The office of the Accountant General of the Federation in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, is presently burning.

The fire started from the third floor, razing the building upwards including the Accountant General’s office and most of the important offices.

Firefighters are battling to put off the inferno.

The cause of the inferno is yet to be detected as at the time of filing this report.

On Friday, April 3, twenty seven commercial motorcycle riders who left Nigeria and took illegal routes to Ghana were arrested and paraded by the Ghanaian policemen.

It was discovered that the motorcyclist decided to leave Nigeria after the ban on okada riding in Lagos state and the current lockdown imposed by the Federal Government and Lagos State government.

Local media highlighted that the men were arrested at the border town of Ketu South after they had successfully entered the country through the illegal routes.

When they were questioned, the men revealed that they were okada riders in Nigeria but due to their inability to do their job, they decided to move to Ghana to continue their trade as they were on their way to Aflao in the Volta region to do okada business.

Head of the police in Ketu South, Elliot Agbenorwu, disclosed that the 27 men are currently being questioned and after all necessary interrogations are done, they will be sent back to Nigeria.

Professor Jesse Otegbayo, the Chief Medical Director (CMD), University College Hospital (UCH), Ibadan, has tested negative for COVID-19 after eight days of isolation and treatment.

Head of the Public Relations Unit of the hospital, Mr Toye Akinrinlola, who confirmed this said that the last test on his blood sample has come back negative.

Akinrinlola said the test result arrived at about 3:45 pm and gladdened the heart of family, friends and workers of the institution.

Otegbayo had tested positive for the virus eight days ago. He was one of the eight confirmed cases in Oyo state.

The Provost of the College of Medicine and his deputy have also tested positive for the virus and have since placed themselves in self-isolation.

Mr Akinrinlola also confirmed that his result also came back negative.

There is an indefinite suspension on local council elections by Gov Mohammed Bala due to the outbreak of the coronavirus (COVID-19) in Bauchi State.

Gov Mohammed Bala’s approval was contained in a press release signed by the Executive Chairman of the Bauchi State Independent Electoral Commission (BASIEC).

“I wish to inform you that in view of the reality of the CoronaVirus (Covid-19) pandemic, the state governor, His Excellency, Senator Bala Abdulkadir Mohammad, CON, has approved that the Local Government Elections scheduled to earlier hold in June 2020, is suspended indefinitely,” He Stated.

Gov. Mohammed Bala thanked the public for its continued support.

The United Kingdom has revealed plans to evacuate its nationals wanting to leave Nigeria.

Ms Catriona Laing, the British High Commissioner to Nigeria, disclosed this on Friday. She explained that the decision was as a result of the rapidly changing situation in Africa and recent airport closures over the coronavirus pandemic.

Laing noted that the commission had decided to reduce the number of the High Commission staff and dependents.

She explained that the missions in Abuja and Lagos will continue to be open so as to carry out essential work, including providing 24 hours consular assistance and support to the British nationals in the country.

“Given the rapidly changing situation in the region, the recent airport closures and recognising that it has become more difficult to get out in case of need, we have taken the decision to reduce the number of UK (United Kingdom) staff and dependents from our High Commission,” the statement read.

The finance minister, Zainab Ahmed announced that the federal government will release N6.5 billion to the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) .

“The fund is an intervention to assist the fight against the spread of COVID-19 in Nigeria,” she said .

She revealed this during a meeting with the leadership of the National Assembly in Abuja on Wednesday.

Ahmed, the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria and other executive officials met with the lawmakers to discuss the planned budget review as well as the effect of the pandemic and recent oil price crash on the nation’s economy.

The meeting was held about a week after the Senate resolved that the review of the 2020 budget was inevitable.

The resolution was sequel to the receipt and deliberation of the interim report of the Senate joint committee on finance, appropriations, national planning and petroleum resources (upstream).

During her presentation, the minister said the federal government had made provisions for health sector interventions by introducing import duty waivers for essential input for pharmaceutical firms; tax waivers on new equipment; and deferment of tax to increase production.

She disclosed that the federal government would be releasing N6.5 billion in two tranches (N1.5 billion and N5 billion) to the NCDC as intervention to assist in the fight against the spread of the COVID-19 disease in Nigeria.

The minister also made known that the Lagos State Government would receive financial support from the federal government to the tune of N10 billion to combat Coronavirus spread in the state.

