Thursday, 26 October 2017

Second-string Real Madrid labour to King's Cup victory

MADRID, Oct 26 (Reuters) - A much-changed Real Madrid ground out a 2-0 victory at third-tier Fuenlabrada in their King´s Cup last-32 first leg on Thursday, needing two dubious penalties to break down their stubborn hosts as both sides finished with 10 men.

Marco Asensio and Lucas Vazquez converted from the spot in the second half put Zinedine Zidane's side in control of the tie before the return at the Bernabeu in a month's time.

Las Palmas recorded an impressive 4-1 win away to Deportivo La Coruna while Levante won 2-0 at Girona in the night´s other all-La Liga clash and a spectacular Sergio Canales effort saw Real Sociedad earn a 1-0 win over third-tier hosts Lleida.
Real are seeking to win the competition for the first time since 2014 but Zidane gave opportunities to several squad members for the visit to their lowly local rivals.

There were few chances during an even first half in which Fuenlabrada more than held their own against the illustrious visitors.

Just before the break, however, Madrid took charge and midfielder Marcos Llorente saw a rasping volley tipped onto the bar by former Real goalkeeper Jordi Codina.

The second half started in a similar vein and Asensio gave Madrid the lead on the hour after Achraf Hakimi was pulled back by Fran Garcia.

The foul appeared to be outside the box but referee Ignacio Iglesias deemed that the contact continued into the area and pointed to the spot.

Codina then twice denied young Madrid striker Borja Mayoral in spectacular fashion as the Liga and European champions looked to turn the screw, with Vazquez then firing wide from distance.

Vazquez did score with a penalty 10 minutes from time when Paco Candela was adjudged to have fouled Theo Hernandez from a corner, the midfielder being shown a second yellow card.

With the clock ticking down, Jesus Vallejo was shown a straight red on his Madrid debut for a high tackle on Luis Milla as tempers threatened to flare. (Editing by Ken Ferris)

Tuesday, 24 October 2017

South Africa's murder rate rose by 1.8 percent in the last year, with over 19,000 people killed across the country -- 52 a day -- official statistics released Tuesday showed.

The eastern province of KwaZulu-Natal, which is hit by political violence, recorded the highest number of murders, followed by Gauteng, which includes Johannesburg and the capital Pretoria.

"Over the past four financial years, murder has reflected an upward trend. We need a combative and decisive policing when we deal with such crimes," said Police Minister Fikile Mbalula.

A total of 19,016 were killed between April 2016 to March 2017, up from 18,673 the previous year.

"We must not see these statistics just as pure numbers," Mbalula told lawmakers in parliament as he delivered the official statistics.

"Behind the numbers are real feelings, real lives, real hurt, real harm, real losses, deaths."

In the Western Cape, which includes the gang-ridden city of Cape Town, gang-related killings accounted for 19.3 percent of all murders in the province.

A total of 39,828 rapes were reported in the past year -- 109 a day -- down from 41,503.

There were also 16,717 reported carjacking incidents, the highest number recorded in the last 10 years.

The opposition Democratic Alliance questioned whether crime was actually worse than the official figures due under-reporting in the country of 56 million people.

South African police often come under fire for failing to bring down crime levels, although officials insist that the numbers have been declining from before the end of apartheid in 1994.


Monday, 23 October 2017

The Latest: Ronaldo wins FIFA player of year for 5th time

LONDON (AP) — The Latest on FIFA Best awards at the London Palladium Theater (all times local):

Cristiano Ronaldo has joined Lionel Messi as a five-time winner of FIFA's best player award.

The Real Madrid forward was crowned player of the year on Monday at the FIFA Best ceremony at the London Palladium theater attended by runner-ups Messi and third-placed Neymar.

A second successive honor for the 32-year-old Ronaldo was expected after a season in which the Portuguese eclipsed his award counterparts in the medal stakes.

As well as Spanish league and Spanish Super Cup success, Ronaldo scored twice in the Champions League final against Juventus to win European soccer's elite competition for the third time in four seasons.

FIFA has shifted its award ceremony from its usual January slot to October so players are judged across a season — based on the typical European schedule — rather than the calendar year.

8:50 p.m.
Lieke Martens has been crowned women's player of the year at the FIFA Best ceremony after winning the European Championship with the Netherlands.

The 24-year-old winger was part of the Dutch team that beat Denmark in the final in August, scoring once.

She beat Carli Lloyd of the United States and Deyna Castellanos of Venezuela.

8:25 p.m.

The team of the 2016-17 season voted by soccer players has been announced at the FIFA Best ceremony.

The goalkeeper is Gianluigi Buffon of Italy and Juventus.

In defense it's Dani Alves (Brazil, Juventus/currently Paris Saint-Germain), Leonardo Bonucci (Italy, Juventus/currently AC Milan), Sergio Ramos (Spain, Real Madrid) and Marcelo (Brazil, Real Madrid).

The midfield features Real Madrid duo Luka Modric (Croatia) and Toni Kroos (Germany), and Andres Iniesta of Spain and Barcelona.

Up front, it's Lionel Messi (Argentina, Barcelona), Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal, Real Madrid) and Neymar (Brazil, Barcelona/currently Paris Saint-Germain).
Some 26,622 players from 71 countries participated in the vote organized by world player's union FIFPro.

8:20 p.m.

Sarina Wiegman has been named women's coach of the year at the FIFA Best ceremony.

Wiegman led the Netherlands to its first major women's title when it won the European Championship in August by beating Denmark.

