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Fake COVID-19 vaccines in Nigeria, UK, others, Interpol warns

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Nigeria, South Africa, the United Kingdom, the United States, and 190 other countries are at the risk of buying fake COVID-19 vaccines, the International Criminal Police Organisation (Interpol) has alerted.

It said these countries have come under the threat of organised criminal groups working to supply fake COVID-19 vaccines and steal genuine supplies.

Interpol raised the alarm as the UK Wednesday became the first country in the world to approve the Pfizer/BioNTech coronavirus vaccine for widespread use.

Already, Interpol said there had been a rise in the activities of the criminals who had started advertising and selling the fake COVID-19 vaccines, especially online.

The need for a vaccine has become more urgent with Nigeria recording over 67,000 COVID-19 infections and over 1,000 associated fatalities, according to the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has so far identified 49 “candidate vaccines” at the stage of clinical trials in humans.

Hopes are high that shots could be ready for use before the end of the year as two frontrunner vaccines – by Moderna and BioNTech/Pfizer – already reported that phase 3 trials for their mRNA vaccine showed 95 per cent efficacy in preventing Covid-19 symptoms and did not produce adverse side effects among thousands of volunteers.

In a statement on Wednesday titled, ‘Interpol warns of organised crime threat to COVID-19 vaccines’, Interpol Secretary General, Jürgen Stock stated, “As governments are preparing to roll out vaccines, criminal organisations are planning to infiltrate or disrupt supply chains.”

Stock said there was a need for coordination between law enforcement and health regulatory bodies to ensure the safety of individuals and wellbeing of communities are protected.

He also said, “Criminal networks will also be targeting unsuspecting members of the public via fake websites and false cures, which could pose a significant risk to their health, even their lives.

“It is essential that law enforcement is as prepared as possible for what will be an onslaught of all types of criminal activity linked to the COVID-19 vaccine, which is why Interpol has issued this global warning.”

According to him, 3,000 websites associated with online pharmacies are suspected of selling fake medicines and medical devices.

He advised residents of Interpol 194 member countries to take special care when going online to search for medical equipment or medicine.

Meanwhile, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson hailed the “fantastic” news of the vaccine approval, while urging the public to remain cautious on the day that England exited a four-week lockdown and re-imposed regional curbs.

“It’s the protection of vaccines that will ultimately allow us to reclaim our lives and get the economy moving again,” he said.

Health secretary Matt Hancock said that starting with care home residents and health and care staff, Britain’s state-run National Health Service will begin with 800,000 doses “early next week”.

That will be ramped up to “millions” of inoculations by the end of the year. Help is on its way,” he told BBC radio.

The breakthrough will encourage hopes the world can finally get back on course in 2021 after a year of traumatic losses, both human and economic.

The novel coronavirus has killed nearly 1.5 million people since the outbreak emerged in China 12 months ago. At least 63 million cases have been registered.

Pfizer Chief Executive, Albert Bourla, said the UK certification was a “historic moment in the fight against COVID-19”.

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Ijaw group warns against tampering with 13 percent derivation formula

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A Niger-Delta group, Ijaw People Assembly (IPA) has condemned the proposal by 59 members of the House of Representatives seeking an amendment of Section 162(2) of the 1999 Constitution.

It said the real motive was targeted at deleting the Principle of Derivation which stipulated 13% of the revenue accruing to the Federation Account from natural resources, describing the move “as an inglorious attempt and a misadventure.”

The group’s scribe, Dortimi Tawari, who spoke in a statement, yesterday, said the plan was an “invitation to chaos and eventual collapse of the Nigerian economy.”

Tawari warned the proposal was “another form of internal colonization, an attempt to strangulate and subjugate the Ijaw nation and other Niger-Delta nationalities.”

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Part of the statement read: “The Ijaw nation being a host nation to oil and gas resources and assets, the IPA views this proposal as another form of internal colonization, an attempt to strangulate and subjugate the Ijaw nation in particular and the other Niger Delta nationalities.

“Need it be mentioned that it is an invitation to chaos and eventual collapse of the Nigerian economy. The ljaw People Assembly vehemently oppose a system that will drag the ljaw Nation and the other nationalities in the Niger Delta into undeserved subjugation and retrogression.”

Tawari reiterated the call for a restructured Nigeria that “guarantees resource ownership, control, management and freedom to appropriate a declared percentage of derived revenue to the central government or an arrangement of sovereign nations as the extreme option.”

He said a restructured Nigeria “will promote a productive economy and end the current monthly sharing (rentier) economy under some spurious formular which has encouraged laziness and unviability of states from which the said 59 members all hail from.”

The Nation

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Treat bandits as terrorists – Speakers tell President Buhari

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Chairman of the conference and Speaker, Bauchi House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Abubakar Suleiman

The Conference of Speakers in Nigeria has called on President Muhammadu Buhari to declare bandits terrorists and enemies of the state.

The Chairman of the conference and Speaker, Bauchi House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Abubakar Suleiman, made the pronouncement at the end of the third quarter general meeting of the Conference of Speakers in Katsina on Saturday.

He said the call was one of the outcomes of their 5-point communique reached at the end of their deliberations.

According to the Speakers’ Chairman, they have come to realise that the mode of operations employed by the bandits is not in anyway different from that of terrorists and as such should be treated as one.

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Other resolutions reached in the course of the deliberations included working out a legislative framework to complement federal government efforts in the fight against insecurity in the country.

Also, the conference resolved to come up with appropriate laws that will address the fundamental issues responsible for the insecurity experienced in the country.

The communique also harped on the need to create employment opportunities for the teeming youths as a means to curb the insecurity situation bedeviling the country.

Daily Post

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Everything is the opposite yet Nigeria not a complete disaster – Soyinka

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Nobel laureate, Prof Wole Soyinka, has said Nigerians are still managing to eke out a living despite the bleak realities confronting the country.

Soyinka spoke during an interview with the Cable News Network monitored by our correspondent.

Commenting on the ironic title for his first novel in 48 years, Chronicles from the Land of the Happiest People on Earth, he said things happened around one as one grew up, witnessing the degrading of dream and environment in one’s society and on the continent.

He explained that for him, the issue had been an arduous journey, adding, “It has reached such a stage, I found intuitively, that only prose fiction can handle things that have been bubbling up inside me.”

He said the title came after some people some years ago conducted a poll which placed Nigeria among the top four happiest nations in the world.

The playwright noted, “That thing has been with me, in my head. I asked, ‘Who are these people? What do they know? What have they seen? What have they experienced in Nigeria that they make such an attribution?’ That title really has been waiting to answer that claim in many ways. When you look at the surroundings, everything is the opposite and yet, Nigeria is not a complete disaster.

“People still manage to eke out a living not only a living but to some extent a dignified and satisfied living. I think it’s not surface appearance of contentment or making the best of a really bad job, insisting that no matter what life must go on… It’s that which needed to be, quote and unquote, celebrated in addition to the bleak actualities.”

The elder statesman further said he took the decision to change his former relationship if Donald Trump was elected president of the United States despite “being literally an enemy of decency and humanity’’ and his blatantly discontent for non-white humanity.

He stated, “I never really totally turned my back on the United States. I mean how could one? We have many Nigerians there, to start with. When I stroll through the streets of the United States, I sometimes think the United States is an extension of Nigeria, that it’s part of our diaspora.” That’s not an easy decision but it was inevitable.”

Commenting on the 2021 Nobel Prize in Literature awarded to Tanzanian novelist, Abdulrazak Gurnah, Soyinka said his immediate statement after the announcement was “let the African tribe expand wherever situated.”

Punch

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