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I laughed when I read the story that I gave Israel ultimatum to return Nnamdi Kanu – Lai Mohammed

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Minister of Information, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, on Wednesday dismissed social media report that he gave Israel ultimatum over the reappearance of the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Nnamdi Kanu, in that country.

The IPOB leader, who was sighted in Israel last week, had pledged to return to Nigeria soon, after his unceremonious disappearance from the country for about 13 months.

The minister, who fielded questions from State House correspondents, said: “I was in London when I heard the story about Nnamdi Kanu surfacing in Israel. I was not in a position to make any statement.

“But before I knew it, within a few hours, I saw my picture with a story saying that I had actually given Israel ultimatum to return Nnamdi Kanu otherwise, we will send them missiles.

“I just laughed. It speaks to what we are talking about fake news because it is probably the biggest threat in the run-up to the elections.

“Having said that I have nothing more to add, to the issue of Nnamdi Kanu.’’
According to him, the appropriate authorities in the country will speak on the issue at the appropriate time.

“At the appropriate time, the various authorities will make a statement about the issue of Kanu,’’ he said.

It would be recalled that the Presidency had on Tuesday, October 23 dismissed the Kanu’s outburst and assured all Nigerians that there was no reason to worry about the hollow outburst by the IPOB leader.

Malam Garba Shehu, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, who gave the assurance in a statement in Abuja, restated that Nigeria under President Muhammadu Buhari was strong enough to defend its territory against any threat.

He said: “Instead, we see the re-enactment of his bizarre, episodic threat as a mere distraction which will not be allowed to detract from the existing cordial relationships between Nigeria and other countries.’’

According to him, the Buhari administration is in constant touch with other friendly nations and has the best assurances that they would continue to reciprocate the respect Nigeria has for the sovereignty of their nations.

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Saudi shuts Riyadh, Mecca, Medina after second coronavirus death

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Saudi Arabia on Wednesday sealed off the capital Riyadh and two of Islam’s holiest cities and extended curfew hours as it reported its second death from the new coronavirus.

The kingdom barred entry and exit from Riyadh as well as Mecca and Medina and prohibited movement between all provinces, the official Saudi Press Agency reported, as the health ministry said the total number of infections spiked to 900.

Saudi Arabia, which has reported the highest number of infections in the Gulf, on Monday began implementing an 11-hour nationwide curfew — starting at 7 pm — to limit the spread of the deadly COVID-19 illness.

The curfew hours were brought forward to 3 pm in the three cities, SPA said citing measures approved by King Salman that will take effect from Thursday.

Authorities plan to implement the curfew for 21 days and have warned that transgressors will be fined 10,000 Saudi riyals ($2,663) and could face jail for repeated breaches.

The health ministry on Wednesday said a resident of Mecca was the second person to die from the disease in the kingdom.

The Arab world’s biggest economy has also closed down cinemas, malls and restaurants, halted flights and suspended the year-round umrah pilgrimage as it steps up efforts to contain the virus.

King Salman warned last week of a “more difficult” fight ahead against the virus, as the kingdom faces the economic double blow of virus-led shutdowns and crashing oil prices.

The king will chair an emergency virtual summit of leaders from the Group of 20 major economies on Thursday to discuss a global response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Last week, the kingdom unveiled stimulus measures amounting to 120 billion riyals ($32 billion) to support businesses and said it plans to raise borrowing to 50 percent of gross domestic product (GDP).

Similar restrictions and stimulus measures have been reported by other countries in the Gulf, where more than 2,400 coronavirus infections have been reported so far.

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Coronavirus: With 3,405 deaths, Italy overtakes China as worst-hit country

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Italy has overtaken China as the country with the highest number of coronavirus deaths.

The death toll in the country now stands at 3,405, overtaking China which has recorded 3,245 deaths from the virus since its outbreak in December.

Earlier, the Chinese authorities announced that Wuhan, where the disease broke out, and its surrounding province have no new cases while most of the patients are recovering.

On Wednesday, Italy recorded 475 deaths, the highest single-day increase since the first recorded case in February.

According to the Civil Protection Agency, the total number of cases in Italy rose to 41,035 from a previous 35,713. It described it as a faster rate of growth seen over the last three days.

It, however, added that out of the number infected, 4,440 had fully recovered.

The death toll keeps increasing despite a lockdown in the entire northern region which is the worst-hit. It has a population of about 16 million.

Morgues in Italy are reportedly working round the clock and overwhelmed as the number of deaths increases while doctors have said the country is facing a “catastrophic situation”.

About 2,600 medical workers are said to have been infected.

The confirmed cases around the world is over 229,917, while 9,386 patients have died and 86,254 recovered.

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US Approves Chloroquine To Treat Coronavirus

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The US has approved the anti-malarial drug chloroquine for use as a treatment against the new coronavirus, President Donald Trump said Thursday.

“We’re going to be able to make that drug available almost immediately, and that’s where the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) has been so great,” Trump told reporters.

“They’ve gone through the approval process — it’s been approved. They took it down from many, many months to immediate. So we’re going to be able to make that drug available by prescription.”

Credit: AFP

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