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Lyon held by Zenit in disappointing start to Champions League

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Olympique Lyonnais started their Champions League group stage campaign in disappointing fashion as they were held to a 1-1 home draw by Zenit St Petersburg on Tuesday.

Memphis Depay’s penalty cancelled out Sardar Azmoun’s first-half opener as the French side dominated after the break without inflicting any serious damage on their opponents.

Lyon have now drawn six straight home Champions League games.

Zenit, who have now failed to win any of their last 10 European away games, dominated Lyon’s midfield in the first half before running out of gas.

Benfica play Leipzig in the other Group G game later on Tuesday.

Zenit caught the Lyon defence snoozing in the 41st minute when Azmoun found the back of the net with a low shot after a quick one-two with Artem Dzyuba.

Although they struggled in the midfield, Lyon levelled five minutes into the second half when Depay converted a penalty after being brought down by Magomed Ozdoev.

The hosts went close to taking the lead on the hour but Jeff Reine-Adelaide shot just wide after a clever cut-back from Lucas Tousart.

Lyon pushed harder in the closing stages but lacked a killer instinct to wrap up all three points.

The French side next travel to Leipzig on Oct. 2 when Zenit will host Benfica. (Reuters/)

KIA/DCU

Edited by Donald Ugwu

Sport

Lyon president says French League’s halt to Ligue 1 was “stupid’’

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Olympique Lyonnais president Jean-Michel Aulas again lashed out at the French League for ending the Ligue 1 football season early amid the COVID-19, calling the decision “stupid”.

Aulas spoke after La Liga on Saturday got the Spanish government’s green light to resume play.

Matches will likely begin on June 12, according to League president Javier Tebas.

“In the past two months, the Spanish officials have been observing and working with UEFA,” Aulas said on Sunday, referring to European football’s governing body.

“What is paradoxical is that Javier Tebas, in particular, attended the same meetings than (French League director-general) Didier Quillot, notably that of April 23.

“In fact, what was said at that meeting with UEFA is `patience’. When we see that our officials attended this meeting and drew different conclusions, one can feel that we are really too stupid.”

The French League ended the Ligue 1 and Ligue 2 seasons last month with 10 games remaining, meaning that seventh-placed Lyon were denied a European spot through the league standings.

Lyon’s appeal before an administrative tribunal was rejected on Friday, but they are now expected to lodge another appeal before the State Council, France’s highest court, alongside relegated Amiens and Toulouse.

Asked if he would have had the same reaction had Lyon been in a position to qualify for the UEFA Champions League when Ligue 1 was suspended in March, Aulas said: “I swear I would have, I swear on my children’s lives.”

(
Edited By: Emmanuel Okara and Olawale Alabi) (NAN)

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Sport

Germany’s restart shows French league could still conclude, says Lyon boss

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Germany’s plan to restart its top soccer league gives hope that France could still complete the abandoned Ligue 1 season, Olympique Lyonnais president Jean-Michel Aulas said on Thursday.

The French professional league (LFP) ended its season last week with 10 games left, awarding the title to Paris St Germain and leaving Lyon outside the placings for European competition next season.

Aulas this week said his club had suffered a ‘loss of opportunity’ and warned he would claim ‘millions of Euros in damages’ from unspecified bodies.

On Wednesday, the German Bundesliga said it planned to re-start on May 15, making it the first of Europe’s top soccer leagues to get under way following the novel coronavirus stoppage.

“I’ve noted that training had resumed in almost 10 European countries. By adapting our method, we would probably have been able to complete the season,” Aulas told French sports daily L’Equipe.

“We’re on a wrong track but it’s not too late to try and think (…) about something coherent.

“As long as there’s life, there’s hope. For all the people whose main argument to tell us to stop was that all the other leagues would stop, (Germany’s decision) is a very important step,” Aulas replied when asked until when France could change their decision.

After finishing the season in seventh place, Lyon must either win the League Cup or the Champions League to gain a European place next season.

The League Cup final against PSG has been postponed indefinitely.

The Spanish Liga, Italian Serie A and England’s Premier League hope to restart, but have not yet announced dates to begin.

Edited By: Emmanuel Okara/Oluwole Sogunle (NAN)

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General news

Lyon thanks Bayelsa residents over support

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Chief David Lyon, former Bayelsa governor-elect, has expressed appreciation to the people of Bayelsa State for their show of support and solidarity long after the supreme court judgment that denied him his electoral mandate.

