Thursday, 31 December 2015

Party People: How the Stars Are Celebrating New Year’s Eve

Party People: How the Stars Are Celebrating New Year’s Eve

 Pamela Anderson,

The famous celebrated the holiday with fancy fetes, a snowball fight, and a new haircut. Take a look at how Pamela Anderson, John Stamos, and others are ringing in 2016.

Read more »

Sex after giving birth isn't 'better' - it's complicated, scary andpainful

Sex after giving birth isn't 'better' - it's complicated, scary andpainful

‘Sex is better after you’ve had kids’ – at least, that’s what the headlines say. A new survey of 1,118 couples by UK parenting site Channel Mum has found that the average new parents wait just 58 days after birth before resuming their sex life - with many doing so sooner. Fourteen per cent do so within three weeks of delivery.

And not only is everyone leaping back in the sexual saddle, they’re all happily shouting ‘Yee-har’ as they do it: 94 per cent of respondents said they’re happy with their sex life and 54 per cent actually thought it had improved since having kids.

Against this buckaroo background, it’s hard to be the only cowgirl who owns up to a horse allergy. But here goes.

After I’d had my first baby, sex was the absolute last thing on my list for a very, VERY long time.

Three weeks after delivery? I’d only just got to grips with breastfeeding, I’d barely had two hours consecutive sleep since the birth, and my episiotomy scar was angry and weeping – as was I. If Richard Gere had turned up with roses between his teeth and La Traviata on the stereo, I’d have pushed him off the balcony and told him he was an insensitive bastard.

Sex after giving birth isn't 'better' - it's complicated, scary andpainful

It can be hard to feel sexy with a baby attached to your breast
A few weeks after that, around the apparently ‘average’ 58 day mark, I was amazed when the doctor at my routine postnatal check asked me what I was doing about contraception.

Having sex? I could barely see how that was possible with a colicky new born permanently attached to my breast and my nether regions refusing to heal. The only thing I had an appetite for was the good night’s sleep - and I was never going to get that.

Like many new mums, I was traumatised by my birth experience, and totally lost in the alien landscape of motherhood. I felt like one of those film characters who have their identity erased and are given a new passport, and the keys to a new flat in a new city. Alert and excited perhaps, but ultimately, alone and totally lost.

I didn’t recognise myself: emotionally and physically I was forever altered. And while fatherhood undoubtedly brings a big transformation to a man’s life too, I don’t think it’s as seismic. My partner’s body, career, and social life didn’t seem to have taken nearly so much of a battering.

For a time, these differences grated. I can’t be the only mum who felt real resentment as she watched her partner sleeping happily, while she tended to the baby. Or felt a real twinge of jealousy seeing him dressed up smartly and leaving for work, while she’s still in sick spattered PJs.

Sex might have been a great way to reconnect, but I just really didn’t feel like it. It’s possible that breastfeeding may have played a part, as some claim that the hormones suppress libido.

I’m certainly not the only woman to have felt this way – I asked a group of mothers to share their experiences anonymously.

Sex after giving birth isn't 'better' - it's complicated, scary andpainful

Traumatic birth experiences can make resuming sex difficult Credit: Alamy
“Since giving birth, I have had absolutely zero sex drive. My husband is still as gorgeous, kind, funny, sensitive and attractive, but I have absolutely no interest whatsoever. It is like a switch has been flicked to 'off'”, one told me.

Another said: “Sex? Not a lot of that going on here. Baby is 17 months and we've managed two attempts. I love my husband and he's still sexy to me, but after a day (and night) of breastfeeding, cuddles and wiping up poo and sick, all I really want to do is sleep with no one touching me.”

Others found that tears or episiotomy scars made sex physically uncomfortable.

“I had a small internal tear that made intercourse impossible at first”, one mum explained. “Sex was uncomfortable and tentative for months. We decided to wait it out and be very careful when attempting to have sex - after 9 months or so we figured out how we could manage it.”

Another explained, how, like me, her episiotomy did not heal correctly making sex painful.

“It hurt, but also brought back unhappy memories of the birth”, she said. “I’ve been offered surgery to correct it but I’ve found that it’s got better by itself over time and with a subsequent baby. The emotional scars have also improved.”

Many felt guilty or suffer in silence. “I thought there was something wrong with me”, was a common refrain. Some say they were able to return to sex after several months or even years, while others have found intimacy in other ways. “I think my partner and I find happiness through our children and intimacy has become irrelevant now. I feel content with cuddles”, said one, adding, “I also don't feel confident and think I am slightly scared.”

For many of us, it seems, post-birth sex is a tender and complicated affair. I spoke to Siobhan Freegard, founder of Channel Mum, who acknowledged this:

“There is no right time to resume the romance; it’s different for every couple and after each birth. If you’ve had a difficult birth, there may well by physical and emotional issues to resolve before you can even think about being intimate again. But there are lots of other ways to show you care and to nurture your relationship. The key is to look after each other - and yourself - until you feel ready again.”

Not being up for sex, struggling with new motherhood, being less than happy with your post-baby body: somehow these subjects have become taboo in a time when we’re meant to be ‘having it all’.

Those of us who took months or even years to feel remotely frisky tend to stay silent, and probably wouldn’t have been able to respond honestly to the Channel Mum survey - given that most of our answers would be, “It’s complicated.”

The good news? All this complication brings a lot more intimacy, which in the long run, often brings better sex. Just be prepared: it might take a lot longer than 58 days to achieve it.

Read more »

Sheer-ly amazing! Fergie wows in see-through gown as she prepares to co-host New Year's Eve party for EIGHTH year in a row

Sheer-ly amazing! Fergie wows in see-through gown as she prepares to co-host New Year's Eve party for EIGHTH year in a row

 Fergie

She's been gracing our television screens as co-host of Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve for the past seven years.

Sheer-ly amazing! Fergie wows in see-through gown as she prepares to co-host New Year's Eve party for EIGHTH year in a row

And on Thursday Fergie was certain to impress as she wore a semi-sheer gown to the red carpet arrival for her eighth year in a row on the ABC special.

Like the past few years, the 40-year-old will be hosting the Los Angeles party while on the other side of the country Ryan Seacrest emcees the New York festivities with the aid of Jenny McCarthy.

Sheer-ly amazing! Fergie wows in see-through gown as she prepares to co-host New Year's Eve party for EIGHTH year in a row

Hot metal! Fergie was certain to impress as she wore a semi-sheer gown to the red carpet arrival for her eighth year as co-host of Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve
The Black Eyed Peas singer looked stunning in her metallic gown as the diaphanous material of the frock revealed she was wearing a tiny black bodysuit underneath.

The fabulously fit mother-of-one wore her golden locks in flowing waves over her shoulders as she sported a bright slick of red lip paint.

Of course throughout the course of the evening, the pop star will surely be making many outfit changes to ring in the new year.

All fired up! Like the past few years, the 40-year-old will be hosting the Los Angeles party while on the other side of the country Ryan Seacrest emcees the New York festivities with the aid of Jenny McCarthy

Read more »

End of the paper train ticket as railways 'go paperless'

End of the paper train ticket as railways 'go paperless'

A London Underground ticket barrier

Under the plans, customers will be able to "store" their tickets on so-called contactless credit or debit cards.

Ticket barriers will be upgraded so they are similar to those on the London Underground, where tube passengers can tap their cards to pay.

When someone reaches a station, they will simply tap their card or smartphone against a digital "reader" at the barrier. The computer will recognise that the customer has paid to travel through that location and will open, with the same occurring at their destination.

The plan would effectively end the need for paper train tickets.

Jacqueline Starr, managing director of customer experience at the Rail Delivery Group, which represents Network Rail and train operators, said the new ticketing system would "improve the experience" of travelling by rail.

