Saturday, 22 January 2022

BUSINESS AND ECONOMY

The International Monetary Fund(IMF) has approved Nigeria’s request for $3.4 billion loan to fight the devastating effect of the COVID-19.

The loan, which has a maximum repayment period of five years was approved by the Fund’s board Tuesday.

The emergency financial assistance was approved under the Rapid Financing Instrument to support the authorities’ efforts in addressing the severe economic impact of the COVID-19 shock and the sharp fall in oil prices.

It will also assist Nigeria to meet the urgent balance of payment needs stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The COVID-19 outbreak has magnified existing vulnerabilities, leading to a historic contraction in real GDP growth and to large external and fiscal financing needs, IMF said in a statement.

“Once the impact of the COVID-19 shock passes, the authorities’ commitment to medium-term macroeconomic stability remains crucial to support the recovery and ensure debt remains sustainable.

“The near-term economic impact of COVID-19 is expected to be severe, while already high downside risks have increased. Even before the COVID-19 outbreak, Nigeria’s economy was facing headwinds from rising external vulnerabilities and falling per capita GDP levels. The pandemic—along with the sharp fall in oil prices—has magnified the vulnerabilities, leading to a historic decline in growth and large financing needs.

“The IMF financial support will help limit the decline in international reserves and provide financing to the budget for targeted and temporary spending increases aimed at containing and mitigating the economic impact of the pandemic and of the sharp fall in international oil prices.

“The IMF remains closely engaged with the Nigerian authorities and stands ready to provide policy advice and further support, as needed”.

Following the Executive Board’s discussion of Nigeria, Mr. Mitsuhiro Furusawa, Deputy Managing Director and Acting Chair, issued the following statement:

“The COVID-19 outbreak—magnified by the sharp fall in international oil prices and reduced global demand for oil products—is severely impacting economic activity in Nigeria. These shocks have created large external and financing needs for 2020. Additional declines in oil prices and more protracted containment measures would seriously affect the real and financial sectors and strain the country’s financing.

“The authorities’ immediate actions to respond to the crisis are welcome. The short-term focus on fiscal accommodation would allow for higher health spending and help alleviate the impact of the crisis on households and businesses. Steps taken toward a more unified and flexible exchange rate are also important and unification of the exchange rate should be expedited.

“Once the COVID-19 crisis passes, the focus should remain on medium-term macroeconomic stability, with revenue-based fiscal consolidation essential to keep Nigeria’s debt sustainable and create fiscal space for priority spending. Implementation of the reform priorities under the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan, particularly on power and governance, remains crucial to boost growth over the medium term.

“The emergency financing under the RFI will provide much needed liquidity support to respond to the urgent BOP needs. Additional assistance from development partners will be required to support the government’s efforts and close the large financing gap. The implementation of proper governance arrangements—including through the publication and independent audit of crisis-mitigating spending and procurement processes—is crucial to ensure emergency funds are used for their intended purposes.”

The Nigerian Senate on Tuesday granted the request of President Muhammadu Buhari to obtain N850 billion fresh loan to fund some projects in the 2020 budget.

Buhari had asked the upper chamber for approval to secure a fresh loan of N850 billion to fund some projects in the 2020 budget.

He made the request in a letter read by the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, on Tuesday on the floor of the upper chamber of the National Assembly in Abuja.

According to the letter, President Buhari sought to raise the loan from the domestic capital market to ensure adequate funds to finance projects in the budget.

After the letter was read, the lawmakers gave accelerated approval to the President’s request to raise the loan.

They also asked the Senate Committees on Finance and Appropriation to liaise with the Minister of Finance, Budget, and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, to get more details on the loan request.

According to Channels TV, Buhari’s request was granted following the senators’ resumption from a recess which lasted about five weeks.

The lawmakers had gone on break since March as part of measures to curb the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) in the country.