The Latest: Celtic wins FIFA fan award hours after UEFA fine

ONDON (AP) - The Latest on FIFA Best awards at the London Palladium Theater (all times local):

Scottish champion Celtic has won the fan award at the FIFA Best ceremony hours after the club was fined by UEFA for a pitch invasion.

UEFA imposed a sanction of 10,000 euros ($11,740) on Celtic after a supporter ran onto the field in Glasgow and aimed a kick at Paris Saint-Germain striker Kylian Mbappe during a Champions League game last month.

It was the 12th fine Celtic has received from UEFA for bad behavior by supporters in six years.

8:05 p.m.

The goalkeeper award at the FIFA Best ceremony has gone to Gianluigi Buffon of Juventus and Italy.

The 39-year-old Buffon won a sixth consecutive Serie A title last season. But he missed out on a first Champions League title when Juventus lost to Real Madrid in the final in June.

Buffon told the ceremony at the Palladium Theater in London: "It wasn't enough to win in Europe. For this year I hope to play better for the national team and Juventus."
Italy will take on Sweden in a playoff next month to make the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

8 p.m.

Zinedine Zidane has been crowned coach of the year at the FIFA Best ceremony after Real Madrid became the first team to defend its Champions League title.
Zidane said: "I would like to thank all the players who made this possible."

Also in the running were Antonio Conte, who won the English Premier League in his first season at Chelsea, and Juventus successor Massimiliano Allegri, who has won three consecutive league and cup doubles in Italy.

7:55 p.m.

The FIFA Best awards ceremony has opened with Olivier Giroud winning the goal award for his scorpion-style kick while playing for Arsenal.

The Puskas Award-winning goal from an overhead back-heeled strike came on New Year's Day in Arsenal's 2-0 victory over Crystal Palace in the English Premier League.

The FIFA ceremony is at the Palladium Theater in London

Waaah: Crying babies push same 'buttons' in mothers' brains

NEW YORK (AP) - A new study suggests that crying babies push the same "buttons" in their mothers' brains no matter what their culture.

The research found that mothers in a variety of countries tend to react the same way to their bawling child - by picking up and talking to the baby. And brain scans suggested that response may be programmed into their brain circuits.

The results were published Monday by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The researchers watched 684 mothers in 11 countries react to their own crying children. And they scanned the brains of mothers in the U.S., China and Italy.

Bank of America beefs up security for online banking

Oct 23 (Reuters) - Bank of America Corp will start using an additional layer of authentication for online banking, the bank said on Monday, amid a wave of high-profile data breaches at several big U.S. companies.

The bank said it would incorporate Intel Corp's Online Connect technology, that enables fingerprint touch payments, in its online banking systems next year. (

The financial services industry is among the most vulnerable to cyber crime because of the massive amount of money and valuable data that banks, brokerages and investment firms process each day.

Just last month, credit monitoring firm Equifax Inc disclosed that cyber criminals had breached its systems between mid-May and late-July and stolen the sensitive information of millions of Americans.

Trump 'made me cry': widow of slain US soldier

President Donald Trump struggled to remember the name of the US soldier killed in an ambush in Niger when he called the man's widow for condolences, the woman told ABC on Monday.

"Yes, the president said that he knew what he signed up for but it hurts anyways and I was -- it made me cry because I was very angry at the tone of his voice and how he said it," Myeshia Johnson, the widow of the late Sergeant La David Johnson, said on the Good Morning America TV program.

Trump "couldn't remember my husband's name," she said. "The only way he remembered my husband's name because he told me he had my husband report in front of him and that's when he actually said La David."

Trump responded quickly via Twitter. "I had a very respectful conversation with the widow of Sgt. La David Johnson, and spoke his name from beginning, without hesitation!" he said.

The widow, who is pregnant with the couple's third child, said that she "heard him stumbling on trying to remember my husband name and that hurt me the most because if my husband is out here fighting for our country and he risks his life for our country, why can't you remember his name?"

That, she said, "made me upset and cry even more because my husband was an awesome soldier."

Johnson was among four US soldiers killed in a jihadist ambush October 4 in Niger, where Islamic State fighters have established a presence.
The Miami native's body was returned home on October 17.


Military option must remain on the table with North Korea - UK's Johnson

LONDON, Oct 23 (Reuters) - A military option must remain on the table in dealing with North Korea's nuclear programme, British Foreign Minister Boris Johnson said on Monday, adding that nobody wants tensions in the Korean peninsula to be resolved in such a way.

"I don't think anybody could conceivably want a military solution to this problem," Johnson said at a speech in London. "And yet clearly... the possibility of some kind of military option... that possibility must at least theoretically be maintained on the table."

Military option must remain on the table with North Korea - UK's Johnson

LONDON, Oct 23 (Reuters) - A military option must remain on the table in dealing with North Korea's nuclear programme, British Foreign Minister Boris Johnson said on Monday, adding that nobody wants tensions in the Korean peninsula to be resolved in such a way.

"I don't think anybody could conceivably want a military solution to this problem," Johnson said at a speech in London. "And yet clearly... the possibility of some kind of military option... that possibility must at least theoretically be maintained on the table."

Sunday, 22 October 2017

Neymar sent off but Cavani salvages PSG draw at Marseille

PARIS, Oct 22 (Reuters) - Neymar was sent off before his team mate Edinson Cavani proved his worth once again with a last-gasp equaliser that salvaged a 2-2 draw for leaders Paris St Germain at bitter rivals Olympique de Marseille on Sunday.

