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FG okays reopening of schools

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However, only graduating students will resume.

The Chairman of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, Boss Mustapha, disclosed this at the daily briefing of the task force in Abuja on Monday.

He said the reopening of schools was meant to allow students in graduating classes resume preparation for examinations.

He disclosed that the latest developments were contained in the task force’s fifth interim report which was submitted to the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), earlier in the day.

Mustapha said, “I am pleased to inform you that Mr President has carefully considered the 5th Interim Report of the PTF and has accordingly approved that, with the exception of some modifications to be expatiated upon later, the Phase II of the eased lockdown be extended by another four weeks with effect from Tuesday, June 30, 2020 through Midnight of Monday, 27 July, 2020.

“Specifically, however, the following measures shall either remain in place or come into effect:

“Maintaining the current phase of the national response, for another four weeks in line with modifications to be expatiated by the National Coordinator;
“Permission of movement across state borders only outside curfew hours with effect from 1st July, 2020;

“Enforcement of laws around non-pharmaceutical interventions by States, in particular, the use of face masks in public places;

“Safe re-opening of schools to allow students in graduating classes resume in-person in preparation for examinations;

“Safe reopening of domestic aviation services as soon as practicable;

“Publication of revised guidelines around the three thematic areas of general movement, industry and labour; and community activities;

“Provision of technical support for states to mobilise additional resources for the response.”

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NIGERIA

774,000 jobs: Buhari backs Keyamo on planned recruitment

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From all indications, it seems that President Muhammadu Buhari has given the Minister of State for Labour and Employment, Festus Keyamo, the Presidential backing, to go-ahead with the plan to recruit 774,000 under the special public works programme.

Keyamo confirmed the development to The Nation in a telephone interview on Wednesday in Abuja.

The minister said he has the instructions of President Buhari to proceed unhindered, thereby ignoring the leadership of the National Assembly which asked the minister to stop the programme.

“I have the instructions of my boss, Mr. President, to proceed unhindered,” Keyamo said in a text.

The minister and lawmakers have been at loggerheads over the implementation of the Special Public Works Programme.

The lawmakers had said the minister did not seek their input before putting together members of the 20-man states selection committees who were inaugurated in June this year.

They accused the minister of trying to hijack the scheme from the National Directorate of Employment, NDE, the implementing agency of the project.

But Keyamo, who appeared before members of the National Assembly Joint Committee on Labour, on Tuesday, 30 June, accused the lawmakers of seeking to control the implementation of the programme.

After engaging in a shouting match with members of the National Assembly Joint Committee, Senate President, Ahmed Lawan, called for the suspension of the programme.

However, Keyamo said on Wednesday that the states selection committees are proceeding already with the programme as planned, following the new directive from Buhari.

He said: “I have instructions from Mr. President to proceed. The states selection committees are proceeding already with the programme. Nothing stopped them before.

“National Directorate of Employment, NDE, is part of the programme. The state coordinators of the NDE throughout the country are the secretaries of those committees.

“We will work hard to meet the timeline but if there is any need for a change we will inform Mr. President.”

The Special Public Works Programme is designed to employ 1,000 persons from each of the 774 Local Government Areas of the country.

The programme is expected to gulp N52billion meant for the payment of the participants at N20, 000 per month for three months.

The exercise is expected to commence in October.

The 20-man selection Committee for the programme is being chaired by the Director General of the National Directorate of Employment, NDE, Nasir Ladan Argungu and supervised by Kayamo.

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NIGERIA

Kidnappers risk life jail as Senate passes anti-kidnapping bill

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Kidnappers in Nigeria may face life imprisonment going forward as the Senate on Tuesday passed a bill which prescribes life jail, as against the current 10 years maximum sentence, for kidnappers.

The bill contains amendments to the criminal code which is currently in operation in the southern part of Nigeria.

The proposed legislation, sponsored by Senator Oluremi Tinubu, is entitled, “A bill for an Act to amend the Criminal Code Act CAP. C.38, Laws of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 2004.”

It seeks to delete  the statute of limitation on defilement, increase punishment for the offence of kidnapping, and remove gender restrictions in the offence of rape and other related matters.

The bill eliminates time frame for prosecuting defilement cases by increasing the period from two months to as many years as the victim decide to take up the matter.

It also removes gender restrictions on the offence of  rape by explaining that both male and female could be raped.

 

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NIGERIA

WASSCE: Order partial reopening of schools, Reps tell Buhari

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The House of Representatives has called on the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), to order a partial reopening of schools to allow pupils sit for the 2020 West African Senior Secondary School Certificate Examination.

The House made the call at the plenary on Tuesday following a unanimous adoption of a motion moved by a member, Nnolim Nnaji.

The Committee on Basic Education and Services had earlier on Friday faulted the decision by the Federal Government to suspend the plan to partially reopen schools for pupils in final classes to take external examinations.

The committee had particularly criticized the decision to disallow Nigerian pupils from sitting for WASSCE to be conducted by the West African Examination Council for the 2019/2020 academic session.

Schools at all levels have been shut since March due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 had earlier in June said the Federal Government, in what it called “safe reopening of schools,” had approved the resumption of pupils in graduating classes, including Primary 6, Junior Secondary School 3 and the Senior Secondary School 3.

In approving the resumption of graduating classes, the government said water must be provided in schools for hand-washing and both pupils and teachers must wear face masks while observing social distancing.

Later, the Minister of State for Education, Emeka Nwajiuba, had during the press briefing by the PTF announced that the 2020 WASSCE would hold between August 4 and September 5.

But the Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu, at the end of a meeting of the Federal Executive Council presided over by the President last Wednesday said all federal schools would remain closed until it was safe to reopen them.

Adamu also urged state governments that had announced schools’ resumption plans to rescind such.

The minister stated that WAEC could not determine the resumption date of schools for Nigeria. He alleged that the council announced the date of examination while the government was still consulting stakeholders on what to do.

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