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Senate Considers Bill To Establish Fund For Treatment Of Gunshot Victims

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The Senate has considered a bill seeking to amend the Compulsory Treatment and Care for Victims of Gunshots Act, 2017.

The bill among others seeks to establish the Medical Emergency Assistance Fund to cover the treatment of victims of gunshot, knife wounds, and other life-threatening emergencies.

The bill was sponsored by Senator Oluremi Tinubu (APC, Lagos Central).

Leading debate on the principles of the bill, Tinubu said that the intent behind the Compulsory Treatment and Care for the Victims of Gunshots Act, 2017, was to enforce treatment for victims of Gunshots injury.

She noted that prior to its enactment, victims of gunshot injuries were being refused treatment by hospitals, as a result of a misinterpretation of Section 4 of the Robbery and Firearms (Special Provision) Act 1990.

The lawmaker, however, explained that the Compulsory Treatment and Care for Victims of gunshot Act, 2017, provides that every Hospital, public or private shall receive treatment, with or without police clearance, with or without monetary deposit, persons with gunshot wounds, and criminalizes contravention.

She noted that the Act provides a mechanism for reporting treatment of persons with gunshot wounds to police, and precludes persons from being the subject of embarrassing interrogation for helping victims.

“It’s however shocking that in spite of the Act, the flagrant disregard of human life continues unabated, it is particularly sad that we continue to let the brilliant and skillful mind go to waste, in what are apparently avoidable deaths.

“In a country where emergency response is almost non-existent, and getting victims to the hospital is already burdensome, it is sad that where the victims make it to a hospital alive, they are still denied treatment and left to die.

“This is not only barbaric and inhumane, but it is also a violation of the Hippocratic oath which medical professionals swear to.

“The situation is further made worse by the fact that obtaining these police reports has been commercialized by some, thus ensuring that there is no quick and easy way to get it done”, the lawmaker said.

She recalled that on Friday 15th of January, 2021, David Ntekim-Rex, a 22-year old Systems Engineer was on his way home from work and was attacked around Jibowu Yaba in the Lagos Central Senatorial District.

According to her, Policemen, upon arrival at the crime scene, were said to be more concerned with whether he was a ‘Yahoo Boy’ and building a report than about saving David.

Tinubu added, “it is alleged that he was rushed to the Military Hospital, Yaba where he was refused treatment on the basis that they could not ascertain whether or not he was a robber, and was subsequently moved to the Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH) where he was not attended to before he gave up the ghost.”

Narrating another incident from December 2019, the lawmaker lamented that the victim, Moradeun Balogun, bled to death after she was stabbed at Gbagada in Lagos State and refused care at the nearest hospital where she had rushed to for medical attention.

Tinubu explained that the Compulsory Treatment of Victims of Gunshot Injuries Act when amended would give cover to victims of gunshot injuries, knife wounds, and other life-threatening emergencies.

She explained that the amendment bill is predicated on a need to ensure that the Act, passed into law in 2017, addresses the purpose for its enactment.

Contributing to the debate, Senator Emmanuel Bwacha, in supporting the bill said that providing treatment for victims of gunshot injuries would assist security agencies in securing information from such persons needed to curb criminality in the country.

“If you get a criminal who is injured and say you won’t treat him, let him die, he dies with information that would have helped the security agencies curtail the reoccurrence of such criminality.

“As a nation that is looked at as the giant of Africa, we should set a good precedent that other nations in the African sub-region would follow”, he said.

On his part, Senator Ibikunle Amosun insisted that the sanctity of life must be protected at all cost, saying, “even if those people have committed those crimes, it is when they are alive that they can face the music, and others will learn from it.”

The bill after scaling the second reading was referred by the Deputy Senate President, Ovie Omo-Agege, to the Joint Committees on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters; and Health (Secondary and Tertiary) for legislative inputs.

The Joint Committee was given four weeks to report back to the Senate.

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Travel

High Altitude, Higher Prices: Domestic Airfares Jump 150%

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Nigerian air travelers are reeling from a dramatic increase in domestic airfares with prices skyrocketing by 150% over the past year.

This surge has forced many passengers to reconsider their travel options, opting for road transport despite the risks involved.

Passengers like Dare Adepoju, who frequently commutes between Lagos and Abuja for business and family visits, have expressed frustration.

“It’s unsustainable,” he lamented. “With flights nearing N200,000 for just an hour, I’m exhausted.”

Social media is abuzz with similar sentiments. Akinloa Adejuwon tweeted about the tough choice between costly flights and unsafe roads, highlighting the dire situation many Nigerians face.

The fare increase is attributed to a limited number of operational aircraft. Airline Operators of Nigeria revealed that many planes are grounded due to maintenance needs and lack of access to foreign exchange for repairs.