The Uruguay striker levelled one minute into stoppage time with a superb 20-metre free kick after Neymar had been dismissed in the 87th minute for two yellow card offences in quick succession.

Neymar had earlier cancelled out Luiz Gustavo's opener before halftime but lost his cool in the closing stages after Florian Thauvin had put the home side ahead in the second half, threatening to inflict PSG's first defeat of the season.

Then Cavani, who has often been criticised for supposed lack of efficiency, netted his ninth league goal of the season to earn the draw that puts PSG on 26 points from 10 matches.

"It's an important goal because the game was almost finished but at least we salvaged a point," said Cavani.

Monaco are second, four points behind on 22 points after beating Caen 2-0 on Saturday.

Marseille are fifth on 18 points as they were leapfrogged into fourth on 19 by Olympique Lyonnais, who hammered Troyes 5-0 away with a Memphis Depay hat-trick.

In a boiling hot Velodrome, Marseille went ahead on 16 minutes when Gustavo beat Alphonse Areola with a 25-metre strike to give Marseille a deserved advantage after a solid start.

Cavani squandered an opportunity to equalise one minute later when he missed the target from close range from a Layvin Kurzawa cross.

Neymar levelled with his first opportunity in the 33rd as he collected a clever cross from Adrien Rabiot to beat Steve Mandanda with a left-footed shot.

PSG had the upper hand but the hosts defended well to preserve the score until halftime.

Kylian Mbappe was handed a yellow card for protesting after a Jordan Amavi handball in the box as PSG's frustration grew.

In the 78th minute, Clinton Njie, who came on for Konstantinos Mitroglu in the 65th, grabbed the ball from Rabiot on the right flank and Thauvin latched onto his cross to put the home side ahead.

Neymar was booked in the 85th minute for dissent and two minutes later reacted angrily after being fouled, only to be shown the red card. He will miss next weekend's home game against Nice.

In his absence, there was no debate about who would take the final free kick in injury time as Cavani preserved the leaders' unbeaten record.

Wenger delighted to see Ozil and Sanchez on fire for Gunners

LIVERPOOL, England, Oct 22 (Reuters) - After a week in which Arsenal's alleged softness and lack of fortitude were the focus of many debates, the Gunners offered a reminder on Sunday that when fit and functioning as planned they remain a team which can produce genuine quality.

Despite going a goal down, Arsenal ran out 5-2 winners against Everton at Goodison Park in the Premier League, helped by the dismissal of the home side's only defensive midfielder, Idrissa Gueye, but also inspired by an impressive attacking trio.

For the first time, Wenger was able to field German international Mesut Ozil, Chilean forward Alexis Sanchez and French striker Alexandre Lacazette together and the manager must hope he gets the chance to repeat that selection.

"I wish -- but I feel the whole team played well," said Wenger.

"We were tested mentally when we were 1-0 down after a very good start in the game. We couldn´t finish, their keeper kept them in the game and suddenly we were 1-0 down.

"It was a mental test but we kept going, we kept our focus and slowly the quality of our movement, the quality of our passing gave Everton problems. After that, with the offensive strength we have, of course that made the difference," he said.

Wenger did not shy away from praising the individuals who had been key, with some high praise for Sanchez.

"He was on fire. I believe that he comes back from injury and has worked very hard, Ozil as well. The two of them were sharp physically, very mobile and if you have their individual quality, that makes them dangerous against any defender.

Ozil glided across the midfield, eluding Everton with his clever positioning and deft touch.

"He was superb," said Wenger, "Agile, quick, intelligent. Always at the service of the team with the quality of his passing and when he is at that level, he is an exceptional football player.

"I told him after the game that a fit Ozil is completely different. If you're not 100 percent at your best, no matter how good you are, you are at a handicap," he added.

"The difference is that he has worked extremely hard physically. When he's in that shape physically, nobody can question his class or the quality of his game," he said.

The win was Arsenal's first away from the Emirates Stadium this season and Wenger said they had finally got their just rewards despite conceding early.

"I was (concerned) because recently we've been punished for every mistake we make away from home. But I knew there was a long time to go.

"Our away performances this season have not been rewarded," he said.

Einstein's theory of happy living emerges in Tokyo note

A note that Albert Einstein gave to a courier in Tokyo, briefly describing his theory on happy living, has surfaced after 95 years and is up for auction in Jerusalem.

The year was 1922, and the German-born physicist, most famous for his theory of relativity, was on a lecture tour in Japan.

He had recently been informed that he was to receive the Nobel Prize for physics, and his fame outside of scientific circles was growing.

A Japanese courier arrived at the Imperial Hotel in Tokyo to deliver Einstein a message. The courier either refused to accept a tip, in line with local practice, or Einstein had no small change available.

Either way, Einstein didn't want the messenger to leave empty-handed, so he wrote him two notes by hand in German, according to the seller, a relative of the messenger.

"Maybe if you're lucky those notes will become much more valuable than just a regular tip," Einstein told the messenger, according to the seller, a resident of the German city of Hamburg who wished to remain anonymous.

One note, on the stationary of the Imperial Hotel Tokyo, says that "a quiet and modest life brings more joy than a pursuit of success bound with constant unrest."

The other, on a blank piece of paper, simply reads: "where there's a will, there's a way."

It is impossible to determine if the notes were a reflection of Einstein's own musings on his growing fame, said Roni Grosz, the archivist in charge of the world's largest Einstein collection, at Jerusalem's Hebrew University.

