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Edo Lawyer’s Murder: Suspects Lead Police Team To Exhume Corpse

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The Edo State police command has exhumed the corpse of Mr Omon Iyoha Osobase, a lawyer who was killed by some gang members early in May 2020 following his attempt to settle a quarrel between the said gang members and another party.

The incident is said to have occurred at a bar in Benin City, the Edo state capital where Mr Osobase was subsequently beaten up and taken away in a vehicle.

The police said it arrested some suspects who confessed to killing the lawyer, adding that the suspects thereafter led the police team to the shallow grave near the house of one of the suspects where Mr Osobase was buried.

Experts from the central hospital in Benin city exhumed the body and have taken it to the hospital’s mortuary for autopsy.

Lagos Govt. Consider options for the reopening of schools

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The Lagos State Commissioner for Education, Mrs Folasade Adefisayo, has said the state is considering different options in its bid to reopen schools.

Adefisayo, at the annual ministerial press briefing of the state Ministry of Education on Tuesday, said although the Federal Government would decide when schools would open, the state was putting measures in place to protect pupils.

She said:

“Recall that the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 on Monday said schools remain closed. I can’t give you a date when schools will resume in Lagos, but we are working with development partners and ministries of education across the country to come up with a series of protocols on how we will be able to manage when we open schools.

So, we are working behind the scene; we have a paper on the protocols and we will start to share as the paper is finally approved in a few days’ time.

“There must be protocols that will address schools with large gatherings. There are many things we are thinking of; we are thinking about pupils not coming to school every day so that we will be able to spread the children across the whole school. Pupils don’t have to be in their class to learn; they can learn in a room with tables and chairs.”

Adefisayo added that a total of 3,000 primary and secondary schoolteachers were recently absorbed into the teaching work force to boost the capacity of the existing work force and provide quality education.

Constitute Amotekun Corps Now, Oyo Assembly Tells Governor

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The Oyo State House of Assembly yesterday urged Governor Seyi Makinde to urgently constitute the Amotekun Corps, the state security agency network, to stem insecurity in the state.

The House emphasised that the call became imperative to check the nefarious activities of criminal herdsmen who recently invaded some parts of the state.

The lawmakers, who condemned the killings of three persons in Akinyele Local Council and destruction of farms in Ogbomoso area by some armed bandits suspected to be herdsmen, urged the governor to urgently act on the call. The Speaker, Adebo Ogundoyin, stressed that the sooner Amotekun Corps was constituted, the better for the state in terms of security.

Meanwhile, pensioners in the state have lauded the governor for the payment of gratuities to retirees in the state. The pensioners, under the aegis of Nigeria Union of Pensioners, Oyo State Council, chided the non-payment of gratuities and pensions by the past government accumulating to N26 billion.

Its Secretary, Olusegun Abatan, who spoke during the symbolic presentation of cheques for the payment of gratuities to the retirees at the Government House, Agodi, Ibadan, said the payment had put a lie on those who said Makinde would not perform because he had not held public office before he became governor.

Abatan said the ability of the Makinde-led government to pay N3.2 billion gratuity to retired primary school teachers and local council pensioners and another N1 billion to retirees in MDAs was due to the administration’s consistency in paying N180 million as gratuities monthly.

Makinde, who said his administration was committed to improving the lots of pensioners and other people living in the state, said the past administration left the debt backlog of N26 billion of gratuities. He said he would ensure the payment of the backlog gratuities, saying: “We will take full responsibility for what they ought to have done.”

OOU produces anti-COVID-19 herb, awaits NAFDAC approval

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A group of researchers at the Olabisi Onabanjo University, Ogun State, has produced COVID – 19 preventive, treatment and management herb tagged, OOU-Anjo Anti-COVID-19 herbal syrup.

The Vice-Chancellor of the university, Prof. Ganiyu Olatunde, stated this on Tuesday in Ago-Iwoye.

The vice-chancellor also unveiled three other products; automated dispenser hands sanitiser, personal hands sanitiser and face masks, which were produced by the researchers.

Olatunde said the herbal syrup had been submitted to the National Agency for Food and Drugs Administration and Control for approval.
He said, “Our university is one of the core universities that engage in research into the COVID-19 pandemic and in partnership with Anjo, one of our core effective partners in herbal medicine, we’ve been able to produce an anti-COVID-19 herbal syrup which we’ve processed to NAFDAC for approval.

“So, I can assure you that it went through all the necessary protocols that you can have in trying to produce a herbal syrup. It’s a joint efforts of Anjo and the Olabisi Onabanjo Department of Medicine Research of this university.”

One of the researchers, acting Director, Research , Linkages and Advancement, OOU, Dr Ashidi Joseph, said the remedy was formulated based on results of post -mortem research conducted on those who died of COVID-19 infection as the team had no access to samples of COVID-19 patients for laboratory test with the syrup.

Zidane’s message is to enjoy playing football__Benzema

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Karim Benzema has revealed Zinedine Zidane’s message to Real Madrid’s players ahead of LaLiga Santander’s return.

Los Blancos have returned to collective training and the French striker mentioned that his compatriot urged his team to enjoy their football when games get back underway.

“Zidane’s message is to enjoy and play football,” he told Real Madrid’s official channels.

“Today we already played more with the ball than last week’s [training], which was more physical.

“It is better to be with everyone and [train] with the ball because at home it is more difficult to be just touching the ball.

“[At home] it is more gym and fitness work.”

Benzema added that he and his teammates are excited about getting the chance to finish the season.

“We really want to get back to the competition and win games,” he continued.

“It is difficult to go two months without touching the ball.

“Now we are doing well and we are going to continue working together.

“The first [game], against Eibar at home, is very important and we will give everything until the end.

“It is different to play behind closed doors because we always need the fans but I hope that they are all supporting us in front of the television.

“We know that we have to win the matches because it is important and we’ll give it everything we’ve got.”

