Meningitis Kills 21 In Sokoto, As Health Workers Contend With Witchcraft Beliefs Among Populace

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The total number of deaths recorded as a result of the outbreak of Cerebrospinal meningitis epidemic in Sokoto state is now 21.

This disclosure was made early in the week,  by the  State Commissioner for Health, Balarabe Kakale.

Kakale, listed the Local Governments affected by the epidemic to include, Kebbe, Bodinga, Rabah, Wamakko, Gada, Dange/Shuni and Tureta.

He stated that the belief in witchcraft was making the fight against meningitis difficult, while lamenting that  families were refusing to bring suspected cases to the hospital attributing the illness to witchcraft.

He said that the state government had,  set up, organized 15 medical teams made up of over 150 medical personnel.

According to the Commissioner, the  teams were strategically positioned across the 23 local government areas of the state and were fully equipped with ambulances and provided with free drugs and medicament.

  He also disclosed that emergency response teams had also been deployed by the state government that went around conducting house-to-house search, definition and management, at home and hospitals. No fewer than 330 mixed cases of severe malaria and meningitis had been treated across the seven most affected local governments.

He further disclosed  that out of the 330 cases, 40 were confirmed in the laboratories to be cases of meningitis, out of which 14 deaths were recorded and these deaths excluded the 7 earlier recorded in parts of Gada local government.

He  noted that thousands of other cases were treated at primary health centres in the local governments. He also added that there were some cases from Koko in Kebbi state which worsened the epidemic.

The Commissioner reiterated that it was quite saddening that the people of the state attributed the disease to witchcraft as suspected cases with obvious symptoms of the disease like vomiting, high fever, headache and stiffness of the neck were not brought to the health facilities.

He  advised people of the state to disregard rumours of witchcraft and take all suspected cases of the disease to hospitals on time, warning, that keeping suspected affected persons at home will only make the disease worse and cause transmission to other members of the family.

“Residents should reduce the number of persons that take care of confirmed meningitis patients, avoid sleeping in overcrowded rooms and also ensure personal and environmental hygiene”, Kakale concluded.

Standards Organization Impounds N40 million Sub-standard Cables

Sub-standard electric cables worth over N40 million has been seized by the Standard Organization of Nigeria(SON) in Onitsha, Anambra state, Nigeria.

This disclosure was made on Tuesday by the Acting Coordinator of the organization, Mr. Romanus Isife, during an interactive session with journalists.

 Mr. Isife said that  the seized cables were a great danger to human life, while disclosing that the seizure was carried out based on the a petition by  against the culprit.

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“The operation, which was carried out after an investigation, was part of our zero tolerance and enforcement, to rid the country of substandard products.

“Nigeria, being a developing country and emerging market for all products, is no yardstick for life-threatening substandard products in the country.

“Our core mandate is to elaborate and enforce the application of standards for all products,”Mr. Isife said concluded.

Kenya: Teachers Employer Issues New Guidelines to Protect Students

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Caning, sex and drug and substance abuse will not be condoned in learning institutions, teachers have been warned.

Even keeping canes in staff rooms, classrooms or any part of the school is illegal, according to new guidelines issued by the Teachers Service Commission to enhance the safety of learners.

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School administrators also have a duty to protect the learners against sexual abuse by reporting cases to the police and other security agencies.

“Cases of sexual abuse, whether within or outside the school, should be thoroughly investigated, documented and action taken with expediency,” says a circular to headteachers in primary and secondary schools by the commission’s chief executive Nancy Macharia.

The circular is seen as a response to cases of bullying in schools, whether by prefects or other students.

“Any form of bullying, including physical, verbal or psychological abuse, should be eradicated in the learning institutions,” says the circular.

“Under no circumstances should corporal punishment or use of physical force to inflict pain be administered to learners,” said Ms Macharia in the communication.

The circular also affects principals of teacher training colleges, institutes of science and technology and national polytechnics.

CORPORAL PUNISHMENT

All teachers are cautioned that corporal punishment or any other degrading treatment constitutes a professional or criminal offence and can lead to disciplinary action or prosecution in a court of law.

For the prefects who have lately been at the centre of the bullying cases, the commission has directed that they be sensitised on their role in school governance, which does not include punishing learners in any way.

Recently, the principal of Alliance High School, Mr David Kariuki, opted for retirement following allegations of bullying at the school that left scores of students injured.

The bullying is said to have been carried out by prefects and senior students for a long time, yet the principal had not taken action.

