Study Reveals Low-Fat, Low-Carb Diets Offer Same Results

 

Common dieting advice urges people to either eat fewer carbohydrates or less fat in order to shed weight. But a study Tuesday found neither approach is better than the other.

Nor is a person’s genetics or insulin metabolism a key factor in whether a diet works for them or not, said the report in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).

The findings could have implications for the $66 billion US weight loss industry, and particularly the latest trend of DNA dieting, which claims to point people to the best diet for their genes.

“We’ve all heard stories of a friend who went on one diet – it worked great – and then another friend tried the same diet, and it didn’t work at all,” said lead author Christopher Gardner, professor of medicine at Stanford University.

“It’s because we’re all very different, and we’re just starting to understand the reasons for this diversity. Maybe we shouldn’t be asking what’s the best diet, but what’s the best diet for whom?”

The study enrolled 609 people – 57 per cent women – aged 18 to 50 and randomly assigned them to either a low-fat or low-carb diet for a year.

At the end, the average weight loss was 13 pounds in both groups.

Some individuals lost far more – up to 60 pounds, while some gained 20. But researchers were unable to find any link between dietary approach and superior weight loss.

After a year, “there was no significant difference in weight change between a healthy low-fat diet vs a healthy low-carbohydrate diet,” said the report.

At the beginning, “participants got part of their genome sequenced, allowing scientists to look for specific gene patterns associated with producing proteins that modify carbohydrate or fat metabolism,” said the report.

They also drank a shot of glucose on an empty stomach so researchers could measure their bodies’ insulin outputs.

“Neither genotype pattern nor baseline insulin secretion was associated with the dietary effects on weight loss,” it said.

What seemed to help people lose weight was following a single strategy: eat less sugar, less refined flour, and as many vegetables and whole foods as possible.

“On both sides, we heard from people who had lost the most weight that we had helped them change their relationship to food, and that now they were more thoughtful about how they ate,” said Gardner.

Kanu Absent Again As Court Orders Separate Trial

 

The treason trial of Biafran separatist leader Nnamdi Kanu resumed on Tuesday but the defendant again failed to turn up in court.

The former London estate agent’s populist rhetoric has tapped into lingering separatist sentiment for a breakaway state among the Igbo people who dominate the region.

Getting Frustrating

Prosecutor Shuaibu Labaran told the Federal High Court in Abuja that the absence of the head of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) movement was “frustrating the trial”.

Judge Binta Nyako ordered the trial of Kanu’s three co-defendants without him on March 20 and prosecute him separately.

Kanu, who also runs Radio Biafra, was first arrested in October 2015, sparking a wave of demonstrations calling for his release across southeast Nigeria.

A previous unilateral declaration of independence in 1967 sparked a brutal civil war that lasted 30 months and left at least one million dead from starvation and disease.

Most of them were Igbos.

Kanu was given bail under strict conditions last year but did not appear for the resumption of his trial in October.

He was last seen in September before troops raided his family home in the Abia state capital, Umuahia, during a crackdown on IPOB and its supporters.

Kanu’s wife, Uchechi, told the BBC in an interview broadcast on Monday: “I don’t know where my husband is, whether he is dead or alive, I don’t know.”

She and his family maintain he is being held in government custody. The government denies the claim and a civil court has ruled there is no evidence to support the assertion.

Kanu’s lawyer, Ifeanyi Ejiofor, said the three people who stood surety for his client were expected in court on March 28 to explain why he did not answer his bail.

“(The government) should be in a better position to explain to court where he is,” he told reporters outside court. “That is the fact which the sureties are coming to present to the court.

“Nnamdi Kanu never jumped bail and at no point has he indicated interest of not coming to face his trial.”

Chemical Castration To Be Considered For Child Abusers

 

Turkey’s government said on Tuesday it would consider introducing chemical castration for child abusers after several cases of sexual assault on children have sparked public outcry.

“The courts will decide on the use and duration of chemical castration to limit or eliminate sexual desire. We wish to establish this again within a few days,” said Justice Minister Abdulhamit Gul.

The government was putting the issue back on its agenda, he added.

Turkey introduced a measure to chemically castrate those convicted of sex crimes in 2016, but the country’s highest administrative court, the Council of State, stopped its implementation last August, saying its definition and limit were “vague”.

