Sunday, 21 January 2018

SPORTS

Items filtered by date: January 2018

A Nigerian in the United States, Osa Alohaneke, faces the prospect of spending the rest of his life in jail, after he was convicted by a court in Fort Bend County, Houston for the 2015 stabbing to death of his fiancée, a Cameroonian.

After deliberating for some 13 hours, a jury late Friday afternoon convicted 59-year-old Osa Alohaneke in the slaying of Evelyne Ebane Epiepang, 52.

Alohaneke looked down and showed no emotion when the verdict was read in court.

Prosecutors alleged that Alohaneke used a kitchen knife to attack Epiepang, his fiancée, and her friend, Veronica Taku.

Alohaneke, who was living at the time in a section of southwest Houston that lies in Fort Bend County, was charged with first-degree murder and aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. Jurors acquitted Alohaneke of the assault charges.

Epiepang was stabbed more than 30 times and died as she called 911 operators for help. Screams echoed in the courtroom for more than four minutes when prosecutors played the 911 call for jurors last week.

When police arrived, Alohaneke was on the phone with an attorney, his hands covered in blood. Blood was splatted on his arms up to his elbows, Assistant District Attorney Amanda Bolin told jurors during her closing arguments.

“His mission was pain and devastation and he accomplished his mission,” Bolin said.

Defense attorney Eric Ashford pointed to what he said were weaknesses in the case against Alohaneke, many of which he alleged were caused by a haphazard investigation by the Fort Bend County Sheriff’s Office.

“Was this case taken seriously by investigators? They didn’t even do the forensic analysis needed to determine the murder weapon,” Ashford told jurors.

Ashford told jurors that detectives took several knives from the scene but that no testing was done to figure out which was used in the killing. In addition, the attorney said, detectives took Alahoneke’s clothes when he was arrested but never tested them for blood or DNA. Neither were fingernail scrapings were taken from the victim. Also, he noted that detectives took Alahoneke’s phone but that jurors were never shown text messages as proof he was involved in the attack.

Ashford also attacked the credibility of Taku, the only witness to the killing. She had testified she saw Alohaneke “turn white like a ghost after the murder”.

“This could have been a hallucination,” Ashford told jurors. “But did detectives investigate Taku’s mental status? No, during testimony they said they didn’t think it was important.”

Jurors now begin the penalty phase. Alohaneke faces a sentence of up to life in prison.

 
Published in Business and Economy

Sergio Aguero scored a hat-trick as Manchester City restored their 12-point lead at the top of the Premier League with a 3-1 win at home to Newcastle United on Saturday.

City’s 30-match unbeaten run in the league came to a dramatic end with a 4-3 defeat by Liverpool at Anfield last week and their advantage at the top of the table was cut to single figures, for a few hours at least, when second-placed Manchester United beat Burnley 1-0 earlier on Saturday.

But normal service for Pep Guardiola’s men resumed in Saturday’s late kick-off, with Aguero glancing in Kevin De Bruyne’s cross in the 34th minute to open the scoring at the Etihad.

The Argentina striker then converted a 63rd-minute penalty awarded after Raheem Sterling tumbled in the box following a tug by Javier Manquillo.

But struggling Newcastle scored against the run of play four minutes later when a mistake by Oleksandr Zinchenko allowed Jacob Murphy to sprint through and finish in composed fashion.

Aguero, however, put the result beyond doubt when City’s all-time leading goalscorer completed his 11th hat-trick for the club seven minutes from time following a superb run and pass from Leroy Sane.

Meanwhile Arsenal showed there was plenty of life after Alexis Sanchez as they beat Crystal Palace 4-1 without the United-bound Chilean forward.

With Sanchez moving slowly but surely towards a £35 million (39.6 million euros, $48.5 million) transfer to United rather than City, Gunners manager Arsene Wenger left him out of his matchday squad.

Any fears Arsenal might falter up front without him proved groundless as they surged into a 4-0 lead inside 22 minutes at the Emirates Stadium thanks to goals from Nacho Monreal, Alex Iwobi, Laurent Koscielny, Alex Iwobi and Alexandre Lacazette before Luka Milivojevic pulled one back for Palace 12 minutes from time.