While the notes, previously unknown to researchers, hold no scientific value, they may shed light on the private thoughts of the great physicist whose name has become synonymous with genius, according to Grosz.

"What we're doing here is painting the portrait of Einstein -- the man, the scientist, his effect on the world -- through his writings," said Grosz.

"This is a stone in the mosaic."

The two notes will go on sale on Tuesday at the Winner's auction house in Jerusalem, alongside other items including two letters Einstein wrote in later years.


Spain hopes Catalans disregard instruction from regional leaders-minister

LONDON, Oct 22 (Reuters) - Spanish Foreign Minister Alfonso Dastis said on Sunday he hoped that people in Catalonia would disregard any instruction from the regional leadership if Spain moves to suspend the region's autonomy.

"All the government is trying to do, and reluctantly, is to reinstate the legal order, to restore the constitution but also the Catalan rules and proceed from there," he told the BBC's Andrew Marr Show.

"We are going to establish the authorities who are going to rule the day-to-day affairs of Catalonia according to the Catalan laws and norms ... I hope everyone will disregard whatever instructions they will be planning to give because they will not have the legal authority to do that."

Israeli police arrest 15 over campaign to stop Jew-Arab dating

Israeli police have arrested 15 suspected Jewish extremists following an undercover investigation into a group accused of tracking down and threatening Arab men dating Jewish women, authorities said Sunday.

Israeli radio said that among those taken in for questioning was Benzi Gopstein, a prominent leader of the extreme-right group Lehava, but police would not confirm or deny the reports.

Arrests and searches for evidence were carried out simultaneously at addresses in Jerusalem, northern and southern Israel and in Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank, police said.

"Fifteen suspects known to the police as active in the Lehava organisation were arrested or detained for questioning during the night as part of a police investigation on suspicion that they acted to locate and threaten (Arab) minority members with connections to Jewish young women or girls," a police statement said.

Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld told AFP that the suspects were being interrogated and it was not yet clear whether any would be charged.

Lehava opposes inter-marriage. In August 2014, its activists staged a rally where racist slogans, including "Death to Arabs!", were shouted at the wedding near Tel Aviv of a Muslim man and Jewish woman.

Arabs account for some 17.5 percent of Israel's eight million population, and are descendants of Palestinians who remained on their land following the creation of Israel in 1948.

In April, six Israelis, including two soldiers, were arrested for racist attacks against Arabs with knives and other weapons and charged with "terrorist" offences.

Police said they were influenced by a Lehava video.

Gopstein was also questioned by police in 2015 after he condoned torching churches in Israel, in accordance with a mediaeval Jewish commandment to destroy places of idol-worship.

The police statement said that the latest arrests were the result of an undercover investigation.

"It uncovered organised and pre-meditated activity believed to have been carried out by the suspects, known members of Lehava," it said.


Bomb kills former Afghan warlord, bodyguard

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) - An Afghan official says a bomb has killed a former warlord and his bodyguard, and wounded eight other people.

Khalil Aseir, spokesman for the chief of police in the northern Takhar province, says the blast early Sunday targeted Nazuk Mir, a militant commander during the struggle to drive out Soviet troops in the 1980s. The bomb went off at a restaurant where he was having breakfast.

No one immediately claimed the attack.

A wave of attacks, mainly targeting Afghan security forces, has killed more than 200 people over the past week.

Pakistani security forces kill eight militants in Karachi

Pakistani paramilitary troops have killed eight militants from a group which tried to assassinate an opposition politician in Karachi, officials said Sunday.

The Pakistan Rangers staged a joint raid with counter-terrorism officers in the Raees Goth neighbourhood overnight after intelligence information about the presence of militants there, the Rangers' spokesman for Sindh province, Major Qambar Raza, told AFP.

"After an intense exchange of fire five terrorists were killed on the spot, while three others who were captured wounded later died in hospital," he said.

He said two militants whose identity has been established belonged to a newly formed group called Ansar-ul-Sharia which was involved in the attempt to assassinate opposition politician Khawaja Izharul Hassan from the Muttahida Qaumi Movement in September.

Hassan was unhurt but the group killed a 10-year-old boy and a guard and wounded four others in the shootout last month.

Ansar-ul-Sharia chief Sheharyar-ud Din -- also known as Abdullah Hashmi -- was among those killed in the overnight raid, Raza said, describing him as the mastermind of the assassination bid.

A senior police official confirmed the raid and details.

Karachi, Pakistan's largest city with more than 14 million inhabitants and a major business and industrial hub, is rife with political, sectarian and ethnic militancy.

A crackdown in the city by security forces in recent years has brought a lull in violence, but scattered attacks still take place.


Saturday, 21 October 2017

United's unbeaten run ends at Huddersfield, City go further clear

LONDON, Oct 21 (Reuters) - Huddersfield Town stunned Manchester United 2-1 at the John Smith's Stadium on Saturday, a defeat that ended the visitors unbeaten start to the Premier League season and dropped them five points behind leaders Manchester City who beat Burnley 3-0.

Huddersfield's victory in driving wind and rain was their first over United since 1952 and all the more unexpected after a run of one goal in six league games.

But the top-tier newcomers fully deserved their first league win since mid-August after hitting United twice in the first half and withstanding everything the visitors - and the appalling weather - threw at them.

Former Manchester City midfielder Aaron Mooy and Laurent Depoitre scored within 33 minutes, with United's afternoon made worse by an injury to Phil Jones.

