February 24, 2009

Atiku is a chameleon –Kalu

Former Abia State Governor, Dr Orji Uzor Kalu,

Former Abia State Governor, Dr Orji Uzor Kalu, on Monday, took a swipe at ex-vice-president Abubakar Atiku, describing him as inconsistent and a chameleon. Atiku had in a national newspaper, cast aspersions on Kalu, reportedly calling him a “political liability and unfit to question his controversial visit to discredited former President Olusegun Obasanjo. But in an exclusive interview with Daily Sun, Kalu questioned the ex-vice-president’s record in office, as well as his credentials for his much desired presidential seat.

Reacting to what he called “Atiku’s unguarded comments” Kalu regretted that the ex-VP’s unstable, and self-serving approach to leadership casts a slur on his suitability for the seat of the president, adding that it was regrettable that Atiku, who lives in the proverbial glass house, is the one throwing stones when he should actually be burying his face in shame and ignominy.

The former governor alleged that on several occasions, Atiku had abandoned the collective cause of the people, and his followers midstream to go cozy with the common enemy.
Explaining further, Kalu said: “Atiku cannot keep to promises. That was why I refused to follow him to the Action Congress (AC). He is always changing and changing again like a chameleon.

I knew he would abandon the AC cause midstream, just like he abandoned some Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) governors, prior to the 2003 presidential elections. Many of us had stuck out our necks for him. Projected him ahead of Obasanjo and attracted the wrath of the vindictive president but he struck his on deal and abandoned all of us to our fate.”
Insisting that the Turakin Adamawa has a penchant for betrayal, Kalu, who is the chairman of the board of Trustees (BOT) of the Progressive Peoples Alliance, (PPA) challenged him to a debate on national television.

On Atiku’s accusation of Kalu saying he was in charge of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, (EFCC) in the newspaper report, Kalu said Atiku was just being smart by half. “He merely dressed it up as an arsenal against him, as he knew the truth of the matter. Even Atiku knows that I know he was not in charge of EFCC. He just raised the non-existent issue to find something to talk about.”

Advising the former VP to chart a straight line in his dealings with people and politics, he said many people, including him, have incurred monumental losses from his several reversals at ethical points. This he said, Atiku was fully aware of.
He further took on the ex-vice-president over his allegation that he, Kalu, aborted the formation of a mega party because of his vaulting ambition, and his alleged description of him as a political featherweight and jester.
The PPA chief said: “How can a “political featherweight” and “jester” abort the formation of a mega party? If I am truly what you said I am, then, why did you rely on me to form a mega party? It is illogical.”

Kalu said it was left for Nigerians to choose between him and Atiku, who is more credible and acceptable.
Dismissing Atiku’s description of him as a political liability, he raised posers: “Now that Atiku is a political asset, how come he did not begin by winning his state, Adamawa? Why is PDP controlling his state of Adamawa, down to the wards, while me, a political featherweight, according to him, I am able to help put together a party that is now controlling two states. A totally new party! Incidentally the same PDP that Atiku claims manipulated him out of Adamawa deployed even more intimidating machinery to Abia and we, withstood them.

Kalu also joined issues with him on his claims that he (Atiku) is undergoing trial and therefore not qualified to comment on the issue.
Again, he said: “Atiku should be the last person to comment on such issues like trials. What about his Customs records? If standing trial is a disqualification, how come h e still ran for political office in 2007?”
He is talking about corruption, here is a man who is being investigated by several foreign agencies for money laundering. What about the Potomac house, the PTDF and so on? Apart from working in Customs, he never did much to earn money. Let him tell us the source of his money. Let him even tell Nigerians the circumstances that led to his exit from the Customs.”

He continued: “Nigerian youths are jobless. The Petroleum Technology Development Fund (PTDF) report is with the Senate. Atiku knows he impoverished this nation. I never said he used the EFCC against me. What I said was that Obasanjo used EFCC to fight me, because he felt strongly that I supported Atiku.
Kalu prayed Atiku to ask Nigerians for forgiveness, affirming that his new romance with his former boss and tormentor is only a furtherance of his cycle of inconsistencies and self-serving politics.

Power probe: Arrest Agagu now –Lam Adesina

Former Governor of Oyo State, Alhaji Lamidi Adesina, has called for immediate arrest of the erstwhile Governor of Ondo State, Dr. Olusegun Agagu, over his role in the series of failed contracts in the nation’s power sector.

