Saturday, 20 January 2018
Items filtered by date: June 2017

Didier Drogba enjoyed a dream debut for United Soccer League side Phoenix Rising FC -- the club he is also a part owner of -- scoring and assisting as they beat Vancouver Whitecaps.

Drogba, making his first appearance for Phoenix since his arrival in April, netted the opener and set up the winner in the side's 2-1 USL win over Vancouver on Saturday.

Wearing the No. 11 shirt and the captain's armband, the former Chelsea striker headed home Amadou Dia's cross in the 40th minute.

Then, following Marcos Bustos' equaliser from the penalty spot for Vancouver, the ex-Ivory Coast international teed up former Chelsea teammate Shaun Wright-Phillips for the game's decider in the 77th minute.

"Nothing different," Drogba said when asked about his debut compared to others. "The game is still the beautiful game and I want to enjoy it, and I was enjoying today, and that's the most important thing for me."

The 39-year-old, who was last playing for Major League Soccer side Montreal Impact, has missed five games since joining Phoenix as he attempted to regain his fitness.

"It took me five weeks to kind of get back in shape. I still need a few weeks to improve, but it's good to start at home," Drogba said.

Wright-Phillips added of Drogba: "Not only for me but for the players and the staff and the fans as well, I think it's very important to bring something different to the game. He also lifts up everybody and expects everyone to play to their potential, which is fantastic for the team and the club."

Phoenix head coach Patrice Carteron, also making his debut for the club, was pleased with Drogba's display.

"Most of the fans came to see him and he showed that he is still a great player," Carteron said. "I'm really happy for all of you who had the pleasure to see such a player."

Phoenix are one of a number of candidates with the aim of becoming an MLS franchise.

Published in Sports

More than 20 security operatives stormed the Fred Shoboyejo home of vicious kidnapper and robber, Evans, less than a month after the police announced a thirty-million-naira bounty in return for information leading to his arrest.

For at least seven years, Evans has co-ordinated bank robberies across Oyo, Port Harcourt and Abia, as well as numerous high-profile kidnaps whose ransoms amount to hundreds of millions of naira.

On that Saturday morning, utilising months of information gathering and fresh tips, the usual quiet ambience of Magodo GRA Phase 2 was interrupted by gunshots as security manned the Y-crescent zone where Evans lived. Without a picture of what he looked like, they had first descended upon an adjacent building and roughened the occupants before realising the error – Evans is said to own a certain pricey brand of Jeep which was used to identify the criminal’s building.

Painted in light blue, the modest duplex sits behind a reflecting steel gate, not very differently from the many other duplex buildings in the area. As neighbours gathered to watch in disbelief, many lamented the grave danger they had been unknowingly exposed to by living next to a criminal of this repute. “There’s always 24-hours power supply in this (Evan’s) house. He even connected the street lights to his house power (which is not an exceptional deed for a Magodo resident). At least, we’ll miss him for that deed,” a neighbour, Toyin, quipped.

Until Saturday, Evans was the regular upscale Magodo neighbour with a wife, kids (infant and toddler), househelp and gateman. He drove himself and had no security apparatus or escort vans. He was totally unassuming and drew no attention to himself. He loved cars and had a black sport car which he’d sometimes park on the street. His next-door neighbour is an ex-naval officer. This raid unsettled the otherwise quiet estate where the Deputy Governor of Lagos state also lives.

By early afternoon, the gunshots were deafening. A closer look revealed, they were out of jubilation rather than combat. One of the security men at Fred Shoboyejo gate explained that Evans had moved out his family and a few other belongings about a week before. He had only come back that morning in a hired vehicle for God-knows-what. The raid was successful and as security operatives brought out heavy bags and a vault – suspected to contain money and weapons, the visibly excited officials shot in the air sporadically, playing loud music from their cars, striking a machete against the tarred road out of joy, dancing and singing, ‘thirty million for the account o…’

Early bystanders claimed Evans had exchanged gunshots with the officials before he was captured. A ritual where a broom was inserted into his private organ was then performed as a sort of spiritual disarming before he was handcuffed. An official was heard lamenting the number of colleagues the force had lost to Evans’ several operations and previous botched raids. He also spoke of trailing the criminal’s wife across Turkey and with Interpol before finally accosting her at the Lagos International airport.

