The hottest and most trending news articles for this week in all categories captured in one shot. Find articles ranging from News, to Sports, to Politics, to Entertainment, to Economy, to Metro plus, and many other categories. See below the top news for the week:
- Oyo govt approves N59.7m for Amotekun take off
Oyo State government has approved N59.7 million grant for the take-off of the State Security Network codenamed ‘Operation Amotekun. The fund would be for the procurement of 3,000 uniforms, combat boots, lanyard, baseball hats, security belts and worsted socks. It will also cover the production of logo to identity and distinguish personnel from other security agencies. Commissioner for Information, Culture and Tourism Wasiu Olatunbosun, who addressed reporters after the state’s 19th virtual executive meeting, said: “…for the effective take off of operation amotekun, the State Executive Council (SEC) has approved the procurement of 3,000 uniforms and accoutrements such as combat boots, lanyard, baseball hats, security belts, worsted socks, production of Amotekun and Oyo State logo for 3,000 corps at N59.7 million.
“The uniforms and accoutrements will identify and distinguish the corps from other security agencies.” Olatubosun further added that the council also approved funds for re-accreditation of Adeoyo Maternity at Yemetu, Ibadan, as a fully-fledged teaching hospital. The initial accreditation was withdrawn because the facility did not have the necessary equipment required for such.
“Equipment to be procured will cost N75 million and the facility should be ready before the end of the year.”
- Sultan, CAN president raise alarm over killings
Christian and Islamic leaders have expressed sadness over killings in the country; they also raised the alarm over proliferation of arms and ammunitions. Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) President Rev. Samson Ayokunle and the Sultan of Sokoto Sa’ad Abubakar spoke on Tuesday through the platform of the Nigerian Inter-Religious Council (NIREC).They are co-chairmen of the organisation, which made the following demands on the Federal Government:
– Fishing out of perpetrators of crime and killings to face justice
– Mopping up of arms and ammunition in the hands of criminals
– Complete stop to the proliferation of all forms of weapons that criminals use to destroy lives and property.
The Executive Secretary of NIREC, Prof. Cornelius Omonokhua, signed the statement, which said: “NIREC is worried that the threats and killings keep spreading. We condemn the carnage on human life especially the recent killings of 76 people in Sabon Birni Local Government of Sokoto State; RuwanTofa Dansadua district in Zamfara State; ZagonKataf Local Government Area in Kaduna State; Bethel Baptist Church Aguda-Dauruwan Kogi State”. NIREC also frowned at the attack on the convoy of the Borno State governor, Babagana Umara Zulum, at Baga, adding: “We condemn absolutely, the political thuggery that threatens human life and peaceful coexistence.
- NDDC heads take 30% of contract sums — Senate Report
The Senate has revealed that the head of the Interim Management Committee (IMC) of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) – Prof Kemebradikumo Pondei, and other members of the committee collected between 20 and 30 pe rcent of contract sums before contractors were paid. This is contained in a report by the Senator Olubunmi Adetunmbi (APC, Ekiti North) led Ad-hoc Committee that investigated alleged financial recklessness to the tune of N40 billion in the NDDC by the IMC. The report showed that the NDDC got a total sum of N74.655billion in eight months between October 29, 2019, and May 31, 2020. According to the report, the NDDC got the revenue from oil companies, the Federal Government’s statutory allocation to the interventionist agency, and tender-bidding fees.
The Senate Committee report said the revelations were made by the Chairman, Contractors Association of NDDC, Mr Joe Adia, in a written submission to it. According to Adia in his submission, the immediate past acting Managing Director of the Commission, Mrs Joi Nunieh, had stopped all contractors from accessing the commission till the completion of the forensic audit and this made it difficult for contractors to seek payment for projects they executed. Reacting to the Senate report, the Pan Niger Delta Forum, PANDEF, said the facts coming out in the ongoing probe of the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, should be an eye-opener to President Muhammadu Buhari to correct the wrongs of putting in place the Interim Management Committee, IMC. National Chairman of PANDEF, Air Commodore Idongesit Nkanga, retd, who made the assertion, stressed that PANDEF, from the beginning, supported the forensic audit when it discovered that IMC was doing the same thing as the old NDDC.
- Pondei, others spent N5bn as medical allowances – Senate report
The Senate report on the alleged financial recklessness in the Niger Delta Development Commission has revealed how the top management of the agency shared N4.9bn among themselves in the guise of medical checkup. The document also showed that the management paid N114.9m as supplementary medical allowance to 26 staff member during the same period. It stated that both disbursements were made when the nation was under lockdown to check COVID-19 spread. A copy of the document indicated that the monies were paid to the individual accounts in March and April this year. The report noted that no such payment took place during the first Interim Management Committee led by Joi Nunieh. It nonetheless, stated that available data showed that the allowance had been in existence even though it appeared to have no specific policy underpinning it.
