PLUS NG: Daily Media Summary, Thursday June 6, 2019

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$48b Forex Inflows, $45b Reserves Stabilise Naira – Nation, Page 7

Rising dollar inflows through the Investors’ and Exporters’ (I&E) Forex Window and foreign reserves accretion have stabilised the naira in the official and parallel markets. The I&E Forex Window has attracted $48 billion to the economy in 24 months, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) showed in its updated report on the dollar inflows. The report also showed that foreign reserves have risen to $45 billion. With improved availability of foreign exchange, the exchange rate at the I&E Forex window has remained stable over the past two years at an average of N360/$, and the parallel market exchange rate has appreciated from N525/$ in February 2017 to N360/$ at present. The window, which offers investors the opportunity to sell dollars at rates of their choice, provided they find willing buyers, has restored confidence to the forex market and boosted the foreign exchange reserves. Not many investors – local and international – gave the I&E Forex window any chance to succeed when it was introduced.

CBN Engages 100,000 Cotton Farmers For Textile Sector Resuscitation – Punch, Page 26

The Central Bank of Nigeria is partnering the National Cotton Association of Nigeria to engage 100,000 Cotton farmers to cultivate 100,000 hectares of cotton for the 2019 season. The move is part of the measures by the apex bank to revive textile companies operating in the country and to make the sector provide jobs for Nigerians. The plan is contained in the technical cooperation proposal for revamping the cotton, garment and textile sector in Nigeria. The proposal, which was made available to our correspondent, would be executed by the Textile Revival Implementation Committee inaugurated by the CBN Governor, Mr Godwin Emefiele. The committee is made up of representatives from the CBN; Kaduna State government; ministries of Power, Works and Housing; Finance; Agriculture and Rural Development; Commerce and Industry and the Nigeria Customs Service. Within the last 20 years, the CTG sector had suffered so many challenges some of which are low cotton production, poor power and transport infrastructure, obsolete production lines, smuggling and counterfeiting, inadequate local patronage, high cost of production, and multiple taxation , among others.

Solution For Cyberattacks Unveiled – Thisday, Page 27

Sophos, a network and endpoint security firm has announced Intercept X for Server with Endpoint Detection and Response (EDR). By adding EDR to Intercept X for server, information technology (IT) managers can investigate cyber attacks against servers, a sought-after target due to the high value of data stored there. According to the company, cybercriminals frequently evolve their methods and are now blending automation and human hacking skills to successfully carry out attacks on servers. This new type of blended attack combines the use of bots to identify potential victims with active adversaries making decisions about who and how to attack, the company said in a statement. According to the company, the recent SophosLabs Uncut report on how worms deliver cryptomining Malware to web servers, underscores how easy it is for cybercriminals to leverage bots to discover soft targets. The report explains an automated attack that can deliver a wide range of malicious code to servers that, as a class, tend to lag behind normal update cycles.

Stocks Advance On Tariff Bets, Treasury Yields Fall – Punch, Page 29

Stocks climbed on optimism that Mexican tariffs will be avoided, while Treasury yields fell as data bolstered rate-cut wagers. Oil entered a bear market after U.S. supplies jumped the most in almost 30 years, according to Bloomberg. The S&P 500 Index rose a second day as President Donald Trump said Mexico wants to make a deal and White House trade adviser Peter Navarro told CNN the nation still has time to prevent the tariffs from taking effect. Treasuries rose as weak private-jobs data outweighed solid service-industries figures. Trump’s tariff threat has led several analysts to forecast increased risk of a recession in the world’s largest economy, putting pressure on the Federal Reserve to cut rates. The steepening US yield curve shows bond traders betting the case for Fed easing is only strengthening, even as top policy makers signal they’re not yet ready to act. “We’re continuing to see that wave of momentum,” said Ryan Nauman, market strategist at Informa Financial Intelligence. Traders are “hoping that the Fed will cut rates and hoping that a resolution to the trade concerns will come to an end sometime soon as the economy slows.”

