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COVID-19: Fake vaccination certificates now in Nigeria, FG warns

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From Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja

The Federal Government on Monday warned that a black market for fake vaccination certificates now exists in the country.

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The Chairman of the Presidential Steering Committee (PSC) on COVID-19 and Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, raised the alarm during the committee’s media briefing in Abuja, disclosing that arrangements are in place to vaccinate 50 per cent of Nigerians by the end of January 2022.

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Mustapha said the Committee had reliable intelligence that an illegal vaccination certificate market has been created in the country.

He, however, assured that no vaccination certificate illegally procured would scale scrutiny whenever the need arises as all vaccination records have to be verified as authentic at every relevant point.

‘We have received intelligence and even detected that some unscrupulous citizens are procuring vaccination cards through the black market,’ Mustapha stated.

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‘Let me assure everyone that the vaccination records/certificates will be verified and this should serve as a warning to those criminally minded persons to desist because they will be prosecuted accordingly,’ he assured.

Speaking on recent developments around the COVID-19 pandemic locally and internationally, the SGF called for greater caution as the virus’ spread is not slowing down, but getting rather more virulent in some places.

He gave assurance that the vaccination process was being accelerated as arrangements were being perfected for a mass roll-out of vaccines from Friday, November 20, 2021, with a target of achieving the vaccination of about 50% of the population by the end of January next year.

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‘The PSC has not briefed the nation for some time now, but we have been working and monitoring the trends around the world so that the national response can continue to be based on data, research and experience. The situation is still challenging, hence, the need to continue to strictly adhere to the non-pharmaceutical intervention measures.

‘We are currently seeing some surges in cases in some countries in Europe (especially eastern Europe) due to under vaccination. In other territories where massive vaccinations have occurred, the infections are rising. What we see in Nigeria right now is that there is an increase in the case fatality ratio, which calls for great concern.

‘In our last briefing, we announced the Vaccine Mandate for 1st December 2021. I will like to state that this is in the best interest of Nigeria, looking at what is happening globally. We are gearing up to further engage with the Nigerian Governors’ Forum to push through the mass vaccination programme and mandate for our citizens.

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‘The vaccination phase is being accelerated and the NPHCDA has concluded arrangements to roll out a mass vaccination plan with effect from Friday, November 20, 2021. The PSC wishes to assure Nigerians that the NPHCDA has enough vaccines in the pipeline to vaccinate about 50% of the target population by the end of January 2022. Efforts are also ongoing to bring on board the booster dose so as to build a healthy level of anti-bodies,’ he said.

To mark the end of its nine months mandate, the SGF said that the PSC is planning a National Summit to end COVID-19 in 2022/strengthening global health security, adding that the date for the event had been set to hold between 6 and 8 of December this year.

‘The PSC is approaching the end of its nine months mandate by the end of December 2021. To effectively capture the core elements of our national response, a National Summit to end COVID-19 in 2022 and to strengthen Global Health Security is being planned to hold in Abuja from 6 – 8 December 2021.

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‘It is imperative that all hands must be on deck if we must lay a solid foundation for a sustainable response to COVID, which will be with us for quite some time; and continue to push to minimize the impact on health and economic sectors,’ he said.

Addressing some of the concerns of international travellers and some of the issues being raised about inconveniences that have been imposed by the outbreak of the pandemic, the PSC chair, while assuring that Nigeria’s international travel portal had been primed to give more effective services, challenged travellers from Nigeria to get conversant with the various travel protocols of their travel destinations.

‘Travellers leaving the country are encouraged to be conversant with the travel protocols of all countries (origin, transit and destination). This has become necessary because of comments and reports in the media that some citizens are denied boarding due to a lack of pre-departure protocol compliance.

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‘Others returning home also complained about requirements to be met. The protocols are clear and simple and they should be observed accordingly.

‘The National International Travel Protocol portal has been upgraded to meet existing protocol and the demands of our travelling public. The portal is now live and running smoothly,’ he said.

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I benefited greatly from Babalakin’s wise counsel, Obasanjo mourns

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Former President Olusegun Obasanjo has disclosed that the late Justice Bolarinwa Babalakin was until his death and for many years, one of his consultation arrowheads and contact points.

He said that the late jurist was indeed a true senior brother, counsellor, mentor, friend and confidant that would be sorely missed by him.

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The late Babalakin was the father of Dr Wale Babalakin, and one of the country’s eminent jurists, who died on Saturday at aged 94.