Nigeria had received a grant of $18.2 million from Japan for strengthening seven NCDC centers across the country and N1 billion would be released by the government to pharmaceutical firms in the country, she added.

The Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire has accused the Nigeria Medical Association for not helping the nation to fight against coronavirus.

The minister revealed this in Abuja while giving an update on the virus on Monday. He complained that since the outbreak of COVID-19 in the country, the association had not visited him or come up with an idea on how to fight the virus.

He said, “I have not seen what the NMA has done and they have not spoken to me since the whole activity broke out.

They have not asked us what they can do. We will like them to do that and find out how far we are going.

I am a member of the NMA but they have not called to say well done and how can we help you.

Other countries and agencies have asked us. The United Nations invited us to find out what they can do.”

Following an audio recording that has been circulated on social media insinuating that Nigeria was planning to buy used protective gear from China has been declared untrue by the Federal Government.

At a news conference in Abuja, the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, made this known, he also debunked the claim on the same platform that Nigeria was waiting for money from the World Health Organization (WHO), before taking drastic measures.

The commissioner stated that claims that the country had no funds to tackle the disease because its foreign reserves had been exhausted, funds had been stolen, and that the figure of those infected by Corona virus was understated, are all incorrect.

“This is a most irresponsible, inaccurate and definitely orchestrated job by a charlatan and should be disregarded by all Nigerians. It is obvious that this hatchet job is aimed at distracting the hard working health officials and misinforming Nigerians in order to create panic. The Federal Government will not be distracted in its efforts to fight this disease and keep Nigerians safe. Therefore, we urge all Nigerians to disregard the senseless audio,” he said.

Mohammed also stated that the news being circulated on social media that government planned to pay N8,500 to each citizen to stay at home for one month starting from March 30 is also a fake news.

He encouraged citizens seeking genuine and up-to-date information on Corona virus to log on to the website of the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC).

Austria and Sweden have been added to the list of countries with high risk of coronavirus by the Federal Government on Friday 

The addition brought the number of countries placed under restriction by Nigeria to 15.

The Minister of Health, Osagie Ehanire, said this while giving an update on the coronavirus in Abuja.

According to him, arrivals from all the countries shall be subjected to supervised isolation in the form of follow up.

This, he said, would be conducted by the Port Health Services and the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control with an option of testing.

He said, “According to our national case definition, we have identified two more high-risk countries, Austria and Sweden, who were added in the last 24 hours. We are also including COVID-19 testing in our routine surveillance for influenza-like illness.”

The minister also advised people who returned to the country to book hotel accommodation and isolate themselves if they had no conducive place to do so without making contact.

He added that the testing centre would be activated once the needed machine arrived from a donor country in the Middle-East.

A 52-year-old man, Folorunso Oluwaseun, has been sentenced to 40 years in jail by the Special Offense and Domestic Violence Court in Ikeja, Lagos on Tuesday for sexually assaulting his own daughter for several years.

Oluwaseun was convicted of having sexual intercourse with his 18-year-old daughter for four years in order to enhance her private parts. He is said to be an electrician and a father of five children; three girls and two boys.

The 18-year-old girl, while speaking in court, revealed that the sexual abuse began when she was 12-years old while she was living with her father at their Ikorodu residence in Lagos.

“In 2016, my mother came back to stay with us, she caught us one night when my father was trying to have sex with me. She screamed and my father threatened to kill her,” she said.

The court discovered that he had started having intercourse with his daughter at the age of 12 and was caught in the act by his estranged wife when the girl was 17. 

After finding him guilty of sexually assaulting his daughter for over four years, Justice Sybil Nwaka who was the judge on the case described him as the devil incarnate, a wicked and satanic man. 

“This defendant is wicked, callous, satanic and devilish. What manner of father would sexually assault his own daughter for a long period of time without any sense of remorse? This defendant starves his own children for sex. He is nothing but the devil incarnate. Releasing this kind of man to the society would amount to unleashing mayhem to other girl-children in our society. I encourage mothers to report callous husbands who tend to prey on their children. I hereby find this defendant, Folorunso Oluwaseun, guilty of both charges and sentence him to 40 years in prison,” the judge ruled.  

On Wednesday, Katsina state announced its first suspected case of COVID-19. The patient was said to have returned from Malaysia and developed symptoms that warrant further investigations.

