Friday, 19 January 2018
Items filtered by date: January 2018

Former Super Eagles captain Nwankwo Kanu has alerted to plans to take over his Hardley Suites on Victoria Island, Lagos.

He said although the matter is in court, an agency is about to “forcibly seize” the property.

A statement yesterday by Kanu, the initiator of the Kanu Heart Foundation, lamented that the property, which is a growing concern in the hospitality industry, was put under the temporary possession of the Assets Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) by an ex-parte order on account of a purported indebtedness which is yet to be proved. The statement claimed that there were plans to sell the hotel under a secret arrangement.”

Kanu said: “While I remain resolute in my decision to respect the sanctity of our law courts, I am however constrained to issue this statement to call on well-meaning Nigerians and all men/women of good conscience around the globe to prevail on AMCON to do same. This has become necessary in the light of some bizarre actions of self-help embarked upon by AMCON in vandalising/stripping the assets, under the guise of renovations, but ostensibly with a clandestine design to brazenly sell or hand it to a third party under secret terms and thus complicate/further stall this matter.”

Kanu said he felt pained that his prized possession was at the risk of being taken away. He said funding for surgery and treatment of many heart victims by the Kanu Heart Foundation had come from his earnings at the Hardley Apartments.

The matter will come up for hearing before a Federal High Court on February 14.

Published in Headliners

Two Americans and two Canadians have been kidnapped in an ambush in Kaduna state, northern Nigeria, police said on Wednesday, in the latest abduction targeting foreigners.

State police spokesman Mukhtar Aliyu said “unknown armed men” seized the four on the road to Abuja at 7:00 pm (1800 GMT) on Tuesday.

“They engaged in a fierce gun battle with the two police escorts attached to the expatriates, who unfortunately lost their lives,” he added.

No further details were given and Aliyu said “every possible means” were being employed to rescue the four abductees and arrest the kidnappers.

A spokesman for the US Embassy in Abuja said he had no comment to make when contacted by AFP while there was no immediate response from the Canadian High Commission.

Kidnapping has long been a problem in Nigeria’s southern states, where high-profile individuals, including the families of prominent politicians, are regularly seized.

Victims are usually released after several days once a ransom is paid.

In recent years the crime has spread across the country as the economy has stalled. A crackdown on cattle rustling has been blamed for rising numbers of abductions in the north.

In October last year, an armed gang seized four British missionaries working for a medical charity in the oil-rich but impoverished state of Delta in the south.

One of the hostages was killed while the three other hostages were later released.

Also in October, the Vatican said an Italian priest was kidnapped near Benin City, the capital of Edo state, which borders Delta state to the north. He was also later released.

Last February, two German archaeologists from the Goethe University in Frankfurt were kidnapped from an excavation site in Kaduna state.

The site was off the main road linking the airport north of the state capital Kaduna city with Abuja, some 220 kilometres (137 miles) away.

The pair were freed after several days.

Safety on the Kaduna-Abuja road came under intense scrutiny last year when the federal government announced the closure of the capital’s only airport for essential runway repairs.

Many foreign missions and companies advised staff to limit their travel during the closure period, as all domestic and some international flights were switched to Abuja.

In July 2016, Sierra Leone’s defence attaché to Nigeria was kidnapped by men in military fatigues armed with AK-47 rifles at a fake checkpoint on the Abuja-Kaduna road.

Published in News & Stories
Thursday, 18 January 2018 04:14

Kogi governor endorses cattle colony

Governor Yahaya Bello of Kogi State says the cattle colony concept of the Federal Government is wrongly being perceived by segments of the society, noting that it would benefit farmers, herdsmen and the citizenry.

He reiterated his administration’s commitment to the proposal due to what he described as its immense benefits to the citizens.In a statement yesterday in Lokoja by his Chief Press Secretary, Petra Akinti Onyegbule, the governor said the President Muhammadu Buhari administration was taking the measure to urgently curb the incessant bloody clashes between farmers and herdsmen across the federation.

“This move will also enhance the security of lives and property of the people of Kogi State,” he added.Bello allayed the fears of residents on communal ownership of land, saying the policy is not an indirect attempt by the Federal Government to hand over their hereditary to herdsmen.

