Ronald Koeman has been sacked as coach of Barcelona, the club announced on Wednesday, after defeat by Rayo Vallecano left the club ninth in La Liga.
Barca have won only two of their last seven league games under Koeman, a run that included losing to Real Madrid in Sunday’s Clasico at Camp Nou.
A poor start to the season has raised the possibility of the team failing to qualify for next season’s Champions League, which would have enormous consequences for the club’s already-dire financial situation.
Barcelona’s former midfielder Xavi Hernandez, who is currently in charge of Qatari club Al Sadd, and River Plate coach Marcel Gallardo are reportedly among those under consideration to take over.
A club statement released after midnight in Spain on Wednesday read: “FC Barcelona has dismissed Ronald Koeman as coach of the first team tonight.
“The president of the club, Joan Laporta, has informed him after the defeat against Rayo Vallecano. Ronald Koeman will say goodbye to the squad this Thursday at the Ciudad Deportiva.
“The FC Barcelona wants to thank him for his services and wishes him good luck in his career.”
A Lagos State High Court sitting at the Osborne area in Ikoyi has restrained all commercial banks in the country from releasing funds totalling N11.795 billion to Nigerian couple, Bamise and Elizabeth Ajetunmobi, who allegedly fled the country after duping investors of over N22 billion.
The court also granted an order restraining the couple and the companies linked to them, Imagine Global Holding Company Limited and Imagine Global Solutions Limited, from accessing funds totalling N11,795,090,000 in their accounts pending the hearing and determination of the suit against them.
Justice Toyin Oyekan-Abdullai granted an order of mareva injunction freezing the assets following an ex parte application filed on October 15 by the applicants through their counsel, Adetunji Adedoyin-Adeniyi.
A mareva injunction, also known as a freezing or asset protection order, is one granted to prevent a defendant from dealing with the assets, moving or dissipating them while legal proceedings are on.
The applicants are aggrieved Nigerians who heavily invested their funds in Imagine Global and according to court papers, the N11,795 billion is the outstanding investments and return on investments accruing to them from the defendants.
In the interim, the court also barred the banks from dealing in any manner whatsoever with any and all monies and/or whatsoever assets due to the defendants from any account whatsoever maintained by the couple, and all accounts with BVN: 22168443525 (linked to the third defendant – Bamise Ajetunmobi) and BVN:22141952749 (linked to the fourth defendant – Elizabeth Ajetunmobi), wherever situated up to the N11,795,090,000.
It further restrained the defendants from selling, transferring, assigning and/or dealing with the following properties: Apartment 7, Oakwood Residences; 23, Cooper Street, Ikoyi, Lagos; B4, Gate 3, Lafiaji Road, Victoria Crescent Estate; Olugborogon; Chevron; Lekki; Lagos, or any other properties in the name of the first, second, third, and fourth defendants, or that can be traced and located by applicants during the pendency of the suit.
The judge directed the banks to, within seven days, file and serve on the applicants’ counsel, an affidavit disclosing the balance contained in the defendants’ accounts.
The applicants, on their part, are to file an undertaking as to damage in case the order ought not to have been made by the court.
Justice Oyekan-Abdullahi, thereafter, adjourned the case till November 3.
The banks affected include Guaranty Trust Bank, Access Bank, Citi Bank Nigeria, Ecobank Nigeria, Fidelity Bank, First Bank, First City Monument Bank, and Globus Bank.
Others are Heritage Bank, Jaiz Bank, Keystone Bank, Polaris Bank, Providus Bank, Stanbic IBTC Bank, Standard Chartered Bank, Sterling Bank, Union Bank, United Bank For Africa, Unity Bank, Wema Bank, and Zenith Bank.
Jesus College, University of Cambridge has become the first institution in the world to return a Benin Bronze.
The Okukor statue was looted directly from the Court of Benin, as part of the punitive British expedition of 1897 and was given to the College in 1905 by the father of a student.