Besides, the former governor, fondly referred to as ‘Lam’ in the political circles, also commended President Umaru Yar’Adua for his non-interference in the judgment of the court, which nullified the declaration of Agagu as the winner of April 14, 2007 governorship election.

In an exclusive chat with Daily Sun in Ibadan yesterday, the former governor stated that as a former Minister of Power and Steel in the Olusegun Obasanjo’s administration, the ousted governor should be arrested and prosecuted immediately for the problem and fraud associated with the power sector contracts.

Said Adesina: “I think Agagu should be arrested now to answer questions on the power probe initiated by the National Assembly. Now that he has lost his immunity, he should be picked up by the anti-graft agencies to account for all the spending and spurious contracts awarded by him as Minister of Power and Steel under Chief Olusegun Obasanjo.”

While commending the justices of the Court of Appeal for restoring the hope of the common man in the judiciary, Lam described the judgment as “a very good one which has done justice to justice in Nigeria.”
He charged the new governor, Dr. Olusegun Mimiko, to live up to the expectations of Ondo people by working assiduously to justify the confidence reposed in him (Mimiko) by Ondo people through their votes and commitment to his struggle and eventual victory at the court.

Meanwhile, the state chapter of the Action Congress (AC) has applauded yesterday’s judgment that gave the April poll victory to Mimiko, who contested the election under the Labour Party (LP).
In a statement signed by the Publicity Secretary of the party in the state, Mr. Wasiu Olatunbosun, AC described the judgment as a vindication of the wishes of Ondo people as well as a bitter lesson for apostle of ‘do or die’ election in the country.

The party urged the victorious governor to teem up with the progressives in the country in the struggle to bail out the nation from the maladministration of “election riggers and electoral rogues masquerading as democrats in the ruling Peoples Democratic Party.”
Meanwhile, the new governor has warned commercial banks in the state against transacting any business with any government official in the transition period
A statement issued and signed by the newly appointed Chief Press Secretary (CPS) to the governor, Mr. Kolawole Olabisi, also appealed to civil servants to keep vigil on all government property, funds and other valuables.

He warned that all violators of these orders would be sanctioned
In further reaction to yesterday’s judgement, the Chairman of Yoruba Socio Cultural group, Afenifere, Chief Reuben Fasoranti, yesterday congratulated Mimiko on his victory, saying that the judgment was the wish of the people adding, “we are happy for this country and for the boldness of the judiciary.”
This verdict, he said, has rekindled the hope of the common man.

Director, Media & Research of the Progressives Coalition (the body of all opposition parties and groups) in the state Hon. Bola Ilori, has hailed the judgment regarding the change of guards in the sunshine State.
Ilori said it is “the restoration of the hope of the people and redemptive balm on the excruciating alienation of the people of the state after about six years in the throes of Agagu’s inflicted pains and labyrinth of economic hemorrhagic pillage. It’s a refreshing new day, pregnant with positive progressive possibilities.”

Ondo guber: Tears of joy as Mimiko gets final judgment

Tears of joy rolled down the cheeks of Dr. Rahman Olusegun Mimiko as the Court of Appeal on Monday in Benin affirmed the decision of the lower tribunal, which on July 25, 2008 declared him winner of the April 14, 2007 governorship election in Ondo State.

In dismissing all the 12 grounds of appeal filed by the appellant and erstwhile governor, Dr. Olusegun Agagu, the court in a unanimous decision held that Dr. Mimiko, having satisfied sections 21 and 39 of the Electoral Act 2006 “is hereby declared duly elected Governor of Ondo State.

“The appeal is hereby dismissed. The judgment of the tribunal is hereby affirmed,” the court held in its judgment delivered by its President, Justice Umaru Abdullahi.
According to the Court of Appeal, Dr. Mimiko of the Labour Party won the election with 195,030 votes as against 138,155 votes scored by Dr. Agagu of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). The court held that Dr. Mimiko scored 25 per cent of the votes in 12 out of the 18 local governments in the state.

The court urged the Independent Electoral Commission (INEC) to learn to be neutral in electoral cases, just as it condemned the attitude of the Nigerian Police and the Army in joining the fray.
The court held that the appellants were wrong to have raised the issue that Dr Mimiko’s petition was not competition and that it should be struck out at the appeal state, stressing that the appropriate place to have raised the issue was the lower tribunal where the matter was tried.

