MTN executive Amina Oyagbola was not sacked, MTN says

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Nigeria’s Telecommunication giant MTN has stepped out to deny report that it sacked one of its top executives.

The South African firm said its former Head of Human Resources and Corporate Services resigned last week, according to report.

The report that made the accusation claimed to have relied on an inside source in the telecom company and some powerful people in Abuja. According to the report, Oyagbola was sacked for her role in an alleged ₦500 million bribery of President Muhammadu Buhari’s Chief of Staff Mr. Abba Kyari to cut down the fine on the company.

MTN was fined ₦2.04 trillion ($5.2 billion) by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) for contravening regulatory issues regarding registration of Subscribers Identification Module (SIM) cards.

After several interventions which included the visit of South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma, the fine was later cut down ₦780 billion and later ₦330 billion.

In a statement titled ‘RE: Fictitious story on MTN and Amina Oyagbola’, the company said:

‘To be clear, we state without equivocation that the story is untrue, malicious, defamatory, with the goal of damaging our hard-earned reputation, as well as that of our highly respected executive, Amina Oyagbola, who has served our company for 12 meritorious years.

‘We categorically deny the accusation that MTN (or its employees) offered a bribe to a government official over the NCC fine.

‘Secondly, there is absolutely no truth to the accusation that Oyagbola, who is our Human Resources and Corporate Services Executive, was fired.

‘She made the voluntary decision to resign after serving MTN for 12 years as the longest serving Executive. During this period, she also served as a Director on the boards of the MTN Nigeria Foundation, MTN Benin and Visafone.

‘In conclusion, we would like to reassure our customers and stakeholders in the public and private sector that MTN continues to subscribe to the highest ethical standards in all its activities.’

The telecom company insisted that Oyagbola has made the decision to take a well-deserved break after almost 30 years of providing her leadership skills and expertise to various multinational organisations in corporate Nigeria.

Fast-growing Nigerian ponzi scheme MMM Nigeria freezes accounts

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On Tuesday, December 13, 2016, the fast-growing Nigerian ponzi scheme MMM Nigeria freezed the account of all its members. This move has sparked up fears that the scheme has crashed.

According to report, the ponzi scheme placed a one-month ban on all withdrawals starting from December 13 due to ‘heavy workload on system’.

A letter displayed on the page of members explained that this move means that members who are due to withdraw both their capital and 30 percent return-on-investment will no longer be able to do so until sometime in January 2017.

The letter said the ban on withdrawals was also partly due to the negative reports and attention by mass media and the government respectively.

Given the history of the ponzi scheme, analysts warn that it may have crashed. They argue that the one-month freeze announced was similar to what happened in South Africa before the scheme finally crashed in the country.

Members of the ponzi scheme who turned to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commissions (EFCC) for help have been mocked for shunning the warnings of the government, according to report.

Many MMM Nigeria members have taken to social media to express their thoughts and feelings about the issue. MMM trended on Twitter and Facebook all through Tuesday.

A member who pleaded anonymity has expressed doubt that the group would resume activities again. He explained that he had earlier warned those he introduced to the scheme to avoid participating in December and January.

CBN’s Acting Director of Corporate Communications, Isaac Okorafor, said the secret group and their members have shown defiance to warnings and they stand the chance of losing big time.

An investment banker who pleaded anonymity said that the proliferation and acceptance of illegal schemes by huge numbers in the country is not portraying the country in good light. He said, it is also an indication of the level of enlightenment, ethical practice and particularly the dominating character of greed in the larger society.

About 2.4 million people in the country had signed up to the ponzi scheme in late 2016, with the country’s unemployed as primary targets, according to record.

Twin bomb blast hits market in Adamawa

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Yesterday, Friday, in a northeastern town of Nigeria called Madagali, a twin bomb blast claimed several lives and injured many.

The bombs were detonated by two female suicide bombers in a crowded market in Gulak, the headquarters of Madagali Local Government Area of Adamawa State.

According to report, the terrorist group Boko Haram are responsible for both attacks.

