Sunday, 13 June 2021


Items filtered by date: December 2019

Baby naming trends tend to happen gradually, so decades are great markers for analyzing the rise and fall of different names.

As this decade comes to a close, we took a look at the Social Security Administration’s data from the 2010s to identify names that got a boost in popularity. The name Mila, for example, rose from No. 364 in 2010 all the way up to No. 14 in the most recent rankings. (The SSA’s current data only goes up to 2018, but it seems likely these general decade trends will hold into 2019 as well.)

Many names like Luna, Zayn and Aria/Arya may owe their rise to pop culture. There are also broader trends like the rise of a-ending names for girls (a la Cora, Isla and Stella) and names that end in -son for boys (think Grayson, Hudson and Jameson).

Without further ado, here are 100 baby names that rose in popularity in the 2010s.


Luna ― from No. 342 in 2010 to No. 23 in 2018

Aria ― No. 353 to No. 19 (Arya rose from No. 942 to No. 119)

Mila ― No. 364 to No. 14

Emilia ― No. 348 to No. 58

Hazel ― No. 264 to No. 42

Isla ― No. 297 to No. 82

Cora ― No. 275 to No. 73

Adeline ― No. 323 to No. 78

Kinsley ― No. 307 to No. 63

Raelynn ― No. 628 to No. 115

Willow ― No. 290 to No. 62

Everly ― not in the top 1,000 until 2012 to No. 53

Nova ― not in the top 1,000 until 2011 to No. 56

Ivy ― No. 299 to No. 86

Quinn ― No. 255 to No. 84

Penelope ― No. 200 to No. 26

Aurora ― No. 203 to No. 44

Paisley ― No. 238 to No. 52

Emery ― No. 313 to No. 92

Athena ― No. 363 to No. 117

Eloise ― No. 527 to No. 167

Thea ― not in the top 1,000 until 2014 to No. 273

Juniper ― not in the top 1,000 until 2011 to No. 281

Oakley ― not in the top 1,000 until 2013 to No. 388

Iris ― No. 315 to No. 138

Emerson ― No. 316 to No. 143

Leilani ― No. 268 to No. 120

Eleanor ― No. 166 to No. 32

Skylar ― No. 181 to No. 50

Nora ― No. 159 to No. 30

Harper ― No. 118 to No. 9

Alice ― No. 172 to No. 71

Hadley ― No. 218 to No. 104

Violet ― No. 123 to No. 43

Scarlett ― No. 115 to No. 20

Elena ― No. 163 to No. 66

Valentina ― No. 152 to No. 81

Eliana ― No. 168 to No. 83

Finley ― No. 408 to No. 163

Esther ― No. 260 to No. 153

Kennedy ― No. 100 to No. 59

Camila ― No. 61 to No. 18 (Camilla jumped from No. 508 to No. 302)

Stella ― No. 85 to No. 38

Ellie ― No. 104 to No. 37

Ruby ― No. 113 to No. 74

Piper ― No. 144 to No. 88

Josephine ― No. 185 to No. 91

Delilah ― No. 187 to No. 94

Brielle ― No. 192 to No. 99

Clara ― No. 167 to No. 103


Maverick ― No. 507 to No. 73

Ezra ― No. 242 to No. 59

Mateo ― No. 222 to No. 37

Lincoln ― No. 199 to No. 40

Theodore ― No. 259 to No. 44

Leo ― No. 191 to No. 50

Grayson ― No. 122 to No. 32 (Greyson jumped from No. 249 to No. 77)

Hudson ― No. 139 to No. 54

Asher ― No. 138 to No. 47

Ezekiel ― No. 213 to No. 87

Jameson ― No. 277 to No. 91

Declan ― No. 274 to No. 101

River ― No. 432 to No. 197

Rhett ― No. 608 to No. 167

Matias ― No. 710 to No. 201

Weston ― No. 224 to No. 102

Axel ― No. 187 to No. 94

Zayn ― not in the top 1,000 until 2013 to No. 334

Otto ― not in the top 1,000 until 2011 to No. 430

Nolan ― No. 104 to No. 64

Oliver ― No. 88 to No. 5

Jaxon ― No. 99 to No. 39 (Jaxson rose from No. 173 to No. 76)

Santiago ― No. 134 to No. 81

Sawyer ― No. 172 to No. 99

Jace ― No. 146 to No. 90

Leonardo ― No. 150 to No. 92

Easton ― No. 145 to No. 66

Elias ― No. 141 to No. 67

Roman ―No. 186 to No. 85

Everett ― No. 287 to No. 95

Waylon ― No. 422 to No. 142

August ― No. 427 to No. 170

Brooks ― No. 401 to No. 161

King ― No. 399 to No. 150

Rowan ― No. 327 to No. 129

Ryker ― No. 309 to No. 122

Beau ― No. 375 to No. 151

Elliot ― No. 301 to No. 162

Luca ― No. 272 to No. 106

Silas ― No. 219 to No. 110

Kingston ― No. 214 to No. 117

Kai ― No. 205 to No. 113

Harrison ― No. 233 to No. 115

Abel ― No. 293 to No. 146

Jayce ― No. 299 to No. 147

Jasper ― No. 286 to No. 154

Elliott ― No. 315 to No. 168

Finn ― No. 300 to No. 166

Dean ― No. 285 to No. 173

Sebastian ― No. 68 to No. 18

Published in News & Stories
Tuesday, 31 December 2019 04:25

10 Major events that shook Nigeria in 2019

Year 2019 was a very eventful year for Nigeria as a country. It was a year the country experienced unforgettable events among which shook it to its very foundations. Some of the events are here brought back to readers’ memory:

1. Vice President Osinbajo’s copter crash: What would have been a day of national mourning, by sheer providence, turned into a moment of excitement, singing, dancing and praising of God by Nigerians when the number two citizen in the country, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo survived an air crash for the second time. Osinbajo and few of his aides were on election campaign visit to Kogi State on February 3 when his helicopter crash-landed in Kabba. Undeterred, the VP who was unhurt alongside his aides, continued the campaign trail for his party, the All Progressives Congress (APC). The first incident was in June 2017 when he went to Gwagawalada Area Council, Abuja FCT to attend graduation of 40 senior officers of the Nigeria Customs Service. The chopper he was traveling in crash-landed shortly after take-off. He was unhurt. These two similar events earned him the sobriquet “Ojabo koku” (One who fell from up without dying) among his Yoruba kinsmen.

VP Osinbajo: Escapes death twice in air crashes

The crashed chopper

2. 2019 General Elections: The elections were held across the country between February 23 and March 16, with the presidential being expectedly the most acrimonious. As a matter of fact, the kind of gang up against the incumbent President Muhammadu Buhari overtly staged by various categories of people mostly from the opposition camp, some former leaders, religious leaders mostly from the Christendom, and corrupt politicians who were choking under his anti-corruption crusades had never been witnessed in the chequered history of Nigeria.