The Permanent Secretary of the State’s Ministry of Health, Dr Kabir Musptapha told journalists during a briefing, that the patient is presently on self-isolation. 

He further disclosed that the patient’s samples have been taken and that results were being expected on Thursday, adding that contact tracing will commence as soon the test results are out.

‘’The ministry is taking all precautionary measures and closely working with the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), on the matter,” he said.

He advised people of the community of Dutsinma town to feel free to seek medical attention as well as adhere to the precautionary measures that have been put in place.

The federal government has announced a ban on entries from 13 different countries including the US and the UK.

This was made known by the secretary to the government of the federation, Mr Boss Mustapha, accompanied by the minister of health, Dr Osagie Ehinare, in his office on Wednesday.

He stated that those who arrived in Nigeria in the last 15 days from any of the 13 countries, would have to be supervised and be self-isolated for 14 days.

He further explained that the ban on the 13 countries which would take effect from Saturday, March 21, 2020, became compulsory because of their high-risk status in terms of the spread of the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

He added that the Visa-on-Arrival policy had been temporarily suspended. He further advised all Nigerians with foreign travel plans to the banned countries to either cancel or suspend such plans.

The 13 countries include China, Italy, Iran, South Korea, Spain, Japan, France, Germany, Norway, the United States of America, the United Kingdom, Netherlands, Switzerland.

The National Youth Service Corps on Wednesday said it had prepared ahead of the emergency closure of all camps across the country.

It added that it had posted all corp members to their places of primary assignment.

Attah Emmanuel, the South-West Director of the scheme, who made this disclosure, said the scheme rushed the orientation program over Coronavirus fears.

He said, “We have planned ahead of this time and we have taken the decision to close all camps in the best interest of the nation and that of our corp members as well as staff. We rushed through some of the orientation program and all our corp members have been posted to their respective places of primary assignment.”

He revealed that the instruction from the headquarters was for all camps to be closed across the country.

The three-week compulsory orientation course for corp members was abruptly ended by the Federal Government on Wednesday in a bid to curtail the possible spread of Coronavirus.

Suspected members of Boko Haram on Sunday morning ambushed Nigerian troops in Banki area of Borno State killing six soldiers.

Military sources confirmed that the attack occurred close to Banki junction.

Reports have not revealed the identities of the slain soldiers and allow the army to brief the families. However, the victims, members of the 151 Task Force battalion, include two sergeants, two lance corporals and two privates.

“We lost six soldiers to Boko Haram terrorists this morning. The guys came unexpectedly with sophisticated weapons,” an army officer in Borno said, asking not to be named for fear of victimization.

Banki is 130 km southeast of Maiduguri, the Borno state capital. Apart from the original residents, the community also houses some 45,000 people displaced by the Boko Haram violence.

When contacted on the attack, the army spokesperson Sagir Musa said he has no information about it.

Sunday’s attack in Banki is the latest in a string of attacks by the terror group on Borno communities.

The Boko Haram insurgency in Northern Nigeria has caused over 30,000 deaths and displaced millions of others, mainly in Adamawa, Borno and Yobe states, according to the United Nations.

Ebrima Faal, the Director of Nigeria, African Development Bank (AfDB), has revealed while speaking at a stakeholders’ forum in Abuja, that Nigerians spend about $14billion on generators and fuel yearly to provide alternative power and further stimulate growth.

He explained that the issue had a negative impact on the power sector, adding that AfDB had recently approved $210 million for the transmission project to improve the supply of electricity in the country.

The Director-General, Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), Mr Muda Yusuf, stated in a phone interview that the AfDB is right, noting the fact that private and public sector operators spend a lot of money to provide diesel-powered generators to grow the economy.

“The costs incurred to provide alternative sources of power are inevitable if industrialists are to remain in business in Nigeria. This, perhaps, is the biggest single factor impeding the growth of industrialization. The issue has made our industries very uncompetitive in recent times. That is one of the reasons our industries cannot produce for export unlike their counterparts abroad. Also, our industries contribute less than 10 per cent to the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP),’’ he stated.

The Minister of Finance, Zainab Ahmed, Announced on Monday that the federal government has benched its $22.7 billion external borrowing plan budget and national planning.

The minister spoke at the 2020 International Conference on the Nigerian Commodities Market organized by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) in Abuja.

She said “the decision to jettison the plan was taken due to current realities in the global economic landscape.”

