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Edo 2024: Confusion tears APC apart as three aspirants lay claim to governorship ticket



…LGA returning officers’ announcement of Dekeri APC candidate leads to heated controversy

…Hoodlums attack NewsDirect correspondent, steal phone, equipment

…I have emerged victorious in this election — Idahosa claims

By Elvis Omoregie, Benin

The primary election of the All Progressives Congress (APC) gubernatorial candidates in Edo State ended on a drastic note as the process has allegedly produced three gubernatorial candidates.

The primary election, which took place on Saturday, was marred by clashes that resulted in severe injuries and widespread disruption.

The primary saw 12 aspirants initially cleared for participation by the party’s national leadership.

However, three candidates — Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu, Lucky Imasuen, and Ernest Umakhihe — opted out before the polls opened. At the conclusion of the voting process, three individuals emerged as front-runners: Senator Monday Okpebholo of Edo Central Senatorial District, Hon. Dennis Idahosa of Ovia Federal Constituency, and Hon. Anamero Sunday Dekeri of Eksakor Federal Constituency.

In a late-night announcement, Mr. Ojo Babatunde, speaking on behalf of the local government returning officers, declared Anamero Sunday Dekeri the victor with a total of 25,384 votes, surpassing his nearest competitor, Dennis Idahosa, who garnered 14,127 votes.

Hoodlums attack NewsDirect correspondent, steal phone, equipment

The declaration was swiftly followed by chaos as groups of violent individuals, described as street urchins and thugs, descended upon the venue.

They attacked attendees indiscriminately, including a Nigerian NewsDirect correspondent and other journalists from various media outlets who were present to report on the event.The aftermath of the violence saw significant injuries and substantial damage, with many sustaining life-threatening wounds.

Amidst the chaos and mayhem, the unfortunate victims of this violent spectacle were the dedicated cameramen from various media outlets, whose precious equipment was ruthlessly destroyed, and the party officials who suffered from the brutal attacks.

These thugs, devoid of any sense of decency, not only snatched away valuable possessions like gum and phones, but also mercilessly beat their victims into a state of unconsciousness.

In the midst of this pandemonium, the reporters were instructed to relocate to the Protea Hotel, situated near the headquarters of the Edo State Police Command, where the Governor Hope Uzodinma-led Edo State APC Governorship Primary Election Committee held its authoritative sway.

Governor Hope Uzodimma, hailing from Imo State and serving as the Chairman of the primary election committee, took the stage to announce the outcome of the primary exercise. With great authority, he declared that out of the staggering 42,000 votes cast, Idahosa emerged as the clear victor, securing over 40,000 votes.

I have emerged victorious in this election — Idahosa claims

However, it was the returning officer for the primary, Stanley Ugboaja, who officially declared Senator Monday Okpebholo as the APC candidate.Despite the official declaration, Mr. Idahosa adamantly insisted that he was the rightful winner of the APC governorship primary election in Edo.

With unwavering confidence, he boldly proclaimed, “The people of Edo, united under the APC banner, have spoken loud and clear. I have emerged victorious in this election.” These words were uttered shortly after Governor Uzodinma declared him as the winner.

With a determined spirit, Mr. Idahosa vowed to swiftly initiate a process of reconciliation among the APC members in the state, as they prepare for the upcoming general election on the 21st of September.

“The era of struggle has come to an end; now is the time for reconciliation,” he declared, his voice filled with conviction and hope.

“For those that I contested with, we are brothers, we are one family. I am going to start (the) reconciliation process immediately because I need all of them (in order) to win the general election.”

However, thugs had earlier attacked the Lushville Hotel in Benin City where the returning officer, Stanley Ugboaja was announcing the results on Saturday afternoon which left many scampering for safety.

Meanwhile, at the Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu residence, where the Lushville Hotel ensemble later relocated to, Senator Okpebholo was declared winner having scored 12,145 votes in comparison to the 5,536 votes obtained by Idahosa.

According to Stanley Ugboaja, the Returning Officer for the election, out of the 42,000 delegates who met the APC’s criteria to partake in the primaries only 29,000 participated.