Parents raised the alarm with the Ministry of Education early this year, leading to an investigation.

Maseno High School principal Paul Otula was interdicted and is currently under investigations over claims that a student at the national school was sexually molested by senior students.

EXPOSURE TO DRUG

The learners should be protected from exposure to drug and substance abuse through stringent surveillance programmes to make the learning and surrounding environment free from drugs.

“Guidance and counselling should be intensified to sensitise learners, parents and guardians on the dangers of drug and substance abuse,” said Ms Macharia.

The TSC boss has also warned headteachers against forcing or allowing students to repeat classes after it emerged that some schools were forcing academically weak students to repeat or were asking them to register in other schools, to ensure the schools perform well.

“Forced repetition is prohibited under Section 35 of the Basic Education Act. All learners should be assisted to transit to the next class and complete any given segment in the learning cycle,” she reminded headteachers.

School administrators who are still allowing holiday tuition have been put on notice after the commission made it clear that all schools should operate within the term dates issued by the Education Cabinet Secretary.

The circular is copied to the Cabinet secretary, county directors of education, regional coordinators of education, headteachers’ associations, and other education stakeholders except the teachers’ unions.

TSC has also asked headteachers to ensure learners report and leave school within the prescribed hours.

Source : Daily Nation

Cases of Suicide Attempts On The Increase In Nigeria-Consultant Psychiatrist

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A Consultant Psychiatrist has said that over 10 per cent of referral cases at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital(LUTH),Lagos, Nigeria were suicide attempts.

According to Dr. Yewande Oshodi, who made this declaration at a programme organized by the hospital to campaign against suicide,the increasing rate of suicide in the country, could be attributed to the stigma associated with mental health .

”The stigma of psychotics and mental health makes it difficult for people to come out when they are going through issues”, Dr. Oshodi said.

She maintained that over a five-year study period, 7.2 per cent of the cases referred to psychiatry consultation-liaison services in LUTH were suicide related cases, while noting that  reports had shown that during lifetime, about 3.0 per cent of Nigerians have had thoughts of ending their lives, 1.0 per cent will plan on how to kill themselves, while just under 1.0 per cent will carry out the actual attempt.

Dr Oshodi also disclosed that suicide was the most unfortunate incident anyone could like to experience or lose a loved one to.

Increasing Rate of Suicide in Nigeria : The Devil is at Work-Cleric

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Suicide is becoming rampant among Nigerians and this is already becoming a source of worry for several families. In this interview with Federationews2day, the Chairman, Christian Association of Nigeria(CAN)Oluyole Local Government, Ibadan, Oyo state, Nigeria who is also the Commandant General of the Royal Global Chaplain Mission, Evangelist(Chaplain)Emmanuel Babalola says that those involved in the ugly act do not have God in their lives. Excerpts :

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Suicide is on the increase in Nigeria, why is this so ?

The spiritual in road into this  situation, clearly shows the level of understanding of Nigerians about God, because no person that is of God, who believes in God and trusts God will commit suicide, Suicide is the taking  of one’s life, which is against the Bible. You shall not  kill, somebody that kills himself or herself, has already committed a sin, which is against the commandments of God, it shows the level of understanding, the level of Godlessness in Nigerians. People are just worshiping, going to different  places of worship, God is not in their lives, that is why you see the situation this way. Occurrences in Nigeria shows the hopelessness in people, they believe that nothing good can no longer come from anywhere. So, they are now committing suicide, to end what they are passing through. The Bible says if weeping tarry for a night, joy cometh in the morning. Tough times don’t last forever, it is just for a certain period. If we are able to withstand it and refocus our lives, we are going to get to the end of it. At the end of the tunnel, there will be light. So it shows the level of decadence in Nigeria, number one, the level of Godlessness, number two, number three, there is no value for human life in Nigeria. You did not create life, you should not take it.

The devil is at work, he does not want anybody to scale through, and he will be whispering into their ears”End it now, it is okay”. Remember he did it to Jesus Christ. People are falling into the temptation of the devil, to take their won lives. The devil is at work.

 

UN resolution affirms surveillance that is not necessary or proportionate is against the right to privacy

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ARTICLE 19 welcomes the adoption by the UN Human Rights Council (HRC) of a resolution that significantly advances States’ commitments to protect the right to privacy in the digital age. For the first time, the resolution affirms that State’s surveillance practices should be justified according to the principles of legality, necessity and proportionality. Progress on this and other standards in the resolution reflect many of ARTICLE 19’s new Global principles on privacy and freedom of expression.

