well-defined area, such as a local government, a town or a community, and not just a blanket tag”.

“This has not been done. How then do we lockdown citizens and detain them forcefully for two weeks, in one single spot, without any charge or offence alleged against them?” he said.

“The Quarantine Act does not contain any provision expressly authorizing the restriction of movement of citizens and such power must not and cannot be assumed by the President.

Adegboruwa said Buhari should have explored the option of declaring a state of emergency as enshrined in section 305 (3) (d) of the constitution instead of a lockdown which violates the constitutional rights of citizens.

“Section 305 (3) (d) of the Constitution permits the President to declare a state of emergency in any part of Nigeria through an instrument published in the official gazette when “there is an occurrence or imminent danger, or the occurrence of any disaster or natural calamity, affecting the community or a section of the community,” he said.

“The COVID 19 pandemic qualifies an imminent danger, a disaster and a natural calamity. The President should have explored this window for his declaration.”

He added that such a declaration will cease to have effect if it is not approved by the national assembly through a resolution after two days of being in session or after 10 days being out of session.

The Nigerian Army has deployed Faruk Yahaya as the new theatre commander Operation Lafiya Dole, the army’s operation fighting Boko Haram insurgency in the north-east.

Yahaya, a major-general, who was until the deployment, general officer commanding (GOC) of the army’s 1 division in Kaduna, is replacing Olusegun Adeniyi who had been in charge of the operation since August.

In the major redeployment of generals and other senior officers, Adeniyi will now resume at the Nigerian Army Resource Centre (NARC) Abuja as a senior research fellow.

In a statement on Tuesday, Sagir Musa, army spokesman, said the postings which was approved by Tukur Buratai, chief of army staff, is a routine exercise intended to reinvigorate the system for greater professional effectiveness and efficiency.

“The major highlight of the posting includes – the posting and appointment of Maj Gen ACC Agundu from Special Task Force (STF) Operation SAFE HAVEN Jos to Nigerian Army Resource Centre (NARC) Abuja as Senior Research Fellow, Major General HI Bature from Defence Headquarters (DHQ) Defence Liaison Office National Assembly Abuja to Army Headquarters  Department of Civil Military Affairs and appointed Chief of Civil-Military Affairs, Maj Gen UM Mohammed from Nigerian Army Property Limited (NAPL) to the Office of the Chief of Army Staff and appointed Special Adviser Nigerian Army University Biu/Deputy Chairman Board of Trustees NAPL, while the erstwhile Special Adviser Nigerian Army University Biu Maj Gen CC Okonkwo now redeployed to STF Operation SAFE HAVEN Jos  and appointed Commander, Maj Gen F Yahaya from Headquarters 1 Division Kaduna to Headquarters Theatre Command Operation LAFIYA DOLE (OPLD) Maiduguri and appointed Commander, while Maj Gen OG Adeniyi is redeployed from Headquarters Theatre Command OPLD Maiduguri to NARC as Senior Research Fellow, Maj Gen S Idris from Sector 2 OPLD Damaturu- Yobe State redeployed to DHQ Abuja and appointed Director Liaison,” the statement read.

“Others affected include – Maj General AA Adesope from Office of the Chief of Army Staff Directorate of Audit and Financial Management to NAPL and appointed Group Managing Director, Maj Gen MG Ali from Headquarters Theatre Command OPLD Maiduguri to Headquarters 4 Special Forces Command Doma, Nasarawa State as Commander while the erstwhile Chief of Civil-Military Affairs AHQ Abuja Maj Gen US Mohammed has been redeployed to 1 Division Kaduna and appointed General Officer Commanding.