The report stated, “The three members of the Interim Management Committee received the highest amount of N142m each. “Two other people, namely Evan Caroline Nagbo and Ms Cecilia Akintomide, took N12,387,500 each, while Peter Uwa Edieya was paid N10,340,000. The document further indicated that 804 staff members collected between N2.4m and N2.9m each. Apart from these, the document showed that the management paid N114.9m as supplementary medical allowance to 26 staff members. No fewer than 15 of them got N7m while one of them collected N5.2m. The rest however collected between N375, 000 and N550, 000 each. The report indicated that “payment to all the 1,401 staff who received the allowance was made on 16 March 2020.”
- ISOPADEC – Forensic audit uncovers N12.3bn unaccounted funds
A forensic audit report on the financial records of Imo State Oil Producing Areas Development Commission, ISOPADEC, on Sunday disclosed that N12.3 billion spent by the commission cannot be accounted for between 2007 to 2020. The audit report revealed that between 2007 to 2019, the commission only spent N647 million while between 2019 to 2020, within eight months, a whooping sum of N3.3 billion were expended with no trace of the projects for which the funds were used for. Giving a breakdown of some of the findings of the audit report of the unaccounted N12.3 billion as comprising of N9.611 billion from statutory allocation, Miscellaneous inflows of N2.203 billion, N410.721 million deductions and N48.1 million gifts to staff.
“The report also showed that: huge sums of money were paid to contractors without following due process. In direct violation of extant laws, huge serial online transfers were also made to either unknown or unidentified recipients. “Payments to contractors were made without any guaranteed APG or certificates earned and there was no project history, tender records or evidence of approvals from the board as well as lack of adherence to existing protocols on award of contract above N1 million.”
- Buhari orders payment of NDDC scholarship students
President Muhammadu Buhari has ordered the payment of fees and stipends of stranded scholarship students of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) studying abroad. A statement signed by the NDDC Director, Corporate Affairs, Charles Odili, said Buhari conveyed the directive to the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio, following the protest of the students. Odili said the students would be paid by the end of the week explaining that the delay was caused by the sudden death of Chief Ibanga Etang, the then Acting Executive Director, Finance and Administration, EDFA, of the Commission in May.
Odili said: “Under the Commission’s finance protocol, only the Executive Director (Finance) and the Executive Director (Projects) can sign for the release of funds from the Commission’s domiciliary accounts with the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN. “With the death of Chief Etang, the remittance has to await the appointment of a new EDFA. Senator Akpabio, the Honourable Minister, said President Buhari who has been briefed on the protest by students at the Nigerian High Commission in London, has ordered that all stops be pulled to pay the students by the end of this week. We expect a new EDFA to be appointed this week. As soon as that is done, they would all be paid.”
- NDDC’s N6.25b COVID-19 palliatives diverted – NDDC Insider
The N6.25bn approved by President Muhammadu Buhari as COVID-19 palliatives for indigent persons in Niger Delta was diverted by the Interim Management Committee (IMC) of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Chairman of the Palliative Distribution Committee (PDC) , High Chief Sobomabo Jackrich, has alleged. Jackrich, in a petition he sent to both the Senate and the House of Representatives , prayed the two chambers of the National Assemby to investigate his claim with a view to compelling the Prof. Keme Pondei-led IMC to account for the money.
Incidentally, Pondei yesterday insisted that the National Assembly ad-hoc committees probing the financial sleaze in the NDDC were plotting to scuttle the forensic audit of the commission by discrediting it (NDDC) in their reports. In the petition dated August 3, 2020,Jackrich also accused the IMC of deliberately refusing to pay security contracts, thereby compromising the security of the region and fueling tension among the youth. Copies of the petition were sent to the Senate President, Ahmed Lawan; the Speaker, House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, and all the relevant committees of the National Assembly.
- Hate speech: NBA, activists lampoon FG for raising fine to N5m
The Nigerian Bar Association, senior lawyers and human rights groups on Tuesday took a swipe at the Federal Government for raising the fine for hate speech from N500,000 to N5m. The NBA and others, in separate interviews with newsmen, said the hike was an attempt to stifle the media and kill free speech through an unconstitutional means. The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, while unveiling the reviewed Nigeria Broadcasting Code earlier on Tuesday in Lagos, disclosed that the fine for hate speech had been increased to N5m. Justifying the decision, Mohammed said, “We remain unperturbed, because we are acting in the national interest.
Meanwhile, the NBA has described the astronomical increase in the hate speech fine in the newly introduced broadcasting code as an unconstitutional attempt to gag the press. The NBA further said: “Gagging the press by increasing the fine for hate speech by 900 per cent is anti-people. The government should be more concerned about how to improve the welfare of Nigerians, stop the senseless killings in the country and give the people some hope that they have a government that cares. It is the failure of these core responsibilities of government that causes disaffection in society. These are the root causes and that is what government should deal with primarily, not scratching the surface.”
