Sunday, 25 February 2018
Items filtered by date: November 2016
Saturday, 05 November 2016 16:05

Bolanle Ambode’s silent revolution


Considering its ever growing population, commercial status and cosmopolitan nature, Lagos State could surely make do with varied collaborations with individuals, organisations and other stakeholders for accelerated growth. It is from this perspective that the efforts of Office of the Wife of Lagos State Governor in providing a huge boost for Lagos development should be commended.  Lagos’ First Lady, Her Excellency Mrs. Bolanle Ambode, is currently engendering a silent revolution that is offering priceless soccour to Lagosians across all divides.

Through her Foundation, Hope for Women in Nigeria Initiative, HOFOWEM, Mrs. Ambode is giving a new definition to the art of social work and community development in the country. HOFOWEM’s key area of influence is Lagos State, particularly the rural communities. One of the themes for the actualization of HOFOWEM’s goals is “Hope for Children through which it seeks to help rehabilitate Vulnerable Children and encourage the education of disadvantaged children in the society.  Similarly, the wellbeing and health care of deprived children is also one core aspect HOFOWEM deems vital in its plans. The “HOFOWEM Scholarship Scheme is another central part of the Hope for Children initiative.

Since the inauguration of HOFOWEM, Mrs. Ambode has been using the platform to put smiles on faces of the less privileged in the society. In the first quarter of the year, HOFOWEM concentrated on empowering widows, other foundations, and mothers with multiple births and also funded major surgical procedures for many people.This is not surprising as a crucial goal of HOFOWEM is to touch and transform lives as well as create sustainable means for the underprivileged in the society.

One good thing about HOFOWEM is that, though the name suggests a woman interest organisation, the truth, however, is that its focus is all encompassing. For instance, pupils, indigent students, widows, multiple birth mothers, orphans and many others have received varied degrees of helps from HOFOWEM at one time or the other. The Foundation did its maiden empowerment programme on March 7th, this year, when widows, sick women and mothers with multiple births, were supported in various ways.

 One unique thing about HOFOWEM’s scope of operation is that it creatively covers assorted areas of interests. Thus, from time to time, the Foundation comes up with a variety of innovative ideas aimed at bettering the lots of hapless folks in the society. The idea is to ensure that, as much as possible, through strategic and inventive thinking, it comes up with robust initiatives to address emerging and critical needs of the less privileged. Considering current harsh economic realities in the country and its attendant consequences, HOFOWEM’s novel approach to social intervention is quite admirable. A major benefit of this strategy is that as new challenges surface, the people are not left in the cooler for too long before help comes.

In furtherance of this novel social intervention philosophy, HOFOWEM recently distributed gift items to 230 expectant mothers in Alausa, Ikeja. Packaged under the banner of HOFOWEM “Hope for Expectant Mothers” support programme, the initiative was aimed at reducing maternal and infant mortality.  Through the programme provision was made for 230 expectant mothers with baby mattresses, Nursing Mum’s packs which contained all the necessary baby essentials from thermometers to breastfeeding covers among others.
At the event, it was revealed that basic hygiene and good sanitary habits for pregnant women could play a key role in reducing maternal and infant mortality. Speaking at the occasion, Mrs. Ambode disclosed that: ‘All too often, infants are usually at risk of infection, diarrhea, poor growth and many common diseases associated with unhygienic habits. The act of washing hands is so simple, yet we do not see it as a game-changing solution”.

Beneficiaries of the support programme were drawn from the 20 local government and 37 development areas of the state. At the event, a total of about 230 pregnant women were given complete delivery packs which include: Baby and mother beds, sanitary pads, towels, beverages, thermometer, shawl, diapers, breastfeeding net, traveling bed, sanitizers, amongst others.
Though HOFOWEM has covered a huge ground within such a short period, it is, nevertheless, gratifying to observe that the Foundation is not resting on its oars. This is based on its promoters’ perception that excellence has no finishing line and that innovation is a continuous journey. The Foundation recently launched a major landmark initiative tagged: “Project Bright Steps, equipping future leaders.” At the launch of the project, Mrs. Ambode said: “We are here basically to motivate these children, boost their self esteem, and help them appreciate their self-worth, encourage them to be proud of themselves and most importantly equip them for the future. “As a mother, I am deeply passionate about children. Some lucky ones have the necessary support, while others have very little or nothing”.