“Similarly, Brig Gen HI Daniel from the Defunct  Army Special Forces Command Maiduguri to Headquarters Training and Doctrine Command Minna and appointed Director Army Training Support, Brig Gen BE Onyeuko is to remain in DHQ Abuja as Acting Director Defence Media Operation, Brig Gen NM Jega from Training and Doctrine Command Minna to Infantry Corps Centre Jaji and appointed Chief of Staff, Brig Gen LA Araba from Nigerian Army Welfare Limited by Guaranty Abuja now redeployed to Sector 2 OPLD Damaturu, Yobe State as Ag Commander, Brig Gen VO Ita from DHQ, Abuja to Headquarters 402 Special Forces Brigade Azare and appointed Commander while Brig Gen JAL Jimoh from Sector 3 Artillery Brigade OPLD Monguno to Headquarters 31 Brigade Minna and appointed Commander and Brig Gen GTO Ajetunmobi has been redeployed from 31 Brigade Minna to Nigeria Army Welfare Limited by Guaranty, Abuja as Executive Director Operation.”

“Others are -Brig Gen LG Lepdung from Headquarters Infantry Corps Centre Jaji to DHQ Abuja and appointed Deputy Director Procurement (Logistics), Brig Gen MO Ihanuwaze to remain in Office of the Chief of Army Staff Directorate of Audit and Financial Management as Acting Director, Brig Gen EC Obi – Osang from the defunct Headquarters 707 Special Forces’ Brigade Makurdi to Headquarters 401 Special Forces’ Brigade Makurdi as Commander while Brig Gen GM Mutkut is redeployed from the Defunct Nigerian Army Amphibious Command OPLD Baga to Headquarters 403 Amphibious Brigade Baga and appointed Commander and Brig Gen JR Lar from Nigerian Army School of Artillery Kachia to Sector 3 Artillery Brigade OPLD Monguno as Commander.

“Also, Colonel DJ Abdullahi from the defunct  Headquarters Nigerian Army Special Forces’ Command Maiduguri to Headquarters 4 Special Forces’ Command Doma Nasarawa State and appointed Acting Chief of Staff, Colonel EC Emere from Nigerian Army Archives to Nigerian Military School Zaria as Deputy Commandant and Col MO Agi is to remain in Headquarters Nigerian Army Armour Corps Bauchi as Acting Chief of Staff among others.”

All the postings and appointments, the army said, are to take effect from April 1, 2020.

Akin Abayomi, Lagos commissioner for health, says complaints by Nigerians on medical attention provided at isolation centres is as a result of lack of preparedness for the nature of the centres.

A video which went viral on social media showed a man, who identified himself as Alamatu, lamenting about the mode of operation at the isolation centre in the state.

In the video, he said a member of his family, a female, had not seen a doctor or nurse since she arrived at the centre.

He added that the patient had also not been fed despite her condition.

“My name is Mr. Alamutu. What the hell are they doing here. She hasn’t seen a doctor, she hasn’t seen a nurse, she hasn’t been fed and you’re telling me I should not take here out. Let her go and die in my house. Simple, I don’t care anymore,” he said.

Reacting to the claims at a press briefing on Tuesday, Abayomi said the mode of operation at the isolation centre is different from that of a hospital ward.

He said it often takes a few days for patients to adjust to the measures, adding that most people find it strange to see other people a few times in a day.

“It takes a few days for the patients to get accustomed to isolation centres and that is why it is called isolation,” he said.

“For about one or two days, patients will always complain on social media that nobody is doing this, I haven’t seen anybody. That is not correct. They are just not accustomed to seeing people for few minutes a few times a day. It is totally different from a normal ward.

“After about two days, the patients become accustomed to that and then they settle down. They start interacting with other patients in the ward, they make friends and if you have listened to the testimonies that have been released, they thank the government.

“They make a lot of good comments, they are happy that they are well and they have finally understood what isolation means.”

Nigeria has recorded 135 coronavirus cases, of which Lagos has the highest number of 81.

The Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) has directed electricity distribution companies (DisCos) in the country to suspend the proposed tariff increase.

In January, the regulator had announced that there would be an upward review of electricity tariff across the country from April 1.

But in a memo on Tuesday, the commission said the adverse effects of the coronavirus has affected global economy and Nigerians are also bearing the brunt.

“The Orders of the Commission (Order No NERC/GL/184/2019 TO NERC/GL/184/2019) titled ”THE DECEMBER 2019 MINOR REVIEW OF MULTI YEAR TARIFF ORDER (MYTO) 2015 AND MINIMUM REMITTANCE ORDER FOR THE YEAR 2020″ shall remain in force until 30 June 2020 when a new minor review Order shall be issued by the Commission,” the memo read.