Residents and security agents in the area say 30-40 people were killed and 67 injured.

Mr. Ezra Simon, one of the witnesses in the area, told local journalists how it happened.

He said:

‘All of a sudden, we heard a loud bang and before we knew what actually happened, another bang occurred from a different direction. There and then, there was complete pandemonium in the market and people ran in all directions. Many people ran to the Army barracks and other security outfits for protection. The military immediately cordoned off the area as security operatives moved dead bodies and the injured to hospitals.’

President Buhari said, ‘This latest attack is obviously an act of desperation, but the Nigerian military will neither be distracted nor relent.’

Former Vice President of Nigeria Atiku Abubakar deeply condemned the attack. He said he was highly embarrassed that these terrorists are hiding behind religious ideology to commit atrocities against innocent people, despite the fact that Islam, and indeed any other religion prohibits the murder of innocent people.

Owner of fast-growing ponzi scheme MMM Nigeria revealed

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Journalists reveal that a South Africa-based Nigerian man known as Pastor Ernest Chigozie Mbanefo is the owner of MMM Nigeria, a fast-growing ponzi scheme in Nigeria.

According to report, Mbanefo registered the website domain name MMM-Nigeria.net on June 7, 2016, at about 5pm Nigerian time.

Mbanefo did a one-year domain registration. So the website is expected to expire by June 7, 2017, except the domain registration is renewed.

It was revealed that MMM Nigeria is not a part of MMM Global the Russian ponzi scheme which was founded in 1990s by Russian politician Sergei Mavrodi, his brother Vyacheslav Mavrodi and Olga Melnikova.

The MMM name was derived from the first letter of the surname of each of the founders.

On July 15, he was awarded certificate for completion of an online course titled ‘MMM Guiders School’. According to report, the certificate was signed by the Russian founder Sergei Mavrodi himself.

Mbanefo also operates a subdomain news.mmm-nigeria.net to share news and information about MMM.

He has given himself the nickname the ‘Super Guider of MMM’.

The MMM ponzi scheme is feared everywhere in the world. In January 2016, the Chinese government banned MMM in the country.

In other report, another ponzi scheme that followed MMM called Ultimate Cycler crashed on Thursday morning at about 10:30am. Several members have been shut out of their account and will lose all the money they have invested in the scheme if it does not continue operating.

Members of MMM Nigeria currently fear that the MMM ponzi scheme might crash anytime.

After America’s 2016 election trumped

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What has become clear, after America’s 2016 election, is that the majority are incapable of making logical decisions and therefore rendering the concept of democracy futile.

All across the board we have people voting with emotions not logic, fear instead of reason, identity politics instead of policy and morality. Popularity instead of conscience. Herd mentality instead of individual assessment.

So who can you blame for this outcome?

The system itself of course. But also know that people all across the board on all sides are to blame, for I have seen the regressive behaviors with my own eyes.

Democracy becomes rather pointless when the masses tasked with election are uneducated. Democracy fails when it is representative instead of direct because the representatives fall to bribery. Democracy is an illusion when the masses are manipulated to vote for a party by the popular media and corporate brainwashing tactics.

Our system, our culture and our people are very broken and it will not be fixed any time soon.

Scientists develop heat and drought-resistant maize

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Zimbabwe and other drought-prone countries in Africa may have some good news as some scientists in Zimbabwe say they have developed a heat and drought-resistant maize.

The seeds developed by the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center is expected to help combat drought-induced food insecurity that has affected millions of people in southern Africa over the past years due to climate change and its effects.

The International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center said the new maize varieties – which will be available for use next planting season – could play a significant role in reducing the problem of food insecurity in Zimbabwe and other parts of Africa.

‘I call them a game-changer, because farmers will be able to get some food security if they are able to adapt these varieties.

‘Food security in Africa will be partly addressed through these varieties, because in Africa, maize is life. A lot of seed companies in southern Africa, east Africa [and] north Africa have shown keen interest in adopting these hybrids because they know that they will be working in their environments,’ said Cosmos Magorokosho, a senior scientist at the center.

