Monday, 25 September 2017
Items filtered by date: June 2017

As revelations of the criminal activities of the infamous kidnap kingpin, Chukwudi Onuamadike (aka Evans), continue to come up, the suspect has explained how he and his gang once hijacked a bullion van and took N200m from it.

Evans, who was apprehended in one of his mansions in Magodo Estate, Lagos, last Saturday, said the bullion van robbery, which was carried out on the Aba-Port-Harcourt Road in Abia State, was one of three of such.

He told journalists on Friday, “In 2007, I travelled to South Africa to deal in drugs and returned to Lagos the following year after a customer, who did not want to pay for a drug I supplied him, shot me on the shoulder.

“With the little money I had from my trip to South Africa, I came back to Nigeria and a friend of mine, Kingsley, introduced me to one of his gang members known as Too-Much-Money in Abia State.

“Too-Much-Money got me involved in the bullion van robbery. We hijacked a tipper we found on the Aba-Port Harcourt Road to intercept the bullion van.

“We forced the driver and his police escort to open the van. We got N80m from the van and I was given N1.8m as my share.

“Another operation was in Enugu where I met a gang leader called ND. We adopted the same tactic to attack another bullion van containing N200m. When we wanted to share the proceeds, ND collected our guns and gave us N200, 000 each.”

According to the suspect, the third robbery operation was on Umuahia Road where he and some new gang members attacked another bullion van. He said he used the N7m share he got from the operation to stock his shop in Lagos.

Meanwhile, the police have discovered two houses owned by Evans in Accra, Ghana.

A top detective involved in the recovery of the property told Saturday PUNCH that the value of the two buildings in Ghana had yet to be ascertained.

“Apart from those two mansions in Accra and Magodo, Lagos respectively, the suspect still has more properties that we have yet to discover. We will ensure that all the properties are unearthed,” the source added.

The Force Public Relations Officer, CSP Moshood Jimoh, had yet to reply to a text message sent to him on the development.

It would be recalled that the 36-year-old was arrested alongside six of his gang members – Nwosu Chukwuma (aka Sudo), 42; Suoyo Paul (aka Nwana), 42; Felix Chinemerem, 36; Chukwuemeka Bosah, 28; Uchechukwu Amadi and Ogechi Amadi.

While he was paraded at the Lagos State Police Command’s headquarters in Ikeja, he confessed to have collected millions of dollars in ransoms.

But his latest confession showed that he had participated in bullion van robberies in Abia and Enugu states.

The native of Nnewi North Local Government Area, Anambra State, explained how he linked up with several gangs and rose to become a kingpin.

Published in Headliners

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission has declared wanted, Dr. Ngozi Olojeme, the Deputy Chairman, Finance Committee of the Goodluck Jonathan Presidential Campaign Organisation in 2015.

Olojeme, who was Chairman of the Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund from 2009 to 2015, was accused of cornering $48,485,127 from the NSITF, Daily Post reports.

The accused and some directors in the company allegedly siphoned billions of naira, including funds meant for the payment of allowances of its staff as well as compensation to contributors.

It was learnt that several directors and contractors were invited to explain their own side of the story, many of whom had since returned funds to the EFCC.

An EFCC report, made available to newsmen alleged that the funds were said to have been traced to the accounts of some consultants and contractors, who were believed to be fronts for Olojeme and other directors in the NSITF.

The anti-graft agency report said, “It was discovered that the NSITF accounts in First Bank of Nigeria and other banks have witnessed a total turnover of over N62,358,401,927 between 2012 and 2015 from the Employee Compensation Scheme contributions.

“That out of the N62bn, the Federal Government contributed N13,600,000,000 while the sum of N48,758,401,927.80 was contributed by the private sector. That there were several payments to individuals and companies from the NSITF bank accounts for purported contracts or consultancy services.

“That some individuals and companies that received these payments, in turn, transferred part of the monies directly to the NSITF officials while others transferred huge sums to bureau de change operators who changed them to dollars.”

The report added that Olojeme sent her account officer at FBN to collect $48m from some NSITF contractors through a BDC operator.

It stated, “That through this process, Dr. Ngozi Olojeme, the then NSITF board chairman, has collected a total sum of $48,485,127 from Mr. Chuka Eze (her account officer at FBN), which cash he collected on her behalf being the dollar equivalent of monies paid to BDCs by NSITF contractors.

“That she has refused to honour invitation and all efforts to get her to come and tell her own side of the story have proved abortive hence her arrest warrant has been obtained from court.

“We ask for the EFCC chairman’s approval to declare the suspect wanted.”

The spokesman for the EFCC, Mr. Wilson Uwujaren, said Olojeme had been declared wanted.

He urged members of the public to offer information that could lead to her arrest.

“Yes, she has been declared wanted. Members of the public are advised to give us information that would lead to her arrest,” he said.

Published in Business and Economy

* …suspect used N4.6m phones to frustrate arrest

The police have said that useful statements made by a younger sister of the notorious kidnap kingpin, Chukwudi Onuamadike aka Evans, led to his arrest.

The sister was said to have been arrested after her number was identified as one of the contacts in Evans’ special SIM card.

PUNCH Metro learnt that Evans’ childhood friend and four girlfriends were also picked up by the police and they all gave relevant information.

This is just as operatives disclosed that Evans used three phones – two of which reportedly cost N2.4m and N2.6m respectively – with anti-tracking features to frustrate his arrest.