At the resumed plenary, the Senate President welcomed his colleagues and gave the reason for the resumption of plenary amid the rising cases of COVID-19 in Nigeria.

He explained that the decision was to help sustain solutions to the health crisis and ensure the crisis does not create more problems for the government and its people.

Senator Lawan stated that the pandemic has affected the 2020 budget and the National Assembly has a responsibility to work with the Executive to address the problem.

As scientists at the Jenner Institute prepare for mass clinical trials, new tests show their vaccine to be effective in monkeys.

In the worldwide race for a vaccine to stop the coronavirus, the laboratory sprinting fastest is at Oxford University.

Most other teams have had to start with small clinical trials of a few hundred participants to demonstrate safety. But scientists at the university’s Jenner Institute had a head start on a vaccine, having proved in previous trials that similar inoculations — including one last year against an earlier coronavirus — were harmless to humans.

That has enabled them to leap ahead and schedule tests of their new coronavirus vaccine involving more than 6,000 people by the end of next month, hoping to show not only that it is safe, but also that it works.

The Oxford scientists now say that with an emergency approval from regulators, the first few million doses of their vaccine could be available by September — at least several months ahead of any of the other announced efforts — if it proves to be effective.

Now, they have received promising news suggesting that it might.

Scientists at the National Institutes of Health’s Rocky Mountain Laboratory in Montana last month inoculated six rhesus macaque monkeys with single doses of the Oxford vaccine. The animals were then exposed to heavy quantities of the virus that is causing the pandemic — exposure that had consistently sickened other monkeys in the lab. But more than 28 days later all six were healthy, said Vincent Munster, the researcher who conducted the test.

“The rhesus macaque is pretty much the closest thing we have to humans,” Dr. Munster said, noting that scientists were still analyzing the result. He said he expected to share it with other scientists next week and then submit it to a peer-reviewed journal.

Immunity in monkeys is no guarantee that a vaccine will provide the same degree of protection for humans. A Chinese company that recently started a clinical trial with 144 participants, SinoVac, has also said that its vaccine was effective in rhesus macaques. But with dozens of efforts now underway to find a vaccine, the monkey results are the latest indication that Oxford’s accelerated venture is emerging as a bellwether.

“It is a very, very fast clinical program,” said Emilio Emini, a director of the vaccine program at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which is providing financial support to many competing efforts.

ImageThe Jenner Institute is one of the largest academic centers dedicated to nonprofit vaccine research.
The Jenner Institute is one of the largest academic centers dedicated to nonprofit vaccine research.Credit...Mary Turner for The New York Times

Which potential vaccine will emerge from the scramble as the most successful is impossible to know until clinical trial data becomes available.

More than one vaccine would be needed in any case, Dr. Emini argued. Some may work more effectively than others in groups like children or older people, or at different costs and dosages. Having more than one variety of vaccine in production will also help avoid bottlenecks in manufacturing, he said.

But as the first to reach such a relatively large scale, the Oxford trial, even if it fails, will provide lessons about the nature of the coronavirus and about the immune system’s responses that can inform governments, donors, drug companies and other scientists hunting for a vaccine.

“This big U.K. study,” Dr. Emini said, “is actually going to translate to learning a lot about some of the others as well.”

All of the others will face the same challenges, including obtaining millions of dollars in funding, persuading regulators to approve human tests, demonstrating a vaccine’s safety and — after all of that — proving its effectiveness in protecting people from the coronavirus.

Paradoxically, the growing success of efforts to contain the spread of Covid-19, the disease caused by the virus, may present yet another hurdle.

“We’re the only people in the country who want the number of new infections to stay up for another few weeks, so we can test our vaccine,” Prof. Adrian Hill, the Jenner Institute’s director and one of five researchers involved in the effort, said in an interview in a laboratory building emptied by Britain’s monthlong lockdown.

