The Lagos State government has agreed to withdraw charges against former governorship candidate of the Action Democratic Party (ADP) in Lagos State, Babatunde Gbadamosi and his wife Folasade; and popular singer Naira Marley.
This is as defendants accepted to tender written apology to Lagos State Government, issue undertaking to comply with directive on lockdown and social distancing and stay in isolation for the next 14 days.
The state government agreed to withdraw the charge against the three defendants based on their remorsefulness but subsequent upon them fulfilling three conditions.
They were therefore not arraigned before the Magistare Court sitting in Ogba today, April 8. The conditions are:
1) They have to write a formal apology to the Government of Lagos State which will solidify the remorsefulness shown by them.
(2) They have to give an undertaking in writing that they will continue to comply with the directives of Mr President and Mr Governor which is the subject matter of the case before the court.
(3) In view of the danger which the state believes they’ve put themselves by attending a gathering exceeding 20 persons, they must agree to go on 14 days isolation to protect other members of the public from any likely danger.
The defendants through their counsel all agreed to the conditions and the court has adjourned till tomorrow for the prosecutor to brief the court on whether all the conditions have been met failing which they will be arraigned.
Globacom owner, Mike Adenuga and oil magnate, Femi Otedola are not chummy friends but the corona virus pandemic has brought two of Nigeria’s billionaire together, after they both donated a billion naira each to the covid 19 Relief Fund set up by the federal government.
But the same issue had almost separated them, when the CBN, on Friday disclosed that some donors including Adenuga were yet to redeem their pledges.
Apart from the telecom billionaire, GSM giant MTN, Larfarge, among others had yet to redeem their donations, the apex bank said.
Responding to the issue, Otedola was reported to have called out Adenuga and others to pay their pledges to the fund.
It was later discovered that CBN was responsible for the mixup as the telecom tycoon has already sent his N1billion pledge to the federal government.
This was made known by Dele Momodu while responding to allegations by CBN that Adenuga and others had delayed sending their monetary donations.
In a post on his Instagram handle, Momodu said the Globacom xhairman had not only redeemed his pledge to the FG but, has also donated a whopping N500 million to the Lagos state government as part of his contribution to combat the deadly virus.
The letter titled, ‘Confirmation of transfer to CBN account 1000014920 COVID-19 Relief Fund Account’, read in part, “As you are well aware, we made bank drafts for the total sum of N1, 000, 000, 000 (one billion naira only) on March 30, 2020 in favour of COVID-19 Relief Fund Account.
“We are pleased to confirm that we have wired the full value of the drafts N1, 000, 000, 000(one billion naira) to the beneficiary – CBN account 1000014920 COVID-19 Relief Fund Account as per your instruction in spite of the limited banking services occasioned by the pandemic.”00
“Africa’s most silent billionaire, Dr. Michael Adeniyi Agbolade Isola Adenuga has fully redeemed his pledge of N1bn to the CBN/Nigerian private sector coalition against COVID-19,” Momodu said.
As the world is currently forced to lockdown due to the rampaging Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, Nigeria not exempted. In Lagos and elsewhere, there are ongoing subtle politics of supremacy. An interesting scenario appears to be playing out in Nigeria where the Lagos State chapter of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) is allegedly hiding behind the situation to tame its perceived main opponent ahead of the 2023 governorship election.
Not many citizens of Lagos would read between the lines the speedy ‘trial and conviction’ of popular Nollywood actress, Funke Akindele-Bello (a.k.a Jenifer) and her husband, Abdul-Rasheed Bello (also known as JJC Skills), which took place two days ago at the Chief Magistrate Court in Ogba, under Chief Magistrate Aje Afunwa. The couple was sentenced to a 14-day community service with a fine of N100, 000 each after they pleaded guilty to a one-count charge preferred against them by the state government.
Prior to their arraignment, the Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr. Moyosore Onigbanjo, who led the prosecution team, told the court that the couple hosted a birthday party at their residence at 9 Gbadamosi Close, Amen Estate, Abijo, Lekki, contrary to the social distancing directives contained in the regulations issued by Governor Babatunde Sanwo-Olu pursuant to the Infectious Diseases Act. Onigbanjo said the defendants flouted Regulations 8(1)(a)(b) and 17(1)(I) of the Lagos State Emergency Regulations 2020 and punishable under Section 58 Public Health Laws of Lagos State 2015.
