Buhari returns to Nigeria today

Nigerian President Mohammadu Buhari addresses members of his cabinet upon his arrival at the presidency in Abuja, on March 10, 2017, after nearly two months in London receiving treatment for an undisclosed ailment. / AFP PHOTO / SUNDAY AGHAEZE

Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari is expected to return to the country later on Saturday after spending more than 100 hundred days in London receiving treatment for an undisclosed ailment, his spokesman said.

He is expected to speak to “Nigerians in a broadcast by 7 a.m on Monday, August 21, 2017,” his media adviser Femi Adesina said in a statement.

The president left Nigeria on May 7 for London for a second of treatment for an undisclosed ailment, transferring power to Vice President Yemi Osinbajo to lead the most populous African country.

He had earlier left Nigeria on January 19 for London to “undergo routine medical check-ups” during a short holiday. He only returned on March 10 after an extended period of medical treatment.

He tacitly acknowledged that he was very ill, telling his cabinet members that “I couldn’t recall being so sick since I was a young man.” He also said he had “blood transfusions, going to the laboratories and so on and so forth”.

His absence in Nigeria since May 7 has birthed rounds of protests and calls for him to resign. But much like his aides, Buhari has consistently said he would only return to Nigeria on the instruction of his doctors.

“I feel I could go home, but the doctors are in charge. I’ve now learnt to obey orders, rather than be obeyed,” he told his aides on Saturday, his spokesman Femi Adesina said in an earlier statement.

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Knife attacker in Russian city wounds 8, shot by police

Russian Police. PHOTO: REUTERS

A knife attacker stabbed eight people on the street in Russia’s far northern city of Surgut before being shot by police, investigators said Saturday.

The male attacker “carried out attacks on passers-by, causing stab wounds to eight” while “moving along central streets of the city” at around 11:20 am local time (0620 GMT) said Russia’s Investigative Committee, which probes major crimes.

It said that armed police then arrived and used their weapons on the attacker and “liquidated” him.

The incident took place in a city some 2,100 kilometres (1,330 miles) northeast of Moscow in the oil-rich Khanty-Mansi region.

Two of those stabbed are in a serious condition while five more are in a stable condition, the government of the Khanty-Mansi region said in a statement, calling the attacker so far “unidentified.”

It called for calm over the incident, saying that “in the interests of public calm and also of the investigation, citizens and media are recommended to use reliable information in assessing the situation until all the circumstances are established.”

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2017 Hajj: We have not recorded any death, road accident – NAHCON

The National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON) says it has not recorded any death of any Nigerian pilgrim since the beginning of the 2017 Hajj Operation three weeks ago.

The Coordinator in charge of Medina Operation and Secretary of NAHCON, Dr Bello Tambuwal, made this known while briefing journalists on Saturday in Medina, Saudi Arabia.

According to Tambuwal, the 2017 Hajj Operation is the best outing in the past 10 years of the Hajj Commission, adding that the commission has also not record a single road traffic accident.

He said that since the beginning of transportation of pilgrims to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia on July 30, a significant progress had been achieved by the commission in many areas.

He said the challenge of transporting intending pilgrims from Nigeria to Saudi Arabia was very minimal, adding that pilgrims transported directly through Medina International Airport and those that arrived through Jeddah Airport had smooth movement into the Kingdom.

“So far, we don’t have serious challenges in the on-going Hajj Operation. From my experience of the past 10 years, 2017 Hajj is the smoothest I have witnessed.

“We were able to secure good houses and mostly within Haram area and we have not recorded a single road traffic accident or death of any Nigerian pilgrim,” Tambuwal said.

The Coordinator said that as part of efforts to provide healthcare service to pilgrims, the commission had procured adequate drugs for pilgrims.

He said the commission has established relationship with Saudi hospitals and any emergency that required specialised treatment would be referred to such medical facilities.

The secretary also expressed optimism that all pilgrims would be transported to Saudi Arabia before the deadline for closure of airports.

“We will continue to transport pilgrims directly to Medina because we have secured enough bed space here, then later we will move them to Mecca by road,” he said.

Tambuwal disclosed that NAHCON had engaged the service of a dedicated transport company with new buses that have toilet and internet services, to transport pilgrims from Medina to Mecca.

