Covid-19: NGO to share free facemasks, sanitizers all over Plateau

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Covid-19: Business is shut but transport giant, Bluewhales is visiting customers with food reliefs

Bluewhales shares relief to customers in Jos

Bluewhales transport company, headquartered in Central Nigeria’s Jos, the capital of Plateau State, Friday shared food reliefs to its “most loyal” customers.

Times are hard, said Mr. Simon Iliya, the Chairman, Bluewhales Group, but “we care about our customers and cannot turn a blind eye to their plights in this disturbing period (pandemic).”

“We want to encourage and appreciate them (customers) for standing with us through the years of our struggle, and to tell them that we are with them in any situation they are facing,” said Iliya through a representative, Nenrot Danjuma, at the relief distribution in Jos.

Bluewhales transport charges the least fares in Nigeria, maintaining about the lowest annual profit in the country.

However, it is the first in the road transport sector to donate directly to families during the coronavirus pandemic.

“Other companies are using this period to gain recognition by donating money to government. Others that are still able to operate are charging unbearably to makeup for their lost profit during the prolonged business shutdown. But you have decided to donate directly to solving the most crucial needs of customers. We are truly grateful,” Mrs. Grace Adams, a beneficiary said.

Beneficiaries of Bluewhales’ relief intervention

The company has held several customer appreciation programs in the past, and might just be starting.

As the Chairman of the transport giant puts it, “At the core of our existence is the customer and we will do everything to keep and appreciate them.”

Items distributed in the latest intervention include grains, noodles and among others, seasoning. All beneficiaries were visibly elated, taking the donation from the company.

Five killed in fast food joint attack near Jos

A villager wails at the scene of attack in Bassa

Central Nigeria: Five people including a female food vendor were Thursday killed in Nzharuvo village, 15miles west of Jos, the capital of Plateau State by gunmen suspected to be herders.

A group of AK-47 bearing men opened fire in a fast food joint, at about 10pm, killing all in sight, locals say.

A Government official, Mr. Tiga Chayi was shot at while driving by, but was not hit, it was gathered.

“They fired several rounds at me, bursting my tyre but I sped with my head down till I escaped,” Chayi, the Councilor representing Tahu Ward in Bassa Local Government’s Legislative arm.

Shortly after the attack, a truck carrying ten herders took off few meters away from the scene of the attack but was intercepted by vigilante.

“They said they were heading to Jos from Shendam (a Southern Plateau Local Government) but there is no road linking Jos and Shendam anywhere in this Local Government (Bassa),” said Nzharuvo community leader, Mr. Ishaya Musa.

Another group of about nine herders, Musa told Journalists, marched from the village, carrying firearms, towards the outskirts of the Bassa LGA.

“Our people, not noticing the firearms tried inquiring from a distance, who the passersby were, but were shot at,” he said.

The other ten arrested were unarmed, believed to have been hired mercenaries, who may have handed their weapons to the nine bush walkers after the operation.

Police who arrived the scene of attack 30mins later would need concrete evidences to charge the arrested suspects.

Without evidence, only confessional or witness statements might drive a case on the attack.

The only triable offense of the travelers at the moment would be flouting federal 8pm-6am curfew and State government ban on inter local government movement.

Those killed Miss Asabe Samuel, 43, Mr. Gideon Tunku, 67, Mr. Bala Adi Joro, 34, Mr. Audu Amadu, 40, and Mr. Shedrack Joshua, 25, all were buried in a mass grave on Friday.

Guess who best fits to replace late Senator Longjan in Senate

Nigerian election officials recently announced vacancies and planned rerun elections in three States, Plateau included. The polls might not hold immediately due to the coronavirus pandemic. However, interests are building up for the Plateau Southern Senatorial seat.

For the first time, a potential candidate has arisen from the academia – a female first timer in conventional politics, but an old hand in public administration, community development and humanitarian service.

Mrs. Nora Ladi Dadut, a Professor of French in the University of Jos hails from Qua’pan Local Government Area in the Southern Senatorial District of the State. She’s a member of the Lady Knight of St. John’s Int’l and the second Supreme Vice-President in the whole world.

She has been Principal and Education Director for years. While holding those civil service positions, Nora set up a nongovernmental organization, “Society for Community Concerns” in 2004 to help communities utilize their local potentials for self-development.

The nongovernmental organization, Plateau State has executed several programs – water and sanitation hygiene, adult education and among others, agricultural training through community mobilization and participation, a globally recommended model for sustainable development.

Nora’s hoped representation of the people of Plateau South in Parliament, would expand the network and impact of her NGO for improved health, education and wealth in rural communities, she said in a media chat, Friday. Plateau South, Nora said, faces both social and economic deprivations. But as she puts it, “I can change that if given the opportunity.”

Prof. Nora

Nora is married to Mr. John Dadut, blessed with four children, Jonathan Dadut, a Civil Engineer in Canada, Jumai Apata, a Medical Doctor in Morgan University, Maryland, Noah Nanet Dadut, A pilot and a Check Pilot in Florida and Judith Dadut, a Lecturer with the University of Jos. “I hate to see women and children growing without education or opportunities to excel in life,” she said.

Nora perhaps has fierce battles ahead to clinch the Senatorial position and carry out her dreams, but she might be the gold to look out for. Being largely in Civil Service and Academia, Nora knows nothing but service, with no records of mismanagement or failure.

In fact, her educational career started in 1961 in R.C.M School Kwalla when she willingly followed her older siblings to school. Despite being under-aged, Nora’s class records were so impressive that at Primary 2, when she was due for promotion to primary 3, she was promoted to Primary 4. Those excellent records continued till she obtained her Doctorate in 1991.

Failure for her, though inevitable, should never be a result of one’s failure to strive for perfection. She is therefore going all-out, starting from the Senate position, to join other anti-corruption and development advocates to inspire positive change in all of Africa.

