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Court voids Rivers N800bn Budget passed by 5 members 

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A Federal High Court, Abuja, on Monday, set aside the Rivers’ N800 billion budget passed by five members of the house led by the Edison Ehie-led faction.

Justice James Omotosho, in a judgment, held that the presentation of the appropriation bill by Gov. Siminalayi Fubara on Dec. 13, 2023 and its passage by the lawmakers amounted to nullity following an interim order made by the court on Nov. 30, 2023.

Justice Omotosho, who made an order of injunction restraining Fubara and other defendants from interfering with the state’s assembly led by Martin Amaewhule, held that the passage of the bill into law was a wilful breach of the court order.

The judge also stopped the governor or any members of the state executive arm from appointing or reposting any person as a clerk or deputy clerk of the assembly in contravention with the laws governing the Rivers State House of Assembly Service Commission.

He further made an order restraining the National Assembly from taking over the state’s assembly.

Justice Omotosho held that the decision of the court was premised on the earlier order made on Nov. 30, 2023 and the facts that Fubara, who was 11th defendant in the case, withdrew his processes in opposition to the plaintiffs’ originating motion.

Having withdrawn his counter affidavit and other processes in this case, the judge said, it is deemed that the governor has admitted the facts in the motion since it was not challenged.

Newsmen reports that the Rivers House of Assembly and Amaewhule are 1st and 2nd plaintiffs in the suit marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/1613/2023.

In the amended originating summons dated Dec. 7, 2023 but filed Dec. 11, 2023 by their team of lawyers including Ken Njemanze, SAN, Ferdinand Orbih, SAN, among others, the plaintiffs sued the NASS, Senate President, Deputy Senate President, Senate Majority Leader, Senate Minority Leader as 1st to 5th defendants respectively.

Also joined in the suit include House of Representatives Speaker, House Deputy Speaker, House Majority Leader, House Minority Leader, Clerk to NASS as 6th to 10th defendants.

They also sued Governor of Rivers, Attorney-General of Rivers, Commissioner of Finance, Accountant-General of Rivers, Rivers State Civil Service Commission, Inspector-General (I-G) of Police and Rt. Honourable Edison Ehie, who is also listed as Rivers Assembly’s Speaker in the suit, as 11th to 17th defendants respectively.

The plaintiffs sought an order directing all parties to maintain status quo as at Nov. 29, 202

They also a sought an order of injunction restran‘ng the 1st to 10th defendants (NASS) from entertaining any request from the 11th defendant (Fubara) to take over the performance of the functions of Rivers Assembly, including its role to make laws for the peace, order and good government of Rivers in respect of matters that are within its constitutional and legislative competence.

“AN ORDER OF MANDATORY INJUNCTION compelling the Inspector General of Police (whether by himself or by officers and men of the Nigeria Police Force under his command) to provide and continue to provide adequate Security and protection for the 1* Plaintiff under the leadership of the 2” Plaintiff as the Speaker of the Rivers State House of Assembly for the purpose of transacting the business of the 1% Plaintiff.

They sought an order of injunction restraining Gov. Fubara from impeding or frustrating the assembly under Amaewhule’s leadership as its speaker.

They equally sought an order restraining Fubara including the 12th, 13th and 14th defendants from withholding any amount standing to the credit of Rivers Assembly in the state’s Consolidated Revenue Fund, including salaries and emoluments due and payable to the speaker, deputy speaker and other members of the house as well as to the clerk, deputy clerk and other members of staff of the assembly.

Alternatively, they sought an order of injunction restraining them from denying the assembly of the due funds for running its affairs including the payment of salaries, allowances, emoluments and meeting its financial obligations no matter how described, among other 11 reliefs.

 

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NASENI lauds Gov. Idris for allocating land for Agric. Institute construction

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The National Agency for Science and Engineering Infrastructure, (NASENI), has commended Gov. Nasir Idris of Kebbi for donating 10 hectares of land to the agency for the construction of an Agricultural Machinery Development Institute in the state.
The Director of Procurement of the Agency, Dr Muhammad Aliyu, gave the commendation after formal allocation of the land to  NASENI by officials of state government on Sunday in Birnin Kebbi.
Aliyu, who thanked Idris for providing the land at a choice area, explained that the  project would commence within the next two weeks.
H e assured that all engineering, architectural, civil and electrical designs had been completed.
”We have the bill of quantity ready and every approval needed from the government for the project has been obtained,” he said.
The director affirmed that funding for the project had been captured in the 2024 appropriation bill already assented to by  President Bola Tinubu.
”We will start with what we can accommodate this year and we will continue next year.
“We have funds to begin the basic infrastructural construction,” he assured.
Earlier, the Permanent Secretary, Cabinet Office, Alhaji Dahiru Zaki, who led other state government officials to hand over the 10 hectares of land to NASENI, explained that the land was earmarked for the agency in 2022 for the construction of the agricultural machinery center.
”The machinery center is to serve as a Regional Office for the production of agricultural equipment and we are happy that today, we have handed over the land to NASENI.
“I believe that Kebbi was selected in the North-West region because of its huge potentials in agriculture, particularly rice production and other crops,” he said.
Zaki expressed appreciation for the governor’s  kind gesture to the agency, tailored to provide job opportunities to youths and further bolster agricultural production in the state.
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Lassa Fever outbreak at Army Hospital sparks response 

