Thursday, 18 January 2018

ARTS AND CULTURE

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 News & Stories
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 Business and Economy

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

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has asked the Federal High Court in Lagos to order the temporary forfeiture of $8,435,788.84 and N7.35bn suspected to be owned by Mrs. Patience Jonathan.

The EFCC yesterday told Justice Mojisola Olatoregun that the funds, which it believes came from Bayelsa State, were found in 15 bank accounts linked with the wife of former President Goodluck Jonathan.

The anti-graft agency’s counsel, Mr. Rotimi Oyedepo, said the order would prevent Mrs Jonathan from dissipating them.

According to the EFCC, the funds were moved from Bayelsa State’s coffers at a time when the former First Lady served as a permanent secretary.

The agency alleged that Mrs. Jonathan gained access to the funds by fraudulently assuming the identity of one Esther Oba as the signatory to the said account.

The EFCC’s claims were contained in an ex parte application presented by Oyedepo before Justice Olatoregun.

The proceedings were, however, interrupted by a train of Senior Advocates of Nigeria (SANs) led by Mr. Ifedayo Adedipe (SAN) and Chief Mike Ozekhome (SAN), who challenged the court’s jurisdiction to entertain the ex parte application.

The SANs told the judge that the funds, which the EFCC seeks to seize, were already subject of litigation.

But Oyedepo maintained that the SANs had no right of hearing in the court, since his application was ex parte.

Wondering how they got wind of the move by the anti-graft agency, he urged the judge to disregard their appearance.

The judge upheld Oyedepo’s submission, following which the SANs left the courtroom.

In view of the development, the judge adjourned till January 23, 2018 and directed the EFCC to file an affidavit to convince the court that there were no pending lawsuits relating to the funds sought to be forfeited.

In the said ex parte application, the EFCC listed Patience Jonathan and five firms and Esther Oba as respondents.

The firms that were listed as second to sixth defendants were Globus Integrated Services Ltd., Finchley Top Homes Ltd., Am-Pm Global Network Ltd., Pagmat Oil And Gas Ltd. and Magel Resort Ltd.

The ex parte application was backed by a 15-paragraph affidavit deposed to by an investigator with the EFCC, Huleji Tukura.

Tukura claimed that investigation by the anti-graft agency revealed that the funds found in the bank accounts linked to Patience emanated from the coffers of Bayelsa State and that the funds were moved at a time when the former First Lady served as a permanent secretary in one of the ministries in Bayelsa State.

According to Tukura, Patience first opened a First Bank account and then “procured” the then Senior Special Assistant to former President Goodluck Jonathan on Domestic Affairs, Waripamo-Owei Dudafa, to fund the account with “proceeds of unlawful activities.”

Tukura averred, “That the said Dudafa Warripamo-Owei procured one Festus Isidohomen Iyoha and Arivi Eneji Peter, who were domestic staff attached to the State House, Abuja, to deposit the funds, reasonably suspected to be proceeds of unlawful activities, in the account of the 1st respondent (Patience).

“That in depositing the funds into the account of the 1st respondent, the said domestic staff, in a bid to conceal their identity, deposited the funds, reasonably suspected to be proceeds of unlawful act, into the 1st respondent’s account, using fictitious names.

“That the total sum of $4,036,750.00 (Four million, thirty-six thousand, seven hundred and fifty United States’ dollars) reasonably suspected to be proceeds of unlawful activities, were deposited into account No. 2022648664 domiciled in First Bank Plc in the name of the 1st respondent.

“That on the 28th day of September, 2016, the 1st respondent, in dissipating the property sought to be forfeited, transferred the sum of $3,640,794.72 to the 1st respondent’s account No. 2031277178 domiciled in First Bank Plc.

“That on the 5th day of October, 2016, the 1st respondent withdrew the sum of $1,000,000.00 cash from the said account leaving the balance of the sum of $3,645,013.73 which sum we are urging this honourable court to forfeit in the interim to the Federal Government of Nigeria.

“That as at the time the various sums were deposited in into exhibit EFCC01, the 1st respondent was a serving permanent secretary in the employment of the Bayelsa State Government.

“That the funds sought to be forfeited to the Federal Government of Nigeria are not the 1st respondent’s lawful earnings but are rather reasonably suspected to be proceeds of unlawful activities.”

The investigator further explained that the firms mentioned in the application were not into “any legitimate income-yielding business venture” but were rather incorporated at the Corporate Affairs Commission for the purpose of warehousing proceeds of unlawful activities for the former First Lady.

He claimed that every now and then domestic servants at the Presidential Villa were sent to deposit money into the company’s accounts for Patience.

“The depositors into this account are domestic staff of State House, Abuja, who were procured by the said Dudafa Waripamo-Owei to deposit the funds sought to be forfeited in a bid to conceal the true origin of the funds,” Tukura said.