BDC Rates – BusinessDay,  Page 1

USD              361

GBP              465

EUR              404

Stock Market Report – June 3

ALL SHARE INDEX           30,928.29

DEALS                            3,850.00

VOLUME                         246,091,330.00

VALUE                            N2,817,979,536.21

EQUITY CAP                    N13,622,477,916,538.18

BOND CAP                      N10,914,606,433,681.10

Banks’ Assets, Liabilities Rise To N38.4tn – Punch, Page 30

The total assets and liabilities of banks stood at N38.40tn at end-February 2019, representing 3.2 per cent increase above the level at end-December 2018. The total assets and liabilities of commercial banks stood at N37.14tn at the end of November 2018. According to the figures obtained from the Central Bank of Nigeria’s first quarter report of 2019, the funds were sourced, largely, from foreign liabilities; draw down on reserves and acquisition of credit from the CBN. The funds were used, mainly, for payment of demand deposits, and settlement of claims on the CBN and the Federal Government. At N20.93tn, banks’ credit to the domestic economy, at end-February 2019 showed an increase of 1.3 per cent, compared with the level at end-December 2018. The development reflected the 1.8 per cent rise in claims on the private sector in the review period. Total specified liquid assets of the banks was N13.266tn at end-March 2019, representing 59.5 per cent of the total current liabilities.

FBNInsurance Pays N4.8bn Claims – Punch, Page 29

FBNInsurance Limited, one of the life insurance companies in Nigeria, said it paid N4.8bn claims to its policyholders in the 2018 financial period. A statement quoted the company as saying this during its annual general meeting in Lagos. The Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer, FBNInsurance Limited, Val Ojumah, stated that the company closed the year with positive results and also made prompt claims payments to customers, despite the unpredictable economic situation in the country occasioned by the preparation for the 2019 general elections. Ojumah stated, “We grew gross premium written by 33 per cent to N26.0bn in 2018 from N19.6bn in 2017; while profit before tax appreciated by 44 per cent from N4.2bn in 2017 to N6.13bn in 2018.”

Sterling Bank Plans 10% Loan Portfolio For Agric – Punch, Page 30

Sterling Bank Plc says it has committed 10 per cent of its total loan portfolio to the finance of agriculture in recognition of the significant contribution that the sector is capable of making to the growth of the Nigerian economy. In a statement from the bank, the Group Head, Agriculture Finance and Solid Minerals, Sterling Bank, Mrs Bukola Awosanya, who disclosed this at a recent summit on commodity value-chain investment and agribusiness support initiative, through public and private partnership in Abuja, said the bank’s commitment was a deliberate effort to support farmers. Awosanya explained that agriculture financing constituted one of the five focal sectors of intervention for the bank alongside health, education, renewal energy and transport.

Millionaires Emerge In FCMB’s Promo – Punch, Page 30

Four customers of First City Monument Bank have won N1m each at the first draws of Season 6 FCMB savings reward scheme tagged ‘Millionaire Promo’, which took place nationwide.

A statement from the bank said some other customers won various prizes like LED televisions, generators, decoders, tablets and smartphones, among others. It stated that the winners emerged through a random selection of qualified customers at an event in the four regions and 19 zones that made up the bank’s footprint in Nigeria. The bank said some officials of the National Lottery Regulatory Commission, Consumer Protection Council, community leaders, thousands of customers of the financial institution and other dignitaries attended the event. It stated that the new millionaires were Olabisi Omotayo (Lagos region), Mustapha Egba (Abuja & North region), Helen Okon (South-East & South-south region) and Sholanke Olalekan (South-West region).

“Ecobank Is Most Admired Financial Services Brand In Africa” – Brand Africa 100

Ecobank has ascended to the number one position as the Most Admired Financial Services Brand in Africa. Brand Africa which released the top 100 brands in Africa recently also listed Dangote conglomerate, MTN Group and Anbessa shoe of Ethiopia as highly admired brands in different categories. Brand Africa 100 is involved in a pan-African survey and valuation of brands in Africa to create a unique index and ranking for the Best Brands in Africa. Brand Africa 100 believes that one of the key catalysts for Africa’s growth, competitiveness and reputation lies in developing and growing globally competitive and locally relevant African brands and global brands in Africa. Brand Africa 100 announced winners at an event at the Johannesburg Stock Exchange JSE, with industry leaders from across Africa, hosted by the JSE in partnership with Geopoll, Kantar and Brand Leadership in their 7th annual Brand Africa 100: Africa’s Best Brands. Nike, MTN, Dangote, Ecobank and BBC were recognised as the most admired brands on the continent. In the Most Admired Financial Services Brands category, Ecobank  ascended to the #1 position as the Most Admired Financial Services Brand, and Safaricom Mpesa retains its pole position among mobile money brands. 60% of them are made in Africa. The presence of multiple mobile money brands on the list, including Safaricom Mpesa (#13), Orange Money (#18), MTN Mobile Money (#19) and Tigo (#23), underscores the impact of not only Mpesa as the catalyst, but mobile as a key enabler for financial access. The Top 25 Most Admired Financial Services Brands list is dominated by South Africa (6), Nigeria (5) and Kenya (2).

