Former Nigeria Super Eagles defender Efe Sodje and two of his siblings have been jailed for defrauding a charity set up for poor African children.
Ex-footballers Efe Sodje, 46, and Stephen Sodje, 43, along with ex-rugby player Bright Sodje, 52, were found guilty of siphoning money from their family charity, the Sodje Sports Foundation (SSF).
The brothers’ convictions which took place in 2017 can only now be reported at the conclusion of a separate money laundering case involving the former Nigeria and Reading defender Sam Sodje who was cleared.
Another Sodje brother, Akpo, is still wanted in connection with the fraud charges but is said to have fled the UK during the investigation and an arrest warrant has been issued for him.
Africa’s top scorers ready to slug it out in Group B at the AFCON 2019
Let us run the rule over the Group B hopefuls and assess their prospects in the biennial African football showpiece
The sharpest shooters in 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualifying, Odion Ighalo of Nigeria and Fiston Abdul Razak of Burundi, will come face to face in Group B at the finals this month. While Ighalo and his Super Eagles team-mates are favoured to top the four-nation table and advance to the knockout stage in Egypt, Abdul Razak and the Swallows may struggle.
Burundi are the lowest ranked of the 24 sides at the June 21-July 19 tournament and the best they can be expected to hope for is third place below Nigeria and Guinea and above Madagascar. The countries finishing first and second are guaranteed round-of-16 slots while the best four of the six third-placed teams also qualify.
Let us run the rule over the Group B hopefuls and assess their prospects in the biennial African football showpiece:
The tiny central African country secured a first appearance at the expense of favoured Gabon despite drawing four of six qualifiers.
Algeria-based Abdul Razak starred with six goals at an average of one per match — a total bettered only by Ighalo, who netted seven times. But having tormented the defences of Mali, Gabon and South Sudan, can he wreak more havoc against the Nigerian and Guinean defences?
Olivier Niyungeko, who has succeeded where a string of foreign coaches failed, chose Burundians based in 13 countries and also picked one local, goalkeeper Jonathan Nahimana.
Verdict: an early exit looms
A squad coached by Paul Put hope poor dress rehearsals will be transformed into a grand opening night against Madagascar. Warm-up losses to lower-ranked opponents the Gambia and Benin in Morocco could sow self doubts and there has also been the distraction of injured midfield star Naby Keita.
He injured a thigh playing for Liverpool at Barcelona in the Champions League semifinals and admits to “not yet being fully fit”.
Put, who took outsiders Burkina Faso to the 2013 final, will expect a lot from Ibrahima Traore, a winger based in Germany whose footwork can bewilder even the tightest defences.
Verdict: Quarter-finals a realistic goal
Like Burundi, the Indian Ocean islanders who are making their Cup of Nations debut will eye third place and qualification as one of the four best teams in that position. French coach Nicolas Dupuis has worked wonders with a side that got to Egypt by finishing above Equatorial Guinea and Sudan, and he also coaches a lower-league club in his homeland.
He believes practice makes perfect, saying: “Madagascar used to play three or four matches a year and we’re going nowhere. We now make full use of every international window.” Dupuis has also convinced France-born Thomas Fontaine, Romain Metanire, Jerome Mombris and Jeremy Morel to represent a country they are linked to through parents or grandparents.
Verdict: reaching second round would complete a fairytale
The three-time champions are back at the Cup of Nations after unexpectedly lifting the trophy in 2013 and then failing to qualify for the next two editions. They should take advantage of a kind draw and cruise into the second round, but Nigerian supporters will expect much more from a team coached by experienced German Gernot Rohr.
When the Cup of Nations was last staged by Egypt in 2006, the Super Eagles finished third behind the host nation and the Ivory Coast. Apart from former Watford forward Ighalo, Spain-based Samuel Chukwueze could be a major threat having scored regularly for Villarreal in La Liga last season.
