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Abuja court denies respite for Osinachi’s husband *Says, he has a case to answer

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Despite claims that he was roundly cleared by medical reports indicating that his wife died of natural illness, Peter Nwachukwu, is not getting any respite yet, as a High Court, sitting in Abuja, is insisting that he is liable to the sudden death of Osinachi Nwachukwu, a popular gospel artist, last year.

Justice Njideka Nwosu-Iheme of the Federal Capital Territory High Court sitting in Wuse Zone 2, which dismissed the no-case submission filed by Nwachukwu, stated that the prosecution did indeed establish a case against the defendant.

Following the 23-count filed by the Federal Government indicting him, in connection with the death of the popular musician, Nwachukwu was remanded at the Kuje detention facility until further hearing after pleading not guilty, ahead of the preliminary trial, which began on June 20, 2022 and finished on March 10, 2023, in which the prosecution called 17 witnesses to testify.

Though Osinachi, who passed away on April 8, 2022, was considered to have died of throat cancer at first, family and friends later claimed her death was connected to assault by her husband who was later arrested.

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But reports from the National Hospital in Abuja later issued an autopsy, which stated that there was no mark of violence on the deceased and attributed the cause of death to include “generalised organ pallor; bilateral leg swelling; fluid in the sac containing the heart; tumour deposits in and on the heart, lungs, kidneys; massively enlarged heart and fluid around the lungs which restrict breathing.”

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It was this report that Nwachukwu’s lawyers, I.A. Aliyu, took to court to file a no-case submission, arguing that the husband of the deceased had no case to answer, having been cleared of the charges of culpable homicide and domestic violence.

“Osinachi died solely as a result of outgrowth tumors, which resulted in cardiac tamponade, the primary cause of death and abnormal growth of tissue (cancer) which is the secondary cause of death,” he said, urging the court to release and acquit him of all charges.

But Nwosu-Iheme, in rejecting the no-case motion, ordered the Osinachi to open his defence in the case, which has generated a lot of controversy and public interest both in Nigeria and beyond.

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Garlands for Uwa, ‘Chimerem Eze 1,’ of Coca-Cola in Nigeria

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There is a local saying in Nigeria that when a child washes his hands clean, he will dine with elders. But for Dr. Aja Uwa, a lecturer with the Federal University of Technology Owerri (FUTO), that popular saying has even been stretched further – he is not only dining with elders, but with kings.

That was the status to which he was elevated when he bagged the enviable title of Chimerem Eze 1, of Coca-Cola in Nigeria – a title that has put him in good stead to sit at the high table of the global giant to enjoy the fruit of his labour that came out of dint of hard work that has catapulted him to become one of the highly rated associates of the conglomerate in Nigeria.

The event to commemorate this new status, was not only officially acknowledged by the company, but had the imprimatur of royalty as it was sealed, like the coronation of a king by no less a king himself than Eze Geoffrey I. Ejimogu the Anunu 1, of Umuanunu.

Venue was the Coca Cola depot at Umuanunu autonomous community in Obinze, Imo State. With that crown, garland and other paraphernalia of royal authority, the event was sealed. Date was Friday, February 23, 2024.

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From all indications and given the testimony of those, who honoured him, the university don, did not pick to this enviable position from the streets, but rather, he attained it by dint of hard work, struggling night and day to close the gaps speedily and achieve milestones in the most remarkable way.

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Chidozie Okoro, Commercial Manager, Owerri Commercial Territory, spared no glowing words in acknowledging the contribution of Uwa, currently Senior Legislative Aide (SLA) to Senator Professor Anthony Ani, the newly elected senator representing Ebonyi South zone in the National Assembly.

At the event where the erudite scholar was garlanded with pomp and pageantry in flaming colours, he said his outstanding performance in the sales of the company’s products, was impacted immensely on the fortunes of the global brand, praising his meteoritic rise in the business.

Hear him: “Aja delivered a record distribution feat of 1.2m of the company physical cases of products which included bottles, cartons and other packs within the year 2023. His total performance of over 1.2million cases, attracted a revenue of about N2billion in turnover to the company. It’s such performance that earns him what he is enjoying today.”

