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U.S.-China trade war ends 1 million U.S. jobs promise – Jack Ma

By Business Desk,

Alibaba Chairman, Jack Ma said the company can no longer meet its promise to create 1 million jobs in the United States due to U.S.-China trade tensions, Chinese news agency Xinhua reported on Wednesday.

Ma has already warned that the trade war between the world’s two largest economies could last decades and that China should focus exports on the “Silk Road” trade route, citing Africa, Southeast Asia and Europe.

Ma met U.S. President Donald Trump two years ago and laid out the Chinese e-commerce giant’s plan to bring one million small U.S. businesses onto its platform to sell to Chinese consumers over the next five years.

“This commitment is based on friendly China-U.S. cooperation and the rational and objective premise of bilateral trade,” Ma told Xinhua on Wednesday.

“The current situation has already destroyed the original premise. There is no way to deliver the promise.”

While Ma had not detailed how he would add those jobs, he has said that he wanted to encourage American small businesses to sell on Alibaba marketplace Tmall and Taobao, reasoning that every new business that joined the platform would have to hire a person to manage the extra sales.

Investors seemed unfazed by Ma’s comments, with Alibaba shares closing up 3.8 percent on Wednesday. They have declined 5.7 percent so far this year, including those gains.

Trump on Monday imposed 10 percent tariffs on about $200 billion worth of imports from China, and threatened duties on about $267 billion more if China retaliated.

China responded a day later with tariffs on about $60 billion worth of U.S. goods as planned, but reduced the level of tariffs it will collect on the products.

Ma’s latest comments come on top of others he recently made about the escalating trade skirmish and show his support for Beijing’s stance on how additional tariffs will affect businesses and the country’s cornerstone One Belt One Road foreign policy initiative.

“The U.S. like competition, China likes harmony, they’re two different cultures,” Ma said at an investor conference in Shanghai on Tuesday.

We are winning war against Boko Haram – DHQ

By News Desk,

The Defence Headquarters (DHQ) has again reassured Nigerians that the military is winning the fight against Boko Haram terrorism and will not rest on its oars until terrorism is wiped out of the country.

However, it expressed concerned about mischievous reports by section of the media aimed at discrediting the efforts of troops in the North East.

According to a statement issued by Brig.-Gen. John Agim, the Acting Director Defence Information – DDI, the report is being spearheaded by a particular foreign news agency that the Armed Forces is losing the battle against insurgency. He did not name the agency.

Agim, however, said that the report was not true, adding that such malicious articles should be disregarded while the military would continue to protect the territorial integrity and sovereignty of the nation.

“The report was calculated to dampen the spirit of the troops at the theatres of operation and to demean the successes recorded so far in the war against terrorism.

“It is more worrisome when such an ill-informed report is coming from a supposed credible news agency expected to be a partner in progress.

” It agitates the mind whether the reporter is working in isolation or speaking the mind of its sponsors.

“It is a well known fact that terrorism thrives on publicity and propaganda.

“It is also known that some journalists work for Boko Haram and fraternize with terrorist commanders against the standing forces to whip up sentiment,” he said.

Agim said that at the heat of Boko Haram insurgency, the armed forces with limited weapon chased Boko Haram out of Abuja and other cities into Sambisa Forest.

“How much more now that the military is well equipped with determined troops to take on any terrorist group, be it Boko Haram or Islamic State In West Africa.

“If this is still seen as struggling by the purveyors of the false report, then the word may have assumed a new meaning,” he said.

The DDI said the truth remains that the military strategy of drawing out the enemy had been a great success as hundreds of terrorists had met their waterloo in their desperate attempts to recapture some cities in the North East.

He said the military would continue to do this until terrorists and terrorism were completely annihilated, adding that it was “insensible to attempt to rewrite the script and make the military look like the losing side.”

Agim urged Nigerians to be wary of uncomplimentary remarks about our nation and its armed forces by sympathisers of terrorist organisations.

1,000 companies compete for 12 rail projects

By News Desk,

More than 1,000 contractors are participating in the bids for 12 projects advertised by the Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC).

