Abducted Zamfara College Provost Regains Freedom

A map of Zamfara in North-West Nigeria.

 

 

The abducted provost of College of Agriculture and Animal Science Bakura, Mr Habibu Mainasara, has regained his freedom.

Mr Mainasara’s elder brother, Nasiru Mainasara, told Channels TV that he was freed on Wednesday night, three days after bandits abducted him from his official residence in the institution.

Details about his release remain sketchy and his brother did not disclose whether a ransom was paid.

On Monday, a day after he was taken, the bandits demanded a ransom of N5 million from his family with negotiations commencing for his release.

His brother, however, said prominent members of the community told the family to stop the negotiation and assured them that he will be rescued safely.

Following his abduction, the Police Command in the state deployed a search and rescue team in the area to hunt down the bandits and ensure his safe return.

Spokesperson of the Command Mohammed Shehu, however, said on Monday that the command was not aware of any negotiation between the family and the abductors.

Rampaging bandits

Zamfara is among states in the North battling to halt the activities of rampaging bandits that have engaged in killings abductions and other crimes.

Only last week, bandits killed 35 persons during an attack on five communities of Faru District in Maradun Local Government Area of the state.

The communities – Gudan-Baushi, Gidan-Adamu,Gudan-Maidawa, Tsauni, and Wari – were attacked by motorcycle-riding bandits in the late hours of Thursday,  July 8.

They stormed the village with their guns blazing, murdering many of the villagers as they tried to flee to safety before going on to destroy properties.

The state of the roads leading to the village contributed to the casualty suffered as the police could not reach it easily, according to the Zamfara Command’s spokesperson.

“The police personnel tried their best to reach the affected communities on receiving the information that the bandits were there but unfortunately they could not reach the places because of the bad roads,” Mohammed Shehu said.

While the attack on the communities is one of the most deadly in recent weeks in terms of killings, the abduction of 317 females students from a government school in February is one of the most brazen cases of abductions in the country.

 

Bandits Abduct Emir of Kajuru, 13 Family Members 

 

Bandits have kidnapped the Emir of Kajuru and 13 of his family members, including two of his grandchildren, in a late-night attack in Kajuru Local  Government Area of Kaduna State. 

The bandits swooped on the Emir in the early hours of Sunday morning, just six days after the abduction of 121 students of Bethel Baptist school in neighbouring Chikun Local Government Area.

It was gathered that the bandits numbering over 200 stormed the emirate, firing gunshots, before proceeding to the Emir’s palace and taking him and 13 members of his family away.

Three women, two of his grandchildren, three of his aides and five others were abducted.

 

 

Spokesman of  Kaduna State Police Command,  Mohammed Jalige, who confirmed the incident, said the 85-year-old second-class traditional Ruler was kidnapped from his palace.

READ ALSO: School Abduction: Bandits Demand Foodstuffs From Parents

He said that a combined team comprising members of the Police Mobile Force, Operatives of  Operation Puff Adder and Anti-kidnapping squad of the Kaduna State Police Command have launched a manhunt for the kidnappers, with a view to rescuing the victims and arresting the criminals.

The abduction is the latest in the LGA, which is 30 kilometres away from the state capital, and has become notorious for kidnappings.

McGregor Suffers Horrific Leg Injury In TKO Loss To Poirier

 

 

American brawler Dustin Poirier overpowered Conor McGregor on Saturday in Las Vegas, winning their lightweight UFC trilogy fight by a TKO after the Irishman appeared to snap his left leg in the waning moments of the opening round.

The fight was officially ruled as a “doctor’s stoppage” at the end of the first round after a bloodied McGregor swung and missed a punch then stumbled backward, his lower leg grotesquely buckling under him near the edge of the octagon.

Poirier then pounced on a helpless McGregor, raining down a series of punches and elbows until McGregor was saved by the bell in front of the capacity crowd at the T-Mobile Arena.