“This resolution reinforces that privacy is essential to the meaningful exercise of the right to freedom of expression. This is crucial for investigative journalists, human rights defenders, and whistleblowers, who require secure communications to expose wrongdoing and inform the public, and who need privacy to protect themselves and their sources,” said Thomas Hughes, Executive Director of ARTICLE 19.

“Almost four years after the Snowden revelations, States are finally agreeing with the public that privacy violations must be subject to the same scrutiny as other rights violations. This resolution is the clearest articulation yet that sweeping surveillance practices that are neither necessary or proportionate are against international human rights law.” 

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“The resolution must now be translated into action. Governments must end mass surveillance, end interference with our secure communications, and ensure businesses do the same”, Hughes added.

The resolution on “the right to privacy in the digital age” (A/HRC/34/L.7/Rev.1) was adopted by consensus on 23 March 2017 at the 34th Session of the UN Human Rights Council. The resolution was led by Brazil and Germany, with a core group of Austria, Lichtenstein, Mexico, and Switzerland, and was supported by 66 cosponsoring States.

Importantly, the resolution calls for the convening of an expert workshop on the right to privacy in the digital age, to include a focus on the role of businesses, and a further report of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, to be presented to the 39th Session of the HRC in September 2018. Both will enable substantive contributions from across disciplines and stakeholder groups to further elaborate applicable norms to the right to privacy, and challenges of implementation.

The resolution builds upon one previous HRC resolution and decision and three UN General Assembly resolutions of the same title, all following the global debate on the human rights implications of States’ mass surveillance practices provoked by the Snowden revelations in 2013.

Importantly, the present HRC resolution stresses, for the first time, that:

States should ensure that any interference with the right to privacy is consistent with the principles of legality, necessity and proportionality”

It is significant that the 47-seat Human Rights Council, which includes among its current membership the United Kingdom and the United States of America, reached consensus on the need for States to justify interferences with the right to privacy in accordance with the principles of legality, necessity and proportionality.

Though previous resolutions on the right to privacy in the digital age were all adopted by consensus, differing views between States had until now prevented the articulation of this principle so clearly. This is a significant step forward, bringing HRC resolution standards into line with the views of the Human Rights Committee, the treaty body of experts monitoring States’ compliance with the right to privacy as protected in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, as well as the conclusions and recommendations of the UN Special Rapporteurs on the right of freedom of opinion and expression, on the right to privacy, and on the promotion and protection of human rights while countering terrorism.

The requirement for States to justify the necessity and proportionality of privacy interferences is particularly relevant to considering whether States’ practices of mass surveillance are compatible with international human rights law. ARTICLE 19 has long argued, with many others, that such indiscriminate practices undertaken without specific, individualised, or reasonable suspicion are inherently unnecessary and disproportionate, and have a chilling effect on freedom of expression. Though the resolution does not go as far as reaching a conclusion on this issue, consensus on the applicable principles represents notable progress in that direction.

The resolution also makes a number of other normative advances, and strengthens elements from previous UN resolutions:

  • Anonymity and encryption: for the first time, the HRC emphasises that technical solutions to secure the confidentiality of digital communications, including measures for encryption and anonymity, are important for all people’s enjoyment of human rights, including to freedom of expression, and that States must not interfere with the use of such technical solutions. This expands on the HRC’s affirmation of this principle in relation to journalists and the protection of their sources in 2016, and aligns with the recommendations of the UN Special Rapporteur on the right to freedom of expression.
  • Metadata: the resolution strengthens references made previously to metadata or communications data, now noting that its aggregation “can reveal personal information that can be no less sensitive than the actual content of communications and can give an insight into an individual’s behaviour, social relationships, private preferences and identity”.
  • Algorithms and profiling: the resolution raises new concerns on the automatic processing of personal data, inclusive of metadata, for “individual profiling may lead to discrimination or decisions that otherwise have the potential to affect the enjoyment of human rights”. These concerns reflect how privacy-invasive automatic processing can be in the rapidly developing context of ‘big data’ and automated (algorithmic) decision-making, and how these human-built processes may reproduce societal prejudices and lead to discrimination.
  • Role of business enterprises: the resolution reiterates the responsibilities of business enterprises to respect human rights, including the rights to privacy and freedom of expression online, developing language on principles of data protection. Though not new elements, it repeats previous language that States must refrain from requiring business enterprises to take steps that unjustifiably interfere with the right to privacy, including when requesting the disclosure of personal information. The human rights principles applying to the relationship between States and business enterprises, in particular to protect privacy and freedom of expression online, should be considered in greater depth at the expert workshop.