Making specific reference to Globus Integrated Services Ltd., Tukura said, “None of the Directors of the 3rd Respondent are signatories to the said account.

Published in Business and Economy

Plateau State Governor, Simon Lalong,  has tendered his unreserved apologies to the people of Benue State and Nigerians over the comments he made following the murder of over 60 people by herdsmen in two local government areas.

Lalong had told newsmen that he warned Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue against passing the anti-grazing law which was believed to have caused the deadly killings by the herdsmen.

The governor’s statement was widely criticised as highly insensitive and suggestive of justifying the killings and grave injuries inflicted on the villagers by the unidentified herdsmen.

However,  Lalong, at the weekend in Abuja,  told newsmen that his comments would not in any way help in the resolution of the crisis.

While expressing his belief in the sanctity of human lives,  the governor said Plateau State has a strong affinity with all states in the Middle Belt, especially Benue which was carved out of Plateau State, noting that his initial comments were misconstrued and misinterpreted.

He said: “I am here to comment on my statement concerning the lingering issue. That is my comment after the presidential visit in respect of the crisis in Benue State.

“Once again, let me use this opportunity extend my deepest sympathies and extend our condolences to the people of  Benue State over this great loss. My prayer is that God will continue to give them and every Nigerian the fortitude to bear the loss.

“I must say that I humbly apologise for my comments because I have seen that it was really misconceived and misinterpreted. That generated a lot of social media writeup here and there about the issue. I apologise for that because neither the argument for or against helps the matter because it involves lives.

“I have great respect for the sanctity of human lives and the unity of the Middle Belt. I would not say Plateau is fighting Benue State at all. We are brothers and sisters. Benue was created out of Plateau. Nasarawa was created out of Pleteau.

“We still remain brothers and sisters. So I extend my prayers to all of them and I pray that God Almighty will give them the fortitude to bear the loss and grant the souls of the departed eternal rest.

“This is to tell those who are for and against  that there is need, especially at this time when lives are involved, for all of us to join hands to ensure that we work towards  the resolution of the matter and helping in ensuring peace not only in Benue, but in Nigeria.”

Published in Headliners

On Saturday January 13 2018, all roads led to the ancient town of Oyo as eminent Nigerians gathered at Durbar Stadium, Oyo, venue of the installation of the 15th Aare Ona Kakanfo of Yorubaland, Otunba Gani Adams by the Alaafin of Oyo, Oba Lamidi Olayiwola Adeyemi 111.

The occasion which was witnessed by a mammoth crowd was the first of its kind in recent times as many of those would have loved to witness the event were asked to go to adjourning venues installed with viewing screens. Despite heavy security presence, pick pockets had a field day as many people lost valuables like phones, ipads and other items.

Trdaitional rulers and chiefs, numbering over 200, witnessed the historic event. However, the Ooni of Ife, and some other notable monarchs in the South West were conspicoulsy abscent. Among the traditional rulers in attendance were: Olubadan of Ibadanland, Oba Saliu Adetunji Aje Ogungunniso 1, who led the Olubadan-in-Council, His Highness Oba Rilwan Akiolu, who was represented by a delegate of high chiefs in Lagos led by Chief Adesoji Ajao, the Oyo Mesi, and some of the twenty-one Ibadan Obas newly installed by the Oyo State Government, Oba Arigidi, Dr. Yisa Olanipekun, Olofa of Ofa, Oba Mufutau Muhammed Oloyede Gbadamosi, Elese of Igbaja, Oba Ahmed Awuni Arepo, the Olubaka of Okaland,Oba Yusuf Adebori Adeleye, and the Ahaba of Ajagba, Oba Thomas Oluwole Adesayo.

Also in attendance was the Governor of Oyo State, Senator Abiola Ajimobi, who arrived at the event at exactly 1:50pm, Deputy Governor of Ondo State, Mr Agboola Ajayi, representing Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, Speaker of Ogun State House of Assembly, Hon. Suraj Adekunbi, representing Governor Ibikunle Amosunm

Lagos State Commissioner for Information, Mr. Kehinde Bamigbetan representing Governor Akinwunmi Ambode,and Osun State Secretary to the State Government, Alhaji Moshood Adeoti representing Governor Rauf Aregbesola, former governors of Oyo, Ondo and Delta States; Otunba Adebayo Alao-Akala, Dr. Olusegun Mimiko, and Mr Emmanuel Uduaghan, Senator Monsura Sumonu representing Oyo Central Senatorial District, Chief Niyi Akintola, SAN, Elder Stateman, Chief Ayo Adebanjo, activist and spokesperson of the Pan Yoruba Socio-cultural group, Afenifere, Mr.Yinka Odumakin, Chief Yemi Elebunbo, and Yeye Oge of Kwara and Osun States.

