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IBB urges Igbos to make Nigeria feel their positive impact

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Former military leader, Gen. Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida (IBB), on Saturday urged Igbos to ensure that Nigerians continue to feel their positive impact.

He said this was due to their tenecity in business enterprises which spans the length and breath of the country and beyond.

Babangida made the remark in Minna, when the Igbo Delegates Assembly (IDA), from the 19 Northern states and Abuja, visited him for his recent 78th birthday.

The Nigeria News Agency reports that the delegation was led by the IDA president, Chief Chikezie Okezie and the Eze Igbo of Minna, Eze Pampas Wahiwe.

“You should continue to allow your positive impacts to be felt among host ethnic nationalities in the country, as you explore business opportunities available.

“Nigerians, Igbos inclusive, should ensure they uphold the ideals of Nigeria’s founding fathers.

“An indivisible Nigeria is very necessary and we must do everything possible to remain as one family, though we differ in tribe and tongue,” he said.

He appreciated the Igbos for being very enterprising and determined to succeed by penetrating the nooks and crannies of the country for business exploits.

“You should use same spirit of enterprise to promote peaceful co-existence among Nigerians, in all that you are doing.

“You have done well to keep Nigeria together. The Igbos are known to have the potentials of traveling far and wide, exploring new frontiers and business opportunities,” he said.

Okezie prayed God to continue to grant IBB the strength and wisdom to offer advice that would help Nigeria in tackling its various challenges.

“As an elder statesman, your wise counsel is very much needed at this point in our national life,” he said.
OCU/OOA/IS

Edited by Olabisi Akinbode/Ismail Abdulaziz

Sport

Algerian Ibbou finds presidential support after challenging Thiem over player fund

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Algerian Ines Ibbou was hailed as a hero by Venus Williams while her country’s president pledged full support after the low-ranked tennis player posted an emotional video to take on world No. 3 Dominic Thiem for his opposition to a player relief fund.

Thiem rejected the notion that top tennis players should chip in to help lower-ranked competitors who are struggling financially due to the pause in tournaments due to the novel coronavirus pandemic.

In the video, which runs over nine minutes and was posted on Ibbou’s Instagram page, the world number 620 starts with “Dear Dominic” and goes on to talk about the difficulties she has had to endure and the sacrifices she needed to make in her career.

The 21-year-old pleads with Thiem to understand the stark difference in the Austrian’s “magical world” and how she had to pursue tennis in the North African country, which she said lacked even basic infrastructure for the sport.

“I cherish the day when I’ll be able to afford a gift for my parents. I’m dreaming about this day,” said Ibbou, who started playing at the age of six but has only managed to make $27,825 in tournament earnings so far.

“I’m a lonely lady, travelling the world generally in three-legged trips, always looking for the cheapest tickets.”

World number one Novak Djokovic has urged fellow professionals to contribute to a fund set up by the sport’s governing bodies to help players affected by a shutdown which began in March and will continue at least until mid-July.

Austrian Thiem said he felt there were sections of society that needed more urgent help than his fellow competitors during the economic crisis caused by the pandemic.

“Do you alternate clay and hard from a week to another like I do,” Ibbou questioned Thiem. “Do you finish your tournaments with holes in shoes like I do?”

“Dear Dominic, unlike you, many share my reality.

“Just a reminder, it’s not because of your money that we survived until now. And nobody requested to you anything.

“The initiative went from generous players who showed instant compassion with a classy touch.”

The governing bodies recently raised over $6 million to help lower-level players affected by the shutdown.

Ibbou said the crisis showed “who people truly are” and helping the needy players was only to help the game survive.

“We did not ask anything from you. Except a bit of respect to our sacrifice,” she said before signing off. “Players like you make me hold on to my dreams. Please, don’t ruin it.”

Williams, a seven-time Grand Slam singles winner, commented on the post: “You’re my hero.”

Ibbou replied: “You’ve always been mine too, and now you’re even more to me. Thank you so much.”

Australian Kyrgios, who had criticised Thiem for his comments, said “Respect!” before adding, “Keep doing you, I’m always willing to support.”

