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PDP congratulates Atiku at 75

The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has congratulated former Vice president, Atiku Abubakar, as he marked his 75th birthday.

The party in a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Mr Kola Ologbondiyan in Abuja on Thursday, said it was proud of Abubakar.

The PDP described him as an irrepressible democrat, who remains untiring in his efforts and sacrifices toward the unity, stability and development of the nation.

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“ Abubakar is a remarkably committed leader, a strong epitome of our national cohesiveness, a statesman to the core and an excellent administrator, who spared nothing, as a leader and businessman, in the pursuit of the overall good of the nation.

“Indeed, the overwhelming support and solidarity he received from Nigerians across the divide in the 2019 general election is a resounding testimony of the confidence the people have in him as a leader.

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“Moreover, the outcome of that election did not in any way diminish the trust Nigerians have on him and the PDP.”

The party prayed God to grant Abubakar many more years in good health to His glory and service of humanity.

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Afghan currency slides on bank collapse fears

Afghanistan’s currency hit 100 to the US dollar Tuesday, losing five percent of its value in one day in a panic triggered by fears that one of the country’s biggest banks could collapse, traders said.

Afghanistan has been hit by an enormous shortage of dollars since the Taliban marched into Kabul and seized power on August 15, as international donors suspended billions in aid provided annually to the previous regime.

Since the Taliban takeover, the US has frozen around 10 billion dollars in reserves that Afghanistan’s central bank had parked in the US Federal Reserve.

The crisis looked set to deepen overnight and this morning when news circulated that Maiwand Bank — among the country’s five biggest lenders — had collapsed.

“That was false,” said Haji Sher Shah Ahmadzai, who heads the dispute resolution committee at Kabul’s Money Exchange Commission.

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But “trust has been eroded,” he said, as Maiwand has in recent weeks failed to return funds owed to the commission, which has some eight million dollars deposited in the bank, Ahmadzai said.

One financially insolvent trader among the hundreds at Kabul’s open air exchange held his head in his hands, repeatedly crying out: “I have drowned!”

The Afghani stood at 104.5 to the greenback in late Tuesday trade, compared to around 80 in early August.

One trader said that the market is being hit by fears of a much wider collapse of the country’s financial system.

“There are rumours about the collapse of all Afghanistan’s banks,” said Bilal Khan as he counted batches of Afghanis.

“There is no money in the banks. The banks are refusing to pay your own money to you.”

Khan also cited a dawning realisation in the market that the Taliban will not be recognised by the international community any time soon.

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Traders had initially expected that “the new government would be recognised,” he said.

But consequent disappointment “is causing heavy devaluation of the Afghani against the dollar, Pakistani rupee and the Euro”.

The Taliban last week announced a ban on using foreign currencies in Afghanistan.

But the rules are not being enforced, according to traders.

The country’s cash crunch has fed into an economic collapse that has left it facing a deepening humanitarian crisis.

More than half of Afghanistan’s 38 million people face “acute” food shortages, according to the United Nations, with the impending winter forcing millions to choose between migration and starvation.

The new government is pressing for the US to release the frozen central bank reserves.

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Court orders Ajudua to undergo COVID-19 test

Justice Josephine Oyefeso of a Lagos High Court sitting in Ajah has ordered Fred Ajudua to undergo Covid-19 at Yaba Infectious Disease Centre Laboratory, in the presence of the representatives of both the prosecution and defence, and the result must be communicated to the court within 48-hours.

The trial court made the order after defence counsel, Akinwale Kola-Taiwo, informed the court that though Ajudua was present in court premises but pleaded that he should not be made to entre the court room because he has been tested positive for COVID-19.

Ajudua was alleged to have defrauded a former Chief of Army Staff, Lt. General Ishaya Bamaiyi of $8.4 million while they were both in Kirikiri Prison in 2004 for different offences.

The defendant and his accomplices approached Bamaiyi and convinced him that he would hire the legal services at a cost of $8.4million, to help him secure his release from custody.

For over two-years, Bamaiyi has been under cross-examination by the defence after giving his evidence-in-chief on November 26, 2018. The cross-examination of the former Chief of Army Staff has suffered several delays brought about by the defence.

However, at the resume proceedings, Kola-Taiwo told the court that medical report of the defendant shows that he contacted the deadly virus for the first time on January 8, and was tested negative on January 15 after he treated himself through self-medication.