Our correspondent learnt that he contacted families of his victims through the phones to demand ransoms, bearing in mind that the families could report to the police for tracking.

Reliable police sources also disclosed that the billionaire kidnapper had 126 registered SIM cards.

Evans, who also deals in drugs, was arrested on Saturday in one of his two mansions on Magodo Estate, Lagos, after seven years of high-profile abductions across the country, during which he collected millions of dollars in ransoms.

He was paraded the following day amid jubilation at the Lagos Sate Police Command’s headquarters in Ikeja.

He was said to have bought three houses in Accra, Ghana and wristwatches worth thousands of dollars from the proceeds of the crimes. The suspect, who dropped out of school at Junior Secondary School 2, had confessed to have once collected $1m ransom.

Six of his gang members are Nwosu Chukwuma, aka Sudo, 42; Suoyo Paul aka Nwana, 42; Felix Chinemerem, 36; Chukwuemeka Bosah, 28; Uchechukwu Amadi and Ogechi Amadi. Uchechukwu and Ogechi are husband and wife.

Five AK-47 rifles, one AK-49 rifle, two English pistols, 59 AK-47 magazine with ammunition, 1,272 pieces of live ammunition of AK-47 (9mm) and five number plates were reportedly recovered from the suspects.

A police officer told PUNCH Metro on Thursday that apart from the weapons, three phones – a Turaya, and two different Vertu phones – containing anti-tracking features were recovered from the 36-year-old native of the Nnewi North Local Government Area, Anambra State.

The officer said, “He has 11 phones. Two of them are special Virtu phones, which are very difficult to track. He also has a Turaya, which is a satellite phone. It can be used anywhere, including in the bush, on the sea, and desert, where there are no GSM service. In Nigeria, we don’t have the capability to track Turaya.

“He said he bought the Virtu phones N4.6m. He used the three phones for his nefarious activities. We succeeded in tracking him through the other phones he has.”

A detective stated that a number of SIM cards used by Evans complicated the challenges posed by the sophisticated phones, adding that he bought the SIM cards registered from miscreants in Computer Village, Ikeja.

He said, “We studied and analysed 126 SIM cards before we caught him. We have about two-page analysis of each of the numbers. He used 125 of those numbers to call his gang members only and used one to call his mother, wife and sister. He said he bought all the SIM cards already registered in Computer Village for N1,500 each.

“We picked his sister, his childhood friend with whom he attended primary school, and four of his girlfriends. They gave us the information that led to his arrest. Evans confirmed that they didn’t know he was into kidnapping. Because of that, we granted them bail, while investigations continue.”

Another source confided in PUNCH Metro that aside from a camp in New Igando, where Evans kept his victims, operatives had uncovered two other camps, which would soon be visited.

The Force Public Relations Officer, Jimoh Moshood, said the suspect would soon be arraigned in court.

Published in Headliners

After 52 goals in 83 matches, two EPL titles, one EFL Cup and plenty of memorable moments, it seems that Diego Costa’s time at Chelsea has come to an end. The enigmatic Brazilian-born Spaniard has revealed that Antonio Conte, Chelsea’s Italian manager, sent him a text message to tell him his time with the English champions was up. A lot has been said about how better the parting of ways could have been handled, but at the end of the day, the inevitability of the breakup had been there all along.

As Costa’s legend is being consigned to the annals of the Pensioners’ history, another man who left Stamford Bridge as a boy some time ago is ready to come back and fulfil all the promise he showed at a young age at the London club. That man is Romelu Lukaku. See five reasons Chelsea fans should be excited about the big, burly Belgian’s return!

1. Romelu Lukaku has never been short of confidence in his own ability, he’s been banging in goals for fun at the top level since the tender age of sixteen. He was the top scorer in the Belgian league in his first full season as a pro with Anderlecht as they won the title in 2009/10 and he also scored four times in Champions League qualifying. He had already scored 41 goals in 98 games for Anderlecht as an 18-year-old before Chelsea came calling in 2011.

2. The Belgian has fully matured in the EPL and is ready to take the next step and lead the Chelsea attack six years after he was brought in as a teenager. After spending two seasons on loan to West Brom and Everton and scoring a total of 33 league goals in 66 games for both teams, Everton forked out a club record £28m to have him permanently on their books and he duly delivered as he became the Toffees top scorer in the Premier League era and twice broke the record for goals scored by an Everton player in a Premier League season. Chelsea know they will be getting a proven goal scorer in the league with his capture.

3. Romelu Lukaku has outscored Diego Costa in the last two seasons and very importantly converted a greater proportion of his clear-cut chances and created opportunities for his team-mates more frequently. However, Antonio Conte is a stickler to hard work and likes to press teams from the front, if he wants to continue in that form with Lukaku, the Belgian will have to change his game as stats and optics have shown that he isn’t that kind of striker. Over 60 forwards made an interception last season and Lukaku wasn’t one of them and he also made only nine tackles last season. In fact, Romelu Lukaku has managed just one interception and 33 tackles over the past three years in the league, so Chelsea fans should not expect to see the big Belgian harrying opposition defenders.

4. He also isn’t the kind of striker that will run down the channels as his running numbers do not make for impressive reading. Among all the strikers to have played over a thousand minutes in the league last season, his average of 8.84km distance covered per game places him bottom of the list, while his 44.77 sprints per match put him forty-second out of forty-eight forwards. What you can expect from him is great positional play and awareness inside the box, so once the chances are created and presented to him, he is most certain to finish them off. 

