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US suspends visa interview waivers in Nigeria

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The United States embassy in Nigeria has suspended drop box service or interview waiver for those renewing visas in the country.

President of the United States, Donald Trumpunited

In a statement, the world power said the interview waiver suspension will take effect from Tuesday, May 14, 2019.

“The Embassy and Consulate of the United States in Nigeria has suspended the interview waiver ‘Drop Box’ application process effective May 14, 2019,” the statement read.

This means those attempting to renew their visas must now attend visa interviews like first timers.

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Politics

Head of service of the federation resigns over fraud allegation

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Winifred Oyo-Ita, the head of service of the federation, has offered to immediately proceed on retirement in a letter to President Muhammadu Buhari.

The widow had been under pressure from her immediate family to retire after news reports emerged that she was being probed over an alleged N3 billion contract scam.

Although she has vehemently denied involvement in any scam, she bowed to family pressures and sent in a letter on Sunday offering to proceed on retirement.

Buhari is yet to take a final decision on it but he is favourably disposed to the option.

“Mrs Oyo-Ita has sent in her letter of retirement,” an anonymous family member mentioned.

She was absent at the presidential retreat for ministers-designate, federal permanent secretaries and top government functionaries held at the state house conference centre in Abuja.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) recently questioned Oyo-Ita over allegations that she used front companies to get contracts when she was a permanent secretary before her appointment as head of service by Buhari in 2015.

There were insinuations that she was being “punished” for “falling out” with Abba Kyari but the president’s chief of staff was unaware of the EFCC probe until it was leaked to the media.

Oyo-Ita, 55, has also told her associates not to drag Kyari into the matter because “it is not true”, according to a family member.

The EFCC said the petition against her was written in 2014 when President Goodluck Jonathan was still in office.

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National News

3-days in India, Ibraheem El-Zakzaky heads back to Nigeria – IMN

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Ibraheem El-Zakzaky, leader of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN), is on his way back to the country three days after embarking on a medical trip to India.

In a statement, Ibrahim Musa, spokesman of the movement, accused the federal government of frustrating the treatment of the IMN leader.

A source, who is close to the cleric, had earlier hinted TheCable that El-Zakzaky was on his way to the country.

“Following lack of a breakthrough in the impasse that ensued in the treatment in New Delhi of Sheikh Ibraheem Zakzaky, it is now confirmed that the Sheikh is on his way back to Abuja,” the statement read.

“In a video message sent through his office, the Sheikh said it was decided that they will be taken to the airport to be flown back to Nigeria. He has left Delhi by 17:00 Nigerian time. He prayed that may that be the best option in the circumstances.

“The Nigerian government’s interference and scuttling of the whole process rather than supervision as ordered by the court is the direct cause of the impasse. The government never wanted the medical leave in the first place, and did whatever to stop it by all means possible.”

The IMN leader had earlier raised the alarm over the situation in India, saying it was worse than what he and his wife experienced in Nigeria.

In an audio tape that went viral on Wednesday, he had said he was being re-detained under heavy security, expressing the desire to return home.

El-Zakzaky said he was not given access to his preferred doctors, adding that he did not trust those they asked to examine him.

But the federal government had dismissed his claim, accusing him of not complying with the terms of the Kaduna high court which granted him medical leave.

In a statement, Grace Gekpe, permanent secretary, ministry of information, said the IMN leader demanded to have his passport and sought free movement. She added that he wanted to receive visitors and also made a request to be checked into a 5-star hotel.

She said he had behaved so badly that the Indian authorities were willing to return him to Nigeria.

Suhaila, a daughter of El-Zakzaky, had earlier told BBC that her father is suffering from lead poisoning which could result to his death.

She had said the cleric, who has been in detention since 2015 when some of his followers clashed with soldiers, deserves to get proper medical attention.

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Overwhelming Data on Challenges faced by women and children in Nigeria – UNICEF

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According to UNICEF data, Nigeria is a ‘country of the young’ with almost half the entire 180 million-strong population, 46 per cent, currently under the age of 15.

A young mother and her baby

The current total for children under the age of 5 stands at nearly 31 million while each year at least 7 million babies are born. While a little over one in three of Nigeria’s whole population lives below the poverty line, among children this proportion surges to 75 per cent.