Attacked Plateau villagers drink tap water for the first time courtesy private family donors

A boy in Nghar drinks from borehole donated by private families

Central Nigeria: Nghar village, located 30miles southwest of Jos, the capital of Plateau State, Thursday started drinking water from a borehole, the first in its existence, donated by two private families in Port Harcourt.

The village, displaced by violent attacks in June 2018, resumed life in December 2019, following government closedown of internally displaced persons camps in the State.

Security threats, the village Head, Mr. Mabitin Mallo said have reduced, but lack of good drinking water remains a “huge threat,” he said.

The shallowest water well in the village is 25ft deep, an unusual depth for a hand-dug well. However, all the wells dry up before December, forcing the villagers to source water from a stream nearly a mile away.

The stream is shared with animals, miners, open launderers and bathers. To avoid infections, the villagers dig craters in sand near the flowing stream, and fetch from it.

Mrs. Sarah Joshua, a mother of six, said she falls from trekking the distance to get water for her family. Yet, “the water is never clean from source,” she said.

On 2nd May 2020, a boy died in the village from typhoid, believed to have been contracted through the water.

Many other children, including two of the deceased boy’s siblings have been diagnosed with varying water-related diseases.

When news of the boy’s death was released, a Southwestern Nigerian based in Southeast, instantly mobilized his family and friend to donate a borehole in the village.

Identified as Bayo Balogun, the donor and his friend, Chisom Ezeocha who co-sponsored the project have never been to Plateau State, but were “deeply touched” to know what the community was facing.

“Even though we do not know where the village is or the people, as Christians, we know the Nghar people are our brothers/sisters in Christ. We have a common humanity and are compelled by our Father’s expectation in Matthew 25: 35, to help brethren in need,” said a joint statement sent by the two donors on the project commissioning.

The two, both private sector workers with no links to politics but Christian evangelism, “are saving lives more than the present global response to coronavirus,” said President of the Church of Christ in Nations, Rev. Dr. Dacholom Datiri at the project launch on Thursday.

“Coronavirus, the world’s most dreaded disease killed about 345,000 people in five months, an estimated 65,000 every month. This figure is about 55.2% less than total number of deaths caused by waterborne diseases,” said Datiri, represented at the occasion by the COCIN Director of Information Communication Technology, Rev. Davou Peter Jakawa.

Without water, said the Plateau State Commissioner of Water Resources and Energy, Mr. Saad Bello, “human survival is threatened.”

“A community that lacks access to clean drinking water often experiences less productivity due to time wasted seeking water, and increased health challenges,” said the Commissioner at the borehole launch through the General Manager, Plateau Rural Water Supply Development Agency (PRUWASA).

A boy washes hands from the borehole donated by private families in Nghar village, Plateau State

Government according to him has sunk over 600 boreholes in rural communities in the State but relies mostly on public-private partnership due to resource scarcity.

The community still faces difficulties with road an unbridged river-crossings but with the current coronavirus scorch affecting government income worldwide, it is not known when any public intervention will be considered.

The Chairman of Barkin Ladi Local Government, Hon. Ezekiel Mandyau said at the launch, that plans are underway to provide roads, bridges and clinics in the community and other surrounding villages.

However, for over four years, the LGA’s internally generated revenue has barely exceeded N500,000, based on official records.

The Council leadership also appointed has yet to be given any approval for capital projects despite a federal autonomy for LGAs.

Covid-19: Plateau remedying school closure through E-learning

Many children in Central Nigeria lack formal education due to sociocultural beliefs and practices

Officials in Plateau State say they have started online, radio and television classes “to help children keep up with learning” despite the closure of schools due to Covid-19.

Children, Lalong said, Wednesday in a press statement, “remain the heartbeat of our society and hold the key to our future.”

“We must continue to invest in their education, health and psychological development so as to prepare them for the task ahead,” said the Governor in the Children’s Day text signed by his Press Director, Dr. Simon Makut.

His administration, Lalong said has continued to provide “better environment for Plateau Children” by improving the quality of education and healthcare, as well as protecting them against all forms of abuse.

The Governor explained that his recent decision to return all street begging Islamic discipleship pupils locally referred to as Almajiris to their parents was to integrate them back into the society where they can access education and proper care.

Covid-19: Plateau considers accommodation for revolting nurses

Plateau Governor, Simon Lalong

Officials in Central Nigeria are considering special accommodation for front line health workers fighting COVID-19 in Plateau State.

“Government is working hard to provide accommodation for front line nurses,” said the State Commissioner for Health, Dr. Nimkong Lar, Tuesday.

The National Association of Nigerian Nurses and Midwives (NANNM), Jos University University Teaching Hospital Chapter, Monday protested over poor welfare and safety protocols in the COVID-19 designated treatment centre.

“Accommodation, incentives and hazard allowances” were top among the Union’s demands for members to continue work at the JUTH isolation center.

The Union had rejected an accommodation previously offered by the State, said the Health Commissioner.

Lar told Journalists in Jos, that fresh arrangements were being made to accommodate the nurses.

The nurses will “immediately” resume duty when the accommodation is provided, said the JUTH NANNM leader, Mrs Mercy Lenka.

“We are ready to resume immediately they provide accommodation.

“We will not allow our members working in the isolation center to be coming from their private homes, putting their families at risk.

“Feeding and transportation must also be arranged for them, as done in other places,” Lengka said.

Plateau currently has 95 confirmed cases of Covid-19, including a front line nurse. 43 of the patients have been discharged while two have died, officials say.

Lawmakers from rival political Parties jointly fund COVID-19 fight in Plateau

Gov. Lalong takes collects cash donation from Rep of Plateau NASS Members, Idris Maje

Members of the Nigerian National Assembly from Plateau State, Monday made a joint cash donation to the fight against COVID-19.

The lawmakers from rival political parties made the donation “in appreciation of measures taken by the State Government so far in dealing with the pandemic,” a statement from the Director, Press and Public Affairs, Government House, Dr. Simon Macham says.

