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2021 AFCON: NFF Moves S’Eagles’ Games From Benin

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After several weeks of speculations, the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), May have shelved the idea of playing Super Eagles first international match of the year at the refurbished Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium in Benin, Edo State.
The refurbished stadium with a sitting capacity of 19,500 stands as one of the best in the country today and is equipped with modern facilities.
The venue was due to be formally opened with the Super Eagles’ Day-four match of the ongoing AFCON 2021 qualifying round clash with Sierra Leone on the 22nd of March, 2020.
However, it has been confirmed from a top official of the Glass House in Abuja that the ancient city of Benin which last staged Super Eagles match in 2011 against Boswana which ended goalless with Late Stephen Okechukwu Keshi in charge of his first match as gaffer, may have to wait for another time.
“We have a strong bond with Edo State Government and this explained why we’ve had many events in Benin lately but due to some reasons, this important match against Sierra Leone will not hold in the new stadium,” the top official told our source in a telephone chat last night.
With Benin no longer in sight, the NFF is looking in the direction of either the Stephen Keshi Stadium in Asaba, Delta State or Godswill Akpabio Stadium in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State.
Both stadiums hosted Super Eagles’ matches in the past. Uyo Stadium in particular was were Eagles secured their qualification to the 2018 World Cup in Russia
The Asaba ground became new home to the Super Eagles lately following the massive support the team enjoy from Gov. Ifeanyi Okowa.
Delta bankrolled the sent forth match for the Super Eagles to the last AFCON tournament in Egypt where they claimed the bronze medal.
Although no clear reason was given for why NFF decided to move the Sierra Leone game from the Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium, our checks revealed that it may have something to do with the forth coming National Sports Festival (NSF) which the state will host next month to early April.
Physical infrastructure needed for the games are being completed at the Samuel Ogbemudia stadium with base for the track being laid, as the football pitch is ready. Work at the tennis section is completed, while the swimming pools are being furnished.
Organisers of the festival have scheduled the football events at other designated venues leaving the edify to stage only track and field events, as well as the opening and closing ceremonies.
With the Uyo and Asaba as options for Eagles, NFF has at least two weeks to communicate the new venue to CAF as well as the visiting team in accordance with the tournament rules and regulations

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RSG Debunks Receipt Of N78bn Refund From FG …Dissolves Taskforce On Illegal Street Trading, Motor Parks …Pulls Out Of FG’s Public Works Programme

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Rivers State Government has debunked the misconception that it has received N78 billion refund from the Federal Government.
The State Commissioner for Information and Communications, Pastor Paulinus Nsirim, made the clarification yesterday in a Radio Programme.
Pastor Nsirim explained that there is a huge difference between approval and release of funds.
“As at today, the Rivers State Government is yet to receive the N78 billion. There is so much misconception out there. There is a difference between approval and release of funds.
“When the money is released it cannot be a secret because in government circles such an information cannot be hidden.
“Let me state categorically that if the money is received today, it will be made public. So, this idea of peddling propaganda that the money has been received by mischief makers is quite unfortunate,” he stated.
He also used the opportunity to clear the air on the questions being asked in several quarters over what the State Government needs more loans for when it has N78 billion, saying, “you cannot plan with what you do not have.”
The Commissioner also assured Rivers people that when the refund is finally received, the State Government would use it judiciously for the benefit of the people.
“If the refund is received they can always count on Governor Nyesom Wike to use it judiciously to increase the infrastructural development of the State.
In another development, the State Government has approved the dissolution of the State Taskforce on Illegal Street Trading and Motor Parks with immediate effect.
A statement signed by the Commissioner for Information and Communications, Pastor Paulinus Nsirim said “consequently, the Special Assistant to the Governor in charge of the Task Force, Mr. Bright Amaewhule has been relieved of his appointment”.
The statement continued that “members of the Taskforce are hereby directed to return the operational vehicles and Identity Cards of the body to the Office of the Secretary to State Government not later than 4pm tomorrow, Wednesday, August 12, 2020.
“They will be paid their salaries as they return the vehicles and Identity Cards. Government will reconstitute the Taskforce after proper orientation and training”.
Meanwhile, the Rivers State Government has pulled out of the Special Public Works Programme of the Federal Government where 774,000 unskilled Nigerians were supposed to be employed.
Nominee of the Rivers State government in the committee, Erastus Awortu, made the decision of the state known in a letter addressed to the Minister of State for Labour and Productivity, Festus Keyamo, SAN.
Awortu, who is also the Special Adviser to Governor Nyesom Wike on NDDC, alleged that the implantation of the programme, which was designed to employ 1,000 persons per local government area, has been hijacked by the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Rivers State.
The Rivers State nominee described the Special Public Works Programme as a scam.
Awortu said in the letter, “At the beginning, some guidelines were set on how the slots should be shared among the various interest groups. The various interest groups are 35 and have representatives in the committee but unfortunately, that is not being done by the committee. The guidelines are not being followed.
“The committee has been asking people to process their applications but we found out that they also gave out forms to APC members in the state. Which means they already know those they will shortlist for the programme and they are only stressing other people to apply. They are doing that to justify that due process is being followed but that is not the case.
“I find it very misleading and as the representative of the governor, I will not be part of that kind of process where the populace will be made to apply for what is not available. It is an absolute scam.
“Accordingly, I want to say that since the slots are not defined as per the guidelines that the state is willing to allow the programme be run fully as an APC empowerment programme for their members and cease to be part of it forthwith,” Awortu said.
The Chairman of the Special Public Works Programme in River State, Dr Innocent Barikor, had on a radio programme over the weekend in Port Harcourt, said the committee had no plans to undermine the state government in the implementation of the programme.
According to the letter made available to The Tide, Awortu copied the Rivers State Governor, Chief NyesomWike and the Chairman of the Public Works Programme, Dr Innocent Barikor, in the withdrawal letter.

