• Lagos, Ogun, Oyo, Kano, Kaduna top list of states with vaccinated persons
• Lawyers divided over legality of forced vaccination on citizens
With less than a week to the December 1 deadline for COVID-19 vaccine mandate for federal civil servants, figures released, yesterday, by the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), shows that a paltry three per cent of the eligible population have been fully vaccinated, despite assurances by government of the availability of sufficient vaccines.
Three states had earlier made it compulsory for workers to get vaccinated, failing which they would be denied access to public spaces and religious worship centres. The states are Edo, Kaduna and Ondo. While it had been a tepid enforcement of the mandate in Kaduna and Edo since November 1, Ondo last week extended the deadline for civil servants’ vaccination to December 31, 2021.
The dismal showing also falls short of the 50 per cent target the Federal Government had earlier set for itself to vaccinate 55 million residents by the end of January 2022, which is two months away. Government had always insisted it has enough vaccines and assured of flow of high quality vaccines from many sources to meet its target
On March 6, 2021, Nigeria began its COVID-19 vaccination drive in Abuja, but nearly nine months after, a total of 6,183,844 number of eligible persons have received the first dose of COVID-19 vaccine in the country as at Tuesday, November 23, representing only 5.5 per cent of the eligible population.
Out of the number, a total of 3,456,204 have received their second dose and are fully vaccinated and this represents only 3.1 per cent of the eligible population.
Of the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Lagos tops the chart of total vaccinated persons with 1,035,593 out of which fully vaccinated persons are 665,827. This is followed in the top five rank by Ogun, 345,886 vaccinated and 168,364 fully vaccinated; Oyo, 321,884 vaccinated and 162,099 fully vaccinated; Kano, 229,178 vaccinated and 144,380 fully vaccinated; and Kaduna, 212,021 vaccinated and 132,706 fully vaccinated.
States on the bottom five are: Bayelsa, 39,826 vaccinated and 17,218 fully vaccinated; Ebonyi, 64,419 vaccinated and 31,106 fully vaccinated; Sokoto, 56,237 vaccinated and 40,761 fully vaccinated; Yobe, 62,024 vaccinated and 41,260 fully vaccinated; and Kogi, 80,754 vaccinated and 42,373 fully vaccinated.
Recall that the chairman of the Presidential Steering Committee on COVID-19 and Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, had announced that effective December 1, unvaccinated Federal Government workers won’t be allowed access into any public offices, as part of measures to contain the spread of the pandemic .
“All Federal Government employees are reminded that December 1 remains the deadline for all to show evidence of being vaccinated or a PCR Negative test result done 72 hours before being allowed into their offices,” he said.
The Federal Government on Monday again warned employees who love their jobs to go and get vaccinated before the deadline, insisting that its decision was in the best interest of Nigerians. The Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, observed that the COVID-19 vaccine mandate has become a global requirement and Nigeria cannot afford to be left behind in the fight against the pandemic.
While Ehanire said the Federal Ministry of Health is striving to attain herd immunity, “which we had calculated to be by vaccinating at least 70 per cent of our eligible population,” a paltry six per cent of eligible persons already vaccinated has demystified the insistence of vaccine mandate.
For instance, in the United States, where the mandate is also in vogue, more than 90 per cent of federal employees have had at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose, while 71 per cent of U.S. adults have been fully vaccinated, after the mandate was imposed by President Joe Biden in September.
LAWYERS are divided on the legality of the pronouncement vis-à-vis rights of citizens to privacy. While some said the Federal Government has no power to decree such orders without a legislative back up, threatening even to sue, others think it is in order and may be justified by the Quarantine Act.
Condemning the decision, the chairman, Nigerian Bar Association Section on Public Interest and Development Law (NBA-SPIDEL), Dr. Monday O. Ubani, declared that there is no enabling substantive legislation that makes COVID-19 vaccination compulsory.
In the absence of any such law, he explained, any policy statement from the government that lacks legal backing, especially when it is meant to take away guaranteed rights of citizens, is illogical, unlawful, null and void.
“The compulsory vaccination directive violates the right to life. Assuming but not conceding that there is a law backing the compulsory vaccination, such law will still make room for exceptions. There may be persons with valid health-related or other relevant reasons, who may want to opt out of such compulsory vaccinations and the law must allow them.
“If such exceptions that are justifiable are not provided, then it is likely that such law violates the human rights of those who are vulnerable,” he argued.
According to Ubani, the punishment of denial of access to office by the directive is a clear violation of the contractual terms of employment, and secondly a restriction to freedom of liberty and movement guaranteed under chapter 4 of the 1999 constitution, Universal Declaration of Human Rights as well as African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights.
He argued: “When these civil servants were employed, compulsory vaccinations and its attendant punishment for non compliance were not part of their terms of contract. This new policy is a rude interruption to cordial labour relationship and is against international best labour practices.”
“The truth of the matter is that there are hesitancies to the vaccinations worldwide and this is fueled by several theories and rumours. In the state of such confusion, the State must respect the rights of citizens to make informed personal decisions and not to be compulsorily rail-roaded into vaccination whose final implication is unknown, even to the scientific community.”
Also criticising the decision, human rights lawyer, Chief Mike Ozekhome (SAN), described it as being “legally and constitutionally impermissible.
“It’s a matter of choice. The Constitution in Section 37 guarantees every citizen the right to private and family life, including their correspondences, discussions, etc. The section prohibits inhuman and degrading treatment, by guaranteeing the right to dignity of the human person.
“This means you cannot compel a person to take vaccination against his/her personal wish and will. Intrusion into one’s body is a matter of personal choice. It is like being forced to take a particular drug even when the taker insists he is allergic to such,” he argued.
Ozekhome charged any Nigerian forced to take the vaccine to go court for redress.
Benin-based lawyer and co-founder of FOI Counsel, President Aigbokhan, faulting the decision, stressed that the issue of compulsory vaccination in Nigeria infringes on the rights of citizens.
Forcefully compelling the people to be vaccinated against their thought, conscience and religion, he argued, is contrary to section 38 (1) of the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria, Article 17 of the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights (Ratification and Enforcement) Act, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004 and Articles 11 and 12 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights 1948.
He therefore, declared such pronouncement by the FG as unconstitutional, illegal, unlawful and actionable.
Another human rights campaigner, Femi Falana (SAN), observed that vaccination is not new in Nigeria. “We vaccinate our children against polio and other diseases. If you want your children to go to school, they must be vaccinated.
“Children are compulsorily vaccinated against measles and poliomyelitis in Nigeria to prevent the spread. You are not compelled to be vaccinated, but if you want to mix with people in government offices you are required to show evidence of vaccination,” he stated, adding that there must be enough vaccines before the measures can be imposed on citizens.
Kano-based lawyer, Abubakar Sani, however, sees nothing wrong in the directive. According to him, the Quarantine Act is sufficient for the order.
He said: “It seems to be justified under the Quarantine Act. The Anti-COVID regulations made by the President last year pursuant to the Quarantine Act are very wide and sweeping. In fact, they empower the President to interdict (quarantine) anyone in the interest of public health.”
Sani argued that the question of violation of the people’s fundamental rights does not arise because most of them can be derogated from, under Section 45 of the Constitution, in such circumstances, adding that such rights are not absolute.
Explaining the issues, the convener of Access to Justice, Joseph Otteh, said in the early 20th Century, the U.S Supreme Court upheld the right of the Federal Government, on public health grounds, to mandate vaccination against the small pox disease, and, more recently the Justices of the Court have endorsed the decision.