New Aare Ona Kakanfo holding staff of office.

Others were: Chairperson of Nigerian Tribune and former Nigerian Ambassador to the Netherlands, Dr. Tokunbo Dosunmu-Awolowo, former Oyo State Chief of Staff, Professor Adeolu Akande, a spiritual leader, Sat Guru Maharaji, President of the National Union of Road Transport Workers,NURTW, Alhaji Gidado Hamman, religious traditional organizations including Osugbo, members of Nollywood including Lere Paimo popularly known as Eda Onileola, and Segun Akinremi, alias Chief Kanran. Adding colour to the event were: cultural troupes from Oyo, Ondo, and Osun States, juju and fuji maestros including Pasuma, Sir Shina Peters and Adewale Ayuba.

In his welcome address, Chairman, Aare Ona Kakanfo of Yorubaland Central Installation Committee, His Grace, Most Reverend Ayo Ladigbolu said, “the modern Kakanfo does not need bows and arrows, guns and daggers, but he requires courage, boldness, bravery, focus, application of native intelligence to international issues, and the brilliance and adaptability to response to the myriads of challenges facing our nation and our world today. He requires the agility of youth, and the stamina of a long distance runner, as well as the wisdom of Solomon to be all things to all people both in season and out of season. While it is true that the times have changed, but human beings and their basic needs and aspirations remain basically the same. No wonder, therefore, that the mystique of the office of Aare Ona Kakanfo and his installation rites needs to be preserved. The Aare does not need all the immunisation of the 17th Century to perform his task, in these frightened and most challenging days. But apart from the visible and tangible paraphernalia of office, he has been given the cultural, traditional, customary and contemporary tools essential for his effective performance in the field of service”.

Aare Ona Kakanfor, Otunba Gani Adams and his wife.

He added, “His seclusion, retreat, and induction have been completed. Once he is installed, any one who deals too familiar with a corpse may find himself stripped naked by a ghost. The fact not withstanding, the 19th Century Aare Onakakanfo chieftaincy metamorphosed to peace making…. I will conclude this welcome speech by re-stating Iku Baba Yeye’s statement about the 15th Aare Ona Kakanfo of Yorubaland: “I picked him because he loves the Yoruba Race and all the culture and tradition of our people. He contributed immensely to upholding them. He has shown enough charisma to deserve the honour. He may be young but he is also very bold and courageous. These are traits synonymous with Aare Onakakafo. Gani Adams is a cultural enthusiast. He projects and defends our race wherever he goes”.

In a statement signed by Oba Adeyemi titled, “The Making of New Aare Ona Kakanfo of Yorubaland”, the monarch noted that since the demise of Aare Moshood Olawale Kasimawo Abiola, there have been numerous pressure from different quarters to install another Aare. He said that he took his time to look for another war hero known in Yoruba language as ‘Akinkanju’ pointing out, “After years of searching and consulting, it gives me great pleasure today to announce that we have finally zeroed our dragnet on a distinguished son of Oduduwa, a Yoruba in whom there is no guile. He is equipped by God with the vitality of youth, and the agility of the long distance runner, unblemished patriotism, and the wisdom of Solomon. His antecedents in the promotion of Yoruba culture are unquestionable, and he has a clear vision of where the nation should be in its cultural reawakening both at home and overseas. The Aare Onakakanfo is Otunba Gani Adams, National Coordinator, Oodua Progressive Congress, OPC, Founder and Promoter of Olokun Festival Organisation, and Founder of Odua Progressive Union with active branches in Africa and about 80 other countries of the world”.

Alaafin, who prayed never to witness the successor of Gani Adams, urged for the unity among the people of the South West said, “Today, Gani Adams has been rechristened and henceforth, he shall be known as, “Aare Ona Kakanfo”.

In his acceptance speech after completing all the rites and his installation, Adams, who noted that there could not be a more humbling occasion for him than his installation as Aare Ona Kakanfo said, “my installation as the 15th Aare Ona Kakanfo is a challenge that has made all past challenges seem like a child’s play”.

“Though I am just stepping into the office, past occupants of the seat, especially the 13th and 14th occupants – Aare Samuel Ladoke Akintola and Aare Moshood Kashimawo Olawale Abiola – brought so much power and glamour to the office that it is obvious I have a lot of work to do. As astute businessmen and politicians of note, they raised the profile of the office.There is no doubt from the reactions that followed my pronouncement by the Alaafin of Oyo as the 15th Aare Ona Kakanfo that the power and prestige of the office has not waned since it was created centuries ago by Alaafin Ajagbo. In fact, the epoch-making event of today is symbolic as 2018 marks the 558th anniversary of the installation of the first Aare Ona Kakanfo – Kokoro Gangan of Iwoye. It is of interest to note that the military, political, traditional and cultural symbolism of the title to the Yoruba Empire, about 600 years ago, is still of strategic importance in the 21st Century. This attribute reveals the uniqueness of the Yoruba race and shows that so much is still expected of the occupant of the post, despite the fact that physical and armed wars are no longer the order of the day”.