Ethics rules, as a general principle, forbid seeking to infect human test participants with a serious disease. That means the only way to prove that a vaccine works is to inoculate people in a place where the virus is spreading naturally around them.

If social distancing measures or other factors continue to slow the rate of new infections in Britain, he said, the trial might not be able to show that the vaccine makes a difference: Participants who received a placebo might not be infected any more frequently than those who have been given the vaccine. The scientists would have to try again elsewhere, a dilemma that every other vaccine effort will face as well.

Image
Social distancing at Oxford last week.
Social distancing at Oxford last week.Credit...Mary Turner for The New York Times

The Jenner Institute’s coronavirus efforts grew out of Professor Hill’s so-far unsuccessful pursuit of a vaccine against a different scourge, malaria.

He developed a fascination with malaria and other tropical diseases as a medical student in Dublin in the early 1980s, when he visited an uncle who was a priest working in a hospital during the civil war in what is now Zimbabwe.

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“I came back wondering, ‘What do you see in these hospitals in England and Ireland?’” Professor Hill said. “They don’t have any of these diseases.”

The major drug companies typically see little profit in epidemics that afflict mainly developing countries or run their course before a vaccine can hit the market. So after training in tropical medicine and a doctorate in molecular genetics, Professor Hill, 61, helped build Oxford’s institute into one of the largest academic centers dedicated to nonprofit vaccine research, with its own pilot manufacturing facility capable of producing a batch of up to 1,000 doses.

The institute’s effort against the coronavirus uses a technology that centers on altering the genetic code of a familiar virus. A classic vaccine uses a weakened version of a virus to trigger an immune response. But in the technology that the institute is using, a different virus is modified first to neutralize its effects and then to make it mimic the one scientists seek to stop — in this case, the virus that causes Covid-19. Injected into the body, the harmless impostor can induce the immune system to fight and kill the targeted virus, providing protection.

Professor Hill has worked with that technology for decades to try to tweak a respiratory virus found in chimpanzees in order to elicit a human immune response against malaria and other diseases. Over the last 20 years, the institute has conducted more than 70 clinical trials of potential vaccines against the parasite that causes malaria. None have yet yielded a successful inoculation.

In 2014, however, a vaccine based on the chimp virus that Professor Hill had tested was manufactured in a large enough scale to provide a million doses. That created a template for mass production of the coronavirus vaccine, should it prove effective.

A longtime colleague, Prof. Sarah Gilbert, 58, modified the same chimpanzee virus to make a vaccine against an earlier coronavirus, MERS. After a clinical trial in Britain demonstrated its safety, another test began in December in Saudi Arabia, where outbreaks of the deadly disease are still common.

When she heard in January that Chinese scientists had identified the genetic code of a mysterious virus in Wuhan, she thought she might have a chance to prove the speed and versatility of their approach.

“We thought, ‘Well, should we have a go?’” she recalled. “‘It’ll be a little lab project and we’ll publish a paper.’”

It did not stay a “little lab project” for long.

Image
Professor Sarah Gilbert, a vaccinologist at the institute, has also worked on developing a vaccine for MERS, an earlier coronavirus.
Professor Sarah Gilbert, a vaccinologist at the institute, has also worked on developing a vaccine for MERS, an earlier coronavirus.Credit...Mary Turner for The New York Times

As the pandemic exploded, grant money poured in. All other vaccines were soon put into the freezer so that the institute’s laboratory could focus full-time on Covid-19. Then the lockdown forced everyone not working on Covid-19 to stay home altogether.

“The whole world doesn’t usually stand up and say, ‘How can we help? Do you want some money?’” Professor Hill said.

“Vaccines are good for pandemics,” he added, “and pandemics are good for vaccines.”

Other scientists involved in the project are working with a half dozen drug manufacturing companies across Europe and Asia to prepare to churn out billions of doses as quickly as possible if the vaccine is approved. None have been granted exclusive marketing rights, and one is the giant Serum Institute of India, the world’s largest supplier of vaccines.