Jose Mourinho responded by bringing on Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Marcus Rashford for Juan Mata and Anthony Martial at halftime and Rashford scored his seventh goal of the season to set up a rousing finish in what was the sides' first league meeting since 1972.

Mourinho blamed defensive mistakes for the defeat.

"A bad team deserved to be punished," he said.

By Manchester City's recent free-scoring standards, their 3-0 victory over Burnley was modest, with the match turning on a controversial first-half penalty when Bernardo Silva went down theatrically in the area.

TV replays showed minimal contact from Burnley keeper Nick Pope and the Portuguese may find himself in trouble with the three-member FA review panel which looks at simulation and last Friday issued its first retrospective ban on a player for diving.

Burnley manager Sean Dyche said: "I had to watch it four times to see contact. But if I contact my kid in the garden I would be amazed if he got that high off the floor. It is amazing how high these players go."

Sergio Aguero converted the penalty to equal Eric Brooke's all-time scoring record for the club with his 177th goal. Nicolas Otamendi and Leroy Sane made the scoreline more comfortable as City registered a club-record 11th straight win in all competitions.

Elsewhere, Chelsea made up ground on third-placed Tottenham Hotspur, who play Liverpool on Sunday, by beating Watford 4-2 in the day's early kickoff at Stamford Bridge.

The game was closer than the scoreline suggests, with Marco Silva's impressive side coming from behind to lead at Stamford Bridge before two goals from Michy Batshuayi and another from Cesar Azpilicueta ended the argument.

Pressure will be growing on Stoke City manager Mark Hughes after a disappointing 2-1 home defeat by Bournemouth which left them into the relegation zone.

Hughes had hoped the return of Ryan Shawcross would strengthen his defence after last week's 7-2 demolition by Manchester City, but Shawcross gave away a penalty, which Junior Stanislas converted and Andrew Surman also found the net.

Mame Biram Diouf narrowed the gap but the goal was not enough to prevent Bournemouth recording their first away league win of the season.

A Federico Fernandez own goal and a second-half strike by Shinji Okazaki gave Leicester City caretaker manager Michael Appleton a much-needed 2-1 win at Swansea City in his first game in charge, lifting the Foxes out of the relegation zone.

But there was no escape for Crystal Palace, whose 1-0 defeat at Newcastle left them rooted to the bottom spot. Mikel Merino scored Newcastle's 85th-minute winner.

Southampton also left it late to beat West Bromwich Albion 1-0 in the day's evening kickoff but the wait was worth it with substitute Sofiane Boufal beating five men before slotting the ball past Ben Foster for what was Southampton's third league win of the season.

1,272 fail Nigerian Law School exam

The Nigerian Law School on Saturday released the summary of the final examination results conducted in August.

Mr Chinedu Ukekwe, Head of Information and Protocol of the Nigerian Law School, said 1,272 candidates failed out of a total of 5, 891 that participated in the examinations.

According to him, 29 students made First Class, 211 Second Class Upper, 1, 046 Second Class Lower.

He said 2, 999 got a Pass, while 334 came out with conditional Pass.

In all, 4, 285 candidates were successful and will be called to the Nigerian Bar.

A further breakdown of the results showed 72.7 per cent passed, while those with conditional Pass represented 5. 7 per cent.

The candidates who failed represented 21.6 per cent, NAN reports.

Ukekwe in the statement revealed that the ‘Call to the Bar’ ceremony for the successful candidates will hold on Nov. 28 and 29 in Abuja.

FG takes ownership of funds held in bank accounts not linked to BVNs

The Abuja Division of the Federal High Court has granted a request by Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, for a temporary forfeiture of all funds held in bank accounts not linked to BVNs — and whose ownership could not be absolutely identified.

Also to be seized by the Nigerian government are funds held in bank accounts without sufficient know-your-customer credentials, court documents seen by PREMIUM TIMES said.

Industry experts expressed strong reservations about a lack of specific legal framework for the unprecedented forfeitures and potential coercion of banks by the federal authorities in separate interviews with PREMIUM TIMES Saturday.

No estimates were immediately available, but it is widely held that billions of naira remained trapped in the unlinked bank accounts since 2015 when the Central Bank of Nigeria ordered commercial banks to stop attending to new enrollees.

The order followed an originating motion of notice filed by Mr. Malami on behalf of the Nigerian government on September 28.

Nnamdi Dimgba, the Federal High Court judge who presided over the ex-parte motion, granted all the nine reliefs sought by Mr. Malami —himself represented by a lawyer, Usman Dakas— on October 17.

The court ordered all the 19 deposit money banks, DMBs, operating in the country to release to Nigerian government names of accounts not yet connected to BVN; account numbers; their outstanding balances; domiciling locations; and domiciliary accounts without BVN and where they are domiciled.

Nigeria deposit money banks that were listed as respondents in the ex-parte suit are: Access Bank, Citi Bank, Diamond Bank, Ecobank, Fidelity Bank, First Bank and First City Monument Bank.

Others are: Guarantee Trust Bank, Heritage Bank, Keystone Bank, Skye Bank, Stanbic IBTC Bank, Standard Chartered Bank, Sterling Bank, Union Bank and United Bank for Africa.

The remaining three are: Unity, Bank Wema Bank and Zenith Bank.

The court also ordered all of them to disclose any investments made with funds and to withhold authorisation for any outward inflow of funds from the accounts. All the details are to be submitted to Nigeria Inter-Bank Settlement System, NIBSS, and the CBN for authentication.

