December 2, 2008

Van Persie accepts goal was offside

Arsenal striker Robin van Persie has conceded he was ‘a little bit offside‘ for his equaliser at Chelsea on Sunday.

The Dutchman strayed into an offside position before scoring the first of two goals in a vital turnaround against the Blues.

Van Persie, though, has pointed to a clash between the two London clubs when he had a seemingly onside goal ruled out.

He said in the Evening Standard, “I scored a goal against Chelsea (in a 2-0 home defeat in December 2005). I was onside, but the referee gave it offside and it didn‘t count.

‘This time was maybe a little bit offside, but it counted and that‘s all that matters.”

Meanwhile, Van Persie’s strike partner, Emmanuel Adebayor, has hailed the importance of the scalp that hauled them to within seven points of the leaders.

The Togo forward said, “It is a very big win because we went through a lot of difficult moments and people wrote us off in the Premier League. Now this is a message that we have sent out.

“We believe in ourselves, we can do something. Forget about what happened - we are always together. We always believed we can do something and these are the kind of results we can show again.

“Now everyone can see we have kept our title dreams alive and the more important thing now is to keep going.”

Mikel laments Arsenal defeat

Chelsea midfielder, Mikel Obi, on Sunday said his team’s 2-1 defeat to Arsenal in their Premier League match in London was painful but not enough to stop the Blues from winning the title.

Speaking with our correspondent after the match, the Super Eagles star said the Gunners won because they took their chances in the encounter, lamenting his team’s poor performance.

He said, “Football can be funny. We did our best but Arsenal got the goals and that was it. We are going to fight back and work hard to ensure we win the league this time because we have a good team that can achieve that for Chelsea.

“We still have many games to play and it is obvious plenty of drama awaits all the title contenders as we move on.”

Chelsea manager, Felipe Scolari, was forced to replace Mikel with Florent Malouda with 20 minutes to go in a bid to force an equaliser.

The Blues, who had not been beaten at home in the league for 86 games before its 1-0 defeat to Liverpool on October 26, have now lost two of their last four Premier League ties at Stamford Bridge.

Chelsea was the only side in English professional football not to have conceded a second-half goal in a league game this season before Robin van Persie’s brace helped Arsenal beat its London rival on Sunday.

Decline deepens as market loses N189bn

Activities on the Nigerian Stock Exchange continued on a low note on Monday as market indices, declined further at the end of the first trading day of the month.

Specifically, the market capitalisation of the 302 listed equities, which had closed at N7.306tn on Friday, dropped by N180bn or 2.5 per cent to close at N7.126tn.

Similarly, the All-Share Index of the NSE slid by 811.4 basis points, or 2.5 per cent to close at 32,214.35, down from 33,025.75 on Friday.

Market analysts, however, attributed the persistent decline to profit-taking activities of investors.

According to them, the trend may continue well into the early part of 2009, as investors may want to cash in on their investments to meet up with responsibilities and year end celebrations.

Only 10 companies recorded price appreciations on Monday, with May and Baker Plc leading the chart by gaining 36 kobo to close at N7.50 per share.

Skye Bank Plc and Sterling Bank Plc followed, adding 17 kobo and 15 kobo, to close at N7.98 and N3.24 respectively.

On the other hand, major blue-chip stocks recorded significant losses in their share prices.

Conoil Plc led the losers’ chart with a loss of N4.73 to close at N89.90 per share.

Guinness Nigeria Plc lost N4.69 to close at N89.23 per share while the shares of Oando Plc and UACN Plc dropped by N3.94 and N1.47 to close at N75.05 and N30.03 respectively.

The banking sub-sector maintained its dominance on the activity chart as it accounted for 48 per cent of total volume traded on Monday.

Activity in the sub-sector was boosted by trading in the shares of United Bank for Africa Plc and Diamond Bank Plc, which represented 33 per cent of turnover.

The insurance sub-sector followed on the activity chart, trading 62,193 million shares, valued at N55.716m in 520 deals. It accounted for 31 per cent of volume.

Trading in the shares of Investment and Allied Assurance Plc drove the sub-sector’s volume, accounting for 70 per cent of turnover.

In all, investors staked N1.637tn on 201.119 million shares, in 7,012 transactions, compared with 294.985 million equities, valued at N2.612bn, exchanged on Friday in 8,142 deals

Etisalat unveils missed calls notification for subscribers

Nigeria’s newest mobile telecommunications company, Etisalat, has unveiled a feature on its pre-paid product, the Easy Starter, that allows subscribers on the network know any caller who tried to reach them even when they were not immediately available or while their phone was switched off.