‘Messi is the only player who can do what Ronaldo Nazario did’_ Oscar Garcia

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Lionel Messi is the only player capable of matching the skill set once boasted by former Barcelona striker and two-time World Cup winner Ronaldo, claims Oscar Garcia.

Those at Camp Nou have been fortunate enough to witness some remarkable talent down the years, with much of that arriving on their books from South America.

Ronaldo was one such star, with a memorable one-season stint in Catalunya seeing him record 47 goals across the 1996-97 campaign as he captured the imagination of a global audience.

Those he played alongside were as impressed as the watching world, with Garcia among those left stunned by the remarkable ability possessed by a Brazil international.

The former Barca midfielder claims to have seen nothing like Ronaldo until Messi came along, with the six-time Ballon d’Or winner currently on the books at Camp Nou having raised the bar of individual brilliance even further.

Garcia told Marca of his experiences alongside a three-time World Player of the Year winner: “I was lucky to be very close to him for some of his goals, I saw how fast he was moving, it was even difficult to catch him to celebrate goals, he was still at the same speed.

“From his very first training sessions we saw that he was a different player and that he was going to help us a lot.

“You just knew he was going to be a world star, and he was, but what caught my attention most was his humility, he treated everyone the same and was always smiling and joking, he gained confidence very quickly.”

Garcia added on Ronaldo: “Until the arrival of Messi, I hadn’t seen a player who drove with the ball at that speed.

“I have only seen him and Messi do that.

“I have been fortunate to have many great team-mates, but without a doubt Ronaldo is in the top three.”

Abelardo Fernandez was another of those to have been on Barcelona’s books when Ronaldo was snapped up from PSV, and he also holds the Brazilian in the highest regard.

Fernandez added: “He was spectacular, the most powerful striker I have ever played with.

“I only worked with him for a single season at Barcelona, but I think that was his best season, he was only 20.

“His goal against Compostela [in October 1996] perfectly illustrated what Ronaldo was at that time, it had everything: strength, speed, control of the ball and the goal was always in his eye-line.”

Rain Brings Relief to Cocoa Farmers

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Above-average rains last week in most of Ivory Coast’s cocoa-growing regions could boost the last stage of the April-to-September cocoa mid-crop, farmers said on Monday. Ivory Coast, the world’s top cocoa producer, is currently in its rainy season, which runs from mid-March to late October, when there are meant to be regular downpours.

According to Reuters, after a period of irregular and below-average showers, farmers were happy with the volume of rain last week.

“The amount of rain is good in order to have lots of cocoa towards the end of the mid-crop,” said Alphonse Gba, who farms in the outskirts of the western region of Soubre, at the heart of the cocoa-belt.

Data collected by Reuters showed rainfall in Soubre was at 70 millimetres (mm) last week, 19.6 mm above the five-year average. In the southern regions of Divo and Agboville and the eastern region of Abengourou, known for the good quality of its beans, rainfall was above average. Farmers said if heavy rains continued until late July, it would encourage the next main crop to start earlier.

In the centre-western region of Daloa, which produces a quarter of Ivory Coast’s national output, farmers said plenty of young pods were appearing on trees.

“In three months we’ll have lots of cocoa,” said Albert N’Zue, who farms near Daloa. Data collected by Reuters showed rainfall in Daloa was 48.5 mm last week, 22.4 mm above the five-year average.

In the central regions of Bongouanou and Yamoussoukro, where downpours were above average, farmers made similar comments. Temperatures over the past week ranged from 26.3 to 29.2 degrees Celsius.

Buhari orders fast investigation on UNIBEN undergraduate student’s killing

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The President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), has ordered the Nigeria Police Force to ‘speedily investigate’ the killing of a 100-level student of the University of Benin, Uwaila Omozuwa.

Omozuwa was raped and murdered by hoodlums when she went to read at the RCCG, Miracle Sanctuary Mega Parish, Edo Province 10, in Benin City on May 27.

Buhari, who condemned the act via Twitter on Tuesday, condoled with the family of the deceased.

“I would like to offer my deepest condolences to the family and friends of Uwaila Omozuwa. I expect the Nigeria Police Force to speedily and diligently investigate this case and ensure that all the culprits responsible for this barbaric act are brought to justice,” he wrote. The Inspector-General of Police, Muhammed Adamu, said the perpetrators of the crime would be brought to book.

Adamu said ‘‘deployed additional investigations aids and forensic support to Edo state Police command to complement and expedite actions in the ongoing investigations into the unfortunate incident”.

 

Mosques, Churches Remain Shut In Lagos Despite Lifted Ban

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The Lagos State Government has announced that churches and mosques in the state will not be reopened for worshippers.

Prince Anofiu Elegushi, the State Commissioner for Home Affairs, said this during the 2020 Ministerial Press Briefing commemorating the first year in office of Gov. Babajide Sanwo-Olu.

Recall that President Muhammadu Buhari had on Monday, lifted the ban on mosques and churches in the country.

However, Elegushi said the state will not reopen worship centers because the state was the epicenter of the deadly COVID-19.

According to him, before the pronouncement by the Federal Government, the possibility of reopening religious centers was ruled out in a meeting with religious leaders in the State.

He said the leaders of both faiths claimed they cannot assure that only 20 to 50 people pray behind them.

”Like an Imam said, he doesn’t know what is going on at the back immediately he is leading a prayer. He said if more than 20 or 50 people are staying at his back he is not going to take responsibility for their presence.

”So, in the meeting, we ruled out in totality the issue of reopening the religious houses until we have a clear coast for us to do so.

”We all know Lagos is still having more figures. So definitely that will speak to our decision,” NAN quoted him as saying.

He added that the governor of the state would come out with further directives on the matter.

Reopening: Church Service Must Not Exceed An Hour – FG

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The Federal Government has said the duration for each church service must not be more than an hour, According to PUNCH reports.

The National Coordinator of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, Sani Aliyu, stated this on Tuesday during a briefing in Abuja.