Immediately thereafter, the local government returning officers for the 2024 Edo State All Progressives Congress (APC) governorship primaries election later declared Anamero Sunday Dekeri, winner of the contest.

Spokesman of the local government returning officers, Mr Ojo Babatunde who announced the result on Saturday night said Dekeri polled a total number of 25,384 to defeat his closest rival Dennis Idahosa who scored 14,127 votes.

Flanked by some returning officers, Babatunde said Dekeri polled a total number of 25, 384 to defeat his closest rival Dennis Idahosa who scored 14,127 votes.


Nigeria first to introduce new 5-in-1 vaccine against meningitis – WHO



Nigeria has become the first country in the world to roll out a new vaccine – Men5CV – recommended by World Health Organisation(WHO), to protect people against meningitis.

The world health body, in a statement on Friday, said that the vaccine would protect people against five strains of meningococcus bacteria, and described Nigeria’s feat as historic.

It said that health workers would begin an immunisation campaign aimed at reaching one million people.

The statement said that the vaccine and emergency vaccination activities are funded by Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, which funds the global meningitis vaccine stockpile and supports lower-income countries with routine vaccination against meningitis.

According to the WHO, Nigeria is one of the 26 meningitis hyper-endemic countries of Africa, situated in the area known as the African Meningitis Belt.

It noted  that in 2023, there was a 50 per cent jump in annual meningitis cases reported across Africa.

“In Nigeria, an outbreak of Neisseria meningitidis (meningococcus) serogroup C outbreak, led to 1,742 suspected meningitis cases, including 101 confirmed cases and 153 deaths in seven of 36 Nigerian state, between October 2023 and March 2024.

The states are Adamawa, Bauchi, Gombe, Jigawa, Katsina, Yobe, Zamfara.

“To quell the deadly outbreak, a vaccination campaign was undertaken on 25–28 March 2024 to initially reach more than one million people aged 1-29 years,” it said.

The statement noted that meningitis was a serious infection that leads to the inflammation of the membranes (meninges), that surround and protect the brain and spinal cord.

“There are multiple causes of meningitis, including viral, bacterial, fungal and parasitic pathogens.

“Symptoms often include headache, fever and stiff neck. Bacterial meningitis is the most serious, and can also result in septicaemia (blood poisoning). It can seriously disable or kill within 24 hours,” the statement added.

It quoted Dr Tedros Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General, as saying that meningitis was an old and deadly foe, adding that the new vaccine holds the potential to change the trajectory of the disease, preventing future outbreaks and saving many lives

“Nigeria’s rollout brings us one step closer to our goal of eliminating meningitis by 2030,” Ghebreyesus said.

He said that the revolutionary new vaccine offers a powerful shield against the five major strains of the meningococcal bacteria – A, C, W, Y and X – in a single shot.

All five strains cause meningitis and blood poisoning.

According to him, this provides broader protection than the current vaccine used in much of Africa, which is only effective against the A strain.

He said that the new vaccine has the potential to significantly reduce meningitis cases and advance progress in defeating meningitis.

“This is especially important for countries like Nigeria where multiple serogroups are prevalent.

“The new vaccine uses the same technology as the meningitis A conjugate vaccine (MenAfriVac®), which wiped out meningococcal A epidemics in Nigeria,” the WHO boss said.

The statement quoted Prof. Muhammad Pate, Nigeria’s Minister of Health and Social Welfare, as saying that Northern Nigeria, particularly the states of Jigawa, Bauchi and Yobe, were badly hit by the deadly outbreak of meningitis.

“This vaccine provides health workers with a new tool to both stop this outbreak and also put the country on a path to elimination,” Pate said.

According to him, Nigeria has done a lot of work preparing health workers and the health system for the rollout of the new vaccine.

“We got an invaluable support from our populations in spite of the fasting period, and from our community leaders, especially the Emir of Gumel in Jigawa, who personally launched the vaccination campaign in the state.

“We’ll be monitoring progress closely and hopefully expand the immunisation in the coming months and years to accelerate progress,” he said.