The Missed Calls Notification feature is available to all subscribers on the Etisalat network at no cost. The firm said by allowing subscribers to be notified on attempts made to reach them on their phones even when a phone number was unreachable for whatever reason, it was helping to promote better businesses and personal relationships.

The feature notifies subscribers about those that tried to reach them, even when out of coverage area or when they switched off their phones, immediately they turn their phones back on or get back into an area where there is coverage. This implies that all attempts to reach a subscriber on the Etisalat network are registered and a subscriber is notified whenever this is necessary.

The firm said notification is sent as an SMS and includes the number(s) that tried to reach them, the date that the attempts were made, the time the number(s) called them and the number of times the number(s) tried to reach them.

This is a first in Nigeria’s telecommunications market and Etisalat said it was a default service on its network and did not require the subscriber to take any action to activate it.

Speaking about the feature, the Vice-President Marketing, Etisalat Nigeria, Mr. Wael Ammar, said that the feature was unique in the Nigerian market and was in line with Etisalat’s sincere desire to get Nigerians talking a lot more. He added that there was no charge attached to the service.

Visafone deploys Microsoft retail solution with Netspex

Visafone Communications Limited has signed an agreement with Netspex Limited to deploy 300 Microsoft Dynamics Retail Management System licences to the former’s shops and kiosks.

Netspex, a Microsoft certified partner, is a leading provider of hospitality and retail solutions in Nigeria.

Explaining the benefits of the pact, the Managing Director, Netspex, Mr. Ohimai Unuigboje said, “Our recent signing with Visafone Communications is a landmark deal for us not only because we have been selected to deliver this cutting edge Microsoft Dynamics Retail Management System to Visafone, but also because this solution will provide the company an opportunity to deliver superior customer service.”

The Chief Operating Officer, Visafone, Mr. Vinod Shah, whose firm now has almost two million subscribers nationwide, said the software to be deployed by Netspex would help in customer service delivery.

He said, “We are happy to sign this agreement with Netspex Limited to deploy Microsoft Dynamics Retail Management System to our shops and kiosks. Microsoft is the leading software company in the world and they have a record of having software solutions that meet customer needs and that are also adaptable, and so, it was a natural and easy choice to deploy the solution to our shops and kiosks. We are also happy to partner with Netspex Limited, which is a leader in this area.”

Speaking further on the agreement, Unuigboje explained that Visafone needed a robust retail solution, which was scalable and, which had the capacity to address operational and reporting needs in the key areas of operation - warehousing, store operations and head quarters operations.

They required a solution that would simplify the processes of capturing retail information involving both stock and non-stock items. The solution should also be able to manage customers from a global and local perspective in order to understand customer buying and travel patterns in order to enable them deliver superior customer service.”

Obama names Clinton as Secretary of State

United States President-elect, Barack Obama, has nominated his former rival, Hillary Clinton, as his Secretary of state.

Obama described the former First Lady as a woman of ”tremendous stature” who had his ”complete confidence.”

Clinton lost out to Obama when the two contested a bitterly fought race for the Democratic Party presidential nomination.

At a news conference in Chicago on Monday, Obama also announced nominations for other key National Security team posts.

Obama said the time had come for a ”new dawn of American leadership to overcome the challenges of the 21st century, and to seize the opportunities embedded in those challenges.”

Obama said Robert Gates would remain as defence secretary, while retired Marine Gen. James Jones was named as White House national security adviser.

Former Justice Department official, Eric Holder, was nominated as attorney general and Arizona Governor, Janet Napolitano, as secretary of homeland security.

Obama‘s foreign policy team under Hillary Clinton will reassure the more hawkish elements in the US, but might disappoint those who wanted a more radical shift, says BBC News website world affairs correspondent, Paul Reynolds.

Obama said of Clinton, ”She‘s an American of tremendous stature who will have my complete confidence, who knows many of the world‘s leaders, who will command respect in every capital, and who will clearly have the ability to advance our interests around the world.”

”Hillary‘s appointment is a sign to friend and foe of the seriousness of my commitment to renew American diplomacy and restore our alliances,” said Obama.

Although the two repeatedly clashed during the nomination race, Clinton went on to campaign for Obama as he took on Republican John McCain in the race for the White House.

Former president Bill Clinton had cleared the way for his wife‘s appointment by reaching a complicated agreement on his financial arrangements, reports said.

The BBC said there had been fears her nomination could falter over the appearance of conflicts of interest between her husband‘s charitable foundation and lucrative speechmaking schedule.