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“I’m sincerely sorry for the absence of the defendant. He is downstairs but I don’t think he should be made to enter the court,” his Kola-Taiwo said.

“An associate of the defendant met me and handed over these documents to me. They are medical reports of the defendant testing positive for COVID-19 virus.

“Your lordship, the defendant was tested positive of COVID-19 for the first time on 8/01/2021. He did self-medication and he was tested negative on 15/01/2021. The defendant has underlining health issue. He has been living with one kidney for couple of years now sir.

“Sometimes around October 14 this year while he was in his home town in Delta State, the defendant also contacted COVID-19. The defendant has been medicating ever since, but the condition is deteriorating.

“The latest test was done three days ago on 3/12/21, and the result came out positive again. I was told that the defendant flew in from Delta state last night. We will be praying your lordship for an adjournment to give room for the defendant to be treated for the virus.”‘s

Responding to his submission,the prosecution counsel, Mr. Seidu Atteh query the absence of the lead defence counsel, Mr Olalekan Ojo (SAN).

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He says the defence should make all the documents available to the prosecution so that they will conduct their own investigation on the authenticity of the documents.

Atteh said in alternative, the court should invoke Section 235 of the newly passed Administration of Criminal Justice Law( ACJL) of Lagos State, 2014, which states that defendant can be tried in absentia.

“Where is the principal of my learned friend Mr. Olalekan Ojo (SAN), who got today date. Past records of the defendant has made claims of illness.

“The defendant should make available the documents to us so that we can look into it before we make our comment. In alternative, the court should invoke S.235 of ACJL, 2014, because the defendant cannot continue to manipulate the court.

Justice Oyefeso while delivering a bench ruling ordered the defendant to be tested at the laboratory of Yaba Infectious Disease Centre, in the presence of both the prosecution and defence.

The court also ordered defence to file application attached all the medical reports of the defendant before the court.

The judge further directed prosecution to bringing the issue of Section 235 of ACJL, 2014 before the court as an application and subsequently adjourned the matter to February 15, 2022 for continuation of trial.

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Chelsea’s Kovacic tests positive for Covid after injury return

Chelsea midfielder Mateo Kovacic has tested positive for coronavirus just a day after returning to training, manager Thomas Tuchel announced on Tuesday.

The 27-year-old had been out of action since late October and Tuchel had hoped to ease him back into action this week.

N’Golo Kante remains sidelined with a knee issue, while Jorginho has been forced to play through the pain of a back problem and will now miss Wednesday’s Champions League trip to Zenit Saint Petersburg, leaving Tuchel short of defensive midfielders.

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“We have bad news because Mateo was in training yesterday and with a big smile and it was a pure pleasure to have him back,” said Tuchel.

“But he tested positive today, for coronavirus, so he’s quarantining for a few days. So it’s a huge setback for him personally and for all of us.”

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Chelsea have already qualified for the knockout stages of the Champions League and will be confirmed as winners of Group H if they equal or better Juventus’s result against Malmo this week.

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Benin court sentences opposition leader to 10 years

A special court in Benin on Tuesday sentenced one of the country’s opposition figures, Joel Aivo, to 10 years in prison after a treason trial critics dismissed as a politically-motivated sham.

Several opposition leaders were detained before or just after an April election that saw President Patrice Talon win a second term with more than 86 percent of the vote.

Another opposition leader, Reckya Madougou, who was detained just before that election, will go on trial on Friday, accused of plotting to prevent the ballot and destabilise the country.

Aivo, an academic who had been held for eight months, had pleaded not guilty to the charges of plotting against the state and money laundering.

“It is not for criminal justice to arbitrate on political differences,” Aivo told the judge before he was sentenced.

“I have decided to give myself to this country. You are also children of this country. Do as you will with me.”

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When the verdict was given at around 3 am on Tuesday after a 16-hour trial, a few Aivo supporters were still in the court, wearing T-shirts that read, “Professor Aivo, the people of Benin are with you.”

It was “a sham of a trial, to sideline him from politics,” Sosthene Armel Gbetchehou, a former student of the condemned opponent, told AFP.

Once praised for its thriving multi-party democracy, critics say Benin has slipped steadily into authoritarian rule under Talon, a 63-year-old cotton magnate first elected in 2016.