5. One of the most important things that Lukaku will be bringing to Chelsea when he joins them will not be able to be measured and that is a chip on his shoulder. The big Belgian has a burning desire to be a success at the London club and has said in the past that he wants to be a ‘legend at Chelsea’ which was one of the reasons he chose to leave and prove himself elsewhere, instead of languishing in the reserves or sitting on the bench at Stamford Bridge and that belief in himself has paid off as Chelsea are about to break the bank to get him back. Returning to the club will be a homecoming and he would surely want to have a huge party in London by painting the city with goals.

Published in Business and Economy

The Nigeria Union in South Africa on Wednesday accused two communities in the country of ordering Nigerians to quit their territories.

President of the union, Ikechukwu Anyene, said the Kuruman community in Northern Cape Province gave Nigerians till Thursday to leave the place.

Anyene also said the Klaafontein community, Extension 5, Johannesburg, has also directed landlords not to renew the rent of Nigerians in the area.

He said the grievance of the South Africans was that Nigerians were responsible for some social vices such as illicit drug trade and prostitution.

Anyene said a Ugandan man, who allegedly raped a girl in Kwazulu Natal Province, was described as a Nigerian in the media.

“The Nigeria union held series of meetings with the affected communities as well as police and local authorities on the recent threats to Nigerians,” Anyene told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN).

“We have also written reports on these incidents and sent to the Nigerian Mission and the South African police.

“We recommended interventions before the June 16 deadline to the mission and we are waiting for their response. The union is worried that any incident involving non -South Africans are attributed to Nigerians.

“The union believes that the Early Warning Unit set up by Nigerian and South African governments has not been effective. We are yet to have any meeting since the ministers of the two countries met.

“Since then, there have been sustained media propaganda against our people

Published in Headliners
  • Folarin, who is one of Folorunsho Alakija's four sons, married Iranian beauty Nazanin Jafarian Ghaissarifa
  • Folorunsho Alakija, 66, is one of the richest black woman in the world with estimated fortune of $2.1 billion
  • Event at Blenheim Palace had one million roses, surprise performance from Robin Thicke and A-list guestlist
  • Father-of-one is an entrepreneur, investor and cinematographer who lost his first wife to cancer
  • Folarin's new wife studied Bioengineering and Biomedical Engineering at the University of Manchester

His mother is the world's richest black woman so it's little surprise that Folarin Alakija's wedding was a lavish, no-expense spared, fairytale affair.

Folarin, who is one of 66-year-old oil tycoon Folorunsho Alakija's four sons, married Iranian beauty Nazanin Jafarian Ghaissarifar in an extravagant bash at Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire over the weekend, which is estimated to have cost around £5m.

The father-of-one, who is in his late 30s and lost his first wife to cancer, tied the knot to his stunning wife in front of friends, family and celebrities, including Victoria's Secret Angel, Shanina Shaik.

While Folarin makes his money as an entrepreneur, investor and cinematographer, it's his mother who has an estimated fortune of $2.1 billion. Forbes rank her as the 14th richest person in Africa but the richest woman in the country. She is number 80 on its global Power Women list and overtook Oprah Winfrey as the richest woman of African descent in the world in 2014.

It is thought the family flew hundreds of close friends and family members over from Nigeria, who were no doubt put up in the lavish hotel for the weekend.

The Woodstock venue, which is the ancestral home of Sir Winston Churchill, was kitted out with one million white roses, a lavish cake decorated with hundreds of ornate white roses and even hosted pop star Robin Thicke at an estimated cost of £150,000.

Wedding planners believe the venue hire was exclusively hired at a cost of £150,000 with the bespoke marquee and bespoke marble floor with their initials etched in gold costing around £200,000 on top.

Folarin Alakija, who is the son of Folorunsho Alakija, the richest black woman in the world, married Iranian beauty Nazanin Jafarian Ghaissarifar in a lavish bash at Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire over the weekend

Folarin Alakija, who is the son of Folorunsho Alakija, the richest black woman in the world, married Iranian beauty Nazanin Jafarian Ghaissarifar in a lavish bash at Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire over the weekend

Folarin's new wife studied Bioengineering and Biomedical Engineering at the University of Manchester, has a graduate Diploma in Law and has also worked as a model and marketing consultant. The happy newlyweds are pictured walking down the aisle after tying the knot

Folarin's new wife studied Bioengineering and Biomedical Engineering at the University of Manchester, has a graduate Diploma in Law and has also worked as a model and marketing consultant. The happy newlyweds are pictured walking down the aisle after tying the knot

According to the venue's website, the cost of hiring the whole venue is on application but hiring just the palace and state rooms costs £33,000.

Searcys are the approved caterer for the Orangery at Blenheim palace and three course meals start at £52 per head - excluding alcohol - but it's believed they had a much more expensive bespoke package with catering company, rhubarb.

The breathtaking flowers were the work of Jeff Leatham, who is known for his elaborate decorating of the Kardashian's homes.

Bringing over 30 staff members to the UK for the ceremony, Jeff adorned every inch of the venue with copious amounts of roses and white orchids.

