Brazil president Jair Bolsonaro has said he will not take a vaccine against the coronavirus even after it receives approval from his own government.
“I’m telling you, I won’t take it (the vaccine),” he said in a video posted to social media on Thursday. “It is my right.”
Brazil has recorded over 170,000 coronavirus deaths, according to an AFP tally, behind only the United States.
Bolsonaro faces criticism for his handling of the pandemic, which has included playing down the virus, opposing lockdown measures and relentlessly promoting the drug hydroxychloroquine despite studies showing it is ineffective against Covid-19.
He caught Covid-19 himself at the beginning of July, and more than half of his cabinet have tested positive for the virus in recent months.
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Once any treatment is approved by Brazil’s health regulatory authorities, his government will “immediately organize” its purchase and distribution to those who want it, he said in the video.
But he added he was “sure” that Brazil’s parliament would not make immunisation mandatory.
Many nations are pinning their hopes on a vaccine to end the misery of the pandemic, with two jabs on the cusp of approval by authorities after showing about 95 percent efficacy in trials.
On Wednesday, US-based pharmaceutical giant Pfizer gave the results of the tests of their candidate to the office of Brazil’s health regulators, a necessary step to approve and register the vaccine.
Brazil’s health ministry has already agreed to buy 100 million doses of a different vaccine developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University.
An Iranian diplomat goes on trial in Belgium on Friday accused of plotting to bomb an Iranian opposition rally outside Paris, in a case that has stoked tensions with Tehran.
The case shines an uncomfortable light on Tehran’s international activities just as it hopes for a thaw in relations with the West as US President Donald Trump, who pulled Washington out of the Iran nuclear deal, is due to leave office.
In June 2018, Belgian authorities thwarted what they said was an attempt to smuggle explosives to France to attack a meeting of one of Iran’s exiled opposition movements which was attended by close allies of US President Donald Trump.
Later that year, the French government accused Iran’s intelligence service of being behind the operation, a charge the Islamic republic has furiously denied.
Assadollah Assadi, a 48-year-old Iranian diplomat formerly based in Vienna, faces life in prison if convicted.
The National Council of Resistance in Iran (NCRI), which includes the People’s Mojahedin of Iran or (MEK), organised a rally in Villepinte outside Paris on June 30, 2018.
Several well-known international figures — including Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani and former British officials as well as Franco-Colombian former senator Ingrid Betancourt — and NCRI leader Maryam Rajavi were to attend.
On the same morning, Belgian police intercepted a Belgian-Iranian couple driving from Antwerp and carrying half-a-kilo of TATP explosives and a detonator.
“We can’t imagine the scale of the disaster averted,” said lawyer Georges-Henri Beauthier, who is representing the interests of the NCRI, along with French colleague William Bourdon.
Outside the court, Bourdon declared: “It’s an unprecedented, historic trial. It the first time that, symbolically, the mullahs’ regime is in the dock and will be judged through the case against its so-called diplomats.”
The arrested couple, 36-year-old Nassimeh Naami and 40-year-old Amir Saadouni, join Assadi in the dock, alongside another alleged accomplice, Mehrdad Arefani, 57.
All four are charged with attempting to carry out a terrorist attack and taking part in the activity of a terrorist group. All face life sentences.
Assadi was arrested while he was travelling through Germany where he had no immunity from prosecution, being outside of the country of his diplomatic posting.
Arefani, an Iranian poet who had lived in Belgium for more than a decade, was arrested in France in 2018 after Belgium issued a European arrest warrant.
– ‘Absolutely furious’ –
Counsel representing those targeted by the alleged attack say Arefani was close to Assadi, said to be the architect of the plot, and point to an Austrian SIM card found in his possession.
The two men deny any connection.
Dimitri de Beco, defence counsel for Assadi, has accused the civil plaintiffs of trying to turn the case into a political trial on behalf of the opposition movement.
According to Iran expert Francois Nicoullaud — a former French ambassador to Tehran — Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani was surprised to learn about the failed attack.
“Visiting Europe at the time, he was absolutely furious to learn about this intelligence service operation, on which he hadn’t been consulted,” the diplomat told AFP.
At the time of the alleged plot, Rouhani was trying to maintain the support of European capitals for the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, which was abandoned by the Trump administration but remains on life-support as European capitals try to keep Iran on board.