But beyond what happened in court, there had been a series of attempts by the actress and her husband, along with their close associates, to appease the powers-that-be for the trial not to hold, including reaching out to some influential people they know without success. Such influential persons included APC’s national Leader, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, to intervene but to no avail.
One of the alleged intrigues behind the development is the fact that the offence for which the Akindele-Bellos were tried and convicted was committed inside the estate owned by the Action Democratic Party (ADP) governorship candidate in the 2019 election, Mr. Babatunde Gbadamosi, who contested against the incumbent governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, but lost. Badamosi has since defected to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). The former ADP candidate has since been arrested and detained by the police and would be arraigned today for the same offence the couples were convicted. Although he was granted bail yesterday, he would still face trial today in one of the magistrate’s courts in Lagos.
Gbadamosi, whose recent move from ADP to PDP, with the aim to pursue his governorship ambition in 2023, is considered a force the ruling party must silence at whatever cost ahead of the next general election because of the potential threat he poses to the ruling party. It is not in doubt that Lagos State PDP may be counting on the likes of Gbadamosi, who recently returned to the party’s fold, to bear its flag in 2023. After the 2019 general elections the party has been in a state of disarray following the defections of many of its strong members like former Senators Musiliu Obanikoro, Adeseye Ogunlewe and even its erstwhile state chairman, Mr. Moshood El Salvador among others.
While reacting on the issue, a governorship candidate of Abundant Nigeria Renewal Party (ANRP) for the 2019 election in Lagos, Mr. Abiodun Dabiri, said the trial of ‘Jenifer’ was a ploy by the state government to get at Gbadamosi, who APC may have seen as a threat if he was allowed to contest the coming 2023 elections.
According to Dabiri, “I am convinced that Gbadamosi is the real target. Funke Akindele and her husband were simply used as a decoy to get at him. While it is true that he (Gbadamosi) committed the offence, because the law says ‘stay-at-home and don’t interact’. Tinubu, who marked his 68th birthday amidst the coronavirus pandemic, should also have been arrested and tried for breaching the social distancing directives because people gathered.”
Dabiri added that the premises and the courtroom, where the Akindele-Bellos were convicted, were also crowded and violated the social distancing order, adding, “it is therefore imperative of the same government to go after all those that were present in the courtroom to put them in isolation” and possibly also try them, arguing that Lagos State Government and the ruling party could not implement selective laws under circumstances like this.
He said if Gbadamosi is convicted, his chances of contesting in 2023 may be difficult as an ex-convict.
The spokesman of PDP, Mr. Taofik Gani, told The Guardian that it was a clear indication that APC was only trying to stop one of the strong forces in PDP ahead of the next governorship election “which we are ready to resist.”
While expressing concerns over the hastiness with which the Akindele-Bellos pleaded guilty to the charge and were arraigned, tried and convicted, “we are not in doubt that the agenda was to get at Gbadamosi, who is the owner of the estate where the party held.”
Gani also added that Gbadamosi did not attend the party, neither did he appear in the video, noting, “his only crime was to have owned up that he was at Akindele-Bello’s house in the morning, which was not enough for the state to arraign him if there are no other motives.
The PD’sP spokesman added that the Akindele-Bellos might have been placed under duress to implicate Gbadamosi, who is APC’s major target.
“We won’t be surprised if the lady is made to provide a doctored video showing Gbadamosi’s presence at the party,” he continued. “We believe this law will die naturally today if the government, for whatever reason or excuse, convicted our member.”
Meanwhile, state’s Publicity Secretary of APC, Mr. Seye Oladejo, dismissed insinuations that Gbadamosi was being held by the ruling party for fear he may constitute problem to the party’s re-election in 2023, noting, “I disagreed with that because he has never been a force to reckon with in the political calculations of Lagos. Gbadamosi himself issued a release apologising for what he did, but there is no sentiment in law. If such a character becomes governor, who knowingly violates laws, what would you expect of him?”