The banks were also directed to publish all bank accounts not linked to BVN in national newspapers with a 14-day notice for individuals with interest in such accounts to come forward and justify why their funds should not be forfeited to the Nigerian government.

Mr. Dimgba also ordered the CBN, which was joined as 20th respondent alongside the 19 DMBs, to appoint an official who will examine all the details submitted to the apex bank for compliance.

The government argued the matter under Section 3 of the Money Laundering Act, 2011.

The section said banks must “ensure that documents, data or information collected under the customer due diligence process is kept up-to-date and relevant by undertaking reviews of existing records, particularly for higher risk categories of customers or business relationships.”

The BVN is a unique identification number that can be verified and used to transact business across all the banking platforms in Nigeria.

The CBN imposed the policy to capture customers’ data for financial transactions and check fraud in the banking system.

Registration for BVNs commenced on February 14, 2014, across the country. The CBN said over 20.8 million customers enrolled 40 million bank accounts before the October 31, 2015, final deadline for customers residing within the country.

The CBN extended the deadline for Nigerians in the diaspora to December 2016 to sign up for the BVN system. But hundreds of thousands home and abroad are still believed to be left behind.

“Illogical, hasty‘

A financial analyst who spoke with PREMIUM TIMES about the court order rebuked the Nigerian government for attempting to shore up its revenues by forcibly seizing funds owned by private individuals.

“There’s no basis for this desperate move by the federal government because customers who owned the funds met the required criteria at the time they set up their bank accounts,” said Ugodre Obi-Chukwu, a Lagos-based financial analyst. “This is an attempt to use federal might to coerce banks into submitting funds that belong to customers for its own use.”

The Nigerian government had fallen on hard times since 2014 when dwindling price of crude oil began to take its toll on the country’s revenues.

The Buhari administration, which assumed office in May 2015, has made concerted pushes to source funding to finance a bloated federal civil service and new capital projects, including borrowing from local and international markets.

The government also said it would rely on recovered loot to finance its budget this year.

While Mr. Obi-Chukwu recognised financial challenges confronting the administration, he maintained that no policy must be implemented by fiat in a democratic system.

“The Money Laundering Act they used to sway the judge is clearly not sufficient to confiscate personal funds,” he said. “There’s no law that allows for this specific action taken by the government as it stands.”

He advised the federal government to allow people to withdraw their funds from the bank accounts if they’re not willing to link them to BVN, especially since they weren’t identified as proceeds of crime.

Lawyers weigh in

Two legal practitioners interviewed by PREMIUM TIMES Saturday held slightly disparate views on the matter.

Liborous Oshoma, who runs a law firm in Lagos, condemned the order as “far-reaching and despotic” in nature.

“You can’t just drag banks to court and ask them to submit all funds in bank accounts which they’re holding in trust for private individuals,” Mr. Oshoma said.

“The funds are mostly personal deposits. In law, orders are supposed to be specific, directed and enforceable against individuals or institutions,” Mr. Oshoma said. “But we cannot see how the government assumed it could sue banks to enforce orders against individuals who have not been accused of any criminal offences.”

Mr. Oshoma said the Buhari administration did not fathom the possibilities of Nigerians who are serving long prison sentences abroad and may not be in tune with developments in the outside world.

“The despotic tendency of wanting to take what does not belong to them made them forget that people might be in conditions where they cannot come and claim their funds for the next 20 years or more,” Mr. Oshoma said.

“If the government is really desperate to get people’s money because they cannot be found, it should find sensible means of going about it and not resort to steps that are not in consonance with democracy,” he added.

Although he questioned the legal premise of the federal government’s attempt to seize the funds, Inibehe Effiong, also a Lagos-based lawyer, told PREMIUM TIMES the overarching goal of the move was understandable.

“The BVN is a policy of the federal government which is aimed at mitigating financial crimes in the system,” Mr. Effiong said. “The policy was backed by certain financial regulations which make it appropriate for the government to ask for a general freezing order of accounts whose owners cannot be ascertained.”

“But what I cannot understand is the legal structure upon which the policy is standing,” Mr. Effiong said.

Mr. Effiong said authorities should have sought details of bank accounts first, then examine them individually and isolate ones with suspicious traits.

“The government should have stopped at requesting for details of all the bank accounts. but not go as far as getting a blanket approval to withhold all funds.

“If they all the accounts based on their merits, they can sort out the ones with criminal traces and seek their forfeiture,” Mr. Effiong said.

The Latest: Munich police arrest suspect, say motive unknown

Police spokesman Marcus da Gloria Martins said the man was arrested about three hours after Saturday morning's incident in an area near downtown Munich. He says the man's appearance was in line with a description witnesses gave of the knife attacker.

Da Gloria Martins says the assailant attacked six people at different locations in the area but only four of them were wounded. He says there were no serious injuries.
There's also no information yet on a possible motive.

10:15 a.m.

Police say a man with a knife has lightly wounded four people in Munich. Officers are looking for the assailant.

Munich police called on people in the Rosenheimer Platz area, located close to the German city's downtown, to stay inside after the incident on Saturday morning.
The perpetrator fled the scene. Police said he appeared to be about 40 years old and had a black bicycle, gray trousers, a green jacket and a backpack.

The police department said on Twitter that officers are looking for the assailant "with all available police forces."

It said the motive for the attack was not immediately clear.
None of the injuries were considered life-threatening.