On the non-joinder of the police and the electoral officers which the appellants contended was fatal to Dr Mimiko’s petition, the Court of Appeal held that where INEC is a party in electoral matter, the non-joinder of any of its agents would not have any effect on the petition, adding that joining of the police and other agents alleged to have committed electoral fraud was not necessary, as the Electoral Act 2006 was distinct from the 2002 Electoral Act which required such joinder.

The court also held that the argument of the appellants’ counsel that the tribunal sorted and counted the ballot papers on its own without involving the parties was untenable as records of the lower tribunal showed that the counting was carried out and witnessed by agents of all parties in the case.
It held further that the allegations of election rigging made by the petitioner against Dr. Agagu and the PDP was proved by a reply in a letter by the Secretary to the Ondo State Government, accepting to pay compensation to a 300-level student of the University of Ibadan who was killed while rigging election
The Court of Appeal, while okaying the lower tribunal’s decision to cancel election results in some units and wards on the grounds of irregularities and non-voting, held that the appellants’ argument that the election did not comply substantially with the 2006 Electoral Act was unmeritorious and therefore resolved in favour of the petitioner.

While holding that the appellants’ failure to produce forms EC8A was fatal to their case, the court further held that the appellants’ objection to the use of charts was unmeritorious, as the appellants ant respondents made the use of charts cornerstone of their case.
Reacting to the judgment, lead counsel to Dr. Agagu, Chief Lateef Fagbemi [SAN] thanked the justices for their effort.

On his part, lead counsel to Dr. Mimiko, Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN) described the judgment as a demonstration of the wishes of the people through the ballot box.
“When you delivered the Oshiomhole judgment, I said it is the best. This judgment is the very best of the very best. It has become the catechism of all judicial authorities. You have carried out a revolution but you might not know. It is redemption of our democracy. The Court of Appeal has never been greater than it is today,” he said.

Replying, Justice Abdullahi commended the counsel for their hardwork, saying that the case was a very complex case, even as he also commended his colleagues on the bench.
Soon after the judgment was given, supporters of Dr. Mimiko went into wild jubilation within the court premises
In his reaction at the Government House, Benin, Dr. Mimiko said nobody should assume that he could steal the peoples vote and mandate with impunity and assured the people of Ondo State that their hope would not be dashed.

On his part, Governor Oshiomhole of Edo State said “we in Edo State are privileged to be part of this history. I thank God for the wonderful things He has done for our country when some sections of the political class have continued to mess up the country,” adding that the judiciary has restored those votes the people of Ondo gave to the winner.

Cristiano Ronaldo: We Are Better Than Inter The FIFA World Player of the Year has sent out the battle cries ahead of his club's showdown with Italian

England and Italy have had their fair share of battles this past century, let alone throughout their history. Perhaps the most notable of all - in a footballing context - was the pre-World War II international match between the two nations in November 1934 that was dubbed, with hindsight, the Battle of Highbury, due to the violent intensity that was displayed on the field.

England emerged victorious by a 3-2 scoreline, but had to make do with less men due to a robust Ted Drake challenge that took out Italian defender Luis Monte. Throughout the fixture, feet were broken, arms were fractured, and players were relentlessly punched as a chaotic free-for-all ensued.

Seventy five years later there could again be a historic showdown between the two countries as all the Italian Champions League representatives have been drawn against English opposition, and Manchester United's Cristiano Ronaldo has, ahead of their clash against Internazionale, sent out warring cries that it has to be: "kill, or be killed."

He further told the official website of UEFA: "From now on, all games are important. It's time to kill or be killed. Whoever loses will exit the competition and we don't want to lose, we don't want to get stuck along the way. It will be a difficult game, but I think that Manchester United have a better team, and we'll do our best to win it."

Ronaldo though, also spoke of the need to treat the back-to-back Scudetto winners with "respect," saying, "They're a good side and first in Serie A so we need to be very careful. They're a team with very experienced players, but we also have our aces and great players. We have a more experienced team, we're the reigning champions. It will be a good game, a well-contested game, and the better team will win."

Manchester United famously lifted the most prestigious trophy in club football in an all-English final in Moscow last year, and will use that taste of success as a source of motivation. Ronaldo scored a thumping header during open-play, but missed his penalty in the shoot-out, and revealed his relief at seeing Dutch international Edwin van der Sar beat Nicolas Anelka's effort clear of his line.

"I always had a great ambition to win the Champions League, because it isn't obtainable for every player. It was my first Champions League win, so the emotion was spectacular. I remember Edwin van der Sar saving Nicolas Anelka's penalty and for me it was like the earth stood still, it was a really brilliant sensation. Sometimes we can't control our emotions."

