Tuesday, 16 January 2018
Items filtered by date: November 2017
Sunday, 05 November 2017 14:41

Dele Alli limps out of England squad

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

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

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

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

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

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

England host Germany next Friday and Brazil four days later.

Published in Sports
The Federal High Court in Lagos yesterday held that an application by former Minister of Petroleum Resources Mrs Diezani Alison-Madueke seeking to be tried in Nigeria was “bizarre” and “misconceived”.
 
Justice Rilwan Aikawa dismissed the application for lacking in merit.
 
He agreed with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) it was a bid by the former Minister to escape justice in the United Kingdom. 
 
Mrs Alison-Madueke asked for an opportunity to defend allegations against her in a charge filed against a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) Mr Dele Belgore and a former Minister of National Planning Prof Abubakar Suleiman.
 
The prosecution said in the charge that Mrs Alison-Madueke (who is at large) allegedly shared $115,010,000 (about N35billion) to different individuals in 36 states ahead of the 2015 general elections, and that Belgore and Suleiman allegedly got N450milion from her.
 
Ruling on the application, Justice Aikawa referred to EFCC’s counter affidavit where it was stated that while in the United Kingdom, Mrs Alison-Madueke was invited by the Metropolitan Police who are investigating her for several financial crimes.
 
EFCC said she had been released on bail in the UK, but cannot leave the country, as investigations had reached an advanced stage and her trial imminent.
 
The commission said the application to list her as a defendant and facilitate her return to Nigeria was designed to scuttle both her investigation and imminent prosecution in the UK and the ongoing trial of Belgore and Suleiman.
 
According to the prosecution, Mrs Alison-Madueke’s application was a bid is to escape justice in the UK under the guise that she was coming to face trial in Nigeria.
 
Justice Aikawa held: “This averment, as far as my record shows, has not been controverted by the applicant. They are by law deemed admitted by the applicant, in which case I have no option than to believe them.
 
“By this unchallenged averment, the action of the applicant is simply a ploy to avoid justice in the UK. This court, unfortunately, cannot be used promote just that.
 
“The discretion to prosecute or not to prosecute the applicant is entirely that of the Honourable Attorney-General of the Federation. This court has no power to interfere with that discretion. It will, therefore, not attempt to do so.
 
“On the whole, therefore, I find this application to be lacking in merit and is accordingly dismissed.”
 
Mrs Alison-Madueke’s lawyer Dr Onyechi Ikpeazu (SAN) had argued that Section 216 (1) of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA) provides that a court may permit an alteration or addition to a charge or the framing of a new charge before judgment is pronounced.
 
He submitted that the section does not expressly state that the power to amend a charge was exclusively that of the prosecution.
 
But, Justice Aikawa held: “I disagree with him. It cannot by any stretch of the imagination be envisaged that a person other than the prosecution may amend a charge under this provision. The power to amend lies, in my opinion, exclusively with the prosecution and not any other person.”
 
Ikpeazu had also argued that Mrs Alison-Madueke was a “necessary party” to the case and therefore ought to be joined.
 
To that, the judge said: “Again, I disagree. As far as I understand, in every criminal trial, the necessary parties are the complainant and the named defendants.
 
“These are the persons the court will pronounce verdicts on at the conclusion of trial. The inclusion of the name of the applicant in counts one to four does not in my view make her a named defendant.
 
“Counts one to four in relation to the applicant remain mere statements and no more. It has not graduated to the status of a charge.”
 
Justice Aikawa also dismissed the SAN’s contention that the former minister would be denied her right to fair hearing guaranteed by Section 36 of the Constitution if trial proceeds in her absence.
 
The judge held: “In my view, this is a case of crying wolf where there is none.”
 
According to the judge, if anyone was to validly raise the issue of fair hearing, it was Belgore and Usman, not Alison-Madueke who is not part of the trial.
 
Besides, the judge said the application was belated.
 
He held: “Assuming all is in order, this cannot be the right time to make such an application when witnesses have been called and a number of exhibits have been tendered.
 
“The prosecution has even given a hint to the court that it’ll soon close its case. To roll the case back will definitely be tormenting for both the prosecution and the defence, and it will run contrary to the new spirit of speedy dispensation of criminal matters in particular.
 
“Therefore, I have no option than to agree that the application is misconceived from the onset. I’ll refrain from calling it an abuse of court process. But I’ll not hesitate to call it a misuse of court process..
 
“I say this because my curiosity has been aroused. Why did the applicant wait all this while before she came up with this bizarre application?”
 
After dismissing the application, Justice Aikawa, in another ruling, admitted in evidence an electronic e-mail in which Mrs Alison-Madueke gave instructions on how the money was to be shared. The email contained a list of persons to be given the money.
 
Afterwards, prosecuting counsel Rotimi Oyedepo continued with the examination of the second prosecution witness, EFCC’s Senior Detective Superintendent, Usman Zakari.
 
The witness said Belgore and Suleiman’s names were in the list and that they received N450million, which they also signed for.
 
He said there was no connection between the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the fund that the defendants collected.
 
“I did not recover any cheque issued by the PDP to the first and second defendants,” Zakari said.
 
The witness said Belgore made a cash payment of N50million to one Sherif Shagaya without going through a financial institution.
 
“The first defendant made several cash payments to various individuals without going through a financial institution,” he said.
 
For instance, he said N61 million was paid to a representative from Kwara North; N102 million to some from Kwara Central, and N87 million to someone from Kwara South.
 