A major highlight of the event is the distribution of shoes and socks to 175,000 public primary school pupils in Lagos State. The central and underlining philosophy behind the laudable gesture is primarily to ensure that no pupil is denied the joy and fulfillment of schooling on the basis of lack of shoes and other such basic necessities. Considering that a former President of the country once made the subject of “I had no shoe” a crucial electoral campaign issue, this particular intervention of HOFOWEM should be vastly appreciated.

Published in Parliament

After her first attempt as producer, Nollywood actress, Ebube Nwagbo is back with yet another movie, Not Enough, which will premiere soon.

According to the actress, the movie, which stars Alex Ekubo, Oge Okoye, Nazo Ekezie, Susan Zayat and others, is centered on youths of today, who look for the easy way out.

“It teaches young ones to be upright, focused and hard working because I believe there are no short cuts to success. It also teaches the young female folks to erase that thinking that getting pregnant outside wedlock would make a man marry them.”

On her choice of cast, the actress, who has spent 13 years in the industry explained, “I needed people that I could work with and share ideas; those that will contribute to the success of the movie. This movie is unique in the sense that it has lot of morals to teach and not just entertainment. It is a hilarious movie that deals with serious issues at the same time,” she hinted.

On her experiences on set, she said, “making the movie was a bit of a challenge for me because, I had to get scripts together, shooting, bringing actors together on set, post production, as well trying to put other things in place. At the end of the day, I believe the challenge was worth it.”

Published in Entertainment

The 2016 Heineken Lagos Fashion and Design Week was four days of showcasing Africa’s best to the world, and thousands of visitors were present to witness some of the best the industry has to offer. Omoyemi Akerele is the Executive Director and Founder of the LFDW as well as the founder and artistic director of Style House Files. Style House has created other programs like Fashion Focus, Fashion Business Series and X Retail to further strengthen Nigeria’s gradually emerging fashion sector. In this interview with TOBI AWODIPE, she talks about the just concluded fashion week, challenges confronting the industry as well as its potentials and ways the nation could benefit immensely from the fashion industry. 

The Lagos Fashion and Design Week has come to an end. What did you hope attendees gained? How do you think it improved African Fashion in general and Nigerian fashion in particular?
We hope we’ve been able to reiterate one of our fundamental beliefs at Style House Files that fashion can be a key driver of economic growth, opening doors for micro industries such as retail, wholesale, manufacturing, merchandizing, design and more to thrive. This will help move the conversation beyond fashion to a deeper focus on how to add value to the industry. For LFDW as a platform, our initiatives provide knowledge acquisition, skills development, access to market, access to funding and showcasing talents to a networked global audience. The LFDW platform has created and continues to create diverse opportunities for positioning fashion to contribute significantly to Africa and Nigeria’s new creative economy.

It is no secret that the industry is brimming with lots of potential in terms of income generation and creating employment for our teeming youth. How can the country tap into and effectively maximise this?
I believe Nigeria can tap into and effectively maximize the said potential by supporting the need for an affordable and sustainable industry that allows designers and fashion entrepreneurs to produce locally at affordable prices for profit, while simultaneously encouraging citizens to be involved by buying items produced in Nigeria, while keeping production conditions favourable.

According to the Africa Development Bank (AfDB), Nigeria is not listed among the top 10 Apparel Exporting African nations. Why is this so and what can be done to change this statistic?
The discovery of oil in the late 50’s presented the country with the opportunity to build a vast amount of wealth that could have elevated millions out of poverty, but sadly, this happened to the detriment of other industries such as Agriculture, Textiles, Manufacturing and so on. Our nation quickly became a mono-economy, and now it is seeking ways to turn things around.

This statistic can only be changed if there’s a conscious decision on the part of the Nigerian Government to actively support the industry in several areas.

What are some of the challenges confronting the industry, preventing it from achieving its full potential?
The industry is facing too many challenges – Infrastructure, funding, distribution, logistics, textiles, protective policies, capacity building and skills development, just to name a few.

Agriculture, influx of imported textiles, unstable electricity, lack of adequately trained manpower and a retail environment that can support the industry’s growth are some of the other problems the sector faces.

The Nigerian textile industry is almost comatose now, affecting fabric sourcing. In your opinion, what do you think the government should do?
I believe that reviving the Nigerian textile industry has been foremost on the government’s agenda for a while. Funding has been made available for the sector but the problem obviously goes beyond funding.

I mentioned some of the problems confronting the industry above; the government cannot attempt to solve the textile problem in isolation of the other challenges faced by the value chain in entirety.

