Friday, 19 January 2018

As the clock to the deadline of the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) continue to tick, the Office of the Senior Special Assistant to the president of MDGs (OSSAP-MDGs) and stakeholders gathered to review templates for improving MDGs data.

Speaking at the event, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on MDGs Dr. Precious Gbeneol, represented by the Head, Special Projects Unit, Dr. Christopher Otabor stated that the gathering will enable stakeholders come together to review the templates with an operational framework so that within a short time a comprehensive reports of the MDGs in Nigeria will be available.

The SSAP also stated that though from Nigeria’s MDGs mid-term assessment report 2007, there were prospects that the MDGs would be met in areas of universal primary education, HIV/AIDS, environmental sustainability and building of global partnership for development. She however noted that the task for reduction of child mortality and improvement of maternal health is still lagging behind but achievable.

Gbeneol further stated that due to the dearth of current and accurate MDGs data coupled with the fact that most data contained in the MDGs 2010 report predates the year, it was important for the OSSAP-MDGs to liaise with all stakeholders to produce a 2012 MDGs report.

“it is expected that all relevant MDAs and stakeholders will populate the templates and come up with comprehensive 2012 MDGs report for dissemination prior to the September 2013 United Nation General Assembly (UNGASS) in New York.”

Also speaking, representative of the United Nation country team, the UNDP economic advisor, Colleen Zamba said that such reports were important as they were key navigational tools for countries striving to achieve the MDGs and also serves as reference points for international community seeking to partner on MDGs.

She also advised them to scale-up strategies that have worked in the past as time was fast spent.

“Permit me to say that there is the need to quickly intensify and scale up those strategies and initiatives that have been tested and known to work including infrastructure targeted investment through the conditional grant scheme, the midwifery scheme and strategic intervention in primary healthcare and education.” Zamba stated.

 

 

 

LAGOS—AFTER 42 months of ceaseless attacks during which it killed about 3000 Nigerians, the Jama’atul Ahalis Sunna Lida’awati Wal Jihad, also known as Boko Haram Islamic sect, yesterday, agreed to lay down its arms for peace to prevail in the country.

The cease-fire was reached after a marathon meeting between some leaders of the group, which has been terrorizing some states in the North, particularly Borno since July 2009, and the Borno State Government.

The peace deal came after unknown gunmen killed 13 people in Gajigana town, a remote part of Borno State.

Those killed included three JTF operatives at the weekend. Also, a security man attached to AIT/Raypower in Bauchi State was shot dead Sunday night by a gang of suspected armed robbers.

The agreement between the Borno State government and the sect was reached after a closed-door meeting between suspected members of Boko Haram and Governor Kashim Shettima with other top government officials and religious leaders from the state in attendance.

Spokesman for the Joint Military and Police Forces in Maiduguri, which is the epicentre of Boko Haram’s campaign, Lt. Col. Sagir Musa, confirmed the attack on Gajigana town but did not give further details.

Meanwhile, an official of the Federal Government said last night that the government would critically study the group’s cease-fire terms before responding.

I saw eight bodies –Eye witness

Modu Bukar, a trader in the town, saw the bodies after the attack, which sent panicky residents fleeing, adding that he had heard gunshots during the attack.

“I saw eight bodies afterwards – three of them young men, and another five who were heads of households,” he said, adding that he did not know who was behind it.

Borno State, which shares porous borders with Cameroon, Niger and Chad, on the threshold of the Sahara, has suffered increasing lawlessness since Boko Haram launched an uprising against the government in 2009.

A general breakdown of law and order in the areas where the sect operates has also created space for armed criminal networks and ethnic militias with scores to settle, both of which sometimes kill dozens in overnight attacks.

Why we’re sheathing our sword – Boko Haram commander

Briefing newsmen after the marathon meeting in Maiduguri, Sheikh Abu Mohammad Abdulazeez Ibn Idris a commander of Boko Haram in-charge of North and Central Borno, said after due consultation with the leader of the sect, Shiekh Abubakar Shekau, as well as intervention and pleadings from respected individuals and groups in the state, we “have all come to terms and agreed to lay down our arms.”

The Boko Haram Commander, however, insisted that government should immediately release all their members from custody unconditionally, re-build their places of worship and compensate them among other demands.

Sheikh Abdulazeez said that, the sect observed that during the lingering insurgency, a lot of Muslim women and children had suffered untold hardship, adding that, they also decided to lay down their arms for peace to reign in Borno and the country at large.

“I am appealing and calling on all our members through this medium to lay down their arms henceforth, till further notice,” Abdulazeez stated.