- INEC introduces election result viewing portal
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has introduced a dedicated public election result viewing portal, known as “The INEC Result Viewing (IReV)”. The commission said IRev would enable Nigerians to view polling unit results in real-time as voting ends on election day. The commission announced this in a statement on Thursday, issued by Mr. Festus Okoye, National Commissioner, and Chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee, after its meeting held in Abuja.
Okoye said that the commission at the meeting, approved the introduction of a new step to further strengthen its election management process, and enhance the transparency of the system. He disclosed that the innovation would begin from the Nasarawa Central State Constituency bye-election in Nasarawa State, holding on Saturday. The commission wishes to emphasise that this does not constitute electronic collation of results. The collation of election results shall remain as provided for by law, a manual process of completion of relevant result sheets and their upwards collation until the final results are determined.
- APC to PDP: Account for failed $460m Abuja CCTV Project, $2b China loan
The ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) has asked the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to account for the failed $460 million Abuja Closed-Circuit Television (CCTV) project the then ruling party awarded in August 2010. It listed some of the opposition’s economic misdeeds while it was in power between 1999 and 2015. In a statement on Monday in Abuja by its Deputy National Publicity Secretary, Yekini Nabena, the APC described Atiku’s comment as “un-researched, unintelligent and pedestrian”. The ruling party recalled that Transportation Minister Rotimi Amaechi had explained that the guarantee/clause in the loan deals is the global standard, irrespective of the country granting the loans.
The statement said: “Perhaps, Atiku and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) could redirect their energies to explaining to Nigerians the status of the failed $460 million Abuja Closed-Circuit Television (CCTV) awarded in August 2010 by the immediate-past PDP administration. “Also, they should explain the over $2 billion China loan the PDP administration took between 2010 and 2013 alone; $16 billion spent on power with no electricity; fuel subsidy rackets; counter-insurgency funds that were diverted and shared to political cronies, among other shocking heists.
- Mr. Fatai Adams has been elected as the Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Ondo State.
Adams polled 1,343 votes to defeat his co-contestant, Dennis Alonge-Niyi, who got 369 votes. Until his election as the new party boss, he was the immediate PDP Vice Chairman in the state. The state Congress was conducted in Akure, the state capital. Over 2,000 delegates from the 18 Local Government Areas of the state voted in the election.
Meanwhile, the Deputy Governor of Ondo State, Agboola Ajayi, shunned the party’s congress. Although Ajayi shunned the congress, there are reports that the deputy-governor plans on leaving the party. Newsmen learned he plans to contest the October 10 governorship election under the platform of the Zenith Labour Party (ZLP). This comes two weeks after he failed to clinch the party’s ticket, having lost to Eyitayo Jegede.
- Oshiomhole Wanted Me To Help Him Impeach Obaseki – Edo Deputy Governor
The Deputy Governor of Edo State, Comrade Philip Shaibu, has said his loyalty to Governor Godwin Obaseki is unwavering. In a chat with newsmen on Thursday, Mr Shaibu revealed how former APC National Chairman, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, wanted him to join in the move to unseat Obaseki. Shaibu said he begged Oshiomhole to let go of any grievance he had against Obaseki because the governor was doing well for the Edo People, a plea which Shaibu says fell on deaf ears. The Edo deputy governor went on to reveal that on realizing that Oshiomhole had declared a war against the governor, he told the former governor that he will stand with Obaseki come what may.
According to Philip Shaibu, the ploy was to remove governor Obaseki at the onset and replace him with his deputy, but he said he refused, stating that it was not his “will nor nature” to betray. The deputy governor said he will fight to the very last to ensure that Obaseki is defended, the same way he defended Oshiomhole when there were plots against him in Edo State. He, however, challenged Oshiomhole to come and test his popularity when the votes are to be cast, claiming that the former chairman of the APC has lost his integrity and is no more the man of the people he once was perceived to be.
- IPMAN approves petrol price at N150 per litre
Following increase in the prices of crude oil, marketers have been pushing for the upward review of the Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) for the month of August. Members of the Independent Petroleum Marketers’ Association of Nigeria (IPMAN) have been directed to sell a litre of petrol at N150. The directive followed Federal Government’s approval of N138.62 as the ex-depot price for a litre. But, The Nation learnt that despite the ceiling, Private Depot Owners (PDO) sell the product to dealers for N139 per litre. The new price modulation was announced on Tuesday by Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA). IPMAN’s Vice President Abubakar Maigandi told on Wednesday that the Federal Government was yet to come up with a new pump price for this month.
He said since the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) depots sell the product for N138.62 per litre, private depots decided to increase the price marginally to N139 per litre. The IPMAN chief said: “The Federal Government has not directed us (marketers) to sell petrol at any pump price. Of course, you are aware that the product has been deregulated so we are at liberty to sell according to cost price. “It seems that the private depots decided to sell the product at N149 per litre because NNPC depots are selling it at N148.62. Marketers have to sell in view of the cost they incur so some of us have instructed our stations to sell it for between N148 to N150 per litre.