It started with former President Olusegun Obasanjo, leading a revolt against the government, as he had done to every government that has ruled Nigeria, except his own. Other disgruntled elements who could not wait to see Buhari’s back, for various reasons, seized the opportunity to join the wagon kick-started by the former President. Even the main opposition party’s presidential candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, whose image, had in the past been ruined by Obasanjo, in his desperation to clinch the position of number one citizen, swallowed all the bitter pills Obasanjo had rammed down his throat and went back to his traducer like a prodigal son, giving effect to the saying: ‘the enemy of my enemy is my friend’. Obasanjo also reciprocated by going back to his own vomit, asking Nigerians to vote for the same man he had warned the people to steer clear of. Primordial sentiments capable of destabilizing the country such as ethnicity and religion were employed by the opposition camp as tools of campaign. It got to a point that fear that the country was going to break up was palpable.

Former President Obasanjo: spared no effort in campaigning against Buhari

As if to worsen the matter, the country’s Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), reminiscent of the 2015 incident, announced a postponement by one week on the eve of the much awaited presidential election. The Presidential and National Assembly elections earlier slated for February 16 were shifted to February 23 while those of the Governorship and State Assembly earlier scheduled for March 2 were postponed to March 9. This event cast initial shadow on the electoral process and it took repeated statements of reassurance from the INEC and government to Nigerians and the international community that the elections would not only take place, but would also be free and peaceful, to calm frayed nerves.

Buhari: victorious in the end

In the end, Mr. Buhari triumphed as he defeated his closest rival Atiku Abubakar with a wide margin of almost 4 million votes. Muhammadu Buhari of the All Progressives Congress (APC) won 15,191,847 votes, while Atiku Abubakar of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) got 11,262,978votes.
The legal tussle and razzmatazz that followed the results’ announcement got finally settled by judgment of the apex court on October 30 which affirmed Buhari’s victory.

3. EFCC’s onslaught against Yahoo boys: An aspect where the country’s anti-corruption agency, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) made record achievement to the relief and excitement of majority of Nigerians aside catching some hitherto untouchable big thieves such as former governors and making them to cool off in jail, was busting of the most lethal industry of fraud- the cybercrime called ‘yahoo yahoo’. Multitude of the yahoo boys, who on daily basis wrecked life out of hardworking citizens and foreigners alike, were rounded up this year and made to face the music. The cases were too many that the year 2019 can correctly be dubbed ‘yahoo gangs bursting year’, because hardly would a weak pass without at least a gang being busted by operatives of the EFCC. Few of the major arrests published by P.M.NEWS at various times in the year are here catalogued:

EFCC Boss, Ibrahim Magu: fearless anti-corruption fighter

– March 26 six suspected yahoo boys were arrested in Ibadan, Oyo State, when operatives of the EFCC raided their hideout at the Kolapo Ishola Estate, Akobo area of the ancient city. Items recovered from the suspects include five different models of exotic cars, laptops, mobile phones.

– In May, the United States arrested 16 suspected internet fraudsters in several US cities, Canada and South Africa, majority of whom are Nigerians.

The 27 Yahoo Yahoo suspects arrested in Owerri

– On Wednesday 3 April, the Ibadan zonal office of EFCC arrested 11 suspected ‘Yahoo-Yahoo Boys’. Six of them were arrested at 2nd Pipeline, Ologunerun, Ibadan, while the other five were picked up at a location in Ijebu-Remo, Ogun State. Same day, the Oyo State special security outfit, Operation Burst, paraded two suspected yahoo boys after a woman jumped from a two-storey building in Ibadan, Oyo State to escape from Yahoo Boys who wanted to use her for ritual.

– On April 19, Police rescued a woman captured by Yahoo Boys for ritual in Asaba, Delta State.

Yahoo Yahoo boys arrested by EFCC in Osogbo

– On April 25, Ibadan zonal office of the EFCC arrested 32 Yahoo Boys. Items recovered from them include six exotic cars, laptops, mobile phones, several documents containing false pretences and fetish objects.

– On May 1, South-east Zonal Office of the EFCC arrested 37 suspects in Owerri, the Imo State capital. The arrest followed a raid on some targeted residences in Okwu Urata, Aladinma and Egbu areas. Items including 25 exotic cars of different brands such as Mercedez-Benz, Lexus, Toyota and expensive mobile phones and laptop computers were recovered.

18 Yahoo Yahoo boys arrested in Lagos

– On May 8, fifteen suspects between the ages of 18 and 30 were nabbed by the Port Harcourt Zonal Office of the EFCC in a late-evening raid on Blue Chip Hotels, Rumuigbo in Port Harcourt, Rivers State. Many laptop computers and phones were recovered from them.

– On May 17, The Abuja Zonal office of EFCC arrested ten suspects. 2 exotic cars 6 laptops, 10 smart phones and 1 international passport were recovered from them.

– On June 20, operatives of the Ibadan zonal office of EFCC arrested 31 suspects made up of 27 males and 4 females from their hideouts in Osogbo, the Osun State capital. Exotic cars of different brands, laptop computers and phones were also recovered from them.

Some of the cars seized from Yahoo Yahoo boys

– On July 10, thirty suspects aged between 18 and 27 were arrested when the Ibadan zonal office of EFCC raided some mansions in Ado-Ekiti, the Ekiti State capital. Eight exotic cars, laptops, mobile phones and several documents suspected to contain information used to access their victims were seized from them.

– On Sept.3, the Benin Zonal Office of the EFCC said it arrested no fewer than 133 internet fraud suspects in eight months through its ‘Operation Re-wire’. The biggest of the arrested suspects was a woman, who allegedly worked in collaboration with foreign counterparts. She was said to have amassed a princely N656million through the illicit trade. Her arrest was made possible with the collaboration of FBI.

– On Sept. 9, Operatives of the EFCC Abuja and Ilorin Zonal Offices arrested 13 suspects in separate operations. As usual, exotic cars and other items were recovered.

– On Sept. 26 and 27, the EFCC arrested no fewer than 53 suspects in Lagos, Abuja and Enugu. Cars of different brands, laptop computers, phones and charms were recovered from them.

– On 14 October, a staggering figure of 94 suspects were arrested when operatives of the Ibadan zonal office of EFCC raided a night club notorious for hosting parties for suspected internet fraudsters in Osogbo. 19 exotic cars, laptops, scores of sophisticated mobile phones and other items were recovered from them.

– On Friday, Nov. 15, seven yahoo boys were sentenced to various jail terms by Justice Ibrahim Buba of the Federal High Court Enugu, Southeastern Nigeria.