“This guy was saying he was going to murder me and kill me. I am going to leave here in a coffin,” said Poirier.

“Murder is something you don’t clown around with. You don’t talk to people like that. I hope this guy gets home safe to his beautiful family.”

Promoters said afterward that McGregor’s injury was to his lower tibia and that he was expected to undergo surgery on Sunday to repair the damage.

The scheduled five-round rubber match was expected to settle the score and complete the trilogy between the former two-weight UFC champ McGregor and his longtime rival Poirier, who now looks set to get a shot at an undisputed title and establish himself as one of the sport’s superstars.

There was plenty of bad blood between the two in the lead up to their third fight. McGregor insulted Poirier’s wife in a tweet and told Poirier he was going to leave the ring in the box.

Instead, McGregor had to be carted out on a stretcher after doctors stabilized his leg.

“He fractured it on one of the checks at the beginning, then broke it with the punch,” Poirier said. “I felt something. He was kicking me hard. It was probably cracked then on the twist and punch [it broke].”

Poirier said his payback was karma. “This guy is a dirtbag,” Poirier said. “Sometimes these things happen.”

In an expletive-laden interview inside the octagon as he waited for the stretcher to take him out, McGregor insisted he was winning the fight when the freak accident happened.

“I was boxing his bleeding head off. Kicking his bleeding leg off. This is not over,” said McGregor, who has had just one win in four and a half years.

In 2014, McGregor knocked out Poirier in under two minutes and Poirier returned the favour in January, demolishing McGregor with a second-round KO.

It was the first time a capacity crowd has attended a UFC fight in Nevada since the Covid-19 pandemic. With the United States lifting restrictions across the country, fans are returning to sporting events.

Trump booed

Saturday’s crowd included former US President Donald Trump, who was booed by a large contingent of the MMA crowd, while others chanted “U-S-A.”

The first round started with both fighters exchanging kicks and blows, with Poirier getting the better shots in, and it didn’t take long for McGregor to start bleeding from the mouth.

Poirier landed a vicious left hand, a few more long kicks and then they went to the ground for about two minutes of grappling. Poirier let McGregor get up and they both threw a punch at the same time but missed, and that’s when McGregor’s leg buckled.

“When I was walking away and he stayed down, I looked down at his shin and I saw the bone. It was disfigured a little bit. I said, ‘Oh man.'” Poirier said.

Promoter Dana White said he hoped there was a fourth Poirier-McGregor fight.

“You can’t have a fight finish that way,” White said.

Poirier had his own take on another fight.

“We are going to fight again whether it’s in the octagon or the sidewalk,” Poirier said.

AFP

SERAP Asks Court To Slash Allowances For Buhari, Govs, NASS Members

File photo of President Muhammadu Buhari

 

 

The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has asked the Federal High Court in Abuja “to order the Revenue Mobilization Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC) and the National Salaries, Incomes and Wages Commission (NSIWC) to perform their statutory functions to review downward the remuneration and allowances of President Muhammadu Buhari, Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo, 36 governors and members of the National Assembly”.

SERAP is arguing that “slashing jumbo pay for these high-ranking political office-holders would reduce the unfair pay disparity between political officer holders and judicial officers, address the persistent poor treatment of judges, and improve access of victims of corruption to justice and effective remedies”.

In the suit number FHC/ABJ/CS/658/2021 filed on Friday, SERAP is seeking: “an order of mandamus to direct and compel the RMAFC to send its downward review of the remuneration and allowances of these high-ranking public office holders and recommendations to the National Assembly for appropriate remedial and legislative action, as provided for by the Nigerian Constitution 1999 [as amended].”

The suit was filed on behalf of SERAP by its lawyers Kolawole Oluwadare and Ms Adelanke Aremo.

SERAP is also seeking “an order of mandamus to direct and compel the RMAFC to perform its mandatory constitutional duty to urgently review upward the remuneration, salaries, and allowances, as well as the conditions of service for Nigerian judges.”