Aliyu while rolling out guidelines for the reopening of worship centres said, “Churches to open from 5am and close by 8pm

“For churches, each service should be for a maximum of an hour with an interval of thirty minutes in between services to allow time for disinfection.”

Similarly, the national coordinator said Friday prayers in mosques should also not exceed one hour.

“Mosques may open 15 minutes before and ten minutes after prayers. The total time for Friday prayers should not exceed an hour.

“Islamiya schools, Sunday schools, night vigils, and children classes are to remain suspended.

“Worshippers should be encouraged to sign up for preferred worship and make the option of virtual service an option.

“There should be no gathering either or after worship and business outlets within the premises should remain closed,” he explained.

Insurance worth N450b, says Royal Exchange MD

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The Insurance industry is worth N450billion and has opportunities for growth, the Group Managing Director, Royal Exchange Plc, Olawale Banmore, has said.

Banmore spoke at Babcock University Students Association (BUSA) Community Students Week in Ilishan, Ogun State.

“In Nigeria, insurance is a N450 billon sector and has immense opportunities for growth as it should really be a trillion-naira sector and its getting there.

Besides, it is a major employer, especially skilled insurance professionals, among other fields. It also supports the economy because without insurance.

There would be fewer jobs, and even fewer businesses. It will be difficult for anyone to buy a car without insurance, or visit the hospital without health insurance. Insurance helps companies remain in business.

“In the same vein, many interesting career paths, which cater to varied skill sets and interests abound in insurance.

We have need for most of the professionals. The industry offers competitive compensation packages to enable us attract and retain the best talents.

Insurance of Nigeria (CIIN), the prospect to grow is limitless.

Now is the time to get into the industry, bring your disruptive ideas, your innovations, unique skill-sets and expertise is what is required as we prepare for the next growth phase of the insurance industry in Nigeria,” he said.

He wondered while making career choices,  fresh graduates take insurance as the last. He blamed the problem on insurers of yesteryears who portrayed the profession in negative light.

He urged youths to make insurance as a career choice because the industry is stable, have multitude career paths, supports the economy, among others.

He said the sky was the limit for a fresh graduate.

He said: “We need millenials to bring your fresh ideas, innovation, different ways of looking at challenges and together, make the industry attractive.

The insurance market is a resilient marketplace and as a result, it can be a solid bet if you are looking to enjoy a long and prosperous career.’’

FBN Holdings divests from fbn Insurance

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The FBN Holdings Plc (FBNH) has sold  its 65 per cent shares in FBN Insurance Limited to  Sanlam Emerging Markets (Proprietary) Limited (Sanlam).

This confers the ownership of FBN Insurance (Life) and its subsidiary, FBN General Insurance Limited, on Sanlam.

Group Managing Director, FBN Holdings Plc, U. K. Eke said: ‘’The divestment is in line with the Group’s medium to long-term strategic objectives. This will, ultimately, improve our shareholders’ well-being and deliver greater value to all the stakeholders.’’

Also, Sanlam Chief Executive Officer, Mr Heinie Werth, said: “Over the years we have enjoyed a mutually beneficial partnership with FBNH, and we will continue to cooperate with them in the future.

Sanlam exercised its pre-emptive right to acquire the remaining shareholding of FBNI and in line with our partnership philosophy that underpins our business model, we will introduce local shareholding at an appropriate time in the future.

This transaction is evidence of our belief and confidence in the value and future of the business, as well as the skilled management team and staff. Moreover, we are committed to Nigeria and view it as a key market on the continent.” The divestment, however, has no impact on FBN Insurance Brokers Limited as it remains a subsidiary of FBN Holdings.

Senate approves Buhari’s $5.513b loan request

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The Senate yesterday approved President Muhammadu Buhari’s $5.513 billion external loan request to finance the revised 2020 budget.

The approval followed the presentation and consideration of the report of the Senate Committee on Local and Foreign Debts, Senator Clifford Odia (Edo Central) by the upper chamber
Buhari had, in his letter of request, said the $5.513 billion external loan is to enable the Federal Government fund the 2020 revised budget.

However, the components of the external loan, which is to enable the Federal Government execute its priority projects and for projects to support state governments in stimulating their economy, which has been adversely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, was stood down by the Senate due to lack of requisite details.

A lender for the Federal Government’s priority projects as approved by the Senate is the African Development Bank (AfDB) – $125million to strengthen healthcare system and improve response to COVID-19 and $23 million for financing smallholder farmers to mitigate food security impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Others are $600million from the Islamic Development Bank to support response to challenges posed by COVID-19 and $500 million from the African Export-Import Bank to provide critical medical supplies to combat COVID-19.

Also, the Senate passed the 2020-2022 Medium Term Expenditure Framework and Fiscal Strategy Paper (MTEF/FSP) of the Federal Government.
President Muhammadu Buhari had last Thursday, in a letter, urged the upper chamber to consider and approve the 2020-2022 MTEF/FSP.

The Senate approved the recommendation of the Senator Solomon Adeola-led Senate Committee on Finance that the price of crude oil put at $25 per barrel by the Federal Government, be increased to $28 per barrel.

The upper chamber also approved that the proposed daily oil production benchmark of 1.9 million barrel per day be reduced to 1.8mbd.

The Senate also backed the proposed exchange rate, which was moved by the Federal Government from N306 to one dollar to N360 per dollar.

This development invariably shows that the Senate has thrown its weight behind the devaluation of the naira.

However, other critical parameters like the exchange rate of N360 to a US dollar, 14.43 inflation growth rate and 4.42 GDPgrowth rate were retained.

Other assumptions retained are N5.09 trillion Federal Governmnet’s revenue, N10.51 trillion, N4.95 trillion fiscal deficit and N4.17 trillion new borrowings (including foreign and domestic borrowing).

