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How police, other security agencies foiled abduction of 4 Plateau varsity students

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Nigerian Security Agencies have prevented the abduction of about four students of the Plateau State University in Bokkos Local Government Area of the State.

Tribunepoint Weekly gathered that unknown gunmen stormed the university community on Monday night attempting to abduct some students residing off the school campus.

However, their operation was foiled by the joint intervention from the officers of Operation Safe Haven, Operation Rainbow, Nigeria Police, University Security and Community Watch Group.

The Director of Press and Public Affairs to Governor Lalong confirmed the incident to newsmen in Jos.

According to him, “on receiving the distress call, officers of Operation Safe Haven, Operation Rainbow, Nigeria Police, University Security and Community Watch Group mobilised and went after the kidnappers who had taken four students. Facing apparent capture, the criminals aborted their mission and ran away leading to the safe recovery of the students.”

The state governor who lauded the security operatives for their quick response in forestalling the planned abduction also directed an establishment of a police post in the university community against further attack.

Governor Lalong appealed to residents of the state to be security conscious and assist the security agencies with intelligence.

Meanwhile, there was a protest at the Plateau State University, Bokkos, following the alleged rape of the four female victims.

More clashes in Minnesota after police shoot, kill Black man

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Police clashed with protesters for a second night in the Minneapolis suburb where an officer who authorities say apparently intended to fire a Taser, not a handgun, fatally shot a Black man during a traffic stop.

Brooklyn Center Police Chief Tim Gannon described the shooting death Sunday of 20-year-old Daunte Wright as “an accidental discharge.” The shooting sparked protests and unrest in an area already on edge because of the trial of the first of four police officers charged in George Floyd’s death.

Hundreds of protesters faced off against police in Brooklyn Center after nightfall Monday, and hours after a dusk-to-dawn curfew was announced by the governor. When the protesters wouldn’t disperse, police began firing gas canisters and flash-bang grenades, sending clouds wafting over the crowd and chasing some protesters away. A long line of police in riot gear, rhythmically pushing their clubs in front of them, began slowly forcing back the remaining crowds.

“Move back!” the police chanted. “Hands up! Don’t shoot!” the crowd chanted back.

By late Monday, only a few dozen protesters remained.

Law enforcement agencies had stepped up their presence across the Minneapolis area after Sunday night violence. The number of Minnesota National Guard troops was expected to more than double to over 1,000 by Monday night.

Authorities earlier Monday released body camera footage that showed the officer shouting at Wright as police tried to arrest him.

“I’ll Tase you! I’ll Tase you! Taser! Taser! Taser!” she can be heard saying. She draws her weapon after the man breaks free from police outside his car and gets back behind the wheel.

After firing a single shot from her handgun, the car speeds away and the officer is heard saying, “Holy (expletive)! I shot him.”

Brooklyn Center Mayor Mike Elliott called the shooting “deeply tragic” and said the officer should be fired.

“We’re going to do everything we can to ensure that justice is done and our communities are made whole,” he said.

Elliott later announced that the city council had voted to give his office “command authority” over the police department.

This “will streamline things and establish a chain of command and leadership,” he wrote on Twitter. He also said the city manager had been fired, and that the deputy city manager would take over his duties.

The reason behind the firing was not immediately clear, but the city manager controls the police department, according to the city’s charter. Now-former City Manager Curt Boganey, speaking earlier to reporters, declined to say whether he believed the officer should be fired and that she would get “due process” after the shooting.

Brooklyn Center is a modest suburb just north of Minneapolis that has seen its demographics shift dramatically in recent years. In 2000, more than 70% of the city was white. Today, a majority of residents are Black, Asian or Latino.

Elliott, the city’s first Black mayor, immigrated from Liberia as a child. On Monday night, he was joined by Keith Ellison, the state’s first Black attorney general, in addressing a group of protesters not far from the police department — telling the demonstrators to use their voices but remain safe.

“We are going to get to the bottom of this, we are going to make sure that there’s justice, that there’s officers held accountable,” Elliott can be heard telling protesters on video posted by a reporter for Minneapolis television station KARE.

Ellison reminded the crowd he currently is leading the prosecution of the the first officer charged in Floyd’s death, and promised Wright’s death will not be “swept under the rug.”

The body camera footage showed three officers around a stopped car, which authorities said was pulled over because it had expired registration tags. When another officer attempts to handcuff Wright, a second officer tells him he’s being arrested on a warrant. That’s when the struggle begins, followed by the shooting. Then the car travels several blocks before striking another vehicle.

Gannon said he believed the officer had intended to use her Taser, but instead fired one bullet at Wright. From “what I viewed and the officer’s reaction in distress immediately after that this was an accidental discharge that resulted in the tragic death of Mr. Wright.”

Wright died of a gunshot wound to the chest, the Hennepin County Medical Examiner’s office said in a statement.