His words: “But it is not clear that other countries will follow the U.S decision on this point. Many countries subscribe to Bills of Rights that are of a different texture to that of the United States, and their courts may find that the right of personal autonomy may override the right of the State to tell people what they should receive in their bodies, and so courts faced with these questions will have to undertake a delicate balancing act in determining what the boundaries of governmental powers are.
“However, notwithstanding the complexities of the substantive question, there are important pre-conditions which must be satisfied before a government can even assert such a right. And that is showing a legislative mandate that enables it to prescribe and enforce a vaccine mandate.
“A law, therefore, must provide enabling powers to the government, and such a law must pass constitutional muster, i.e. it must be proximately related to meeting the exigency at hand, must not be overbroad and discriminatory, and must be directly related to the need to promote public health and safety.
“What is not clear, as of now, is the authority the government has asserted to make and enforce the no-vaccine, no-work policy. No governor has the right to arbitrarily decide on compelling its people to take the COVID-19 vaccines. They can only do so where a legislation authorises them to.
“Unless the governors can point to an enabling legislative instrument conferring such powers, the policy or directive, ab initio, is unconstitutional.”
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Alec Baldwin Admits Career Might Be Over After Fatal Rust Shooting
Actor Alec Baldwin has revealed that his acting career might be over following the fatal shooting that led to the death of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins on the set of his film Rust.
Baldwin made this revelation in an interview with George Stephanopoulos of ABC News, adding that he did not care.
In the interview, Baldwin explained the timeline of events, revealing that he “didn’t pull the trigger” of the gun during the incident on 21 October in New Mexico.
“Someone put a live bullet in a gun”, he said. “I know it’s not me”.
The ABC interview was broadcast in the US on Thursday evening.
“I don’t know what happened on that set. I don’t know how that bullet arrived in that gun. I don’t know,” Mr Baldwin said.
“But I’m all for doing anything that will take us to a place where this is less likely to happen again.”
The actor also revealed that his every move at the rehearsal on 21 October was directed by Hutchins.
“She’s guiding me through how she wants me to hold the gun for this angle.”
“I’m holding the gun where she told me to hold it, which ended up being aimed right below her armpit.”
He noted that to get the shot, he needed to cock the gun – but not fire it.
“The trigger wasn’t pulled. I didn’t pull the trigger.”
“I cock the gun. I go, ‘Can you see that? Can you see that? Can you see that?”
“And then I let go of the hammer of the gun, and the gun goes off,” he said.
Baldwin also told ABC News that while the incident had left him emotionally scarred, he did not feel guilty.
“I have dreams about this constantly now,” he said. “I go through my day, and I make it through the day. Then I collapse at the end of the day. Emotionally, I collapse.”
Mr Baldwin also revealed that he met with Hutchins’ widower, Matthew, and her 9-year-old son after the shooting.
Recalling the meeting, he said, “I didn’t know what to say,”.. “[Matthew] hugged [me] and he goes ‘I suppose you and I are going to go through this together… and I thought, ‘Well, not as much as you are.’”
The interview with George Stephanopoulos of ABC News was Alec Baldwin’s first on-camera statement about the fatal Rust shooting since the incident occurred in October.
Cinematographer Halyna Hutchins died after a prop gun was discharged during a scene on the set of Midwestern film Rust. While investigations are still ongoing, Baldwin has been sued by crew members who allege negligence on the film’s set.
Alec Baldwin is best-known for his performance in the US sitcom 30 Rock and his impersonation of Donald Trump on sketch show Saturday Night Live.
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Real Madrid meet Real Sociedad as Liga challengers aim to reduce gap
Real Sociedad will attempt to halt Real Madrid’s march away from La Liga’s chasing pack on Saturday in a battle of first against third at the Reale Arena.
Madrid have stormed seven points clear at the top of the table after seven consecutive victories in all competitions, with nine wins and a draw recorded in their last 10.
Two wins in four days against tough opponents in Sevilla and Athletic Bilbao have seen Madrid emerge as clear favourites in the title race and it remains to be seen now which of those sides beneath them, if any, can keep up.
Real Sociedad were top themselves only a few weeks ago but a draw with Valencia and defeat by Espanyol has checked the momentum of Imanol Alguacil’s side, who will be desperate to avoid a third consecutive disappointment on Saturday.
They might take encouragement from Madrid’s performances, which have not been as convincing as the results.
Both Sevilla and Athletic squandered numerous chances at the Santiago Bernabeu and Real Sociedad will believe their attacking talents like Alexander Isak, Mikel Oyarzabal and David Silva can cause problems.
“Seven wins out of seven is not luck,” Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti insisted.
“This team has character. When we don’t win with our quality we have other strengths we can use.”
There are also question marks over Madrid’s freshness for this fixture after a demanding couple of weeks during which Ancelotti has continued to stay loyal to a consistent core of players.
Only one or two positions have been rotated and that could leave some of Madrid’s more seasoned veterans – like Karim Benzema, Luka Modric, Toni Kroos and Casemiro – lacking physical sharpness.
“We have had three matches very close together and we don’t have time to rest,” said Ancelotti on Wednesday.
“I will have to think carefully about my decisions this weekend.”
Madrid might also have one eye on next week’s final Champions League group game at home to Inter Milan.
Both teams have admittedly already qualified for the last 16 but first place is still to be decided and that could prove crucial given the quality of some of the other sides going through in the competition.
Barcelona, Atletico Madrid, Sevilla and Villarreal all face nail-biting European games next week as they scramble just to make the knock-out stages.
Barca’s assignment away at Bayern Munich is particularly tough but they cannot afford to take fifth-placed Real Betis lightly on Saturday, with five points still separating Xavi Hernandez’s team and La Liga’s top four.
Sevilla, meanwhile, in fourth go up against Villarreal in 12th, with Sevilla looking for a morale-boosting victory before they play away at Salzburg on Wednesday.
Atletico Madrid, the reigning champions, could yet be Real Madrid’s closest challengers in the league after a 4-1 thrashing of Cadiz last weekend offered signs they could be turning a corner.
Atletico host struggling Mallorca on Saturday before a crunch trip to Porto on Tuesday, with a demanding week ending with the Madrid derby at the Santiago Bernabeu next weekend.
Granada v Alaves (2000)
Sevilla v Villarreal (1300), Barcelona v Real Betis (1515), Atletico Madrid v Mallorca (1730), Real Sociedad v Real Madrid (2000)
Rayo Vallecano v Espanyol (1300), Elche v Cadiz (1515), Levante v Osasuna (1730), Celta Vigo v Valencia (2000)
Getafe v Athletic Bilbao (2000)
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Five Exciting Facts About Hit Spanish Hit Series “Money Heist”
By Oreoritse Tariemi
03 December 2021 | 12:20 pm
In anticipation of the final five episodes of Netflix’s hit series Money Heist, here are five facts about the show you might not have given a second thought. Money Heist tells the story of a group of criminals who try to pull off the biggest heist in recorded history, to print billions of euros in the Royal Mint…
In anticipation of the final five episodes of Netflix’s hit series Money Heist, here are five facts about the show you might not have given a second thought.
Money Heist tells the story of a group of criminals who try to pull off the biggest heist in recorded history, to print billions of euros in the Royal Mint of Spain led by a criminal mastermind ‘The Professor.’
To help him carry out the ambitious plan, The Professor recruits eight thieves with specific abilities and who have nothing to lose. The group of thieves storm the band and take hostages to aid in their negotiations with the authorities, who strategize to come up with a way to capture The Professor.
With a scheduled end for today, fans will say goodbye to the series when streaming giant Netflix releases the final five episodes of one of its most-watched series.
So, here are five interesting facts about the crime series you should know:
Money Heist wasn’t an immediate hit at first release, guess you didn’t know that. In fact, its debut season scored so-so ratings when it was first broadcast on free-to-air Spanish TV station Antena 3.