- NUPENG orders tanker drivers to withdraw from Lagos
The national leadership of the Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG) has ordered petroleum tanker drivers to withdraw their services from Lagos State with effect from August 10. The directive came on the heels of the failure of various authorities in the state to address three major issues causing problems for petroleum tanker drivers in the state. Its National President, Comrade (Prince) Williams Eniredonana Akporeha, and General Secretary, Comrade Olawale Afolabi, made this known in a press statement yesterday. The union said: “The entire rank and file members of the union are deeply pained, frustrated and agonized by the barrage of these challenges being consistently faced by petroleum tanker drivers in Lagos State and are left with no other option but to direct the withdrawal of their services in Lagos State until Lagos State Government and other relevant stakeholders address these critical challenges.
“It is sad and disheartening to note here that we had made several appeals and reports to the Lagos State Government and the Presidential Task Force for the decongestion of Apapa on these challenges but all to no avail. We cannot afford to fold our arms while our members are being consistently and continually extorted, intimidated, harassed and victimized by different groups and segments in Lagos. It is really disturbing and as well inexplicable that security agents who are expected to ensure the free flow of traffic and protection of road users now use their uniforms and arms to intimidate, harass and extort money from petroleum tanker drivers.This reprehensible conduct is taking serious tolls on the psychological, emotional and financial state of petroleum tanker drivers and their capacity to effectively and efficiently deliver services to the nation”.
- Airlines panic as FG ‘withdraws’ N27b support
The plight of local airlines has taken a turn for the worse as more become insolvent, struggling to meet financial obligations. The fate of the beleaguered operators is not helped by the Federal Government’s alleged withdrawal of N27 billion bailout funds that was earlier pledged to the industry. As at weekend, all the operating carriers had slashed pilots and general workers’ salary by between 50 to 80 per cent, much to the displeasure of the unions.
In a bid to safeguard the interest of their members, the National Union of Air Transport Employees (NUATE) has issued 15-day ultimatum to Arik Air, to reverse alleged anti-labour measures or face the wrath of the unions. After three months of COVID-19-induced lockdown, eight local airlines have since July 18 returned to operations, but still struggling with traveller apathy and average load factor of 30 per cent. To cushion the effects of the downtime, the Federal Government in May pledged to support the industry with a N27 billion bailout, in the mode of soft loans and grants.
- NLC urges Air Peace, others to reinstate sacked workers within 2 weeks
The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has urged the management of Turkish Air, Air Peace and Bristow Helicopters to reinstate all the sacked workers within two weeks. Mr Ayuba Wabba, NLC President, said this in a statement on Friday in Abuja, while condemning the recent sack of 100 Pilots by Air Peace, 69 Pilots by Bristow Helicopters. Wabba said that the Congress also rejected sack of the National Union of Air Transport Employees (NUATE) executives working with the Turkish Air.
“We call on the management of Turkish Air, Air Peace and Bristow Helicopters to reinstate all the sacked workers within two weeks. “As agreed between labour and Employers’ Association, social dialogue should be used to resolve industrial concerns instead of the current resort to unilateralism. “We will not hesitate to mobilise the weight of the entire Nigerian workforce to the premises of Turkish Air, Air Peace and Bristow Helicopters if our demands are not met,” he said.
- Computer professionals task government on Fourth Industrial Revolution
Computer professionals have called on the Federal Government to lead Nigeria’s journey towards the realisation of the Fourth Industrial revolution, otherwise called, Industry 4.0. Under the aegis of the Nigeria Computer Society (NCS), the umbrella body of all information and technology (IT) professionals, interest groups and stakeholders in the country, noted that the realisation of the fourth industrial revolution hinges on government providing the enabling environment for the private sector to latch on. The President of NCS, Prof. Adesina Sodiya, said the Industry 4.0 holds key to many development for Nigeria, but they will not come through by mere thinking.He said efforts must be channeled to ensure Nigeria does not miss the opportunities embedded in the Industry 4.0, which he described as crucial to manufacturing, industrialisation, education, and the economy as a whole.
Calling on the Federal government to ensure provision of adequate infrastructure and policies that the country can leverage to leapfrog the development, Sodiya said Fourth Industrial Revolution is also critical to the government’s digital economy agenda. The NCS president said huge opportunities including jobs creation, smart manufacturing, skills development, small and medium enterprises (SMEs) growth, and economic revitalisation come with Industry 4.0. Lending credence to the importance of 4IR to Nigeria’s development, the Chairman, Conferences and Exhibition, NCS, Ayodeji Adetogun, urged Nigeria must wake up from her slumber, stressing that the Fourth Industrial Revolution holds key to greater economic freedom.