He continued: “To ensure that everyone is carried along, Kogi State through the Ministry of Agriculture will soon be embarking on a series of stakeholders’ engagements to sensitise the people, farmers, cattle breeders and other stakeholders on the implementation of the new policy.

“Traditional rulers, leaders of various communities, opinion leaders, religious leaders and the entire citizens will be carried along in the course of the engagement, so that we can collectively study the merits and demerits of the policy.

“The insinuations and speculations from various quarters nationwide that the Federal Government is conspiring to take over communal land and give it to herdsmen are far from truth.

“The planned cattle colonies are for the interest of our people.”Bello pledged to ensure the safety of lives and property of the citizens through implementation of viable policies and programmes.

Published in Business and Economy
Thursday, 18 January 2018 04:11

Suicide blasts kill 10 in Maiduguri

Ten people were killed and dozens injured on Wednesday in a double suicide-bomb attack in the northeast Nigerian city of Maiduguri, a civilian militia leader and a resident told AFP.

The blasts happened in the Muna Garage area of the Borno state capital, in a market used mainly by internally displaced people (IDPs) from a nearby camp.

“I can confirm that 10 people have died in the attack,” said Ibrahim Liman, of the Civilian Joint Taskforce (CJTF), which assists the military with security against Boko Haram.

Liman initially gave the death toll as three but he added: “Seven more bodies were brought in from the UMTH (University of Maiduguri Teaching Hospital).

“Now the number of injured is 52,” he said.

“Two under-aged girls, aged about 13, struck at the market at about 4:10 pm (1510 GMT) — a peak hour. The first bomber set off her explosives in a sparsely populated part of the market.

“Moments later, the second bomber set off her explosives in the crowded part of the market. That was where most of the casualties were recorded.”

Liman’s account was supported by local resident Dahiru Bulama, who said soldiers had cordoned off the area as the injured were evacuated to hospital for treatment. 

“The attack was really bad. The casualty toll could be high. We were not allowed to go near,” he added.

“But I saw one car parked across the road that was splattered with blood and flesh.”

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack but Boko Haram has repeatedly used young girls and women as suicide bombers to attack civilian “soft targets”.

IDP camps, including the one at Muna Garage, markets and mosques have been hit. Army and CJTF security posts have also been targeted.

Twelve people were killed on November 15 when four suicide bombers — two men and two women — blew themselves up in the Muna area of Maiduguri.

Wednesday’s attacks comes after Boko Haram jihadists killed nine people on Monday in two separate attacks — one in the Ngala area of Borno and the second in neighbouring Adamawa.

The attack in Ngala saw six people shot dead as they collected firewood to sell to IDPs.

Civilians have borne the brunt of the casualties in the nearly conflict, with at least 20,000 killed and more than 2.6 million others made homeless since 2009.

Published in Headliners

A chief magistrate court in Abuja has remanded the publisher of Daily Times Newspaper, Fidelis Anosike, in prison custody.

Also remanded in prison is the managing director of the company Noel Anosike.

Both men were arrested on Monday by the police following a complaint of forgery and impersonation as legal owners of Daily Times Nigeria PLC, and were charged before the court on Tuesday.

According to the first information report filed by the police, the Anosike brothers are said to have presented themselves as the current directors of Daily Times of Nigeria PLC to open and operate accounts in the name of the company and received several billions of naira in the process.

The two suspects were also accused of fraudulently collecting monies from members of the public on behalf of Daily Times of Nigeria for anniversary celebration and heroes award.

The Anosike brothers are also said to have defrauded senator Ikechukwu Obiora of the sum of one hundred million naira for a non-existent printing factory in the FCT.

They both pleaded not guilty to the charge against them, and applied orally for bail.

But chief magistrate Azubuike Ukagu declined the request for bail on grounds that the offences carry a maximum term of fourteen years on conviction.

He ordered the prosecution to prepare to present its witnesses on the adjourned date of February 14, 2018.

The suspects were ordered to be remanded in prison custody pending trial.

