Sunday, 21 January 2018

A former President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, revealed on Saturday that the late dictator, Gen. Sani Abacha wanted him, the late Shehu Musa Yar’Adua and the June 12 hero, the late Moshood Abiola, dead while in prison.

He stated this at a dinner programme organised by an inter-denominational Christian organisation, Christ The Redeemer’s Friends International of the Redeemed Christian Church of God, Lagos Province 39 Chapter.

The former president alleged that Yar’Adua was poisoned by Abacha’s killer squad, adding that he was to be next victim, but that he was saved by God’s divine grace.

Obasanjo said, “Two people had earlier told me Abacha promised that three of us would not come out of prison or detention alive; myself. Shehu Yar Adua and MKO Abiola. And two of them did not come out alive. So, that I came out alive, maybe God has a purpose. And therefore if the purpose is for me to serve the people and by so doing,  serve God, then so be it.

“Abacha claimed that I was plotting a coup. I wasn’t the first to be arrested. When Shehu (Yar’Adua) was arrested, I tried to plead for his release. When Abacha said he didn’t know about Shehu’s arrest, I said to him, ‘the number two man in this country cannot be arrested without you knowing.’ He then said he would go and find out.

“In Abacha’s plan, he left God out of it and because he left God out of his plan, it (his government) eventually failed. There is God’s hand in the life of each and every one of us and every institution. I believe that very well.

“When I was arrested, they took me to a house in Ikoyi (Lagos) and that became my abode (I was) in isolation, for three months.

“In the meantime, there were national and international pressures for my release, (former US) President Jimmy Carter was one of the world leaders that came to ask for my release. Some African leaders like Yoweri Museveni and Robert Mugabe came. I believe it was because of those pressures that I was released from isolation in Ikoyi where I was under house arrest.”

Obasanjo described the day he was court-martialled and sentenced as one of the ‘worst days in his life.’

He said, “I must say that, that day, in a split second, it felt like the worst day in my life. What flashed through my mind was that I was forever ruined. I asked myself, ‘What did I do to deserve this? Is this what I get for serving Nigeria?’ But then, I told myself again that this was not done to me by Nigeria, but that one man did it for me.”

Obasanjo said he and Yar’Adua were detained in Jos and Port Harcourt prisons because they were the best prisons in the country at the time.

He said, “I was to go to Jos (prison) and Yar’Adua was to go to Port Harcourt (prison). In Jos, I was visited by my colleagues, including Yakubu Danjuma, Joe Garba, Domkat Bali, many of our colleagues, and then family members and friends.

“Then a decision was made that I was becoming too popular in Jos prison and I had to be transferred to. Yola prison which is a native authority prison and I don’t need to tell you what life was there.

“In Jos prison, before I was transferred to Yola prison, they had decided that Shehu Yar’Adua and myself should be poisoned. So, they took him from Port Harcourt prison to Abakaliki. In the process, he was injected with the virus that killed him. The same was supposed to be done to me. The man who came took me from the prison to a guest house in the GRA in Jos,  said, ‘We know you have problem with cholesterol so I have to take your blood for a test.’ Then I said, ‘Not on your life, I don’t have any problem of cholesterol.’

“I was slightly diabetic. But God had taken care of it because I was checking my blood sugar almost on a daily basis and it had become better than normal. So, I refused him (the man) touching me with anything. So, they took me to Yola and he said, ‘when you get to where you are going, we will come again.’”

The former president said he was saved from being poisoned by a doctor and specialist in the prison.

“The doctor was a professional man in charge of the General Hospital in Yola. He listened to my case that I needed special food because I was diabetic. He said the specialist would come to see me. The specialist turned out to be somebody from Okeogun in Oyo State. Two, he was a Baptist, and three, he had heard about me and knew me. So, he looked at me and said, ‘Don’t let anybody touch you with anything.’

“Within three weeks the man that came to me earlier returned again and said he wanted to take my blood. I said, ‘No, you have to get my doctor to come and take my blood for you.’ That was the arrangement between me and the doctor. And my doctor came and he brought a syringe and he took my blood and gave it to him. He now asked the man, ‘When would we have the result?’The man said, ‘Within 24 hours of my getting to Abuja.’I haven’t heard the result till today.”

Obasanjo said after his release from prison, he gave into pressure to contest for the presidency and he ended up becoming president for two terms by the grace of God. “Nigeria that was a pariah state became a darling (of the world).

“What is the lesson for me? I developed in prison but unfortunately I was not able to sustain it. Maybe because there was nothing else to do in prison except to pray and fast. I used to fast a lot. On three occasions, I fasted for seven days, no water, no food… a unique power was given to me by God.