He continued: "The Champions League is unique. When you hear the music and you come out on to the pitch, you feel you're part of a game that is completely different to all the others. It is already the most evenly-balanced competition in football in my opinion and it is spectacular to play in.

"It's every player's ambition to be a part of the Champions League, and they would all like to win it. I've had that privilege, and I hope to repeat that very soon," he concluded.

At the time of writing, Manchester United had already embarked on their plane journey to Milan. Their clash with Inter kicks-off on Tuesday evening at 19:45 GMT.

There were various defensive worries for United, but both Jonny Evans and John O'Shea have travelled.

February 10, 2009

BREAKING NEWS : Chelsea Sack Scolari, Avram Grant In Frame For Return

After a series of underwhelmingly unsatisfactory performances and results, Chelsea have been quick to ensure the rut does not continue by relieving Brazilian boss Luiz Felipe Scolari of his managerial responsibilities.

Chelsea's numerous weaknesses all over the park: from their static movement from defending set-pieces, to their midfield's inability to accelerate with the ball, to the forward line spurning the chances in front of goal, have been exposed and the club have won just seven points from a possible 15 in 2009.

Assistant manager Ray Wilkins - who was appointed to the role in September - will temporarily take control of first team affairs while the club search for a more permanent recruit.

A statement on the club's official website read: "Luiz Felipe Scolari has been dismissed as manager of Chelsea Football Club today (Monday) with immediate effect.

"The board would like to record our gratitude for his time as manager. Unfortunately the results and performances of the team appeared to be deteriorating at a key time in the season.

It continued: "In order to maintain a challenge for the trophies we are still competing for we felt the only option was to make the change now.

"The search for a new manager has already started and we hope to have someone in place as soon as possible.

"While that continues Assistant Coach Ray Wilkins will take charge of the team on a temporary basis," the statement concluded.

Sky Sports are speculating that Guus Hiddink - of the Russian national team - and Avram Grant, who guided the club to the League Cup final, the Champions League final, and second place in the Premier League, are the forerunning candidates, possibly together, with the former as Director of Football and the latter as head coach.

February 5, 2009

EFCC arrests electricity commission boss, directors

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission on Wednesday arrested the Chairman of the National Electricity Regulatory Commission, Dr. Ransome Owan, and six commissioners in the agency over an alleged N5bn fraud.

Their arrests occured hours after a Federal High Court in Benin, Edo State, restrained 15 banks not to honour cheques issued by the Ondo State Government for some contracts.

Sources close to the EFCC said that Owan and the commissioners would remain at the EFCC headquarters in Abuja, until investigation was concluded.

When contacted on the telephone, the EFCC Spokesman, Mr. Femi Babafemi, sent a terse text message in which he wrote “confirmed.”

The Head, Media and Publicity of the agency, Mr. Michael Faloseyi, could not be reached as at 9pm on Wednesday for comment but a source in the NERC said, “All I can say is that they (Owan and the commissioners) were arrested by EFCC operatives at the close of work today(Wednesday).

The NERC is an electricity licensing and regulatory agency of the Federal Government that does not award contracts.

It was set up in 2006 following the enactment of the Electric Power Sector Reform Act, which envisaged the privatisation of the power sector.

Part of the agency’s mandate is to regulate the Power Holding Company of Nigeria units when they are privatised. It also regulates the Independent Power Projects.

So far, it has licensed 29 independent power producers, some of which are at various stages of developing their power plants.

Its source of funding is largely through Federal Government’s subventions and revenue from licensing IPPs.

Six of the commissioners arrested are from each of the six geo-political zones of the country.

Except the chairman, who has a five-year tenure, the commissioners serve for four years each.

The power sector had in the last one year been enmeshed in controversy and non-execution of contracts, which forced the House of Representatives Committee on Power to investigate the sector.

The committee’s report is yet to be debated by the House, just as the legislature noted that about $13bn was invested in the sector without any commensurate results.

Some former aides of ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo and governors were indicted by the committee in its report. The committee also recommended some contracts and individuals involved in the scam for further investigation by anti-graft agencies.

Despite poor electricity supply across the country, NERC approved a new electricity tariff known as the Multi-Year Tariff Order, which took effect on July1, 2008.

The Federal Executive Council on March 30, 2008 approved the scheme.

From N6 per kilowatt hour since 2002, the new tariff regime was pegged at N11 per kilowatt hour.

