COVID-19 Lockdown: April Salary Will Come On-Time, Says Akwa-Ibom Govt


Akwa-Ibom State Government has assured civil servants of its readiness to pay the April salary following the COVID-19 lockdown in the state.

The Head of Civil Service, Effiong Essien, disclosed this on Monday in Uyo, the state capital.

According to him, Governor Udom Emmanuel’s administration is responsive to the welfare of the workers in the state.

“Governor Udom Emmanuel is concerned with the plight of workers during this stay-at-home order and had paid salaries early enough in the month of March so that workers will not be stranded during the lockdown.

READ ALSO: Katsina Governor Directs Returnee Workers To Be Screened

“As I speak, an arrangement has been made to ensure that April salary will also come on time,” he said while monitoring the distribution of foodstuff.

Essien also assured the people of the government’s commitment to providing palliatives in terms of food items to cushion the effect of the lockdown.

The food items comprising rice, beans, garri, flour were distributed to vulnerable people in the villages across the state.

The Head of Service noted that the relief materials will go a long way to ameliorate the suffering of the people at this time.

“His Excellency out of his deep concern and love for the people of Akwa-Ibom State has arranged these food items to be distributed to every community and villages in the state so that it can reach mostly the poorest of the poor who are really affected by the lockdown, they are to be touched by this great benevolence,” he added.

Rangers, Rivers United Get Confederation Cup Opponent

Federation Cup, enugu rangers, Rangers, Imama Amapakabo, NPFLRangers International and Rivers United, have been drawn in the last 16 of the CAF Confederation Cup.

Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) champion, Rangers, were drawn against Zesco United of Zambia.

The club crashed out of the Champions League after losing to Zamalek 5-3 on aggregate.

Rivers United would face Rayon Sports of Rwanda, following their drop to the second tier having lost to Al-Merrikh 4-3 on aggregate.

The first leg would be played on April 7 and 9, while the return leg is scheduled for April 14 and 16.

Turkey-Netherlands Row: Dutch Ambassador Barred


As a diplomatic row between Turkey and the Netherlands deepens, Ankara said it has barred the Dutch Ambassador from returning to the country, and also suspended high level political talks.

This is in retaliation of a Dutch decision to block Turkey’s Ministers from campaigning for a referendum.

Germany, Austria, Switzerland and the Netherlands have all blocked Turkish attempts to hold rallies in their countries.

But President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, has accused the Dutch and Germans of Nazism.

The proposed rallies aimed at encouraging a large number of Turks living in Europe to vote yes, in a referendum on April 16 to expand the President’s powers.

Obiano Inspects Flyover Bridge Projects, Assures Completion In April

Obiano-Second-Niger-BridgeThe Anambra State Governor, Willie Obiano, has assured citizens in Anambra that all the three flyover bridge projects in Awka will be completed by April this year.

He gave the assurance during his tour to the  three flyover bridges at Kwata junction where he expressed satisfaction over the quality of work done and the pace at which the contracting firm is pursuing the project in order to deliver on record time.

The bridge when completed will not only ease traffic but will also enhance the aesthetics of the capital city, encourage tourism and boost the state’s economic status.

Governor Obiano also inspected the ongoing coshed Rice Farm road in Anaku and expressed hope that the challenges of last year experienced by the investing firm, coshed farms, other farmers in the area in accessing their farms and evacuating their produce will be tackled as the contractor handling the project has been urged to expedite action towards accelerated construction before the rains come.

The contractor handling the project also allayed fears of any challenge and said major work on the swamp will begin next week.

The governor impulsively patronized a fish seller in the vicinity while making inquiries on how to improve fish drying in the area for surplus production and attainment of fish sufficiency and affordability for all.

Rwanda Court Scraps Presidential Term Limits

rwandaThe Supreme Court in Rwanda has ruled that the country’s constitution can be changed to allow President Paul Kagame to run another term in elections in 2017.

The country’s parliament had approved changing the constitution, after more than 3.7 million people had signed a petition, asking for the two-term limit to be scrapped.

However, a referendum has been scheduled to determine whether the public supports a constitutional amendment to lift the current two-term limit on presidents.