Donors are currently spending tens of millions of dollars to start the manufacturing process at facilities in Britain and the Netherlands even before the vaccine is proven to work, said Sandy Douglas, 37, a doctor at Oxford overseeing vaccine production.

“There is no alternative,” he said.

But the team has not yet reached an agreement with a North American manufacturer, in part because the major pharmaceutical companies there typically demand exclusive worldwide rights before investing in a potential medicine.

“I personally don’t believe that in a time of pandemic there should be exclusive licenses,” Professor Hill said. “So we are asking a lot of them. Nobody is going to make a lot of money off this.”

The Jenner Institute’s vaccine effort is not the only one showing promise. Two American companies, Moderna and Inovio, have started small clinical trials with technologies involving modified or otherwise manipulated genetic material. They are seeking both to demonstrate their safety and to learn more about dosing and other variables. Neither technology has ever produced a licensed drug or been manufactured at scale.

A Chinese company, CanSino, has also started clinical trials in China using a technology similar to the Oxford institute’s, using a strain of the same respiratory virus that is found in humans, not chimps. But demonstrating the effectiveness of a vaccine in China may be difficult because Covid-19 infections there have plummeted.

Armed with safety data from their human trials of similar vaccines for Ebola, MERS and malaria, though, the scientists at Oxford’s institute persuaded British regulators to allow unusually accelerated trials while the epidemic is still hot around them.

The institute last week began a Phase I clinical trial involving 1,100 people. Crucially, next month it will begin a combined Phase II and Phase III trial involving another 5,000. Unlike any other vaccine project now underway, that trial is designed to prove effectiveness as well as safety.

The scientists would declare victory if as many as a dozen participants who are given a placebo become sick with Covid-19 compared with only one or two who receive the inoculation. “Then we have a party and tell the world,” Professor Hill said. Everyone who had received only the placebo would also be vaccinated immediately.

If too few participants are infected in Britain, the institute is planning other trials where the coronavirus may still be spreading, possibly in Africa or India.

“We’ll have to chase the epidemic,” Professor Hill said. “If it is still raging in certain states, it is not inconceivable we end up testing in the United States in November.”

Carl Zimmer contributed reporting.

here is more trouble for Lagos, as the Coronavirus cases surge to 145, with 25 new cases added in two days.

The danger is that the rate at which Lagos discharges recovered patients is slower than the rising new cases being admitted at its isolation centres.

Of the 154 Coronavirus cases in Lagos, 32 coronavirus patients who fully recovered were discharged, while three people have died and two others evacuated so far.

Also, the state now has 108 active cases of Coronavirus, meaning that there is more trouble ahead unless the surge is halted.

With 130 confirmed cases on Tuesday, it surges to a frightening 145 cases, with a quantum addition of 15 fresh cases.

Following next to Lagos is Abuja, with a distant 54 confirmed cases.

The Federal Capital Territory, FCT, has its active cases of Coronavirus put at 45, having discharged seven patients and recorded two deaths.

How they stand

Lagos- 145

FCT- 54

Osun- 20

Edo- 12

Oyo- 11

Bauchi- 8

Akwa Ibom- 5

Kaduna- 5

Ogun- 4

Enugu- 2

Ekiti- 2

Rivers-2

Kwara- 2

Benue- 1

Ondo- 1

Delta- 1

Katsina-1

The Coronavirus death toll in France has surpassed 10,000 mark, with 541 new death recorded in the last 24 hours.

According to France’s health officials, the dreaded pandemic has killed 10,869 people in the troubled country.

The large number of death has forced French President, Emmanuel Macron to hint at an extension of lockdown till April 15 to effectively checkmate the spread of the disease.

According to Jérôme Salomon, Head of the Public Health Authority, the nation now had 7,148 people in intensive care at hospitals across France, a net increase of 17 from the day earlier, the lowest increase recorded in recent weeks.