With Over 300 Bills Passed, Eighth National Assembly Adjourns Sine Die Thursday – Thisday, Page 1

As the Eighth National Assembly winds down its legislative activities today, with a valedictory session scheduled to begin at 10 a.m., THISDAY’s findings revealed that the Senate passed 319 bills within four years. However, President Muhammadu Buhari vetoed no fewer than 65 of such bills. Apart from the number of bills, which surpassed those passed by the Fifth to Seventh Senate, the upper chamber of the nation’s legislature also treated 219 public petitions brought before it. The House of Representatives, however, had more hauls in bill passage, clocking 382 bills, 1,588 motions, and 1,192 petitions. The acting Clerk, House of Representatives, Mr. Patrick Giwa, made this known in a letter informing the federal lawmakers that the Special valedictory session to end the Eight House holds on today. At the session this morning, Senate President Bukola Saraki, who doubles as the Chairman of the National Assembly, is expected to give his valedictory speech as well as make public some books chronicling his stewardship. However, mixed reactions from different groups and professionals have greeted the legislative activities of the outgoing federal lawmakers.

Nigeria’s Yearly Stolen Fund Worth 62% Of 2019 Budget – Guardian, Page 1

Money stolen from Nigeria yearly through organised Illicit Financial Flows (IFFs) may provide almost 62 per cent of the funds needed to finance the 2019 budget. President Muhammadu Buhari last week signed into law the 2019 appropriation bill of N8.916 trillion after the National Assembly had increased it from N8.826 trillion. At the time, Nigeria’s share of global IFFs ($18 billion/N5.5 trillion) was only a little lower than the N6.97 trillion total revenue the country needed to fund the budget. The education sector is in decline, with the country accounting for the highest number of about 23,000 lecturers who leave the continent every year. Meanwhile, the $18 billion IFFs is twice the N3.90 trillion allocated to the sector in the past 10 years (2009-2018) from a total budget of N55.19 trillion. In 2009, the budget for education was N221.19 billion, N249.09 billion (in 2010), N306.3 billion (2011), N400.15 billion (2012) and N426.53 billion (2013). It was N493 billion in 2014, 392.2 billion (2015), N369.6 billion (2016) N550 billion (2017) and N605.8 billion in 2018, bringing the figure to N3.90 trillion, which is about N2 trillion lower than the yearly IFFs.

What We’re Doing About Abacha’s $300m, By FG – Daily Trust, Page 1

Negotiations between Nigeria, the United States of America and the Island of Jersey for the return of fresh $300m from former Head of State, late General Sani Abacha, has reached an advanced stage, Daily Trust heard yesterday. The Special Assistant to the President on Justice Sector Reform and National Coordinator for Open Government Partnership, Mrs Juliet Ibekaku-Nwagwu, a presidential aide, also said the figures being reported [£210m – equivalent to $267m or N82bn) are wrong. She said negotiations and litigation on money have been ongoing for over three years between the USA, Island of Jersey and Nigeria. The presidential aide refuted reports that the money will be divided between Nigeria, US and Jersey. Mrs Juliet Ibekaku-Nwagwu said the decision of the court in Jersey is that the fund belongs to Nigeria, adding that the concluding part of the negotiation is to determine how it would be utilised. “We have been in court over the fund; finally the court has agreed the money be refunded to Nigeria. The procedure requires that Nigeria, Jersey Island and USA should sign a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on how the funds should be managed,” she said. “President Muhammadu Buhari has approved that the fund be used for infrastructure. So it would be designated Infrastructure Fund. And when it finally comes to Nigeria, we don’t know how long it would take on the ongoing MoU and asset sharing agreement. When that is finalised, then the Government of Nigeria would now inform Nigerians that the fund has come to Nigeria.

