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Trump returns to White House after COVID treatment

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President Donald Trump returned to the White House Monday evening after being treated for COVID-19 for three days at the hospital, and removed his mask to pose for photos on a balcony before walking into the residence.

Trump didn’t speak to reporters at the White House and only said “thank you very much” to those gathered at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center before boarding the presidential helicopter. Back at the White House, he walked up the South Portico stairs to the balcony, where he removed his mask, flashed thumbs-up with both hands and saluted for several seconds.

He did not appear to put his mask back on before walking into the residence. The show of defiance toward both the virus and public health measures to combat its spread was in keeping with the president’s tone earlier when he announced he would leave the Bethesda, Maryland, hospital.

In a video released shortly afterward, Trump said of the virus: “Don’t let it dominate you.”

“I knew there’s danger to it. But I had to do it. I stood out front. I led. Nobody that’s a leader would not do what I did. I know there’s a risk. I know there’s a danger. But that’s O.K. And now I’m better. Maybe I’m immune, I don’t know,” he said.

“Get out there, be careful,” Trump added. “The vaccines are coming momentarily.”

The president has received medical care unavailable to most people, including three powerful medicines and an airlift to and from the hospital. The virus has infected more than 7.4 million Americans and has killed more than 210,000 since February, including 475 on Sunday, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

The president’s aides hope to keep him at the White House residence and away from the Oval Office but are uncertain how long that will last, according to people familiar with the matter.“We’ll be back on the campaign trail soon!!!” Trump tweeted before leaving the hospital.

“Over the past 24 hours, the president has continued to improve. He’s met or exceeded all hospital discharge criteria,” White House physician Sean Conley said at a briefing after Trump’s announcement.

Trump “may not entirely be out of the woods” but the rest of his care can safely be performed at the White House, Conley said.

The race to determine who would be the next US president is well underway. Here’s a look at the developments along the way that lead to the election day on November 3, 2020.

The president received a fourth dose of an antiviral drug, Remdesivir, at Walter Reed before he was discharged and will get a fifth dose at the White House, his medical team said.

“He’s returning to a facility, the White House medical unit, that’s staffed 24-7,” Conley said, adding, “Every day a patient stays in the hospital unnecessarily is a risk to themselves.”

Conley said coronavirus patients could stop shedding the virus in as few as five days after diagnosis, and that Trump would be monitored to determine when he is no longer infectious. The White House plans for Trump to stay in the residence for a few days before returning to normal, one of the people familiar with the matter said.

The White House is creating additional room for Trump to work in the residence, and avoid heading into the Oval Office, by converting the Map Room and Diplomatic Reception Room into office space, according to a person familiar with the matter.

All aides who will see Trump over the next few days will be required to be in full personal protective equipment and maintain physical distance from the president, that person said, asking not to be identified discussing internal preparations.

Conley conceded that the course of Trump’s illness could still take a turn. “We all remain cautiously optimistic and on guard because we’re in a bit of uncharted territory when it comes to a patient that received the therapies he has so early in the course,” he said.

“We’re looking to this weekend,” Conley added. “If we can get through to Monday with him remaining the same or improving, better yet, then we will all take that final deep sigh of relief.”

Trump has received doses of two other medicines, including an experimental “antibody cocktail” and a steroid, dexamethasone, usually used to combat inflammation in people with more severe cases of Covid-19.

During the news conference, one of Trump’s doctors read off a list of the president’s vital signs as of this morning, including his temperature, blood pressure, respiratory rate, heart rate and blood-oxygen saturation level. His medical team has not previously released that data to the public.

But Conley declined to discuss the results of scans of Trump’s lungs, citing federal health privacy law.

Trump went to the hospital Friday evening, after announcing early that morning he’d tested positive for the virus. He was briefly administered supplemental oxygen at the White House before traveling to Walter Reed, Conley said Sunday.

The White House did not provide any update on Trump’s health in more than 24 hours between Sunday and Monday. Before he suddenly announced he would leave the hospital, he had not said anything about his condition on Twitter since shortly after 5 pm Sunday.

With less than a month until Election Day, Trump’s hospitalization has jolted the presidential campaign, forcing him to scrap rallies and other events as polls show him trailing Joe Biden nationally and in swing states. His campaign has launched “Operation MAGA,” referring to his Make America Great Again slogan, to flood the campaign trail with top surrogates like Vice President Mike Pence, Trump’s family and others.

Among the aides who were with the president Monday evening as he was preparing to leave Max Miller, the deputy campaign manager for presidential operations, and Bobby Peede, the White House director of advance. They arrived at the hospital just before 3pm, heading to presidential suite.

Peede had the coronavirus earlier this year, according to three people familiar with the matter.

Trump’s release comes after a weekend of mixed signals from Conley, who on Sunday disclosed for the first time that the president had been given supplemental oxygen and received a medication that’s typically used in more severe Covid-19 patients.

Asked why he didn’t disclose during Saturday’s briefing that Trump had received oxygen despite repeated questions about it, Conley said, “I was trying to reflect the upbeat attitude” of the team and the president.

Trump was diagnosed with the disease late Thursday, after a close aide, Hope Hicks, also tested positive for the virus.

The president first tested positive after he returned from a fundraiser at his New Jersey golf resort on Thursday, McEnany told reporters on Sunday evening. Trump made an appearance on Fox News on Thursday night before disclosing on Twitter shortly after midnight on Friday that he had tested positive.

