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COVID-19: UK exempts Nigeria from 30 nations on travel ban list

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The United Kingdom has exempted Nigeria from a list of 30 countries that have been banned from entering its country over rising COVID-19 cases.

With over 3.7 million cases and more than 100,000 deaths, the UK is one of the top five countries with the highest number of confirmed infections.

Nigeria has recorded over 124,000 cases with more than 1,500 deaths.

The Cable quoted the UK as saying in a statement on the government’s website that nationals from 30 countries, some of which are in South America and Southern Africa, would be banned from entering the country.

The list excludes British and Irish nationals or others who possess resident visas.

This development comes amid discoveries of new virus strains such as B.1.1.7 found in UK, B.1.351 discovered in South Africa and P.1 variant identified in Brazil.

“People who have been in or transited through the countries listed below in the last 10 days will not be granted access to the UK,” the statement reads.

 “This does not include British and Irish Nationals, or third country nationals with residence rights in the UK, who will be able to enter the UK but are required to self-isolate for 10 days on arrival along with their household.”

The affected countries are Angola, Argentina, Bolivia, Botswana, Brazil, Cape Verde, Chile, Colombia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ecuador, and Eswatini.

Others are French Guiana, Guyana, Lesotho, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Portugal (including Madeira and the Azores), Seychelles, South Africa, Suriname, Tanzania, Uruguay, Venezuela, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.

Addressing members of parliament on Wednesday, Boris Johnson, UK prime minister, said citizens must have valid reasons to travel outside the country before permission is granted at the airports and ports.

He said such measure is meant to curtail the spread of the virus from other countries to the UK.

“I want to make clear that under the stay home regulations, it is illegal to leave home to travel abroad for leisure purposes,” he said.

“We will enforce this at ports and airports by asking people why they are leaving and instructing them to return home if they do not have a valid reason to travel.”

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Cash crunch: Protesters defy police in Abeokuta, make bonfires on major roads

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Residents of Abeokuta, Ogun State, took to the streets on Tuesday protesting the scarcity of cash and the attendant pains.

Major streets affected by the protests are Aladesanmi, Fajol and Somorin in Obantoko area of Abeokuta as the protesters made bonfires and chanted anti-CBN songs
The Sapon branch of First Bank was also vandalised and the protesters tried to set it ablaze.
Ogun Police spokesman, Abimbola Oyeyemi, confirmed the protest, saying police officers were on the ground to monitor the situation and prevent the destruction of property and loss of lives.
He said some group of boys were involved in the crisis.
The police later came to disperse the protesters but they regrouped as soon as the operatives withdrew from the scene.
The situation affected vehicular movement as motorists and pedestrians ran in different directions to avert being caught up in the chaotic situation.

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Court frees Diezani associate Omokore of $1.6bn fraud

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An Abuja federal high court on Tuesday discharged and acquitted Jide Omokore, chairman of Atlantic Energy Drilling Concepts Nigeria Limited, of $1.6bn fraud allegations.

Omokore, an associate of former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs Diezani Alison-Madueke, was arraigned by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) with Victor Briggs, Abiye Membere, and David Mbanefo on a 15-count charge on July 4, 2016.

They were accused of fraudulently diverting the $1.6bn said to be part of proceeds of sales of petroleum products belonging to the Federal Government.

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FG raises N742.56bn Sukuk fund for road projects

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The Federal Government, through Debt Management Office (DMO), has raised N742.56 billion via Sovereign Sukuk for the construction and rehabilitation of roads across the country.

This is from 2017 till December 2022. Director General of DMO, Patience Oniha, made the disclosure in Abuja on Monday while presenting the 2022 Sovereign Sukuk cheque of N130 billion to various implementing ministries (Works and Housing and Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

She stated that the money will be released as part of the Capital Expenditure in the 2022 Appropriation Act, which has been extended by the National Assembly to March 31, 2023.

According to her, the Sukuk issuance journey has paid off with the first N100 billion realised in September, 2017.

She said: “The DMO has issued Sukuk four more times bringing the total amount raised as at December 2022 to N742.56 billion. From the Sukuk issued between 2017 and 2021, a total of N612.56 billion was raised and deployed to the construction and rehabilitation of sections of 71 roads and four bridges covering a total of 2,820.06km.

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“I wish to commend the implementing Ministries and their various contractors for supporting the DMO in this initiative. Not surprisingly, the two Ministries are also beneficiaries of the N130 billion 2022 Sovereign Sukuk, whose proceeds will be similarly deployed to road projects”

Oniha added that through the Sovereign Sukuk initiative, the DMO has demonstrated its strong alignment with the policy of President Muhammadu Buhari infrastructural development.

She noted that the agency has positioned itself not only as one for managing the public debt including borrowing on behalf of the Federal Government, but as an active stakeholder in the domestic capital market through innovation, investor engagement and collaboration with other stakeholders.

“These have deepened the market, created benchmarks for other borrowers and promoted financial inclusion by providing a retail product, FGN Savings Bond, as well as, Sukuk and Green Bonds for ethical investors”, she stated.

Earlier in her remarks, the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs Zainab Ahmed, noted that Sukuk, a project-tied debt instrument, was one of the many innovative and very successful initiatives of the Buhari administration towards financing the development of critical infrastructure in the country.

She gave a breakdown of the beneficiary Ministries as: Federal Ministry of Works and Housing – N110,000,000,000 and the Federal Capital Territory Administration – N20,000,000,000.

“As at November 2022, N1.88 trillion had been released as Capital Expenditure, which represents about 40 percent performance when compared to the total Capital Budget of N4.7 trillion. This informed the need to extend the period to implement the capital component of the 2022 budget”, she explained.

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