The first episode aired on May 2, 2017, and only recorded four million views, and this number continued to drop. The final episode of its debut season recorded just 1.4 million viewers, a far cry from the high numbers the show had recorded in recent times.
However, after Netflix bought the show, re-edited it, dubbed it and began streaming it in December 2017, the show’s views tripled, and it went viral in Spain and the rest of the world.
Money Heist follows a group of criminals who break into Spain’s Royal Mint to print their own money, a symbol of revolt against capitalism’s excess, which struck a code with thousands of viewers a decade against the global financial crisis.
French daily Le Monde described the series as “an allegory of rebellion.” The series’ red overalls and Salvador Dali masks worn by the show’s fictional characters have become symbolic and have been donned in protests around the globe.
In December 2020, a group of gunmen carried out a brazen robber in Criciuma in Southern Brazil, which inspired the series. The heavily armed gang had burst into a band, detonated explosives to blast open the safe and left bills flying into the air as they fled.
Police efforts to catch the robbers were foiled by bystanders who raced to collect the money that was flying around.
If you’re a big Money Heist fan, you should already know that each gang member has a code name after cities worldwide: Tokyo, Rio, Berlin, Moscow, Nairobi, Oslo, Helsinki, Denver etc.
What you probably didn’t know is that the show creator got this inspiration from a staff member who wore a t-shirt with the word Tokyo.
Tourists to Madrid often take pictures of themselves in front of the Royal mint, where much of the series takes place.
However, for security reasons, the exterior images of the building in the movie were actually shot in front of another institution with similar architecture — the Spanish National Research Council.
For Money Heist fans, the series finale brings indescribable sadness. However, fingers crossed, something better might follow soon.
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Court dismisses CAN’s suit against CAC, Minister of Trade
A Federal High Court, Abuja has dismissed a suit filed by the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) against the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) and the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment.
Justice Inyang Ekwo, in a judgment, dismissed the suit over the failure of the plaintiff to comply with the law in the name used in filing the originating summons.
“Therefore, this application lacks merit and ought to be dismissed and I hereby make an order dismissing same,” he declared.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that while the Incorporated Trustees of Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) is the plaintiff in the suit, the CAC and the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment are 1st and 2nd defendants respectively.
The plaintiff, in an originating summons marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/244/2021, had prayed the court to determine “whether Section 839, subsections (1), (7) (a) and (10) of the Companies and Allied Matters Act (CAMA), 2020, is inconsistent with Sections 4(8), 6(6)(b) and 40 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (CFRN) (as amended) which guarantees the plaintiff’s right to freedom of association and the right to seek redress in court.
“Whether the provision of Section 854 of the CAMA is inconsistent with Section 39 of the CFRN which guarantees the right to freedom of expression,” among others.
Part of the reliefs sought by the plaintiff include “a declaration that Section 839(1), (7) (a) and (10) of the CAMA are inconsistent with Section 40 of the CFRN and thus unconstitutional, null and void.
“A declaration that Section 839(1), (7) (a) and (10) of the CAMA are inconsistent with Section 4(8) of the CFRN and thus unconstitutional, null and void.
“A declaration that Section 839(1) and (7) (a) of the CAMA are inconsistent with Section 36(1) of the CFRN and thus unconstitutional, null and void.
“A declaration that Section 839(1) and (7) (a) of the CAMA has a direct effect on the judicial power of the court under Section 6(6) (b) of the CFRN, and Is therefore void.
“An order striking down Sections 839(1), (7) (a) & (10), 842(1) and (2), 843, 851 and 854 of the CAMA for being unconstitutional.
“A declaration that Section 17(2) (a) & (d) of the CAMA demand an impossible and impracticable action; thus, void.
“An Order striking down Section 17 (2) (a) & (d) of the CAMA for being impracticable and unknown to Law.”
However, in the course of the proceedings, CAN brought an application, praying for an order to amend the originating summons and accompanying processes by replacing the word, “INCORPORATED” with “REGISTERED” in the name of the plaintiff in the suit such that it would read, “The Registered Trustees of the Christian Association of Nigeria.”
The application was filed on the grounds that the name expressed in its certificate of incorporation is the “Registered Trustees of the Christian Association of Nigeria” and not “Incorporated Trustees of Christian Association of Nigeria.”
It stated further that in the originating summons, the plaintiff’s name was inadvertently expressed as “Incorporated Trustees of the Christian Association of Nigeria.”
“This error in the plaintiff’s name was as a result of the inadvertence of counsel.
“The error in the plaintiff’s name is what we seek by this application to rectify,” it added.
The plaintiff argued that it was an oversight on the part of the counsel who prepared the draft of the processes.
In its counter affidavit, the CAC had opposed the plaintiff’s suit, challenging the propriety of the constitution of the parties and competence of the plaintiff.
It argued that “The Incorporated Trustees of the Christian Association of Nigeria;” as a non-juristic person, was unknown to law to institute and maintain the action.
“The plaintiff is not an entity registered under the Companies and Allied Matters Act and not one otherwise recognised as being vested with statutory rights of incorporation and bereft of the requisite locus standi, legal capacity or competence to sue and maintain this action eo nomine against the 1st defendant.
“The certificate of incorporation, Exh. P1, is a certificate of Christian Association of Nigeria and not the plaintiff.
“The plaintiff being the party invoking the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court is not a juristic person and incompetent to do so.
“The amendment which the plaintiff seeks is not one to cure a mere misnomer but an amendment to give life to the originating processes by substituting a non-juristic person with a juristic person.
“The originating process of the plaintiff is incurably defective and cannot be cured by an amendment.
“This court cannot by an order, breathe life on an otherwise lifeless and/or non-existent entity.”
The CAC insisted that granting the application would change the character of the case and would be prejudicial to it.
Delivering judgment, Justice Ekwo said he had taken a look at the certificate of incorporation of the plaintiff attached to the origination summons as Exh. P1 and found that the name on the certificate is ‘The Registered Trustees of Christian Association of Nigeria.”
“Further peruse shows that the certificate was issued under the regime of the Land (Perpetual Succession) Act, Cap. 98 of the 1958 LFN on 19th December 1986.
“This means that the plaintiff was registered before CAMA first came into effect in 1990.
“With this evidence, it means the plaintiff can only sue and be sued in the name on the certificate issued to it on 19th December 1986,” he said.
He cited a previous case to back his stand.
“There must be consequential order in the circumstance of this case.
“The originating processes in the name of ‘The Registered Trustees of Christian Association of Nigeria’ cannot stand.
“Similarly, it is my opinion that this ruling has therefore also resolved the issue in the preliminary objection of the 1st defendant too.
“I find that the plaintiff did not comply with the law in the name used in filing its originating summons.
“Therefore, this application lacks merit and ought to be dismissed and I hereby make an order dismissing same,” he ruled.
The judge added that the ruling affected the foundation of the case going by the defect in the name by which the plaintiff commenced the matter.
“I, therefore, make an order striking out the entire case. This is the order of this court,” Ekwo held.
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PSG wait for Messi to find Ballon d’Or form with Neymar out
Paris Saint-Germain have been milking the fact that they have this year’s Ballon d’Or winner in their ranks, but Lionel Messi was crowned the world’s best player for the seventh time in his glittering career entirely because of what he achieved elsewhere.
At 34, perhaps Messi was principally rewarded for his enduring brilliance by jurors as he won the prize ahead of much-fancied rivals including Robert Lewandowski and Karim Benzema.
However, he still scored 38 goals in his final campaign with Barcelona, was top scorer in La Liga, won the Copa del Rey and captained Argentina to victory at the Copa America.