ARTICLE 19 is grateful to Brazil, Germany and the core group for their open collaboration with civil society throughout the process leading to the adoption of this resolution. We look forward to working with all States at the UN to elaborate these principles further, including at the forthcoming expert workshop, and will work at all levels, to ensure that States implement these principles in law, policy, and practice.

Source : Article 19

Fighting land corruption in Sub-Saharan Africa: Widows tell their story

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”The land my husband and I farmed on has been taken away from me… when I appealed to the Tindana I found him drinking with the same people who evicted me from the land.”

– Video project participant

Land corruption is a major problem in Sub-Saharan Africa. Whether it’s a shady deal between private investors and local authorities, citizens having to pay bribes to secure title deeds, or customary laws that deny women their land rights, land corruption hits the poor and marginalized hardest.

Food insecurity and an increased risk of conflict are some of the consequences of land corruption. For, so long as access to information and justice in the land sector is limited and citizens are left out of decision-making processes about the land they tend, corruption will thrive.

We believe that if citizens are given a voice to speak out and demand action from those who abuse their land rights, change is possible.

Here is a video made with 10 widowed women from Kulbia, a village in the eastern part of Ghana.

In this village, customary laws dictate that when a woman’s husband dies, the land they both worked on is given to male-headed households. The film documents the corruption and abuse that denied the women their livelihood. It also shows how the local land custodian, or Tindana, eventually agrees to support the women’s rights.

The aim of this project was to enable community members to document land issues affecting them, so they can push for change in traditional practices and, ultimately, put an end to the corruption and abuse they face. Because land corruption affects men and women differently, there has to be a gender-sensitive approach.

The video was screened to the public at the local women’s resource centre so everyone could see the commitments made by Tindana. We are working on more of these participatory films to document the damaging effects of land corruption.

Transparency International is taking part in the World Bank Land and Poverty conference this week, where we’ll present evidence of the effects of land corruption in Sub-Saharan Africa and call on the international community to recognise it as a serious threat to livelihoods which needs urgent attention. Our work on corruption and land is looking for new solutions to change people’s lives. Click here to read about a small grants programme that is making a difference in Malawi, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe.

Image: InsightShare / Transparency International

Source : Transparency International

Any Union Leader Who Is Close To Govt. Should Have A Rethink-ASCSN Chairman

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Workers in Oyo state have expressed discomfort over the closeness of some of their union leaders to the Government of the day. They  say  this closeness is the cause of their unending suffering as a result of the non payment of their salaries. In this interview, the immediate past Chairman of the Trade Union Congress in the state and present Chairman of the state chapter of the  Association of Senior Civil Servants of Nigeria,(ASCSN) Andrew Emelieze speaks on this. Excerpts :

Workers in Oyo state are not comfortable with the closeness of some of their union leaders to the state Government. How do you view this development ?

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I have also been hearing that, I have also been accused that we are close to Government and based on this, when workers’ unions representatives are close to government, you don’t expect effectiveness, you don’t expect actions been taken on behalf of the workers and so, it is on the basis of this, I believe that no true or rather genuine union leader should be close to Government. And of anyone is close to Government, the implication is that the workers will suffer. Here in Oyo state, as far as most of us is concerned, we have not been close to Government, we have been carrying out our duties, to ensure that workers are protected, and that is why you see that in the past months, actions have been taken in Oyo state, to ensure that workers welfare are been met.  Unfortunately, I think the Government we are having in Oyo state is a very stubborn Government, the way they are parading themselves, has made it so much that workers unions are now vulnerable to different kinds of thinking by the workers, believing that work is not been done on their behalf and so, so many insinuations can of course come up that workers unions are close to government and that is why their welfare are not been met. We will say that we are not close to Government,  you see that actions we have been taken so far,  at the level of the Trade Union Congress, at the level of the Nigeria Labour Congress, however, if anybody goes behind the door to get close to Government, that person as a union leader is also doing it at is won peril, because as union leaders what we are doing is also spiritual, if you are called to this duty by the people and you must represent them and if you don’t, natural law will take it course. For anybody who thinks that you have to be close to the Government and work on the workers’ psyche to your own advantage, you have a price to pay. My advice is, as much  as I say that we are not close to Government and we don’t want to be close to Government, any union leader that is involved in such a thing should have a rethink, because there is always a pay back.