He continued, “In fact, despite the fact that I am an holder of 52 traditional titles, none has drawn as much comments and commendation by way of letters and visits. The import of the Office still stands: protection of the interests of Yoruba race, both within the country and everywhere else people of the race exist. While it is estimated that there are 60 million Yorubas within Nigeria and about 200 million others scattered all over the world, as a starting point, the preservation of the culture of the race will occupy my attention. Pitiably, as a race, we are gradually losing our culture. In fact, from my travels around the world, it has become obvious that people of other races are taking more interest in our culture than we the owners of the culture, with Americans, Europeans and Asians now earning Degrees in the study of our culture, beliefs and what they have come to term Doctrine. We need to preserve our culture to fully realise the potential of the Yoruba. Though with an activist background, it is now clear that I have to do more as a bridge builder with this new responsibility”.

The new Aare Onakakanfo promised to work with Yoruba traditional rulers, grassroots leaders and have good rapport with all stakeholders, no matter the differences of the past, for the unity, progress and advancement of Yorubaland and Nigeria assuring, “The office of the Aare Ona Kakanfo will project the Yoruba culture and tradition by promoting and sustaining our identity globally. The office will equally ensure unity of all Yoruba sons and daughters all over the world. Also of strategic importance to me is research and documentary to sustain the ideals of our founding fathers. To ensure the continuation of the leadership role the Yoruba is known for educationally, I will give scholarships to our sons and daughters because education is light and power. Also, I will collaborate with security agencies and stakeholders to ensure that Yorubaland is effectively secured through our various organisations. I want to assure this August gathering that given the fact that the Oodua Progressives Union (OPU), which I am also the Convener, is now established in 79 countries, I will use this Union and other pan-Yoruba groups abroad to invite our sons and daughters with exceptional abilities, who have distinguished themselves in various fields, to come home and help in our quest to ensuring that our country takes its rightful place in the comity of nations”.

Aare Ona Kakanfor, Otunba Gani Adams taking a group picture with dignatries.

Adams appealed to Yorubas in Diaspora not to forget their home by investing in the Yorubaland and not to give the race a bad name. He reiterated, “I am not pleased with the level of Yoruba unity today and I am very concerned. Therefore, my greatest priority is the unity of the Yoruba race at home and in the Diaspora. I will, therefore, spare no effort in ensuring the unity of Yoruba race within the contemporary Nigeria body polity. I will, after this installation, launch the Aare Ona Kakanfo Foundation. This will further promote the culture of the people and document the history of the Aare Ona Kakanfo title. Since we are now in the era of Information Technology, we will be unveiling historical documents obtained from the Iku Baba Yeye on the Aare Ona Kakanfo title to a website”.

He stated further, “2018 makes it the 30th year that the last holder of the title, Aare M.K.O. Abiola, stood before you for his installation. He died on July 7, 1998 and the post was vacant for almost 20 years. Same happened when the 13th holder of the title, Aare S.L. Akintola, died on January 15, 1966. It took more than 22 years before his successor took over. Why? There is the myth that holders of the title will always die a violent death. But, this is not so because many holders of the title lived to be more than 100 years. So, apart from setting aside the myth and projecting the image of the office, documenting the Aare Ona Kakanfo title will also let people know that a child born of humble beginning like me can make it. From the extreme North of Yorubaland, Arigidi-Akoko in Akoko North West Local Government the rural area of Ondo State, here I am emerging as the Aare Ona Kakanfo”.

The new Aare Onakakanfo appealed to the Federal Government to attend to some of the major roads in Yorubaland that are critical to its citizens including Lagos-Ibadan, Oyo-Ilorin, Lagos-Badagry, Sagamu-Benin, Badagry-Lusada-Sokoto, Ibadan-Iwo-Osogbo, Osogbo-Ilesa, Ilesa-Akure-Owo-Lokoja and Lagos-Abeokuta.

“It will also be a major plus if the government, as promised by President Muhammadu Buhari in his January 1, 2018 speech, attends to rail transportation as fast as possible. The issue of power is also critical. This will empower artisans more. Security is equally important. All these would aid the development of the tourism potential of the country. Several countries, such as the United Arab Emirates, UAE, Britain, Turkey, Singapore, Kenya, Ethiopia, South Africa, Ghana, Rwanda, Saudi Arabia and Israel have diversified their economy to tourism. I want to assure you that I will work with various stakeholders to turn our land into a viable tourist destination. To our esteemed Governors in the South-West, I call for cooperation, no matter the party line. The Development Agenda for Western Nigeria, DAWN, Commission, should be empowered. And I want you all to see me as a partner in progress”, he stated.