The breakout of the deadly coronavirus late last year has completely unsettled the world economy, with the price of crude oil plunging to the lowest level since 2016.

With the Nigerian economy dependent on oil revenues to finance the budget, the unprecedented crash in oil prices below the approved benchmark price of $57 per barrel has rendered approved estimates in the budget unrealistic.

Mrs Ahmed said “the government would not even be keen to proceed with the borrowing plan even if the National Assembly gives the approval for it to go ahead. The current market indices do not support any external borrowings at the moment, despite that the parliament is still doing its work on the borrowing plan”.

“One arm of the parliament has completed their work, and the other arm is still working. So, it is a process controlled entirely by the parliament itself. We are waiting,” she said.

On Monday, the minister said that the government will defer the plan and watch the market till when the timing is right and that the government would continue to focus its efforts on its plan to diversify the country’s economy.

The unfolding events of the past few months, especially the coronavirus pandemic and the oil price wars in the international oil market have further reinforced the government’s resolve to diversify the national economy.

The current challenges in the global economy, she noted, have brought to the fore the need for Nigeria to focus its attention on the development of a non-oil attitude to everything.

The minister said the federal government would prioritize its expenditure in favor of major capital expenditures that would have greater impact on job creation, visibility as well as enhance the ease of doing business in the country. The expenditures that are not critical must be deferred to a later date when things become more normal.

Several national plans, programs and projects have been directed at diversifying the production and revenue structures of the economy,” she said.

Noting some achievements in the areas of production and revenue, she stressed the need to do more to boost production and exports base, less vulnerable to external shocks and provide more opportunities to the teeming population.

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo said at the event that the government was taking steps towards developing the Nigerian commodities market as a major driver for economic diversification efforts.

Mr Osinbajo said, “the government was working on diversifying the economy and broadening its revenue sources.”

This, he said, would need the government to develop other channels of generating revenue and foreign exchange. This need is further underscored by the recent drop in the global price of crude oil, which also constitutes a major threat to achieving the planned government expenditure,” he said.

He added that there are other initiatives towards mapping, quantifying and efficiently exploring the nation’s solid minerals deposits. Such efforts, he said, are equally necessary to diversify the country’s revenue sources from oil and create more opportunities in the regions where such solid minerals are deposited.

Some of these developments in Nigeria’s agriculture and solid minerals sectors present the emerging opportunities to be fully explored to the benefit of everyone in the country, as well as the foreign partners, he added. 

The acting Director-General of SEC, Mary Uduk, said the country was well endowed with agricultural, metal and energy commodities, whose potentials are not yet realized.

She said the good news was that the capital market could provide an avenue to unlock these potentials and diversify the nation’s economy, provide jobs, create value and contribute to governments’ revenue.

“We believe if we can develop and institutionalise a vibrant commodities trading ecosystem in Nigeria, we can substantially address problems of lack of storage, poor pricing, non-standardization, and low foreign exchange earnings affecting the country’s agriculture and other commodities sub-sectors,” she said

A constitution amendment bill that requires Higher National Diploma or its equivalent as the educational qualification required for anyone seeking to contest the office of the Nigerian president or state governors, on Thursday, passed for second reading.

The bill sponsored by a member of the Peoples Democratic Party from Plateau State, Senator Isfifanus Gyang, also prescribes National Diploma or its equivalent as the minimum qualification for federal and state lawmakers.

The bill seeks to adjust the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to provide for the amendment of Sections 65 (2) (a), and 131 (d).

It will also amend Section 106 (c) and Section 177 (d) on minimum education qualification for those seeking election into the State Assembly, Governor, National Assembly and office of the President.The bill seeks the alteration of section 65 (2) (a) of the Constitution which deals with the qualifications for intending members of the National Assembly

The current law, which the bill seeks to amend reads, “A person shall be qualified for election under subsection (1) of this section if he has been educated up to at least School Certificate level or its equivalent.”

Section 65 (2) (a) has now been rephrased to read “if he has been educated to at least a National Diploma level or its equivalent.”

The bill also seeks the alteration of Section 131 (d) which deals with minimum requirements for anyone running for the office of the governor.

The current Section of the Constitution states that the person must have “been educated up to at least School Certificate level or its equivalent”.

Section 131 (d) is now rephrased to read, “He has been educated up to at least HND level or’ its equivalent.”

For the House of Assembly, the bill seeks the alteration of section 106 (c) of the Constitution.