Lyon, who won the seat on the ticket of the APC but lost it when the apex court declared his deputy unfit to contest, gave the remark on Saturday, in Yenagoa, after receiving different groups of supporters who paid him solidarity visits.

He urged the people to remain calm and law abiding even in the face of unpalatable comments and statements in the media.

He encouraged them to be supportive of one another in view of the prevailing harsh economic conditions, emphasising that a collective spirit would continue to keep bonds of oneness alive.

Lyon particularly thanked those that had organised prayer sessions in the face of the prevailing political disadvantage suffered by the party, and urged them to be steadfast in their endeavours.

He called on Bayelsa people to be conscious of the Coronavirus pandemic ravaging people around the world, and urged them to take precautionary measures as advised by healthcare practitioners.

He commended the Federal Government for drastic measures toward mitigating the spread of the Coronavirus, and emphasised the need to initiate rapid test centres at designated points of entry into the country in various states.

Edited By: Cecilia Odey and Ephraims Sheyin
(NAN)

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Sport

Manchester City vs Real Madrid, Juventus vs Lyon postponed due to coronavirus

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Manchester City’s 2019/2020 UEFA Champions League last 16 second leg tie with Real Madrid next week has been postponed due to the coronavirus outbreak.

European football’s governing body UEFA, while disclosing this on Thursday, also said the Juventus’ match against Olympique Lyonnais in the same competition and also billed for next week was also affected.

Real Madrid had said earlier on Thursday that it had sent all of the members of its football and basketball teams home into quarantine.

It had said this became necessary after one of the sports club’s basketball players tested positive for the coronavirus.

Also, Juventus defender Daniele Rugani tested positive for coronavirus on Wednesday, leading the Italian club to quarantine their entire squad.

“Following the quarantine imposed on players of Juventus and Real Madrid, the… matches will not take place as scheduled,” UEFA said on Twitter.

Both matches were due to take place on Tuesday.

Manchester City have a 2-1 lead from the first leg in Madrid on Feb. 26 while Juventus trail Lyon 1-0.

OLAL

(
Edited By: Olawale Alabi)
(NAN)

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Politics

Ex President Jonathan denies receiving N300m, bullet proof cars from Lyon

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Ex President Goodluck Jonathan has refuted social media reports that he received N300 million and bullet proof cars from Mr David Lyon of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Bayelsa.

 

Jonathan, who made the rebuttal in a statement issued by his Media Adviser, Mr Ikechukwu Eze, on Wednesday in Yenagoa, described the allegations as “patently fictitious, malevolent, inciting and provocative”.

 

According to the former president, the story is planted in the social media by a nebulous group known as “Reformation Forum” which claims links with the APC in Bayelsa.

 

He said the group was calling for the refund of the alleged N300 million  and bullet proof cars, which were allegedly given to him to cater for guests during the planned inauguration of Lyon.

 

The group had alleged that the gifts were delivered to the former president prior to the annulment of Lyon’s victory by the apex court.

 

He said, “the story which claimed that the alleged money and vehicles were part of logistics given to Dr Jonathan’s family to cater for their guests ahead of  the botched inauguration is not only patently fictitious but malevolent, inciting and provocative.

 

“In the first place there was no reason for APC or anybody else to offer money and vehicles to the former president for logistics over an inauguration programme in which he was not involved.

 

“We make bold to state that there is no vehicle in the possession of former President Jonathan given to him by the All Progressives Congress. This is an insufferable lie.

 

“If anyone on earth knows of such a vehicle, they should expose the particulars of the said vehicle to the public.

 

“The claim by this group is therefore, nothing but a fairy-tale scripted to tarnish the good reputation of the former President, whom Nigerians and the rest of the world hold in very high esteem.

 

“We condemn in entirety this growing culture of sustained falsehood against the person and family of Jonathan by shady and shadowy characters.

 

“We urge Bayelsans and Nigerians to disregard the story as it contains no grain of truth.

 

“It is a poor script written with the intention of causing distrust and inciting Bayelsans against themselves.

“What Bayelsa needs now is peace, unity and progress, and not this noxious orgy of mud-slinging  and mischief-making.

 

“As far as we are concerned, the Bayelsa elections have been won and lost at the polls and the courts; we therefore, urge all groups to accept the transition in good faith,” he said.

