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June 2: Kalu’s new date for freedom battle

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Orji Uzor Kalu

The Federal High Court in Lagos has fixed June 2 to hear an application by a former Abia State governor, Senator Orji Uzor Kalu, seeking his release from prison.

The motion on notice will be heard by Justice Mohammed Liman.

Orji is serving a 12-year jail term at the Correctional Service Centre in Kuje, Abuja for looting N7.65billion belonging to Abia State.

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The Senate’s Chief Whip has hired a 12-man team of lawyers, including six Senior Advocates of Nigeria (SAN)s, to prosecute his freedom bid.

He filed the motion on May 12 asking the court to nullify his conviction.

Justice Mohammed Idris of the Federal High Court, last December 5, convicted Kalu and a former Director of Finance in the Abia State Government House, Ude Jones Udeogu, of the offence.

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Udeogu bagged 10 years imprisonment.

Following Udeogu’s appeal, the Supreme Court on May 8 held that the fiat issued to Justice Idris to conclude the case after he had been elevated to the Court of Appeal was “a nullity”.

The highest Court set aside Idris’ verdict “as it pertains or relates to the appellant (Udeogu)”.
It ordered Udeogu’s freedom and the retrial of his case.

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Kalu is contending that no legal basis exists for his continued incarceration following the Supreme Court’s judgment which declared his trial a nullity and freed Udeogu.

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COVID-19: Ekiti inaugurates 400-testing capacity mobile laboratory

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The Ekiti government, on Monday, inaugurated a 400-testing capacity mobile laboratory to ease the testing of COVID-19 cases in the state.

According to Gov. Kayode Fayemi, this is part of steps to curtail further spread of the pandemic in the state.
Newsmen report that the laboratory, installed at the Ekiti State University Teaching Hospital (EKSUTH), Ado-Ekiti, was in partnership with 54gene, a company set up to provide genomic data for Africa.

Reports have it that this was coming barely a month after the government unveiled the state COVID-19 Response Hub, a Geographic Information System-based application, created to manage data on the pandemic in the state.

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Speaking at the occasion, the governor said with the installation and inauguration of the laboratory, the state now had the capacity to test up to 400 cases daily.

He said that the laboratory was fully equipped with vital testing instruments and bio-safety materials, including an autoclave, bio-safety cabinet, centrifuge, heating blocks, vortexes, pipettes and PCR machines to support COVID-19 testing.

He said that 54gene would also furnish the government with operational support and molecular scientists, with the necessary skills to handle the instruments in the mobile laboratory.

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Fayemi said that the state would now be conducting tests in all the 16 local government areas to facilitate early detection of COVID-19 and ensure timely and adequate treatment of an infected person.

He said that the laboratory would remain in the state, even after the pandemic might have abated and would be used as a fully-functional molecular laboratory.

This, according to him, will bolster the state’s molecular testing capabilities, adding the facility might be used by medical researchers and clinicians in the state in the event of a future outbreak of any disease aside coronavirus.

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In addition, the laboratory was pioneered by 54gene, a health technology company accredited by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), which is already testing for COVID-19 in Lagos, Kano and Ogun states.

The initiative is also one of the interventions being facilitated by the state COVID-19 Response Resource Mobilisation Committee, set up by the governor, to attract an effective support base and respond to the threats posed by the global pandemic.

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FG relaxes restriction on places of worship

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The Federal Government has announced the relaxation of the restriction placed on places of worship as part of measures to curtail the spread of COVID-19.

The Chairman of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, Boss Mustapha, announced this during the daily briefing of the panel on Monday.

Mustapha who is also the Secretary to Government of the Federation, however, said the ban on inter-state travels is still in place.

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He said:

“There is a ban on gatherings of more than 20 people outside of a workplace;

“Relaxation of restriction on places of worship based on guidelines issued by the PTF and protocols agreed by state governments.

“Managed access to markets and locations of economic activity to limit the risk of transmission;

“Ban on inter-state travels except for the movement of agricultural produce, petroleum products, manufactured goods and essential services;

“Mandatory use of non-medical face masks in public places;

“Mandatory provision of handwashing facilities/sanitisers in all public places.”

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Drivers exchange blow at Berger area of Abuja (Photos)

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Drivers exchange blow at the Berger area of Abuja on Monday.

See photos below:

Photo Olatunji Obasa

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