Friday, 20 October 2017

TSTV should come clean on its operations – Nigerians tell NBC

Some concerned Nigerians have asked the Nigeria Broadcasting Commission, NBC, to compel the management of new pay-television, TSTV, to come clean on its business plan for the country.

Ever since the TSTV announced its arrival and November 1 take-off date, there has been controversies surrounding its operations, despite earlier excitement about the arrival of the company.

It could be re-called that TSTV’s launch was grand, raising a lot of expectations.

However, the first major controversy came calling as FOX Network Group (FNG), owners of the FOX television channels, was reported to have denied that it has any agreement with the new pay-television service provider, TSTV, to carry its channels in Nigeria.

The position of FNG was made known in a statement signed by Jeremy Griesel of Jeremy Griesel Communications on behalf of FOX Network Group Africa, TSTV’s advertisement of FOX channels on its platform is inappropriate.

“Despite advertised claims regarding FOX channels, FOX does not have any agreement with TSTV regarding distribution of channels, but remains confident that TSTV will normalise the situation prior to the launch of its service to ensure the consistency between platform content claims and subscriber expectation,” FOX had said.

Following these developments, some concerned Nigerians have asked the company to come clean on its plan for the masses.

One of the concerned Nigerians stated that: “The new pay-television provider has been forced to move the commencement of its commercial operations to November 1, a whole month after it promised to roll out. Sales of its hardware also appear to have been suspended. This calls for question.

“These developments have no doubt left Nigerians in a doubt on whether the TSTV was indeed prepared to provide the needed competition in the Nigerian market.

“In a September 25 post on TSTV’s Facebook page, the company, responding to a question said it will broadcast the English Premier League, Spanish La Liga and UEFA Champions League. But when asked about the frequency and the percentage of league games to be shown, no response was issued.

“A writer on the TStv Facebook page had called the attention of others to the fact redistribution of sport content is jurisdictional. beIN Max, one of the range of channels being offered airs foreign league matches in the Middle East and North Africa to Arabic-speaking audiences. The company pretended not to see it.

“As it stands, it appear that TSTV is trying to get in its excuses early in anticipation of failure to meet the stratospheric expectations it has created. It looks like a victim of its own success at failure.

Similarly, another Nigerian, Festus Igeniwari, said: “I maintain that the PayTV industry in Nigeria is a level-playing field for everyone serious and capable enough to offer Nigerians the best value for money in world-class content.

“First of all, it is important Nigerians realize that – as a rule – you don’t start off a marathon by sprinting; and when a claim sounds too good to be true, it usually is.

“So, we are calling on the Nigeria Broadcasting Commission, to as a matter of urgency, tell Nigerians what they need to know as far as the TSTV if concerned. Let Nigerians know exactly what they have come to offer.

“There is a lot of confusion and we should not wait until things get too late before the right thing is done. “

daily post

Buhari Administration Recalls Wanted Ex-Pension Boss Sacked For Alleged Corruption

President Muhammadu Buhari's administration has secretly reinstated fugitive former Chairman of the Presidential Task Team on Pension Reforms, Abdulrasheed Maina, into the civil service.

Multiple sources confirmed to that Mr. Maina, who is wanted by the Anti-Graft Agency, EFCC, was secretly recalled and promoted to the position of director in charge of Human Resources in the Ministry of Interior.

Before his appointment to chair the pension task force, Mr. Maina was an assistant director in the ministry.

The news of the reinstatement first filtered through a congratulatory message for Mr. Maina by a group called League of Civil Society Organizations which commended the federal government for the reinstatement.

Mr. Maina was in 2013 dismissed by the Federal Civil Service Commission following a recommendation by the Office of the Head of Service.

A retired director in the Office of the Head of Service familiar with the matter said recalling Mr. Maina was an affront on the rule of law.

“He should not have been reinstated. Doesn’t Mr. Maina have a case in court? The rules provide for action to be taken only after the courts have dispensed of the case fully,” he said.

Trouble started in 2012 when Mr. Maina was accused of leading a massive pension fraud scheme amounting to more than N100 billion. Mr. Maina was drafted by the Goodluck Jonathan administration in 2010 to sanitize a corrupt pension system.

Based on the allegation of corruption, Mr. Maina was invited by the Senate Joint Committee on Public Service and Establishment and State and Local Government Administration.

The Senate after completion of its investigation issued a Warrant of Arrest against Mr. Maina.

Ignoring the panel, Mr. Maina went ahead to sue the Senate and the then Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Abubakar, and thereafter went into hiding after being declared wanted by the police.

Consequent upon this, Mr. Maina was dismissed by the Head of Service for allegedly absconding from duty and attempting to evade arrest and charged to court.

He was on July 21, 2015, charged by the EFCC alongside Stephen Oronsaye and two others before a Federal High Court on a 24-count charge bordering on procurement fraud and obtaining by false pretense.

While Mr. Oronsaye and the two other accused were in court and pleaded not guilty to the charge, Mr. Maina was at large.

Mr. Maina is said to have spent these past years in the United Arab Emirates, from where he kept lobbying to win the pleasures of the Buhari administration.

Since absconding, nothing was heard of Mr. Maina until shortly after the emergence of President Muhammadu Buhari in 2015 when members of his defunct Presidential Task Team on Pension Reforms offered to work with the then incoming administration.

The team, which addressed a press conference in Abuja, said its work would be easier under Mr. Buhari, known for his anti-corruption stand.