As Ibbou’s post gained popularity and was widely shared on social media, it caught the eye of Algerian president Abdelmadjid Tebboune.

“Algeria can’t miss a sporting talent like Ines Ibbou in a young age and a flower of giving, in a specialty that is rarely born in it,” Tebboune said in a message for Ibbou on his official Facebook page.

“Soon, the ministry of youth and sports will take care of your work. You have my full support and I wish you success, God willing.”

Edited By: Emmanuel Okara/Donald Ugwu (NAN)

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Foreign

UNICEF scales up delivery of supplies for COVID-19 across LatAm, Caribbean

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The UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) is stepping up delivery of health and hygiene items for families and health workers in 12 Latin American and Caribbean countries affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, said the fund on Saturday.

Items locally procured and distributed included hand sanitizers, soap, water supplies and personal protective equipment as well as face masks, gowns, gloves, disposable face shields, goggles and coveralls, the UNICEF said in a press release.

Despite extreme market conditions and logistical constraints, the UNICEF is planning to ship about 52 tonnes of vital supplies to be distributed in the coming weeks and months in Latin America and the Caribbean, including 220,000 face masks, 50,000 coveralls, 32,400 disposable face shields and 1,500 goggles, it said.

In addition to the international shipments, UNICEF offices in the region are also searching for and procuring critical supplies in local markets to support domestic economies, it said.
(XINHUA)

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IBB commiserates with Buhari over Kyari ‘sdemise, describes him as patriotic

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The Former Military President of Nigeria, Gen. Ibrahim Babangida, on Sunday condoled with President Muhammadu Buhari over the demise of his Chief of Staff, Malam Abba Kyari, who died from complications of Coronavirus disease.

 Babangida in his message to the President described Kyari as a very dedicated, conscientious, forthright, roundly qualified, astute and patriotic servant of Nigeria.

According to him, as Chief of Staff, he preoccupied himself with always standing by you as a loyal staff, a friend and an adviser, who always answered the call to duty.

“He was ready to always render you necessary support in line with the policy principles and objectives of your administration.

 “I have no iota of doubt that Kyari had performed all his tasks creditably to your absolute satisfaction believing in his capacity and competency, he was honest, simple, humble and transparent.

“He was always putting the people, the nation and your good self frist in all his actions and duties.

“Undoubtedly, you and his family will miss Kyari the most, as Muslims, we believe and accept that we shall all return to Allah, the Supreme Giver of Life,” he said.

“It is stated in the traditions of our beloved Prophet Muhammad, that whosoever dies as a result of an epidemic affliction is a martyr and I fervently pray it shall be so for Kyari.

“I pray that Allah will accord him the reward and honour as a martyr. Additionally he also passed on one of the most auspicious days for Muslims, namely Friday.”

Babangida said that the president had lost a great ally, friend, admirer and compatriot who served him and the nation with extreme loyalty and patience.

He urged the president, as a committed Muslim with depth of faith and as a gallant military officer who fought to unite this country, to “please remain steadfast in the challenging tasks heaved upon you, our country and people by the COVID-19 epidemic.

“I pray for the quick end of this deadly scourge.”

He  also prayed Allah to shower His mercy and forgiveness on Kyari by placing him among the dwellers of His Highest Paradise.

“And to his immediate family , I pray Allah to grant you the fortitude to bear this loss of a descent man with equanimity,” he said.

(
Edited By: Edith Bolokor/Peter Ejiofor) (NAN)

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General news

IBB commiserates With Buhari over demise of Kyari, describes him as patriotic

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The Former military president of Nigeria, Gen. Ibrahim Babangida, on Sunday condoled with President Muhammadu Buhari over the demise of his Chief of Staff, Malam Abba Kyari, who died as a result of complications from COVID-19.

Babangida in his message to the President described Kyari as a very dedicated, conscientious, forthright, roundly qualified, astute and patriotic servant of Nigeria.

According to him, as Chief of Staff he preoccupied himself to always stand by you as a loyal Staff, a friend and an adviser, who always answered the call to duty.

” He was ready to always render you necessary support in line with the policy principles and objectives of your administration.

