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Lagos vaccinates 1,700 intending Hajj pilgrims in two days

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Lagos State Government has vaccinated about 1,700 intending pilgrims embarking on the year 2021 holy pilgrimage to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, with the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine.
The two-day vaccination took place at the Adeyemi-Bero Auditorium of the Secretariat, Alausa, Ikeja and was conducted by officials of the National Primary Health Care Development Agency, in collaboration with the Lagos State Ministry of Health.
Commissioner for Home Affairs, Prince Anofiu Elegushi, said that since the COVID-19 vaccine is one of the requirements for gaining entry into Saudi Arabia, it became compulsory and expedient for every intending pilgrim, Ulamah (clerics) to get the vaccine.
He disclosed that 1,518 intending pilgrims, 105 Ulamah (clerics), 25 Hajj Guides and 52 members of staff of the Muslim Pilgrims Welfare Board were vaccinated during the exercise.
While affirming that not all the state’s intending pilgrims were present for the weekend’s vaccination exercise, Elegushi urged those that falls into this category to ensure that they get themselves vaccinated in any of the accredited centres across the state without further delay.
The commissioner urged them to immediately take the vaccine in order to meet up with the average of 12 weeks interval required for every intending pilgrim to take the two doses of the vaccine before departing for the Hajj exercise.
The Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Home Affairs, Mrs. Elizabeth Adebunmi Adekanye who was at the venue to monitor the exercise and ensure strict compliance with the COVID-19 protocols, said the two-day exercise was commendable.
She also advised those that had gotten the vaccine outside the Board’s arrangements to endeavor to bring their certificate to the Board for necessary documentation.
On his part, the Executive Secretary, Lagos State Muslim Pilgrims Welfare Board, Mr. Rahman Ishola, expressed delight at the impressive turn out of the intending pilgrims for the vaccination despite the short notice.
Reacting to allegation from some quarters that the vaccination fee was included in the Hajj fare, the Executive Secretary debunked the claim as fake, unfounded and blatant falsehood.
Rahman pointed out that the N1.3 million Hajj fare had been fixed ever before the COVID-19 pandemic struck the whole world in 2020.
He stressed that the State Government did not include any vaccination fee in the fare for Hajj 2021 exercise which still stands at N1.3 million.
While confirming that the vaccination was given free of charge to every intending pilgrim that came for the exercise, Ishola stressed that during the 2019 Hajj exercise, the state government refunded N100,000.00 to each of the pilgrims out of the N1.4 million initially charged.
He said the refund was done to acknowledge the fact that the State Government is not in the business to cheat or make unwarranted profit from any of her citizens but to serve them diligently and selflessly.
He, therefore, appealed to merchants of fake news to desist from the act in order not to disparage the enviable image the state has built over the years on Hajj operations.
He commended the officials of the National Primarys Health Care Development Agency for a job well done as well as the intending pilgrims for conducting themselves in an orderly manner.

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JUST IN: Old naira: IMF asks FG, CBN to extend February 10 deadline

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The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has called for the extension of the February 10 deadline to phase out the old naira notes.

The International monetary body made the call just after the Supreme Court had restrained the Federal Government and Central Bank of Nigeria(CBN) from enforcing the deadline.

The IMF, in a statement in Abuja on Wednesday by Laraba Bonet, said the plea was on the hardship Nigerians were exposed to over the issue.

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It said: “in light of hardships caused by disruptions to trade and payments due to the shortage of new bank notes available to the public, in spite of measures introduced by the CBN to mitigate the challenges in the banknote swap process, the IMF encourages the CBN to consider extending the deadline should problems persist  in the next few days leading up to the February 10, 2023 deadline”.

The IMF is the first international financial organisation to openly call for extension of the deadline for the deposit of old Naira notes.

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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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