He concluded, “I offer myself for service once it is for the advancement of the Yoruba race. The various groups in the South-West should also resolve their crises. I will also persuade seven of our elders, who are not partisan, to work with me in uniting all Yoruba and resolve differences wherever they may arise. I want to assure all that as the 15th Aare Ona Kakanfo, I will use my position, God willing, to protect the interest of our land and our dear country Nigeria”.

Aare Ganiyu Adams was born on April 30, 1970 in Arigidi-Akoko in Ondo State. He attended many primary schools due to the nature of his father’s job. His education exploits started at the Army Children’s School, Oturkpo, Benue State, where he got as far as primary 3 before his father was transferred to Lagos, where he completed his primary School education at the Municipal Primary School, Surulere, Lagos in 1980.

He proceeded to Ansar-Ud-Deen Secondary School, Randle Avenue, Lagos, for his secondary education before picking interior decoration job at an Italian Construction Company, Visinoni Stabilini, Apapa, Lagos, from where he voluntarily resigned after some urge to establish his own interior decoration business, Gadson Interior. He became an active pro-democracy activist in 1992. He pitched his tent with the Campaign for Democracy in the struggle to end military rule in Nigeria and install participatory democratic governance. In 1993, he became the Public Relations Officer, PRO of Mushin Local Government Chapter of CLO and member of Oodua Youth Movement, OYM, a Pro-Yoruba self-determination group.
He was a foundation member of OPC when it was formed in 1994 where he rose to the position of the first Deputy National Coordinator and now the National Coordinator of the group.

Thirstying for self-improvement, Gani Adams returned to school to bag a diploma in Tourism Management from the International Aviation School, Tema, Ghana in 2003. He went further to obtain another diploma in International Relation and Strategic Studies from the Lagos State University, LASU, and capped it with a Bachelor Degree in Political Science from the same university.

As a culturalist, he has carried his cultural crusade to different parts of the world including Europe, Asia, Australia, and North and South America. On October 14, 2017, Adams was declared as the 15th Aare Ona Kakanfo of Yorubaland by Oba Adeyemi III, The Alaafin of Oyo. The title was last held by Moshood Abiola before his death in 1998.

The previous 14 Aare Ona Kakanfo were: Kokoro Gangan of Iwoye, Oyapote of Iwoye, Oyabi of Ajase, Adeta of Jabata, Oku of Jabata, Afonja of Ilorin, Toyeje of Ogbomoso, Edun of Gbogun, Amepo of Abemo, Kurumi of Ijaye, Ojo Aburumaku of Ogbomoso, Latoosa of Ibadan, Ladoke Akintola of Ogbomoso, and Moshood Kasimawo Abiola of Abeokuta

Published in Business and Economy

A U.S. couple will go to jail after holding a Nigerian woman captive as an unpaid maid and nanny for two years in a Houston, Texas suburb, restricting her movements and threatening her if she objected, authorities said on Monday.

The husband and wife will pay restitution of more than $100,000 to the victim, whom they lured from Lagos with promises of wages that were never paid, according to the Office of Acting U.S. Attorney Abe Martinez, Reuters reports.

Sandra Nsobundu, 49, pleaded guilty to a forced labor documents charge and her husband Chudy Nsobundu, 57, pleaded guilty to visa fraud in hearings that ended late on Friday, the office said in a statement.

The victim was rescued in October 2015 after a tip to the National Human Trafficking Resource Center.

She had been living for more than two years with the Nsobundu family in Katy, Texas, officials said.

During that time, the Nsobundus kept the woman’s passport from her, did not pay her and threatened to send her back to Nigeria if she objected.

They restricted her movements to two short walks each day around the block with their children and frequently yelled at her and berated her, officials said.

The couple had helped falsify a U.S. visa application for the victim with lies to boost the chances that it would be approved and hide that she would be working illegally as a housemaid and nanny, officials said.

Among the falsehoods, the application portrayed her as married and as 20 years older than she was, officials said. It also falsely claimed she was related to the Nsobundu family.

Sandra and Chudy Nsobundu each will serve sentences of seven months in jail and seven months home confinement, and they will pay more than $121,000 in restitution to the victim, officials said.

Published in Headliners

The State Commissioner of Police, Mr. Johnson Kokumo, who made the disclosure in Benin, disclosed that the Sisters were rescued during an operation by policemen from the Command.

Kokumo said that while the abductors fled on sighting the security operatives, the victims were taken to a secure health facility for medical attention.