Others are N398.5 billion as statutory transfers, N2.68 trillion for debt service, N272.9 billion as sinking fund and N536.7 billion for Pension and gratuities.
The Senate also retained other components of the proposal in the MTEF/FSP includingN10.51 trillion as total expenditure, N4.93 trillion as total recurrent, N2.83 trillion for personnel cost and N2.23 trillion for capital expenditure.

The Chairman, Senate Committee on Finance, Senator Solomon Adeola in his report, said the increase in the oil price benchmark from the proposed $25 to $28 was as a result of the recent upward trend of the price of crude oil in the international market.

According to him, the price oil per barrel is now $38 with a very strong indication that the price will rise to $40 or $45 per barrel.

President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, in his remarks after the passage of the MTEF/FSP, urged the Senate Committee on Privatisation to laise with the Bureau of Public Enterprise (BPE) in ensuring that the projected N260billion from proceeds of privatised agencies are realised and used to fund critical projects in the revised 2020 budget.

He faulted some special accounts being operated by the executive particularly the Natural Resources Development Accounts.

According to him, such accounts at this time of scarcity of funds, are not all necessary.

“Keeping monies in Natural Resources Development Accounts is more of waste than serving critical purposes,” he said.

He thereafter adjourned sitting to next week Tuesday for consideration and possible passage of the revised N10.509 trillion 2020 budget.

However, the intention of the Federal Government to borrow Euro 995million from the Export-Import Bank of Brazil to support Green Imperative and enhance the mechanisation of agriculture and agro-processing in the country, was put in abeyance by the upper chamber.

Also, the ongoing negotiation by the Federal Government with the World Bank for between $500million – $750 million for COVID-19 Action Recovery and Economic Stimulus Programme to support state-level efforts to protect livelihoods, ensure food security and stimulate economic activities, has not been approved.

Additionally, $500 – $750 million also being negotiated with the World Bank for State Fiscal Transparency and Sustainability Programme to provide fiscal support to the States was not approved.

The Committee said that it would consider the proposals when it gets requisite details on what the loans would be used for from the Minister of Finance, Budget National Planning, Mrs Zainab Ahmed.

Nigeria Becomes Second Country With Highest COVID-19 Cases In Africa

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The World Health Organisation (WHO) on Tuesday confirmed that COVID-19 cases in Africa had risen to over 150,000.

The WHO Regional Office for Africa in Brazzaville, Congo, made this known on its Twitter page. It said as at June 2, Africa had recorded more than 63,000 recoveries and 4200 deaths.

“There are over 150,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases on the African continent – with more than 63,000 recoveries and 4,200 deaths.”

According to the figures released, South Africa, Nigeria and Algeria have the highest reported cases on the continent.

South Africa has 34,357 cases and 705 deaths, followed by Nigeria with 10, 578 confirmed cases and 299 deaths, while Algeria has 9,513 confirmed cases and 661 deaths.

It said Ghana had 8,070 reported cases and 36 deaths, while Cameroon recorded 6,397 confirmed cases and 191 deaths.

Countries with the lowest confirmed cases were Lesotho, Seychelles and Namibia.

Lesotho had only two confirmed cases with zero death, Seychelles had 11 reported cases and zero death, while Namibia recorded 25 confirmed cases with no death.

SO SAD!!! Ex-Lawmaker, Munirudeen Muse Is Dead

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A former Senator who represented Lagos Central Senatorial District in the National Assembly, Munirudeen Adekunle Muse, is dead.

His death was confirmed in a statement released by his son, Sulaimon Muse, on Tuesday, stating that his father died at the age of 81 after a brief illness.

He also described his father as a kind-hearted man and a philanthropist.

“I just lost a very caring and kind-hearted father, Senator Munirudeen Adekunle Muse.

“I saw you last, right inside the Lagos Central mosque.

”I never knew that was the last time I would set my eyes on you alive.

“I called you two Fridays ago. You even called me back, thereafter, and we discussed.

“I never knew you were saying goodbye to me”

Also, Femi Gbajabiamila, the speaker of Nigeria’s House of Representatives who took to his Twitter account to mourn the former senator described him as a man with dedication and commitment.

He said

“On this day, I join millions of Lagosians to mourn a very distinguished man, Senator Munir Muse, who served his people with uttermost dedication and commitment.

“He was a perfect gentleman and silent achiever and will be dearly missed.”

Muse became the Executive Chairman of Apapa Local Government Area on the platform of Action for Democracy (AD) from 1999 to 2002 after he joined politics in 1998.

In April 2007, the late Muse ran for the Senate on the ticket of Action Congress (AC) and was elected as the Senator representing Lagos Central.

However, he lost the Senate ticket to Oluremi Tinubu, wife of the All Progressives Congress (APC) leader, Bola Tinubu in 2011.

Protest At US Embassy In Abuja Over George Floyd’s Death (See Photos)

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A group of Nigerians under the auspices of Black Lives Matter Movement In Nigeria on Tuesday besieged the Embassy of United States in Abuja to protest the gruesome murder of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer.

The protesters defied the armed policemen stationed at the embassy to drive home their message.

The protesters called for an end to racial discrimination and injustice and killing of innocent citizens irrespective of skin colour.

See Photos Below:-

BREAKING: Court orders immediate release of Orji Uzor Kalu

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A Federal High Court sitting in Lagos has ordered the Nigerian Correctional Services to immediately release a former Governor of Abia State, Senator Orji Uzor Kalu.

Kalu is in the Kuje Correctional Service centre following his conviction last December for looting N7.65billion belonging to Abia State.

Justice Mohammad Liman granted the lawmaker’s application for release moved by his counsel Lateef Fagbemi.
The judge made the order after he received no opposition to Kalu’s application by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

Details shortly…

Juve’s Serie A fixtures for rest of the season confirmed

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The official revised Serie A calendar has been released with Juventus facing Bologna on 22 June before hosting Lecce just four days later.

With the league set to resume on 20 June, the Lega Serie A have created a revised schedule, designed to complete more fixtures over a shorter period of time.