Salomon said he was unable to give a tally for the country’s nursing homes, which account for more than 30% of total fatalities, due to “technical problems”.

The death toll from hospitals was slightly lower than the comparable number from the day earlier, which was 597, according to France 24.

Thursday, 09 April 2020 00:48

Coronavirus is not a scam, says Fed Govt

The Federal Government has once again emphasised the seriousness of the outbreak of the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

The Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) and Chairman of the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on (COVID-19), Mr. Boss Mustapha, who emphasised the seriousness on Wednesday, spoke on the perspective in some quarters, where COVID-19 is believed to be a hoax.

The PTF also defrayed the claim being spread through the social media that members of the task force were being paid N500,000 daily sitting allowance, saying no member of the body had received any payment for their time and efforts since it was constituted

Mustapha responded to a question from one of the journalists at the event, talking about some parts of the country where there is the belief that the COVID-19 was an idea and not a real disease with capacity to infect or cause death.

According to him, the outbreak is not a joke, scam or hoax, but a real disease, which had killed thousands of people across the world, refering to a story of a Nigerian medical practitioner, who recently lost the battle against the disease in the United Kingdom.

“The Coronavirus is not a joke. Please, take it very seriously and listen to the government. Please stay safe and protect your loved ones, nothing is more important.

“Listening to this, I think we’ve gone past the stage, however ignorant a person is, wherever you live in Nigeria, for you to begin to assume that this is a scam, a hoax or a joke and I think those of you in the media have the responsibility for driving this point.

“This is not a joking matter, we’ve gotten to the stage where we are beginning to see some of the things that are happening in other climes.

“So, we ought to take it with every element of seriousness and for those that think it’s a hoax or a scam, I wish them well, but for those of us who believe that we ought to do everything humanly possible to contain this spread or limit the infection or mortality, we will continue to work day and night and that is why I solicit your support and cooperation in this particular endeavour”, Mustapha said.

The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, described reports that members of the task force had been receiving half a million naira daily as sitting allowance as fake news, which should be disregarded.

According to him, no member of the task force had received anything as payment for their efforts. Rather, they had been the ones who had been expending their resources to carry out a national task.

“The issue I want to take on is that of the sitting allowance of half a million naira, paid to each of the members of the task force. You will remember that each time I come here, since I tested negative for Coronavirus, my other major problem has been fake news.

“As soon as I got that information, I consulted with my colleagues here whether I’m not a member of the task force and I asked them whether they’d received their own and they said no.

“What bothers me is that since about 2 O’clock this afternoon I’ve been receiving text messages to send money to people; that they were broke, they had no money and I began to wonder, why today? Apparently, they are acting on this fake news that we receive half a million naira everyday.

“The truth of the matter is that no member of the committee has received one penny, either for sitting or sleeping allowance, not even when we went to Lagos yesterday.

“So, you see this fake news is targeted at one thing alone: to distract the government from the more serious problem and task of containing and combating fake news.

“I want to say loud and clear; no member of the committee receives a penny as sitting allowance. Everybody sacrificed his time, energy and even sometimes his resources”, Mohammed said.

Nigeria has recorded another 22 new cases of Coronavirus infection, taking the national total to 276.

According to the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, NCDC, of the 22 new cases recorded, Lagos has 15 new cases, four in the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, two in Bauchi and one in Edo.

“Twenty-two new cases of COVID-19 have been reported in Nigeria: 15 in Lagos, 4 in the FCT, 2 in Bauchi, 1 in Edo.

“As at 09:00pm 8th April, there are 276 confirmed cases of #COVID19 reported in Nigeria. Fourty-four have been discharged with six deaths,” it said.

