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SERAP Sues Ministry of Health and NCDC Over Failure to Account for Public Funds on Covid-19

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SERAP Sues Ministry of Health and NCDC Over Failure to Account for Public Funds on Covid-19

Human Rights organization, the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP),  has filed a lawsuit against Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu, Director General, Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) and Dr Osagie Ehanire, the Minister of Health, over “their failure to account for the public funds and other resources so far spent and used to combat the spread of COVID-19 in Nigeria.”

The lawsuit came after SERAP made a Freedom of Information (FoI) request on 27 March 2020 to the Minister of Health and the NCDC, expressing “concern that lack of transparency in the use of the funds and resources to combat COVID-19 would lead to diversion or mismanagement of funds and resources, unnecessarily cost lives, and result in serious damage to public health in the country.”

According to the suit, SERAP wants the Health Ministry and the NCDC to reveal details received from the private sector, state and federal governments, and also reveal how the funds have been used in the fight against the Covid-19 disease in Nigeria.

Publishing details of the lawsuit on it’s website, SERAP with suit number FHC/ABJ/CS/616/2020 filed last week at the Federal High Court, Abuja, SERAP seeks:

1.“An order for leave to apply for judicial review and an order of mandamus to direct and compel the Minister of Health and the NCDC to publish details of the funds and resources from federal and state governments, and the private sector, as well as details of how the funds and resources have so far been spent and used to combat COVID-19.”

2.  “An order of mandamus to direct and compel the Federal Government to disclose information on the exact number of tests that have been carried out for high-ranking public officials and politicians, the number of any such high-ranking public officials and politicians now in self-isolation or quarantine, as well as the exact number of tests that have been carried out for the country’s poorest and most vulnerable people.”

According to SERAP’s lawsuit: “Transparency in the use of COVID-19 money would help to reduce the risk of corruption or opportunism, build trust and engage Nigerians in the fight against coronavirus as well as safe lives. Transparency and accountability are important to implementing an effective response to COVID-19 and slowing the spread of the virus in the country.”
 “Nigerians have the right to know the details of spending of COVID-19 money, as this is essential to the fight against corruption, and will foster the development of democratic institutions and the rule of law in Nigeria.”

 “Millions of Nigerians continue to lack access to an improved water source and to proper sanitation, thereby making them vulnerable to COVID-19 and other illnesses. Yet, the Ministry of Health and the NCDC have failed and/or refused to disclose whether there is any collaborative work with the Ministry of Water Resources to provide vulnerable Nigerians with safe water, sanitation, and hygienic conditions.” SERAP continued in the lawsuit by its lawyers Kolawole Oluwadare, Atinuke Adejuyigbe, and Opeyemi Owolabi

According to SERAP, some politicians have been taking multiple tests as NCDC has been prioritizing home testing the high and mighty while leaving the most vulneable without tests..

According to SERAP,  there have been reports of lack of transparency in use of Covid relief funds so the government has no justifiable reason to deny SERAP the information it’s requesting.

“The information SERAP is seeking to access is permitted under the Freedom of Information Act 2011 and the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights to which Nigeria is a state party.”

“The Federal Government has a legal duty to ensure that information on the spending of COVID-19 money and resources is released to SERAP and widely published. It is not too much to ask for details of measures to protect health workers and procedures put in place to ensure that COVID-19 money is not diverted, mismanaged or stolen.”

“The Federal Government has no legally justifiable reason for refusing to provide SERAP with the information requested, and therefore, this court ought to grant SERAP the order directing and compelling the Federal Government to publish details of spending of COVID-19 money.”

“There are reports of lack of transparency in the use of the funds and resources being mobilised to combat coronavirus, and that authorities are prioritising home testing of politicians, with some reportedly taking multiple tests. Politicians engaging in multiple tests for coronavirus have in turn slowed the number of tests for the country’s poorest and most vulnerable people.”

“The suit is in the public interest, as it bothers on issues of national interest, public welfare and interest, social justice, good governance, transparency and accountability. Obedience to the rule of law particularly by those who publicly took oath of office to protect and preserve the constitution is a desideratum to good governance and respect for the rule of law.”

“Nigerians are entitled to know how the commonwealth is being utilized, managed and administered in a democratic setting, as this positively influences the feeling of belonging in the society. This right to know will no doubt help in promoting a transparent democracy, good governance and public accountability.”