More than a hundred years later, the institution has finally handed over the elaborately carved cockerel known as ‘Okukor’ to a Nigerian delegation at a ceremony held on Wednesday.
Delegates from Nigeria and Benin nominated to receive the historic artefact included the brother of the Oba of Benin, Prince Aghatise Erediauwa; Director-General of the National Commission for Museums and Monuments of Nigeria, Professor Abba Tijani, and the Nigeria High Commissioner to the United Kingdom, Ambassador Sarafa Isola.
Highlights of the ceremony are captured in the pictures below:
The Lagos State government has raised an alarm over the possibility of a fourth wave of COVID-19 as the Yuletide approaches.
In a bid to tackle the re-emergence of the viral infection, the government launched a mass vaccination campaign aimed at vaccinating four million residents in Lagos before the end of the year.
The state governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, who launched the campaign on Wednesday at an event in Victoria Island said residents from 18 years and above were eligible to be fully immunised with the COVID-19 vaccine.
“There is potential for the fourth wave of COVID-19 as our borders would be opened to all people coming into Lagos in December,” he was quoted as saying in a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Gboyega Akosile.
“To prevent the catastrophic events we witnessed in the previous waves, the state has developed a robust vaccination drive, leveraging on both the strengths we have in the public and private sectors of our healthcare system.
“In the development of our strategy and counter-measures, we prioritise the protection of human lives and keeping our economy open for business. To mitigate against this potential damage that will further spread existing variants of COVID-19 in the state and accelerate efforts towards herd immunity, the need for a different strategy became a front-burner issue.
“This is what has culminated in the campaign, tagged ‘Count Me In! 4 million Lagosians Vaccinated Against COVID-19’ to target the full vaccination of four million Lagos residents before the end of December 2021. Once achieved, this will bring the state closer to reaching our promise to vaccinate 30 per cent of our population within one year.”
The accelerated vaccine rollout is being undertaken by the state government in collaboration with National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA).
‘Enough Vaccines In Storage’
Governor Sanwo-Olu believes the mass vaccination campaign would help bolster the State’s response to the emerging threat posed by the pandemic.
He said the joint committee set up by the state government and NPHCDA to oversee the implementation of the campaign would be opening vaccination sites in high traffic locations, as part of the strategies to expand vaccine access in underserved communities.
Mobile vans, the Governor added, would be deployed to move around boundary settlements in order to reach individuals in areas with limited access to health facilities.
According to him, Lagos has successfully vaccinated 800,000 residents with the first dose of Moderna vaccine and 310,000 persons fully vaccinated with the AstraZeneca vaccine since it started its vaccination programme in March.
This, he said, sums a total number of residents vaccinated with the first dose of either AstraZeneca or Moderna to 1.2 million, while raising the number of fully vaccinated individuals to 550,000, which accounts for about four per cent of the state’s population.
Governor Sanwo-Olu re-emphasised that the vaccines being administered were safe and remained free of charge in public health facilities.
He, however, explained that an administrative charge of N6,000 would be paid by individuals who wish to get the vaccines at approved private facilities.
The governor called on all stakeholders, including the local council chairmen to mobilise for participation in the programme and ensure the success of the campaign.
“We have set up COVID-19 vaccination in all our 205 public primary health centres, 14 of the state’s second and tertiary hospitals, and we are hoping that this partnership can be implemented in over 400 private health centres across seven underserved local government areas in the state,” he said.
“Let me re-emphasise that we are not compelling anyone to get vaccinated, but we want everyone to take it as personal responsibility, which is highly important. What we seek to achieve by this campaign is to ensure there is access to the vaccines and availability. Then, give people an opportunity to get vaccinated at centres close to them. This will give nobody a reason not to get the vaccines.”
In his remarks, NPHCDA Executive Director, Dr Shuaib Faisal, disclosed that only 2,950,232 Nigerians had been fully vaccinated.
According to him, this is a far cry from reaching the target number for herd immunity.
“We have enough vaccines in storage to give many people the opportunity to get vaccinated. We now have the jabs, but we now need the arms.”
