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No fewer than 74 persons killed by hoodlums in 2023 elections — EU alleges



The European Union in a report titled “Election Observation Mission NIGERIA 2023” has reported that no fewer than 74 persons were reportedly killed by hoodlums during the 2023 general elections in Nigeria.

According to the report, at least 74 fatalities were documented in 101 violent incidents that happened during the 2023 electioneering period in Nigeria.

The violence obstructed the integral parts of the election and suppressed the active participation of voters, the EU noted.

“The EU EOM recorded 101 violent incidents during the campaign, including at least 74 fatalities.

“Assassination attempts and killings increased closer to the polls, creating a particularly insecure environment in the southern states. In several northern states, systematic attacks by political thugs on rallies and political opponents were observed. Use of violence obstructed the campaign, disturbed the elections, and suppressed voter participation.

“Campaigning was also distorted by an influx of unrecorded money and despite campaign finance being comprehensively regulated the law appears largely ineffective.

“EU EOM observers received reports of and saw widespread distribution of goods and vote buying. Several state agencies tried to tackle corrupt practices, yet their results were modest. This is evidencing that political will, enhanced institutional capacity, and robust enforcement synergy are needed to ensure transparency and genuine accountability,” part of the statement issued by the EU read.

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War against Cholera: Vaccine shortages, poor hygiene worsen epidemic in Nigeria



…Experts warn of looming public health emergency, call for improved hygiene practices

…As street food vendors put consumers at risk

…Lassa Fever: Diagnosis and prompt treatment essential — WHO

By Sodiq Adelakun

Nigeria is facing a dire public health crisis as a widespread outbreak of cholera and other diseases has affected over 20 states, posing a significant threat to the health and well-being of its citizens.

In the past year alone, outbreaks of cholera have surged, leading to a worrying increase in both cases and fatalities. The country’s inadequate water and sanitation infrastructure has worsened the crisis, leaving millions of Nigerians vulnerable without access to clean water and proper hygiene facilities.

Recently, the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) issued dire warnings as the country races against time to contain the epidemic.

Driven by high costs of living and economic hardships, a significant portion of the population faces immense challenges in accessing basic necessities, further complicating efforts to combat the outbreak.

As the death toll from the latest cholera outbreak climbs to 40, the NCDC has acknowledged critical shortages of vaccines.

Director General of the NCDC, Dr. Jide Idris recently disclosed that Nigeria has urgently sought additional cholera vaccines from international donor agencies, although delivery timelines remain uncertain.

Health officials emphasised the importance of public awareness campaigns, enhanced surveillance measures, and swift deployment of resources to affected areas.

However, persistent challenges in healthcare infrastructure and economic disparities highlight the ongoing struggle to effectively mitigate the impact of cholera outbreaks.

With the NCDC identifying multiple states, including Lagos, as major hotspots for cholera transmission, local authorities are urged to intensify efforts in containment and prevention strategies.

…Cholera crisis grips Nigeria with over thousands dead and Infections soaring

With over 4,364 fatalities of cholera cases recorded out of 139,730  over the past four years, according to our investigation, the gravity of the situation has prompted urgent calls from health authorities, who warn of a looming state of emergency if immediate actions are not taken.

Cholera, a highly contagious diarrheal disease spread through contaminated food and water, poses a significant threat across the country.

The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (NCDC) has highlighted the disease’s transmission vectors, including inadequate water and sanitation infrastructure, challenges of open defecation, and climate-related flooding that contaminates water sources.

“This is a clear and present danger,” emphasised NCDC officials, emphasising the dire need for improved public health interventions and infrastructure investments to curb the epidemic. The crisis is worsened by widespread poverty and food insecurity, driving vulnerable populations to heightened risk.

The 2021 cholera outbreak stands as a stark example, with Nigeria recording its highest incidence in recent history: over 106,000 cases and more than 3,000 deaths.

Despite ongoing efforts to mitigate the spread, including vaccination campaigns and hygiene education, the disease continues to ravage communities, particularly affecting rural and economically disadvantaged Nigerians.

Health officials stress the urgent need for coordinated national and international support to strengthen healthcare infrastructure, ensure access to clean water, and promote hygiene practices critical in preventing cholera outbreaks.

Meanwhile, Lagos has emerged as the epicentre of a severe cholera outbreak, characterised by a highly aggressive and contagious strain, warned Prof. Akin Abayomi, the state Commissioner for Health.

With significant potential for widespread dissemination, the outbreak has prompted urgent measures to prevent further escalation, including a caution from the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) urging the Federal Government to safeguard schools from the epidemic.

