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Drama As Nations Cup Kicks Off …Mali Stuns Angola In Surprise Comeback …Togolese President Orders Team Back Home

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HRH, King Kroma Amabibi Eleki Sara XIV, Amanyanabo of Kula (2nd left), other chiefs and elders of Kula at a community meeting with State Security Service and representatives of Rivers State Government at the SSS office in Port Harcourt, recently.

HRH, King Kroma Amabibi Eleki Sara XIV, Amanyanabo of Kula (2nd left), other chiefs and elders of Kula at a community meeting with State Security Service and representatives of Rivers State Government at the SSS office in Port Harcourt, recently.

The 27th African Cup of Nations got under way in Angola last night with an impressive opening ceremony that most highlighted their traditional and cultural heritage.

But it was the dramatic opening match between the hosts and Mali that probably held the neutral watchers spellbound and the home fans at the November 11 Stadium, Luanda stunned.

The Palencas Negras, as the Angolan National team is fondly called threw away a hefty 4-0 lead and allows the Eagles of Mali to record a historic comeback form the dead.

While the star studded Mali side led by Frederic Kanoute of Sevilla FC and Mahamodou Diarra of Real Madrid, both of the Spanish La Liga, struggled to string parses together, Angola’s attack led by Flavio and Manucho forced Mali’s defence to make mistakes.

As the first half wore on, the hosts, apparently buoyed by the electric atmosphere and home support began to impose themselves on the game.

Two headed goals in a space of five minutes by Flavio ensure that Angola ended the first half in a very strong position for a dream start to the Nations Cup.

In the second half, Mali showed early sign of comeback when they created their first real scoring chance, which was fluffed by Skipper Mahamadou Diarra inside the six yard box.

But it was the Angolans, aided by woeful defending and poor overall play Mali, that grabbed two more goals from the penalty spot.

The first was a gift when Bagayoko tripped impressive wingback, Gilberto inside the box and defender picked himself up to score.

The second was a soft penalty after Gilberto easily went to the ground from the slightest of touches by Seydou Keita.

Mnucho converted the opportunity to give the hosts a seemingly insurmountable 4-0 lead in the 74th minute.

But five minutes later, the Mali revived and came back again.

Calamitous goalkeeping off a corner kick by Angola’s Keeper allowed Keita to scrambe home Mali’s firs goal in the 79th minute.

Angola’s late substitution of two goals scorer, Flavio proved to be a premature celebration as the side lost steam and Keita motivated Mali to a later Surge. An exquisite head by Kanoute in the 88th minute reduced the tally to 4-2.

The Malians were afforded a further five minutes of added time and they made every second count.

Keita latched onto a cross to slam home his second and Mali’s third goal, while Yattabore stunned the hosts with the equalizer at the death of record, probably the Nations Cup’s biggest comeback in history.

Meanwhile, Togo has finally withdrawn from the continentwide soccer tournament and its players reluctantly left Angola yesterday, two days after a deadly ambush on the team bus killed three and injured eight. A separatist leader warned, however, that violence would not likely end.

It took a call from Togo’s president to persuade the players to leave the African Cup of Nations; they said they wanted to stay and compete in honour of the assistant coach, team spokesman and Angolan bus driver who died in Friday’s attack.

The government dispatched the presidential plane, while Togo’s Prime Minister Gilbert Houngbo said Angola had not done enough to protect the team after the attack in Cabinda-the oil-rich region in northern Angola which has seen occasional separatist violence.

“We fully understand our government’s decision to leave because they didn’t receive enough guarantees for our security,” forward Thomas Dossevi told The Associated Press. “We as players, we wanted to stay to honor the memory of our dead people, but both positions are understandable.”

Togo team captain Emmanuel Adebayor, speaking in an interview with France’s RMC radio Sunday, said the team had decided finally to “pack our bags and go home” after the Manchester City striker got a call from Togo President Faure Gnassingbe himself urging them to return.

“That’s what made the difference,” Adebayor was quoted as saying in a transcript of his interview on RMC’s Web site.

Boarding the plane, Adebayor told journalists: “We have to mourn our dead. We go back home to do this.”

Togo Sports Minister Christophe Padumhokou Tchao, who was accompanying the team home, told the AP three days of mourning had been declared in his homeland.

“We can’t be in a period of mourning and at the same time be in the festival” of sport, he said. He added Togo had asked organizers to postpone the tournament.

The airport scene was chaotic, with dozens of police struggling against a crowd of Journalists. Two planes carrying the players and officials then sat on the tarmac for several hours before taking off.

The tournament began earlier Sunday with an opening ceremony in a Chinese-built stadium in the capital, Luanda, livened by fireworks as well as both traditional and contemporary performers. Several African heads of state attended, including President Rupiah Banda of Zambia and South Africa’s Jacob Zuma, whose country will host the World Cup later this year.

“Despite the terrorist attack, Cabinda will remain a hosting city,” Angolan President Jose Eduardo dos Santos said in an opening speech. “There is no need to be afraid.”