Guests were treated to a lavish five-course menu - printed on a golden menu card

Guests were treated to a lavish five-course menu - printed on a golden menu card

Jeff, who can command up to £250,000 for flowers, has worked for Madonna, Oprah and Tina Turner. He was also the man behind the flowers at Eva Longoria and Tony Parker’s wedding.

Guests were also treated to a surprise performance from Blurred Lines singer Robin Thicke, who reportedly costs around £150,000 to hire and would have been flown over from the US, as well as a magnificent firework display in the hotel grounds later in the evening.

Folarin's new wife, who once dated Rob Kardashian, studied Bioengineering and Biomedical Engineering at the University of Manchester, has a graduate Diploma in Law and has also worked as a model and marketing consultant.

The stunning brunette is the daughter of businessman Mr. Khosro and Mrs Nooshin Ghaissarifar, who are from Iran. It is believed that Naz, as she is known among her circle, was born in Iran and lived in London in her youth before moving to Manchester to study.

She has also spent time in Los Angeles, where much of her modelling work was based, and regularly mingled with celebrities, including the Kardashians.

Folarin, who studied Geography at Imperial College, London, was previously married to a lady named Chena, with whom he had a daughter. She tragically lost her life to cancer six years ago. It is believed that Folarin met Naz through friends in London.

The stunning bride, who has worked as a model, changed outfits for the reception and the pair were seen enjoying their first dance as man and wife in the lavish surroundings 

The stunning bride, who has worked as a model, changed outfits for the reception and the pair were seen enjoying their first dance as man and wife in the lavish surroundings.

The new Mrs Alakija has previously featured in a campaign for Monkee Jeans, an organic denim brand, and dated Rob Kardashian in 2013.

She stunned in a traditional strapless white gown with lace embellishment as she was walked down the aisle by her father. She accessorised her look with a dazzling diamond necklace and white Manolo Blahniks.

She later changed into a racier, floor length white gown with sheer panelling. Beaming before her friends and family, she let her hair down as she danced the night away with her new husband and glamorous wedding guests.

The pair became engaged last year and had a traditional Nigerian wedding in Lagos in November.

A FAIRYTALE ROMANCE: HOW FOLARIN AND NAZANIN MET

Folarin, who studied Geography at Imperial College, London, was previously married to a lady named Chena, with whom he had a daughter. She tragically lost her life to cancer six years ago.

The new Mrs Alakija dated Rob Kardashian in 2013 and it was reported at the time that the Kardashian women 'loved her'.

The stunning brunette is the daughter of businessman Mr. Khosro and Mrs Nooshin Ghaissarifar, who are from Iran. It is believed that Naz, as she is known among her circle, lived in London in her youth and moved to Manchester to study.

Naz studied Bioengineering and Biomedical Engineering at the University of Manchester, has a graduate Diploma in Law and has also worked as a model and marketing consultant.

She has also spent time in Los Angeles, where much of her modelling work was based, and regularly mingled with celebrities, including the Kardashians.

It is believed that Folarin met Naz through friends in London. The pair became engaged last year and had a traditional Nigerian wedding in Lagos in November.

 The event was planned by Sade Awe of The Bridal Circle. Sade’s impeccable taste and selective eye for the exquisite make her a trusted resource for an elite clientele

 The event was planned by Sade Awe of The Bridal Circle. Sade’s impeccable taste and selective eye for the exquisite make her a trusted resource for an elite clientele

The bride was seen walking down the aisle on the arm of her father and she donned some glittering jewels for the occasion

She later let her hair down on the dancefloor with her new husband, who proposed last October

The bride was seen walking down the aisle on the arm of her father and she donned some glittering jewels for the occasion. She later let her hair down on the dancefloor with her new husband, who proposed last October

Elaine Coles was the celebrant who performed the ceremony. Elaine, of UK Ceremonies, told MailOnline: 'It was a pleasure to hand write a bespoke and personalised ceremony for the couple'

Elaine Coles was the celebrant who performed the ceremony. Elaine, of UK Ceremonies, told MailOnline: 'It was a pleasure to hand write a bespoke and personalised ceremony for the couple'

The cake, which was adorned with hundreds of roses and ornate doves, was created by Elizabeth’s Cake Emporium. Elizabeth's clients include British, European and Middle Eastern Royalty, celebrities and high net worth individuals.

With eight tiers on their cake, topped with elaborate iced flowers and doves, it is estimated that their cake could have cost up to £10,000.

SOME OF THE MOST EXPENSIVE ELEMENTS OF THE WEDDING

Wedding venue: £150,000

Marble floor and marquee: £200,000

Flowers: £200,000

Robin Thicke: £150,000

Cake: Up to £10,000

(Prices are all estimates)

Elizabeth is also the only three times winner of The Great Cake Bake, a show which featured the best wedding cake makers in the country.

The event was planned by Sade Awe of The Bridal Circle. Sade’s impeccable taste and selective eye for the exquisite make her a trusted resource for an elite clientele and luxury partners alike so it was little surprise she was called upon.

Other famous faces at the event included Starboy Records artist Mr Eazi and Nigerian fashion blogger Temi Otedola, who were recently revealed to be dating.

Hamish Shepard of Bridebook.co.uk, said: 'The preparations and construction of their custom clear marquee, including a bespoke marble floor with their gold initials, would have required up to a week of exclusive hire of the Palace, with the cost of the marquee on top."

