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Mr Li Xuda, the Cultural Counselor, the Chinese Embassy in Nigeria says the 2018 China New Year celebration is dedicated to strengthening bilateral relationships with Nigeria. Xuda on Saturday in Abuja on the sideline of the 2018 Chinese New Year Temple Fair Festival with the theme,“ “Celebrating the Golden Era for China-Nigeria relations’’. According to him, the theme of this year’s Temple Fair is to further strengthen Sino-Nigerian exchanges and cooperation in all fields “2018 Chinese New Year is being celebrated by Chinese across the globe to mark the start of the Lunar Year of the Dog and the Spring Festival. “The annual cultural event, ‘Happy Chinese New Year’ has become a recognised brand, welcoming our guest and friends to experience cultural traditions associated with the celebration and enjoy art performances,’’ he said. Xuda said that the Chinese New Year celebrations are emblematic of the cultural tradition, heritage and aesthetic aspirations of the Chinese nation, abounding in distinctive Chinese symbols of great emotional appeal. He noted that the tradition of such celebrations in China dated back to more than 4000 years. He said the celebration also included the display of Chinese New Year couples, fireworks, preparing `jiaozi’ and family reunion, among others. The highlights of the event was the Chinese Cultural presentation by the “12 “China Corners Schools’’ in the Federal Capital Territory. The schools include Model Secondary School, Maitama, Government Secondary School (GSS) Byazhin, GSS Gwarinpa, GSS Jabi, GSS Apo and GSS Mpape. Others are Rahama International School, GSS Garki, Government Day Secondary School, Dutse Alhaji, Army Day Secondary School, Asokoro and Government Girls Secondary School Dutse.

Over 500 tricycle (Keke) operators in Imo state, Thursday, blocked the entrance into the Imo government house, over ban order. Vanguard monitored the protest which started from Control post, World bank and Wethdral to the government House. While giving reasons for their demonstration, they said that they were surprised that they got an information, that they had been banned completely on Thursday, contrary to the deadline date earlier given to them. According to some of the keke operators that the governor gave them upto December 1st as a deadline to stop operating in the metropolis. Just as some said that suspected government officials were using the ban order to intimidate and extort money from them. Speaking to Vaguard, one of them who introduced himself as Banky, said: “They have banned us three times. I believe Okorocha is not aware of all this, some people are taking advantage of the whole situation to get money.” Another Keke drive, simply identified as King, “We want Okorocha to pity us. Let him show us where to ply within the capital city and not ban us completely. Some of us do not have jobs, except for this Keke.” Earlir in his remark, Governor Rochas Okorocha of Imo state, said that the first phase of banning tricycle operating in the capital city of Owerri has commenced. He said: “On this issue of Keke operators we have discussed with them and they seize to operate in some areas from today (Thursday) We have replaced them with taxis. “What I understand is that the taxis we bought for them, they are using them outside the state, their reason was that as long as keke still ply in the capital city, it will be difficult for them to get passengers and they cannot compete with Keke. “So fotunately enough those that got the taxis are the the same keke riders. As a result of this, they packed the taxis in their houses. “However, we have agreed with them that we should start the first phase of the ban. That reminds me as from today (Thirseday) there will be no Keke on Wethedral road and among other areas. “We are also introducing Imo black cap. It is special designed buses, that help to take away VIPs. This is to compliment the effort of taxi scheme. It is a way to give Owerri a new look.” Over 500 keke operators, yesterday, blocked Imo government House, over ban order.