Some opposition figures have fled the country while others were disqualified from running in elections, or targeted for investigation.

Aivo was among the opposition figures who had been barred from running in the presidential election.

Aivo was arrested on April 15, four days after the elections that saw Talon returned to power.

He was tried at a special tribunal, the Economic Crime and Terrorism Court (CRIET), in the West African country’s administrative capital, Porto-Novo.

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The CRIET, set up in 2016, has often been accused by critics of being used by Talon’s regime to crack down on the opposition.

“Given the overall trends of this court, this (sentence) was expected. But we did have a glimmer of hope in what we saw in the facts and substance of the case,” said Robert Dossou, one of Aivo’s attorneys.

He said they would discuss details of any appeal later.

Government officials dismiss charges the CRIET is a political tool and say the country’s justice system is independent.

“More proof of the judicial persecutions going on in Benin against the political opposition,” tweeted Julien Bensimhon, a French lawyer to another Benin opposition leader convicted by the court.

“CRIET has once more been used to politically kill off anyone who opposes Patrice Talon.”

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Court orders police to pay suspect N1m over detention

A Federal High Court sitting in Lokoja on Tuesday ordered the police in Kifi to pay N1million in damages to a suspect for breach of his Fundamental Rights.

Justice Sunday Bassay-Onu the order while delivering judgment in the case filed by Daniel Atabor, through his counsel, Mr O.E. Amoke.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports in Lokoja that Atabor was arrested on Sept 25 by the Police A Division, Lokoja, Kogi, over alleged purchase of a stolen Motorcycle from one other person but kept in Kabba Custodian centre without bail or being charged.

Justice Bassay-Onu described the continuous detention of Otabor as a “breach of his fundamental rights” having flaunted the Section IV of the Police Act, which stipulates that a suspect shouldn’t be detained beyond a day or two days from the time of his/her arrest.

“For keeping the applicant beyond the stipulated time frame within the Police Act amounts to a breach of his fundamental rights as enshrined in sections 34, 35(1)(3)(4)(5)(6), 37 and 41(1)(2) of the 1999 Constitution (as Amended) and Articles 2, 4, 5 and 12(1) of the African Charter of human and people’s rights (rectification and enforcement) Act (Cap 10) Laws of the Federation of Nigeria.

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“Consequently, One Million Naira is hereby awarded as damages to the applicant by this honourable Court against the respondents (Police) haven breached his rights and liberty.

“The respondent (Police) is also hereby ordered to release the applicant (Atabor) on bail and charge before a law Court and publicly apologize to him (Atabor) in a national Newspaper forthwith, ” the judge ordered.

Atabor had through his counsel prayed the Court to declare his continuous detention by the police as illegal and a breach of his fundamental rights as enshrined in the nation’s 1999 Constitution and African Charter of the laws of Federal Republic of Nigeria.

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He also demanded for N50 million in damages for this arrest and detention beyond the 48 hours stipulated by the Police Act and against sections 34, 35(1)(3)(4)(5)(6), 37 and 41(1)(2) of the nation’s 1999 constitution (as Amended) and Articles 2, 4, 5 and 12(1) of the African Charter of human and people’s rights (rectification and enforcement) Act (Cap 10) Laws of the Federation of Nigeria.

Atabor also asked for a public apology to be published in a national newspaper by the police over the breach of his fundamental rights and liberty as a citizen of Nigeria.

But the Police had, through its Counsel, S.I. Ikutowa, claimed that they (Police) were still investigating the case of a stolen property labeled against him (Atabor).and feared his release from detention would negatively affects their investigations into the matter.

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COVID-19: Nigeria records 167 new cases, zero death

The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), has said it recorded zero fatality from coronavirus on Monday, though 167 additional infections were reported in seven states and FCT.

The NCDC said this on Tuesday in its daily COVID-19 report.

The News Agency of Nigeria(NAN), reports that the 167 cases represent a triple jump over Sunday’s 55 cases with Lagos having 133 infections; about 80 of the total figure.

However, the Centre did not offer any explanation for the surge, though it said no death arising from COVID-19 infection recorded for the second day running

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The implication of this is that the national death toll remained at 2,980.

The NCDC also said “the 167 new cases were recorded in Lagos (113), FCT (22), Plateau (16), Kano (4), Abia (3), Kaduna (3), Rivers (3), Bauchi (2) and Delta (1).”