She added: "The rail industry wants to respond to the needs of our customers and understands the importance of modernising train tickets so that passengers are no longer reliant on the old orange paper format.

"We are in the early stages of exploring how passengers could pay for and store tickets on their contactless credit or debit cards as part of our wider aim to improve the experience of rail passengers and move towards smarter types of ticket."

The move is part of plans to push Britain towards a cashless, paperless society in which people use cards or mobile phones to pay for restaurant meals, checking in at airports – and everything in between.

Currently passengers who book rail tickets online are required to quote a reference number or key a code into a self-service ticket collection machine before they board their train.

They are then required to keep hold of their ticket throughout their journey and, in many cases, their return ticket until they travel again.

The new system would remove the need to queue at ticket booths or print out coupons from machines in stations and return journeys would be "stored" on payment cards, alleviating the need for tickets altogether.

End of the paper train ticket as railways 'go paperless'

The new system would remove the need to print out coupons from machines in stations
It should also help end rail rip-offs by station payment terminals which fail to show, or appear to hide, the cheapest fares – a scandal previously revealed by The Telegraph.

The plan is being developed by the UK Cards Association, the industry body representing banks, building societies and card companies such as Visa and Mastercard, alongside the Rail Delivery Group and the Department for Transport.

A spokesman for the UK Cards Association said: "The future is using your card or phone as an authority to travel.

"It would be your ticket – you'd just associate the journey with that card when you buy and turn up at the barrier and it would allow you to go through the gate.

"We anticipate the system would be rolled out nationwide so that it was similar wherever you travel."

A spokesman for the Department for Transport confirmed that the department was looking at options for smart ticketing.

The train ticket plan emerged as new figures revealed that the number of payments made by contactless cards, where the customer waves their plastic over a reader in a shop, pub or restaurant, has trebled in the past year.

More than one in 10 payments are now made using a contactless card, up from under 4 per cent a year ago. The spending limit for each transaction – designed as a fraud backstop – was raised from £20 to £30 in September. Since then, the proportion of payments in pubs and bars made using contactless cards has doubled, the UK Cards Association said.

As a result, eight in 10 people rely on coins and notes less than a year ago, research by Barclaycard found.

As people carry less cash in their wallets, the cards association is also working with charities including Cancer Research UK to introduce "contactless collection tins".

"It's quickly becoming embedded in people's minds that you can tap your card to pay in shops," the spokesman said.

"But there are still areas where people are expected to use cash, such as charity collection tins.

"The idea is that if someone have no coins on them, only cards, they will still be able to donate. The same system could be used in museums, where you could tap your card or phone instead of dropping coins or notes into a donations box."

One in three merchants now accepts contactless cards.

A spokesman for the Department for Transport said: "Our plan for passengers is to build a 21st century railway that provides better journeys for all, and improved ticketing is a vital part of that customer experience."

Read more »

Why a Bill Cosby accuser is getting a second chance at a trial 12 years later

Why a Bill Cosby accuser is getting a second chance at a trial 12 years later

Andrea Constand, pictured here in 1997, has accused comedian Bill Cosby of sexual assault. Cosby was charged with a felony by Pennsylvania authorities Wednesday.

In 2004, Andrea Constand, then an employee with Temple University's women's basketball team, went to Bill Cosby's Pennsylvania home to discuss her career with a man she considered a mentor.

What transpired that evening, according to police reports and depositions, forever changed Constand's life.

Constand, who says Cosby drugged and then fondled and assaulted her while she lay incapacitated, became the first woman to publicly accuse the comedian of sexual assault. At the time, local prosecutors declined to charge Cosby with a crime. Constand settled a civil case against the comedian in 2006 on undisclosed terms.

That settlement might have been the end of Constand's search for justice, but the Montgomery County District Attorney's office announced Tuesday that it filed felony assault charges against Cosby for the 2004 incident.

If found guilty, Cosby, 78, could face a maximum of 10 years in prison.

Cosby's lawyer declined to comment on the case before the announcement. Cosby previously said under oath that he had consensual sexual contact with the woman.

Constand's case against Cosby was revived by a number of factors, including intense public interest in her allegations and similar claims made by dozens of women in the past year. But charges against Cosby would have been impossible had the statute of limitations expired, as they have for several of Cosby's alleged victims.

Why a Bill Cosby accuser is getting a second chance at a trial 12 years later

Andrea Constand in Toronto, Dec. 30, 2015.

Scott Berkowitz, founder and president of RAINN, an anti-sexual violence organization that maintains a state-by-state database of statutes of limitations, tells Mashable that survivors who come forward, before or after any time limit, can feel a sense of validation.

If the limitations have expired for a survivor, her or his report may still be useful to law enforcement in prosecuting the perpetrator for similar crimes.

"On an individual basis,

it means a tremendous amount to victims to see justice done, even if it’s never done in their own case,"
it means a tremendous amount to victims to see justice done, even if it’s never done in their own case," says Berkowitz.
The Montgomery County District Attorney's office said it reopened Constand's case this summer when new information "came to light" and after determining the statute of limitations for aggravated indecent assault, which is 12 years, had not expired.

Why a Bill Cosby accuser is getting a second chance at a trial 12 years later

The statute of limitations for sexual assault vary by state and crime. In some cases, particularly for crimes against minors and when DNA evidence is collected, the state may have no time limit on filing charges and prosecuting a case.

Just a few decades ago, the statute of limitations for rape were brief. Now they typically are five or 10 years past the date of the alleged crime.

"There's a greater understanding of the seriousness of rape," says Berkowitz.

"Having such a short period of time was just unfair to victims."
"Having such a short period of time was just unfair to victims."
While some might be skeptical of crimes reported and prosecuted years after the incident, nearly 70% of sexual assault victims don't immediately or ever tell the authorities about their attack, according to the Justice Department.

They may fear public judgment, unsympathetic law enforcement and invasion of privacy, says Berkowitz.

Constand, who moved to Canada to live with her parents a few months after the assault, told no one about it at first. Constand's mother, according to the criminal complaint, noticed unexplained changes in her daughter's personality, including nightmares and screaming out in her sleep.

When Constand finally confided in her mother about the assault, it triggered a series of events that ultimately led to the charges against Cosby. Constand and her mother confronted Cosby and reported the attack to Canadian authorities.

In the complaint released Tuesday, the district attorney's office describes several indicators of guilt as well as discrepancies between what Cosby told Constand and her mother and what he disclosed to investigators at the time.

Cosby told authorities in depositions a decade ago that he specifically wanted to develop a friendship with Constand so that it might turn romantic. When questioned about the pills he offered Constand on the evening of the alleged assault, investigators concluded that he deliberately withheld information about their nature from Constand and her mother. He also offered to pay for therapy related to the incident as well as her graduate school tuition and expenses.

"Investigators recognize that individuals who are falsely accused of sexual assault generally do not unilaterally offer generous financial assistance, and apologies, to their accuser and their accuser's family," the complaint reads. "To the contrary, such conduct is consistent with offenders who are seeking to make amends for wrongful behavior and prevent involvement by law enforcement."

These are the first criminal charges against Cosby. His arraignment is set for Wednesday afternoon.

Constand, who is now 42 and works as a massage therapist in Canada, is ready to face Cosby in court, her attorney, Dolores Troiani, said this fall.

"She's a very strong lady," Troiani said. "She'll do whatever they request of her."

Berkowitz says that outcomes like the development in Constand's case are unusual. In high-profile cases where multiple accusations surface years later, it's often because victims feel a sense of safety in their numbers. And when perpetrators are charged long after the alleged crime, it's frequently because law enforcement receives numerous new reports. That pattern, for example, is common to cases involving teachers or someone prominent in a community.

