Press focuses on fate of stranded passengers from derailed train in Nigerian forest, others

The report that 148 passengers and 38 crew members of a train plying the Warri-Itakpe route escaped death on Sunday…

The report that 148 passengers and 38 crew members of a train plying the Warri-Itakpe route escaped death on Sunday when the train derailed inside the Kogi forest, forcing the passengers to be stranded is one of the trending stories in Nigerian newspapers on Monday.The Punch reports that 148 passengers and 38 crew members of a train plying the Warri-Itakpe route escaped death on Sunday when the train derailed inside the Kogi forest, forcing the passengers to be stranded

Many passengers reportedly abandoned the train for fear of being kidnapped.

It was gathered that the train left Warri early Sunday and got derailed at around noon inside the forest between Ajaokuta and Itakpe.

The Delta and Kogi State police commands could not immediately confirm the incident, but the Managing Director of Nigerian Railway Corporation, Fidet Okhiria, confirmed it.

Okhiria said as of the time he was talking to The PUNCH, the stranded passengers had been evacuated.

The NRC boss said, “The train derailed and we were able to move the passengers out of the place. We will announce when to commence operation again. Yes, we have evacuated the passengers.”

A message sent to The PUNCH by the Coordinator of Warri Itakpe Train Service, Sanni Abdulganiyu, disclosed that the Warri Itakpe Train WITS 01 derailed at Km 30 Ajaokuta-Itakpe section of the track at about 12:30 pm on Sunday, adding that no casualty was recorded.

The message further stated that the cause of the derailment was yet to be ascertained, noting that all 148 passengers and 30 crew members were evacuated successfully.

The newspaper says that eight days to the January 31 deadline set by the Central Bank of Nigeria to stop the old N1,000, N500, and N200 notes from being legal tender, banks’ Automated Teller Machines in Lagos, Abuja and other parts of the country are still dispensing the old notes, findings by The PUNCH have revealed.

Despite the apex bank and depositing banks’ assurances that Nigerians would begin to receive the new naira notes from ATMs across different platforms, findings as of Sunday showed that many ATMs belonging to the financial institutions were dispensing the old notes.

Although some of the ATMs visited in Lagos, Abuja, Ogun, Osun, and Gombe, among others, dispensed the new notes, The PUNCH observed that banks were still loading a significant number of their ATMs with the old naira ntes which are due to be phased out by the CBN in about a week’s time.

When The PUNCH visited some bank ATMs along the Ikotun-Idimu Road, Lagos on Sunday morning, it was observed that several ATMs were dispensing the old notes with only a few dispensing the new notes.

While customers got the new notes from Sterling Bank ATM on the axis, Access Bank ATMs dispensed the old notes.

Findings by The PUNCH showed that five of the seven banks visited by our correspondent were still dispensing the old notes to customers.

The Guardian reports that following the outbreak of an unknown deadly flu in China, which has led to the death of residents, including three Nigerians, amid the resurgence of Coronavirus in the pandemic’s country of origin, the Federal Government may reactivate COVID-19 isolation centres across the country.

This is coming at a time Nigeria announced the outbreak of Diphtheria in Kano State, which at the weekend, had claimed 34 lives, while Edo State, yesterday, recorded 10 more cases of Lassa fever, raising the total number of confirmed persons in the state to 81, with eight deaths.

A memo from the Office of the Secretary to the Government of Federation (OSGF) addressed to the Minister of Health, Director-General of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), and Executive Director of the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), said the “deadly flu portends danger for Nigeria.”

The leaked memo dated January 16, 2023, and signed on behalf of the SGF by the Permanent Secretary at the OSGF, Aliyu Mohammed, informed the Minister and agency heads that the Chinese Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (China CDC), had on December 13, 2022 raised concerns over the outbreak of an unknown deadly flu, following the death of some residents, which included three Nigerians.

“The initial clinical analysis ruled out COVID-19, but the symptoms of the fatal flu include dry throat, fever, and difficulty in breathing. Hospitals in Guangzhou have been inundated with patients having the disease, with seven Nigerians said to be in critical condition as a result of the flu,” the memo stated.

The SGF, therefore, said: “Considering the potential danger of this outbreak to human beings, there may be need to note the development with a view to emplacing measures to reactivate COVID-19 centres across the country.”

It added that the outbreak of the new deadly flu portends danger considering the experience of COVID-19, noting that of concern is the fact that the new flu is yet to be diagnosed, an indication that the flu could have spread beyond the shores of China, especially as millions of migrant workers who returned home for Lunar New Year celebrations, travelled back to their various bases outside China across the world.

When contacted last night, NCDC and Office of the SGF declined comment on the matter. The Guardian tried to confirm the authenticity of the memo, but a high ranking official in the OSGF, who earlier promised to get a feedback, later declined comments.

The Guardian also sought to know from the Director General of NCDC, Dr Ifedayo Adetifa, the centre’s findings about the flu in question and measures being put in place to avert importation or ensure prompt testing in case of any outbreak in Nigeria. He too declined making comments on the matter.

Yesterday, China entered its Lunar New Year with millions praying for health after three years of stress and financial hardship under the COVID-19 pandemic, as officials reported almost 13,000 new deaths caused by the virus between January 13 and 19.

The newspaper says that the Federal Government has reviewed its ban on charcoal export, placed suspension on the exportation of processed wood and other allied products.

The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) Standing Committee had in 2018 suspended commercial trade in the African Rosewood (Millettia laurentii) from Nigeria for authorising over 180,000 m3 of the precious timber to China and Vietnam.

The suspension from CITES primarily informed the decision of the former Minister of Environment, Dr. Muhammad Mahmood Abubakar to place a ban on the export of charcoal and suspension of the export of processed and semi-processed wood in 2018 and 2020 respectively.

In response, the Federal Government imposed a levy of N200, 000 on every container of Rosewood export with a view to ensuring proper regulation of the export.

The levy for fully processed wood and charcoal attracted levy of N100, 000 and N75, 000 respectively. The levies are meant to raise funds for re-forestation, while discouraging deforestation.

In a statement last week, Abdullahi disclosed at the Stakeholders’ Consultative in Abuja that the activities had destroyed the nation’s rich biodiversity at yearly rate of 3.5 per cent forest loss.

They found that businessmen and foreigners have continued to engage in illicit act at local, state and federal levels, thereby worsening the situation.

According to him, Nigeria has witnessed more deforestation than when the ban was not placed, resulting in loss of forests without commensurate regeneration and its attendant effects such as loss of wildlife, loss of legitimate jobs and income in the forestry sector and loss of government revenue.

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