A member of the team, Ngozika Ihuoma, said one of the achievements of President Jonathan was the creation of the pension task reform body in June 2010 under the leadership of Mr. Maina.

Two years after, it appears the prayer of the team has been answered by the current administration.

Mr. Maina’s reinstatement was shrouded in secrecy and was handled “at the highest level” according to an informed source.

The reinstatement was not announced by the presidency or any federal government agency.

Earlier this year, Mr. Maina’s campaign posters surfaced on the social media, touting him as a gubernatorial aspirant for Borno State, without indicating political party platform.

A source knowledgeable about the deal that brought the controversial civil servant back, said Mr. Maina pulled the strings through the duo of the Justice and Interior ministers, who are described as Mr. Maina’s acquaintances.

Mr. Maina is said to have used many emissaries to the two ministers, while he was ensconced in his hiding place in Dubai.

Interior Minister, Abdulrahman Dambazau, did not answer repeated calls to his phone seeking to clarify the information.

The spokesperson of Abubakar Malami, the Minister of Justice, Salihu Othman, however, said he was unaware of his boss’s role in the deal.

However, a top official of the EFCC said Mr. Maina is still wanted by the commission in relation to the pension scam for which he was arraigned in absentia.

“We are still looking for him. He is a wanted man. He ought to be arraigned with Oronsaye and the rest but he disappeared,” said the official, who pleaded anonymity.

He said the commission will immediately revisit the case as it continues to search for the embattled civil servant.

President Buhari’s Spokesperson, Femi Adesina, said he was unaware of Mr. Maina’s reinstatement.

Premium Times

Average price for petrol drops, kerosene increases – NBS

The average price paid by consumers for Premium Motor Spirit, petrol, dropped by 1.2 per cent year-on-year, the Nigeria Bureau of Statistics, NBS, has said

According to a report on the NBS website, the bureau also listed states with the highest and lowest average price of petrol in comparison with the approved government price of N145.

“The average price paid by consumers for PMS decreased by 1.2 per cent year-on-year and increased by 0.1 per cent month-on-month to N144.5 in September 2017 from N144.4 in August 2017.

“States with the highest average price of PMS were Yobe N149.7, Bayelsa N147.1 and Taraba N146.1, while states with the lowest average price of petrol were Abuja N142, Osun N142.8 and Ondo N142.9,” the NBS said.

On Dual Purpose Kerosene (DPK), the Bureau said the “average price per litre paid by consumers for kerosene increased by 17.28 per cent month-on-month.

“It decreased by -8.38 per cent year-on-year to N264.48 in September, 2017 from N225.52 in August, 2017.

“States with the highest average price per litre of kerosene were Plateau N316.67, Yobe N294.44 and Kaduna N294.12.

“States with the lowest average price per litre of kerosene were Abia N240.56, Edo N240.00 and Ekiti N233.33,” the NBS said.


Mourinho has no idea when Pogba will be fit

LONDON, Oct 20 (Reuters) - Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho said he has "no idea" when record signing Paul Pogba will be fit again after the French midfielder suffered a hamstring injury in a Champions League tie against Basel early in September.

The 24-year-old, who cost 89 million pounds ($117.17 million) last year -- a world record at the time -- played only a handful of games this season before being sidelined.

"Paul is not here, I don't know when he comes back, when he's available, I've no idea," Mourinho told a news conference ahead of Saturday's visit to Huddersfield Town.

He hopes Zlatan Ibrahimovic will return by the end of the year, however, and had better news of Marcus Rashford, who is fit despite coming off during the midweek Champions League win over Benfica with a knee injury.

United will be looking to make history by keeping an eighth clean sheet in the opening nine league games of the season.

No other team has achieved that in the top division of English football.

Mourinho was criticised for a defensive approach in last weekend's dull goalless draw at Liverpool. Stoke City are the only side to score, in a 2-2 draw, against Mourinho's team in eight Premier League games.

Earlier in the season United appeared to be recapturing the adventurous style historically associated with the club.

They won 4-0 four times against lowly opposition but have since been outscored by neighbours Manchester City, who now lead them by two points at the top of the table.

The game at Huddersfield is the first meeting between the clubs since 1972 and the Yorkshire side have not won one since 20 years before that, in March 1952.

After a good start, Huddersfield have not won a Premier League game for two months, but Mourinho insisted that his team will know what to expect from a newly promoted club.

"We are silly if we don´t know what is waiting for us," he said.

"Everybody knows the Premier League and knows what it means to play against newly promoted teams.

"Every team in the Premier League is good and thinks they can win every match against every opponent.

"The players will be buzzing and the supporters will be happy to have a big club playing in their stadium."

Thursday, 19 October 2017

11 children die of whooping cough in Kano

The Kiru Local Government Council of Kano State says about 11 children have died of whooping cough at Kankwana village.

This is contained in a statement issued by the Information Officer of the local government council, Malam Rabiu Khalil.
Khalil said about 40 other children affected by the same disease were receiving medical attention.

Malam Hassan Adamu, the council’s Health Officer, who also confirmed the incidence to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), however assured of government’s effort to contain the outbreak.

Malam Yakubu Sani, a representative of the World Health Organisation (WHO) in the area, attributed the outbreak to poor routine immunisation and inadequate health mobilisation activities.

The District Head of the area, Alhaji Hamza Bayero, however, urged government to provide emergency medical care to residents to prevent further spread of the disease.

NAN recalls that about six children had lost their lives to measles in Dashi community of the same local government area in the past two months.



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