 “I have no iota of doubt that Kyari had performed all his tasks creditably to your absolute satisfaction believing in his capacity and competency, he was honest, simple, humble and transparent.

“He always putting the people, the nation and your good self frist in all his actions and duties.

“Undoubtedly, you and his family will miss Kyari the most, as Muslims we believe and accept that we shall all return to Allah, the Supreme Giver of Life.

” It is stated in the traditions of our beloved Prophet Muhammad, that whosoever dies as a result of an epidemic affliction is a martyr and I fervently pray so it shall be for Kyari.

” I pray that Allah will accord him the reward and honour as a martyr. Additionally Kyari also passed on one of the most auspicious days for Muslims, namely Friday.”

Ibrahim said that the President has lost a great ally, friend, admirer, and compatriot who served him and the nation with extreme loyalty and patience.

He urged the President, as a committed Muslim with depth of faith and as a gallant military officer who fought to unite this country,

“Please, remain steadfast in the challenging tasks heaved upon you, our country and people by the COVID-19 epidemic. I pray for the quick end of this deadly scourge,” he said.

He  also prayed Allah to shower His Mercy and Forgiveness on Kyari by placing him among the dwellers of His Highest Paradise.

“And to his immediate Family, I pray Allah to grant you the fortitude to bear this irreparable loss of a descent man with equanimity,” he said.

= = = = = = =

Edited By: Edith Bolokor/Felix Ajide (NAN)

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General news

IBB urges continuous prayers, synergy in combating COVID-19

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Former Military President, Ibrahim Babangida, on Sunday enjoined Christian brethren to use the Holy period of Easter to pray for the country in its efforts to contain the COVID-19 pandemic.

Babangida also urged  Muslims to use the month preceding the holy month of Ramadan to pray fervently for Allah’s mercy and reprieve in the circumstances we find ourselves for continuous prayers to curb the spread of coronavirus in the country.

In a statement signed by Babangida himself and made available to News Agency of Nigeria ( NAN) in Minna, the former president also commended the efforts made by the governments at all levels to curb the spread of the disease.

He said that the political commitment demonstrated by the federal and state governments in the  efforts so far made toward managing the spread of the scourge in the country was commendable.

” Although the numbers keep rising, the situation is still being kept at manageable levels within the limits of our health care system,” Babangida said.

He, however, said that the gains needed to be sustained with enforcement of appropriate and consistent social distancing prescription for effective prevention of further spread of the pandemic.

He called  for more  synergy between federal and state governments to curb the spread of COVID-19, especially in states where majority of citizens lived with attendant implications for flattening the curve,increasing testing capacity and reduce the pains.

” We have  lesson and experiences of China, Taiwan and other countries to benefit from,”he said.

” There is no room for blame game now but concerted support by all Nigerians in the ongoing fight against the spread of the disease.

” I commend with due regard to the professional display and wonderful efforts of our frontline medical personnel for their  patriotism, resilience, sacrifice and commitment to this fight of eradicating covid-19″, the former president said.

He saluted the courage of individuals , groups and corporate entities for supporting governments at various levels.

He also commended government officials for the various palliatives geared toward alleviating the excruciating pains associated with the lockdown.

” We all have our roles to play collectively and there is need to observe all recommendations of NCDC and adhere strictly to directives of government on basic hygiene

” Wash your hands frequently with soap under running water, avoid touching your face & high-contact surfaces and also avoid gatherings and  physical contact thus Practice social distancing to prevent the spread of the COVID-19.

AAG /

Edited By: Emmanuel Okara and Abdullahi Yusuf (NAN)

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Foreign

U.S. increases military presence in the Caribbean to fight drug traffic

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  The U.S. is expanding its military presence in the Caribbean to fight drug cartels wanting to take advantage of the coronavirus crisis and to deny funds going to the Nicolas Maduro regime in Venezuela, the Trump administration said.

“Today, the U.S. is launching an enhanced counter-narcotics operation in the Western Hemisphere,’’ President Donald Trump said in the daily news briefing at the White House.

“We are deploying additional Navy destroyers, combat ships, aircraft and helicopters, Coast Guards cutters and Air Force surveillance aircraft, doubling our capabilities in the region.’’