“Police operatives closed in on the dare-devil kidnappers and they had no other option than to release the Reverend Sisters,” Kokumo said.

It was gathered that one of the victims, Veronica Ajayi, was released at about 6pm on Saturday, while the other five were released before 12 am on Sunday.

Confirming the release of the Reverend Sisters, the Superior-General of the Catholic Convent, Sister Agatha Osarekhoe, said that the sisters returned unhurt.

Osarekhoe stated, “We are happy; to God be the glory! One (Ajayi) was released yesterday (Saturday) and the others were also released.

“They are fine are fine. They are receiving some medical checkup in a hospital.”

Recall that the unknown gunmen stormed the residence of the sisters in Iguoriakhi, Ovia South-West Local Government Area of the state on November 13, and took them away in a waiting speedboat.

The kidnappers were said to have later demanded a ransom of N20 million.

But the Superior-General disclosed that no ransom was paid, even as she said that the police did their best to ensure that the sisters regained their freedom.

She said “No ransom was paid. Well, we know that they (police) did their best because they are aware.

“They had to do their work, so the police were aware. The most important thing is that our sisters are out.”

She further said that the three females would be reunited with their families later.

Osarekhoe said, “Certainly, they are supposed to be reunited with their families after some period of time. But with this experience, we will just get them settled down and then know what to.

“Their families have been anxious. So, we will get the sisters to speak with them (families).”

 
 
Published in Business and Economy
Thursday, 04 January 2018 00:46

Minister: Buhari’ll run

Advocates of another term for the President are getting more serious. Communications Minister Adebayo Shittu told reporters yesterday after a meeting with the President at Aso Villa that he had been appointed to lead a group in support of President Muhammadu Buhari’s 2019 election.

According to him, the Muhammadu Buhari/Osinbajo Dynamic Support Group will on January 20 inaugurate its Southwest zonal office to launch the President’s reelection battle.

He said for Buhari to seek a second term “goes without saying”.

“I know he has not made up his mind but I can say that some of us can assist him in making up his mind so that Nigeria can continue to enjoy stability and progress.

“I mean if you have a child who goes to primary school, does well, proceeds to secondary school, does well, and you keep asking, is he going to university? It goes without saying. By the grace of God, we his ardent supporters who appreciate his worth on behalf of millions of Nigerians would urge him to recontest.”

Asked whether campaigns for 2019 elections had begun, Shittu said: “Everyday since he came into office, all his activities are geared towards letting Nigeria know they have a saviour, a rescuer, somebody who is committed to providing relief to Nigerians in all respects.

“In the area of fighting corruption, insurgency, whether in the Northeast or the Niger Delta, in the area of repairing the economy and providing jobs and providing social stability in the society. You will agree with me that today but for Buhari, Boko Haram would have invaded even Lagos.”

Shittu, who hails from Oke Ogun, Oyo State, plans to run for governor in 2019, having previously failed as the governorship candidate of the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) in 2011.

The President has not spoken about his interest in 2019.

During the last National Executive Council (NEC) meeting of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Abuja, an attempt to move a motion on his 2019 candidature was stopped.

Presidential spokesman Femi Adesina said on New Year’s Eve that ”nobody knows whether or not the President will seek reelection. About four groups have come to the President, asking if he will go for second term. The last of such groups was Good Governance Support Group, but the President has not said anything.”

However, in October, last year, the Buhari Support Organisation inaugurated its office in Abuja to campaign for Buhari’s second term.

Buhari’s men and many public office holders gathered at the event which enjoyed wide publicity.

Customs Comptroller General Col. Hamid Ali, the chief speaker at the event, urged the President to reward those who worked for his emergence but still left in the cold more than two years into the four-year tenure.

Members of the group-led by Senator Abu Ibrahim, later visited the President at the Villa.

The President himself gave a subtle hint that he would run when he told Nigerians in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire when met with them after attending an African Union/European Union Summit, that he might need Nigerians’ vote in future.

Published in Headliners

I join my fellow citizens this morning to welcome and celebrate the New Year 2018. This year promises to be pivotal in our quest for CHANGE.

Unfortunately, I am saddened to acknowledge that for many this Christmas and New Year holidays have been anything but merry and happy. Instead of showing love, companionship and charity, some of our compatriots chose this period to inflict severe hardship on us all by creating unnecessary fuel scarcity across the country.

The consequence was that not many could travel and the few who did had to pay exorbitant transport fares. This is unacceptable given that NNPC had taken measures to ensure availability at all depots. I am determined to get to the root of this collective blackmail of all Nigerians and ensure that whichever groups are behind this manipulated hardship will be prevented from doing so again.

Such unpatriotism will not divert the Administration from the course we have set ourselves. Our government’s watch word and policy thrust is CHANGE. We must change our way of doing things or we will stagnate and be left behind in the race to lift our people out of poverty and into prosperity.