Atiku Weighs Options On Delay In Replacement For Bulkachuwa – Thisday, Page 1

The presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, is weighing his options on how to get the Court of Appeal, which is serving as the tribunal of first instance, to proceed with the hearing of his petition, challenging the declaration of President Muhammadu Buhari as the winner of the February 23 presidential election. The hearing of the petition suffered a major setback on May 22 when the President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Zainab Bulkachuwa, recused herself from the tribunal’s sitting, after the judicial panel had delivered judgment in a petition in which Atiku and the PDP demanded that she should step aside due to perceived conflict of interest. The tribunal, on May 22, had dismissed the petition in which Atiku and the PDP alleged that they might suffer a miscarriage of justice given the fact that Justice Bulkachuwa’s husband, Alhaji Adamu Bulkachuwa, who is a senator-elect, and her son, Mr. Aliyu Abubakar, a governorship aspirant, belong to the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).

Nigeria’s e-Payment Deals Lose Over N5 Trillion In Q1 – Guardian, Page 21

The first quarter (Q1) transactions record of the electronic payment (e-payment) channels across the country, showed a shortfall of N5.13 trillion at N34.02 trillion, against N39.15 trillion recorded in Q4 of 2018.The development, according to an industry source, is an indication of falling purchasing power and increasing poverty, as well as scepticism that trailed network failures across e-payment channels in the period under review. The e-payment channels include the Nigeria Inter-Bank Settlement System Instant Payments (NIP), Automated Teller Machine (ATM), Point of Sale (PoS), electronic cheque truncation, mobile cash, electronic bills pay, web and mobile payment, among others. “You can only spend when you have the money, and your ability will depend more on what the available fund can buy. There is poverty in the land. Take note, these electronic channels, despite their convenience, experienced hitches, many of which are yet to be resolved. Certainly, the records must take a hit,” the source said.

World Bank Cuts Nigeria’s GDP Growth Forecast To 2.1% For 2019 – Thisday, Page 8

The World Bank Group has predicted real Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth rate of 2.1 per cent for Nigeria for 2019, slightly lower than the 2.2 per cent it had predicted for the country same year in a report early this year. But the bank projected a 2.2 per cent growth for the country for 2020 and 2.4 per cent for 2021. The Washington-based institution stated this in its June 2019 Global Economic Prospects titled: ‘Heightened Tensions, Subdued Investment,’ that was released Wednesday. The Nigerian economy, which is gasping for stimulus, slowed to 2.1 per cent in the first quarter of 2019 (Q1, 2019), according to data released by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) last month. But according to the World Bank, growth rates in low-income countries were expected to rise to six per cent in 2020, slightly higher than 5.4 per cent in 2019, but said ” is still not enough to substantially reduce poverty.” It added: “While a number of low-income countries progressed to middle income status between 2000 and 2018, the remaining low-income countries face steeper challenges to achieving similar progress. Many are poorer than the countries that made the leap to higher income levels and are fragile, disadvantaged by geography and heavily reliant on agriculture.”

Presidency Meets Power Firms Over Electricity Crisis – Punch, Page 25

As the nation’s power sector remains in crisis mode, the Presidency has met with electricity distribution companies in a bid to resolve some of the issues affecting the electricity supply industry, our correspondent has learnt. It was gathered that the Chief of Staff to the President, Mr Abba Kyari, had a meeting with the Discos last week, before the presidential inauguration, and the previous week, with representatives of the Ministry of Power, Works and Housing, the Bureau of Public Enterprises and the Nigeria Bulk Electricity Trading Plc in attendance. Our correspondent learnt that the meetings were aimed at resolving the liquidity crisis in the sector and improving service delivery by the Discos. The meeting examined power distribution projects that the German government could help the Discos with. More than five years after the privatisation of the sector, the investors who took over the six generation companies and 11 Discos that emerged after the unbundling of the Power Holding Company of Nigeria are still grappling with the old problems in the sector.

