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2019 All-Nigeria track and field championships begins in Kaduna



Nigerian short sprint record holders Blessing Okagbare and Divine Oduduru are among the stars on parade as the 2019 All-Nigeria Track and Field Championships kicked off on Thursday in Kaduna.

The annual event serves as the trials for athletes who will represent Nigeria at the 2019 African Games in Casablanca, Morocco and the 2019 IAAF World Athletics Championships in Doha, Qatar.

The Nigeria News Agency reports that the championships has now set alight the tracks of the Ahmadu Bello Stadium.

The athletes will be contesting for the national titles and tickets to the two championships from the races, throws and jumps.

Records are therefore expected to tumble, especially in the men’s 100m and 200m events, where US-based Divine Oduduru has recently shown himself to be a force.

The other events to be competed for included the triple jump, the female sprints, quarter-miles and the javelin throw.

Speaking on the readiness of Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN) for the three-day fiesta, AFN Technical Director Sunday Adeleye said they were ready for the competition.

He said they were set to organise one of the best trials in recent years.

“We are set for a competitive track and field championships.

“This is the first time the competition is coming to Kaduna state and considering that Ahmadu Bello Stadium’s tracks are fast, few records are at the risk of being shattered and new ones to be set.

“The athletes are in good shape and the weather is good. So far, we expect good performance all round from all the athletes.

(Edited by Olawale Alabi)


Tens of thousands rally in France against racism and police violence




Tens of thousands of people rallied on Saturday in Paris and several other French cities to pay tribute to Georges Floyd, an African American who died from police brutality in the United States and the victims of police violence in France.

Despite the ban on gatherings of more than 10 people in Paris due to coronavirus sanitary concerns, people turned out massively at Place de la concorde and the Champ de Mars near the Eiffel Tower to show their solidarity with widespread demonstrations in the United States.

Many protesters, knee on the ground, chanting “I cannot breathe,” in homage to Floyd, 46, who died ten days ago after a white United States police officer knelt on his neck for almost nine minutes until he stopped breathing.

In Lyon, Rennes, Marseille, Bordeaux, Lille and Rouen, people also defied the sanitary ban to join the rally against racism and police violence.

Around 23,300 people joined the rally across the country, including 5,500 in Paris, estimated the Ministry of Interior.

In the rally, demonstrators also chanted “justice for Adama Traore,” a 24-year-old black Frenchman who died four years ago in police custody in Paris.

France‘s state investigators had dismissed the charge of police brutality in the arrest of Traore, saying that the man died of heart failure due to pre-existing medical conditions.

A new probe, commissioned by Adama Traore’s family, said the young man died of asphyxiation due to the arrest technique police officers had used during the operation.

Last Tuesday, some 20,000 people had demonstrated in Paris calling for justice for Traore. “Each fault, each excess” of the police will be “the subject of an investigation, a decision, a penalty,” Minister of Interior Christophe Castaner told the parliament on Wednesday.


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OPEC and allies agree to extend historic output cut to end of July




The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and its allies led by Russia, known as OPEC+, agreed on Saturday to extend the historic 9.7 million barrels per day (bpd) production cut till the end of July 2020.

All participants of the 11th OPEC and non-OPEC Ministerial Meeting held online agreed to extend the cut of 9.7 million bpd pertaining in May and June by one further month, according to a statement published on OPEC‘s website later Saturday.

The meeting recognized that the output cut carried out in May had helped garner “tentative signs of a recovery” in the global economy and oil market.

It noted that global oil demand was still expected to contract by around 9 million bpd for the whole of 2020.

In order to closely review the energy market and observe the implementation of the agreement, the Joint Ministerial Monitoring Committee (JMMC) is to meet monthly until December 2020, with the next JMMC meeting set for June 18, said OPEC.

The meeting also decided that the next OPEC and non-OPEC Ministerial Meeting will convene in Vienna on Dec. 1, 2020.


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Lagos Assembly Speaker appears before panel on allegations of corruption



Mr Mudashiru Obasa, Speaker, Lagos House of Assembly, on Saturday appeared before state assembly panel of enquiry on the corruption allegations leveled against him by an online medium.