The President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, referred the bill to the Committee on Constitution Review after the senators passed the proposed amendment for second reading.

Hon Femi Gbajabiamila, the speaker of the House of Representatives, on Tuesday, spoke at a public investigative hearing on oil theft. 

He stated that Nigeria loses 400,000 barrels of  oil per day (bpd) which amounts to about $20.4 billion annually to theft.

Although, the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and the Office of the Accountant-General of the Federation stated that there was no exact record of the quantity of oil lost daily to crude theft.

The NNPC declared that oil theft was caused by criminality and historic neglect of the host communities.

Gbajabiamila described the practice as the worst form of economic destruction of which there can be no  excuse.

“Oil theft and the attendant damage to oil and gas assets across the country destroys the environment, puts the lives of our citizens at risk and undercuts government revenue and compromises government’s ability to meet our nation’s developmental challenges.

It is the worst kind of economic sabotage for which there is no viable defense or excuse. Those who engage in these acts of sabotage do so with the full awareness that their actions are inimical to the continued viability of the Nigerian state, yet they persist.

Their persistence in this nefarious conduct must motivate the rest of us who bear the consequences of their actions to act in unison to identify those responsible and ensure that they are fully held accountable as allowed by law.

However, beyond that, we have a responsibility to conduct a more holistic assessment to understand whatever underlying factors have caused this action to continue and the perpetrators to continue to benefit therefrom.

It is estimated in some quarters that crude oil theft in Nigeria costs us about 400,000 barrels per day. This is equal to a revenue loss of about $1.7 billion per month and $20.4 billion annually,’’ he explained.

A report from Bloomberg has revealed that Nigeria has overtaken South Africa and is now Africa’s largest economy.

The All Progressives Congress (APC) yesterday expressed happiness over Nigeria becoming Africa’s biggest economy. The ruling party noted that the achievement was not a fluke but a product of deliberate practices and policies of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration. 

In a statement in Abuja by its National Publicity Secretary, Mallam Lanre Issa-Onilu, APC noted that, “since the Nigerian economy exited recession in 2017, the country’s economic growth has not been a fluke but a result of deliberate practices and policies of the President Buhari administration, which has increased transparency in governance, diversification of the economy away from oil, improved fiscal management, and a healthy protectionist approach, which has aided the growth and increased the capacity of domestic producers and in turn created jobs”.

The party stressed that despite the dwindling resources resulting from the fall in oil prices, the country had continued to witness economic growth.

“The fact that we are making commendable progress with all the challenges shows this government is doing the right thing. There is no doubt about the determination of the Buhari government to continue to take the right steps to create jobs, grow the economy, create a secure environment, massively develop our infrastructure and develop our other resources through focused and well-reasoned diversification policies,” APC said.

The party advised the country’s youths to embrace and support government’s finance, ease of doing business, and other services to enable them to release their latent creative energies.

Mr Abubakar Malami (SAN), The Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, said on Tuesday that the latest recovered tranche of the funds looted by the late Head of State, Gen. Sani Abacha, has yet to be recovered.

Reacting to a claim by the opposition Peoples Democratic Party that the recovered loot had been looted. Malami, in a statement by his Special Assistant on Media and Public Relations, Dr Umar Gwandu said that they are yet to receive the Abacha loot.

The minister had on February 4, 2020, on behalf of the Federal Government, signed a tripartite agreement between the United States of America and the Island of New Jersey for the repatriation of $300m of the Abacha loot.

But controversy has continued to trail the discovered loot following Bloomberg’s report of a claim by the United States of America that the Federal Government led by the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), was planning to hand over about $100m out of the Abacha loot to Governor Abubakar Bagudu of Kebbi State.

The report further stated that the Nigerian government was blocking attempts to recover part of the looted funds allegedly traced to Bagudu, who is the Chairman of the All Progressives Congress Governors’ Forum.

But Malami said on Tuesday that the loot expected from the US and the Island of New Jersey had “yet to be received by the government”.

“So, the issue regarding embezzlement or misappropriation of same is an imaginary illusion which does not even arise as the money has not yet been repatriated to Nigeria,” he stated.

According to him, the looted money recovered before 2015 were substantially recovered by past governments that should be made to account on the application or otherwise of the funds.

He added that looted funds recovered by the Buhari regime were judiciously utilized for high-impact public-oriented projects.