Lagos Residents To Call Hotlines For Potholes, Road Repairs – Punch, Page 6

The Governor of Lagos State, Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu, has said the state would soon release hotlines for residents to call and report their road problems to the government. He restated his commitment to collaborate with the people of the state for successful implementation of his administration’s policies and programmes. A statement on Wednesday said Sanwo-Olu spoke when he hosted the Muslim faithful in the Lagos House, Alausa, Ikeja, to mark the 2019 Eid-el-Fitri. “Our public works corporation would come out and start fixing all the potholes on our roads. We would soon publish the numbers that people would be calling to notify us of wherever there are potholes in the state,” he said. The governor expressed happiness as he joined Muslim brothers and sisters to celebrate the end of Ramadan after a period of spiritual cleansing and self discipline, urging them to pray for the success of his administration. Earlier, the wife of the governor, Dr Ibijoke Sanwo-Olu, urged the gathering to continue with the lofty virtues of Ramadan, which included self-discipline, love for others, selflessness, piety and generosity.

We Arrested 2,175 Kidnapping Suspects, Others In Two Months – IG – Punch, Page 4-5

The Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, on Wednesday gave an update on the Operation Puff Adder, which is aimed at tackling kidnapping and banditry nationwide, saying the police had arrested 2,175 suspects since April 5. The IG said police operatives attached to the Operation Puff Adder had also rescued 63 kidnap victims within the period and called for tougher legislation against kidnapping and banditry, including the seizure of assets linked to these crimes. Adamu stated these while addressing a delegation of the Association of Local Governments of Nigeria, Nasarawa State chapter, who visited him in his official quarters in Abuja. The delegation, which was led by Alhaji Aminu Maifata, had paid the IG a Sallah visit. According to a statement by the Force Public Relations Officer, DCP Frank Mba, the IG stated that the 2,175 suspects included 852 arrested for kidnapping, 865 for armed robbery, 359 for murder and 99 for cultism. Mba said, “The IG called for tougher legislation against kidnapping and banditry, including possible state seizure of assets linked to illicit proceeds from kidnapping and other crimes. This, the IGP believes, will act as a strong disincentive to potential kidnappers and other criminals.

Police Rescue Abducted Siblings In Anambra Hotel – Guardian, Page 12

The police in Anambra State have rescued two siblings from their abductors in Odume, Obosi, Idemili North local government area of the state. The police spokesperson, Haruna Mohammed, who disclosed this yesterday in a statement said the suspects, Maduako Chukwuka and Micheal Chukwuebuka were nabbed in Nkpor area of the town. He said the victims were abducted from their school and hidden in a hotel in Onitsha. “On June 4, at about 5:00p.m. following intelligence report, police detectives attached to Isiowulu Division arrested one Maduako Chukwuka ‘m’ aged 23 and Micheal Chukwuebuka ‘m’ aged 22 of Anglican lane, Nkpor in Idemili North LGA of Anambra State. “Suspects abducted two kids, Chinezerem Nkwoemezie, aged 10 and Nzube Nkwoemezie, aged eight, all males of same parents from their school on June 3 at Odume, Obosi and hide them inside an isolated hotel in Onitsha.” According to Mohammed, police detectives traced the hotel, rescued the victims unhurt and arrested the hoodlums. In another development, no fewer than 20 persons were evacuated from a shrine allegedly used as a den for ritualists at Agungun area of Ibadan by the Oyo State police command. The discovery, which attracted scores of residents of the area was made by officers of the Agungun police station, Ibadan, following intelligence report.”

Ghanaian Artisan Dies Inside Water Tank In Lagos – Punch, Page 4

A 50-year-old Ghanaian artisan, popularly known as Pabobo, has died while working inside a water tank in the Osborne area of Lagos. He was said to have become unconscious while in the tank at No.8B Ondo Street, Osborne Foreshore, Ikoyi, around 4.45pm on Saturday, June 1, 2019. An eyewitness, who pleaded anonymity, said the artisan was hale and hearty when he began working in the water tank. He said there was no injury on his body to show that he fell while in the tank. The eyewitness stated, “When I was going to my house through Ondo Street, I saw people gathered and a man lying on the floor. They were preparing to take him to hospital. “But from what I gathered, the man was working inside a water tank and stayed there for some hours without coming out. Because of this, those around went near the tank and discovered that there was no movement though the artisan was there. “The people had to call the police, who evacuated the man and took him to hospital. Right now, nobody can tell precisely what led to the man’s death except an autopsy is conducted.”

