Nigeria: Recoveries from looted funds, Muhammad Ali's death fill Nigerian papers

Lagos, Nigeria (PANA) - Government's "bombshell" on recoveries from looted funds and the sudden death of boxing legend Muhammad Ali overshadowed all other stories in Nigeria this week.

"FG releases interim report on recovered funds, assets", was the headline of the GUARDIAN newspaper on Saturday. The story said that the Federal Government on Saturday announced the recovery of over 78.3 billion Naira, US$185.1 million, 3.5 million pounds and 11.2 million Euros from looted funds between May 29, 2015, and May 25, 2016.

The paper said the revelation is contained in a statement issued in Lagos by the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, who indicated that the statement was based on the interim report on the financial and assets recoveries made by the various government agencies.

Mohammed also disclosed that recoveries under interim forfeiture (cash and assets) during the period totaled over 126.6 billion Naira, US$ 9.09 billion, 2.5 million pounds and 303,399.17 Euros.

He said that funds awaiting return from foreign jurisdictions totaled over US$321.3 million dollars, 6.9 million pounds and 11,826.11 Euros.

The minister disclosed that 239 assets, including farmlands, plots of land, uncompleted buildings, completed buildings, vehicles and maritime vessels were recovered during the period.

The NATION ran the story under the headline "FG releases report on recovered looted funds and assets", while the PUNCH called it "FG releases list of recovered loot".

The reports did not name the individuals the funds were recovered from.

"BREAKING: Boxing legend, Muhammad Ali dies at 74" was the headline of the story in the PUNCH reporting the death of boxing legend Muhammad Ali.

It said that heavyweight boxing legend, Muhammad Ali, an icon of the 20th Century whose fame transcended the sport during a remarkable career that spanned three decades, died Friday.

The paper quoted his family as saying that the beloved 74-year-old sports hero, who had been battling Parkinson’s disease for decades, passed away in a hospital in Phoenix, Arizona, where he had been admitted earlier this week suffering from respiratory problems.

“After a 32-year battle with Parkinson’s disease, Muhammad Ali has passed away at the age of 74,” family spokesman Bob Gunnell said.

“The three-time World Heavyweight Champion boxer died this evening and funeral arrangements will be announced on Saturday," he added.

According to the paper, Concern for Ali had grown throughout Friday, and tributes immediately poured in for “The Greatest,” who was known globally not only for his storied ring career but also for his humanitarian activism.

Ali had been hospitalized multiple times in recent years.

He spent time in hospital in 2014 after suffering a mild case of pneumonia and again in 2015 for a urinary tract infection.

His Parkinson’s, thought to be linked to the thousands of punches he took during a brutal career studded by bruising battles inside the ropes, had limited his public speaking.

But he continued to make appearances and offer opinions through his family members and spokespeople.

In April, he attended a Celebrity Fight Night Dinner in Phoenix that raised funds for treatment of Parkinson’s.

In December, he issued a statement rebuking US presidential hopeful Donald Trump’s call for a ban on Muslims entering the United States.

“Muhammad Ali transformed this country and impacted the world with his spirit,” said longtime boxing promoter Bob Arum. “His legacy will be part of our history for all time.”

‘The greatest’ - His 30-year career, which stretched from 1960 to 1981 and saw him retire with a record of 56-5, included such historic bouts as the Rumble in the Jungle — against George Foreman in 1974 in Kinshasa, Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of Congo)..

Other defining moments of his career included two knockouts of Sonny Liston and his thrilling rivalry with Joe Frazier — which saw the two men slug it out in the ring and verbally spar out of it.

“Ali, Frazier & Foreman, we were 1 guy. A part of me slipped away — the greatest piece” Foreman wrote on Twitter shortly after Ali’s death was announced.

Former heavyweight champion Mike Tyson added: “God came for his champion. So long great one. @MuhammadAli #TheGreatest #RIP.”

Ali, born Cassius Marcellus Clay Jr in Louisville, Kentucky, dazzled fans with slick moves in the ring, and with his wit and engaging persona outside it.

His refusal to serve in the Vietnam War saw him banned from the sport for years, but the US Supreme Court overturned his conviction for draft dodging in 1971.

He took the name of Muhammad Ali after converting to Islam in 1964, soon after he had stunned the sport by claiming the title with a monumental upset of Sonny Liston.

He was vilified in some quarters for that conversion and his outspoken stance on Vietnam and civil rights issues, but he held firm to his beliefs and eventually earned accolades as an activist.

He was chosen to light the Olympic torch in 1996 in Atlanta and was named a UN messenger of peace in 1998.

He received the highest US civilian honour, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, in 2005.

The GUARDIAN treated the story under the headline "Boxing legend Muhammad Ali dies at 74".

While the NATION treated the story under the headline "Boxing legend Muhammed Ali dies at 74", THISDAY's headline was "Nigerians Mourn as `The Greatest’, Muhammad Ali, Passes Away".

Acording to the THISDAY, Chuka Momah, a prolific boxing analyst on Saturday described Muhammad Ali, who died on Friday, as a boxer of exemplary humanity, whose legacy would always be remembered and cherished.

Ali, 74, one of the greatest legends of the sport, passed away on June 3 at a hospital in Phoenix, Arizona, U.S., after being admitted on Thursday.

He had contracted a respiratory illness, a condition that was complicated by his years of suffering the Parkinson’s disease.

Momah said in Lagos that one of the ways that the upcoming boxers could immortalise Ali as the `greatest boxing legend’, was by imbibing his ethics and morals, which made him outstanding all through his boxing career.

“All aspiring boxers should strive to be half as great as he was. They should be honest about it. “Ali had worked hard to reach the top of his profession as amateur and pro-boxer and was humble; his death is so heart breaking, because he was not just a boxer, he was a human rights activists.

“He changed the face of boxing and paved a way that, upcoming boxers should take advantage of to also reach the top,” he added. Renowned sports analyst Mitchel Obi of Mastersports International, Lagos, who also acknowledged Ali as the greatest boxer of all time, said he gave boxing a meaning. “Ali was phenomenal. He was superman. A man who refocused our mind to who black Americans were and advocated the virtue of racial equality; he reminded us of what humanity was all about’’.
-0- PANA VAO/MA 4June2016

04 june 2016 14:40:30

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