The Bianconeri will also have a Coppa Italia semi-final to complete against Milan before a possible return of the Champions League in August

Full Schedule (CET):

Bologna v Juventus  June 22nd 21:45

Juventus  v Lecce  June 26th 21:45

Genoa v Juventus  June 30th 21:45

Juventus  v Torino  July 4th 17:15

Milan v Juventus  July 7th 21:45

Juventus v Atalanta  July 14th 21:45

Sassuolo v Juventus  July 15th 21:45

Juventus v Lazio  July 20th 21:45

Udinese v Juventus  July 23rd 19:30

Serie A sets to return on June 20 for the remainder of the season

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BREAKING! Legendary Singer, Majek Fashek Is Dead

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Nigerian singer-songwriter and guitarist, Majekodunmi Fasheke popularly known as Majek Fashek is dead.

Though the cause of the music legend’s death is still unclear at the moment, We however gathered that he died in a hospital in New York in the late hours of Monday June 1.

Cynthia Morgan’s former manager, Joy Tongo who confirmed Majek Fashek’s death wrote on Instagram;

Legendary musician, Mr. Majek Fashek has passed on today in New York City.

Majek Fashek was a talented man from my home town Benin City, Edo State.

Majek Fashek’s manager, Omenka Uzoma also confirmed his death.

Strategy for post-COVID-19 agriculture financing in Nigeria

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Like other sectors of the economy, agriculture is being profoundly and negatively impacted by the Coronavirus. In many countries, the disruption of supply of goods and services globally has resulted in the loss of revenue from agribusiness, reduced productivity of farms and food processors, large scale waste of perishable farm produce, and many other challenges that have far-reaching effects on the global population.

For example, the United Nations says Coronavirus disruptions could double the number of people globally without reliable access to nutritious food, to 265 million. The projections are especially grim for regions that were already grappling with food security before the pandemic. This includes Sub-Saharan Africa which the World Bank says could be moving from a health crisis to a food security crisis.
The World Economic Forum puts it bluntly: “COVID-19 is set to radically exacerbate food insecurity in Africa”. The continent’s challenges are complicated by some negative developments which the pandemic has brought on: lockdown measures imposed by governments across the continent have disrupted agricultural supply chains and nations dependent on food exports are severely impacted by the reluctance of developed countries to allow food export at previous levels.
The prognosis from the Food and Agricultural Organisation is no less grim: “We expect disruptions in the food supply chains. For example, restrictions of movement, as well as basic aversion behaviour by workers, may impede farmers from farming and food processors – who handle the vast majority of agricultural products – from processing. Shortage of fertilisers, veterinary medicines and other input could affect agricultural production. Closures of restaurants and less frequent grocery shopping diminish demand for fresh produce and fisheries products, affecting producers and suppliers. Sectors in agriculture, fisheries and aquaculture are particularly affected by restrictions on tourism, closure of restaurants and café and school meals suspension”
With regard to Nigeria, Ayodeji Balogun, CEO of AFEX Commodity Exchange Limited, Nigeria’s first private-sector commodity exchange firm recently identified some of the challenges that face Nigerian agriculture in the wake of the pandemic and subsequent lockdown. They include price spikes, labour shortages, logistics challenges, shortage of fertilisers and other inputs and limited access to markets.

There have also been reports of Nigerian farmers complaining about crops rotting in the fields or at the depots waiting for trucks that never arrive. Other farmers also say the lockdowns are hindering farm inspections by banks, putting their financing at risk. This results in difficulty hiring tractors and other equipment which are crucial to many farming operations.
These developments and forecasts have prompted urgent action by major players in agribusiness including the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the Nigeria Incentive-Based Risk Sharing System for Agricultural Lending (NIRSAL Plc), a non-bank financial institution, itself a wholly-owned and incorporated entity of the CBN, established to de-risk agriculture finance and facilitate agribusiness across entire agricultural commodity value chains.

Even in normal times, NIRSAL’s role in agribusiness is crucial, being the intervention agency that provides guarantees and other incentives to encourage the financial sector to lend to agriculture. So, it comes as no surprise that the team at NIRSAL is thinking outside the box during the present crisis. As the range of its initiatives and activities demonstrate, innovation is part of NIRSAL’s DNA.
One of the most important in this range of strategic initiatives is the NIRSAL AgroGeoCooperative system of organising, structuring, risk-managing, financing and controlling smallholder-based primary production agriculture otherwise called Farming. This is an innovation that NIRSAL introduced in 2019 and which it has updated as a smart strategy to mitigate the harsh impact of the covid19 pandemic on agricultural productivity and food security at this challenging time for the nation as well formally introducing the model at scale in order to mainstream millions of smallholder farmers to formal finance and formal markets.

Crucially, the innovative model focuses on the most critical aspect of agriculture especially in a developing country like Nigeria: primary production. The central relevance of this focus is underscored by the Food and Agriculture Organisation: “Smallholder farmers represent the biggest employment sector in rural areas of the developing world, and they are also the most important contributors to global food production. More than 90% of the farms in the world are family farms; they produce 80% of the food and they operate 75% of the farmland”.
The AgroGeoCoop-based farming model is a unique system that groups adjoining farmlands in geographical areas that have been identified as being suited for specific commodities. It is an improvement on the suboptimal practice of smallholder farming on small, unconnected parcels of land. Its unique Geo or farmLand-based cooperative approach facilitates the agglomeration of large parcels of farmlands which makes it possible to introduce Precision Agriculture tools (Remote Sensing, Deployment of Unmanned Aerial Systems, satellite-based Global Positioning Systems etc) resulting in the optimisation of results.

The Agro Geo-Cooperative model is anchored on the fundamental theory that it is the farmland that makes the farmer, not the other way round. A basic feature of the AgroGeoCoop is the GPS-enabled Geo-tagging of each farmer to his land. This has solved the problem of identity and accountability which is a major risk element in smallholder agriculture finance around the world and particularly sub-Sahara Africa, Nigeria inclusive.