Man Seeks Return Of N22.9m, Cars Seized By Police In Marital Dispute – Guardian, Page 12

A Lagos-based medical doctor, Ojo-Adedeji Adeboye, has called on the Inspector General of Police (IGP) Muhammed Adamu, to obey the order of the Federal High Court, Lagos by returning the sum of N22.9 million and two vehicles forcefully taken away from him in the course of investigation of a civil matter involving him and his estranged wife. In a February 12, 2019 judgment by Justice C.M.A. Olatoregun, the court had granted all the reliefs sought by Adeboye in the application seeking for the enforcement of his fundamental rights. Adeboye and his second wife, Adedeji Aderemi Mutiat, had sought for the enforcement of their rights sequel to their unlawful detention by policemen attached to the Federal Criminal Investigation and Intelligence Department (FCIID). Their detention was purportedly hinged on a petition written by Adeboye’s estranged wife, Funke Ogunseye, over the allegation that the sum of N163 million Funke paid through Adeboye’s brother in South Africa for the supply of apple fruits, had been diverted.

Actor, Yul Edochie, Survives Car Crash – Punch, Page 5

Popular Nollywood actor, Yul Edochie, has announced that he survived a major road accident during a trip to the eastern part of the country. He made this known through his Instagram account, @yuledochie, on Wednesday. He wrote, “All I can say is thank you Lord, thank you Jesus, thank you Jehovah; God is real and God is alive. Thank you blessed mother Mary. “I left Lagos yesterday (Tuesday) heading to the East; just before I got to Ore doing 100-120km, my car lost control and started veering off to the right. “I tried to steer it back on track and the next thing I knew (was that) I was upside down tumbling till the car finally ended up in a gutter.” Edochie said he miraculously came out alive with few cuts and bruises. He added, “I thank the Almighty God for His mercies; I thank our blessed mother Mary; and to all the angels sent by God to protect me always, thank you. “I also thank all my fans and friends all over the world, who always pray for me and wish me well. God is alive. “Life can end in a second. The money, the cars, the mansions, the fame, the good life (are) all vanity. Be close to God. God is everything.”

Motorcyclists Apprehended For Robbing Lagos Residents – Punch, Page 5

Men of the Lagos State Police Command have arrested one Shefiu Aliu for allegedly posing as a commercial motorcyclist to rob two sisters, Grace and Deborah Williams, of their valuables in the Ayobo-Ipaja area of the state. The state Police Public Relations Officer, Bala Elkana, said in a statement on Wednesday, that a surveillance patrol team from the Ipaja Police Station arrested the suspect while perpetrating the crime. He added that a machete, which was concealed under the seat of the motorcycle, was recovered from Aliu. He said the suspect confessed to the crime during interrogation. Elkana stated, “On Monday, June 3, 2019, around 9.05pm, a surveillance patrol team from the Ipaja Police Station arrested one Shefiu Aliu around NEPA, Ayobo-Ipaja Road, while attempting to snatch mobile telephone s and handbags from two female victims namely, Grace Williams and Deborah Williams. “The suspect, who posed as a commercial motorcyclist, took advantage of the passengers’ eagerness to avoid traffic congestion by using motorcycle to rob them of their valuables. “The suspect confessed to the crime. The motorcycle he often uses to perpetrate the crime has been recovered with one sharp machete concealed under the seat.”

Police Discover Shrine, Recover Over 20 Persons Kept For Ritual In Oyo – Nation, Page 7

No fewer than 20 persons were evacuated from a shrine allegedly used as a den for ritualists at Agungun area of Ibadan city by the Oyo State Police Command. The discovery which attracted scores of residents of the area was made by officers of the Agungun Police station, Ibadan following intelligence report. The inmates, many of which were skinned and malnourished have been successfully rescued and were in the custody of the police. The owner and operator of the shrine, Alfa Oloore as he is fondly called has been arrested and detained by the police for questioning. According to some of the residents who spoke with our correspondent, Alfa Oloore, who claimed to be a spiritualist and a healer has been operating the shrine for many years with suspicion and dread. They described the shrine as a den of ritualists and kidnappers, where unsuspecting victims were kept for ritual purposes. When contacted, the state’s Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), Gbenga Fadeyi confirmed the arrest of the operator of the shrine and evacuation of the inmates by the police.