As he collected his prize in a ceremony in the French capital on Monday, PSG president Nasser al-Khelaifi was there and spoke of his “immense pride that one of our players has won the most prestigious and coveted award”.
On Wednesday, as PSG played host to Nice, the message “Paris Golden City”, in English, covered the main entrance to the Parc des Princes. Inside Messi was paraded before kick-off on a stage on the pitch as he showed off his reward.
Yet he proceeded to produce another rather flat performance as his side was held to a 0-0 draw, and Messi has still scored just once in eight appearances in Ligue 1.
He has saved his best moments so far in a PSG shirt for the Champions League, with three goals in four games in Europe.
Messi, who has struggled with varying fitness issues, has not yet played like a Ballon d’Or winner for his new club — certainly George Weah’s victory in the 1995 Ballon d’Or owed much more to what he did with PSG, even though he had left to join AC Milan earlier that year.
Mauricio Pochettino’s PSG are 12 points clear at the top of Ligue 1 before Saturday’s game at Lens, where one of the best atmospheres in French football will await the Parisian superstars at the 37,000-capacity Stade Bollaert.
If Messi should be there alongside Kylian Mbappe, Neymar will not be, the Brazilian beginning his latest spell on the sidelines with an ankle injury.
Neymar, who has endured a disappointing 2021, is not expected back until at least mid-January.
“It makes me sad to see a player on the sidelines. We know he enjoys playing football more than anything else,” said Pochettino of Neymar this week.
Now, however, Pochettino needs to try to get his team — still regularly playing well below their potential — firing on all cylinders without the world’s most expensive player.
Player to watch: Gerson
The 24-year-old Brazilian has been lambasted for his performances for Marseille since moving to France from Flamengo for a reported fee of 22 million euros ($24.9m).
Despite breaking into the Brazil team as recently as September, Marseille supporters had been wondering why coach Jorge Sampaoli was persisting at all with Gerson, usually playing him out of his apparently favoured central midfield position.
Then on Wednesday he finally showed what he is capable of with a brilliant turn and finish to give Marseille a 1-0 win at Nantes, lifting them up to second. The first part of his hefty transfer fee was paid back in that moment, and the hope is that he can now build on that as Marseille push for Champions League qualification.
30 – Messi is the first player to win the Ballon d’Or while based in France in 30 years, since Jean-Pierre Papin won it in 1991 while at Marseille.
37 – The number of goals conceded by Bordeaux in 16 games this season. Across Europe’s big five leagues only Bundesliga bottom side Greuther Fuerth (39 in 13) have let in more.
5 – Brest have won five consecutive top-flight games for the first time in their history.
Fixtures (Kick-offs GMT)
Marseille v Brest (1600), Lille v Troyes (1800), Lens v Paris Saint-Germain (2000)
Saint-Etienne v Rennes (1200), Lorient v Nantes, Monaco v Metz, Montpellier v Clermont, Reims v Angers (all 1400), Nice v Strasbourg (1600), Bordeaux v Lyon (1945)
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Pope Francis urges ‘fraternity’ at mass in divided Cyprus
Pope Francis appealed for a “sense of fraternity” in an open-air mass in Cyprus on Friday, the second day of a visit to the divided Mediterranean island that has focused heavily on the plight of migrants.
As a gesture of solidarity to those fleeing poverty and conflict, the 84-year-old pontiff was expected to offer 50 migrants now in Cyprus a chance for a new life in Italy.
The pope delivered his open-air mass at Nicosia’s main football stadium to some 7,000 faithful, many of them workers from the Philippines and South Asia who make up a large proportion of the 25,000 Catholics in mainly Greek-Orthodox Cyprus.
“Faced with our own inner darkness and the challenges before us in the church and in society, we are called to renew our sense of fraternity,” Francis told them.
“If we remain divided, if each person thinks only of himself or herself, or his or her group, if we refuse to stick together, if we do not dialogue and walk together, we will never be completely healed of our blindness.”
Many in the crowd were waving the flags of nearby Lebanon, the Philippines and the pope’s native Argentina. A 130-member multicultural choir sang songs in Arabic, English and Greek.
“We are so lucky,” Jackylyn Fo Bulado, a 31-year-old domestic worker from the Philippines wearing a T-shirt with the pope’s image, said before the mass started.
“We are just waiting for a simple message of love and peace from the pope and that he will bless Cyprus and the world.”
‘Message of dialogue’
The pope earlier visited the Holy Archbishopric of the Greek Orthodox Church of Cyprus in Nicosia, seeking to improve historically difficult relations between the Roman Catholic and Greek Orthodox churches.
“Where our relations are concerned, history has opened broad furrows between us, but the Holy Spirit desires that with humility and respect we once more draw close to one another,” he said in an address to Orthodox clerics, including Archbishop Chrysostomos II of Cyprus.
Elena Chentsova, an Orthodox Christian originally from Ukraine, said she woke up early to see the pope.
“I’m Orthodox and I hope he will spread a message of dialogue between the different religions, to be all the more close,” the 42-year-old told AFP.
Francis — on his 35th international trip since becoming pope in 2013 — is the second Catholic pontiff to visit Cyprus after Benedict XVI went in 2010. He travels on to Greece on Saturday morning.
Cyprus said it had deployed 500 police to secure the pontiff’s visit, with sharp-shooters deployed on rooftops and a helicopter buzzing in the sky.
Police said a 43-year-old man was arrested after a security check at the stadium when a knife was found in his possession. A police spokesperson said it was believed the knife “had nothing to do with the pope” and was for personal use.
The pope will later hold an ecumenical prayer service with migrants from dozens of nations at Nicosia’s Church of the Holy Cross, located near the UN-patrolled “Green Line” that divides the country.
Cyprus has been split since 1974 when Turkish forces invaded and occupied the island’s northern third in response to a military coup sponsored by the Greek junta in power at the time.
Only Ankara recognises the self-proclaimed Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, and tensions simmer between the two sides.
‘Walls of fear’
The majority-Greek speaking south accuses the north of sending migrants across the Green Line and also says it now receives the highest number of first-time asylum seekers of any EU member country.
Francis on Thursday bemoaned “the terrible laceration” of Cyprus while also urging greater unity in Europe, instead of nationalism and “walls of fear”, as the continent faces an influx of refugees and migrants.
The island’s experience served as a reminder to Europe, he said, that “we need to work together to build a future worthy of humanity, to overcome divisions, to break down walls, to dream and work for unity”.
On Thursday evening, Francis visited President Nicos Anastasiades for talks focused on the island’s painful division.
“I think of the deep suffering of all those people unable to return to their homes and their places of worship,” said the pope, urging dialogue.
Turkish Cypriot leader Ersin Tatar accused the south of seeking to use the trip to score “political goals against Turkey and the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus”.
It was a “source of sorrow for us that Pope Francis will visit Greek Cyprus only,” he said.
“There are two peoples in Cyprus. Not only Christian Greeks but also Muslim Turks live in Cyprus. This is one of the basic realities of Cyprus.”
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Ronaldo’s 800th career goal begins Man Utd revival as Carrick walks away
Michael Carrick exited Manchester United with a win as Cristiano Ronaldo surpassed 800 goals for club and country with a double to see off Arsenal 3-2 on Thursday.
Carrick was taking charge for the final time as caretaker manager with new interim boss Ralf Rangnick watching from the stands and announced after the match he will leave the club rather than return to his coaching role.
The former United midfielder was part of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s coaching staff and had been criticised by former teammate Paul Scholes for remaining at the club following the Norwegian’s dismissal.
“It’s 100% my decision,” said Carrick. “I thought it was the right thing to do for the club and for Ralf and I’m quite happy with that.