According to the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), ten states, including Lagos, account for 90 percent of the country’s cholera burden.

In Lagos State alone, health authorities have reported 350 suspected cases across 29 wards, with 17 cases confirmed and 15 fatalities attributed to severe dehydration caused by delayed medical intervention.

Amidst the cholera crisis, Nigeria faces additional challenges linked to food safety culture, particularly concerning given its status as the most populous nation in Africa.

Research indicates widespread deficiencies in food handling practices and hygiene standards, exacerbated by the diverse cultural landscape of over 250 ethnic groups.

A study conducted by the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations highlights the global prevalence of street food consumption, a staple in Nigerian urban settings valued for its convenience and affordability.

However, improper food handling practices among vendors pose significant health risks, contributing to the high incidence of foodborne illnesses.

The FAO and World Health Organisation (WHO) report that foodborne diseases cause an estimated 420,000 preventable deaths annually worldwide.

Factors such as poor sanitation, inadequate food safety regulations, and a lack of awareness further compound the risk, disproportionately affecting vulnerable populations such as young children.

Alarmingly, up to 60 percent of street food vendors in Nigeria operate in unhygienic environments, lacking basic hygiene training and proper storage practices for food leftovers.

…Health risks loom as flooded area threatens pupils in Ajah, Lagos

A visit to Gedegede area in Ikota, Ajah, Lagos has unveiled alarming conditions, with stagnant, contaminated water posing significant health risks, particularly in front of Bethesda Primary School.

The sight of children navigating through this polluted water has raised concerns about their safety and well-being.

Head Teacher, Onyeabor Ngozi Antonia in an interview with NewsDirect highlighted the dire situation, emphasising the longstanding challenges posed by the road conditions in Ikota.

She reiterated the impact of the flooded area on daily school activities, describing it as a critical issue affecting the entire community.

The flooded environment not only threatens the physical safety of students but also exacerbates health hazards associated with stagnant water, including the spread of waterborne diseases.

Residents and school authorities alike have expressed frustration over the persistent neglect of infrastructure maintenance in the area, urging government intervention to address the root causes of the ongoing crisis.

Local officials and community leaders are calling for urgent action to mitigate the risks posed by the contaminated water and improve road conditions to ensure safe access for residents and students alike.

“Whenever it rains, every one of us must swim through the bad water to come to school, including our children.So if they can put the road in order, it will go a long way to help us,” Anthonia said.

Observations by our correspondent in Ifo, Ogun State, and Lagos have highlighted the alarming state of hygiene in food preparation and sales in Nigeria.

In Ifo, a woman was seen selling pap and bean cakes in an unhygienic environment, with sweat dripping into the food as she prepared it.

The surrounding area was also filthy, raising concerns about the cleanliness of the food.

Similarly, Babatunde Ibrahim, a Lagos resident, witnessed a cafeteria owner preparing food with unclean water near Kola Agbado, despite his warnings.

These incidents not only put the health of school pupils at risk but also that of the wider community.

Ibrahim said, “I told her the water wasn’t safe for cooking, but she stubbornly replied that boiling it would kill the germs. I was shocked by her ignorance and lack of concern for customers’ health. It’s a breeding ground for cholera and other waterborne diseases.”

…Experts warn of looming public health emergency in Nigeria, call for improved hygiene practices

Also, an environmental health director, Abdullai Olawale has emphasised the need for a collaborative effort to combat the ongoing cholera outbreak in Nigeria.

According to Olawale, the root causes of the disease are poor sanitation, inadequate access to clean water, and lack of proper personal hygiene.

“Hand-washing is an important aspect of personal hygiene, especially after using the toilet and before handling food,” Olawale stressed.

Olawale urged all stakeholders, including the federal and state governments, agencies, local governments, and the community, to work together to address the issue.

“It’s a collective responsibility to fight this disease,” he emphasised.

Also, an Health Scientist, Adedieura Sunday said, “This cholera outbreak in Nigeria is a public health emergency! We need to act fast to improve access to clean water, sanitation, and hygiene practices. Vaccination, prompt treatment, and community engagement are crucial to contain this outbreak. Let’s work together to save lives.”

Unregistered tiger nut drink linked to cholera outbreak in Lagos – Official

Lagos State officials have identified an unregistered tiger nut drink as the source of a recent cholera outbreak affecting multiple local government areas, including Lagos Island, Eti-Osa, and Kosofe.