Clinton has agreed to release the list of donors to his foundation by the end of the year, officials overseeing the presidential transition said.

He has also agreed to submit future engagements, speeches and sources of income to the State Department and the White House and to take a more behind-the-scenes role in the daily running of his foundation, sources said.

Clinton pledged to give the job ”her all.”

“The American people have demanded not just a new direction at home, but a new effort to renew America‘s standing in the world as a force for positive change,” she said.

The current secretary of state, Condoleezza Rice, praised Clinton as an ”inspiration” who would ”bring enormous energy and intellect” to the role.

”And most important I know her to be somebody who has what you need most in this job: which is a deep love of the United States of America.”

Announcing his team, Obama said, ”The national security challenges we face are just as great and just as urgent as our economic crisis.”

Announcing that Robert Gates would remain in his job, Obama said he would be given ”a new mission” to ”responsibly” end the war in Iraq.

”We will also ensure that we have the strategy - and resources - to succeed against al Qaeda and the Taleban,” said Obama.

Selecting Gates - who was appointed by President George W. Bush two years ago - allows Obama to honour a promise to name at least one Republican cabinet member.

The BBC‘s Justin Webb in Washington reported that the re-appointment of Gates was a sign of pragmatism that would please those who had urged Obama to be cautious, but could also upset those who had wanted a clean break from the previous administration.

Gates said he was ”deeply honoured” to be asked to continue and that he did so with ”a profound sense of personal responsibility, to and for our men and women in uniform and their families”.

Retired General James Jones - a former top commander of NATO and US forces in Europe - was nominated as national security adviser.

He served in the Bush administration as a Middle East adviser.

Jennifer Hudson's Brother-in-Law Arrested for Family Murders

Jennifer Hudson's estranged brother-in-law has just gone from "person of interest" to prime suspect in the slayings of her mother, brother and nephew.

Chicago police today arrested William Balfour for the Oct. 24 shooting deaths that ripped the Dreamgirls star's family apart.

Chicago police detectives went to the Illinois' Stateville Correctional Center, where Balfour has been detained since two days after the murders. The 27-year-old was transferred into police custody at 2:45 local time.

“He is awaiting formal charges for three counts of murder,” a police department spokesman told E! News. “There likely will be a press conference once there are formal charges against him.”

Defense attorney Joshua Kutnick told reporters outside the police station that his client has maintained his innocence.

"He vehemently denies that he is guilty in this case," Kutnick said. "Any evidence pointing to Mr. Balfour is not even thin. It is very, very weak."

Hudson's mother, Darnell Donerson, and 29-year-old brother, Jason Hudson, were found shot to death in the family's Chicago home. Seven-year-old Julian King, the son of Hudson's sister, Julia, was reported missing and found dead from a gunshot wound to the head three days later in an abandoned SUV.

Police said that Julian was likely taken alive from the house and then killed in the vehicle. Hudson was called upon to identify the bodies of all three.

Balfour was deemed a "person of interest" in the case almost immediately after the murders transfixed the nation. But he was jailed on an unrelated charges of parole violation stemming from a 1999 attempted-murder conviction, for which he spent seven years in prison. He was released in 2006.

At a hearing last month, the Illinois Prisoner Review Board decided to keep him locked up after hearing evidence that he appeared in places where drugs were sold and, according to his girlfriend, being in possession of a gun matching the description of the Hudson murder weapon.

The suspect's mother, Michelle Davis-Balfour, told reporters tonight that the authorities didn't have a case.

"If they found gun powder on his hands, you got a case," she said. "If they found a gun on him, he had a case. If they found a fingerprint on the truck that he did this, you got a case— but they don't have nothing."

Hudson's publicist, Lisa Kasteler, had no comment Monday.

Yar’Adua stops inauguration of Plateau LG chairmen

There were indications in Abuja on Monday that President Umaru Yar’Adua had directed Governor Jonah Jang to stop the inauguration of the newly elected Local Government Chairmen and councillors in Plateau State.

A source in the Presidency told one of our correspondents that Yar’Adua informed Jang through the telephone that the inauguration could lead to another round of violence in the state.

He said, “On learning that the governor was planning to inaugurate the new councils today (Monday), the President telephoned him on Sunday evening to express his displeasure at such a move which could further inflame passion in the state.

“The President was highly incensed that the governor could contemplate inaugurating the councils in the face of the current development when tension was still high and people still counting their huge losses. The President told the governor to shelve the idea.”