- Poly students protest, demand reopening of higher institutions within 14 days
The National Association of Polytechnic Students (NAPS) has vowed to paralyse the economic activities in the country if governments refuse to reopen higher institutions within 14 days. The NAPS, which demanded the reopening of all tertiary institutions in the interest of the students, gave the warning during a peaceful protest in Ibadan, the Oyo State capital. The association, led by its National President, Olalere Adetunji, pointed out that now that markets, worship centres and other places earlier locked down following the outbreak of COVID-19 have been reopened, tertiary institutions should not be abandoned.
The protesters with placards of various inscriptions such as “COVID-19 is not a death sentence,” “Adamu, we want a specific date for our resumption,” “Open our campuses now” and a host of others, urged the Federal Government to give a specific date for reopening of the institutions with no further delay. The students, who condemned the attitude of the Federal Ministry of Education to the plight of Nigerian students, said: “We cannot continue to keep mute in the face of bad policy, most especially that has to do with the education sector. “All we need from the Federal Government is to stop partaking in the global politics, and come out with a specific date for schools’ reopening. “Federal Ministry of Education should wake up to the task on provision of preventive measures across the tertiary institutions in Nigeria.
- WAEC Releases Timetable For 2020 WASSCE
With the 2020 West African Senior School Certificate Examination which is barely two weeks away, the West African Examinations Council has released the timetable for the examination. In a statement issued on Tuesday by its Head of Public Affairs, Demianus Ojijeogu, the examination body asked candidates to disregard other versions of the examination timetable in circulation.
“The West African Examinations Council, Nigeria wishes to inform its stakeholders-schools, parents and candidate-that the Final International Timetable for the conduct of WASSCE for School Candidates, 2020 has been released. “The Council notes that several versions of the examination timetable have been in circulation and enjoins the general public to disregard them as they did not emanate from it. “The examination which has been slated to begin on Monday, August 17, 2020 will end on Saturday, September 12, 2020.
- COVID-19 Test In Any Of Our 61 Laboratories Is Free – NCDC
The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) has insisted that coronavirus (COVID-19) tests conducted within its molecular laboratories across the country are free. It stated this on Sunday via its verified Twitter handle. According to the agency, the scale-up of testing is key in assessing the nation’s COVID-19 situation and coordinating response across the country. The 61 NCDC facilities are located in 30 states across the country and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT). Some of them include the State Specialist Hospital, Amachara in Abia State; Federal Medical Centre, Yola, Adamawa; Molecular Diagnostics Laboratory, Akwa Ibom; and Virology Lagos University Teaching Hospital, Lagos, among others.
NCDC’s tweet came amid the controversy over the COVID-19 tests to be conducted for SS3 students preparing for the West African Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE) in Ogun State. Ahead of the resumption of revision classes for the students, the state government had asked them to take the tests for COVID-19 and malaria. While the government said it would be responsible for the cost for students in public schools, it asked parents/ owners of private schools to do the same for their students. This led to a protest in Abeokuta, the state capital by some parents of private school students over the purported payment of N25,000 for the test. In its reaction, the government said it has decided to further assist the private schools by negotiating “a huge discount” in the cost of the COVID-19 test with some healthcare service providers.
- ‘Breastfeeding can prevent 20,000 maternal deaths yearly’
Not fewer than 20,000 maternal deaths could be prevented yeary in the country with optimal breastfeeding, the Federal Government has said. It further stated that breastfeeding also prevents postpartum bleeding in mothers, supports child spacing and lowers the risk of breast and ovarian cancers and early return to pre-pregnancy body weight. Also, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the World Health Organisation (WHO), in a statement, urged the government to find innovative solutions to protect and promote women’s access to breastfeeding counselling, a critical component of breastfeeding support.
They noted that breastmilk saves children’s lives as it provides antibodies that give babies a healthy boost and protect them against many childhood illnesses. While researchers continue to test breastmilk from mothers with confirmed or suspected COVID-19, evidence indicates that it is unlikely that COVID-19 would be transmitted through breastfeeding. The Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, at a briefing in Abuja to commemorate the World Breastfeeding Day, said Nigeria has, over the years, joined more than 170 countries to commemorate the World Breastfeeding Week, intended to create awareness and generate support for improved breastfeeding practices for good health and well-being outcomes for infants and young children.
- India bootleg alcohol death toll rises to 98, families mourn
The death toll from a toxic bootleg alcohol scandal in the north Indian state of Punjab rose to 98 on Sunday – officials and reports said. Police have arrested 25 people so far over the worsening tragedy, which starting coming to light late last week, the Press Trust of India news agency said. Hundreds of people die every year in India from illegal alcohol made in backstreet distilleries which sells for as little as 10 rupees (13 US cents) a litre, affordable for even the poorest.
The death toll from the illicit booze had risen to 75 in Punjab’s Tarn Taran district after further investigation, the local administration’s deputy commissioner Kulwant Singh said. “Several families refused to divulge details of deaths and a few even cremated them. We have come to this number after information gathering,” Singh told AFP Sunday.