Hospitals in the state have reported a surge in cholera cases, with 24 deaths and 35 confirmed cases recorded as of June 21. Eti-Osa has been pinpointed as the epicentre of the outbreak in Nigeria’s bustling commercial capital.

In an interview on Saturday, Kemi Ogunyemi, Special Adviser to the Lagos State governor on health, explained that heightened suspicions arose in Eti-Osa LGA, prompting government teams to conduct a thorough assessment of the area.

The investigation revealed a common link among affected individuals: consumption of an unregistered tiger nut drink.

Ogunyemi emphasised that the tiger nut drink in question had not undergone registration with the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), a critical oversight in ensuring food and beverage safety standards.

Subsequently, authorities mobilised to locate the tiger nut drink and collect samples for cholera testing. This proactive measure aims to identify and contain the contaminated source, preventing further spread of the disease across the state.

The Lagos State government has vowed to intensify efforts in monitoring and enforcing regulatory standards to protect public health and prevent future outbreaks linked to unregulated food products.

As investigations continue, health officials urge residents to exercise caution and avoid consuming unverified food and beverage products, emphasising the role of public awareness in maintaining community health and safety amidst ongoing health challenges in Lagos State.

In the same vein, Nigeria is also battling a significant outbreak of Lassa fever, with the NCDC reporting 6,704 suspected cases and 162 deaths across 125 Local Government Areas in 28 states.

The NCDC confirmed 911 cases from these suspicions between January and June 9, 2024, highlighting the severity of the ongoing public health crisis.

According to the NCDC’s Lassa fever situation report released on Friday, the disease, caused by the Lassa virus from the arenavirus family, continues to pose a grave threat.

Humans typically contract the virus through contact with contaminated food or household items tainted with urine or faeces of infected Mastomys rats, endemic in parts of West Africa.

The case fatality rate stands at 17.8 percent for the current period, a slight increase from 17.1 percent in 2023, underscoring the lethal nature of the disease.

Alarmingly, 33 healthcare workers have already been infected with the virus, highlighting the occupational risks faced by frontline health personnel.

Lassa fever is endemic in several West African countries, including Benin, Ghana, Guinea, Liberia, Mali, Sierra Leone, Togo, and Nigeria, with the potential for outbreaks in neighbouring regions.

…Lassa Fever: Diagnosis and prompt treatment essential — WHO

The World Health Organisation recognises Lassa fever as an acute viral hemorrhagic illness, necessitating swift and coordinated responses to prevent further spread and mitigate its impact on vulnerable populations.

Health officials stress the importance of heightened surveillance, community awareness campaigns, and strict adherence to infection control measures to curb the transmission of Lassa fever.

The Nigerian government, in collaboration with international health agencies, continues to implement measures to contain the outbreak and protect public health amidst the ongoing challenges posed by infectious diseases in the region.

“Person-to-person infections and laboratory transmission can also occur, particularly in healthcare settings in the absence of adequate infection prevention and control measures.

“Diagnosis and prompt treatment are essential. The overall case-fatality rate is one percent. Among patients who are hospitalised with severe clinical presentation of Lassa fever, case fatality is estimated at around 15 per cent. Early supportive care with rehydration and symptomatic treatment improves survival.

“About 80 percent of people who become infected with the Lassa virus have no symptoms. One in five infections result in severe disease, where the virus affects several organs such as the liver, spleen, and kidneys,” WHO said.

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Nigeria makes $5m revenue from gold sales — Alake



By Matthew Denis

The Federal Government has made $5 million from raw gold sales at the London Bullion Market Association.

The Minister of Solid Minerals Development, Dele Alake disclosed this while presenting the latest gold bar sourced from artisanal and small gold miners and refined by the Solid Minerals Development Fund to President Bola Tinubu during the weekend.

Speaking, Alake said the sales have delivered a $5 million increase in Nigeria’s foreign reserves, 70 plus kilograms of gold refined to the London Bullion Market Good Delivery Standard and successful aggregation of locally mined gold thereby injecting about N6bn into the rural economy.

The Minister in a statement signed by the Special Assistant on Media, Segun Tomori, said the refined gold would be sold to the Central Bank of Nigeria to bolster foreign reserves.

Nigeria reportedly has about 600,000 tonnes of gold reserves, worth about $45bn located in several states including Zamfara, Edo.

However, the upsurge of illegal mining has led to a notable diversion of the nation’s commonwealth into the hands of private individuals, thereby diminishing resources intended for public benefit.

Three years ago, former president Muhammadu Buhari declared Zamfara State a ‘no-fly zone’ as part of efforts to curb the problem of illegal gold mining.