A second chance at justice can be transformative for survivors, says Berkowitz. It can fundamentally change their outlook and provide deep emotional and spiritual relief from years of suffering.

"Not nearly enough victims ever get that opportunity," Berkowitz says. "It's still unfortunately very rare."

Read more »

Cheryl Fernandez-Versini gives a one-fingered salute to 2015

Cheryl Fernandez-Versini gives a one-fingered salute to 2015

X Factor judge shares end-of-year message with her fans

Happy it's over ... Cheryl's snap Instagram
CHERYL Fernandez-Versini has not shied away from telling the world exactly what she thinks about 2015.

The X Factor judge has shared a picture with her millions of fans in which she salutes 2015 by kissing a raised middle finger.

Cheryl Fernandez-Versini gives a one-fingered salute to 2015

Cheryl's message to 2015 ... star shared snap on Instagram
Cheryl captions the cryptic snap, which she posted to Instagram: 'Bye 2015... you've been real!!!!! You have taught me a lot but I am happy to see the back of you !!'

The geordie star has had a difficult past year, with speculation rife that her marriage to Frenchman Jean-Bernard may be on the rocks, as well as worries over her weight.

Cheryl Fernandez-Versini gives a one-fingered salute to 2015

Cheryl smiles with hubby Jean-Bernard

Recently a family source told of the couple's struggle to communicate and The Sun on Sunday also revealed that husband Jean-Bernard left Cheryl in London and jetted off to stay in a luxury Miami hotel, rather than staying with her to lend his support for the X Factor final.

Cheryl Fernandez-Versini gives a one-fingered salute to 2015

Fans worried about the star's appearance on the X Factor
Could this final farewell to 2015 signify the turning of a new leaf for Chezza?

Read more »

New Year resolution to lose weight? Ditch diets and drink more water

New Year resolution to lose weight? Ditch diets and drink more water

People in the water-drinking group lost about 2.7 pounds more than the group that did not change their water-drinking habits

AFTER binge eating during the festive period, it's no surprise that one of the most common New Year resolutions is to lose weight.

So if you're going to take on the 'new year, new me' motto for 2016, then don't be fooled into signing up to a swanky gym just yet.

For those of you who are looking to shed those post-Christmas pounds, drinking water before meals could help weight loss and not just because it fills your tummy.

A recent study from the University of Birmingham found that on average, people who drank water 30 minutes before some or all of their three meals a day lost between 2.5 and 4 kilograms over three months.


The first group of participants drank 450 millilitres of water 30 minutes before at least one meal a day.

But the other half didn't drink any water before their meals.

People in the water-drinking group lost an impressive 2.7 pounds more than the no-water group.

Their urine was regularly monitored to see how much water they were actually drinking.

Researchers found people in the water-drinking group ate fewer calories at each meal than the people who didn't take water.


How to get in shape? Drink more water

They believe it could be down to the obvious - drinking water fills up your tummy, making you feel fuller and less hungry.

But they also believe when you're dehydrated, your body will often tell you you're hungry, so there's a better chance of water getting into your system through the food you eat.

A total of 84 people - 54 women and 30 men took part in the study.

No ages were given in their paper, but researchers say the average age of the participants was 56.

Thanks to technology and smartphones, you can easily set a reminder to make sure you're drinking plenty of water.

So happy New Year - you've got a busy day of water-drinking ahead.

Read more »

Want your baby to be stimulated in the womb? Play it some music... through your vagina

Want your baby to be stimulated in the womb? Play it some music... through your vagina

Pregnant women play music to their unborn babies through their vaginas SCIENTISTS believe it's good for a foetus to hear melodies as it helps stimulate the brain before birth
IS this the weirdest invention ever?

A new gadget enables mums-to-be to play music to their unborn children – through their vagina.

The device, called a Babypod, has a pink round ball on one end containing an in-built speaker which is inserted like a tampon.

Want your baby to be stimulated in the womb? Play it some music... through your vagina

The contraption can be inserted into the vagina like a tampon Getty
Women can treat the foetus to their favourite tunes by hooking up the pod, which costs £90, to their smartphone or mp3 player.

The contraption, designed by the Institut Marquez fertility clinic in Barcelona, also features a headphone jack enabling mum and baby to listen at the same time.

Want your baby to be stimulated in the womb? Play it some music... through your vagina

The Babypod enables mum and baby to bond by listening to the same music
Researchers tested out the Babypod on hundreds of pregnant women last year.

They looked at how the reaction of the foetus differed when it was played music through the belly and internally via the vagina.

Want your baby to be stimulated in the womb? Play it some music... through your vagina

The foetus reacted to the music when it was played to them through the vagina
The babies who were serenaded through the vagina opened their mouths and stuck out their tongues while the melodies played, but stopped when the tunes finished.

Meanwhile those who were played the music from outside the mother's body didn't respond at all.

Earlier this year we reported a groundbreaking study which showed unborn babies as young as 16 weeks are able to detect sounds while inside the womb.

Read more »

Appeal Court Ruling: Mama Taraba to proceed to Supreme Court

Appeal Court Ruling: Mama Taraba to proceed to Supreme Court

Aisha Al-Hasan

The governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress in Taraba State, Aisha Alhassan, said she will contest the appeal court judgment, which nullified the victory awarded her by the election petition tribunal in the state.

The counsel to Mrs. Alhassan, Mahmud Magaji, stated this while briefing journalists after the ruling in Abuja, Friday.

Mr. Magaji said his client’s submission remained that Governor Darious Ishaku, the Peoples Democratic Party’s governorship candidate, was not validly sponsored by his party, as required by Section 177 of the constitution.

“It gives room for us to test the judgment so that we can expand the jurisprudence of the electoral process,” Mr. Magaji said.

“Their lordships have gone through our various speeches and have come up with their own ruling and we feel that we have the right to proceed to the Supreme Court.”

Reacting to the comments by Mr. Magaji, the counsel to Mr. Ishaku, Kanu Agabi, said his client would not undermine the right of the APC and its candidate to seek further appeal.

“The right of appeal is what brought us here and the right of appeal is still what will take them to the Supreme Court, so I cannot underestimate the value of their appeal,” he said.

A five-man panel of judges, led by Justice Abdul Aboki, had described as “unattainable” the decision of the Taraba state election tribunal which declared Mrs. Alhassan winner of the April governorship election in the state.

Mr. Aboki, who noted that the APC had no right to question the candidature of Mr. Ishaku in the election, added that section 140 of the constitution only expect the tribunal to nullify the said election if the candidature of its winner was in doubt.

He added that according to Section 140 of the constitution, the tribunal was wrong in declaring the person with the next highest vote winner of the election.

Read more »

Ambode re-appoints 3 Civil Service Commission members

Ambode re-appoints 3 Civil Service Commission members

Lagos—Governor Akinwunmi Ambode of Lagos State on Wednesday announced the re-appointment of three of the outgoing members of the State Civil Service Commission for a fresh tenure of five years.

Governor Ambode, who made this known at a dinner organized by the State Government in honour of the outgoing Chairman and Commissioners of the Commission, said the re-appointment was in line with the resolve of his administration to always reward excellence, hard work, and dedication.

Those re-appointed are Pastor Israel Folorunsho Alagbe, Hon. Tolani Wasiu Odeyemi and Engr. Oladimeji Oshinowo. Other outgoing members of the Commission are Comrade Rasaq Folorunsho and the Chairman, Dr. Ayodele Olujobi Ososanya.

Read more »

HUGE fire engulfs luxury Dubai hotel ahead of New Year celebrations

HUGE fire engulfs luxury Dubai hotel ahead of New Year celebrations

New Year's revellers were sent running for their lives after a fire engulfed a five-star hotel just moments from where Dubai's spectacular fireworks display was due to begin.


