The FG, on Tuesday, hinted that it might sanction anybody who refused to take COVID-19 vaccines after they had been made available to all Nigerians. The Executive Director of the National Primary Healthcare Development Agency, Faisal Shuaib, gave the hint of possible sanctions at a press briefing in Abuja. This came as a Federal High Court sitting in Port Harcourt on the same day barred Edo Governor Godwin Obaseki from enforcing compulsory COVID-19 vaccination in the state. Obaseki had last week said any resident who refused to take the vaccine would be barred from public places and large gatherings. Also on Monday, the Ondo State Government said it would bar those without proof of vaccination from churches, mosques and other public places. Shuaib said the government might “apply the basic rule of law” against such people because they would be endangering the lives of others. He stated, “The Presidential Steering Committee and the Federal Ministry of Health are exploring ways of making vaccines more available to all Nigerians, including federal civil servants and corporate entities. “Once these vaccines are made equitably available to all Nigerians, then we will need to have a frank discussion about justice, fairness and liberty that exist around vaccine hesitancy. If some individuals refuse to take the vaccine, hence endangering those who have or those who could not due to medical exemptions, then we have to apply the basic rule of law, which stipulates that your human right stops where mine begins. So, you have a right to refuse vaccines, but you do not have the right to endanger the health of others.” The Joint Health Sector Union (JOHESU) said the policy to compel all eligible citizens to get vaccinated did not make sense. The union spokesman, Olumide Akintayo in a Punch interview faulted state governments that made COVID-19 vaccination compulsory. He said the policy would only be sensible if there were enough vaccines to inoculate eligible citizens. Akintayo stated, “If you are thinking of it in terms of responsibility, it makes sense; but practically, we all know it is an impossible task. If all the doses that have been sent to Nigeria since this outbreak are less than 10 million, how do you enforce that kind of policy in a country of over 200 million people? You don’t just come up with policies that are not backed by common sense; you don’t just say things because you want to talk. It would have made some sense if the vaccines are available for everyone.”
President Muhammadu Buhari says the need for new energy motivated the reshuffling of his cabinet. The president announced the sacking of two cabinet members on Wednesday. Saleh Mamman, the minister of power; and Sabo Nanono, the minister of agriculture and rural development, were sacked by the president. A statement released by Femi Adesina, presidential spokesman, quoted Buhari as saying the changes in his cabinet will be “a continuous process”. “Two years and some months into the second term, the tradition of subjecting our projects and programs implementation to independent and critical self-review has taken firm roots through sector reporting during Cabinet meetings and at retreats,” the statement read. “These significant review steps have helped to identify and strengthen weak areas, close gaps, build cohesion and synergy in governance, manage the economy and improve the delivery of public goods to Nigerians. “ must commend this cabinet for demonstrating unparalleled resilience that helped the government to navigate the disruption to global systems and governance occasioned by the emergence of COVID-19 shortly after the inauguration. The weekly Federal Executive Council meetings were not spared because the traditional model was altered. As we are all aware, change is the only factor that is constant in every human endeavour and as this administration approaches its critical phase in the second term, I have found it essential to reinvigorate this cabinet in a manner that will deepen its capacity to consolidate legacy achievements.” The president said “substantive nominations will be made to fill the consequential vacancies” in due time. He added that he has met with the sacked ministers “to thank them for their contributions to discussions in cabinet and the invaluable services rendered to the nation”. Mohammad Mahmood Abubakar, the environment minister is expected to assume office as the minister of agriculture and rural development. Abubakar Aliyu, the minister of state for works and housing, will take over as power minister.
Zamfara has shut down schools across the state following Wednesday’s abduction of 73 students from a public school in the state. The state government also imposed a 6 p.m to 6 a.m. curfew on 13 local government areas and 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. in Gusau, the state capital. The state police commissioner Ayuba Elkana made the disclosure while briefing journalists after a security meeting chaired by Governor Bello Matawalle. He said he has deployed a search and rescue team to work with the military to rescue the abducted students. The security meeting was convened after students of Government Day Secondary School Kaya in Maradun were kidnapped Wednesday afternoon. Premium Times cited an unnamed source in Maradun confirming that the Vice Principal of the school, Zayyanu Tsaba, was among those kidnapped. The chairman of a local civil society organisation, Shehu Abdullahi told the news site that the students were abducted while some of them were writing their mock examination. “The school authorities have unofficially informed us that there are more than 300 students in the school. Of course, not all of them were at school today but we believe the number of those taken should be around 100. Some ran the moment the bandits started gathering the students and they were chased. While many of them escaped into nearby farmlands, others were captured by the bandits.” The police have confirmed that 73 students were abducted but did not specify whether the figure includes the vice principal of the school. A former councillor in the area told a Zamfara news publication that four of his children were among the students kidnapped.
Gunmen attacked a convoy of Iamgold Corp vehicles travelling to the Essakane gold mine in Burkina Faso on Tuesday, wounding one police officer before being repelled by the convoy’s security detail, the Canadian mining company said. Following the attack, Iamgold has suspended convoys to and from Essakane, which is the company’s biggest operating mine and is near the border with Niger. Assailants fired on the vehicles from several hundred metres away and retreated after a brief firefight with security personnel. No passengers were hurt and the police officer is in a stable condition, the statement issued on Tuesday said. “After analysis of the situation, all convoys coming or going to Essakane are cancelled until further notice,” the Toronto-listed company said. The attack came less than two weeks after at least 80 people were killed when Islamist militants raided a civilian convoy that was being escorted by military police near the northern town of Arbinda. Militant violence in Burkina Faso, Niger and Mali has intensified in recent years despite the presence and interventions by U.N., regional and Western troops. Thousands of civilians have been killed and millions displaced by the violence in Burkina Faso since 2018.