It said that, till date, 214 789 cases have been confirmed nationwide with 207,478 discharged and 2980 deaths recorded in 36 States and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

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The Nigerian Public Health Institute also said the country had a total of 4,331 active cases of COVID-19 undergoing treatment in various isolation centres across the nation.

It said that, altogether, the country had conducted a total of 3,629,527 sample tests since the virus was announced on February 27, 2020.

It said that a multi-sectoral national emergency operations centre (EOC), activated at Level 2, continues to coordinate the national response activities.

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Telcos’ payment service license and Nigerian banks

On 5th November 2021, MTN and Airtel confirmed, through their social media handles, the Approval-in-Principle (AIP) by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) for Payment Service Bank (PSB) license. The approval is a step towards fulfilling their long-standing wish.

The telcos have never hidden their desire to get fully involved with financial services. The large population of their subscribers increased their interest to invest incorporate banking operations in the telecom industry. They plan to actualise this through MoMo Agent by MTN, and Smart Cash by Airtel. 

At the 2021 Banking and Finance Conference, organised by the Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria (CIBN), with the theme “Economic Recovery, Inclusion and Transformation: The Role of Banking and Finance”, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo said “More than 30 million Nigerians are excluded from enjoying financial services”.

This implies that much needs to be done. The AIP granted means telcos can bridge the gap in financial inclusion and deepen their hands in the banking sector. The telecom financial servicing process is simplified by making individual sim cards the prerequisite requirement for enjoying the service, since most people have access to mobile networks. 

The move will pose a big challenge to banks whose basic requirements for normal financial transactions are described as costly, rigid, and somewhat unsatisfactory. Citizens have been enduring time-consuming process of creating accounts, queues at banks, service costs, service failures etc., because there are no options.

Telecom financial services will likely triumph more than conventional banks in that they may not require a bank account and physical presence of customers. Their services will be cost-effective, more reliable and will not discriminate beyond the requirements of owning a registered sim card. The major gains would be market efficiency, fiscal transparency and accountability.

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Experts continue to emphasize the need to have a standard database of Nigerians. With this, the country will curtail the unregulated informal sector and tackle illicit activities. Despite Bank Verification Number (BVN) campaigns, many were not enrolled due to the lapses of conventional banking to reach a large percentage of people, especially those in rural areas.

Telcos will play a vital role in reducing the gap in financial inclusion and ensuring adequate policy implementation. For instance, the companies will provide a better database of users due to simplicity of enrollment, thereby widening the tax net and boosting revenue. It will also be easier to extend government incentives like loans and subsidies to the public.

Telcos and banks may decide to further partner to enjoy the benefits of market share. Telcos may move first due to a larger customer base, global reach and financial muscle. Banks and telcos will inevitably discover an avenue to cross-sell products to existing customers, through relationship-based product bundling and pricing that takes advantage of a reduced cost structure.

In the event such happens, banks that move first to collaborate with the telecoms will exploit their unique attributes to promote brands that evoke security and reliability, skills in credit management and distribution channels. They will also amortize their investments in online services since the new trend will be less costly and more efficient.

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The digitization drive by telcos will help to reduce crime nationwide. Digital transfer means transactions can be traced and surveilled. This will tackle the transfer of monies used for criminal activities. The digital signature requirement will eliminate the menace of forgery, a factor that fuels corruption. Also, trading stolen commodities will be hard, since the payment will go through telcos.

Though capacity of telcos to break into the banking industry is doubtless, how they will cope with the challenges of the industry remains to be seen. It is very important to acknowledge that payment is only the beginning. The possibility of anything else happening depends on the telcos getting on their customers’ minds with safe and secure transactions.

If so, they will be better placed to go after credit management, deposits, and other banking products. They would be equipped to explore leases, insurance policies, and service contracts when they mature; making available event-linked product and service purchasing; arranging cash and savings reallocations and transactions, among others.

Should telcos gain the license to issue loans, how they will deal with irrecoverable loans and debts, and what the CBN expects of them in terms of reserve ratio will be intriguing. They must keep in mind that despite competitive edge, their products are vulnerable to hackers and scammers. In all, to attract millions of Nigerians, telcos must come up with easy-to-use but reliable banking services.