When considering the low levels of birth registration, in some areas up to 62 per cent, known data about child health issues are likely to underestimate the true scale. A 2016 national campaign linked to healthcare services resulted in the registration of about seven million children, but large population growth is impacting progress.

Nigeria’s 40 million women of childbearing age (between 15 and 49 years of age) suffer a disproportionally high level of health issues surrounding birth. While the country represents 2.4 per cent of the world’s population, it currently contributes 10 per cent of global deaths for pregnant mothers. Latest figures show a maternal mortality rate of 576 per 100,000 live births, the fourth-highest on Earth. Each year approximately 262,000 babies die at birth, the world’s second-highest national total. Infant mortality currently stands at 69 per 1,000 live births while for under-fives it rises to 128 per 1,000 live births. More than half of the under-five deaths – 64 per cent – result from malaria, pneumonia or diarrhoea. Investment in this sector has been high in recent years although the proportion of patients able to access appropriate treatment remains low.

The rate of those mothers feeding new-borns exclusively with breastfeeding for the first six months of life which remains stuck at around 17 per cent of infants, unchanged over the last decade. Only 18 per cent of children aged 6-23 months are fed the minimum acceptable diet. While the government has sought to improve access to primary health care nationwide, committed to reaching a network of at least one PHC facility in each of the country’s 10,000 administrative wards, the work is still far from complete. Coverage can be patchy, bottlenecks in healthcare provision severe.

Poor access to water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) remains a major challenge, contributing significantly to high levels of diarrhoea-related deaths. As of 2015, 57 million Nigerians were without access to improved water sources, while 130 million people without access to improved sanitation. An estimated 25 per cent of Nigerians practice open defecation on a daily basis.

Nigeria accounts for more than one in five out-of-school children anywhere in the world. Although primary education is officially free and compulsory, only 67 per cent of eligible children takes up a place in primary school. If a child misses school for even a short time there is only a low chance, only about 25 per cent, that the child will ever return.

Girls suffer more than boys in terms of missing out on education. In the north-east of Nigeria, only 41 per cent of eligible girls receives primary education, 47 per cent in the north-west. Social attitudes can also impact negatively on education rates especially in northern Nigeria. In north-eastern and north-western states, 29 per cent and 35 per cent of Muslim children, respectively, attend Qur’anic education, which does not include basic education skills such as literacy and numeracy. These children are officially considered out-of-school by the Government.

Nigerian children are vulnerable to a wide range of abuses and harmful traditional practices. The national legal framework for child protection is the Child Rights Act 2003, but to date, only 23 of 36 states have adopted the Act. Implementation is patchy with many local authority bodies unaware of their duties under the law. A national survey in 2014 found that 6 out of 10 children reported having suffered one or more forms of violence before reaching 18 years of age, with 70 per cent of those experiencing multiple incidents of violence. The country is rapidly tending to the largest absolute number of child brides in Africa: 23 million girls and women were married as children from the current records. Despite the fact that the country has seen a decline in child marriage of about 1 per cent per year over the past three decades. But sadly, at this current pace, the total number of child brides is still expected to double by 2050.

At 27 per cent, the prevalence of female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C) among girls and women aged 15-49 years is lower than in many countries where the practice is carried out, but Nigeria still has the third-highest absolute number of women and girls (19.9 million) who have undergone FGM/C worldwide. It is more commonly practised in the south, driven by grandmothers and mothers-in-law aiming to curb promiscuity, prepare girls for marriage and conform to tradition.

With millions displaced by conflict in some parts of northern Nigeria, already significant challenges in healthcare, WASH and education have all been intensified. While accurate, up-to-date data is difficult in a fluid situation where so many millions have left their homes, one clear truth is that children have been affected acutely by the turmoil.

UNICEF

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SECURITY

Buhari renames Nigerian Prisons Service to Nigerian Correctional Service

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President Muhammadu Buhari has signed the Nigerian Correctional Service Bill into law.

Nigerian Prison

The Act repeals the Nigerian Prisons Service Act.

The Senior Special Assistant to the President on National Assembly Matters (Senate), Ita Enang, disclosed this to State House correspondent in Abuja on Wednesday.

With the signing, the Nigerian Prisons Service will now be called the Nigerian Correctional Service.

 

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