“We were in a situation where there was a responsibility to see these games through. The loyalty to Ole is a little bit of a factor but there were a lot of things that came into my decision.”
A vital three points means Rangnick will take over with United just three points off the Premier League top four and with an enticing run of fixtures to come over the festive period.
Victory also rounded off a fine stint for Carrick as caretaker after progress to the Champions League last 16 and a creditable 1-1 draw at Premier League leaders Chelsea.
The United fans paid homage to Solskjaer with a banner in the first match at Old Trafford since he was dismissed.
However, once the action got underway, nothing seemed to have changed from the final days of the his reign as United started in a similar fashion to humiliating home defeats to Liverpool and Manchester City.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Ben White had chances for the visitors inside the first two minutes.
When Arsenal did go in front on 13 minutes it was in strange fashion.
Emile Smith Rowe’s shot bounced into an unguarded net with David De Gea down injured having been stood on by his own player Fred.
Referee Martin Atkinson blew the whistle to stop play, but only after the ball had crossed the line and therefore the goal had to stand.
Arsenal players rebuffed United’s request to stand aside and allow them to equalise in a gesture of fair play.
But they did so of their own accord a minute before half-time when Jadon Sancho and Fred combined to tee up Fernandes to slot home his first goal since September.
Ronaldo was dropped to the bench by Carrick at Stamford Bridge on Sunday amid suggestions that may become a more common occurrence under Rangnick’s high-energy style.
Accommodating the 36-year-old has been one of the causes of United’s decline defensively this season.
But Ronaldo has kept his end of the bargain with 12 goals in 17 games since returning for a second spell with the Red Devils.
He coolly slotted home Marcus Rashford’s cross, but United’s lead lasted just two minutes as Arsenal responded with almost a carbon copy equaliser.
This time Gabriel Martinelli was the provider for Odegaard to steer into the far corner.
“We had some really good moments and when you score two goals you expect to get something from the game, but it is our own fault,” said Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta.
“We deserve much more than we got but you get punished against this quality of players.”
On the night he reached another remarkable personal milestone, the stage was set for Ronaldo to breathe new life into United’s season when Fred was chopped down inside the box by Odegaard 20 minutes from time.
Fernandes blasted over when he retained penalty duties against Aston Villa earlier in the season.
This time he stood aside for his international teammate, who smashed the ball high past Ramsdale for his 130th United goal across two spells.
Ronaldo also scored 450 goals for Real Madrid, 101 at Juventus, five for Sporting Lisbon and is the record goalscorer in international football with 115 for Portugal.
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31 million PLWDs suffer as 23 states neglect disability rights
• MDAs yet to implement Buhari’s directive three years after disability law passage
• Govt, private sector charged to promote disability inclusion
As Nigeria joins the rest of the world today to mark the International Day of Persons with Disabilities (IDPD), the over 31 million community of Persons Living With Disabilities (PLWDs) in the country has called on government at all levels to quit paying lip service to their plights and match words with actions by implementing the various domestic laws and international conventions.
The IDPD is a day set aside by the United Nations since 1992 to promote a better understanding of disability issues with a focus on the rights of PLWDs in every aspect of the political, social, economic and cultural life of their communities.
The theme for the 2021 IDPD is ‘Leadership and Participation of PLWDs toward an inclusive, accessible and sustainable post-COVID-19 world,’ with a focus on their empowerment for inclusive, equitable and sustainable development as envisaged in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
In a statement, yesterday, to mark the IDPD, Executive Director, Centre for Citizens with Disabilities (CCD), David O. Anyaele, observed that this year’s event is the third commemoration of the day since the passage and assent by President Muhammadu Buhari of the disability rights Act that is designed to protect the more than 31 million citizens with disabilities.
He said: “We are worried that 36 months after the passage of the Disability Rights Act, only 13 states have demonstrated measures to adopt the Act. We commend states like Lagos, Anambra, Ekiti, Ondo, Plateau, Bauchi, Kano, Kaduna, Jigawa, Kogi, Niger, Kwara and Niger.
“We call on the state governments yet to adopt the National Disability Rights Act to do so without further delay. This is important because failure in this regard is an indirect endorsement of discrimination and other harmful practices against citizens with disabilities.
“It is important for state governments to make inclusion and participation of citizens with disabilities in governance and development programmes a priority, as it is very expensive and difficult to live with disability without government support.
“We are concerned that 34 months after the passage of the Discrimination against Persons with Disabilities (Prohibition) Act 2018, citizens with disabilities are still left behind due to none implementation of the Act by Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs). This is evidenced by the none provision of necessary measures to enhance access to buildings of these MDAs, and the inclusion of citizens with disabilities in their programmes and activities.
“We are also worried that many states across the federation are struggling to budget for the integration and rehabilitation of citizens with disabilities, even when they are budgeted, PLWDs hardly benefit from such provision. However, we commend states like Lagos, Plateau, Ondo and Anambra that have taken measures to not just pass the disability bill, but also taken steps to create offices for disability affairs in their states.
“We are worried that more than 18 months after President Buhari gave directives to MDAs to pay special attention to the peculiarities of PLWDs in the formulation and implementation of their policies and programmes, and where suitable their employment, nothing has been done in this regard,” he stated.
While acknowledging that Nigeria has signed the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities including its optional protocols, Anyaele said the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) would not be achieved if state and non-state actors continue to discriminate, isolate and marginalise PLWDs in Nigeria.
The CCD boss further urged the President to assent to the Electoral Act as it contains new provisions to address the disenfranchisement of PLWDs in the conduct of elections.
“We are marking this day at a time Nigerians are awaiting the assent of the President on a Bill for an Act to Repeal the Electoral Act No. 6, 2010 and Enact the Electoral Act 2021, to regulate the conduct of Federal, State and Area Councils in the Federal Capital Territory elections.
“The Bill provides for the removal of the barrier that hinders citizens with disabilities from participating in the electoral process on an equal basis with others. We called on President Buhari to sign the Electoral Bill without further delay in order to open the space for necessary actions towards 2023 general elections.”
WHILE the Director-General of the National Centre for Women Development, NCWD, Dr. Asabe Vilita Bashir, in her statement, disclosed that there are over 27 million Nigerians living with some form of disability, she noted that all hands must be on deck to support and integrate this significant group to the society so that “they can build practical life skills that lead to enhanced independence and provides a path to recovery for those who feel isolated.
“NCWD will continue to advocate the rights and needs of PLWDs and foster the effective use of ICT that are accessible, adaptive and affordable.
“National blindness and visual impairment survey in Nigeria conducted between 2005 and 2007 showed that 4.25 million Nigerians aged 40 are visually-impaired or blind. The figures for the blind and deaf are significantly higher today and have impacted negatively the country’s workforce.
“ICT as a strategic option has the capacity to enable PLWDs to take advantage of the educational system, entrepreneurship and job opportunities available in the country.”
A non-governmental organisation, Project Enable Africa, which is at the forefront of disability inclusion has instituted the Disability Inclusion and Leadership Awards (DIAL), according to the Executive Director, Olusola Owonikoko, will serve as a platform “to appreciate, acknowledge and reward PLWDs and others who might be without disabilities but are championing disability inclusion.”
Keynote speaker at the DIAL event held in Lagos, yesterday, and CEO, Background Check International (BCI), Kola Olugbodi, urged the society to include PLWDs in all activities and ensure their talents are harnessed for the betterment of the community and state.
“The disability community is like a closed community that many people don’t know what’s happening there. And many don’t even give them the opportunity of even being showcased, or to see what we are doing, because I also belong to that community.
So, this is just to make the world know that PLWDs are doing great things as entrepreneurs too and they need to be celebrated.