He added that farmers in Algeria, South Africa, Egypt, Malawi, Tanzania and Zimbabwe have shown interest in the new maize varieties.

The new varieties were developed with funding from the US Agency for International Development.

Early this year, Zimbabwe declared a national disaster after about a third of its 13 million people struggled with food shortages caused by El-nino induced drought.

Polio has reduced by 99 percent worldwide – UN

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The United Nations has revealed that polio has been reduced by 99 percent worldwide since the establishment of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) in 1988.

UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric made the revelation on the occasion of World Polio Day on October 24.

Dujarric however said, ‘Despite that progress, as long as a single child remains infected with poliovirus, children in all countries are at risk of contracting the disease.’

‘There is no cure for polio, but polio vaccine, given multiple times, can protect a child for life,’ he added.

Nigeria made breakthrough in 2014 when it was declared a polio-free nation, but later had a resurgence of the virus in mid-2016.

World Polio Day was established by Rotary International over a decade ago to commemorate the birth of Jonas Salk, who led the first team to develop a vaccine against poliomyelitis.

Polio is a crippling and potentially fatal infectious disease. Polio can be prevented through immunization. Polio vaccine, given multiple times, almost always protects a child for life. The strategy to eradicate polio is therefore based on preventing infection by immunizing every child until transmission stops and the world is polio-free.

Whistleblower protection needed for anti-corruption fight

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According to Wikipedia, a whistleblower is a person who exposes any kind of information or activity that is deemed illegal, unethical, or not correct within an organization that is either private or public.

Whistleblowing is particularly important in the fight against corruption. Acts of corruption often go unchallenged when people with relevant information do not speak about it. Accounts of witnesses offer invaluable insights into corruption, and are powerful tools in the fight against it.

However in most countries, whistleblowing carries high personal risk because there is little or no legal protection against dismissal, humiliation or even physical abuse. Several controls on information, libel and defamation laws can deter people from speaking out when they have information.

Australia, Canada, Jamaica, India, Ireland, Netherlands, Switzerland, United Kingdom and United States all have safe and confidential mechanisms enabling public servants and the general public to disclose wrongdoings committed in public and private sector.

A number of African countries have recently adopted comprehensive whistleblower laws including Ghana, South Africa and Uganda, while Kenya and Rwanda are also considering enacting it.

Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index 2015 ranked Nigeria 136th of 175 countries. Nigeria has struggled to successfully prosecute corruption cases due to the gap in its legal framework, since most corruption cases depend on whistleblowers.

Nigeria’s attempt to have a comprehensive legislation that protects whistleblowers was during the 6th assembly of the National Assembly between 2007-2011. The legislation which was not passed during the period was reintroduced in the 7th assembly between 2011-2015 and also suffered same fate. Its introduction in the 8th assembly of the National Assembly in the Whistle Blowers Protection Bill 2016 and Witness Protection Bill 2016 reignites the hope of getting a legislation that seeks to protect persons who disclose confidential information on the grounds of public interest and will enable the proper investigation of matters disclosed.

The sponsor of the Whistle Blowers Protection Bill in the Senate Senator Biodun Olujimi argued that the provision for protection of whistleblowers would support an open and transparent structure where citizens would be aware of how to report suspected acts of corruption or wrong doing and have the confidence in the reporting procedures free from fear of retaliation. She was of the view that the existing structures of anti corruption agencies appeared insufficient and that the bill, if passed, would improve the country’s poor performance in its fight against corruption.

The Witness Protection Programme Bill, a closely related legislation, sponsored by Senator Isiaka Adeleke in the Senate also seeks to promote law enforcement by facilitating the protection of persons who provide information that assist law enforcement agents. The bill also seeks protection for investigators, prosecutors and members of the judiciary and increases the incentive for persons with useful information to testify. Under the provisions of the bill, a witness may qualify for protection if he or she provides information that directly or indirectly assists law enforcement agencies.

The two bills have been passed for second reading and referred to the Senate Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters for further legislative inputs. The bills may be merged due to their similarities as suggested by some members during debate on the bills.