FIFA Welcomes Super Falcons To France 2019 Women World Cup – Guardian, Page 46

World football –ruling body, FIFA yesterday formally welcomed African champions, Nigeria to the Eighth FIFA Women’s World Cup finals. In a session at their Hotel Mercure Reims Centre Cathedral, players and officially performed the ‘Welcome’ ritual and were taken through the rules of the game by FIFA official, Sandra Hunt. A second session, on anti-doping, was guided by Dr. Rheema Alhosani. The sessions were conducted after the Super Falcons’ first training session in Reims, which lasted 90 minutes. The Eighth FIFA Women’s World Cup finals will kick off tomorrow with a clash between France and Korea Republic at the Parc des Princes in Paris. Matches will also take place in Grenoble, Le Havre, Lyon, Montpellier, Nice, Reims, Rennes and Valenciennes. Nigeria will file out on Saturday evening against Norway at the Stade Auguste Delaune in Reims, and will tackle Korea Republic at the Stade des Alpes in Grenoble on June 12, before taking on France at the Roazhon Park in Rennes on June 17.

Zimbabwe’s Warriors To Storm Nigeria Thursday – Thisday, Page 47

A 26 –man delegation of the senior national team of Zimbabwe, known as Warriors, will land in Nigeria on Thursday night aboard a South African Airways flight, ahead of Saturday’s pre-AFCON sendforth international friendly with the Super Eagles. Thenff.com learnt the Zimbabwe delegation will spend Thursday night in Lagos, and fly to Asaba on Friday morning. On Friday evening, the Warriors will hold their official training session at the Stephen Keshi Stadium, venue of Saturday’s encounter that begins at 6pm. Zimbabwe will campaign in Group A of the 32nd Africa Cup of Nations finals taking place in Egypt 21st June – 19th July, alongside host nation Egypt, Democratic Republic of Congo and Uganda. Nigeria is the seeded team in Group B that also has Burundi, Guinea and Madagascar. The Warriors will actually kick off the tournament against hosts Egypt at the Cairo Stadium on the night of 21st June. Meanwhile, three –time champions Nigeria have fully settled down in Asaba for the match, which is the first of their two remaining games leading up to the AFCON. Their last match is against Africa’s number one –ranked team, Senegal in Ismailia on Sunday, 16th June. Of the 25 players invited by Technical Adviser Gernot Rohr for the final phase of the preparations, only defender William Ekong is expected to arrive on Thursday.

My Game Plan Didn’t Work, Says Anthony Joshua –Guardian, Page 47

Anthony Joshua said yesterday there was no one to blame but himself for the shock loss of his heavyweight boxing titles to Andy Ruiz Jr last Saturday.The 29-year-old British pugilist went down to one of the biggest upsets in the history of the heavyweight division at Madison Square Garden with Ruiz sensationally stopping Joshua, the previously unbeaten WBA, IBF, and WBO heavyweight champion. The 29-year-old Ruiz started the fight as a massive 32-1 underdog but floored Joshua four times on his way to a win, which upended the heavyweight division.Joshua, whose camp activated a rematch clause on Tuesday, moved yesterday to dispel rumours something had been wrong with him as many pundits had wondered about his listless performance. “I had no panic attack,” he said in video posted online.”I have to take my loss like a man. No blaming anyone or anything.” Joshua, who first came to public attention in winning Olympic gold in London in 2012, has refused to cut ties with trainer Rob McCracken and accepted the blame lay with him.

NFF Defends Aigbogun Over Bribery Allegations – Punch, Page 45

The Nigeria Football Federation has doused allegations that Flying Eagles coach, Paul Aigbogun, received bribe from players he selected for the U-20 World Cup in Poland. A media report also claimed some of the players were forced on Aigbogun for the tournament, which caused infighting among the technical crew during the tournament. “It has come to the notice of the Nigerian Football Federation that spurious messages have been doing the rounds on social media with the aim of denting the image of the Flying Eagles coach, Paul Aigbogun and by extension the NFF,” a tweet on the official Twitter handle of the NFF reads. “In as much as the NFF understands Nigerians are not happy about the exit of the Flying Eagles from the U-20 World Cup in Poland, it is imperative that the federation clear the air on the rumours. “At no time did Paul Aigbogun give such interview to anyone-formal or informal and for anyone to suggest such, it can only be the imagination of the writer, who despite quoting an imaginary source, never attributed any to anyone. “The backroom staffs are in unison and worked together in peace. Allegations of bribery forcing players on the coaches and others are mere fabrications of the author’s imaginations and should not be taken seriously.

