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EPL will continue despite new UK lockdown, says PM

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The English Premier League will not be affected by a new lockdown set to come into force across the United Kingdom, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said.

Coronavirus cases have been increasing at a rapid pace in the past few weeks, with the nation reporting an average of more than 20,000 daily positives over the last 10 days.

In response to the growing ‘second wave’ Johnson announced in a press conference on Saturday that the UK would re-impose a national lockdown, closing non-essential businesses and restricting the movement of the population in a bid to reduce infections.

England’s top flight fell victim to the pandemic in March, with the 2019-20 season suspended for almost four months before the campaign’s remaining fixtures could be completed.

But Johnson affirmed that for the time being the current term was in no risk of similar measures.

“I can say yes to the Premier League, I think, with authority,” the PM told reporters when announcing the new lockdown rules, due to come into place from Thursday until December 2.

Oliver Dowden, the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, confirmed that top-level sporting activity would not be affected.

“The changes mean people should work from home where possible,” Dowden explained on Twitter.

“But where this is not possible, travel to a place of work will be permitted – e.g. this includes (but not exhaustive) elite sport played behind closed doors, film & tv production, telecoms workers.”

In a statement on Twitter, the FA acknowledged that it was still unclear how the lockdown would affect non-elite football.

“We acknowledge the government’s announcement today regarding Covid-19 restrictions and are awaiting further information before we can confirm how this may affect non-elite football across England. We will communicate any necessary updates in due course,” the tweet read.

As well as the Premier League, several top European divisions have moved to act in the face of mounting cases across the continent.

France’s Ligue 1, which was concluded without completing the 2019-20 season back in March, will continue , as will the Bundesliga, although German football authorities have issued a new ban on fans attending games in order to reduce the risk of infection .

Jurgen Klopp, whose Liverpool side squeezed past West Ham at the same time as Johnson was addressing the nation, affirmed that he was pleased to see the sport continue.

He said, “It’s obviously what we want. We proved that we can go on and keep the bubble kind of safe,” the manager told reporters after the Reds’ 2-1 victory.

“Yes we have cases, everybody does, but we can isolate these cases pretty quickly. Things never happen at the training ground, they happen with travelling, national teams, new players into the club and things like that.

“We proved that we can do it, and in a lockdown I think it’s important that the people can do things they like to do, and watching football is obviously something they like to do. I’m obviously happy we can continue.”

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Pensioners demand payment of N35bn arrears

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Nigeria pensioners who retired from the electricity sector have urged President Muhammadu Buhari, to come to their aide in order to resolve the lingering issue of their owed N35billion pension arrears.

The pensioners under the aegis of Electricity Sector Retiree Welfare Association (ESREWA), led by its  President, Elder Benjamin Amako, asked President Buhari to save countless dying pensioners whose fate are tied to the delayed payment of their pension arrears.

Rising from its National Executive Council (NEC) meeting in Abuja, Amako said every Nigerian, including President Buhari, knows the pathetic situation of pensioners in the country.

Amako said: “First we thank God that Mr President returned from his medical trip healthier, stronger and successfully. The news of his return gave us pensioners so much joy because we know  he will not sit quiet and watch more pensioners lose their lives because of humanly inaction. So far, his administration has ensured that pensioners gets their rights and this arrears we are asking for is our right.

“Interestingly, President Buhari had already directed that this same arrears (N35billion) be paid to us, but for over five years ago he issued the directive, the relevant authorities who it is their responsibilities to ensure we get this arrears for our dying members seems to be working contrarily.

“So for the past five years, these arrears have always been part of the National Budget under Nigeria Electricity Liability Management Company (NELMCO) budget and accordingly transferred to Pension Transitional Arrangement Directorate (PTAD). But sadly, we have not been paid a dime even as I speak, for reasons that are totally and obviously human making.

“So we are pleading with President Buhari, the SGF, Minister of Finance, Chairman Senate Committee on Power, Accountant General of the Federation, PTAD and other relevant authorities to save our lives by paying us this money without further delay.”

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We’ll make South-East hot for governors if…, IPOB warns

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The Indigenous Peoples of Biafra, IPOB, has raised the alarm that South East governors in collaboration with Ohanaeze Ndigbo and some “treacherous’ tradinonal rulers, and President Generals of some communities, are compiling names of suspected operatives of the Eastern Security Network, ESN as well as IPOB members and supporters for persecution.

