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Togo Withdraws From Nations’ Cup … Four Persons Die

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Togo’s national soccer side is pulling out of the Africa Cup of Nations tournament after the deadly machine-gun attack on its team bus, according to captain and star striker Emmanuel Adebayor.

Adebayor told his English club Manchester City that the Togo players were now heading home to their families after deciding to leave Angola.

City’s head of media relations Simon Heggie, who also represents Adebayor, told newsmen that the players met on Saturday morning in the wake of the previous day’s assault by rebel fighters near the border between Angola and the Republic of Congo.

Togo had been scheduled to play against Ghana on Monday in Cabinda, one of the tournament venues in Angola.

Adebayor was unhurt, Heggie said, but there have been conflicting reports over the casualties — two people are now believed to be dead, according to SOS International, which transports injured people to hospitals.

The bus driver and another person from the team died, said the group’s regional medical director Fraser Lamond, but it is not clear if the latter was a player.

Lamond said a third wounded person was being evacuated to Johannesburg, South Africa for treatment.

The City Web site said the bus driver was killed and two players were shot and injured, while seven other people were wounded.

“It has been made clear by manager Roberto Mancini and senior officials that Emmanuel will now be given as much time as he needs to recover from the horrific attack,” Heggie said on Saturday.

The tournament organizers earlier said it will go ahead despite the attack.

Confederation of African Football President Issa Hayatou will meet Saturday with Angolan Prime Minister Antonio Paulo Kassoma “to take decisions to guarantee the smooth running of the competition,” a statement on the organization’s Web site said.

“The Confederation of African Football is terribly saddened by these events and expresses its total support as well as sympathy to the entire Togolese delegation,” the statement said.

Football’s world governing body FIFA said it was “deeply moved” by the incident and expressed “utmost sympathy with the Togolese players. It said it expected a full report from the CAF on the situation.

Togo midfielder Moustapha Salifou revealed that goalkeeper Kodjovi Obilale was one of the people shot.

“I know I am really lucky. I was in the back of the coach with Emmanuel Adebayor and one of the goalkeepers,” Salifou told the Web site of his English club Aston Villa.

“A defender who was sat in front of me took two shots in the back. The goalkeeper, Obilale, one of my best friends, was shot in the chest and stomach area and he has been flown to South Africa to undergo an operation to save his life.

“It was horrific. Everybody was crying. I couldn’t stay in control myself and I cried when I saw the injuries to my friend.”

The shooting lasted for half an hour and I could hear the bullets whistling past me. It was like a movie –Togo midfielder Moustapha Salifou.

“It was only 15 minutes after we crossed into Angola that the coach came under heavy fire from rebels. The driver of the coach was shot almost immediately and died instantly, so we were just stopped on the road with nowhere to go.

“Our security people saved us. They were in two separate cars, about 10 of them in total and they returned fire. The shooting lasted for half an hour and I could hear the bullets whistling past me. It was like a movie.”

Hosts Angola are due to kick off the tournament against Mali on Sunday in Luanda. It is Angola’s first major sporting event since a 2002 peace deal brought the southern African country’s decades-old civil war to an end.

It also marks the beginning of a year in the spotlight for African football with South Africa set to become the continent’s first country to host the FIFA World Cup, football’s showpiece event, in June.

Friday’s attack occurred in Cabinda, a disputed oil-rich enclave separated from the rest of Angola by Democratic Republic of Congo territory, shortly after the team bus had crossed the border.

Togo striker Thomas Dossevi, who was on the bus, said the driver was killed in the attack and three others were wounded. But Angola’s official press agency, ANGOP, reported nine people were wounded — eight Togolese and one Angolan.

An armed wing of a separatist group, the Forces for Liberation of the State of Cabinda, claimed responsibility for the attack. newsmen cannot independently verify the claim.

We were attacked by armed rebels who used Kalashnikovs. We had just passed the border and we were attacked from both sides –Togo striker Thomas Dossevi.

Angola, which was wracked by civil war for nearly three decades, brokered a peace deal in 2006 with separatists seeking an independent republic of Cabinda. The southern African country is one of the world’s largest energy producers and a major supplier of petroleum and liquefied natural gas to the U.S. market.

