Finance Minister Has No Power To Suspend SEC DG – Industrial Court – Vanguard, Page 19
The National Industrial Court, yesterday in Abuja, ordered the immediate reinstatement of Mounir Gwarzo, the suspended Director-General of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), back to his position. Gwarzo Gwarzo Justice Sanusi Kado, in his judgment, held that the Minister of Finance, named as second defendant in the suit, lacked the power to suspend the claimant. SEC is one of the government agencies under the ministry of finance. Kado further held that the issue in dispute was not about the position of the claimant (Gwarzo) as the DG of the Commission, but who has the power to suspend him. He said that the Minister, in the absence of the board, only had supervisory power, which does not include disciplinary power to suspend the DG. Kado held that it was only the Permanent Secretary in the of Ministry of Finance, on the directive of the president, who had the power of suspension. He stated, “the minister’s role was that of recommendation.” No money missing, stolen in CBN, says spokesman Kado, in addition, said the Administrative Panel of Inquiry that indicted the claimant was not a court of law neither was it a quasi-judicial body, but just a body set up for a fact finding duty. He, therefore, declared that the suspension of the claimant was null, void and of no effect. Kado also declared that the recommendation of the Administrative Panel of Inquiry set up by the second defendant, be set aside.
Foreign Reserves Rise By $294.99m In One Month – Punch, Page 25
The nation’s foreign reserves rose by $295.12m to $45.087bn as of May 27 from $44.792bn on April 26, the latest statistics from the Central Bank of Nigeria revealed. The reserves, which rose from $43.041bn on December 17, 2018, to $43.047bn as of January 9, 2019, also maintained a steady rise from $42.87bn on March 12 to $44.728bn as of April 12. The CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele, said the introduction of the Investors & Exporters window, along with improvement in domestic production of goods, helped shore up the country’s external reserves. He said, “Transactions have reached over $48bn since the inception of the window and our foreign exchange reserves have risen to $45bn in April 2019 from $23bn in October 2016. Nigeria’s current stock of external reserves is now able to finance over nine months of current import commitments. “With improved availability of foreign exchange, the exchange rate at the I&E FX window has remained stable over the past 24 months at an average of N360/$, and the parallel market exchange rate has appreciated from N525/$ in February 2017 to N360/US$ today.” Emefiele recalled that in October 2014, the US Federal Reserve commenced the tapering of its quantitative easing programme towards a more conventional monetary tightening cycle. He said the decision led to acute capital flow reversals, especially from emerging markets and heightened financial fragilities in the countries. According to him, the most important of the factors to impact the Nigerian economy was the plunge in crude oil price. He said that Nigeria’s overdependence on crude oil for over 60 per cent of fiscal revenue and over 90 per cent of forex inflows, meant that shocks in the oil market were transmitted entirely to the economy via the forex markets as manufacturers and traders who required forex for input purchases were faced with dwindling supplies.
BDC Rates – BusinessDay, Page 1
Stock Market Report – May 30
ALL SHARE INDEX 31,307.00
EQUITY CAP N13,789,282,363,557.18
Confusion, Accusations In Imo Over Demolition Of Akachi Tower – Vanguard, Page 30
must be unpaid contractors; we’re focused on better things —Govt By Chinonso
Alozie & Dennis Agbo Accusations and counter-accusations have trailed the
demolition of Akachi Tower in Owerri, Imo State. Okorocha The Akachi tower
being demolished by suspected agents of the government. While the immediate
past governor, Rochas Okorocha, said it was a first assignment of the new
administration of Governor Emeka Ihedioha, the governor denied any knowledge of
the demolition, but suggested that it could be the work of those who have been
working around the statue without being paid by the Okorocha government.
Okorocha, through his Special Adviser on Media, Sam Onwuemedo, said: “We want
to also use this opportunity to inform the general public that 24 hours after
inauguration, the new PDP government in the state carried out its first
assignment by demolishing Akachi (the symbolic hand of God) Tower erected by
the former governor. “This is suspicious. They have also changed the Imo Trade
and Investment Centre to Ahiajoku. The former governor had taken certain steps
to bring Imo people closer to God. We have also heard that they want to close
the Government House Chapel.”