- Microsoft To Continue TikTok Acquisition Talks After Meeting Trump
Microsoft announced on Sunday that it would continue talks to acquire the US operations of popular video-sharing app TikTok, after meeting with President Donald Trump who seemingly backed off his earlier threats to ban the Chinese-owned platform. “Following a conversation between Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella and President Donald J Trump, Microsoft is prepared to continue discussions to explore a purchase of TikTok in the United States,” the company said in a statement, acknowledging the “importance of addressing the President’s concerns” over national security.
Microsoft added that it would continue negotiations with ByteDance, TikTok’s Chinese parent company, with the intention of “completing these discussions no later than September 15.” The statement came after Trump on Friday said he would ban the app, which is especially popular with young audiences who create and watch its short-form videos and has an estimated one billion users worldwide. TikTok should be sold or blocked in the US, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told ABC earlier Sunday, while Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Fox News the president would “take action in the coming days with respect to a broad array of national security risks that are presented by software connected to the Chinese Communist Party.”
- Trump Gives TikTok 6 Weeks To Sell Itself To US Company
US President Donald Trump gave popular Chinese-owned video app TikTok six weeks to sell its US operations to an American company, saying Monday it would be “out of business” otherwise, and that the government wanted a financial benefit from the deal. “It’s got to be an American company… it’s got to be owned here,” Trump said. “We don’t want to have any problem with security.” Trump said that Microsoft was in talks to buy TikTok, which has as many as one billion worldwide users who make quirky 60-second videos with its smartphone app. But US officials say the app constitutes a national security risk because it could share millions of Americans’ personal data with Chinese intelligence.
Trump gave the company’s Chinese parent ByteDance until mid-September to strike a deal. “I set a date of around September 15, at which point it’s going to be out of business in the United States,” he said. Whatever the price is, he said, “the United States should get a very large percentage of that price because we’re making it possible.” Trump compared the demand for a piece of the pie to a landlord demanding under-the-table “key money” from a new tenant, a practice widely illegal including in New York, where the billionaire president built his real estate empire.
- Two Huge Explosions Rock Lebanese Capital, Beirut
Two enormous explosions rocked the Lebanese capital’s port on Tuesday, killing and wounding dozens of people, shaking buildings and sending huge plumes of smoke billowing into the Beirut sky. Video footage of the second blast showed an enormous orange fireball that dwarfed nearby buildings and sent a devastating tornado-like shockwave ripping through the city. A soldier at the port, who asked not to be named, told AFP: “It’s a catastrophe inside. There are corpses on the ground. Ambulances are still lifting the dead.” The official National News Agency confirmed deaths in the blast, without citing a number. The explosions “caused dozens of injuries,” a security source said.
The explosions also come as Lebanon awaits a UN tribunal’s verdict Friday on the 2005 murder of former Lebanese premier Rafic Hariri, killed in a huge truck bomb attack. Four alleged members of the Shiite Muslim movement Hezbollah are on trial in absentia at a court in the Netherlands over the huge Beirut bombing that killed Sunni billionaire Hariri and 21 other people. Tensions have also been high with neighbouring Israel, after Israel said it thwarted an infiltration attempt by up to five Hezbollah gunmen, a claim denied by the Lebanon-based and Iran-backed group.
- Japan marks 75th anniversary of Hiroshima atomic bombing
Japan on Thursday marked 75 years since the world’s first atomic bomb attack, with the coronavirus pandemic forcing a scaling back of ceremonies to remember the victims. Survivors, relatives and a handful of foreign dignitaries attended this year’s main event in Hiroshima to pray for those killed or wounded in the bombing and call for world peace. But the general public was kept away, with the ceremony instead broadcast online. Participants, many of them dressed in black and wearing face masks, offered a silent prayer at exactly 8:15 am (2315 GMT Wednesday), the time the first nuclear weapon used in wartime was dropped over the city.
Speaking afterwards, Hiroshima mayor Kazumi Matsui warned in an address that the world must come together to face global threats, like the coronavirus pandemic, and to warn against the nationalism that led to World War II. “We must never allow this painful past to repeat itself. Civil society must reject self-centred nationalism and unite against all threats,” he said. Humanity must “unite against threats to humanity and avoid repeating our tragic past,” Matsui added, making an annual call for a world without nuclear weapons. The bomb attack on Hiroshima killed around 140,000 people, many of them instantly, with others perishing in the weeks and months that followed, suffering radiation sickness, devastating burns and other injuries.
- Arsenal to lay-off 55 staff as COVID-19 hits revenues
Less than a week after winning the FA Cup to secure their place in next season’s Europa League, Arsenal has announced plans to lay-off 55 staff. This is also coming as the football club negotiated a multi-million pound contract extension with striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. The club said on Wednesday the cuts were the result of the financial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. The announcement sparked an immediate social media backlash from fans contrasting the huge sums involved with keeping key players to the lost jobs of staff at the north London outfit. “Revenue from broadcasters, match day and commercial activities have all been hit severely and these impacts will continue into at least the forthcoming 2020/21 season,” the club said in a statement.