“We have seen you deploy technology in the borders to enforce the movement of people which largely limited importation of the disease,” the statement quotes Mr. Idris Maje, the Deputy Speaker of the House of Reps as saying.

Maje who led the NASS members from the Reps and Senate Chambers urged the State Governor, Simon Lalong to continue his initiatives aimed at securing citizens from Coronavirus.

Senator ID Gyang (PDP) and Senator Hezekiah Dimka (APC)

Excited, Governor Lalong said the donation “shows patriotism and unity towards the progress of Plateau State”.

Lalong said, “Your presence here is a show of unity and solidarity for the good of our people.

“I have keenly followed what you have been doing individually for your constituents and other vulnerable people in the State.

Plateau Government officials

“Nevertheless, you have deemed it necessary to contribute to the State COVID-19 Trust Fund. We are very grateful”.

The Governor commended the lawmakers for putting the interest of Plateau State high on the agenda of the National Assembly which has attracted “a lot of goodwill from the Federal Government to the State”.

Governor Lalong takes delivery of ambulance, others donated by NNPC, others

He also appreciated them for supporting President Muhammadu Buhari by passing quality legislations for the development of the country.

Lalong in company of the National Assembly members later took delivery of an ambulance, 2 ventilators, 10,000 surgical masks and other medical accessories donated to the State by NNPC/IPPG initiative.

Only curtain separates Covid-19 patients from others in Jos hospital - Nurses

Nurses revolt in Central Nigeria over poor welfare

Nurses in Central Nigeria’s Plateau State say poor safety conditions putting them at risk of Covid-19 are unfair.

Nurses in Jos University Teaching Hospital are forced to mingle with covid-19 patients, and still not provided special accommodation to avoid infecting their family members in case of exposure, said Mrs. Mercy Lengka, the Chairperson, National Association of Nigerian Nurses and Midwieves (NANNM), Jos University Teaching Hospital chapter, Monday.

“There is no special room for suspected cases at the hospital but only a screen demarcation with a clothing material for suspected cases at the casualty unit.

“A patient was managed in the ward as suspected case but he turned out to be positive for COVID-19. A nurse working at the centre also tested positive afterwards,” Lenka told Journalists.

The Union leader ordered a sit at home for its members working in the center over “welfare negligence”.

Nurses at the centre will only return to duty when provided “accommodation, incentives and hazard allowances,” Lengka said.

Failure to provide a special room for suspected cases awaiting results, the Union official said may warrant a total strike of nurses in the hospital.

“Nurses at the centre must be tested before they resume as some may be positive and still going back to risk their families which is in irony of our advocacy against community transmission. Even if the federal governmemt have not implemented the hazard provisions, the state task force should handle this matter,” she said.

Many of them job seekers, but these Plateau youths still managed to sponsor 1000 facemasks for poor villagers

A poor female farmer is assisted to wear facemask donated by BAG

Bokkos Advocacy Group, an interest youth group in Central Nigeria's Plateau State, has purchased and shared free facemasks to 1000 poor villagers in Bokkos Local Government Area.

Funded through individual member contributions, the donations were mainly to women and children, "being more vulnerable in society," said leader of the group, Aaron Maren.

This group, Maren said often depends on men to survive, and currently suffers neglect due to reduced income opportunities worldwide caused by Coronavirus.

Children in Bokkos receive facemasks from BAG

"Providing for them keeps them safe and even reduces stress of having to provide facemasks or spend on healthcare for their respective households," he said.

Most of the distributions on 8th and 16th of May were within Bokkos town, but the group has intervened in remote villages before, especially those ravaged by armed attacks.

Covid-19: Rather than constantly receiving, Cedar Tree Worship Centre is feeding its poor members in Jos (Photos)

The Church located two miles west of the Plateau State Government House, Jos, supported by a German nongovernmental organization has donated assorted food items as far as Gashish, a community ravaged by herdsmen attacks in 2018.

After scholarships, Prof. Dakas now tracing, feeding hungry poor families in Jos

Poor families living in uncompleted building near Plateau government house get support from CJ Dakas Foundation

“I can’t do everything,” said Prof. Clement Dakas, a former Dean, Faculty of Law, University of Jos. “But the little I have, I will share,” he said, Sunday, as he drove round the Plateau State capital, with a truck loaded with nearly 3tons of grains and other staples, seeking and sharing to hungry poor residents.

Dakas, a career scholar for over 20 years has only held a political appointment as Commissioner of Justice. His income all his life has largely been from academic researches, legal and other hired services.

However, Dakas handed out the first local private scholarship to 50 poor students of the university of Jos last December. “Because I have been there, and I know what it means to struggle with your fees and other academic obligations,” he said, giving the University authorities the exclusive right to choose beneficiaries.

The Professor of Law and former Director Nigerian Institute of Law, Abuja, has carried out several other philanthropic interventions. But the scholarships he gave few months after Nigeria’s 2019 general elections, a post-politics period show he meant to help and not merely seek political recognition.

The latest interventions, in the heat of a global health crisis leading to a shutdown of economic and social life were no different.

His first point of call was an uncompleted building near the Plateau State Government House, Rayfield where over 20 homeless poor families have been camping for months.

Dakas merely saw a video on social media showing the conditions of the occupants, and began tracking until he located it. “I am pained seeing that people live in this kind of structure,” soberly said his wife, Beatrice, as she delivered the truckload of staples under the C.J. Dakas Foundation.

The uncompleted building is surrounded by top ranking politicians, who often look away, never caring about the ragged pale looking homeless occupants.

Dakas’ donation, though “little” as he called it was worth the world to the beneficiaries. “Thank you, thank you” was all they could say, with a clearly startled look on their faces.

“We never expected such a kind gesture,” said Mr. Chungyang Bagings, a private health worker who had been volunteering to attend to the families.

From the uncompleted building, Dakas’ team moved to Zawang Orphanage in Southern Jos city, and delivered over 500kgs of grains for the 20 kids there.