Joined in the suit as respondents are Senate President, Ahmad Lawan; Speaker of House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, for themselves, and on behalf of all members of the Senate and House of Representative; and the National Judicial Council.

According to SERAP, while high-ranking political office-holders continue to enjoy lavish allowances, including life pensions, and access to security votes, which they have powers to spend as they wish, the remuneration and allowances of judges are grossly insufficient to enable them to maintain themselves and their families in reasonable comfort.

“The huge pay disparity between these high-ranking political officer-holders and judges is unfair, unjust, and discriminatory, especially given the roles of judges to the people and the country,” it said.

“While government reviewed upward the salaries and allowances of political office holders on four occasions between May 1999 and March 2011, the salaries and allowances of judicial officers were only reviewed twice during the same period.”

Prior to filing the suit, SERAP had written to the NSIWC about the matter and received confirmation about its powers.

“The NSIWC in a letter to SERAP admitted that it has powers to examine, streamline and recommend the salary scales applicable to each post in the public service but informed us to redirect our request to the RMAFC,” SERAP said.

“There is a legal duty upon the RMAFC to urgently review downward the remuneration and allowances of high-ranking political office-holders.”

As far as the legal and advocacy organisation is concerned, the current situation amounts to the unfair, discriminatory and unconstitutional treatment of judges.

“Despite their important roles and responsibilities, Nigerian judges are poorly treated, particularly when their remuneration, salaries, allowances, and conditions of service are compared with that of political office-holders. Judges should not have to endure the most poignant financial worries,” it said.

Beyond the disparity between the remuneration of judges and political office holders, SERAP’s suit is also based on the impact of the increase in cost of living and the importance of the roles played by judges, a role it considers as second to none with regard to providing justice and protecting human rights.

“As a safeguard of judicial independence, the budget of the judiciary ought to be prepared in collaboration with the judiciary having regard to the peculiar needs and requirements of judicial administration,” it said.

“The remuneration and pensions of judges must be secured by law at an adequate level that is consistent with their status and is sufficient to safeguard against conflict of interest and corruption.”

No date has been fixed for the hearing of the suit.

Messi Ends Trophy Drought As Argentina Beat Brazil To Win Copa America

 

 

Superstar Lionel Messi won his first trophy with his national team as Angel Di Maria’s goal gave Argentina a 1-0 win over hosts Brazil in the Copa America final on Saturday.

The victory at Rio de Janeiro’s Maracana stadium ended Argentina’s 28-year wait for a major trophy, and also ended Brazil’s unbeaten home record that stretched back more than 2,500 days.

Argentina had last tasted success at a major tournament in 1993 when the great Gabriel Batistuta’s brace gave them a 2-1 win over Mexico in the Copa final in Ecuador.

“It’s a great title, especially for our people. The fans support the team unconditionally. I think they can identify with this team that never gives in,” said Argentina coach Lionel Scaloni.

It was the first time in six editions playing at home that Brazil had failed to lift the trophy.

And while 34-year-old Messi’s odyssey has come to an end, Brazil’s Neymar, five years his junior, is still without a major title at international level having missed the Selecao’s win on home soil two years ago through injury.

Argentina edged a brutal and fractious affair thanks to Di Maria’s goal on 22 minutes.

The 33-year-old winger ran onto Rodrigo De Paul’s sumptuous through ball to lob Brazil goalkeeper Ederson with a first-time finish.

“We fell short so many times, we dreamt so much about this, fought so hard,” said Di Maria, who was named man of the match.

“Many people said we wouldn’t manage it, we were criticized a lot. But we kept knocking at the door and kept going until today we knocked it down and entered.”

Messi could have wrapped up the win two minutes from time but slipped when clean through with only Ederson to beat.

“We have to be big enough to recognize (the defeat) regardless of how painful and difficult it is,” said Brazil coach Tite.