The corporation has opened the bids to pre-qualify the contractors for the 2018 projects.

Mr Ben Iloanusi, the NRC Director of Procurement, told the newsmen during pre-qualification exercise at the NRC headquarters, Ebute Meta, Lagos, on Wednesday.

Iloanusi said about 1,000 submissions were received across the various categories.

“The projects numbering 12 as advertised recently by the corporation in some national dailies attracted over 1,000 companies.

“The projects included emergency repair and maintenance of tracks, bridges and culvert, renovation.

“Also inclusive are upgrade of railway stations nationwide, procurement of locomotives, coaches, wagons, railway inspection vehicles and cranes, rehabilitation of locomotives and coaches.

“Others are procurement, rehabilitation and installation of equipment for mechanical, electrical, security, printing and ICT facilities; procurement of rolling stock consumables and spare parts and provision of insurance services,” he said.

The director further disclosed that the exercise may be concluded by the end of October as the procurement team had been directed to conclude the evaluation process in one month.

Niyi Ali, the Director of Operations, promised that the process would be transparent, saying the corporation will be fair to all in the pre-qualification and selection stages.

About N12 billion was approved by the Federal Government for the corporation’s projects in the 2018 budget.

Representatives of the various companies were on ground as the team verified the documents submitted by them amid tight security.

Sessions curbs judges’ power to toss deportations

By News Desk, with Agency Report,

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced new limits on the ability of immigration judges to terminate deportation cases on Wednesday, the latest in a series of decisions to facilitate the removal of immigrants in the country illegally.

Unlike the federal judiciary system, U.S. immigration courts fall under the Department of Justice and the attorney general can rewrite opinions issued by the Board of Immigration Appeals. Sessions, a Republican former U.S. senator appointed by President Donald Trump, has been unusually active in this practice compared to his predecessors.

In his most recent decision, Sessions said judges can only terminate or dismiss cases in “specific and circumscribed” circumstances. Judges “have no inherent authority to terminate removal proceedings even though a particular case may pose sympathetic circumstances,” he said.

The decision laid out specific circumstances under which immigration judges can terminate deportation proceedings, including in cases where the government cannot prove its case for removal. Judges can also terminate proceedings if the government asks for a dismissal or to allow an immigrant time for a final hearing on a pending petition for naturalization when the matter involves “exceptionally appealing or humanitarian factors.”

Having a deportation case terminated does not confer legal status on an immigrant, but it does give them time to pursue other avenues of remaining in the country legally. The Department of Homeland Security can place immigrants whose cases are dismissed back into deportation proceedings with a new charging document.

“The decision is the next step in a concerted effort by the A.G. to undermine judicial independence and to minimize the role of judges in immigration court,” said Kate Voigt, associate director of government relations at the American Immigration Lawyers’ Association.

Dana Leigh Marks, president emeritus of the National Association of Immigration Judges, said the decision “shows again the amount of pressure being applied to judges to move cases forward toward removal as quickly as possible.”

Shell offers free healthcare to 610,000 in Niger-Delta

By News Desk,

The Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) says  no fewer than 610,000 people in Niger Delta have so far benefited from its free health interventions in the past eight years.

Igo Weli, General Manager, External Relations at SPDC stated this at the opening ceremony of a Community Healthcare Programme at Onopa in Yenagoa, Bayelsa on Wednesday.

Weli, who was represented by Wakil Layiwola, a Manager at the External Relations Department of SPDC, noted that the oil firm believed that a healthy population was critical to a productive workforce.

He said that the programme took quality free healthcare services to the doorsteps of benefiting communities where it operated.

“The Community Care Programme was introduced over a decade ago in the Niger Delta and has since reached thousands of people across Nigeria with its free medical health component tagged ‘Health-in-Motion’.

“We are passionate about health and safety and remain committed to extending this to the people in the communities where we operate.

“We uphold a maxim of we care in our business and believe that healthy citizenry leads to a productive population that strengthens the economy and wealth of a nation,” Weli said.