A Kenya Professor of Law, Patrick Lumumba on Monday decried rising wave of corruption in Nigeria, saying that the malaise has produced thousands of elite thieves in the biggest black nation on planet. Lumumba was the keynote speaker at the 9th edition of ‘Fela, the Debates,’ with the theme: “40 years after FESTAC. 20 years after Fela…Wither the Pan-African Dream?” The event was held at the NECA House, Ikeja, Lagos, Southwest Nigeria, in commemoration of the 20th anniversary of the demise of Afro-beat maestro, Fela Anikulapo Kuti. It was one of the activities lined up for this year’s Felabration Festival. Felabration is an annual festival of music and arts commemorating the life and times of Nigeria’s foremost musical icon, the late Fela Anikulapo Kuti. Speaking at the event, Lumumba lamented that corruption has been the bane of the African continent, saying that it was roughly estimated that through the activities of corrupt individuals who were in position of authority, the continent was losing huge sums of money. He likened Nigeria to the case of the popular book, “Alibaba and the 40 thieves,” saying that the case of Nigeria has gone beyond 40 thieves but thousands of thieves. “Today in Nigeria and the 36 states of Nigeria, you read the story of Alibaba and the 40 thieves, you will discover that they are no longer 40 thieves, but thousands of thieves. Until the day we liberate ourselves from the clung of these thieves, Africa is going nowhere. “We are in a continent where the occupation of public office is a gargantuan of acquiring wealth. We have to ensure that the continent of Africa is free from corruption and it must come,” he stated. Lumumba added that when former chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, Nuhu Ribadu was fighting corruption, he was forced out of the system, saying that when the same Ribadu vied for the presidency despite his pedigree, he was rejected. According to him, the current president, Muhammadu Buhari came out with the mantra to fight corruption and was elected, lamenting that when he started fighting corruption, some people were now saying “oh let corruption come back. What do you want your president to do? “ The professor said if corruption must be won, it must not only be at the top, but that all, including civil servants, companies and others must say no to corruption. “Civil servants, don’t be corrupt, Petroleum minister, don’t be corrupt. There is no justification for corruption. Corruption undermines education, values, infrastructure; corruption destroys our being, it is the reason why Africa countries can never be allowed to sit at the UN Security council, Corruption must be dealt with. Fela saw it many years ago, Fela was a human being and not a Jewish prophet,” he said. Lumumba stated that when Fela introduced the Afro Beat music, he never meant it to be for entertainment and for dance alone, but that he wanted the nation to ‘dance’ to the Afro Beat of good education, infrastructure, good health system, among others, which he said were lacking in the system due to corruption. He also said that more than ever, the call for Pan-Africanism was louder as many nations in the continent were still under the siege of neo-colonialism after decades of exit of the colonial masters. He said since the partition of Africa at the infamous Berlin Conference of 1884 and 1885, several Africans, such as Nkwame Nkrumah of Ghana and the rest championed the course for independence for Africa, adding that after the 1963 meeting in Accra by Nkrumah for Africans to decimate neo-colonialism, Patrick Lumumba of Congo, Tafawa Balewa and a host of others were assassinated due to the force of neo-colonialists. Lumumba lamented that Africa remained the only continent where the countries had been polarized as Francophone, Anglophone and the rest, which he said had been the tragedy of the continent. He said the late Fela was right when he said ‘if they want to enslave you forever, they won’t let you know who your grandfathers are.” The legal luminary added that 40 years after the Festival of Arts and Culture, FESTAC, was staged in Nigeria, the culture of the African continent had been eroded, while the continent was still to realize its potentials. He decried that the Gross Domestic Product, GDP, of the entire two billion population of the African continent was not up to the GDP of Spain alone, asking: “are we children of a lesser God? God in His divine wisdom gave us all the resources that we need. Our presidents can’t attend our hospitals when they are sick.” Lumumba also said it was proper for every tribe in Nigeria and in the continent to know their root, saying it was only through this that they would be proud Nigerians and others. “Here in Nigeria, it is proper and right for the Igbo to know their origin, it is proper and