Ola Olatomiwa writes from the Center for Fiscal Transparency & Integrity Watch

Email: mail@fiscaltransparency.org

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Chimamanda Adichie, Yousafzai, Melinda Gates make BBC 100 most inspiring women for 2021

Ahead of the new year, the BBC has named Multiple Award-winning author and Feminist, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie amongst its list of 100 inspiring and impactful women from around the world for 2021.

Adichie is listed under the “Culture and Education” category, which consists of 31 women out of the 100 chosen. Under the post designated to the renowned writer, the BBC notes the 44-year-old’s TED Talk in 2012, We Should All Be Feminists, started a worldwide conversation about feminism and was published as a book in 2014.

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“Let’s use this moment to start to think about health care as a human right everywhere in the world – what a person deserves simply by virtue of being alive, not when you can afford it” Adichie told the BBC.

The annual BBC #100Women list aims to inspire people by sharing the stories of trailblazing women across the globe who are using passion, indignation and anger to spark real change.

“This year 100 Women is highlighting those who are hitting “reset” – women playing their part to reinvent our society, our culture and our world” according to the BBC.

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Women from Afghanistan make up half of this year’s list. The list also includes a diverse range of female figures from leaders in politics, arts and business to everyday heroes fighting for what they believe in.

Among them are Malala Yousafzai, the youngest-ever Nobel Peace Prize laureate, Samoa’s first Female Prime Minister Fiamē Naomi Mata’afa, Professor Heidi J Larson, who heads the Vaccine Confidence Project, and Turkish writer Elif Şafak.

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Police arrest three Dowen College students over Sylvester’s death

Lagos State Police Command has arrested three students of Dowen College over the death of Sylvester Oromoni jnr.

Lagos police commissioner Hakeem Odumosu disclosed that three out of the five students are already in custody.

Before his death, Oromoni had named five students who he claimed attacked him in his dormitory, inflicting on him multiple internal injuries.

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The late student’s father earlier said that his child was beaten and fed a liquid chemical which led to his death.

But the school dismissed the claim, alleging that he sustained injuries while playing football with his colleagues.

Odumosu had earlier ordered an investigation into Oromoni’s death while Dowen College was also sealed off last Sunday.

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The commissioner added that the suspects are assisting the police in their investigation.

Lagos State government has since shut down the school, while the police continue investigation into the matter.

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UAE reduces work week, shifts to Western-style weekend

The United Arab Emirates is slashing its official working week to four-and-a-half days and moving its weekend to Saturday and Sunday in a major shift aimed at improving competitiveness, officials said on Tuesday.

The “national working week” is mandatory for government bodies from January 1 and bucks the regional norm of a full day-off on Friday for Muslim prayers.

While becoming the only Gulf country not to have a Friday-Saturday weekend, the resource-rich and ambitious UAE now comes into line with the non-Arab world.

Under the new timetable, the public-sector weekend starts at noon on Fridays and ends on Sunday. Friday prayers at mosques will be held after 1:15 pm all year round.

The move is intended to “better align the UAE with global markets”, said state news agency WAM, calling the new working week the shortest in the world.

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“The UAE is the first nation in the world to introduce a national working week shorter than the global five-day week,” WAM said.

The Western-style weekend, rumoured for years, was announced less than a week after the former British protectorate celebrated the 50th anniversary of its formation.

The UAE observed a Thursday-Friday weekend until 2006, when it moved to Fridays and Saturdays with the private sector following suit.

“The extended weekend comes as part of the UAE government’s efforts to boost work-life balance and enhance social wellbeing, while increasing performance to advance the UAE’s economic competitiveness,” the WAM report said.

“From an economic perspective, the new working week will better align the UAE with global markets, reflecting the country’s strategic status on the global economic map,” it added.

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“It will ensure smooth financial, trade and economic transactions with countries that follow a Saturday/Sunday weekend, facilitating stronger international business links and opportunities for thousands of UAE-based and multinational companies.”

The new arrangement is another bold step for the UAE, which last year bucked decades of Arab consensus by normalising relations with Israel, unlocking hundreds of millions of dollars in deals.

It was generally welcomed on social media, where the subject was trending and the official WAM tweets were widely retweeted.

“Although I’ve gotten used to the Friday-Saturday weekend after all these years, I’m happy to see this change,” said one Twitter user.

“Great decision by UAE. It serves more than one goal. Weekend now matches rest of the world,” tweeted another.