The club said they had done all they could to reduce costs, including players, senior staff and executive team members taking voluntary pay cuts adding “but it is now clear that we must reduce our costs further to ensure we are operating in a sustainable and responsible way.” Arsenal is also bidding to lure Chelsea forward Willian to the club, also on a huge weekly wage, while local media reports this week say they are offering striker Aubameyang a 300,000 pounds-a-week deal to extend his contract. The wealth of the club’s multi-billionaire American owner Stan Kroenke, had risen by around 300 million pounds this year, according to a report written and compiled by the United States-based Institute for Policy Studies, another fact not lost on fans voicing their frustration.(Reuters/NAN)
- Red Card Warning For Deliberate Coughing In Football
Footballers can be sent off if referees judge they have coughed deliberately at opponents or match officials in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, say the sport’s rule-makers and England’s Football Association. The International Football Association Board (IFAB) said it was up to the referee to judge whether he felt the cough was an abusive gesture. IFAB classified deliberate coughing as similar to “using offensive, insulting or abusive language and/or gestures”.
“As with all offences, the referee has to make a judgement about the true nature of the offence,” it said. “If it were clearly accidental, then the referee would not take action nor if the ‘cough’ took place with a large distance between the players. “However, where it is close enough to be clearly offensive, then the referee can take action.” The FA’s guidance for grassroots football in England will come into force immediately. “If the incident was not severe enough to merit a sending-off, a caution could be issued for ‘unsporting behaviour’,” it wrote in a document.
- Spain, Real Madrid Legend Casillas Retires
Spain’s World Cup-winning goalkeeper Iker Casillas announced his retirement on Tuesday, after being sidelined for more than a year with a heart problem. Casillas, 39, also won the European Championship twice with his country in a trophy-laden career which included more than 700 games for Real Madrid. “Today is both one of the most important and most difficult days of my sporting life, the time to say goodbye has arrived,” he said on Twitter.
Casillas joined Portuguese side Porto in 2015 after a tearful departure from Madrid but suffered a heart attack in May last year. He played 167 times for the national team, winning the 2010 World Cup and the Euros in 2008 and 2012 in a golden age for Spanish football. He lifted five La Liga titles and the Champions League on three occasions during his time at the Santiago Bernabeu. “The best goalkeeper in the history of Real Madrid and Spanish football joined us at the age of 9. He was formed here and defended our shirt for 25 years, becoming one of our most emblematic captains of all time,” the club said in a statement.
- UEFA Weighs Neutral Venues For Next Season’s Champions League
Poland, Hungary, Greece and Cyprus are prepared to act as “neutral hubs” to host matches in the Champions League or Europa League qualifying rounds if the coronavirus disrupts next season, UEFA said Thursday. The pandemic has forced UEFA to schedule the last three rounds of this season’s Champions League in Portugal, and the governing body told its 55 member federations Thursday that this kind of arrangement may happen again. At the video general meeting on Thursday the four nations all offered dates and venues for early round fixtures next season.
“In order to comply with travel restrictions and quarantine requirements issued by authorities, some matches may need to be moved to neutral countries/stadia,” said UEFA in a statement. The 2020/21 Champions League preliminary rounds start in Switzerland on Saturday when Tre Fiori of San Marino take on Linfield of Northern Ireland, and Kosovo’s Drita play Inter d’Escaldes of Andorra. UEFA also suggested that international games between member states in September could take place at neutral venues.
- KWAM 1 collaborates with Teni, Toby Grey on new EP
Fuji music star, King Wasiu Ayinde Marshal aka KWAM 1, has collaborated with singing sensations, Teni Makanaki and Toby Grey on his forthcoming EP. The Fuji maestro announced his new musical project with a fresh single, “Awade”. Investigations gathered revealed that aside from KWAM 1’s collaboration with Teni Makanaki and Toby Grey, the singer has also engaged the services of one of the leading music producers, Mystro, for the entitled ‘Fuji the Sound EP.’ Following the release of the first single from the forthcoming album, the ‘Fuji the Sound EP’ is expected to hit music shelves on August 21 across the world. ccording to sources, the EP will be a compilation of six songs that have been worked on in the last two years.
- Dino Melaye’s new ‘sweetheart’
Saying Senator Dino Melaye is a ladies’ man may not be too wrong. He is stylish, influential and has a deep pocket. All these characteristics will always endear women to a man. Being a socialite, most BBNaija stars are friends to the top politician. Last year, he hosted some housemates of the Big Brother Naija Pepper Dem, including Jackye, Nelson, Enkay, Gedoni, Jeff, Joe, and Kim Oprah – at his Abuja home.