On the wanton killings, especially the slaughtering of eight people in Gajigana town of Magumeri Local Council of Borno State on Sunday and burning of public buildings, he disassociated Boko Haram from the acts, insisting that the atrocities were committed by criminals hiding under the guise of Boko Haram.

Abdulazeez’s comments read in part: “I am Sheikh Muhammed Abdulazeez Ibn Idris, the second Commander in-charge of Southern and Northern Borno after Imam Abubakar Shekau of Jamaatul Ahjlil Sunna lidawati wal Jihad, otherwise known as Boko Haram.

We the members of Jamaatul ahlil sunna lidawati wal jihad otherwise known as Boko Haram recently had a meeting and dialogue with the government of Borno State where we resolved that giving the prevailing situation, there is the need for us to cease fire.

We, on our own, in the top hierarchy of our movement under the leadership of Imam Abubakar Shekau, as well as some of our notable followers agreed that our brethren in Islam, both women and children are suffering unnecessarily; hence we resolved that we should bring this crisis to an end.

“We therefore call on all those that identify themselves with us and our cause, to from today lay down their arms. Let every member who hears this announcement relay it to the next member who hasn’t heard.
“We have met with the Borno State Government on two occasions and the fallout of the meeting is to cease-fire.

Presently, we are going to comply with the cease-fire order and by the time we are done with that, then government security agencies can go ahead to arrest whoever they find carrying arms or killing under our names.

We are very much aware of the fact that some criminals have infiltrated our movement and continued attacking and killing people using our names.

“We have also told the government to try to live up to our demands that our members in detention should be released.

We hope the government will not betray us this time around because we all know that it was because of the continued detention of our members that this crisis continued for this long. And if government fails to do as it has promised, then this conflict will never have an end.

“Of course there is a faction within us, but the larger faction of our movement is the one in support of this cease-fire moves. Moreover, once top members of our group including Imam Abubakar Shekau are in support of the need for ceasing fire, other smaller factions can be dealt with easily.

This message, by the Grace of Allah, comes directly from the office of Imam Abubakar Shekau, the supreme leader of Jamaatul ahlil Sunna lidawati wal Jihad.”

It’s a welcome devt – Borno State govt

Reacting to the development, Special Adviser to Governor Kashim Shettima on Communication, Alhaji Isa Umar Gusau, said it was a welcome development, noting that the state government under the leadership of Shettima, since inception, had opened its doors for dialogue to end the hostilities which had disrupted economic activities and peaceful co-existence in the state.

Contacted, Borno State Commissioner for Information, Inuwa Bwala, said he was just arriving from the burial of his first cousin who was killed last Thursday and did not have details of the meeting.

FG to study their conditions

The Federal Government is to critically study the conditions given by the Boko Haram sect while announcing its unilateral cease-fire before making a pronouncement.

A highly placed government official told Vanguard in Abuja, yesterday, that government was not in a hurry to jump at the offer being made by the sect.

The official who pleaded anonymity because government has not taken a formal position on the matter noted that “from our experience, the sect is not reliable and their words cannot be taken at face value. All facets of governmental apparatus would be consulted before a final decision would be taken on the matter. We are not in a hurry to jump at their offer.”

The official noted that while government was committed to dialogue, it was not going to negotiate with any group on a position of weakness and proactive security measures would continue to be taken to safe-guard the lives and properties of Nigerians.

How AIT man was killed

Meanwhile, Vanguard gathered that the AIT/Raypower security man identified as Malam Idris Yusuf was reportedly killed sometime between 10 and 11pm when he had closed from duty and was going home.

The robbers who were said to have stolen a car asked him to help them with petrol as their tank  was empty and they were without money.

It was learnt that when the owners of the stolen car who were trailing the robbers sighted them and raised an alarm, late Idris held the arms of one of the suspects as he was about to escape with his colleagues not knowing that the suspect had a gun.

He was said to have been shot in the abdomen by the robber in the ensuing scuffle but he died on the way to the Abubakar Tafawa Balewa Teaching Hospital, ATBTH, where he was being rushed to by good Samaritans around 4am.

The Head of station of the AIT/Raypower Mr. Terver Tsav who was at the hospital described the deceased as “a good Samaritan who wanted to use his money to buy the fuel for the stranded men not knowing that they had stolen the car.”

Deputy Police Public Relation Officer, Muhammad Auyo denied any knowledge of the incident, pointing out that the state Police Commissioner, Mohammed Ladan, was in the best position to speak on it.

