The FG has put six states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) on red alert as part of the preventive measures against the third wave of COVID-19. The Presidential Steering Committee (PSC), in a statement late on Saturday, said the measure was adopted following the confirmation of the Delta variant of COVID-19 and the rising number of infections and hospitalisation across the country. In addition to the FCT, the six states are Kaduna, Kano, Lagos, Oyo, Plateau and Rivers. The Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr Boss Mustapha, who serves as the PSC Chairman, signed the statement. The PSC warned all states to heighten their state of preparedness and continue to enforce all protocols put in place, given the greater ease of spread of the Delta variant. He said the steps were critical as there were worrisome early signs of increasing cases in the country. He added that the PSC would continue to minimise the risk of importation of variants of concern into the country by strengthening surveillance at all Points of Entry (POE), enforcing extant quarantine protocols and sustaining the current restrictive measures against travellers from Brazil, India, South Africa and Turkey. In the light of the latest development, the PSC has recommended that for a safe Eid-el-Kabir celebration, preventive measures such as decentralisation of Eid Prayer to neighbourhood Friday prayer mosques (outdoor); suspension of Durbar activities and observation of limitations on all indoor gatherings.

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has said sugar importation in the country can only be done by Dangote Sugar, Golden Sugar Company, owned by Flour Mills of Nigeria and BUA Sugar Refinery. The bank disclosed this in a circular dated 16 July signed by its Director of Trade and Exchange, Dr Ozoemena Nnaji, a copy of which was posted on the regulator’s website on Saturday. The CBN hinged its reason for selecting the aforementioned sugar manufacturers on the fact that the three companies had made reasonable progress in achieving backward integration in the sector. It explained: “The Federal Government of Nigeria under the National Sugar Development Council established the Nigerian Sugar Master Plan (NSMP) to encourage and incentivise sugar refining companies in their Backward Integration Programme (BIP) for local sugar production. Accordingly, the three companies, who have made reasonable progress in achieving backward integration in the sector, shall only be allowed to import sugar into the country.” It reiterated that it is charged with the mandate of monitoring the implementation of the backward integration programmes of all the companies in the sector. The NSMP was designed to attract over $1 billion annually in local and foreign direct investment and create an estimated 107,000 jobs over its first ten years. Its aim is to raise local production of sugar, enable the country to attain self-sufficiency; end importation, create a huge number of job opportunities and contribute to ethanol production and electricity generation.

The FG has ruled out turning over the 1,130 Benin bronzes presently in possession of the German government to any individuals or subnational groups when the artefacts are finally repatriated to the country by August 2022. Information and Culture Minister, Mr Lai Mohammed made this clarification on Saturday while addressing the press in Lagos on the government’s efforts to repatriate looted and smuggled artefacts from around the world. The remarks came on the heels of the controversy between the Oba of Benin, Ewuare II and Edo Governor, Mr Godwin Obaseki over who should take possession of the artefacts. While the Benin monarch is backing the return of the artefacts to a museum to be built by the palace within its premises, or alternatively, a museum to be built and managed by the federal and state governments, the governor has vouched for a private trust to take custody of, and manage the ancient artworks. Mohammed said that the return of the artefacts was being negotiated bilaterally between Nigeria and Germany in line with international best practices and operative conventions. He added that international conventions recognized cultural heritage as properties that belong to a country but not individuals and sub-national groups. He stressed that the article allowed an individual country to determine what it regards as its cultural property, adding the government through the Federal Ministry of Information and Culture and the National Commission for Museums and Monuments – has worked assiduously over the past years to repatriate the looted artefacts in collaboration with important traditional institutions and state governments.

Ghana has confirmed an outbreak of bird flu in three of its 16 regions that could affect about 600,000 farm animals. The highly pathogenic avian influenza has been detected in the Greater Accra, Volta and Central regions, Patrick Abakeh, director of veterinary services at the Ministry of Food and Agriculture, said by phone. Almost 6,000 birds have died naturally and 4,500 have been killed as part of surveillance and disease-control management, he said. The government has banned poultry imports from Nigeria and Togo with immediate effect, Abakeh said. Ghana didn’t respond in January when the disease was first detected in those countries because it wasn’t spreading then, he said. The outbreak risks further price pressures in the West African country after food and transportation costs pushed inflation to 7.8% in June. The rate had declined in the previous two months. Growth in food prices, which propelled inflation above 10% for most of last year, quickened to 7.3% in June from 5.4% in May. The movement of poultry within and from affected regions to other parts of the country has been banned, the agriculture ministry said in a statement.