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Buhari orders return of Egbesu sword to Niger Delta

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President Buhari Loses Second Nephew In 23 Days

President Muhammadu Buhari has ordered the immediate return of the golden sword seized by the Nigerian Army last year to Gbaramatu Kingdom in Warri South Local Government of Delta State.

The golden sword described as the symbol of authority of the Gbaramatu, was reportedly confiscated by soldiers from the 4th Brigade, Benin City, in May last year while searching for ex-militant leader, Government Ekpomukpolo, alias Tompolo, in the heat of oil facility bombings in the area. In addition to the return of the sword, the Presidency has also resolved to mobilize funds for the immediate takeoff of the Maritime University of Nigeria, which has been marred by controversies and lack of funding.

A top Presidency source revealed that President Buhari ordered the search, recovery and immediate return of the golden sword which is a symbol of the ‘Egbesu Shrine’, to Gbaramatu Kingdom with immediate effect. The official, who pleaded anonymity, said the new move by the Presidency to appease the Niger Delta was in line with the resolve by the government to bring about lasting peace to the area and end the destruction of economic facilities that is currently hurting the nation.

The source confirmed that it was in a bid to appease the Niger Delta and forge ahead that President Buhari despatched his deputy, Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo, to meet with key leaders of the Niger Delta in recent weeks, even in his absence on vacation and medical attention. The official described Osinbajo’s ongoing visits to the Niger Delta as a ‘diplomatic offensive’ aimed at resolving the crisis in the region.

It was laernt that as part of the Niger Delta rapprochement, the Presidency has also decided to play down on the use of open military tactics against Niger Delta militants in favour of dialogue with identified groups, one of them being the Pan Niger Delta Elders Forum, PANDEF. The official said: “President Buhari instructed the Vice President to go and work out details of series of tours and visits to all the states in the country that have oil-producing communities and ensure that all interests are brought to the table, regardless of parties or any other differing factors or cleavages.

“The meetings also resolved that the Amnesty Programme which the President had already instructed should be maintained with even greater budgetary funding and this must be clearly communicated to the communities by the Vice President during the meetings. “Besides, the President also asked the Vice President to ensure that during the visits, the communities should be made to understand that the Federal Government is now interested in action and would do its own part. The Vice President was also asked to secure from the communities a buy-in of peace and collaboration from state governments and the oil companies in particular.

“To show his determination and commitment to create a new understanding and atmosphere between the government and the communities, the President in fact, gave an order after the Vice President’s visit to Gbaramatu that an investigation be conducted to determine what happened during an alleged military raid of Gbaramatu community where the kingdom’s Golden Sword was allegedly taken away.

“The presidential order also directed that a search for the golden sword of the kingdom, allegedly confisticated, if this is found to be so, should be recovered and once located, promptly released to the kingdom with an apology.” It will be recalled that Chief Government Ekpemupolo had threatened to take steps to recover the missing golden sword, which is also referred to as the traditional symbol of authority of Gbaramatu Kingdom.

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Army withholds salaries of 45 soldiers in Borno

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Authorities of the 7 Division Nigerian Army, Maiduguri, have withheld the salaries of 45 soldiers, according to sources.

The soldiers, who were among the 149 troops of the 153 Task Force Battalion withdrawn from Marte, Borno State, after spending three years in counterinsurgency operations, were accused of for abandoning their duty posts.

The battalion came under attack on three occasions during which several soldiers were killed while a range of weapons, equipment and vehicles were either carted away or destroyed.

The battalion was overhauled after the last attack in February.

A source said necessary changes were made and troops who served with the battalion were moved to different formations in Maiduguri before a new deployment was made.

“Some of the soldiers who were not seen at their new units were believed to have gone on AWOL (Absence Without Leave). Their salaries accounts were not credited in April,” he said.

But one of the affected soldiers said the allegation of desertion against them was untrue.

“We were not given our salaries and when we asked our supervisors in the 7 Division, we were shocked to hear that we had forfeited all our entitlements over desertion.”

Attempts to get the response of army authorities were not successful.

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EFCC goes after top officials of PDP over N10bn scandal

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The Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC) has invited officials of People’s Democratic Party (PDP) for questioning over alleged criminal conspiracy, abuse of office, diversion of funds and fraud.

This is coming barely a month after a chieftain in the PDP, Kazeem Afegbua, petitioned the anti-graft agency to scrutinise the Secondus-led National Working Committee on financial misappropriation.

In the letter of invitation dated May 17, 2021, and addressed to the Prince Uche Secondus, the EFCC said the need to obtain certain clarification from the party has become imperative.

The agency, however, requested the party’s National chairman to release the National Auditor, National Organising Secretary and Director of Finance to report at the EFCC headquarters from May 19th to 21st 2021.

The agency also requested the national officers to honor the invitation with relevant documents relating to sole of forms into the party’s elective positions from January 2017 to date.

Kazeem had in his petition alleged that much of the financial transactions of the PDP under Prince Uche Secondus has been shrouded in mystery, accusing the leadership of deliberate attempt to shortchange the party in the build up to the 2023 general elections.

However, Secondus had since denied the allegation and filed a N1 billion suit against the petitioner, Kazeem Afegbua.

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Nigeria’s drug control agency approves new COVID-19 vaccine

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The National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), has granted approval for the conditional emergency use of Janssen COVID-19 vaccine in Nigeria.

Janssen COVID-19 vaccine is the third vaccine recommended for administration in the country.

The director-general of NAFDAC, Prof. Mojiola Adeyeye, in a statement on Tuesday, said information on the vaccine shows it met the criteria for efficacy, safety and quality.

She said, “The Janssen COVID-19 vaccine is administered as a single dose. Results from a clinical trial involving people in the United States, South Africa and Latin American countries found that Janssen COVID-19 vaccine was effective at preventing COVID-19 in people from 18 years of age.

“The Phase III clinical trial involved over 44,000 people. Half received a single dose of the vaccine and half were given placebo (a dummy injection). People did not know if they had been given Janssen COVID-19 Vaccine or placebo.

According to her, the trial showed a 67 per cent reduction in the number of symptomatic COVID-19 cases after two weeks in people who received Janssen COVID-19 Vaccine.

The most commonly reported side effects were pain at the injection site, headache, fatigue, muscle aches and nausea. Most of these side effects were mild to moderate in severity and lasted 1-2 days.

On the vaccine safety, Adeyeye said NAFDAC, in line with its pharmacovigilance and safety monitoring plan for COVID-19 vaccines, will closely monitor and subject the Janssen COVID-19 Vaccine to several activities that apply specifically to COVID-19 vaccines.

The AstraZeneca vaccine which Nigeria has been giving out has garnered many sceptics internationally after some recipients of the vaccine died.

At least 16 countries including Germany, France and Sweden have suspended the use of AstraZeneca, which put on the Nigerian government to suspend it.

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