Published in News & Stories

‘I’m worried, concerned’

Ortom insists no land for cattle colony in Benue

President Muhammadu Buhari has directed security agencies to fish out the herdsmen who killed no fewer than 73 farmers in New Year’s Day in Benue State.

Victims of the incident were buried last Thursday in Makurdi amid a nationwide outrage.

Governor Samuel Ortom told reporters that the President gave the order during a meeting with the state’s leaders of thought on the security situation.

At the meeting were Deputy Governor Benson Abounu, Tor Tiv Prof. James Ayatse, Ochi Idoma, former Senate President David Mark, Senator George Akume, Senator Barnabas Gemade, Gen. Lawrence Onoja (retd.), Speaker Terkimbir Kyambe and Senator Joseph Waku, amog others.

Presidential spokesman Femi Adesina quoted President Buhari as telling the delegation:

“Your Excellency, the governor, and all the leaders here, I am appealing to you to try to restrain your people. I assure you that the Police, the Department of State Security and other security agencies had been directed to ensure that all those behind the mayhem get punished.

“I ask you in the name of God to accommodate your country men. You can also be assured that I am just as worried, and concerned with the situation.’’

The President told the delegation that his administration had already begun a process of finding lasting solution to the perennial challenge of herdsmen conflict with farmers and communities around the country.

The Tor-Tiv, said his domain had been thrown into mourning due to the incessant attacks.

“We want you to put an end to the gruesome situation.’’

Ortom said Benue leaders demanded that the killer-herdsmen be arrested and prosecuted.

His words: “The situation as at today is relatively calm, although there are pockets of issues. For the past five days we have witnessed two killings compared to what was happening before. Other places are relatively calm. The security men and the IGP and the Benue State Government have been working day and night to ensure that we bring the situation under control and stop the killings.

“There are still security issues from one town to the other, like some few  days ago we had an uproar in Makurdi Local Government, headquarters of Benue State where some hoodlums wanted to take advantage. That is one of the things we have discovered in trying to create confusion so that they can go in there and loot.

‘We have made it known that for us in Benue State is that there is no room for anyone taking laws into his hands. It is expected even when you are offended or someone violates the law, the best thing to do is to report, by that we will be able to meet our sanctions on such people. But when you take laws into your hand,  you are inviting anarchy and we will not accept this.

“So we are here to appreciate Mr. President for providing security. Yesterday (Sunday), we also received relief materials based on his directives to NEMA and is being shared among the five IDP camps that we have in Benue State.

“But beyond that we made strong appeal to Mr. President to arrest those people that perpetrated this act, the Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore, because they are not above the law. They made inciting statements against our people and they came and perpetrated this act. We are law abiding citizens; we are not going to let our people go out of control.”

The governor was full of praises for Buhari. He said: “We believe in the leadership of Mr.  President because he is disciplined and is an upright man and we believe he will be able to sanction this people and he did assure us that there is no room for impunity, the law of the land must take its cause. So, those perpetrators…; the IG was at the meeting; he directed the IG to arrest those who perpetrated this act and prosecute them according to the law.

“And he assured us that he would do everything possible to ensure that Benue State lives peacefully and there are no further killings. So, basically, that is why we came to see Mr. President.”

Asked if the issue of arming militia groups came up, Ortom said that the allegation was false.

He said: “It is not true. I see that as distraction, completely from the main issue that we are talking about. These people were not even arrested in Benue State. If we are being killed in the magnitude that we saw and we had weapons of what I saw in the media, I know that five AK 47s can sack a whole community. So if we had such weapons and I as governor my local government had been attacked and people killed, property destroyed and so on, so will I go and sponsor militia in Taraba State? I organised an amnesty programme, which saw  the disarmament of over  800 youths and more than 700 weapons were turned in which were destroyed in the presence of security men and the UN and the committee on small weapons and light arms from the Presidency.

“So it is not true; it is false. It is meant to turn facts away from the reality that is happening on ground.”

Ortom said the meeting with the President was at the instance of Benue State as he defended the anti-open grazing law made by his administration but which the Fuluni are opposed to.

“The law is a win win; it provides security for  the herdsmen and the farmers. And as far as we are concerned the implementation of the law is going on smoothly.