right for the Yoruba to know their origin. It is proper and right for the Ibibio, Hausa and Fulani to know their origin because it is when they have all discovered their origins and are proud Yoruba, Igbo that they can make a great Nigeria. This must happen in all countries in Africa. “There must be unity in diversity. When I think of the music that Fela put in place, it is telling us that we should be proud of our black skin, that God was not mad in creating us black, it is telling us that there is beauty in our being negroes,” he said. Lumumba further stated that secession would not do Nigeria and any other country any good, saying that the unity of the nation could be negotiated so that everyone would be happy. “You, the Igbo and Hausa in Nigeria, your destiny lies in Nigeria, your problems can be solved within Nigeria. There is no need to slaughter yourselves. We can talk about the unity of Africa. We must have the moral courage to tell ourselves that we can resolve our problems without resolving to fight,” he added. Also speaking at the event, human rights lawyer, Femi Falana, SAN faulted Lumumba that Africans were more corrupt than their western counterparts, saying that America and Britain were the most corrupt countries in the world. He said all those rankings that Nigeria and other Africa countries were the most corrupt were being exaggerated, but agreed that it was high time Africans decimated neo-colonialism and champion the course of Pan-Africanism. Replying Falana, Lumumba said even though there is corruption in the western countries, they still provided the necessary infrastructure for the people unlike in Africa where the leaders would steal and do nothing for the masses. The panel session was anchored by Kadaria Ahmed, a media entrepreneur and season journalist, while the Editor of the Guardian, Abraham Ogbodo was on the panel along with Falana. The Excutive Editor, The News/PM News, Kunle Ajibade lamented that the abolition of history from school curriculum in Nigeria for a long time had impacted negatively on students’ acquaintance with the culture of the nation and the people they should have emulated as role models. According to Ajibade, “For more than a decade, history was taken off the curriculum, even though it has just been brought back; what happened to all the hundreds and millions of students who went through secondary schools without history? What happened to those who removed history? What were they smoking?” •

The management of Sterling Bank Plc, Lagos has dragged its staff and a teller attached to its Wilmer Branch, Olodi-Apapa area of Lagos, Chidebe Henry Ikenna, 41, before a Lagos Magistrate Court for allegedly stealing the sum of N2 million entrusted in his care by the customers of the Bank to lodge in their accounts. The accused, from Awka North Local Government Area of Anambra State, Southeast Nigeria was ordered arrested by the Divisional Police Officer, DPO in charge of Lion Building Division, CSP Folashade Tanaruno following a complaint by the management of Sterling Bank Plc through Mr Okonugha Sunday Evaristus in charge of security department. Ikenna was arraigned before an Igbosere Magistrate Court on a one count charge of felony to wit, stealing. Police Prosecutor, Inspector Abass Abayomi informed the Court in charge No. C/61/2017 that the accused committed the alleged offence in November, 2016 at the Sterling Bank Plc, Lagos. Abayomi told the Court that the accused betrayed the trust reposed on him by his employer as a teller and stole the sum of N2 million entrusted in his care by the customers of the bank. Abayomi added that the management of the bank got to know about the alleged fraudulent act when some of the customers of the bank lodged a complaint against the accused that anytime they give him money to lodge in their account, they would receive an alert that the money had entered into their accounts but that when they checked the balance, they would not find the money in their accounts. According to him, following the complaints, the management of the bank swung into action and launched investigation into the complaints during which they discovered that the accused had been sending false alerts to the complainants and converting the money they entrusted in his care as a teller to lodge in their accounts to his personal use. Abayomi added that the offence the accused committed was punishable under section 287 of the Criminal Laws of Lagos State, 2015. The accused, however, pleaded not guilty to the alleged crime and Chief Magistrate, A.O. Komolafe granted the accused bail in the sum of N1 million with two sureties in like sum. Komolafe adjourned the case till 14 November, 2017 for mention and ordered that the defendant be remanded at the Ikoyi Prison, pending when he is able to fulfill the bail conditions.