Before journalists who had been tracking their movements could pull out their cameras, the team zoomed off to a northwestern urban community in the State capital where over 70 poor widows had been identified. They too were handed about half a ton of grains before journalists and paparazzi could arrive.

The team ended its humanitarian tour in a disabled home where dozens were camped.

“I just pray that others will see the need to also help, because even as we try to stay safe from Coronavirus, without food, one is not sage from unexpected death,” cried Mrs. Dakas.

The humanitarian tour comes few hours before Plateau State resumes lockdown, after a few days break.

The beneficiaries, all visibly stunned, probably had no hopes of getting food for the period of social and economic shutdown. Their joy probably knows no bounds.

Meet the strangers solving deadly water crisis in Plateau’s Nghar village

Dr. Chisom Ezeocha (left) and Dr. Bayo Balogun

Worldwide, 844 million people lack even a basic source of drinking water, says United Nations Children’s Fund,  UNICEF. More than 1,300 children under the age of five die every day, based on UNICEF statistics, because of diseases caused by unsafe drinking water, poor sanitation and hygiene. 

Generally, waterborne diseases, according to WHO account for an estimated 3.6% of the total DALY (disability- adjusted life year) global burden of disease, and cause about 1.5 million human deaths annually.

Coronavirus, the world’s most dreaded disease killed about 345,000 people in five months, an estimated 65,000 every month. This figure is about 55.2% less than total number of deaths caused by waterborne diseases. By 1.5million deaths annually, waterborne diseases kill an estimated 125,000 people every month.

Boy dies from water-related disease in Plateau State

On May 2nd, 2020, a 17year-old boy in Plateau State’s Nghar village of Barkin Ladi Local Government Area, Dazat Irmiya Magit died from chronic typhoid, another water and hygiene related disease. Same day, two of his siblings collapsed and were later diagnosed of the same disease. Many other children in the village have fallen ill with diarrhea, cholera and other related problems for lack of safe drinking water.

Nghar village, located 30miles southwest of Jos, the capital of Plateau State, has for months shared drinking water source with animals – a wide shallow stream located over a mile from the village. To avoid germs, the villagers dig a crater in the the soft sand beside the flowing water. When water settles in it, they scoop it into their containers and take home for drinking and other household use.

Mrs. Sarah Joshua scoops water from a crater in Nghar village for family use

MK Reporters shot a documentary on this problem on April 28, 2020 and on May 4, 2020, a call came from someone who gave his name as Bro Bayo Balogun from Port Harcourt in Rivers State, approximately 800km (14hrs drive by road) from Jos. “My family and I would like to help,” he said. Bayo’s call was a followup to a WhatsApp message he sent 24hrs earlier but was not replied.

After getting details and quotations for hand pump borehole, Bayo and his wife Mercy, together with his friend, Chisom Ezeocha and his wife Kebuo Gbagi objected to a hand pump borehole and offered to bear the cost of a motorized borehole from the geophysical survey to the reticulation. Despite widespread economic stress caused by Coronavirus, these two families followed up every minute with sufficient funds and completed the project within 3 weeks. The final phase of the installation was completed on May 23, 2020.

Motorized borehole donated by Dr. & Mrs. Bayo Balogun and Dr. & Mrs. Chisom Ezeocha

Meet the donors

Bayo Balogun hails from Ikare-Akoko in Ondo State, Southwest Nigeria. He attended Owo Highschool in Ondo State, later Federal Polytechnic, Ado-Ekiti in Ekiti State, and University of Port Harcourt, Rivers State. He had his Masters Degree in Robert Gordon Aberdeen United Kingdom, and Doctorate in Atlantic University, U.S.A. All his life, Bayo has been a private sector employee, with no links to politics, aside from the politics of heaven – winning souls for Jesus Christ.

Dr. Bayo and Mrs. Nercy Balogun

Who then is Chisom Ezeocha? Chisom hails from Abazu Ogwa , Mbaitoli LGA, Imo State, in Southeast Nigeria. He attended Umweze Okwa Secondary school, and graduated from Federal University of Technology Oweri, Imo State. He had a Master of Business Admin from Instituto de Empress (IE), in Madrid Spain, later Master of Petroleum Technology from Curtin University, Perth Australia and a Ph.D from Walden University, USA. Just like his friend and colleague Bayo, Chisom has been a private sector employee with no links to politics aside from the politics of heaven.

Dr. Chisom and Mrs. Kebuo Ezeocha and kids

Why help Plateau?

When the video documentary on the water challenge of the attacked people of Nghar village was published, thousands including far richer people and highly placed politicians from Plateau State saw it and even participated in social media debates on it. However, not even one moved to help, despite depending on poor communities like Nghar village to stay in business.

Politically, Bayo and Chisom hail from Southwest and Southeast geopolitical regions historically rivalled to Nigeria’s North. Based on Nigeria’s political tradition, the next President of the country after Buhari who hails from North, should be from Southwest. Buhari’s predecessor was from the Southsouth and is mostly linked with the Southeast but the region equally stands qualified to produce the next President. However, from body language and political statements from influential personalities, the North is working assiduously to keep the two Southern regions under it, and maintain power for another four to eight years after Buhari exits in 2023.

But why would these two help a community located in a region they should have no regards for? The North Central region where Plateau is, is predominantly Christian but neither Bayo nor Chisom has been to the State. What then influenced their decisions? “We are doing this for God,” is all they keep saying. That seems explanatory, but are they the only servants of God that heard the call for help? Many did, but only they answered. What manner of love, a clear demonstration of the parable of the Good Samaritan in the Christian Holy Book, the Bible Luke (10:25- 37).

"No tenure extension in PYC; Only holdups to elections from Covid-19 restrictions" – Dr. Jemchang

Dr. Jemchang

Central Nigeria’s Chairman of Plateau State Youth Council, the umbrella body of all youth groups in the State, Dr. Fabong Jemchang says his official obligations have distracted him from other crucial matters.

