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Parents of kidnapped pupils storm Ambode’s office

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It was all mourning on at the office of the Lagos State Government, Akinwunmi Amode, as parents of kidnapped students of the Lagos State Model College, Igbonla, Epe stormed his office to demand for the release of their children 14 days after they were abducted by gunmen.

The parents said the kidnappers told them on Tuesday that four of their children were now sick and that they would henceforth not negotiate with the parents again or allowed them to speak with their children, insisting that they wanted to negotiate with the government.

Mothers of the children were seeing weeping and wailing profusely and calling on the state government to do something urgently to get their children released.

A woman who refused to give her name was overtaken by emotion as she was wailing at the top of her voice, calling on government to get her child identified as Isiaka out of the kidnappers’ den immediately.

Mrs. Toyin Philips, mother of Pelumi, a 17-year old student who was kidnapped was seen weeping and demanding government’s intervention in the situation.

“I want my son back. I sent my son to the school because there was no money. If I had the money they are demanding for, would I have sent my son to that school?” She asked.

“We are the one negotiating with the kidnappers. The kidnappers said they wanted N100 million. Government, please, don’t let our children die. Let their release be done today,” lamented another parent, Mrs Agbaosi, whose son Judah, is among those kidnapped.

Spokesperson of the parents, Mr. Dapo Adesega lamented that their children had been with the kidnappers for 14 days and that government had not deemed it fit to communicate with them.

“If you don’t communicate with us, how do we know that government cares for our plight. If we had not come here today, we won’t have heard anything from the government,” he told government officials who were sent to address them.

“Nobody from the government has come to us since the incident occurred two weeks ago, we did not come here with placards because we want government to help us. Please, government should help us. We have been trying to negotiate with them but they rejected our offer because it is too small.

“They said we cannot speak with our children again as four of them are ill. We want government to help us, we are trusting in you. Our kids are not allowed to talk to us again, I took my child to a government, so the government should help us,” he stated.

Another parent, Moruf Ramon, whose 19-year old son Isiaka Ramon is still being held by the kidnappers said the kidnappers had refused to negotiate with them any further as what they offered to pay them was small.

He said there was no way they could raise such huge ransom of N100 million being demanded by the kidnappers, adding that so far, the parents offered to give the kidnappers N10 million they raised, but that they rejected it.

Officials of the Lagos State Government came to address the parents and assured them that government would stop at nothing until the children were released.

The government’s delegate was led by the Commissioner for Local Government and Community Affairs, Muslim Folami. Others are the Special Adviser to the Governor on Community and Communications, Kehinde Bamigbetan and the Special Adviser to the Governor on the Environment, Babatunde Hunpe.

Speaking, Folami appealed to the parents to be calm and that government was doing all it could to get the children released, saying that government was embarrassed that such a thing could occur on its school.

He told the parents that the state government had been working round the clock to ensure the release of the children and that it would happen very soon.

When the parents asked how soon, Folami said he could not tell, but that there was no way government could disclosed certain intelligent information at its disposal.

“Work is going on and soon, your children will be released to you. We cannot give you intelligent report now,” he said.

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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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