The Inspector-General’s Intelligence Response Team (IRT) led by ACP Kyari has confirmed the capture and promised to parade the kingpin before newsmen at noon, in Lagos, on Sunday.

Published in Headliners

Less than one week after armed men killed a personnel of the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), and in the process abducted his principal, who is a Chinese national, armed men suspected to be Fulani on Friday evening reportedly killed 39-year-old Mrs. Magdalene Tunar in Uluoke, near Auchi in Etsako West Local Government Area of Edo on her way from farm alongside her husband and two children.
Narrating the incident, her husband, Wilson Tunar, said the two armed men, he suspected to be Fulani herdsmen had accosted them on their way from farm.He said: “I usually park my car somewhere along the farm route because of the terrain. So, we were moving towards where I parked, when two men suddenly came out of the bush and moved towards us with gun pointing at us.
“On sighting them, my wife inquired to know what was happening and the next thing I heard was the sound of gun. They shot her on the stomach.“When she fell, they pointed the gun at my children, but I shielded them by pushing them behind me.

 “It was a miracle, when I heard the click of the trigger, but nothing happened. I grabbed a wood close by and fought them with it and I got injured on the neck by a knife from one of them. They, however, fled when I overpowered them.
“I rushed my wife, who was still alive, to Iyamoh Health Centre, but we were advised to go to Faith Foundation hospital close by, as they were incapable of taking care of her.
“Again at Faith, we were referred to Irrua Specialist Teaching Hospital (ISTH). It was on our way there that she died.”Tunar said activities of herdsmen have become increasingly problematic in the area and appealed to security agencies to help protect lives and properties of people in the area.

“Three persons were abducted in the same area, same Friday, by these people. Though two cars were snatched in the process, but the vehicles have been recovered, while the persons were yet to be found.”

As at filing this report, The Guardian could not get confirmation from police on the abduction, as the Police Public Relations officer, Moses Nkonbe, said he was yet to get details from the area, where the incident happened.

Published in Business and Economy

Dominic Calvert-Lewin scored and Freddie Woodman saved a penalty as England beat Venezuela 1-0 to win their first Under-20 World Cup title and end the nation’s 51-year wait for a global trophy on Sunday.

Everton striker Calvert-Lewin became the third England player to score in a World Cup final after Geoff Hurst and Martin Peters in 1966 — the last time England won any world title.

The Young Lions had to withstand a ferocious second-half onslaught with goalkeeper Woodman saving a penalty from Venezuela’s Adalberto Penaranda 16 minutes from the end.

England had the better of the early exchanges with Liverpool-bound Dominic Solanke forcing a save from Wuilker Farinez and seeing a long-range effort go wide in the opening quarter of an hour.

Venezuela, who have never qualified for the senior World Cup, were making their first final appearance and took time to settle until Ronaldo Lucena’s stunning free-kick hit the post in the 24th minute.

There seemed no danger as he prepared to take a free-kick from the edge of the centre circle but his fierce swerving drive took Woodman by surprise as it smashed into the post from fully 40 metres out.

Calvert-Lewin had already come close with a header when he scored what proved to be the winner in the 35th minute.

The striker rose to beat Nahuel Ferraresi to high ball on the edge of the box and saw his right-foot shot parried by Farinez.

He then made no mistake with his left foot from the rebound and slotted home at the near post.

Venezuela took control after half-time as England defended deep and tried to hit on the counter.

The tiny but lively substitute Yeferson Soteldo, who stands just 5ft 3in (160cm) tall, energised his side and immediately sent in Sergio Cordova to force a fine save from Woodman one-on-one.

England still had an attacking threat and Josh Onomah almost gave them a two-goal cushion when he ran unopposed to shoot from distance, only to see his shot cannon back off the crossbar.

Venezuela’s increasing pressure finally paid off when Penaranda was brought down by Jake Clarke-Salter and the referee Bjorn Kuipers pointed to the spot, with his decision confirmed by video review.