“We have also arrested more than 18 herdsmen who violated the law and they were arraigned before the court of law.”

Ortom said that the state  is open to suggestions from the Federal Government on finding a lasting solution.

“The Minister of Agriculture happens to be a son of the soil. There are many options that are put on the table.

“Like I told you the last time I came here, I did not understand what cattle colonies meant. Today, I was privileged to meet him and he did explain to me that a colony is many ranches in one place, restricted in one place. So, for us in Benue State, there is no 10,000 hectares; they are looking for 5,000 hectares, we have no 10,000 hectares to allow it for that kind of a thing to take plac.”

Kaduna State Governor Nasir El-Rufai said the Federal Government had very clear plans to end herders/farmers clashes in the country.

The governor told reporters after laying a wreath to mark the Armed Forces Remembrance Day in Kaduna that the issue was being tackled head-on.

“We met with the Minister of Interior. There are very clear plans to curtail these issues. I  want to assure everyone, the President and other security agencies are doing their best.’’

Published in Headliners

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has asked the Federal High Court in Lagos to order the temporary forfeiture of $8,435,788.84 and N7.35bn suspected to be owned by Mrs. Patience Jonathan.

The EFCC yesterday told Justice Mojisola Olatoregun that the funds, which it believes came from Bayelsa State, were found in 15 bank accounts linked with the wife of former President Goodluck Jonathan.

The anti-graft agency’s counsel, Mr. Rotimi Oyedepo, said the order would prevent Mrs Jonathan from dissipating them.

According to the EFCC, the funds were moved from Bayelsa State’s coffers at a time when the former First Lady served as a permanent secretary.

The agency alleged that Mrs. Jonathan gained access to the funds by fraudulently assuming the identity of one Esther Oba as the signatory to the said account.

The EFCC’s claims were contained in an ex parte application presented by Oyedepo before Justice Olatoregun.

The proceedings were, however, interrupted by a train of Senior Advocates of Nigeria (SANs) led by Mr. Ifedayo Adedipe (SAN) and Chief Mike Ozekhome (SAN), who challenged the court’s jurisdiction to entertain the ex parte application.

The SANs told the judge that the funds, which the EFCC seeks to seize, were already subject of litigation.

But Oyedepo maintained that the SANs had no right of hearing in the court, since his application was ex parte.

Wondering how they got wind of the move by the anti-graft agency, he urged the judge to disregard their appearance.

The judge upheld Oyedepo’s submission, following which the SANs left the courtroom.

In view of the development, the judge adjourned till January 23, 2018 and directed the EFCC to file an affidavit to convince the court that there were no pending lawsuits relating to the funds sought to be forfeited.

In the said ex parte application, the EFCC listed Patience Jonathan and five firms and Esther Oba as respondents.

The firms that were listed as second to sixth defendants were Globus Integrated Services Ltd., Finchley Top Homes Ltd., Am-Pm Global Network Ltd., Pagmat Oil And Gas Ltd. and Magel Resort Ltd.

The ex parte application was backed by a 15-paragraph affidavit deposed to by an investigator with the EFCC, Huleji Tukura.

Tukura claimed that investigation by the anti-graft agency revealed that the funds found in the bank accounts linked to Patience emanated from the coffers of Bayelsa State and that the funds were moved at a time when the former First Lady served as a permanent secretary in one of the ministries in Bayelsa State.

According to Tukura, Patience first opened a First Bank account and then “procured” the then Senior Special Assistant to former President Goodluck Jonathan on Domestic Affairs, Waripamo-Owei Dudafa, to fund the account with “proceeds of unlawful activities.”

Tukura averred, “That the said Dudafa Warripamo-Owei procured one Festus Isidohomen Iyoha and Arivi Eneji Peter, who were domestic staff attached to the State House, Abuja, to deposit the funds, reasonably suspected to be proceeds of unlawful activities, in the account of the 1st respondent (Patience).

“That in depositing the funds into the account of the 1st respondent, the said domestic staff, in a bid to conceal their identity, deposited the funds, reasonably suspected to be proceeds of unlawful act, into the 1st respondent’s account, using fictitious names.

