Tuesday, 21 November 2017

NEWS AND STORIES

Nigeria has set out its budget for 2018, aimed at helping the economy recover from its first recession in 25 years.

President Muhammadu Buhari announced a record budget of 8.6 trillion naira (£21.4bn) to modernise its infrastructure.

Africa's largest oil producer climbed out of recession in 2017 after a sharp fall in energy prices.

President Buhari pledged to lift output and keep peace in the Niger Delta.

In his speech, he said that the country "cannot afford to go back to dark days of insecurity" in the oil-producing Niger Delta region.

However, last week the militant group Niger Delta Avengers said it had ended a ceasefire and promised a "brutish, brutal and bloody" return to violence.

President Buhari said: "Though we cannot control the price of crude oil, we are determined to get our production back to at least 2.2 million barrels per day."

He added: "We will continue our engagement with the communities in the Niger Delta to ensure that there is minimum disruption to oil production.

"We must all come together to ensure peace reigns in the Niger Delta."

The budget for 2018 is 16% higher than the previous year and will focus on critical sectors of the economy such as roads, health, housing and job creation.

The country's deficit is forecast to hit of 2.005 trillion naira, down from last year's 2.36 trillion naira.

Tuesday, 07 November 2017 22:15

Father-of-six rapes neighbour’s dog

A 45-year-old man escaped jail after a South African judge gave him a five-year suspended sentence for raping his neighbour’s puppy.

Fanroi Mochachi, a married father-of-six, was caught having sex with his neighbour’s puppy after a child heard the animal howling in a communal garden.

Mochachi was caught having sex with eight-month-old Blackie by her 10-year-old owner and his uncle after they heard the pet’s cries.

He claimed he had caught two dogs mating on his way to a shared toilet and was overcome by temptation, chased the male mutt away and had sex with the female one.

A magistrate, Syta Prinsloo, branded the dad’s disgusting session as “serious, unnatural and barbaric”.

“Worse still is that you are married and a role model to your six children.

“Upsetting is that you will be expected to engage sexually with your wife, how will you explain this to her?”

Mochachi got a suspended five-year jail sentence after he pleaded guilty to bestiality in Johannesburg, South Africa.

The slap-in-the-wrist sentence has, however, spurred a wave of criticism from Prevention of Cruelty to Animals as well as the Women and Men Against Child Abuse.

Both organisations expressed concern about the sentence as Mochachi was now “roaming the streets unchecked”.

They called for harsher sentence “regarding the sexual violation of animals who, like children, are completely helpless to stop such violent attacks on them.”

Tuesday, 07 November 2017 01:46

I’m not a beggar, says ailing Sadiq Daba

While it is not in doubt, that veteran broadcaster and actor, Sadiq Daba his seriously ill, it is not clear, if he is in dare need of financial help to foot his medical bills.

After dispelling reports of the severity of his sickness two months back, the Kano-born entertainer became liberal recently, when he admitted being diagnosed with prostate cancer, following the earlier reported case of leukaemia.

Amidst outcry by fans on the social media, asking for financial help for the actor, he told The Nation on Monday that he detests the way the media is reporting his health issue. “I’m not a beggar!” he declared.

Daba, who had earlier rescheduled a chat with the reporter on the excuse that he was on his way to his doctor, said, “I’m alive… I’m about to see the doctor. Call me back anytime in the afternoon.”

Whatever the situation was at the hospital, it was confusing, as his reaction, much later, was of disinterest. Declining any useful comment, he said, in very frail voice, that he didn’t want to be misconstrued as ‘begging Nigerians’ for support.

It took another call for the veteran broadcaster to make it clear that he was not soliciting funds because of his condition, even though he disclosed he is receiving treatment at LASUTH and OAUTH.

“My name is Sadiq Daba,” he introduced himself in a feeble voice when told the purpose of the call was to ascertain his health status.

“And I will never ever be a beggar. The way you people (journalists) are going about my case is as if I’m carrying a bowl in hand, moving around Nigeria, begging people; that I am a destitute. I am not.

“Yes, I have health challenges. Yes, I am sick. So, what is the big deal? The way people are taking it, ‘Sadiq Daba is dying’, ‘Sadiq Daba is doing this.’ I’m a journalist. I’m a broadcaster. There are certain ways you can go about it if you want to help somebody. You do not whip up stories to sell your newspaper because you must sell your papers. If I die today, that’s the end of story. I’m no longer news. It’s because I am sick now that I am news.