He urged the people to desist from exercising poor judgment over the matter but to think of the larger interest of the society, which the law in question was made to protect.
“I mean, we are talking of COVID-19 that the entire world is battling with,” he said, “how come a personality like Gbadamosi should violate such order?”
But as at yesterday afternoon when Gbadamosi was granted bail, it was not certain if he would be arraigned today, perhaps on grounds that some influential citizens in the state were trying to intervene to douse the political tension and fallout.
When contacted, the Chairman of Lagos PDP, Mr. Ade Doherty, said he would not want to aggravate the situation since he was not sure if the arraignment would hold today or not.
According to him, “I have contacted Gbadamosi, who told me he was granted bail and asked to report back at the station at 10 am today. He is not sure whether he would be arraigned or not; until that happens, I don’t want to aggravate the issue with my comment.”
But the biggest intrigues against Gbadamosi may possibly come from within the PDP’s fold, as some of top members, who spoke on condition of anonymity, were nonchalant about his current ordeal.
As one of them said, “This is not about party sentiments, but what the law says that all should stay at home. In the first instance, Gbadamosi ought not to have left his house except he is on essential purpose of going to buy food or for medical purpose.”
He noted that COVID-19 has put the whole world on her kneels and people are dying in droves even in advanced nations, where the lockdown law was in place, adding, “The order therefore does not exempt anybody. We only hope he would be given a soft landing. Perhaps, he is arraigned but to begin to raise sentiment is not acceptable. Coronavirus knows no political party, individuals or whoever. We must face the reality.”
Meanwhile, the lackadaisical disposition of some members of PDP to Gbadamosi’s plight might not be unconnected with fears being associated with his defection to the party, which might displace some bigwigs eyeing the party’s ticket ahead of 2019.
Saudi Arabia’s health minister has warned the number of COVID-19 cases in the country could reach 200,000 in coming weeks.
As of Tuesday, the kingdom registered a total of 2,795 coronavirus infections, including 41 deaths.
“Within the next few weeks, studies predict the number of infections will range from a minimum of 10,000 to a maximum of 200,000,” health minister Tawfiq al-Rabiah was cited as saying by the official Saudi Press Agency on Tuesday.
On Monday, Saudi Arabia extended the duration of daily curfews in four governorates and five cities to 24 hours.
The kingdom imposed round-the-clock lockdowns in the capital Riyadh, Tabuk, Dammam, Dhahran and Hofuf, the interior ministry said on Twitter.
The same measures were also imposed on the governorates of Jeddah, Taif, Qatif and Khobar, the ministry added.
Authorities had already sealed off the holy cities of Mecca and Medina, barring people from entering and exiting as well as prohibiting movement between all provinces.
Last month, Saudi Arabia suspended the year-round “Umrah” pilgrimage over fears of the coronavirus pandemic spreading to Islam’s holiest cities.
Authorities are yet to announce whether they will proceed with this year’s Hajj, scheduled for the end of July. Last week, authorities urged Muslims to temporarily defer preparations for the annual pilgrimage.
Last year, about 2.5 million people travelled to Saudi Arabia to take part in the Hajj, which all Muslims must perform at least once in their lives if able.
The Arab world’s biggest economy has also closed down cinemas, malls and restaurants and halted flights as it steps up efforts to contain the virus.
King Salman has warned of a “more difficult” fight ahead against the virus, as the kingdom faces the economic double blow of virus-led shutdowns and crashing oil prices.
John Prine, the raspy-voiced singer-songwriter whose homespun, witty and insightful country-folk tunes influenced legions of musicians in a career that spanned five decades, died Tuesday at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville. He was 73.
His publicist tells CNN, “Yes, we can confirm on behalf of the Prine family — John died today at Vanderbilt due to complications of Covid-19.”
Prine was hospitalized and intubated last month after a “sudden onset” of coronavirus symptoms, according to a family statement posted on his verified Twitter account.
