The Nigerian Government has announced the relaxation of the restriction placed on places of worship across the country 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. The FG had imposed the ban two months ago to check the spread of coronavirus. Mustapha said President Muhammadu Buhari had approved the relaxation of the ban for four weeks after the PTF submitted its recommendations. Mustapha also announced that from June 2, banks would operate within the normal working hours as he appealed to Nigerians to abide by the safety protocols of health authorities, adding that Nigeria is still far from the end of the pandemic. He also said that from Tuesday, 2 June, the nationwide curfew earlier put at 8 pm to 6 am will be reduced to 10 pm to 4 am. Similarly, the FG expressed intention to lift restrictions placed on domestic flights on 21 June. According to the Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, on Monday, industry stakeholders should start developing protocols towards flight resumption, noting that aircraft have been parked for three months, and the FG has to ensure that within now and that time, the aeroplanes are good and safe to fly. He said that pilots and other members of the cabin crew would be required to undergo medicals and license renewed ahead of resumption. The national coordinator of the presidential task force on COVID-19, Sani Aliyu, said announcing the date means the task force is preparing the aviation sector towards resumption. That date may not necessarily be 21 June, it could be 26, 28 June or even 1 July, he added. The arrangement for the interstate travel ban will also be reviewed once the skies to domestic flights are open up, Aliyu said. The FG had on 6 May extended the suspension of both local and international flight operations by another 4 weeks in an effort to fight covid19 in the country.

An investigation across Nigeria’s six geo-political regions has shown that state governors who had originally called for the ban on interstate travels did very little or nothing in their domains to ensure full compliance. Some of the governors, according to the Premium Times rather erect easily breached flimsy gates at major boundaries with neighbouring states. The effort, the online newspaper said, did little or nothing to stop motorists willing to bribe security officials or residents of surrounding villages from travelling through. President Buhari had on 27 April, during his third nationwide broadcast on measures taken by the FG to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus pandemic, announced a ban on non-essential interstate travels. The president also declared a nationwide curfew from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. Unknown to the president, the directive would create an extortion bazaar for security personnel, state government officials and other non-state actors across the country. The newspaper said for five days during its investigation, its reporters travelled across 21 states and Abuja with little or no restrictions gathering pieces of evidence from tens of security checkpoints, bus terminals, towns and villages across their routes. Citing instances, the investigation showed that penultimate Sunday, at the popular Jibowu and Berger bus terminals in Lagos, business continued as usual for a lot of transport operators. Though the offices of branded and registered interstate transport bus operators were closed for business in compliance with Buhari’s directive, business was booming mainly for operators of Toyota Sienna minivans and owners of unbranded buses. Touts at Jibowu were said not to have made any attempt to hide their operations as they openly solicited for their passengers and goods into several Toyota Sienna minivans parked along the main road and adjoining streets. No security personnel or state government enforcement officials were seen around. The story was the same in Abuja, where about 20 minutes’ drive from the Garki headquarters of the Nigeria Police, commercial vehicles at Nyanya Park in Abuja convey passengers travelling to Kaduna daily, breaching the interstate travel ban. Inside the Nyanya park, the paper said, on Wednesday morning, passengers were expressing fears about a possible arrest for breaching the government ban order, but one driver allayed their fears. The report said that during the journey from Jibowu Terminal to the Sagamu Bypass on the Sagamu -Benin Expressway, there were no police checkpoints at the Berger boundary between Lagos and Ogun, but as soon as the mini-van passed the Sagamu bypass, the extortion bazaar began were almost all security outfits in the country – the police, the military, the Nigerian Vigilante Group, the Federal Road Safety Corps, the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps and even officials of states’ COVID-19 taskforces and employees of the construction company, RCC, participated in the free-for-all shakedown of mainly commercial motorists flouting the presidential order. There are about 58 checkpoints from the Sagamu bypass to the Delta State end of the Niger Bridge. Despite the proliferation of checkpoints on the road, all the drivers of the minivan that were travelling in and other commercial vehicles needed to be passed through was to pay at least a bribe of ₦500 at each checkpoint. The investigation also showed that though, many of the checkpoints were just a few metres apart, the heaviest clusters of checkpoints on the route were at state boundaries. Here, the bribe is usually doubled to ₦1000 at each checkpoint before they were allowed through. Among other findings, the report said that in a bizarre style, the police and soldiers on this route were using local civilians, mostly young persons, to harass drivers for a bribe. The civilian would then take the collection to the sitting officer. As a way to check the excesses of the security forces, the chairman of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, Boss Mustapha, said his committee had made new recommendations to President Buhari on interstate travels alongside the closure of schools and religious houses, and other decisions affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

Active bank accounts linked to Bank Verification Number in Nigeria as at the end of May 2020 stood at 41.82 million, the Nigeria Interbank Settlement System report has shown. This is compared to about 36 million captured in the last one year. The increase in the number of new account opening and enrolment on BVN platform was attributed to the increasing number of customers opening new accounts and those regularising delinquent accounts following the challenges they faced during the five-week economic lockdown in Lagos, Ogun and FCT. However, the current BVN data falls short of the Central Bank of Nigeria’s target of 100 million customers enrolment on the BVN network in the next five years. Crowds in banks’ branches have continued to increase several weeks after the lockdown, a measure to curb the spread of coronavirus was partially lifted, with a majority of the people wanting to open new bank accounts, activate their Automated Teller Machine cards and launch complaints about failed transactions, among others.

Investors in the Nigerian stock market gained ₦1.18 trillion in May as the market capitalisation rose above ₦13 trillion. The All-Share Index and market capitalisation of the local bourse appreciated closed at 25,267.82 basis points on Friday from 23,021.01 bps on April 30. The market capitalisation of equities stood at ₦13.168 trillion on Friday, up from ₦11.99 trillion at which it closed in April. All other indices finished higher on Friday with the exception of NSE Meri Value and NSE Oil/Gas Indices, which depreciated by 2.99 per cent and 0.34 per cent respectively while NSE ASeM closed flat. The market recorded a total turnover of 1.255 billion shares worth ₦13.501 billion in 20,554 deals traded last week. This is compared to 1.718 billion shares valued at ₦18.85 billion that exchanged hands the previous week in 26,367 deals. Going by the volume, the financial services industry led the activity chart with 953.356 million shares valued at ₦8.24 billion traded in 10,931 deals, thus contributing 75.94 percent and 61.00 percent to the total equity turnover volume and value respectively. The industrial goods industry followed with 64.245 million shares worth ₦1.785 billion in 2,000 deals, while the third place was occupied by the consumer goods industry, with a turnover of 62.487 million shares worth ₦1.434 billion in 3,427 deals. 34 equities appreciated in price last week, compared to 55 equities in the previous week; 21 equities depreciated in price, compared to eight the previous week, while 108 equities remained unchanged, compared to 100 in the preceding week. A total of 150,008 units valued at ₦359.83 million was traded last week in 14 deals, compared with 7,251 valued at ₦42.007 million transacted the previous week in 15 deals. The NSE recorded a total of 5,225 units trade valued at ₦5.875 million last week in three deals, compared with a total of 12,809 valued at ₦13.170 million transacted the previous week in 18 deals.