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Court halts Trump’s border wall

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A US federal judge has temporarily halted President Donald Trump’s signature wall project, by issuing a temporary injunction against using Defence Department funds to pay for the border wall with Mexico.

Trump who during his campaign for presidency had said he would make Mexico pay for the wall, later change his stance in office and requested money for it.

Congress, including Republican members, refused to accede to his request. Trump, in reaction, triggered 35 days of a government shutdown, the longest in history, to blackmail congressmen.

When this did not work, he declared an emergency in a bid to bypass Congress to obtain money for the wall construction. The emergency enabled him to divert a part of the defence budget for the wall.

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About 20 states, including Democratic strongholds New York and California, along with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), environmental groups and border communities challenged him on the emergency declaration, saying it violates the constitution.

Trump administration officials “are enjoined from taking any action to construct a border barrier in the areas defendants have identified as Yuma Sector Project 1 and El Paso Sector Project 1 using funds reprogrammed by DoD,” Judge Haywood Gilliam ordered, referring to the Department of Defence.

Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan approved the diversion of funds from the department’s counter-narcotics budget for ultimate use in the construction of barriers in those areas — a move that was in turn funded by the diversion of $1 billion from army personnel funds, according to Gilliam’s order.

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The judge granted the preliminary injunction because plaintiffs are likely to show that Trump administration officials “exceeded their statutory authority and that irreparable harm will result from those actions.”

“Congress’s ‘absolute’ control over federal expenditures — even when that control may frustrate the desires of the Executive Branch regarding initiatives it views as important — is not a bug in our constitutional system,” Gilliam wrote.

“It is a feature of that system, and an essential one,” the judge said in a wire report.

The case — which was brought by plaintiffs including the Sierra Club environmental group — names Trump as well as Shanahan, acting Secretary of Homeland Security Kevin McAleenan and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin as defendants.

“We applaud the court’s decision to protect our Constitution, communities, and the environment today,” Sierra Club managing attorney Gloria Smith said in a statement.

“We’ve seen the damage that the ever-expanding border wall has inflicted on communities and the environment for decades. Walls divide neighbourhoods, worsen dangerous flooding, destroy lands and wildlife, and waste resources that should instead be used on the infrastructure these communities truly need,” Smith said.

“Yet again, the American people have had to look to our courts for a check on President Trump’s unlawful power grabs.”

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Covid-19: FG approves gradual reopening of international flights

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The Presidential Task Force (PTF), on COVID-19, has approved the gradual reopening of international flights and train services across the country.

Newsmen report that this was part of the decisions reached at the end of the second extension of the second phase of eased lockdown.

Mr Boss Mustapha, the Chairman of PTF and Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), said this while speaking at the daily briefing of the PTF on Thursday in Abuja.

He said,

“It’s important to ensure that restrictions are not completely relaxed in order to control transmission.

“It is also important that at this Community Transmission Phase of the pandemic sub-national governments step up to take more responsibilities by owning the response.

“To sustain gains already made, therefore, the PTF recommended to the President the retention of the current phase of the response with minor changes to address economic, socio-political and health concerns.

“It is, however, important to inform you that the major changes being proposed are aimed at achieving the following:

“Gradual re-opening of international air flights within established parameters;

“Re-opening of rail transportation within established parameters”.

Mustapha also granted permission to exit classes to resume ahead of examinations and allowing civil servants from Grade Level 12 to resume work, and also the opening of recreational parks for supervised exercises.

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Also speaking, the Coordinator of PTF, Dr Sani Aliyu, said the PTF had communicated to the aviation ministry to begin processes of reopening international flights.

Aliyu also noted that one of the new requirements would be to ensure that international passengers arrived three hours before departure to ensure proper checks before takeoff.

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He further stated that if all requirements from the aviation sector were made the resumption of international flights would be a matter of weeks and not months.

Answering a question from the media, the Minister of Aviation, Sen. Hadi Sirika, explained that the aviation sector was ready to open any moment.

Sirika also explained that international flights would open as soon as it was safe to operate as all efforts were being put in place to ensure the reopening in weeks and not in months.

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Covid-19: Yobe announces reopening of schools

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Yobe State government has announced August 8, 2020, as the date for the reopening of schools across the state.

The new date applies to all boarding schools in the state while academic activities will commence in all schools on August 11, 2020.

The State Commissioner for Basic and Secondary Education, Dr. Mohammed Sani Idris announced this in Damaturu Thursday while briefing journalists on the preparedness of the state to reopen schools after their closure about four months ago due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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He said:

“Yobe State Ministry of Basic and Secondary Education wishes to inform the general public that SS3 and boarding Junior Secondary School students should unfailingly resume on 8th August, 2020.

“While Private schools and Government Day Secondary Schools (GDSS) students should resume on 11th August, 2020.

“The Ministry equally advises all students to come with their facemasks, as school authorities will also provide all preventable measures against the pandemic.”

The Commissioner also noted that

“Gov. Mai Mala Buni has assured that Yobe state will always abide by all preventable guidelines provided by the federal government.

He urged all SS3 students to prepare themselves well for the WAEC which will commence August 17, 2020 in order to get the best results and make the state proud.

“We are determined to reverse the negative educational statistics associated with our state. We therefore call on the students to read hard and make the state proud,” Dr. Sani said.

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Over 400 ghost teachers uncovered in Benue

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Benue state teaching service board has disclosed that it has uncovered 433 ghost workers, including 18 dead persons in its payroll.

The board’s executive secretary, Frank Kyungun made the disclosure on Wednesday, August 5 while presenting the report of the screening exercise recently conducted by the board to Governor Samuel Ortom.

He said;

“The screening uncovered 433 ghost workers on the payroll after verification of 4,473 staff across the three senatorial zones of the state. 

“The screening committee also uncovered 18 dead persons, 70 retired staff, 193 redeployed staff, among other irregularities on the payroll, who were accordingly expunged.”

Commenting on the report, Governor Ortom said he has constituted a committee to immediately implement the committee’s recommendation. Dennis Ityavyar, the state commissioner for education, has been appointed to head the committee.

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He said;

“Those who had milked the board through ghost workers must be identified and prosecuted.

“The ghost names should be immediately deleted from the payment voucher”.

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