Obasa told the panel that the allegations were untrue and that it was the handiworkmof his enemies.

The speaker appeared before the nine-man Fact Finding Panel of the House headed by Mr Victor Akande (Ojo Constituency I) at the House chamber.

The News Agency of Nigeria reports that an online medium had reported on May 23 that at least 64 bank accounts have been discovered and linked to the Bank Verification Number of the speaker.

The online medium, said that its discovered that the accounts registered with various names, are being used to siphon public funds and many other allegations against the speaker.

Responding to questions from members of the Committee, Obasa said that all the allegations made by the online medium in the reports were unfounded.

The speaker explained that the vehicles bought for the members of the House and other expenses made by the House were done with the approval of the House and that of the Fund Management Committee (FMU) of the House headed by him.

“We bought land cruisers for Principal Officers of the House. The cars we bought for them are always higher than those of other members and we followed the due process in the purchase.

“We went through the Public Procurement Agency (PPA) and others and the vehicles were distributed appropriately.

“It was agreed at the parliamentary meetings on about four occasions and the Clerk of the House, Mr Azeez Sanni, is the Secretary.

“Also, it is not true that my wife collects N10 million monthly from the House. Anyone who says she does should come with proofs and evidences.

“My approval limit as the Speaker is N100 million and anything above that would have to be approved by the Fund Management Committee.

Obasa also debunked an allegation that N258 million was spent for the printing of invitation cards for the inauguration of the 9th Assembly.

He said that the whole event cost N61 million and that N1.1 million was spent on printing  of the invitation cards.

“It is not possible to spend N258 million to print invitation cards. We are not involved in such a frivolous expenditure,” he said.

Obasa, while explaining on the expenditure of N80 million as estacode for the training of women in Dubai, said that wives of the 20 lawmakers attended the event and that he was there to declare the event open.

We gave N4 million to each of the participants for air ticket, hotels, feedings and local travel.

“Air ticket to Dubai alone is about N2 million. Some of these allegations were raised for a crusade to get the speaker out of office.

The House of Assembly is above common standard of excellence and we have to train people, and this comes with a cost. Learning is not cheap and I have never collected N80 million for estacode at a go before,” he said.

The speaker, while defending the purchase of eight Hiace buses for committee works in the Assembly, said it was discovered that the House was spending a lot of money to repair vehicles.

“That was why the House decided to buy the buses, the buses were there for everybody to see with documents to defend the purchases,” he said.

Obasa also denied the allegation that he spent N53 million for a trip to the United States of America with his mistress.

“We were invited by the Consular General for a programme in the United States. Later, the programme was postponed, but I had gone ahead.

“I had to return home and I told others not to bother to come until the new dates,” the speaker said.

Obasa, however, told the committee that it was not possible for him to spend N17 million for cleaning of his guest house, being one of the allegations made by the online medium.

“They only remove documents and fly them around to please themselves. All our payments go through certain procedures.

“The expenditure had been there before I became the speaker. There was no way I could have spent such amount on cleaning my guest house.

“On the issue of awarding contracts to companies belonging to me, they should come and show evidence of where I awarded contracts to myself,” he told the panel.

On the report that he tricked former Gov. Akinwunmi Ambode, to spend N350 million for hosting a meeting of Conference of Speakers, Obasa, told the committee that this was not possible.

The speaker said such situation was not possible since Ambode was an accountant, who rose to be the Chief Accountant of the State.

“There was no way I could have tricked Ambode to release such money, we had a meeting of the Conference of Speakers, who came with three members each and we had sub-committees who were given two million naira each.

“We paid for the tickets of each speakers, we pay for their hotel accommodation, feeding and souvenirs. We also provided local transportation for them.

“All these allegations are deliberate actions of my enemies to achieve their aims that they could not achieve in the House to remove me as the Speaker of the House, which was why they came up with such reports,” he said.

The speaker denied spending N60 million for social influences.

Obasa said he did not know the companies they were talking about.

The BVN they were flying about was not correct.

Whatever I have done as a Speaker, all the approvals I gave as Speaker were given based on collective approval of the members of the House,” he said.

The Deputy Speaker of the House, Mr Wasiu Eshinlokun-Sanni, who also appeared before the panel denied attending meeting in Dubai as against the report of online medium.