CAF Orders Replay Of Abandoned African Champions League Final – AFP Sports

African football’s governing body has ordered the abandoned second leg of the CAF Champions League final between Esperance and Wydad Casablanca to be replayed at a neutral venue after this month’s Cup of Nations. The turmoil in Africa’s premier club competition comes just over two weeks before the start of an expanded 24-team Cup of Nations in Egypt. Tunisian club Esperance were initially handed the title after Moroccan side Wydad Casablanca walked off an hour into last week’s return match in Tunis because VAR was unavailable to judge a disallowed equaliser. Holders Esperance were leading 1-0 in the second leg and 2-1 overall when play was halted, and after a 90-minute delay the referee awarded the match to the home side. “The playing and security conditions were not met during the second leg of the CAF Champions League final, preventing the match from reaching its conclusion,” CAF presidential advisor Hedi Hamel said Wednesday following a lengthy executive committee meeting in Paris. “As a result, the match will have to be replayed at a ground outside of Tunisia… (and) Esperance will have to the give trophy back.” “The match will be played after the Africa Cup of Nations at a date to be determined,” he added

Former Champions, Enyimba, Pillars Take Centre Stage As Akwa United Meets FC IfeanyiUbah – Guardian Back Page

Today promises another exciting round of games at the Agege Stadium, where the country’s best clubs are gathered to settle the Nigerian Professional Football League (NPFL) title question. It is the NPFL Super Six Play-off, which is designed to determine the winners of the 2018/2019 league season. On the turf are former champions, Enyimba, Lobi Stars, Kano Pillars and Enugu Rangers, as well as the ambitious Akwa United and FC IfeanyiUbah. The teams play three games every matchday with the first match starting by 3.00 p.m.On matchday One (Tuesday), Enyimba began the proceedings with a 1-0 defeat of Enugu Rangers, while Kano Pillars were held to a 2-2 draw by Akwa United. Lobi Stars are on top of the table following their 3-1 defeat of FC IfeanyiUbah and so in essence, today’s matches hold a lot for both the successful teams on the opening day and the losers. The first game of the day will see Akwa United trying to get their first three points of the campaign to remain in contention for their first league title. The Uyo team will meet FC IfeanyiUbah, who will want to win this game to bounce back from their opening day loss to Lobi Stars.

Infantino Re-Elected FIFA President – Punch, Page 47

Gianni Infantino is set for a fresh four-year term as FIFA president following his re-election on Wednesday at the ongoing annual congress of the world football governing body. The 49-year-old, who was without any opposition at FIFA’s annual congress in Paris, will now be in charge until 2023. Infantino succeeded SeppBlatter in 2016 and, among other reforms, he has increased the number of teams at the 2026 World Cup and proposed key changes to the Club World Cup. Ex-president Blatter was in charge for 17 years until he was banned amid a corruption scandal in 2015. As reported by the BBC, Infantino’s re-election was marked by a round of applause after rules were changed earlier in the day to no longer require a vote from FIFA’s 211 members if only one candidate was standing. In a lengthy speech at the congress, Infantino focussed on the relative calm of his first term in charge compared to the situation he inherited. “Nobody talks about crisis at Fifa any more or rebuilding it from scratch,” he said.

Injury Forces Brazil’s Neymar Out Of Copa America – Punch Online Page

Superstar Neymar was ruled out of the Copa America Thursday after tearing his right ankle ligament during Brazil’s 2-0 friendly win over Qatar. “Due to the seriousness of the injury, Neymar will neither be fit nor have time to recuperate sufficiently to participate” in the tournament, the Brazilian Football Confederation (CBF) said in a statement. The injury to the world’s most expensive footballer is a big blow to the hosts’ preparations for South American continental championship, which begins in just over a week’s time. A distraught-looking Neymar was seen covering his face with his hands as he sat on the bench after hobbling from the field in the 20th minute at Brasilia’s Mane Garrincha Stadium on Wednesday night. A large ice pack had been strapped to the Paris Saint-Germain striker’s lower right leg while two members of Brazil’s support staff carried him from the pitch. The injury comes just nine days before Brazil’s opening Copa America game against Bolivia.

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