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Imo Govt ,Okorocha clash over Nwosu’s arrest

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The Imo State Government and the Senator representing Imo West in the National Assembly, Rochas Okorocha, yesterday traded words over the arrest of the 2019 governorship candidate of the Action Alliance (AA) Chief Uche Nwosu.

Nwosu, who is also Okorocha’s son-in-law, was arrested at St. Peter’s Anglican Church, Eziama-Obaire in Nkwerre Local Government Area of the state by policemen in connection with “a case that is under investigation.”

The manner of his arrest had triggered rumours that he was kidnapped until the Police Command Public Relations Officer (PPRO), Michael Abattam, clarified that he was arrested, following an order from above.

It was alleged that “gunmen” stormed the church during the outing service of Nwosu’s mother, Jemamah Nwosu, and shot sporadically into the air.

Associates also alleged that the “gunmen” bundled the politician into the trunk of a waiting vehicle before speeding away.

But Okorocha, who said his wife, Nnenna, and daughter, Uloma Nwosu, were in the church when the operation took place, said Governor Hope Uzodimma ”is 100 percent responsible” for the arrest of Nwosu.

“Hope Uzodimma deceived Abuja for the arrest of Uche Nwosu. Hope Uzodinma is 100 percent responsible for the arrest. It is either Uzodinma is the IGP (Inspector-General of Police) or the governor of Imo State,” he told reporters at his Owerri residence.

The former governor, who claimed that his son-in-law was “dragged into a bus carrying Imo State Government number,” said he did not know his whereabouts.

He also accused the operatives of humiliating his wife by pushing her down and his daughter by tearing her clothes.

The former governor, who described the incident as “the worst humiliation in my life,” said President Muhammadu Buhari “should be informed about what is happening in Imo State.”

His words: “My wife was pushed down and my daughter’s clothes were torn into pieces by the policemen who came into the church to arrest Uche Nwosu with no warrant of arrest.

“I want to know the offence my son-in-law has committed that they rough handled him because I’m yet to be informed. I have called the Inspector General of Police. His number was switched off. I have called the Commissioner of Police (Hussaini Rabiu). He said the order came from above.

“Uche Nwosu, my wife and daughter were at the church for an outing service, when a group of men in police uniform while the sermon was ongoing, started shooting. In the course of their activities, they pushed down my wife and they tore my daughter’s clothes.

“No warrant of arrest. No invitation. We suspected kidnapping at first. Many people were injured while running. Uche Nwosu was dragged into a bus carrying Imo State Government plate number.

“They were identified as policemen from Imo State Government House by their colleagues attached to Uche for the burial. I got the CP who said that IGP approved his arrest.

“The shock of such arrest without warrant and humiliating members of my family are unfortunate. Most security operatives in Imo State know nothing about the arrest. I don’t know what they framed up. The IGP could only do this on high-level misinformation from Hope Uzodinma.

“Over one hundred gunshots to arrest Uche Nwosu? What kind of ruthless behavior on innocent citizens of Nigeria?

“Hope Uzodimma has shown tremendous heat to me and members of my family. Lawmakers who attended the burial were suspended. I am waiting to hear the offence of Uche Nwosu. Recall that Hope Uzodinma said he is going to name sponsors of insecurity in Imo state on January 3.

“I know he has nothing other than to cook up a story. Last time, he ordered my arrest and one security officer ordered me to enter the pick-up vehicle.

“Uzodimma wants to frame me up by all means. Uzodinma has to answer for most of the activities going on. Uzodinma must mention the names of those who are responsible for insecurity in Imo State or he should be held responsible for all the killings in the state.

“Uzodimma has framed up something against Uche Nwosu. Buhari should be informed about what is happening in Imo state. Hundreds of citizens are been killed in this state.

“How come it is only Abuja and Imo State government House that know about the arrest. I want to know the reason for the attack on a church and, why Uche Nwosu should be treated like a criminal.

Imo State Government should provide answers immediately. You can’t be governor of the people by intimidation”

Imo State Commissioner for Information and Strategy Declan Emelumba said Okorocha’s reaction has proved him guilty as ”all he wants to do is to whip up sentiments among Imo citizens.”

He told reporters at the Government House, that the former governor should have waited for the law to take its course before reacting.

Emelumba said: “If Uche Nwosu is arrested, what he (Okorocha) should do is to wait and see why he was arrested. But he is talking incoherently and that will not save him. What he should do is wait for the law to take its course.

“All of you went to Orsu and saw the carnage there. I am not saying he is linked to the incident. You also witnessed his statement during his mother-in-law’s burial where he invited youths to protest. All these are evidence of his inciting actions in the state.”

The commissioner, who denied government’s involvement in the arrest, said: “The government has no hand in the arrest of Uche Nwosu, but any attempt by Okorocha to use it to cause panic is evidence of guilt and that cannot save him.

“Okorocha contradicted himself when he said that the commissioner of police told him that the order came from the IGP and at the same time he said that the arrest was ordered by the governor. This shows that he is speaking incoherently and that cannot save him.”

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New Zealand PM Jacinda Ardern cancels her wedding amid new Omicron restrictions

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New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Arden has cancelled her wedding as the nation imposes new restrictions to slow the community spread of the Covid-19 Omicron variant, she told reporters on Sunday.

New Zealand will impose mask rules and limit gathering from midnight on Sunday after a cluster of nine Covid-19 Omicron cases showed community spread from the North to South islands after a wedding.