Dossevi, 30, who plays for French side Nantes, told journalists “armed rebels” with AK-47s had opened fire.

“We were attacked by armed rebels who used Kalashnikovs. We had just passed the border and a couple of minutes later we were attacked from both sides.

“We hid below the seats — we had police protection in front and behind but we were attacked from both sides. As soon as I heard the bullets I went to the floor. … The attack lasted for 10-15 minutes,” Dossevi said.

The Africa Cup of Nations is one of the world’s biggest football tournaments, bringing together stars including Chelsea’s Didier Drogba and Michael Essien, Inter Milan’s Samuel Eto’o and Barcelona’s Yaya Toure and watched by television audiences of tens of millions.

This month’s tournament has been eagerly anticipated as an early chance to assess the form of African powerhouses such as Drogba’s Ivory Coast, Essien’s Ghana and Eto’o’s Cameroon ahead of the World Cup.

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Nigeria, US Sign Pact To Reduce Illicit Trafficking Of Ancient Arts

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The Federal Government and the United States, yesterday, signed the Cultural Property Implementation Act (CPIA) Agreement.
According to the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, the CPIA would reduce the pillage of Nigeria’s ancient arts which are mostly smuggled to Europe, the US and other places for the benefit of art collectors.
Mohammed said the signing of the MoU became necessary because, despite all efforts by the Ministry of Information and Culture and the National Commission for Museums and Monuments, with the assistance of law enforcement agencies, to prevent illicit export of the nation’s archaeological and ethnological materials, widespread looting and illicit excavation of these materials still continue.
He said this when he signed a Memorandum of Understanding on the CPIA with the US Ambassador to Nigeria, Mary Beth Leonard, in the presence of the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr Geoffrey Onyeama, in Abuja.
Special Assistant to the President on Media, Office of the Minister of Information and Culture, Segun Adeyemi, disclosed this in a statement titled, ‘Nigeria, US Sign Pact To Reduce Illicit Trafficking of Ancient Arts.’
Mohammed was quoted as saying, “This legislation was enacted by the United States to restrict the importation into the US of archaeological materials ranging in date from 1500 B.C. to A.D. 1770 as well as ethnological materials, including those associated with royal activity, religious activity, etc from nations that have entered into the kind of bilateral initiative that we are signing here with the United States today.”
The minister said on the basis of the agreement, Nigerian antiquities being imported into the US without the requisite export permit will be seized at the border of the US and returned to Nigeria without the arduous and costly task of going through the labyrinth of judicial and diplomatic processes.
“We are optimistic that this agreement will reduce the pillage of our irreplaceable archaeological and ethnological materials, as the market for these materials is being shut in the United States against illicit traffickers.
“The agreement will last for an initial period of five years. If it works well, as we anticipate it will, it shall be renewed for a longer term. We implore other friendly nations to take a cue from the United States of America and join us in finding means to prevent the illegal importation of our antiquities into their countries,” he said.
The minister, who thanked the US Government, in particular the US Embassy in Nigeria, for making the MoU possible, said the Nigerian Government looks forward to a diligent implementation of the landmark agreement, so it can become a game-changer in the nation’s efforts to prevent the looting of its priceless ancient works of art.
In her remarks, the US Ambassador to Nigeria, Beth Leonard, said the agreement was aimed at preserving, restoring and protecting Nigeria’s cultural heritage.
“In Nigeria, over the past decade, the US Mission has partnered with the Nigerian government and state institutions to preserve cultural landmarks and sites through projects worth over one million dollars and funded by the US Ambassador’s Fund for Cultural Preservation.
“Just last November, I signed a grant award to digitally survey the Busanyin Shrine located within the Osun Osogbo Sacred Grove. That $125,000 grant will help document a series of shrines within the Grove and provide training to local professionals in digital tools and cultural heritage management,” she said.
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Three Out Of 10 Nigerians Are Mentally Sick -Reps