Giving further insight, he recounted how Uwa started his business with the company in 2015 as a one way pack dealer, meaning he was not allowed to sell the bottled products of the company as a one line dealer, but within five years of doing business with the company, became a mega distribution partner of the company in 2020.

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“Today Dr.Aja Uwa is the number one distributor in the Eastern region comprising states like Imo, Rivers,  Akwa Ibom, Cross River, Bayelsa, part of Anambra, Enugu and Ebonyi. This feat has been maintained steadily since the past three years till date,” Okoro said.

He added that even outside the shores of Nigeria, the don had also earned immense recognition, having maintained the number one role leads in the Atlanta promo which allows the leading distributor to travel to Atlanta, United State of America with all expenses sponsored by the company to visit the operational headquarters of Coca-cola for over a week.

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He added: “Dr Aja Uwa, is heading to win the ticket to Anfield, a promo that will enable him to watch Liverpool matches live, fully sponsored by the company, as he remains till date the highest distributor of the company’s Energy Drinks. For all these feats, the company Council of Elders resolved to induct him into the prestigious club of kings of the company.”

On his part, Uwa told reporters at the event witnessed by his colleagues from FUTO, friends from the Senate Wing of the NASS, staff and customers of Coca-cola brands, that the recognition was the first time such eminent body in the company would be taking a decision of this nature.

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Expressing surprises for the huge recognition, he said: “I least expected that my humble inputs would deserve this magnitude of attention. The reward for good work is more work. I’m going to double my efforts to achieve more. I cannot afford to let anyone down at this point given the confidence reposed on me.

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Ezeife’s metaphor: How Igbo elders died in futile chase for Kanu’s freedom  

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By Sunny Igboanugo

They beseeched, they pleaded, they remonstrated, they begged, they argued, they were snubbed, they were denied and then – they died! They died hoping and believing that it might happen before their own eyes and in their lifetimes.

These were great men of the South East. They were sons of Igboland. They grew, lived and achieved great things for their people and their country. Yet, the common denominator is that they all died with apparent broken hearts.

This is the story of Mbazuiluike Amaechi, Ben Nwabueze and now, Chukwuemeka Ezeife. They died in that order. Amaechi, a veteran in Nigerian independence struggle, who as a member of the Zikist Movement, a group that was in the forefront of that struggle, joined other individuals and groups to liberate Nigeria from the shackles of colonialism.

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Having risen the ashes of the struggle to the position of the first Nigerian Minister of Aviation, the late nationalist from Ukpo, in Nnewi South Local Government Area, had contributed his own quota to the galloping development, which the first republic, known as the golden era of Nigeria achieved. Yet, he died a broken man, his one wish at his last days and hours denied him.

Leading a group of Igbo leaders to Muhammadu Buhari, then President, on November 19, 2021, he had specifically pleaded that Nnamdi Kanu, leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), who had remained in detention since he was forcefully brought back from Kenya in July of the same year be released to him personally.

He even went further to plead with the President, that if released to him, he would personally leash the IPOB leader to ensure that he would refrain from his utterances and personal attacks on the former President, not only because he was in support of his campaign, but because he wanted to see peace reign in Nigeria as his last wish.

Hear him:  “I don’t want to leave this planet without peace returning to my country. I believe in one big, united Nigeria, a force in Africa. President, I want you to be remembered as a person who saw Nigeria burning, and you quenched the fire.” Yet, in vain, he waited. Buhari, who during his eight years ran his infamous 95-5 per cent government against Ndigbo, never acceded to the request.

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Before he died on November 1, 2022, the following year, Amaechi, whose profile rose beyond Nigeria, as he was said to have hidden Nelson Mandela, the former President of South Africa in his house in Nigeria for six months to prevent the Apartheid authorities in his country from arresting him made another pitch for the same IPOB leader, saying: “There is only one key to the solution to killings in Igbo land now, and that is the release of Nnamdi Kanu.

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“If that young man is released, you will see all these criminals who spring up claiming to be agitating for the release of Nnamdi Kanu while their real intention is to rob innocent and unsuspecting people, will go into hiding because they will have nothing as a reason to come out.

“IPOB has disowned them and has even taken measures to apprehend them but as you know, criminals will have their ways of operating and claiming one fake thing or the other, but they are simple criminals operating one way or the other.” Again, he was rebuffed and his plea fell on deaf ears.