The Address Downtown caught fire at about 9.30pm Dubai time, with the flames appearing to reach from the ground floor up another 40-or-so storeys of the 63 floor building.

Those who escaped described how people climbed over each other in their rush to escape the burning building.


One Briton was forced to carry his disabled mother on his back.



A medic has revealed that at least 60 people were hurt, many with crush injuries, with officials saying one person suffered a heart attack.

The Address Downtown is on fire, with the flames reaching up about 40 storeys of the 63 floor hotel

The fire is said to have started on a terrace on the 20th storey of the luxury hotel

Emergency services were quickly on the scene of the fire, which is said to be confined to the outside

The authorities have said there are no reported injuries from the fire, with everyone evacuated

The fireworks displays, which were taken place only a few hundred feet away, continued despite the building continuing to burn

Explosions coming from inside the building were heard just minutes before the fireworks were set off
The hotel would likely have been packed with people waiting in their rooms for the best view of the fireworks display at the Burj Khalifa, the world's tallest skyscraper, which sits just across the lake from The Address.

Those waiting below found themselves in danger of being struck by burning debris falling from the building.

Angus Villar was in the hotel on the 15th floor when his father noticed the room next door was on fire.

He told Sky News he was forced to carry his disabled mother on his back to escape.

Mr Villar described it as 'pandemonium'.

'It was the classic thing where you would expect women and children first, but no. People were shoving each other down the stairs and climbing over each other,' he said.

Fire engines struggled to get through the crowds to the fire, which started on a terrace on the 20th floor, according to reports.

Police had already cordoned off roads in the area in expectation of a million people attending the vent.

Those who had arrived early to grab the best spots were forced to flee the blaze, yet despite the panic, the authorities have said the display is still going ahead.

They have also said no one was hurt in the blaze at the 300 metre tall building, and everyone had been evacuated safely.

The fire was almost entirely out by 11pm Dubai time, authorities said.

However, at midnight the fire was still blazing.

This did not stop the New Year celebrations, and the fireworks went ahead at the Burj Khalifa, just 500 yards away from the smoldering building.

Tens of thousands of people whistled and cheered at the show while teams of firefighters were working to put out the blaze.

Just minutes before the fireworks began, large explosions could be heard from inside the burning building, which was cloaked in thick black smoke. It was not clear what caused the blasts.

The hotel is just across a lake from the Burj Khalifa, the world's tallest skyscraper, where a New Year's fireworks display is planned. It is thought many people will have been in the hotel waiting for it to start

 The hotel also towers over the Souq Al Bahar, a popular shopping area with walkways that connect the Burj Khalifa and the Dubai Mall

Eyewitnesses say the fire took hold within about five minutes of starting, but there was not bang

The two buildings face each other - meaning many people will have been in their rooms with their unobstructed view, waiting for the fireworks to begin
An hour earlier, officials had been keen to play down the severity of the fire as they promised the display would go ahead.

'There are no injuries, thank God ... of course, it will not affect the celebration,' Major General Rashed al-Matrushi, general director of the Dubai Civil Defence, told Al Arabiya.

Meanwhile, Ali Al Mutawa, of Dubai's Civil Defence, told 7Days UAE: 'We have controlled 65 per cent of the fire in the hotel and no casualties have been seen so far after evacuating the hotel.'

However, their statements were later amended.

The Dubai Media Office said 14 people had been lightly injured and that one suffered a heart attack due to the smoke and overcrowding during evacuation. The statement said another person was moderately injured, without elaborating further. No children were among those injured.

But a medic on the scene who declined to be identified told Reuters: 'There are more than 60 people injured with light injuries from smoke inhalation and from crowding while in the stairs evacuating the building.'

The fire began at about 9.30pm, and is said to have taken hold of the outside of the building within minutes.

Tom Stroud, 35, an eyewitness who is on holiday in Dubai, said: 'There was no bang or bomb-like sound, we just looked over and saw an inferno.

'It gathered speed extremely quickly.'

Atieh S (@AtiehS), who watched from a nearby building, said the fire took hold in just five minutes.

She tweeted: 'People are running away! This is so horrific!!!!! Falling on people's houses.'

One person had a heart attack and at least 14 others suffered minor injuries, according to the Dubai Media Office

One eyewitness described seeing people pushing each other out the way in their desperation to escape the hotel

The cause of the fire is not yet known, nor is it known whether anyone has been hurt in the fire
Mohammed Al Sarraf, told The National the fire was 'raging'.

'It’s gotten so much bigger in five minutes. It’s gone from just a small fire at the foot of the building and now it’s shooting up the middle and the top.'

The city is planning on three spectacular displays, beginning at the Burj Khalifa, which organisers said was fitted with 400,000 LED lights. They said 1.6 tons of fireworks would be used in the display.

The Downtown is just across a lake from the Burj Khalifa, facing each other.

It also towers over the Souq Al Bahar, a popular shopping area with walkways that connect the Burj Khalifa and the Dubai Mall.

Many people will have been in their rooms, ready and waiting for the spectacular display to begin.

From there, the fireworks were to light up the sky around the sail-shaped Burj Al Arab and later down near the Dubai Marina.

Fireworks also will be on display in Abu Dhabi, the capital of the country of seven emirates.

All guests and staff had been evacuated from the hotel by 11pm in Dubai, the authorities said

Tens of thousands have gathered in the area to watch the fireworks celebrating the New Year, but were told to evacuate when the fire took hold
It is the second blaze at a Dubai skyscraper this year, after the Marina Torch tower was engulfed in flames in the early hours of February 21.

Hundreds of people were evacuated from one of the world’s tallest residential buildings, as a large blaze ripped through multiple floors of the tower.

After firefighters extinguished the blaze, residents could see the external cladding on the corners of the building was charred black and mangled for dozens of floors.

Nobody was killed, but seven people were treated at the scene for smoke inhalation.

Read more »

How drug traffickers recruit couriers on Facebook

How drug traffickers recruit couriers on Facebook

Philip Maduabuchi

Drug cartels have invaded Facebook and other social media platforms for the recruitment of traffickers, the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency has said.

In a statement Wednesday, the NDLEA said it foiled an attempt by a drug trafficking organization to recruit a 37-year old lady, Gloria Ezeabata, on Facebook as a drug courier under the guise of marriage proposal.

The lady was to smuggle 1.325 kilogrammes of methamphetamine to Malaysia through the Murtala Mohammed International Airport, Lagos, when she was apprehended.

The agency said it also arrested the mastermind of the alleged drug cartel.

“The agency has uncovered plot by drug trafficking organisations to use the social media for recruitment of drug mules,” said Roli Bode-George.

“After a painstaking surveillance, we have successfully foiled an attempt to smuggle drugs to Malaysia by a courier recruited online via Facebook. Members of the public should be wary of these antics, ascertain a wholesome relationship and report suspicious cases to the Agency.

“Some of the tricks to watch out for include marriage proposals to unsuspecting female victims, unsolicited generosity like cash and other gift items as well as offering all-expense paid trip to Asia, Europe, America and South Africa.”

The NDLEA boss commended the swift intervention of the Agency that led to the arrest and subsequent prevention of the suspect from smuggling drugs to Malaysia where a Nigerian was recently sentenced to death for drug trafficking.

“The mode of recruitment is also instructive because of its mass appeal to youths. I expect lovers of social media to learn from this arrest. Meanwhile, we are working hard to dislodge drug cartels and halt their sinister plots,” Mrs. Bode George said.

Ahmadu Garba, NDLEA commander at the Lagos airport, said Miss Ezeabata was arrested following the discovery of methamphetamine in her luggage.