Also speaking, Chairman of the House Committee on Information and Strategy, Mr Tunde Braimoh, said he didn’t know how much was spent on the hosting of Conference of Speakers, since different people handled different aspects of the event.

“We provided hospitality for the few the people that came. The event involved other things, there were catering and others that were given to other people to handle.

“It is most uncharitable to say we spent N47.5 million for social media influencers. We spend money on publicity and public relations.

“We have programmes that we pay for, on TVC and LTV 8. We have a magazine that we produce and we print 40,000 copies quarterly and distribute to schools and other places and we pay for the content, design and production,” he said.

The Clerk of the House, Mr. Azeez Sanni, also defended the estacode for the trip to the United States, saying that it followed the standard procedure.

Sanni said the programme was budgeted for under conferences and seminars.

The clerk, however, agreed that some documents might have been released to the online medium through some disgruntled staffers of the House.

“We have been taking steps on that and we have transferred some members of staff.

“The files go through many tables and there is no doubt that some devilish staffers take pictures of some of these documents and send to these people.

“The staff have taken oaths and this attracts dismissal. Unofficial disclosure of information attracts dismissal in the civil service,” he stated.

Two officials of Zenith Bank; Mr John Olorundare, Chief Compliance Officer, Mr John Olorundare, Zonal Head of Alausa, Mr Sanni Idowu Awe, also appeared before the panel.

The bank officials stated that an individual could only have one Bank Verification Number (BVN).

They confirmed that different account names could not be used for one BVN and that Obasa had only six accounts with Zenith Bank.

According to them, only two of the accounts are operational; one savings and current, while the rest are dormant.

Present at the meeting were other members of the committee which include: Mr Yinka Ogundimu (Agege II), Mr Gbolahan Yishawu (Eti Osa II), Mr Lukmon Olumoh (Ajeromi Ifelodun I) and Mr Ajani Owolabi (Lagos Mainland I).

Others are Mrs Mojisola Alli-Macaulay (Amuwo Odofin I), Mr Rotimi Olowo (Shomolu I) and Mr Akeem Shokunle (Oshodi/Isolo I)

Edited By: Debo Oshundun/Felix Ajide (NAN)



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Alleged Rape: Coalition commends Police over case against Fatoyinbo



The Coalition of Public Interest Lawyers and Advocates (COPA) has commended the Nigerian Police for exhibiting high sense of intelligence in various investigation of rape allegations in the country.

Mr Pelumi Olajengbesi, Convener of COPA, gave the commendation in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria in Abuja on Saturday.

Olajengbesi said the commendation became necessary following the conclusion of investigation on the allegation of rape levelled against Pastor Biodun Fatoyinbo of the Commonwealth of Zion Assembly (COZA).

The allegation was instituted by Mrs Busola Dakolo, wife of Nigerian inspirational singer, Timi Dakolo.

It would be recalled that Mrs Dakolo dragged Fatoyinbo to court for allegedly raping her about 20 years ago before she turned 18, an allegation Fatoyinbo denied.

The Criminal Intelligence and Investigative Department, Force Headquarters, Abuja, had in a letter in March confirmed it had concluded investigation and had forwarded the case file to the Director of Public Prosecution of the Federation (DPPF).

Olajengbesi said credit should be given to the Police for the thorough investigation, given the time it took them to conclude the work and forward to DPPF for prosecution.

“Yes, we’ve received communication on the progress of the investigation and the transfer of the Police’s findings to the DPP.

“We are excited and hopeful by this development, even as we believe that justice delayed cannot be denied.

“The crime of rape is heinous and must never be tolerated as that will give impetus to the culprit to victimise others.

Mr Fatoyinbo will have to go through the test of the law and establish his innocence if possible.

“We now patiently await the ministry’s activation of the instrumentality of the law to prosecute Mr Fatoyinbo.

“Fatoyinbo’s conviction, if found guilty, will prove to the world, Nigeria’s stern and zero tolerance for criminality, regardless of who is involved.

“This is necessary in positioning our country as where the rule of law reigns supreme.

“The ball is now in the court of the ministry of justice through the DPP.

