Bishop Oyedepo spits fire on continuous church closure

The Presiding Bishop of Living Faith Church Worldwide alias Winners’ Chapel International, David Oyedepo, has questioned the continuous closure of churches over the COVID-19 pandemic, saying he suspects ulterior motives.

Oyedepo, who spoke during the Covenant Hour of Prayer Programme on Wednesday, said if markets could be opened for six hours, there was no reason churches should not be opened for two hours.

The revered cleric said he believed there was a gang up against the growth of the church in the country.

He said, “There is something wrong; for people to be allowed to be in the market for six hours and can’t be in church for two hours, it is an upside-down way of looking at things.

“Which one is more orderly? The market or the church?

“I can smell a rat. The Lord spoke to me on it so strong yesterday. I can smell a rat. Behind all this, how do we stop the church from exploding? The people involved don’t know it.

“The voice of darkness is influencing people at various levels, targeting the church because the growth and expansion of the church is the greatest headache of the devil. But the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. The devil and all his agents shall surely pay for this.

“I don’t know what hospital that records the kind of healings that the church of God records. And now hospitals, where people die every day, are open, but the church is closed because the oppression of the devil has no medical cure.”

Germany’s Bundesliga to resume this month – Angela Merkel

The German Bundesliga season can resume this month, Chancellor Angela Merkel has confirmed.

It will become the first major league in Europe to return to competition, with a date for resumption to be confirmed by the German Football League (DFL) on Thursday.

All matches will be played behind closed doors.

With nine games remaining, Bayern Munich are top of the table, four points above Borussia Dortmund.

Bayern chairman Karl Heinz Rummenigge said: “I would like to thank the politicians for giving today’s decision [and for] the opportunity to finish the Bundesliga season.

“We are now looking forward to resuming play, ideally from mid-May. This ensures that the sporting decisions are made on the pitch.

“I appeal to everyone involved to follow the requirements, which are the basis for resuming games, in an exemplary and extremely disciplined manner.”

Christian Seifert, chief executive of the DFL, added: “Today’s decision is good news for the Bundesliga and the Bundesliga 2.

“It is associated with a great responsibility for the clubs and their employees to implement the medical and organisational requirements in a disciplined manner.

“Games without spectators are not an ideal solution for anyone. In a crisis threatening the very existence of some clubs, however, it is the only way to keep the leagues in their current form.”

The announcement comes a day after clubs in the top two German divisions returned 10 positive results from 1,724 coronavirus tests.

The DFL had warned that many top-division teams would be in an “existence-threatening” financial position if play did not resume by June.

Players returned to training last month, with the DFL initially saying the league would be ready to return on 9 May.

Germany has banned large events with crowds until 24 October, so games will be behind closed doors, but the DFL has developed a health and safety plan that would see only about 300 people or near the pitch during matches, to minimise the risk of infection.

According to official figures, just under 7,000 people have died in Germany from coronavirus, a much lower figure than in other western European countries including the UK, Italy, France and Spain.

Corona virus: UK to set out plans to ease lockdown on Sunday – PM

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said his government would set out details of its plan to ease a lockdown against coronavirus on Sunday, hoping that some measures could come into force the next day.

“We will of course be setting out the details of that plan on Sunday,” Johnson told Parliament after being asked by opposition Labour Party leader Keir Starmer about people returning to work.

“The reason for that [setting out the plan on Sunday] is very simply that we have to be sure that the data is going to support our ability to do this, but that data is coming in continuously over the next few days. We’ll want if we possibly can to get going with some of these measures on Monday.”

Coronavirus: WHO warns of new lockdowns if transition not managed carefully

The head of the World Health Organization (WHO) warned of the risks of returning to lockdown if countries emerging from pandemic restrictions do not manage transitions “extremely carefully and in a phased approach”.

Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus listed a series of steps needed before countries lift measures designed to control the spread of the COVID-19 respiratory disease, such as surveillance controls and health system preparedness.

“The risk of returning to lockdown remains very real if countries do not manage the transition extremely carefully and in a phased approach,” he said at a virtual briefing in Geneva.

He also said that it was not possible to return to business as usual when the pandemic eventually ebbs, stressing the need for investment in health systems.

“The COVID-19 pandemic will eventually recede but there can be no going back to business as usual,” he said. 

5G Network: Senate begins probe

The Senate on Tuesday commenced a probe into the planned deployment of the Fifth Generation Network in Nigeria.

The red chamber took the decision after it adopted a motion moved by Senator Uche Ekwunife.

Ekwunife, who is the Chairman, Senate Committee on Science and Technology, had drawn the attention of her colleagues to the status of the 5G network in the country.

She said her motion was born out of the need to assure Nigerians of their safety with the proposed launch of the network.

The Senate resolution is sequel to a motion on “The present status of 5th Generation Network in Nigeria.”

Ekwunife in her lead debate noted that there were growing concerns on the ongoing discussion about the current status of 5G network in Nigeria.

She said Nigerians were not sure whether Nigeria was presently connected to the 5G network.

Ekwunife said there were further concerns by some scientists and medical experts that the emission from 5G towers could adversely affect health of citizens.

She explained that experts claimed that the network could cause symptoms such as damage to the eyes and immune systems among other adverse effects on human health.

The senator, however, said 5G network had also been reported to hold a lot of promises for mobile broadband services because of its faster speed and better capacity.

She nevertheless expressed concerns that the uncertainty surrounding whether or not the 5G network had been launched in Nigeria would continue to fuel the speculations.