Origin of Boko Haram
Boko Haram, which figuratively means ‘Western education is sin’ was founded in 2002 in Maiduguri by Ustaz Mohammed Yusuf. The sect opposes not only Western education, but Western culture and modern science as well.

In a 2009 BBC interview, Yusuf stated that the belief that the world is a sphere is contrary to Islam and should be rejected, along with Darwinism and the theory that rain comes from water evaporated through the atmosphere.

In 2004, it moved to Kanamma, Yobe State, where it set up a base called “Afghanistan”, used to attack nearby police outposts, killing police officers. Yusuf was hostile to democracy and the secular education system, vowing that “this war that is yet to start would continue for long” if the political and educational system was not changed.

In Bauchi, the group, which includes members who come from neighbouring Chad and speak only in Arabic was reported as refusing to mix with local people.

Clash with the state

In July 2009 the Nigerian police started investigating Boko Haram, following reports that the group was arming itself. Yusuf, the leader and others were arrested and on July 30, 2009 allegations were made that Yusuf himself was killed by Nigerian security forces after being taken into custody.

The development invigorated deadly clashes with Nigerian security forces and attacks on churches, public institutions and military facilities among others which led to the deaths of an estimated 3000 people, according to Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Lieutenant General Azubuike Ihejirika.

The Attacks
Prior to the clashes, many Muslim leaders and at least one military official had warned the authorities about Boko Haram. Those warnings were reportedly ignored.

According to Human Rights Watch, between July and December 2010, at least 85 people were killed in some 35 separate attacks in four states in northern and, as well as in Abuja, the nation’s capital. Attacks attributed to Boko Haram in 2011 left at least 550 people dead in some 115 separate incidents.

In the first nine months of 2012 alone, more than 815 people died in some 275 separate attacks in 12 northern and central states, and Abuja.

Among the litany of attacks include those of the United Nations Office, Abuja, Police Headquarters, Abuja, the building housing ThisDay Newspapers, Sun Newspapers and Daily Trust in Abuja, St Theresa’s Catholic Church, Madalla, Niger State, Deeper Life Church, Okene; Military Cantonment Jaji, Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SAS) office and other numerous security facilities especially police stations.

The security agencies also went on counter-offensive arresting, detaining and in many instances killing Boko Haram members and leaders.

Disturbed by the escalating violence, many northern leaders and groups including the Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) urged government to dialogue with the group to end the killings.

Last November, the group gave the government conditions for ending the hostilities

The acclaimed spokesman of the group, Abu Mohammed Ibn Abdulazeez  in a tele-conference with journalists in Maiduguri stated that if the state and the Federal Government want the group to cease-fire completely, then former Borno state governor Ali Modu Sheriff must be arrested and prosecuted according to the laws of the land.

He also said that the government should compensate the group and rebuild their places of worship which were destroyed during the 2009 uprising.

He pointed out that for a dialogue to take place, it must be through the following elders: Dr. Shettima Ali Monguno; Former Head of State General Muhammadu Buhari; former Yobe State Governor, Bukar Abba Ibrahim; Ambassador Gaji Galtimari and Barr Aisha Alkali Wakil and her husband, Barr, Alkali Wakil, insisting that the dialogue must not take place in Saudi Arabia.

Abu Abdulazeez also said that the group has mandated five members who are to mediate on their behalf; they include himself (Abu Mohammed Abdulazeez), Abu Abbas, Sheikh Ibrahim Yusuf, Sheikh Sani Kontogora and Mamman Nur.

Buhari later distanced himself from the group and the Federal Government said it could not negotiate with pre-conditions, thus the crisis was allowed to fester.

With the latest decision of the group to sheathe their sword, it is hoped that all stakeholders will play their required roles for normalcy to return to the country.

 

Nigeria qualified for the next round of the Africa Cup of Nations after two late Victor Moses penalties gave them a crucial win against Ethiopia.

Moses, 22, opened the scoring from the spot after he was fouled by defender Alula Girma with 10 minutes to go.

The winger earned the second penalty when he was brought down by goalkeeper Sasay Bancha, who was sent off.

If Moses had not scored they would have lost a quarter-final spot to Zambia due to a worse disciplinary record.

More to follow.

A former Vice-President of the World Bank, Dr. Oby Ezekwesili, has asked the Federal Government to render a full account of oil revenues since 2007.

The former World Bank VP stated this in a statement in Abuja on Monday.

She said the Minister of Information, Mr. Labaran Maku, failed to address issues she raised in her lecture at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka.

Ezekwesili, who is also former Minister of education said, “I have already asked the Federal Government to a public debate on the facts raised in my speech.

“Such an open debate of facts and figures of oil revenue since 2007 would help situate public accountability as the center point of our democracy.”