“We want the world to know that we are not all beggars. Of the over 200 million population of the country, we have large numbers of us doing great things and whose voices must be heard.
“Part of our inclusive drive is to ensure that we are considered as a priority in society. For instance, in the area of the election, PLWDs should be allowed to participate in all processes of the election with some protection for the community. The inclusiveness also includes having PLWDs in politics and governance. We are Nigerians and also human beings. We are most marginalized in all facets of our society and national life, but things have to change.”
Moderator at the event, Mrs. Dolapo Agbede, a human resource management expert, called on the private sector not to wait for the public sector in driving the inclusion of PLWDs in society.
“Because leadership is going to be crucial to what’s going to be possible for the disability community, which I belong to, this conversion needs to be taken beyond every December 3 for action to match words and policy statements.
“I am visually impaired myself, you know, since 2007, due to glaucoma, so healthcare in this country needs to improve. But back to the subject, a lot has been done in getting the society recognise that PLWDs matter too.”
Distanced working, digital skills and emotional intelligence are what businesses in Nigeria are looking for from jobseekers, according to a new report. The Labour Market Assessment 2021 report, published by Inclusive Futures, also highlighted that while these attributes are possessed by many PLWDs, job seekers feel businesses continue to consciously discriminate against them.
“Businesses across Nigeria have been disrupted by the pandemic and are looking at how to build back inclusively but only a few among them are thinking of ensuring they are disability-inclusive,” said the Country Director for Sightsavers in Nigeria, Dr Sunday Isiyaku.
“Our report shows that employers are recognising that distanced working is the new norm, requiring digital skills and prioritising soft skills like empathy and resilience.
“But at the same time, job seekers with disabilities feel they are still being discriminated against, whatever their capabilities. People with disabilities have the skills to bring huge benefits to businesses but generally aren’t being considered,” he said.
While progress has been seen in Nigeria with the enacting of the Discrimination Against People with Disability (Prohibition) Act, requiring companies to reserve five per cent of their workforce to peoples with disabilities, the report highlights that leaders of organisations of people with disabilities feel that the Act is little known or acted upon.
HR Director, West Africa Unilever, Ola Ehinmoro, said: “More work needs to be done to socialise the Disability Act in Nigeria. However, organisations like Unilever are pushing the frontiers by driving internal inclusive behaviours and deploying PLWDs to value across its West Africa markets.”
Inclusive Futures is a flagship disability development inclusion programme funded by UKAID. It brings together global leaders and specialists from 16 organisations to test and deliver innovations for people with disabilities in education, healthcare and livelihoods.
ACCORDING to the World Health Organisation (WHO), more than one billion people experience disability, and this figure is predicted to rise, due in part to population ageing and an increase in the prevalence of non-communicable diseases. WHO said it is committed to supporting member states and development partners to fulfil their commitment to leave no one behind, by addressing disability inclusion in the health sector.
For the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the number of children with disabilities globally is estimated at almost 240 million. “This new research confirms what we already knew: Children with disabilities face multiple and often compounding challenges in realising their rights,” said UNICEF Executive Director, Henrietta Fore.
“From access to education to be read to at home; children with disabilities are less likely to be included or heard on almost every measure. All too often, children with disabilities are simply being left behind.”
The report includes internationally comparable data and covers more than 60 indicators of child well-being – from nutrition and health, to access to water and sanitation, protection from violence and exploitation, and education. These indicators are disaggregated by functional difficulty type and severity, child’s sex, economic status, and country.
The report makes clear the barriers children with disabilities face to participating fully in their societies and how this often translates to negative health and social outcomes.
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Nigeria ranks 9th, needs $1.1bn for humanitarian assistance in 2022
• 120 NGOs task world leaders to halt escalating hunger
• Humanitarian minister urges developed nations to fulfill $100bn yearly pledge to support climate action
World leaders must go beyond “grand gestures” to feed the 45 million people around the world who are on the brink of famine, 120 non-governmental organisations (NGOs) have warned.
The group of 120 NGOs joined forces in an open letter calling on world leaders to do more to halt a devastating global hunger crisis as new analysis shows 17 per cent of the global population are likely to need humanitarian aid by 2022.
This follows a Global Humanitarian Overview 2022, released yesterday by the United Nations (UN) Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), which warned that 274 million people could be in need of humanitarian assistance next year. This is up from 235 million people in 2021 and 168 million in 2020.
According to the UN, “this number is a significant increase from 235 million people a year ago, which was already the highest figure in decades. The United Nations and partner organisations aim to assist 183 million people most in need across 63 countries, which will require $41 billion.”
Nigeria ranks ninth on the index according to the number of people in need with $1.1 billion required for the 8.3 million people critically in need of humanitarian assistance in 2022.
The top three on the list is Afghanistan, Syria and Yemen, followed by Ethiopia, Sudan, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), South Sudan and Somalia. Myanmar completes the top 10 indexes coming after Nigeria.
With the world currently battling the worst hunger crisis this century, one of the main causes of humanitarian need is food insecurity with the number of people at risk of famine rising by 60 per cent since the COVID-19 pandemic struck.
Currently, an estimated 45 million people across 43 countries are at risk of famine, up from 27 million in 2019.
In an open letter, Plan International and Save the Children joined peer organisations, leading other locally-based organisations in countries hard-hit by hunger, called on world leaders to fully fund the $41 billion humanitarian hunger response to prevent famine globally and address emergencies fueling global hunger: conflict, climate crisis and COVID-19.
It notes that hunger and malnutrition disproportionately affect women and girls, putting them at increased risk of extreme hunger and gender-based violence. Children are among the most at risk, as severe malnutrition affects over 45 million children globally, which is the cause of about 45 per cent of deaths of children aged under five.
The Famine Prevention Compact, made by the G7 in May, has not been fulfilled, signatories of the letter said, and one in 10 people are malnourished.
“It is clear that, since then, the situation has only deteriorated. Grand gestures do not fill empty stomachs,” they write.
“Less than half the funding needed to stave off famine in six countries of highest concern (Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Southern Madagascar, Northeast Nigeria, South Sudan and Yemen) has been received to date. Meanwhile, some Humanitarian Response Plans (HRPs) are less than 20 per cent funded.”
The letter added: “There has been a 370 per cent rise in people experiencing catastrophic levels of hunger since April and now a staggering 45 million people are at extreme risk — on the brink of famine. These numbers do not tell the whole story. Behind them are people suffering immensely from a crisis that we can prevent. What will it take for this situation to change?”
Conflict prevention is essential, the NGOs write. Conflict leads to mass migration, millions of refugees, and is disproportionately affecting women and girls, who are at an increased risk of extreme hunger and gender-based violence.
“Supporting peace-building and conflict prevention is also crucial. Further, it is time that political commitments made to uphold international law, safeguard people’s human rights and secure access to aid are acted upon.
“All parties to a conflict must facilitate humanitarian access, protect civilians and desist from using starvation as a method of warfare. Obstacles, such as sanctions and access denial, to humanitarian action, are severely compounding a crisis that cannot be healed with money alone.”
THE Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Sadiya Umar Farouq, however, reiterated the need for developed countries to honour the promises made in 2009 of mobilising $100 billion yearly to support climate action in developing countries.
The Minister, who was one of the panelists at the launch of the 2022 Humanitarian Overview, made this known, yesterday, while speaking on the theme ‘Climate Change and Responding to a More Challenging Humanitarian Landscape’ virtually hosted by OCHA.
Umar Farouq stated that since the Ministry’s establishment in August 2019, it has worked collaboratively with critical stakeholders to address socio economic vulnerabilities and provide humanitarian action.