“Yes, I have challenges but I am not a destitute. If I have been of relevance to my nation and my nation wants to help, so be it. But I am not going to go out of my way to go cap in hand. That is why when your other friend called (The Nation reporter), I said I’m tired. You’re not the only paper who has called me.

“Yes, I am sick. Will I be the first person to be sick? I’m dealing with Prostate, I’m dealing with leukaemia. That is no news. And by the special grace of God, I’ll get over it. I have that faith that God is in control.”

Daba who is currently holed up in Lagos said he is due to take a test on Friday to determine further treatment options.

“If I leave my house, I go to the hospital,” Daba who starred as Bitrus in the now rested soap opera, ‘Cock Crow At Dawn’ and played a major role in October 1, a film by Kunle Afolayan, said.

“If I’m not in the hospital, I’m in my house. I don’t have the luxury of traversing Nigeria as I used to do. I’m over 60. I’m not a small boy.”

He also disclosed that on Friday, he would be going to the hospital to get a biopsy.

“And that will determine whether I would go for proper surgery or not,” he said.

“It is painful. It has to do with the rectal and all of that. You’re battling with Leukaemia, you’re battling with Prostrate… No bi headache or stomach ache. Those ones, you can take tablets and dem don go one time. Dis one na different situation. To God be the glory sha,” he said.

Tuesday, 07 November 2017 00:09

26 Nigerian women found dead at sea

Italian prosecutors are investigating the deaths of 26 Nigerian women – most of them teenagers – whose bodies were recovered at sea.

There are suspicions that they may have been sexually abused and murdered as they attempted to cross the Mediterranean.

Five migrants are being questioned in the southern port of Salerno.

A Spanish warship, Cantabria, docked there, carrying 375 migrants and the dead women, following several rescues.

Twenty-three of the dead women had been on a rubber boat with 64 other people.

Italian media report that the women’s bodies are being kept in a refrigerated section of the warship. Most of them were aged 14-18.

Most of the 375 survivors brought to Salerno were sub-Saharan Africans, from Nigeria, Senegal, Ghana, The Gambia and Sudan, the daily La Repubblica reports.

Among them were 90 women – eight of them pregnant – and 52 children.

There were also some Libyan men and women on board.

People-smuggling gangs charge each migrant about $6,000 (£4,578) to get to Italy, $4,000 of which is for the trans-Saharan journey to Libya, according to the Italian aid group L’Abbraccio.

Many migrants have reported violence, including torture and sexual abuse, by the gangs.

In the year to 1 November, 150,982 migrants arrived in southern Europe by boat from North Africa, the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) reports.

Of them, 111,552 (nearly 75%) came via the Central Mediterranean route to Italy. The number who died on that route was 2,639, the IOM says.

The others arrived in Greece, Cyprus or Spain. The total is less than half the 335,158 who arrived in the same period of 2016.

Last year the total for Greece was higher than that for Italy.

Special Assistant to the President on Foreign Affairs and the Diaspora Mrs Abike Dabiri said “it is tragic, unfortunate and heartbreaking”.

She said: “We need to step up sensitization and awareness on the dangers of such method of migration.

“The boats being used are now smaller and more dangerous and the people on the other end are not so eager to safe them anymore.

“Don’t forget also, that they pay as much as $4,000 to go on such trips.

“Even if they survive, they only end up as slaves wherever they end up.

“The President Muhammadu Buhari Administration has been working with IOM to bring back volutary returnees.

“About 5,000 were brought back in the last six months, full of regrets and tales of woe that they wished they were never deceived into such trips.

“I condoles with the families of the victims and appeal to our your to stop being victims. It is not worth it, either in the short or long term.”

Monday, 06 November 2017 23:31

Former Kogi gov, Idris Wada in EFCC custody

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission on Monday traced N500m to the immediate past Governor of Kogi State, Idris Wada.

The money was said to be part of the N23bn allegedly disbursed by a former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Diezani Alison-Madueke, through the then Director of Finance of the Goodluck Jonathan Campaign Organisation, Senator Nenadi Usman.