Accordingly, the model groups farmers based on the contiguity of their farmlands, with each farmer retaining what is originally theirs and becoming partakers in large, structured farming projects. The bigger and more contiguous a GeoCooperative is, the faster and easier for it to have access to structured finance, quality inputs and structured markets through NIRSAL’s facilitation.

To ensure improved outcomes, NIRSAL has invested in significant technical and technological capabilities to support and monitor this system of structured primary production. This is because understanding smallholder farmer data management requires defining from whom data is captured and the methodology of the data capture, the analytics and ultimately its distribution and usage as intelligence, information or as a decision support system This has led NIRSAL to acquire and deploy geospatial tools and platforms to enable field-mapping activities such as Know Your Leader (KYL), Know Your Customer (KYC), Know Your Farm (KYF) and Know Your Neighbour (KYN) which are critical elements in profiling the human and the geographic elements of the AgroGeoCoops.

The array of field-ready equipment includes GPS devices, drones, mobiles, GIS-enabled tablets and BVN Enrolment/Verification Machines all linked by GSM Networks, satellite and Cloud synchronisation capabilities for back-end data collection, validation and rendition. To complement and strengthen the value of these tools and platforms, NIRSAL is also leveraging its partnerships with institutions such as NiMET and Microsoft which provide both Agrometeorological and embedded data capture capabilities for decision support to further enhance farm operations.

The bottom line: through such technology-enabled, risk-controlled systems, farmers enrolled in NIRSAL’s AgroGeoCoops have higher chances of success in access to structured finance, quality inputs, extension monitoring, weather information, aggregation services, access to markets and other timely support.

AgroGeoCoops, the source of primary production, are also the centrepiece of NIRSAL’s Mapping-to-Markets strategy (M2M), an end-to-end approach to agriculture finance whereby NIRSAL ensures that all segments of agricultural value chains are linked in a logical sequence to their immediate markets, with near-zero cash transactions amongst the value chain actors.

This is feasible because of the guaranteed trade relationships that would be established between the NIRSAL AgroGeoCoops on the one hand and identified off-takers on the other hand coupled with the strategic trade linkages that would feed off the ecosystem for inputs, mechanisation, research and adaptive technologies, value-added processing and logistics services. Thus the NIRSAL AgroGeoCoop ecosystem will bring clarity, structure and cash-flow visibility and tracking to banks, investors other financiers that will enable them to lend with confidence from their balance sheets and hugely complementing government intervention financing efforts in agriculture.

Already, NIRSAL has set for itself a clear and measurable target of creating 16,000 Agro Geo-Cooperatives on 4 million hectares of farmland and enrolling about 8 million farmers across Nigeria expected to produce about 12 million metric tonnes of Grain Product Equivalent (GPE) annually, over the medium to the long-term time horizons.

To ensure the success of this massive project, NIRSAL has trained and primed its Project Monitoring, Reporting and Remediation Officers (PMROs) in the 36 States of the Federation and the FCT to assist farmers, farmer leaders, aggregators and other interested participants to meet the pre-qualification requirements.

The PMROs are on hand nationwide to guide participating farmers through the enrolment processes which include identifying their farm’s geographical coordinates and size, electing Agro Geo-Cooperative leaders as well as the free registration which can be done online or offline.

In order to open up the Agro Geo-Cooperatives project to the thousands of eligible farmers, NIRSAL is reaching out to all relevant stakeholders, including community leaders, individuals, enterprises, corporate bodies, graduates, N-POWER Beneficiaries, active and retired leaders and farmers in The ADP programme, World Bank FADAMA Programme, USAID MARKETS Programme, IFAD Value Chain Development Programme, The World Bank Climate Adaptation and Business Support Programme, AfDB Agric Programmes, the DFID’s Propcom Maikarfi Programme, the SASSAKAWA Global 2000 Programme and others.

The GeoCooperative model for smallholder farming has two broad components. The first is a rigorous and well-thought-out structuring of primary agricultural production based on a deep but practical understanding of historical and current trends and practices. The second is the maximisation of appropriate technologies. Together, these two elements have the potential to have a game-changing impact on Nigerian agriculture in the wake of the Coronavirus pandemic and beyond.

Real Madrid have spent more than 400m euros on under 21s for the past 10 years

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Ten years have passed since Real Madrid completed the signing of a young Sergio Canales for six million euros, sparking a new transfer policy of focusing on young talents.

Last summer, the club signed a new record of six players under the age of 21 for their first team.

Next up could be the 17-year-old Eduardo Camavinga or the 19-year-old Erling Haaland.

It’s a strategy which has exploited specific cases to now make up the majority of new arrivals at the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu, influenced by both global and local factors.

On one side the boom in transfer prices ever since Neymar left Barcelona for Paris Saint-Germain, and on the other the figure of talented head scout Juni Calafat.

The total investment is 438.8 million euros, but 119.5m euros have been recovered.

Looking at the success of the policy, Real Madrid have been reinforced by the gamble on promising youngsters to grow in the team until they become key players.

It has become more complicated in recent years, when even youngsters can cost more than 40 million euros, but the cases of Raphael Varane (2011), Casemiro, Dani Carvajal or Isco (2013) and Marco Asensio or Fede Valverde (2016) show value in six key players who all cost less than 30 million euros.

The best example of all 24 signings is surely Marco Asensio, who was also wanted by Barcelona and joined as an 18-year-old for just 3.5m euros from Real Mallorca.

After a year on loan at Espanyol, he burst onto the scene, much like Fede Valverde, who also needed some time to develop before breaking into the side.

Casemiro, Carvajal and Isco were all born in 1992, Varane in 1993 and they had all played at the top level in important leagues before signing for the club.

Isco was the most expensive in the first five years of this policy at 30 million euros, but he was already an established star.