– On December 4, again the Ibadan zonal office of EFCC raided a Lagos hotel believed to be a hideout for internet fraudsters and arrested a suspected internet fraud kingpin, Rasaq Balogun, and 26 others. Balogun’s illicit activities dominated intelligence gathered from previously arrested ‘police spies’ during a raid on their Abeokuta base. According to findings, Balogun harboured an army of young men recruited to carry out financial frauds through the use of internet.

4. Shiite Protest: On Monday July 22, a protest by members of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN) otherwise known as Shiite in the Nigeria’s capital of Abuja turned violent when the demonstrators clashed with security agents. Government vehicles including those owned by the emergency management agency were burnt by the aggrieved protesters. Many lives both of the Shi’ites, police officers and a young reporter undergoing the mandatory one year service under the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) scheme, Precious Owolabi, were lost. Among the police officers who lost their lives in the violence was a deputy commissioner of police. It was alleged that the group threw petrol bombs as part of the protest. As a result, on the following Tuesday, the Inspector-General of Police (I-G), Mohammed Adamu ordered 24-hour surveillance on the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) and its environs.

Ibrahim El-Zakzaky: leader of the Shiites still in detention

The Monday incident followed a similar protest two weeks before when two Shiites were killed and two police officers injured at the National Assembly complex in Abuja. The Shiites were demanding release of their leader, Ibraheem El-Zakzaky, and his wife, Zeenah, who have been in detention since their arrest by Nigerian soldiers for alleged murder in December 2015. During the arrest, his house was raided by soldiers and hundreds of his followers, including three of his sons were killed.

Shiites on the March in Abuja

5. Obinwanne Okeke: The most shocking of the cases of internet frauds was that of the 32-year old billionaire Obinwanne Okeke, Chairman, Invictus Group, who prior to his arrest by the FBI, had been celebrated by the world as a role model to African youths. He made the cover of Forbes Africa magazine in 2016 and was listed as one of Africa’s Under 30s Most Promising Entrepreneurs. In December 2018, he was a guest speaker at TEDxYaba 2018, speaking on “the DNA of the Nigerian entrepreneur”. His recommendation was considered very inspiring even to the most laid-back youth. Hear him: “The success of a business is largely dependent on you as the owner. If there is any part of you that appears to be a limitation, don’t let it hold you back. Take deliberate steps to develop yourself to match your weakness, growth is continuous. Associate with people that will inspire you and are ready to support you. Develop these traits in the right proportion. Don’t be afraid to fail, be afraid not to try. Go for it. Start Something Today!”

Obinwanne Okeke: the young billionaire fraudster

Therefore, it was an embarrassed world that received the shocking news on August 16 of his arrest by the FBI. He was discovered to have fleeced companies in US and UK of hundreds of millions of dollars through wire frauds.

Obinwanne Okeke on Forbes Africa cover in 2016: everyone fails to pick the red flags

6. Xenophobic attacks: The world was jolted in September when xenophobic attacks erupted again in South Africa with many nationals of African countries like Nigeria, Zambia, Gambia, etc lynched and their properties and businesses destroyed. The outraged world roundly condemned the acts of bestiality visited by South Africans on their fellow Africans. The unabated attacks on foreigners most of whom were Nigerians led to reprisal attacks on South African businesses in Nigeria. Such investments as the popular supermarket, Shoprite and the communication giant MTN Nigeria closed shop for days during the disturbance. Nigeria evacuated its stranded nationals from the hot land with assistance of Air peace Airline. It took strong messages and actions from notable leaders in the world and visit by Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari for the madness to stop. South African President Cyril Ramaphosa apologized to Nigeria.

Xenophobic: South Africans on the rampage

7. ‘#RevolutionNow’ and Sowore’s arrest: Omoyele Sowore, activist, presidential candidate of the African Action Congress (AAC) in the 2019 election and publisher of Shahara Reporters, an online news publication known for its investigative activities, was arrested along with a colleague, Olawale Bakare, on August 3 ahead of a planned nationwide protest tagged #RevolutionNow and charged with conspiracy to commit treason. Sowore had previously led a demonstration where he called for a revolution in the country. The video clip of the protest and his address went viral. The drama of his arrest; the granting of a bail with very stiff conditions; and the disobedience to court order by government months after meeting his bail conditions brought public opprobrium both from home and abroad on the Buhari administration. The outcry, especially from the international community, pressured the government to toe the line of reasoning by ordering his release from detention. He was therefore released on December 24, 2019 alongside former National Security Adviser, Retired Colonel Sambo Dasuki who had been in detention since December 2015 over an alleged laundering of $2.1billion money meant for arms purchase during the administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan.

Dasuki, Sowore: released Dec. 4

8. Sex-for-grades: The menace was very rampant in 2019. Very many cases were recorded in the year. The biggest incident being an undercover investigation carried out, for more than a year, by the BBC on some randy university lecturers in Nigeria and Ghana. Its video, at conclusion of the investigation, was released on the BBC Africa Eye on Monday October 7. The video revealed a senior lecturer known as Dr Boniface Igbeneghu from the faculty of Arts, a former sub – dean in the University of Lagos (UNILAG) and the head of a local Foursquare Gospel Church harassing a female student sexually, promising good grades in return. Boniface was caught on camera telling his victim to ”Switch off the light, lock the door and I’ll kiss you for one minute”.

DR Boniface Igbeneghu: ASUU member accused of sex-for-grade

Several students had alleged that they had been harassed by Dr Boniface, which made BBC send an undercover journalist to him, posing as a 17-year old secondary school graduate seeking admission, a trick he fell flat for. The University of Lagos (UNILAG) and Foursquare Gospel Church subsequently suspended him. Another lecturer of the university caught in the documentary was Samuel Oladipo, a lecturer in the department of economics. He was also suspended.

Taiwo Oloyede, Principal Assistant Registrar, communication unit of UNILAG on Wednesday 9 October confirmed that the university’s panel headed by Ayodele Atsenuwa, a professor and dean of the faculty of law, had suspended the two randy lecturers. The University of Ghana also suspended two of its own indicted by the famous documentary. The two lecturers are Professor Ransford Gyampo and Dr Paul Kwame Butakor.

Again on Wednesday November 13, Vice Chancellor of the Ignatius Ajuru University of Education, Port Harcourt, Prof. Ozo-Mekuri Ndimele, disclosed that a lecturer had been dismissed, while 10 others were suspended over the allegation of demanding cash or sex for grades from desperate students in the university. He made the disclosure when the Rivers State House of Assembly committee on Education led by Christian Ahiakwo visited the institution as part oversight function. These incessant cases have led the National Assembly to propose an Anti-Sexual Harassment Bill aimed at deterring and punishing offenders. The bill sponsored by Deputy Senate President Ovie Omo-Agege seeks to jail a lecturer for up to two years if he or she winks at or touches a student in an inappropriate way. In the case of sex with minors, even if the student consents to it or lures the lecturer into it, the lecturer is liable.