“In all these, God did not leave me alone, and I know that.  I say to people that God has never let me alone nor disappointed me in spite of all. I am a sinner. It is not because of my goodness, but because of the grace of God, and the grace of God continues to abound.”

Published in Business and Economy

Manchester United are keen to negotiate a deal to take Wayne Rooney to Everton that does not involve the former England captain as a makeweight in the £75 million transfer of Romelu Lukaku, sources have told ESPN FC.

Rooney, who became football's most expensive teenager when he left Goodison Park for United in a £27m deal in 2004, is expected to remain behind in England to finalise a return to Everton when Jose Mourinho's squad fly to California on Sunday for their preseason preparations.

Sources have told ESPN FC that United's initial efforts to sign Lukaku involved Rooney in order to tempt Everton into a deal. But with United now agreeing a fee for Lukaku, the two clubs are attempting to strike a separate deal.

With Rooney winning every major club honour at least once with United during his 13-year spell at Old Trafford, as well as breaking Sir Bobby Charlton's all-time goal-scoring record, the 31-year-old has secured his status as a club legend.

And there is a determination within United that Rooney's exit should not be overshadowed by the big-money arrival of Lukaku.

Rooney rejected the chance to negotiate a lucrative move to China in February, insisting that he wanted to remain at United to help the club achieve its ambitions under Mourinho.

United ended the campaign with two major trophies -- the EFL Cup and Europa League, and returned to the Champions League as a result of their success in defeating Ajax in Stockholm.

Rooney admitted after the game that he had "more or less" made his mind up about his next move, with a return to Everton the favoured option should the club formalise their interest in re-signing him.

Talks have progressed well this week between United, Everton and Rooney's camp, but while there is hope at Old Trafford that the Lukaku move may be completed by the weekend, a deal for Rooney could take longer.

Published in Sports

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission on Thursday arraigned two suspects – Ejere Chris and Edoma Omagha  before Justice A. M. Nicol-Clay of the Lagos State High Court, Igbosere, on 10 charges bordering on conspiracy and forgery to the tune of N7.3bn.

The accused persons were charged alongside Kehinde Ogbor, Danium Energy Services Limited, Sibet Oil Services Limited, Loveth Ogbor and Rhombi Energy limited, who are all at large.

The EFCC said in a statement by its spokesman, Mr. Wilson Uwujaren, that Danium Energy Services Limited allegedly approached the petitioner, Fidelity Bank Plc, between January 17 and February 9, 2017, to finance three different purchase orders for the sale of Automotive Gas Oil (diesel) to Total Nigeria Plc.

Thereafter, the bank allegedly financed two of the purchase orders to the tune of N7.3bn, after due confirmation from Total Nigeria Plc.

The products were allegedly supplied by Sibet Oil Services Limited and Rhombi Energy Limited and discharged at the Ibeto Tank Farm, Apapa.

The bank was said to have engaged an independent surveyor, International Logistics and Fulfilment Services Limited, which confirmed the existence of the products at the Ibeto Tank Farm as well as the Department of Petroleum Resources.

However, when the bank approached Total Nigeria Plc for repayment, it was discovered that the purchase orders were forged by the accused persons.

One of the counts reads:

“That you, Ejere Kelvin Chris, Edoma Omagha, Kehinde Eliot Ogbor (at large), Danium Energy Services Limited (at large), Sibet Oil Services Limited (at large), Loveth Miyemi Ogbor (at large) and Rhombi Energy Limited (at large) sometime between the months of January, 2017 and February, 2017 at Lagos, within the jurisdiction of this honourable court, conspired amongst yourselves to dishonestly convert and steal the cumulative sum of N7.3bn.”

The accused persons pleaded not guilty to the counts.

In view of their pleas, the prosecuting counsel, George Chia-yakua, asked the court for a date to commence trial and prayed that the accused persons be remanded in prison custody.

Counsel for the accused persons, through oral application urged the court to admit their clients to bail, but was opposed by Chia-yakua, who insisted “they must file written applications.”

Justice Nicol-Clay adjourned to July 11, 2017 for hearing of the bail applications and ordered the accused persons to be remanded in the EFCC custody.

Published in Business and Economy
Friday, 07 July 2017 00:16

Osinbajo declares support for Magu

The acting chairman of the Economic and Financial Crime C omission (EFCC) Ibrahim Magu (first left) and Governor Nasir El-Rufai(right) at the commissioning of the EFCC Kaduna Zonal Office on Thursday.