According to SERAP’s official Twitter account, the organization  is seeking the following reliefs:
An order granting leave to the Applicant to apply for judicial review and seek an order of mandamus directing and compelling the Respondents to provide and disclose the following information to the Applicant:
A. Details of exact funds and other resources allocated by the Nigerian authorities and private sector donations to the Respondents to improve Nigeria’s health facilities to combat the spread of COVID-19 in Nigeria;

B. Details of spending and planned spending of any such funds, other resources and donations to combat the spread of COVID-19 in Nigeria;

C. Details of efforts made by the Second Respondent to make NCDC’s website functional and accessible and to publish weekly spending on initiatives by the NCDC, including on NCDC’s website;

D. Details of processes and procedures put in place to ensure that the funds, other resources and donations allocated to combat COVID-19 are not diverted, mismanaged or stolen;

E. Details of measures to protect health workers and to encourage the country’s poorest and most vulnerable people to come forward for testing and to escalate testing for this group;

F. The exact number of tests that have been carried out for high-ranking public officials and politicians, the number of any such high-ranking public officials and politicians now in self-isolation or quarantine, as well as the exact number of tests that have been carried out for the country’s poorest and most vulnerable people

 

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Duke of Edinburgh: The world’s longest-serving consort in British History died at 99 (The Highlights & Photo News)

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Duke of Edinburgh: Prince Philip
Philip’s funeral will be held at St George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle, “in line with custom and with His Royal Highness’s wishes,” the College of Arms, which oversees many ceremonial aspects of the royal family’s work, said in a statement Friday.
The statement added that the duke would not have a state funeral, and that the funeral would not be proceeded by a lying-in-state.
“The funeral arrangements have been revised in view of the prevailing circumstances arising from the Covid-19 pandemic and it is regretfully requested that members of the public do not attempt to attend or participate in any of the events that make up the funeral,” the statement added.
The bells of London’s Westminster Abbey, where Prince Philip married Queen Elizabeth more than 70-years-ago, rang on Friday evening in honor of him.
Gun salutes will be fired across the UK at noon on Saturday, the UK Ministry of Defence wrote in a statement. “Across the United Kingdom, in Gibraltar and on HM Ships at sea, saluting batteries will fire 41 rounds at one round every minute for 40 minutes,” it wrote.
“The public are encouraged to observe the gun salutes from home, they will take place behind closed doors but broadcast online and on television,” the statement added.
More details on funeral arrangements are expected to be confirmed by Buckingham Palace on Saturday, according to a royal source.
The royal family joined the British government in asking the public to not gather at the royal residences, in light of coronavirus restrictions, and “make a donation to a charity instead of leaving floral tributes in memory of The Duke of Edinburgh.”
An online condolences book has been launched on the family’s official website for those who wish to leave messages, Buckingham Palace said.
The College of Arms also gave details for the period of mourning, stating that all “official flags, including the Union Flag, will be flown at half-mast from now until 08:00 on the day following the funeral.”
Charles, the Prince of Wales, visited his mother the Queen on Friday afternoon, traveling from his Gloucestershire home to Windsor Castle, a royal source told CNN.
The source also said the Prince of Wales had been in constant contact with his father since his hospitalization in February.
Prince Harry and Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, said Britain’s Prince Philip would be “greatly missed,” in a statement following the news of the death of Harry’s grandfather.

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Prince
Set on a full-screen dark background, the message, which was posted on the front page of the couple’s Archewell charity, simply reads: “In loving memory of His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh, 1921-2021. Thank you for your service … you will be greatly missed.”
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson paid tribute to the duke, saying that he’d “earned the affection of generations here in the United Kingdom, across the Commonwealth, and around the world.”
US President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden said in a statement: “Philip gladly dedicated himself to the people of the UK, the Commonwealth, and to his family. The impact of his decades of devoted public service is evident in the worthy causes he lifted up as patron, in the environmental efforts he championed, in the members of the Armed Forces that he supported, in the young people he inspired.”
Former US President Barack Obama praised the late Prince as “an extraordinary many” who “showed the world what it meant to be a supportive husband to a powerful woman,” he wrote on Facebook.
“Yet he also found a way to lead without demanding the spotlight — serving in combat in World War II, commanding a frigate in the Royal Navy, and tirelessly touring the world to champion British industry and excellence,” he added.