“The distractions from PYC are so huge that I can’t mentor anyone to takeover from me.

“Anyone who thinks I want to stay in office beyond my term is mistaking. Such a one doesn’t understand what I face and how desperate I am to leave office,” Dr. Jemchang told newsmen, Friday.

On May 22, 2017, Jemchang was sworn-in along with other officials to lead the body for three years.

Instead of conducting elections and handing over to new officials on May 22, 2020 however, “the extraordinary circumstances of the Covid-19 pandemic and the subsequent ban on all social gatherings have made elections impossible,” said the youth leader.

Section 3 of the PYC constitution says the Central Working Committee of the body shall appoint a 5-man electoral committee at least 30 days to the expiration of tenure of serving executives.

However, Nigeria banned public gatherings in the second week of March 2020, after recording its first covid-19 case on February 27, 2020.

The Central Working Committee however convened in first week of May 2020, and resolved that the current leadership of the body hold sway until government lifts ban on public gatherings to allow for fresh elections.

“We are determined more than ever to midwife the process of a new administration immediately Government lifts the ban on social gathering.

“Our inability to continue was strictly in obedience of the Executive Order of the Governor of Plateau State and the President of the Federal Republic,” said Mr. Jemchang.

The PYC leader appeal to youths to remain “calm and supportive”, also obeying government guidelines on the control of COVID-19.

Covid-19: Plateau shuts Eid praying grounds for hitting 70 cases

Rural children are getting awareness on COVID-19 in Plateau State

Officials in Plateau State say open-air prayers usually observed by Muslims during Eid-el-Ftr Sallah celebration will not be allowed this year.

This is in sequel to rising COVID-19 cases in the State, said the State’s Commissioner of Information, Mr. Dan Manjang.

The State currently has 70 confirmed cases from just a “mild” case on April 22, 2020.

After a security council meeting presided over by the State Governor on Thursday, the State resolved to shut all Eid praying grounds in line with “existing ban on all large public gatherings and the directive of  the President-General, Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs His Eminence, Sultan Mohammed Abubakar that all muslims should suspend congregational Eid Prayers and pray at home,” Manjang said.

All recreational centres in the State, the Commissioner said shall remain closed.                     

According to him, prayers in mosques should have not more than 50 persons, observe regular hand washing, use of sanitizers and social distancing.

Commercial Tricycle (Keke Napep) operations are also banned for Saturday 23rd and Sunday 24th, May 2020, the days of the festivities.

“Strangers sinking first borehole in my village feels like dream” - Plateau hero Imam

Imam Abubakar (right) at the site of the borehole during drilling

A Central Nigerian Imam, Abubakar Abdullahi, 83, says he never imagined strangers from the country’s South sinking the first ever borehole in his village, Nghar, 30miles Southwest of Jos the capital of Plateau State.

Nigeria is divided into three main regions – North predominantly Muslim Hausa Fulani, South West predominantly Yoruba and South East predominantly Igbo.

These three regions have for years battled one another over economic and political power.

A group of two friends – Bayo Balogun from Southwest, and Chisom Ezeocha from southeast therefore coming to donate a borehole in faraway Plateau, a Northern Nigerian State, Imam Abubakar says “feels like a dream.”

Dr. Chisom Ezeocha
Dr. Bayo Balogun

“They say I saved people from killers, but it was only few people and God himself did it. These strangers giving us clean drinking water are saving an entire village,” said the hero cleric who shielded over 200 Christians in his mosque when herdsmen attacked Nghar village in June 2018.

Imam Abubakar lives 1000mtrs away from the location of the borehole, but he walked to watch the giant drilling rig at work, Monday.

“Thank you, thank you and God bless you richly,” he said, excitedly to Dr. Balogun in a mobile phone call.

It was the first time a borehole drilling rig was deployed to the village, said the Village Head of Nghar, Mr. Mabitin Mallo.

“We never expected such a thing in our village. We never thought anyone would ever come to rescue us from this miserable life of drinking water from the same sources with animals,” said Mallo.

Workers on the site faced difficulties navigating the rough terrain in the area. Poor security and weather in the village was also a challenge. These added to an unexpected mechanical fault, led to the completion of a 2hr drilling in 48hrs.

Workers struggle to push a 40ton drilling rig stick in a river

However, the workers were thrilled almost throughout their stay in the village by the jubilant villagers.

The borehole project is currently at about 60% completion, but the joy of the villagers is already swollen beyond measure.

A boy in the village on May 2, 2020 died from chronic typhoid. Same day, two other kids collapsed from typhoid and malaria infection. This is aside from several other water-related diseases previously treated among women and children in the village.

The current main source of drinking water in the village is a distant, wide shallow river, wherein animals drink, miners wash their minerals, launderers wash and sometimes people bath and excrete.

Based on geophysical survey results, sustainable water level in the village is at least 40mtrs deep, an equivalence of 131.234ft.

Deepest water well in Nghar village, about 25ft deep

The deepest well therein is about 25ft deep, an unusual depth for a hand-dug well, but produces barely up to 100ltrs of water everyday, for the over 1000 population.

The villagers now having a nearly unlimited source of clean drinking water would rarely forget the kind donors who may have never been to the North, but have committed their hearts and resources to preventing further complications from poor drinking water in the village.

Plateau team starts search for COVID-19 cure

Gov. Simon Lalong

Central Nigeria’s Governor Plateau State Governor, Simon Lalong on Monday inaugurated a Special Committee for Research on Coronavirus and other infectious diseases.

“It is a known fact that Plateau State is endowed with herbal and medicinal products that could be harnessed to build our capacity to withstand the threat of diseases such as the Coronavirus,” said Mr. Lalong in Jos, the capital of Plateau State.

“Our generation is facing perhaps one of its most difficult times,” said the Governor.