Penaranda got up to take the spot-kick only to see his weak effort down the middle saved as Woodman flung a hand behind him as he dived to his right, and England held out for their long-awaited World Cup win.

Published in Headliners

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on Thursday in an FCT High Court, Maitama, opened its case against Dr Fortune Fiberesima, former President Goodluck Jonathan’s chief physician.

Fiberesima was alleged to have abused his position as the chief physician to the former president in 2012 in awarding contracts valued at N258.9 million and N36.9 million to companies where he had interests.

NAN reports that he was arraigned on a six- count charge bordering on abuse of office by influencing the award of contracts to companies where he had interest.

EFCC said the offences were contrary and punishable under Section 19 of the Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act, 2000.

The contracts are reclamation of land at the State House Medical Centre and supply of medical consumables.

He was granted bail on April 25 on the same condition by EFCC administrative bail, of two directors in government service with landed property in Abuja.

In addition, he was ordered to deposit to the court registrar his international passport.
At the resumed sitting, EFCC brought two witnesses out of nine billed to testify in the matter

The first witness, Mr Aminu Abubakar, retired director, Maintenance, State House, was led in evidence by Hussaina Gambo (Mrs) EFCC counsel.

He told the court that the contract for the reclamation was awarded in February . 2013 to a company named TE and C Ltd at N358.5 million to be completed within 16 weeks.

Abubakar said that at the completion of the contract, certificate of practical completion was issued to the contractor.

The witness also told the court that he was invited to EFCC and DSS in 2015 and 2016 respectively to answer questions in relation to the project.

When cross- examined by Mr Granville Alibo (SAN) counsel for the defendant, the witness said that the defendant was never a member of the Tenders Board.

“Even in the award of contract, the defendant never sat as a member of Tenders Board which reports to the Permanent Secretary of the State House,’’ the witness said.

He also told the court that he did not know if the payment of the contract was completed but that the process for payment was completed before he left service.

Another witness, Rukiyat Odekunle, told the court that the contract to supply medical consumables was awarded to one Mr Ibomaedomi and Global Services Ltd at N36 million.

Odekunle said she was the director of procurement at the State House when the contract was awarded.

When cross examined by Alibo, she also said that the defendant was never a member of the Tenders Board, adding that the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) did not object to the contract.

The judge, Justice Peter Affen, adjourned the matter until July 13 for continuation of hearing.

Published in Business and Economy

The Inspector-General of Police, Mr Ibrahim Idris, has ordered the Commissioner of Police (CP) in Kaduna State to investigate and arrest members of the Coalition of Northern Youths for issuing ultimatum to South Easterners living in the North.

The Coalition of Northern Youths on June 6, at a news conference in Kaduna, gave a three-month ultimatum to South Easterners living  in the North to leave.

It had also ordered Northerners living in the South Eastern part of the country to return to the North.

The group attributed the ultimatum to the constant agitation by the Igbo ethnic group to have their own independent country.

Also, Gov. Nasir El’ Rufai of Kaduna State had ordered the investigation, arrest and prosecution  of  the signatories to the communique issued at the end of the coalition of northern youth news conference.

The I-G gave the order at a meeting with Commissioners of Police and other high ranking officers on Thursday in Abuja.

He warned that no individual or group of persons had the right to ask any individual to leave his or her place of residence in any part of the country.

He ordered other state commissioners of police in the North and Assistant Inspectors -General of Police in the various zonal commands to do same.

He said “as Commissioners of Police and Assistant Inspectors-General of Police, we have the responsibility to stop this group of persons from carrying out their threats.

“I want us to be at alert to ensure that such persons or group were stopped at all cost from carrying out their threats.

“No individual has the authority to stop anybody from looking for his daily bread.

He explained that the Nigerian Constitution guarantees every citizen the right to live in any part of the country he or she chooses.

On abuse of siren and spy number plate by unauthourised persons, Idris said that a task force would be constituted across the country to check the ugly situation.

He noted that some individuals used them to commit crimes in the society, adding that synergy between the force and other security agencies was critical to its operations.

“We are going to check the excesses of these individuals who use siren and spy number plate,“he said.

The police boss urged the various commands to beef up security in their formations as security challenges were taking different dimensions.