Acting President Yemi Osinbajo has said that as long as he remains in office, the acting chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Alhaji Ibrahim Magu will continue to remain as the Commission’s boss.

The statement came 48 hours after the Senate asked the acting president to remove the EFCC boss.

Represented by the Kaduna State Governor, Mallam Nasir El-Rufai, at the commissioning of the Kaduna zonal office of the EFCC, Professor Osinbajo said he had the same confidence and conviction President Muhammadu Buhari had about Magu’s capability to function effectively in the office of the EFCC.

Osinbajo said: “Shortly before the President left the country, I asked him about Ibrahim Magu and the President said he believes in what he is doing. He has his support. I want to also affirm here that Magu has my support. As far as I remain the acting President, Magu remains”.

EFCC boss, Magu in an address urged the Federal Government to immediately embark on the building of a prison in Sambisa forest for those arrested and convicted of corruption.

However, he explained that for the prison to become a reality, the judiciary arm of government should cooperate with the Commission.

He said that illegal monies are likely to be abandoned by corrupt persons at the nation’s airport and other places in near future as it happened at Kaduna airport some few months ago. Magu warned that if concerted efforts were not made to rid the country of corruption, the monster will infest the citizens and adversely affect the nation’s economy.

Said he: “We want to call for the establishment of a prison in Sambisa forest in order to keep away corrupt people from our midst. In this case, the judiciary has direct influence to help in the fight against corruption. But concerted efforts are being made by some big Nigerians to neutralise the fight against corruption”.

“We must change the narrative by fighting back those that do not want the fight to succeed. I remain committed to the fight against corruption, and I commend the Kaduna State Governor, Mallam Nasir El-Rufai for encouraging EFCC to establish a zonal office in Kaduna. We must, therefore, join hands together to kill corruption before corruption will kill us”.

Meanwhile Speaking in his capacity as the Kaduna state governor, El-Rufai disclosed that the anti-graft agency had helped his government to recover over N500m from immediate past government officials who had milked the treasury.

He said the state government is ready to provide land for the EFCC training school in the state as well as for the building of their staff quarters.

Earlier, a member of the Presidential Advisory Committee, Professor Femi Odekunle pointed out that the presidential committee is behind Magu for his commitment in the fight against corruption.

Odekunle said, “We are not going to be cajoled by any technicalities. We will support the commission because most of our leaders are corrupt”.

Published in Headliners
Super Eagles first choice goalkeeper, Carl Ikeme is to begin chemotherapy after being diagnosed with acute leukaemia.
 
The 31-year-old Nigerian returned “abnormal blood tests” during pre-season testing and further checks confirmed the diagnosis.
 
Ikeme has been with Wolves for his entire career, making more than 200 appearances for Wanderers.
 
Thirty-three of those came last season, having previously been in the team that won the League One title in 2013-14.
 
“It would be an understatement to say that everyone at Wolves has been shocked and saddened to hear the news of Carl’s diagnosis,” said Wolves managing director Laurie Dalrymple.
 
“That relates to both players and staff as Carl has been at the club for a very long time and remains such an integral personality within the group.
 
“At the same time, we all know what a fighter and a competitor Carl is, and I have no doubt that he will take all of those attributes into this battle.
 
“Similarly, its goes without saying that Carl and his family will receive the full love and support that we at Wolves can provide – we are all with him every single step of the way towards a full recovery.”
Published in Sports

Neymar has said that he was too shy to speak to Lionel Messi after arriving at Barcelona in 2013.

The Brazil international star now shares top billing at Camp Nou alongside Messi, but making the step from Santos to Barcelona was harder than it might seem from the outside for Neymar.

In an interview with Brazilian television show Caldeirao do Huck, he explained his nerves at stepping into a star-studded squad.

"I came into the dressing room, looked to one side and there was Messi, I looked the other and there was Xavi [Hernandez], [Andres] Iniesta, [Gerard] Pique, Dani Alves ... I thought I was inside a video game," Neymar said.

Lionel Messi and Neymar have gone on to enjoy major success together at Barcelona.

"One day I was playing with them on the console and the next I was there alongside them. The first month was the most complicated. I was ashamed to speak to Messi, [he and the others] were idols for me. I was the new arrival and the youngest more or less."

However Neymar progressed rapidly at Barcelona and has become part of arguably the strongest attacking unit in the world, the MSN, alongside Messi and Luis Suarez.

On Oct. 21 the forward signed a new five-year contract which keeps him at Barcelona until 2021. After signing he explained that while he felt "a little intimidated" at first, he is now good friends with his teammates.