Speaking at the event, Chief Samuel Morrison, Paramount Ruler in Onopa settlement, applauded the oil firm for the intervention and urged SPDC to equip the Onopa Health Centre built by the Bayelsa government for the benefit of the people.

The monarch said that aside the construction of the building, there were neither equipment nor personnel at the health centre, urging the Bayelsa Ministry of Health to deploy health workers to Onopa.

Dr Ongowari Torunana, who represented the Commissioner of Health, Prof Ebitimi Etebu, pledged to table the request for health personnel before the Health Ministry.

Mrs Jane Dou, who spoke on behalf of the beneficiaries, expressed gratitude and satisfaction to the company, noting that the distribution of insecticide treated nets in the settlement behind the Epie creek would keep malaria at bay.

“We were screened for cervical/breast cancers, including cryotherapy treatments, blood pressure, blood sugar levels and heart diseases.

“Dental care and eye tests, including reading glasses and drugs were dispensed as required while laboratory testing for HIV and malaria, as well as treatment of chronic and minor ailments are available,” Dou said.

It revealed that more than 1,000 persons comprising children, women and adults have so far received medical attention in the 3-day event.

Coca-Cola set to takeover Nigeria’s Chi juice

By Business Desk, with Agency Report,

Coca-Cola is moving ahead with plans to take over Nigeria’s leading juice company Chi Ltd and aims to complete the deal early next year, a senior executive disclosed.

The acquisition for an undisclosed price is one of several steps the U.S. company is taking in a global strategy to diversify from its core business of sugary sodas.

Last month it agreed to buy Costa coffee for $5.1 billion, and sources familiar with the matter say it is also bidding for GlaxoSmithKline’s  Indian Horlicks nutrition business.

“We are still on track to complete the acquisition (of Chi Ltd) by the end of the first quarter of 2019,” Peter Njonjo, president of Coca-Cola’s west Africa business, said on Wednesday.

Coca-Cola bought a 40 percent stake in the Nigerian juice and snack producer in January 2016, and said at the time it aimed to increase ownership within three years.

Juice sales form a central plank of the U.S. company’s attempt to offer drinks at a range of price points in Nigeria to improve affordability in a country where Njonjo sees high inflation and modest economic growth in the coming year.

Focusing on smaller bottles and cans is another way the company is trying to woo cash-strapped consumers in Nigeria, which emerged from its first recession in 25 years in 2017 but continues to suffer from sluggish growth and high inflation.

“Affordability will start becoming a bigger issue in this market than it was in the past. As a company, that is what we need to factor in as we are thinking about the future of our business in Nigeria,” Njonjo said in an interview.

He pointed to the introduction of a 30 centilitre bottle of Coke Zero for 60 naira ($0.20), compared with the standard 50 centilitre bottle for 80 naira, as just one example.

Njonjo said the company’s drive to diversify its product range could also give it more flexibility in a market where unemployment is high and the United Nations estimates most of the population of 190 million lives on less than $2 a day.

“We realize that in certain pack formats you can only go down so low,” he said in an interview at his office in the commercial capital Lagos. “But once you start looking at pouches and still products, like juice and drinking yoghurts, that allows you to start accessing much lower price points.”

Njonjo said the purchase of Costa could present a “significant opportunity” in Nigeria, despite the absence of a culture of hot-coffee drinking there.

“There definitely could be opportunity around ready-to-drink coffee here in Nigeria … Having iced coffee, blends of dairy and coffee, packaged in different formats,” he said.

Njonjo said Horlicks, a malt-based hot beverage, was an “interesting proposition” that could be “a significant opportunity on the (African) continent”.

But while the company was researching drinks from locally relevant ingredients, such as ginger, he said he could not see a market for marijuana drinks – something the company has said it was closely watching in the past.

In January, Coca-Cola announced a global goal to help collect and recycle its packaging.

Njonjo said the company was working in Nigeria to collect bottles and find a way for them to be re-used through a partnership with cement-maker Lafarge in which bottles would be burned in kilns as an energy source.

A memorandum of understanding was being formalized and would be signed in the next few weeks, he said, adding that implementation would begin in the last quarter of this year.