When Paris pointed the finger at Iranian intelligence, an Iranian spokesman voiced denial and alleged that opponents of the deal in “certain quarters” were attempting to frame Tehran.
The trial is scheduled to take two days, Friday and then Thursday next week. The court is then expected to adjourn to consider its verdict before ruling early next year.
It also comes a day after a prisoner swap that saw the release of three Iranians jailed over a 2012 bomb plot in Thailand, in exchange for the freeing of an Australian-British lecturer imprisoned by Tehran for alleged spying.
Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos State has read the riot act to gender violence offenders and rapists, insisting that there is no pardon for such people in Nigeria’s commercial nerve centre.
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“We will bring people who have been perpetrating this crimes, knowingly or unknowingly, to book,” the governor said on Thursday when he received a 54-page compendium on Sexual and Gender-Based Violence compiled by the Stakeholders’ Committee.
“We will ensure they never walk freely without the full wrath of the law brought upon them. It is part of our responsibility to ensure that the vulnerable members of our society have a voice and have access to where they can get justice when their rights are violated.”
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The governor who is the Incident Commander for gender-based violence in Lagos equally reassured of his government’s commitment to getting justice for victims violated, said his administration would be prioritising budgetary allocations to the Ministry of Justice for the acceleration of offenders’ prosecution.
“I am delighted by the work done by the Stakeholders’ Committee to bring attention to the problems facing voiceless adults and children in our society,” he added. “Through your efforts, vulnerable people are building the courage to speak out on offences of sexual violence and heal their wounds.”
He assured government agencies working in the areas of rehabilitation and integration of victims that his administration will back them to deliver on their mandates.
The First Lady of Lagos State, Ibijoke Sanwo-Olu during the event said: “The stakeholders have been having meetings for months and their discussions have focused on the key development pillars of the current administration as they relate to the rights of vulnerable citizens, especially those women and children.
“The Office of the First Lady has been working with the vision to reduce sexual and gender-based violence to the barest minimum if it is impossible to eradicate the crime. We have activated our response, bringing all stakeholders and communities on board to forge a common front in addressing the issue.”
The Supreme Court has dismissed an application filed by Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Limited seeking to set aside a January 11, 2019 judgement of the court upholding damages to the tune of N17bilion awarded against the oil company.
The apex court had on January 11, 2019 upheld an earlier judgment by the Court of Appeal, affirming a June 14, 2010 judgement of the Federal High Court which awarded the damages against Shell over an oil spill at Ejam-Ebulu in Tai Eleme Local Government Area of River State in 1970.
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Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has harped on the need for the country to develop an ecosystem of competent Nigerians who can secure jobs locally and internationally.
The former Lagos State Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice said this on Thursday during a virtual courtesy call from Huawei Nigeria led by its new CEO, Trevor Liu.
“I think that Huawei and the Federal Government should work as partners, not just a business relationship, but a relationship that also takes employment into account, especially with our young population,” a statement by his media aide, Laolu Akande, quoted the former Head of Department, Public Law, University of Lagos as saying.
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Osinbajo explained that “we need to develop an ecosystem of competent Nigerians who can work locally and get international jobs as well, a business-outsourcing-type arrangement.”
While commending the efforts put in place by Huawei in training Nigerians, the vice president reiterated the need to go beyond capacity building.
He said “every other technology company does training programmes, but that is not what I am looking for. I am looking at something that shows Huawei wants to be a partner with Nigeria, working together as a corporate organization that sees itself as a part of Nigeria’s future. There are loads of people who have done training but have no work.
“I want us to do something groundbreaking and different. Let’s see something that gives young people more than training, gives them some opportunity as well because this ecosystem will require a lot of people who see Huawei not just as a business but a brand that’s interested in them going forward.”
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Liu, while responding on behalf of the tech company, restated that the firm is investing in youths, noting that Huawei has a lot of Nigerians working for it and would continue to do more.
The Huawei CEO assured the Nigerian government that the company would deploy more resources to building young people and give a progress update, adding that the firm wants to position the country as the continent’s technology centre.
Those present at the virtual courtesy call include the Deputy Managing of Huawei, Otunba Lanre Odekunle, and the General Manager of Huawei in Nigeria, Michael Zhuang.