Absence Of Defence Counsel Stalls Tuface’s Libel Suit Against Blackface – The Nation, Page 5
The N53 million defamation suit instituted by Innocent Idibia (Tuface) and his manager, Efe Omorogbe, against Augustine Ahmedu, aka Blackface, was stalled yesterday at an Ikeja High Court, Lagos. When the matter came up yesterday before Justice Josephine Oyefeso, counsel to the defence was not available. Tuface’s counsel, Mr. Opeyemi Owolabi, told the court that the business of the day was hearing of the notice of preliminary objection. Owolabi told the court that the absence of the defendant had no bearing, since the defence did not file any response to the application before the court. He reminded the court that the application had been pending since April 17 and that the defence counsel had three months to do the needful. Owolabi contended that his absence should not have any bearing on the matter since there were other lawyers in his chambers. He, therefore, asked the court for N100,000 as cost. The trial judge, Justice Oyefeso, however, informed the claimants’ counsel that the defence counsel had written to the court, attributing his absence to an ailment that led to abdominal surgery.
Senate Flays FG For Spending N11tn On Subsidy In Six Years – Punch Page 25
The Senate on Thursday flayed the payment of N11tn to oil marketers as subsidy in the last six years, stressing that the development, if not halted, could kill the nation’s economy. The upper chamber took the decision while considering the report of its Committee on the Downstream Petroleum Sector. The Chairman of the committee, Kabir Marafa, had while presenting the report, told his colleagues that Nigeria spent over N11tn to pay outstanding subsidy claims in the last six years. The development came just as the upper chamber, on Thursday, approved the payment of additional N129bn subsidy claims to 67 petroleum marketers. The Senate had earlier on Tuesday approved the payment of N68.9bn as subsidy claims to 20 petroleum marketers. Marafa’s report read in part, “That due to the scarcity of forex within the period, oil marketing companies were allowed to source forex outside the CBN rate to enable them to meet the country’s petroleum products demand. “That NNPC Retail get their petroleum product allocation directly from PPMC at an already subsidised rate and so does not require forex to transact its business.” Some of the oil marketers and the amount approved for them include Total Nigeria Plc, N13.7bn; Northwest Petroleum, N11.4bn; Masters Energy, N10bn; MRS Oil Plc, N8.8bn; and Sahara Energy, N8.4bn.
Senate Says Economy In Danger, As FG Spends N11trn On Subsidy Payment In 6 Yrs – Vanguard Page 9
Senate, yesterday, raised the alarm that the nation has spent not less than N11
trillion on oil subsidy payment in six years, warning that further payment
could kill the economy. IGP I’ve no information that the money was paid on the
instructions of Allison-Madueke – Belgore(Opens in a new browser tab)
Consequently, the Senate asked the Federal Government to put an end to the
payment of oil subsidy, which it described as a drain on the economy. The
lawmakers also called for building of new refineries to finally put an end to
fuel subsidy payment in the country. Resolutions of the Senate were sequel to
the consideration of a report of the Senator Kabiru Marafa (APC, Zamfara
Central)-led Committee on Petroleum, Downstream on Promissory Note Programme
and a Bond Issuance to Settle Inherited Local Debts and Contractual Obligations
to Petroleum Marketers. In his presentation, yesterday, Marafa said the
committee observed that there were differences in submissions made by the
Federal Ministry of Finance, Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency,
PPPRA, and oil marketers. According to him, all the subsidy arrears’ claims
were based on three inter-related elements, namely subsidy, forex differentials
and bank interests on unpaid claims.