Ezekwesili had in a convocation lecture in the UNN said that the late President Umaru Yar’Adua and the President Goodluck Jonathan administrations squandered the foreign reserve of $67bn left by the Olusegun Obasanjo government.

But Maku at a press conference on Sunday described the former education minister’s statement as factually incorrect.

Maku had said, “The statement by the former World Bank vice-president that the governments of Presidents Musa Yar’Adua and Goodluck Jonathan have squandered $67bn in reserves (including $45 bn in external reserves and $22 bn in the Excess Crude Account) left by the Obasanjo administration at the end of the May 2007 is factually incorrect.

“At the end of May 2007, Nigeria’s gross reserves stood at $43.13bn, comprising external reserves of $31.5bn, $9.43bn in the Excess Crude Account and $2.18bn in the Federal Government’s savings”.

But in her statement, Ezekwesili insisted that the government should come up with a full disclosure of oil revenues.

She said, “I remain resolute in demanding full disclosure and accountability by the Federal Government on the issues of poor management of oil revenues, especially the Excess Crude Account and the Foreign Reserve Account.

“The recent reaction by the spokesperson of the Administration failed to respond responsibly to my demand for accountability.”

The former minister in her lecture at UNN, expressed concern about the poor management of oil revenues.

Ezekwesili recalled the lecture where she said that some countries moved up the manufacturing and economic development ladder.

 

iROKOtv, the world’s largest online distributor of Nigerian movies, announces the launch of a brand new mobile app for the platform, in an exclusive partnership with global phone manufacturer, Nokia. The app has been designed to give Nollywood fans and iROKOtv PLUS subscribers access to Nollywood movies on the go, and will be accessible on the Nokia Lumia Windows Phone 8.

The iROKOtv mobile app is designed to give Nokia customers, Nollywood fans and iROKOtv PLUS subscribers access to their favourite movies and will be available for free on the Nokia Windows Phone 8 devices for the first three months, when users sign-up. The mobile app is available to Nokia customers who already have a subscription on iROKOtv PLUS.

According to iROKO Partners, the app is built with the same functionality as www.irokotv.com, allowing users to have total control over their viewing experience and the ability to search the catalogue of thousands of movies by genre and actor, as well as select movies to ‘watch later’.

In addition to the menu on the app, the Nokia Lumia Windows Phone 8 provides customers with a number of additional features to give them a host of extras that include behind-the-scenes films from movie sets, interviews with Nollywood stars and additional news and gossip from the world of entertainment.

Head of Business Development for iROKO Partners, Africa, Adibeli Nduka-Agwu says: “The iROKOtv app is a fantastic addition to the 'Nokia Collections within the Widows Phone Store'. Content is king, access is key and this app encapsulates this perfectly; awesome content, available on-demand, accessible on a mobile phone. Nollywood at your fingertips, wherever you are.

“The partnership with Nokia is an extremely exciting development for us. They are global leaders in the tech and mobile device sectors for emerging markets, with a dominant presence in Nigeria and West Africa. This combined with their considerable expertise and enthusiasm in promoting African content, is why we are delighted with this collaboration,” she added.

Speaking on the development, Head, Ecosystem Developer Experience (EDX), Nokia West Africa, Teemu Kiijärvi said the iROKOtv app is one of the more interesting additions to the Nokia Lumia device, which lovers of Nollywood will very much appreciate.

“We are happy that this is coming first on the Lumia device using the Windows8 OS. This is one of the ways through which Nokia is championing and encouraging the development of local apps in the region and Nigeria as well. Aside from the serious work, users of the Lumia windows phone 8 who have a subscription on iROKOtv PLUS can access the website to get the latest news in Nollywood and also the latest movies and have some form of entertainment even while on the go”, he said.

The partnership extends to iROKO Partners’ music site, iROKING, the leading platform for African music. Nokia Asha users will also have access to over 35,000 tracks from 400+ recording artistes anytime, anywhere via Nokia Browser.

 

 

Never ascribe to malice that which is adequately explained by incompetence--Napoleon Bonaparte

The news few weeks back asking the Comptroller-General of Immigration, Mrs. Rose Uzoma to proceed on her pre-retirement accumulated leave, continues to raise pertinent questions why those saddled with the responsibility of  employing Nigerians into various positions in the country usually fail to play by the rules of fairness, justice and equity.

Mrs Uzoma's retirement followed the recruitment scandal that rocked the Service few weeks back, where she was accused of favouring people from her region. This has brought to the fore, once more, the wishy-washy manner few individuals who are not capable of spelling their names are highly favoured to man key positions of the country's various sector at the detriment of those who obviously merit them.