The state Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, which is investigating the shooting, identified the officer as Kim Potter, a 26-year veteran who has been placed on administrative leave.

Gannon would not say whether she would be fired.

“I think we can watch the video and ascertain whether she will be returning,” the chief said.

Court records show Wright was being sought after failing to appear in court on charges that he fled from officers and possessed a gun without a permit during an encounter with Minneapolis police in June.

Wright’s mother, Katie Wright, said her son called her as he was getting pulled over.

During the call, she said she heard scuffling and then someone saying “Daunte, don’t run” before the call ended. When she called back, her son’s girlfriend answered and said he had been shot.

His brother, Dallas Bryant, told about a hundred people gathered for a candlelight vigil Monday evening that Wright sounded scared during the phone call, and questioned how the officer could mistake a gun for a Taser.

“You know the difference between plastic and metal. We all know it,” he said.

Demonstrators began to gather shortly after the shooting, with some jumping atop police cars. Marchers also descended on the city’s police headquarters, throwing rocks and other objects. About 20 businesses were broken into at the city’s Shingle Creek shopping centre, authorities said.

The trial of Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis officer charged in Floyd’s death, continued Monday. Floyd, a Black man, died May 25 after Chauvin, who is white, pressed his knee against Floyd’s neck. Prosecutors say Floyd was pinned for 9 minutes, 29 seconds. The judge in that case refused Monday to sequester the jury after a defence attorney argued that the panel could be influenced by the prospect of what might happen as a result of their verdict.


Credits: CTV News

Ontario’s hard-hit ICUs aren’t just running out of beds, but also doctors and nurses

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As the third wave overtakes the province, with no sign of slowing down, Ontario’s hospitals are turning into war zones — and those working in the ICUs are warning that we’re not just running out of beds, but also of the people capable of treating the patients in them.

Over the weekend, hospitals in the Toronto area have been experiencing an unrelenting influx of patients sick with COVID-19.

“The pace of ICU admissions last night at Brampton Civic [Hospital] alone, there were nine ICU admissions in one 12-hour period,” Dr. Andrew Healey, an emergency critical care doctor with William Osler Health System, told us.

He said 36 patients were admitted to the ICU at the hospital he works at within a 24-hour period the day before, “and that’s the highest number in the pandemic by a lot.”

“This is really the most challenging wave, and these are the most challenging days we’ve seen from this pandemic,” Kevin Smith, president and CEO of the Toronto-based University Health Network (UHN), told CTV News. “And unfortunately, the next two weeks will be very trying.”

The health system is attempting to make room for the flood of patients as cases rise. Elective non-urgent surgeries have been postponed again. Hospitals in the Greater Toronto Area have been ordered to close their pediatric units, and those patients are being sent to Toronto’s SickKids, which has also opened up eight adult ICU beds.

“As of this morning, we have seven of these eight beds filled with adult patients who are in our ICU,” Dr. Ronald Cohn, President and CEO of SickKids, told us.

Figures from Health Canada show that the percentage of patients in intensive care who were between the ages of 18 and 39 doubled from January to March, increasing from 7.4 per cent to 15 per cent of the total number of ICU patients.

These patients, being younger and healthier, likely have a better chance of surviving longer. While that’s good news, it also potentially means a larger strain on the health-care system while patients battle severe illness for longer.

And many patients who doctors are seeing are essential workers, whose risk level has not been changed by lockdowns instated by the province.

“I worry because in our region, a large percentage of these cases are coming from essential central workers,” Healey said. “That makes me really worried [because] a lot of those people are still going to work.”

An all-time high of more than 600 COVID-19 patients are currently in the ICU in Ontario — and that number is only expected to grow in the coming days.

“We’re expecting […] about 1,000 patients in Ontario ICUs across the province by the end of this month, which is about half of our ICU capacity,” Dr. Chris Simpson, executive vice-president of Ontario Health, told CTV News. “And remember, ICUs [have] that kind of capacity because we need them for other things too, so it’s really a dire situation.”

Front-line teams, usually reserved and optimistic, now have a desperate tone, signalling that despite the field hospitals, Ontario may run out of room.

“We’re sort of quickly approaching a cliff set and we’re seeing increasing numbers being admitted to ICUs,” Dr. Bram Rochwerg, associate professor at McMaster University and critical care lead at the Juravinski Hospital in Hamilton, told us.

“[We’re] stretched in terms of capacity and places to put patients, as well as staff. I think the most alarming point is that despite the increasing numbers and the Band-Aid solutions that we’re coming up with trying to care for more critically-ill patients is that we have yet to see the plateau, even in provincial numbers.”

He pointed out that there is a delay between patients testing positive for COVID-19 and their illness worsening to the point of needing to be taken to an ICU.

Which means that any number of the 4,500 patients who tested positive today in Ontario may be in the ICU two weeks down the road.

