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Items filtered by date: February 2021

Thursday, 25 February 2021 15:14

Messi scores twice as Barcelona dispatch Elche

Lionel Messi soared past Luis Suarez to become La Liga’s top scorer on Wednesday by adding his 17th and 18th goals of the season in a much-needed 3-0 victory for Barcelona over Elche.

Barca had followed up last week’s crushing Champions League loss to Paris Saint-Germain by drawing at home to Cadiz on Sunday but eased the strain with a comfortable win at the Camp Nou.

Messi’s double owed much to a pair of superb assists, with a supreme dribble by Frenkie de Jong coming after a sublime flick from Martin Braithwaite, who also set up Jordi Alba to score a third.

After failing to take full advantage of league leaders Atletico Madrid’s defeat by Levante on Saturday, this victory puts Barcelona back in third, five points off the top, having played a game more than Atletico.

“We cannot lose any more,” said Ronald Koeman. “The problem was we were not good enough at the start and we have to win all the games now if we want to do something in the league.”

Even if Atletico prove too far ahead to catch, a positive performance was important, especially with a semi-final second leg to come next week against Sevilla in the Copa del Rey, which may be their only chance of winning a trophy this term.

Messi’s return to top form comes as a huge boost too. The 33-year-old came off unfavourably in comparisons made with Kylian Mbappe last week but these kinds of performances show he is far from finished yet.

This was Messi’s fifth and sixth goal in his last four games while no player from the top five European leagues has scored more than his 13 this year in all competitions. Bayern Munich’s Robert Lewandowski is closest on 12.

“When we talk about old players, that’s not Leo,” said Koeman. “His quality and his game is still impressive. There are old players and then there are players that have to make the difference.

“He has shown again today that he is a very, very important player for this team.”

Francisco Trincao and Frenkie de Jong had early chances for Barcelona while Elche should have scored but Lucas Boye blazed over.

Yet a frantic opening gave way to a disjointed first half and Koeman reacted by bringing off the ineffective Miralem Pjanic at half-time and replacing him with Ousmane Dembele.

Barcelona scored within two minutes of the restart, Messi driving from midfield towards the area and rebounding off Braithwaite, whose sweeping flick behind his standing leg gave the scuttling Argentinian a simple finish.

Elche’s early threat had dissipated and Barca added two more in five minutes.

The first came from a breathtaking run from De Jong, who dribbled forward from the halfway line, past three Elche defenders, before cutting back for Messi. He glided past two more and prodded in.

Messi started the move for the third, with a familiar, curving pass to Braithwaite at the back post, whose cushioned header across found Alba unmarked in the middle.

Published in Sports

By Taiye Agbaje/ PM NEWS/ NAN

Abdulrasheed Maina, Chairman of the defunct Pension Reformed Taskforce Team (PRTT), has had his fresh bail request rejected by Justice Okon Abang of the Federal High Court, Abuja.

Delivering a ruling, Abang, held that Maina’s application for bail lacked merit.

The judge said Maina was not only a flight risk but a proven risk, having fled to the Republic of Niger and Chad in violation of the court order.

“He has disappointed the court,” he ruled.

Justice Abang said though it was at the court’s discretion to grant bail, the ex-pension reformed boss did not deserve a bail after jumping the first one.

The judge said that Maina did not place sufficient materials before the court to convince the court that he deserves the second bail.

He said the medical report brought from the University of Abuja Teaching Hospital showed that Maina was not under any medical emergency.

Justice Abang, who refused to grant Maina’s application for an order directing the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to release his confiscated property, including a BMW Car, also dismissed his request for an order to set aside the Nov. 18 and Dec. 4, 2020 orders.

The court on Nov. 18, 2020, ordered the trial of Maina in absentia after he jumped bail.

Also on Dec. 4, 2020, the court ordered Maina to be remanded in prison custody pending the hearing and final determination of his matter.

Maina, who jumped bail last year and fled to the Republic of Niger before his rearrest, had on Dec. 24, 2020, applied for another bail.

Maina, through his lawyer, Anayo Adibe, on Jan. 20, approached Justice Abang in a motion on notice.

He argued that the application became necessary over his worsening health condition.

In the motion, the ex-pension boss told the court that he had reasonable and responsible sureties who were willing to act as sureties if granted bail.

Debunking the argument that he had jumped bail, Maina said he fled to the Republic of Niger to have a kneel surgery.

According to him, If the knee surgery had not been done, his leg would have been amputated.
(NAN)

Published in Business and Economy

A Nigerian Uche Raymond Okoye, based in Guyana, has been slammed 11 counts of fraud, several local papers reported today.