“Gloria was arrested during screening of passengers on an Ethiopian airline flight on her way to Malaysia at the departure hall,” said Mr. Garba.

“Substances that tested positive for methamphetamine weighing 1.325kg were detected in her luggage. The drug was concealed in 26 packs of Indomie noodles in a bag of foodstuff containing plantain, pepper, melon and other spices.

“Further investigation led to the arrest of one Mr. Philip Maduabuchi Akpaka who allegedly coordinated the travel arrangement for Gloria and gave her the bag containing the drugs.”

How drug traffickers recruit couriers on Facebook

Ezeabata Uju Gloria

In her statement, Miss Ezeabata, who works with an accounting firm in Lagos admitted having a Facebook relationship that got her involved in drug trafficking.

“I met a man on Facebook some months ago who lives in Malaysia. He told me while chatting online that he is from my State, Anambra in South East Nigeria.

“After some months, he proposed to marry me and I requested that he comes to Nigeria to meet with my parents as our custom demands. He promised to fulfill every marriage rite.”

Months later, according to the lady, her lover invited her to Malaysia on an all expenses paid trip.

“After several appeals, I decided to visit him,” the suspect continued.

“The day I was to travel, he told me to take along a bag of foodstuff sent by his mother from the village. I was given the bag at the airport but in the process of checking it in, drug was discovered inside packs of noodles in the bag and I was arrested.”

How drug traffickers recruit couriers on Facebook

Mrs Roli Bode-George

Mr. Akpaka, 39, admitted to preparing the travel documents of Gloria on the request of his friend based in Malaysia.

“I am a transporter. My friend in Malaysia asked me to prepare travel documents for Gloria. He also asked me to give a bag to Gloria to take to Malaysia.”

Both suspects will soon be charged to court for conspiracy, unlawful possession and exportation of narcotic drugs, the NDLEA said.

Read more »

Bungling thief gets stuck in shop’s ceiling

Bungling thief gets stuck in shop’s ceiling

A man who tried to get into a shop in the Russian town of Krasnoyarsk through a hole in the roof got stock in the shop’s ceiling the police have reported.

Sky news reported that the police who arrived at a shop after an alarm went off were surprised to find a pair of legs dangling from a hole in the ceiling.

According to a police report, a 40-year-old man tried to get into a shop in the Russian town of Krasnoyarsk through a hole in the roof, but got stuck.

Officers managed to free the man and promptly detained him.

A video footage released by police showed the man’s legs sticking out from a hole in the damaged roof.

The man was reported to have told the police he was not the first person to climb into the shop.

A criminal case has however been opened against the unsuccessful thief.

Read more »

Borno State Government Bans Motor Traffic In Maiduguri

Borno State Government Bans Motor Traffic In Maiduguri

Borno Governor Shettima

The Borno State government has announced the restriction of all vehicular traffic in Maiduguri, the Borno State capital, from 5.00pm Thursday 31st December 2015 to 6.00am on Saturday 2nd January 2016.

An electronic message from the Borno State Commissioner of Information, Dr. Mohammed Bulama, said it has become necessary to safeguard the citizenry by banning vehicle traffic.

“While wishing you a hitch free new year, members of the public are please requested to be more vigilant and security conscious throughout the period and report any suspicious person or movement to the nearest security agency,'' he said.

He added "we wish to assure the good people of Borno State and indeed all law abiding citizens that every step is being taken by government and military authorities to root out terrorists causing mayhem in the society."

Some residents of the Maiduguri Metropolis urged the State government and security agencies to come up with new ideas to manage safety, instead of a ban on vehicles movement and argued that it was subjecting the residents to unnecessary hardship.

A resident, Haruna Yaro, claimed that the restrictions of movement within Metropolis was to punish citizens. “Is it every holiday that they will ask to stay homes? Do they know that it affects many poor families?” He queried to our correspondent.

Another resident, Yusuf Baba, said “I expect the State government and security agencies to come up with new ideas instead restrictions of vehicles, they should have ban going out and incoming vehicles for the period.”

Read more »

Gulak ‘takes over’ PDP Chairmanship

Gulak ‘takes over’ PDP Chairmanship

Ahmed Gulak

The Political Adviser to former President Goodluck Jonathan Alhaji Ahmed Ali Gulak has reportedly assumed the Chairmanship of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP), with effect from yesterday, his spokesman, Ochuba Emmanuel said in a statement.

Gulak has also purportedly cancelled the planned congress being planned by the Uche Secondus led PDP.

Emmanuel said in the statement e-mailed to Daily Trust that Gulak assumption of duty was based on the declarative judgment by the High Court in Abuja, on the 16th December 2015, which ordered Prince Secondus to vacate office as the Acting Chairman of PDP, not later than 29th December 2015, and hand over to Gulak or any other person from the North-East zone of Nigeria.

“The Court went further to make an Order of perpetual injunction against Prince Uche Secondus, restraining him from continuing to act in the office of the National Chairman of PDP. In disobedience to the court Order, Prince Uche Secondus did not vacate office, nor hand over to the plaintiff, or any other person from the North-east zone of Nigeria,” Emmanuel said.

He added that a detailed letter by his counsel to INEC and BoT of PDP also specified that Gulak is now the ‘authentic National Chairman’ of the PDP, pending the election of a national chairman.

He said: “Alhaji Gulak has also cancelled the congresses already scheduled by Prince Secondus, declaring it illegal as the National Executive Committee (NEC) did not meet to ratify the dates. He said new dates shall be announced in due course after a NEC meeting.”

He urged all PDP members across the country to remain calm and law abiding saying the party shall soon be rebranded.
But when our correspondent visited the PDP national secretariat in Abuja, yesterday, there was restriction of movement into the secretariat by security operatives.
 According to them,  all the national officers of the party had gone for the Christmas and New Year break.

Few men of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) were seen around the secretaria,t while the environment was quiet and calm.

But PDP national publicity secretary, Chief Olisa Metuh told Daily Trust in a telephone interview the change of guard was not true, saying it was impossible for Gulak to emerge as PDP national chairman without the Appeal Court delivering on the stay of execution filed by the party over the issue.  

“We don’t have a new political party. What we have is the PDP and the acting national chairman is Prince Uche Secondus. So it is not true, it is not possible and nobody can be rewarded for saying that Gulak is the new PDP national chairman. We have filed a stay of execution at the appeal court.

“There is no judgment that Gulak should be made the national chairman of the PDP. We don’t expect a new PDP national chairman without NEC.  With the stay of execution filed at the appeal court, you can’t expect a new national chairman of the PDP now until  this season is over,” he said.

Read more »

US Embargo Forced Jonathan To Buy Arms With Cash –Fani-Kayode

US Embargo Forced Jonathan To Buy Arms With  Cash –Fani-Kayode

Former President Good­luck Jonathan was forced to buy arms with cash because of the embargo placed on arms purchase by the United States Femi-Fani-Kayode has said.

The former minister said contrary to the impression the present administration wants to create in the minds of Nigerians; there was nothing wrong with buying arms with cash under the previous administration.

He explained that the embargo placed on arms purchase by western countries like the United States of America forced Jonathan to purchase arms with cash.

Speaking as a guest on Channels Television’s breakfast programme, Sun­rise Daily, Fani-kayode dis­missed a statement credited to President Muhammadu Buhari, who said Jonathan bought arms with raw cash.

He said: “There was an embargo on arms purchase in Nigeria and the military needed the arms to fight against terrorists and the only way arms could be bought was through the black market. Before the 2015 general election, the military had made sufficient gains in the war against ter­ror because they were able to recover 22 local govern­ments from the terrorists, but all that appears to have been reversed after the elec­tions.