Smith said the most concerning statistic isn’t necessarily the amount of beds that they have, it’s how many doctors and nurses they have who can help the patients in the beds.

“It’s a bit like having your car — if you have a car, but nobody can drive, you don’t get very far,” he said. “Obviously you want someone who knows how to drive behind that wheel, and critical care is a complicated discipline of medicine, particularly when you’re dealing in a pandemic environment and the demands are as high as these. So we want experienced people who are used to dealing with life-threatening illness.

“The number of people who are are trained in critical care is a limited resource.”

And hospitals can’t shift every single resource to COVID-19 patients, because unplanned emergencies such as heart attacks, strokes, car accidents and other life-threatening injuries are still occurring, and doctors need to be available to treat those patients.

Dr. Kashif Pirzada, an emergency physician, told us that health-care workers are trying to fill every role, and help wherever they can.

“Right now, physicians and nurses are being drafted into working in extend ICUs, reusing every space possible — the operating room, the recovery rooms, the cardiac units — and we’re also running out of special drugs that are really effective for COVID patients.”

Healey added that recently they’ve faced shortage in things other than staff and beds. He explained that the night before, they had briefly run out of a specialized type of oxygen masks, and that they had run out or come close to running out of “high flow nasal canula[s]” on other occasions as well.

In order to free up resources, patients are also being shuffled around to other hospitals at a much higher rate than before the pandemic. Patients are being sent to hospitals outside of the GTA in some cases because of the heavy load on some of the hospitals inside the hard-hit city. But in order to send a patient potentially thousands of kilometres away from where their loved ones live, hospitals need the consent of their families, one more step complicating the process, Rochwerg explained.

“We’re seeing patients being sent from the Toronto area to London, beyond London up into Northern Ontario, and trying to use up all the resources and all the beds that the province has,” he said.

It’s scary, doctors say. They’re stretched thin, overworked and tired, dealing with trauma and death on a regular basis. And they say it’ll get worse before it gets better.

“There’s a limited capacity to take care of everybody,” Simpson said. “And without that wave coming down, it will be extremely problematic.”

But Healey said when he comes into work every day, he does so “with focus,” and with an awareness of how critical this stage of the pandemic is.

Smith praised the hard work of those in the health-care system, saying he’s never seen this type of collaboration.

“It’s as though we have one hospital in the province of Ontario with the moves we’re making, the way people are collaborating, […] and so hats off to the frontline providers,” he said.

“But they are tired, we’ve been out [in] this for a year, over a year. And now, this is our biggest surge yet, [it’s] daunting.” 

Sources: CTV News

Air Canada, Canadian government reach agreement in $5.9-billion ‘liquidity program’

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Air Canada and the federal government have reached an agreement on a $5.9-billion aid package that the company says will speed up customer refunds, protect industry jobs and return service to some communities that were shuttered due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a news release, Air Canada said the $5.879-billion liquidity agreement is provided through the government’s Large Employer Emergency Financing Facility (LEEFF) program and includes $4 billion in loans, a $500-million investment in Air Canada stock and a separate $1.4-billion loan to help facilitate customer refunds.

“I’m confident this agreement sets a standard for how such interventions should be designed with the interests of Canadians and workers coming first,” Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland told reporters in French on Monday evening. “This is a good and fair deal for Canada and Canadians.”

As part of the agreement, Air Canada has agreed to several stipulations, including issuing refunds for passengers who had a booked a flight since February 2020 but did not fly, resumption of service to regional communities that were suspended or cancelled, no further job losses for its employees, and protections for employees’ pensions.

The refund process will begin no later than April 30, Freeland said. 

In addition, Air Canada must facilitate its planned deal for 33 Airbus A220 aircraft and its order of 40 Boeing 737 Max aircraft, and must provide climate disclosures.

“This deal also ensures that Air Canada remains a significant customer and supporter of Canada’s aerospace sector,” Transport Minister Omar Alghabra said during the news conference.  “Air Canada will now be able to complete its planned purchase of the Airbus A220, which will in turn support workers and companies across our entire Canadian supply chain.“

The suspended destinations slated for a return no later than June 1 include, Bathurst, Comox,  Fredericton, Gander, Goose Bay, Kamloops, North Bay, Penticton, Prince Rupert, St. John, Sydney and Yellowknife. Air Canada must also work with third parties to restore service to its permanently cancelled destinations.

“Today’s also a good news day for communities where services were reduced or canceled due to COVID-19,” Alghabra said. “The agreement we’re announcing today will help to re establish essential lifelines for economic activity and will help to reconnect Canadian communities.”

In a statement, Air Canada president and CEO Michael Rousseau said the financial aid will help the company, customers and stakeholders alike.

