BBC Boss Tony Hall To Step Down In Six Months

(FILES) In this file photo taken on November 15, 2018 Director-General of the BBC Tony Hall is seen waiting to greet Britain’s Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, and Britain’s Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, as the royal couple visit BBC Broadcasting House in London on November 15, 2018.BEN STANSALL /POOL/ AFP

 

 

Embattled BBC boss Tony Hall will step down in six months’ time, he told staff on Monday, as the British broadcaster grapples with a damaging equal-pay ruling and scrutiny over funding.

“I will give my all to this organisation for the next six months… but in the summer I’ll step down as your Director-General,” he told staff in a group email.

“If I followed my heart I would genuinely never want to leave. However, I believe that an important part of leadership is putting the interests of the organisation first.”

Hall took up his post in 2013, tasked with restoring the reputation of the world’s biggest broadcaster after presenter Jimmy Savile was exposed as one of Britain’s most prolific child-sex offenders following his death.

But the corporation now faces the fallout of an equal-pay ruling in which an employment tribunal ruled it discriminated against female presenter Samira Ahmed, paying her one sixth of the amount given to Jeremy Vine for hosting a similar show.

The ruling opens the door to many other claims and could end up costing the corporation many millions of pounds.

The BBC is also facing pressure from Britain’s new government headed by Prime Minister Boris Johnson, which accuses it of bias in reporting in the recent general election.

Hall rebuffed the claims in his parting email, saying: “In an era of fake news, we remain the gold standard of impartiality and truth.”

The government has previously committed to maintain the licence fee model until 2027. A standard licence costs each British household just over £154 ($202, 182 euros) a year.

In the last financial year to April 30, the BBC received £3.7 billion in funding from the licence fee — an enviable revenue stream in tough economic times for media companies.

The prime minister has said that “you have to ask yourself whether that kind of approach to funding a TV media organisation still makes sense”.

“How long can you justify a system whereby everybody who has a TV has to pay to fund a particular set of TV and radio channels,” he asked, highlighting the challenge for the incoming boss.

Chairman of the BBC David Clementi called Hall “an inspirational creative leader, within the UK and around the globe”.

“Tony has led the BBC with integrity and a passion for our values that is obvious to everyone who meets him,” he said.

Hall, 68, is a former head of BBC news but spent more than a decade as chief executive of the Royal Opera House before returning to the broadcaster as director general.

The BBC said it would begin searching for a successor “within the next few weeks.”

Two Dead, 15 Injured In Shooting Outside US Bar

 

 

A shooting outside a bar in the US city of Kansas has left two people dead and at least 15 injured, three of whom were in critical condition, police said on Monday.

The shooting occurred at about 11:30 pm Sunday (0530 GMT) as people lined up outside the bar, the Kansas City police said on its Twitter account.

Arriving in the chaotic aftermath, police found the bodies of a woman who was shot and killed in the car park and a man who was believed to be the shooter.

“An armed security guard at the business engaged the shooter outside of the establishment,” a police statement said.

“We believe the shooter is the deceased adult male.

“As the investigation unfolded at least 15 other victims arrived at area hospitals. At this time three of those victims are listed in critical condition.”

Police said the circumstances that led to the shooting were not known.

Five Killed As Burst Hot Water Pipe Floods Russian Hotel

 

At least five people including a child died in the Russian city of Perm on Monday when a broken heating pipe flooded their hotel rooms with scalding water, investigators said.

The accident happened in a small private hotel located in the basement of an apartment block in the industrial city in the Urals region, some 1,100 kilometres (700 miles) east of Moscow.

“At least five people died and a further three were taken to hospital with burns,” the Investigative Committee, which probes major incidents, said in statement.

Those who died were all staying at the Karamel hotel, which has five single and double rooms, according to its website.

The hotel did not have an emergency exit while the water pipe that burst dated back to 1962, the building’s managing company said in a statement.

Hot water is piped under streets at a high temperature to supply homes in Russia and when these pipes burst, the scalding water and steam can cause fatal accidents, with cars sometimes plunging into holes that open up in roads.

Investigators have opened a criminal probe into the provision of dangerous services to consumers.

Boris Johnson Raises Visas In Pitch For Post-Brexit Trade With Africa

 

 

Prime Minister Boris Johnson told African leaders Monday that Britain would be more open to migrants from their continent after Brexit as he hosted a summit intended to boost trading ties.

He also promised an end to direct UK state investment in thermal coal mining or coal power plants overseas, saying London would focus on supporting a switch to low-carbon energy sources.