“Contrary to the assurance given by the present admin­istration, the war against terror has not been won by the military and people are being killed every day. The government had claimed on December 23 that the war against insurgency had been won by the military, but on December 25, some people were killed in Maiduguri, with more casualties in Borno on December 27 and in Adamawa on December 28. It is simply not true that the war against Boko Haram has been won.”

He further stated that it is not helpful to continuously blame the present admin­istration for the challenges being faced at the war front but called on Nigerians to come together and support the government in the fight against insurgency

. He also advised the government to come clean about the chal­lenges being faced and stop dwelling on actions of the previous administration

Read more »

NDLEA nabs woman, accomplice at Lagos airport with hard drugs

NDLEA nabs woman, accomplice at Lagos airport with hard drugs

A 37-year-old woman, Ezeabata Gloria Uju, has been arrested by the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, NDLEA, with 1.325kg of methamphetamine at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, MMIA, Lagos.
Commenting on the arrest, the Lagos Airport Commander of the anti-drug agency, Ahmadu Garba, said investigations by his officers showed that Uju was taking the drug to Malaysia, adding that the cartel’s suspected leader, Philip Maduabuchi Akpaka, 39, was also arrested.

Speaking further, Garba said, “Gloria was arrested during screening of passengers on an Ethiopian airline flight on her way to Malaysia at the departure hall. Substances that tested positive for methamphetamine weighing 1.325kg were detected in her luggage.

“The drug was concealed in 26 packs of Indomie noodles in a bag of foodstuff containing plantain, pepper, melon and other spices.

“Further investigation led to the arrest of Akpaka, who allegedly coordinated the travel arrangement for Gloria and gave her the bag containing the drugs,” the Commander added.

During interrogation, Uju, who works with an accounting firm in Lagos, said: “I met a man on facebook some months ago who lives in Malaysia. He told me while chatting online that he is from my state, Anambra.

“After some months, he proposed to marry me and I requested that he comes to Nigeria to meet my parents as our custom demands. He promised to fulfill every marriage rite. Months later, he invited me to Malaysia, promising to pay all the travel expenses.

“After several appeals, I decided to visit him. The day I was to travel, he told me to take along a bag of foodstuff sent by his mother from the village. I was given the bag at the airport but in the process of checking it, drug was discovered inside packs of noodles in the bag and I was arrested,” she added.

On his part, Akpaka admitted preparing Uju’s travel papers at the instance of his Malaysia-based friend.

He said, “I am a transporter. My friend in Malaysia asked me to prepare travel documents for Ezeabata. He also asked me to give her a bag to take to Malaysia.”

Also commenting on the arrest, the NDLEA acting chairman and chief executive, Roli Bode-George, said members of the public should be wary of these antics, ascertain a wholesome relationship and report suspicious cases to the agency.

“Some of the tricks to watch out for include marriage proposals to unsuspecting female victims, unsolicited generosity like cash and other gift items as well as offering all-expense paid trip to Asia, Europe, America and South Africa.

“The mode of recruitment is also instructive because of its mass appeal to youths. I expect lovers of social media to learn from this arrest.

“Further investigation into the matter is ongoing,” Roli noted.

Read more »

Nigerian restaurant 'served human flesh to customers'

Nigerian restaurant 'served human flesh to customers'

Nigerian restaurant 'served human flesh to customers'

A viral news story about a Nigerian restaurant shut down after it was allegedly discovered selling human flesh may be a hoax.

Reports emerged yesterday that visitors to the hotel restaurant in Anambra, Nigeria, alerted police to rumours that the restaurant had been plating up human meat, according to BBC Swahili.

When police raided the restaurant they discovered human heads that were still bleeding, according to reports.

But it is not the first time the story has surfaced. In February, 2014, news outlets around the world reported on a strikingly similar case

"Every time I went to the hotel I observed strange activities going on in the hotel," One resident reportedly told the BBC.

"People who were never cleanly dressed and who looked a bit strange made their way in and out of the hotel, making me very suspicious of their activities. I am not surprised at the shocking revelation."

Juice boost for the brain
According to the story, a priest who ate at the restaurant was presented with a bill of 700 Naira, or around $4.40, which is a considerable amount of money with millions survive on less than a $1 a day.

"The attendant noticed my reaction and told me it was the small piece of meat I had eaten that made the bill scale that high," he told the BBC.

He was shocked to learn the meat he was served was human flesh.

"I did not know I had been served with human meat, and that it was that expensive," he said.

It was also reported that police seized a number of automatic weapons, grenades and cell phones, while 10 people were arrested.

The story appears to have originated in a Nigerian tabloid,Osun Defender, in September 2013. The original article features the same quotes and similar details to those circulated in the most recent version.

It is not the first time the world has been shocked by stories of commercial cannibalism that proved to be false.

In 2010 it was widely reported that a restaurant in Berlin, Germany, was seeking people willing to donate their bodies to a eatery, drawing shock and revulsion before it was revealed to be untrue.

But not all seemingly unbelievable cannabilism reports have proven unfounded though.

German man Armin Meiwes was sentenced to life in prison after he admitting to killing and eating a "volunteer" he met on the internet.

Read more »

Trailer crushes woman to death in Osun

Trailer crushes woman to death in Osun

There was pandemonium, anguish and tears at Oke-Fia area along Ilobu Road in Osogbo, the Osun State capital, on Wednesday after a trailer heavily loaded with goods ran into a fleet of vehicles and crushed an aged woman to death, while scores were severely injured.

It was gathered that one of the passengers whose identity was yet to be known as at the time of filing this report, while trying to escape, had jumped out of a mini commercial bus popularly called “korope” but was not lucky as the trailer also smashed her head and scattered her brain and she died on the spot.

Investigation revealed that some vehicles were also severely damaged beyond repair by the trailer.
Eyewitnesses’ accounts revealed that the trailer driver had lost control, owing to break failure while trying to negotiate a hill at Old NEPA Junction in the area before it rammed into other vehicles behind.

One of the eyewitnesses, a driver who simply identified himself as Waheed, told our correspondent that the tragic incident occurred around 1:30pm.

According to him, when other drivers saw that the trailer could no longer move forward, they started reversing in order to escape being crushed, but the trailer reversed with speed uncontrollably and ran into their vehicles, leaving some occupants with varying degrees of injuries.

A team of police detectives from the Estate Police Command who had stormed the scene of the accident less than 30 minutes after the incident happened, towed the trailer and other affected vehicles to their station.

When our correspondent contacted the Police Public Relations Officer in the state, Mrs Folasade Odoro, on the telephone, she confirmed the development.

Odoro, however, disclosed that one person died, adding that the police had deposited her corpse at a morgue in one of the hospitals in the state.

Read more »

South African King Starts Serving 12 Years Sentence For Kidnap And Assault

South African King Starts Serving 12 Years Sentence For Kidnap And Assault

 Buyelekhaya Dalindyebo

A South African traditional king, Buyelekhaya Dalindyebo, has started serving a 12-year jail sentence for crimes including arson, kidnapping and assault.
A spokesman for the Department of Correctional Services, Manelisi Wolela, said on Thursday.

Officials described the case as the first of its kind since the country became a democracy in 1994.
King Dalindyebo, 51, rules over more than 100,000 AbaThembu – an ethnic group that the country’s first black president Nelson Mandela belonged to – in Eastern Cape province.

Dalindyebo was sentenced in 2009 for crimes including assaulting, kidnapping and burning property of people who refused to obey his orders.
Some of the victims were allegedly beaten up because their relatives had not presented themselves before the royal court.
Dalindyebo waged a lengthy court battle to avoid jail.

He finally handed himself over to a prison in Mthatha in Eastern Cape just before midnight on Wednesday, said Wolela.
Wolela added that the monarch was then moved to another prison in East London.