COVID-19, Lalong said “has reminded us of the need to be proactive in not only upgrading our medical facilities and improving manpower, but also working ahead to develop preventive and curative capacity for infectious diseases”.

The State, in Lalong’s words, must not only look inwards to find solutions to “the current COVID-19 challenge,” but also use the experience to prepare for the future.

The committee made of researchers from local tertiary institutions, are expected to explore human and capital resources within the State to search for conventional and/or alternative drugs for the treatment and cure of the Corona virus, design treatment protocols for the treatment of the virus, conduct clinical trials on the candidate drug(s), design control mechanism for the spread of the virus and propose any ideas to curb the pandemic and subsequent diseases.

Plateau Officials inaugurate cure search committee

The Committee has one week to present a proposal to Government.

Officials are expecting a draft research design in three weeks, while fortnightly; a progress report would be received, says a statement by the State Director of Press and Public Affairs, Macham Makut.

Members of the Committee include: Prof. Noel N. Wannang – Pharmacology and Toxicology, University of Jos (Lead Researcher); Prof. Jacob Kolawole – Medicinal and Pharmaceutical Chemistry, Unijos, Dr. Falang Kakjing – Pharmacology Dept. Unijos, Prof. James Damen – Medical Lab Science, Unijos and Dr. Yusuf Agabi – Virology Unit, Dept of Microbiology, Unijos.

Others include Dr. Richard Kutshik – Dept. of Molecular Biology & Biochemistry, Unijos, Dr. Bukar Bukata – Pharmacology, Unijos, Dr Ajima Ukpe – Medicinal & Pharmaceutical Chemistry, Unijos and Dr. Ken Amagon – Pharmacology & Toxicology, Unijos.

Also in the Committee is Dr. Longdet I. Yohanna – Biochemistry, Unijos, Representative of the Plateau State Ministry of Health, Representative from the Infectious Unit of Medicine Department, JUTH, and Representative from Veterinary Research Institute, Vom.

COVID-19: Plateau expects additional testing center, targets N3bn revenue monthly

Simon Lalong

The Plateau State government, Tuesday said it would engage a consulting firm to raise the State’s monthly revenue from N900m monthly (pre-covid19) to about N3billion monthly.

An emergency EXCO Meeting of the State Government also resolved to go into aggressive awareness, testing and prevention of community spread, says a press statement from Simon Makut, the State Director of Press.

The State, according to the Statement is expecting accreditation for another COVID-19 testing center.

Meanwhile, Chairman of the Northern Governors Forum and Governor of Plateau State, Simon Lalong has sent condolences to Sheik Ahmed Lemu, over the death of Abubakar Shehu Lemu, his eldest son.

The Governor according to a Statement from his Press Director, Simon Makut described the death of the late Abubakar, as a great loss to the family, Niger State and the Nation.

He said “Late Abubakar, a retired Director at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, distinguished himself in serving the country meritoriously within and outside the country, and also impacting the lives of people particularly at the community level. The Northern Governors Forum shares in your pain at this moment of grief”.

Covid-19: Plateau relaxes lockdown by a day

Plateau Officials inspect covid-19 treatment centers

Officials in Central Nigeria, Sunday relaxed a four-day lockdown earlier imposed in Plateau State.

Henceforth, total lockdown will be from midnight of every Sunday and be relaxed on Wednesdays at midnight, said the Governor of the State, Simon Lalong in a press conference.

"As a Government that is people-driven and desirous of carrying everyone along, we have noted the concerns raised in respect of the need to have more room for people to secure services such as banking which were limited because of the existing lockdown schedule.

"In order to address these concerns and further strengthen our efforts at combating COVID-19, Government has reviewed some of the guidelines," said the Governor.

Unchanged, according to Lalong are guidelines on inter-local Government movement, use of facemasks in public places, and public garherings.

To ensure better enforcement and compliance, Government, Lalong said will recruit civil servants as monitoring agents.

Covid-19: Not just food, Lawmaker Maren is also giving fertilizer to help poor farmers stay in business

Each zone of about five electoral wards got at least 60 bags of fertilizer and over 10 bags of grains

At least 83 tons of grains and fertilizer were Saturday shared to poor villagers in Plateau’s Mangu-Bokkos Federal Constituency.

Sponsored by Nigerian House of Reps member, Solomon Maren, the items aim to ease socioeconomic stress caused by coronavirus.

“This is to mitigate difficulties in procuring farm inputs as fertilizer, sequel to economic hardship caused by lockdown and other features of the coronavirus pandemic.

“It also aims to cushion the the scorch of hunger and impoverishment caused families by COVID-19,” said Mr. Ezra Bat, the Senior Legislative Aide to Maren.

Mr. Ezra Bat, Aide to Maren

The items – 1200 bags of fertilizer, 150 bags of rice and 100 bags of corn will be shared along with 4000 facemasks in each ward of the two Local Government Areas in the constituency, said Ezra.

In April, the lawmaker shared hundreds of hand sanitizers and tab buckets for hand washing, mounted awareness campaign billboards in addition to hand fliers to help prevent COVID-19.

In January, Maren distributed about a trailer load of fertilizer and 150 water pumps for irrigation.

He also gave out 150 motorbikes for security patrol, 60 wheelchairs, 4000 textbooks and N2m worth of scholarship to 200 students in the constituency.

This is in addition to the training of over 200 women in entrepreneurship late last year, and the facilitation of federal jobs for over 5000 graduates in the constituency.

Aside from already completed projects, the second-term Rep member has four classroom blocks under construction in Jipal, Mangun, Mushere and Manguna villages in the constituency.

He also has motorized borehole projects ongoing in Mangu Halle, Kerang, Hurti and Takawe villages; a bridge in Gwande village and a rural electrification project in Mbar and Daffo villages.

Mr. Emma Atajan, APC stakeholder, Bokkos West

These efforts make the opposition Peoples Democratic Party member “a delight for all,” said a Chieftain of the ruling All Progressives Congress, Mr. Emma Atajan.