Hajiya Sadiya Umar Farouq: the woman President Buhari was rumoured to have chosen as second wife

9. President Buhari’s phantom marriage: On October 11, the news spread across the length and breadth of Nigeria like wild fire in harmattan that the Nigeria’s number one citizen who was less than 4 years away from age 80 had decided to marry one of his younger ministers, Sadiya Farouq, as second wife. A wedding invitation card with photograph of the President and that of the 45-year old Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management & Social Development standing by each other accompanied the fake news published by some mischief makers on social media. Absence of immediate denial from both the number one family and the concerned woman helped to keep flame the rumour blazing across the country. It took days before Nigerians realize it was a hoax.

Anthony Joshua: A pride of Nigeria

10. Anthony Joshua: On Saturday December 7 the Nigerian-born British boxer Anthony Oluwafemi Olaseni Joshua ended major events of 2019 on a happy note for Nigeria when he became a two-time world heavyweight champion following his victory over the Mexican-American Andy Ruiz Jr in a tense rematch in Diriyah, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. He had lost the belt to Ruiz in June. He outclassed Ruiz to score a unanimous points victory to regain his IBF, WBA and WBO titles in emphatic fashion. He dominated the match from the onset. Dubbed the “Clash on the Dunes”, the eagerly anticipated rematch marked the first time a world heavyweight title fight has ever been staged in Saudi Arabia. It was clearly a classic win.

The 2012 Olympic champion revealed he had adapted his style after June’s loss to Ruiz for the first time in his career. It was a moment of excitement for all Nigerians both at home and abroad with President Muhammadu Buhari leading the pack of notable figures who showered encomiums on the awesome pugilist. Joshua is a British boxer with Nigerian roots. His both parents are from Ogun State, Southwest Nigeria. He visited Nigeria in July and spent weeks before returning to the UK. He was born on 15 October 1989, and has, since the sweet victory, been ranked as the world’s best active heavyweight by BoxRec.

Published in Politics
Tuesday, 31 December 2019 04:20

CHIQUEMAGAZINE.COM: The Top 10 Movies Of 2019

I saw a lot of movies this past year. This isn’t exactly abnormal, as I see a lot of movies every year (it’s quite literally my job), but 2019 was significant in that I watched more new releases than ever before. From January until now, I watched 157 samples of what ultra-modern cinema has to offer, and, as you would expect, it was often a roller coaster in terms of quality. But while some of what I witnessed was downright abysmal, there were more than a few opportunities for me to affirm my absolute love for film.

When a say “more than a few,” I definitely mean more than 10, which made crafting this list an incredible challenge (note: I probably write this every year, but I repeat it because it’s constantly true). I only finally settled on the order last night, and I even still may wind up flipping some stuff around as I write and my deeper thoughts about a particular title are brought to the surface. There was a tremendous amount of material to appreciate for someone with my particular taste in 2019, and ranking the abstract feeling that I get from great film was never going to be easy.

It’s rough not having room here to fully dive into my appreciation for Martin Scorsese’s The Irishman, James Gray’s Ad Astra, Craig Brewer’s Dolemite Is My Name, Riley Stearns’ The Art Of Self Defense, Rian Johnson’s Knives Out, Olivia Wilde’s Booksmart, and Trey Edward Shults’ Waves, but these are the best and my most favorite movies of 2019.

10. In Fabric

Not everyone is going to be on-board with Peter Strickland’s In Fabric. It is a very specific kind of genre film with a very specific sensibility, and not everyone is going to respond to the material. That being said, I very much am part of the audience that this film is trying to reach, and in that effort it did tremendously well. These kinds of strange, stylistic throwbacks don’t come around all that often, but here we have an awesome one that is slick, silly, and creepy.

You can’t really take a film about a haunted dress all that seriously, but that’s something that In Fabric bizarrely recognizes as it simultaneously makes you both giggle and jump out of your seat. It’s a fully committed giallo film, accented with flashy colors, pulpy characters, and a dash of the supernatural, but also comes at those details with a modern mindset – allowing them to play both as originally intended, and also with a slight smile. It’s a joy, and a sensory delight.

9. Ready Or Not

While I laughed a lot watching some great comedies this year (some still to come on this list), there were few movies I had as much fun with as Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett’s enchanting horror adventure Ready Or Not. All the way through it is sparkling with imagination, as its truly original tale plays out with fantastic twists and turns along the way.

It features an ensemble full of scene-stealers, with Melanie Scrofano as coked-up Emilie and Adam Brody as the brooding, torn Daniel leading the supporting cast, but Samara Weaving is the true breakthrough star as the extraordinarily badass Grace. By the end of the film, as she is covered in blood wearing her shredded wedding dress and yellow Converse All-Stars, she has all the makings of a horror franchise star, haunted and tormented by the devilish Mr. Le Bail. Hopefully the cinema gods will deliver on that front, but for now we have an instant comedy horror classic that I can’t wait to enjoy again and again for many years to come.

8. Doctor Sleep

By the time I was sitting in a theater waiting for the lights to go down and Mike Flanagan’s Doctor Sleep to start playing, I was ready to burst with anticipation. Flanagan is a filmmaker who has fascinated me for many years now, and I love the Stephen King novel – though simultaneously I fully recognized the immense challenge of both reworking the book into movie form, and operating as a sequel to one of my all-time favorite horror films: Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining.

I left my screening blissful, and even having seen the movie again since I still can’t believe how remarkable it is. All of the changes that are made from the source material – both those necessary because of The Shiningand otherwise – vastly improve the story, and on top of getting a satisfying conclusion for Dan Torrance, we also get to meet what is now one of the all-great big screen Stephen King villains in Rebecca Ferguson’s Rose The Hat. A fan couldn’t ask for a better adaptation than this one… and the fact that we’re getting a Director’s Cut is icing on the absolutely delicious cake.

7. Parasite

When the first trailer for Bong Joon-ho’s Parasite dropped earlier this year, I clicked play in response to the massive wave of buzz the movies received following its premiere at the Cannes Film Festival… but then quickly stopped it about 20 seconds in. I was already excited for the film simply because of the writer/director’s past work, and was satisfied just getting a taste of what his next movie was promising to deliver – excited to just wait and take in the whole experience while in the theater. It’s a move I’m grateful I made, because few titles this year so wonderfully unfold as this one, packing in shock after shock.

As soon as you get comfortable with Parasite being one thing, it becomes something else, and the way in which it builds on both its narrative and satire is satisfying and eye-opening. It tackles universal subject matter in both ingenious and intense ways, creating a particular balance in tone that never lets you know which way things are going to turn next. It’s a perfect film for our current moment in history, and Bong Joon-ho’s greatest movie to date.