“I believe the main challenge we face is the global responsibility, to address climate change collectively. In Glasgow, we urged developed countries to honour the promises made in 2009 of mobilising $100 billion per year by 2020 to support climate action in developing countries.
“Our focus towards reversing climate change requires vision, fortitude and coordinated action. This is a collective vision and must be deployed through engagement with international, regional and state actors.
I believe, we as a government play a critical role in making sure that we provide the leadership required to achieve the vision, to ensure a stronger, greener and cleaner Nigeria for generations to come.”
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EFCC re-arraigns Fayose, others for alleged money laundering
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), yesterday, re-arraigned former Governor of Ekiti State, Mr. Ayodele Fayose, and his company, Spotless Limited, before a Federal High Court, Lagos.
Fayose and his company were re-arraigned before Justice Chukwujekwu Aneke for alleged money laundering and non-declaration of his assets.
In the amended charge, Fayose and one Abiodun Agbele, who is also standing trial on alleged money laundering offences before another division of the court, were alleged to have on June 17, 2014, taken possession of N1.219 billion to fund Fayose’s 2014 gubernatorial campaign in Ekiti State.
They were accused of committing criminal breach of trust, theft and stealing of public funds.
They were also alleged to have on the same June 17, 2014, without going through financial institutions, received $5 million from Senator Musiliu Obanikoro, who was the Minister of State for Defence.
In the charge, the EFCC alleged that Fayose on April 7, 2015, retained N300 million in his fixed deposit account domiciled in a bank.
Fayose and his company, Spotless Limited, were also alleged to have between June 17 and August 4, 2014, taken control of N317 million, and deposited it in the same bank with a different account number.
The former Ekiti State governor was also alleged to have between June 26 and August 27, 2014, took control of N305, 760,000, which formed part of proceeds of unlawful act. He was also accused of procuring Abiodun Agbele and a company, De-privateer Limited, to retain N719,490,000 in the bank.
The EFCC further alleged that Fayose used N270 million and N1.15 billion respectively to acquire property at Plot 1504, Yedsema Street, Maitama, Abuja, from one Rabi Kundili, and Chalets 3, 4, 6 and 9, at Plot 100, Tiyamiyu Savage Street, Victoria Island, Lagos, in the name of JJ Technical Services.
He was also alleged to have between October 16 and December 31, 2018 failed to declare his assets and property by not completing the declaration form during investigation.
The offences, according to the EFCC, are contrary to sections 15 (2)(d); 1 and 16 (d) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2011 as amended, and punishable under Section 15 (3) (4); 16 (2) (b) of the same Act.
He was also alleged to have acted contrary to Section 27(1)(3)(c) of the EFCC (Establishment) Act, 2004.
Fayose denied the allegations and pleaded not guilty to all 11 counts of charges.
Prior to his re-arraignment, Mrs. Joanne Tolulope, the 11th prosecution witness, while being cross-examined by the defence counsel, Mr. Ola Olanipekun (SAN), affirmed that her company, Still Earth Limited only dealt with Agbele.
Meanwhile, the trial continues today, as the EFCC will be calling its 12th witness.
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We’ve not received Bonfrere Jo’s application for Eagles job, says NFF
• It’s a slap on Nigerian football, analysts blast Dutch coach
• Pinnick meets Minister on Rohr’s fate
The Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) says it has not received any application from former Super Eagles coach, Johannes Bonfrere, despite media reports that he has formally applied for the job. The Dutchman was sacked in 2001 after losing a World Cup qualifier in Sierra Leone.
Before then, Bonfrere was assistant coach to Clemens Westerhof between 1990 and 1994, and he led Nigeria’s U-23 team to win gold at Atlanta ‘96 Olympics.
About 20 years after his sack from the Super Eagles, Bonfrere feels no one has done what he achieved. He declared in a letter he allegedly dispatched to Nigeria that: “It doesn’t take up to two months to create a formidable team and make a winning pattern.”
However, a top official of the NFF told The Guardian yesterday that the federation did not receive any letter from Bonfrere. “I read about it on pages of newspapers that Jo Bonfrere has formally applied for the Eagles job. I don’t think we have such an application in our secretariat at the moment. Sincerely speaking, the NFF is not thinking in that direction now. Our focus is our preparation for Cameroun 2022 AFCON, which is about five weeks away,” the official said.
Asked if the NFF is shopping for a replacement for coach Gernot Rohr, the official said: “I don’t have an answer to that now. Every Nigerian will know our position if anything of such happens. For now, our focus is on preparing the Super Eagles for the African Nations Cup in Cameroun.”
Meanwhile, some Nigerian sports analysts have described Bonfrere Jo’s latest move to return to the Super Eagles job as a ‘big slap’ on Nigerian football.
“I feel so sad that Bonfrere Jo is seeking to return to the Super Eagles 20 years after he was sacked,” one analyst, who gave his name as Oluwatoyin said on a radio programme monitored in Lagos yesterday. “Which football club or national team has Bonfrere coached since he was sacked by Nigeria in 2001? To be frank, Bonfrere Jo is not the type of coach the Super Eagles need now. Football has moved from his kick and follow the style of play.”
Another analyst, who gave his name as Kingsley, said: “The time to the Nations Cup in Cameroun is too short for us to be talking about Gernot Rohr today and Bonfrere Jo tomorrow. The NFF should come out and clear the air on the position of the Super Eagles coach. Who is taking Nigeria to the AFCON? Who are the players invited? We watch Nigerian players featuring for their clubs in Europe and other parts of the world every day. We know those who are doing well and those that are struggling. We also see what good coaches are doing with other national teams. We need a sound coach for the Super Eagles.”
NFF President, Amaju Pinnick, spoke yesterday after his meeting with Sports Minister, Sunday Dare, on the fate of Gernot Rohr.
“We have discussed with the minister. We are working in close harmony with the Sports Ministry. I have to discuss with my executive members, and come back to give feedback to the minister,” he said.
Pinnick continued: “We don’t want to hurt Nigerians. We are looking at our decision from an objective perspective. Trust me, whatever we are doing will be in the interest of the country. We have looked at all the documentation, and I can assure Nigerians we will have a clear direction soon.”
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Court reschedules Nnamdi Kanu’s trial for January 18, 2022
IPOB kicks over leader’s non-appearance as HURIWA doubts FG’s willingness to release him
Justice Binta Nyako of the Federal High Court Abuja, yesterday, rescheduled the trial of detained leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Nnamdi Kanu, from January 19, 2022, to January 18, 2022.
The shift in the trial date followed the abridgement of time granted by the judge following a passionate plea to that effect.
Counsel to Kanu, Ifeanyi Ejiofor, had approached the court with an application seeking an order of the court to accommodate the trial in November and December this year as against January 19 next year.
Shuaib Labaran, who represented the Federal Government, told the court that a counter affidavit through which the government opposed the request had been filled and served on Kanu.
Nyako, however, informed Kanu’s lawyer that the application for abridgement of time could not be considered, as there is no judicial time for such an issue.
In the drama that ensued, the case diary of the court was read to the lawyer to establish that the court has crowded cases to treat.
Following the insistence, Nyako agreed to shift other cases slated for January 18 to accommodate the trial, which would last till January 19 and 20, 2022.
She ordered the DSS to allow Kanu to practice his faith, change his clothes and be given the maximum possible comfort in detention.
But Ejiofor also sought to move another application challenging the seven-count treasonable felony charges the Federal Government brought against him.
Labaran, however, challenged the argument on the ground that the motion was not ripe for hearing and that the business of the day was the motion for abridgement of time after which Nyako agreed with Labaran and rejected the bid to bring the motion forward.