It will cost government N177.95bn to take care of the shortfall in tariff for the next three years.

Early in January, the Minister of State for Power, Nuhu Wya, had said that electricity generation would decide the 2011 elections.

The Federal Government is targeting the generation of 10,000 Megawatts by 2010 as against the current capacity, which is far below 3000 megawatts.

In Benin, the Federal High Court which restrained 15 banks holding the accounts of the Ondo State Government from honouring cheques issued by the state also stopped Governor Olusegun Agagu from awarding fresh contracts.

The court gave the orders while ruling on Tuesday on an ex-parte application filed by three applicants — Mr. Olawale James, Mr. Raymond Akadiri and Mr. Ibikunle Peters.

A copy of the Certified True Copy of the court order was made available to our correspondent in Akure on Wednesday.

Apart from the 15 banks, other defendants in the case included the state Accountant-General, the Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, the EFCC and its Chairman, Mrs. Farida Waziri.

The banks are Zenith Bank Plc, First City Monument Bank, Skye Bank, Diamond Bank, Unity Bank Plc, United Bank for Africa, Oceanic Bank, Stanbic IBTC Bank and Union Bank Plc.

Others are Intercontinental Bank Plc, Spring Bank, Guaranty Trust Bank, WEMA Bank, Access Bank and First Bank of Nigeria Plc.

The plaintiffs had in the ex-parte application prayed the court to order the EFCC to conduct investigations into various contracts awarded by the state government between August 2008 and January 2009.

According to them, the contracts awarded during this period included water transmission projects being handled by SCC Nigeria Limited at the Owena Multipurpose Dam which cost N14.4bn and payment of N3.8bn mobilisation fee to SCC Contruction Company through the FCMB, Akure branch.

Justice Chukwurah Nnamani adjourned the case till Friday.

FA charge Wright-Phillips after Delap clash

Manchester City winger Shaun Wright-Phillips has been charged with violent conduct by the Football Association.

The charge relates to an incident between the 27-year-old and Stoke City's Rory Delap during City's 1-0 defeat at the Britannia Stadium on Saturday, which was missed at the time by referee Martin Atkinson.

The player has until 6pm on Thursday to respond to the charge.

Everton dumps Liverpool out with late winner

Everton celebrate Gosling's late winner
Teenager Dan Gosling scored deep into extra time to give Everton a 1-0 win over city rivals Liverpool in their FA Cup fourth-round replay on Wednesday.

The Merseyside neighbours, who had already shared two draws in just over a fortnight, were locked in another stalemate at 0-0 at the end of normal time after a physical game of few chances.

Playing with an extra man after Lucas Leiva's dismissal for a second yellow card in the 76th minute, Everton were rewarded for their livelier play when Gosling's shot went in off the post in the 118th minute.

Liverpool's night was further blemished by an injury to their captain Steven Gerrard, who left the field after a quarter of an hour with a left hamstring problem.

With Everton still playing without a recognised striker and Liverpool forward Fernando Torres looking out of sorts, goalkeepers Pepe Reina and Tim Howard had little to do for most of a scrappy match.

The best chance in normal time came midway through the second half when Everton midfielder Leon Osman thundered a shot off the right-hand post.

Everton had several chances in extra time, Tim Cahill went just wide with a header and Osman forced a good save from Reina before 19-year-old midfielder Gosling stole the headlines and set up a fifth-round tie against Aston Villa.

In another all top-division encounter, Blackburn Rovers got the better of Sunderland with a 2-1 extra-time win.

Blackburn's Aaron Mokoena cancelled out David Healy's early goal, sending the match into extra time at 1-1. South African Benni McCarthy avoided the need for penalties with a header in the 117th minute.

Villa scored twice in four minutes midway through the first half before running out 3-1 winners at home to Championship Doncaster Rovers in their third round replay.

Steve Sidwell and John Carew put the Premier League side ahead before Doncaster pulled one back in first-half stoppage time through Jason Price. Villa made sure of victory with Nathan Delfouneso's diving header in the 61st.

In the day's all-Championship replay, Derby County came back from two goals down to beat near neighbours Nottingham Forest 3-2 and earn themselves a plum fifth-round meeting with Premier League champions Manchester United.

Forest scored twice in the first 15 minutes through Chris Cohen and Nathan Tyson from the penalty spot, before headers from Rob Hulse and Paul Green put Derby level.

The visitors then snatched victory with an excellent long-range effort from former Forest winger Kris Commons.