Edited By: Philip Dzeremo/Donald Ugwu
(NAN)

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Sport

PSG crush 10-man Lyon to reach French Cup final

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Kylian Mbappe scored a hat-trick as Paris St Germain thrashed 10-man Olympique Lyonnais 5-1 on Wednesday to reach the French Cup final and remain on course for a domestic treble.

Ligue 1 leaders PSG, who will also face Lyon in the League Cup final, prevailed thanks to Mbappe’s treble and goals by Neymar and Pablo Sarabia after Martin Terrier had put the hosts in front early on.

Lyon finished with 10 men after Fernando Marcal was sent off in the 61st minute for picking up a second yellow card, leaving his team to exposed with the scores level at 1-1.

PSG will take on holders Stade Rennais or St Etienne at the Stade de France on April 25.

Terrier put the hosts ahead on 11 minutes when he latched onto Karl Toko-Ekambi’s pass.

Mbappe equalised three minutes later by deflecting in Layvin Kurzawa’s header for his 28th PSG goal of the season in all competitions.

Marcal’s handball earned PSG a penalty and the Brazilian defender his second yellow card.

Neymar converted the spot kick and Mbappe took advantage of PSG’s extra man by adding a third at the end of a dazzling 60-metre run.

Sarabia rubbed salt in Lyon’s wounds with a fourth from close range and his seventh in the competition this season – before Mbappe rounded it off with another goal in stoppage time.

Edited By: Muhammad Suleiman Tola (NAN)

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Sport

Dembele double gives Lyon 2-0 win over St Etienne in Ligue 1

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Olympique Lyonnais soared into the Ligue 1 top five after a 2-0 home win over local rivals St Etienne on Sunday.

A Moussa Dembele brace and a string of fine saves by Anthony Lopes gave them victory.

The result lifted Lyon five places to fifth in the standings on 40 points from 27 games while St Etienne stayed 16th on 29 points, two points above the relegation zone.

Dembele put the home side ahead with a glancing header in the 27th minute, after Lucas Tousart floated over a free-kick from the left.

He sealed the win with a stoppage time penalty kick.

The hosts also had two goals ruled out after the break, one for handball and the other for offside, but St Etienne got the upper hand in the second half and missed several chances.

Lyon goalkeeper Lopes parried a stinging low drive by Lois Diony in the 50th minute and then twice denied Denis Bouanga as the visitors piled on the pressure in the closing stages.

With St Etienne throwing men forward, Lyon substitute Karl Toko Ekambi raced clear.

His shot from the edge of the area struck Saint-Etienne’s Yann M’Vila on the arm in the area, and Dembele’s dinked penalty kick beat goalkeeper Jessy Moulin.

Fourth-placed Lille ground out a 1-0 win at Nantes, while Nice held Girondins Bordeaux to a 1-1 draw in a mid-table clash.

Lille’s Benjamin Andre struck in the 58th minute to keep them in contention for a top-three finish and UEFA Champions League football next season.

Nice midfielder Adam Ounas cancelled out a Nicollas De Preville opener for Bordeaux.

Lille have 46 points from 27 games, a point behind Stade Rennes who occupy the final UEFA Champions League spot behind leaders PSG, who have 68 points, and Olympique Marseille on 55.

OLAL

(
Edited By: Olawale Alabi)

 

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Sport

Sluggish Juventus slump to surprise defeat at Olympique Lyonnais

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Juventus’s hopes of reaching the UEFA Champions League last eight suffered a blow when the two-times European Cup winners slumped to a 1-0 defeat at Olympique Lyonnais on Wednesday.

Midfielder Lucas Tousart scored the only goal in the opening half of the last 16 first leg fixture to give Lyon a deserved win.

They are bidding to reach the quarter-finals for the first time since 2010.

It was Lyon’s first victory over the Serie A leaders, who suffered their first defeat in the competition this season.

Juventus lacked quality, with Cristiano Ronaldo rarely getting into scoring positions, and they will need to improve in the return leg on March 17 if they are to progress.

About 2,700 Juventus fans travelled from Piedmont, a region neighbouring the coronavirus-hit Lombardy, as the game went ahead as planned in spite of concern over the virus.

On the pitch, Lyon were at their best, with Houssem Aouar and new signing Bruno Guimaraes inspiring their team.

“We were not the favourites and rightfully so, but we believed that we could unsettle Juventus,” said midfielder Aouar.