Foremost constitutional lawyer and by then the oldest Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), was no less enthusiastic. He told Buhari that whatever difficulty he could be having releasing Kanu, the gesture would be a good one and the outcome would also be positive. Buhari, was quoted as telling the delegation: “You’ve made an extremely difficult demand on me as leader of this country. The implication of your request is very serious. In the last six years, since I became President, nobody would say I have confronted or interfered in the work of the Judiciary. God has spared you, and given you a clear head at this age, with very sharp memory. A lot of people half your age are confused already. But the demand you made is heavy. I will consider it.”

Nwabueze, who applauded the President for even giving the request a thought, said:  “I applaud your decision to consider the release of Nnamdi Kanu, notwithstanding as you said in your statement, that granting the request will have great consequences.” On October 30, 2023, Nwabueze died, not witnessing Kanu’s release.

Enter Ezeife! He was one of the most virulent and consistent voices in the push for the release of the IPOB boss. In fact immediately the news broke that the Court of Appeal had ordered the release of the IPOB leader, he practically rolled out the drums to celebrate, as it signified the removal of the barrier the former President spoke about.

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Hear him: “The hearts of kings are in the hand of God. We pray to move Buhari to do justice, to respect the court – his own court. The ASUU people have gone back to school in obedience to court order even though they were not happy with it,” he said.

“Now let our government lead by example and comply with court order. What I heard was that Nnamdi Kanu was discharged and acquitted. But the government can put words in the Court’s mouth that he was only discharged.

“But even at that, if he was discharged of the heinous crimes accused of, that’s even enough reason to free him by the Court’s decision. When we went to the President, we got a very good response from him about releasing Nnamdi Kanu. [Later, I got personal] information that the President wants to release Nnamdi Kanu and Sunday Igboho.

“And [later] I heard only of Igboho being set free from charges against him while Nnamdi Kanu is still there. May God make it that the President will look at the state of the nation and release Nnamdi Kanu. God has created a situation in Nigeria where all eyes are not opened where nobody can say my religion, my tribe, etc.”

But he was wrong. Of course, Buhari dug in. After days ran into weeks without obeying the court order, he finally dashed the hope of the Igbo and other Nigerians, who had joined in the campaign by appealing the appellate court’s judgement. Today, more than one year after, Kanu has remained in detention. If anything, those who took that historic journey to the Presidential Villa, Abuja are going one after the other.

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The most ironic is that of Ezeife, who chose the eve of the pronouncement of the Supreme Court on the matter to depart. May be his spirit had forewarned him of a greater blow from the court and he decided to depart rather to wait to feel the impact alive. Alas, against all odds and expectations of many, the apex court, toed the line of the hardliners, who believe continued incarceration of the IPOB boss is the way to go.

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“The Court of Appeal was wrong to say that the Federal High Court can no longer try Mr Kanu. The appeal is allowed and the cross-appeal is dismissed,” the apex court, held in the judgement prepared by Justice Garba Mohammed, but read by Justice Emmanuel Agim, adding: “Our law is that evidence illegality obtained is valid before the court. A violation of Mr Kanu’s right should have been by way of civil proceedings. That is not our law for now.”

With this pronouncement, it is back to the starting point. The matter is probably returning to the Federal High Court, where it was seated before Justice Binta Murtala Nyako, before the intervention of the appeal court. Many had hoped that President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, would do what his predecessor did not.

Since he had no dog in the fight as was the case between Kanu and Buhari, he might exert the influence which a Nigerian President wields to end the entire macabre dance, many had thought. But as it were, they were wrong. For one, there is no indication that the President, who had promised to continue the legacy of the former President, may not have inherited his obvious and time-tested hatred for Ndigbo. And for good reason(s) too!

If anything, is it not obvious that the people and their area are being excluded under Tinubu? In fact, did it not even gain more verve? And if the hindsight could be the guide, it might not be far from same reason of being rejected in the polls. Tinubu’s fate 2023 presidential election was even worse that Buhari’s over the years.