“The additional liquidity program we are announcing today achieves several aligned objectives as it provides a significant layer of insurance for Air Canada, it enables us to better resolve customer refunds of non-refundable tickets, maintain our workforce and re-enter regional markets,”, said in a news release. 

“Most importantly, this program provides additional liquidity, if required, to rebuild our business to the benefit of all stakeholders and to remain a significant contributor to the Canadian economy through its recovery and for the long term.”

In February, the Air Canada announced it was cutting another 1,500 jobs and suspending 17 U.S. and international routes. The month prior, it cut around 1,700 jobs. In total, the company has axed more than half its workforce since last March, but has now guaranteed that no further layoffs are on the horizon.

“This announcement is good news for our 2,000 members still working at Air Canada and for the stability of the company going forward, but it’s tough to think this is what we waited 13 months for,” Wesley Lesosky, president of the Air Canada component of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), said in a statement. “This announcement leaves over 7,500 of my members with no answers and no income supports.”

CUPE, which represents 10,000 flight attendants with Air Canada and Air Canada Rouge, said the financial package “betrays the government’s commitment to support airline workers affected by the pandemic.”

“We had a commitment from the Trudeau government that any relief money for the airline sector would flow directly to support workers, and that commitment is not reflected in this agreement,” CUPE National President Mark Hancock said in the statement.

“This deal is exactly what we feared a deal cooked up behind closed doors would look like: it’s a year late, no transparency, and not nearly enough to support the thousands of flight attendants still reeling from the impacts of the pandemic.”

The Liberals have long said sector-specific support would be contingent on airlines refunding passengers with tickets rendered useless following the cancellation of flights. International and domestic travel, while not prohibited, is highly discouraged at this time.

Freeland added on Monday that customer refunds will also be a key cog in any future agreements with other airlines.

“We are having good discussions with WestJet, discussions that I would characterize as constructive,” Freeland said.

“The basic, general requirements of the government of Canada, of course, will be the same: the importance of refunds, the importance of restoration of regional routes, the importance of maintaining employment, the importance of restrictions on executive compensation, but the precise shape of an agreement will depend on the specific needs of each airline.”

In a statement, WestJet said it “continues to operate self-sufficiently” with the exception of the federal government’s wage subsidy program and already plans to restore service to the 42 locales it suspended during the pandemic.

“We remain committed to building back even stronger for the betterment of all Canadians,” the company wrote in a statement. “A healthy WestJet will help lead a stronger recovery, increasing competition and consumer choice while lowering the cost of travel for Canadians, all while anchoring Canada’s vital air travel and tourism sectors.

The WestJet Group of Companies continues discussions with the Government of Canada on a safe travel-restart framework. We remain focused on a long-term solution that will serve the best interests of Canadians.”

The news comes as the Liberal government is set to unveil their highly-anticipated spring budget on April 19. In their November 2020 fall economic statement, $206 million was earmarked to support regional air transportation, but the government did not provide details of aid for large carriers.

Sources: CTV News

Kidnap epidemic: Gunmen abduct 18 in Ogun, Oyo, Rivers, Imo, Katsina

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*Kidnappers whisk Ogun doctor, nurse away, NMA expresses concern

*Gunmen kidnap Imo monarch, five traditional chiefs, two palace guards

Kidnappers on Thursday struck in Ogun, Rivers, Imo and Katsina states, abducting  12 people barely 24 hours after the new acting Inspector General of Police, Alkali Baba, vowed to battle banditry and other crimes.

Reports by our correspondents showed that between Wednesday night and Thursday,   two persons were abducted in Ogun State, eight in Imo State, Rivers State, one;  and one in Katsina State.

In Oyo State on Thursday, hunters and vigilantes told our correspondents that they had started combing forests for six people kidnapped in different parts of the state on Tuesday night.

The IGP, shortly after assuming office at the Force Headquarters, Abuja on Wednesday, promised to confront terrorism, banditry, kidnapping and secessionist agitations.

On Wednesday night in Ogun State, which has witnessed increased spate of kidnappings, a medical doctor and a nurse were kidnapped on the Abeokuta-Imeko road, where two fufu sellers were abducted two months ago.

The doctor, Oladunni Odetola, who  is the head of state General Hospital, Imeko in the Imeko-Afon Local Government Area and  the  nurse, identified as  Mrs Bamgbose, were kidnapped barely 23 hours after  two Chinese nationals, who were abducted a week ago at Oba, were freed.

One of our correspondents  gathered that the medical personnel  were abducted by gunmen while driving in a Toyota Camry (Muscle) marked KTU 584 FR, along Abeokuta-Imeko road.

It was learnt that the gunmen emerged from a bush at Olubo village and attacked the health workers.

Sources told Tribunepoint Weekly correspondent that the doctor’s car was left at the middle of the road, where it was discovered by the police.

It was further gathered that the police recovered  from the car, the doctor’s Nigerian Medical Association’s identity card and a minute of the association’s meeting.