Third term campaigns have caused unrest in other African countries; especially in Burundi, where at least 70 people were killed, after President Pierre Nkurunziza in April, said that he was running for a third term.

Japan PM To Seek Fresh Mandate For ‘Abenomics’ With Snap Poll

japanJapan’s Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe, has called an early election, two years ahead of schedule.

At a news briefing, he said he would dissolve parliament later this week and is also delaying a planned but unpopular increase in sales tax.

Mr Abe was elected two years ago with an ambitious plan to revive the economy, but has struggled to do so.

His popularity has fallen but he is expected to win the election, which will take place in mid-December.

Analysts say Mr Abe is looking for a secure mandate ahead of introducing unpopular policies that could see his popularity fall even further.

The prime minister – who returned to power in December 2012 pledging to revive growth with a radical mix of hyper-easy monetary policy, spending and reform – insisted his policies were working and challenged the opposition to come up with an alternative.

“I am aware that critics say ‘Abenomics’ is a failure and not working but I have not heard one concrete idea what to do instead … Are our economic policies mistaken, or correct? Is there another option?” He asked at a televised news conference. “This is the only way to end deflation and revive the economy.”

But Abe pledged that the sales tax rise, needed to fund swelling social security costs and curb Japan’s massive public debt, would be implemented without fail in April 2017.

Abe is seeking to renew his mandate just as doubts about the success of his strategy are deepening.

No election for parliament’s lower house needed to be held until late 2016. But Abe is hoping to cement his grip on power before his support ratings, now below 50 percent in some surveys but still sturdy by Japanese standards, slip further.

His voter support took something of a hit from funding scandals in his cabinet last month, and next year he is expected to tackle unpopular policies such as restarting nuclear reactors that went off-line after the 2011 Fukushima crisis.

Boko Haram Leader Denies Ceasefire Agreement In New Video

Boko HaramThe leader of the Boko Haram terrorist group, Abubakar Shekau, has denied claims that the group had reached a ceasefire agreement had been reached with the Federal Government of Nigeria, insisting that the group will not negotiate.

In a new video released by the AFP, Shekau also said that the more than 200 girls kidnapped by the group six months ago from their school dormitory in Chibok had been “married off” to its fighters, contradicting Nigerian government claims they would soon be freed.

Nigeria’s military says it killed Shekau a year ago, and authorities said in September that they had also killed an imposter posing as him in videos. In the latest recording it is hard to see the man’s face as he was filmed from a distance.

But it is likely to raise grave doubts about whether talks between a Boko Haram faction and the government in neighboring Chad will secure the release of the girls, who were kidnapped from a secondary school in Chibok, northeast Nigeria, in April.

“We have married them off and they are all in their husbands’ houses,” the man claiming to be Shekau says.

“The over 200 Chibok girls have converted to Islam, which they confess is the best religion. Either their parents accept this and convert too or they can die.”

Majority of the kidnapped girls were Christians.

Denial Of Ceasefire 

The man in the video also denied there was a ceasefire, and denounced Ahmadu Danladi, who says he represents Boko Haram in Chad.

“Who says we are dialoguing or discussing with anybody? Are you talking to yourselves? We don’t know anybody by the name of Danladi. If we meet him now we will cut off his head,” the man in the video says.

“All we are doing is slaughtering people with machetes and shooting people with guns … War is what we want.”

He also said that the group was holding a “white man”. The only known hostage seized in the northeast is a German teacher kidnapped from a college in the northeastern city of Gombe in July by gunmen widely assumed to be linked to Boko Haram.

Shekau’s denial of the ceasefire appears supported by the violence since the government announced it two weeks ago. It also raises doubts about the actual influence of Ahmadu.

For over five years the terrorist group demanding for an Islamic state and an end to  western education has killed thousands.

The government had said that negotiations with the group is ongoing, but attacks have also continued despite the ceasefire agreement claims, with a car bomb, thought to have been planted by the Boko Haram sect killed at least 10 people at a crowded bus stop in Gombe on Friday morning.