Okoye, also known as Uche Parker, was accused by the Guyana police as being part of an international criminal organisation that has scammed unsuspecting Guyanese victims out of millions.

Okoye, who is now in prison, appeared virtually Wednesday at the Georgetown Magistrate’s Court where Chief Magistrate Ann McLennan read ten indictable charges to him.

It is alleged that on ten occasions between October 15 and November 16, 2020, at Georgetown, Okoye obtained monies from a woman, Surujdai Balkaran, totalling $6,059,900, by falsely claiming that he was in possession of a package intended for her.

And on November 16, 2020, he obtained $50,000 from another woman, Ms Monroe, by also falsely claiming that he was in possession of a package intended for her.

The women were told that the monies were needed to receive the packages.
.
While he pleaded guilty to some of the counts, he pleaded not guilty to the charge that he scammed Ms.Monroe.

He was further remanded until March 17.

Okoye is currently on remand for an ongoing matter before Senior Magistrate Leron Daly for four other matters of similar offences.

On 24 November 2020, he was charged with running a criminal scheme in Guyana and swindling four Guyanese of millions of dollars.

He was also accused of entering Guyana, illegally.

Okoye is suspected to be part of a criminal network involving Nigerians who collaborate with other associates and solicit cash from their victims by promising high valued merchandise to be delivered following the payment of a charge or fee amounting to millions.

The criminal network which has been ongoing for the past six months in Guyana, has links to the United Kingdom, Nigeria, Peru, Brazil, Venezuela, Argentina, Paraguay and the United States of America among other countries, according to Special Organised Crime Unit[ SOCU] of Guyana.

Published in Headliners

Agency Report

Golf Legend, Tiger Woods suffered some multiple leg injuries Tuesday morning in a horrific car crash in Los Angeles California.

Reports said the golfer had to be cut out of the wreck after the car rolled over.

Woods, 45 years old, was said to be on the steering wheel.

The accident happened on the border of the Rolling Hills Estates and Rancho Palos Verdes in Los Angeles at 7.12AM PST.

The Los Angeles County Sheriffs department confirmed that Woods was the driver of the vehicle.

Fire crews had to lift him from the vehicle with the “jaws of life” before Woods was transferred to hospital by paramedics.

Mark Steinberg, Woods’ agent said the mega star is undergoing surgery for multiple leg injuries.

According to the department, the vehicle sustained “major damage.”

Woods was in the area for a two-day content photoshoot with Golf Digest, the outlet confirmed, after serving as host for the PGA Tour’s Genesis Invitational.

Published in News & Stories

By Abankula/ PM NEWS

Tiger Woods suffered multiple leg injuries from his lone horror car crash today in Los Angeles California.

His agent Mark Steinberg told Golf Digest that Woods “is currently in surgery”.

Woods, 45, was in California for a two-day content shoot with Golf Digest/GOLFTV after serving as host for the PGA Tour’s Genesis Invitational over the weekend.

The shoot involved Woods giving on-course lessons to a number of celebrities, but he mostly provided instruction and hit a few putts.

He was in good spirits on Monday but did not arrive to the course for the second day of shooting.

According to Los Angeles County Sheriffs, Wood was the sole occupant of the car, when it rolled over on the border of Rolling Hills Estates and Rancho Palos Verdes.

The accident occurred at 7.12 a.m Los Angeles time.

The 45 year-old golfer had to be cut out of the wreck by fire crews before Woods was transferred to hospital by paramedics.

Published in Headliners
Tuesday, 23 February 2021 18:32

Most-Streamed Nigerian artistes on Spotify

By Samuel Oamen/ THE NATION

Afrobeat began in Ghana in the early 1920s. Nigeria later joined the Afrobeat wave in the late 1960s led by Fela Kuti who experimented with different contemporary music of the time.

Ever since, Nigeria has been producing amazing sounds that travel all over the world.

The music industry has gone from CD eras to streaming platforms such as Apple Music, Spotify, Audiomack and Boomplay leading the way.

One of the leading music blogs, Mp3bullet.ng under Mp3bullet Media has compiled the list of most-streamed Nigerian artistes on Spotify.

Here is the list of Most-Streamed artistes on Spotify

1. Wizkid – 3,485,993,216

2. Burna Boy – 1,836,385,624

3. Mr Eazi – 1,059,515,866

4. Davido – 629,862,493

5. Maleek Berry – 442,738,299

6. Tekno – 205,976,589

7. Tiwa Savage – 179,123,712

8. P-square – 171,839,601

9. Yemi Alade – 146,942,395

10. Olamide – 141,684,604

Mp3bullet.ng bagged the best music blog of the year awards at POPA Awards 2016.