Justice Ayo Emmanuel of the Federal High Court sitting in Ibadan, capital of Oyo State has sentenced the former Director-General of the Institute of Agricultural, Research and Training (IAR&T), Professor Benjamen Ogunmodede to 40 years in prison without an option of fine for mismanaging funds meant for the payment of salaries and execution of projects in the institution. Two other staff of the institution Zacheus Tejumola and Adenekan Clement were also jailed. They were arraigned by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) in 2011 on 16-count charge bordering on conspiracy, unlawful conversion, stealing of school subvention, among others. They were accused of diverting and spending without due process, the sum of N177 million out of a subvention of N600m released by the Federal Government for the school. Justice Emmanuel ruled that each of the convicted persons would spend four years for each of the charges they were found guilty, adding however that they would spend the jail term concurrently. In their response, the convicted persons claimed that a huge part of the amount was used to bribe members of the House of Representatives and some staff of the Federal Ministry of Finance who facilitated the release of the fund for the research institute. But Justice Emmanuel ruled that Ogunmodede and others were clearly guilty of the charges preferred against them. He said that bribery and money laundering were illegal activities that had been prohibited in the country and that they were punishable under the law. The judge said that the sentence would serve as deterrent to people in public positions. EFCC lead counsel, Nkereuwem Anana, said the judgement was an indication that the war against corruption was being won in the country, saying that the judgement would send a strong message to others who are mismanaging or embezzling public funds. Counsel to Ogunmodede, Tunde Olupona, said that the legal team would review the ruling and Justice Ayo Emmanuel of the Federal High Court sitting in Ibadan, capital of Oyo State has sentenced the former Director-General of the Institute of Agricultural, Research and Training (IAR&T), Professor Benjamen Ogunmodede to 40 years in prison without an option of fine for mismanaging funds meant for the payment of salaries and execution of projects in the institution. Two other staff of the institution Zacheus Tejumola and Adenekan Clement were also jailed. They were arraigned by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) in 2011 on 16-count charge bordering on conspiracy, unlawful conversion, stealing of school subvention, among others. They were accused of diverting and spending without due process, the sum of N177 million out of a subvention of N600m released by the Federal Government for the school. Justice Emmanuel ruled that each of the convicted persons would spend four years for each of the charges they were found guilty, adding however that they would spend the jail term concurrently. In their response, the convicted persons claimed that a huge part of the amount was used to bribe members of the House of Representatives and some staff of the Federal Ministry of Finance who facilitated the release of the fund for the research institute. But Justice Emmanuel ruled that Ogunmodede and others were clearly guilty of the charges preferred against them. He said that bribery and money laundering were illegal activities that had been prohibited in the country and that they were punishable under the law. The judge said that the sentence would serve as deterrent to people in public positions. EFCC lead counsel, Nkereuwem Anana, said the judgement was an indication that the war against corruption was being won in the country, saying that the judgement would send a strong message to others who are mismanaging or embezzling public funds. Counsel to Ogunmodede, Tunde Olupona, said that the legal team would review the ruling and

Former First Lady, Dame Patience Jonathan, has appealed to President Muhammadu Buhari to intervene to stop the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), from a “witch-hunt”. A statement issued by her media aide, Mr Belema Meshack-Hart, on Monday in Abuja, quoted Mrs. Jonathan as saying that the EFCC was prosecuting a plot to destroy her family. Meshack-Hart said that the vindictive disposition of EFCC was portraying the organisation as an agency for revenge. Mrs. Jonathan, according to Meshack-Hart, specifically accused Ibrahim Magu, EFCC’s boss, of bias and intimidation. He said that the EFCC boss was “spreading barefaced falsehood and propaganda against Mrs Jonathan in the name of investigations”. Meshack-Hart accused the EFCC of “unjustified witch-hunt”, saying that no other former first lady had faced “such brazen intimidation in the history of this country”. Quoting Mrs Jonathan, Meshack-Hart said: “For almost three years, the EFCC has beamed its searchlight on me and my family members, including my siblings and parents, as well as my Foundation and Non-Governmental Organisation. “As a tradition, every First Lady in this country has had one pet project or the other, with which they sought to intervene in the lives of the less privileged.’’ Mrs. Jonathan explained that she started her NGO in Bayelsa State 11 years ago, when her husband was the Governor of that State. She said that she has over the years, touched the lives of many Nigerians in different ways. According to her media aide, “it is surprising that while other First ladies and their pet projects were left alone, it is only her activities and that of her NGOs that are being subjected to indefinite probe and microscopic scrutiny. EFCC has maliciously linked Mrs. Jonathan to all kinds of fake possessions and properties around the country, he said. “It has come to a point where all the magnificent edifices in Abuja, Yenagoa or Port Harcourt are presented to the media as belonging to Mrs. Patience Jonathan. She has been accused of owning several plots of land in many cities across the country, including places she has never visited. “The most astonishing of all is that her close relatives are being victimized and their personal properties are being investigated,” the statement stated. It urged Buhari to intervene on the matter to ensure justice for the former first family and also ensure that the EFCC’s actions were not interpreted as part of a larger plot to disgrace his (Buhari)’s predecessor. Efforts to speak with EFCC spokesman, Wilson Uwujaren, were not successful, but a senior official of the commission, rejected suggestions that the outfit was out on a witch hunt. “We are not out on a witch hunt; we are not targeting anyone or family for a witch hunt; it is not only Mrs. Jonathan that is being investigated. Many people are answering questions in various places. “Those found guilty will be charged before a competent court of law; those who have nothing to hide should have no fear because we shall not victimise anyone that is innocent,” the source told NAN, craving anonymity. (NAN)

The Niger State Emergency Management Agency (NSEMA) has confirmed the death of 22 persons in a boat mishap around Mahuta community in Agwara Local Government Area of the state. Malam Hussaini Ibrahim, the Public Relations Officer of the agency, confirmed the incident in Minna on Wednesday. He said the deceased were traveling on Tuesday from Yauri in Kebbi and Mage around Kontagora area to Manhuta in Niger. Ibrahim said that seven of the travelers were, however, rescued. According to him, the victims were traveling to Mahuta following information that a divine stone, with an islamic inscription was found there, when their boat capsised. “Some of the survivors said the boat hit a log of wood inside the river and capsized,” he said. He said the bodies of the deceased were deposited at the General Hospital in Yauri.

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) last week arraigned the Deputy Managing Director of BGL plc, Chibundo Edozien, in a Wuse Chief Magistrates’ Court for conspiring with some staff of the company to defraud the investing public. The accused person, of Plot 417 Tigris Crescent, Maitama, Abuja, was docked on charges of criminal conspiracy, breach of trust and cheating. Edozien also appeared in court on behalf of M/S BGL plc, its asset management and securities limited subsidiaries. The prosecutor, Moshood Adeyemi, told the court that Edozien conspired with the company along with one Albert Okumagba, now at large. He alleged that the accused also conspired with some other staff and cheated one Mahmoud Usman and four others. Adeyemi further alleged that the accused cheated UN Staff Thrift and Credit Cooperative Society of Anambra, Abuja Office, among others, who filed complaints against the defendant before the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). The prosecutor said the offences contravened the Penal Code. Edozien, however, pleaded not guilty to the charges. The defence counsel, Mr K.B Asunogie, made a bail application for Edozien, stressing that the matter had been on since 2015 and he had been honouring invitations all through the inquiry. He added that his client was on administrative bail and never breached it, urging the court to grant bail in the most liberal terms. The prosecutor, however, said if bail was granted, it should be with conditions that would ensure the defendant’s appearance for his trial. He also said the police detained and granted the defendant administrative bail, not the SEC. The Magistrate, Chinyere Nwecheonwu, however, granted the accused bail in N1 million with one surety in like sum. She said the surety must be a civil servant of Grade Level 12 and the office address must be verified by the prosecutor and the court registrar. She added that the surety must present original appointment letter and promotion letter before the court and adjourned the case till Nov. 6 for hearing.

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