Our Civil Service and private organisation are replete with series of recruitment and employment scams which unfortunately are skewed to favour ethnic and religious identities. Many of such recruitments are entirely biased and not based on merit. The saddest part of it all is that recruitments in contemporary Nigeria have taken new dimensions with government or private institutions collecting huge amount of money for recruitment forms like was witnessed in the last recruitment exercises by the Nigerian Civil Defence and Osun State Civil Service. In the case where a recruitment excercise is advertised, what seems to appear later is a shocking internal recruitment like was witnessed during the Lagos State Civil Service and INEC recruitment drives months back. As if that is not enough, application for jobs still appear in outmoded forms at a time when information technology has broken new grounds in online registration and recruitment feedback while at the end of it all, it is the son or daughter of the political class that gets the job. The recruitment saga in the Nigeria Immigration is not an isolated case and would have gone unnoticed if some individuals had not petitioned the powers that be.

It is quite sad that the unfortunate events which led to the coup of 1966, the Civil War of the following year and its aftermath, have all been ignored and thrown into the dustbin of deep chasm simply because we as a people pursue for ourselves nothing other than pecuniary gains or primordial interests. Not many Nigerians will forget so soon how a Nigerian Head-of-State surrounded himself with his fellow ethnic group as advisers, going further to promote several officers from his ethnic stock. Not even the current squad representing the country at the ongoing Africa Cup of Nations in South Africa, has been spared of the criticism of placing inexperienced footballers on the field at the detriment of merit, raising fears of a particular ethnic group wanting to dominate the other.

This writer is of the opinion that we as a people must go back to the days were merit, professionalism, expertise and willingness to work dominated our work-force whose effect yielded viability and sustainability. We must begin the process of placing into leadership positions square pegs in square holes so that efficiency once more takes centre stage in our polity. We must understand that a drowsy work-force is not what we need in the country, especially at a time when the nation needs a surgical operation on all fronts to solve the myriads of problems confronting it on a daily basis. All sectors of the Nigerian polity should have individuals who must have walked through the path of merit and in return made to contribute to the growth and development of the country.

The politicisation and ethnicisation with all apparent strands of religion, in recruiting Nigerians into key positions must be done away with. A culture of discipline and value oriented disposition should be embraced and be our watch-word, so that our vision and goal for an egalitarian society will not elude us as the giant of Africa which we pride ourselves as.     

Raheem Oluwafunminiyi is a social commentator and public affairs analyst. He could be reached via This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

 

The trial of former officials of the Nigerian Police Pension Fund before an Abuja High Court took a dramatic turn on Monday when one of the accused persons in the N39 billion scam, Mr. John Yakubu Yusufu, who had earlier pleaded not guilty alongside his co accused, changed his earlier stand and pleaded guilty on 3 counts out of the amended 20 counts charge brought against them by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC.

Specifically, Mr. Yusufu pleaded guilty to counts 18, 19 and 20 where he was alleged to have connived with Mr. Essai Dangabar, Atiku Abubakar Kigo, Ahmed Inuwa Wada, Mrs. Veronica Ulonma, Sani Habila Zira, Mrs Uzoma Cyril Attang and Mr. Christian Madubuike, to convert the sums of N24.2 billion, N1.3 billion and N1.7 billion respectively, belonging to the Pension Office to their own use, an offence punishable under section 309 of the Penal Code Act, Cap 532, Laws of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, Nigeria 2007.

Other accused persons maintained their earlier plea in the matter insisting that they were not guilty.

The ammended charge introduced two more persons who were not included in the earlier charge. These new accused persons were Mrs. Uzoma Cyril Attang and Mr. Christian Madubuike.

Mrs. Attang who is still in service as Director of Finance and Accounts in the Ministry of Communications had been on a hide and seek game with the Code of Conduct Bureau which had earlier dragged her before the Code of Conduct Tribunal on a 5 count charge of having properties which her salary could not have been enough to acquire.

She was a Director at the Police Pension Office between 2007 and 2008. Within this period, Mrs. Uzoma Attange who worked closely with Yusufu was discovered by the Bureau to have acquired choice properties in Lekki, Victoria Island and Ikoyi all within Lagos metropolis as well as in Abuja. One of her bank accounts which she maintains with a first generation bank, according to the charge slammed against her, had a credit of N500 million Naira, the source of which, she could not explain. The charge was however later withdrawn by the Sam Saba led Code of Conduct Bureau.