Published in Entertainment
Tuesday, 23 February 2021 18:28

Full list of winners in 14th Headies awards

By Alao Abiodun/ THE NATION

The 14th edition of the prestigious Headies award held on Sunday.

The event, which was virtual due to COVID-19 pandemic, was hosted by funnyman Bovi and Nancy Isime.

Fast-rising singers like Fireboy DML, Bad Boy Timz and Omah Lay received their first plaques.

Fireboy was the biggest winner at the 14th Headies on Sunday night snagging four awards — including the ‘Best R&B Single’, ‘Best R&B Album’, ‘Headies revelation’, and ‘Best Pop Album’ categories.

Here is the full list of the winners:

Producer of The Year

  • Pheelz – Billionaire by Teni

Best Vocal Performance (Female)

  • Niniola – Addicted

Best Vocal Performance (Male)

  • Praiz – Under The Sky

Best Street Hop Artiste

  • Mayorkun – Geng

Rookie of The Year

  • Bad Boy Tims – MJ

Best Pop Single

  • Nobody – DJ Neptune feat Joe Boy and Mr Eazi

Read Also: 14th Headies: Wizkid wins artiste of the year

Best Collabo

  • Ladipoe and Simi – Know you

Best Alternative song

  • Moelogo – I wonder

Best Rap Single

  • Falz – Bop Daddy feat. MS Banks

Best R&B Album

  • Fireboy DML – Tears, laughter and goosebumps

Best Alternative Album

  • Roots – The Cavemen

Next Rated

  • Omah Lay

Viewers Choice Award

  • Wizkid

Songwriter of the Year

  • Simi – Duduke

Best Pop Award

  • Fireboy – Apollo

Lyricist on The Roll

  • Ilbliss Goretti – Country

African Artiste Recognition Award

  • Master KG

Headies Hall of Fame

  • King Sunny Ade
Published in Arts & Culture

Super Eagles striker, Victor Osimhen, who was rushed to hospital following a clash of heads with an Atalanta player during their Serie A game at the weekend, has been allowed to go home. The Napoli star is however still being observed by medics.

Osimhen spent the night in Bergamo after suffering a head injury in the dying minutes of the Partenopei’s 4-2 loss at the Gewiss Stadium on Sunday evening.

Concern arose as the Nigerian suffered what appeared to be a mystery injury, and was run off the pitch on a stretcher and transferred to hospital.

Osimhen didn’t travel back to Campania with his Napoli teammates on Sunday evening, instead of staying overnight in the hospital while awaiting test results.

Yesterday, though, he was cleared to leave the hospital and is free to head home.

Osimhen has had his fair share of injury problems already this season, and a positive case of COVID-19 as well.

The centre-forward was afforded his 10th league appearance in the encounter since teaming up with the club last summer.

Osimhen made his contribution as Gennaro Gattuso’s men suffered their second consecutive defeat, after also losing against Granada in the Europa League.

With few minutes before the end of the game, the forward collided with Romero and fell awkwardly, hitting the back of his head on the turf before losing consciousness.

“Victor Osimhen, following the injury with head trauma suffered in the final minutes of Atalanta-Napoli, underwent tests with negative results,” read a statement from the club website. “The player will remain in Bergamo until tomorrow under the clinical observation of the blue health manager Raffaele Canonico.”

Although the club did not state the duration Osimhen would be on the sidelines, it is certain that the forward will miss Napoli’s second leg round of 32 of their Europa League game against Granada on Thursday.

Published in Sports

Rwandan Hutu rebels on Tuesday denied accusations they were behind the killing of the Italian ambassador to the Democratic Republic of Congo and instead blamed the armies of the DRC and Rwanda, as further details emerged about the attack.

Luca Attanasio, 43, died on Monday after a World Food Programme (WFP) convoy was ambushed in a dangerous part of eastern DRC.

The envoy’s Italian bodyguard, Vittorio Iacovacci, and a Congolese driver who has not been identified also died on the field trip.

The DRC’s interior ministry on Monday blamed the killings on “members of the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR)” — a Rwandan Hutu rebel group that has plagued the region for more than a quarter of a century.

But the FDLR rejected the allegation, blaming the Rwandan army and the Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (FARDC) for the attack in a statement received by AFP Tuesday.

It said the ambassador’s convoy was attacked near the Rwandan border, “not far from a position of the FARDC”.