Johnson was speaking at the start of the first UK-Africa Investment Summit in London, a clear pitch for business less than two weeks before Britain leaves the European Union.

He told leaders including presidents Abdel Fattah al-Sisi of Egypt and Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya that he wanted to make Britain their “investment partner of choice”.

After highlighting all that Britain has to offer, he said Brexit would mean an end to preferential treatment for EU migrants.

“Our (immigration) system is becoming fairer and more equal between all our global friends and partners, treating people the same, wherever they come from,” he said.

“By putting people before passports we will be able to attract the best talent from around the world, wherever they may be.”

Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari, who also attended the summit, said Brexit offered an opportunity for increased free trade across the Commonwealth — and said visas were a key issue.

“While many in the African diaspora enjoy considerable benefits from life in the West, they do not always feel at the heart of the community,” he wrote in an article for The Times on Monday.

“A renewed sense that there are ties that bind us through the Commonwealth, and a concerted effort to grow those links through trade, could act as a spur to encourage togetherness and the certainty of belonging.”

Breathe the same air

Johnson, whose country hosts the next UN climate change summit in Glasgow later this year, also announced a shift in investment strategy to help combat global warming.

Sub-Saharan African faces a number of environmental challenges, particularly the effects of climate change, water and air pollution, desertification, deforestation and over-fishing.

On fossil fuels, Johnson said: “There’s no point in the UK reducing the amount of coal we burn, if we then trundle over to Africa and line our pockets by encouraging African states to use more of it, is there?”

“We all breathe the same air, we live beneath the same sky. We all suffer when carbon emissions rise and the planet warns.”

He added: “Not another penny of UK taxpayers money will be directly invested in digging up coal or burning it for electricity.

“Instead, we’re going to focus on supporting the transition to lower and zero carbon alternatives.”

The British government’s export agency reports providing £2 billion ($2.6 billion) in financing for UK company exports to Africa in the past two years.

The agency says it now wants to “increase its risk appetite” in Egypt and the emerging economies in Nigeria and Rwanda.

The UK government said the London summit will see British and African firms announce commercial deals worth £6.5 billion.

It did not spell out whether these were all firm commitments or included memorandums of understanding that do not always result in actual deals.

Britain will leave the EU on January 31, although ties will remain the same for 11 months while the two sides thrash out a new trading relationship.

The UK has said it will be leaving the bloc’s single market and customs union.

Johnson wants the freedom to strike trade deals with other countries, even at the expense of some of its producers facing trade tariffs and quotas as a result.

Five Confirmed Killed In Abule Egba Pipeline Explosion

 

Authorities say five persons have been confirmed dead in the Abule-Egba pipeline explosion that occurred within the late hours of Sunday.

Giving an update on the sad development, the Lagos State Emergency Management Agency (LASEMA) said three adult males, one adult female, and one female child died in the incident.

LASEMA via its official Twitter handle added that 20 people were treated for minor injuries and discharged at the scene.

READ ALSO: Panic As Pipeline Explodes At Ile Epo In Abule Egba Area Of Lagos

The agency noted further that about 11 buildings were also affected by the inferno.

According to LASEMA, 17 shops, 33 trucks, three cars, and three tricycles were affected by the fire.

Corroborating LASEMA’s statement, the Group Managing Director of Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Mr Mele Kyari, said it was unfortunate that five lives were lost to the inferno.

Mr Kyari who visited the scene of the explosion on Monday also revealed that many were in critical condition in the hospitals.

He noted that the explosion was a result of the “unpatriotic acts of vandals” who make “insertions into the pipelines to steal products, leading to disasters such as this.”

He, therefore, called for the “support of every member of the community to expose the bad eggs in their midst.”

PHOTOS: Buhari Participates In Opening Plenary Session Of UK-Africa Summit

 

 

President Muhammadu Buhari on Monday participated in the Opening Plenary Session of the UK–Africa Investment Summit in London, the United Kingdom.

The President was received by Minister of State for the Middle East and North Africa, Dr Andrew Murrison, alongside High Commissioner of UK to Nigeria, Catriona Laing, as he arrived at the venue of the event.

READ ALSO: Buhari Visits Prince Of Wales

Below are some photos from the plenary session.

 

EFCC Arrests 89 Alleged Internet Fraudsters In Ibadan Night Club

 

 

The Ibadan zonal office of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, has arrested 89 suspected internet fraudsters at the popular Club 360 located on the Akala Expressway, Oluyole Extension in Ibadan, the Oyo State capital.

