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EASTER CELEBRATIONS: Churches under lock and key in Abuja, Kaduna, Kwara. … Jam-packed in Kogi

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It was an unusual Easter celebration due to the coronavirus pandemic which has confided worshipers all over the world and, essentially in Abuja. Various worship centers in Abuja have complied to the directives of the federal government and and advice of the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) to remain at home amdist the lock down so as to contain the spreed of coronavirus.

At the branches of the Mountain Of Fire Church, there were no worshippers except the security personnel guarding the premises. According to the gaurds, everyone was in their various homes celebrating the easter, listening and watching the service on line.

At the Redeemed christian church of God Kubuwa, it was the same situation as services were conducted online just like the Catholic Church Kubuwa, which on a normal day, would have witnessed heavy traffic. The church premises was empty just the security was in the compound and a priest who were inside the church offering prayers to the lord. Lastly the living faith church wasn’t left out as all services were conducted online while food items were shared to members to enable them stay at home and enjoy the festive season.

Following the total lockdown imposed by the State Government to check the spread of coronavirus pandemic, Churches in Kaduna State were on Sunday shut despite the celebration of Easter.

Journalists who went round the state capital, observed that only the security guards of churches were outside the gates to prevent desperate worshippers from gaining entry.

At St. Andrew Catholic Church, Kakuri the security man on duty told our correspondent he has been instructed not to open the church for any worshipper.

According to him: “Yes, it is Easter period but, but the church leadership has instructed me not to open the Church to anyone, except the senior Reverends who may come to do one thing or the other and the woman who comes around to sweep the Church premises.

“This is the third week now the Church has not had service because of coronavirus. We don’t want to endanger the lives of worshippers.” He explained

It would be recalled that the Kaduna State Government had partially closed markets and prohibited all forms of gatherings, including church and mosque congregations.

The Government had threatened any group, church or mosque that violates the order prohibiting gathering of large crowd will have its property demolished, land title revoked and people involved prosecuted.

Some Christians who spoke to our correspondent said, they have been told by their pastors to celebrate Easter at home and pray that, God ends the coronavirus pandemic.
many churches in Kwara state on Sunday conducted online services for Easter.

In Kwara State, Churches complied strictly with Government announcement of a total lockdown from 6pm on April 10 after two comfired cases of COVID-19 in the state.

One of the major churches in the state, the Living Faith Church (LFC) aka Winners Chapel had directed its members to observe the Easter Sunday service at their respective homes, while it admonished members to hook up to the headquarters and watch the service online.

In the same vein, the Supervising Pastor, Pastoral Council of the Cherubim and Seraphim Movement Church Worldwide, Ademola Popoola, charged Christians to emulate virtues of humility, perseverance and compassion exhibited by Jesus Christ.

He urged his online congregation to continue to live in peace and harmony with believers in other faiths, adding that good neighbourliness, selflessness and patience were among the lessons taught and exemplified by Jesus Christ.

The Cleric further advised Nigerians to reflect on how best to positively impact the lives of their neighbours and family members through love, kindness and care for one another as the world fights against COVID-19.

Prophet Emmanuel Alonge of the Christ Apostolic Church, Oke Imole, Ogidi Oloje headquarters, Ilorin called On Nigerians to be full of prayers and imbibe Christ-like sacrifices as exemplified by Jesus Christ during the season of Easter.

……KOGI CHURCHES JAM-PACKED

Meanwhile, in contrast to what obtained in other states, most churches in Kogi state were jam-packed for Easter celebration following relaxation of the lockdown order on Sunday.

Governor Yahaya Bello had on Thursday lifted the ban on religious congregations imposed in the aftermath of the Coronavirus pandemic.

The Winners Chapel, Phase 1, it was a full house as worshippers thronged the Lokoja church headquarters without any fear of contracting the much-dreaded coronavirus.

At the Catholic Cathedral Lokoja, attendance was more controlled with the entrances along the Hassan Katsina road under strict control.

The Evangelical Church, also in the Lokongoma Phase 1 area, long rows of vehicles on both sides of the road in front of the church premises; attested to the volume of worshippers that braved the Covid-19 lockdown for the Easter Sunday service.

The State government had in its statement, enjoined religious adherents to do so responsibly as they continue to observe social distancing and other personal hygienic practices.

The statement which was signed by the Commissioner for Information and Communication, Mr. Kingsley Fanwo, also said it was to allow religious bodies have their normal worship and services.

Some residents of the state interviewed, expressed consternation on the decision of the state government to allow massive congregation of worshippers at a time the scourge of the coronavirus was on the increase.

“It is not a time to play to the gallery or seek to please some interests when the general wellbeing of the citizens is at stake” said a respondent who chose to remain anonymous.

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Marwa Warns Against Cannabis Legalisation

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Says “It is money versus life”

 

President Muhammadu Buhari (right) with the Chairman of National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), Mohammed Buba Marwa at the State House, Abuja, during a visit by Marwa to brief him on the activities of the agency (photo by The Guardian)

Chairman of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), Brig. Gen. Buba Marwa (rtd), has enjoined members of the National Assembly not to support to move to legalise cannabis, cautioning that members who vote for it might not be able to return to their constituencies.Marwa made the submission yesterday while fielding questions from newsmen after he met with President Muhammadu Buhari at the State House, Abuja.

The former military administrator of Lagos said the World Health Organisation (WHO) has confirmed the dangers of cannabis to the brain, disclosing that Nigeria was the highest consumer of the substance globally.