EFCC had also tendered a document entitled Payment for Security and Transportation (Exhibit 7).
 
Among security agencies in Kwara who allegedly got part of the money include: the Military, N50million, Civil Defence, N20million, Director of State Security Services and his men, N2.5million, Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC), N10million, INEC Administrative Secretary, N5million, Resident Assistant Inspector-General of Police (AIG), N1million, among others.
 
Total amount disbursed to security agencies amounted to N126.5million. Justice Aikawa adjourned till November 13 and 14 for continuation of trial.
Published in Headliners

Liberia's Supreme Court has ordered preparations for Tuesday's presidential run-off to be halted amid allegations of fraud in the first round.

Ex-football star George Weah and Vice-President Joseph Boakai are due to go head-to-head in the 7 November vote.

But the Liberty Party's Charles Brumskine, who came third in the first round, has challenged the result.

Last month's election was the country's first independently run vote following the end of civil war in 2003.

Following the announcement, riot police were deployed to guard the court and electoral commission.

Later, a delegation arrived in the capital, among them the heads of the regional grouping Ecowas, and the Africa Union. They are meeting the heads of all the political parties.

Who does the president support?

Mr Brumskine and the Liberty Party said the first round was "characterised by massive systematic irregularities and fraud", including polling stations opening late and therefore preventing people from voting.

The election is to be postponed until his accusations are properly investigated, the court says.

But even if his case is thrown out, observers say it is likely to delay next week's vote as the commission will have lost valuable preparation time.

The Liberty Party is not alone in its allegations. The accusation of irregularities is backed by two other political parties - including Mr Boakai's Unity Party, which on Sunday alleged that its own president had interfered in the process.

In a statement, it said Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Africa's first female elected president and a winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, had attempted to influence the outcome of the poll.

Ellen Johnson Sirleaf at a speech in New York in 2015Image copyrightAFP/GETTY
Ellen Johnson Sirleaf is accused of not supporting her deputy's presidential bid

Relations between Mrs Sirleaf and her deputy are not warm, with some ruling party officials saying the vice-president was not her choice to succeed her, the BBC's Jonathan Paye-Layleh reports from the capital Monrovia.

Mrs Sirleaf, 79, has however said more than twice that she supports Mr Boakai, who won 28.8% of the vote compared to Mr Weah's 38.4% in the first round.

Mr Weah's Congress for Democratic Change (CDC) responded to the accusations by noting it was "sad for a ruling party that has been in power for 12 years [to] be crying".

International observers, including the European Union, had not raised major concerns about the first round of voting, although some irregularities were observed, AFP news agency reports.

The court has instructed the Liberty Party and the electoral commission to present their cases by Thursday.

However, election commission spokesman Henry Flomo told the BBC it had not yet been officially informed of the Supreme Court's order, made late on Tuesday.

But if there is an injunction, the commission will abide by it as the Supreme Court is the highest court and its decisions are final, Mr Flomo added.

Published in Headliners
The Head of Service of the Federation, Winifred Oyo-Ita, showed her anger on Wednesday when she reacted in a very unusual manner at the Council Chambers apparently over her leaked memo to President Muhammadu Buhari.

This happened before the commencement of the weekly Federal Executive Council ( FEC ) meeting at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

Her angry reaction was witnessed by all those who were in the Council Chambers for the swearing-in of the new Secretary to the Government or the Federation, Boss Mustapha, and the launch of the 2018 armed forces emblem.

 Many Council members were also in the hall for the Federal Executive Council meeting.

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo and Chief of Staff to the President Abba Kyari were seen questioning Oyo-Ita, shortly before the commencement of the event which started at 10:55am.

Oyo-Ita, who has never lost her cool in the public, was seen angrily gesticulating while trying to make her point in what was obviously a heated argument with Kyari.

The Head of Service went back to her seat and then rose again and headed straight to Osinbajo, who also engaged her in a tête-a-tete over the issue.

The National Security Adviser, Babagana Monguno, later joined the conversation after which the new Secretary to the Government of the Federation was seen calming the Head of Service.

She was later asked to return to her seat by the Deputy Chief of Staff Femi Ipaye, when it was now obvious all eyes were fixed on them.

The drama, which lasted about 10 minutes, was witnessed by Senate President Bukola Saraki, House of Representatives Speaker Yakubu Dogara, Chief of justice of the federation, Walter Onnoghen, the Governor of Adamawa, Jibrila Bindu, All Progressives Congress National Chairman John Odigie-Oyegun, chief of defence staff, service chiefs, Inspector General of Police and other heads of paramilitary service among others.

A national daily had quoted Oyo-Ita, in the leaked memo, as saying that Buhari was aware of the reinstatement of the former chairman of the Presidential Task Force on Pension Reforms, Abdulrasheed Maina.

Oyo-Ita was also quoted to have stated that she had warned the president against the controversial recall of the embattled former pension boss.

President Buhari had ordered last week the immediate disengagement of former chairman of the Presidential Task Force on Pension Reforms, Abdullahi Abdulrasheed Maina.

Maina was in 2013 recommended for dismissal by the Federal Civil Service Commission following a recommendation by the Office of the Head of Service.

In 2012, Maina was accused of leading a massive pension fraud scheme amounting to more than N100 billion.

He was drafted by the Goodluck Jonathan administration in 2010 to sanitize a corrupt pension system.

Published in Business and Economy
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