“Maren has never failed us. He has proved to us that competence is not in political party and we will support him regardless of party differences if he comes to seek votes again,” said Atajan in Mbar village, Bokkos LGA during the launch of the palliatives distribution.

Plateau kid slain by military peacekeeper was an only son

Rinji Peter Bala, slain by military peacekeeper

Over 24hrs after the murder of Mr. Rinji Peter Bala, a Central Nigerian University kid, by military peacekeeping personnel in Jos, Plateau State, his father, Mr. Peter Bala has yet to speak to press.

A family relation had Wednesday assured journalists that Bala, a Nigerian Secret Service Official would speak on the crime before dusk.

However, the then father of three had unknowingly driven pass his son’s corpse by the entrance of the Special Task Force Sector 1 headquarters on Tuesday evening when he was told of the boy’s arrest.

Rinji, 20, was arrested in his neighborhood in Hwolshe, along with seven others on allegations of burglary.

He and seven others, a military source said were taken to the STF base and released after hours of “questioning, profiling and massaging (a codename for torturing)”.

“They were released because they didn’t find anything to prove they were criminals,” said the military source.

Police fire at unarmed protesters in Jos: MK file photos

“They told us to run,” said a victim of the arrest, Emmanuel Dung. “But when we started running, they opened fire. Bobo (Rinji) fell few meters away from the military gate,” said Emmanuel.

Police resisted from taking custody of kids

A Police neighbor had attempted securing the release of the boys before they were taken away. When he was resisted, he notified Rinji’s father.

Speeding to the Special Task Force Headquarters, Jos, 2kms away from the scene of arrest, Mr. Bala was told no such suspects were brought there.

Same thing happened at the State Police Command and A-Division Police Headquarters in charge of the community of the arrest.

The shock of realizing it was his son laying dead at the Army base entrance, when he met Rinji’s fellow detainee was perhaps still fresh that he couldn’t speak when journalists sought his comments.

But perhaps more burdening is the fact that Rinji was Mr. Bala’s only son.

Mourners at Mr. Peter Bala’s house

Rinji, a brilliant student of History and International Studies was the last of Bala’s three children.

Records from Buken Academy where Rinji had his highschool training show he was a smart, ambitious and well behaved kid.

His sister, Nenritmwa Bala equally describes him as “honest, cheerful and lovely” kid.

His good social records perhaps explain the protests that followed his murder.

Nine murder proofs against the military

The Army authorities have said they will ensure that justice is served on the matter.

However, their claims that the boy was shot by a personnel on sentry duty who mistook the kids as escaping suspects have yet to absolve them of wrongdoing.

The soldiers from Sector one STF base where the boys were detained first breached protocol, arresting suspects of a civil offense, while on peacekeeping mission.

Carrying out arrest over 10kms away, in the jurisdiction of a different Sector Command was yet another breach of order.

Having interrogated the boys and found nothing incriminating, the army had an obligation to return them to the point of arrest having detained them into a federal curfew time.

They could have been right to let the kids trek back home as punishment for being outside during lockdown.

However, it was only professional to notify the guards at the entrance that some suspects had been released and should be allowed to go. This they failed, and instead, told the already terrified kids to run, creating panic within the military premises.

Rinji may have truly been shot in error. But couldn’t he be saved in a hospital?

A boy running side-by-side with Rinji said when the slain kid was hit, he feebly got up, moved two steps and fell back on the ground, bleeding profusely.

Perhaps they didn’t have resources to take the dying kid to a hospital, but threatening his companion suggested a deliberate extra judicial killing.

“I tried to help him up but a soldier came with his gun pointed at me that he would shoot me if I touched him. He turned back when another soldier shouted “ceasefire”,” said the survivor.

This might be unreliable being one-sided, but the army never reported or admitted the offense, even when his father found out, until the media publicised it the next day.

The use of live ammunition on unarmed civilians itself is criminal. The Nigerian Security Charter allows use of minimal force, only in an armed confrontation.

Late Benjamin Arum Izang, killed by peacekeepers in Jos, in February, 2020

The operative that pulled the trigger has reportedly been detained. But a lot needs to be answered. Several similar murders by military peacekeepers have gone unnoticed.

Will this end like one of them, where the personnel concerned are merely transfered out of the state in a bit to hold back justice? Only time will tell.

Lockdown: Plateau launches Africa's first online pass to save emergencies

Officials in Plateau State are considering an online lockdown exemption application system to help citizens with emergency needs move within limited time.

It is the first of its kind in Nigeria, and likely the entire African continent, designed to process only ten applications in a day, for the meanwhile.

The online pass is only valid for 12hours and might in time be accessible through USSD, said Mr. David Daser, the Director General of the Plateau State Information Communication Technology Development Agency.

“We understand the challenges the lockdown is putting us all into and we very much understand the gains of the lockdown in addressing the spread of covid-19.

“We are piloting an online platform where residents within Jos North and Jos South would find it really interesting in accessing pass or movement permits online.

“The situation room thought it wise to ensure that people with emergencies and special needs that require movement within this local governments are able to apply for a temporary pass or permits to be presented at checkpoints.

“If you need to move and you think two hours is enough time to carry out activities like ATM withdrawal, access a pharmaceutical store or some other listed reasons on the portal you may do so via the platform.

“You may not be granted pass or permit on the application day; you will however be able to apply against the next day except for special emergencies,” Mr. Daser wrote on his Facebook timeline on Tuesday.

The State is currently on 24hr lockdown from Monday to Thursday, with a Federal curfew from 8pm to 6am running concurrently.

Nonessential workers who flout these guidelines at evenings or mornings without permits, are in outright disobedience to constituted authority, said Mr. Dan Manjang, the State’s Commissioner of Information and Communication.

“The attention of the Plateau State Government has been drawn to the flagrant disregard to government orders with regards to Corona Virus (COVID-19).

“Notable is the Presidential order which imposed a curfew on the country lasting between 8.00 p.m. to 6.00 a.m each day.