'Venue hire would likely be up to £150,000 with the bespoke marquee with marble floor and production around £200,000 on top.

'The spectacular endless flowers by Jeff Leatham are likely to have cost at least £200,000. With food and drink, Robin Thicke (at £150,000) and all the other items for the big day, including the dress, on top, the wedding will have no doubt cost more than £1million and potentially several million more.'

Guest Manny Kess uploaded this snap with the happy couple that was captioned: 'The most amazing wedding I will ever attend outside of my own (one day). Beyond grateful to be able to celebrate these 2 wonderful beings tying the knot'

Guest Manny Kess uploaded this snap with the happy couple that was captioned: 'The most amazing wedding I will ever attend outside of my own (one day). Beyond grateful to be able to celebrate these 2 wonderful beings tying the knot'

The lavish bash was attending by the most glamorous society guests and their Nigerian friends and family who flew over
The floor of Blenheim Palace was engraved with the couple's initials

The lavish bash was attending by the most glamorous society guests and their Nigerian friends and family who flew over. The floor of Blenheim Palace was engraved with the couple's initials

The cake, which was adorned with hundreds of roses, was created by Elizabeth’s Cake Emporium; prices start at £300 per tier

The cake, which was adorned with hundreds of roses, was created by Elizabeth’s Cake Emporium; prices start at £300 per tier

Folarin is the son of Folorunsho Alakija's, pictured, left, with her husband
Folarin is the son of Folorunsho Alakija's, pictured, left, with her husband. In 2014, she knocked Oprah Winfrey off her post as the richest woman of African descent in the world.
In 2014, she knocked Oprah Winfrey off her post as the richest woman of African descent in the world
 

Blenheim Palace, which is the ancestral home of Sir Winston Churchill, was kitted out with one million white roses

THE WOMAN WHO OUSTED OPRAH WINFREY FROM THE TOP SPOT AS THE RICHEST BLACK WOMAN IN THE WORLD

Nigerian oil tycoon Folorunsho Alakija, 66, is the richest black woman in the world with an estimated fortune of $2.1 billion.

Nigerian oil tycoon Folorunsho Alakija, 66, is the richest black woman in the world with an estimated fortune of $2.1 billion

Nigerian oil tycoon Folorunsho Alakija, 66, is the richest black woman in the world with an estimated fortune of $2.1 billion

Starting her career as a secretary in a bank in the mid 1970s, Alakija, 62, then studied fashion in London and returned to Nigeria to start a label, Supreme Stitches. But her biggest break came in oil.

In 1993, her company, Famfa Oil, was awarded an oil prospecting license, which later became OML 127, one of the country's most prolific oil blocks, by then-president Ibrahim Babangida.

The company owned a 60 per cent stake in the block until 2000 when the Nigerian government unconstitutionally acquired a 50 per cent interest without duly compensating Alakija or Famda Oil.

In May 2012, Alakija, a married mother-of-four, challenged the acquisition and the Nigerian Supreme Court reinstated the 50 per cent stake to her company.

She also has a charity called the Rose of Sharon foundation that helps widows and orphans by empowering them through scholarships and business grants.

In 2014, she knocked Oprah Winfrey off her post as the richest woman of African descent in the world.

Forbes rank her as the 14th richest woman in Africa and she is number 80 on its Power Women list.

Glamorous guests donned their gladrags for the occasion

The lucky men and women who attended the nuptials posted images on their social media from inside the lavish bash

Glamorous guests donned their gladrags for the occasion. The lucky men and women who attended the nuptials posted images on their social media from inside the lavish bash

His model wife has featured in a campaign for Monkee Jeans, an organic denim brand, and dated Rob Kardashian in 2013

His model wife has featured in a campaign for Monkee Jeans, an organic denim brand, and dated Rob Kardashian in 2013

Over the weekend, Australian model Shanina Shaik (pictured) attended the wedding of Nigerian billionaire Folorunsho Alakija's son at Blenheim Palace
 
The cake, right, was adorned with doves and thousands of handcrafted roses

Over the weekend, Australian model Shanina Shaik (pictured) attended the wedding of Nigerian billionaire Folorunsho Alakija's son at Blenheim Palace. The cake, right, was adorned with doves and thousands of handcrafted roses

THE LAVISH VENUE: INSIDE BLENHEIM PALACE

Located in Oxfordshire, the historic Blenheim Palace has played host to some of the biggest films in Hollywood over the years.

Regularly used as a film location the grand country house, which is the principal residence of the Duke of Marlborough, has been seen in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Rogue Nation, Cinderella and the upcoming Transformers: Revenge of the Knight.

It even doubled up as Palazzo Cadenza in Rome for the latest James Bond film SPECTRE.

Available to hire for the big day prices start from £4,800 to hire the Orangery and you can hire the Marlborough Room for the ceremony at £960 as well as six different locations to host a reception.

Standing in all its Baroque splendour near the pretty village of Woodstock, just a few miles from Oxford, it is ideally placed for weekend visitors and attracts them in high numbers with its fascinating history and Churchill connections.

Although better known for its links to Winston Churchill, Blenheim has an interesting history of its own and culture-vultures will love the collection of tapestries, paintings and works of art throughout the palace.

Built as a gift for the First Duke of Marlborough by Queen Anne following his triumph in the Battle of Blenheim in 1704 the palace definitely shows the Queen’s appreciation of his efforts.