Di Maria the tormentor

In a frantic start, Argentina’s burly enforcer Nicolas Otamendi was quickly in with his first foul while Brazilian midfielder Fred picked up the first booking after just three minutes for a studs-up lunge at Gonzalo Montiel.

Brazil were unchanged from their semi-final win over Peru while Scaloni made five alterations, notably bringing in Di Maria — who made an energetic and decisive entry off the bench against Colombia last time out.

The final was the first match of the tournament, which was originally due to take place last year, to allow in fans as 7,800 — a tenth of the Maracana capacity — took their seats after authorities partially lifted pandemic restrictions.

The first clear chance came on 13 minutes as Richarlison headed down Marquinhos’s long ball into the path of Neymar but the Brazilian star was crowded out by a pair of defenders.

The brutal nature of the early challenges could be seen on the players’ kits, with Neymar sporting ripped shorts and Lucas Paqueta being left with a hole in his sock following an intervention by Otamendi.

Argentina played with aggression and commitment, but no lack of quality with Di Maria tormenting Brazil’s left-back Renan Lodi, who probably should have cut out De Paul’s pass for the winger’s goal.

Di Maria had a shot from 20 yards blocked while Messi fired just wide following a 40-yard run.

Brazil struggled to create anything of note and even when they had a free-kick from shooting range, Neymar couldn’t beat the wall.

When the hosts did finally maintain some pressure late in the first half, Everton’s deflected strike bobbled through to goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez.

Fractious, niggly

Tite was quick to act, bringing on forward Roberto Firmino for defensive midfielder Fred at half-time.

Richarlison had the ball in the net soon after but he was flagged offside.

And moments later Neymar teed up Richarlison but Martinez parried his near post effort.

Increasingly it descended into a fractious, niggly affair with little fluid play between fouls and a plethora of theatrics and petulant bickering.

It was playing into Argentina’s hands as they looked to run down the clock and hold onto their slender lead.

“Only one team wanted to play. It’s a trap we knew about. That’s not an excuse,” complained Brazil captain Thiago Silva.

“It’s difficult to play such a stop-start match.”

Brazil managed to up the pressure again at the end of the half but they lacked a killer touch against some full-blooded defending — Montiel even finished the game with his white sock soaked in blood.

When Brazil substitute Gabriel Barbosa fired a volley on target, Martinez was equal to it.

Messi slipped embarrassingly late on with a chance to clinch victory but it mattered little as moments later his teammates were tossing him in the air to celebrate their win.

AFP

FG, Health Professionals Fail To Reach Consensus On Hazard Allowances

File photo of the Minister of Labour and Employment, dr Chris Ngige

 

The Federal Government has failed to reach an agreement with medical doctors and other health professionals on a new hazard allowance for them.

A meeting of the Presidential Committee on Hazard Allowance (comprising government officials and health professionals) on Thursday night ended without a consensus and was adjourned indefinitely to allow each side to harmonise their demands.

Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige, told journalists after the meeting in Abuja that members of the Joint Health Care Workers Union (JOHESU) and the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) needed time to harmonise their demands, while the Federal Government needed time to study the new proposals from the Health Workers.

READ ALSO: Senate Screens Onochie, Others For Position Of INEC Commissioners

According to him, the government is working to ensure that all the demands for a rise in health-workers hazard allowance stay within the initial N37.5 billion which is the summation of what the government earlier proposed to the health workers.

“The two big bodies have given their final positions now so the government has taken the final position and I also allowed them time to see if they can discuss among themselves as they did just before the COVID-19 and we came out with a COVID hazard allowance,” Ngige said.

“We are giving them that same ample opportunity to see if we can give they can meet and harmonise their positions. A quantum of money, ₦37.5billion, is what it comes to, so we are trying to within that realm of ₦37.5 billion. The proposals they have submitted differ and they are not able to harmonise now.

“We will also take those positions back to Provisions Salaries Committee and look at it with Salaries, Income and Wages and we can then take a government position based on that. We are journeying sine die for the government side to also look at those two positions and see whether we can do a middle-of-the-road.”