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Were this the case, then, the soul of Ezeife, just like Nwabueze and Amaechi, would have to find other reasons to rest in peace or in the alternative, remain restless. For surely, the prospect of Kanu coming out of that dungeon soon, appears quite faint. In fact, Ndigbo should hope the situation would not be grimmer!

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IDL ‘Master of Fun’: Two days of mixing business with pleasure

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How often has it been said – you do not mix business with pleasure. How true is it? Well, with a full impetus, the answer was delivered in clear terms to this age-long dictum, last weekend – not in all cases do business and pleasure not mix! In fact some businesses and pleasure are like Siamese twins – inseparable. That much was proved by Intercontinental Distillers Limited (IDL), Nigeria’s foremost producers of wine and spirits for the two days they locked down parts of Lagos.

Between Thursday, 24th and Friday, 25th of November, 2023, every visitor or passerby within the precincts of Isaac John in the Government Reserved Area (GRA), Ikeja, must have noticed something unusual as the route was lined with cars of all shapes, models and sizes. Inside the imposing Radisson Blu, located in the highbrow street, showed the company spared no cost in returning the favours of their customers by giving them first-class treatments – a carnival of some sorts, worthy of every expression.

The event, which was the 2023 edition of the IDL Distributors Award, to reward customers for their loyalty, also included the re-launch of Teezers cocktail brand, and the unveiling of the new packaged products. But it was clearly beyond that by the other activities daintily choreographed to fit into the entire show. Like the fine work of a weaverbird the guests, right from their arrival on Thursday to the time they finally retired to their rooms, some in the early hours of Saturday, witnessed a sequence of events sure to remain in their memories for many years.

Emerging from their rooms on Thursday evening, the distributors and other guests were first treated to a dinner after which they sat down to enjoy a superlative performance by Nice, one of Nigeria’s current celebrated music stars followed by a welcome party that stretched far into the night, enabling them to meet, greet, mingle and exchange banters, amid tables filled with exquisite food and drinks from the company’s stable.

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The next day was kicked off with a breakfast, health and business talks, followed with lunch, makeup, green carpets and picture sessions that preceded the major event of the awards and the unveiling of the new product and designs to the guests at the banquet hall of the hotel, which was filled to capacity with the guests.

The glittering presence of some of Nigeria’s A-list celebrities in the Nollywood and BBNaija brands, accentuated the kaleidoscope of colours from the gaily-dressed awardees, guests, management and staff of the company, as well as their friends and well-wishers, which blended with the interludes of musical performances to create the perfect concept of entertainment, enjoyment and pleasure.

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IDL management with some of the awardees

Aare Hope Gbagi, IDL’s Head of Sales, captured the raison d’etre of the event when he told the audience it was the company’s idea of rousing their major stakeholders – the distributors out of their daily routines of business to a different arena of relaxation, necessary for their physical and mental health, particularly considering the stiff and challenging economic situation in the country.

Congratulating the distributors, whom he said deserved special welcome for surviving the harsh business climate in the country, particularly the various challenges of the year 2022, he added: “This ceremony presents us with a unique opportunity to pull you our distributors out of your daily routines of buying and selling to a beautiful atmosphere to unwind and relax and by this idea, contribute our own quota in improving your mental health, which is part of our discussions earlier this morning.”

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Elaborating on the necessity to fete the distributors, Engineer Patrick Anegbe, Managing Director of the company, said the event was a testament to the amazing partnership IDL shared and the impressive achievements both accomplished together in-spite of the unfavourable business environment in the country.

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He said: “Today, we embrace the theme “Beyond Limits” which perfectly reflects our collective journey of surpassing boundaries and pushing ourselves to new heights. Each and every one of you have steadfastly navigated through challenges and persevered in the face of adversity. Your dedication and unwavering commitment have uplifted our business to new levels of excellence.

“To be more specific, the Theme, “Beyond Limits” to you our distributors implies:

  • Experiencing products that go beyond your expectation.
  • Experiencing opportunities in sales of both successful and new brands for the growth and success of your business.

For us in IDL; the theme implies:

  •  Showcasing innovative products.
  • Strengthening customer loyalty and building long term partnerships.
  • Highlighting the company’s commitment to continuous improvement and pushing limits.”