It was learnt that Wada arrived the EFCC office around 12pm and was still in custody around 9pm.

Monday, 06 November 2017 19:39

Mugabe sacks vice president Mnangagwa

President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe on Monday fired Emmerson Mnangagwa as vice president, Information Minister Simon Moyo said.

Mnangagwa, a 75-year-old former intelligence chief, has been heavily-criticised by supporters of Mugabe’s wife, Grace, who has also been touted as a potential successor to her husband.

Moyo said Mnangagwa had exhibited traits of disloyalty, disrespect and deceitfulness.

Mnangagwa was appointed vice-president in 2014, taking over from Joice Muguru, who was axed after Grace launched a campaign accusing her of plotting to topple the president.

NAN reports that on Oct. 6, Mugabe’s wife accused Mnangagwa of a dark past of clandestine plots, including planning to stage a coup around the time of Zimbabwe’s independence in 1980.

“In 1980 this person called Mnangagwa wanted to stage a coup. He wanted to wrestle power from the president.

“He was conspiring with whites. That man is a ravisher,” said Grace.

Inspite of his advanced age and concerns over his health, Mugabe has refused to name a successor.

He has been endorsed as his party’s candidate for next year’s election.

NAN

*We’re providing conducive environment for business

•Getting out of recession ‘not a fluke’

President Muhammadu Buhari is not adopting a quick fix approach to the economy, but initiating long-lasting policies, the Federal government has said.

Minister of Information and Culture Alhaji Lai Mohammed told reporters in Lagos at the weekend that the results of the economic policies of the government would soon begin to germinate in full measure.

The minister said: “This administration’s contract with Nigerians sits on a tripod— The fight against corruption, tackling insecurity and reviving the economy— even our worst critics acknowledge the progress we have made in fighting corruption and tackling insecurity.

“But one area in which they have consistently criticised us is the economy. Right from the inception of this Administration, we chose the path of seeking a lasting solution to the economic crisis plaguing the nation instead of engaging in a quick fix that may attract accolades but will not endure.

“We chose to be painstaking instead of engaging in palliatives.”

The minister added that the “well-thought-out policy, encapsulated in the Administration’s Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) is working and the results are beginning to show. In September we exited recession and returned to the path of growth, after five consecutive quarters of contraction. Taking Nigeria out of recession did not happen by accident. It was the culmination of months of hard work by the Administration and fidelity to its well-articulated economic policies.

“To show that taking Nigeria out of recession was not a fluke, less than two months after, the country has moved up 24 places, to 145th, in the World Bank’s ‘Doing Business’ report. Not only that, for the first time the country is recognised as one of the top 10 most-improved economies in the world.”

Secretary of Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council (PEBEC) Dr. Jumoke Oduwole said the Federal Government would build on the achievements recorded, especially the enhancement of a conducive environment for business operations.

She said the conducive atmosphere include guaranteed access to credit for Small Scale Businesses (SMEs), construction permits, ease of business registration, ease of tax payment, and promotion of transparency and efficiency in the business environment.

She said The PEBEC chaired by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo took a significant step towards making it easier for micro, small and medium enterprises to business by approving a 60-day National Action Plan on the ease of doing business for ministries, departments and agencies responsible for their implementation.

The minister said the measure was taken because micro, small and medium scale businesses account for half of the nation’s Gross Domestic Product (DGP), adding that they also employ over 80 per cent of the labour force.

Mohammed added: “We look up to these enterprises to provide endless possibilities for economic growth. If the MSMEs blossom, Nigeria’s economy will thrive. We even surpassed our target. We had hoped to move up to 20 places. We beat that by four more to move up to 24 places.”

To boost taxation, the minister said the administration launched the “Nigerian Voluntary Asset and Income Declaration Scheme (VAIDS) to provide time-bound opportunity for tax payers to regularize their tax status and pay tax regularly.

He said if tax payers honestly declare previously undisclosed assets and income, they will benefit from forgiveness of overdue interest and penalties, and be insulated from criminal prosecution for tax offences.