He said the company was also working with Lagos state government on marine collection to remove waste from waterways in the city, which is built on a lagoon.

Court remands 8 for defrauding Osun lawmaker N38m

By News Desk,

An Osogbo High Court in Osun on Wednesday remanded eight persons in Ilesa prison for allegedly defrauding an Osun lawmaker of N38 million.

The accused including Kazeem Agbabiaka ,40, Abdulrasheed Ojonla, 45, Femi Oyebode,30, Babatunde Oluajo,50, and Adebiyi Kehinde, 42 are being tried for conspiracy and fraud.

Other accused are Oyebamiji Oyeniyi, 32, Ismaila Azeez, 45, and Awodunmola kehinde, 44.

The Magistrate, Olusegun Ayilara, ordered them to be remanded in prison custody until Sept. 28 when their plea would be taken.

The Prosecutor, ASP John Idoko told the court that the accused committed the offences between April and July in Oluajo area of Osogbo.

Idoko said the accused conspired to defraud the Majority Leader, Osun State House of Assembly (OSHA), Timothy Owoeye, of the sum of N38 million under the pretenses of organising a spiritual prayer for him to avert a death revelation.

The prosecutor said the accused dubiously recorded a video clip showing the lawmaker naked and allegedly circulated it, which went viral.

He said the offences contravened sections 516 and 390(9) of the criminal code, cap 34 vol.11 laws of Osun, 2003.

The plea of the accused was not taken.
The Magistrate adjourned the case until Sept. 28 for mention.

Flood submerges 5 Benue communities, rice mill – BSEMA

By News Desk,

Emmanuel Shior, the Executive Secretary, Benue State Emergency Management Agency (BSEMA), said on Wednesday that the rampaging flood has submerged five communities in Agatu and other parts of Makurdi, the state capital.

Shior disclosed this while briefing newsmen in Makurdi on the current flood situation in the state, adding that Rice Mill and other settlements on the banks of River Benue were also affected.

He said that the state government had taken proactive measures, including setting up a committee to sensitise the people of the state on the dangers ahead.

He said that the committee consists of officials drawn from SEMA, Ministry of Water Resources, Ministry of Information and other stakeholders in the state.

Shior said that SEMA, in conjunction with NEMA and other stakeholders, had embarked on an awareness campaign in the media, churches and Mosques.

He said that the campaign was intended to encourage residents of flood prone areas to relocate to safer areas.

The BSEMA boss said that the latest check with a guage showed that the water level at the River Benue had risen to 11 metres, barely one meter to its maximum level.

According to him, the water has virtually reached the level that caused flooding in 2012, during which most parts of the state were submerged.

He advised residents to steer clear from the river because of the high level, saying that 12 metres was the highest level that could cause disaster in any state.

He said that centres in the state, including the International Market, had been prepared to accommodate displaced persons.

In his remark, Lugard Slaku , the Zonal Coordinator of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) for North Central, said that 12 states, including Benue, had been listed as most threatened by flood in the country.

“So we have come with a team trained by NEMA to collaborate with SEMA to assess the situation, check the available facilities and gaps and report back to the head office for additional resources, where needed.” Slaku said.

Slaku said that while NEMA, SEMA and other stakeholders were working hard to ensure prompt response to distres calls, the people must cooperate with government to prevent avoidable disaster.

ANN’s Presidential aspirant promises to fix economy, insecurity

By News Desk,

The Presidential Aspirant for Alliance for New Nigeria (ANN), Gbenga Olawepo-Hashim says if elected President of the country, he will make security a priority.

Olawepo made this known after picking the party’s nomination and expression of interest forms on Wednesday in Abuja.

Alliance for New Nigeria was one of the 23 political parties registered on Aug. 14 by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

According to Olawepo-Hashim, if given the opportunity to rule the country, he will foster unity, fix the economy and stop the killings in the land.

“I am most assured I can get the job done given my record of accomplishment.

“I will restructure the economy from a dependent one to a self-reliant economy by investing in iron and steel, research and development and in other critical sectors,” he said.