Kaduna State Govt Seals Four Fidelity Bank Branches Over N43.3m Tax Liabilities

ernest ebi, fidelity bank

The Kaduna State Internal Revenue Service has sealed four branches of Fidelity Bank in the state for tax Liabilities amounting to N43.3 million.

The branches are located at Ali Akilu Road, Ahmadu Bello Way, Polytechnic Road by Maimuna Gwarzo Junction, and Kachia Road, all in Kaduna metropolis.

The Executive Chairman of the Revenue service, Zaid Abubakar, said the bank’s branches were closed based on a court order after the bank refused to settle outstanding tax returns of N43.3 million owed the state government from 2011 to 2020.

According to her, the action taken against the bank is in line with Section (3) and (4) of the personal income tax Amendment Act 2011 and Section 37 (3l and (4) of Kaduna state Tax Codification And Consolidation Law, 2020 as amended.

She said the management of the bank was served with notices of the tax assessment five times, but the notices were ignored.

The move is part of efforts by the state government to encourage voluntary settlement of all tax liabilities by taxpayers.

Fidelity Bank and the bank’s regulatory body, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) have not reacted to the incident as of the time of this report.

Kidnapped Nuhu Bamali Polytechnic Students, Staff Members Released 

 

The six students and two staff members of Nuhu Bamali Polytechnic in Zaria Kaduna State, who were kidnapped by bandits have been released. 

They were released on Thursday night at an undisclosed location in  Kaduna.

The Public Relations Officer of the Polytechnic,  Abdullahi Shehu, who confirmed the development to Channels TV,  said the kidnapped students and staff members regained their freedom after their parents and relatives negotiated with the bandits.

He, however,  did not say specifically if any ransom was paid or not.

The abducted students and staff members

The school authorities will receive the students later in the day at a location where they were kept after their release, he added.

Bandits had attacked the polytechnic on June 11, 2021,  kidnapping the victims from their hostels and staff quarters.

They also killed one student during the operation.

The Mexican Girls Sold As Brides

The Mexican Girls Sold As Brides
Aerial view of Juquila Yuvinani, a village in Metlatonoc municipality, Guerrero state, Mexico, where girls are given in marriage under an ancestral agreement of buying and selling.
PEDRO PARDO / AFP

 

 

Eloina Feliciano begged her mother not to sell her into marriage aged 14 under an ancestral tradition in their indigenous community in southern Mexico, but her pleas were in vain.

“I don’t want to be sold,” she remembers telling her mother at their home in the mountains of Guerrero state.

“We’re not animals. Animals are the ones who are sold,” added Feliciano, now 23, who lives in the municipality of Metlatonoc in one of Mexico’s poorest areas.

She became one of many girls from her Mixtec community subjected to a tradition that critics say traps women in abuse and leaves the groom’s family mired in poverty.

The Mexican Girls Sold As Brides
Cristina Moreno, 18, holds her baby at her home in Juquila Yuvinani village, Metlatonoc municipality, Guerrero state, Mexico, on May 16, 2021. PEDRO PARDO / AFP

 

 

Today such agreements are still made in dozens of communities in Guerrero, but calls are growing for an end to the practice of selling daughters.

The payments demanded by the brides’ parents, who will only consider men from the region for their daughters, range from $2,000 to $18,000, residents told AFP.

“The girls are completely vulnerable. Their new family enslaves them with domestic and agricultural tasks” and sometimes “in-laws abuse them sexually,” said anthropologist Abel Barrera, director of the Tlachinollan Center of Human Rights of the Mountain.

Due to the “growing precariousness” of these communities, he added, “the indigenous ancestral ritual of giving away maidens in return for a dowry from their first menstruation has been lost and girls are now being commodified.”