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The House of Representatives has said that three out of every 10 Nigerians have one form of mental illness or another.
Quoting the World Health Organisation (WHO) statistics, the House added that over 20,000,000 Nigerians were currently suffering from various degrees of mental illness or disorder without psychiatric health care.
To this end, the House mandated its Committees on Health Institutions and Healthcare Services to liaise with the Federal Ministry of Health towards improving mental health facilities around the country and further carry out serious sensitization of Nigerians on this issue.
It also asked the Committee on Health Institution to explore the modalities of liaising with stakeholders in the health sector to promote, educate and sensitise Nigerians on mental health.
The resolution, however, followed a motion titled “Need to Address the Rising Cases of Mental Health in Nigeria” presented by Hon. Uchechuku Nnam-Obi from Rivers State and considered by the House at yesterday’s plenary.
Presenting his motion, Nnam-Obi noted that the World Health Organisation (WHO) considers mental health as a state of well-being in which the individual can cope with the stress of life, work productively and contribute to the community.
According to him, mental illness manifests in mood disorder, anxiety disorder, trauma-related disorder, personality disorder, old age-related disorder, substance abuse disorder or mental pattern that causes significant distress or impairment of personal functioning.
He said: “According to the World Health Organisation statistics, over twenty million Nigerians are currently suffering from various degrees of mental illness or disorder without psychiatric health care.
“Three out of 10 Nigerians have one form of mental illness or the other, presently there is no mental health legislation in Nigeria. However, the Nigerian mental health policy is the only framework that has access to mental healthcare, dealing with mental and neurological disorders in Nigeria, discouraging stigmatisation against persons with mental disorders and has institutionalised standards for Psychiatric practice.
“The increase in cases of depression is traceable to multifactorial inter and intrapersonal issues which leads to suicidal death in the country and this requires urgent attention.
“Nigeria has only 130 Psychiatrists with over 20million citizens suffering from mental disorders.
“With the few functional Mental Health Facilities and inadequate mental health practitioners in the country, mental health cases are left for traditional practitioners, hence the upsurge in mental health in Nigeria.
“The statistics are troubling and the continued lack of a legal framework on mental health in the country will simply cause the situation to degenerate”
Adopting the motion, the House gave six weeks to the committees within which to carry out the assignment and report back to it for further legislative action.

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Wike, PDP Govs Commiserate With Tambuwal Over Brother’s Death

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Representatives of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Governors’ Forum, yesterday, paid a condolence visit to the Sokoto State Governor, Hon. Aminu Tambuwal over the death of his elder brother, Alhaji Muhammed Bello.
Bello, who is also the Waziri of Tambuwal, passed on in Sokoto, last Tuesday night at the age 87.
He was the head of the Tambuwal family.
On the PDP governors’ delegation were, Governors Okezie Ikpeazu of Abia State; Nyesom Wike (Rivers); Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi (Enugu); Oluseyi Makinde (Oyo); and Ahmadu Fintiri of Adamawa State.
The Vice Chairman of the PDP Governors’ Forum, Dr Okezie Ikpeazu, who led the delegation, said they were in Sokoto to commiserate with Tambuwal and his entire family over the sudden death of his elder brother.
“We feel your pain, and we understand that a great vacuum has been created, not only within the caliphate, but across Nigeria and other places where Daddy had sphere of influence. We believe that God Almighty will grant you the fortitude to bear this great loss.
“We are, however, consoled by the fact that Daddy left legacies that will remain indelible; one of them is your very good self and your impact and contributions to our dear country.”
The governors urged the Tambuwal family, particularly the Sokoto State governor, to remain strong, steadfast and uphold those virtues which the late Waziri of Tambuwal, cherished so much.
In his response, Sokoto StateGovernor, Hon. Aminu Tambuwal, who is the PDP Governors’ Forum chairman, said the entire Tambuwal family was gladdened by the condolence visit.
According to him, his late elder brother, who lived his life in the service of community, held the family title, Waziri of Tambuwal for 37 years after the demise of their father.
“We are, indeed, very highly consoled not only by your presence, but your words of consolation. For you to have left behind whatever you are doing in your respective states to come all the way to Sokoto this afternoon, shows clearly how you sympathise with us and how close you are to us. I assure you that we appreciate this.”

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