The Nigeria Customs Service : A Potential Non-Oil Revenue Earner

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The appointment of a career officer as the Comptroller-General of the Nigeria Customs Service(NCS) would have, indeed, prevented the avoidable intrigues,manoeuvre, backstabbing  and mudslinging that has characterized the relationship between the Senate and the NCS.

However, considerations outside globally accepted prerequisites, by the present administration, were instrumental in arriving at the status quo.

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There are six Geo-Political zones in the country, the North East, North West, North Central, South East, South West and South South, representing the diverse ethnic and tribal groupings.

These groupings are, all the time, desirous to be given a sense of belonging. Unfortunately, this has not been the  case for several years.

The history of the Nigeria Customs  is closely followed by grumblings of lack of sense of belonging by tribal groupings, since it was established in 1819.

 Indeed, from 1964 to the present time, Ayodele Dina, who was Chairman, Board of Customs and Excise, South(1964) and Oyebode Oyeleye, who was Director, Department of Customs and Excise, South(1976) were from the South West, while H.E Duke, father of a one time Governor of Cross River state, Donald Duke was the only individual from the South South, appointed as Chairman, Board of Customs and Excise, South in 1968.

In 2009, when Bernard Nwadialo, who is from the South East was appointed Comptroller-General, South, the three man committee constituted by the then Presidency, to oversee the operations of the Customs made Nwadialo’s position ceremonial. The committee was empowered by the Nigeria Customs Service Board.

Sadly, today, the NCS is still contending with how best to carry out its mandate  of jerking up the country’s revenue base from the non-oil sector and effectively checkmating the activities of smugglers at the nation’s borders.

Not long ago, men of the NCS  chased a truck load of smuggled products into the Sango market, in Ibadan, Nigeria. The smugglers mobilized jobless youths in and around the market to battle the Customs men, who stayed action, on realizing the danger that was lurking. When they also noticed that the Police were not in any way sure, if security of lives and property would be guaranteed, they withdrew.

However, an official of the  Public Relations office of the Customs Osun/ Oyo Command insisted that the invasion of the market was backed by section 147 of the Nigeria Customs Management act.

Curiously, factories which are  predominantly owned by expatriates, are having field day, stock piling products, majorly on the contraband list of the NCS, with impunity.

This has brought to the fore the fact that ”some animals are more equal than others”. Most especially when the Special Protection Unit(SPU)  of a law enforcement agency guarantees the safety of the lives and property of their paymasters, while Nigerians daily go to sleep, with one eye closed.

Of note, is the fact that a worrisome number of innocent lives  have been lost, due to the presence of men of the NCS, in areas, not among the porous borders of the country.

Indeed, Nigerians have great doubts, if at all there are ongoing reforms targeted at raising the standard of operational efficiency and effectiveness of the service and achieving 48 hours cargo clearance in the Nigerian ports.

The major issues weighing down the NCS have been in the public domain for several years, without any concrete efforts aimed at addressing same. Rather time and energy are being dissipated on peculiar interests, which without doubt  goes beyond public good.

Things Will Become Alright When Nigerians Return To The Basic Morals and Value

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Nigerians have been advised to return to the basic tenets  of morals and values, as a condition for having a sane and less problematic society.

This advice was given by the Commandant General of Zion Chaplain and Charity Services, Ibadan, Nigeria, Chaplain Julius Taiwo , in a chat.

”Majority of us are Ministers of the gospel, and  we believe in the core values of every personality and we believe that until we go back to the basic standard or the norms and values which were at the beginning, nothing will work. Until every individual re-examines himself or herself, we can’t get it right. When morals are removed from society, then expect anything, without morals, we can’t do anything.

Chaplain Taiwo lamented that parents had continuously ignored their domestic obligations saying ”we did not get to this stage suddenly”.

He called for concerted efforts to reverse the trend, adding, ”we should give  total support to the present administration by been law abiding, and praying for those in Government. If some are getting it wrong, some will  get it right, we should not lose hope”,Chaplain Taiwo asserted.

He maintained that Zion Chaplain and Charity Services focused its training on integrity, self-esteem and moral values, as a step towards equipping people with all they need to become ‘Men of Purpose”.