As it is, the Kogi-born former lawmaker may have found another ‘sweetheart’ in the ongoing BBN as a contestant, Dorathy, has professed her love for him. The housemate, who is a fans’ favourite due to her eye-catching physical endowment, even filled Melaye’s name as her celebrity crush in a form in the BBN house. This would have come as an open invitation for the former senator who is presently a bachelor. He was previously married to Tokunbo Melaye but she filed for divorce. The couple were blessed with three children before the union was cut short.
- Court fines Naira Marley N200,000
The Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Mobile Court sitting in Abuja on Friday convicted the music superstar, Azeez Fashola, aka Naira Marley, for violating COVID-19 protocols. Naira Marley pleaded guilty to the four-count charge pressed on him by the prosecuting team and was fined N200, 000. Reading the four-count charge, Magistrate Idayat Akanni, ordered Naira Marley to pay 50 thousand Naira for each of the count as well as publish a public apology to the Federal Government of Nigeria in a National Daily.
The four-count charge include; violating Presidential ban on interstate travelling, not wearing of face mask contrary to the Presidential Order imposing compulsory wearing of face mask by all persons within Abuja the Federal Capital Territory, violating social distance order as well as violating dusk to dawn curfew in the territory.
- Two Nurses Arrested Over Baby Sale In Katsina
Three women, including two nurses, have been arrested by the Katsina State Police Command for the alleged theft of a newborn baby girl abandoned in a private hospital in the state. According to the police, one Shamsiya Sani of the Dandagoro Quarter, Katsina, was delivered of the baby on July 25, 2020. The mother reportedly abandoned the baby shortly after delivery and left behind a handwritten note, which explained that she took the action because the baby was born out of wedlock.
The suspects were paraded by the Police Public Relations Officer in the state, Gambo Isah, on Monday at the Katsina State Police Command headquarters in the state capital. He revealed that the nurses – identified as Misira Tijjani and Grace Ejigu – were arrested on Tuesday last week based on a tip-off. According to Isah, the suspects conspired to sell the child to one Eucharia Onyema, 45, a resident of Sabuwar Kasuwa quarters in Katsina. “Nemesis caught up with them when they were arrested on their way from the hospital to their houses with the child through the help of a Keke NAPEP rider who suspected them of stealing of the child. Investigation is ongoing,” the command spokesman said.
- Police arrest Imo monarch, pastor for alleged kidnap
Operatives of the Anti-Kidnapping Unit and the Special Anti-Robbery Squad of the Imo State Police Command have arrested the traditional ruler of Obor community in Awara, Oguta Local Government Area of Imo State, Eze Andrew Okuegbunuwa, and one Pastor Caleb Agu, for alleged kidnapping. The state Commissioner of Police, Isaac Akinmoyede, who paraded the traditional ruler and eight suspected members of his gang at the command headquarters in Owerri, alleged that they were responsible for the killing of two personnel of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency in the state a few months ago. The CP said while the traditional ruler allegedly provided the gang’s operational vehicle, the cleric was the leader of the syndicate.
The cops recovered N4.2m as part of the ransom the suspects collected from one of their victims. The CP disclosed that four AK-47 rifles, one rifle belonging to the slain NDLEA officers, 120 rounds of live ammunition, one Lexus SUV, and other exhibits were recovered from the suspects. He said the gang gave the monarch N3m from the over N7m they got as ransom in one of their operations.
When interviewed, the traditional ruler acknowledged that apart from the N3m the gang gave him, he had been receiving money from them each time they returned from an operation. He noted that he knew that his vehicles were being used for kidnap operations. Other suspects are Uzoma Bernard,65; Fabian Obioha,60; Ogechi Obioha,30; Kennedy Okwuonu,40; Ebenezer Obioha,38; and Ikechukwu Njoku,32.
- Police Kill Eight Bandits, Recover 30 Cows In Katsina
The police in Katsina State have killed eight bandits in Batsari Local Government Area of Katsina State. In a statement issued by the Police Public Relations Officer, Gambo Isah on Saturday, personnel of the Force swooped on the bandits after receiving information on their activities in the area. According to him, the hoodlums numbering over 40 attacked Zamfarawa village, killed two persons – one Shafi’i Suleiman and Yakubu Idris and rustled an unspecified number of cows. While one of the bandits died on the spot, the other seven were said to have been killed from gunshot wounds during the exchanged of fire between the police and the hoodlums.
“The team succeeded and recovered thirty cows stolen from the village by the bandits. Subsequently, on 7/08/2020 search parties led by the DPO and members of the community led by the village head of Zamfarawa recovered additional seven more corpses of the bandits at Barankada village, Batsari LGA of Katsina State,” Isah said. The police spokesman said items recovered from the dead bodies and the scene respectively during search include, 13 empty shells and two live ammunition of 7.62mm, charms, keys, a pair of slippers and N22,300.