Why does the industry not yet have a well-defined mass production market with ready-to-wear, affordable and quality pieces from known or upcoming designers?
This already exists but for scalability that can make the desired and necessary impact, the brand owners need funding. Brands like Eve and Tribe, Ada by AlterEgo, Karen Ubani are already in the ready-to-wear market with affordable pieces that are of good quality.

At one of the business series during the LFDW, it was revealed that leather exported to Italy is sold at about 30 Dollars whereas the finished shoe is sold back to us again at hundreds of dollars. What steps can be taken to correct this anomaly and channel our resources appropriately?

I believe the easiest way out of this is to reduce the exportation of raw materials and focus on the exportation of finished goods that have more value and can generate the much needed foreign exchange that the Nigerian economy needs. Until we are able to do this, the situation is not going to change.

Published in Parliament

Antonio Conte says that neither he nor Chelsea have yet opened talks with John Obi Mikel to extend his contract beyond next summer.

Mikel is Chelsea’s second-longest-serving player after John Terry but will be permitted to talk to other clubs from January if he is not offered a new deal.

Meanwhile, the Nigeria captain has still yet to make a matchday squad for Conte this season after missing the end of pre-season and the start of the full campaign to play in the Olympics.

“Now? Have I spoken to him now? No. No. No but, I repeat, now it’s important to be focused on the championship in this period,” Conte told reporters.

“We are in November. It’s important to be focused on the pitch. Then, we can focus other situations in time. It’s normal in every squad, there are players who are towards the end of their contract, and they and the club together take a decision on their futures.”

“Mikel is working very well now. In the past he’s sometimes had some injuries but now he’s working very hard and I’m pleased with his work-rate.”

Mikel has struggled to find a place this term after the arrival of N’Golo Kante arrived while Nemanja Matic, Oscar, Cesc Fabregas and Nathaniel Chalobah appear to also be ahead of him in Conte’s reckoning.

Published in Business and Economy

Dr David Oyedepo, the Bishop of the Living Faith Church worldwide, has appealed to those criticising the school fees charged by Covenant University to desist to avoid incurring the wrath of God.

Oyedepo, in a telecast to a pre-Shiloh 2016 Convention gathering of the church monitored via satellite in Jos on Saturday, said the critics were acting in ignorance and risked incurring the wrath of God.

He said one of such critic smitten with a strange plague of chronic mouth odour over the act only received spiritual pardon following his confession and “my intervention before he was restored to dignity”.

Oyedepo said the issue of school fees paid by students of the university was a godly agenda to meet the demands of raising godly children in an environment conducive for learning.

He said such criticisms were products of ignorance as what students pay could not be compared with what obtained elsewhere that lacked facilities.

“The school fees has God’s approval and is in accordance with the quality of facilities provided by the university in meeting the educational needs of the nation,” he said.

He said the church in its pioneering role in pushing the frontiers of education with excellence had concluded plans to establish offshore universities.

The cleric said a fully automated Bible press by the church had been completed and would be launched soon.

Oyedepo, however, quoting from some verses of the Bible, which include Matthew 24:6-8, 1Peter 2:9, Joel 2:2 and Mal. 4:1, said the current economic meltdown was predicted but that committed Christians would be exempted.

He prayed for resources for parents to always meet the demands of the time and declared the theme of this year’s Shiloh holding between Dec. 6 and Dec. 10 as “My Case is Different”.

The bishop said this year’s annual event of Shiloh would not be advertised as past events as it would be church based. Go here:

Published in Headliners

A former Minister of State for Defence, Senator Musiliu Obanikoro, has signed an undertaking to return N480m to the Federal Government, The PUNCH has learnt.

Obanikoro has also submitted his United States of America and Nigerian passports to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.

In addition, the ex-minister has provided two sureties who are directors in the Federal Civil Service.

Impeccable sources told our correspondent that these were part of the conditions given to the ex-minister for his release.

A source said, “The EFCC asked Obanikoro to submit his passports. He was only willing to drop his Nigerian passport but he has finally submitted the American one. He was asked to produce two directors, who must also present a three-month salary pay slip.

“He has returned N100m and has pledged to return N480m. The actual balance is meant to be N685m, but he was able to provide receipts for some transactions. He paid N85m to someone and that person has been traced.

“He also bought some bulletproof vehicles when he was minister and they will be handed over to the EFCC. The cost of the vehicles will be deducted from the amount that should be returned. Having met the conditions, he should be released any time from now.”

Obanikoro, who left the country around June 2015, was detained by the EFCC on October 17, 2016, after returning and surrendering himself to the commission in Abuja.