The group stated that if the governors don’t rescind their plan, “IPOB will make the zone too hot for them.” IPOB in a statement by its Media and Publicity Secretary Emma Powerful, claimed that its intelligence unit uncovered “a secret file” containing the list of the suspected ESN and IPOB members.

The list according to the statement is to be handed over to the security agencies for torture and elimination. IPOB which said the idea was suggested to South East Leaders by the federal government to weaken ESN regretted that efforts of the security outfit for flush out killer herdsmen from the zone were being sabotaged by the selfish political elite. It noted that since the establishment of ESN, efforts to rid the zone of bandits and killer herdsmen had intensified, a development that has making the masterminds uncomfortable.

The statement read in part: “The South-Eastern Governors in collaboration with Traditional Rulers in the Zone and some PGs of communities are compiling names of suspected IPOB members in their respective communities to hand over to Nigeria security agencies for possible executions. “The arrangement has been perfected to help Nigeria Police and Army to quickly pick anybody suspected to be IPOB member and ESN operatives in the zone. “Our intelligence further revealed that they took this decision to launch this joint military operation to quench and permanently silence what they termed as IPOB and ESN menace in the zone. “IPOB intelligence unit gathered that these enemies within and without have perfected arrangements to abduct our people and put them incommunicado in the security dungeons in unknown locations. “It is unfortunate that our so called leaders could not see or observe how Fulani terrorist herdsmen are raping and murdering our mothers, wives and sisters in the farms across the Biafra territory but they see us as their problem.” IPOB denied any link with the unknown gunmen suspected to the behind the wave of bloody attacks against security formations in the zone and wondered why its members would be marked for elimination. “We have severally explained that ESN has nothing to do with the unknown gunmen responsible for the attacks in South East. The unknown gunmen are not ESN or IPOB.

We wonder why Government will continue to associate us with that group without investigations.” IPOB argued that a government that treats bandits and killer herdsmen with kid gloves cannot claim to be unaware of the said unknown gunmen.

The pro-Biafra movement warned South East Leaders to retrace their steps or brace up for the grave consequences of their action. “If South East Governors do not stop this plan against their people, IPOB will make the zone too hot for them. “We expect all tradinonal rulers and PGs in the South East communities to retrace their steps before it gets too late. The land will also rise against them if they allow this to happen! “Any IPOB member or ESN operative killed shall be avenged! The statement also advised the federal government to jettison any plans to persecute pro-Biafra groups as doing so would come with some price. “We advise Nigeria government and her partners in crime in the zone to desist from this evil agenda because it will backfire. We are aware of their secret file, but we are not going back until Biafra is finally achieved.”

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4 soldiers, others killed as Boko Haram attacks Borno military base

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Suspected armed Boko Haram terrorists on Friday invaded a military base in Kamuya village of Biu Local Government Area of Borno State, leaving four soldiers and many terrorists feared dead, sources have said. Kamuya is about 30km drive from Buratai Town of former Chief of Army Staff, Rt Lt. General Yusuf Tukur Buratai and located south along Damaturu- Buni Yadi- Biu 120km highway.

Few years ago, a military base in Kamuya was dislodged by insurgents, only for the military to reestablish another base last year. The incident which started at about 6:35 pm last Thursday had disrupted the busy road as commuters and passengers plying the road had to take another route, as the road remained close uptil Saturday at the time of filing in this report.

A driver, Ali Isa, who left Biu on Friday with his passengers had to make a u-turn when they reached Buratai, and diverted back to Biu before taking through Gombe- Potiskum- Damaturu- Maiduguri 620km road. A reliable security information said, “armed men suspected to be Boko Haram, ISWAP stormed KAMUYA Community and have already dislodged the Special Forces (SF) location.

“The elements are still present in the community, while patrolling communities within BUNI GARI to prevent SF reinforcement. “SF have currently imposed movement restriction along Damaturu-Damboa-Biu Road. “Kamuya is a border town between  Biu LGA, Borno State and Gujba LGA of Yobe state. Staff to avoid the route. “Unfortunately, the entire SF base was razed down by the terrorists, even as four SF were reportedly killed and a number of them Missing In Action (MIA).” All efforts to get confirmation from the Police Public Relations Officer, DSP Edet Okon proved abortive at press time.

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