“That the total sum of $4,036,750.00 (Four million, thirty-six thousand, seven hundred and fifty United States’ dollars) reasonably suspected to be proceeds of unlawful activities, were deposited into account No. 2022648664 domiciled in First Bank Plc in the name of the 1st respondent.

“That on the 28th day of September, 2016, the 1st respondent, in dissipating the property sought to be forfeited, transferred the sum of $3,640,794.72 to the 1st respondent’s account No. 2031277178 domiciled in First Bank Plc.

“That on the 5th day of October, 2016, the 1st respondent withdrew the sum of $1,000,000.00 cash from the said account leaving the balance of the sum of $3,645,013.73 which sum we are urging this honourable court to forfeit in the interim to the Federal Government of Nigeria.

“That as at the time the various sums were deposited in into exhibit EFCC01, the 1st respondent was a serving permanent secretary in the employment of the Bayelsa State Government.

“That the funds sought to be forfeited to the Federal Government of Nigeria are not the 1st respondent’s lawful earnings but are rather reasonably suspected to be proceeds of unlawful activities.”

The investigator further explained that the firms mentioned in the application were not into “any legitimate income-yielding business venture” but were rather incorporated at the Corporate Affairs Commission for the purpose of warehousing proceeds of unlawful activities for the former First Lady.

He claimed that every now and then domestic servants at the Presidential Villa were sent to deposit money into the company’s accounts for Patience.

“The depositors into this account are domestic staff of State House, Abuja, who were procured by the said Dudafa Waripamo-Owei to deposit the funds sought to be forfeited in a bid to conceal the true origin of the funds,” Tukura said.

Making specific reference to Globus Integrated Services Ltd., Tukura said, “None of the Directors of the 3rd Respondent are signatories to the said account.

Published in Business and Economy

Barcelona’s Ousmane Dembele has been ruled out for “three to four weeks” in a new blow for the French forward, his club announced on Monday.

Dembele hurt himself after coming off the bench in the second half of Sunday’s 4-2 win away to Real Sociedad in La Liga.

The injury is different to the hamstring tear that ruled him out for three and half months.

“After the game against Real Sociedad, Dembele had a problem with his left thigh and tests have confirmed that the player has suffered a hamstring injury of the semitendinosus muscle that does not affect the area operated on earlier in the season,” Barcelona said in a statement published on their website.

“The injury will mean he will be out for a period of around three to four weeks.”

He now faces a race against time to be ready for the first leg of Barca’s Champions League tie against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge on February 20.

Dembele only returned at the start of this month after tearing his hamstring in September.

The fitness problems have blighted the start of his career at Barcelona following his 105-million-euro ($124 million) move from Borussia Dortmund in August that could rise to as much as 145 million euros.

Barcelona also said that Andres Iniesta “has a problem in his right calf and his recovery will determine his return to action for the coming matches.”

Iniesta was an unused substitute in Sunday’s game as Barcelona came from two goals down to win 4-2 at Anoeta.

Ernesto Valverde’s side are already unable to call on new record signing Philippe Coutinho until the end of the month after he arrived with a thigh injury following his Spanish record 160 million-euro transfer from Liverpool.

Published in News & Stories
Tuesday, 16 January 2018 02:22

Decision on Sanchez in 48 hours says Wenger

Arsene Wenger confirmed he expects Alexis Sanchez’s future to be resolved imminently after the Arsenal forward was left out of his side’s 2-1 defeat at Bournemouth.

Sanchez, who becomes free agent at the end of this season, is a target for Manchester United and Manchester City who came close to signing the Chile international on the final day of the last transfer window.

United have emerged as strong contenders because of their willingness to meet Arsenal’s £35 million ($48 million, 39 million euros) asking price, with the possibility of Henrikh Mkhitaryan being included as part of any deal.

Wenger insists all options remain open but felt unable to select the player for the visit to the Vitality Stadium although he insisted Sanchez was willing to play.

“Alexis would have played,” said the Arsenal manager. “But it’s a difficult period for him. He’s always been committed until now but he could have moved yesterday, today or not.