In the latest case to cause widespread outrage in the country, a 20-year-old man has been accused of sexually assaulting a four-year-old in the southern province of Adana.

Prosecutors on Tuesday demanded 66 years in prison for the man after the alleged assault at a wedding on February 10, state-run news agency Anadolu reported.

On Monday, Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdag said a commission on preventing child abuse would be set up with six ministers including Gul.

“All options, all other steps that need to be taken to solve the problem will be on the table,” Gul said, adding that the commission would evaluate any measures.

Chemical castration, which involves using drugs to reduce libido, does not prevent a person from experiencing sexual urges indefinitely.

The number of court rulings on child sexual abuse in Turkey has soared, rising from 3,778 in 2006 to 21,189 in 2016, according to justice ministry data cited by human rights groups.

Nearly 60 percent of the suspects in the 2016 cases were convicted, Turkey’s Human Rights Association (IHD) said in November.

Women’s rights groups came out in force on social media against the proposal.

The Women’s Assemblies organisation said on Twitter that chemical castration was “against human rights” and was “a punishment that was distant from modern law”.

The group added that “the solution is to stop giving reduced sentences in child abuse cases”.

AnkaraTurkey | AFP | Tuesday 2/20/2018 – 16:45 UTC+1 | 484 words

ADDS ERDOGAN COMMENTS ON ADULTERY

Turkey’s government said on Tuesday it would consider introducing chemical castration for child abusers after several cases of sexual assault on children sparked public outcry.

“The courts will decide on the use and duration of chemical castration to limit or eliminate sexual desire,” said Justice Minister Abdulhamit Gul.

The government was putting the issue back on its agenda and would be revisited again “within a few days”, he added.

Turkey introduced a measure to chemically castrate those convicted of sex crimes in 2016, but the country’s highest administrative court, the Council of State, stopped its implementation last August, saying its definition and limit were “vague”.

In the latest case to cause widespread outrage in the country, a 20-year-old man has been accused of sexually assaulting a four-year-old in the southern province of Adana.

Prosecutors on Tuesday demanded 66 years in prison for the man after the alleged assault at a wedding on February 10, state-run news agency Anadolu reported.

On Monday, Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdag said a commission on preventing child abuse would be set up with six ministers, including Gul.

“All options, all other steps that need to be taken to solve the problem will be on the table,” Gul said, adding that the commission would evaluate any such measures.

Chemical castration, which involves using drugs to reduce libido, does not prevent a person from experiencing sexual urges indefinitely.

– Criminalising adultery revisited –

The number of court rulings on child sexual abuse in Turkey has soared, rising from 3,778 in 2006 to 21,189 in 2016, according to justice ministry data cited by human rights groups.

Nearly 60 percent of the suspects in the 2016 cases were convicted, Turkey’s Human Rights Association (IHD) said in November.

Women’s rights groups came out in force on social media against the proposal.

The Women’s Assemblies organisation said on Twitter that chemical castration was “against human rights” and was “a punishment that was distant from modern law”.

The group added that “the solution is to stop giving reduced sentences in child abuse cases”.

Another issue reared its head later on Tuesday when Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was quoted by Hurriyet newspaper as saying that there should be a debate about criminalising adultery.

In 2004, Erdogan’s government backed a law criminalising adultery but had to abandon it after intense pressure from the European Union.

Turkey’s EU membership talks officially began in 2005 but had been granted candidate status in 1999.

“I believe it would be very, very right for the adultery issue to be considered again. During the EU process – this is self-criticism — we made a mistake on this issue,” Erdogan told reporters.

The Turkish leader added the issue should be evaluated in the “same scope” with harassment and other problems, Hurriyet said.

Trial Of Man Who Smuggled Son Into Spain In Suit Case Commences

Ali Ouattara, 45 (C) talk with his lawyer Juan Isidro Fernandez (R) in court during his trial in Ceuta, a Spanish overseas territory in northern Morocco, on February 20, 2018.
JORGE GUERRERO / AFP

 

The heart-rending photo went round the world in 2015, showing an eight-year-old boy from Ivory Coast crammed into a suitcase that was found at a Spanish border crossing.

His father goes on trial Tuesday in Ceuta, a Spanish overseas territory in northern Morocco which migrants from Africa regularly try to reach by scaling high border fences, hiding behind car dashboards or in bus chassis.