All four of those players have been essential to winning four Champions League trophies in five years.

The most recent cases

Since May 2017, when Real Madrid signed Vinicius Junior, the club have spent 300m euros, more than 75 percent of the total since 2010, showing the rising prices of youngsters.

Until 2017, Real Madrid signed 13 players for 138.5m euros, in the last three years, 11 have cost 300.5m euros, from an average of 10.65m euros per signing before the Brazilian arrived to 30.05m euros each afterwards.

It’s still too soon to evaluate those deals, as is the case with Luka Jovic (60m euros), Eder Militao (50m), Rodrygo Goes (45m), Reinier Jesus (30m), Vinicius (45m) and Brahim Diaz (17m).

All of these players are signings for the future, rather than the present, while Reinier hasn’t even made his debut and will go out on loan next season.

Andriy Lunin (8.5m euros) has not played either but will become the second-choice goalkeeper next season.

It’s evident that these higher prices bring with them a higher risk.

They came… And they left

Not every signing has worked out and some of them have already departed, such as Mesut Ozil, who lasted three season and was sold for a profit (29m euros).

Mateo Kovacic was another player who stayed in Madrid for three seasons before leaving for Chelsea for more money than he was bought for, with a profit of 17m euros.

One player who didn’t work out was Theo Hernandez, who joined from Atletico Madrid, as he lasted one season and was then loaned out to Real Sociedad before being sold for a six million euro loss the next summer.

Promising

Some players are yet to prove their true value, despite looking like talents who could dominate the game for years to come.

The best examples are Dani Ceballos and Martin Odegaard, both of whom are full internationals and regular starters whilst out on loan.

Ceballos may struggle to feature under Zinedine Zidane, but his talent is unquestionable.

After three loans in four years, Odegaard will become a crucial option for Real Madrid, whether that is in 2020 or 2021.

Takefusa Kubo, who joined for free, and Alberto Soro, who cost 2.5 millino euros, are yet to show their full potential.

Disappointments

On the other hand, there are players who failed to live up to expectations, such as Sergio Diaz, labelled the Paraguayan Sergio Aguero, who joined for five million euros in 2016 and remains out on loan.

Lucas Silva was about to celebrate his 22nd birthday when he joined in January 2015, yet he left last summer through the back door, now playing for Gremio.

Jesus Vallejo continues to struggle with injuries and is now on loan at Granada after a failed loan spell at Wolves earlier this season, and a summer exit looks likely.

Agent confirms coutinho interest in returning to PL

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After struggling to lock down a regular place at Barcelona and spending a season on loan at Bayern Munich, Philippe Coutinho could return to the Premier League.

Philippe Coutinho hopes to return to the Premier League at some point in the future, his agent Kia Joorabchian said today. Coutinho was a star at Liverpool, yet failed to establish himself at Barcelona following a €145million move in January 2018.

The Brazil international subsequently joined Bayern Munich on loan in August 2019 and has scored eight goals in 22 Bundesliga appearances. With Coutinho out injured, it does not seem likely that Bayern will be extending his stay after electing not to take up a €120m purchase option, with a host of Premier League clubs, including Tottenham, Arsenal and Chelsea reportedly interested. Joorabchian, who also represents Coutinho’s compatriots David Luiz and Willian, has now confirmed the 27-year-old has set a return to England in his sights.

“He has a desire to come back to the Premier League at some point,” the agent told Sky Sports. “It may not happen this year, it may happen this year but we don’t know. We really have not discussed anything for now.”

However, Joorabchian insisted talks of Barcelona putting a 70 million euro price tag on Coutinho, or asking for a 10 million euro loan fee, are wide of the mark. “I’ve never heard those figures, we’ve never discussed numbers, none of those figures have ever been discussed,” he added.

Court Sentences Former Exxon Mobil Engineer To 15 Years Imprisonment For Rape

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A Lagos High Court sitting in Igbosere sentenced a former Exxon Mobil engineer to 15 years imprisonment today, June 1, 2020.

James Onuoha was sentenced to 15 years jail term without an option of fine after he was found guilty of raping his tenant’s niece, who was 14 years old at the time.

The incident happened on January 4, 2016, and caused outrage at the time, with a number of celebrities lending their voice to call for justice.

At the last adjourned date, on January 14, 2020, the court adjourned the case until March 25, for judgment, after the parties adopted their final written addresses.

However, the judgment could not be delivered on March 25 due to lockdown resulting from the COVID- 19 pandemic.

At the resumed hearing of the matter, Justice Adedayo Akintoye delivered judgement on Onuoha.

Before handing down the verdict, the convict’s counsel, Dr Victor Olowonla, in his allocutus, pleaded with the court to temper justice with mercy as he was a first time offender.

Onuoha was first arraigned in January 2016 at the Magistrates’ Court on a four-count charge of defilement.

Onuoha was remanded in Kirikiri correctional centre pending legal advice from the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP).

Following his indictment by the DPP, the case was transferred to the high court for trial.

The state government accused Onuoha of committing the alleged offences on January 4, 2016, at 11:30 a.m., at 25, Samuel Amoore Street, Idowu Estate, Ike-Ira Nla, Ajah, Lagos.

The prosecution led by Dr. Jide Martins said the defendant willfully had an unlawful sexual act with the teenager without her consent.

He said the offences contravened Sections 134 (2), 135 (1), and is punishable under Sections 137 and 258 of the Criminal Law of Lagos State, 2011.

Onuoha, however, pleaded not guilty to the charge

Cameroon reopen schools despite rising virus cases

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Cameroon’s schools and universities reopened on Monday as the government was criticised over weak measures to combat the spread of coronavirus in one of the worst-affected countries in sub-Saharan Africa. The government suspended classes in mid-March for universities and schools at all grade levels, both public and private.

Cameroon was the first central African country to register a case of the virus. Braving the rain with masks on their faces, final-year students returned to school in the capital Yaounde.