He said the force had started the establishment of some operational units in the commands across the country to tackle emerging security challenges.

He added that “we are facing new security challenges in the country and we have to respond to it.

“We are trying to enhance our capacity with the establishment of these units, taking into consideration the new security challenges in the country.”

He explained that every commissioner of police was in charge of units in his or her
command, weather they were from the Force headquarters.

Idris urged state governors to support the force by establishing these units for to effective response to security threats across the country.

On the kidnapped six students from the Igbonla Model College, Epe area of Lagos, Idris said that police marine would be trained to flood the creeks.

He expressed concern over the location of schools close to the sea where miscreants always had easy access to such schools.

He said “we are going to have a permanent solution to the Lagos problem by training our marine police.”

The Commissioner of Police in Lagos State, Mr Fatai Owoseni, said rescue mission was ongoing to save the children.

He explained that the police was concerned about the safety of the children in trying to rescue them.

Published in Headliners

THE  country was scandalised to learn recently from the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Usani Usani, that the bulk of the N423 billion released to the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) to execute 427 projects in the region between 2009 and 2015 had been allegedly misappropriated. Going into specifics, the minister, who was giving highlights of the report of a technical audit committee set up to investigate all contracts awarded and projects and programmes executed by the ministry since its inception, had said: “The revealing content of the report shows that over N423 billion had been expended in the region by the ministry alone, besides other intervening agencies. From this amount, project execution rate was 12 per cent, with an average completion rate of a project standing at five years and the impact rate is eight per cent.” Also speaking along this line, Acting President Yemi Osinbajo had said, while playing host to a delegation from Bayelsa State, that sometimes NDDC projects “are designed not to succeed, but just for some people to make money.” 

We consider it a national embarrassment that a commission that was set up to improve life and living in the Niger Delta region has been turned into a cesspool of corruption by some people. It is also off-putting that programmes and projects designed purportedly to alleviate poverty, enhance living and improve the environment have turned out not only as a conduit to enrich some individuals but also a means of making life more horrible and terrible for citizens of that region. If indeed the execution rate of projects is a mere 12 per cent and the impact rate is only eight per cent, not only have the people been robbed of what was allocated to them, the country has also been shortchanged because the money expended did not give the value expected. Breaking it down, it means the people get N8 million value for every N100 million spent in that region by the government through the NDDC.

The country found itself in this situation because of its fondness for throwing money at problems. The fact is that money on its own does not have the capacity to solve problems; it is money that is properly monitored that gives optimum value and produces the desired effect. Therefore, it is not enough for the government to just appropriate resources to ministries, agencies and departments. There must be an inbuilt mechanism to ensure judicious utilisation of such resources, otherwise such allocations will not be better than money thrown down the drain. If the government appropriates and abandons its monitoring responsibility, the country will not have value for money appropriated and problems will not get solved. It is high time the country took seriously, the issue of tracking released funds so that the essence of such releases would be realised.

Then, it is not enough to inform the country about the theft of allocated funds. The government must also go a step further to arrest those who misappropriated the resources and bring them to book no matter what their political affinity is or how highly placed they are. Those who took the contracts and failed to deliver on the agreed terms should be made to pay for their actions. That is how to stop a repeat of this.   We must stress that Nigeria has a responsibility to develop the Niger Delta region. The nation cannot afford to shirk its responsibility to the region under the guise of misapplication of resources allocated to it even by indigenes of that region. So, the government must monitor every kobo that is allocated to the development of that region and guard against its misappropriation or diversion. Individuals who are guilty of any larceny should be heavily sanctioned but it must be noted that in the final analysis, the buck of developing that region stops at the desk of the Federal Government.

Published in Parliament

Now that the social media mob action, or shall we say mob reaction that followed the skewed story about Lagos State government sacking the Chaplain in its church has subsided, a cursory look at the fundamental issues that were somewhat overlooked or deliberately downplayed can be logically revisited.

