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Togo Withdraws From Nations’ Cup … Four Persons Die



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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Buhari Pays Tribute To Diya



President Muhammadu Buhari on Sunday mourned the passing of retired Lt.-Gen. Oladipo Diya GCON, who served as Chief of General Staff from 1993 to 1997 and Vice Chairman of the Provisional Ruling Council in 1994.
The President, in a statement by his Spokesman, Mr Femi Adesina, in Abuja paid tribute to Diya’s bold and courageous career in the Nigeria military.
He particularly lauded him for his dedicated service to the country as General Officer Commanding, 82 Division, Commandant, National War College (1991–1993), Chief of Defence Staff and Military Governor of Ogun from January 1984 to August 1985.
Buhari recalled that the late Diya was known for his brilliance, exceptional organisational skills and discipline, and he displayed these virtues in the important roles he held in office as a military officer.
The president saluted the former Chief of General Staff for his love, belief and loyalty to the country he cherished so much and fought gallantly on the frontlines to defend her unity.
Buhari, who extended heartfelt condolences to Diya’s family, friends and colleagues, prayed that “Diya’s soul finds rest with his Creator, and may his contributions to the nation never be forgotten.”
Diya, who was born on April 3, 1944 in Odogbolu, Ogun State, died on Sunday in Lagos.

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PDP Suspends Ayu For Anti-Party Activities



The ongoing crisis in the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) has deepened as the Executive Committee of the party in Igyorov Ward of Gboko Local Government Area of Benue State has suspended the National Chairman of the party, Dr Iyorchia Ayu, with immediate effect.
They suspended Ayu for anti-party activities after passing a vote-of-no confidence on him.
While reading a resolution, the Secretary of the party in Igyorov ward, Banger Dooyum, said Ayu’s anti-party activities, alongside his allies, contributed to PDP’s loss in his ward and local government in the governorship election.
Ayu was also accused of not paying his annual dues as enshrined by the party’s constitution.
Twelve out of the 17 exco members signed the documents endorsing his suspension.
They also alleged that the PDP chieftain did not vote during the governorship and state assembly elections held on March 18, 2023.
According to them, most of Ayu’s closest allies worked for the opposition All Progressives Congress (APC) which resulted in the abysmal performance of the PDP in Igyorov Ward.
The ward chairman of Igyorov, Kashi Philip, also signed the letter alongside the exco.

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I Didn’t Work Against Obi, Wike Fires Back …Describes Obi’s Allegation As Unfortunate



Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, has taken strong exception to Labour Party presidential candidate, Mr Peter Obi’s allegations that he denied him of victory in the state in the February 25 presidential election.
Wike clarified that there was never a time that the G-5 governors or the Integrity Group endorsed Obi or another candidate as their preferred candidate for the presidential election.
Speaking during a media chat last Wednesday in his home town, Rumuepirikom, the governor described Obi’s accusation that he manipulated the electoral process to his disadvantage as unfortunate.
“I don’t work for INEC, I don’t have INEC documents with me. I am not an ad hoc staff of INEC and so I am not in a place to rig election for anybody. It is when you have the materials of INEC that you talk about rigging. But I take exception to Peter Obi’s comments that I came out against him. People are not being sincere, people are not appreciative.”
The Rivers State governor, maintained that his primary preoccupation as far as the 2023 presidential election was concerned was for a southern Nigerian to succeed President Muhammadu Buhari, whose tenure ends on May 29, 2023.
“I never told Rivers people to vote for the candidate (of the APC). I told Rivers people (to vote) for the unity of Nigeria. As far as Rivers State is concerned, their position is that ‘look, we want a power shift.’ And there are two candidates from the South – Asiwaju Bola Tinubu and Peter Obi.
“If Rivers people have chosen to vote for Asiwaju, and the same Rivers people also voted for Peter Obi, that tells you that their decision was to vote for a Southern President. So, amongst them one must always get the highest vote. If you look at the votes, APC won, followed by the Labour Party. So that tells you what the decision they took. That is the decision of Rivers people”, the governor stated.
Wike said he was among those who recommended Obi to be PDP candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar’s running mate in 2019.
“In 2019, ask Peter Obi, I was one of the team that chose Obi to be the Vice Presidential candidate of Alhaji Atiku Abubakar. When we met at Abubakar’s house, he said these are the names, I will choose Obi. Obi was invited while we were at Saraki’s house in the night.
“I was fought by people like (Senator Ike) Ekweremadu; my own friend, the governor of Ebonyi State, (David) Umahi, and Pius Anyim. Every blame was on me, why will I be the one that will say Peter Obi? Why should I chose for the South-East? Did he come out to say Wike was the one who supported me to be the vice presidential candidate? He didn’t say so.”
He declared that the G-5 governors and the Integrity Group never during any of their meetings unanimously endorsed Obi or any presidential candidate of southern Nigeria extraction.
He said, “There was never a time the integrity Group met and say it must be this person. We only agreed on southern President. We formulated strategies and the southern President emerged. Our interest is that a southern President should emerge.
“When we went to our meeting, we decided on southern President. We didn’t say it must be this. We said whatever you are doing it must be southern President. The aim of G5 was equity, fairness and justice”.
The governor also said the G-5 governor and members of the Integrity Group cannot be accused of betraying the PDP.
He stressed that those who blatantly refused to implement the provisions of the party’s constitution on rotation of elective and appointive offices are to blame the party’s electoral misfortune.
He said all the G-5 governors consisting of Seyi Makinde of Oyo State; Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Enugu State; Samuel Ortom of Benue; and Victor Ikpeazu of Abia; made tremendous sacrifice to ensure the emergence of a southern president.
The governor particularly expressed delight that the Governor of Oyo State, Seyi Makinde, who had earlier said he would not mind sacrificing his second term on the altar of equity, justice, and fairness, was re-elected.
“Ortom said even if he loses his senatorial election, let equity, justice, and fairness prevail. He may not gain it now. But history will be kind to him. The same applies to Ugwuanyi and Ikpeazu. Even Makinde said even if he lost his governorship ambition, he was interested in the unity of Nigeria”, Wike recalled.
He boasted that in Rivers State, PDP won the governorship, three senatorial seats, 10 federal and 31 state constituencies in the general election.
He said, ironically, the PDP National Chairman, Dr. Iyorchia Ayu, who once derided that the G-5 governors are small boys failed to win his ward, local government and state for the presidential candidate in the February 25 election.
According to him, PDP also lost woefully in Niger, Jigawa, Imo, Sokoto, Yobe and other states.
“Ayu lost his polling unit. I won three senatorial seats, and 31 House of Assembly seats. He didn’t get anything. Lamido did not win the presidential election in Jigawa. Babangida Aliyu did not win. So, who is the betrayer? We won to make sure PDP exists. Of what relevance is he as national chairman? He couldn’t deliver his polling unit”, the governor stated.
Wike dismissed insinuation that he would manipulate the Rivers State governor-elect, Siminialayi Fubara, after leaving office.
The governor also clarified that Fubara, who resigned as Accountant General of the state to contest the 2023 governorship election, is not wanted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC)
According to him, some disgruntled politicians in the state were behind the rumour.
Wike stated that Fubara on assumption of office will continue from where his administration stopped and would consolidate on the NEW Rivers Vision.

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