The Late 5: Saraki urges state assemblies to stop paying ex-governors, IOC lifts ban on Russia, and other top stories

These are the top five Nigerian stories that drove conversation today.

The Senate has said Federal Government ministries, departments and agencies are responsible for the delay in the passage of the 2018 Appropriation Bill.

The Upper Chamber said the agencies of the government had refused to submit details of their proposed 2018 budgets.

Vice-Chairman of the Committee on Appropriations made the disclosure on Wednesday.

The Independent National Electoral Commission on Wednesday announced dates for general elections in the country for the next 36 years, starting from 2019 to 2055.

Chairman of the commission, Prof. Mamood Yakubu, made the announcement at a consultative meeting with leaders of political parties in Abuja.

He pointed out that in other democracies of the world, periods of elections are generally known.

Minister of Interior, Abdulrahman Dambazau, has directed the Inspector-General of Police, Ibrahim Idris; and the Commandant-General of the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps, Abdullahi Muhammadu, to relocate to the North East.

The Presidency disclosed this on Wednesday in a series of messages posted on its Twitter handle.

The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) says 72 people have died of Lassa fever since January 1, 2018.

This is according to a situation report released by the centre.

According to the report, 1,081 suspected cases were reported in 18 states.

The states are Edo, Ondo, Bauchi, Nasarawa, Ebonyi, Anambra, Benue, Kogi, Imo, Plateau, Lagos, Taraba, Delta, Osun, Rivers, FCT, Gombe and Ekiti.

Of the suspected cases, 317 are said to be confirmed, while 72 deaths were also confirmed, eight of which are probable.

Senate President Bukola Saraki has called on House of Assemblies to pass the bill suspending payment of pension to former governors and deputy governors.

Kwara assembly passed the bill on Tuesday.

In a statement on Wednesday, Saraki commended Ali Ahmad, speaker of the assembly, for working to pass the bill.

And now, stories from around the world…

Russia’s Olympic membership has been restored by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) following its suspension from Pyeongchang 2018.

Russia was banned from February’s Games by the IOC over state-sponsored doping.

Despite the ban, 168 Russians competed as neutrals in South Korea, and two of them failed drugs tests.

About 700 churches have been closed down in Rwanda for failing to comply with building regulations and for noise pollution.

Most of them are small Pentecostal churches. One mosque was also closed.

A government official told the BBC that some of the more than 700 buildings shut down have already reopened after they were approved by inspectors.

According to a proposed new law, all preachers must have theological training before opening a church.

An EU proposal for the Northern Ireland border threatens the “constitutional integrity” of the United Kingdom, Theresa May has said.

The EU’s draft legal agreement proposes a “common regulatory area” after Brexit on the island of Ireland – in effect keeping Northern Ireland in a customs union – if no other solution is found.

Mrs May said “no UK prime minister could ever agree” to this.

The sudden retirement of a top US State Department diplomat dedicated to North Korea policy is raising concerns that the Trump administration lacks the experienced personnel needed to peacefully rein in Pyongyang’s nuclear program.

Joseph Yun, who is in his early 60s, told CNN on Tuesday that it was “completely my decision to retire at this time” and that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson accepted his resignation “with regret.”

A source close to Yun said the decision to step away from his diplomatic post was the result of a combination of factors and was not intended as a protest statement.

Prince Harry’s bride-to-be Meghan Markle has said she will “hit the ground running” in her work to empower girls and women in the UK.

Her appearance at the Make a Difference Together forum in London on Wednesday marks the first time Markle has appeared in public representing the Royal Foundation, which was launched in 2011 by Prince William and his younger brother Harry.

Referring to the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements, Markle said there was “no better time” to “shine a light on women feeling empowered and people really helping to support them, men included.”

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