According to the Commission, in preparation for the late-night operation which took place over the weekend, officers of the EFCC  had carried out a series of discreet surveillance.

READ ALSO: Police Uncover Suspected Baby Factory In Kano, Rescue 27 Children

The Commission said the surveillance revealed that the nightclub is notorious for harboring “yahoo-yahoo boys.

The EFCC said investigations are still ongoing and the suspects will soon be charged to court.

Supreme Court Verdict: Ganduje Calls Opposition To Join In Developing Kano

Kano State Governor, Abdullahi Ganduje

 

A few minutes after the verdict of the Supreme Court that reaffirmed his victory, Governor Abdullahi Ganduje of Kano State has called on members of the opposition to join hands with him for the continued development of the state.

“We thank Allah for the victory that made it possible for the Supreme Court to reaffirm our victory after Election Petition Tribunal and Court of Appeal judgements. We also thank Kano people for the peaceful conduct of their affairs,” said Governor Ganduje.

READ ALSO: Supreme Court Affirms Election Of Governor Ganduje

The Governor also thanked all those who actively participated in praying for the victory that came his way, emphasising that, “Whoever believes and depends on Allah, will always see light at the beginning, mid and end of the tunnel, no matter the circumstances.”

“We also commend all the Judges who partook in this exercise of deepening democracy. This shows the commitment of our judiciary in strengthening our democracy. This is highly commendable,” he added.

Ganduje said, “I insist that our opposition should come and join us to move the state forward. We have a lot of developmental projects on the ground and more are coming.

“Our free and compulsory education policy needs all hands on deck. Our security system also needs all and sundry,” he said.

Immediately after the announcement of the Supreme Court Verdict, the Government House in Kano was filled to capacity with people celebrating the victory.

The same look took over the streets of the state.

Greater UK Engagement In Nigeria’s Economy Would Bring Jobs To Under-Tapped Sectors – Buhari

 

 

President Muhammadu Buhari says he is seeking a new settlement with the United Kingdom following the UK’s imminent exit of the European Union.

In a statement on Sunday, President Buhari said the new settlement he seeks aims not only at building stronger ties but also at unleashing trade.

The President stated: “The United Kingdom’s exit of the European Union is now all but certain. Only the passage of time will reveal what their new relationship shall be. But with this new arrangement, I – like many other Commonwealth leaders – also seek a new settlement: not only of closer relations between the UK and my own nation but of unleashing trade within the club in which we together shall remain”.

President Buhari further stated that the relations between Nigeria and the UK are close and longstanding, most recently reiterated in both nation’s 2018 bi-lateral security pact and the collaboration in anti-trafficking.

He, however, noted that in recent years, the relationship – particularly economically – has become increasingly defined by Britain’s membership of the European Union.

READ ALSO: PHOTOS: Buhari Visits Prince Of Wales

According to President Buhari a new free trade agreement would reconfigure this, presenting new opportunities for both countries.

“As the largest economy in Africa, my country of nearly 200 million people has a great deal to offer: Nigeria’s vast natural energy and mineral resources, unbarred through the ending of customs barriers, could help supply growth for companies in all corners of the UK. Greater access would also be forthcoming to one of the world’s fastest expanding groups of consumers – the Nigerian middle classes.

For my country, greater UK engagement in its economy would bring jobs to under-tapped sectors, such as agriculture and manufacturing. Millions of highly skilled, English-speaking but underemployed young people, are eager to work but without the opportunities that foreign investment can bring to create jobs and build businesses.

“Yet there is also a case to be made that our two Commonwealth countries should try, with other members, to deliver more – collectively. In 2015, I became the first head of a new Commonwealth Enterprise and Investment Council tasked with boosting trade and investment within the wider organisation. Now with the United Kingdom – the Commonwealth’s largest economy – no longer obliged to ringfence its economy with tariffs, this mission will be given a jolt of vitality.

“However, we must be realistic: the commonwealth will not suddenly become a multilateral-free trade zone. Today many members reside within regional free trade and customs zones of their own. Yet without any of us needing to relinquish these ties, we can work together to minimise – consistent with respective memberships – as far as possible many of the tariffs and barriers on commodities, products, and services. Because member countries’ national laws are built on the principles of English jurisprudence, we might work together from this common platform to better align regulations on investment, certification, and trade.

“A renewed sense of Commonwealth solidarity would also be of enormous benefit to the large and vital diasporas – particularly from Africa and the Indian subcontinent – that live in Western Commonwealth countries such as Britain, Canada and Australia. These communities still maintain the strongest of cultural and family links with the countries from which they and their forebears emigrated.