Prosecutors are seeking a three-year prison term for Ali Ouattara for facilitating his son’s illegal entry into Europe and endangering the child’s life.

“I’m going to this trial with a lot of confidence because I’m not a human trafficker,” Ouattara, 45, told AFP.

On May 7, 2015, Spanish police noticed a young Moroccan woman dragging what looked like a heavy suitcase across the border with Ceuta.

When they put the suitcase through an X-ray machine they were shocked to see the silhouette of a child curled up in foetal position.

“My name is Adou,” the boy told them in French after they extricated him from the suitcase, according to Spanish journalist Nicolas Castellano, who wrote a book about the story.

Paid Traffickers 5,000 Euros

The desperate smuggling attempt was a first in Ceuta.

But only three months later, a 27-year-old Moroccan died of asphyxiation inside a suitcase placed in the trunk of a car on a ferry linking Melilla, another Spanish territory in Morocco, to southern Spain.

Adou was soon reunited with his mother, and his father, who had been waiting for his son on the Spanish side of the border, was arrested shortly after the police discovery.

Ouattara said he was “misled” by the traffickers who charged him 5,000 euros ($6,200) and did not tell him his son would be hidden in a suitcase.

The traffickers had initially promised to fly the boy from the Ivorian economic capital Abidjan to Madrid but then told him they would instead travel via Ceuta by car, he said.

“For us, it was crucial for the child to come, we couldn’t live without him, we couldn’t stop thinking about him,” Ouattara said.

A former philosophy and French teacher in Abidjan, Ouattara arrived illegally in Spain in 2006, making the perilous journey across the Mediterranean aboard a boat.
He eventually got a stable job and home in the Canary Islands, and was able to bring his wife and daughter over legally.

But Spanish authorities refused four times to let him bring over his son too.

“I was earning more than 1,300 euros in a launderette but they said it wasn’t enough” for the entire family to live, he says.

His wife, daughter and Adou are now living in France, but Ali is still in Spain as he is barred from leaving the country pending the trial.
Adou is expected to return to Ceuta for the trial.

Vampire Bat’s Blood-Only Diet ‘A Big Evolutionary Win’

A handout photo taken on May 4, 2016 and released on February 19, 2018 by Nature shows a common vampire bat (Desmodus rotundus) going out for its nocturnal hunt. The common vampire bat has adapted to a diet that is low in nutrients and exposes the animal to a broad range of blood-borne diseases, reveals a joint study of its genome and gut microbiome published online this week in Nature Ecology & Evolution. Brock FENTON / NATURE PUBLISHING GROUP / AFP

 

At first glance, the cost-benefit ratio of a blood-only diet suggests that vampire bats – the only mammals to feed exclusively on the viscous, ruby-red elixir – flew down an evolutionary blind alley.

Blood is not only teaming with bacterial and viral disease, it is also very poor in nutrients – too few carbs and vitamins, way too much salt.

It’s a miracle Dracula lived as long as he did.

But natural selection, according to a study published Monday, overcame these challenges and fashioned a genetic profile and intestinal ecosystem perfectly suited to a life of silent blood sucking.

“Vampire bats have an ‘extreme’ diet, in the sense that it requires many adaptations in the organism,” said lead author Lisandra Zepeda Mendoza, a biogeneticist at the University of Copenhagen and an expert on the microbiome, the community of microorganisms camped out in the digestive tract.

To find out how the common vampire bat – a.k.a. Desmodus Rotundus – engineered those changes, Mendoza and a 30-strong team of scientists sequenced its genome and microbiome.

Both, they discovered, stand apart from the 1,200 other species of bats that favour fruits, flesh, and/or insects.

For starters, the genome – while typical in size – contains twice as many so-called transposable elements, DNA fragments that can shift position.

These vagabond bits of genetic code were concentrated in regions that govern the immune system and metabolism, functions that differed sharply compared to other species.

D. rotundus, for example, can assimilate or process the high levels iron and nitrogen waste found in blood.

Its gut, meanwhile, hosts an impressive arsenal of protective bacteria — hundreds of which cause disease in other mammals — that produce anti-viral substances.

Enter the microbiome, recently discovered to vary enormously not only from species to species, but from individual to individual within the same species (notably humans).