The Mexican Girls Sold As Brides
A young woman Yuyu Ortiz works at her family’s restaurant in Metlatonoc municipality, Guerrero state, Mexico, on May 16, 2021. PEDRO PARDO / AFP

 

 

Indigenous people represent around 10 percent of Mexico’s population of 126 million, and almost 70 percent live in poverty, according to official figures.

More than 94 percent of Metlatonoc’s 19,000 inhabitants do not have basic services in their homes, and nearly 59 percent have difficulty feeding themselves, according national statistics institute INEGI.

‘Make you suffer’

Maurilia Julio, a 61-year-old midwife, was also sold as a child and made sure her own daughters avoided the same fate.

“They make you suffer for the simple fact of having bought you,” she said in her earthen floor homemade partly of mud and animal dung.

“Many women say ‘I’m going to sell my daughter for 110,000, 120,000 pesos ($5,500-$6,000) because I want money,’ but it makes me very sad to hear because they’re their children,” she said.

Next to a grayish, smelly river, a woman who did not want to be named for fear of reprisals from her neighbors condemned the practice.

“Women who are sold have to take care of their father-in-law. ‘I’ll pay for you and I can do whatever I want to you,’ is what they say,” she said.

A mother of two adolescent girls, she fears that her husband will repeat the tradition.

‘Help us’

More than 3,000 girls between the ages of nine and 17 gave birth in Guerrero last year, some of them after being sold into marriage, according to official figures.

“We want it to change but people say ‘I do what I want because I have my daughter and no one is going to tell me what to do,” said Victor Moreno, a 29-year-old resident.

“We would like someone to help us, to pass a law so that this changes,” he added.

Moreno married under the same kind of arrangement and although he does not mistreat his wife, he opposes the tradition because he had to move to northern Mexico to work as a day laborer to pay the debt.

“Here we’re poor people. We cannot afford to buy a daughter-in-law to marry our sons and we struggle a lot to pay,” said the father of two.

Cristina Moreno, 18, carries her baby at her home in Juquila Yuvinani village, Metlatonoc municipality, Guerrero state, Mexico, on May 16, 2021. PEDRO PARDO / AFP

 

Benito Mendoza, a member of the non-governmental organization Yo quiero, Yo puedo (I want to, I can), gave awareness-raising workshops until the group ran out of funds in February.

Brides’ parents ask for money “because they believe that they must recover what was spent bringing up their daughters,” he said.

So far only around 300 people in the area have agreed to stop the tradition, according to a community leader.

“Most continue to sell their daughters,” said Feliciano.

AFP

How Chimps Learn ‘Handshakes’

This file photo shows a chimpanzee and its baby at a zoo in Singapore. Photo: AFP

 

Chimpanzees develop specific handshake-like gestures depending on their social group, according to the results of a 12-year observational study published on Wednesday that sheds light on the animals’ complex social structures.

Chimps are often referred to as being the most “humanlike” non-human species, given their propensity to perform complicated tasks, such as tool use, which were long thought to be the sole preserve of mankind.

Edwin van Leeuwen, an expert in animal behaviour at the University of Antwerp and the city’s Royal Zoological Society, studied dozens of chimpanzees sheltered at Zambia’s Chimfunshi Wildlife Orphanage Trust over a 12-year span.

Despite a large turnover in the chimp population due to deaths and births, Van Leeuwen was able to observe specific and repeated hand gestures among chimps in two distinct groups.

The gesture, known as the grooming handclasp, involves “each of the participants simultaneously (extending) an arm overhead and the other (clasping) the other’s wrist or hand or both clasping each other’s hand,” according to the results of his study, published in the journal Royal Society Biology Letters.

Through years of observation, Van Leeuwen found that palm-to-palm grasping was “substantially more pronounced” in one group, or society, of chimps than the other.

He also found that female chimps were far more likely than males to grasp palms, while males were more likely to grasp wrists, likely due to males’ desires to assert or affirm dominance.

“The fact that they have developed different styles in different groups reflects that they learn the style socially within their groups,” Van Leeuwen told AFP.