My address to fellow Nigerians this morning is devoted mainly to informing you about the intense efforts this Administration is putting to address our country’s huge infrastructural deficit.

We are going to make significant in-roads in advancing road, rail and power projects across the country.

The Ministry of Power, Works and Housing is one of the drivers of this Government’s commitment to renew and increase Nigeria’s stock of infrastructure in order to achieve global economic competitiveness as targeted under the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan.

With regards to Railways, we have set ourselves ambitious targets. Already in construction stage is the Lagos-Kano Standard Gauge Railway.

The line should reach Ibadan from Lagos by the end of 2019 and will carry two million passengers per year and five million tons of cargo will be transported every year giving a substantial boost to the country’s economy.

Construction of the Kano – Kaduna segment is expected to commence this year and reach Kaduna by the end of 2019. By the end of 2021 the two ends will be joined so that we will have standard gauge railway across the main North-South trading route.

The Abuja – Kaduna route will be boosted by additional rolling stock next Thursday and will be able to handle one million commuters annually.

At the same time I have approved and negotiations will be concluded in the first part of this year for the Port Harcourt to Maiduguri line covering Aba, Owerri, Umuahia, Enugu, Awka, Abakaliki, Makurdi, Lafia, Jos, Bauchi, Gombe, Yola and Damaturu. The Abuja to Itakpe line will go through Baro and terminate in Warri with construction of a new seaport at Warri.

Negotiations are also advanced for the construction of other railway lines, firstly from Kano to Maradi in Niger Republic passing through Kazaure, Daura, Katsina, Jibia to Maradi.

Secondly, Lagos to Calabar the “Coastal Rail” through Ore, Benin, Agbor, Asaba, Onitsha, Sapele, Ughelli, Warri, Yenagoa, Otuoke, Port Harcourt, Aba, Uyo and Calabar. In the next few years, all these Nigerian cities will be linked by functional modern rail systems, giving enormous boost to the social and economic life of our people.

With respect to the Abuja Capital Light Rail, progress has reached 98% completion, as at 64% completion when we assumed office. Only test runs remain before start of operations.

This train service will stimulate economic activities in the Federal Capital and provide residents with an efficient and safe transportation system. Twelve railway sub-stations around the capital over a 45.2 kilometre route will serve as a catalyst and a pull factor to the economy of the area. The Light Rail System will reduce traffic congestion and carbon emission in line with the Administration’s policy on climate change.

Management of the Federal Road Maintenance Agency (FERMA) has been reconstituted and has been charged with a 12 week rapid intervention in road repairs to cover all the geo-political zones. Government is undertaking repairs and maintenance of 44 roads within the six geo-political zones.

Twenty five major highways will be funded under the N100b SUKUK facility. Each geo-political zone will benefit by an equal amount of N16.67b. The following major highways are to receive special attention:

a. Oyo – Ogbomosho,

b. Ofusu – Ore – Ajebandele – Shagamu,

c. Yenagoa Road Junction – Kolo Otuoke – Bayelsa Palm,

d. Enugu – Port Harcourt Dual Carriage Way,

e. Onitsha – Enugu Expressway,

f. Kaduna Eastern Bypass,

g. Dualization of Kano – Maiduguri Road,

h. Dualization of Abuja – Lokoja – Benin Road,

i. Dualization of Suleja – Minna Road.

In addition, Government has approved work to start on the re-construction of Abuja – Kaduna – Zaria – Kano road which is in a state of disrepair. Work will soon start and is expected to be completed in 2019.

More Nigerians across the country are experiencing improved power supply to their homes and businesses. However, power remains a concern to this government because too many people still do not have regular and reliable supply.

The Payment Assurance Guarantee Scheme which started in January 2016 has enabled the Nigerian Bulk Electricity Trader to raise so far N701 billion to assure Generation Companies of at least 80% payment for any power delivered to the national grid.

Consequently, generation has now reached 7,000MW. On December 8, 2017 the country achieved 5,155MW of power delivered to consumers, the highest level ever recorded.

Several moribund projects have been revived. Repairs of Afam Power Station added 110MW in 2017 and another 240MW will be added this year through a private investment partnership.

Katsina Power Project is now being tested and producing 10MW of power from wind for the first time in Nigeria. It should be fully operational this year.

The Zungeru 700MW Hydroelectric Power Project, stalled by court cases is due for completion in 2019. The transmission and other requirements to operate the 30MW Gurara Phase 1 Hydroelectric Plant, the 40MW Kashimbilla Hydroelectric Plant and the 215 MW Kaduna Gas/LPG/Diesel Power Plant will also be completed this year.