The National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) will establish six standard rehabilitation centres as part of efforts to address the high number of persons suffering from drug addiction in the country, Mr Buba Marwa said on Wednesday.
Marwa, a retired brigadier general and Chairman/Chief Executive of NDLEA, revealed that the centres would be built in each of the geo-political zones of the country.
He disclosed this in Abuja at the 5th Biennial National Symposium on Drugs and Drug Policy in Nigeria, organised by the Centre for Research and Information on Substance Abuse (CRISA).
“Substance use and abuse around the world, including Nigeria is on the increase in terms of the proportion of the world’s population,” said Marwa who was the Special Guest of Honour at the symposium.
“Findings from the National Drug Use Survey (2018) conducted by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) revealed that 14.4% or 14.3 million Nigerians aged 15 – 64 years had used a psychoactive substance in the past year for non-medical purposes, meaning that one in seven persons have used some substances other than alcohol and tobacco.
“More worrisome is the finding that among every four drug users in Nigeria, one is a woman. The findings of the survey by UNODC give a troubling portrait of drug abuse in Nigeria and we can no longer live in denial that Nigeria has a thriving illicit drug culture.”
The NDLEA boss stated that as part of efforts to stem the tide, the agency has proposed the construction of six standard rehabilitation centres across the six geo-political zones in the country beginning from next year.
He explained that three of the centres would start next year, as already proposed in the 2022 budget.
“There is no doubt that substance use impacts negatively on the individual, family and the society in general,” Marwa said. “Substance abuse affects the physical, social, and psychological levels of the user and family members.
“Evidence has shown that COVID-19 infections are higher or more common with people diagnosed with Substance Use Disorders (SUDs), hence addiction care must be reinforced in order to avoid complications of SUD and COVID-19.
“Reducing the demand for illicit drugs in the society depends to a large extent on the successful treatment of existing drug users. This fact accounts for the shift in global drug policy viz the treatment of drug problems as a public health issue.
“Consequently, we have operationalised our standard practice and policy guidelines, a treatment and rehabilitation document developed in conjunction with UNODC. The document, like a field manual, provides synergy among our counsellors and further boosts our capability at treatment and rehabilitation.”
Other dignitaries who spoke at the event include the Chairman of the House Committee on Judiciary, Onofiok Luke; Executive Director of CRISA, Professor Isidore Obot; as wells representatives of the European Union, UNODC, and Prof Ibrahim Wakawa who delivered the keynote address.
The Federal Executive Council (FEC) has approved the reconstruction of 21 roads covering a total distance of 1,804.6 kilometres across the six geo-political zones.
These projects are to be undertaken by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) through the deployment of its own tax liabilities.
Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, announced the approval on Wednesday while briefing State House correspondents at the end of the FEC meeting held in Abuja.
In July, FEC approved the award of a contract to Dangote Industries for the construction of five roads totalling 274.9 kilometres at the cost of N309.9 billion, advanced by the company as tax credit.
“Earlier this year, there were five other roads – the Kaduna Western bypass, the Lekki Port road, the road from Shagamu through Papalanto, and a couple of others, and there is one road in Maiduguri. That was about N320 billion,” Fashola said.
“So today (Wednesday), we have another player. We have all the interested players who are still showing interest, but we haven’t concluded. We have another player who has shown interest and commitment to deploy taxes. It’s the government corporation known as NNPC.
“So, NNPC has identified 21 roads that it wants to deploy. Now, the instructive thing about this is that this initiative helps the government to achieve many things, including ministerial mandates three and four, which we discussed at the last retreat. ministerial mandates three and four, if you recall, was energy sufficiency, electric power and petroleum energy distribution across the country.
“Of course, petroleum energy distribution is being impacted positively and negatively, as the case may be the transport infrastructure which is the ministerial mandate four. NNPC has sought and the council has approved today that NNPC deploys tax resources to 21 roads, covering a total distance of 1,804.6 kilometres across the six geopolitical zones.