6. Midsommar

Ari Aster’s Hereditary fell just short of making my Top 10 list for 2018, but make no mistake: I was instantly convinced of the writer/director’s immense talent. His sophomore effort arriving just a year later, Midsommar had my curiosity as soon as I learned about its premise – though a big part of what I love about it is how it totally belies what you expect from its plot. While it certainly has the hints of The Wicker Manthat you anticipate, as well as moments of pure, terrible dread, at its heart the movie is really a dark comedy about a break-up, and is frequently as funny and weird as it is brutal and horrific.

Florence Pugh had an incredible year in 2019, also delivering excellence in Greta Gerwig’s Little Women and Stephen Merchant’s Fighting With My Family, but it’s with the extreme emotions required to bring Dani to life that she demonstrates just how special she is. Astor’s script puts the character through an odd and special hell that is perfectly accentuated by Jack Reynor as the asshole boyfriend Christian, and it’s all given a surreal feeling courtesy of the constantly-present sun. The level of detail is outstanding (only rivaled by Jordan Peele’s Us this year), and every rewatch is guaranteed to reveal new layers that were imperceptible on the first go-round.

5. Avengers: Endgame

The incredible feat accomplished by Joe and Anthony Russo’s Avengers: Endgame this year is only accentuated by the controversy and mixed response to both the final season of Game of Thrones and Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker. As demonstrated by the failings of those two projects, it’s tremendously hard to craft a capstone for a complex, years-long, beloved story, and yet the conclusion of what has been dubbed the Infinity Saga is both epic and completely satisfying, ultimately doing absolutely everything it needs to do.

There was no film that I thought more about in the first half of this year, wondering how the Marvel Cinematic Universe would bounce back after Thanos’ horrific snap, and I was ecstatic to experience a blockbuster with an entirely new tone compared to Avengers: Infinity War, and endlessly smart and clever applications of its impressive roster of heroes. It’s an impeccable goodbye to many of the characters I’ve loved watching on the big screen in the last decade, and an exciting demonstration that Marvel can not only still surprise an audience, but will continue to do so for many years to come.

4. Jojo Rabbit

Taika Waititi’s Jojo Rabbit is a film that dances on the head of a pin. There is obviously not a lot to laugh about in regards to the events of World War II and fascism’s rise in Germany, and yet Waititi uses it as a background for the funniest movie of 2019. It’s stunning to watch the film do its balancing act, able to make you laugh out loud and then put you on the precipice of crying, and it says everything about how far the writer/director has come as a filmmaker.

Looking back on his filmography, Taika Waititi has been changing things up tonally from the start of his career behind the camera, but Jojo Rabbitis his best crafted work to date, and his sharpest. It’s sweet and beautiful, with Scarlett Johansson delivering a delightful performance unlike anything we’ve seen from her, and poignant and emotional – taking full advantage of its loaded setting. I admire it as much as I enjoy it, and that has stayed true through multiple viewings.

3. The Lighthouse

I enjoy splashy visual effects and sweeping, epic stories as much as anyone, but my demands for drama are actually very simple. Regardless of genre, I can be completely satisfied watching two characters relate to each other as they are locked in a location together for an extended period of time. Of course, it helps if one of them is a shady figure with a mysterious past, and the other is actively trying to drive the other one insane. In other words, Robert Eggers’ The Lighthouse is a film perfectly tailored to my tastes, and one that I absolutely love.

Following The Witch, Eggers is quickly proving himself as a stylistically fascinating filmmaker, as we dive into a whole new era with this story, and it manages to feel both entirely authentic and fantastically heightened. It’s both gritty and gross, and weirdly hilarious at times, with Willem Dafoe delivering one of the most amazing performances of the year and of his career as the grizzled Ephraim Winslow. It’s a movie that can be thoroughly enjoyed thanks to its head-spinning decent into madness tale, and also endlessly dissected for all of its ambiguous meanings and conclusions.

2. Once Upon A Time In Hollywood

Quentin Tarantino is the filmmaker who truly inspired my deep love of film when I was younger – so every new release of his comes with a special level of anticipation unlike anything I experience for any other kind movie. I’m always prepared to be amazed, but also remarkably vulnerable to be disappointed. Obviously at this point you’ve already figured out which of those two emotional responses I had to Once Upon A Time In Hollywood.

The film is inarguably the most ambling in terms of narrative that Tarantino has ever produced, however, it’s able to pull off that looser feeling with some of his most finely tuned and engaging characters – all of whom are brought to life with turns that deeply remind us of just how incredible the performers can be. It’s an experience that makes you want to step through the screen and into its world, and while the third act is easily one of the most exciting of the filmmaker’s career (high praise given the existence of both Inglourious Basterds and Kill Bill), there’s also a special sadness that comes part and parcel with it as a result of knowing that the end credits are coming and the lights will soon be back on.

1. Uncut Gems

A bizarre thing happened to me a few weeks ago when I watched Josh and Bennie Safdie’s Uncut Gems for the first time. Every part of me recognized that Adam Sandler’s protagonist, Howard Ratner, is a true blue scumbag, willing to flush his entire life away on a big enough gamble… and yet I unconsciously found myself literally pumping my fist and silently celebrating with the character every time a significant shot was sunk in the basketball game around which the entire third act hinges. Looking at my hand, and understanding my desire to pair the gesture with an out-loud cheer, I realized I was watching what I would ultimately call my favorite film of 2019.

The genuine feeling of rip-your-hair-out panic that Uncut Gems is able to generate is otherworldly, as Howard stacks gamble on top of gamble, never once recognizing that one thing going wrong will destroy everything. It’s strange to think that a movie could have that kind of effect, but it’s a credit to both the atmosphere that the Safdie brothers are able to generate, and the brilliant performances from the whole cast. It’s a cinematic experience that should give away dental guards with each ticket sold, but even without it’s worth the damage done grinding your teeth.

So those are my Top 10 movies of 2019… what are yours? Tell us how many films you’ve seen this year and how you would rank your favorites in the comments section below.

Published in Arts & Culture

Poppy has announced that she has parted ways with creative partner Titanic Sinclair.

The 24-year-old singer posted a letter on her social media accounts detailing her past relationship with the producer. “I grappled with the thought of making this statement but I decided to do this to set the record straight,” Poppy’s statement begins, before saying that their professional breakup was a “long time coming.”

“The reason I am making this statement is due to the amount of misinformation online about me and my character and I owe it to myself to clear a few things up,” she adds.

The post continues: “I met this person at a young age and things were seemingly good for a while until echoes from his past were too loud to ignore.

“I was never ‘an accomplice’ to this person’s past actions like some believe – I was a person who suffered similar wrong doings as one of his former partners brought to light.”

Poppy then claimed that he “glamorizes suicide” and has used it in the past to manipulate her. “As a grab for attention he messaged fans before he tried hanging himself while I was on tour with an item that belonged to me,” she writes, before adding that he has recently used her former friends “as his next experiment repeating manipulative patterns he has for years.”