“But let’s not get carried away, there’s one full game left.”

Juventus have only won four of their last eight competitive matches and captain Leonardo Bonucci pointed out that the team had improved.

“We messed up our first half. Sometimes it happens,” he said. “We gifted one half and they scored at a moment when they were good at hurting us.”

After a cagey start, Lyon made a clear chance when Karl Toko-Ekambi’s header at the near post from Aouar’s corner kick hit the crossbar.

Aouar then burst into the area and delivered a cutback which Tousart placed into the top corner from close range to put the French side ahead after 31 minutes.

Juve were at the time down to 10 men as Mathias De Ligt was getting treatment for blood on his head after being accidentally stamped on by team mate Alex Sandro.

The visitors threatened through Ronaldo but the Portuguese shot just wide at the end of a counter-attack as Juve looked short on confidence.

The Italian side increased the pressure after the interval as Lyon tried to sit back and hope to hurt Maurizio Sarri’s team on the break.

Paulo Dybala went close for Juve with a volley, substitute Gonzalo Higuain wasted a couple of chances and Dybala had a goal ruled out for offside as Lyon held firm.

OLAL

(
Edited By: Olawale Alabi)

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Judiciary

Supreme Court dismisses APC, Lyon’s application to review Bayelsa verdict

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The Supreme Court on Wednesday dismissed an application by the All Progressives Congress (APC) and David Lyon for the review of the verdict on the Bayelsa State governorship election.

The apex court also

ordered the lawyers to the applicants, Chief Afe Babalola, SAN, and Chief Wole Olanipekun, SAN, to pay N10 million each to each of the three respondents.

 

The seven man panel of Justices led by Sylvester Ngwuta dismissed the two applications for lacking in merit.

 

Justice Amina Augie while delivering the ruling said the request to review the judgment was vexatious, frivolous and regrettable.

Augie in the unanimous ruling came down heavily on the counsel to the applicants, Babalola and Olanipekun  for filing the motions which the court described as regrettable motions and a deliberate desecration of the judiciary.

“With tears in my eyes, I feel sad that senior counsel in this case would ever bring this kind of frivolous applications during my life time”.

She held that by Order 8, Rule 16 of the Supreme Court, the court has no powers or authority to review any judgment delivered on merit safe for clerical error.

“This court is not authorised and indeed lacked jurisdiction to review any judgment delivered on merit.

” More so when the applicants have not pointed out any accidental error or slip in the judgment. There must be an end to every litigation.

“This is final court and its decisions are final for all ages so as to ensure certainty in law,” she held.

According to her, “the two applications brought before us today lacked merit and constituted abuse of this court and they are liable to dismissal and are hereby dismissed.

 

Babalola,SAN, Counsel to Lyon and Deputy had in his submissions said that the Supreme Court has inherent decision and power to set aside its own decision.

 

“The judgment which voided the election of  Lyon and his deputy was a nullity on account of denial of fair hearing to them.

 

According to him, ‘the procedure adopted by the apex court on February 13 was wrong because there was no cause of action at the time it gave judgment against Lyon.

However, Mr Tayo Oyetibo, SAN, Counsel to the PDP informed the apex court that the applications by APC and its candidates were dangerous invitation to the Supreme Court to violate section 285 of the 1999 constitution, for the court to sit on appeal over its own matter.

 

Oyetibo argued that having delivered final judgment on merit, the court has no jurisdiction to sit on appeal in the judgment, adding that it is scandalous to ask the apex court to review the judgment.

 

He further stated that the apex court was right in disqualifying Lyon as the governor-elect because section 187 of the 1999 constitution is clear and unambiguous to the effect that a governorship candidate who has no deputy candidate is not qualified to contest any governorship election in Nigeria.

 

“When Supreme Court gives judgment, it is deemed correct. 

 

It has never happened in the history of the Supreme Court to reverse itself, its judgment is final and finality: and whatever Supreme Court says in the interpretation of the law is the law”, he said.

 

His submissions were subsequently adopted by other respondents in the matter.

 

The apex court had in February held that the nomination form Degi-Eremieoyo submitted to INEC for the purpose of the Nov. 16, 2019 governorship election in the state, contained false information of fundamental nature.

However not satisfied with the decision of the apex court, the APC, Lyon and Degi-Eremienyo applied to the court for a review and setting aside of its judgment that disqualified them from the November 16 poll.