“The curfew imposed is sill in force and should be strictly observed until otherwise reviewed, failure of which culprits should have themselves to blame.

“Wearing of masks is mandatory and should be ruthlessly enforced by the security agents saddled which such responsibility.

“Government has also utterly noted with dismay, an emerging culture which negates all intents and purposes in the name of jogging where people come out in their hundreds with total disregard to not only social distancing but in defiance of the lock down order.

“Government would like to advice those involved to desist failure of which this act will be treated as an affront to constituted authority,” said Manjang in a press statement on Wednesday.

Plateau: Army swears justice for undergraduate murdered by Task Force Operative

Rinji Peter Bala, murdered by STF attaché

Jos, Plateau: Nigerian Army authorities say its Special Task Force Operative that shot and killed Mr. Rinji Peter Bala, a University undergraduate on Tuesday in Jos has been detained.

Bala, 20, was arrested following a distress call but was released before being shot by an operative on sentry duty, said Major Ibrahim Shittu, Media Officer, Operation Safe Haven, Jos.

Shittu in a press statement on Wednesday said, “At about 10pm on 12 May 2020, information was received on the activities of suspected armed robbers and cultists operating around No 18th Street, Jos South LGA of Plateau State.

“The report revealed that the criminals took advantage of the lockdown and curfew to perpetrate crimes.

“Consequently, Sector 1 patrol troops of OPSH swiftly responded and arrested 7 suspects, which were immediately moved to the Headquarters Sector 1 for preliminary investigation.

“Thereafter, 5 out of the 7 suspects were cleared and asked to leave the premises.

“Unfortunately as they were leaving the premises, one of the personnel on sentry duty mistook them for escaping suspects. Thus, he opened fire on them, leading to the death of Mr. Rinji Bala.”

“Operation SAFE HAVE HAVEN regrets the unfortunate death of a civilian by name Mr Rinji Peter Bala by its personnel,” says the Army spokesperson.

“Thorough investigation”, Shittu said is ongoing to unravel the circumstances surrounding the incident, assuring that justice will be served.

A representative of OPSH, has in the meanwhile visited the family of the deceased to commiserate with them, Shittu said.

Soldiers kill Plateau schoolboy; “They asked us to run, then fired” – Eyewitness

Late Rinji Peter Bala

Soldiers of the Nigerian Army, Tuesday opened fire at unarmed civilians in Jos, Plateau State, killing a university undergraduate, reports say.

Mr. Rinji Peter Bala, a 300Level student of the University of Jos, was arrested at about 7pm local time, in his neighborhood, Hwolshe, during lockdown.

He and six others, eyewitnesses say were whisked to Sector 1 headquarters of the Special Task Force near Jos Zaria Road stadium, on a military patrol van.

“They didn’t tell us our offense, but tortured us for over an hour before releasing us.

“At the gate, some soldiers asked us to run. When we took off, they opened fire. Bobo (Rinji Peter) fell few meters from the gate (Sector Command entrance).

“I stopped to help him up but a soldier came close, with his gun pointed at me but turned back when another soldier shouted “ceasefire,”” said a survivor.

Peter’s father, a Secret Service Agent was at the Sector Command shortly after the murder. He was according to him told by the Sector Commandant that the kids were found innocent and released.

“I saw a corpse at the entrance of the military base but didn’t know it was my son; and they never told me until I met a fellow detainee while driving home,” Mr. Bala told relatives.

As of publishing time, Bala and other family members were deeply grieving and unable to talk to press.

Police and military authorities had equally not responded to requests for comments.

Plateau: Stranger saving attacked village as kid dies drinking stream water with animals

Woman fetches water from a crater in Nghar village, Central Nigeria

Central Nigeria: Nghar village, located 30miles southwest of Jos, the capital of Plateau State, has for months shared drinking water source with animals.

Displaced by violent attacks in June 2018, the villagers stayed in an IDP camp near the Plateau State Polytechnic, Barkin Ladi, until government relocated them back home in December 2019.

Their food and water sources including stored crops were however destroyed during the attacks. An only surviving well, about 20ft deep, had dried up having been out of use for long.

The villagers returning to their rubbled homes therefore have to wake up everyday as early as 2am to compete for the few liters of water that would have gathered in the well before it gets muddy.

A wide shallow stream located over a mile away is however their main source of water. Animals drink from same source. But the villagers have no choice.

To avoid germs, they dig and make a crater in the the soft sand beside the flowing water. When water settles in it, they scoop it into their containers and take home for drinking and other household use.

On May 2nd, 2020, MK Reporters shot and released a photo documentary on the water challenge in the village. 24hours later, a 17year-old boy, Dazat Irmiya Magit died from chronic typhoid.

Watch Late Dazat Irmiya Magit speak of his dreams to become a medic.

MK’s lead character in the 2mins documentary, Mrs. Lydia Joshua had said many children in the village were sick from drinking the dirty water.

On the fourth day of releasing the documentary, when two local elites groups were still debating on when and how to intervene, a stranger who identified himself as Bayo Balogun called from Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital located nearly 1000 miles from Jos.

“I was touched when I saw that video and my family and I would like to help,” said the gentle sounding voice on the phone. The offer was probably not the biggest ever made to a community in distress following such media reports. However, coming during the world’s biggest health and economic crisis, it is perhaps the most significant. This is particularly as it seeks to address one of the world’s leading cause of death – waterborne diseases.

Balogun as he calls himself might be a Pastor from his tone, or perhaps an angel. Whatever he is, he is saving at the over 1000 poor villagers whose relations – about 90 were killed, their homes razed, and their hopes of achieving a comfortable life dashed. The over 600 children who’d drink from the borehole already being designed for drilling, now have hope for the future. They would live to become something that the world would benefit.

Thus, this stranger, who has likely never been to Plateau State, is saving the entire world; and his benevolence, even if forgotten, would impact generations to come.