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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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Obasanjo, Abdulsalami, Sultan, Others Brainstorm On Insecurity

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Rising insecurity and agitations for secession by different ethnic groups across Nigeria has attracted the attention of elder statesmen and other national leaders to a meeting in Abuja.

The meeting was organised by Interfaith Initiatives for Peace jointly led by the Sultan of Sokoto, Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar, and Emeritus Cardinal John Onaiyekan, and the National Peace Committee chaired by Gen Abdulsalami Abubakar (rtd).

Reporters were barred from taking part in the closed-door meeting, expected to proffer solutions to the ongoing security challenges threatening the peace and unity of the country.

It was also an exploratory meeting on pressing issues of national unity, security, peace, integration, economic revitalisation and development, women and youth welfare and general progress.

Former President Olusegun Obasanjo; former Head of State, General Abdulsalam Abubakar (rtd); Sultan of Sokoto, Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar; Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi; Tor Tiv, Prof Ortese Iorzua James Ayatse, Emeritus Cardinal John Onaiyekan; President General (Ohanaeze Ndigbo), Prof George Obiozor; and Afenifere leader, Ayo Adebanjo; were all in attendance.

Others sighted at the meeting are President of Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Comrade Ayuba Wabba; CAN General Secretary, Joseph Daramola; JAMB Registrar, Prof Ishaq Oloyede; Etsu Nupe, Yahya Abubakar; former Minister of Agriculture, Chief Audu Ogbe, among several political and traditional rulers at the meeting.

Elder statesmen, Chief Edwin Clark, also attended the event at the Congress Hall of Transcorp Hilton Hotel, Abuja, but could not participate in the meeting because he could not climb the staircase to the meeting room.

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Fighting Corruption Difficult In Democratic Setting, Buhari Laments

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President Muhammadu Buhari says fighting corruption in democratic setting is a difficult task to accomplish.

The president disclosed this during an interview with Arise Television which was televised, yesterday.

According to him, the war against corruption has not been easy for him since he became a democratically elected president six years ago.

He, however, stressed that his administration had succeeded in easing out corrupt public officials without making noise about it.

Buhari recalled that much was achieved in the fight against corruption when he was military Head of State in the early 80s “when a lot of people were sent to prisons before I was also booted out”.

The president frowned at the way and manner local government system was being managed, saying the local government administration was almost non-existent in the country.

He cited situation where state governors continued to starve the local governments of funds saying “in a situation where N300million is allocated to local government and they are given N100million is not fair”.

On activities of bandits and kidnappers particularly in the North-West and North-Central zones, Buhari said he had given the police and Armed Forces the instructions to be ruthless with bandits and vandals terrorising innocent citizens across the country.

He stated that he had told the security agencies to treat bandits and other criminals in the “the language they understand.

“Problem in the north-west; you have people over there stealing each other’s cattle and burning each other’s villages.

“Like I said, we are going to treat them in the language they understand.

“We have given the police and the military the power to be ruthless. You watch it in a few weeks’ time there will be difference.

”Because we told them if we keep people away from their farm, we are going to starve. And the government can’t control the public.

“If you allow hunger, the government is going to be in trouble and we don’t want to be in trouble.

“We are already in enough trouble. So, we warn them sooner than later you’ll see the difference,’’ he said.

On farmers/herders clashes, the president said the problem had persisted because old cattle routes and grazing areas had been violated by development, adding that those who had taken over such traditional arrangements would be dispossessed.

On the fight against insurgency, Buhari dismissed the assertion that majority of Boko Haram members were foreigners.

According to him, the majority of the Boko Haram members are Nigerians, saying this was further corroborated by Borno State Governor, Prof Babagana Zulum.

The president stated that his administration had done a lot to fight the terrorists and insurgents but the problem in the “North-East is very difficult.”

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Igboho Declares June 12 Day Of Protest, Warns Buhari

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Sunday Adeyemo, popularly known as Sunday Igboho, has declared June 12 as day of protest for Yoruba nation agitators.

The self-acclaimed Yoruba activist said the agitators will hold ‘peaceful rallies’ across the South-West region on Saturday, June 12.

Igboho, who spoke through his spokesman, Olayomi Koiki, in a live video programme aired, last Wednesday night, called on South-West governors to cooperate with the peaceful protesters during the exercise.

He warned the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration not to attack the agitators.

He said, “Let us warn the Federal Government that if there is bloodshed this weekend, the international community is watching, if the military kills any Nigerian this weekend, it is going to be very hot.

“The Yoruba nation rally will go ahead in every part of Yoruba land and the rest of the country where it will hold.

“Red alarm will begin on Friday. People should stock up food Items from Friday night.

“We are not backing down this weekend; we are ready to take back what belongs to us.”

He also enjoined agitators to ‘fast’ on Friday.

This is coming after NANS under the leadership of its National President, Comrade Sunday Asefon, had declared June 12 as National Day of peaceful protest to call on the government to act decisively towards addressing insecurity.

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