“Out of those 21 roads, nine are in North Central, particularly Niger state. The reason is that Niger State is a major storage centre for NNPC. NNPC is doing this to facilitate the total distribution across the country.”
Fashola gave an assurance that in the South-West, the Lagos-Badagry Expressway, the Agabara junction, Ibadan to Ilorin (Oyo-Ogbomoso section) will be fixed.
Three other roads are located in the North-East, two in the North-West, and two others in the South-East.
The Odukpani-Itu-Ikot-Ekpene road, the minister said, has now been fully covered to resolve the problem of financing regarding the execution of the road projects.
Speaking about the South-East, he stated, “You have Aba-Ikot Ekpene in Abia and Akwa Ibom States. So that’s a major link, then you have Umuahia to Ikwuamo, to Ikot Ekpene road and so on and so forth.
“In the North-West, it is Gada Zaima-Zuru-Gamji road, and also Zaria-Funtau-Gusau-Sokoto road. In the North-East, it is Cham, Bali Serti and Gombe-Biu road.”
There will be no more financing problems regarding the execution of roads, said Fashola.
A Joint Senate and House of Representatives Committee on INEC on Thursday met with the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Professor Mahmood Yakubu.
Also expected at the meeting are all heads of security agencies.
The meeting was said to have been scheduled to discuss the level of preparedness for the governorship election in Anambra State.
Senate Committee Chairman on INEC, Senator Kabiru Gaya, told reporters that the meeting became imperative because of the security situation in the state and its effect on the election outcome.
He stated that INEC has increased the polling units in Anambra from 4,608 to 5,720 to allow better accessibility by the electorate.
The fear, according to Senator Gaya, remains that there are possibilities that the violence currently rocking the state might mar the poll.
In his remarks, Professor Yakubu informed the lawmakers that the commission was prepared for the election scheduled to hold on November 6.
“We have successfully carried out 12 of the 14 activities we should do, the only outstanding activities are on the last day of campaigns by political parties which are going to be in the next eight days, and the election proper on the 6th of November,” he said.
“We have recovered from the series of attacks on our facilities, and I am happy to say that we have deployed all relevant materials not only to Awka but all the local government areas.
“We have trained the requisite number of ad-hoc staff for the election and we have also mobilised the transport owners for logistics. As far as INEC is concerned, we are prepared.”
As at the time of filing this report, the security chiefs were yet to arrive at the meeting venue, nor had any of their representatives addressed the committee.
Threatened By Violence?
Recent violent events in Anambra have forced many Nigerians to doubt the possibility of conducting a free and fair election in the state, barely two weeks later.
In a bid to ensure that the state is safe enough to allow citizens vote freely, the Inspector-General of Police, Usman Baba, ordered the deployment of Deputy Inspector General of Police (DIG), Joseph Egbunike, and some Assistant Commissioners of Police in a bid to overhaul and improve security in Anambra.
He also ordered the deployment of over 34,000 personnel to the state, while three helicopters would be deployed for surveillance during the election.
There are also other trained animals and equipment that will be used for monitoring when the election gets underway, a statement by the Force spokesman, Frank Mba, said.
Baba, in a recent interview, stated that the police would collaborate with other security agencies and INEC to ensure the conduct of a peaceful election in the state.
According to him, the Force will do everything within its power to work with all stakeholders to protect democratic values, provide a level playing field for all political actors, and ensure adequate protection of voters, INEC personnel and equipment, as well as accredited observers among others.
The South-West Governors Forum on Tuesday held a meeting in Lagos State to discuss the issue of insecurity and other related concerns in the region.
Chairman of the forum and Ondo State Governor, Rotimi Akeredolu, chaired the meeting which took place at the Lagos House in the Marina area of the state.
At the end of the meeting that lasted several hours behind closed doors, Governor Akeredolu disclosed that part of their deliberations bordered on the security situation in the region and ideas of how to address the challenge.
He said the governors also had a discussion on the Oodua Group, a company owned by all the six states in the South West.