“It will be decided in the next 48 hours. It was a bit difficult for him because he was on stand-by, a little bit. That’s why I decided not to do it. He did not refuse to play.”

Asked if a deal was imminent, Wenger said: “I don’t master the rhythm of that but it could happen today, tomorrow or not at all. That’s why I didn’t take a decision (to select him)…I didn’t want to travel with him and suddenly he goes somewhere.”

Wenger, who criticised his side’s lack of cutting edge as they squandered a number of chances before allowing Bournemouth to recover from falling behind to Hector Bellerin’s opening goal to win through strikes from Callum Wilson and Jordon Ibe, insisted he would recruit a new forward to replace Sanchez if the forward left.

“Look, if Sanchez goes we need to replace him,” he said. “I say when you look at today, we missed many players in our squad. And you say that they have a weight in the team.

“If players like Sanchez go, we have of course to respond to it. Will he go or not, I don’t know, but at the moment, it’s transfer period and in this kind of periods, you try to use the players who are completely focused on being at the club.”

– ‘Nothing concrete’ on Malcom –
Arsenal have been linked with a £35 million move for Bordeaux forward Malcom but Wenger refused to confirm his interest in the Brazilian.

“No. There is nothing concrete there,” said the manager. And when pressed on whether the 20-year-old is a target, he added: “It’s better I don’t come out on any specific name.”

Bournemouth moved up to 13th place, four points clear of the bottom three on the back of the win, and manager Eddie How praised the contribution of match-winner Ibe who scored his first league goal for the club, 18 months after arriving from Liverpool.

“I’m really pleased for him,” said Howe. “He’s been knocking on the door recently, hit the woodwork, his numbers are very good for him this year and I’m really pleased that’s out of the way for him now and hopefully it can be the first of many.

“I just think it is another thing he can take confidence from. I genuinely believe he can have a major impact at this level. I think he has with his general performances recently but of course you need that feeling that only scoring can give you.

“It’s a unique feeling and I’m so pleased he’s got that today and that he’s won an important two points for us. You can underestimate the importance of this game and that goal how important it is.”

Published in Sports

Plateau State Governor, Simon Lalong,  has tendered his unreserved apologies to the people of Benue State and Nigerians over the comments he made following the murder of over 60 people by herdsmen in two local government areas.

Lalong had told newsmen that he warned Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue against passing the anti-grazing law which was believed to have caused the deadly killings by the herdsmen.

The governor’s statement was widely criticised as highly insensitive and suggestive of justifying the killings and grave injuries inflicted on the villagers by the unidentified herdsmen.

However,  Lalong, at the weekend in Abuja,  told newsmen that his comments would not in any way help in the resolution of the crisis.

While expressing his belief in the sanctity of human lives,  the governor said Plateau State has a strong affinity with all states in the Middle Belt, especially Benue which was carved out of Plateau State, noting that his initial comments were misconstrued and misinterpreted.

He said: “I am here to comment on my statement concerning the lingering issue. That is my comment after the presidential visit in respect of the crisis in Benue State.

“Once again, let me use this opportunity extend my deepest sympathies and extend our condolences to the people of  Benue State over this great loss. My prayer is that God will continue to give them and every Nigerian the fortitude to bear the loss.

“I must say that I humbly apologise for my comments because I have seen that it was really misconceived and misinterpreted. That generated a lot of social media writeup here and there about the issue. I apologise for that because neither the argument for or against helps the matter because it involves lives.

“I have great respect for the sanctity of human lives and the unity of the Middle Belt. I would not say Plateau is fighting Benue State at all. We are brothers and sisters. Benue was created out of Plateau. Nasarawa was created out of Pleteau.

“We still remain brothers and sisters. So I extend my prayers to all of them and I pray that God Almighty will give them the fortitude to bear the loss and grant the souls of the departed eternal rest.

“This is to tell those who are for and against  that there is need, especially at this time when lives are involved, for all of us to join hands to ensure that we work towards  the resolution of the matter and helping in ensuring peace not only in Benue, but in Nigeria.”

Published in Headliners
Page 1 of 2

Newsletter