“This is hard news for us to share. But so many of you have loved and supported John over the years, we wanted to let you know, and give you the chance to send on more of that love and support now. And know that we love you, and John loves you,” the statement said.
The unassuming Prine never had a hit single or a blockbuster album. But he built a devoted following, won several Grammys and overcame two bouts of cancer to record and tour into his 70s.
“He is singing with the angels,” singer Sheryl Crow wrote on Twitter. “You will be missed but your songs will live on.”
Other musicians revered Prine and covered many of his songs, which wrung wry, universal truths from everyday life. Johnny Cash, in his memoir, named Prine as one of his four key songwriting inspirations. Bob Dylan, in a 2009 interview, said, “Prine’s stuff is pure Proustian existentialism … and he writes beautiful songs.”
“There’s a huge hole in the music world tonight. John did it best,” country singer Toby Keith wrote on Twitter.
“I didn’t expect to do this for a living, being a recording artist,” Prine told NPR in 2018.
Prine grew up in a blue-collar suburb of Chicago and was famously working as a postal carrier when his musical career took off in 1970. He was singing on open-mic nights at a Chicago bar when Roger Ebert, then a young reporter for the Sun-Times, heard him play and wrote a favorable review, dubbing him the “Singing Mailman.”
People began lining up to hear him play, and one famous early fan, singer-songwriter Kris Kristofferson, helped him get a record deal.
“John and I were ‘New Dylans’ together in the early 70s and he was never anything but the loveliest guy in the world,” Bruce Springsteen wrote on Twitter following Prine’s death. “A true national treasure and a songwriter for the ages. We send our love and prayers to his family.”
Prine’s debut album, in 1971, was a critical success. It contains several of his signature songs, including “Paradise,” about the Western Kentucky town where his parents grew up, and “Hello in There,” an affectionate tribute to elderly people.
Its chorus goes: “Ya know that old trees just grow stronger / And old rivers grow wilder every day / Old people just grow lonesome / Waiting for someone to say, ‘Hello in there, hello.’ “
Johnny Cash covered another of its songs, “Sam Stone,” about a drug-addicted Vietnam vet. But Cash was uncomfortable with its most famous line — “There’s a hole in daddy’s arm where all the money goes / Jesus Christ died for nothin’ I suppose” — and sang it as, “Daddy must have suffered a lot back then, I suppose.”
Prine released a dozen albums and toured steadily over the next two decades until a health scare almost ended his life. In 1996 he was diagnosed with Stage 3 neck cancer, which required surgeons to remove a piece of his neck. The operation also severed nerves in his tongue and changed the tone of his voice.
It took him more than a year before he could perform again.
“At least they left with a voice to sing. I think it improved my voice, if anything. I always had a hard time listening to my singing before my surgery,” he told NPR. “It dropped down lower and feels friendlier to me.”
Over the years Prine’s songs have been covered by a wide range of artists, from Bonnie Raitt and Bette Midler to John Fogerty, the Zac Brown Band and My Morning Jacket.
In 2005, Prine became the first singer/songwriter to perform at the Library of Congress — one of several literary honors for a songwriter whose best songs blended poetry with back-porch storytelling.
Cancer struck again in 2013, when he had successful surgery to remove a spot in his left lung.
In January, the Grammys honored Prine with a lifetime achievement award, with Raitt singing his standard “Angel From Montgomery” — a retro outlier amid of-the-moment pop performances by Lizzo, Ariana Grande and Lil Nas X. Some in the youthful Staples Center audience probably wondered who he was.
Donations from individuals and corporate bodies in Nigeria to the Private Sector Coalition Against COVID-19 (CACOVID) Relief Fund domiciled at the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) have risen to N21billion.
The figure was disclosed on behalf of the coalition by the director, Corporate Communications of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Isaac Okorafor.
He said that the total figure donated stood as at yesterday at N21.5 billion as the initial list of 37 donors which grew to 47 now stands at 50, with the likes of Chief Mike Adenuga, Raj Gupta of African Steel Mills Nigeria Ltd., Modupe and Folorunsho Alakija of Famfa Oil Limited and the Nigeria Deposit Insurance Corporation (NDIC) donating N1billion each to the relief fund.