At the event, Alake commended Tinubu for supporting reforms in the solid minerals sector, assuring that the National Gold Purchase programme will increase the country’s reserve and boost the naira’s value.

Explaining to President Tinubu the significance of the event, Alake said it marked the first commercial transaction under the National Gold Purchase Program, the centralised offtake scheme supported by a decentralised aggregation and production network of artisanal and small-scale miners and cooperatives.

He said, “The successful completion of the first commercial transaction demonstrates the National Gold Purchase Program’s effectiveness. It has increased the nation’s foreign reserves assets and shown that using the Nigerian Naira to purchase a liquid asset traded in United States Dollars, such as gold, is a viable strategy. This transaction has also underscored the potential of the National Gold Purchase Program to enhance fiscal and monetary stability.”

Receiving and displaying a symbolic bar, Tinubu commended the Ministry for achieving a major milestone in the administration’s drive to diversify the economy.

“This is another concrete step towards the diversification process under the Renewed Hope Agenda,” the President said.

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N121.67trn debt: Review all debt, hold FG accountable for corruption — SERAP tells W’Bank Panel



The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has sent a complaint to the World Bank Inspection Panel urging the Panel “to probe allegations of corruption in the spending of the loans and other funding facilities obtained by the Federal Government and Nigeria’s 36 state governors and to review the implementation of all Bank-funded projects by successive governments since 1999.”

SERAP urged the Inspection Panel “to determine the extent to which Bank Management has followed or is following the World Bank’ s operational policies and procedures applicable to the design, appraisal and implementation of all Bank-financed projects in Nigeria.”

SERAP also urged the Panel “to determine the effect of any failure by the Bank Management to effectively implement its operational policies and procedures in all Bank-funded projects in several states on the social and economic rights and well-being of millions of socially and economically vulnerable Nigerians.”

SERAP’s complaint followed the Debt Management Office (DMO)’s report last week, that Nigeria’s total public debt stock, including external and domestic debts, increased by N24.33 trillion in three months alone, from N97.34 trillion ($108.23 billion) in December 2023 to N121.67 trillion ($91.46 billion) as of March 31, 2024.

In the letter dated 22 June 2024 and signed by SERAP deputy director Kolawole Oluwadare, the organisation said, “The World Bank has over the years reportedly approved 197 projects for Nigeria, totalling over $36 billion in loans and other funding facilities [that is, $36,360,415,968.81], with little or no impact on Nigerians living in poverty.”

SERAP said, “Nigerians are rarely informed and meaningfully and effectively consulted about several of these loans, facilities and Bank-funded projects. Nigerians continue to be denied the benefits of the loans and facilities and access to basic public goods and services.”

According to SERAP, “Despite several loans and other funding facilities provided by the World Bank over many years, millions of socially and economically vulnerable Nigerians in several states and communities continue to lack access to regular electricity supply and have denied the benefit of renewable energy solutions.”

The complaint, addressed to the Chair of the Panel, read in part: “A recent report by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) revealed that over 133 million Nigerians are living in poverty, the majority of them women and children. We would therefore be grateful if the recommended measures are taken to hold the World Bank to account.”

“The apparent failure by Bank Management to diligently follow the World Bank’s operational policies and procedures in Bank-funded projects have resulted in the alleged mismanagement of the loans and facilities and exposed millions of Nigerians to extreme poverty.

“We are concerned about the negative impact of the lack of transparency and accountability in the spending of loans and facilities obtained by the Federal Government and Nigeria’s 36 state governors on the social and economic well-being of millions of Nigerians and the enjoyment of their human rights.

“We are concerned that several of Nigeria’s 36 states and the FCT reportedly owe civil servants’ salaries and pensions. Several states are borrowing to pay salaries. Millions of Nigerians resident in these states and the FCT continue to be denied access to basic public goods and services.

“The Federal Government and several states are also reportedly spending public funds which may include the loans and facilities obtained from the World Bank to fund unnecessary travels, buy exotic and bulletproof cars and generally fund the lavish lifestyles of politicians.

“The N121.67 trillion ($91.46 billion) debt represents external and domestic loans obtained by the Federal Government, the 36 state governments and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).”

“The World Bank reportedly currently has a portfolio of about $8.5 billion spread across the country. The Bank has also approved several loans and other funding facilities to the country’s 36 states including the recent $750 million credit line meant to the states to carry out reforms to attract investment and create jobs.

“The Bank recently approved a $2.25 billion loan for Nigeria ‘to shore up revenue and support economic reforms and address cost-of-living crisis in the country.’