The minister said that the new multivalent conjugate vaccine took 13 years of efforts and was based on a partnership between PATH and the Serum Institute of India.

“Financing from the UK government’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office was critical to its development,” he said.

Pate said that in July 2023, WHO prequalified the new Men5CV vaccine (which has brand name MenFive®), and in October 2023 issued an official recommendation to countries to introduce the new vaccine.

According to him, Gavi allocated resources for the Men5CV rollout in December 2023, which is currently available for outbreak response through the emergency stockpile managed by the International Coordinating Group (ICG),  on Vaccine Provision.

He added that the roll-out, through mass preventive campaigns, was expected to start in 2025 across countries of the Meningitis Belt.

Mr Andrew Mitchell, UK Minister for Development and Africa, was also quoted as saying that the rollout of one million vaccines in northern Nigeria would help save lives, prevent long-term illness and boost the goal of defeating meningitis globally by 2030.

“This is exactly the kind of scientific innovation, supported by the UK, which I hope is replicated in years to come, to help us drive further breakthroughs, including wiping out other diseases,” Mitchell said.

He said that WHO has been supporting the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (NCDC), in responding to the meningitis outbreak in the country.

According to him, the areas of support include disease surveillance, active case finding, sample testing and case management.

“WHO and partners have also played a vital role in supporting Nigeria to prepare for the rollout of the new vaccine and training health workers,” he said.

Dr Nanthalile Mugala, PATH’s Chief of Africa Region, was also quoted as saying that meningococcal meningitis had tormented countries across Africa, year after year.

“The introduction of MenFive® in Nigeria heralds a transformative era in the fight against meningococcal meningitis in Africa.

“Building on the legacy of previous vaccination efforts, this milestone reflects over a decade of unwavering, innovative partnerships.

“The promise of MenFive® lies not just in its immediate impact but in the countless lives it stands to protect in the years to come, moving us closer to a future free from the threat of this disease,” Mugala said.

According to her, in 2019, WHO and partners launched the global roadmap to defeating meningitis by 2030.

“The roadmap sets a comprehensive vision towards a world free of meningitis, and has three goals including the elimination of bacterial meningitis epidemics.

Another goal is the reduction of cases of vaccine-preventable bacterial meningitis by 50 per cent and deaths by 70 per cent, as well as the reduction of disability and improvement of quality of life after meningitis, due to any cause.

Ms Aurélia Nguyen, Chief Programme Officer at Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, was also quoted as saying that with outbreaks of infectious diseases on the rise worldwide, new innovations such as MenFive® were critical in helping the fight back.

She said that Vaccine Alliance funds the global stockpile as well as vaccine rollout in lower-income countries.

“This first shipment signals the start of Gavi support for a multivalent meningococcal conjugate vaccine (MMCV) programme which, with the required donor funding for our next five years of work, will see pentavalent meningococcal conjugate vaccines rolled out in high-risk countries.

“Thanks to vaccines, we have eliminated large and disruptive outbreaks of meningitis A in Africa, now we have a tool to respond to other serogroups that still cause large outbreaks resulting in long-term disability and deaths,” Nguyen said.

According to her, following Nigeria’s meningitis vaccine campaign, a major milestone on the road to defeat meningitis is the international summit on meningitis taking place in Paris in April 2024, where leaders will  celebrate progress, identify challenges and assess next steps.

“It is also an opportunity for country leaders and key partners to commit, politically and financially, to accelerate progress towards eliminating meningitis as a public health problem by 2030,” she said.

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Georgieva to serve second term as IMF Managing Director



The Executive Board of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has selected Kristalina Georgieva to serve as IMF Managing Director for a second five-year term starting on Oct. 1, 2024.

In a statement issued by the IMF Press Centre on Saturday, it said that the board’s decision was taken by consensus.

The statement said in line with the selection process it had established on March 13, 2024, the board held several discussions, including with Georgieva, the sole candidate nominated for the position, before making its decision.

It said in a follow-up of the meeting held, the Coordinators of the Executive Board, Mr Afonso Bevilaqua, and Mr Abdullah BinZarah, made the following statement:

“In taking this decision, the Board commended Ms Georgieva’s strong and agile leadership during her term, navigating a series of major global shocks.