“I was trapped in a mess that I needed to dig my way out of – and like I always do, I figured out how to handle it,” she adds.

Read Poppy’s full statement below:

Posted by Poppy on Saturday, December 28, 2019

The news comes almost a year after the pair settled a lawsuit with fellow musician Mars Argo, who accused Sinclair of replicating her “Mars Argo” identity and music to create Poppy.

Last year also saw a feud erupt after Poppy accused Grimes of ‘bullying‘ over the release of their collaboration ‘Play Destroy’. Grimes later denied the accusations, claiming that she was forced into a “disgusting situation”.

Meanwhile, Poppy will embark on a mega 36-date 2020 world tour in support of her upcoming new album ‘I Disagree’.

Starting in San Francisco on January 22 and ending in Madrid on March 30, the ‘I Disagree’ tour will make stops in Manchester (March 12), Glasgow (March 13), Birmingham (March 14) and London (March 15).

Published in Entertainment

Liverpool are presenting themselves as an ideal example of how a club should be run, both on and off the pitch.

With 18 wins and a draw out of 19 Premier League games, the Reds have already created such a big gap with the other rivals that talks of landing the league title for the first time in 30 years don’t look premature anymore.

Off the pitch, while mega-rich Premier League clubs like Chelsea and Manchester United are reportedly ready to spend £120 million on Jadon Sancho, Liverpool quietly secured a bargain signing in the form of Takumi Minamino, with the Reds paying only £7.25 million for the versatile Japanese playmaker.

The Reds are still looking to bolster their attacking department, and have reportedly earmarked Lille striker Victor Osimhen in the January transfer window.

According to reports from the Sunday Express, Jurgen Klopp is keen to land the Nigerian international who has been in outstanding form for the Ligue 1 club this season.

The 21-year-old has already scored 10 Ligue 1 goals in 2019-20 and is a key player for the French outfit. Lille are reluctant to sell their prized asset who is also attracting interest from the likes of Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur.

The highly-rated young forward signed a five-year deal at the club in August, and therefore Lille are expected to demand a high transfer fee.

Liverpool do have Roberto Firmino and Divock Origi as the two main strikers at the club, and it remains to be seen whether the Reds make any concrete offer for Osimhen next month.

Published in News & Stories

Super agent Mino Raiola this afternoon opened up on Erling Braut Haaland’s decision to reject a transfer to Manchester United, in favour of joining Borussia Dortmund.

Dortmund beat out the competition

The big transfer news across the European media yesterday came in the form of RB Salzburg sensation Haaland finding a new club.

In something of a bolt from the blue, it was announced that German giants Borussia Dortmund had won the race for the in-demand teen.

Haaland put pen-to-paper on a 4-and-a-half-year deal at the Westfalenstadion, and will join up with his new teammates imminently.

‘Not the right step’

Dortmund’s signing of Haaland has since been widely-praised, with the teen’s sensational goalscoring form to this point in the campaign having inevitably alerted a host of European heavyweights to his talents.

Incredibly, Haaland has notched 28 goals and 7 assists across just 22 appearances in all competitions this season.

Chief among the clubs touted as a potential destination for the striker up until yesterday’s bombshell, meanwhile, were Manchester United.

The Red Devils were even said to have placed Haaland atop the club’s January transfer wishlist.

As such, speaking in an interview with the Telegraph on the back of his client’s Dortmund switch being made official, the oft-controversial Mino Raiola was inevitably drawn on Haaland’s decision to opt against a move to Old Trafford.

And Raiola went on to suggest that it is simply not the right time in the young hitman’s career to join a club like Manchester United:

‘The club that he had the most direct contact with him was United.’

‘They spoke to him the most. Everybody had the chance to talk to him in person. We let that happen especially when he knows Ole.’

‘Clearly he felt that at this moment it was not the right step in his career. There is nothing against Manchester United or Ole.’

‘He chose Borussia Dortmund ahead of them and other clubs and I’m very happy because he is going to the club he wanted to go to and that is best for him right now.’

‘If he wanted to go to Manchester United I would have been obliged to take him to Manchester United, but he did not.’

‘When you are 19 then maybe you prefer not to go to the Premier League. The offer from Manchester United was good.’

‘It was not about the economics. It is just the player chose Borussia Dortmund at this stage of his career.’

Published in News & Stories

Sitting eighth in the Premier League, and four points adrift of fourth-placed Chelsea, the transfer window once again is likely to take the centre stage for Manchester United.

Ole Gunnar Solkjaer has reportedly come up with a list of five attacking targets for the January window as the Red Devils boss is looking to bolster the squad.

Red Bull Salzburg hitman Erling Braut Haaland is top of the priority list while Everton winger Richarlison is also being targeted.

According to reports from the Mirror, Solkjaer could be left frustrated in his attempt to lure Richarlison to Old Trafford. Carlo Ancelotti, the new Toffees boss, sees the £70million-rated Richarlison as central to his plans for the club, and will have the final say on transfer dealings.

Since switching to Merseyside on a big-money transfer from Watford, Richarlison has established himself as an important player for his club and country.

The Brazilian started off as a wide left-winger but has showcased his versatility while playing as a centre forward as well. The 22-year-old has scored six goals and provided two assists for the Toffees in the Premier League so far.

Ancelotti asserted that taking Everton to the Champions League is the long-term goal and objective, and certainly, it won’t be achieved by selling his key players. Thereby, it is unlikely that United would be able to land Richarlison in January and only crazy money can soften Everton’s stance on the Brazilian.

Everton began their new era under Ancelotti with a hard-fought win against Burnley in their previous game. The Toffees will face Newcastle United next at St James’ Park on Saturday in the Premier League.

Published in Sports

The UK and US considered a navy-backed oil embargo against Nigeria, following the 1995 execution of writer and activist Ken Saro-Wiwa, a document released by the UK government reveals.

Saro-Wiwa and eight other campaigners from the Ogoni ethnic group were hanged on 10 November 1995.

They had been found guilty by a secret military tribunal of the murder of four Ogoni chiefs by a mob.

The nine denied the charge and said they had been framed.

Saro-Wiwa led mass protests against oil pollution in Nigeria's Ogoniland.

The protests were seen as a major threat to Nigeria's military ruler at the time, Gen Sani Abacha, and Anglo-Dutch oil giant Shell.

The executions led to Nigeria suspension from the Commonwealth.

The UK's then Prime Minister, John Major, called it a "fraudulent trial" and described the executions as "judicial murder".

Notes of a meeting between Mr Major and US President Bill Clinton, nearly three weeks after the executions, show the steps the leaders contemplated to isolate Nigeria.

The two men met while Mr Clinton was on a visit to the UK.

Human rights activists with black masks and hangman's nooses around their neck demonstrated 10 November,outside Shell India's headquaters in South BombayImage copyrightGETTY IMAGES
Image captionThe hangings caused caused global outrage

According to the notes, the UK believed that an oil embargo would "only be effective" if done through the UN Security Council and "could only be made to work by a naval blockade".