Secretary of Defence, Mark Esper, said the additional military forces were sent to the eastern Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea.

The U.S. Southern Command, based in Doral, Florida, leads the operation, which officially started on Wednesday, in partnership with 22 partner countries.

In 2019, Southcom seized more than 280 tons of drugs heading to the U.S.

At the news conference, Gen. Mark Milley, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the decision to scale up the military presence in the region, while the country is facing a pandemic, was based on intelligence.

“We came upon some intelligence, some time ago, that the drug cartels, as a result of COVID-19, were going to try to take advantage of the situation and try to infiltrate additional drugs in our country,’’ he said.

But the expanded military presence is also targeting the Maduro regime in Venezuela, several senior officials said during the conference.

Venezuela is not the biggest producer of drugs reaching the U.S.

It was the only country called out by Esper, who said the “enhanced counter-narcotics operations” in the region is intended to not only cut the flows of illicit drugs reaching America but also to deny “our adversaries the financial resources they depend on’’.

“Corrupt actors like the illegitimate Maduro regime in Venezuela rely on the profits derived from the sale of narcotics to maintain their oppressive hold on power,’’ Esper said.

“The Venezuelan people continue to suffer tremendously due to Maduro’s continued control over the country.’’

Other senior members of the Trump administration reiterated the same message.

“Under President Trump’s leadership, we will continue to execute our maximum pressure policy to counter the Maduro regime’s activities, including drug trafficking,’’ National Security Council Director, Robert O’Brien, said.

“And this operation will help to choke off the funds that go to that corrupt regime.’’

U.S. Attorney-General, William Barr, who attended the briefing, mentioned that 16 members of the Maduro regime, including Nicolas Maduro himself, were recently indicted by the Department of Justice under narco-trafficking charges.

He added that the regime is also trying to establish an air route to fly drugs from Venezuela to Central America.

Plans about expanding U.S. military presence in the region were first disclosed by the Southcom commander, Adm. Craig Faller, during a congressional hearing in early March.

Florida Republican Senator, Marco Rubio, who chairs the Senate subcommittee on Western Hemisphere affairs, welcomed the president’s announcement.

“This action should be of serious concern to Venezuelan dictator Nicolas Maduro and senior members of his regime, who were recently indicted for crimes including drug trafficking, corruption and money laundering,’’ Rubio said.

“It’s essential we continue all efforts to deny the Venezuelan narco-regime of financial support until democratic order and the rule of law are restored.’’

On Tuesday, the U.S. State Department unveiled a plan to form a transitional government in Venezuela that details the conditions under which the Trump administration would lift sanctions against the nation’s oil industry and regime officials.

Also this week, the administration has called Maduro, who the U.S. no longer recognises as the legitimate leader of the country, to accept an offer to negotiate his exit and resolve the years-long humanitarian crisis in that nation.

Edited By: Fatima Sule/Abdulfatah Babatunde
(NAN)

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Defence/Security

Buratai tasks IBB golf club on grooming young talents

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The Chief of Army Staff, Lt.-Gen. Tukur Buratai, has called on the leadership of IBB International Golf and Country Club to work towards grooming young golfers in Nigeria.

Buratai made the call when the Vice Captain of the club, Sen. Emmanuel Anosike, led a delegation on a courtesy call to Army Headquarters on Wednesday in Abuja.

He said that there was need to look at upcoming golfers so as to groom them from early stages.

According to him, if we can catch them young right from schools, I am sure we can produce the likes of Tiger Wood in this country.

Buratai said that Nigerian army would continue to support the efforts of the club to develop golf in the country.

He added that the army and IBB golf club had maintained long standing, mutually beneficial friendship.

The COAS said that the army was ready to collaborate with the club in all activities relating to golf in Nigeria and internationally.

He disclosed that the army was working towards transforming its club to complement the effort of IBB club.

“The army headquarters and indeed all our golfers across the country are pleased to relate with you and we look forward to much more closer relationship.

“We have a quite number of golfers and just as you requested, I want to encourage them to have the permanent membership of the IBB International Golf and Country Club here in Abuja,” he said.