When contacted,  the state Chairman of the NMA, Ogunlaja Oladayo,  confirmed the kidnap.   Oladayo said,  “Yes, it is true. But we have allowed the security operatives to do their job. We don’t want anything to jeopardise the process.”

Also confirming the incident,  the Police Public Relations Officer in the state,  Abimbola Oyeyemi, said,   “Police detectives are on the trail of the kidnappers.”

The NMA Chairman,  Oladayo, in an interview with one of our correspondents on Thursday evening, expressed concern about increase in cases of abduction in the state.

Oladayo, who described the abduction of the doctor and the nurse as condemnable, urged all the stakeholders to join hands in  the fight against insecurity.

The NMA chairman said, “It is condemnable.  It is not something we should support.  It is something all of us should rise up against including the media and the community because doctors are doing the humanitarian job for the community.”

When asked to assess the level of insecurity in the state, Oladayo said, “We are not satisfied. There are a lot of security breaches everywhere not just in Ogun State. It is all over our country.”

Also on Wednesday  night, gunmen abducted the Chairman of the Okrika Local Government Area of Rivers State, Philemon Kingoli, along the Peter Odili Road in Port Harcourt.

Kingoli was kidnapped at gunpoint while returning from a Peoples Democratic Party event in Okrika.

It was learnt that the gunmen intercepted him near the Woji bridge axis of Odili Road in Port Harcourt, fired some shots into the air to scare people and whisked him to an unknown destination

Confirming the incident, the spokesman for the state Police Command, Nnamdi Omoni, said the state Police Commissioner, Eboka Friday, had ordered a manhunt for the kidnappers to rescue the local government chairman.

“So all hands are on deck to ensure his early release. All the tactical units have been mobilised and we are hopeful that he would be rescued soon,” he stated.

Omoni said this as a clash between rival cult groups  left two persons dead in the old Port Harcourt Township on Wednesday night.

Residents of Bende and Victoria streets, as well as Aggrey Road in Port Harcourt, are now living in fear after the cult killings which occurred about 9pm near a popular pub on Bende Street.

Some residents,  who gave the names of the groups as Icelandos and Greenish,  said they were outside when suddenly the sound of gunshots forced residents running in different directions.

According to them,  those whose houses were nearby ran indoors to avoid being caught in the crossfire. They identified  the dead victims as Dike and Biggy.

“We were outside at a pub in Bende Street with friends when we heard gunshots from afar. We all ran into a room. Thereafter, we heard that they shot somebody and we saw the lifeless body on the ground,” a resident explained.

Similarly, a lady said, “As I was coming back from work. I heard gunshots from two different directions and then we ran for cover. After about five minutes, we came out, everywhere was quiet and some persons were still running. We were walking in groups.

“We heard that they shot somebody close to Baham Church on Aggrey Road. Then we heard another body was lying somewhere. But we didn’t bother to go close.”

When contacted, Omoni confirmed the cult clash, saying it was a battle of supremacy between two rival gangs, noting that a pistol was recovered when operatives went after the miscreants.

“I can confirm it. I think it has to do with this battle for supremacy between two notorious cult groups in the state. The other group came for an identified target and then shot sporadically.”

Imo monarch, five cabinet chiefs, two palace guards abducted after attending traditional wedding

In Imo State,  there was fear on Wednesday night after  gunmen kidnapped the traditional ruler of Umueze Nguru in the Aboh Mbaise Local Government Area of the state, Eze Charles Iroegbu.

It was gathered that the gunmen also kidnapped seven other people in his convoy, including five traditional chiefs and two palace guards.

It was learnt that the monarch,  who is the owner and Chief Executive Officer of All States Mass Transit and his cabinet chiefs, were kidnapped after attending a traditional wedding in Mbano.

Sources said they were heading back to their community when the gunmen stopped them and diverted their vehicles to another place.

One of the sources said “ His Highness and his cabinet chiefs were coming back from a traditional wedding in Mbano when they were kidnapped. This is unbelievable and there is fear and panic everywhere.”

The police spokesperson in the state, Orlando Ikeokwu, said that he could not confirm the abduction when he was contacted by one of our correspondents.

Katsina kidnappers kill victim after collecting ransom

In Katsina State, a 55-year-old man, Aminu Abdulwahab, who was kidnapped a few days ago in the Danmusa Local Government Area, was killed after his abductors collected a ransom from his family.

Abdulwahab was said to be a younger brother of a top official of the Katsina Local Government Service Commission, Abdu Danmusa.

It was learnt that the kidnappers picked up Abdulwahab earlier in the week and demanded ransom to ensure his release.

Sources said the family paid the ransom, but the kidnappers felt it was less than what they negotiated.

Although the sources did not disclose the amount, it was learnt that the kidnappers still collected the money from the family.