Upon Yusuf’s new guilty plea, the prosecution team led by Mr. Rotimi Jacob, a senior advocate of Nigeria, urged the court to convict Mr. Yusufu accordingly. He also brought an application seeking for the forfeiture of 13 properties scattered between Gombe state GRA and Abuja whaich the anti graft agency seized from Yusufu as proceeds of crime.

According to Mr. Jacobs, the process of illegally withdrawing and sharing monies among the accused persons started in 2007 and ended in 2009, within this period, Mr. John Yakubu Yusufu came into office and met this unwholesome practice and continued with it.

He told the court that apart from the 13 properties confiscated from him, that the sum of N325 million found in his account should also be forfeited.

“We urge you to take into account these properties and the money so that the court can make an order for the proceeds from the sales of the properties should go back to the Police Pension Office for the payment of the entitlements of legitimate pensioners” the senior advocate told the court.

Yusufu’s lawyer, Mr. Maiyaki Theodore Bala, in his submission after his client pleaded guilty, told the court that the conduct of his client had demonstrated remorse to the court and to Nigeria as a nation for breaching its laws.

According to him, ” By pleading guilty, the convict has shown respect to this court and have saved precious time of the court. The court will also find that he is a first time offender without any previous record of conviction, furthermore, he is the head of a family of four, a wife and 3 children, two of who are university students while one is a primary school pupil. These people depend on him for their survival and well being, including the payment of school fees. It is also pertinent to note that he has a chronic heart condition which has aggravated to a serious case of high blood pressure, a condition that requires frequent medical attention. His aged parents are still alive and due to old age, have attendant medical complications which require regular medical attention and both depend on him to deal with these”

The lawyer also told the court that Mr. Yusufu had grown to become a community leader with a number of students depending on him for scholarships, these Nigerian children, according to him, will loose the opportunity if justice is not tempered by mercy.

Continuing in his plea for leniency for his client, Maiyaki told the court that going by the application for complete forfeiture of the assets and properties confiscated from his client, that the EFCC had taken everything from his client and he is left with nothing. He urged the court to exercise the discretionary powers granted it under section 309 of the Penal Code in favour of the convict and give him an option of fine so as to serve as incentive to the other accused persons to take the courage of coming forward to admit their guilt where one exists.

In pronouncing Yusufu’s sentence, the court presided by Justice Talba Mohammed noted that the fact that he is a first time offender who he had also saved the time of the court and had forfeited his properties and assets to the Federal Government, that the court is minded to consider the plea for leniency and temper justice with mercy. He however observed that the court also has a duty to Nigeria which have been bedeviled by the monster of white collar frauds which have denied Nigerians of better living conditions.

He further stated that section 309 of the Penal Code under which the accused persons were charged provides for 2 years imprisonment with an option of fine or both. Consequently, he sentenced Yusufu to 2 years imprisonment for each of the counts or N250,000. The jail terms run concurrently.

A displeased Rotimi Jacob protested the option of fine given to the convict and he told the court that the punishment makes mockery of the EFCC’s fight against corruption.

Justice Talba subsequently adjourned trial of the other accused persons to 26th February.

One of the newly added accused persons, Mrs. Uzoma Cyril Attang was not in court but the EFCC applied that her name be temporarily expunged from the charges to enable those in court take their plea. No reason was however given by the anti graft agency why she was not in court.

A private legal practitioner, Mr. Alex Oketa, had dragged the EFCC to court over the seeming preferential treatment being meted out to her as she had been shielded from prosecution even though the agency found her culpable in their investigation of the Police Pension fraud. The case comes up Tuesday before a Federal High Court siting in Abuja.

Mrs. Attang’s inclusion in the newly amended charge filed by the EFCC on 25th January, was calculated to douse that matter.

The Permanent Secretary of the Pension Office, Mr. Atiku Abubakar Kigo, was initially docked alongside Mr. Esai Dangabar, Ahmed Inuwa Wada, John Yakubu Yufufu, Sani Habila Zira and one woman, Mrs. Veronica Ulonma Oyegbula in 2011 on a 16 count charge before the charge was amended to include Mrs. Attang and Mr. Christian Madubike.

 

 

Sunday, 27 January 2013 23:11

Flour Mills plans merger with Niger Mills

Flour Mills Plc has announced its intention to merge its business with Niger Mills limited.

Niger Mills produces a wide range of goods, including flour, pasta, cement, fertilizer, bags and other packaging materials. In Cross River, Niger Mills’ main focus is on producing high quality wheatflour.

Flour Mills already holds 99.97 percent equity stake in Niger Mills. The scheme of merger will be achieved by the transfer of liabilities and undertakings of Niger Mills to Flour Mills, while the entire issued share capital of Niger Mills will be cancelled.