Having a legislation that protects a whistleblower will be a giant stride in the fight against corruption in Nigeria.

Tom Ford is releasing second movie

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Tom Ford’s new hobby in film making is turning a good business.

Ford is releasing his second movie titled Nocturnal Animals, according to report.

In March 2005, the fashion designer announced the launch of his film production company Fade to Black.

Ford played the role of writer, producer and director in the making of the 2009 film A single Man.

He is also the screenwriter, producer and director of his new movie Nocturnal Animals.

Ford’s movie Nocturnal Animals had its world premiere at the Venice Film Festival on September 2, 2016. It also screened at the Toronto Film Festival on September 9, 2016, and BFI London Film Festival on October 14, 2016. It is scheduled for release in United States on November 18, 2016.

Nocturnal Animals is an adaption of American writer Austin Wright’s 1993 novel Tony and Susan. The movie stars Amy Adams, Jake Gyllenhaal, Michael Shannon, Armie Hammer and others.

At the 2015 Cannes Film Festival, on May 17, 2015, Focus Features acquired the US distribution rights for the film at a value of $20 million. This was the biggest deal of the 2015 Cannes Film Festival and the biggest in the last few years.

When asked if he would continue with his fashion career in an interview with journalists, Ford said:

‘I do not need to carry on. It finances my films at this point.’

There will be no cover up in North East spending probe – Saraki

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Nigeria’s Senate President Bukola Saraki has inaugurated the Senate Adhoc Committee to investigate the use of the fund that has been allocated to the humanitarian crisis in the North East of the country and promised that all the facts of the case will be exposed.

Speaking at the event, Saraki stated that the committee led by Senator Shehu Sani is being assigned a task to act on behalf of the 4.5 million families in the North East zone of the country who are in dire need of assistance; the 1 million people in the region who are in danger of extreme malnutrition; and the over 2 million Nigerians who are beyond the reach of aid.

Saraki urged the members of the Adhoc Committee to ensure that there would be no cover-ups in the investigation. ‘The whole world is watching,’ he said, ‘We must ensure that there are no cover-ups as this is the first committee of its kind that has been inaugurated to embark on this task.’

‘The work that this committee will be doing will impact the lives of the 4.5million families in the North East who are in dire need of relief, rehabilitation and other forms of assistance,’ he continued.

‘The recommendations that you will submit from the investigation will help us ascertain how much has been spent in our response to this crisis, and will also help us improve our coordination efforts so that the international community will have confidence in us.’

The Senate President who has consistently pressed for better coordination and oversight in the nation’s response to the humanitarian situation in the North East, also charged the committee to ensure that it delivered on its mandate.

In his comments, Senator Sani acknowledged that with international partners scaling up their donations to the North East, it was important to determine how funds allocated to the region were being spent.

Sani remarked that government agencies that have been given the responsibility to provide assistance to the people of the North East have engaged in the exploitation of the vulnerable people of the region.

‘It is alleged that billions of naira and countless trucks of grains meant for the IDPs have been misappropriated and diverted,’ Sani said, ‘This has been happening while according to UNICEF, an estimated 400,000 children under the age of 5 will suffer from severe acute malnutrition and more than 4 million people are facing food shortages.’

‘It is very alarming that the UNHCR has put Nigeria at Level 3, being the highest level of humanitarian emergency in the world. At a time when our gallant troops are winning the war on terror, some people are choosing to engage in corrupt practices and self-enrichment. This is sabotage bordering on treason. This is blood money,’ he said.

Another member of the Adhoc Committee Senator Ben Murray Bruce reassured the Nigerian people that the committee would maintain the highest standards while undertaking its assignment.

Meanwhile the Senate on Thursday approved allocation of three per cent of Value Added Tax (VAT) accrual to the federal government in the next 10 years to the rebuilding of the North East.

This was sequel to the adoption of the recommendation of the Adhoc Committee on North East Development Commission Bill which also proposed that the commission be domiciled in Borno.