“We express the hope and faith that justice will finally be served in this matter,’’ Olajengbesi said.

Edited By: Kamal Tayo Oropo/Abdulfatah Babatunde (NAN)

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Somalia confirms 85 new COVID-19 cases as tally hits 2,289




Somali health ministry on Saturday confirmed 85 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the total number of infections to 2,089.

Fawziya Abikar, the health minister, said 13 patients recovered from the respiratory disease in the last 48 hours, bringing the total number of people who have been discharged from hospitals to 431.

The minister said three people succumbed to the disease, bringing the total number of fatalities to 82.

Abikar said 58 of the latest cases are male while 27 others are female.

The Horn of African nation has instituted measures to contain the possible spread of COVID-19, including closing schools, banning large gatherings and suspending international and domestic passenger flights.


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Infantino calls for patience on fans returning to games



FIFA president Gianni Infantino is not expecting a quick return to stadiums for football fans even as the coronavirus crisis eases.

“Let’s not forget that there needs always to be a place for fans,” the head of the sport’s world governing body said in a video message to FIFA’s 211 member-nations.

“Football without spectators is clearly not the same, but we need to be patient when considering the right time to bring fans back to the stadiums.

“We will continue to work tirelessly, but also discreetly and respectfully, to move beyond these temporary measures, and to ensure that fans are welcomed back in a safe and responsible way.”

The German Bundesliga has returned behind closed doors with leagues in Italy, Spain and England soon following suit.

Limited numbers of fans have already started returning to matches in Hungary.

Infantino said FIFA would host a number of online discussions with national federations and stakeholders “to shape a better football for the future.”

The international calendar and the number of matches played by top players will be on the agenda.

And Infantino also said he had heard “interesting proposals’’ on finance and governance from “salary caps to transfer fee caps or other taxation mechanisms’’ and the creation of emergency funds.

Edited By: Olawale Alabi (NAN)

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Romanian football fan jailed 90 months for attempted murder



A Universitatea Cluj fan was sentenced to seven and a half years in prison for trying to kill a police officer during a Romanian first division relegation playoff match last year.

Vidrean Ovidiu Traian was found guilty of attempted murder after he hit the policeman over the head with a seat during the game in June against AFC Hermannstadt at the Cluj Arena.

The attack had left him unconscious and covered in blood.

The incident took place amid clashes between Universitatea supporters and police with fans throwing seats, stones and other objects at the officers.

A large number of home supporters made their way down to the bottom of a stand.

It was to express their fury at what they described as police brutality following a pitch invasion by a Universitatea fan.

Traian was also ordered to pay 18,000 euros (15,794 pounds) in damages, the Cluj court said in a statement.

The ruling is not final and can be appealed.

Edited By: Olawale Alabi (NAN)

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Active COVID-19 cases in Bulgaria fall below 1,000



The number of active COVID-19 cases in Bulgaria has dropped below 1,000 for the first time since April 25, the country’s Health Ministry said on its website on Saturday morning.

The number of active cases in the Balkan country decreased to 980 after 41 new COVID-19 cases were confirmed across the country in the last 24 hours, taking the total to 2,668, while the number of recoveries from COVID-19 rose by 138 to 1,528, the ministry said.

The death toll from COVID-19 rose from 159 to 160, the ministry said.

It added that 147 patients are currently hospitalised, with 12 in intensive care. 


Edited By: Abdulfatah Babatunde (NAN)

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Saudi G20 Presidency calls for collaborative global efforts to fight COVID-19




Saudi Group 20 (G20) Presidency called on Saturday for collaborative global efforts to fight coronavirus (COVID-19).

The presidency said in a statement that the G20 and invited countries have pledged over 21 billion United States dollars to support funding in global health. The financial assistance will be dedicated to diagnostics, vaccines, therapeutics, and research.

The presidency stressed that the G20 has been leading the global response and international collaboration in the fight against the pandemic, including the decisions and recommendations made during the G20 leaders summit held in March.

Meanwhile, the Saudi Health Ministry announced on Saturday the registration of 3,121 new cases, increasing to accumulated infections to 98,869. The death toll rose to 676 cases with the reporting of 34 fatalities.


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