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University of Edinburgh spin-out aims to improve genomic data access

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Scientists at the University of Edinburgh have launched a spinout company that aims to democratise genetic data access and cut from days to minutes the time it takes to analyse millions of genetic records.
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A spinout from the University of Edinburgh is aiming to improve access to genetic data in order to support the discovery and development of new treatments.

Omecu was launched with the support of Edinburgh Innovations, the University’s commercialisation service, It draws upon three years of research led by Dr Oriol Canela-Xandri at the MRC Human Genetics Unit, within the University of Edinburgh’s Institute of Genetics and Cancer, and Dr Konrad Rawlik at the University’s Roslin Institute.

The company hopes to offer benefits in drug discovery and personalised medicine, while improving patient data security. The company has developed a computation engine and web platform that it hopes will improve how genomic data is securely accessed and efficiently analysed.

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Although genomic data has increased substantially in the past decade, there are obstacles to accessing data effectively, making the process costly and time-consuming.

Dr Canela-Xandri, who is a Chancellor’s Fellow at the University, said: “Our ambition is to create a paradigm shift where disease experts without a computer science background are able to easily query fragmented data sets, while cutting costs and without requiring the data-holding organisation to expose the data itself.

“Our recent funding awards mean we can now accelerate the development of our prototype and move towards a commercial product.”

The spin-out was recently awarded £288,000 from Innovate UK, which will allow Omecu to refine its prototype and progress commercial engagement.

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Dr George Baxter, CEO of Edinburgh Innovations, added: “Genomic data holds great promise for humanity, and the Omecu team have found a way to make it far easier for clinicians to make use of that data. We’re extremely proud to help researchers to launch a company with such potential.”

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Fidelity Bank renovates classroom blocks, commissions ATM gallery in Zaria

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Leading financial institution, Fidelity Bank Plc has commissioned the newly renovated Madrasatul Anwarul Islam school in Zaria, Kaduna State, as part of its Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiatives targeted across Nigeria.

Established over five decades ago by the emir’s father, late Maga in garin Zazzau, Alhaji Nuhu Bamalli, Madrasatul Anwarul Islam is the alma mater of the current Emir of Zazzau and has produced several notable personalities in the country.

The bank also inaugurated a state-of-the-art Automatic Teller Machine (ATM) gallery to drive financial inclusion within the community.

Speaking at the official project commissioning event on June 18 Executive Director, North Directorate, Fidelity Bank Plc, Hassan Imam, said the bank’s decision to renovate the school was borne out of its commitment to make learning conducive for both students and teachers across the country.

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According to Imam, “Our CSR footprint extends beyond education, healthcare and youth empowerment initiatives across the country as we are driven by the belief that we can only succeed as an organization when the people and community where we do business succeed.

“That is why we have taken it upon ourselves to help upgrade the facilities here at Madrasatul Anwarul Islam. Our hope is that the teachers and students in the school will put the facility to good use.

“As part of our commitment to drive financial inclusion across the country and boost commerce in Zaria in particular, we have installed an ATM gallery at the emir’s palace.

“We hope this would make financial services easier and accessible to members of the Zaria community in line with our mission as a bank and thank the emir, His Royal Highness, Alhaji Ahmed Nuhu Bamalli, for his support in executing this project as well”, he said.

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Applauding the bank for its gesture towards promoting education and commerce in Zaria, HRM Ambassador Alhaji Ahmed Nuhu Bamalli encouraged members of the community to put the facilities to good use and protect them against vandalism.

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The monarch urged businesses and merchants to patronize the bank as a way of appreciating their efforts in developing the community.

Fidelity Bank is a full-fledged commercial bank operating in Nigeria with over 6.7 million customers serviced across its 250 business offices and digital banking channels.

The bank was recently recognized as the Best SME Bank Nigeria 2022 by the Global Banking & Finance Awards.

The bank has also won awards for the “Fastest Growing Bank” and “MSME & Entrepreneurship Financing Bank of the Year” at the 2021 BusinessDay Banks and Other Financial Institutions (BAFI) Awards.

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Supreme Court Sets Aside Ban On Use Of Hijabs In Lagos Schools

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The Supreme Court has set aside, the restriction the Lagos state government placed on the use of hijab by female Muslim students in its public primary and secondary schools.

In a split decision of a seven-man panel of Justices, of five to two, the Apex court affirmed the earlier decision of the Lagos Division of Court of Appeal, which nullified a High Court judgement that banned female students from wearing Hijab with their school uniforms.