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Drake Withdraws His 2022 Grammy Nominations

By Oreoritse Tariemi

07 December 2021   |   10:20 am

Drake has asked the Grammy Awards Recording Academy to withdraw his two nominations for the 2022 Grammy Awards. Drake received two nominations at the 2022 Grammy Awards. He was nominated for best rap performance for his song “Way 2 Sexy”, featuring Young Thug and Future, and best rap album for Certified Lover Boy.  However, Variety reports…

Drake | Image: Instagram

Drake has asked the Grammy Awards Recording Academy to withdraw his two nominations for the 2022 Grammy Awards.

Drake received two nominations at the 2022 Grammy Awards. He was nominated for best rap performance for his song “Way 2 Sexy”, featuring Young Thug and Future, and best rap album for Certified Lover Boy. 

However, Variety reports that the Recording Academy received a request from Drake and his management to remove his nominations from the final-round ballot. 

Drake’s 2022 nominations are not visible on his artist page on the Grammys’ website, and the Recording Academy also added the nomination changes to its list of updates.

While it’s unclear why the four-time Grammy winner and his management withdrew the nominations, the decision comes after the artist spoke out against the Recording Academy following The Weeknd’s high-profile snubs last year.

“I think we should stop allowing ourselves to be shocked every year by the disconnect between impactful music and these awards and just accept that what once was the highest form of recognition may no longer matter to the artists that exist now and the ones that come after,” Drake wrote on Instagram shortly after the nominations for the 2021 ceremony were announced. “It’s like a relative you keep expecting to fix up, but they just can’t change their ways.”

Drake has also voiced frustration over his previous nominations and wins over time. The artist declined to submit his mixtape More Life for consideration for the 2018 Grammys and complained about the Recording Academy only recognizing him as a rap artist when his hits at the time were in the pop genre. His single “Hotline Bling” was nominated and won for best rap song and best rap/sung collaboration at the 2017 ceremony.

“I’m a Black artist, I’m apparently a rapper, even though ‘Hotline Bling’ is not a rap song,” Drake said. “The only category that they can manage to fit me in is in a rap category, maybe because I’ve rapped in the past or because I’m Black.”

Added Drake: “I won two awards, but I don’t even want them because it feels weird to me.”

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A Glimpse Into Johnny Drille’s Walk With Johnnie Walker At His Private Concert

31 Jul

On Saturday, July 24, 2021, Nigerian Entertainment Conference (NECLive), in collaboration with the Fasasi family, friends, colleagues and fans hosted an evening of music, poetry, dance, comedy, and talk in celebration of the life of Olanrewaju ‘Sound Sultan’ Fasasi who died on Sunday, July 11, 2021. The special event was held simultaneously in five cities…

4 Aug

The Balvenie Single Malt Whisky has officially made its debut in Nigeria. The two-day grand unveiling events took place in Abuja on July 30, at the Transcorp Hilton, and in Lagos, on August August 2, 2021 at SLoW Restaurant Victoria Island. With this launch, The Balvenie joins the luxury whisky category in Nigeria. The events…

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7 Aug

The Federal Palace Hotel, Victoria Island, Lagos, will bubble today, as Co-founder/CEO of RED for Africa, Adebola Williams, weds his heartthrob Kehinde Daniel, daughter of former governor of Ogun State, Otunmba Gbenga Daniel. The wedding ceremony, which is expected to attract movers and shakers of the society, will open in the morning with marriage blessing…

14 Aug

It was not until that scary predicament after a chat with Ayra Starr that one fully understood what she embodies on her recently released debut album, 19 and Dangerous.

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18 Aug

JJW is finally back! Following a year-long hiatus, Johnnie, Jazz & Whisky, the nation’s premier platform for truly sensational music experience is back as Johnnie, Jamz & Whisky with a BBN Edition!

21 Aug

When it comes to Afro-Soul and RnB, Aramide Sarumoh is one of the finest voices in the current Naija music scene. The 36-year-old award-winning musician brought on an aura of elegance…

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U.S. ‘worried’ as China eyes permanent military base in Equatorial Guinea

China is looking to create its first permanent military presence on the Atlantic Ocean, on the coast of the tiny African nation of Equatorial Guinea, according to a report in The Wall Street Journal based on classified U.S. intelligence.

Malabo, the Equatoguinean capital, is just 144 kilometres from Calabar, 225km from Port Harcourt, and 672km from Lagos.