Arsenal remain outside the top four but heartened manager Wenger said: “We played our real game in the first half, real pace and real combination.”

– United ‘so close’ to Sanchez –

At Turf Moor, it took until the 54th minute for United striker Anthony Martial to break the deadlock with his third league goal in as many matches.

Jose Mourinho left midfielder Henrikh Mkhitaryan, the proposed makeweight in the Sanchez deal, out of his matchday squad and afterwards the United manager indicated the transfer saga was nearing an end.

“Expect soon or never,” said Mourinho regarding his prospects of signing Sanchez. “So close, so close, so close…I know my people are doing absolutely everything they can.”

But Wenger warned: “Sanchez will only happen if Mkhitaryan comes here, that will be decided in the next 48 hours.”

Chelsea won 4-0 away to Brighton as the reigning English champions leapfrogged Liverpool into third place, 48 hours before the Reds play Swansea City.

The Blues’ first win of 2018 saw Eden Hazard score twice, his opener and a goal from Willian making it 2-0 inside six minutes before Hazard and Victor Moses sealed victory after the break.

On a day when all Premier League fixtures were preceded by a minute’s applause in memory of the former West Bromwich Albion and England forward Cyrille Regis, a trailblazer for black players who died aged 59 last week, the Baggies drew 1-1 with Everton.

Jay Rodriguez gave West Brom an early lead before Theo Walcott, on his Everton debut following a midweek move from Arsenal, laid on an equaliser for Oumar Niasse in the 70th minute.

But the sight of Toffees midfielder James McCarthy going off with a broken leg after blocking a Salomon Rondon shot cast a shadow over Everton boss Sam Allardyce’s 1,000th game as a manager.

New Stoke City manager Paul Lambert won his first game in charge of the Potters as they beat Huddersfield Town 2-0 with second-half goals from Joe Allen and Mame Biram Diouf to climb out of the relegation zone.

Leicester City beat Watford 2-0 while West Ham and Bournemouth shared the spoils in a 1-1 draw.Tottenham Hotspur continue their quest for a Champions League place on Sunday when manager Mauricio Pochettino returns to former club Southampton.

 
Published in Sports
Saturday, 20 January 2018 22:19

Feyenoord to unveil Robin van Persie Monday

Robin van Persie will officially sign for Feyenoord on Monday after agreeing to rejoin his boyhood club.

The former Arsenal striker has sealed a move back to where his senior career began after Turkish side Fenerbache allowed him to terminate his contract, which was set to expire in June 2019.

Feyenoord announced the Van Persie deal in style, by posting a video on their Twitter page of the striker’s best moments for the club

Van Persie joined Eredivisie outfit Feyenoord back in 1999 when he was just 16, going on to make 78 appearances for the first team before signing for Arsene Wenger’s Arsenal in 2004.

The Dutch striker has enjoyed a fine career since leaving Feyenoord, netting 132 goals in 278 appearances for the Gunners before making the unfamiliar move to rivals Manchester United, where he won the Premier League in his first season.

However, since leaving the English top flight to join Fenerbahce, Van Persie’s career has failed to reach the same heights.

The 34-year-old failed to win any silverware in Turkey and has fallen down the pecking order at Fenerbahce.

But now, the former Premier League man has been given another chance to showcase his abilities once again with Feyenoord.

The reigning Eredivisie champions will be hoping that the return of Van Persie, Holland’s all-time top goalscorer, can revitalise their season after a disappointing campaign to date.

Published in Sports

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

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

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

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

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

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

Published in Headliners

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The pair were freed after several days.

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

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

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

Published in Business and Economy
Thursday, 18 January 2018 04:14

Kogi governor endorses cattle colony

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Published in News & Stories
Thursday, 18 January 2018 04:11

Suicide blasts kill 10 in Maiduguri

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Published in Headliners

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 
 
Published in News & Stories

‘I’m worried, concerned’

Ortom insists no land for cattle colony in Benue

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Published in Headliners

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Published in Sports
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