“In September 2002, the Bank approved $129.00 million for a project titled ‘Universal Basic Education Project: P071494’ ‘to increase the capacity of states and local governments to manage and implement the UBE program effectively and efficiently.’

“In May, 2007 the Bank approved $180.00 million for a project titled ‘Nigeria Federal Science & Technical Education at Post-Basic Levels (STEPB): P074132’, ‘to produce more and better qualified science and technology (S&T) graduates.’

“In May 2000, the Bank approved $55.00 million for a project titled ‘Second Primary Education Project: P066571’, ‘to support the implementation of Universal Basic Education.’

“In December 2000, the Bank approved $86.75 million for a project titled ‘Community Based Poverty Reduction Project: P069086,’ to ‘improve access of the poor to social and economic infrastructure and increase the availability and management of development resources at the community level.’

“In March 2011, the Bank approved $160.00 million for a project titled ‘Nigeria – Growth & Employment: P069086’, ‘to increase growth and employment in Nigeria.’

“In July 2020, the World Bank approved $500.00 million for a project titled ‘Adolescent Girls Initiative for Learning and Empowerment: P170664’, ‘to improve secondary education opportunities among girls in targeted areas in participating states.’

“The Bank also approved $500.00 million in June 2023 for a project titled ‘Nigeria for Women Program Scale Up Project: P179447’, ‘to promote women’s economic empowerment and enhance the economic opportunities of unbanked women.’

“In June 2020, the Bank approved $750.00 million for a project titled ‘Power Sector Recovery Performance Based Operation: P164001’, ‘to improve the reliability of electricity supply, achieve financial and fiscal sustainability, and enhance accountability.’

“In September 2022, the Bank approved $750.00 million for a project titled ‘State Action on Business Enabling Reforms (SABER) Program: P177442’, ‘to improve the efficiency and transparency of government-to-business services in participating states.’

“Many years of allegations of corruption and mismanagement of public funds including the spending of the loans and facilities obtained by the Federal Government and Nigeria’s 36 states have contributed to widespread poverty, underdevelopment and lack of access to public goods and services in the country.

“The allegations of corruption in the loans and facilities provided by the Bank calls into question the rigour with which the Bank undertook due diligence in assessing the social, economic and environmental risks of its financed-projects in the country.

“The apparent inadequacy of safeguards and accountability mechanisms for the loans, facilities and project implementation has resulted in the alleged diversion of public funds for other purposes other than those agreed with the Bank.

“The Bank has apparently failed and/or neglected to effectively apply its various operational policies and procedures to ensure the transparent and accountable spending of its 197 loans and facilities across several states in the country.

“SERAP has over the years sent several complaints to the World Bank about the lack of transparency and accountability in the loans and facilities and the projects financed by the World Bank loans but the Bank Management has consistently failed and/or neglected to take any concrete action on the complaints.

“SERAP believes that we have exhausted attempts to resolve our complaints through several communications with Bank Management.

“The harms suffered by millions of socially and economically vulnerable Nigerians as a result of the alleged corruption in the spending of loans and funding facilities provided by the Bank amount to violations of human rights guaranteed under the human rights treaties to which Nigeria is a state party.

“As a UN specialised agency, the World Bank also has an obligation to promote transparency and accountability in the management of public resources and effective implementation of the World Bank and to observe the provisions of the UN Charter, as well as the UN Convention against Corruption to which Nigeria is a state party.”

“The World Bank has obligations under international anti corruption and human rights law, including a responsibility to promote transparency and accountability in the management of public funds, prevent mismanagement or diversion of public funds, and redress any abuse of public trust that they may have contributed to.

“The World Bank’s board of executive directors also has an obligation to ensure that the policies and decisions of the Bank are consistent with their own statutes and governments’ transparency and accountability obligations.

“The UN ‘Protect, Respect and Remedy’ framework for business and human rights and the ‘Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights’ among others impose corporate responsibility on the World Bank to assess potential risks of mismanagement or diversion of their investments and to seek to prevent or mitigate those risks.

“Under Article 1 of the World Bank Articles of Agreement, the stated purposes of the Bank include ‘to assist in the reconstruction and development.’ The Bank is also to ‘be guided in all its decisions by the purposes.’

“Under Article 3 section 4(vii) of the World Bank Articles of Agreement, loans made or guaranteed by the Bank ‘shall be for the purpose of specific projects of reconstruction or development.’  Also, under Article 3 section 5(b), the Bank ‘shall make arrangements to ensure that the proceeds of any loan are used only for the purposes for which the loan was granted.’

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