 

The applicants specifically wants the Supreme Court to set aside the “wrong” interpretation given to its judgment of February 13, 2020 and the subsequent execution by INEC.

 

Among others, APC is contending that the Supreme Court, in its judgment,  misinterpreted the November 12, 2019 judgment of the Federal High Court, Abuja which it affirmed.

 

The party argued that the Supreme Court acted without jurisdiction and denied it fair hearing when it proceeded to disqualify its governorship candidate even though the Federal High Court, in the judgment by Justice Inyang Ekwo, which the apex court affirmed, refused the  prayer to disqualify Lyon.

 

APC also faulted the interpretation given to the Supreme Court judgment by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in deciding to issue certificate of return to the candidates of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

It stated: “After reinstating the judgment of the trial court, this honourable court proceeded to disqualify the governorship candidate of the appellant (Lyon David Pereworimin) in spite of the fact that the trial refused to grant the reliefs for his disqualification and there was no appeal against same.

“In this honourable court’s judgment of February 13, the court erroneously and inadvertently stated that the trial court consequentially disqualified the applicant‘s governorship candidate even though the trial court made no such order.

” Rather, the trial court indeed refused to grant the express orders sought by the plaintiffs therein for his disqualification”.

The APC want the Supreme Court to set aside portions of its judgment where it held that the Federal High Court, in disqualifying its Deputy Governorship candidate, proceeded to disqualify its governorship candidate.

“And where it held that joint ticket of its candidates was vitiated by the disqualification of the Deputy Governorship candidate and that both candidates are deemed not to be candidates in the election”.

It further prayed the Supreme Court to set aside the portion of the judgment where it ordered INEC to declare as winner of the governorship election, candidates with the highest number of lawful votes.

” Also where it ordered INEC to withdraw the certificate of return issued to its governorship candidate and the issuance of fresh one to the candidate who had the highest number of lawful votes”.

The APC argued that it was wrong for the Supreme Court to have voided its candidates’ participation in the election, when, the judgment by the Federal High Court, disqualifying its deputy governorship candidate, was stayed as at when the election was conducted.

It stated: “By an originating summons dated 12th September, 2019, in Suit NO: / 1101/2019 between Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) & 2 Ors. v. Biobarakuma Degi-Eremienyo & three others., the respondents approached the Federal High Court for a total of 10 reliefs.

In the judgment of the Federal High Court, delivered on November 12, 2019, the said court granted only six of the reliefs.

“In the drawn up order of the Federal High Court duly signed by the trial judge the six reliefs granted are clearly encapsulated therein.

“In specific reference to the reliefs for the disqualification of the governorship candidate of the applicant (Lyon David Pereworimin), the trial court refused to grant the plaintiffs’ prayers to disqualify him.

“It was only the Deputy Governorship candidate of the applicant (Biobarakuma Degi-Eremienyo) that the trial High Court made an order of disqualification against.

“Applicant and its governorship and deputy governorship candidates timely appealed the judgment of the Federal High Court to the Court of Appeal, and also applied for a stay of execution of the said judgment pending appeal.

“The Court of Appeal, Abuja division, stayed the execution of the judgment of the trial High Court.

“As at the time the governorship election in Bayelsa was conducted on Nov. 16, 2019 the order for stay of execution granted by the Court of Appeal was subsisting and there was no appeal against it.

“The judgment of the Court of Appeal was delivered on Dec. 23, 2019 whereby the Court of Appeal set aside the decision of the trial High Court delivered on Nov. 12, 2019.

“There was no cross-appeal to the Court of Appeal against the decision of the trial High Court refusing to make an order disqualifying the governorship candidate of the applicant (David Lyon)”.

APC said the apex court acted without jurisdiction and also breached applicant’s right to fair hearing.

“With respect, the portions of the judgment of this honourable court highlighted in the body of this application constitute a nullity.

“With respect, the decision of this honourable court of Feb. 13,  was premised on and vitiated by a fundamental error and is contrary to public policy.

“By a press statement made on Feb. 14, the Chairman of the 4th respondent (INEC), reviewed the judgment of this honourable court, gave it a different interpretation and came to a wrong conclusion, thus declaring the 2nd and 3rd respondents as the Governor and Deputy Governor elect of Bayelsa, respectively.

Edited By: Sadiya Hamza

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