He was detained for his alleged role in the diversion of N4.7bn from the imprest account of the Office of the National Security Adviser.

The money was said to have been paid into the bank account of Sylvan McNamara, a company in which his two sons, Babajide and Gbolahan, were directors at the time.

Obanikoro reportedly told detectives that out of the N4.7bn, he paid N3.880bn to Ayodele Fayose and Senator Iyiola Omisore in July 2014, when they were the Peoples Democratic Party governorship candidates of Ekiti and Osun states respectively.

However, detectives challenged Obanikoro with evidence that he also received N785m from the money and asked him to return it.

A source at the EFCC said, “Obanikoro claimed that he used part of his own share to do an anti-Boko Haram campaign in Lagos in 2014. However, we found out that he wasn’t telling the whole truth because some of the money was spent on his governorship campaign when he was contesting against Jimi Agbaje during the PDP primary.

“So, we asked him to return his own share of the money and he has promised to do so.”

Part of the money allegedly given to Fayose was converted to $5.377m and handed to him at Spotless Hotel, Ado Ekiti, in the presence of the then Ekiti State PDP Secretary, Tope Aluko, and other party stalwarts.

Abuja bizman loses filling station, complex to commission

Meanwhile, the EFCC has seized a filling station and a shopping complex from a man who described himself as a building engineer, Abdullahi Rilwan, for failing to explain where he got the money to buy the properties.

The EFCC Act Section 71 (b) gives the commission the power to commence investigations into the property of any person if it appears to the EFCC that the person’s lifestyle and extent of properties are not justified by law.

The EFCC said in a statement by its spokesman, Mr. Wilson Uwujaren, on Thursday, that Rilwan was also arrested for offences bordering on operating a land racketeering syndicate, criminal conspiracy, unlawful possession of classified documents, obtaining by false pretences and money laundering.

According to the commission, the suspect was first accosted in the Kuje Area Council of Abuja during a separate investigation into the $2.1bn arms procurement fraud.

Detectives were said to have visited the area to verify the ownership of several properties suspected to be proceeds of money laundering.

In the course of investigating the ownership of a filling station and a shopping complex both still under construction, located along Pegi Road in the Kuje Area Council, operatives gathered that Rilwan was in charge of the construction work.

The statement added, “Rilwan, who was subsequently engaged, denied ownership of the station but confirmed he was the engineer in charge of the construction work. He admitted to being the owner of the shopping complex. He also told operatives that he was the owner of two companies, Kaibo Oil and Gas and Kaibo Properties, but could not account for his source of wealth.

“A visit to his office, however, revealed that he was involved in several shady and suspicious business deals.”

It was learnt that the revelation made EFCC operatives to beam its searchlight on Rilwan’s business activities.

Subsequently, on October 31, a search and arrest warrant was executed at his Kuje residence.

The statement added, “The search unearthed several implicating documents in his custody, many of which he uses to sell plots of land. Properties recovered from his residence in Kuje included letter-heads in the name of Kuje Area Council, allocating plots of land, an ‘Irrevocable Power of Attorney’ in favour of Air Commodore Bassey Inyang, a ‘Right of Occupancy’ document granted to Henryville Farms, Abuja, among other implicating documents.

“The filling station and the complex are currently under investigation and he would be charged to court as soon as investigations are concluded.”

Published in News & Stories

The Federal Government on Thursday charged the Chief Registrar of the Supreme Court, Mr. Ahmed Saleh, and two other employees of the apex court with nine counts, including diversion of N2.2bn belonging to the court.

Saleh is among those shortlisted for final consideration by the National Judicial Council to succeed the outgoing Secretary of the council, Mr. Danladi Halilu.

Saleh, alongside Muhammed Sharif and Rilwanu Lawal, are also accused of receiving gratifications totalling N74.4m from private contractors providing services to the Supreme Court between 2009 and 2016.

When the date of their arraignment is fixed, the accused persons will be facing nine counts of conspiracy, criminal breach of trust by allegedly diverting N2.2bn belonging to the apex court and receiving gratification as public officers.

The office of the Attorney General of the Federation filed the charges marked FCT/HC/CR/13/2016 before the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory High Court in Maitama on Thursday.

The allegations leading to the filing of the charges on Thursday is believed to have been unearthed by the recent raid by the operatives of the Department of State Services on the homes of some judges, including two of them belonging to the Supreme Court bench, and some offices at the apex court complex.

