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Trump Rejects $900bn COVID-19 Relief Bill over Provisions to Egypt, Others

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U.S. President Donald Trump on Tuesday rejected the $900 billion (N349.2 trillion) Coronavirus (COVID-19) relief bill passed by Congress, describing it as a disgrace.

In a video message posted on Twitter, Trump alleged that the bill contained “wasteful and unnecessary items”, adding that there was almost nothing about COVID-19 in it.

According to him, the bill contains $85.5 million (N33 billion) for assistance to Cambodia and $134 million (N51,9 billion) to Burma.

The president stated that there was also a provision of $1.3 billion (N504 billion) for Egypt and the Egyptian military.

He said the Egyptian military would use the money to “buy almost exclusively”, military equipment from Russia.

Trump added that $25 million (N9.7 billion) was provided for democracy and gender programmes in Pakistan, and $505 million (N195.9 billion) for Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and Panama.

He highlighted the other “unnecessary items” worth billions of dollars to include public facilities in the U.S. such as the National Gallery of Arts which he alleged were not open.

“The bill also allows stimulus checks for the family members of illegal aliens, allowing them to get up to $1,800 (N698,400) each. This is far more than the Americans are given.

“In spite of all these wasteful spending, and much more, the $900 billion package provides hard working taxpayers with only $600 (N232,800) each in relief package.

“Not enough money is given to small businesses, and in particular restaurants whose owners have suffered so grievously.

“Congress found plenty of money for foreign countries, lobbyists and special interests, while sending the barest minimum to the American people who need it,” he said.

Trump urged Congress to amend the bill and increase the “ridiculously low” $600 to $2,000 (N776,000) or $4,000 (N1.5 million) for couples.

He also asked the lawmakers to remove the “wasteful and unnecessary items” and send him a suitable bill.

The president said if they failed to do so, then Americans would have to wait for the next administration, which he said might be him, to give them COVID relief package.

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East Africa News

Zambian President Grants 246 Death Row Inmates Clemency

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President Edgar Lungu of Zambia has removed 246 inmates, who were on death row, and commutated their sentences to life sentences.

Minister of Home Affairs, Stephen Kampyongo, on Wednesday, said that among the inmates includes 225 males and 21 females.

He announced the commuting of the sentences during an event held at Mukobeko Maximum Prison in central Zambia’s Kabwe town which was streamed live on Facebook.

He made the clemency of death to life sentences for over 500 after 332 inmates had their sentences commutated in 2015.

He said the commutation of sentences of inmates would help decongest the section of condemned inmates at the prison which was meant for 50 people but now has over 400 inmates.

The move, he said, was also meant to protect inmates from contracting COVID-19.

In spite of the death penalty being on the country’s statutes, Zambia has not carried out any execution since 1997.

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Nigeria Confirms 15 Additional COVID-19 Deaths

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The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) has confirmed 15 additional deaths from COVID-19 complications, bringing the total number of death toll in the country to 1,522.

The NCDC disclosed this on its website.

The centre also said that 1,303 new cases of COVID-19 was recorded, bringing the total number of infection in the country to 124,299.

The new infections were reported in 24 states and the Federal Capital Territory.

The centre said Lagos, FCT and Nasarawa recorded the highest number of COVID-19 infections on Monday, with 478 , 211 and 83 cases respectively.

Others state with new infections are Rivers-72, Kwara-42, Edo-36, Ondo-34, Benue-32, Kaduna-32, Katsina-26, Plateau-26, Kano-25, Taraba-25, Osun-22, Delta-21, Oyo-21, Niger-19, Sokoto-18, Ebonyi-17, Ekiti-14, Gombe-13, Ogun-12, Bauchi-11, Zamfara-eight, Borno-four and Jigawa-one.

The 1,270,523 people have been tested since the first confirmed case of COVID-19 was recorded on Feb. 27, 2020.

The agency also announced that 917 patients have been discharged from isolation centres across the country after testing negative to the virus , raising the total number of patients discharged to 99,276.

It added that the discharged included 542 community recoveries in Lagos State, 103 in Plateau and 22 in Kwara, managed in line with NCDC guidelines.

The NCDC noted that a multi-sectoral national Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) activated at Level III, is coordinating response activities nationwide.

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Police Rescue 5 Newborns from ‘Baby Factory’ in Anambra, Southeast Nigeria

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The Nigerian Police have rescued five newborns from a baby factory in Anambra State, southeast Nigeria.

According to CSP Haruna Ahmed – the Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO) in the state – 10 suspects were arrested over their roles in the baby factory where young girls are impregnated and their babies sold by human traffickers.

Mohammed, in a statement on Wednesday, said three more children and five pregnant girls were also rescued in a raid on the factory.

“On January 26, at about 7 a.m., following an intelligence report, police operatives attached to the SIB and Area Command, Oraifite, coordinated by the Area Commander, ACP Afolabi Wilfred raided the house.

“The house which belonged to one Melvina Uju Uba is located opposite Nnamdi Azikiwe Orthopedic Teaching Hospital Oba in Idemili South LGA of Anambra state,” he said.

The spokesman listed the arrested suspects as Edna Nnadi, 37, Ujunwa Nweke, 25, Izuchukwu Uba, 24, Chinasa Ibeh, 19, Peace Effiong, 25, Gift Collins, 20, and Chimkaso Kingsley, 25.

Others are Happiness Monday, 18, Chioma Okonkwo, 25, and Uchechukwu Nwankwo, 18.

According to Mohammed, five of the suspects are heavily pregnant.

The rescued children would be handed over to the Ministry of Social Welfare, Children and Women’s Affairs for proper care.

He added that efforts are being intensified to apprehend other accomplices in order to bring them to justice.

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