There were fewer students assigned to each classroom in order to respect social distancing measures, and buckets of water were placed in the entrances and classrooms to encourage hand-washing. Some students in lower grade levels would resume classes from Thursday, Catherine Bessala Bessala, principal at the Abang Nkongoa public school in Yaounde’s southern suburbs, told AFP.

In primary and secondary schools, only students taking exams this year will return to classes, while all university students will be welcomed back. Prime Minister Joseph Dion Ngute confirmed the resumption of classes despite the reservations of several teachers’ unions and the concerns of parents widely shared on social media. In the press, the unions said that the health security conditions had not been met.

Cases of coronavirus are still on the rise in Cameroon, which has recorded more than 6,100 infections and 197 deaths. Government measures taken nearly two weeks after the first case was detected on March 5 — including the suspension of classes — were considered late in comparison with many other African countries. Containment measures for the country of more than 25 million people were also criticised by the opposition and as being too relaxed. No lockdown was ever imposed and bars, nightclubs and restaurants were only forced to close after 6 pm. They were allowed to reopen in the evenings at the end of April.

Access bank notifies customers on new scam alert

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Access Bank has urged its customers to be on the lookout for fraudsters who are using new methods to rip people off by preying on the distress that comes with the nation-wide lockdown.

It said fraudsters contact their potential victim via mail, phone call or text to request for their bank details with the promise of crediting their account, after which they proceed to withdraw the money in the victim’s bank account.

They often come under the guise of government officials, social advocates and false non-governmental organisations(NGOs) allocated to share the relief fund that was promised by the government.

This, unfortunately, is a fraudulent scheme and given the state of affairs, an easy scam to fall for, it said.

The bank’s Executive Director, Retail Banking, Victor Etuokwu, said: “Access Bank is imploring its customers to be wary of any message, demanding their personal or bank details.

Customers must remember that the bank will never ask for their BVN, full card PAN, PIN, mobile app activation code, OTP or password as it is readily available to the Bank via its database.

Any call, email and text message, claiming to be from Access Bank and demanding for any of these details is certainly a scam.

“Also, customers are advised to refrain from sharing user generated codes when migrating from the old Diamond Bank app to the Access More app.

Etuokwu advised customers to be vigilant and report suspicious activities to the bank.

CBN Gives banks 24hrs to reverse ATM ‘failure’

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The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), has  revised timelines for reversals and/or resolution of refund complaints on electronic channels.The revised timelines will take effect from June 8, 2020.

According to a statement issued in Abuja yesterday, the apex bank stated that with regards to failed  “On-Us”  ATM transactions  (when customers use their cards on their bank’s ATMs) shall be instantly reversed from the current timeline of three days.

Also, “where instant reversal fails due to any technical issue or system glitch, the timeline for manual reversal shall not exceed 24 hours” the CBN said.

The CBN has ruled that “refunds for failed “Not-on-Us” ATM transactions (where customers use their cards on other banks’ ATMs) shall not exceed 48 hours from the current 3-5 days.”

Resolution of disputed/failed PoS or Web transactions will now be concluded within 72 hours from the current five days.

All banks have been ordered to “resolve backlog of all ATM, POS and Web customer refunds within two weeks starting June 8, 2020”.

The CBN has revealed that, key service providers in the Nigerian payments system have also committed to establish an integrated dispute resolution platform for the industry.

This is to enhance their payment system infrastructure and processes to reduce incidences of transaction failure.

Breaking! Buhari Lifted Ban On Religious Gatherings

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President Muhammadu Buhari has approved the immediate relaxation of the restriction placed on worship centres as part of measures to limit the spread of COVID-19 virus.

The Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Boss Mustapha, made this known at the daily Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 briefing on Monday.

The relaxation which will span for a period of four weeks will be effective from June 2 to June 29.

He said this decision will be reviewed on the four weeks completion.

“The PTF submitted its recommendations and the PRESIDENT has approved the following for implementation over the next four weeks spanning 2nd – 29th June, 2020, subject to review-:

Relaxation of restriction on places of Worship based on guidelines issued by the PTF and Protocols agreed by State Governments,” he said.

The federal government had placed a ban on religious gatherings to limit the spread of COVID-19 which is currently ravaging the world.

Despite this ban, some states governors already directed churches and mosques in their respective states to continue conducting services in religious centres.

Details later…

FG eventually eases lockdown in Kano

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The Federal Government has eased the lockdown imposed on Kano State as part of measures to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus pandemic.

The Chairman of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, Boss Mustapha, made this known during a briefing in Abuja.

The President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), had in an address to the nation on April 27 ordered a 14-day lockdown in the northwest state which was subsequently extended by the PTF.

However, while giving an update on Monday, Mustapha, who is also the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, said, “Easing the total lockdown of Kano State and introduction of Phase One of the Eased Lockdown.

“This is still a fight for life and our advancement to phase two does not mean that COVID-19 has ended. It is still potent and highly wasteful of human lives. I implore all Nigerians and corporate citizens to take responsibility and play the expected role.”

Marcus Rashford Congratulates Ighalo On Signing New Man Utd. Loan Deal

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Fit-again striker Marcus Rashford has taken to social media to congratulate Odion Ighalo on extending his stay at Manchester United.

United and Shanghai Shenhua have reached an agreement that will keep the former Nigeria international at the English Premier League club until January 31, 2021.

Shanghai Shenhua explained that Ighalo was allowed to extend his loan deal in view of the uncertainty surrounding the resumption of the Chinese Super League and uncertainty of the foreign players quota.

It was clear that Manchester United needed a new striker after Rashford suffered a back injury in January and manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer wanted to ease the goalscoring burden on Anthony Martial and Mason Greenwood.

Rashford retweeted Manchester United’s official announcement on Ighalo’s loan extension and commented, “Congrats @ighalojude 👏🏾”.

The Nigerian replied : “Thanks bro 💪🏾🙏🏾”.