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UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon Demands Release of Chibok Girls

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ban ki moonThe United Nations Secretary-General, Mr. Ban Ki-Moon, on Monday called for the unconditional release of the abducted pupils of Government Secondary School, Chibok, Borno State.

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The United Nations Secretary-General, Mr. Ban Ki-Moon, on Monday called for the unconditional release of the abducted pupils of Government Secondary School, Chibok, Borno State.

The over 200 girls were abducted by Boko Haram insurgents on April 14, 2013. They were seized from the hostel at night and had not been set free since then notwithstanding the global outrage the incident had provoked.

Ki-Moon spoke in Abuja while addressing State House correspondents shortly after having a closed-door meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa. The meeting with Buhari was part of the activities lined up for the UN chief’s two-day visit to the country.

Ki-Moon’s call was made same week the kidnapped girls will be marking their 500 days in captivity.

He said that he discussed with Buhari issues leading to the violence being perpetrated by the Boko Haram sect in the North-East zone of the country and beyond.

He said, “I express my solidarity again with the Nigerian people that the United Nations will work together to address the encountering extremism and terrorism.

“This week marks the 500 days of the kidnap of the Chibok girls. I want to reiterate my support for the Chibok girls and so many other innocent abducted girls and boys whose names and fate remain unknown.

“It is intolerable that their lives and schooling have been disrupted in this way. The whole world has been moved by their fate.

“I once again call with the strongest terms on those responsible to unconditionally release these girls and many other abducted children.

“Terrorism knows no boundary and no bounds. Today, I laid the wreath in memory of Nigerians and other victims.”

The UN scribe noted the regional engagement efforts being made by Buhari to tackle insurgency and expressed the hope that the rapid operational direction of the Multinational Joint Task Force would go a long way in tackling the insurgents.

He recalled that Buhari had in his inaugural speech recognised that human rights are important parts of the counter-insurgency response, adding that operations should be conducted with the full respect for rights, humanitarian and refugee law.

He however added that military operations alone would not be sufficient.

Ki-Moon added that he also discussed with Buhari efforts at addressing the causes of insurgency by tackling social economic grievances in the North-East particularly through expansion of educational and employment opportunities for young people.

He said there was an agreement by UN member-states on the Sustainable Development Agenda and on the Adis Ababa Action Agenda that would provide further financing to help Nigeria in its agenda for change.

The UN scribe said, “The humanitarian situation in the North is particularly worrisome, we are working with partners on ground to scale up humanitarian operations.

“I congratulate President Buhari on the efforts to protect and uphold the rights of displaced persons.

“I pledge the full support of the United Nations to advance the shared and universal cause of peace, development and human rights.”

He commended the President, who, he said, had embarked on an agenda for change thus prioritising security and anti-corruption war.

He promised UN support for the President’s agenda, saying that by changing Nigeria Buhari would be changing Africa.

He said, “President Buhari has embarked on an agenda for change and I commend him highly for prioritising insecurity, anti-corruption and unemployment issues.

“My message is simple: United Nations supports your efforts to advance hope, peace, sustainable development and human rights in a comprehensive way.

“I am convinced that when you change Nigeria, you have changed Africa. Nigeria has been a source of stability in West Africa and the wider continent.

“You have been a key contributor to UN peace- keeping operations, including its successful mission in Liberia and Sierra Leone.

“Nigeria is once again playing a crucial role in the UN Security Council over which Ambassador Joy Ogwu is now presiding.”

Buhari, on his part, said they discussed the difficult time Nigeria had found itself.

He said the step was taken so that the UN could assist the country.

He thanked Ki-Moon for extending invitation to him to attend the UN General Assembly holding in New York on September 27and 28.

Buhari’s Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu, later on Monday said the President had accepted Ki-Moon’s invitation to the New York meeting.

The meeting is expected to formulate a fresh plan of action against extremism.

Shehu said US President Barack Obama and President Francois Hollande of France are also expected to participate in the September 28 meeting. He said the UN scribe also invited Buhari to a meeting of a select group of 25 world leaders in New York on September 27 to deliberate on a global climate change agreement.

 

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#TwitterBan: Nigeria’s House of Rep concludes its probe but remains silent on reversing the ban.

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Three weeks after forming a committee to review the Twitter ban, Nigeria’s House of Representatives has completed its probe and issued recommendations. It did not, however, remark on the lifting of the prohibition.

On June 8, 2021, the Joint House Committee on Communication, Justice, Information and Culture, as well as National Security and Intelligence, was established to look into the circumstances surrounding the ban. It was also to determine the ban’s legal foundation.

The panel was supposed to report on its findings ten days after it was formed. However, the findings were finally scheduled for House consideration on July 1, 2021.

The Committee highlighted in the report that the Nigerian government had already began negotiations with Twitter, emphasizing the benefits and drawbacks of social media.
It was suggested that “time be granted for the Federal Government of Nigeria and Twitter to join into the already ongoing conversation process, in order to create room for an acceptable settlement on the matter.”

The panel also requested that the government take into account the harmful impact that the suspension of Twitter has had on Nigerians who rely on the network for their livelihood.

The Committee warned the government to better clarify its goals to Nigerians while also emphasizing that freedom of expression is not an absolute right. While liberty must always be safeguarded, it must also be weighed alongside national security concerns.

On some matters, the Committee mirrored remarks made by Speaker of the House Femi Gbajabiamila on the day it was formed.

The microblogging site was shut down after a tweet from Nigeria’s president, Muhammadu Buhari, was removed for breaking its terms of service.

The Nigerian Broadcasting Commission (NBC) ordered media outlets to stop using Twitter indefinitely as a result. Also, the Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, ordered the arrest of persons found using the platform after the ban.