The governor, however, declined to give further details on the group, stressing that the forum was not willing to share full information on the meeting.
“We deliberated on a number of issues that we have common ground and National issues,” he was quoted as saying in a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Olabode Olatunde.
“We deliberated on our common heritage which is the Oodua group of companies. At the end of the day, we agreed on some things; and it is not something we want to discuss in the open, especially the ones on security.”
Those present included the host governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, as well as Gboyega Oyetola (Osun), Dapo Abiodun (Ogun), and Kayode Fayemi (Ekiti).
Although Governor Seyi Makinde of Oyo State was absent, he was represented by his deputy, Rauf Olaniyan.
Meanwhile, the governors also visited the National Leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Bola Tinubu, who recently returned to the country after a medical trip to the United Kingdom.
A second prosecution witness, Augustine Anosike, on Tuesday gave his testimony in the case involving Afeez Fashola, also known as Naira Marley before Justice Nicholas Oweibo of the Federal High Court sitting in Ikoyi, Lagos.
Anosike, a forensic expert with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), told the judge how several credit card numbers were extracted while analysing the content of a total of 2,410 messages found on the defendant’s mobile phone.
Naira Marley was arraigned by the EFCC on May 20, 2019, on 11 counts bordering on conspiracy, possession of counterfeit credit cards, and fraud to which he pleaded not guilty.
At the resumed sitting, Anosike, who continued his examination in chief, told the court that Exhibit F was a conclusion of his analysis of the defendant’s iPhone X version 10.6, model A 1901.
He also gave the IMEL number of the iPhone and the SIM ICCID number in open court.
Led in evidence by the prosecution counsel, Rotimi Oyedepo, Anosike described the Apple iPhone as a sophisticated device capable of storing a large volume of information.
“It is the SIM card that basically identifies users of applications like WhatsApp,” he told the court. “ It, therefore, means that as long as a number has already been registered with a particular WhatsApp account, it matters less if such a user leaves the country.
“There are cases where a WhatsApp application can still be used even though the registered SIM card is not inserted in the phone. The chatting app used in the analysed device was WhatsApp.”
When asked to brief the court on his findings while analysing the phone, Anosike said a total of 977 Short Message Service (SMS) and 1,433 chat messages were discovered.
“We also discovered seven pending status update messages. On November 26, 2018, there was an outgoing message registered about 3:32pm, with a credit card number. This message was sent to one Yadd.
“On December 11, 2018, there was an incoming message to the defendant’s device which read ‘Your One Time Passcode (OTP) to verify your mobile number is 248716,” he added.
According to the witness, another message was sent at 5:06pm by one Hiya Bayi to a recipient with the name Raze on the same day. The content of the message, he told the court, was another credit card number.
Anosike, while giving further evidence, told the court that there was an incoming message at 10:16pm on December 12, 2018, which read “tried and it was unsuccessful; sure you are not rinsing it out then giving it to me to try.’
During the proceedings, he also revealed several credit card numbers sent on different dates and times, as well as OTP codes sent found on the defendant’s phone.
The prosecution counsel, thereafter, told the court that all the analysed texts were fully contained in a Compact Disc (CD).
He, however, told the court that the prosecution had only printed out those portions it considered material to its case.
Consequently, he asked both the court and the defence counsel, Olalekan Ojo, if the prosecution could bring a projector to play the CD in the open court or not.
While Justice Oweibo granted his prayer, Ojo did not raise any objection to the request by the prosecution.
The judge later adjourned the case till Wednesday for the prosecution to play the CD on a projector.
Stakeholders from the north-west zone of the country have demanded an increased share of Revenue Allocation in favour of states and local government areas.
They proposed a 60 per cent allocation for the two arms of government while the Federal Government takes 40 per cent.
The governments of Kaduna, Kano, Katsina, Sokoto, Jigawa, Kebbi, and Zamfara made the proposal in their separate presentations at a zonal public hearing on the review of the current Revenue Allocation Formula organised by the Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC) held on Monday in Kaduna State.