Available to hire for the big day prices start from £4,800 to hire the Orangery and you can hire the Marlborough Room for the ceremony at £960 as well as six different locations to host a reception

Available to hire for the big day prices start from £4,800 to hire the Orangery and you can hire the Marlborough Room for the ceremony at £960 as well as six different locations to host a reception

The couple tied the knot in a traditional affair at the Grand Ballroom of Oriental Hotel, Victoria Island, Lagos, in November.

The star-studded guestlist included the likes of Aisha Buhari, wife of the president, Gimbiya Yakubu Dogara, wife of the Speaker, Federal House of Representatives, and Aliko Dangote, deputy Governor.

Known for his floral arrangements and elaborate decorating of the Kardashian's homes, it was no surprise that Jeff Leatham was in charge of the flowers

Known for his floral arrangements and elaborate decorating of the Kardashian's homes, it was no surprise that Jeff Leatham was in charge of the flowers

Other famous faces at the event included Starboy Records artist Mr Eazi and Nigerian fashion blogger Temi Otedola, who were recently revealed to be dating

Other famous faces at the event included Starboy Records artist Mr Eazi and Nigerian fashion blogger Temi Otedola, who were recently revealed to be dating

Jeff flew 30 staff members to the UK for the ceremony and he was not only working with copious amounts of roses but white orchids as well

He made bouquets for the bridal party, the tables and the fireplaces

Jeff flew 30 staff members to the UK for the ceremony and he was not only working with copious amounts of roses but white orchids as well. He made bouquets for the bridal party, the tables and the fireplaces

Glamorous guests included models, fashion designers and famous bloggers, who all donned their best outfits for the occasion 

Glamorous guests included models, fashion designers and famous bloggers, who all donned their best outfits for the occasion

Guests included actress Rio Fredrika and fashion designer Becka Indigo

Dapper male models, entrepreneurs and politicians were also in attendance

Guests included actress Rio Fredrika and fashion designer Becka Indigo, left, and dapper male models, entrepreneurs and politicians

Guests took to social media to share snaps from inside the event, including a surprise performance from Robin Thicke Guests took to social media to share snaps from inside the event, including a surprise performance from Robin Thicke

The bar was stocked to the brim with expensive wines, with rows and rows of glasses lined up for guests to help themselves to

The invitations were embossed with the couple's initials in the same style as the gold initials etched onto the marble floor

The bar was stocked to the brim with expensive wines, with rows and rows of glasses lined up for guests to help themselves to. The invitations were embossed with the couple's initials in the same style as the gold initials etched onto the marble floor

Guests took to social media to upload snaps of the wedding's beautifully ornate details

They included blush pink gift bags embossed with white flowers, as well as matching invites and menu cards

Guests took to social media to upload snaps of the wedding's beautifully ornate details. They included blush pink gift bags embossed with white flowers, as well as matching invites and menu cards

The Kardashian's most trusted florist was tasked with adorning the venue with beautiful roses and orchids

The Kardashian's most trusted florist was tasked with adorning the venue with beautiful roses and orchids

There was also an impressive firework display in the hotel's stunning grounds after the event

The stunning flowers not only adorned the main hall but also the entire outdoor entrance

There was also an impressive firework display in the hotel's stunning grounds after the event. The stunning flowers not only adorned the main hall but also the entire outdoor entrance

Published in Business and Economy
Thursday, 15 June 2017 04:19

Evans breaks down in custody

Suspected kidnap kingpin Chukwudemeje George Onwuamadike alias Evans is not finding it funny in police custody. He is weeping that he is being held among “common poor criminals”, The Nation learnt yesterday.

The kingpin, who was arrested on Saturday at his 3, Fred Shoboyede Street, Magodo, Lagos home, is being kept in a maximum security cell.

It was gathered that Evans broke down yesterday, lamenting the state of the police cell.

A source said he lamented that after making billions, owning gold, diamond and living like a king, he finally ended up in a cell with poor suspects.

It was gathered that he told his interrogators he has two other detention camps in Lagos.

He was also said to have confessed that he started off as an armed robber in Sokoto State.

The source said: “He has been weeping uncontrollably because he is in a cell with common poor criminals despite all the wealth and mansions he owned.

“He has started talking. He has given us locations of other detention camps he had in Lagos. Aside Igando, he had two others and detectives would visit the place. He also said that his very first robbery was in Sokoto State and that they killed the victim.

“He is still being interrogated and more details would come out after the camps have been visited.”

Meanwhile, The Nation learnt yesterday that Evans has been excommunicated from Nnewi for over five years because of the terror he unleashed on wealthy indigenes of the town.

It was also learnt that his second in command, Felix Chinemerem, a native of Amanagu in Abia State, was also declared wanted in 2014, after his criminal activities led to the killing of many innocent people.

It was learnt that Chinemerem took part in the kidnap of a prominent Nigerian, which prompted policemen to storm the community and allegedly shot randomly, killing villagers.

After the incident, the villagers were said to have moved to kill him but he fled and had not been seen since then.