Recall that on June 22, 2021, the ECOWAS Court barred the Nigerian government from putting new restrictions on Twitter. On July 6, 2021, the case will be heard. To get over the prohibition, Nigerians have resorted to using Virtual Private Networks (VPNs). As we’ve seen, this is a practice with far-reaching effects.

While Nigerians wait for answers, it’s worth noting that when the Committee was formed, Gbajabiamila stated that the report will guide the House of Representatives’ next steps.

Legislative bodies vote on reports as soon as they are placed before the House, as is customary. This situation, however, appears to be unique.

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Health

HealthPlus is experiencing a power struggle 2 years after obtaining $18 m from Alta Semper Capital

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A press release apparently released on September 25 by the Board of HealthPlus, one of the largest integrated pharmacy chains in West Africa, confirmed that the company no longer needed the services of its founder, Bukky George, as CEO.

The decision to terminate the appointment of George came with the announcement of Chidi Okoro, the interim leader.

Okoro, a renowned pharmacist and management executive, is to take on the position of Chief Officer of Transformation. Okoro, akin to the position of a CEO, can simplify day-to-day management, help the company scale, and achieve profitability.

And a letter that appears to be from the board of HealthPlus to the Pharmacists Council of Nigeria (PCN) states that George “remains a shareholder of the company, a member of the board of the company, and may engage at board level in the company’s decision-making process.”

Afsane Jetha and Zachary Fond, Managing Partner & CEO, and Director of Alta Semper Capital, respectively, have signed it off.

From investment and partnership to a fight for power

Alta Semper Capital LLP is a private equity (PE) company that invests in Africa-wide healthcare and consumer businesses. In 2017, the PE company invested in Macro Pharma, a medicated cosmetics company in Egypt.

It made deals with HealthPlus and the Moroccan oncology and radiology clinic, Oncologie et Radiologie du Maroc (ODM), the following year.

The letter from Alta Semper Capital to the PCN

Source Techpoint

The HealthPlus investment was $18 million.

HealthPlus, founded by George in 1999, has expanded to more than 90 retail outlets, employing over 850 employees, including more than 150 pharmacists. In Nigeria, the company claims to be present in 11 of the 36 states in the world.

Operating branches in strategically placed suburban areas, airports, and shopping malls are also recognized.

Alta Semper Capital ‘s investment was to help HealthPlus grow its store footprint. In addition, to attract more talent, grow fulfillment centers and pursue initiatives in eCommerce.

The cash inflow, however, is said to have given the PE firm a majority stake in the company, which is one of the reasons why the company is facing problems at the moment.

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Apps & Services

The Adoption rate of the Apple-Google COVID-19 tracker feature in Nigeria

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The COVID-19 exposure tracker has recently been rolled out by Google and Apple on every Android and iOS device globally. According to the notice released in May, this was done in an effort to fight the spread of the virus through contact tracing — a technique used to stay aware of exposure to an infected person.

When enabled, the feature allows your Smartphone to receive notification of likely COVID-19 exposure.

However, there is a disclaimer that the software is an API that can only be enabled when the device has installed a third party tracking app.

According to the statement, the feature will remain dormant until it is activated by a COVID-19 contact tracing app, which can be deactivated at any time.

COVID-19 Exposure Notification feature cannot be activated without an installed contact tracing app

Google and Apple therefore say that the devices won’t be theirs thus saying that the identity of the user won’t be shared with other users.

To ensure this, Google announced that “Access to technology will only be provided to public-health users. Their applications must meet strict Privacy, Protection and Data Use requirements.”

Still, app creators should be committed to minimise the vulnerabilities of their products.

On Android phones, the feature can be found in ‘Google‘ under ‘Settings‘ where ‘COVID-19 exposure notification‘ is displayed. For Apple devices, ‘COVID-19 exposure logging‘ is found under ‘Health‘ in ‘Privacy settings‘.

Apple-Google COVID-19 Exposure Notification feature

By design, this technology is meant to support the efforts of governments and private players that are building contact tracing apps. When an app is used to opt in, it generates randomly changing IDs based on location. Through Bluetooth, it periodically checks other IDs to confirm if any is associated with the infection. And if it finds any, it sends a notification.

For this to work, a person who is affected or has been exposed to the infection needs to share their IDs with the app, which will immediately alert all that have come in contact with them.

While countries like India make contact tracing apps compulsory for residents, only a few startups have made an attempt at this technology in Nigeria; this explains why adoption is low.

In fact, on the Google Playstore, there’s currently no authorised contact tracing app available in the country currently. Conversely, on the Apple app store, it shows two apps, one of which has already been disabled.

Despite some countries already putting the pandemic behind them, infection cases are unfortunately still increasing across Nigeria. Currently, the figure stands at 25,694, with Lagos state  — 10,510 confirmed cases — still the epicentre.

As economic activities resume fully in states that were previously on mandatory lockdown, this appears to be the time for the adoption of massive contact tracing tools to reduce citizens’ chances of infection.

Recall that before now the use of smartphone tracking and surveillance for COVID-19 tracing have been adopted across the world in China, Hong Kong, Israel, and even in Rwanda.

But there are concerns that this feature has privacy risks, disproving Google and Apple’s promise. Considering past events, this scepticism is not misplaced.

Google, like other tech giants, has at some point been accused of turning user data into narrowly targeted ads without consent. This is often possible because users are usually unaware of the data they are agreeing to share and the company’s plan for the information.

While these privacy concerns remain, we cannot undermine the possible positive impact of the tools this Apple-Google feature will effectively support. Perhaps, it is a case of choosing the lesser evil.

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