MEANWHILE, Kanu was absent from court after he was scheduled for an emergency trial following the bail application of his October 26, 2021 re-arraignment on a seven-count charge bordering on treasonable felony and terrorism.
Indications that Kanu might not appear in court emerged when as early as 8:00 a.m., there was the scanty presence of security operatives, unlike other occasions when he appeared in court.
IN its reaction, the Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA), said the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami’s action showed that President Muhammadu Buhari was not willing to release Kanu.
In a statement issued in Abuja, by its National Coordinator, Emmanuel Onwubiko, it said based on legal authorities, the power to initiate a case should carry power to terminate it as evident in London County Council vs A.G. 1902 A.C. 165, insisting that it was not premature to release the Biafrian agitator.
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NMA warns of fresh Lassa fever, Ebola, COVID-19 outbreaks
The Nigerian Medical Association (NMA), yesterday, advised the country to prepare for possibly fresh and deadlier Lassa fever, Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) and COVID-19 outbreaks.
Its President, Prof. Innocent Ujah, at the opening of the December National Executive Council (NEC) meeting (Caliphate City 2021) in Sokoto, expressed concerns over emerging and re-emerging infections.
He stressed the need to continually put together effective outbreak prevention and control measures that are culturally appropriate, relevant and feasible for communities to check unnecessary loss of life and minimise disruptions to essential services.
The obstetrician and gynaecologist canvassed uninterrupted community engagement, social mobilisation and communication for effective prevention and control of these emerging diseases.
Ujah said this is on the premise that every outbreak is unique and community understanding of diseases and their spread are complex, context-dependent and culturally mediated, hence the need for effective coordination.
The NMA chief said Nigeria has the opportunity of applying the World Health Organisation (WHO) outbreak communication principles geared at preventing exposure, stopping transmission and providing relevant public health information for an overarching goal before, during and after epidemics.
“This will help in building and maintaining public trust in the prevention and control of outbreaks,” he said.
Lassa fever is an animal-borne and acute viral illness. It is endemic in parts of West Africa, including Sierra Leone, Liberia, Guinea and Nigeria.
Cases of the Ebola virus in the most populous black nation were reported in 2014, traceable to Guinea as the epicentre in the sub-region.
Latest figures released on December 1 this year by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) showed that 52 new confirmed COVID-19 cases and one death were recorded in the country. Till date, 214,270 incidents have been confirmed, 207,312 discharged and 2,978 casualties recorded in 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
Ujah said Nigerian medical doctors and other frontline health workers have been at risk of contracting these infectious diseases, adding that many had been infected and survived, while some lost their lives in the course of discharging their duties.
The NMA president said the sub-theme, “International Labour Laws, Essential Services and Trade Disputes: Experiences from Previous Strike Actions in the Nigerian Health Sector,” is an important subject that should be given due attention.
His words: “We cannot pretend that all has been well over the years. Nigeria has suffered from several industrial disputes in the health sector in the past and most recently, especially the last 36 months, involving all categories of health workers. Only between August 2 and October 2, 2021, the National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) embarked on a strike action to drive home their demands. ”
“As I empathised with NARD members for the hardship they all passed through, and indeed all of us and our patients during the course of the strike, it is my fervent view that the strike would have been totally prevented if the authorities had responded timely and appropriately to the genuine demands of the resident doctors.”
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Learn from #EndSARs protest, Utomi, Anya, Momodu, others warn Federal Government
Eminent Nigerians have warned that the Federal Government has failed to learn from October 20, 2020, EndSARS protest.
They include former presidential candidate, Prof. Pat Utomi; former Chief Executive Officer, Nigeria Economic Summit Group (NESG), Prof. Anya O. Anya; media entrepreneur, Chief Dele Momodu; elder statesman, Chief Ayo Opadokun; human rights lawyer and scholar, Prof. Ngozi Ezeilo.
They spoke at an online conversation organised by Ndigbo Lagos and moderated by Dr. Okey Ikechukwu, Maazi Tochukwu Ezeoke, Chief Momodu as well as the host and chairman, Ndigbo Lagos, Gen. Obi Umahi (rtd).
The speakers, who expressed dissatisfaction with the state of the nation, called for restructuring, noting that it would bring an end to the agony of Nigerians.
Anya, who specifically called for restructuring, said that the #EndSARS protest was a signal that Nigerian youths were ready to chase out the older generation.
Also, Utomi, who described #EndSARS protest as the best organised movement by youths in the last 25 years, lamented that the Federal Government had used brute force to put fear on Nigerian youths, which would never deter them from pursuing their aims and objectives for better Nigeria.
Utomi said: “Youths are smart and more exposed. The challenge of our country is getting a demographic dividend of our youths.”
Momodu said that the time has come to mobilise Nigerian youths practically to bring the desired change in the country.
Opadokun said radical change is possible in the country if there is the proper engagement of youths by identifying with their needs.
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Residents groan as water scarcity hits Dutse metropolis
Residents of Dutse, the Jigawa State capital are groaning over acute water scarcity, which has paralysed activities in the state.
Some of the worst-hit areas are metropolitan Dutse, Zai quarters, Katangare, Murahusawa, Sabuwar Maranjuwa, Old Maranjuwa settlement, Gida Dubu Housing Estate’s, all in metropolitan Dutse and beyond, where residents rely on commercial water vendors, who sell a Jerrycan of water for between N30 and N50.
The Guardian investigations revealed that most taps in the city are dry without a drop of water for a couple of years despite huge investment injected by the government through the jigawa State Ministry of Water Resources
The scarcity is coming, even as the Water, Sanitation and Hygiene National Outcome Routine Mapping Exercise published by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) with the support of United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and other Development Partners put Dutse second to Lagos State with 92 per cent, in terms of access to the water supply.
It was also learnt that the lapses might not be unconnected with the damage of 13 major water supply summers, distributing water to all nooks and crannies of the state, which had been left unattended to in the last year.
Officials of the state’s water board, who spoke to The Guardian, said they have written severally to their superiors to no avail.
According to them, the repairs of the water facilities need not cost much, but it has not been attended to for unknown reasons.
The Guardian gathered that the situation is similar to an earlier survey report that claimed 49 per cent of Jigawa State’s households have access to basic hygiene services, which was the highest among states in the country. Whereas, the state is presently engulfed by a high concentration of filth all over the ancient city.
Investigations also revealed a situation of heaps of filth in eight Local Councils of the state.
Residents are worried that if it is unchecked, it may derail its earlier status of being the second-highest in the country.
A resident at Gida Dubu quarters, Comrade Shehu Garki, said it is unfortunate that the government is not living up to its commitment to the people in the water sector.
He said: “We have been staying in this housing estate without water as most of our taps are without water for a long period. Even our motorised boreholes are without water. We constantly rely on commercial water vendors for our water.”
Another resident, Bello Gadadin said they are yet to enjoy a steady supply of pipe-borne water supply, despite being told by the Water Resources Commissioner that N75 million was spent on repairs and replacement of damaged pipes in Dutse metropolis.
But the Commissioner of Water Resources, Alhaji Mohammed Garba Hannun Giwa, said the state has injected huge investment in major water treatment, aimed at ensuring a steady water supply to the populace.
He said the ultimate goal of the water sector was to achieve universal access to safe drinking water and sanitation services in the state.
According to him, this will safeguard public health and ensure that citizens live a more qualitative and productive life.
He said: “Jigawa State government acknowledges the positive correlation between improved water and sanitation services and health status of the population, thereby taking the issue of hygiene and improved access to safe drinking water and sanitation as a cardinal aspect of governance.”
On the damaged water facilities, he said: “I have given a directive to my lieutenants to forward their request on procurement of all needed water facilities for prompt actions, and we are on course.”
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