Pension Fraud: Court Grants N10 Million Bail To Yusufu

A former Pension Director in the Police Affairs Ministry, who recently confessed to stealing billions of naira belonging to the public, John Yakubu Yusufu, was Monday, granted bail by a Federal High Court sitting in Abuja.

Mr Yusufu, who was on January 30, remanded in Kuje prison after he pleaded not-guilty to a 4-count criminal charge that was preferred against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) secured bail in the sum of N10 million.

Ruling on his application for bail, trial Justice Adamu Bello also ordered the convicted former Director to produce one reliable surety in the like sum, stressing that such person must not be below the post of a Director in the Federal Civil Service.

The court also maintained that the surety must not only be resident within the Federal Capital Territory, but must show evidence of ownership of a landed property in Abuja.

The surety according to Justice Adamu should tender the title deed of the property to the Chief Registrar of the high court for authentication.

The Court also seized the international passport of Mr Yusufu, warning him not travel out of the country without permission.

“Pending the perfection of his bail conditions, the accused person should remain in Prison custody,” the judge added.

Meanwhile, before the accused was granted bail, Justice Bello, adduced reasons why he not only remanded the convict, but also why he was allowed to remain in prison detention for over two months.

The Judge insisted that his decision was aimed at assuaging the anger of Nigerians following the slap-on-the-wrist sentence that was earlier handed to the accused by an Abuja High Court at Gudu where Mr Yusufu had on January 27, confessed that he connived with seven other civil servants and stole over N23billion from the Police Pension Fund.

It will be recalled that Justice Abubakar Thalba, had relied on the statutory provision of section 309 of the Penal Code Act and sentenced him to 2 years imprisonment with an option of N750, 000 fine, a sum the accused quickly paid and drove home.

However, he was subsequently re-arrested by the EFCC following his alleged complicity in another N300 million fraud.

In the new charge, Mr Yusufu was said to have on or about February 14, 2012, knowingly failed to make full disclosure of his assets and liability in the Declaration of Assets Form he filled and submitted, and equally failed to declare that he owns a company known as AY-A Global Services Limited.

He was said to have used the name of the company and lodged in a fixed deposit account with the Zenith Bank, the sum of N250 million, N10 million in a fixed deposit account with the First Bank of Nigeria Plc, and another N29 million which he was said to have instructed one Danjuma Mele to lodge in his company account in the name of Jidag Technical Services Ltd with Diamond Bank.

The offence according to the EFCC, is punishable under section 27 (3) of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (Establishment e.t.c) Act Cap E1 2004.

South African bags life imprisonment for killing Terreblanche

30-year-old Chris Mahlangu, a black farmworker has been sentenced to life imprisonment for the murder of South African white supremacist leader, Eugene Terreblanche in a case that has generated racial tension in the city of Ventersdorp.

To sound their solidarity for Chris Mahlangu, over a 100 protesters sang anti-white songs outside the courtroom in the city, west of Johannesburg also protesting against Mahlangu were about 20 white protesters who carried the dummy of a black man with a rope around his neck and a sign that said: “Hang Mahlangu.” while Mahlangu was leaving the court.

A second man, Patrick Ndlovu, who was a teenager at the time of the killing two years ago, was sentenced to a two-year prison sentence which means he goes free. Ndlovu was acquitted of murder but found guilty of breaking and entering with intent to steal. Initially, he was not named because of his age. He turned 18 during the trial.

Chris Mahlangu pleaded guilty but argued that he acted in self-defence in what the judge found was a violent dispute over wages.

Mahlangu was found guilty for beating Terreblanche, 69, to death with an iron in April 2010. Mahlangu said he feels he did no wrong by ridding the world of a man some called a monster.

In 1997, Terreblanche was sentenced to six years in prison for the attempted murder of a black security guard and assaulting a black gas station worker. Terreblanche’s influence in the white supremacist movement had waned by the time he died.

The judge had rejected a defense argument that Mahlangu had been sodomized by Terreblanche and acted in self-defence. Mahlangu also claimed that Terreblanche infected him with HIV.

Zola Majavu, Mahlangu’s lawyer, said on Wednesday that they are planning to appeal both the court’s findings and the sentence.