In a notice filed with the Nigerian Stock Exchange, NSE, Flour Mills explained that the boards of both companies have been in discussion and negotiations with regard to merging their respective businesses.

The company noted that the proposed scheme of merger would be undertaken pursuant to part XII of the investment and securities Act No. 29 of 2007.

It further stated that in exchange for Niger Mills’ liabilities transferred to Flour MIlls, ordinary shares of Flour Mills would be issued to the minority shareholders of Niger mills or alternatively a cash consideration in lieu of the allotment of the said Flour Mills shares to the minority.

According to statement, the proposed merger would facilitate the consolidation of the companies’ operations and processes into a single enlarged entity, while positioning them to create particularly administrative costs relating to maintaining two distinctive entities.

“The board of Flour Mills believes that the enlarged entity will consolidate accessing positive economies of scale and realizing significant synergies through enhanced operational and administrative efficiency, thereby providing immense benefits to the shareholders and customers of Flour Mills.

It would be recalled that Flour Mills had recently secured approval-in-principle from the Securities and Exchange Commission, SEC, for a proposed business combination with Nigerian Bag Manufacturing Company Plc (Bagco) and its subsidiaries – Northern Bag Manufacturing Company Limited and Bagco Morpack Nigeria Limited.

The companies had said that they wanted to undertake the merger in order to streamline their operations and reduce administrative costs.

Other reasons adduced by the companies include the need to improve operating efficiency and capture the full synergies arising from the merger, which, in turn will result in a significant enhancement of shareholders’ value.

According to Flour Mills, the acquisition confirmed the company’s unalloyed support for the Federal Government’s Agricultural Transformation Agenda having already commenced major agro-allied investments in the areas of rice cultivation and milling; Sugar growing, milling and refining; maize and Soya beans growing; palm oil cultivation and refining; and production of animal feeds.

 

Debutants Cape Verde qualified for the last eight of the Africa Cup of Nations after coming from behind to beat Angola 2-1 in Port Elizabeth.

The Angolans took the lead on 33 minutes through an own goal from Cape Verde defender Neves.

The Blue Sharks equalised with nine minutes left, as defender Fernando Varela headed in from close range.

Substitute Heldon snatched the winner in the 90th minute to secure second place in Group A behind South Africa.

Lucio Antunes' side are the smallest nation ever to compete at the Nations Cup and their progression defies many pre-tournament predictions, as they join the hosts in the quarter-finals, after the South Africans' 2-2 draw with Morocco.

The Angolans had started much brighter than in their previous two group games, knowing they needed a win to progress, while Cape Verde continued the smart attacking play they had displayed against South Africa and Morocco.

The ever-lively Cape Verde striker Platini was busy from the offset and their other creative spark Ryan Mendes tried to curl an early attempt into the top corner, only to watch it sail just over.

Angolan target man Manucho became the Palancas Negras' main threat from the outset, getting on the end of an excellent in-swinging free-kick from Gilberto, only to head just wide.

Cape Verde increased the pressure and won a corner for their efforts with Mendes' in-swinger glancing off striker Tavares' head and over Angolan keeper Lama's bar.

Platini proved a handful for the Angolan defence, as he refused to allow them any time on the ball, but was unable to create an opening, having stolen the ball from them a couple of times in quick succession.

Amaro was busy down the left Angolan flank and his perseverance paid off as he was fed by Campos, before crossing a dangerous ball, which flicked in off Neves, under pressure from midfielder Mateus to hand the Angolans the opener.

Tavares very nearly levelled it up immediately at the other end but it skimmed just wide off his head.

Cape Verdean midfielder Babanco then whipped in a smart shot after a good run, which Angolan keeper Lama palmed away at the near post.

Antunes then made a couple of shrewd attacking changes at the interval, with Platini making way for Heldon and Djaniny coming on for Toni Varela, as he reacted to his side going behind for the first time in the tournament.

They almost got themselves back in the tie immediately after the break, with Tavares' close-range effort cleared off the line by Angolan midfielder Dias.

Manucho then almost doubled Angola's lead, as he collected the ball in the box, turned well and fired low across Vozinha's goal, only to see his effort cannon off the foot of the post.

At the other end, Tavares almost capitalised on confusion in the Angolan defence, as he was almost allowed to slip in before Lama gathered to avert the danger.

Heldon then whipped in a dangerous free-kick from 30 yards, which Lama spilled before the Angolan defence cleared.