Aircraft Acquisition: Finally, Lessors Blacklist Nigeria – Thisday Page 21
Nigerian airlines will henceforth find it extremely difficult to acquire aircraft through leasing, except by outright purchase as THISDAY learnt that major aircraft leasing companies in the world have blacklisted the country. The blacklisting was as a result of the failure of some indigenous airlines to return aircraft to lessors after they defaulted on the terms of the acquisition of the equipment. THISDAY gathered from reliable industry sources that recent efforts by some domestic carriers to lease aircraft met a dead end as many of the lessors shunned the request while others gave outrageous conditions that could not be met by the operators. The leasing companies may have decided to blacklist Nigeria after Top Brass, a charter service airline allegedly defaulted in leasing agreement with Seagold, Canada based lessor, which leased a Bombardier Q300 aircraft to the Nigerian carrier. THISDAY learnt that efforts to recover the aircraft by Seagold was made difficult by Top Brass, which went to court to frustrate the recovery; until the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) waded in and using the principle of the Cape Town Convention facilitated the Canadian company to recover the aircraft. In reaction, Top Brass raised an alarm and accused Seagold of stealing the aircraft, which was deregistered by NCAA as a Nigeria aircraft and on arrival in Canada, was registered by the country’s civil aviation authority, Transport Canada. The blacklisting was confirmed by the CEO of Aero Contractors, Captain Ado Sanusi, who noted that because of series of default by some Nigerian carriers, the lessors have decided not to lease aircraft to indigenous operators. “Nigeria has reached to that point where there is subtle blacklisting.
Army Warns Saboteurs Of War Against Terrorism – The Nation, Page 8
The Nigerian Army (NA) on Thursday warned those sabotaging the war against terrorism in the Northeast to desist or be made to face appropriate sanctions. It accused some humanitarian aid agencies and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) of supplying food to terrorists. In a statement by its spokesman, Col. Sagir Musa, the Army said the activities of the NGOs amounted to serious security breaches. The statement reads: “The Nigerian Army, through the Theatre Command, Operation Lafiya Dole, has once again received disturbing reports indicating that the war against Boko Haram terrorists is being sabotaged by some stakeholders operating in the Northeast. “This unfortunate development came to the fore with the arrest of a high profile Boko Haram Terrorist Commander, Mohammed Modu (an Amir or commander in the Abubakar Shekau’s faction) by troops of 251 Task Force Battalion of Operation Lafiya Dole on May 26.
2019 Budget: Buhari To Spend N1bn On Travels – Vanguard Page 9
President Muhammadu Buhari is to spend N1. 001 billion on travels this year. The detailed 2019 budget, which he signed into law early this week, showed that the president would spent N751.296 million travelling around the world and another N250. 021 million locally. President Muhammadu Buhari signing of the 2019 Appropriation Bill to law at the State House, Abuja. Photo by Abayomi Adeshida 27/05/2019 Global businesses spend $3.2tr on innovation, ROI drops 27% in five years — Accenture(Opens in a new browser tab) According to the budget, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo will also spend N217.060 million on foreign travels and another N83. 74 million on local travels. N3.822 billion was earmarked for annual routine maintenance of mechanical/electrical installations in the Villa. According to the budget, N576. 747 million was set aside for the phased replacement of vehicles, spares and tyres in the presidential CVU, security/police escort and State House operational fleet. Another N395. 834 million was earmarked for the construction of the Presidential Wing of the State House Clinic, while N395. 834 million would be spent on the construction of office buildings. The President would spend N164. 176 million on honourarium and sitting allowance, as well as, N25 .652 million on meals and refreshments. The Office of the Chief Security Officer to the President got the sum of N 433. 457 million for the purchase of security and operational vehicles
Buhari Urged To Deploy More Troops To Taraba/Benue Border – The Nation Online
A group, G20 Club Abuja, has called on President Muhammadu Buhari to deploy more troops to Taraba and Benue borders. The group said the call followed the outcry by the two state governors over their inability to contain the wanton killings and destructions of lives and properties their borders. The group, in a statement signed by its interim spokesman, Mr. Osborne Adi Jnr, said: “President Muhammadu Buhari has been enjoined to deploy more troops to Taraba and Benue states border to stop the carnage that has claimed more than 100 lives in the area in recent weeks. “The call is coming on the heels of outcry by the two states’ chief executives – Darius Ishaku and Samuel Ortom – over their inability to contain the wanton killings and destructions of lives and properties currently ongoing in their states. “Ishaku had last week lamented that there was nothing his government could do about the crises since the security architecture was outside his control and has, therefore, resorted to only prayers.