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Assailants Murder Obiano’s SSA On Security

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Unknown assailants yesterday stormed the residence of Mr Azubuike Ekwegbalu, the Senior Special Assistant to Governor Willie Obiano of Anambra State on Security, leaving him dead after allegedly stabbing him with a kitchen knife.
Our correspondent gathered that the incident occurred early hours of yesterday at his residence at the Commissioners’ Quarters, Awka, a high brow area for government officials.
An eyewitness said the late Ekwegbalu, who hails from Ogbunike in Oyi Local Government Area of the state, was a close relation to the wife of the governor.
“He was murdered by unknown men last night at the commissioners’ quarters, Awka.
“This is barbaric. May his soul rest in peace.
“Security operatives must do all that is possible to bring the killers to justice,” the source said.
Confirming the incident in a statement, the spokesman for the Police Command in the state, SP Haruna Mohammed, said one suspect, who was seen in the premises had been arrested.
“On August 9, 2020, about 1:30 a.m., there was a report of alleged murder of one Azuibuike Ekwegbalu, aged 43 years, native of Ogbunike in Oyi LGA but resident at the Commissioners quarters Awka.
“Following the report, Police detectives attached to ‘B’ Division Awka led by the DPO, CSP Emma Ogbuanya visited the scene and rushed victim who was found in a pool of blood to COOUTH Awka for medical attention.
“He was certified dead by the medical doctor on arrival while his corpse was deposited at the hospital mortuary for autopsy,” he noted.
Mohammed said a careful observation on the deceased body revealed stab wounds while a blood-stained kitchen knife was also recovered as an exhibit at the scene.
“Consequently, one suspect who allegedly was in the premises has been arrested and the case is under investigation to unravel the circumstances surrounding the incident,” he stated.

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Insecurity In Nigeria, Alarming, Wike Alerts …Suspends JAAC Accounts From Defaulting Banks

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Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, says insecurity in Nigeria has reached an alarming proportion.
He has therefore called on security agencies to redouble their efforts in curbing it.
Governor Wike expressed the concern yesterday when the new General Officer Commanding 6 Division of the Nigerian Army, Major General Olu Irefin paid him a courtesy visit at Government House, Port Harcourt.
He noted that the prevalence of insecurity in every State of the Federation seems to overwhelm the military.
Governor Wike stated that the situation is different in Rivers State because of the robust collaboration between his administration and the security agencies.
“Our determination is to keep the State safe but development also attracts criminality, so we can’t say we are totally free.
“There are still pockets of criminal elements. So, as a professional whose role is to defend the territorial integrity of the country, fight crime and do not involve in politics.
“We are willing to collaborate with you as a government because security is important for us. Just let us know what you require to succeed in the fight against criminality.
“That way, we will be partners in progress and make the State safe for all residents,” he stated.
Earlier, the General Officer Commanding 6 Division of the Nigerian Army, Major General OluIrefin commended Governor Wike for his developmental strides.
He said on assumption of duties, his commanders told him that they have enjoyed tremendous support from the state government in the discharge of duties.
He pledged to sustain the existing collaboration in protecting lives and property in the State
Meanwhile, the Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike has directed the removal of Joint Account Allocation Committee (JAAC) from banks that gave unauthorised loans to some Local Government Chairmen in the State.
Governor Wike gave the directive on Wednesday, while swearing in the substantive Chairman of the Asari-Toru Local Government Area at Government House, Port Harcourt .
He directed the State Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice to take legal action against the defaulting Banks.
Governor Wike said both the Banks and the Councils that defaulted would suffer the consequences of the illegality.
He noted that the Banks cannot seek refund of the loans because they contravened extant Laws of the State.
“We have taken a decision that for all those loans taken without approval, the affected accounts must leave the defaulting banks.
“I have told the Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice to take necessary steps. The Banks cannot go and seek for refund from the Local Governments. When you default the Law, you suffer for it.
“Council Chairmen who want to take loans from banks must get official approval. You cannot take loans that will mortgage the future of the people”, he stated.
Governor Wike charged Mrs. AlasoJohnbull Obi to use her new position to make a difference because the people are yet to feel the impact of the Council.
“Go and put your local government together. Do not allow busy body politicians to distract you. Use this opportunity you have to make a difference.
“We never thought that Chief Odiari Princewill will die but as God will have it, he is dead and we have to abide by the constitution.
“That is why you, as the deputy, has to step in as the substantive chairman of Asari-Toru local Government Area today.
“In choosing your Deputy, you must consult widely with all the stakeholders of the Party. As election is coming up next year, you have an opportunity to sell yourself,” he added.
Until her swearing in, Mrs. AlasoJohnbul-Obi was the Vice Chairman of the Council but the death of the elected chairman, Chief Odiari Princewill on the 27th May, 2020 created a vacuum that needed to be filled.

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