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COVID-19: 26 Nigerian Soldiers Contract Coronavirus



8 killed, several injured in ISWAP attack on Nigerian army base, village

The Nigerian Army says 26 personnel have so far been tested positive for COVID-19 following the death of the General Officer Commanding (GOC) 6 Division Port Harcourt, Maj.- Gen. Johnson Irefin.

The Acting Director, Army Public Relations, Brig.-Gen. Sagir Musa, disclosed this in a statement on Sunday in Abuja.

Musa said that a total of 417 personnel had so far been tested as at Sunday in line with the directive of the Chief of Army Staff that all officers who attended the just concluded COAS conference be isolated and tested.

According to him, the late GOC, who died of COVID-19 complications on Dec 10, was among the officers, who attended the conference in Abuja.

He said that the cause of his death was reported as respiratory failure secondary to the complications of COVID 19 infection.

“On the confirmation that Gen Irefin’s COVID-19 test was positive on Dec. 9, the Chief of Army Staff directed the immediate suspension of the conference.

“And, all participants were directed to move into self isolation in line with the Federal Government protocols on COVID 19 pandemic,” he said.

According to him, equally, comprehensive testing of all participants commenced immediately.

“Consequently, as at Sunday the Dec. 13, a total of 417 personnel have so far been tested with 26 confirmed positive cases.

“Currently, all participants are in self isolation irrespective of their results while Nigeria Centre for Disease Control recommended COVID-19 treatment drugs were immediately issued to those that tested positive,” he said.

The army spokesperson also disclosed that all officers and soldiers working at the Army Headquarters were being tested while COVID-19 protocols were being strictly enforced across all units and formations of Nigerian army.

He said that the entire Army Headquarters complex was thoroughly fumigated on Saturday Dec. 12.

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Universities’ Non-Academic Staff Declare Nationwide Strike in Nigeria



Workers, under the aegis of Senior Staff Association Nigerian Universities (SSANU) and Non Academic Staff Union of Universities and Educational Institutions (NASU), have issued an ultimatum to the Federal Government to either meet their demands or they embark on a strike action from February 5, 2021.

The non-academic staff said the strike has become inevitable following the Nigerian government non-implementation of a prior agreement.

Peters Adeyemi, NASU General Secretary, confirmed the strike in a joint news conference by the leadership of the Joint Action Committee (JAC) of the unions on Friday in Abuja.

Adeyemi said that JAC has given the Federal Government up to Feb. 5, to address its demands or face an indefinite industrial action.

“In line with the resolution of our members nationwide, that the leadership of the Joint Action Committee of NASU and SSANU hereby resolved that members of NASU and SSANU shall embark on an indefinite.

“This is comprehensive and a total strike with effect from midnight of Friday, February 5, 2021.

“That the two weeks’ notice, effective from today, January 22 is hereby given to government and relevant stakeholders of this development,’’ he said.

Adeyemi said that demands of the unions include; inconsistencies in implementation of the Integrated Personnel Payroll and Information System (IPPIS), non-payment of earned allowances and non-payment of arrears of national minimum wage.

He said others were delay in renegotiation of FG/NASU and SSANU 2009 agreement, non-payment of retirement benefits of outgone members, neglect and poor funding of state universities.

He also noted that the unions were aggrieved over government’s failure to honour the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed on Oct. 20, 2020.

The union scribe added that out of the seven issues, only one has been partially resolved while the other six have not been attended to by government, three months after the MoU was signed.

He however, expressed dismay over the way and manner in which the N40 billion released by government as Earned Allowances was disbursed to the advantage of the academic staff.

“Our stand is that sharing money based on unions in the universities by the Federal Ministry of Education should stop.

“Our stand is that Federal Government must halt the release of funds for Earned Allowances until the outcome of the forensic audit conducted on the previous payments,” he said.

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Nigeria’s Enugu State to Recruit 1,300 Health Workers



No fewer than 1,300 health workers of various specialisations will be employed Enugu State, southeast Nigeria, an official said on Saturday.

Dr Okechukwu Ossai, Administrator of Enugu State Hospital Management Board, said that the proposed exercise had been captured in the 2021 budget of the state.

He said the aim was to strengthen service delivery within 56 general and cottage hospitals in the state.

“Of course, after government’s massive investment in upgrading and equipping existing general hospitals as well as building of new ones in some strategic communities in the state; there is a need for extra manpower.

“It should have been done in 2020 but because it was not captured in the budget; there was no action in that direction.

“Luckily for us, His Excellency, Gov. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, graciously directed us to capture all our personnel needs in the 2021 Budget, which was done.

“We are looking at employing 1300 skilled health workers to fill vacancies and available spaces in our general and cottage hospitals.

“Without personnel, there is little one can do in a health or hospital facility,’’ he said.

Ossai noted that the governor wanted all hospitals especially those in the rural areas to be well-manned and taken care of.

According to him, the governor wants to ensure that no sick person leaves his or her locality and travel down to Enugu for common illnesses.

“The governor’s vision is to have enough specialised medical experts and health workers to man all rural general and cottage hospitals in the state,’’ he said.

He applauded Gov. Ugwuanyi for his huge investment in the health sector especially within the general and cottage hospital sub-sector.

“The general and cottage hospitals received major intervention of the state government in 2020 and the sub-sector is changing for the better and to the benefit of the health of our people.

“This drive shows the passion and premium Gov. Ugwuanyi places on the health of our people especially the downtrodden in rural communities of the state,’’ he added.

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East Africa News

Serious Sexual Violence, Rape Reported in Ethiopia’s Tigray – UN Envoy



The United Nations (UN) has revealed that serious allegations of sexual violence are being reported in Tigray, northern Ethiopia.

Pramila Pattern, a Mauritian-British barrister and UN envoy on sexual violence in conflict, said the reports included a high number of alleged rapes in Mekelle, Tigray’s capital.

Ethiopian National Defense Force (ENDF) seized control of Mekelle from the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) on 28 November after several weeks of fighting.

“There are also disturbing reports of individuals allegedly forced to rape members of their own family, under threats of imminent violence,” Ms Patten said in a statement.

“Some women have also reportedly been forced by military elements to have sex in exchange for basic commodities.

“While medical centres have indicated an increase in the demand for emergency contraception and testing for sexually transmitted infections (STIs) which is often an indicator of sexual violence in conflict.

“In addition, there are increasing reports of sexual violence against women and girls in a number of refugee camps.”

She called on those parties involved in the hostilities “to commit to a zero-tolerance policy for crimes of sexual violence”.

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed launched a ground and air offensive on 4 November to oust the region’s ruling party, after its troops captured federal military bases.

He declared victory in Tigray after a month’s conflict, but fugitive TPLF leaders vowed to continue the fight.

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