Neymar was one of the guests at Messi's wedding to Antonella Roccuzzo in Rosario on June 30 before continuing his holiday in Brazil by attending the Villa Mix Goiania festival.

Published in Sports

The wife of ailing Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has left the country to visit him in London after first attending an African Union event, her office said.

Aisha Buhari’s office said late on Sunday that she was first heading to the AU summit in Addis Ababa for a “symbolic appearance” at a leaders’ wives meeting.

She will then head to Britain on Tuesday, a statement said, adding: “”She will convey to the president the best wishes of Nigerians and their fervent prayers for his quick recovery.”

Aisha Buhari first visited her 74-year-old husband in London on May 30 and returned to Nigeria on June 6, saying he was recovering fast.

The head of state of Africa’s most populous nation has spent most of this year in London receiving treatment for an unspecified medical condition.

In January and February, he spent almost two months in Britain and on his return in early March said he had never been as ill.

He left for the British capital again on May 7 for a second round of medical treatment. No date was given for his return.

The presidency has repeatedly rejected rumours that Buhari is terminally ill or even dead but has refused to disclose his illness or what treatment he is having.

Last week, opposition Ekiti state governor Ayodele Fayose advised Buhari to resign but his supporters rejected the suggestion.

Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo has been acting on his behalf in accordance with the constitution.

Buhari’s absence has brought forward behind-the-scenes jostling for position for the 2019 presidential election at which the ailing leader is unlikely to stand.

In 2010, Nigeria was plunged into months of political turmoil after president Umaru Musa Yar’Adua died in office following months of treatment abroad.

Published in Business and Economy

The street where the Da Rocha home is located is extremely narrow. It is called Kakawa, a short stretch behind Union Bank Headquarters at Lagos Island. Even though the home, a large one storey building, the shape of a square, is said to be called Water House, neighbours who spoke with Saturday Tribune last Friday referred to it as “Da Rocha House.”

The house has obviously received a series of facelifts in its long life, but it still retains much of its original 19th-century look. For example, a large room on the ground floor serves both as the garage and the building’s entrance; the windows are unusually many, all of them designed as though they were intended for a church.

The lone car in the garage was covered with tarpaulin, on Friday. At the right side of the entrance was a makeshift bookstore where a young man sold mostly dictionaries. A tailor, an elderly man whom neighbours called “Baba”, occupied the left wing. Both men appeared to work also as domestic staff for the Da Rochas.

“Madam is sleeping,” the tailor said. It was past 9.am, and sensing the need for further explanation, he added, “She has just returned from a journey. You should come back around 12 or 1pm.”

Attempts made to meet her, hours later were unsuccessful. Even as of 2:30 pm, the message from the tailor who had gone up to check, yet again, remained the same: she was resting, and she would not give an appointment.

Water House is at the centre of the historical area that is the Lagos Island. The Third Mainland Bridge is only a few metres away; the popular Marina and Broad Streets are just by the corner, as is the Cathedral Church of Christ, the oldest Anglican Cathedral in Nigeria.

It was here, at Water House, in the 1800s and 1900s that the businessman, Candido Da Rocha, (believed to be the wealthiest Nigerian at the time) lived. It was here that the city’s first water fountain and first borehole were constructed. From here, Candido Da Rocha (Yoruba call him Darosa) operated what was known as Iju Water Works which supplied water to the entire Lagos district. For his work, he was paid directly by the colonial administration, until the water project was altogether acquired by the government.

Massive enterprise

A source who knows the family well, on Monday, made available to Saturday Tribune an interview given to the Catholic Herald by Da Rocha’s grandchild, Professor J.T Da Rocha-Afodu.

In the interview, published in the April 2017 edition of the magazine, the Emeritus Professor of Surgery at the University of Lagos said he and his siblings were, in fact, raised by Da Rocha himself.

The professor said, “My grandfather was Late Chief Candido Joa Da Rocha, Chief Lodifi of Ilesa. He was born in Bahia, Brazil and died in Lagos in 1959. He had his Secondary School education at CMS Grammar School, Lagos. Available records showed that he was never beaten in the school and always came first in his class. His classmates were Late Bishop Oluwole and Late Herbert Macaulay. He was a voracious reader of newspapers, magazines and books, including those written in Portuguese. He had a good stock of books in his library including those on classical English and Portuguese.

“He brought us up after the demise of my father during the 2nd World War in 1940. My father’s boat was torpedoed by the German Submarine U.2 off the Coast of Batvia near Russia and all those in the ship perished. My grandfather took over our upkeep and education of myself and my two brothers and sisters from primary school to the University. Candido Joa Da Rocha was a business man, property and land owner and a financier. He lived in Water House Kakawa Street. The home was commemorated in literature by a novel, The Water House by Antonio Olinto.”