Our correspondent also learnt that following the Thursday’s development, the Federal Government will soon approach the court to file charges against some of the arrested judges.

The Supreme Court employees allegedly diverted the sum of N2.2bn belonging to the apex court and received the N74.4m gratification between 2009 and 2016.

The contractors from whom they allegedly received the gratification are Willysdave Ltd., Welcon Nig. Ltd., Dean Musa Nig. Ltd., Ababia Ventures Ltd. and MBR Computers Ltd.

The three Supreme Court employees named in the first charge are accused of conspiracy criminal breach of trust contrary to section 315 of the Penal Code Act and punishable under the same section, by diverting the sum of N2.2bn belonging to the Supreme Court.

The accused persons allegedly deposited same into personal account 2027642863 domiciled in United Bank for Africa Plc.

They allegedly conspired among themselves contrary to Section 96 of the Penal Code Act 2004 and punishable under Section 97 of the same Act to commit the illegal act of diverting the N2.2bn belonging to the apex court.

The prosecution alleged in counts three to nine that the accused, between 2009 and 2016, received gratification of N10m from Willysdave Ltd., N8m (in two tranches of N6m and N2.4m) from Welcon Nig. Ltd., N2.4m; N16m from Dean Musa Nig. Ltd.; N19m from Ababia Ventures Ltd. and N21m from MBR Computers.

The offences of taking gratification by public officers are said to be contrary to Section 10 (a) (i) of the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related Offences Commission Act 2000.

They are said to be punishable under the same section of the Act.

Published in Business and Economy

Mr Sam Okaula, the Commissioner of Police in Anambra, says the command is not aware of any sex scandal involving Miss Anambra Beauty Queen, Miss Chidimma Okeke.

Okaula told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Awka on Thursday that the command was yet to receive any report of such case. On the speculation making the round that some people have been arrested over the matter, he said that the command had not made any arrest regarding the issue.

Chidinma Okeke 2

“I am not aware of any arrest of those involved or blackmailers in the matter. We have not gotten any report on the matter.
NAN reports that Okeke, the reigning Miss Anambra Beauty Queen, was alleged to be involved in lesbianism due to amateur video clips which have gone viral on the internet.


The development have not only caused crisis between the beauty queen and the organizers, but have raised moral issues.

Chidinma Okeke 3



Published in Headliners

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on Monday charged former Gov. Orji Uzor Kalu of Abia with money laundering before a Federal High Court in Lagos.

Kalu is charged alongside his company, Slok Nigeria Ltd., and his former Commissioner for Finance, Jones Ude, on 34 counts bordering on money laundering.

The accused pleaded not guilty to the charges.

After the plea, counsel to the accused, Mr Mike Ozekhome (SAN), urged the trial judge, Justice Mohammed Idris, to allow the accused to continue with an earlier bail condition.

Ozekhome informed the court that the accused had earlier been arraigned before Justice Nyako, Adamu Bello and Uweh, all of Abuja Federal High Courts before they were re-arraigned today.

The prosecutor, Mr Adeniyi Adebisi, did not oppose the submission of defence counsel.

Adebisi, however, added that EFCC was only interested in the justice of the case which included the trial of the accused persons.

Idris consequently, adjourned the case to Dec. 12 and 13 for trial and ordered that the accused continue with the subsisting bail terms.

In the charge, the accused were alleged to have committed the offence between August 2001 and October 2005.

Kalu was alleged to have utilized his company to retain in the account of a First Inland Bank, now FCMB, N200 million.

The sum is alleged to have formed part of funds illegally derived from the coffers of the Abia State Government.

In one of the counts, his company (Slok Nig Ltd) and one Emeka Abone, who is said to be at large, were also alleged to have retained in the company’s account N200 million, on behalf of the first accused.

They were alleged to have utilized Manny Bank (now Fidelity Bank Plc), Spring Bank Plc, the defunct Standard Trust Bank and Finland Bank, now First City Monument Bank (FCMB).

In counts one to 10, the accused were alleged to have retained about N2.5 billion in different accounts which funds were said to belong to the Abia State Government.

Cumulatively in all the counts, the accused were alleged to have diverted over N3.2 billion from the Abia State Government’s treasury during Kalu’s tenure as governor.

The offence is said to have contravened the provisions of sections 15(6), 16, and 21 of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2005.

It is also said to have contravened the provisions of the Money Laundering Act of 1995 as amended by the amendment Act No. 9 of 2002 and section 477 of the Criminal Code Act, Laws of the Federation, 1990.

Published in Headliners
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