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Robbers invade Nnamdi Azikiwe University students’ hostel, rape and rob victims

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No fewer than 10 female students have been raped and robbed when armed robbers invaded six off-campus student hostels at Ifite, near the Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, Anambra State.

According to sources, the hoodlums, numbering about 20 stormed the area at about 8:00 pm on Thursday, going from one hostel to another until 5:00 am on Friday, during which they robbed students of their valuables and raped some female students.

This was barely a few days after hoodlums also killed some security men and a 200-level student of the institution around the area.

It was gathered that the hoodlums have been visiting restaurants and bars robbing students and bar owners at gunpoint between 7:00 pm and 9:00 pm on a daily basis.

This situation led to an emergency security meeting of the Anambra State Police Command, with the management of Nnamdi Azikwe University, the Student Union Government, and the commissioner for homeland security affairs.

The meeting which took place at the Vice Chancellor’s conference hall was aimed at addressing the recent security breaches in some of the hostels along Ifite.

A victim of the incident, who simply identified herself as Nkiru, told journalists that the robbers were heavily armed with guns, axes and machetes, adding that the hoodlums made away with their money, phones, laptops and others.

She said those injured by the hoodlums were those who showed some resistance when the hoodlums knocked at their doors.

“I was in my hostel when we had gunshots that lasted for about 10 minutes and most of us ran to hide at the back of some shops in the area. We are still struggling to discourage one of the female students that were raped from hurting herself further. She was a virgin and they raped her twice and we are holding her because she wants to commit suicide,” she added.

Another source added that residents of the area placed a call to the state governor, Prof. Chukwuma Soludo, and shortly after the situation was calmed as some security personnel came to the scene around 6:00 am.

The state police spokesman, Mr Tochukwu Ikenga, who confirmed the incident, said the security operatives stormed the area as soon as they were alerted, adding that they were able to battle the criminals to a standstill.

Ikenga confirmed further that a joint meeting between the university authorities and the security operatives was held on Friday with a representative of the Anambra State government.

He noted that the command has since embarked on an intensive patrol, improved operational positioning, and deployment of covert operatives as a solution to the security situation in the area.

He said during the meeting, the police also emphasised the need for cooperation and actionable intelligence among the community members.

Education

JAMB apprehends 6 CBT operators in Kano

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The Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB) said it apprehended six operators of Computer Based Test (CBT) centres in Kano State over alleged illicit registration of candidates for 2023 Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME).

Registrar of the Board, Prof. Ishaq Oloyede, disclosed this after monitoring the registration in Kano State on Wednesday.

He said that the operators had compromised the registration process, adding that those apprehended would be handed over to security agents for prosecution.

“JAMB will not condone any infringement on its registration flow by the technical officials of any of its accredited centres.

“Over 500,000 candidates have registered for the 2023 Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination,’’ he said.

He said that JAMB’s target this year was 1.8 million candidates, adding that there would not be an extension of the closing date.

The registrar said, “We do not expect any extension as about 500,000 candidates have registered out of the 1.8 million candidates that we are expecting.’’

He said that the ongoing exercise would end on Feb. 14.

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JAMB suspends three UTME pin vendors in Lagos over extortion

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The Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB) has suspended three Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME) pin vendors in Lagos state over alleged extortion of candidates during registration.

In a statement, the board said Ishaq Oloyede, the registrar, ordered the immediate suspension of the vendors while inspecting some registration centres in the state on Tuesday.

Oloyede said the vendors engaged in “criminal extortion” of innocent candidates participating in the 2023 UTME registration exercise.

The registrar said the board will not condone any act designed to compromise the standard of the examination process.

“You see, from my interaction with these candidates, I have discovered that three of the agents vending the PINS are over-charging the candidates,” he said.

“Rather than the stipulated N5,700, they go as far as charging N6,500 and N8,700. The Mock fee not included. One of the banks, in connivance with remita, charged N8,500, but issued receipt of N5,700 to the unsuspecting candidates.

“All these persons found culpable will be given an opportunity to defend their actions and if their excuses are not justified, they will be banned from further transactions with the board.”

The development comes a few days after JAMB also suspended eTranzact from vending the 2023 UTME e-pins over alleged extortion.

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Usman Danfodio University researchers submit COVID vaccine for preclinical trials in Nigeria

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Researchers at the Usman Danfodio University (UDUS) have submitted a COVID vaccine candidate for preclinical trials in Nigeria.

UDUS is among insitutions engaged by the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund) under its vaccine development mega research project to produce COVID vaccines within 18 months.

It is understood that the institution was tasked with designing a DNA vaccine candidate.

Other institutions are the University of Jos (Unijos), National Veterinary Research Institute (NVRI), Nigeria Medical Research Institute (NMRI), and the National Research Institute for Chemical Technology (NARICT), Zaria.

Lawal Bilbis, UDUS vice-chancellor, presented the vaccine candidate to Sonny Echono, executive secretary of TETFund, on Monday.

Bilbis said despite the challenges encountered, the vaccine candidate was produced within 11 months of the receipt of the first tranche of the TETFund grant, adding that the development demonstrates the ability of indigenous scientists to solve problems using home-grown resources.

“The milestone portrays our expertise in the application of state-of-the art technologies to rapidly develop vaccine candidates against any emerging or re-emerging Infectious diseases in Nigeria,” he said.

“Let me at this juncture inform the executive secretary that through the support of TETFund, researchers in this University have been able to work on many other high-impact projects that are already yielding promising results.

“As I speak, we have successfully designed and constructed a recombinant DNA vaccine targeting all the lineages of Lassa virus circulating in Nigeria, using a TETFund national research fund (NRF) grant.

“Additionally, TETFund COVID-19 special intervention research grant has supported our study on the innovative approach to rapidly identify potential therapeutics for COVID-19.

“The study identified seven orthodox medicines for repurposing and two herbal medicines with significant inhibitory activities against the virus that causes COVID-19.

“Indeed, there are many more TETFund-supported projects, too numerous to mention, which are helping our researchers to showcase their talents and skills, while at the same time, assisting to solve the nation’s problems. We remain extremely grateful to TETFund for its support.”

In his remarks, Echono commended the efforts and output by the insitution in terms of research and development.

He called on Nigerian researchers not to relent in delivering homemade COVID vaccines, adding that the research project is one out of four projects supported by TETFund, at a total sum of N1,250,000,000.

He said the aim of the project is to “strengthen collaborative research by promoting decentralised cooperation involving clusters of researchers from different institutions to consolidate problem-solving research and promote innovation in Nigeria”.

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