African Trade Pact Takes Off Without Nigeria – Vanguard Page 19
The African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement came into effect yesterday, without Nigeria, Africa’s largest economy, following ratification of the deal by the required 22 countries a month ago. The trade pact will potentially cover a market of 1.2 billion people, with a combined gross domestic product of $2.5 trillion, once passed by all 55 nations recognized as part of the African Union (AU), to become world’s largest free trade zone. Recall that the minimum threshold of ratifications by 22 African countries was achieved on April 29, 2019, when Sierra Leone and Saharawi Republic signed up to the deal, with the agreement taking effect a month later on May 30, 2019. All that is now left is for AU and African Ministers of Trade to finalize work on supporting instruments to facilitate the launch of the operational phase of the AfCFTA during an Extra-Ordinary heads of state and government summit on 7th July 2019. Tony Elemelu Foundation unveils 2019 entrepreneurs Jakkie Cilliers, Head of African Futures and Innovation at the South Africa-based Institute for Security Studies, said AfCFTA would help the continent move away from mainly exporting commodities to build manufacturing capacity and industrialize.
Ogun Workers Honors Ex-Deputy Governor – The Nation, Page 10
The immediate past Ogun State Deputy Governor Chief Yetunde Onanuga has been described as an exemplary leader and a caring mother, who is always concerned about the welfare of her workers. The commendation was made by the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Rural Development, Reverend Gbenle Olugbebi, during a get-together event organised in her honour by staff of her office at the State Secretariat, Oke-Imosan, Abeokuta. Olugbegi described Chief Onanuga as a quintessential leader, who in the course of her doubling appointment as deputy governor and the ministry’s commissioner turned the place around and impacted positively in the lives of the rural dwellers through growth. The Special Adviser to the Governor on Rural Development, Mr. Wale Ogunyomade and the Director of Survey , Ken Salem Onasose, noted that her sense of humour, conviviality and sharp memory has distinguished her, adding that she exuded a great feeling of a caring mother, with humanity and rectitude.
Nigerians Became Poorer In Buhari’s First Term, Says The Economist – Thisday, Online
The Economist has stated that Nigerians became poorer during the first term of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration, insisting that while the Nigerian economy was “stuck like a stranded truck,” average incomes fell during the four-year period covering 2015 to 2019. In the report posted yesterday on its website, the magazine said based on the position of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the average income of Nigerians “will not rise for at least another six years.” “The Nigerian economy is stuck like a stranded truck. Average incomes have been falling for four years; the IMF thinks they will not rise for at least another six (years). “The latest figures put unemployment at 23 per cent, after growing for 15 consecutive quarters. “Some 94 million people live on less than $1.90 a day, more than in any other country, and the number is swelling. By 2030, a quarter of very poor people will be Nigerians, predicts the World Data Lab, which counts such things,” the report explained. The report alleged that the naira was overvalued because the government had spent decades neglecting basic public goods such as roads, schools and electricity. “Where urgency is needed, Mr Buhari offers only caution. Few are holding their breath for any more drive in his second term, which began on May 29th. “Yet officials are postponing a crisis, not averting one. Consider borrowing. The debt-to-GDP ratio is 28 per cent, but Nigeria collects so little in tax that interest payments swallow about 60 per cent of federal revenues,” the report added.