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The recent outbreak of Lassa fever at the 44 Nigerian Army Reference Hospital, Kaduna, prompted a collaborative response with Irrua Specialist Teaching Hospital (ISTH) and Federal Ministry of Health.

Prof. Reuben Eifediyi, Chief Medical Director, Irrua Specialist Teaching Hospital, and lead of the response team, said this in an interview with News Agency of Nigeria on Sunday in Abuja.

The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (NCDC), confirmed that Lassa Fever was responsible for the death of three health workers and one patient at the 44 Nigerian Army Reference Hospital, Kaduna, (44 NARHK).

Four of the six blood samples from suspected cases at the hospital sent to the Bayero University Teaching Hospital, Kano, were confirmed for Lassa Fever.

While 25 close contacts of all the cases were being monitored and were placed on prophylactics (preventive medication). 

Eifediyi said that the outbreak resulted in the deployment of a specialised emergency response team, which was made up of experts in Lassa fever management and infection prevention.

He said that though there were initial challenges, including inadequate resources and staffing, the response team successfully contained the outbreak through real-time laboratory testing, isolation, and treatment of confirmed cases.

“Real-time PCR testing was conducted, leading to the identification and treatment of confirmed cases.

“Three confirmed cases were successfully treated and discharged, with no further fatalities, “ he said.

He said that the incident underscored the importance of effective partnerships and rapid mobilisation of expertise in addressing public health emergencies.

He said that health workers at the hospital went through training on Infection Prevention and Control (IPC), measures.

He recommended structural improvement, staffing, training, equipment provision, and hygienic measures.

He also made recommendations for capacity building and the establishment of a biosafety molecular laboratory at the hospital.

 Lassa fever is an acute viral hemorrhagic illness transmitted to humans through contact with food or household items contaminated by infected rodents or contaminated persons.

Its symptoms include fever, headache, sore throat, general body weakness, cough, nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, muscle pain, chest pain.

In severe case, there are unexplainable bleeding from ears, eyes, nose, mouth, and other body openings.

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Why some airlines are avoiding Nigeria’s airspace – NAMA

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Many airlines are avoiding Nigeria’s airspace because of difficulties encountered in communication with air traffic controllers, the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) confirmed on Sunday in Lagos.

Its Managing Director, Mr Farouk Umar, told newsmen at Ikeja that the agency was consequently eyeing more investments to rejuvenate the communication systems to match emerging air traffic trends.

He explained that there was the need to improve the weak communication system, which had been demand-saturated as the industry grew and more routes were opened.

He said huge investments were required of the Federal Government as more routes opened needing more stations to have signals to cover the entire country.

He added that the presidency recently budgeted N40 billion to address some of the issues at the airports, but the money had not been accessed.

Umar assured that as soon as money was made available, the agency would tackle critical safety challenges at the various airports.

“The entire communication network has been re-designed to ensure that every blind spot is covered because if one system fails today, air traffic controllers would not notice.

“We realised also that our radios are working well and well-positioned and we have addressed the challenges we met on ground, but then, we are still having issues.

“The issues have nothing to do with our radios, but with electricity supply which had been a national challenge that government had been working assiduously to fix.

“We have decided to deploy solar energy to some of our facilities to complement electricity supply from the national grid and from generators so that they can function well,’’ he said.

Umar noted that the International Civil Aviation Organisation frowned at even a second’s blackout at any airport and Nigeria could not afford to flout the regulation.

“For an average electronic system, the lifespan is about 10 years. Most of the communications electronics at the airports have been working for the past 15 years to 20 years. Their performance would be below standard, expectedly.

“We are replacing some of the equipment and we have done almost 80 per cent. The contractors are still working, however,’’ he assured.

Umar also told newsmen that Terminal Control Centres (TRACON) were still having challenges because since 2014, there had not been enough spare parts to fix the obsolete equipment there.

“The Federal Government has approved the modernisation of the TRACON system. 15 per cent of the fund has been paid and we are hopeful that more installations will start soon.

“We are also hopeful that at the end of it all, the system will go back to optimal performance,’’ he said.

Umar lamented that NAMA had been charging airlines N11,000 as navigation fee per flight since 2008 when fares for local flights were N16,000, whereas airfares had risen to N150,000.

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