Such steps would result in "wrecking Nigeria's economy" as it was heavily reliant on oil exports.

'Sycophants surround Abacha'

Mr Clinton agreed, but said the US would only implement an embargo if "all other parties" were willing to do so, pointing out that sanctions would be vetoed by China if brought before the UN Security Council.

There had been pleas from across the world for Nigeria's military leader at the time, Sani Abacha, to exercise clemency, but Western governments had struggled to reach the leader.

Mr Clinton's special envoy to Nigeria, Donald T McHenry, had been unable to see Abacha and concluded that he was "almost wholly insulated from the outside world" and "information was filtered by sycophants: they had no idea of genuine opinion within Nigeria or internationally".

Media captionPM John Major: The executions were judicial murder

The hanging of the Ogoni campaigners took place just as Commonwealth heads of state were meeting in New Zealand for their biennial gathering.

The UK issued a statement condemning the executions, but it was South African President Nelson Mandela who led the international criticism.

He called for Nigeria to be suspended from the Commonwealth "at once" and that the suspension should not be lifted until the country had shown "much quicker" progress in returning from military to civilian rule. All political prisoners should be released, he argued.

In this, Mandela was backed by his Zimbabwean counterpart Robert Mugabe and Kenya's Daniel arap Moi, but the suggestion was criticised by a number of other African leaders, including Ghana's President Jerry Rawlings.

Mandela outspoken

The Commonwealth went ahead with the suspension, but Mandela was determined that the measures should not end there.

He continued his international engagement, making phone calls to Mr Clinton and keeping in touch with Mr Major by phone after the Commonwealth summit ended.

In demanding strong action Mandela appeared to have been isolated from the rest of his government.

Newspaper reports at the time indicate that then Deputy President Thabo Mbeki and the Deputy Foreign Minister, Aziz Pahad, had been reluctant to pursue sanctions against Nigeria.

Ken Wiwa, son of condemned Ogoni human rights activist Ken Saro-WiwaImage copyrightGETTY IMAGES
Image captionKen Saro-Wiwa's son, Ken Wiwa, appealed to the Commonwealth to take action after his father's execution
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The UK, together with the European Union (EU), took a number of steps.

Ambassadors to Nigeria were recalled, military training and aid were suspended and an EU-wide arms embargo was instituted.

While Mr Major was willing to consider wider economic sanctions, he was unwilling to do so alone.

The UK accounted for just 1% of Nigeria's oil exports, while the US took 40%.

As a result, Mr Major told Mr Clinton, "we were not well placed to press for [sanctions]".

The UK also had a good deal to lose if Nigeria retaliated.

Pressure from Shell

There was a considerable British expatriate community in Nigeria and UK investments in the country totalled between $3.9bn and $6.5bn (£3bn and £5bn).

This included Shell, which extracted half of the country's oil and was contemplating building a major natural gas project.

The Shell chairman at the time, Cornelius Herkströter, wrote to Mr Major at the height of the controversy, pointing out just how important these investments were.

He argued that the gas liquefaction plant would "make a major contribution to environmental improvement in the region" since it would reduce the need for the flaring of gas.

In the end, the problem of getting UN Security Council approval for an oil embargo appeared to have blocked progress on wider sanctions.

Nigeria was only re-admitted to the Commonwealth in May 1999, on the day on which the country's new civilian government assumed power - ending three-and-a-half years of isolation.

Published in Business and Economy

Will former Attorney-General and Minister of Justice Mohammed Adoke be granted bail from the Custody of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC)?

Justice O. A Musa of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) High Court will on Tuesday hear Adoke’s application for bail. The EFCC is opposed to the application.

The ex-minister is being investigated with other suspects, over the $1.09billion Malabu Oil Block (OPL 245) deal.

Adoke, on December 23, filed the bail application on account of ill-health.

He urged the court to grant him bail on self-recognizance having voluntarily returned to the country from, the United Arab Emirate(UAE) Dubai.

He frontloaded his medical records as exhibits to guide the court’s decision.

But the EFCC said mere allegations of ill-health will not be a sufficient justification for admitting him to bail.

It said Adoke had not exhibited any sign of ill-health that should warrant the EFCC to transfer him to a well-equipped government hospital.

The anti-graft agency said some of the exhibits tendered by Adoke were received on December 23, after the EFCC had obtained a remand warrant from the court.

The EFCC alleged that Adoke might jump bail and escape in addition to the likelihood of interference with witnesses the EFCC might wish to contact.

The EFCC on December 20 secured an order from an FCT High Court to keep Adoke in custody for 14 days, which will expire on January 2, 2020.

The ex-minister sought a declaration that his prosecution by the EFCC on account of his carrying out the lawful directives and the implementation of the approvals of the President while he served as the minister of the Government of the Federation is illegal, null and void and inconsistent with the intendment of Section 5(1) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 as amended.”

He asked the court to restrain the EFCC from further investigating him on the $1.06 billion Malabu Oil Block (OPL 245).

He also pleaded with the court, through his counsel, Chief Mike Ozekhome (SAN), for bail on health grounds.

Ozekhome, in the Motion on Notice, made the following points:

“That the applicant was a former attorney-general of the Federation and minister of Justice of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, from 6th April, 2010 to 29th April, 2015.

“That he has his family and business resident and situate here in Nigeria.

“That the applicant had actually left Nigeria voluntarily before May, 2015, not because the 2nd Respondent wanted him, but to pursue a master’s degree (LL.M) in Public International Law, in the Netherlands.

“That the applicant returned voluntarily to Nigeria vide Emirates Airline, after his initial arrest by the Interpol/UAE authorities which later released him as shown in his attached ticket which he voluntarily purchased by himself, and has signed statement, instead of running from justice to other places.

“That the applicant has complicated health issues which necessitated his journey to Dubai, UAE, for treatment, from where he was illegally arrested and detained in the UAE/Dubai facilities.

“That the applicant is presumed innocent under section 36 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999, as altered, until proven guilty.

“That the charge against the applicant has not been served on the applicant till date, contrary to the order made by Hon. Justice D. Z. Senchi, on 25th October, 2019.

“That a letter written by the court the Hon. Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Mr Abubakar Malami, dated 20th September, 2017, and addressed to the Acting Chairman of the Complainant/Respondent (EFCC), had also clearly exonerated the Applicant from any criminal liability in the Malabu Oil and Gas cases.

“That the applicant’s warrant of arrest upon which his arrest and detention in Dubai was anchored, had been set aside in a well- considered judgment delivered on the 25th October, 2019, by Hon. Justice D. Z. Senchi of the FCT High Court, Abuja, who had issued the earlier warrant of arrest in April, 2019.

“That the applicant has no previous criminal record against him.