He said the chimps appeared to have learned to perform the grasps “to some extent” as a ritual, reminiscent of secret handshakes performed by humans.

“The handclasp fits into the whole social interaction that two individuals engage in sometimes, making it a special connection within an already intimate grooming bout.”

‘Some serious, some care-free’

Van Leeuwen said his study was evidence of chimps’ ability to preserve “the stability of traditions”, a behaviour that among humans is thought of as cultural persistence.

He said the behaviour could not be explained by genetic or environmental factors since the composition of the two separate chimp groups was essentially identical — yet they each developed distinct grasping techniques.

He said the specific gestures and their longevity within each group could be a result of “the shared trait of social learning”.

With more than a decade spent observing the chimps’ behaviour, Van Leeuwen said he got to know the personality traits of each individual animal.

“Like humans, they have their individual ways of doing — be it during play, eating or grooming,” he said.

“Some chimpanzees are very serious, always on the lookout for ripples in the social atmosphere,” added Van Leeuwen.

“Some are more care-free and interact with even high-ranking individuals in their group with light touches of play.”

AFP

Pixar Strikes Oscars Gold Again With Dreamy Fable ‘Soul’

Pixar Strikes Oscars Gold Again With Dreamy Fable 'Soul'
Dana Murray and Pete Docter, winners of Animated Feature Film for “Soul,” pose in the press room at the Oscars on Sunday, April 25, 2021, at Union Station in Los Angeles. Chris Pizzello-Pool/Getty Images/AFP

 

 

“Soul” — Pixar’s dreamy animated fable about the meaning of life, released in the middle of a deadly pandemic — on Sunday took home the Oscar for best animated film, the latest in a long line of successes for the Disney subsidiary.

The film is the 23rd feature-length movie and the latest original story from Pixar, home to the massively popular “Toy Story” franchise, as well as one-off award-winning films like “Up” and “Inside Out.”

It is also the first from the animation powerhouse to feature a main character who is African-American.

“This film started as a love letter to jazz. But we had no idea how much jazz would teach us about life,” director Pete Docter said as he accepted the award.

“Soul” tells the story of Joe Gardner, a humble middle school music teacher in New York who has aspirations of being a jazz pianist.

After landing a major gig that could be his big break, Joe (voiced by Oscar winner Jamie Foxx) takes a serious fall… and finds himself caught between Earth and the afterlife.

He then ends up by mistake in the “Great Before,” a world where unborn souls prepare for life and gain their personality traits — good and bad — before gaining a human body.

This abstract universe, created by Docter — who also wrote and directed Oscar winners “Up” and “Inside Out” — explores the depths of the human condition: are we born with a purpose? Does life have meaning? Do we need to find that meaning?

The film alternates between the very realistic streets of New York and the fantasy universe of the Great Before.

Pixar Strikes Oscars Gold Again With Dreamy Fable 'Soul'
US musician Jon Batiste, US musician Trent Reznor and English musician Atticus Ross, winners of the award for Original Score for “Soul,” pose in the press room at the Oscars. Chris Pizzello / POOL / AFP

 

 

Pixar, which has been a pioneer in both the look and subject matter of animated films, once again takes a hard look at death, as it did in “Up” and again with “Coco.”

“Soul” also borrows a page from “Inside Out” (2015), which looked at the inner workings of the mind of an introverted little girl.

Docter told Deadline earlier this year that “Soul” is “an investigation into what’s really going on in life and how are we meant to live.”

Co-director and writer Kemp Powers added: “It’s this idea that life is about improvising and having to take all the unexpected things that are thrown at you and turn them into something of value, turn them into some beautiful.”

Powers said Pixar screened the film for test audiences to make sure it was not too dark for children.

“They get everything. They’re very smart,” Docter told NPR.

Docter also said they discussed the idea with “priests and rabbis and experts in Islam, Hinduism… to just see how these different traditions look at the soul and the afterlife and the world beyond our bodily forms.”