It was learnt that Yar’Adua, who sent the minister supervising the Ministry of Health, Alhaji Hassan Lawal, to assess the Jos mayhem, also expressed displeasure that the state government had not done much in the supply of relief materials to the displaced persons.

“The President on Monday directed the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Alhaji Ahmed Yayale, under whose purview the National Emergency Management Agency operates, to ensure that efforts were made to provide relief materials for the displaced people,” our source said.

He added that Yar’Adua, at a meeting with security chiefs in Abuja on Monday, also directed that efforts should be made to ensure that the crisis did not spread to other states in the country.

It was learnt that President’s directive was informed by reports of rising tension in some states, including those in the South-East geo-political zone where reprisal attacks had been experienced in the past.

Just as our source made the disclosure, more families sought refuge in army and police barracks in Onitsha, Anambra State, as tension built up in the city over the Jos violence.

Sokoto Road, Headbridge, Haruna Street and other parts of the commercial city with high population of Northerners looked deserted when our correspondent in Awka visited on Monday.

The state Governor, Mr. Peter Obi, said through his Chief press Secretary, Mr. Mike Udah, that proactive measures had been taken to protect lives and property in the state.

Obi added that his administration had placed all the security agencies in the state on the alert.

Trouble broke out in Jos on Friday over the conduct of LG elections in the state. More than 300 people were reported killed and hundreds wounded in the two-day violence.

Also on Monday, the Deputy Speaker of the Plateau State House of Assembly, Alhaji Hassan Baba, narrowly escaped being lynched at the Jos Central Mosque by some displaced people.

Baba, who accompanied the Speaker of the House Representatives, Mr. Dimeji Bankole and Lawan to the mosque, was accused by the displaced persons of abandoning them.

Our correspondent in Jos reported that Bankole saved the day as Baba had to cling to his hand before being moved to a safe place.

Before the incident, tension had heightened outside the mosque as the over 4,000 displaced persons refused the Assistant Inspector-General of Police, Mr. Richard Chime, entry.

Chime, who also accompanied Bankole and Lawal to the mosque, then made frantic calls for security operatives to be dispatched to the scene.

A few minutes later, some operatives arrived in Armoured Personnel Carriers to bring the situation under the control.

A soldier told our correspondent that but for their quick response, there would have been another round of fracas in the troubled city.

But after the tension was doused, a mild drama occurred when a member of the House of Representative, Alhaji Samaila Mohammed, began to read an address on behalf of the victims.

As Muhammed, who is also one of those that took refuge in the mosque, was about to blame the state government for the crisis, Bankole, apparently sensing danger, quickly snatched the script and microphone from him and interjected.

He told the displaced persons that he was sent by his colleagues in the National Assembly to see things for themselves.

The Speaker said, ”We are from the National Assembly to see things for ourselves. We have visited the governor and he has told us his own side of the story.

“We need all of you now than any time because what you do in the next one hour can either save life or take away life. The difference between you and the people out there is that you are the leaders. Whether you like it or not, you must put your emotions into your pockets.

“You have lost property, sisters, wives, children or whatever, but they are not worth more than losing Prophet Mohammed. We will make sure that the people who did this are properly dealt with. You must allow us to do it.

“Because that is the job you have given us as elected representatives, you cannot do it yourself. You must be patient to allow us to investigate properly with facts and figures. I beg you, we beg you to do just this for us.”

Bankole reminded them that as good Muslims, they must pray, especially now that Arafat, the hallmark of the Muslim pilgrimage, was only six days away.

In his comment, Lawal assured the displaced persons, including a former Minister of State for Information and Communications, Mr. Dasuki Nakande, that the Federal Government would send relief materials to them.

He said that he was sent by the President to ascertain the level of destruction and the assistance they would need.

He had visited the injured at the Jos University Teaching Hospital on Sunday and the premises of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency in Rikkos where reprisal attacks were recorded on Saturday.

Meanwhile, normalcy has started to return to many parts of the city. But movements are still being restricted, especially in the vulnerable areas.

However, the Director-General of the National Youth Service Corps, Gen. Yusuf Bomoi, said on Monday that corps members serving in Jos were among the over 200 people officially confirmed killed in the two-day mayhem that began on Friday.

He gave their names as Leke Akande, 23; Tola Odusola, 20; and Ibukun Oluwatosin Akinjogbin, 23.

Bomoi, who addressed batches A, B and C of the NYSC members currently in camp at the Zang Secondary Commercial School, Bukuru, assured them of safety.

He said as a precautionary measure, the batch C members would be allowed to go back to their respective homes.

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