In power since 1989, Dalindyebo is one among 10 traditional kings whose duties include presiding over ceremonies and mediating in local disputes.
The flamboyant king has made headlines by calling President Jacob Zuma corrupt and defecting from the ruling African National Congress to the main opposition Democratic Alliance.

Charles Nwaila, Director-General at the Department of Traditional Affairs, said Dalindyebo’s sentence “is an individual case”, which is not expected to affect the reputation of the institution of kingship in South Africa.

“The lesson is that we must be cautious and obey the law, irrespective of our positions”.
“The AbaThembu royal authority does not rest only with the king, but with a royal council tasked with choosing the most suitable person to rule and with advising him,” Nwaila said.
Similar structures are in force in all South African kingdoms.

The national legislation stipulates that royal authorities may remove kings on certain conditions, including a jail conviction of more than 12 months without bail.
The AbaThembu royal council will now consider whether to temporarily or permanently replace King Dalindyebo, Nwaila said.

If it decides to substitute him with a new king, it will need to get authorisation from President Zuma, who would withdraw Dalindyebo’s certificate of recognition and grant it to the new ruler.

Read more »

Buhari: I’ll dismiss any corrupt minister

Buhari: I’ll dismiss any corrupt minister

President Muhammadu Buhari has said he would dismiss any member of his cabinet involved in corruption.
He said the details on his administration’s anti-corruption campaign would become clearer at the end of the first quarter of 2016.

The president was speaking Wednesday during his administration’s maiden media chat.
He said the government would work with the Ministry of Justice to ensure that the truth is known.

“I feel that Nigerians have to know the truth, and the truth in terms of what has been recovered; in terms of bank statement, where the money was sourced, where it was lodged, how much; whether it is money from NNPC or directly from central bank. When we do that, I feel Nigerians will feel better,” said Mr. Buhari.

Mr. Buhari said he had declared his assets four times, and that it was the duty of Ministry of Justice to furnish Nigerians with the details of his declarations.

“All the declarations are documented with the Ministry of Justice, so if the Ministry of Justice cannot disclose my declaration then they too should answer some question,” he said.

The president said he was not aware of any member of his cabinet facing corruption case.

“I don’t think I have picked anybody that I know will embarrass my government,” he said. “I know that consciously, I have not taken any body among the ministers who have got a case in court of corruption,” he noted.

He added that any cabinet member found wanting in his administration would be dismissed.

Read more »

Media chat: Buhari is a tyrant, says PDP

Media chat: Buhari is a tyrant, says PDP

Chief Olisa Metuh

The Peoples Democratic Party alleged on Thursday that President Muhammadu Buhari’s responses at the Wednesday Presidential Media Chat were not only embarrassing but also further exposed his undemocratic character as an unrepentant tyrant who has no regard for the rule of law and the self-worth of Nigerian citizens.

The party, in a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Chief Olisa Metuh in Abuja, also said the President confirmed his alleged partisanship in the much-vaunted war against corruption by openly absolving his ministers and party members of corrupt practices.

Metuh said the President’s attitude showed his true colours as unrepentant dictator.

He also said it was wrong for the President to have condemned those undergoing trial for alleged corruption.

He said, “Whilst we restate our respect for the person and office of the President, we note that President Buhari bared his true colours to the world as an unrepentant tyrant.

“Today, the world is no longer in doubt as to who is behind the prevailing recklessness, abuse of rights of citizens and outright flouting of judicial pronouncements by security agencies.

“A situation where the President openly pronounced persons facing trial guilty and sanctioned their continued incarceration despite being granted bail by the courts, presents a dangerous fascist practice obtainable only in totalitarian societies like Mussolini’s Italy, Hitler’s Germany, Idi Amin’s Uganda and General Than Shwe’s Burma.

“This extremely shocking dictatorial tendency being brazenly exhibited by the President in total disdain for our laws and judicial institutions portends great danger for our democracy and constitutionally-guaranteed rights of the people, and should be resisted by the citizens before it festers.

“The scorn for the principle of separation of powers, especially the independence of the legislature, is further manifested in the declared craving to regulate the funding and running of the National Assembly, a matter constitutionally vested outside the jurisdiction of the executive.

“We are most uncomfortable about his attempt at trying to whip up public sentiments against an independent arm of government, especially the one vested with the constitutional power of appropriation.”

Metuh added that with the pronouncements by the President, it might be necessary to suspend the application of the Constitution and allow the President to operate as maximum ruler for four years after which the nation can return to a democracy.

According to him,  “On the issue of the Chibok girls, President Buhari’s embarrassing declaration of seeking information on the whereabouts and state of the girls betrays an obvious insincerity which is in total conflict with his campaign promises in that regard.

“Thus by this declaration, our dear President has accepted failure on this issue and should therefore apologise to Nigerians for all the insults, abuse and aspersions cast on the past administration by himself and the leadership of his political party.”

On the issue of devaluation of the naira, Metuh said it was obvious that there was a conflict between the budget speech wherein the president stated that the government was assessing the foreign exchange rate with a view to attracting foreign investments and his categorical pronouncement during the media chat that the naira would not be devalued.

He said it was obvious that the president obviously “does not understand the currency that applies in the devaluation of the naira,”

He added that Nigerians were shocked by the President’s labeling them as ‘very difficult lot’ while responding to questions on the strategy to be adopted in implementing his promised N5,000 social welfare package.

He said, “This unhealthy portrayal of the citizens by the very father of the nation, who has remained unrelenting in de-marketing his country through unguarded statements, is indeed a great disservice to Nigeria and its international image.

“Consequently, we reject this negative labeling of our citizens and reiterate our confidence in them, especially the millions who remain honest, hardworking and credible.

“Finally, Nigerians must take copious note of the fact that the President gave no inspiring answers to questions pertaining to his campaign promises, the fight against insurgency and rescue of the Chibok girls, the poor state of the naira, sudden plunging of the economy under his watch, and the gradual loss of democratic rights and freedom.”

Read more »

Nigeria needs to stop destroying hemp – Experts

Nigeria needs to stop destroying hemp – Experts

The public destruction of hemp plant by the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency is denying the country the opportunity to make billions of naira annually from the plant, experts have said.

The NDLEA puts the street value of hemp plant and ‘dried’ cannabis destroyed in the last four years at over N1.5trn.

While the burnt cannabis farms are estimated at N987bn, dried weeds stand at N546bn during the years.

Industrial and renewable energy experts in Nigeria, however, say that rather than setting the drug of such whopping value and volume ablaze, the authorities should explore ways of using the plant for other purposes that can contribute to the country’s revenue.

For instance, it has been said that an acre of hemp will produce as much paper as two to three acres of paper making trees and that all types of paper products can be produced from hemp (http://www.hempbasics.com/shop/hemp-information).

 “The quality of hemp paper is superior to tree-based paper. Hemp paper will last hundreds of years without degrading, can be recycled many more times than tree-based paper, and requires less toxic chemicals in the manufacturing process than does paper made from trees,” the website adds.

Professor Oluwadare Olufemi of the Department of Forestry Resources Management, University of Ibadan, says the government is losing billions of naira to the non-utilisation of cannabis for pulp, which is used in paper production, including currency paper.

He says Nigeria imports about N600bn worth of paper annually, material which can be produced in the country with necessary technologies on the ground.

He urges the government to tap into the economic benefits of the plant, with particular focus on regulatory measures.

He says, “Cannabis is a very good fibre for paper making, but because of the abuse of the plant, it is not encouraged here in Nigeria for commercial plantation. If such is going to be done, it means the government must have control over the plantation and those who are planting it. In fact, cannabis is one of the specialty plants that could be used for non-wood fibre material. Its fibre is very good and it could be used to produce specialty paper like currency paper.