Though U.S. officials did not describe Beijing’s plans in detail, they said China’s presence on Africa’s Atlantic coast would enhance the possible threat to the U.S., as it would give Chinese warships a place to rearm and refit opposite the East Coast, the Journal reported.

The Journal reported that the General Stephen Townsend, the commander of U.S. Africa Command, informed the U.S. Senate in April that China’s “most significant threat” would be “a militarily useful naval facility on the Atlantic coast of Africa.”

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“By militarily useful I mean something more than a place that they can make port calls and get gas and groceries. I’m talking about a port where they can rearm with munitions and repair naval vessels,” Townsend added.

The Journal further reported that Jon Finer, President Joe Biden’s principal deputy national security adviser, travelled to Equatorial Guinea in October in an effort to convince President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo and his son Vice President Teodoro ‘Teodorin’ Nguema Obiang Mangue to reject China’s proposal, the newspaper reported.

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The 79-year-old Obiang is the longest-serving president in the world, having ruled his country with an iron fist since August 1979.

In recent months, tensions between China and the U.S. have risen amidst human rights issues, the COVID-19 pandemic and concerns about Taiwan.

China currently has a military base in the East African nation of Djibouti. Built in 2016, China says the “support base” will be used for peacekeeping and humanitarian aid in Africa and West Asia.

It will also be used for military co-operation, naval exercises and rescue missions.

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Halle Berry Reveals She Set Her Razzie For Worst Actress In Catwoman ‘On Fire’

By Oreoritse Tariemi

07 December 2021   |   9:54 am

American actress Halle Berry revealed that she set her Razzie award for Worst Actress in 2004’s Catwoman ablaze after receiving the award.  The Golden Raspberry Awards, popularly known as the Razzies and Razzie Awards, is a parody award show that honours the worst cinematic projects of the year. The 55-year old actress speaking to Vanity Fair revealed…

Halle Berry | Image: John Lamparski/WireImage

American actress Halle Berry revealed that she set her Razzie award for Worst Actress in 2004’s Catwoman ablaze after receiving the award. 

The Golden Raspberry Awards, popularly known as the Razzies and Razzie Awards, is a parody award show that honours the worst cinematic projects of the year.

The 55-year old actress speaking to Vanity Fair revealed that she attended the Golden Raspberry Awards in 2005 to accept the award for Worst Actress for 2004’s Catwoman.

“I went to the Razzie [Awards] because I feel like we all take ourselves so seriously,” Berry told the magazine.

She continued, “If we get an award, if we get the Oscar, we somehow are made to feel like we’re somehow better than everybody else, but we’re really not. You were just chosen that year by your peers, and you were acknowledged for doing what they considered stellar work…If you find yourself face to face with a Razzie, does that mean you’re the worst actor there ever was? Probably not. You just got the piss taken out on you that year by a group of people that can.

“If I can show up to collect an Oscar when you’re honouring me, I can certainly show up to collect a Razzie when you say, good try, but do better. I always learned that if you can’t be a good loser, then you don’t deserve to be a good winner. So I went there and made fun of myself. I had a great time, and then I set that thing on fire. That’s what I did!”

The Oscar award-winning actress had started as the DC character in the action movie, which saw her uncovering a sinister plot within a cosmetics company run by Sharon Stone’s villainous Laurel Hedare.

The film received terrible reviews at its release nearly two decades ago.

Berry recently spoke about how she would improve the film in her new role as a director.

“I would love to direct Catwoman,” she said to Jake’s Takes with a laugh about remaking the film after making her directorial debut with Netflix’s Bruised.

“If I could get a hold of that now, knowing what I know having had this experience and reimagine that world the way I reimagined this story. Bruised was written for a white, Irish-Catholic 25-year-old girl, and I got to reimagine it.”

“I wish I could go back and reimagine Catwoman and have a redo on that,” added Berry.

She continued, “I would have Catwoman saving the world — like most male superheroes do — and not just saving women from their faces cracking off. I would make the stakes a lot higher, and I think make it more inclusive of both men and women.”