Other donors are former Vice President, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, Rahul Savarah, Tolaram Africa Enterprises Ltd, Ekeoma Eme Ekeoma, Jennifer Ramatu Etuh Foundation, ADG International Resources Ltd., and Proshare Nigeria Limited.
In a statement, he issued, Okorafor, reiterated that the coalition’s appreciation to the individuals and corporate bodies for their contributions to the relief fund advocated by the CBN and the private sector.
While urging more Nigerians and corporate bodies to contribute to the fund, he charged Nigerians to do their part in checking the spread of the virus in Nigeria.
+ Says, National Ethos, Patriotism Boost The Chadian Army’s Morale To Batter Boko Haram
Olowu of Kuta, His Royal Highness Oba Adekunle Oyelude Makama, Tegbosun 111, has urged Nigerians to show patriotism towards our military in order to defeat the Boko Haram. Olowu in a statement issued by his Media Office said the Chadian Army was able to record such a feat against the Boko Haram because of the total support it enjoyed from the populace.The Monarch while reacting to the recent counter attack by the Chadian Army that killed scores of the insurgents and put them to flight, said it was because the whole country was behind the President Idris Debby led army. His words, “ I think we need to draw a lesson from the patriotism displayed by the Chadian Army. Also, none of their citizens raise any issue after the attack, neither did the Amnesty International raise issue of war crimes against the army. All of them; the Chadian nationals and all the international non governmental organisations in the country were on the same page.This is the way to go in order to boost the morale of our own army and provide the necessary support for them; both financially and morally.”Olowu maintains that our army given the necessary support will thrash the Boko Haram and return peace to the north east which has become their enclave.He, however, said he draws inspiration from the performance(s) of our army in peace keeping efforts across the world , where it has distinguished itself, adding that overcoming Boko Haram in Nigeria will be a walk over for them once we give them the necessary impetus to achieve victory.Olowu also commended the Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Tukur Yusuf Buratai for providing leadership to the Nigerian Army despite our peculiar situation, Buratai deserve our Collective support for his patriotic efforts in repositioning our Army, “I think our army also needs to draw inspiration from the Chadian Army’s feat against the Boko Haram and redouble its effort to crush the insurgents, our army Should ignore the Enemies of the Nation under the guise of civil rights movement as its evident now that Boko Haram is vulnerable now after the Idris Derby army’s onslaught against them. What we need for our troops is the final push to finish off the insurgents.” He said. I urge the Elite and journalists in Country to stop meddling in the military’s operational matters By ascribing baseless meaning to Posting and transfer among officers and men, let’s support our Army as patriotic citizens of Nigeria rather than celebrating external forces.
A call has been made to the Lagos State Government, individuals and corporate organisations who are currently deploying all manner of palliatives in cash and kind as a result of the effect of the Coronavirus lockdown to use the network of Rotary International. The call was made by Rtn Michael Effiong James, President, Rotary Club of Ikeja South following the spate of protests and anger over the poor and inequitable distribution of palliatives by government officials and others. He noted that about 80 per cent of the over 100 clubs in District 9110 are located in Lagos State and they can mobilize their extensive network and know-how to help the government fight this pandemic as well as touch people’s lives. According to the Rotarian who is also a journalist and Editor, Ovation International Magazine, ” I was in tears as I watched the good intention of Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu to provide succour to Lagosians in form of palliatives being rubbished by poor execution, and it occurred to me that Rotary can actually help to right this wrong. “Rotary is an organisation of professionals, who as volunteers, are committed to the service of humanity, and therefore,would be able to use their knowledge of needs assessment, project siting, project monitoring and closeness to the communities to good effect.In addition, its time-tested record of probity as a result of the application of the 4-Way test has made Rotary an organisation that is trusted worldwide which is reason it holds the highest consultative status at the United Nation’s Economic and Social Council which oversees many UN agencies. “In Rotary, we have a wide range of professionals, from medical doctors to nurses, lawyers to engineers, these are not greedy or hungry people, but Nigerians who are genuinely passionate about putting smiles on peoples’ faces, so this is a situation that they are best equipped to handle. They also have partnered with governments and individuals successfully in the past and sees no reason that Governor Sanwo-Olu and Rotary International District 9110 Governor, Rtn (Dr.) Jide Akeredolu cannot join forces. “That is not all, due to Rotary’s experience with Polio eradication, its huge date bank of facts and figures may actually help the Ministry of Health and the Nigerian Centre For Disease Control (NCDC) in the area of contact tracing and enlightenment”. Rtn James also used the opportunity to call on residents of Lagos and Nigerians in general to adhere to the instruction of hand washing for at least 20 seconds, social distancing, cleaning of hard surfaces around their homes and most importantly staying at home. He said these measure, difficult as they may seem, will help to flatten the curve, stop the spread of the virus, save more lives and enable us return to our normal day-to-day activities in good time. He revealed that Rotary International has encouraged clubs to intervene in the fight against COVID-19 and while some have already done theirs, Rotary Club of Ikeja of South and others, are fine-tuning plans to embark on impactful intervention projects as contribution to the global effort.