After the sentencing, the Young Communist League of South Africa released a statement calling the judgment racially biased.

Terreblanche co-founded the Afrikaner Resistance Movement, known by its Afrikaans initials as the AWB, to seek an all-white republic within South Africa.

Mobile world our biggest challenge – Mark Zuckerberg

Facebook CEO, Mark Zuckerberg confessed that the greatest challenge the social network is presently facing is its adaptation into the mobile world.

He opened up the discussion at the media conference of Allen & co. which took place at sun Valley in Idaho.

Fitting the 990 million fan base membership social network into al mobile devices is proving to be the toughest task presently hindering his job as there’s a difference between desktop and mobile platforms. He also delved into the workability of the social network

Since the company went public in mid-May, Facebook has been having a tough time, and it still hasn’t climbed back to its $38 IPO price. Facebook’s stock fell below $$26 at one point and since then it’s generally stayed around the $30 mark.

The company’s struggles in the mobile realm has been well documented since Facebook filed documents with the SEC as it prepared to go public and listed mobile as one of its obstacles.

After that time, though, the company has made efforts to improve in the area. Facebook has made purchasing mobile ads easier, released a duo of apps this summer and purchased Instagram for $1 billion in April.

Meanwhile, for Facebook rival Twitter, the story is precisely the opposite as the company has actually been making more money from mobile on some days.

CEO; David Costolo admitted that he’s been all smiles to the bank these days.

Malawi’s president will not attend AU summit

Malawi President Joyce Banda will not attend the African Union summit which was moved to Ethiopia after she said her country did not want to host Sudan’s leader, wanted by the International Criminal Court on genocide charges.

Banda, president since April, has been trying to woo back overseas donors which froze hundreds of million of dollars of aid under her predecessor who picked fights with Western countries and was condemned for a deadly crackdown on anti-government protesters.

A few weeks after taking office, she asked the African Union (AU) to prevent Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir taking part in the July summit, saying his visit to Malawi could damage the economy. .

As an International Criminal Court (ICC) member state, Malawi is supposed to arrest Bashir if he enters its territory.

The AU this week moved the meeting to the Ethiopian capital due to Malawi’s stand.

“I respect the decision of the African Union to move the summit from Lilongwe to Addis Ababa but I am not attending the meeting,” Banda told a news conference late on Thursday.

When asked whether she was protesting the AU decision to move the summit, rather than prevent Bashir from attending, she said: “My main agenda is to put Malawi on an economic recovery path and that’s what I am trying to do.”

The Sudanese leader visited Malawi last year when President Bingu wa Mutharika was in power, which sparked international criticism. Mutharika died of a heart attack in April.


World food prices fall in May: UN’s FAO

World food prices dropped in May for a second month in a row, hit by steep falls in dairy products, sugar and other commodities, and are likely to fall further in the coming months, the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) said on Thursday.

Food prices grabbed attention of the world leaders after their spike to record highs in February 2011 helped fuel the protests known as the Arab Spring in the Middle East and North Africa. Food prices have fallen since.

Improvement in the security of food supplies amid the economic downturn was high on the agenda of a summit of leaders of the G8 industrial powers last month.

The FAO Food Price Index, which measures monthly price changes for a food basket of cereals, oilseeds, dairy, meat and sugar, averaged 204 points in May, down from 213 points in April, the FAO said in its monthly index update.

“We were expecting a decline in May, the surprise is the extent of it, which showed that markets for oils and fats, dairy products and sugar all had to make sharp downward adjustments,” Abdolreza Abbassian, FAO’s senior economist and grain analyst, told Reuters.

In May, an improved outlook for crops in some major producing countries, a strengthening U.S. dollar, which hits competitiveness of dollar-denominated commodities, and growing concerns about Europe’s debt crisis pushed prices down.

“We’re in a situation where supplies have improved and we’ve had quite a big spillover from other markets which were all down,” Abbassian said.

The steep price drop in May meant that even if further declines were seen in June, they would probably be less marked, he added.

The index was driven down by a 12 percent fall in dairy prices, a 9 percent drop in sugar and a 7 percent decline in oils and fats.