Hoodlums In Army Uniform Vandalise Fuel Pipeline In Lagos – Punch Page 4-5
Some hoodlums, who were said to be in army uniform, on Thursday, reportedly vandalised a petrol pipeline in Lagos, siphoned the product into four trucks and escaped before dawn. Residents of Tunde Alabi Crescent, Mafon in the Ejigbo area of the state, who are members of the Victory Estate Community Development Association, narrated their experience to PUNCH Metro. According to them, the incident happened between 12am and 2am. The residents said they wanted to challenge the vandals, but when they saw that they were accompanied by armed men in military uniform; they thought officials of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation wanted to do something there. They added that they did not know the truth until around 4.13am, when they saw some policemen and personnel of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, who cordoned off the area and prevented the movement of people. It was learnt that safe for members of the CDA that rushed to the scene before the arrival of the security personnel, the entire area would have been engulfed in fire. Our correspondent, who was in the area, observed that the pipeline was located in the middle of Tunde Alabi Crescent, about 27 metres away from a nursery/primary school in the highly populated Oboye area of Ejigbo.
HERDSMEN: Tension, Anger In South West – Vanguard, Page 28
Across the South-West states have shown that the insecurity level occasioned by the activities of herdsmen has reached a threatening point. herdsmen killings Apapa traffic situation multi-faceted – Sanwo-Olu(Opens in a new browser tab) The situation is now being likened to an existential threat by most stakeholders in the region. Villages are being attacked at will by herdsmen without response from security agencies. No one is safe as the herdsmen, not only murder people in remote but kidnap travellers in the region. The traditional institution in some villages, seems threatened, as the herdsmen have become audcious to the extent of threatening monarchs in their palaces. Concerned by this, various Yoruba groups, elders and leaders during the week lampooned the lackadaisical attitude of the Federal Government towards the invasion and unprovoked attacks by herdsmen across the country especially in the South-West. The Yoruba Council of Elders, YCE, Afenifere, Agbekoya Farmers’ Association, Soludero Hunters Association, the South- West Peoples Democratic Party, PDP and the All Progressives Congress, APC, were among those who expressed misgivings about the nefarious activities of herdsmen particularly in the South-West.
Man Arraigned For Slapping Policeman In Osun – Punch Online
One Taiwo Orofin has been arraigned before an Ile-Ife Magistrates’ Court in Osun State for allegedly slapping a traffic warden. Orofin was arraigned on two counts bordering on assault. Addressing the court on Thursday, the police prosecutor, Mr Sunday Osanyintuyi, said the defendant committed the offence on May 28, 2019, at the Obafemi Awolowo University Teaching Hospital Complex, Ile-Ife. He alleged that Orofin slapped one Inspector Ajiwe Samuel at his duty post. According to Osanyintuyi, the defendant injured the policeman in his upper lip during the attack. He added that the offence contravened sections 355 and 356 of the Criminal Law of Osun State, 2002. Orofin, however, pleaded not guilty to the charges. The defence counsel, Mr Olalekan Babatunde, urged the court to admit his client to bail with an assurance that Orofin would provide reliable sureties. Ruling on the bail application, the magistrate, Muhibah Olatunji, admitted the defendant to bail in the sum of N200,000 and adjourned the case till June 13.
Court Grants Naira Marley N2m Bail For Alleged Internet Fraud – Guardian, Online
Justice Nicholas Oweibo of the Federal High Court, Lagos, has granted a N2 million bail to a musician, Azeez Fashola, a.k.a. Naira Marley, for alleged fraud by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC). While ruling on the bail application filed by his counsel, Mr. Olalekan Ojo (SAN), the judge admitted him bail on the said sum with two sureties in like sum. Justice Oweibo further ordered that the sureties should not be less than level 10 officer in the state or federal government employment and have landed property within the jurisdiction of the court. It would be recalled that the anti-graft agency had on May 28, arraigned Fashola (Naira Marley) on a 11 count charges of alleged credit card fraud. In a suit marked FHC/L/178C/19, the commission alleged that some of the credit cards discovered in his residence bore the names Nicole Louise Malyon and Timea Fedorne Tatar. Upon his arraignment, Naira Marley pleaded not guilty to all the charges that the commission said contravened the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act and the Cyber Crimes Act. Moving his bail application, Ojo argued that the constitutional protection of the defendant is the provision of Section 162 (1) of the Administration of the Criminal Justice Act (ACJA) imposed a duty on the court to admit the defendant bail unless prosecution is able to prove beyond reasonable doubt. He also drew the attention of the court to the decision of the Supreme Court in the case of Patience Eye and FRN and urged the court to grant his client bail on liberal terms. “We urge my lord to exercise the discretionary power in favour of the defendant. It is the duty of the prosecution to place before the court a concrete evidence that the defendant is a flight risk or that he will influence the investigation. There is no way the defendant will run away.”