He said that a total of 43, 963 pilgrims from various states of the federation had so far been transported to the Holy Land.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that about 95,000 pilgrims, who registered through states pilgrims’ welfare boards, agencies and private tour operators, are expected to perform the 2017 hajj.

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Nearly 600 dead in South Asia floods

Indian residents wade through flood waters in Balurghat in West Bengal on August 17, 2017. Nearly 600 people have died and more than 1.5 million have been displaced by monsoon flooding across India, Nepal and Bangladesh, officials said August 15, as rescuers scoured submerged villages for the missing. STR / AFP

Nearly 600 people have died and millions have been affected by monsoon floods in South Asia, officials said Saturday, as relief and rescue operations continued.

Indian authorities sought military help in two districts of northern Uttar Pradesh state after heavy rains left hundreds of villages marooned.

As many as 33 out of 75 districts in the state are reeling from floods that have left 55 people dead.

“We have sought army’s help to reach out to the affected people,” T P Gupta, a senior official from the state’s diaster management authority, told AFP.

Nearly 100,000 people have been moved to shelters, with authorities estimating another two million have been hit by the deluge.

In India’s Bihar state the death toll reached 153.

Nearly 400,000 people have sought shelter in relief camps and an estimated 10 million have been affected by one of the state’s worst floods since 2008.

Anirudh Kumar, the state’s top disaster management agency official, said more than 5,000 emergency workers including 2,000 soldiers were supporting relief and rescue operations.

“Nearly 1,300 shelters have been opened to accommodate the affected people,” Kumar told AFP.

Both Bihar and Uttar Pradesh border Nepal, which was hit by floods at the weekend and where the death toll is 123. At least 20 percent of the population is affected.

Further east, at least 60 people have died in floods that hit Assam state a second time in less than four months and nearly 425,000 remain in relief camps.

Authorities in West Bengal state said the flood waters were receding after a lull in the rains, with 52 deaths reported. More than a million people have been affected.

At least 100 people have died in neighbouring Bangladesh with close to six million affected by the floods.

Every year hundreds die in landslides and floods during the annual monsoon season that hits India’s southern tip in early June and sweeps across the South Asia region for four months.

A massive landslide in India’s Himachal Pradesh state swept two passenger buses off a hillside, killing 46 people on Sunday.

Eight others, including two soldiers, were killed in Uttarakhand state in landslides on Monday.

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Strange Disease: Kogi Government appeals for calm

The Commissioner for Health, Dr Saka Audu said the disease was not Lassa fever, saying the result of samples taken from the patients to Irua General Hospital for investigation proved negative. PHOTO: TWITTER

The Kogi State Commissioner for Health, Dr Saka Audu, has appealed for calm over reports of a mysterious disease in the state.

The commissioner, who denied that 62 people had died from the disease, told newsmen in Lokoja that those so far diagnosed were found to be suffering from gastroenteritis and Malaria.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the state Ministry of Health had in a statement put the figure of those who died at 62 in Okunran, Okoloke and Isanlu-Esa all in Yagba West Local Government Area.

“The current information available to us is that the strange disease actually started six weeks ago in Okoloke village in Yagba West, which is a settlement that is predominantly inhabited by Fulani herdsmen.

“There have been cases of reported deaths following abdominal pain, vomiting and diarrhoea, but the patients who showed signs of illness had since been evacuated and transported to Kogi State Specialist Hospital, Lokoja for better treatment.

“So far, we have evacuated 39 patients from Okoloke area and only six of them were admitted and have shown significant sign of improvement while others have since been discharged.

“Out of the six that were admitted, three of them were diagnosed of gastroenteritis and the remaining three were just cases of malaria, and they have shown remarkable signs of improvement,” Audu said.

He also stressed that the disease was not Lassa fever, saying the result of samples taken from the patients to Irua General Hospital for investigation proved negative.

On the 62 persons earlier reported to have died, the commissioner said the figure was given by local leaders in the affected areas and was yet to be verified by government.

“ We will investigate and trace the dead people to the grave yard and come up with the correct figure.

“We want to assure the general public that government is doing all that is humanly possible to stay on top of the situation and forestall further loss of lives.