Speaking specifically on the challenges, he added: “One of the most significant challenges we faced as a manufacturing company and partners was the high cost of doing business. Market conditions became increasingly unstable; prices of input materials continued to rise almost on a daily basis; energy cost went up due to high cost of diesel. The foreign exchange (FX) required for raw materials, equipment and spares was not readily available and our roads continued to remain in deplorable state, making movement of goods from one part of the country to another difficult and expensive.

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“Our dear business partners, despite the unfavourable business environment you had to contend with in 2022, your performance at the end of the year was impressive. This is indeed commendable and we are sincerely thankful to you all.

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Dorothy Anegbe, displaying her trophy

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“IDL as a company also strived relentlessly in 2022 to tackle the challenges encountered head-on through strategic planning, operational efficiency and investment in technology. We have pioneered processes that empowered us to thrive in the face of adversity. To ensure more availability of our brands to our esteemed distributors the future, we have invested heavily in capacity building. You will therefore start to notice improvement in supplies of our products from the beginning of next year.

“We will continue to exhibit our strength in research, new products developments and innovative activities to keep our brands above others in Wines and Spirits industry in Nigeria and make doing business with us more interesting. I want to make a passionate appeal to our valued distributors to always ensure that you buy across the range of our brands whenever they make purchases. This will ensure improve growth and profitability for your business.”

The introduction of the Teezers cocktail brand, which also now comes in three flavours of orange, ginger and lemon to the audience, clearly underscored the reason IDL maintains a leading role in the entertainment industry, where premium drinks remain the major partner. The audience watched as the performance of a group of young men and women told the story of its re-launch through a breathtaking choreographic show, decked in suspense and eventual revelation.

Mobolaji Alalade, the company’s Head of Marketing, who put the show together, explained that the fresh move came out of the need to close the gap of the limited cocktail variants in Nigeria with the needs of the consumers.

Hear him: “Today marks a new beginning – a beginning of changing the fun narratives within the Cocktail Sparkling Drink Category of the Wines and Spirit business in Nigeria and Africa at large.  This game changer is the relaunch of Teezers Lime/Lemon as well as the Teezers Apple Sparkling Cocktail Drink and the introduction of two brand new variants -the Orange Flavour and Lemon and Ginger Flavour which is non-alcoholic.

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“With the limited variant options available within the Cocktail drink category, the highly youthful Nigeria population have been yearning for more fun options. Intercontinental Distillers Limited (IDL) equipped with research findings and consumer feedback rose up to the challenge of closing the gap and has now redefined the category with the revamp and consequently the relaunch of its already existing variants as well as the two new exciting additions – Teezers Orange for those who love the refreshing citrus flavour and the sense of energy its vibrant colour gives, while the Lemon and Ginger non-alcoholic flavour will cater specifically to children and teetotallers so as to ensure no one is left out.

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Some of the celebrities at the even

“Today, Teezers Sparkling Cocktail Drink has been upgraded from 300ml to 400ml in a contemporary, trendy, easy to carry bottle definitely offering our Consumers more. The brand label has been redesigned in sync with the spirit of the new age while the logo now radiates the elegance and youthful fun filled nature of the brand.

“Apart from presenting to you the new look of Teezers and the new additions to its variant bouquet, we unveil our new marketing campaign ‘More fun’ which underscores the brand’s unique preposition as the Master of Fun. As such, the brand will be engaging directly with the core consumers across all leisure destinations at all touch points in Nigeria.”

Indeed, the event, packaged by ISO-BLACK Concept Limited, a vibrant multi-channel brand communication solution and support services concern, lived up to its billing as the Master of Fun in Nigeria. The huge success of the third edition of the agency’s involvement, which included the design, deployment and execution of all the programmes, not only underscored a full grasp of the environment, but provided a demonstrable evidence of taking the gown to town in the fun business.

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Anegbe

For the over 300 distributors that were feted at the occasion, and others who did not make list,  the words of Dorothy Anegbe, Managing Director, Ogbohu Nigeria Enterprises, Sango Ota, who picked the star prize during the event, would continue to ring a bell.

“I pray that God should continue to be with them. They will grow from strength to strength and we will be able to come here and collect award.

How else to prove a partnership that works and the saying that indeed, for IDL and its stakeholders, business and pleasure indeed do mix.

 

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