The trumpeted narrative had read like a scripted first draft of a play that didn’t go through a review before the actors were ordered onto the stage. The wife of the Lagos State governor had attended an anointing service at the state-owned Chapel of Christ the Light. She allegedly got angry for not being recognised and accorded due privilege after which she had either stormed out in anger or waited to be anointed anyway but left displeased and unplacated (the narrative didn’t seem to have a first-hand experience of how the episode actually ended. Nor did it seem to matter to those who hurried to let the concocted narrative out).

The next day, the Chaplain was relieved of his duty with an alleged immediate eviction from his official residence. To add sweetener to the salted wound, the Chaplain got a deluge of free housing and furniture from well wishers written into characters as good Samaritans. What else, the script that has developed into a full-blown play had to be made plausible and draw public sympathy so that the toga of a villain could be pinned on the state government and a hero created out of a man whose cassock has became tainted.

And so the script writers encouraged and munched a deluge of reactions from the social media, cleverly ignoring opposing views or those that either pleaded caution or encouraged a deeper, balance appraisal of the issue. No! The writers of the one-way narrative wanted only one ending – the demonisation of government and a reinstatement of the man with soiled hands.

Nigerians were angry, they wrote; and they have shown their annoyance by staying away from the Chapel the following Sunday, in apparent sympathy for the man who had been fired on principle by the same structure that hired him. It would injure the script and expose the hatchet writers if they had accepted that the church service of that Sunday was moved to a bigger space in the governor’s backyard in anticipation of the large crowd expected for the state’s special anniversary service. Should it not have occurred to the writers of the hurried narrative that government could not have run away from its own little worship space just because a chaplain had been replaced?

In any case, the desperadoes of the lone-ranger media did not bother to test their assertion of a depleted chapel last Sunday when there was no need to hold another special service at the state house and normalcy had returned to the Chapel whose primary function is to cater to the worship needs of civil servants and those close to them. Once its untested narrative is defeated by common sense and superior logic, the mischievous media simply looks away.

But it is important to note that this whole narrative came from just one newspaper, the only one that found newsworthy and on its prime cover space, the sacking of a chaplain in a state-owned church. Eager to make a mince meat of the alternative fact, it found so appealing, it also chose, curiously, to make a daily glee of pinning the action on the wife of the governor.

A careful examination of what informed this lone lost battle and why the First Lady of Lagos State was the convenient target of attack is necessary in order to appreciate why that castle of lies and subterfuge ultimately crumbled like expired cookies.

What is it in the story that other newspapers, especially those in Lagos, did not see or deemed newsworthy? Could others have simply missed a juicy story and the hatchet follow-ups on it or they indeed saw but chose to ignore the mischief that only one of their own packaged as news?

It turns out that the sacked chaplain is an ex-staff of the only paper that peddled the half truth. If the ex-chaplain didn’t issue a press statement or register his angst on social media, that only one newspaper made a fetish of his ‘predicament’ could only have been so because the aggressor pretending to be the victim took the news there. He evidently sought the assistance of his former colleagues and got a willing ally in those probably and curiously so, seeking an opportunity to take a jab at Lagos State government. The one-sided account became undisguised and reckless not just because the only newspaper in that ill-fated campaign of calumny found a useful launch-pad in the ex-chaplain’s coated story but also in the deeper intent to hit at their main target – the governor of Lagos State.

Probe deeply and dispassionately and it won’t be difficult to see that the blame on the First Lady was just a convenient lie to throw dirt at the first family and the unprecedented, perhaps unexpected success in governance in their state. They probably must have reckoned that it would be foolhardy to pick a baseless battle with a man who has become a darling of Lagosians on account of his sterling performance. It’s simply impossible not to applaud his giant strides in many areas as a worthy example for the rest of Nigeria, let alone ignore them. The basis for an attack would therefore be hard and unsustainable. This is why the now mooted campaign during its short run always removed the person of the governor or pointedly acknowledged his remarkable performance but would then add a proviso. 