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Prince Harry upset at being linked to crisis engulfing his father

By Ifeanyi Ibeh, with agency reports

07 December 2021   |   8:55 am

Prince Harry has expressed concern about a Saudi donor at the centre of Prince Charles’ charity’s cash-for-honours storm. Michael Fawcett, the Prince’s Foundation’s chief executive, recently resigned over allegations that he offered assistance in obtaining a knighthood and citizenship in exchange for charitable donations. Between 2014 and 2018, an internal investigation found “coordination” between Fawcett…

Handout photo dated on March 21, 2011 issued by the Ministry of Defence shows Prince Harry with his father, the Prince of Wales, Prince Charles, standing in front of an Apache Helicopter at Middle Wallop, after Prince Charles was invited by the Army Aviation Centre in his role as Colonel-in-Chief of the Army Air Corps (AAC) in order to fly an Apache and to meet students on the Apache Conversion Course. (Photo by POOL/AFP)

Prince Harry has expressed concern about a Saudi donor at the centre of Prince Charles’ charity’s cash-for-honours storm.

Michael Fawcett, the Prince’s Foundation’s chief executive, recently resigned over allegations that he offered assistance in obtaining a knighthood and citizenship in exchange for charitable donations.

Between 2014 and 2018, an internal investigation found “coordination” between Fawcett and “fixers” over nominations for honours.

After reports in The Sunday Times revealed that Prince Harry’s Sentebale charity received £50,000 in 2013, he was dragged into the scandal.

According to the newspaper, Harry met Mahfouz Marei Mubarak bin Mahfouz at a pub, posed for photographs, and discussed holding a charity auction or thank you dinner, which never happened.

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In a statement released by his spokesperson, the Duke of Sussex came out fighting, implying that he raised concerns about the donor. There is no evidence that Harry offered Mahfouz assistance in obtaining a knighthood or citizenship.

The statement read: “It is disappointing that The Sunday Times, knowing all the facts, has chosen to encourage speculation by being deliberately vague to try to create a falsified link between the Duke of Sussex and the CBE scandal, of which he had no knowledge or involvement.

“The duke and his advisers, as well as his non-profit Sentebale, severed ties with Mr Mahfouz and his associates in 2015, no longer accepting further donations to Sentebale and discontinuing any plans for a fundraising event amid growing concerns over the motives for his support.

“The duke had one planned meeting with this donor nearly eight years ago, did not introduce him to any members of the royal family, and expressed his concerns about the donor.”

Prince Harry and Prince Charles, seen at the Royal Hospital Chelsea on June 9, 2015, were both involved through their charities with a Saudi billionaire. However, Prince Harry says he cut ties over concerns about the donors motives. (Photo Pool/AFP)

The statement did not specify to whom he expressed his concerns, but the allegations against Fawcett are based on communications that took place after Harry claimed to have severed ties with Mahfouz.

With an external investigation by the Scottish charities regulator still ongoing, if the duke warned his father about the donor in 2015, it would put even more pressure on the future king.

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A letter written by Fawcett two years later, in 2017, to an aide to Mahfouz, who had given £1.5 million to The Prince’s Foundation, was previously published by The Mail on Sunday.

It read: “In light of the ongoing and most recent generosity of His Excellency, Sheikh Marei Mubarak Mahfouz bin Mahfouz I am happy to confirm to you, in confidence, that we are willing and happy to support and contribute to the application for Citizenship.

“I can further confirm that we are willing to make [an] application to increase His Excellency’s honor from Honorary CBE to that of KBE in accordance with Her Majesty’s Honors Committee.

“Both of these applications will be made in response to the most recent and anticipated support of the Trust and in connection with his ongoing commitment generally within the United Kingdom. I hope this confirmation is sufficient in allowing us to go forward.”

The allegations were also reported to the Metropolitan Police who have reviewed the internal probe’s findings but have not launched an investigation.

A summary of the charity’s internal findings read: “With respect to the allegation of securing honours for a donor in exchange for donations, there is evidence that communication and co-ordination took place between the CEO at the time and so-called ‘fixers’ regarding honorary nominations for a donor between 2014-18. There is no evidence that trustees at the time were aware of these communications.”

The Office of the Scottish Charities Regulator said in a statement: “OSCR has received a copy of a report prepared for the board of the Princes’ Foundation into a series of allegations made against the charity’s staff and trustees over the past few months.

“We are now carefully considering the contents of this report as part of the evidence we have gathered to support our own consideration of these matters.

“We will continue to progress our inquiry, working with the charity and others as we consider the information available before we decide what action, if any, is required in this case.”

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