The kidnappers directed the family members to go to a location in the council to pick up the victim.

One of the sources said, “We got to the location on Wednesday only to find his corpse there. We are just making preparations for his burial.”

When contacted on Thursday, the spokesman for the state police command,  Gambo Isah, said he should be  given time to clarify the incident from the Divisional Police Officer of Danmusa.

“Give me time to clarify from the Danmusa DPO,”  he simply said.

Gunmen abduct three Oyo casual workers, demand N1m ransom, kidnap student, two others

In Oyo State, policemen, hunters and vigilantes have started combing forests for the  three casual workers abducted by gunmen close to a quarry  at Idi Ayunre area of Ibadan, the Oyo State capital.

The victims and their other colleagues were said to have closed from the site on Tuesday evening and were going back home when the armed hoodlums waylaid them and took the three unlucky ones among them away.

Tribunepoint Weekly gathered that one of the labourers identified as Tope Solomon, who escaped,  reported the incident to the police in the area.

Solomon reportedly identified the abducted workers as Jacob Ubong, Isaac Amisu and the third one simply as Wasiu.

It was learnt that the Divisional Police Officer in charge of the area where the incident occurred, had mobilised his men and men from the anti-kidnapping squad, counter- terrorism unit and other tactical teams as well as hunters and vigilante members to rescue the victims.

 It was gathered that the kidnappers had contacted the victims’ employers and demanded millions of naira.

The ransom was said to have been reduced to N1m.

After negotiations, the victims’ employers were said to have offered N250,000. They were said to have told the abductors that their victims were casual workers struggling to feed themselves.

The hoodlums, it was gathered, had not released the workers as of the time of filing this report.

The Police Public Relations Officer in the state Mr Olugbenga Fadeyi confirmed the incident.

Also, a  student of  Royal Institute of Health, Igboora, Miss Sodirat Salami, and two others whose identities could not be ascertained were  kidnapped by gunmen in the Ibarapa area of Oyo State on Tuesday night.

It was gathered that Salami also  works at a hospital in the area and was going from Igboora to Eruwa when the hoodlums stopped their  vehicle and whisked away the three of them.

The Secretary Ibarapa Farmers’ Union, Mr Taiwo Adeagbo who is popularly known as Akowe Agbe however told our correspondent that the victims were released on Thursday morning after a ransom was paid.

He said, “They were said to have been released after they paid N1m ransom. The victims, I learnt, said they heard their abductors speak Yoruba. This suggests that  they are Yoruba and I believe they are part of those working for criminal Fulani leaders.”

The PPRO had yet to respond to our correspondent’s inquiry on the incident as of the time of filing this report.

Suspected killer herders cut farmer’s neck in Oyo

Meanwhile, residents of Ayete and Igangan communities in  the lbarapa North Local Government Area of Oyo State are currently in grieve as some hoodlums suspected to be killer herders attacked and inflicted machete cuts on a farmer.

The attack allegedly happened around 9pm on Wednesday after a stakeholders’ peace meeting held at the Igangan Police Station.

The meeting, involving law enforcement agents, traditional rulers, land owners, hunters, herdsmen, farmers and agricultural investors in lbarapa North Local Government, was said to have been called at the instance of the DPO, Mr Emanuel Ojo.

It was learnt that the 45-year-old farmer was attacked at Oyankalu area of Lukosi in Ayete by herdsmen.

The victim, who was said to have sustained a deep cut on the back of his neck, was  rushed to Faith Maternity and Child Welfare Clinic, Ojumu area of Igangan.

One of the villagers,  who spoke on condition of anonymity, said, “The attack happened despite the peace meeting which was initiated by the DPO at Igangan Police Station.

“A farmer, Kereku Yanmii, was attacked on 7th April at 9pm by suspected killer herdsmen.”

However, when contacted, the Police Public Relations Officer, Oyo State Command, Olugbenga Fadeyi, said, “It was a case of robbery where two Togolese in Oyankanlu farm were attacked and dispossessed of their belongings.”

Former central banker Carney makes political debut at Liberal convention

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Cabinet ministers will be on parade at the Liberal convention Friday but all eyes will be on someone who’s never overtly dipped a toe in partisan politics before now: Mark Carney.

The question on everyone’s mind is whether the former central banker’s appearance at the convention — in conversation this evening with rookie Liberal MP and convention co-chair Marci Ien –signals an intention to finally take the plunge into politics.

For a decade, Liberals have dreamed of one day persuading the former governor of the Bank of Canada to run for the party and, maybe one day, even lead it.

Carney quietly flirted with the idea of a leadership run in 2012, courted by Liberals smarting from a historic electoral thumping and desperately searching for a saviour.