Vowing that Nigeria would not submit to the push for its legalisation, Marwa said: “Now, the WHO itself has declared that cannabis affects the brain, alters brain function. It destabilises and affects behaviour. It also affects body organs, and at some point, it can lead to death.

“So, while we appreciate those who want to legalise it for financial gains, we have to be careful to reconcile it with life. So, it’s money versus life. And up to this point, science has not developed up to the point where it can remove the THC in cannabis to zero.

“Therefore, cannabis is harmful to our health; it is a danger to society. We must never allow its legalisation. What’s more, Nigeria has 10.6 million cannabis users; this is the highest in the world. Isn’t it sad?

“We should be the highest in science, technology, mathematics, physics and not highest in cannabis. That is something we need.

“We can never support legalisation and I don’t see how the National Assembly would pass the bill because I know 90 per cent or more of the honourable and distinguished members of the National Assembly know the implications of this legalisation. They dare not go back to their constituencies if anyone signs legalisation because we are seeing the implication on the ground. The youth, the families are being destroyed because of cannabis and drugs. It wouldn’t be legalised by the grace of God.”

Marwa, who revealed that he has received constant death threats from criminals in the course of his assignment, said he was not concerned even though he takes precautions.

Specifically, on the threats, he quipped: “Severally! It’s almost a daily occurrence because my phone number is open. Equally, messages come through family, through colleagues, and sometimes people at random whom we don’t know but I live in the territory. That said, we also take precautions.”

The NDLEA boss said he was at that presidential villa to brief President Buhari on the recent activities of the agency, especially the move to construct barracks for personnel of the agency, saying he received a positive response from the president on the initiative.

“Well, the President told us well done. And that well done does not go to Gen. Marwa but the NDLEA officers and men. And if there’s a secret behind it, we thank the Almighty God for the successes recorded so far, and also to the gallant and professional officers and men of the NDLEA who have remained upstanding.”

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Court freezes Kogi State Govt’s Bank Account over N20billion Salary Loan Fraud

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Governor Yahaya Bello of Kogi State

 

A Federal High Court in Lagos on Tuesday froze a Kogi salary bailout account domiciled in a new generation bank over a N20 billion loan obtained from the bank.

Justice Tijjani Garba Ringim made the order pending the conclusion of an investigation or possible prosecution by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

The agency approached the court via an ex-parte application brought pursuant to Section 44(2) of the Constitution and Section 34(1) of the EFCC Act.

Its counsel, Mr A. O. Muhammed, informed the court that the order was necessary to preserve the res and abate further dissipation of the funds in the account.

Moving the application, Muhammed alleged that the N20b loan was meant to augment the salary payment and running cost of the state government but was kept in an interest yielding account with the bank.

He added that instead of using the money for the purpose it was meant for, the Kogi State Government instructed the bank to transfer the money from the loan account and place same in a fixed deposit account.

According to the agency, the bank is yet to present any credible evidence to show that the facility is well secured.

Granting the application, Justice Ringim ordered the EFCC to publish the order in a national newspaper and make a quarterly report to the court on the progress of its investigation.

The judge adjourned the matter till December 1, for the report of Investigation.

The EFCC’s allegations were made in its 13-paragraph affidavit in support of the ex-parte motion deposed to by a member of a team of investigators attached to the Chairman Monitoring Unit Lagos of the EFCC.

The document averred that the Commission received credible and direct intelligence which led to the tracing of funds reasonably suspected to be proceeds of unlawful activities warehoused in the account with the name Kogi State Salary Bailout Account

He said the Commission acted on the said intelligence and assigned same to the Chairman Monitoring Unit, where it was discovered that on April 1, 2019, the management approved an offer of an N20billion bailout loan facility for the Kogi State Government.

According to the deponent, on June 19, 2019, fiscal year, the Kogi State Government, Ministry of Finance and Economic Development, Office of the Commissioner, applied for a credit facility of N20billion with an interest rate of nine per cent for a tenure of 240 months from the bank”.

The agency added that the said facility was meant to augment the salary payment and running cost of the state government.

It stated further that on June 26, 2019, the credit facility offer was accepted vide a memorandum of acceptance signed by Governor Alhaji Yahaya Bello, Asiwaju Idris Asiru, the Commissioner of Finance Kogi State; and one Alhaji Momoh Jibrin, Accountant General, Kogi State.

It averred that before the said application for a loan, the Kogi State Government on the 19th June 2019 vide a letter to the Manager of the bank in Lokoja applied for an account opening in the Bank with the name Kogi State Salary Bailout Account with Alhaji Momoh Jubril, Accountant General of the State and Elijah Evinemi Ag. Director Treasury as the signatories to the said account.

“That upon the opening of the said account disbursed salary intervention loan to the tune of N20billion to the account.

“That rather than use the intervention funds for the purpose for which it was granted, the State Government proceeded to open a fixed deposit account No. 0073572696.

“That on the 25 day of July 2019, the bank acting on the instruction of the Kogi State Government transferred the money from the loan account and placed same on the aforementioned fixed deposit account.

“That the said account sought to be frozen received the sum of twenty billion naira, (N20, 000,000,000) on the 25th July 2019.

“That as of 1st day of April 2021 the balance standing to the credit of the said fixed deposit account was N19,333,333,333.36 billion

“That we are still tracing what the sum of N666,666,666.64 billion, has been deducted from the said funds and were not used for the payment of the salary.

“That the Commission has the statutory mandate to prevent the Commission of economic and financial Crimes with the shores of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

“That investigation in this matter is still ongoing and this application is pertinent to secure the funds in the said account to prevent them from being totally dissipated.

“That without freezing the nominated accounts, there is no better way of preserving

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