A landmark project, Mambilla Hydroelectric Power Project is at last taking off. This project has been on the drawing Board for 40 years, but now the engineering, procurement and construction contract for the 3,050MW project has been agreed with a Chinese joint venture Company with a financing commitment from the government of China. Completion is targeted for 2023.

As I mentioned earlier, the Transmission Company of Nigeria can now distribute all the 7,000MW that can be generated. TCN and the Niger Delta Holding Company have added 1,950MVA of 330 down to 132KV transformer capacity of 10 transmission stations and 2,930MVA of 132 down to 33KV transformer capacity of 42 sub-stations including Ikot Ekpene, Aba, Alagbon, Ajah, Ejigbo, Funtua and Zaria.

This Administration is working with the privatised distribution Companies to overcome the continuing challenges of distribution.

These massive public works should spearhead the recovery and lead millions back to employment. You will recall that it was not until last year that we got out of the economic recession into which the country had fallen as a consequence of past unsustainable economic policies which projected short-term illusory growth.

The government is slowly stabilizing the economy.

It was in order to change the steady and steep decline that we adopted the more sustainable policies and programmes captured in the Economic Recovery Plan. Diversification efforts have resulted in improved output particularly in agriculture and solid minerals sectors. The relative exchange rate stability has improved manufacturing sector performance.

We have got to get used to discipline and direction in economic management. The days of business, as usual, are numbered.

Two years ago I appealed to people to go back to the land. I am highly gratified that agriculture has picked up, contributing to the government’s effort to restructure the economy. Rice imports will stop this year. Local rice, fresher and more nutritious will be on our dishes from now on.

By the same token, I am today appealing to enterprising Nigerians with ideas and unemployed graduates and other able-bodied and literate men and women with ideas not to just sit and wait for employment from the government or the Organized Private Sector. Great nations are built by enterprising people who turn their hands to anything that circumstances dictate.

In respect of political developments, I have kept a close watch on the on-going debate about “Restructuring”. No human law or edifice is perfect. Whatever structure we develop must periodically be perfected according to changing circumstances and the country’s socio-economic developments. We Nigerians can be very impatient and want to improve our conditions faster than may be possible considering our resources and capabilities. When all the aggregates of nationwide opinions are considered, my firm view is that our problems are more to do with process than structure.

We tried the Parliamentary system: we jettisoned it. Now there are shrill cries for a return to the Parliamentary structure. In older democracies, these systems took centuries to evolve so we cannot expect a copied system to fit neatly our purposes. We must give a long period of trial and improvement before the system we have adopted is anywhere near fit for purpose.

However, there is a strong case for a closer look at the cost of government and for the public services long used to extravagance, waste and corruption to change for the better. I assure you that government is ever receptive to ideas which will improve governance and contribute to the country’s peace and stability.

As the electioneering season approaches politicians must avoid exploiting ethnicity and religion by linking ethnicity with religion and religion with politics. Such must be avoided at all costs if we are to live in harmony.

In this respect, the rest of Nigeria could learn from the South Western States who have successfully internalized religion, ethnicity and politics.

Political discourse should be conducted with civility, decorum and in a constitutional manner. We all have a collective responsibility to strengthen our democracy and entrench the rule of law. We should draw encouragement from the series of bye-elections conducted by INEC last year which were generally violence-free and their outcomes adjudged to be free and fair.

Before I conclude my address I must reassure my fellow citizens that security of life and property is still top of our government’s agenda. We have since beaten Boko Haram. Isolated attacks still occur, but even the best-policed countries cannot prevent determined criminals from committing terrible acts of terror as we have seen during the past years in Europe, Asia, Middle East, elsewhere in Africa and in America.

Our government remains determined to protect all Nigerians in line with our election pledge and promises. On behalf of all Nigerians let me offer our thanks to the Armed forces, the Police, other para-military forces and traditional authorities who are working round the clock to ensure that you and I go about our normal business in reasonable safety.

Terrorism and urban crimes are world-wide phenomena and our security forces are continuously adapting their responses to changing threats.

With regard to rampant cases of kidnappings, we are taking immediate short-term measures to combat this new evil creeping into our societies. Tighter police methods and swift and severe punishment for those proved to be engaged in kidnapping are on the way.

With respect to Niger Delta, Government is still engaging the responsible leadership of the Communities to help in identifying and addressing genuine grievances of the region. Our clean-up programme in collaboration with the United Nations is making satisfactory progress.

I am grateful to all the Governors and other Political & Community leaders of the Niger Delta States for their part in bringing relative peace to the areas.

Finally let me again express my heartfelt thanks to all Nigerians who prayed for me during my illness last year. I feel deeply humbled by your prayers and good wishes and I am more determined than ever to serve you to the best of my ability.

Good morning. And I wish everyone a Happy New Year.

Published in Headliners
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