Teacher Walks To Death In Asaba Over Okowa’s Largesse – Punch, Online
A single mother of three children, Lovett Ighorodhe, slumped and died during the Delta State Governor Annual Elders’ Tournament Walk tagged: ‘Walk to Health’ in Asaba on Monday. The 10-kilometre walk that was strictly for Delta residents between the ages of 55 and 70 without gender discrimination was one of the activities lined up for the inauguration of Governor Ifeanyi Okowa’s second term. Okowa had splashed the winner, first runner-up and second runner-up with cash prizes running into millions of naira. Southern City News gathered that the deceased slumped less than two kilometres into the walk that commenced at the Abraka junction in Asaba through Dennis Osadebay Way, Nnebisi Road, Anwai Road to the Government House. The deceased, according to a source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, was a teacher at the Asagba Secondary School, Asaba, and was hale and hearty when she left for the walk. It was gathered that Ighorodhe was a native of Aboh in the Ndokwa East Local Government Area of the state and was in her 50s. The corpse was said to have been deposited in the morgue of the Federal Medical Centre, Asaba.
AFCON: Super Eagles Camp Kicks Off Sunday – Vanguard Page 46
The Super Eagles are expected to begin preparations for the Africa Cup of Nations on the 2nd of June in Asaba. Super Eagles Ahead of this year’s continental showdown in Egypt, the 2013 champions will report to training camp in Asaba to kickstart fitness and tactical preparations. In a brief interaction with reporters in Abuja, the second Vice President of the Nigerian Football Federation, Mallam Shehu Dikko said that everything is being put in place to make sure the team does well in Egypt. “So everything regarding their preparations is being sorted out. Once the players resume camp other issues that crop up will be dealt with. Nigerian football shall be great again – Ikpea “But all programs have been set out and all procedures are done. All that is left now is for the team to resume camp on the 2nd of June” Dikko revealed. Dikko also gave insights on the Super Eagles chances of winning the trophy in Egypt. “The chances? It’s the Nations Cup we are contesting for. Our objective is to win the cup, this is not the World Cup, it’s the Nations Cup. We are not going there to just participate. The minimal benchmark is to win the trophy and that’s what we are going to do,” Dikko concluded. Nigeria is placed in Group B alongside Burundi, Guinea, and Madagascar
UCL Seeds Set For Next Season – Punch Page 47
The seeds for next season’s Champions League group-stage draw are almost set after Chelsea won the Europa League on Wednesday night. Chelsea will be in Pot 1 as a European titleholder, with the only outstanding issue being whether Liverpool or Tottenham join them by winning the Champions League on Saturday. Chelsea and Tottenham or Liverpool will be with the winners of the top European leagues: Barcelona (La Liga), Manchester City (Premier League), Juventus (Serie A), Bayern Munich (Bundesliga), Paris Saint-Germain (Ligue 1) and Zenit Saint-Petersburg (Russian Premier). It means the Premier League will have three teams in Pot 1. The rest of the teams are seeded based on UEFA’s five-year coefficient score for performance in European competition, with the strongest teams in Pot 2 and the weakest in Pot 4. One team from each pot will be drawn into the eight Champions League groups in the draw ceremony on Aug. 29. Ajax, if they come through qualifying, will benefit from Chelsea winning the Europa League by taking the spare place in Pot 2.