The current situation sees airlines like Ibom Air and Air Peace charging up to N238,000 for a one-way ticket between major cities.

This price jump, from about N51,000 last year, reflects the severe challenges the industry faces.

Capt. Roland Iyayi, a senior member of the Airline Operators of Nigeria, pointed to the shortage of aircraft as a primary cause.

“Making forex available to airlines is crucial for resolving this crisis,” he stated.

As the industry grapples with these challenges, passengers continue to hope for relief. The aviation sector’s future hinges on addressing these issues, ensuring safe and affordable travel for all Nigerians.

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Education

Southern States Skeptical as NELFund Disburses First Loans

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The National Education Loan Fund (NELFund) officially launched on Wednesday, a significant step in providing financial aid to students across Nigeria.

However, the initiative faces skepticism, particularly from the southern states.

President Bola Tinubu inaugurated the first tranche of funds, amounting to N32 billion, aimed at empowering Nigerian youth and breaking financial barriers to education.

The NELFund portal has registered 164,000 students, with 103,000 applying for loans.

Despite the promising start, many southern states remain doubtful about the fund’s implementation.

Akintunde Sawyerr, NELFund’s Managing Director, acknowledged these concerns, citing data challenges in verifying indigent applicants as a primary hurdle.

Sawyerr highlighted the lack of comprehensive data needed for credit assessments. The fund relies on bank verification numbers (BVN), National Identification Numbers (NIN), and educational institution data to determine eligibility.

More applications have been received from northern states, where students have shown greater confidence in the fund.

Sawyerr pointed out that skepticism in the south might stem from uncertainty about the program’s viability.

NELFund offers two types of loans: educational fees paid directly to institutions and upkeep loans for student stipends.

The focus is currently on government-owned institutions to ensure a smooth rollout.

President Tinubu emphasized education as a critical tool against poverty and insecurity, linking the nation’s challenges to a lack of educational opportunities.

He reaffirmed his commitment to inclusive growth through education.

As NELFund continues its rollout, efforts to address data issues and regional skepticism will be crucial. By building trust and ensuring transparency, the program aims to support more students nationwide and foster a fairer society.

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Travel

UAE Lifts Visa Ban on Nigerians, Introduces N640,000 Non-Refundable Application Fee

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The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has officially lifted the visa ban imposed on Nigerian passport holders, effective July 15.

However, this positive move comes with a substantial caveat—a new non-refundable visa application fee of N640,000.

The announcement, made following bilateral discussions between Nigerian and UAE authorities, ends a prolonged period of restricted travel between the two nations due to diplomatic disputes and financial issues.

New Visa Regulations

Under the new guidelines set forth by the UAE government, Nigerian passport holders seeking to travel to the Emirates must adhere to several stringent requirements:

  1. Application Fee: Applicants are required to pay a non-refundable fee of N640,000 for visa processing. This fee represents a significant increase compared to the previous $100 fee before the ban.
  2. Document Verification Number (DVN): Before applying for a visa, applicants must obtain a Document Verification Number (DVN). This number is valid for only 14 days from issuance or until the visa application is processed, whichever comes first.
  3. Application Process: The application process for UAE visas remains stringent, emphasizing the importance of meeting all specified criteria to enhance the chances of approval.

Public Reaction and Outcry

The introduction of the N640,000 visa application fee has sparked widespread criticism and public outcry among Nigerians, particularly on social media platforms. Many have expressed their discontent, labeling the new fee as exorbitant and financially burdensome, especially in light of economic challenges facing the country.

Social media users have taken to various platforms to voice their concerns:

  • @firstladyship: “It is obvious the UAE don’t want Nigerians. They reluctantly unbanned the Nigerian passport, but slammed a hefty N640,000 on Nigerians. Guess what? The money is nonrefundable & has expiration date. This is see finish.”
  • @Peco3D: “This is just extortion in fine words. Shameless.”
  • @Comr_lucky1: “This is exploitation and shameful if allowed by Nigeria government.”

Government Response

Mohammed Idris, Minister of Information and National Orientation, announced the lifting of the visa ban and emphasized that Nigerian passport holders are now eligible to apply for visas to the UAE.

The government has acknowledged the concerns raised by citizens and assured them of continued engagement to address the issue.

Background

The UAE had imposed the visa ban on Nigeria approximately two years ago amid diplomatic tensions and financial disputes.

Efforts to resolve these issues included discussions and negotiations between the Nigerian and UAE governments, leading to the recent breakthrough in visa restrictions.

Despite the imposition of the N640,000 visa fee, the lifting of the ban represents a step forward in diplomatic relations between Nigeria and the UAE, potentially paving the way for enhanced bilateral cooperation and economic ties.

As Nigerian travelers navigate these new visa regulations, reactions continue to pour in, reflecting the broader impact of international relations on individual mobility and economic opportunities.

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