Mohammed added: “As of 31st Oct. 2017, VAIDS has raked in over N200 million and 55 million US dollars. For eight consecutive months, headline inflation has been falling; the foreign exchange reserves are up to $34 billion, from $24 billion a year ago; oil production is at nearly 2 million barrels per day, a significant improvement from 2016 when it was mostly below a million; the value of the Naira in the parallel market has appreciated significantly in recent times against the US dollar, and that at about 1.8 billion dollars, the capital inflows in the second quarter of 2017 were almost double the $908 million in the first quarter.”

The minister said Nigerians will savour a new lease of life, owing to the on-going massive infrastructural development, especially roads, railways and power, adding that food prices tumble and more jobs will be created.

Hailing Nigerians for their patience and belief in the Buhari administration, Mohammed said: “Reviving the economy was never going to be an easy task. It was bound to bring some hardship to our people in the short term. Through it all, the good people of Nigeria have borne the pains with equanimity, based on their unshakable trust in the sincerity, capability and commitment of President Buhari. Now, the soothing balm is here.”

Oduwole reviewed the performance of the economy, based on the World Bank’s reforms in the critical areas of starting a business, dealing with construction permits, registering property, getting credit and paying taxes, stressing that Nigeria was on course.

She said: “In the area of company registration, the Corporate Affairs Commission has moved to offer online registration and introduced new features such as electronic stamping of registration documents. Thus, entrepreneurs have been able to register their businesses much faster, within 24-48 hours, thereby saving cost and time

“Getting construction permits and registering property in both Lagos and Kano States have become more transparent and easier for businesses with the online publication of all relevant regulations, fee schedules and pre-application requirements online.

 

Lagos lawyer Femi Falana (SAN) has advised President Muhammadu Buhari to take action against officials involved in the controversial recall of former Chairman of the Presidential Task Force on Pension Reforms Abdulrasheed Maina.

In a statement issued yesterday titled: “President Buhari should act with dispatch on Mainagate”, the rights activist said “time is certainly not on the side of President Buhari”.

Although the Federal Government has promised not to sweep the Mainagate under the carpet, Falana contended that the handling of the scandal generated by Maina’s recall has eroded the credibility of the anti-corruption crusade of the Buhari administration.

He said: “Therefore, the sanctions, which the Federal Government will mete out to all the officials who conspired to expose the administration and the nation to such avoidable shame will make or mar the fight against corruption and impunity, which is the cornerstone of the domestic and foreign policy thrust of the administration.”

Falana’s advice was sequel to a statement credited to Maina’s family, accusing Buhari administration of official betrayal.

He noted that at a news conference in Kaduna two weeks ago, the spokesman for the Abdulrasheed Maina’s family, Mr. Aliyu Maina, had stated that “Abdulrasheed was in fact invited by this administration and he was promised security to come and clean up the mess and generate more revenue to the government by blocking leakages. He has been working with the DSS for quite some time and he was given necessary security. So, one wonders why all the agencies and various individuals responsible for his return are now denying”.

But Falana contended that those who recalled Maina, “deliberately set out to subvert the anti-corruption policy of the Buhari administration”.

He argued that through such demonstration of impunity, the officials involved have exposed the country to ridicule before the comity of nations.

“In view of the revelation of the family, which has not been denied, it is crystal clear that the highly placed officials of the Federal Government, who brought Mr. Abdulrasheed Maina back to the country, gave him a clean bill of health, provided him with “necessary security”, reinstated him, promoted him and paid his arrears of salaries and allowances totalling N22 million deliberately set out to subvert the anti-corruption policy of the Buhari administration,” the senior lawyer said.

Falana described the payment of N22 million to Maina as “the height of insensitivity to pay arrears of salaries to a fugitive at a time when hundreds of thousands of workers and pensioners are owed arrears of their legitimate emoluments”.

The senior advocate queried: “Having found Maina and exonerated him, why was Interpol not informed that he was no longer wanted to stand trial for his role in the unprecedented pension fraud?

“Since Mr. Maina’s ‘necessary security’ provided by the State Security Service has not been withdrawn, why is the Federal Government requesting the Interpol to declare him wanted again? Will Interpol believe that a man, who was provided with ‘necessary security’ cannot be found by the Federal Government? Why is the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission asking Nigerians to assist in searching for the fugitive?”

 

Chelsea striker Alvaro Morata condemned Jose Mourinho to another damaging defeat against his former club as the champions clinched a crucial 1-0 win over Manchester United on Sunday.