Verdict: Anything less than a semi-final place will be considered failure
Boko Haram raid military base, kill several soldiers in Nigeria
The insurgents ransacked the base and carted away weapons and vehicles
Boko Haram jihadists have raided a military base in northeastern Nigeria near the border with Niger, killing several troops and stealing weapons, military sources said Friday. Fighters from the Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) in eight gun-trucks launched a pre-dawn attack Thursday on the base in Kareto village, 335 kilometres north of the Borno state capital Maiduguri, they said.
“The terrorists attacked the 153 Troops Battalion in Kareto around 4:00 am West African Time and subdued the soldiers who were forced to withdraw after a hard fight,” an army officer who did not want to be named said. “We lost several men but we are still working to establish their number. One thing we are sure about is that the base commander, a lieutenant colonel, was among those killed,” he continued.
He said the insurgents ransacked the base and carted away weapons and vehicles. The Islamists “took troops by surprise” while they were working to fix communications equipment that had been destroyed in a rainstorm, said another officer, who also sought anonymity.
The troops could not seek support from two nearby bases because of the faulty equipment, he said. Search and rescue teams were combing the area for missing soldiers and dead bodies, they added. Kareto has been repeatedly raided by Boko Haram fighters who have since July last year targeted dozens of military bases in attacks that have left scores of soldiers dead in the volatile region.
Two weeks ago, the jihadists carried out multiple attacks on military bases in Borno state, overrunning three of them and stealing weapons after killing soldiers. On Sunday, ISWAP attacked a Cameroonian military base near the border with Nigeria in the Lake Chad area, killing at least 24 people, including 16 troops, according to Cameroon’s defence ministry.
The ministry also claimed that 64 jihadists were killed in the incident. Boko Haram’s decade-long insurgency has killed 27,000 including soldiers people and displaced about two million in Nigeria.
The violence has spilled over into neighbouring Niger, Chad and Cameroon, prompting a regional military coalition to defeat the hardline jihadist group.
Oil sensitivity set to intensify on conflicting themes
Oil markets are poised to remain highly sensitive and reactive to supply and demand side factors ahead of the OPEC meeting this month.
It has been a rollercoaster trading week for oil markets as investors tussled with conflicting fundamental themes pulling and tugging at the commodity.
Oil prices initially collapsed roughly 4 per cent mid-week thanks to an unexpected rise in U.S. crude stockpiles and a gloomy outlook for global oil demand. Bulls were later thrown a lifeline after geopolitical tensions in the Middle East rekindled concerns over potential supply shocks.
Oil markets are poised to remain highly sensitive and reactive to supply and demand side factors ahead of the OPEC meeting this month. With oil trading at depressed levels despite the recent rebound, OPEC+ may have no other choice but to extend supply cuts in an effort to prevent any further downside shocks.
For as long as Nigeria remains reliant on oil sales as a source of growth, the weakness in oil exposes the nation to significant downside risks. Should oil prices sink deeper into the abyss, Nigeria’s fragile recovery, exchange rate stability and improving sentiment will be under threat.
Looking at the technical picture, WTI Crude is trading marginally below $53.00 as of writing. Repeated weakness below this level is likely to encourage a decline towards $52.00 and $50.60.
Dollar steady ahead of retail sales
The Dollar edged higher against a basket of major currencies today as trade tensions and global growth concerns supported the flight to safety.
While the Dollar is likely to remain supported by safe-haven flows amid persistent trade tensions, the question is for how long? With the Fed speculated to cut interest rates and recent economic data from the United States nothing to celebrate about, the Dollar is running on borrowed time.
Much attention will be directed towards the latest U.S. retail sales figures on Friday which should offer insight into the health of the U.S. economy.
Should the report disappoint, the Dollar is likely to weaken as expectations mount over the Federal Reserve cutting interest rates this year.
Commodity spotlight – Gold
This has been a mixed trading week for Gold due to the growing sensitivity of global risk sentiment.
The precious metal has the potential to conclude the week on a positive note if the pending US retail sales report fails to hit market expectations. Looking at the technical picture, Gold is likely to test $1347 if $1324 proves to be a reliable support.
The views expressed in this piece are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect News Central TV’s editorial stance.
Research Analyst at FXTM
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