The aspirant who is a business mogul with interest in oil exploration and energy generation also promised to implement a new economic development programme.

He said that the programme would lead to the expansion of Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) from 510 billion dollars to 4 trillion dollars within ten years.

“It will also create jobs from manufacturing, industrialisation and then link up industries with solid minerals and the agricultural sector.”

Olawepo-Hashim said the agricultural sector would be integrated with the industrial and solid mineral sectors to create sustainable jobs for youth employment.

The Chairman of the party, Emmanuel Dania, while speaking shortly after he presented the nomination form to the presidential aspirant, said that the heart of the party was about the people.

“We are coming to deliver to Nigerians a New Nigeria,” he said.

Dania assured Nigerians that the party would not engage in act of vote-buying which was becoming an order of the day but would get overwhelming support from Nigerians.

“It’s a new face of politics in Nigeria,” he said.

Kim to visit Seoul, close missile testing site

By News Desk, with Agency Report,

North Korea’s Kim Jong Un will soon make a historic visit to Seoul, he said Wednesday, and has agreed to close a missile testing site in front of international inspectors, as a rare inter-Korean summit unfolded in Pyongyang.

However, progress on the key issue of dismantling the North’s nuclear arsenal was limited, even though the South’s President Moon Jae-in had hoped to bring fresh momentum to stalled talks between his hosts and the United States.

Kim said he would travel to Seoul “in the near future”, adding that the agreement he signed with Moon “carries the people’s fresh hope and the people’s strong, flaming desire for reunification”.

The visit would be the first by a Northern leader to Seoul since the end of the 1950-53 Korean War, when hostilities ceased with an armistice rather than a peace treaty, leaving the divided peninsula technically in a state of war.

Talks in Pyongyang built on a growing rapprochement, with the two leaders agreeing Wednesday to hold family reunions on a regular basis, work towards joining up road and rail links, and mount a combined bid for the 2032 Olympics.

Moon said Kim’s visit to Seoul could happen this year and would be a “turning point in South-North relations”.

The North had agreed to “permanently close” a missile engine testing site and launch facility in Tongchang-ri “in the presence of experts from relevant nations”, he added.

At Kim’s historic summit with US President Donald Trump in Singapore in June — brokered by Moon — he declared his backing for denuclearisation of the peninsula.

But no details were agreed and Washington and Pyongyang have since sparred over what that means and how it will be achieved.

Trump welcomed Wednesday’s declaration, tweeting that Kim had “agreed to allow Nuclear inspections, subject to final negotiations” and adding: “Very exciting!”

But experts were sceptical.

The North — whose ballistic missile programme is banned under UN Security Council resolutions — has carried out several long-range rocket launches from the site, also known as Sohae, but has also used many other locations, including Pyongyang airport.

Satellite pictures in August suggested workers were already dismantling an engine test stand at Sohae.

“Kim is playing this brilliantly: verify that I dismantle a single site that I no longer need anyway while I mass produce the missiles the site helped me develop,” said Vipin Narang of MIT.

Moon also said the North could close its Yongbyon nuclear facility if Washington takes “corresponding measures” — a significant caveat.

Arms control expert Jeffrey Lewis said the consensus view was that the uranium enrichment facility at Yongbyon “was built for (the) express purpose of being sacrificed”.

After the high symbolism of Moon and Kim’s first meeting in April in the Demilitarized Zone, and the Singapore summit, progress has largely stalled.

Washington is pressing for the North’s “final, fully verified denuclearisation”, while Pyongyang wants a formal declaration that the 1950-53 Korean War is over and has condemned “gangster-like” demands for it to give up its weapons unilaterally.

Ahead of the Pyongyang summit there had been speculation Moon could secure a promise from Kim of a list of the North’s nuclear assets, but no such document was mentioned.

“On the denuclearisation issue, the agreement fell short of expectations,” Korea University political science professor Yoo Ho-yeol told AFP.

“Had the North promised to hand over information on its nuclear arsenal, for example, it would have looked much more encouraging.”