Earlier, Anosike said the visit was to show appreciation for the support of Nigerian army to the club and all golfers in Nigeria.

Anosike called on all senior officers of Nigerian army to subscribe to full membership of the club instead of the corporate membership they currently hold.

He said that IBB club had the best golf range in Nigeria and pledged to offer the facility to army golfers.

“We also have more kitties in a week which you are encourage to always come and play.

“What we need to do is to build up this relationship of interaction between the two clubs,” he said.

Nigeria News Agency reports that the delegation presented the trophy of its Independence tournament to the COAS during the visit.

Edited By: Ismail Abdulaziz
(NAN)

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Judiciary

Alleged N2.5bn fraud: ICPC, Modibbo, others to adopt written addresses Feb. 10

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The Federal High Court Abuja has fixed Feb. 10 for counsel in the ongoing alleged N2.5 billion fraud case against the Director-General of the National Broadcasting Commission, (NBC),  Mr Ishaq Modibbo to adopt their final written addresses.

Justice Folasade Giwa-Ogunbanjo fixed the date on Thursday after the ICPC Counsel, Mr Henry Emore, moved his application requesting for extension of time to respond to the defendants’ no case submission.

When the matter was called, Emore said that the business of the day was for adoption of written addresses.

He, however, prayed the court for additional time to enable him respond to the no case submission.

“The matter is for adoption of written addresses but I have a short response to the no case submission.

“So, I have a motion seeking an order of court to extend the time for us to serve our response to the no case submission on the defendants and to deem our motion properly filed and served.”

Justice Giwa-Ogunbanjo ruled that the application was ordered as prayed and adjourned the matter until Feb. 10.

Nigeria News Agency, reports that  Modibbo, Lucky Omoluwa, Chairman of Pinnacle Communications Ltd, and Dipo Onifade are facing trial over allegations of fraud in the Digital Switch Over project of the Federal Government.

The ICPC charged them with 12 counts of fraud.  

Edited By: Olawunmi Ashafa/Sadiya Hamza

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General news

Major quake hits Caribbean, triggering evacuations

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A major 7.7 magnitude earthquake struck Tuesday in the Caribbean between Jamaica and Cuba, triggering a brief tsunami alert and sending hundreds of people pouring onto the streets of Havana.

The tremors were felt as far as the US mainland, where police in Miami evacuated some buildings as a precaution.

The US Geological Survey said the quake hit at a depth of 10 kilometres (six miles) at 1910 GMT (2:10 pm local time) – 125 kilometres northwest of Lucea, Jamaica.

It estimated there was a low likelihood of casualties or damage, and there were no immediate reports of either.

Hours later, a 6.1 magnitude aftershock hit off the coast of the Cayman Islands, part of a cluster of more than a dozen aftershocks which were mainly in the four-to-five magnitude range and lasted well into the evening, the USGS said.

The US Pacific Tsunami Warning Center initially warned there was a threat of tsunami waves reaching 0.3 to one meter (about one to three feet) above tide level for the coasts of Jamaica, Belize, Cuba, Honduras, Mexico and the Cayman Islands. But it lifted the alert update about two hours later.

The first, bigger quake rattled several tall buildings in the Cuban capital Havana, which were immediately evacuated.

The earthquake was felt in several provinces including Guantanamo and Santiago de Cuba in the east, Cienfuegos in the center and Havana in the northwest, the official Cubadebate website reported.

But there were no preliminary reports of damage or injuries.

Jawara Rawjers, a resident of Kingston, Jamaica told AFP: “I felt the house trembling and realized that it was a quake.

“It lasted about 20 seconds. I checked my watch and it was 2:12 pm. I checked on my family but they didn’t feel anything in their part of the house.”

Machel Emanuel, a doctor in the same city, added: “I was on the second floor of a building and there was a sustained shaking of the building. I felt dizzy. The door was slamming consistently for a while.”

Many Jamaicans took to social media in the immediate aftermath to post pictures, unverified by AFP, of swimming pools shaking violently.

In Miami, police said buildings were being evacuated as a precaution after reports of tremors being felt in some areas of the city.

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