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FG unveils national biosecurity policy on health, environmental safety

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The Federal Government on Tuesday unveiled a National Biosecurity Policy and Action Plan, 2022 to 2026, to secure the health of Nigerians and their immediate environments from biological threats.

Chief Sharon Ikeazor, Minister of State for Environment, who unveiled the policy in Abuja, said that the policy would help to sustain socio-economic development across the country.

The Unveiling and Public Presentation of the National Biosecurity Policy and Action Plan (NBP&AP), 2022-2026, was organised by the National Biosafety Management Agency (NBMA).

Ikeazor said that biosecurity is a strategic and integrated approach that encompasses the policy and regulatory frameworks.

She said that the framework includes instruments and activities that analyse and manage risks in the sectors of food safety, animal life and health, plant life and health which associated environmental risk.

“It focuses on preventing the loss, theft, misuse, diversion or intentional release of pathogens, toxins, and other related assets against humans, animals, plants and the environment.

“It also focuses on putting measures in place to mitigate naturally occurring and emerging infectious diseases.

“Biosecurity is more important today than ever before due to the increasing threats of climate change which is altering the range, habitats and spreads of pests and diseases.

“It is estimated that zoonotic infections, transmitted from animal hosts to humans, account for approximately 60 per cent of total infectious diseases in humans, and 75 per cent of all new and emerging infectious diseases.

“The threats posed by pathogens jumping from animals to humans as well as the destruction of the environment cannot be effectively addressed by one sector alone,’’ she said.

Ikeazor said that the development of the policy recognised that a collaborative, multi-sectoral and interdisciplinary approach is key to the mitigation of bio-threats and the success of any national biosecurity intervention.

She noted that the policy is strategically designed as a five-year plan with the intent to identify other several evolving actions that may have not been captured in the document when commencing the implementation.

“Therefore, all implementing Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) are tasked to put all hands on deck to ensure that we effectively implement the policy.

“The MDAs should also help support the ministry through the NBMA in evaluating how well we have done in the biosecurity sector, as well proffer critical way forward for the next review of the policy.

“The obligation in the implementation of this policy is that we play our specific roles and synergistically work with each other in line with our respective mandates.

“The mandates are guaranteeing a strong aggregation and unified efforts that will strengthen Nigeria’s National Biosecurity System.

“We must also aggregate our efforts at managerial level in ensuring an improved budgeting and funding mechanism in achieving our strategic plans considering the fact that biosecurity is now a national priority.

“We at the ministry as focal point will as much as we can, consistently advocate for adequate budgetary provisions for different implementing MDAs to help achieve their specific biosecurity roles in line with their mandates,’’ the minister said.

Dr Rufus Ebegba, Director-General of NBMA, said that the draft biosecurity policy and action plan, developed by the agency, institutionalised a harmonised and workable biosecurity system.

Ebegba said that the policy is a fundamental approach to minimising the risks of biological threats to the environment, human health, animal and plants.

He said that the agency`s activity was delivered through a one-health-approach agriculture, environment and human health with full knowledge that bio-threat prevention and control require effective collaboration between relevant stakeholders.

He, however, thanked the minister and other stakeholders for making the policy a reality.

The director-general said that the agency, with collaboration of other relevant stakeholders, would as well ensure that the policy is effectively implemented.

Mr Kevin Tokar, Acting High Commissioner of Canada in Nigeria, said that his country would continue to partner with Nigeria to strengthen the national and regional biosecurity capabilities.

Tokar said that the Canadian government had contributed more than US$ 8 million to strengthen Nigeria`s capacity to prevent, detect and respond to biological threats.

According to him, “our support includes the construction, operation and maintenance of bio-containment laboratories in Lagos and at the National Veterinary Research Institute in Vom, Plateau State.

“Our government will continued its commitment to strengthening biosecurity and health security capacities in Nigeria as well as Africa,” he said.

(NAN)

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Buhari Pledge to Rescue Kaduna Train Attack Hostages

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President Muhammadu Buhari
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President Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday assured to rescue 31 hostages taken in a train attack and return them “safe and unhurt”, his office said, five months after their abduction.

Gangs of bandits with no ideological or religious motives are known to kidnap for ransom in northwest and central Nigeria.

On March 28, armed men blew up a train travelling between Abuja and Kaduna and opened fire, killing eight people, wounding 26, and taking an unspecified number of passengers hostage.

A week later, they freed one hostage — a top bank executive — as a goodwill gesture for Ramadan, the Muslim holy month of fasting, because of his “advanced age”.

Dozens of hostages have already been freed following negotiations, but 31 remain in the kidnappers den.

“I have been informed that at last count, there remain about 31 people in the hands of the kidnappers,” Buhari told representatives of the families of the hostages in Abuja on Thursday.