“Yet visa restrictions and customs barriers must be reduced to fulfill the potential these connections could bring to the nations where they today reside. As an African leader I have an obligation to speak of the fact that while many in the African Diaspora enjoy considerable benefits from life in the West, they do not always feel at the heart of the community. A renewed sense that there are ties that bind us through the Commonwealth, and a concerted effort to grow those links through trade, could act as a spur to encourage togetherness and the certainty of belonging,” President Buhari stated.

The President also said that the new year provides two critical summits in which this new determination could take seed.

He noted that in January, London shall play host to the UK-Africa Investment Summit. (The continent is the Commonwealth’s largest constituent, providing over a third of its membership.) And then back to Africa, where Rwanda will welcome countries to the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting.

President Buhari was of the opinion that it is at this biennial summit that many of the organisation’s milestones have been achieved – particularly in democracy and human rights.

He said the 2020 summit could be the wrench that begins to tighten both nations’ economic structures, drawing strength from shared bonds of history, friendship, and language.

President Buhari was also of the opinion that time will tell if Britain’s new ability to strike free trade deals directly with other countries once it departs the EU can be built into more than bilateral economic cooperation.

He, however, added that there is no reason why, collectively, both Nigeria and the UK should not try nor should both nations dismiss the potential for making the Commonwealth of Nations more than a voluntary organization of equals based on a shared history that it is today.

The President also noted that it is in the people’s interests to labour, dispassionately, to increase focus on lowering barriers to achieving what truly brings freedom, friendship, and equality: prosperity through trade.

PHOTOS: ‘Tanko Must Go’ – Ihedioha’s Supporters Troop To The Streets

 

Supporters of Mr Emeka Ihedioha trooped to the streets of Owerri on Sunday to kick against the verdict of the Supreme Court which led to the removal of the PDP candidate as governor of Imo State.

The apex court had on Tuesday last week ordered the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to return Hope Uzodinma, candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), as the winner of the election.

The APC candidate had placed a distant fourth in the results announced by INEC but the apex court declared him winner based on Uzodinma’s claim that his votes across 388 polling units were annulled.

Diverse reactions were stirred by the verdict, with the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) threatening and carrying out protest marches across the federation, including a peaceful walk in Abuja on Monday.

READ ALSO: PDP Stages ‘Mother Of All Protests’ Against Supreme Court Judgement

Below are some photos from the protest which held on Sunday.

 

Relief For Barca As Messi Ensures Setien Enjoys Winning Start

 

 

Quique Setien may want a different Barcelona but he needed the same old Lionel Messi on Sunday as the Argentinian gave his new coach a winning start with the only goal in a 1-0 victory over Granada.

Messi’s strike in the 76th minute won a cagey contest at the Camp Nou and prevented the much-anticipated launch of Setien’s new era becoming something of a damp squib.

Victory also sends Barca back to the top of La Liga on goal difference, after Real Madrid had briefly claimed first place following their win over Sevilla on Saturday.

It would have been different if Granada’s Yan Eteki hadn’t struck the post with just over 20 minutes left or their central defender German Sanchez not been sent off for a needless second yellow card soon after.

The extra man was the boost Barca needed and Messi duly poked home his 17th goal in 21 games this season following good work by Arturo Vidal, Antoine Griezmann and the 20-year-old Riqui Puig.

All three had reasons to impress, particularly Puig, whose inclusion on the bench was an early indication of Setien’s belief in youth. Puig’s contribution after coming on should mean more opportunities are to come.

Setien said last week that if he could make one guarantee, it was that Barcelona would play good football while he is in charge and although few could argue this was a transformative display following the sacking of Ernesto Valverde, there were certainly some encouraging signs.

The passing was faster, the pressing higher and Messi spent most of the match playing down the middle, with Griezmann on the left and Ansu Fati, another youngster, on the right.

Slick Barca dominate

Setien claimed on Saturday he would never go home happy after winning and playing badly but a 1-0 victory gets his tenure off to a positive start and, with Real Madrid showing no sign of stuttering, he could hardly afford anything less.

His team had 83 per cent possession in the first half but chances were not as clear-cut and, as it was under Valverde, nearly everything went through Messi.

His driving run teed up Fati, who shot over, and then a cutting reverse pass set Alba away but Fati failed to finish at the back post.

Messi won the ball back on the ground and then nipped past two players. He flashed wide at the end of a fluid team move and missed from two free-kicks.

