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#EndSARS Protest: Damning Judicial Panel Report Confirms Casualties at Lekki Tollgate, Deems Incident a Massacre

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Lekki Tollgate

Following the incident that occurred at the Lekki Tollgate on October 20, 2020, the Judicial Panel of Inquiry on Restitution of SARS Related Abuses and Other Matters has released its report on Monday November 15, which confirms the cries of many young Nigerians across the country (and outside the country).

The report states that the “maiming and killing” of unarmed and helpless protesters who were sitting on the floor while waving Nigerian flags and singing the National Anthem can be referred to as a massacre, in the context of the incident. It explains a massacre as the killing of multiple individuals, considered to be morally unacceptable especially when done by political entities towards helpless victims.

The panel used that definition to evaluate whether or not the incident was a massacre, and arrived at the conclusion that the incident was a massacre. The report confirms that the protesters present at the Lekki Tollgate on the fateful day were harmless, defenseless members of the civil populace. It also stated that both the Lagos State Government and Federal Government were aware of the status, objectives and protest nature of the group.

The report went on to state that the presence of the protesters was not in any manner harmful to Nigeria’s territorial integrity, and therefore did not warrant the presence of the Nigerian army at the Tollgate. According to findings, soldiers of 65 Batallion of the Nigerian Army, led by Lt. Col. Bello left their base with both blank and live ammunition to confront protesters holding only national flags.

It goes ahead to confirm that the soldiers fired the ammunition directly into the midst of protesters with the intention to harm protesters, and not harmlessly in the air as many had previously claimed. As the shooting occurred, the soldiers also turned back ambulances invited to render first aid to wounded protesters.

It was also reported that the Nigerian Military had attempted to cover up the events of October 20, 2020. They allegedly removed as many corpses of the dead protesters as they could and took them away with their vans. Olalekan Sanusi, who was shot and wrongly taken as one of the dead bodies, managed to escape and recount his ordeal, stating that there were 11 corpses inside the van where he was put. The soldiers also reportedly picked bullet casings and shells on the night of October 20, with policemen doing the same the following morning.

The report released a list of 48 names, who are confirmed casualties of the incident at the Tollgate. Of these 48 defenseless Nigerians, 11 were confirmed to have died at the tollgate with 4 missing and presumed dead. The remaining names were said to be victims of gunshot injuries, and assault from military officials.

The report confirms the cries of many young Nigerians who witnessed the events of that fateful night, whether at the Lekki tollgate itself or online through DJ Switch’s Instagram Live. It also casts a negative spotlight on the government officials who vehemently denied the existence of any casualties on that night.

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Npower Payment: NASIMS Talks Payment of October and November Stipends

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Npower

The National Social Investment Management System (NASIMS) has released an update concerning the payment of the Npower October and November stipends to the Batch C volunteers of the Npower programme. The failure to pay the stipends has launched quite the discourse concerning the efficacy of the programme.

In a Facebook post, NASIMS addressed the lack of payment, responding to the enquiries of some beneficiaries. These beneficiaries had previously repeatedly made attempts to find out exactly when the payments for October and November would be commencing.

NASIMS first moved to clarify how the payment process works, explaining that the payment procedure is not quick and it takes time. The group stated that the account would need to be validated before anything else, after which the bank account details would be forwarded to the Central Bank of Nigeria, who will in turn send out the required stipends to the financial institutions.

The Facebook post closed with NASIMS saying that they are not aware of an exact date on which the payment of the October and November stipends will commence, but mentioned that they are sure that the payment process will be starting anytime soon.

Also, the Federal Government – through NASIMS – has told the beneficiaries of Batch C to provide their Bank Verification Numbers if they are yet to do so, as the BVN is necessary for account validation. The Federal Government also confirmed that if payment status reflects as ‘Pending’ on the dashboard, it means that the account has been successfully validated.

At this stage, beneficiaries are to simply be patient and wait for the payment to be made.