“We wanted to look at how the genome and the gut microbiome work together to overcome the challenge” of a blood-only diet, said co-author Tom Gilbert, among a growing number of biogeneticists championing the more inclusive concept of “hologenome.”

Gilbert speculated that vampire bats might have eased into pure-blood diet, starting with blood-gorged insects such as tics and mosquitos.

Generous Feeders

“The beauty of it was that if they cracked the blood-diet code — and they did — then food became very plentiful, with not very much competition,” he said by email.

“It was a big evolutionary win.”

The three species of blood-drinking bats, all native to Latin America, have razor-sharp teeth that shave away hair before piercing their victims’ skin and opening the spigot.

Chemicals in the saliva prevent blood from coagulating.

The common vampire bat feed mostly on mammals, including humans, often returning night-after-night to the same animal for a meal.

Recent research has shown that D. rotundus can recognise individual humans by their breathing sounds, much in the way we can differentiate voices.

Vampire bats are also surprisingly generous, willing to share a (regurgitated) meal with a fellow bat that missed out, even if they are not related.

No-Sweat Exercise May Prolong Life For The Elderly – Study

File Photo.

 

A few hours a week of light exercise – walking the dog, puttering about in the garden – lower the risk of death in older men, even if workouts are brief, researchers said Tuesday.

Their findings, reported in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, challenge two long-held assumptions about the benefits of physical activity for the elderly.

To improve health and reduce the risk of dying, according to many national health authorities, workouts must be strenuous and more long-lasting.

In Britain, for example, the elderly are advised to do moderate-to-intense exercise at least 150 minutes per week, divied up into segments of no less than 10 minutes.

“UK and US physical activity guidelines don’t mention any benefits of light activity,” lead author Barbara Jefferis, an epidemiologist at University College London, told AFP.

“When those guidelines were written there wasn’t enough evidence to make a recommendation.”

The study, which tracked 1,200 men without heart disease in their early 70s and late 80s, says such guidelines should be revised.

“The results suggest that all activities — no matter how modest — are beneficial,” Jefferis said.

Encouraging older adults to engage in no-sweat exercise also appears to be more realistic.

Only 16 percent of the volunteers lived up to current British exercise guidelines in sessions of at least 10 minutes. Two-thirds, however, did hit the weekly, 150-minute quota in shorter snippets of activity.

The research drew on data from the British Regional Heart Study, which began in 1978 with nearly 8,000 participants aged 40 to 59 from a couple dozen towns scattered across Britain.

In 2012, the 3,137 men still living underwent a physical check-up, and answered questions about their lifestyle and sleeping patterns.

Couch Potatoes

The study focused on 1,181 participants who wore an accelerometer — a device that tracks the volume and intensity of physical exercise — for seven days.

“The availability of body-worn activity monitors has enabled us to investigate whether light activity is linked to longevity,” said Jefferis.

The men, who averaged 78 years old, were monitored for five years, during which time 194 of them died.

The study showed that each additional 30 minutes-a-day of light-intensity exercise was associated with a 17 percent reduction in the risk of death.

As expected, a half-an-hour of moderate-to-vigorous activity reduced the risk by even more — 33 percent.

What counted, however, was the total time spent exercising, not how the time was divided up.

The men who engaged in brief, sporadic bouts of moderately intense activity — mowing the lawn, swimming, walking briskly — were as likely to avoid the grim reaper as men whose exercise time was parcelled into longer sessions.

For both groups, the chance of dying was 40 percent lower compared to full-time couch potatoes who hardly moved at all.

The authors cautioned that the structure of the study — the fact that it was observational, and not a clinical trial — made it impossible to describe the results in terms of cause-and-effect.

And in the comparison between older men who exercise — sporadically or regularly — and those who don’t, the fact that the participants who volunteers to wear accelerometers were in better health to begin with may have somewhat skewed the results.

It was also not clear whether the findings would apply to older women, though Jefferis said there was little reason to think they don’t.
“We didn’t have the necessary data for women,” she said.

‘We All Felt Part Of History Watching Black Panther’

IMAX CEO Rich Gelfond (C) welcomes the Boys & Girls Club of America to a private screening of Black Panther hosted in partnership with IMAX, Snoop Dogg and Cashmere Agency at IMAX Playa Vista on February 18, 2018 in Playa Vista, California. Rich Polk / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / AFP

 

 

Last week’s release of Marvel Studios’ latest superhero outing, “Black Panther”, has triggered the enthusiasm of African movie fans and a sense of pride that Hollywood has finally plugged a gap.