The adversary needed a ‘weaker’ vessel through which they could launch a preemptive strike in the hope of penetrating the man who has come to represent the yardstick for good governance in Nigeria. Or how would a woman who, like her hubby, has admirably courted publicity with measured steps and who in two years in office has never dabbled in overt social glamour or gotten involved in matters beyond her role as the wife of the governor, would suddenly fit the description of a power-drunk? No one becomes arrogant for simply drawing attention of the Governing Council to whom the Chaplain is accountable to the excesses and unbecoming conduct of an appointed shepherd that craves control and ceaseless bazaar? The traducers know that no governor’s wife in Lagos has ever wielded the type of power they attempted to wickedly drape the First Lady with. But they needed to sell a lie in the desperate hope that the man who now typifies the resilient Lagos spirit would be rattled.

Truth be told, it is no longer journalism when a newspaper chooses to disregard both the government’s published reaction and the intervention of an independent arbiter – the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) but instead twists its reports just to maintain a sensational, albeit judgmental bent. What type of journalism would pronounce a sacked man not guilty without first investigating stated cases of abuse of office against him? How come it was other online platforms that were able to show, with evidence that the man this newspaper wants reinstated indeed has a long-standing issues bordering on discipline, propriety and integrity with his employers? Why should the public allow unchallenged the orchestrated drama of a so-called eviction in 24 hours when no government directive made such demands on the ex-chaplain or go mute on the lie that he was stranded after his ‘eviction’ when indeed he has been a long-standing landlord of a developed property in Lagos?

Could his former employers have been scandalised by that revelation because their man reportedly built a house he did not disclose while still a staff in the advert department of the paper? It should be asked, therefore, what is it that propels an otherwise respectable media organisation to pick needless fights that are apparently informed by mischief, sheer sadism and delusional self-importance when the end of such battles is almost always predictable?

Granted, nobody should be denied an opportunity to test his popularity. But that cannot be what drives a newspaper – sheer populism- particularly at a time when the profession is plagued by numerous adversities that erode sales and credibility. But this same newspaper seems to delight in journalistic macabre dance once in a while. After testing its popularity with the Federal Government over the ban of its correspondent from the State House in Abuja for ceaseless negative coverage of the President’s health without being mindful of its security implications, it made impossible demands on Aso Rock, got snubbed and has since been left without a reporter in the seat of power, leaving the poor young man to roam round Area 11 and Zone 4. 

Yet, this same newspaper thought it could cow the Covenant University in Ota by opposing the institution’s right to discipline erring students. The university, a private concern committed to its avowed duty of graduating only students who have excelled in learning and character, simply ignored the meddlesomeness from Magboro. It did not look back in upholding its decision to rusticate erring students. How then could this same paper imagine that it could blackmail a state government like Lagos which, to be fair, has done better job of applying care and diligence than most of its peers?

How did this sort of judgmental journalism creep into the Nigerian media? How can a print organisation whose notoriety for going overboard in instilling discipline as the media house with the highest staff turn-over rate could suddenly arrogate to itself the right to deny others the responsibility to apply sanction on wrongdoing? What kind of hypocrisy explains this malady?

And this is why pockets of hatchet opinion writers in other newspapers where the jaundiced news never featured should carry out or be subjected to a self-appraisal. How can a faulted news item that others avoided could serve as credible basis for a fair and informed opinion article? It would either amount to a spite on the good judgment that avoided a classic case of fake news or the motive that bred this ill-fated campaign is about to fester outside of the thorny garden where it was sown.
There can hardly be a better time than now for the fourth estate to interrogate its avowed commitment to good and responsible journalism.

Dr. Adekusibe, a media analyst and tutor, lives in FCT, Abuja.

Published in Parliament

The Federal Government last night warned Nigerians against making statements capable of undermining the country’s peace and security.

The warning came after the ultimatum issued by some  youth groups in the North for the Igbo to leave by October or face a mass action.

They also informed northerners living in the East to return home.

The signatories to the declaration by the group are: Nastura Ashir Sharif of Arewa Citizens Action For Change; Shettima Yerima of Arewa Youth Consultative Forum; Aminu Adam of Arewa Youth Development Foundation; Alfred Solomon of Arewa Students Forum; Abdul-Azeez Suleiman of Northern Emancipation Network; Joshua Viashman of Northern Youth Vanguard; Mohammad A.  Mohammad of Northern Youth Stakeholders Forum; Mohammed Tasiu Pantami of North East Assembly and Nathaniel Ajegena Adigizi of North Central People’s Front.

