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Onitsha traders blame losses on poorly equipped fire service

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Onitsha tanker

Traders at Ochanja Market, Onitsha, who recorded colossal damage in Wednesday’s fire disaster arising from a fuel tanker accident have blamed their losses on poorly equipped Anambra State Fire Service.

Some of the traders who spoke to newsmen on Thursday in Onitsha said the state’s firefighters were not able to get to the disaster scene more than seven hours after the fire outbreak.

NAN reports that the fire which started at the point a tanker laden with petroleum product fell in front of Toronto Hospital, Onitsha near Upper Iweka, spilled its content to Ochanja Market, a distance of more than 500 metres.

“The fire began at about 12.30 p.m. and lasted till 7.40 p.m. when it was finally put out through individual efforts and help from fire fighters from Asaba, Delta,” Vincent Ugochukwu, a trader at Ochanja market said.

Ugochukwu said he lost everything in his shop before the intervention of the firefighters from Asaba who quenched the inferno.

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NAN reports that Ochanja, the second-largest market in the state has more than 10,000 shops and was almost razed as many traders were sighted clearing the debris.

Apart from Ochanja, shops on Iweka road, Ziks Avenue and Ozomagala street were equally affected.

A former Chief Security Officer at Ochanja, Chief Godswell Anyanwu, said everything in his shop valued more than N12 million all got burnt.

Anyanwu, who deals on Electronics, noted with regret that if Anambra had efficient firefighters the fire would not have reached Ochanja.

He also said it was painful that in spite of the huge revenue the government collects from the markets in Onitsha it could be that mindless to provide fire equipment.

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He added that it was the combined efforts of residents and firefighters from Asaba that ended the fire.

President-General of the Anambra State Amalgamated Traders Association (ASMATA), Chief Ikechukwu Ekwegbalu, described the incident as unfortunate.

The ASMATA boss advised affected traders to be calm, and wait for further information from government

He said he was hopeful that Governor Willie Obiano would do something to mitigate the impact of the disaster on the victims.

He, however, condemned the attitude of some miscreants who threw stones and pebbles on government officials and security agents during the incident.

NAN learnt that Governor Willie Obiano, who visited the scene of fire incident at Upper Iweka, Onitsha, to sympathise with victims could not reach Ochanja due to possible fear of unruly conduct by the angry traders

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Obiano was quoted in a statement issued to journalists in Awka to have been saddened and sorry for what happened.

He said that the government would assist those affected and help to bury the woman and her baby that died.

The statement noted that a committee to unravel the cause of the disaster had been set up by the government.

Obiano assured that the government would revamp the fire service and provide more equipment for fire fighting.

“The people and government of Anambra are very sorry for this sad incident. We will ensure that compensation is paid before Christmas. We will celebrate Christmas in peace,” he said.

NAN

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FG raises penalty for hate speech from N500,000 to N5m

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The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, on Tuesday, reviewed the penalty for hate speech in Nigeria.

Mohammed disclosed the increment in penalty for hate speech from N500,000 to N5 million.

The Minister disclosed this at the unveiling ceremony of the reviewed Nigeria Broadcasting Code organized by the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) in Lagos.

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A statement signed and issued by Mohammed’s spokesman, Segun Adeyemi said the reviewed code contained the Antitrust provision aimed at boosting local content and encouraging the growth of the local industry, among other provisions.

The statement reads partly:

“The amended Code also includes the provision raising the fine for hate speech from 500,000 Naira to 5 million Naira.

“Alhaji Mohammed clarified that the amendments were necessitated by a Presidential directive, in the wake of the 2019 general elections, for an inquiry into the regulatory role of the NBC with a view to repositioning the regulator for optimum performance.

“He said despite the attacks by some vested interests, who believe that their singular business interest is superior to national interest, over the provisions of the amended Code, the Federal Government remains unperturbed.”

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1.5m students to sit for 2020 WAEC exams

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WAEC

The 2020 West African School Certificate Examination is to be taken by 1,549,463 candidates in 19,129 centres nationwide.

The participants comprise 786,421 males, while the balance 763,402 are females.

The Head of Nigeria National Office (HNO) of the organisation, Patrick Areghan, made the disclosure yesterday in Lagos.

He added that the test, which holds between August 4 and September 5, would run daily from Monday to Saturday.

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In deference to existing COVID-19 protocols, the HNO said:

“Schools must provide wash-hand buckets with running water, soaps, hand sanitisers and thermometer hand-gun to check the temperature of all concerned.”

He continued:

“All examination functionaries, including the council’s staff on distribution, supervisors, invigilators, inspectors, candidates and school officials will be required to wear face masks, wash and sanitise their hands daily, and throughout the duration of the examination.”

Areghan asserted that the council would adhere strictly to physical distancing in the examination halls by ensuring that candidates sit two metres apart.

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UPDATED: WAEC releases 2020 WASSCE timetable

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WAEC Candidates

The West African Examinations Council has released the timetable for the 2020 West African Senior School Certificate Examination.

The Federal Government had announced the resumption of graduating pupils beginning August 4, noting that WASSCE would begin effective August 17, 2020 through September 12, 2020.

WAEC Nigeria in a statement on Tuesday signed by its Head of Public Affairs, Demianus Ojijeogu, advised candidates to disregard other versions of the examination timetable in circulation.

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The statement was titled, ‘WAEC Releases Timetable For The Conduct Of West African Senior School Certificate Examination For School Candidates, 2020’.

The statement read,

“The West African Examinations Council, Nigeria wishes to inform its stakeholders-schools, parents and candidate-that the Final International Timetable for the conduct of WASSCE for School Candidates, 2020 has been released.

“The Council notes that several versions of the examination timetable have been in circulation and enjoins the general public to disregard them as they did not emanate from it.

“The examination which has been slated to begin on Monday, August 17, 2020 will end on Saturday, September 12, 2020.

“The Council hereby urges the candidates to abide by the rules and regulations guiding the conduct of the examination by shunning all acts of malpractice and obeying all Covid-19 protocols that have been put in place at the examination centres.

“This is wishing the candidates success in the examination.”

 

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