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Execution of Nigerian woman in Saudi, FG exonerates self

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The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has refuted the report that it ignored the call for intervention over Kudirat Afolabi, a Nigerian woman, executed in Saudi Arabia for drug trafficking.

The ministry in a statement by its Spokesperson, Sarah Sanda, on Friday in Abuja, said the report in one of the media was a complete falsehood.
It stated: “The attention of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has been drawn to a tendentious, mischievous and libelous article over the matter.

“It alleged that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the minister were somehow responsible for the death of a Nigerian lady, Afolabi, executed in Saudi Arabia for drug trafficking, by not reacting immediately to letters addressed to the minister by the former Consul General, informing of the imminent execution of the lady in question”.

She said that the attention of the ministry was drawn to what she described as a tendentious, mischievous and libelous article alleging that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the minister were responsible for the death of Afolabi.

She said: “This is preposterous and a complete falsehood. Clearly those behind the article who have deliberately distorted the facts have an agenda.”

The spokesperson said that the report which quoted extensively from a letter written by the said Consul General did not state that the lady in question, Afolabi was about to be executed.

She said that the letter rather states, “peddling of drugs into the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia…..is punishable with death penalty”.

She added: “Unfortunately, between 2016-2017 the underlisted Nigerians were arrested……for smuggling narcotic drugs concealed in their rectums. “They have since been sentenced to death and the sentences had already been carried out on some of them.”

She said the report then listed 24 Nigerians on death row or executed, including Ms Afolabi.

According to her, the truth of the matter is that the a letter from former Consul General was received on February 19 raising an alarm over the criminal acts at certain Nigerian airports. She said: “The letter said officials at those airports allegedly smuggled drugs to Saudi Arabia by checking in bags using the details of unsuspecting passengers.

“Immediate action was taken by the Minister by reaching out to the relevant Nigerian authorities.”
According to her, the issue regarding Nigerians on death row in Saudi Arabia has been a challenge for many years.
She said: “Over the last three years, the Minister and our Embassy in Saudi Arabia have relentlessly engaged the Saudi Government orally and in writing on the need to commute the death sentences of Nigerians on death row.

“Whipping up primordial sentiments by casting irresponsible aspersions does an injustice to the memory of the deceased and to her family and friends.”

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Exams postponed in Ekiti University after students protest

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A protest by students of Ekiti State University, (EKSU), Ado Ekiti, has forced management to postpone the first semester examinations which were originally scheduled to begin on Monday, June 17.

In a news release issued on Sunday night and signed by the Registrar of the institution, Akin Arogundade, the new date for the examinations is now Monday, July 1.

The postponement according to the statement is to ensure security of lives and property on campus and its environs.

It failed to dwell on the effect of an earlier protest by students as a possible cause of the shift.

“Consequently, all academic activities on campus has been postponed until Monday, July 1, 2019, while students are expected back on campus on Sunday, June 30, 2019,” the statement said.

It directed all students preparing for exams to ensure payment of all necessary fees, as evidence of payment would be used for clearance and examination permit.

“The University community, parents, and guardians are assured of adequate security on campus as well as the safety of staff and students,” it said.

NAN recalls that the students held a peaceful protest early on Sunday to criticise the sudden fixing of the examinations without adequate lectures.

The protesters were also worried that many students might be denied participation as the data system had yet to capture all who had cleared their tuition. (NAN)

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Presidency reacts to EU report on Nigeria’s 2019 elections

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The presidency has welcomed the report of the European Union (EU) on the 2019 general elections in Nigeria, promising to analyse it fully and act on the recommendations in the best interest of the country.

Garba Shehu, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, made this position known in a statement in Abuja on Saturday.

Mr Shehu noted that the EU observers were invited to the country by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and welcomed by the government of President Muhammadu Buhari.

He stated that this action was a clear indication of the administration’s good intentions, commitment to a purely democratic process and desire to improve on the next elections.

The EU noted in their report that there were marked improvements from previous elections, although stating that more work needed to be done.

”The administration of President Buhari will work with all Nigerian citizens, state institutions, parties, civil society, the media and other experts to make sure that the improvements recommended by the EU are implemented, and that these areas of concern are addressed.

”It is noteworthy that INEC is in receipt of a number of recommendations that form a part of the EU report.

”The Presidency assures that the Commission is in safe hands and happy that they are currently engaged in root and branch reviews of the 2019 general elections and will input lessons learned into its recommendations for electoral and constitutional reforms.

”We believe that the commission conducted a good election and will continue to improve on its processes and procedures,” he said.

While it is regretted that the elections in a few parts of the country witnessed some violence, among other shortcomings highlighted by the EU, Mr Shehu said none of these hitches affected the overall outcome of the elections.

He said: ”Thankfully, EU did not question the results of the presidential election.

”For instance, on page 3 in its Executive Summary, the EU said: ‘positively, the elections were competitive, parties were overall able to campaign and civil society enhanced accountability’.’’

He said that the report also acknowledged that INEC made a number of improvements, including making electoral participation more accessible through simplified voting procedures.

According to the report, INEC made efforts to strengthen electoral integrity by issuing regulations making smart card readers mandatory.

Mr Shehu observed that on page 4 of the report, the EU noted that the elections were competitive with a large number of candidates for all seats although the competition was primarily between the All Progressives Congress and the Peoples Democratic Party.

He said the report further noted that ”parties and candidates were overall able to campaign, with freedoms of assembly, expression and movement broadly respected.