Governor Nasir El-Rufai of Kaduna, represented by his deputy, Hadiza Balarabe, lamented that the Federal Government controls so much powers and resources similar to those exercised in unitary systems, while it does little to cater for the majority of the population.
He, however, stressed the need for a new revenue-sharing formula that would be fair and equitable for the benefit of the people at the grassroots.
Stating that the current revenue sharing formula was long overdue, the governor proposed a revenue formula that would enhance the capacity to deliver high-quality services and good governance to the citizens.
In his presentation, the Commissioner for Finance and Budget in Jigawa, Ibrahim Babangida, said states and local councils should take lion shares of the allocation for rapid development.
While he proposed 44 per cent for the federal government, as well as 34 per cent and 22 per cent for states and local governments respectively, the Secretary to the Kano State government, Usman Alhaji, demanded 41 per cent and 34 per cent for the Federal Government and states.
Alhaji also demanded that Kano should be accorded a special status due to what he described as the huge human population of the state.
The Commissioner for Budget and Economic Planning in Katsina, Farouk Jobe, shared a similar view with other speakers at the event.
In his opening remark, Chairman RMFAC, Elias Mbam, explained that the public hearing was organised for the stakeholders from the zone to get their inputs on what they think should be the best sharing formula.
RMFAC is mandated by the constitution to review from time to time, the country’s revenue allocation for the three tiers of government to ensure conformity with changing realities.
The last time the revenue sharing formula was reviewed was in 1992, and the Federal Government currently takes 52.68 per cent of the allocation.
On the other hand, the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory take 26.72 per cent while the local governments make do with 20.60 per cent.
During proceedings on Tuesday, the new counsel to the main opposition party, Sunday Ameh, told the court that upon going through the processes, he did not find the need to continue with the application.
Meanwhile, the court has adjourned the argument on the application seeking to stop the PDP from conducting its National Convention this weekend.
The argument on the application was adjourned till 12pm on Thursday following an application for joinder by interested parties.
It is, however, not clear if the court would make any pronouncement on the adjourned date.
The PDP had fixed October 30 and 31 for a special convention to elect new national officers in Abuja, as a means to resolve the internal crisis that rocked the Secondus led National Working Committee of the party.
But Secondus is not pleased with the decision to conduct the convention which would abruptly end his tenure that was due to expire in December.
The suspended PDP National Chairman later filed an application as part of the processes in the ongoing litigation over his suspension from the party, to stop the party from holding the convention.
Following the suspension of Secondus, Mr Yomi Akinwonmi has been serving as the PDP National Chairman in an acting capacity.
No Secondus, No Meeting?
Amid the controversy sparked by Secondus’ suspension, a Federal High Court in Lagos declined to entertain a suit filed by a faction of the PDP seeking to restrain the party and any of its members from calling, summoning or presiding over any meeting, except it was called by the suspended national chairman.
The presiding judge, Justice Tijjani Ringim, in a ruling delivered on September 9 declined to entertain the suit on the grounds that it was not ripe for hearing since the defendants listed therein had yet to respond to it.
Listed as plaintiffs in the suit were Mr Eddy Olafeso, Mr Rashidi Sunmonu, Mr Daisi Akintan, Mr Bunmi Jenyo, and Mr Wahab Owokoniran.
Those listed as defendants were the PDP, Secondus, Yomi Akinwonmi (PDP Deputy National Chairman, South), Senator Suleiman Nazif (PDP Deputy National Chairman, North), Senator Ibrahim Tsauri (National Secretary, PDP), Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), and the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF).
Among other reliefs, the plaintiffs had sought “An interlocutory order of injunction restraining the first, third, fourth, and fifth defendants by themselves, their servants, agents, privies or any member of the defendant whatsoever, other than the second defendant, from calling, summoning or presiding over any meeting of the party whatsoever, including the meeting of any committee of the party, any congress of the party, the National Working Committee, the National Executive Committee, the National Convention, and all other organs or bodies of the party pending the hearing and determination of the substantive suit.”