Published in Headliners

Reactions to the recent recall of some suspended judges by the National Judicial Council (NJC) have been somewhat mixed. While some aides of President Muhammadu Buhari were disappointed by the recall which they saw as further frustration of the administration’s anti-corruption fight by the judiciary, many Nigerians saw the NJC’s action as a welcome development that has corrected the hasty punishment of the judges and the violation of the presumption of innocence. It would be recalled that some judges were directed by the NJC to step aside from their duties in the wake of serious allegations of corruption levelled against them by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC). The NJC was practically pressured to abbreviate the presumption of innocence of the affected judicial officers by relieving them of their judicial duties pending the conclusion of investigations or determination of the cases filed against them. However, eight months down the line, many of the judges were reportedly yet to be formally charged in court and the only judge, Justice Adeniyi Ademola of the Federal High Court whose case has been concluded, has been discharged and acquitted of corruption charges by a trial court.

Against this backdrop, it is uncharitable to criticise the NJC for asking those who have not been charged to court and the person who has been given a clean bill of health to resume duties. Would it have been more appropriate for those judges who have been staying at home for eight months to continue to do so for as long as it took the anti-corruption agencies to file cases against them in the court? Or should Justice Ademola be prevented from benefitting from the outcome of his case in court, especially when the judgment of the court in his favour has yet to be properly appealed? Even if the verdict of the trial court has been appealed by the EFCC, is an appeal tantamount to a stay of execution? What has the anti-corruption agencies been doing for eight months that they could not build iron-clad cases against these judicial officers if indeed they have strong evidence against them? And why did the EFCC, in what seemed like a childish and afterthought, rush to court to file processes against the judges it did not charge to court for eight months now that the NJC has recalled them from suspension?

Sadly, many Nigerians wrongly thought that the EFCC’s job of prosecuting the judges would be simple given the items of evidential value allegedly recovered from some of them when their homes were raided some months ago by the operatives of the State Security Service (SSS) also known as the Department of State Services (DSS). Instead of allowing the NJC to exercise its constitutional disciplinary control since the affected persons are judges of superior courts of record, the SSS and EFCC intervened. The SSS in particular is till date yet to establish a nexus between the alleged corrupt practices by the judges and the breach or potential impairment of national security which could have provided justification for its intervention. Ironically, the Presidency that is accusing the NJC of not being on board with it in the fight against corruption has allegedly failed to act on the recommendations of the NJC to it to dismiss or compulsorily retire some judicial officers who were found guilty of corrupt practices.

Nevertheless, since there was no case against the judges, the NJC was perfectly in order to have recalled them. It would have been immoral, oppressive and even illegal to keep the judges in suspense indefinitely. To do that in addition to the public odium, humiliation and media trial they had suffered after the raid of their homes and the seemingly malicious public disclosure of alleged incriminating items found by the DSS would have been tantamount to adding insult to injury. The recalled judges should be allowed to resume and attend to their duties without let or hindrance. After all, there are senior officials in the other arms of government who are still carrying on with their official duties while undergoing trial for alleged corrupt practices.

It is still rather curious that for eight months, the alleged incriminating evidence and proceeds of crime allegedly found in the judges’ homes could not be put together to initiate trial against those yet to be charged, or get conviction in the only case that has been concluded. The usual excuse of the complexity involved in handling the prosecution of corruption cases cannot explain away eight long months of inactivity on the judges’ cases while they were already serving punishment for offences they have yet to be charged in court for, let alone being found guilty. It is the law in this jurisdiction that the burden of proof rests on the party that alleges. This dictum applies to all criminal cases and not corruption matters alone. It is important that prosecutors endeavour to work hard and responsibly within the ambit of the law to get justice without inflicting unwarranted punishment on suspects.

Published in Parliament


Governor Rauf Aregbesola’s refusal to constitute a cabinet for a long time in his state of Osun may have been quite controversial but the lessons for democracy and governance should not be missed now that the cabinet has been constituted.

Consistently, the motive of the governor had been that the state’s finances could not cope with payment of salaries of commissioners and other political appointees. The governor was even dragged to court by the opposition elements and civil society organisations. And even not too long ago, a court summoned the state chief executive officer for explanation on why he had been adamant about the composition of the state executive council, a constitutional provision in Sections 192 & 193 of the 1999 constitution as amended.

In the absence of an executive council, the governor appointed some individuals called coordinating directors, without recourse to the state assembly. The coordinating directors played some roles similar to those of commissioners, and worked with permanent secretaries.

And consequent upon this unusual political action, an Osun State High Court in Osogbo had in October last year ordered Aregbesola to defend himself on why he failed to constitute his cabinet since his inauguration on November 27, 2014, following a case filed by one Kanmi Ajibola.

Besides, the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the state had described Aregbesola’s refusal to appoint commissioners more than two years into his administration as “barbaric, illegal, unacceptable and democratically faulty.”

The opposition party even faulted the Federal Government, which it accused of granting Osun bailout funds without state executive council resolution on the matter as a necessary condition for the release of such funds.

Aregbesola had, of course, responded that his government had instituted the most transparent financial system in the allocation of resources that accrued to the state, insisting that he could not pay salaries of commissioners and other political office holders and that was why he chose not to constitute the cabinet.

He said Osun pioneered the constitution of a committee saddled with the responsibility of assisting the state government in the allocation of state revenue to ensure prompt payment of salaries as well as adequate running of government.

That committee, in truth, is headed by a veteran Labour leader, Comrade Hassan Sunmonu.Other members include the chairman of Nigeria Labour Congress in Osun; Chairman of Joint Negotiating Council, Chairman of Osun’s Nigerian Union of Teachers and government representatives, who are not political appointees.