Most top officials of the African Football Confederation, known by its French initials CAF, went Saturday to Cabinda, where some of the injured were still recovering, and implored Togo to stay.

CAF president Issa Hayatou said he’d received a guarantee from Angola Prime Minister Antonio Paulo Kassoma that security would be beefed up for all teams and at all venues.

 

 

Nancy Briggs

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Again, RSG Begins Unveiling, Flag-Off Of Nine Key Projects, ’Morrow

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The Rivers State Government has rolled out the drums to herald another phase of official commissioning of key projects embarked upon by the Governor Nyesom Wike-led administration in the state.
A statement by the state government said that the process is in continuation of the commissioning and flag-off of projects by Governor Nyesom Wike.
It indicated that Rumuola flyover would be commissioned tomorrow, while the GRA flyover would be commissioned on Saturday.
The also stated that the government would commission the Ezimgbu Road on Monday, December 13, 2021; with another commissioning of Tombia Road Extension scheduled for Tuesday, December 14, 2021.
The statement said that the governor would commission the Safe Home, Borikiri, Port Harcourt on Wednesday, December 15; while on Thursday, December 16, 2021, the governor would commission the Odokwu internal roads.
Also, the governor would continue the flag-off of key infrastructure projects with Chokocho-Igbodo Road slated for Monday, December 20, 2021; Oyigbo-Okoloma Road on Wednesday, December 22, 2021; and Magistrates’ Court Complex, Port Harcourt on Thursday, December 23, 2021.

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Wike Justifies N7bn Libel Suit Against THISDAY

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Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, yesterday, appeared before the state High Court in Port Harcourt, to testify as a witness in an N7billion libel suit against THISDAY Newspaper.
Wike said he was in court to seek justice and clear his name as a person from the malicious publication by THISDAY Newspaper, which portrayed him as deceitful, untrustworthy person, who exerts subterranean influences on judicial matters and over court sittings in Port Harcourt.
It would be recalled that Wike had in August, 2020, slammed a N7billion suit being damages for libel written and published in THISDAY’s Tuesday, June 23, 2020 edition captioned, “With Wike, Obaseki Meets His PDP’s Waterloo; Almost.”
The defendants in the suit are THISDAY Newspapers Limited, Leaders and Company Limited, Davidson Iriekpan, Chuks Okocha and Adibe Emenyonu.
Wike, while testifying as witness in suit No. PHC/1505/CS/2020 before the court presided over by Justice A. Enebeli, asserted that the defendants maliciously and falsely portrayed him as an unreliable friend/person.
“When you say somebody cannot be trusted; that cannot be a fair comment. When you say somebody is influencing the Judiciary, that cannot be a fair comment”, the governor said.
In his written statement on oath, Wike had stated that the defendants had accused him of influencing the decision of the court sitting in Port Harcourt that granted an injunction restraining Godwin Obaseki from participating in the primaries of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Edo State in 2020.
He stated that the defendants maliciously accused him of undemocratically exerting influence on the primaries process of PDP in Edo State in aid of his ally, Omoregie Ogbeide-Ihama, who was the beneficiary of the court order restraining Obaseki from participating in the PDP primaries.
The governor, who told the court that he was not even aware of the aforementioned suit by Ogbeide-Ihama against Obaseki, said the publication was reckless, false and without regards for the truth.
According to him, contrary to well-known journalistic tradition and practices, the defendants did not investigate properly to ensure the information they relied on was accurate.
“They did not seek to verify the facts from me or in any manner oblige me with the opportunity to state my own side of the story before proceeding to make the false publication” the governor argued.
Wike stated that the defendants further denigrated him before the entire world as a fake democrat, who engages in meddling in the internal affairs of All Progressives Congress (APC) in order to get at his political foe, Chibuike Amaechi.
The governor explained that he was not a member of the APC and has had no hand in the internal crisis which has bedevilled the party both in Rivers State and all over Nigeria.
“By the letter of Messrs E.C. Ukala and Co., Solicitors, under the hand of Emmanuel C. Ukala, SAN, dated 23rd June, 2020, the defendants were given opportunity to retract, and recant the publication as well as to offer apology for the false publication but the defendants spurned the opportunity and ignored the letter completely.”
The governor, while responding to claim by lawyer to the defendants, Turudu Ede, SAN, that the essence of the lawsuit was to intimidate and harass his clients, said the whole essence of the suit was to get justice and clear his name as a man of substantial character, honour and repute.
“The essence of the suit is to get justice since they (defendants) refused to retract the publication or apologise. So, I sued them to clear my name.”
Speaking to journalists outside the court, one of the lawyers to Wike, Mr. Mark Agwu said his client was in court to seek legal redress.
“To challenge him as a person, it means you have made him untrustworthy, a deceit, a cheat, an influencer of the court, because the publication they made was that he had a role to play in influencing the outcome of that Federal High Court case. Nobody will take that lightly, and especially for a man who believes in the rule of law”, Agwu added.
The court adjourned the matter for further hearing to 12th, 13th and 14th of January, 2022.