AFCON: Tanzania Won’t Be Pushovers – Vanguard Page 45
Head Coach of the Taifa Stars of Tanzania, Emmanuel Amuneke has said his team won’t be pushovers at the forthcoming Africa Cup of Nations in Egypt but would make a positive impact. Amuneke leaves Al Khartoum over unpaid salaries Amuneke Having already become a national hero in the East African nation, the 1994 AFCON winner said that they now want to build a strong team despite being drawn in a very difficult group. “For now we are preparing hard for the competition and I believe we will present a decent team that can stand against some of the continent’s best,” Amuneke said. Nigeria celebrates first Women’s Wafu cup title win Despite being grouped in a tough group alongside Senegal, Kenya, and Algeria, the former African Footballer of the Year note that his lads will take the matches one at a time and are not under any pressure going into the competition. Amuneke will be boosted by the form of captain and sensational goal scorer Mbwana Samatta who netted 33 goals in all competitions for Genk as they hope to make a huge impact on their first return to the competition in 39 years. Currently camped in Egypt, Tanzania will face host nation Egypt on the 13th of June in a friendly match before their first Group C opener against Senegal ten days later.
Flying Eagles Hold Ukraine To Romp Into Knock Out Stage – ThisDay Page 54
Flying Eagles’ Aniekeme Okon (right) battling Chekh Maksym of Ukraine for ball possession during the 2019 FIFA U-20 World Cup last Group D match Duro Ikhazuagbe Nigeria’s Flying Eagles were again uninspiring on Thurday night as they managed to hold Ukraine 1-1 in their last Group D match of the ongoing FIFA U-20 World Cup Poland 2019 in a chilly Bielsko-Biala Stadium. The draw result earned the Ukrainians top spot in Group D with seven points. USA that defeated Qatar in the group’s other match last night finished as runners up on six points. A superior goal difference means Nigeria will also continue the campaign at the U-20 World Cup expedition, taking four points from three matches and likely to finish as one of the best third-placed teams. The Ukrainians who were content with a draw result as their previous two wins had landed the team in the knock out stage employing their tried-and-true strategy of congesting the middle with three central defenders. It frustrated the Flying Eagles attack for much of the first half, although a more enterprising bench would have known what to do to surmount the trick employed by the eastern Europeans. Danylo Sikan headed home from close range in the 30th minute to give Ukraine a 1-0 lead. A penalty awarded in the dying minutes of the first half that would have enabled Nigeria to tie the game one-all before the interval was fluffed by lanky Muhamed Tijani. He fired a tepid kick into the hands of goalkeeper Andriy Lunin. Three minutes into the second half, Nigeria again had another penalty awarded to her. AVR confirmed that Denys Popov handled Tijani’s shot on goal. The Nigerian forward got it right this time, firing past Lunin to ensure the two sides shared the spoils.
French Open: Osaka Advances After Azarenka Scare- Punch Page 47
World number one Naomi Osaka survived another early scare to reach the third round of the French Open. Japan’s Osaka, 21, overcame a poor start to beat two-time Grand Slam champion Victoria Azarenka 4-6 7-5 6-3. Osaka is chasing her third successive Grand Slam title having won the 2018 US Open and the Australian Open earlier this year. She will play the Czech Republic’s KaterinaSiniakova in the next round after she beat Greece’s Maria Sakkari. “I was lucky enough to play her (Azarenka) twice before this and I knew she was playing really well,” said Osaka. “It was unfortunate that this was a second-round match but I am happy I won.” Asked if she is as calm on the inside as she looks on court, she added, “No. I choked on this side (at 5-1) and almost choked on the other side (at 5-3). I am very emotional.” Osaka struggled in the early stages against world number 43 Azarenka, of Belarus, just as she did in the first round against Anna Karolina Schmiedlova when she failed to register a game. She hit 15 unforced errors in the opening set on Lenglen court as Azarenka, 29, dominated to go 5-1 up. From there, Osaka – who reached the third round at Roland Garros 12 months ago – started to find her rhythm, breaking Azarenka’s serve to move within one game of her opponent but Azarenka coolly served out the first set.