“ Ms Georgieva led the IMF’s unprecedented response to these shocks, including the approval of more than 360 billion dollars in new financing since the start of the pandemic for 97 countries.

“Also, debt service relief to the fund’s poorest, most vulnerable members, and a historic Special Drawing Rights (SDR) allocation equivalent to 650 billion dollars”.

The coordinators said under Georgieva’s leadership, the fund introduced innovative new financing facilities, including the Resilience and Sustainability Facility and the Food Shock Window.

“It replenished the Poverty Reduction and Growth Trust, with the capacity to mobilise concessional loans to its poorest members, and co-created the Global Sovereign Debt Roundtable.

“ It also secured a 50 per cent quota increase to bolster the fund’s permanent resources and agreed to add a third Sub-Saharan African chair to the IMF Board.

“Looking ahead, the board welcomes Ms. Georgieva’s ongoing emphasis on issues of macroeconomic and financial stability, while also ensuring that the fund continues to adapt and evolve to meet the needs of its entire membership.

‘It recognises her focus on strengthening the fund’s support to its members through effective policy advice, capacity development, and financing.

“The board looks forward to continuing to work closely with the Managing Director.”

In her response issued in a statement, Georgiana said she was deeply grateful for the trust and support of the fund’s Executive Board, representing the fund’s 190 members.

She added that she was honored to continue to lead the IMF as Managing Director for a second five-year term.

“In recent years, the IMF has helped our member countries to navigate successive shocks, including the pandemic, war and conflicts, and a cost-of-living crisis.

“ We also stepped up our work on climate change, fragility and conflict, and the digital transition, in line with their increased significance for macroeconomic and financial stability, growth and employment”.

Georgieva said the IMF’s financial support, policy advice, and capacity development work delivered by its exceptional staff had contributed to countries’ capacity to deal with high uncertainty and abrupt shifts in economic conditions.

“ We are and will remain a transmission line of good policies for our members.

“We will also continue to strive to be more effective, incisive, and a welcoming place for countries to come together to tackle global challenges.

“I look forward to continue serving our membership, together with the highly professional and committed staff of the IMF,” she said.

Georgieva, a national of Bulgaria, has been the IMF’s Managing Director since 2019. Previously she served as Chief Executive Officer of the World Bank from January 2017.

From February 1, 2019, to April 8, 2019, she was the Interim President of the World Bank Group.

She previously served at the European Commission as Commissioner for International Cooperation, Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Response, and as Vice-President for Budget and Human Resources.

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Fleeing Binance Executive, Anjarwalla found as Nigerian govt commences extradition



Nigerian government says Binance executive, Nadeem Anjarwalla, who escaped custody in Nigeria, has been found in Kenya.

A source in the presidency, who preferred anonymity, confirmed the development as the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, the International Criminal Police, the Nigeria Police Force, and the Kenyan Police Service have deepened talks to quicken Anjarwalla’s extradition.

“We know where he is. He is in Kenya, and we’re working with the authorities to bring him back to Nigeria”, the source said.

The EFCC chairman, Ola Olukuyede, last month, in a statement, stressed that the commission is collaborating with INTERPOL, the US, UK, Northern Ireland and Kenyan authorities to extradite Anjarwalla, who has been on the run.

The commission had instituted five-count charges bordering on tax evasion, currency speculation and money laundering against Binance Holdings Limited, Tigran Gambaryan and Anjarwalla, the firm’s executives.

EFCC arraigned Binance and the two executives on Thursday, April 4, 2024.

Recall that Anjarwalla escaped from custody on March 22 and has been at large since then.

Meanwhile, the government confirmed that EFCC had fully taken over the case of Binance from the Office of the National Security Adviser, ONSA.

For months, the Nigerian government sustained its crackdown on Binance over its role in manipulating the country’s Foreign exchange market.

During the 293rd meeting of the Monetary Policy Committee, MPC, in February, the Central Bank of Nigeria Governor, Olayemi Cardoso, had said that more than $26 billion had been funnelled through Binance without a trace.

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