With an almost entirely black cast and a young African-American director, Ryan Coogler, the film has already won rave reviews for its stereotype-bustingportrayal of Africa.

After all the hype, select audiences in African countries have got a sneak preview of the new blockbuster – and many agree it’s an important moment in popular culture.

“As I was watching the movie with friends, I remember we all felt part of history. This is beyond a movie. This is huge,” said Brian Barasa, a 29-year-old Kenyan who says he has loved comic books for as long as he can remember.

Set in the fictional African country of Wakanda, the film’s focus on black protagonists, stories and culture sets it clearly apart from other superhero movies.

But hero T’Challa, the king of Wakanda played by Chadwick Boseman, is not the first black superhero to hit the big screen.

Barasa, who co-founded the Nairobi Comic Convention in 2014, points out that was “Blade” – a vampire with human traits portrayed by actor Wesley Snipes in the trilogy between 1998 and 2004.

“But Blade was American,” said Barasa.

“In a conversation I had recently, somebody pointed out, ‘Blade had to walk in order for Black Panther to run’,” he noted.

Cultural Impact

So far “Black Panther” has generated an enthusiastic response from communities in Kenya and Nigeria that are often stereotypically represented on screen.

Superhero fans also appear to appreciate the film’s visual qualities, the reproduction of costumes from the original comic and the characters’ accents.

“Usually in Hollywood, you’re just African. They will use a Nigerian actor with a Nigerian accent to play a Kenyan character or vice versa,” said Sope Aluko, one of five Nigerians in the film, at the Lagos premiere in Nigeria this week.

“We knew that we had a responsibility towards Africa and the black community in general while shooting this movie,” she added. “But I didn’t expect anything like this, all this enthusiasm coming from the blackcommunity.”

Commercially, the film looks set to break some box office records.

But for some, the potential cultural impact could be its most important achievement.

“It’s a very important statement to the world that Marvel Studio can have a movie entirely based on African characters,” said Kenyan actor Moses Odua at the African premiere in Kisumu, a town in the west of the country.

“That is so nice, it’s going to turn away some of the stereotypes we have on Africans.”

‘Afro-future’

In the film, Wakanda has skilfully exploited its mineral wealth to become the most developed and technologically advanced country in the world – a complete reverse of the run-of-mill portrayal of African nations as backward, poverty-stricken and disease-ridden.

Yet, at the same time, Wakanda is also anchored in African values of community and spirit.

“I like the Afro-future description of the continent and the mix of modern and tradition. They show regular Africans working with technology,” said Chiko Esire, 32, in Lagos.

Others took pride in the purely commercial aspect of “Black Panther”, which has already beaten “The Hunger Games” and “Beauty and the Beast” in pre-sales in the United States.

“I’m not a movie fanatic, I only watch maybe three or four movies a year,” said 27-year-old James Odede, who runs an IT firm.

“But I am excited about this one because it tries to illustrate that a movie that is predominantly black-cast can still sell and do well.”

Kenya film-maker Jinna Mutune, 29, believes the film has achieved its aim of showing African culture in a positive light but that more black-focused movies need to be produced.

“(It) is definitely filling a huge gap,” she said, but added: “We need more and more and more ‘Black Panthers’.”

Trump And Romney Friends Again On Twitter

Donald Trump and Mitt Romney

 

Donald Trump and Mitt Romney, once one of the president’s fiercest critics, have kissed and made up, at least on Twitter.

Romney, a wealthy businessman, ex-governor of Massachusetts and the 2012 Republican presidential nominee, announced last week he is running for a US Senate seat in Utah.

On Monday, Trump praised Romney and gave him his backing, with Romney thanking him.

Things were not always so chummy between them, however.

In a 2016 speech, Romney called Trump a “phony, a fraud,” who was “playing the members of the US public for suckers” as Trump ran for president.

After Trump’s victory, the two enjoyed a brief rapprochement when Romney attended a dinner with the president-elect to discuss becoming secretary of state.

A photo of that three-star Manhattan dinner encounter was widely-described across America as Trumpgloating as Romney groveled for a job.

Romney later told reporters he had spent a wonderful evening with Trump.