“There shall be no increase in tariffs of end-use customers on 1 April 2020.

“The current global COVID-19 pandemic has significantly impacted on the availability of imported components for local assembly of meters for supply to end-use customers under the Meter Asset Provider (”MAP”) regulations and the roll out plan for the existing stock.

“The Commission acknowledges the adverse effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on global economy and the consequential impact on the average Nigerian.

“All future tariff reviews shall be on the basis of consultations between the DisCo and customer clusters with firm commitments on rates and quality of service. The service level compact shall include a compensation mechanism for end-use customers to address the DisCo’s failure events to deliver on performance targets.”

The index coronavirus patient in Ekiti state has been discharged after being certified free of the disease.

The patient, who had been receiving treatment at the Ekiti State Infectious Disease Control Centre, Ado-Ekiti, since March 18, was discharged at 2pm on Tuesday.

Moji Yaya-Kolade, the state commissioner for health and human services, said the patient was discharged after two tests conducted on him came back negative.

She added that other tests carried out on the patient also revealed that his vital organs were functioning well.

“We have tested him twice and the results were negative. He is doing fine and all tests carried out show that his organs are also functioning well. So, we are happy to discharge him,” she said in a statement.

“We shall still keep monitoring him from his base and we also appeal to members of the public to call the emergency numbers to report any suspected case, so we can take action in a timely manner. It was the timely intervention that saved our index case.”

“We have tested him twice and the results were negative. He is doing fine and all tests carried out show that his organs are also functioning well. So, we are happy to discharge him.

She added that the state was monitoring the 41 contacts that had been put in self isolation.

The 38-year-old patient who spoke with journalists thanked the state government for his treatment.

He also thanked Kayode Fayemi, governor of the state, for visiting him at the centre, and urged Nigerians to take the war against coronavirus seriously.

“I appreciate the state government, the medical team and entire Ekiti people for their care and for standing by me during my trying moment,” he said.

“I want our people to know that Coronavirus is real. We should join hands with government and observe all recommended hygienic procedures to curtail the spread of the disease.”

Shortly after his discharge, the patient and his sister were driven in a blue ambulance back to his Ibadan, Oyo state base.

He contracted the disease after meeting with an American who died from complications from an unknown illness before his test for coronavirus came out.

Chikwe Ihekweazu, director-general of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), says by the end of the week, the agency would have capacity to carry out 1, 000 COVID-19 tests on a daily basis. 

It had reported how only a few persons were getting tested because of lack of equipment.

But while responding to questions at a press briefing on Tuesday, Ihekweazu said laboratories were like power plants and could not be built overnight but the agency is putting in efforts to improve and increase capacity.

“As at last week we are testing about 500 per day, or we had the capacity to test 500 per day. By the end of this week, we will be at a thousand per day, and next week we plan to take it to a 1, 500 per day, just by increasing the number of labs,” he said.

“We are managing and improving the supply sides, but at the same time, we need to reduce the demand side to those that really need it. So, in Lagos there is a big problem of a lot of anxiety and everybody wants to get tested. We need you to help us give this message to people. We have a case definition for COVID-19; either you have respiratory symptoms plus travel plus contact with a confirmed case or respiratory symptoms of unknown explanation. If you have cancer or something like that, we rule that out.

“These are the three groups, you must have symptoms and this is an important message because the more people force themselves into being tested the less we have the capacity to test those that really need it. These people that really need it will be transmitting it into the community and more people will get infected.

“So, there is a consequence, not just for you as an individual but for the rest of society. So, we need to get to those we need to get to. And by testing those that don’t need it, the worried well, we block the system from those that need it, and the outbreak continues. So, there is a price to pay for testing all these asymptomatic individuals.

“The quickest set of laboratories to convert for COVID-19 testing have been the laboratories we’ve been establishing over the last few years for lassa. That is where our molecular diagnostic capacity lies. Yes, we haven’t done enough over the last few years and now there is a need to do a lot more very quickly. Collectively, this is not just a federal government responsibility, this is a responsibility of all the states governments, and unfortunately just like power plants, we cannot build molecular labs overnight, so we are going to work extra hard.”