“That the applicant will not flee from justice, or attempt to influence, interfere with or intimidate/witness, or the course of justice.

“That the applicant undertakes to attend trial on all days the charge comes up till final determination thereof.”

The written address of the EFCC’s four-man team is signed by Bala Sanga (a former Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice in Adamawa State, Aliyu Yusuf, Offem I. Uket and M.S. Abubakar.

The EFCC lawyers said: “The court in Ofolue v F. R. N. (Supra) held that an applicant must present a convincing medical report by an expert in the relevant field. And in addition, the applicant must show that the applicant or those holding him have no access to such medical facilities as are required in treating him.

”My Lord, we submit that the various illnesses listed in Exhibit 11 were diagnosed in 2018, and were appropriately treated.

“There is no evidence before the court to show the defendant/applicant has suffered a relapse from any of sicknesses again to entitle him to rely on ill-health as a ground for this application. Moreover, the cases cited on ill-health cannot avail him as exhibits 11 and 12 did not prove that the applicant is currently ill.

The anti-graft agency faulted Adoke for claiming to have returned to the country voluntarily on December 19, 2019.

The lawyers added: The EFCC said: “Finally, relevant paragraphs of our counter affidavit indicate that the defendant/Applicant was forced to return to Nigerian after his arrest and detention by INTERPOL in Dubai.

“So, it is not correct for the defendant/applicant to state that he voluntarily submitted himself for arrest by the police in paragraph 3.6 of his written address.

“Indeed, he was aware of the criminal charges filed against him before this Honourable court and the Federal High Court between 2016 and 2017, yet refused to return to Nigeria until he was arrested and detained in Dubai.

The EFCC said: “Concerning the gravity of the case my Lord, we have deposed to the fact that the Applicant is involved in not just the Malabo case but also the P&ID cases which involves a massive $9.6b financial implication against Nigeria. This is in addition to other matters like the Halliburton and CONTEC.

“We submit that the gravity of these matters and the resultant implication on Nigeria are serious and weighty enough for this Honourable Court to exercise its discretion against granting bail.”

”In conclusion, My Lord, it is our humble submission that the Defendants/ Applicants’ separate applications are unmeritorious and ought to be dismissed.

“We humbly urge your lordship to refuse same and order that the matter proceed to trial without delay in the spirit of section 19(2)(b) of the EFCC (establishment) Act, 2004 and section 397(3) of Administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015 as well as our readiness for a day-to-day trial. We are most grateful for the indulgence of the court.”

As at press time, it was gathered that there had been pressure on the Federal Government to admit Adoke to bail.

A top source said: “Some forces have been mounting pressure on those in government to admit Adoke to bail because it is very, very strange to put a former AGF on trial.

“Once you are an AGF and Minister of Justice, you are a custodian of sensitive security matters which he can never de-classified unless he is forced to under this circumstance.

“Those who know better are saying that since all Adoke is asking for his bail reprieve to stand trial, his rights should be protected.

“They are saying that Adoke’s trial might be a precedent for those who will leave office in 2023. And it appears some government officials are already buying the bail idea for Adoke.”

Published in Headliners

Nigeria’s government is reviving old habits from its authoritarian past to stifle criticism.

Evoking memories of Nigeria’s three decades of military rule, the repression risks undoing progress Africa’s top oil producer has made since the restoration of multiparty democracy in 1999. Governance and other reforms have helped more than double average annual foreign investment since then -- a pace President Muhammadu Buhari needs to sustain to help reduce the world’s largest number of people living in extreme poverty.

Known for disregarding human rights and introducing protectionist economic policies during his dictatorship from 1983 to 1985, Buhari won a popular vote in 2015 claiming to be a “converted democrat,” and was reelected in February. That assertion has been eroded by crackdowns on civil-society organizations, increasing arrests of journalists and planned laws to regulate social media.

The measures affect “the international community’s perception of our appreciation for democracy and the rule of law,” said Michael Famoroti, a partner at Lagos-based Stears Business. “Investors are less keen on venturing into regions that are considered to be within the grip of erratic strongmen.”

In his five years in office, Buhari has disobeyed at least 40 court orders, according to human-rights advocacy group Amnesty International. He’s also been accused of being too quick to resort to security crackdowns when faced with dissent.

Adversarial Media

Those inclinations clash with Nigeria’s traditionally adversarial media, which has responded with more criticism of the government. The Lagos-based Punchnewspaper declared on Dec. 11 it will no longer address Buhari as president, but by his military rank of major-general in recognition of the martial tendencies of his government.

Last week, Omoyele Sowore, a prominent critic of Buhari, was detained by intelligence agents, 24 hours after the secret police belatedly submitted to a court order to release him on bail. The publisher and former presidential candidate was first arrested in August, after calling for revolution, and charged with various crimes including treason.

There’ve been at least 61 cases of attacks or harassment of journalists in Nigeria this year, more than any year since 1985, according to a report published by the Lagos-based Premium Times newspaper last month. The authorities have failed to investigate the “indiscriminate arrest, detention and prosecution of journalists,” Amnesty International said in a report in October.

Human rights lawyer Amal Clooney and Amnesty International have leapt to Sowore’s defence, while the U.S. government said it’s “deeply concerned” about the consequences for the rule of law and media freedom in Nigeria. The presidency has described Sowore as an agitator committed to “fomenting mass civil unrest and the elected administration’s overthrow.”

Contract Risk

The detention of Sowore, despite a bail order, “doesn’t send a favorable signal to investors concerned about contract risk,” said Adedayo Ademuwagun, an analyst at Lagos-based Songhai Advisory LLP. “The more the government demonstrates that it doesn’t respect its own laws and legal institutions, the less faith investors will have in the system.”

In addition to the attacks on journalists, lawmakers are promoting new legislation opponents say will target detractors of Buhari’s government.

Two bills -- one designed to regulate “internet falsehoods,” the other to rein in “hate speech” -- are being scrutinized by the Senate. Under the former, individuals found guilty of creating or transmitting “false” information online face fines of up to 300,000 naira ($824) or three years in prison. An early version of the latter sought life imprisonment for anyone convicted of stirring up ethnic hatred and the death penalty if the offense causes loss of life.

“If these bills become law, we will see the political class and the security services move rapidly to use them to stifle dissent,” said Cheta Nwanze, head of research at Lagos-based SBM Intelligence. Legislation already on the statute books has been used to justify a recent raid on a leadingnewspaper as well as the imprisonment of journalists.

Such concerns are unfounded, according to Mohammed Sani Musa, the senator sponsoring the so-called “social media bill.” The law “is not an attempt to stifle free speech,” but a means of tackling “fake news,” which has led to deadly outbreaks of violence. While the government “is not against free speech,” leaving social media unregulated “could result in more lawlessness, violence and deaths,” the presidency said.

Published in Headliners
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