But amid criticism that even the smallest whiff of partisanship was undermining the independence crucial to a central banker, Carney eventually squelched the speculation by saying he’d just as soon become a “circus clown” and then left Canada to take over the helm of the Bank of England,

He’s been coy about his political ambitions since returning to Canada last summer and releasing a book last month promoting his vision for a new kind of capitalism that combines the pursuit of profit with social purpose.

His view that the COVID-19 pandemic offers an opportunity to reset the way the world works, making it more inclusive, more equitable and more environmentally sustainable, dovetails neatly with the thinking of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government.

Carney’s appearance at the convention comes little more than a week before Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland, herself seen as potential successor to Trudeau, is to deliver her first budget. It is expected to lay out in detail the cost of the pandemic, which has already sent the national deficit soaring past $380 billion, along with a plan to spend up to $100 billion more to fuel a more equitable, green, inclusive economic recovery.

Even if Carney doesn’t come clean tonight about his political ambitions, endorsement of the government’s general direction by someone of his stature would be welcomed by Liberals.

Credits: CTV News

Provinces not sitting on COVID-19 doses, national vaccine logistics lead says

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The military general leading Canada’s national logistical rollout of COVID-19 vaccines is shooting down suggestions that provinces are not moving doses out of freezers and into people’s arms fast enough.

“I think provinces and territories do their very best to administer as rapidly and as effectively as possible vaccines to Canadians throughout the country, full stop,” Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin told reporters on Thursday during the latest vaccine briefing.

“No one is holding onto vaccines in the reserve… except for local readjustments. What I would say is, and based on a lot of conversations at all levels… what we see is a real desire to ensure that they have a constant flow of vaccines.”

To-date the federal government has delivered more than 10 million vaccine doses to the provinces and territories, and according to CTVNews.ca’s vaccine tracker, nearly 7.2 million of those shots have been administered as of Thursday afternoon. 

With tens of millions more doses on the way over the next few months, the pressure is on premiers to show that they have plans in place to keep up with the supply and ensure clinics are able to administer vaccines as quickly as they can.

It was a topic of conversation between Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his provincial and territorial counterparts Wednesday night, following a restated offer for additional support to boost regional vaccination campaigns.

Elaborating on his remarks in an interview on CTV News Channel’s Power Play, Fortin said: “Looking at the pure numbers doesn’t necessarily give you the complete picture,” though across Canada the rate of immunization is “trending well,” considering the scope and complexity of the mass vaccination campaign.

He said the federal government is continually updating the provinces and territories on the expected size and timing of shipments so they can make sure they have confidence more supply is coming, and so they have the health workforce in place to immunize at full capacity.

Fortin said that it’s typically taking between two and five days to deliver vaccines across the country once they arrive in Canada, with the federal government assisting in seeing the batches arrive at central locations in each region and then taken from there by the provinces and territories to be distributed to what’s become hundreds of administration sites nationwide, from mass immunization centres to local pharmacies.

“Vaccines are in constant movement across the country,” Fortin said during his press conference, offering anecdotally that he’s heard from his ongoing communication with his counterparts stickhandling the provincial vaccine distributions of instances where the weather or other circumstances like staffing saw doses have to be shifted from one community to another, only to have to move them again the next day.

“They are doing their best, their very best, to deliver through all the various locations in their jurisdiction. That last mile, all the way to the point where Canadians get immunized, is different from one jurisdiction to another, and they’re doing fantastic work immunizing as effectively as possible, given all the circumstances,” Fortin said.

Asked earlier in the week whether she thought provinces and territories are vaccinating fast enough, Health Minister Patty Hajdu wouldn’t say, offering just that she thinks provinces should be immunizing as fast as possible to work through their existing and upcoming supplies quickly.

“It’s hard for me to give you a general answer because of course provinces and territories have very different strategies across the country, but what I can tell you is we’re watching closely and we stand ready to assist any province or territory who’s having a challenge in rolling out vaccination,” Hajdu said.

The rate of vaccinations is still limited by the logistics of getting doses from the loading dock to vaccination sites, and the time lag is fluctuating with the delivery schedules, with thousands of the most recently arrived vaccine shipments still moving through that system on Wednesday.

Weighing in on the situation in his province on Tuesday, Ford told reporters that the reason hundreds of thousands of vaccine doses are still in freezers in that province is because they had just arrived.

“Over the last few days, they just literally landed on our doorstep. It takes a day for the distribution, we got it out, and we’re ready to go,” he said.

Canada is set to keep increasing the number of vaccines administered weekly, accelerating with the scheduled uptick in supply of doses being delivered. 

As a result, Canada has been able to move up in the global vaccination rankings after shortages and delays this winter saw the country trail behind many nations.

Canada has now given at least one shot to 17 per cent of the population, still remaining far behind the United States and the U.K., though is ahead of the four other countries in the G7.

Potentially an outcome of the widely taken approach in Canada of focusing on first shots and delaying the second by up to four months, the nation’s ranking drops to second last in the G7 when counting those who have received both shots.