A lifetime of service

Philip, also known by his official title of the Duke of Edinburgh, was the longest-serving British consort. He married the then Princess Elizabeth in 1947 after a courtship that charmed a country still reeling from the ravages of World War II.
In his seven decades of service, Philip often accompanied the Queen on royal engagements, and conducted thousands of his own solo appearances. He once referred to himself as “the world’s most experienced plaque unveiler,” while the Queen lauded him as her “constant strength and guide.”
The duke was known for off-the-cuff remarks that often displayed a quick wit but occasionally missed the mark, sometimes in spectacular fashion. Philip continued making public appearances well into his 90s, retiring only in August 2017.
He supported a number of philanthropic endeavors and was associated with around 800 organizations. He founded the Duke of Edinburgh Awards Scheme, a youth development program that operates in more than 130 countries and territories around the world.
After retiring, Philip spent much of his time at the Queen’s rural Sandringham estate. He was occasionally seen in later years at private family events such as the weddings of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, and of Princess Eugenie to Jack Brooksbank, both at Windsor Castle.
Philip’s advanced age meant that his health had been the subject of much media focus in recent years. In December 2019, he was taken to hospital as a “precautionary measure” for what Buckingham Palace described as a “pre-existing” condition. He had previously been admitted to hospital on multiple occasions for a variety of reasons, including for a hip replacement and for treatment for bladder infections.
The duke was born the Prince Philip of Greece and Denmark on the Greek island of Corfu in 1921. He left Greece aged 18 months with his family when King Constantine was forced to abdicate after a revolt by Greece’s war-stretched military forces. The family moved first to Paris and later, in 1928, to England.
Philip had an itinerant childhood, educated variously in the UK, France, and Germany.
He became a decorated naval officer for his service during World War II, and when peace returned, rekindled an earlier friendship with Elizabeth that quickly blossomed into a public romance.
In order to marry, the duke renounced his Greek title, became a naturalized British subject and took the surname Mountbatten, derived from his mother’s side of the family. The marriage ceremony was held at Westminster Abbey in 1947. He and Elizabeth had four children: Charles, Anne, Andrew and Edward.
Tributes for the duke have flooded in from all over the world, including the Commonwealth nations of India, Australia and Canada. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said he had “distinguished career in the military and was at the forefront of many community service initiatives. May his soul rest in peace.”
Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison said Philip “embodied a generation that we will never see again.” Canada’s Justin Trudeau said “Prince Philip was a man of great purpose and conviction, who was motivated by a sense of duty to others. He will be fondly remembered as a constant in the life of our Queen.”

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Senate urges FG to procure COVID-19 vaccines for Nigerians

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covid-19 Vaccine

Senate urges FG to procure COVID-19 vaccines for Nigerians

The Senate has urged the Federal Government to make sufficient funds available for procurement and administration of COVID-19 vaccines for Nigerians.

It described as unfortunate the failure by government to produce a plan for the purchase, distribution and administration of the therapy despite the fact that many nations globally had done so.

Adopting a motion sponsored on Thursday, Dec 3, by Senator Oloriegbe Ibrahim during plenary presided over by Senate President Ahmad Lawan in Abuja, the upper legislative chamber directed its Committee on Health and Primary Health Care to summon the Ministries of Health and Finance, as well as the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 and other relevant agencies for their plans.

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The lawmakers regretted that “the only plan on COVID-19 vaccine for Nigeria is the pledge by Global Alliance for Vaccine Initiative (GAVI) to support 20 per cent of the country’s requirement.”

This support, according to them, would cover only the cost of the treatment without taking care of logistics for distribution and administration.

The legislature added: “Despite the change in the epidemiology trends of the disease, the financial plan developed by the country and World Bank in April 2020 to fund the response to the pandemic is still being implemented without taking due cognisance of the changes by re-allocating the funds to vaccine procurement.”

It noted that failure to administer vaccines in the nation would result in Nigeria’s inability to contain further infections and a possible ban on Nigerians by countries across the world.

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COVID-19: Chinese Embassy Issues Nigerians and Other Nationals Travel Restrictions into China

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COVID-19: Chinese Embassy Issues Nigerians and Other Nationals Travel Restrictions into China

The Chinese authorities have issued fresh travel restrictions into China by Nigerians and other nationals in Nigeria holding valid Chinese visas or residence permits.

A public notice issued by the Embassy of China and Consulate in Nigeria today November 5, states that the decision was based on the COVID19 concerns in Nigeria. Other countries placed on temporary travel restrictions include the United Kingdom, Belgium, Luxembourg, Philippines, and a few others.

 

The Chinese embassy says it will no longer issue certified health declaration form for non-Chinese nationals in the country. It, however, said holders of diplomatic passports, courtesy, or C visas would not be affected by the regulation.

 

‘Notice of temporary suspension of entry into China by non-Chinese nationals in Nigeria holding valid Chinese visas or residence permits.’

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, China has decided to temporarily suspend entry into China by non-Chinese nationals in Nigeria holding visas or residence permits still valid at the time of this announcement.

The Chinese Embassy and Consulate in Nigeria will no longer issue a certified health declaration form for the above-mentioned personnel. Entry by holders of diplomatic service, courtesy or C visas will not be affected.

Foreign nationals visiting China for emergency needs may apply for visas at the Chinese Embassy or Consulate. Entry by non-Chinese nationals in Nigeria with visas issued after November 3, 2020, will not be affected.” the public notice read

Reacting to the development, the spokesman, Chinese Foreign Affairs Ministry, Wang Wenbin, told AFP that the entry suspension was a legitimate and valid move consistent with international customary practices.

 

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