Certainly, the world and indeed the people of Nigeria, now in need of purposeful leadership, should note that the development in Osun State should not be trivialised.

There is no doubt that allowing a state to be run without a state executive council for 33 months was unusual. But were Aregbesola’s decision to fit into the mould of an error, then he would have erred in the direction of prudence. Interestingly, he did not even act in error.

There is a marked difference between the federal and state governments. It is curious that political leaders have not taken note, and even Aregbesola might not have taken note but for financial adversity that has led to its discovery – that while it is compulsory for the president to constitute a cabinet and appoint ministers from each of the 36 states of the federation, it is, in fact, not mandatory for the states, according to the constitution as amended.

Also, Section 14 (3) and 147 of the 1999 Constitution provides that the President shall “appoint at least one minister from each state, who shall be an indigene of such state,” a principle which may also be applied in part to the states, but the law did not specify a time frame for such appointment.

While the president and the governors exercise the executive powers vested in them in Section 5 of Constitution through delegation to the ministers and other appointees, a governor has not breached any law by not appointing commissioners as members of the state executive Council. This is the evidence: Section 192 (1) provides:

There shall be such offices of Commissioners of the Government of a State as may be established by the Governor of the State. Section 193 91) provides too: The Governor of a state, may in his discretion, assign to the Deputy Governor or any Commissioner of the Government of the State responsibility for any business of the Government of that State, including the administration of any department of Government.

There is ample evidence in the circumstances that while the state required a whopping N1.7 billion for just monthly salaries, not to talk of other duties to the people, it often received much less than that from the federation account. This means that paying even the civil servants became an uphill task, let alone political office holders who are often parasites and could constitute political risks if they were owed.

What is more, the executive council cannot be more important than the people’s council. Office holders cannot be more important than the people whose votes and sweat sent them into such offices and for whom the offices are held in trust. The people in civil-service states like Osun especially need to be taken care of with regular payment of civil servants’ salaries. Traders and other service providers in such states depend on regular payment of salaries of their regular customers. That is how the state economy works. And that, appropriately, was Aregbesola’s priority.

So, at this critical time when most citizens are worried about prudence in the context of dwindling revenues at all levels, it is quite important for political leaders at all levels to learn from Osun and consider cutting the cost of governance as a fundamental objective in a state’s policy thrust. This is one relevant take-away from the Aregbesola example. Indeed, the courage to refuse to dispense political patronage, something of a political suicide by a politician should be commended. Nigerians cannot in one breath seek prudence in governance and turn around to oppose or blame those who practise it.

Now, it has been established that state governors can actually begin the practice of allocating resources according to available means and contributions to the purse. It has also been established here that giving political appointments to political jobbers and campaigners in the state is not synonymous with jobs creation for the people. It is also clear from what can be termed the Aregbesola School of Governance that governors are not under compulsion to constitute the state executive councils. Or, better still, governors can establish a manageable cabinet that will still be representative as long as service delivery to the people is the ultimate goal.

While the gesture of the former state officers who worked quietly as volunteers to keep Osun government running in the absence of the cabinet is commendable, it is important to state too that Nigeria’s democracy will be further enriched in this regard, in the true spirit of service, if the nation wakes up to hear that the commissioners and advisers just appointed are working sacrificially (as volunteers) in the interest of the state.

The objective of political appointments, in the main, is to enable the head of the executive branch of government appoint some citizens to assist him in the onerous task of governance. And so it is otiose and wasteful for governors to appoint commissioners and advisers that the states’ revenue profile cannot sustain. This is a great lesson from Osun. Clothes must of necessity be cut according to available cloth, lest a regime of debt, to lenders, to the state’s workers and political office holders and, indeed, to the people that constitute the sovereignty, is installed.

Aregbesola may not have intended it but with his creativity occasioned by economic adversity, he has opened all eyes further to a fact: Service to the people must take precedence over political correctness. That, certainly, is not a bad thing.T

Published in Parliament

Filming of the sequel to Nollywood’s highest-grossing movie, The Wedding Party, in Dubai has ended and the movie is now in post-production. This was revealed by producers of the film in an email.

The Wedding Party 2: Destination Dubai, will have its Lagos premiere on December 10, with cinema release in time for the Christmas holidays.

“It has been a remarkable opportunity to film in Dubai,” said director of the movie, Niyi Akinmolayan.

“It was magical and the team was awesome. We are thrilled to create something special for viewers and we are sure that they will be impressed with the movie.”

What is left now is editing the footage, sound and special effects, before the film can be screened at its first festival.

Thanks to Dubai Tourism and a host of local partners, The Wedding Party 2 promises a visual delight of exotic locations of the ‘Jewel of the East.’

With the cast and crew at attractions, such as IMG Worlds of Adventure, Dubai Mall and desert-based restaurant Qasr Al Sultan, Atlantis The Palm, Palazzo Versace, Armani and Ghaya Grand hotels, Mo Abudu, Executive Producer for EbonyLife Films, was also delighted about being in Dubai.

“We had a really tough schedule, but we are happy to be moving to the next phase,” said Abudu.

“We are really grateful for the support we received from Dubai Tourism and everyone else in the destination who worked so hard to make it possible.”

The Wedding Party 2: Destination Dubai is a production of The ELFIKE Collective (EbonyLife Films, FilmOne Distribution, Inkblot Productions and Koga Studios).`

Published in Entertainment
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