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy on Monday criticized Trump’s travel to the fundraiser at his Bedminster golf resort in the state, saying it ought to have been canceled. The president went to the event despite knowing Hicks had tested positive.

“I hope it’s a lesson that now we’ve all learned,” Murphy said on CBS’s “This Morning.”

Biden, speaking in Miami, wished Trump and the first lady well and said he hoped the president would take mask-wearing seriously.

“I was glad to see the president speaking and recording videos over the weekend,” Biden said. “Now that he’s busy tweeting campaign messages, I would ask him to do this: Listen to the scientists, support masks.”

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400 suspected Boko Haram, bandits’ sponsors arrested

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Security agents have arrested about 400 businessmen for allegedly funding operations of Boko Haram and bandits in the country.

Daily Trust reported that the businessmen were arrested in an operation coordinated by the Defence Intelligence Agency (DIA), and in collaboration with the Department of State Services (DSS), Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU) and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

President Muhammadu Buhari was said to have approved the operation in 2020.

The newspaper reported that an initial list of 957 suspects comprising bureau de change (BDC) operators, gold miners and sellers, and other businessmen is being acted upon.

A source told the newspaper that about 400 persons were arrested in Kano, Borno, Abuja, Lagos, Sokoto, Adamawa, Kaduna and Zamfara.

Names of the BDC operators arrested were given as Baba Usaini, Abubakar Yellow (Amfani), Yusuf Ali Yusuf (Babangida), Ibrahim Shani, Auwal Fagge, and Muhammad Lawan Sani, a gold dealer.

Those arrested are reportedly being kept in military and the DSS facilities in Abuja and other places.

“Because this is economic warfare against the insurgents and other militant groups, the president, when approving the operation directed that the NFIU take the lead as the country’s financial intelligence powerhouse,” Daily Trust quoted a source to have said.

The source added that “with the presidential approval, a task team was composed of personally selected senior officers who were deployed under the DIA to carry out the special assignment”.

“The main person coordinating the funding ring for Boko Haram is in our custody, he and his closest ally in the business,” he said.

Another source was quoted to have said about 19 BDCs owned by persons with “direct connection with Boko Haram” were uncovered, while over N300 billion was found to have been used in funding terrorism.

Apart from one person in Borno and another in Zaria, Kaduna state, the source said over N50 billion were traced in funding to the armed groups.

“A number of those arrested have divulged vital information including operational details of bandits and Boko Haram insurgents. But they are being kept to aid further arrests,” the source was quoted to have said.

Family members of those arrested, the newspaper reported, have been calling on the government for their release.

In 2020, six Nigerians were also jailed in the United Arab Emirates for allegedly funding Boko Haram.

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Former Ondo deputy governor agrees to return vehicles

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Former Ondo Deputy Governor Agboola Ajayi has finally agreed to return the two vehicles in his possession to the Ondo State Government.

The state government last week said it would embarrass Agboola if he failed to return the four vehicles.

But Agboola, who said he had only two vehicles, insisted they were part of his benefits.

The state government also petitioned the Ondo State Police Command to help recover the vehicles.

In a statement on Sunday, the former deputy governor said he was not the problem of Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu’s administration.

Agboola stated it was in the interest of everybody that Governor Akeredolu demonstrated good governance, transparent policy making and effective change.

He said it was unfortunate some members of the inner circle of Akeredolu have prioritised harassing him on a number of issues most especially the return of vehicles

Agboola said he hoped “these petty interactions would have ceased after the recent inauguration.

“To be clear – if the return of these two vehicles will make the administration focus more on the avalanche of pressing needs, challenges and predicaments facing the state most especially insecurity, the absence of governance and unpaid salaries across the entirety the Ondo public sector – then I’m ready to make the sacrifice and return the two vehicles which they so desperately need.

“I am not the problem of the present administration. I have moved on.”

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Pensioners demand payment of N35bn arrears

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Nigeria pensioners who retired from the electricity sector have urged President Muhammadu Buhari, to come to their aide in order to resolve the lingering issue of their owed N35billion pension arrears.

The pensioners under the aegis of Electricity Sector Retiree Welfare Association (ESREWA), led by its  President, Elder Benjamin Amako, asked President Buhari to save countless dying pensioners whose fate are tied to the delayed payment of their pension arrears.

Rising from its National Executive Council (NEC) meeting in Abuja, Amako said every Nigerian, including President Buhari, knows the pathetic situation of pensioners in the country.

Amako said: “First we thank God that Mr President returned from his medical trip healthier, stronger and successfully. The news of his return gave us pensioners so much joy because we know  he will not sit quiet and watch more pensioners lose their lives because of humanly inaction. So far, his administration has ensured that pensioners gets their rights and this arrears we are asking for is our right.

“Interestingly, President Buhari had already directed that this same arrears (N35billion) be paid to us, but for over five years ago he issued the directive, the relevant authorities who it is their responsibilities to ensure we get this arrears for our dying members seems to be working contrarily.

“So for the past five years, these arrears have always been part of the National Budget under Nigeria Electricity Liability Management Company (NELMCO) budget and accordingly transferred to Pension Transitional Arrangement Directorate (PTAD). But sadly, we have not been paid a dime even as I speak, for reasons that are totally and obviously human making.

“So we are pleading with President Buhari, the SGF, Minister of Finance, Chairman Senate Committee on Power, Accountant General of the Federation, PTAD and other relevant authorities to save our lives by paying us this money without further delay.”

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