Barca were slick, evidently trying to pass faster and press with more aggression. Messi and Sergio Busquets chased and Griezmann did too, at one point earning the approval of the home fans after sprinting to provide cover at right-back.

Vidal has always harried and when he won the ball back early in the second half, Barca had a four against two. But Messi’s pass was heavy and the angle for Vidal became too acute.

The game drifted and tension grew but two moments proved crucial. First Eteki’s shot was kept out only by the post as he drove hard past the right hand of Ter Stegen.

Then, less than five minutes later, Granada were reduced to 10 men after German picked up a second yellow card for a late hack on Messi. It left Granada needing to survive 21 minutes and they only made it through eight.

Puig, on for Ivan Rakitic, recovered possession in the corner before Messi picked up the ball centrally. In a flash, he played in Griezmann, who found Vidal, whose swivelled a flick back into the path of Messi and he poked a finish into the corner.

Setien threw both arms into the air and looked to the sky, with joy and also relief.

Ronaldo Brace Pulls Juventus Clear As Inter Stalled In Lecce

 

Cristiano Ronaldo struck twice as Juventus beat Parma 2-1 to pull four points clear of Inter Milan at the top of the Serie A table on Sunday.

Inter’s title push hit another stumbling block after a 1-1 draw at lowly Lecce while Ante Rebic fired city rivals AC Milan to a last gasp 3-2 win over Udinese.

Ronaldo broke through just before the break, to score in a seventh consecutive league game, and almost set up a second just after for Aaron Ramsey, but the Welsh international rattled the post.

Andreas Cornelius scored with a towering header to get seventh-placed Parma back level ten minutes after the break.

But the visitors hardly had time to celebrate when Ronaldo broke through again after latching onto a Paulo Dybala cross for his 11th goal in seven games to bring his league tally this season to 16.

The eight-time reigning champions have a four-point cushion on Inter, who have won only two of their last six league games, and are now also under threat from Lazio, who are just two points behind with a game in hand after hammering Sampdoria 5-1 on Saturday.

Antonio Conte’s side had looked set to take maximum points from his hometown team, where he started his footballing career in the 1980s, when Alessandro Bastoni headed the away side in front with 18 minutes remaining.

But Marco Mancosu grabbed a precious point for the southerners five minutes after going behind.

“For me there’s always great emotion,” said Conte of his return to Lecce.

“Coming back to the Stadio Via del Mare means going back 30-35 years.

“I spent my childhood as a ball boy here. There will always be this attachment, but I am a professional and I try to do this job better.”

Lecce — just one point above the relegation zone — were coming off a four-match losing streak, but had held Juventus by the same scoreline back in October.

“Congratulations to them, even if conceding this goal leaves a bitter taste in the mouth,” added Conte.

Ibrahimovic boost

Croatian forward Rebic hit a brace, including the stoppage time winner, against Udinese that snatched a dramatic win that gave troubled AC Milan back-to-back league victories and moved them up to eighth, two points from the Europa League spots.

Star striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic got his first start at the San Siro after scoring last weekend at Cagliari.

The 38-year-old Swede did not get to celebrate in front of the home crowd but he has provided a confidence-boost for the seven-time European champions, who have taken seven points in three matches since his return.

“The arrival of Ibrahimovic has given us even more depth and conviction, which has helped us,” said coach Stefano Pioli.

Former Liverpool and Chelsea attacker Fabio Borini, who left Milan on Tuesday, scored his first goal on his debut for new club Hellas Verona in a 1-1 draw at Bologna that leaves them a further two points.

In the race for the Champions League, Roma bounced back from back-to-back league defeats with a 3-1 win over struggling Genoa that put them back in the top four, three points in front of fifth-placed Atalanta ahead of their match with SPAL on Monday.

Cengiz Under opened the scoring after just five minutes and the match looked as good as won a minute before the break when a cross from Leonardo Spinazzola — whose move to Inter broke down midweek — bounced in off Genoa’s David Biraschi.

Former Lazio striker Goran Pandev quickly pulled a goal back but Edin Dzeko had the last word with 16 minutes to go, pouncing on a error from goalkeeper Mattia Perin to send Genoa below Brescia into penultimate position.

Mario Balotelli came on late for lowly Brescia and was sent off just seven minutes later in a 2-2 draw against sixth-placed Cagliari.

The Italy forward entered the field in the 74th minute, but received a yellow card for a foul on Fabio Pisacane before picking up a second when he turned to argue with the referee.