NCDC
@NCDCgov

Twenty-two new cases of have been reported in Nigeria: 15 in Lagos, 4 in the FCT, 2 in Bauchi, 1 in Edo

As at 09:00pm 8th April there are 276 confirmed cases of reported in Nigeria. Fourty-four have been discharged with six deaths

View image on Twitter
6,822 people are talking about this

On Tuesday, the NCDC had reported had reported 16 new cases of Coronavirus, with the national figures hitting 254.

Today’s figures of 22 new cases represents an increase in Coronavirus cases in Nigeria.

Former finance minister of Nigeria, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala was caught Wednesday spreading fake news.

In a post on Wednesday, Ngozi underscored a point about observing social distancing in food aid distribution in the COVID-19 era.

She cited a purported example from Rwanda and attached a photo to underscore her point.

“Responsible food distribution with social distancing to assist lower income households in the #COVID19 era! A great example from #Rwanda where community workers also distribute food and other necessities door-to-door @PaulKagame”, she tweeted.

Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala
@NOIweala

Responsible food distribution with social distancing to assist lower income households in the era! A great example from where community workers also distribute food and other necessities door-to-door @PaulKagame

View image on Twitter

But as it turned out, the photo was not on point.

The reference to Rwanda was also false.

The event and photo she cited happened in The Gambia in 2019 during the Ramadan.

” But unfortunately, the picture attached to your tweet is fake, didn’t happen in Rwanda, but Gambia, it happened in May, last year, during Ramadan”, wrote Bashir Ahmad, President Muhammadu Buhari’s aide.

Bashir Ahmad
@BashirAhmaad

Good afternoon Ma’am @NOIweala, it is very true that Rwanda, Nigeria and other African countries are really trying. But unfortunately, the picture attached to your tweet is fake, didn’t happen in Rwanda, but Gambia, it happened in May, last year, during Ramadan. ! ?? https://twitter.com/noiweala/status/1247854465702559745

View image on Twitter
Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala
@NOIweala

Responsible food distribution with social distancing to assist lower income households in the #COVID19 era! A great example from #Rwanda where community workers also distribute food and other necessities door-to-door @PaulKagame

View image on Twitter

Caught out and with eggs plastered on her face, Ngozi later apologised.

She blamed a friend for making her commit the error.

“Thanks to those who have drawn my attention to the food distribution picture I tweeted earlier today. A friend sent it to me that it’s from Rwanda. Whether Gambia or Rwanda, the point I want us to focus on is that it is a safe way of handling food distribution”, she wrote.

Bashir later tweeted another photograph of a better food distribution by Governor Umara Zulum of Borno State.

This happened in February this year..

Then, Zulum gave out cash and food to Nigerian refugees in Rann.

Bashir Ahmad
@BashirAhmaad

Maiduguri, Borno State, Nigeria. ?? https://twitter.com/noiweala/status/1247953910146519042

View image on Twitter
Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala
@NOIweala

Thanks to those who have drawn my attention to the food distribution picture I tweeted earlier today. A friend sent it to me that it’s from Rwanda. Whether Gambia or Rwanda, the point I want us to focus on is that it is a safe way of handling food distribution.

• Musician ‘Small Doctor’ surrenders to the Police

The charges against Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) politician Babatunde Gbadamosi, his wife, Folashade, and musician Afeez Fashola (a.k.a Naira Marley) were dropped by Lagos State when they appeared in court for prosecution.

Gbadamosis and Fashola were charged with flouting the Movement Restriction and Stay at Home Order of President Muhammadu Buhari and the Social Distancing Order given by Gov. Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos.

The three suspects were docked before an Ikeja Chief Magistrates Court.

However, the charges were not read to them as the state Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), Mr Yhaqub Oshoala, said the state intended to ‘step down’ the charges due to advice from the state Attorney-General, Mr Moyosore Onigbanjo (SAN).

Oshoala said the state was not a “persecutor but a prosecutor”.

He, however, gave three conditions to the defendants for withdrawal of the charges.