“The responsibility for this despicable killing is to be found in the ranks of these two armies and their sponsors who have forged an unnatural alliance to perpetuate the pillaging of eastern DRC,” it said.

The FDLR called on Kinshasa and UN peacekeeping force MONUSCO to “shed light” on the killings “instead of resorting to hasty accusations”.

The DRC and Rwanda authorities have not reported the presence of any regular Rwandan troops in the DRC.

But an expert at the Kivu Security Tracker (KST), a US monitor, told AFP the Hutu rebel group has a known presence in the region.

“The FDLR are near the place where the attack took place. It’s in the realm of possibility that the Rwandan rebels are responsible for this attack,” the expert said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Scores of militias roam the DRC’s four eastern provinces, many of them a legacy of wars in the 1990s that sucked in countries around central-southern Africa and claimed millions of lives.

Some of the FDLR’s founders were involved in the 1994 Rwandan genocide during which the Hutu majority slaughtered 800,000 people, mainly Tutsis but also Hutu moderates.

The group is opposed to the current Rwandan government but has not launched any large-scale attacks in Rwanda since 2001.

Dangerous region
Monday’s attack occurred north of the North Kivu capital of Goma on National Highway 2 — a road that runs through thickly forested, mountainous terrain next to the porous border with Rwanda.

The world-renowned Virunga National Park, a UNESCO-listed wildlife reserve that is a haven for critically-endangered mountain gorillas, straddles the area.

DRC President Felix Tshisekedi’s office said Attanasio had arrived in Goma on Friday morning aboard a MONUSCO plane.

He left on Monday morning in a two-vehicle WFP convoy heading for Kiwanja, in the Rutshuru area, accompanied by his bodyguard and WFP workers, it said.

The convoy was ambushed three kilometres (1.8 miles) from their destination by six assailants, armed with five AK-47 assault rifles and a machete.

“They proceeded by firing warning shots before forcing the people in the vehicles to get out and follow them into the depths of the (Virunga) park, which they did by shooting dead one of the drivers to create panic,” the president’s office said.

Park rangers and army troops nearby heard the noise and pursued the attackers.

“Five hundred metres (from the site of the ambush), the kidnappers fired point-blank at the bodyguard, who died on the spot, and at the ambassador, hitting him in the abdomen,” the presidency said.

Security questions
After the Italian government expressed shock and outrage at the attack, newspapers in Rome on Tuesday raised questions about security preparations for the trip.

The DRC interior ministry, in a statement on Monday, said the security services and provincial authorities had not been given advance warning of the trip.

“(They) were unable to provide special security for the convoy or come to its aid because of a lack of information about their presence in this part of the country, despite its reputation for instability,” it said.

But the WFP, in a statement, said the attack “occurred on a road that had previously been cleared for travel without security escorts”.

A UN humanitarian official in the DRC, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said that this meant the convoy had to be a minimum of two vehicles.

Published in News & Stories

South Africa’s scandal-tainted former president Jacob Zuma and French arms giant Thales, accused of graft in a case going back more than two decades, will go on trial in May, the High Court ruled Tuesday.

Zuma is facing 16 charges of fraud, graft and racketeering relating to a 30-billion-rand ($2-billion / 1.67-billion-euro) purchase in 1999 of fighter jets, patrol boats and military equipment from five European arms companies.

He allegedly took bribes amounting to four million rand ($270,000 or 224,000 euros) from one of the firms, French defence giant Thales at the time when he was deputy president.

Judge Nkosinathi Chili at the High Court in Pietermaritzburg said the matter was certified as trial-ready and would be heard between May 17 and June 20, 2021.

Zuma was not present for the announcement.

The case was postponed last December, when Thales contested the racketeering charges linked to the arms deal.

But a court dismissed the challenge on January 22, a decision that Thales said it would not contest.

Both the state prosecution and defence attorneys had asked the pre-trial court for extra time.

They cited among other things Covid restrictions on international travel that could impede the availability of witnesses living abroad.

Zuma, 78, who was forced to step down in 2018 by the African National Congress (ANC) after nine years in power, is separately accused of enabling runaway looting of state assets during his tenure.

The judicial panel probing this alleged graft on Monday sought orders to jail Zuma for two years for defying a court order compelling him to testify.

The embattled ex-leader has repeatedly snubbed summonses by the commission, saying its chair, Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo, is biased.

He testified only once, in July 2019, before staging a walkout days later.

The findings of the anti-corruption commission will not lead directly to indictments but may be handed to the prosecution for possible charges.

Published in News & Stories
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