In a condolence letter to Babalakin’s junior, a copy made available to newsmen by Obasanjo’s Special Assistant on Media, Kehinde Akinyemi, Obasanjo said he so much valued the Hon. Justice “so very much for his wise and sagacious counsel,” declaring “he will be sorely missed by me.”

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The letter reads, “I write, on behalf of my family and on my own behalf, to express our deep sense of loss at the transition of your beloved father, Hon. Justice Bolarinwa Oyegoke Babalakin, one of the nation’s most eminent jurists. Although we are deeply saddened to hear of his transition, we are comforted by the knowledge that he lived a full, distinguished life of service and devotion to his community, his state, the nation and to humanity.

“We commiserate with you and the entire good people of Osun State and pray that Allah, in His mercy, will comfort you and other members of his family.

“Justice Babalakin will for long be remembered for his immense contribution to the building of this great nation, Nigeria.  In all respects, he was a titan: a good man, an inspiring leader and a remarkable statesman whose intellect, integrity, hard work and vision impacted significantly on the legal profession. He served the nation in many challenging positions, notably as Justice of the Supreme Court of Nigeria from where he retired in 1992.

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“In all of the positions he held, Justice Babalakin earned the respect and confidence of Nigerians and non-Nigerians by dint of hard work, professional excellence, devotion to duty and resourcefulness. Indeed, throughout his entire career in the Public Service, he demonstrated rare qualities of commitment and courage, always upholding the cherished traditions of the Public Service, and left behind a name that was thoroughly bathed in honour and dignity.

“Justice Babalakin’s name will live forever in the minds and hearts of those who experienced his warmth, generosity and guidance.

“As a community leader and a prominent patriot, Justice Babalakin earned the respect of his people, not only for the great commitment that he had for the progress of Gbogan, his hometown, and the rest of Osun State but also for his abiding faith in national unity.

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“He exhibited very good leadership qualities, wisdom and wealth of experience which indeed he put to use in the discharge of his responsibility to his community and the nation as a whole. Until his death and for many years, he was one of my consultation arrowheads and contact points, majorly on the socio-political issues in Nigeria.

“He was indeed a true senior brother, counsellor, mentor, friend and confidant, who I valued so very much for his wise and sagacious counsel. He will be sorely missed by me.

“There is no gainsaying the fact that his death has robbed the nation of the services of a great patriot and public officer of sterling character but his service record will remain a noble challenge to subsequent generations to emulate.

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“As you mourn the loss of your father, you can draw solace from knowing that he lived a fulfilled life and left behind a good name, lofty reputations and high standards. In all his life, he was a true follower of the tenets of Islam. I have no doubt, however, that you and the rest of the family will carry on from where he stopped especially in the areas of promotion of peace, justice, education and community development.

“I pray that Allah will grant him sweet repose, and you and other family members grace to bear the heavy and irreparable loss.”

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Police declare SS3 student wanted for beating teacher to death in Delta

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Delta State Police Command has declared wanted one Michael Ogbeife, an SS3 student of Erhimu Secondary School, Abraka in the State, for beating a teacher of the school, Joseph Ossai, to death.

Michael is said to be on the run after perpetrating the illicit act on Thursday.

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PUNCH Metro gathered that Michael had on that fateful day engaged the teacher in a scuffle that resulted in the teacher giving up the ghost during the fight.

The deceased teacher, who was said to be in charge of Agricultural Science and Biology in the school until his demise, had reportedly flogged Michael’s younger sister, Promise Ogbeife who was involved in a dispute with her classmate.

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It was gathered that Michael got infuriated by the teacher’s decision to flog his sister and the enraged SS3 student resorted to a fight with the teacher.

Sources said that Michael angrily left the school’s premises after his sister was flogged, and later returned back, heading straight to the staff room for a showdown with the teacher.

Some of our sources alleged that Michael had initially rushed home to get a charm before engaging the teacher in the fight.

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It was gathered that the teacher collapsed after some punches from the student which left the teacher with a bleeding nose just as blood was also gushing out from his mouth.

Consequently, the teacher was rushed to a private hospital in the community, from where he was referred to the government hospital where he was confirmed dead on arrival.

Reacting to the gory incident, the proprietor of the school, Mr Erhimu, told journalists that he was awaiting full details of the matter, as he was not around when the incident happened.

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The visibly worried proprietor has however directed that the school be shut till Monday noting that he had been to the police station over the matter.

Confirming the incident, the police public relations officer for Delta State Command, DSP Bright Edafe, told newsmen that the suspect is on the run.

“The suspect is nowhere to be found for now, but his sister is in protective custody”, the PPRO said just as he insisted that efforts are being intensified to arrest the fleeing suspect.

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