Morata rewarded an enterprising display from Antonio Conte’s side when the Spain striker headed home early in the second half at Stamford Bridge.

After losing twice at Chelsea in his first season as United boss, Mourinho, who won three English titles in two spells with the Blues, is growing accustomed to leaving west London empty-handed.

This was an especially painful setback for Mourinho as a second defeat in their last three Premier League games leaves second-placed United lagging eight points behind leaders Manchester City.

United haven’t won at Chelsea since October 2012, a barren run that now stretches to eight matches.

While Mourinho licks his wounds, Chelsea manager Conte can take heart from a vibrant performance that keeps his fourth-placed team nine points behind City.

Amid talk Conte was in danger of losing the support of his players over his intense training regime, Chelsea’s third successive league win was well timed for the Italian in the week when demanding Blues owner Roman Abramovich made one of his ominous visits to the training ground.

Having reportedly torn into his players during a lengthy inquest into Tuesday’s 3-0 defeat at Roma, Conte wielded the axe as David Luiz and Antonio Rudiger were dropped.

Just as significantly, France midfielder N’Golo Kante returned to provide his steadying influence after missing six games with a hamstring injury.

In need of a fast start to set the tone, Chelsea thought they’d taken the lead when Marcos Alonso’s cross was turned into his own net by United defender Phil Jones, only for referee Anthony Taylor to disallow the goal for a push by Morata.

United should have been ahead themselves moments later when Ashley Young’s cross exposed early fault lines in Conte’s revamped defence, but the unmarked Marcus Rashford headed over from close range.

Tiemoue Bakayoko was equally profligate at the other end, the Chelsea midfielder firing wide from Davide Zappacosta’s cross.

Without a goal in his last six appearances, United striker Romelu Lukaku was searching for the blistering form that followed his pre-season move from Everton.

But the Belgian was largely anonymous and even when he turned on the edge of the Chelsea area for a low shot, Thibaut Courtois was able to push it away.

Rough treatment
Eden Hazard led the Chelsea response with a stinging 25-yard strike, forcing David De Gea into an agile stop.

Mourinho has been criticised for adopting a cautious gameplan in big matches recently and, while he seemed more willing to let United go forward this time, he must have been furious with the way Chelsea were slicing open his defence.

Andreas Christensen should have punished more slack United marking when he headed over from a Fabregas corner, before Conte finished the half raging at the officials after Antonio Valencia barged over Hazard.

Hazard came in for more rough treatment after the interval, with Jones and Ander Herrara both booked for fouling the Chelsea playmaker.

Hazard could have exacted immediate revenge when he found himself with just De Gea to beat from close range, but the Belgian’s hurried shot was easy for the United keeper.

Hazard didn’t need to rue that miss as Chelsea’s pressure was rewarded in the 55th minute.

United had only themselves to blame as Cesar Azpilicueta was allowed to advance unchecked down the right before whipping his cross towards Morata.

Left untouched by the flat-footed Chris Smalling and Eric Bailly, Morata had time and space to bury his header past De Gea for his first goal in seven games.

Mourinho sent on Anthony Martial and Marouane Fellaini, yet there was little threat from United until Fellaini squandered their last chance, shooting straight at Courtois in the closing minutes.

Sunday, 05 November 2017 14:41

Dele Alli limps out of England squad

Tottenham Hotspur’s in-form midfielder Dele Alli has had to pull out of the England squad for the upcoming friendlies against Germany and Brazil.

Alli’s two goals fired Spurs to a famous 3-1 Champions League success over titleholders Real Madrid at Wembley last Wednesday.

But the 21-year-old was ruled out of his club’s Premier League encounter against Crystal Palace on Sunday with a hamstring injury, and the English Football Association confirmed the setback would also keep him out of this month’s World Cup warm-ups

The FA announced on Twitter: “Squad update: the #ThreeLions will be without @dele_official for this month’s games. Get well soon, Dele!”.

Alli’s absence means manager Gareth Southgate now has 24 players for the Wembley double-header.

Tammy Abraham, Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Joe Gomez have been called up by England for the first time, but Daniel Sturridge, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Chris Smalling are among those to have missed out.

England host Germany next Friday and Brazil four days later.

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