The groups claimed that they were incensed by the activities of the Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB) and the Movement for the Actualisation of Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB) which have repeatedly called for a break-up of the country without being cautioned by the elders from the region.

The groups said they were further angered by the May 30 shut down of the South East by the separatist group to mark the 50th anniversary of the Biafra declaration.

But general condemnation yesterday greeted the Arewa groups’ action.

Minister of Information and Culture Lai Mohammed in a statement said Nigerians were “free to reside in any part of  the country, as the government has the capacity to maintain law and order.

“He said there was no reason for any Nigerian to feel unsafe anywhere in the country, warning that the government would not tolerate any threat to the unity, peace and security of the country under any guise.

”There is zero tolerance for actions and speeches capable of inciting one part of the country against another, and the security agencies are fully on the ground to deal decisively with any individual or group that engages in incendiary activities.”

Mohammed advised Nigerians, irrespective of where they reside, to go about their daily activities without fear.

Earlier at a briefing after the meeting of the Federal Executive Council (FEC), the minister said: “Nigeria is not new to one group or another issuing such threats.

“The issue of one or two groups issuing statements that is capable of destabilising the polity and then being responded to by another group, I think did not just start today or did not start yesterday.

“What I want to assure you is that security organizations are very very much on top of this matter.”

On whether the ultimatum given by the groups was discussed at the FEC, he said: “No.”

Kaduna State Governor Nasir El-Rufai ordered the arrest of the youth groups leaders who issued the ultimatum.

El-Rufai, who described the northern youths leaders and their action as irresponsible, said his government would not allow Kaduna State to be used to threaten the safety and property of its citizens of Igbo extraction.

The Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) also called for caution against unguarded statements capable of breaching the peace and unity of Nigeria.

The governor, who spoke through his media aide Samuel Aruwan, said Kaduna State Government believed in and would uphold the right of every Nigerian to live safely and develop his/her full potentials within its territory.

He said: “The Kaduna State Government takes exception to the fact that the ‘northern youths’ did their irresponsible press conference in Kaduna. This government has been consistent in taking action to punish hate speech and incitement. People who may feel unhappy about irresponsible comments or actions that have taken place in other states must know that two wrongs cannot make a right, and they cannot use our state to do or say things that threaten the peace.

“KDSG has therefore ordered the arrest, investigation and prosecution of the signatories to the statement.

“Even people who may feel unhappy about irresponsible comments or actions that have taken place in other states must know that two wrongs cannot make a right.

“Reckless disregard for the rights of other citizens drips through the press statement by these “northern youths” who have chosen to use the discourse around restructuring to promote their own agenda of hate, division and incitement. This sort of opportunists cannot be allowed to distort debate, or turn it into a pretext for a barely-disguised agenda of displacement and dispossession of some citizens.

“We will not tolerate such irresponsible statements and conduct in our state. The statement issued by the “northern youths” violates the laws of Kaduna State. Therefore, the Kaduna State Government has directed that its Ministry of Justice should prepare charges and prosecute the signatories and anyone complicit in arranging this egregious assault on the rights of fellow citizens.

“Preparatory to prosecution, the police have been directed to immediately arrest, interrogate the signatories to the statement and investigate all the circumstances and persons that may be implicated in the matter.

“The Kaduna State Government urges all residents to ignore the threats from the “northern youths”. We are in contact with the leadership of the Igbo community in Kaduna, and we delighted to say that this community, like all our other communities, believes in the strength of the constitutional order to protect all citizens.”

The ACF’s statement signed by its National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Muhammad Ibrahim Biu,  said ” the ACF wishes to draw the attention of all concerned, to note, that our democratic system of government which is anchored on law guarantees free movement of all Nigerians to any part of the country and to also pursue their legitimate livelihood devoid of any hindrance or molestation by any group or individuals.

“Furthermore, the system allows settlement of all grievances through our elected representatives in both the National and States Assemblies and the Law courts. Any act to the contrary, is therefore, a breach of law and order that are not helpful.