The court, in its lead majority verdict prepared by Justice Kudirat Kekere-Ekun but read by Justice Tijani Abubakar, dismissed as lacking in merit, an appeal Lagos state government lodged against the Court of Appeal decision.

The Supreme Court said it found no reason to reinstate the October 17, 2014 judgement by Justice Grace Onyeabo of the High Court of Lagos State, which upheld the ban on Hijab.

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PHOTO STORY: Multi-billion naira assets traced to suspended Accountant-General Ahmed Idris

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An online news platform, Premium Times, has obtained images of some of the multi-billion naira assets allegedly owned by the suspended Accountant General of the Federation (AGF), Ahmed Idris.

The properties which are mostly in Kano, his home state in Nigeria’s northwestern region, are said to be worth billions of naira, significantly more than his monthly salary as a public officer.

Part of the assets is the Gezawa Commodity Market in Kano State.

Also, an Ultra-Modern Mall, located in Kano State, is said by sources at the EFCC to be worth more than N700 million.

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From the pictures obtained, the mall is built with bricks and sited on a large expanse of land.

However, while the major exterior works have been perfected, work is still ongoing inside with facilities like elevators and escalators being installed.

The accountant-general had in 2021 launched Gezawa Commodity Market and Exchange Limited which he had openly admitted to owning.

Assets traced to suspended Accountant-General Ahmed Idris
Assets traced to suspended Accountant-General Ahmed Idris

Mr Idris reportedly made the remarks when he met with a delegation of the Kano Concerned Citizens Initiative led by its then chairman, the late Bashir Tofa.

The enclosed market is made up of over 20 blocks of shops painted yellow and a spacious parking space.

The space is occupied by fleets of pick-up vans. Our reporter cannot independently ascertain if the new vehicles belong to the suspended official.

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EFCC investigations

Mr Idris is being investigated by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) over allegations of corruption I involving over N80 billion in alleged looted public funds.

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The suspended AGF, although released after spending nights in the EFCC custody, is also facing allegations of criminal conspiracy.

Our sources said the EFCC has for some time now been investigating a case of diversion of at least N80 billion in public funds which were allegedly laundered through some bogus contracts.

The companies used in laundering the funds have allegedly been linked to family members and associates of the suspended accountant-general, investigators said.

The Finance Minister, Zainab Ahmed, suspended the accountant-general without pay on May 18, following his arrest and interrogation over corruption allegations.

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Assets traced to suspended Accountant-General Ahmed Idris
Assets traced to suspended Accountant-General Ahmed Idris

The minister said his suspension was to begin effectively on May 18, 2022.

“Following your recent arrest by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on allegations of diversion of funds and money laundering, I write to convey your suspension from work without pay effective 18th May 2022,” the minister’s letter read in part

Others connected to the alleged diversion have also been arrested.

A former governor of Zamfara State, Abdulaziz Yari, was also arrested over “N22bn SURE-P fraud” linked to the accountant-general.

Mr Yari is yet to be released from the EFCC’s custody as he is still being grilled on other corruption accusations related to Mr Idris.

Assets traced to suspended Accountant-General Ahmed Idris
Assets traced to suspended Accountant-General Ahmed Idris

PREMIUM TIMES reported last week how the former governor is also being investigated for allegedly conspiring with the suspended AGF to siphon an estimated N84billion in public funds.

Those familiar with the matter told this newspaper that the diverted funds were part of the 13 per cent derivation funds meant for payment to eight oil-producing states.

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Assets traced to suspended Accountant-General Ahmed Idris
Assets traced to suspended Accountant-General Ahmed Idris
Assets traced to suspended Accountant-General Ahmed Idris
Assets traced to suspended Accountant-General Ahmed Idris
Assets traced to suspended Accountant-General Ahmed Idris
Assets traced to suspended Accountant-General Ahmed Idris
Assets traced to suspended Accountant-General Ahmed Idris
Assets traced to suspended Accountant-General Ahmed Idris
Assets traced to suspended Accountant-General Ahmed Idris
Assets traced to suspended Accountant-General Ahmed Idris
Assets traced to suspended Accountant-General Ahmed Idris
assets traced to suspended Accountant-General Ahmed Idris
Assets traced to suspended Accountant-General Ahmed Idris
Assets traced to suspended Accountant-General Ahmed Idris
Assets traced to suspended Accountant-General Ahmed Idris
Assets traced to suspended Accountant-General Ahmed Idris
Assets traced to suspended Accountant-General Ahmed Idris

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