“With the current cost of pulp in the global market, Nigeria will earn a lot. If we look at it holistically, a metric tonne (1,000 kilogrammes) of pulp from cannabis is worth as much as $500 in the global market. We have the resources to make Nigeria a net exporter of pulp. So, it is left for the government to develop the sector. And if Nigeria paper industries are well developed, they can compete favourably well with the oil and gas sector. It can generate over 500,000 jobs.

“When we look at it downstream, paper making is a money spinning sector that Nigeria is actually yet to go into. It is unfortunate that we have to be importing papers from smaller countries. Nigeria paper industry is one of the largest in Africa, but presently is not working.

“The major thing is, as big as Nigeria is with over 150 million people, we don’t have any viable centre for research. We need a research centre and from there, we can take off and explore materials that we have. Tentatively, Nigeria imports N600bn paper yearly because 95 per cent of various papers – including currency, cardboard papers and the one used in our schools are all imported. The paper mill at Jebba is making use of secondary fibre – recycled waste papers.”

Also, a Professor of Economics in University of Ibadan and Director Centre for Petroleum Energy, Economics and Law, Adeola Adenikinju, says it is time the government looked beyond the destruction of the plant.

Adenikinju says the need to explore cannabis was incumbent as farmers continued to grow it despite the clampdown on the drug by government agencies.

“The first issue is the purpose of the current production of cannabis. Basically, it is for consumption of those who want to abuse it for some personal reasons and I think that is why the government is trying to curtail that. Again, studies have shown a link between drug and anti-social behaviours which we cannot be ignored,” he says.

“The second issue is in what ways can government intervene to ensure that it is, used for economic benefits? There are some countries that have been able to positively utilise this drug for other purposes that are beneficial to the society. We need to look at how they are doing it so that it can be used to provide jobs for farmers growing it in Nigeria, while at the same time keeping close watch on those who may want to use it for anti-social behaviour.

“In US, they use cannabis for medicine. In Europe, some countries have relaxed seizure of marijuana. In Colarado for instance, doctors prescribe it for patients who are suffering from pains. As a country, there must be a strategy because when there is a demand for a product, it means there is law of demand and supply at work.

“There is a demand for it and that is why people are growing it and as long as that demand is there, people will continue to grow it no matter what government tries to do. Therefore, a more positive approach will be to see how social benefits can be derived from it.

“The crop can be used as feedstock in the energy sector. It will be a very good source to solve part of the energy problems in the country.”

Energy and environmental expert, Lawal Gada, who is the Director, Greenado International Limited, also decries the burning of the plant, saying it translated into destruction of what could have been a source of revenue for the country.

He says, “Obviously cannabis is an organic product. It is a biodegradable material which can be dried and converted into briquette. It can also be processed into bio ethanol and used for biofuel or converted to manual for road construction instead of burning it and polluting the environment. The government is not using a suitable approach.

“In fact, as an organic material, it can be ground to produce chips and sawdust in making tables and cabinets. It can be used to produce anything that wood can be used for. If you look at some tables, inside them are chips while some other material is used to cover them. Alternatively, the government can reach out to the countries that legalise it and be exporting it to earn income. It can be traded with those countries.”

Read more »

(UPDATED) Abduction scandal: Davido apologises to Dele Momodu, fans

(UPDATED) Abduction scandal: Davido apologises to Dele Momodu, fans

Davido

Music star, Davido, has apologised to Dele Momodu and his fans for his conduct over the baby abduction drama which has rocked his plans and been in the news since Tuesday.

“Mr. Dele Momodu I Apologise but …U didn’t have to…,” the artist, who had engaged the Ovation Magazine publisher in a war of words, tweeted minutes ago.

The music star and his sister, Ashely, had on Tuesday been stopped from travelling to Dubai with the child by immigration officials at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport in response to a petition by Momodu that the child had been abducted.

Despite the apology, the artist insisted the allegations against him were untrue, saying, “All these lies being put on me … no be today … I have so much to say but in respect for my daughter I will keep quiet … I apologise.”

He thanked his supporters and those “bashing” him, adding, “The truth will come out! Even if I don’t keep her, she will grow up to know I fought for her.”

Sophia’s lawyers had in a petition to the Director-General, National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons, alleged that the baby had been forcibly taken from her on July 11 at Ashley’s house in Lekki after she was tricked into going there.

The petition also claimed that repeated efforts by Sophia to get her baby back since then were unsuccessful, leaving her to turn to friends and her cousin, Dele Momodu, for help.

The Ovation Magazine publisher had accompanied Sophia to alert immigration officials, sparking a war of words between the two.

Momodu took to Instagram and Twitter, posting photos form the airport and mocking Davido over his inability to use his influence to have his way.

“All the phone calls to Abuja by Davido’s powerful family failed to impress the highly professional officers at MMIA as they tried to travel illegally with a seven month old baby they had seized from her mum months ago!” he wrote in a post.

Davido, who had initially, expressed disappointment in Momodu, however, tweeted in the early hours of Thursday, “I leave them for God.”

In another tweet, he explained that he did not deserve all that was happening as all he had ever done “is to love that baby”.

Earlier, an angry David had told Momodu he should be ashamed of himself. “You should be ashamed of yourself!! God bless you still,” he tweeted.

Momodu, who also put up a screen shot of a chat between David and Sophia in which the artiste insulted him, said in a post, “No one no matter how wealthy or powerful has the right to forcefully detach a baby from her mum… Nigeria is not that lawless!”

Sophia, who says she has been denied access to her daughter for months, is however worried that the baby could be sneaked out of the country via land.

She has also asked the Department of State Security, the police and the Lagos State Governor, Akinwunmi Ambode, to intervene in the matter.

Momodu has yet to respond to the apology.

Davido turns to God as baby abduction drama lingers

Award-winning artiste, David “Davido” Adeleke, has left those accusing him of abducting his daughter, Imade, and denying his baby mama, Sophia Momodu, access to her daughter to God.

The music star and his sister, Ashely, had on Tuesday been stopped from travelling to Dubai with the child by immigration officials at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport in response to a petition by Momodu that the child had been abducted.

Sophia’s lawyers had in a petition to the Director-General, National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons, alleged that the baby had been forcibly taken from her on July 11 at Ashley’s house in Lekki after she was tricked into going there.

The petition also claimed that repeated efforts by Sophia to get her baby back since then were unsuccessful, leaving her to turn to friends and her cousin, Dele Momodu, for help.

The Ovation Magazine publisher had accompanied Sophia to alert immigration officials, sparking a war of words between the two.

Momodu took to Instagram and Twitter, posting photos form the airport and mocking Davido over his inability to use his influence to have his way.

“All the phone calls to Abuja by Davido’s powerful family failed to impress the highly professional officers at MMIA as they tried to travel illegally with a seven month old baby they had seized from her mum months ago!” he wrote in a post.

Davido, who had initially, expressed disappointment in Momodu, however, tweeted in the early hours of Thursday, “I leave them for God.”

In another tweet, he explained that he did not deserve all that was happening as all he had ever done “is to love that baby”.

Earlier, an angry David had told Momodu he should be ashamed of himself. “You should be ashamed of yourself!! God bless you still,” he tweeted.

Momodu, who also put up a screen shot of a chat between David and Sophia in which the artiste insulted him, said in a post, “No one no matter how wealthy or powerful has the right to forcefully detach a baby from her mum… Nigeria is not that lawless!”

Sophia, who says she has been denied access to her daughter for months, is however worried that the baby could be sneaked out of the country via land.

She has also asked the Department of State Security, the police and the Lagos State Governor, Akinwunmi Ambode, to intervene in the matter.

The parties could not be immediately reached for comments.

Read more »