“ACF appreciates the frustrations of the Northern Youth Groups with the activities of MASSOB and IPOB members, but would not encourage any act that is not in conformity with the law by any  group or individuals which will do no one any good.

“ACF, therefore, appeals for caution over unguarded utterances or statements that are capable of jeopardising the unity, peace and corporate existence of Nigeria.”

Published in Business and Economy

Another multi-billion naira property has been traced to a former First Lady, Mrs. Patience Jonathan.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) is to mark the property as “being under investigation” and may place it under Interim Asset Forfeiture, The Nation learnt yesterday.

The relationship between Mrs. Jonathan and two companies was being probed by detectives as at press time.

Also, three accounts and three more properties have been put under surveillance by the anti-graft commission in connection with the ongoing investigation of the ex-First Lady.

The three accounts belong to Aribawa Aruera Research Foundation; Finchley Top Homes Limited and AM-PM Network Limited.

The accounts were uncovered in the course of investigating the ex-First Lady and Aribawa Aruera Research Foundation, The Nation learnt from sources close to the investigation..

EFCC investigators have however only established a link between Mrs. Jonathan and Aribawa Aruera Research Foundation.

The anti-graft commission is suspecting a business relationship between Mrs. Jonathan and Finchley Top Homes Limited and AM-PM Network Limited.

Preliminary investigation revealed that huge slush funds might have been laundered through the foundation and the two firms.

A report indicated that Aruera Foundation is registered with the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) with RC No 22805.

It said: “Huge funds were suspected to have been laundered into the accounts of the above mentioned companies and properties worth billions of naira were allegedly acquired by ex-First Lady Patience Jonathan through the aforementioned companies.

“Detectives were able to track transactions through open source information from interbank settlement

“The ex-First Lady and five others are trustees of Aribawa Foundation. Intelligence from Abuja Geographical Information Service (AGIS) revealed that a multi-billion naira property, Plot No. 1758B06 in Mabushi Area, belongs to the foundation.

“The said property is not such that a state Permanent Secretary in person of Mrs. Patience Jonathan can afford.

“The property should be marked as under investigation and interim forfeiture order be secured.”

The ex-First Lady is being probed in connection with three other assets – Plot 96(DO5) in Karsana ; Plot 7109 (E18) in Wasa; and Plot 30 (DO3) in Idogwari.

Besides, EFCC detectives have turned their searchlight on the ex-First Lady’s relationship with Finchley Top Homes Limited and AM-PM Network Limited.

Another source added: “We have conducted searches at the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) on the two companies whose accounts were earlier frozen alongside that of the ex-First Lady over $5.8 million which was reasonably suspected to be proceeds of crime.

“They were among the five companies and one Esther Oba said to be having a total sum of N7.4 billion in six banks.

“But their counsel Ifedayo Adedipe (SAN) succeeded in unfreezing the account on April 6 at the Federal High Court presided over by Justice Mojisola Olatoregun.

“This is a new investigation. It is too early to return any verdict on the two companies because our detectives are looking into their books.”

The source cited Section 7 of the EFCC (Establishment) Act to justify the investigation.

Section 7 of the EFCC Act says: “The commission has power to (a) cause any investigations to be conducted as to whether any person, corporate body or organization has committed any offence under this Act or other law relating to economic and financial crimes.

“(b) Cause investigations to be conducted into the properties of any person if it appears to the commission that the person’s lifestyle and extent of the properties are not justified by his source of income.”

The latest probe of Mrs. Jonathan has raised the number of properties linked to her to 17.

About 13 properties were initially associated with the ex-First Lady in Port Harcourt and Yenagoa.

The assets in Port Harcourt are former Customs Service Officers Mess; two duplexes at 2/3 Bauchi Street; landed property with blocks at Ambowei Street; three luxury apartments of four-bedroom each at Ambowei Street; and Grand View Hotel on Airport Road.

The rest suspected assets in Yenagoa include two marble duplexes at Otioko GRA by Isaac Boro Expressway; Glass House on Sani Abacha Expressway, which is housing the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board; Akemfa Etie Plaza by AP filling Station, Melford Okilo Road; and Aridolf Resort, Wellness and Spa on Sani Abacha Expressway.

Published in News & Stories
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