NASIMS also stated that its attention has been drawn to a ridiculous post going around social media, concerning the commencement of Batch C2 selection. The post announced that the Batch C2 of the Npower programme had begun and individuals would need to pay N4500 to be enlisted.

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Omicron, WHO Gives New COVID Variant Name

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Omicron variant

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has designated the new COVID variant B.1.1.529, Omicron on Friday.

The organisation disclosed in a statement published on its website after its officials assessed data received from South Africa earlier today.

It said “The B.1.1.529 variant was first reported to WHO from South Africa on 24 November 2021. The epidemiological situation in South Africa has been characterized by three distinct peaks in reported cases, the latest of which was predominantly the Delta variant. In recent weeks, infections have increased steeply, coinciding with the detection of B.1.1.529 variant. The first known confirmed B.1.1.529 infection was from a specimen collected on 9 November 2021.”

“This variant has a large number of mutations, some of which are concerning. Preliminary evidence suggests an increased risk of reinfection with this variant, as compared to other VOCs. The number of cases of this variant appears to be increasing in almost all provinces in South Africa. Current SARS-CoV-2 PCR diagnostics continue to detect this variant. Several labs have indicated that for one widely used PCR test, one of the three target genes is not detected (called S gene dropout or S gene target failure) and this test can therefore be used as marker for this variant, pending sequencing confirmation. Using this approach, this variant has been detected at faster rates than previous surges in infection, suggesting that this variant may have a growth advantage.”

Therefore, countries are asked to do the following:

  • enhance surveillance and sequencing efforts to better understand circulating SARS-CoV-2 variants.
  • submit complete genome sequences and associated metadata to a publicly available database, such as GISAID.
  • report initial cases/clusters associated with VOC infection to WHO through the IHR mechanism.
  • where capacity exists and in coordination with the international community, perform field investigations and laboratory assessments to improve understanding of the potential impacts of the VOC on COVID-19 epidemiology, severity, effectiveness of public health and social measures, diagnostic methods, immune responses, antibody neutralization, or other relevant characteristics.

WHO said its independent Technical Advisory Group on SARS-CoV-2 Virus Evolution (TAG-VE) will continue to evaluate this variant and communicate new findings to member states.

On Friday, Belgium reported a case of Omicron variant covid in a traveler from Egypt while Hong Kong reported two cases.

The United Kingdom, US, Israel and others have imposed restrictions on flights from South Africa and other six nations to curb Omicron outbreak in the nations.

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US, UK, EU Nations, Israel, Others Restrict Travel From South Africa

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The United States has joined the United Kingdom, Israel, European Nations and a host of others to restrict flights from South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Lesotho, Eswatini, Mozambique and Malawi starting from Monday.

US Senior officials announced on Friday, saying the restriction was recommended by Joe Biden’s chief medical officer and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. However, the restriction does not apply to US citizens or permanent residents.

The decision was after reports of a fast-spreading new covid variant called B.1.1.529 hits headline on Thursday, raising concerns it could spread across the world if nothing is done fast. On Friday, Hong Kong reported two cases of the virus while Belgium confirmed one case in a traveler from Egypt.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has designated the heavily mutated coronavirus strain ‘a variant of concern’.

WHO said the new COVID variant would be given the name Omicron after data examined by its officials showed exponential growth in cases of the B.1.1.529 Sars-Cov-2 variant.

The news plunged global financial markets, with stocks falling to their lowest in more than a year. The Standard and Poor 500 dropped 2.3 percent while Europe’s Stoxx 600 sheds 3.7 percent and the MSCI Asia-Pacific index dipped by 1.7 percent.

Crude oil dropped over $10 or more than 5 percent to $72 a barrel. Even gold, a known haven commodity, pulled back, losing its earlier gains.

“What should have been a quiet Friday trading in both bonds and equities globally has turned into a rout,” said Andrew Brenner, head of international fixed income at NatAlliance Securities.

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