”On Page 5, the report noted that the EU EOM media monitoring over 46 days showed federal government-owned media’s commitment to balanced election coverage.

”It said that positively in almost all observations party agents received copies of the results forms, adding that the National Collation Centre for the presidential election was open to party agents and observers, and was continuously televised.

”Again on page 37, the report said the national collation centre for the presidential results was open to party agents, observers and the media with each state’s results projected on a large screen.”

The presidential aide added that the report acknowledged that there was continuous live television coverage and the media published the results as announced by INEC, thereby increasing access to results information.

He further noted that Page 41 under section ‘RESULTS AND STAKEHOLDER REACTION’, EU said: ‘‘YIAGA Africa announced that the results were consistent with its parallel vote tabulation that INDEPENDENTLY projected the results based on a sample of 1,515 polling units.

”The two leading parties won 96.8% of the valid votes between them.’’

According to him, this is further proof that the polls reflected the overall will of Nigerians, and that the world is solidly behind the election of President Buhari for a second term.

The European Union Election Observation Mission (EU EOM) in Nigeria had on Saturday briefed newsmen on the EU EOM’s report.

The Deputy Chief Observer for the EU, Hannah Roberts, addressed the news conference in Abuja, while Maria Arena, EU Chief Observer had earlier presented a final report with recommendations for electoral reforms.

The EU report prioritised seven recommendations of the 30, one of which was that Nigeria should Strengthen INEC procedures for the collation of results to improve integrity and confidence in electoral outcomes.

Another recommendation was that electoral tribunals cover pre-election cases in order to improve access to remedy and to avoid petitions being taken to different courts at the same time.

During the news conference, Hannah Roberts had said the EU EOM knew nothing about the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) server that was allegedly used to transmit results of the 2019 general elections.

The main opposition party, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), had claimed that an INEC server was used to transmit results of the election.

(NAN)

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Suicide: NAFDAC announces plan to further regulate Sniper

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The Nigerian government may direct a change in the package of ‘Sniper’, an agro-chemical that has increasingly become a choice killer for persons contemplating suicide, an official said.

The National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) said it is partnering with other relevant bodies on this as part of plans to discourage the use of Sniper as a tool for suicide.

This is in response to calls for a check on the proliferation and ease of access to Sniper in markets and streets across the nation.

According to Vanguard Newspaper, the Director General of NAFDAC, Christiana Adeyeye, said Sniper containers “could now be made very difficult to open, or may be turned into a spray rather than the liquid contents it is known for.”

The suicide rate has increased in Nigeria with Sniper among the agents popularly used.

Notable among the reported incidents is that of a 400-level student of the Department of English and Literary Studies, University of Nigeria, Nsukka, Chukwuemeka Akachi.

There was another case of a pastor in a popular Pentecostal church who recently committed suicide after consuming the deadly substance.

That was before Ayomide and Ajani Damilola of the University of Lagos were reported to have killed themselves using the insecticide following the accusations that they stole clothes in their hostel.

Another 32-year-old banker and mother of two, identified as Peace, of Ughelli, Delta State, committed suicide over her husband’s alleged infidelity. She also took Sniper.

Sniper: An easy killer?

The ease of access to Sniper despite its wrong use has become a worry for many Nigerians.

Bottles of Sniper can be picked up easily on the streets as they are sold openly in the market.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that the method used for 20 per cent of global suicides was through pesticide self-poisoning and they mostly occur in developing countries.

Suicide victims appear to find gulping the liquid content of the agro-chemical inside a white container an easier route out.

But experts argue that it is easier to die by a bullet on the forehead than to face the agony that follows after drinking sniper.

NAFDAC’s warning

Mrs Adeyeye also discouraged the use of Sniper and other agro-chemicals for the preservation of food as they contain substances harmful to the human body.

“We also decry poor handling of foods in Nigeria by producers and sellers, because the populace and consumers are being exposed unduly to health risks from contaminants.

“The use of unapproved insecticides such as Sniper for the preservation of grains by unauthorised persons, the use of containers contaminated with hazardous chemicals such as fertilizer bags for grains or chemical drums and jerry cans for food storage are classic examples of a common practice among the market men and women due to ignorance,” the NAFDAC chief said.

Why Nigerians use Sniper indoors

Sniper is a DDVP, 2,2-Dichlorovinyl dimethyl phosphate compound, marketed in Nigeria by Swiss-Nigerian Chemical Company, as a synthetic organophosphorus. Many Nigerians have, however, converted it to an indoor insecticide.

Sniper is predominantly used as an insecticide because of its effectiveness in killing insects better than well-established brands of insecticide.

The demand is also fuelled by its affordability. A 100ml of sniper goes for between N200 and N300 while its competitors cost as much as N750 for 100ml.

“However, Nigerians may be paying a heavier price with their health in the long term, if the trend is left unchecked”, a microbiologist, Fatima Ahmed, explained.

“The instruction on Sniper says apply diluted portions to crops and there’s a ‘withdrawal’ time in which the crop should not be consumed so the active ingredient degrades to minimal level before consumption. Now compare this minute concentration to drinking from the original sniper bottle,” she noted in the report.

According to her, health experts have raised concerns over the indiscriminate use of Sniper pesticide in the control of mosquitoes, cockroaches and other household insects.

“They warned on its dangerous effects, especially to respiratory organs and even carcinogenic risks. A person may be exposed to the associated risk of Sniper through inhalation, absorption via the skin, ingestion, and eye contact.”

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