He said his government would ensure the safe return of the remaining hostages to their families.

“My primary concern is to get everyone released safe and unhurt,” he assured.
The president commended the security forces on recent successes against kidnappers and “terrorists”.

“In the past couple of days, you must have heard about the number of terrorists neutralised by the military, and a number of hostages freed. These efforts will not stop, or reduce,” he said.

“We must take the fight to the terrorists and demonstrate that there is no hiding place for them within the borders of our country,” he said.

“Each one of them will be hunted, and pursued and spoken to in the language that they understand,” he added.

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Five Guards Brigade Killed By Bandits Buried In Abuja

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Five Guards Brigade Killed By Bandits Buried In Abuja
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The Nigerian Army on Thursday buried five members of the Guards Brigade killed by bandits during a clearance operation in the Federal Capital Territory recently.

The soldiers were laid to rest at the Guards Brigade Cemetery, Maitama , Abuja, according to a statement by Guards Brigade spokesperson, Captain Godfrey Anebi Abakpa

Among the deceased was Captain Attah Samuel.

“Until their demise, the gallant soldiers were serving with 7 Guards Battalion, Lungi Barracks Maitama and 176 Guards Battalion Gwagwalada in the Federal Capital Territory Abuja respectively,” the statement said.

“While reading the funeral oration of the deceased officer and soldiers, the Commanding Officers of 7 Guards Battalion Lt Col Salim Yusuf Hassan and Commanding Officer 176 Guards Battalion, Lt Col Joshuah Kolowale Adisa described the late Captain and Soldiers as thoroughly bred Infantrymen who were genuinely committed to their duties in defence of Nigeria and whose contribution and services would be greatly missed.

“They asked God to console the families left behind stressing that while the Brigade and the Nigerian Army mourns, the families should take solace in the fact that they have fought a just fight and their souls shall continue to rest with the lord till the resurrection morning.

“Highpoint of the event was the presentation of accoutrements by the representative of the Chief of Army Staff, Maj Gen James Alilu Ataguba to the next of kins of the deceased personnel and lowering of the remains of the fallen heroes.

There was also the blowing of the last post and gun salute to bid the departed heroes fair well

“The burial process started with Christian wake keep and funeral service held in honour of the fallen heroes at St John’s Military Church (Protestant) before the final Internment at the Guards Brigade Cemetery Maitama Abuja.

“The solemn ceremony was witnessed by senior officers of the Nigerian Army, Commanding Officers, Staff Officers of the Brigade, Bwari Area Council Chairman, Hon John Gabaya as well as family members and the barracks community.”

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Two More ISWAP Terrorists Linked To Owo Church Attack Arrested – DHQ

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Chief of Defence Staff, General Leo Irabor
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Two more Islamic State in West Africa Province (ISWAP) terrorists linked to the attack on St Francis Catholic Church, Owo, Ondo state, have been arrested.

Gunmen had on June 5 stormed the Catholic church, killing over 40 worshippers and injuring others.

The incident drew widespread condemnation, with President Muhammadu Buhari ordering security agencies to arrest the attackers.

On June 9, the Minister of Interior, Rauf Aregbesola, blamed the attack on ISWAP, but the claim was countered by Ondo state Governor, Rotimi Akeredolu.

Just yesterday, the Chief of Defence Staff, Lucky Irabor, announced that the gunmen behind the attack on the church have been arrested.

But in a statement on Wednesday, the Director of Defence Information, Jimmy Akpor, said the two suspected ISWAP fighters were arrested through the collaborative effort of the military and the Department of State Services (DSS).

“Recall that the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), General Lucky Irabor, during his parley with media executives and editors yesterday, Tuesday 9 August 2022, informed of the arrest of 4 terrorists among those who carried out the attack on St Francis Catholic Church, Owo on 5 June 2022,” Akpor said.

“They were arrested through a combined operation by military and DSS personnel at Eika, Okehi LGA, Kogi State on 1 August 2022.

“Those arrested include Idris Abdulmalik Omeiza (a.k.a Bin Malik), Momoh Otohu Abubakar, Aliyu Yusuf Itopa and Auwal Ishaq Onimisi.

“Barely few hours after the disclosure by the CDS of the arrest of 4 of the Owo Catholic Church attackers, 2 additional ISWAP terrorists, who were also connected to the attack on the church were apprehended at Omialafara (Omulafa), Ose LGA, Ondo State yesterday, 9 August 2022.

“The arrests were made through the collaborative effort by military and DSS personnel. The suspects are Al-Qasim Idris and Abdulhaleem Idris.

“It is instructive to note that Abdulhaleem, alongside other high profile ISWAP commanders, had also previously coordinated attacks on military targets in Okene, Okene LGA, Kogi State resulting in casualties.”

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