The Wellbeing Foundation Africa in partnership with PocketPatientMD has launched a new free e-health check tool on ‘COVID-19 Health Check’ for all Nigerians.
The digital e-health tool – soon to be complemented by a mobile application and an offline version – will educate the public on how to stay healthy; provide users with information about whether or not they need to be tested for the Coronavirus; give public officials critical insights into vulnerable populations while providing early identification of potential COVID-19 hotspots around the country.
The Wellbeing Foundation Founder, Mrs Toyin Saraki, who revealed in a press statement said; “This is a first-of-its-kind tool in the global fight against this pandemic. This health platform has the potential to be an effective early warning system, accelerating the response time of public health officials with limited resources, and giving every Nigerian accurate and immediate health advice”, commented Saraki who is also the Special Adviser to the World Health Organisation Africa Office Independent Advisory Group.
“Our efforts will complement the heroic efforts of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) and all those working to solve this unprecedented challenge.”
Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu, Director General of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), commending the efforts of The Wellbeing Foundation Africa, noted how important it is “that Nigerians have the tools that enable them to take proactive steps to protect their health as we work hard to prevent and control the spread of COVID-19.”
In the same vein, Dr. Sani Aliyu, the National Coordinator of the Federal Government of Nigeria’s Response to COVID-19 has lauded the tool as “a welcome digital innovation to help Nigerians better understand their potential risks and symptoms and direct them to government resources for any required follow-up.”
The e-health check tool works by asking users a few questions in order ascertain whether or not they need to get tested for the Coronavirus. In keeping with the Federal Government of Nigeria’s directive on staying home to curb the spread of the pandemic, the tool refers users directly to both the NCDC and state government hotlines for medical advice on how to get tested. Mark Wien, co-founder and CEO of PocketPatientMD explained that the focus of the partnership is to reach “as many Nigerians as possible, and we are honoured to partner with Her Excellency Toyin Saraki who has a global reputation as an advocate for the vulnerable and a champion of better healthcare for all.”
According to Herbert Wigwe, member of the Funding Committee, Private Sector Coalition Against COVID-19 (CACOVID) Relief Fund, “we are fighting for our lives, and to win, it is critical we all come together as one. We welcome the Wellbeing Foundation Africa and PocketPatientMD initiative in contributing a platform to reach Nigerians of all ages with an easy self-check and referral to the appropriate public health authorities, nationwide.”
“We can only beat Coronavirus if we work together”, added Saraki. “Misinformation has become widespread as we respond to this pandemic and this ground-breaking approach will only be as effective as the number of people who sign up and join us.” She implored Nigerians to “take the test every 7 days, or when their symptoms change, and to ensure that they are paying close attention to, and reporting any changes in their health status not only to stay safe but also to help keep our frontline health workers safe and our public officials aware.”
The e-health check tool is available for free at https://covid19.wbfafrica.org/ and users can access real-time updates on how to stay connected, safe, and healthy during the pandemic on Instagram and Twitter @Wellbeing_PPMD, and @WellbeingPPMD on Facebook.