Sources: CTV News

COVID-19 patient receives lung transplant from living donors

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Doctors in Japan announced Thursday they have successfully performed the world’s first transplant of lung tissue from living donors to a patient with severe lung damage from COVID-19.

The recipient, identified only as a woman from Japan’s western region of Kansai, is recovering after the nearly 11-hour operation on Wednesday, Kyoto University Hospital said in a statement. It said her husband and son, who donated parts of their lungs, are also in stable condition.

The university said it was the world’s first transplant of lung tissue from living donors to a person with COVID-19 lung damage. Transplants from brain-dead donors in Japan are still rare, and living donors are considered a more realistic option for patients.

“We demonstrated that we now have an option of lung transplants (from living donors),” Dr. Hiroshi Date, a thoracic surgeon at the hospital who led the operation, said at a news conference. “I think this is a treatment that gives hope for patients” with severe lung damage from COVID-19, he said.

Kyoto University said dozens of transplants of parts of lungs taken from brain-dead donors to patients with COVID-19-related lung damage have been carried out in the United States, Europe and China.

The woman contracted COVID-19 late last year and developed breathing difficulties that rapidly worsened. She was placed on a life support machine that works as an artificial lung for more than three months at another hospital because her lungs were so severely damaged.

Even after she was free of the virus, her lungs were no longer functional or treatable, and the only option for her to live was to receive a lung transplant, the university said.

Her husband and son volunteered to donate parts of their lungs, and the surgery was conducted at Kyoto University Hospital by a 30-member team headed by Dr. Date. Her husband donated part of his left lung, and son gave part of his right lung.

She is expected to be able to leave the hospital in about two months and return to her normal life in about three months, the university said.

Sources: CTV News

Toronto baby ends up in hospital, entire family contracts COVID-19 after daycare exposure

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A Toronto mother whose entire family fell ill with COVID-19 is warning other parents that young children aren’t immune to severe symptoms of the virus after her baby was hospitalized with an acute case.

“This was terrifying, absolutely terrifying,” Aviva Danielle, 33, told CTV News Toronto. “For any parent, particularly when you have a baby, it’s just such a small, helpless child that’s so sick.”

Aviva’s two young sons developed symptoms within days of being exposed to a confirmed case of COVID-19 in the infant room at their daycare, and soon her family of four was sick—and all tested positive.

Her three-year-old’s cold-like symptoms were relatively mild, but her one-year-old suffered a five-day fever, high heart rate, low blood pressure, and coughing fits—as his fingers turned blue. They rushed him to the Hospital for Sick Children, where he was admitted for three days.

“It’s terrifying to see your kid hooked up to an IV on his tiny little baby hand, oxygen monitor on his toe, and heart monitors checking his heart rate,” she said.

According to provincial numbers, there have been 2,222 cases of COVID-19 among children in licensed child-care facilities since the start of the pandemic, but nearly a quarter of those cases have been added in the past two weeks—113 of them were added Wednesday.

“There are more cases among kids in this wave than there were in the first and second,” said Dr. Fatima Kakkar, a paediatric infectious diseases consultant with the Centre Hospitalier Universitaire Sainte-Justine in Montreal.

Dr. Kakkar said although the new variants are more transmissible, including among children, in most cases they are not making kids more sick that the original strain of the virus.

“The risk for having severe disease is really low,” said Dr. Kakkar. “The risk of catching it is there, and I think this is where there’s a shift from the way we thought about it early on, when we thought maybe kids are immune, maybe kids don’t get COVID-19. They do catch it, they do get it.”

Danielle ended up in the emergency department herself, both her and her husband struggling to breathe while taking care of their two little kids. She points out that they are both otherwise-healthy people in their 30s.

“Doing really simple things, we were short of breath. At some points it was easier for us to crawl than to walk,” she said.

“We were really desperate, and really struggling, and we were worried about how we were going to care for our kids. It’s every parent’s worry: you both get sick, and no one can care for your kids.”

The family is now out of hospital and recovering at home—and hopes no other parents have to endure the same ordeal.

“It’s so frightening to see your child so sick from something that there’s not really a treatment for,” she said.

Sources: CTV News

Stay-at-home order takes effect across Ontario today

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A stay-at-home order takes effect across Ontario today in response to worsening COVID-19 trends.

Premier Doug Ford announced the move yesterday, saying it was prompted by a surge in cases driven by more infectious variants.

Stores that sell goods such as groceries, cleaning supplies and pharmacy products can remain open but only to sell essential items.

Non-essential retail can open for curbside pickup or delivery only.

The province is declaring the third state of emergency since the start of the pandemic to invoke the new measures.

The changes come after a month-long shutdown announced last week was criticized as too weak to address the third wave of infections.


Credits: CTV News