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$130m Fraud: Rivers Sues Saipem SPA, Saipem Contracting Firm, Others

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The Rivers State Government has charged two construction firms, Saipem SPA and Saipem Contracting Nigeria Ltd, to court over an alleged conspiracy to cheat and with intent to defraud the state of the sum of $130million, being advanced payment for the construction of the OCGT power plant in Port Harcourt.
In a 16-count criminal charge filed by the Director of Public Prosecution, C.F. Amadi for the Rivers State Attorney General, the state alleged that after collecting the said sum as advanced payment between 2011 and 2018, the defendants have not kept their obligation under the contract.
Others charged alongside the companies were Walter Peviana; Kelechi Sinteh Chinakwe; Giandomenico Zingali; Vitto Testaguzza and Davide Anelli, who are directors and officers of the companies.
The defendants are charged with various offences ranging from conspiracy, cheating and obtaining credit by false pretence, contrary to Section 518 (6) and (7) and punishable under Section 518 of the Criminal Code, Cap 37 Vol. 2 Laws of Rivers State of Nigeria, 1999, section 419A and punishable under Section 419 (A) (1) (b) of the Criminal Code, Cap 37 Vol. 2 Laws of Rivers State, amongst others.
Already, the Rivers State Government has issued a fiat to the law firm of Godwin Obla (SAN) to prosecute the matter before the state High court.
The defendants are equally charged for the offence of false Statements by Officials of Companies contrary to and punishable under Section 436 (b).
The prosecution specifically accused the defendants of obtaining credit of $130million by false pretences or other fraud contrary to Section 419A and punishable under Section 419 (A) (1) (b); obtaining credit of $20,467,942.00 by false pretences or other fraud contrary to Section 419A and punishable under Section 419 (A) (1) (b), obtaining credit of N7,000,000,000.00 only by false pretences or other fraud contrary to Section 419A and punishable under Section 419 (A) (1) (b).
They are charged for obtaining credit of N318,640,173.54, by false pretences or other fraud contrary to Section 419A and punishable under Section 419 (A) (1) (b); attempt to cheat $97million contrary to Section 508 and punishable under Section 509; attempt to cheat $15million contrary to Section 508 and punishable under Section 509; conspiracy to receive a credit of $97million by false pretences contrary to Section 518 (6) and punishable under Section 518; cheating $11million contrary to Section 421 and punishable under Section 421; cheating contrary to Section 421 and punishable under Section 421; cheating N110, 097, 416.51 contrary to Section 421 and punishable under Section 421; cheating by collecting sums attributable to shared facilities already paid for in AFAM Phase I in AFAM Phase II contrary to Section 421 and punishable under Section 421.
Obtaining N20, 467, 942 contrary to Section 421 and punishable under Section 421; obtaining credit of $60,168,936.00 by false pretences or other fraud, contrary to Section 419A and punishable under Section 419 (A) (1) (b); obtaining credit of $1,512,034.00 by false pretences or other fraud contrary to Section 419A and punishable under Section 419 (A) (1) (b) all of the Criminal Code Law of Rivers State, Cap 37 Vol. 2 Laws of Rivers State of Nigeria 1999.
According to the Proof of Evidence attached to the charge and the statement made by the Head, Power Generation/Mechanical of the Rivers State Ministry of Power, one Mr Temple Azunda M., the facts constituting the case in hand are as follows:
Saipem SPA and Saipem Contracting Nigeria Limited and other officers of the duo, herein the Defendants, are Italian companies which services have been retained by the Rivers State Government, herein RSG, in several projects, prominent amongst which is the AFAM Phase II Power Plant Project.
By an initial tripartite agreement made on the January 20, 2010, the RSG under the auspices of the Rivers State Ministry of Power entered a contract with Saipem Contracting Nigeria Limited, Saipem SPA for the construction of the OGCT power plant in Port Harcourt at a total cost of $119million consequent upon which the Rivers State Government made advance payments, in instalments, to Saipem Contracting Nigeria Ltd and Saipem SPA amounting in total to a sum of $130million in all which the Defendants have acknowledged receipt of.
The Defendants were to be given an initial mobilization of 20per cent of the total contract sum which the RSG paid.
It was part of the initial agreement – and indeed a condition sine qua non – that, to access the 2nd tranche of payment of 25per cent from the Rivers State Government, the Defendants would mandatorily have installed the Gas Turbine into the foundations as referenced in ATTACHMENT 1 to VO 007 which states that:
CONTRACTOR shall be entitled to a payment corresponding to 20per cent of the VO No. 007 LS PRICE upon mobilisation to site and commencement of bush clearing activities at SITE.
Upon commencement of bush clearing activities at the site, the contractor shall issue the invoice relevant to the above payment and the owner shall pay such invoice within 14 days from its issuance.
The parties agree that no deduction for recovery of advance payment shall apply on the payment due to the contractor for invoices issued by the contractor in accordance with this paragraph.

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