A family returned to Nelson in the South Island by plane after attending a wedding and other events in Auckland in the North Island. The family and a flight attendant tested positive.

New Zealand will move to a red setting under its Covid-19 protection framework, with more mask wearing. Indoor hospitality settings such as bars and restaurants and events like weddings will be capped at 100 people. The limit is lowered to 25 people if venues are not using vaccine passes, Arden said.

“My wedding will not be going ahead,” she told reporters, adding she was sorry for anyone caught up in a similar scenario. Ardern had not disclosed her wedding date, but it was rumored to be imminent.

Asked by reporters how she felt about the cancellation of her wedding to longtime partner and fishing-show host Clarke Gayford, Ardern replied: “Such is life.”

She added, “I am no different to, dare I say it, thousands of other New Zealanders who have had much more devastating impacts felt by the pandemic, the most gutting of which is the inability to be with a loved one sometimes when they are gravely ill. That will far, far outstrip any sadness I experience.”

New Zealand’s borders have been shut to foreigners since March 2020. The government pushed back plans for a phased reopening from mid-January to the end of February out of concern about a potential Omicron outbreak as in neighboring Australia.

People able to travel to New Zealand under narrow exceptions must apply to stay at state-managed quarantine facilities. The government last week stopped issuing any new slots amid a surge in the number of people arriving with Omicron.

About 94% of New Zealand’s population over the age of 12 is fully vaccinated and about 56% of those eligible have had booster shots.

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SERAP drags Nigerian government to ECOWAS Court over undisclosed loans spending

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The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project has filed a lawsuit against the government of President Muhammadu Buhari before an ECOWAS Court over “secrecy in the spending of loans so far obtained, the unsustainable level of borrowing by the government and the 36 states, and the crippling debt burden”.

Last week, SERAP lawyers, Kolawole Oluwadare and Opeyemi Owolabi filed a suit before ECOWAS Court of Justice in Abuja, in which the organisation sought, “An order directing and compelling the Federal Government to issue an immediate moratorium on borrowing by itself, and the 36 states, in conformity with the country’s international human rights obligations.”

SERAP is also seeking, “An order directing and compelling the Federal Government to publish details of spending of the loans obtained by governments since 1999 including the list of projects and locations of any such projects on which these loans have been spent.”

The organisation maintained that, “Persistent and unsustainable borrowing by the federal and state governments and the crippling debt burden undermine the rights of Nigerians to economic and social development, and are antithetical to the public interest.

“There is lack of transparency and accountability in the spending of the loans so far obtained, and opacity around the terms and conditions in loan agreements, including repayment details for these loans. The details of the projects on which the loans are spent are shrouded in secrecy.

“Without a moratorium on borrowing, the Federal Government and many of the 36 states may be caught in a process driven mostly by creditors’ needs. 

“This will result in an exorbitant social cost for the marginalised and vulnerable sectors of the population.

“The Federal Government and many of the 36 states would seem to be in debt distress or at high risk of debt distress.

“The Senate and House of Representatives recently approved the loans of $5,803,364,553.50 and a grant component of $10million under the 2018-2020 External Borrowing (Rolling) Plan of the Federal Government.

“This followed previous approvals by the National Assembly of $16.2 (16,230,077,718) billion loan; €1 (1,020,000,000) million and a grant component of $125 million loan; $36.8 billion, €910 million loans, and a grant component of $10 million; $8.3 billion and €490 million loans; $6.1 billion, $1.5 billion and 995 million loans; and $4(4,054,476,863), €710 million and grant component of $125million.

“Several of the 36 states are also facing a debt crisis, and vicious debt cycles. According to the Debt Management Office, the foreign debt stock of the Federal Government, 36 state governments and the Federal Capital Territory presently stands at $37.9billion.

“The loans from China alone amount to $3.59billion. According to the UN Independent Expert on foreign debt and human rights, Nigeria faces debt service relative to tax revenues that exceed 20 per cent, with escalating social tensions linked to poverty and inequality.

“According to the World Bank’s IDA FY21 Report, with debt exposure of $11.7billion US Dollars, Nigeria ranked fifth among the top 10 countries with highest debt risk exposure. The top four countries are India with $22billion, Bangladesh ($18.1billion), Pakistan ($16.4billion), and Vietnam ($14.1billion).”

Meanwhile, no date has been fixed for the hearing of the suit.

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COVID-19: Nigeria records 29 fresh infections, lowest in two months

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The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control has said that 29 people tested positive for Coronavirus on Saturday.

The figure is the country’s lowest single-day count since November 19, 2021 when 23 cases were reported.

In its latest update, NCDC said the positive cases of Coronavirus came from three states.

A breakdown of new cases showed that Lagos — Nigeria’s pandemic epicentre — recorded the highest number of new infections with 27 new positive samples, followed by Kano and Rivers with one each.

According to the agency, 40 persons recovered from the infection while 225,946 people have now been discharged.

No death figure was recorded from COVID-19 complications, leaving the death toll at 3,124.

Since the index case in February 2020, a total of 251,959 Coronavirus infections have been confirmed across Nigeria — out of which 22,889 are active cases. 

On Saturday, the Lagos government said the consistent decrease in COVID-19 cases indicates the end of the pandemic’s fourth wave in the state.

Giving a situation update via Twitter, Akin Abayomi, the state’s Commissioner for Health, said there was a reduction in positivity rates — from 29.3 percent recorded on December 21, 2021, to 1.9 percent as of January 20, 2022.

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