In the end, Trump gave the top diplomat’s job to Rex Tillerson.

But in an effusive tweet on Monday, Trump endorsed Romney’s new run for office, saying: “He will make a great Senator.”

Romney replied: “Thank you Mr. President for the support. I hope that over the course of the campaign I also earn the support and endorsement of the people of Utah.”

Libya Coastguard Rescues 441 Migrants From Drifting Boats

A Libyan coast guardsman stands on a boat during the rescue of 147 illegal immigrants attempting to reach Europe off the coastal town of Zawiyah, 45 kilometres west of the capital Tripoli, on June 27, 2017. PHOTO: Taha JAWASHI / AFP

Libya’s coastguard rescued 441 migrants in two separate operations as their boats drifted off the western coast, the navy and a doctor said on Tuesday.

Thirty-five women and 16 children were among 324 illegal migrants rescued in one of the operations on Monday with help from a fishing boat, a navy statement said.

The migrants, from countries including Chad, Nigeria, Mali and Libya, were drifting in two inflatable boats about seven nautical miles from Zuwara near the Tunisian border after the engines failed, it said.

The coastguard also rescued 117 migrants, including five women and two babies, off the coast of Zawiya, west of the capital Tripoli, on Monday, doctor Abdel Aziz al-Misrati of the charity International Medical Corps told AFP.

Rocked by lawlessness since the NATO-backed 2011 uprising that toppled and killed longtime dictator Moamer Kadhafi, Libya has become a key transit country for illegal migration across the Mediterranean Sea.

The migrants often try to make the treacherous crossing on unseaworthy boats, hoping to reach Italy and make their way further inland in Europe and start a new life.

Ugwuanyi Signs N103.5bn 2018 Budget Into Law

 

Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Enugu state, has  signed the 2018 budget of N103.5 billion, recently passed by the House of Assembly into law.

The governor promised that the budget will be fully implemented for the benefit of the people and to ensure a sustainable development of the state.

During the signing which took place at the Government House, Enugu, Ugwuanyi noted that the House after due deliberation on the budget and consideration of the defence by the various ministries, MDAs, Parastatals and all concerned with the budget, increased the budget size from N98,563,500,000 to N103,563,500,000.

Furthermore, he commended the members of the House for the speedy and considerate passage of the budget and the “wonderful” cooperation they have accorded the state government since inception.

He also expressed appreciation to the people of the state, whom he described as the true heroes of democracy, for the opportunity to serve and their “unwavering” support and prayers for his administration, reassuring them that his promise to deliver good governance and selfless service to the state remains sacrosanct.

“Mr Speaker, Honourable Members, I equally wish to assure you of our commitment to the full implementation of this budget as we are fully aware that this will enable us realize all the objectives that we have set down in it for the benefit of our people and for the rapid and sustainable development of our dear state,” Ugwuanyi said.

Earlier in his remark, the Speaker, Honourable Edward Ubosi, commended Gov. Ugwuanyi for the modest budget, which he said reduced both the internal and external borrowing to 16 percent, describing the governor as a good manager of finance.

He stated that the budget will not put the state in “a very tight condition” and “cannot hang any debt on us”.

Ubosi further explained that the Appropriation law was increased by N5 billion to accommodate road projects that need urgent attention such as the Nkalagu-Eha-Amufu federal road at Isi-Uzo Local Government Area and other roads across the three senatorial districts of the state.

He also applauded the state’s Board of Internal Revenue led by Prince Emeka Odo for its innovation and resourcefulness in generating income for the state.

The Speaker equally appreciated members of the State Executive Council, especially the commissioners for their “wonderful” cooperation and support during the budget defence, stressing that the synergy was unprecedented and commendable.

Also present at the budget signing were the Deputy Governor, Mrs Cecilia Ezeilo and other members of the State Executive Council; members of the House of Assembly, state Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Hon. Augustine Nnamani, among other top government functionaries.

Malabu Controversy: Malami Asks Buhari To Stop Trial Of Adoke, Diezani, Others

File photo: Abubakar Malami

The Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, has asked President Muhammadu Buhari to stop the Malabu Oil scam trial involving the former Attorney-General Mohammed Bello Adoke and the ex- Minister of Petroleum Diezani Alison-Madueke, PremiumTimes has said.