A key strategy used by Da Rocha to boost his revenue appeared to be his readiness to embark on many different projects at a time.

Da Rocha-Afodu said, “Chief Da Rocha collaborated with J.H. Doherty and Sedu Williams to found a Lagos Native Bank, the first in Africa. He owned many houses. He participated in the Lagos Horse Racing at Race Course where he won many trophies. The horses were housed at his stables at Water house, No 12, Kakawa Street, Lagos. His home, Water House, had the first borehole in Lagos. Some of his business interests included a restaurant called The Restaurant da Rocha and Sierra Leone, Deep Sea Fishing Industries Ltd.”

Genealogy of greatness

While it is not often clear how Nigerians with great wealth lived during the colonial period, many accounts have suggested that most of them kept a low profile. This quality appears to have been inherited by the descendants of Da Rocha, who even though they take pride in the family name and the legacies of their father, have nonetheless stayed out of the limelight.

A list provided by Professor Da Rocha-Afodu tells a story of a family which over the years has produced a number of notable names in fields such as medicine, trade, law, education and sports.

For example, Dr Moses Da Rocha, Candido’s brother, was one of the first medical doctors in Nigeria. He studied in Scotland and upon return to Nigeria set up a hospital at 4 Tinubu Street, Lagos.

Another grandchild of Da Rocha’s was Dr. Oladele Da Rocha-Afodu, described by his brother as “a pioneer of the game of Polo in Nigeria.”

“He was the eldest son in the Da Rocha-Afodu family. As a medical practitioner he specialized in Bacteriology and Pathology. He was one of the founders of Polo game in Nigeria and contributed immensely to the development of the game. He once donated a cup to the Lagos Polo Club in memory of late Candido da Rocha,” the professor said.

The professor’s elder sister, Mrs Abimbola Aina Omololu-Mulere, was a lawyer, and according to his brother, the “first Nigerian female graduate in Law to attend the University.” A graduate of Trinity College, Dublin University, she would later found Adrao International Schools in Lagos. She died in 2000.

Of his mother, Candida Adenike Afodu, Candido Da Rocha’s youngest daughter, the professor said, “She was mother of three ladies (Late Mrs. Abimbola Omolulu-Mulere, Mrs. Angela Omolara Branco and Mrs C.K Somolu) and two other men: Late Dr. O. da Rocha-Afodu, and Late Mr. Candido Olu da Rocha-Afodu.

“After the demise (in 1940) of her husband (Mobolaji Abisogun-Afodu, a pharmacist) during the 2nd World war, she came to live at Water House with her six children including Professor J.T. Da Rocha-Afodu. She took care of her father and her children. Her elder sister was Late Mrs. Angelica Folashade Thomas who was an active supporter of the Catholic Church and a Papal Medalist.

“Mrs Afodu was an active member of many women societies at Holy Cross Cathedral. She died at the age of 95 years and her funeral service was held at the Holy Cross Cathedral, Lagos.”

Eternal charm

To many residents around Kakawa Street, Water House has remained something of a communal symbol, a repository of a people’s identity. Neighbours speak fondly of it, and are often quick to direct visitors to it. It is a quiet neighbourhood, and in its simplicity, the house itself appears hidden, dwarfed by the imposing edifices that surround it. Yet, there is a charming aura about it, one which appears to grow as the house ages. It is like a treasure in the shadows: it is hard for a visitor to resist the urge to cast a second look — and to ask questions.

Published in News & Stories
Wednesday, 23 March 2016 00:29

Ibinabo seeks bail on health grounds

Nollywood actress and President of the Actors Guild of Nigeria, who is currently in detention on charges of manslaughter, has sought bail citing health reasons. This is coming after the embattled actress’ March 11 failed attempt to secure bail.

The three-man panel, presided over by Justice Ndukwe-Anyanwu, said that the appellant failed to attach copies of the judgment that was delivered by the court which affirmed the five years jail sentence imposed on her.

In a six paragraph affidavit of urgency deposed to by one Victor Eden, the deponent averred that a tumour was expelled from Ibinabo’s breast.

The trial magistrate had earlier given the appellant an option of N100, 000 fine for the offence. This judgment was, however, overturned by the high court, which replaced the option of fine with a five-year jail term.

The court of appeal has fixed April 7 to hear a bail application causing the actress and ex beauty queen to file an appeal through her lawyer, urging the court to set aside the five- year sentence.

 

 
Published in Arts & Culture
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