Ekwunife said, “Several countries, including Switzerland, one of the world leaders in the roll-out of 5G mobile technology, have placed an indefinite moratorium on the use of 5G network because of the health concerns.”

She said it was important to investigate the status of 5G network in Nigeria to ensure that Nigerian citizens were not exposed to unreasonable risk of bodily injury or harm.

The Senate therefore asked its committees on communication, science, technology and ICT, and that of health to conduct a thorough investigation with a view to determine the status of the 5G network in the country.

The relevant committees are expected to submit their report in four weeks.

However, the Chairman, Senate Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters, Opeyemi Bamidele, said it would be irresponsible of any government to subscribe to a technology that won’t be safe for its citizens.

He noted that no scientific research had been done by any agency of the Federal Government on the 5G network.

He said countries in Europe were already investigating the implications of the deployment and wondered why Nigeria had yet to do so.

Coronavirus: Indonesia’s president tells ministers to use ‘whatever means’ to control outbreak

Indonesia’s President Joko Widodo has told his ministers to use “whatever means” necessary to bring the country’s coronavirus outbreak under control and ensure the infection curve comes down in May.

“I ask that you exert all of your energy and concentrate on efforts to control COVID-19 and its impact,” Widodo said during a cabinet meeting that was broadcast on local television.

The country reported 484 new cases on Tuesday – the highest single daily increase since the outbreak began. Indonesia has confirmed a total of 12,071 cases – the highest in Southeast Asia after Singapore. 

Yemen: Houthis report first coronavirus case in rebel-held region

Authorities in Houthi-held northern Yemen have confirmed the territory’s first case of the new coronavirus, a Somali national found dead in a Sanaa hotel, while the internationally recognised government in the south of the war-torn country has reported nine new infections.

Yemen, one of the last countries in the world to declare its first infection on April 10, has now reported 21 cases, including 3 deaths, in territory held by the Aden-based government, and one case, which was also a death, in areas under Houthi control.

“We received a report about a situation in a hotel [in the capital Sanaa] on Sunday and epidemiological investigation teams went there immediately, where the affected person had died,” Houthi health minister Taha al-Mutawakkil told Al Masirah TV.

The deceased Somali had underlying liver and kidney problems, the minister said, adding that a sample from the man had tested positive.

Yemen, the poorest country in the Arabian Peninsula, has long been a transit point for migrants and refugees from the Horn of Africa, many of whom are fleeing hunger and violence and trying to reach Saudi Arabia and other wealthy Gulf states.

Coronavirus: Jaywon, 178 others convicted for violating

Policemen attached to the Dolphin Estate Division of the Lagos State Police Command have arrested a music artiste, Iledare Olajuwonlo-James, popularly known as Jaywon, for violating the curfew occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic.

It was gathered that Jaywon was driving to a destination when policemen, who were monitoring compliance with the curfew, intercepted him around 11pm on Monday and took him into custody.

The music artiste was later taken to the State Criminal Investigation and Intelligence Department, Panti, Yaba, where he was charged before a mobile court after his statement had been taken.

During the court proceedings on Tuesday, it was learnt that Jaywon pleaded guilty and the presiding magistrate ordered him to pay a fine of N10,000. He was also sentenced to do community service for 30 minutes.

When contacted, the state Police Public Relations Officer, Bala Elkana, said Jaywon was among the 179 persons arrested for violating the curfew and refusing to use face masks in the state, adding that 79 vehicles were also impounded for violating the curfew.

Tanzania COVID-19 lab head suspended as president questions data

Tanzania has suspended the head of its national health laboratory in charge of coronavirus testing, a day after President John Magufuli questioned the accuracy of the tests.

Magufuli, who has consistently downplayed the effect of the virus, said on Sunday he had secretly had animals, fruits and vehicle oil tested at the laboratory. A papaya, a quail and a goat had been found to be positive, according to the president.

He cast doubt on the credibility of laboratory equipment and technicians and questioned official data on the pandemic.

The president called for an investigation in what he suspected is a “dirty game” in the laboratory, but did not say where the kits had been imported from.

“The equipment or people may be compromised and sometimes it can be sabotage,” Magufuli said in a speech broadcast live through state-run Tanzania Broadcasting Corporation (TBC).

Opposition legislator Zitto Kabwe, head of the Alliance for Change and Transparency, defended Nyambura Moremi, the laboratory director.

“Don’t get heartbroken by the way politics is interfering in technical issues,” he wrote on Twitter. “I trust you did your job professionally and you will remain one of the best scientists in Tanzania.”

Catherine Sungura, acting head of communications at the ministry of health, said in a statement on Monday the director of the laboratory and its quality assurance manager had been immediately suspended “to pave way for the investigation”.

Sungura said a 10-person committee had been formed to investigate the laboratory’s operations, including its process of collecting and testing samples.

On Sunday, Magufuli also fired the head of the government Medical Stores Department, which is in charge of distributing medical supplies and equipment to government hospitals, but gave no reason.

The East African country, which announced its first case on March 16, had recorded 480 cases of the virus and 16 deaths at its last update on Wednesday.

The opposition has accused the government of hiding information and failing to take the disease seriously.

Schools and universities have been shut but markets, bus stops and shops bustle as usual, with Magufuli urging citizens to continue working hard and not stop going to church or mosques.

COVID-19 infections and deaths reported across Africa have been relatively low compared with the United States, parts of Asia and Europe. But Africa also has extremely low levels of testing, with rates of only about 500 per a million people.