In a letter dated September, 27, 2017, and obtained by the online newspaper, the AGF said, following due examination of the case files, he was able to determine that the EFCC had no significant evidence to prove its allegations of sharp practices against the principal players and others in the controversial Malabu oil deal.

OPL 245 oil block was approved for sale by the Goodluck Jonathan administration in a sales and purchase deal involving Shell, Agip-Eni and Malabu oil and gas ltd.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has, however, been investigating fraud and criminal conspiracy charges against Mr Adoke, Mr Etete and their alleged accomplices since 2016 on the case.

While the officers are believed to be at large, Mr Malami insists that the anti-graft office is on a wild goose chase in its attempt to prosecute them.

“There is nothing to show that the parties as constituted were at all times working together and having ‘meeting of the mind’ to wit to forge CAC documents and use some for the purpose of divesting the shares of the complainants and thereafter enter into a settlement agreement with FGN and other parties to take delivery of the proceeds of sale OPL 245.

“There is also nothing in the proof of evidence to support the charge money laundering and it is therefore impossible for the prosecution to prove the elements which include illicit funds, transfer for such through various channels to re-introduce same again into the regular financial system as legitimate funds in financial institutions etc.

“Without the express proof of these elements, the count may not be sustained on the premise of the attached proof of evidence.

“The EFCC investigation and attached proof of evidence do not appear to have clearly revealed the case of fraud against the parties who claimed to have acted in their official capacities with the approval of three consecutive presidents of the federal government of Nigeria at the time with further claim that the matter was intended to be resolved in national interest thereby saving the nation acrimonious litigations resulting in high legal fees and the dormancy of the oil field while litigation lasted,” Malami said.

Meanwhile, Adoke, Etete and Diezani including other officials named in the scandal have, denied any wrongdoings.

Adoke maintained that the sale of OPL 245 was approved to save Nigeria from huge financial losses that could arise from international arbitration lawsuits.

Mr Malami in his letter, therefore, asked the president to immediately intervene to save Nigeria from international embarrassment and reputation damage.

Furthermore, he said Nigeria should take advantage of some favourable clauses in the agreement that allowed for government’s ownership of a part of the oil field.

“Your Excellency, the beneficial approach I counsel in the circumstances is for the federal government to take advantage of the terms of the agreement under clauses five and 11 to acquire a stake in the OPL 245 converting it to a production sharing contract (PSC) between FGN/NNPC, Shell and Agip after negotiating with the ENI/Shell to absorb the cost of the FGN/NNPC entry under the said clauses five and 11 through the PSC mechanism,” he said.

At the last hearing of the case on January 28, Adoke had asked the Federal High Court to dismiss the suit brought against him even as his lawyer, Mr Kanu Agabi, referenced Mr Malami’s letter.

On the other hand, Dayo Apata who represented the Federal Government challenged the content of the letter saying it is an advisory which does not stop the government from prosecuting the former AGF.

Having taken arguments for and against the hearing of the suit, Justice Binta Nyako adjourned the suit on February 28, 2018, for the ruling.

Baru Seeks Improved Synergy Among African Countries in Oil Sector

 

The Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Maikanti Baru, is seeking better collaboration and development amongst African countries in the oil and gas sector.

Mr Baru said: “It is high time African countries collaborate and trade amongst each other not only in terms of oil and gas but in other key sectors.”

He made this known on Monday, at the inaugural edition of the Nigeria International Petroleum Summit (NIPS) holding in Abuja.

According to the NNPC boss, the five-day event is programmed to be an annual event and expected to be Africa’s largest and most important industry platform.

“After several decades of Petroleum exploration exploitation in Nigeria, this event is long overdue, however, as the popular saying goes, it is better late than never.”

He noted that discussions are expected to cut across the industry value chain with focus areas on deepening collaboration across and within the African oil and gas space.

Other areas it will focus on are how to develop modern technologies in the industry, innovative strategies to survive after a global down turn, current trends in the oil and gas markets, gas to power, among other things.

Speaking further, he thanked the Minister of State for Petroleum, Dr Ibe Kachikwu, whose efforts according to him, contributed in making the programme a success.

“Your efforts have nurtured this event into a full-fledged international summit.

“As I scan through the list of invited speakers and panelists, I am convinced that we will be able to frame new strategies and come up with practicable solutions for effectively developing Africa’s Hydrocarbon resources,” he added.