“Soul” ended up competing for Oscars glory with another Pixar film, “Onward,” because the awards season calendar was upended by the coronavirus pandemic, even though “Onward” was released nearly a year earlier.

AFP

Ibori Loot: We’ve Written A Formal Letter Of Protest To Buhari – Okowa

The Delta State Government has asked the Federal Government to return the £4.2 million James Ibori loot being repatriated to Nigeria by the United Kingdom to the state.

Governor Ifeanyi Okowa believes that since the money was stolen from the state, it would only be just to return the funds back to the state.

“I have spoken with the attorney-general of the federation. My attorney-general went to have a meeting with him. I think that we are working and we are likely to come on the same page. We have written a formal letter of protest to Mr President,” the Governor said on Wednesday during an appearance on Politics Today.

The protest by the state is in reaction to the decision of the Federal Government to spend the funds on federal projects.

READ ALSO: UK Govt To Return £4.2m Ibori Loot

Nigeria and the UK had signed a memorandum of understanding on March 9 for the repatriation of the funds stolen by Ibori, a former Delta State Governor.

But the development became mired in controversy shortly after the MoU was signed when the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, revealed the money will be spent by the Federal Government.

The projects it will be spent on, he said, were the construction of the second Niger Bridge, Abuja-Kano road, and Lagos-Ibadan Expressway.

Two Options

Governor Okowa, however, expects the Federal Government to take a similar route as the UK Government by returning the money to the source it was pilfered from.

“In the same manner of the relationship created between the UK and Nigeria, we also expect that the Nigerian Government will do the same thing by being magnanimous to return the money back to the source, which is Delta State,” he said.

To guarantee that Deltans benefit from the repatriated loot, the governor said it had provided options to the Federal Government and made a compelling case for the state.

“We have made two suggestions; return the money directly to us or apply it directly to projects that we feel are of importance and are in Delta State so that Deltans can directly benefit from the repatriated funds and I don’t think anybody can fault that line (of thinking)”, he said.

The governor is not alone in his position.

A day after the news of the planned return of the loot broke, the House of Representatives passed a resolution calling on the Federal Government to ensure that it was returned to Delta State.

Lawmakers passed the resolution after their colleagues from the state moved a motion of urgent public importance.

As far as they were concerned, the funds were stolen from the state and should be returned to it.

Ibori, who was Delta State Governor from 1999 to 2007, was convicted by a UK court in 2012 and was sentenced to 13 years in jail with several of his assets forfeited to the UK Government. He was released in 2016.

 

Human rights activist and Senior Advocate of Nigeria Femi Falana also backed the calls for the return of the funds to the state.

He commended the Federal Government for negotiating and pursuing the return of the loot to Nigeria but insisted that it be returned to the source.

“Since the money left the coffers of the Delta State Government, it has to be returned once it is recovered,” Falana said during an appearance on Politics Today.

The attorney-general of the federation, however, has a different argument.

“The major consideration relating to who is entitled to a fraction or perhaps the money in its entirety is a function of law and international diplomacy,” Mr. Malami told Channels TV of the Federal Government’s decision.

“All the processes associated with the recovery were consummated by the federal government and the federal government is, indeed, the victim of crime and not sub-national.”

Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, made an appearance on Channels Television on June 30, 2020.
Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, says the Ibori loot will be spent on, the construction of the second Niger Bridge, Abuja-Kano road, and Lagos-Ibadan Expressway.

 

Ultimately, Governor Okowa believes President Muhammadu Buhari will grant the state’s request as that is the right thing to do.

“I do believe that with the approach that we have undertaken it is unlikely that they will refuse the request. It is a strong appeal,” he said.

The governor rubbished claims that if the money is returned to Delta State “it will develop wings”.

“I don’t see how the money will develop wings anyway,” he said. “That is why we have directly put down projects – three projects where this money can be applied directly to such a manner that it is something you can investigate.”