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Senate Leader briefs Ag. President Osinbajo on 2017 budget, other matters

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Acting President Yemi Osinbajo on Monday met behind closed doors with new Senate Leader, Sen. Ahmed Lawan, in the Presidential Villa, Abuja

Speaking to State House correspondents after the meeting, Lawan said he briefed acting president on the progress made so far by the Upper Chamber in the consideration of the 2017 Appropriation bill at the National Assembly.

According to him, Senators on the platform of the ruling All Progressives Congress ( APC) and the opposition parties are unanimous in their support for President Muhammadu Buhari.

He said: “I’m here to meet the Acting President to brief him on what the Senate is doing on the Appropriation Bill 2017. You know we have suspended plenaries for three weeks.

“The idea is to have ample time to focus on the appropriation bill. The committees will start to work from this week meeting the MDAs on the budget defence that they need to do.

“Secondly, you know that the Acting President is an APC Acting President of this our administration. As a new Senate Leader, it is also important that I come here to this office to tell the Acting President and our administration that the APC caucus in the Senate is now a united caucus.

“We are ready as a caucus to support our administration; we are also ready as a Senate, that is both the APC and the minority parties, to work for the betterment of Nigerians. Our colleagues in the opposition have always been supportive and being there for the Senate to function.’’

He said the National Assembly would continue to ensure that the government delivered on its campaign promises to Nigerians with the executive and the legislature working hand in hand.

Gov. Rochas Okorochas, who also met with the acting president, told newsmen that the All Progressives Congress (APC) in South East had no plan to produce a presidential candidate in the forthcoming 2019 general elections.

“What I do know is that Ndiigbo should talk about presidency after President Muhammadu Buhari. I think we should support this government.

“President Muhammadu Buhari has tenure to work for, four years or eight years, depending on the zoning arrangement and everybody should follow the zoning although I am not an advocate of zoning,’’ he said.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that acting President Osinbajo also met behind closed doors with Gov. Samuel Ortom of Benue

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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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