He said the private sector is coming in and the state governments are injecting funds in the health sector in order to increase the number of laboratories that would be up in the next few months.

He added, however, that the quick solution is not a new laboratory but increased capacity in existing labs.

According to the ministry of health, there are currently six functional laboratories with the capacity to test for COVID-19.

Governor Seyi Makinde of Oyo State has tested positive for coronavirus (COVID-19).

He confirmed this via his Twitter handle @seyiamakinde, on Monday evening.

Makinde, who is head of the Oyo COVID-19 task force, said he had handed over his duties in charge of the task force to former Chief Medical Director, University College Hospital, Professor Temitope Alonge.

In the meantime, he said he will continue to self-isolate, expressing hope that he will recover fully.

“I just received my COVID-19 confirmation test result. It is POSITIVE. I am asymptomatic and will continue to self-isolate.

“I have designated Prof Temitope Alonge, former Chief Medical Director of the University College, Ibadan, as the Head of COVID-19 Task Force while I recover fully.

“Please continue to comply with all the directives from the COVID-19 Task Force. Stay home, stay safe,” Makinde said

Gombe state government says it suspended the payment of N30,000 minimum wage and reverted to the previous wage scale of N18,000 owing to the economic impact of the outbreak of coronavirus in the country. 

This was disclosed by Manassah Jatau, deputy governor of the state and chairman of the standing committee on implementation of the new N30,000 minimum wage.

While addressing journalists on Saturday, Jatau said the decision was informed by the recessionary effects of the coronavirus pandemic on the global economy.

“The ministry of finance is to review the 2020 budget in order to reflect the reduction in the price of oil in the international market and subsequent adoption of $30 per barrel bench mark by the federal government,” he said.

He said the suspension of the implemented minimum wage and its consequential adjustment is with effect from March, and that his committee is working on a downward review of salaries of all political appointees and permanent secretaries in the state.

He also said the government is taking cost-cutting measures to reduce waste and to create savings for execution of necessary projects.

On his part, Adamu Musa, the state chairman of the Nigeria Labor Congress (NLC), asked workers to be calm as the suspension is only temporary.

“I want the civil servants in Gombe state to remain calm because the state has suddenly found itself in a quagmire because, as at the last federation account, the Gombe state government lost N800 million from its allocation due to the dwindling price of oil in the international market,” he said.

“So, I enjoin the civil servants to remain calm, we are on ground and would be watching the situation. This suspension is a temporary thing; as soon as the situation improves, the wage payment will recommence and any arrears will equally be paid,” the labor chairman gave his assurance.”

Paseka Motsoeneng, a South African televangelist also called Pastor Mboro, has reportedly offered to travel to hell to kill the demon responsible for coronavirus.

According to KenyaUpdates, Mboro, the pastor of Incredible Happenings Ministries, requested $100,000 (₦36,700,000 at 367/dollar) to take care of his transportation.

The controversial evangelist reportedly said there’s no need to waste money on research as the real cause of the contagious disease is a demon in hell which he has volunteered to kill in his “dangerous mission.”

“I am ready to save mankind, I have seen a vision of how the Corona demon looks like and I will defeat it,” Mboro said.

“There is no need for worrying and expensive research.  The real problem is the demon causing this disease and I’m ready to kill it once and for all.”

He also said that the money should be ready by April.

According to TheSouthAfrican, Mboro had earlier claimed that God told him to prepare just before the pandemic broke out, revealing to him how the coronavirus would affect the world.

“God said to me there’s going to be outbreaks. Outbreaks that will even cause hospitals to kill doctors and nurses. That’s the time we should be seeking God,” he reportedly said in a sermon.

“I listened to the president saying public meetings are banned for health reasons. God said this outbreak will happen this year. So it didn’t take me by surprise. We’ve been preparing and praying.

“God gave me a way to pray for the president, saying that the storms that are coming are going to be heavy. What we need to do is take better care of ourselves and listen to what we’re being told.”