“We will continue to inform the public as the investigation progresses,’’ Audu said.

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Zimbabwe declares holiday on Mugabe’s birthday

Zimbabwe has declared President Robert Mugabe’s birthday on February 21 a national holiday, a state daily reported Saturday, honouring the veteran politician in power since 1980 who opponents accuse of brutal repression and devastating the economy.

The declaration of the Robert Mugabe National Youth Day came after lobbying by the ruling ZANU-PF party’s youth league.

“In declaring this day, we would like to highlight to our youths the values and principles so brilliantly displayed by President R.G. Mugabe which have resulted in an exemplary life that our youths can emulate,” state-owned Herald newspaper quoted home affairs minister Ignatius Chombo as saying.

He said the cabinet made the decision after years of lobbying by the ruling party which also said it wants the country’s main airport named after Mugabe.

Last week the cash-strapped government announced plans to build a $1 billion Robert Mugabe university, joining several other facilities named after him including the government’s school of intelligence, a main street in the capital Harare and the highway to his rural home.

Mugabe, now 93 years old, first came to power after Zimbabwe’s independence from Britain. He says he plans to contest elections due next year despite his advanced age and concerns over his frail health.

Zimbabwe’s economy has been run down, with output halved since 2000, while many basic services have collapsed and government salaries use up more than 90 percent of all public revenue.

Opposition parties are in talks to try to unite and field one candidate to oppose Mugabe in the next presidential poll.

Past elections however have been tainted by violence and intimidation by ZANU-PF operatives.

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2 killed, 5 injured as hoodlums attack APC secretariat

Two persons were on Friday confirmed dead and five others injured following an attack on the secretariat of the Bayelsa State chapter of the All Progressives Congress.

The secretariat, which is located on the Yenagoa-Mbiama Road, Yenezue-Gene area of Yenagoa, was reportedly attacked at about 11am by suspected armed thugs.

The assailants were allegedly hired to disrupt the inauguration of the acting chairman of the party, Joseph Fafi.

The national body of the party had appointed Fafi to the position following the expulsion of the former chairman, Chief Tiwei Orunimighe; his deputy, Eddy Julius; and the party’s secretary, Marlin Daniel, over alleged anti-party activities.

One of the persons killed in the violence was said to be a member of the APC from Sagbama Local Government Area, while the other victim was said to have been a passerby caught in the crossfire.

It was learnt that trouble started when a group loyal to Orunimighe allegedly went to the secretariat to protest against the change in leadership.

But it was gathered that while they were at the gate, chanting songs, another group loyal to the state’s party leader and former governor, Chief Timipre Sylva, confronted them. A clash between the two groups reportedly followed.

Some journalists at the event, including a reporter for the Silverbird Television/Rhythm FM station, Jesse Ese, were injured while trying to scale the barbed wire fence of the party’s secretariat during the ensuing melee.

Ese lost most of his valuables as a crowd of persons stepped on him while running to escape from the violence.

As the shootings lasted, the entire area was thrown into pandemonium with business owners closing their shops and scampering for their safety.

Most persons within the APC secretariat jumped over the barbed wire fence out of panic and landed in swamps.

Security operatives deployed in the scene were said to have engaged the armed thugs and later repelled them.

The inauguration, however, proceeded as scheduled after peace returned to the secretariat.

Speaking on the development, the only APC member in the State House of Assembly, Mr. Isreal Sunny-Igoli, accused Orunimighe and an ex-militant leader of hiring thugs to attack the party.

Sylva described the attack on the party secretariat as cowardly and wicked and apologised to members, saying the perpetrators were too small to stop an APC event in the state.

But Oruminighe, who spoke via the telephone, said he was not a party to the violence, blaming it on the desperation of Sylva and the Minister of State for Agriculture, Senator Heineken Lokpobiri, to depose him.

Meanwhile, the Senior Special Assistant on Politics to Governor Seriake Dickson, Miriki Ebikibina, has described the event as unfortunate, regrettable and totally unacceptable.

Ebikibina said, “The violence and the pandemonium caused are regrettable because they are coming a day after the meeting of the Acting President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, with the state governors and security officers on hate speech and insecurity.”

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