“The first condition is that they should individually offer a personal apology to the president and governor; the second is that they must give an undertaking to comply with the COVID-19 regulations, and the third, they must go into self-isolation for 14 days and report back to the court,” he said.

Mr Wale Akoni (SAN) represented Babatunde Gbadamosi, Mr Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa (SAN) represented Folashade, while Ms Damilola Ayinde-Marshall represented Fashola.

All the defendants through their counsels accepted the conditions following the submission of the DPP.

The DPP applied to withdraw the charges.

Akoni expressed appreciation to the state and confirmed to the court that his client accepted the conditions.

Thanking the court also, Adegboruwa said, “On behalf of the third defendant (Folashade), I express appreciation to His Excellency, Mr President, and the governor, the attorney-general, the DPP and his team, the police and, most of all, the court.

“The third defendant is a law-abiding citizen and accepts all that three conditions as stipulated by the DPP.”

Ayinde-Marshall, Fashola’s counsel, thanked the president, the governor of Lagos, the police and the DPP.

“My client is a law-abiding citizen and a strict supporter of government policies. We undertake that we will fulfill the conditions,” he said.

The Chief Magistrate, Mrs Yewande Aje-Afunwa, ordered that the defendants should communicate their acceptance of the conditions through the Legal Section of the Force Criminal Investigation Department, Panti, Yaba, Lagos.

Aje-Afunwa adjourned the case April 9 for mention.

Meanwhile, music crooner, Adekunle Temitope a.k.a Small Doctor has handed himself over to the police for breach of the social distance regulations imposed on the state by Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu.

• Musician ‘Small Doctor’ surrenders to the Police

The charges against Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) politician Babatunde Gbadamosi, his wife, Folashade, and musician Afeez Fashola (a.k.a Naira Marley) were dropped by Lagos State when they appeared in court for prosecution.

Gbadamosis and Fashola were charged with flouting the Movement Restriction and Stay at Home Order of President Muhammadu Buhari and the Social Distancing Order given by Gov. Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos.

The three suspects were docked before an Ikeja Chief Magistrates Court.

However, the charges were not read to them as the state Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), Mr Yhaqub Oshoala, said the state intended to ‘step down’ the charges due to advice from the state Attorney-General, Mr Moyosore Onigbanjo (SAN).

Oshoala said the state was not a “persecutor but a prosecutor”.

He, however, gave three conditions to the defendants for withdrawal of the charges.

“The first condition is that they should individually offer a personal apology to the president and governor; the second is that they must give an undertaking to comply with the COVID-19 regulations, and the third, they must go into self-isolation for 14 days and report back to the court,” he said.

Mr Wale Akoni (SAN) represented Babatunde Gbadamosi, Mr Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa (SAN) represented Folashade, while Ms Damilola Ayinde-Marshall represented Fashola.

All the defendants through their counsels accepted the conditions following the submission of the DPP.

The DPP applied to withdraw the charges.

Akoni expressed appreciation to the state and confirmed to the court that his client accepted the conditions.

Thanking the court also, Adegboruwa said, “On behalf of the third defendant (Folashade), I express appreciation to His Excellency, Mr President, and the governor, the attorney-general, the DPP and his team, the police and, most of all, the court.

“The third defendant is a law-abiding citizen and accepts all that three conditions as stipulated by the DPP.”

Ayinde-Marshall, Fashola’s counsel, thanked the president, the governor of Lagos, the police and the DPP.

“My client is a law-abiding citizen and a strict supporter of government policies. We undertake that we will fulfill the conditions,” he said.

The Chief Magistrate, Mrs Yewande Aje-Afunwa, ordered that the defendants should communicate their acceptance of the conditions through the Legal Section of the Force Criminal Investigation Department, Panti, Yaba, Lagos.

Aje-Afunwa adjourned the case April 9 for mention.

Meanwhile, music crooner, Adekunle Temitope a.k.a Small Doctor has handed himself over to the police for breach of the social distance regulations imposed on the state by Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu.

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