Fellow substitute Djaniny then collected a clever flick from Mendes on six yards but was unable to finish, as it was cut out by Angolan defender Marco Airosa.

Cape Verde finally hauled themselves back into contention with nine minutes left on the clock, as Varela headed in from close range, after Lama's fumbled attempt at a punch from a cross.

Heldon then sensationally grabbed the winner in the final minute of normal time, meeting Marco Soares' ball sweetly and burying it past Lama to spark wild celebrations on the Cape Verde bench.

Cape Verde coach Luis Antunes:

"My team and I dedicate this victory to the wonderful people of the Cape Verde Islands.

"Our objective at this tournament has been achieved.

"We wanted to reach the quarter-finals."

Angola coach Gustavo Ferrin:

"We had no option but to attack in search of a winner and left ourselves open at the back."

 

Hosts South Africa finished top of Group A after their dramatic 2-2 draw with Morocco in Durban knocked the North Africans out of the tournament.

Knowing a win would take them through, Morocco twice led - only to exit the finals, as Cape Verde beat Angola 2-1.

After Issam El Adoua headed home 10 minutes in, May Mahlangu curled home in fine style after 71 minutes.

Mehdi Namli put Morocco in front again but Siyabonga Sangweni broke North African hearts with a late equaliser.

The goal ensured that South Africa, who reached the Nations Cup knock-out stages for the first time since 2002, stay in Durban for Saturday's quarter-final against the Group B runner-up.

It also meant unbeaten Morocco suffered an early exit for the second finals in a row - their departure made all the more painful given that they were just four minutes away from qualifying as group winners.

On a night of unrelenting drama, the Group A climax was full of twists and turns - with the most severe coming when Cape Verde scored a 90th-minute winner to squeeze into the knock-out positions.

It was cruel on an Atlas Lions side who were much improved from their opening displays but who were undone by two high-quality South African goals.

Making light of a partisan packed house in Durban, the North Africans got off to a flier - with striker Youssef El Arabi denied after just four minutes by South African goalkeeper Itumeleng Khune.

Moments later, the 1976 champions opened the scoring as Khune misread a Moroccan corner - allowing centre-back Issam El Adoua to head home from close range.

With a pace to the game seldom seen at these finals, the hosts - who were roared on whenever they advanced - first threatened as the lively Thuso Phala teed up Bernard Parker who dragged his strike wide.

Some South Africans could be seen praying in the stands and they were certainly thankful after Khune raced 20 yards out of his area to break up a Moroccan counter-attack after Kamel Chafni had broken free.

If the first half was a tasty appetiser, the second half delivered a feast of football theatre as all four teams in the group clung on to their hopes of qualification until the dying moments.

After 53 minutes, Phala - whose set-piece delivery was superb all evening - thought he had drawn the 1996 champions level with a free-kick that was flying into the top corner until veteran Moroccan keeper Nadir Lamyaghri pulled off a fine save.

El Arabi then had the chance to put Morocco in control of their destiny when a Sangweni error allowed him a free run at goal from 40 yards - but Khune threw up a hand to make a decisive save from the attempted chip.

With time rapidly ticking away, South Africa levelled as midfielder Mahlangu played a one-two with Tokelo Rantie before bending one of the goals of the tournament into the top corner from the edge of the box - leaving Lamyaghri, 36, with no chance.

At this point, with both games level at 1-1, Morocco were exiting the tournament on the number of yellow cards they had picked up - so their goal after 82 minutes sparked wild celebrations.

Substitute Abdelilah Hafidi controlled a cutback on his chest in the area before firing through the legs of Sangweni and past Khune - prompting Morocco coach Rachid Taoussi to sink to his knees and kiss the turf.

His side were top of the group but their descent started once Sangweni - nominally a centre-back - pitched up on the edge of the penalty area to curl home another fine Bafana Bafana goal.

As the Moses Mabhida Stadium led the celebrations across South Africa, news filtered through that Cape Verde had taken the lead against Angola - leaving some Moroccan players in tears as they struggled to understand the nature of their elimination.

South Africa coach Gordon Igesund:

"We feel very, very proud to have achieved our first objective. I must thank the players and the fans.

"Morocco were a very tough team. I do not want to point out mistakes, but we conceded two goals we should not have done. There are now two games to the final and I believe in my players."

Morocco coach Rachid Taoussi:

"I am very disappointed with the result, but we fought with dignity and honour. I am satisfied. We did not lose a game and the tournament was a positive one for me.

"This Cup of Nations was a step forward and we will now prepare for the 2014 World Cup qualifiers. Our main objective is the 2015 Cup of Nations, which Morocco host."

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