Naira Marley soaring amidst controversies

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Naira Marley
Naira Marley

…Why he’s dominating Nigeria’s music scene

By BENJAMIN NJOKU

The Nigerian music scene in recent times has been saturated with lots of talented music stars, who are redefining the space and creating their own buzz. One of such wave-making stars is Azeez Adeshina Fashola, popularly known as Naira Marley.

Marley burst onto the country’s music space like ‘a colossus’ and suddenly stole the hearts and minds of many lovers of music in this part of the world. It still seems like the pop sensation dropped out of nowhere unto our collective music ears.

Before last year, not much was heard of the Agege-born rapper. Even after the release of his 2017 hit “Issa Goal”, which featured Olamide and Lil Kesh, Naira Marley was still not a name to be reckoned with in the Nigerian music scene. But it was after releasing his hit song, “Am I a Yahoo Boy” featuring popular musician Zlatan Ibile, where he alleged to have declared public support for internet fraud. Naira Marley became the name on everyone’s lips.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission,EFCC had arrested him alongside Zlatan and three other persons. They slammed an 11- count charge bordering on credit card fraud, car theft and Cybercrime against Naira Marley. Thus started a legal battle that culminated in his detention for 35 days. Many believe the EFCC arrested him because of his alleged support for internet fraud and his claim that cybercrime is a form of reparation of the wealth stolen from Africa. That was the beginning of his journey to stardom.

While the trial lasted, the controversial singer was busy creating buzz on social media. His fans were not deterred from protesting against his arrest outside the EFCC headquarters in Lagos.

READ ALSO: Davido is the king of African music – Miraboi

Marley was quoted to have said in an interview that their rage was understandable. “Because they know the system. They knew what [the EFCC was] trying to do and they followed what happened. They knew I shouldn’t be getting arrested for what I’m saying. Freedom of speech! I should be allowed to be saying what I’m saying. But the EFCC said I was supporting fraud, because I said I have no problem with these people.”

Today, Marley remains one of the hottest artistes that have dominated the mainstream music chart in Nigeria and diaspora. His fan base has continued to increase on daily basis, just as he’s not free from troubles. Recall that in November, Marley set social media agog when he tweeted that a lady with a big butt was better than one with a Master’s degree. Few days later, the lewd singer alongside his siblings and cousins landed into another trouble after they were accused of stealing a car. But unfortunately, the court early this year dismissed the theft case and the singer walked away a free man.

Marley is a phenomenal singer who has a lot going for him. His journey from prince of Peckham to cult figure in Lagos, represents his evolution into a bonafide intercontinental rock star: selling out shows across Africa, and trailed intently both online and off by his mass of obsessive followers, called the ‘Marlians’.

Named after the Nigerian currency and known for his anti-establishment spirit and viral dance crazes, Marley’s wave connects the West African diaspora to their roots as he delivers his lines in a syrupy mixture of Yoruba and English.

Like Eedris Abdulkareem, Terry G and Bobrisky before him, Marley has been able to traverse between public hatred and adoration. On social media, he’s the most talked about Nigerian singer at the moment. While he’s yet to break into the international scene, Marley is currently enjoying the buzz he’s creating with his music back home. He’s in a lane of his own that politely ignores the commercialism of Afro-pop. To many, Marley is using his music to promote immorality and a generation of valueless youths, while to others, his music is awesome.

RnB singer, Asa described Marley’s music as “awesome.” Just as some twitter users once called out the ‘Puta’ hit maker after he declared that his songs can cure depression. They complained that his songs are noisy and senseless and “the only thing his songs can do is that it can cause depression rather than cure it.”

Since he burst onto the UK music scene in 2014, with Marry Juana, a song he wrote with his friend Ma Twigz, the Agege-born, Marley has been banging out hit after hit. In November 2019, the controversial singer sold out the almost 5000 capacity 02 Arena for Marlian Fest in three minutes. Tickets for the Marlian Fest which held on 30 December 2019 at the Eko Convention Centre, Eko Hotels, Lagos also sold out. There was chaos at the venue as fans tried to gain entrance into the concert.

But believe it or not, Marley is a singer you will hate to love. At present, the rapper is not just the rave of the moment, he is arguably the most popular artiste in Nigeria today. But the negative influence of Marley’s songs on the youths is unimaginable. This Marlian fever, like the era of Makossa has taken over the streets of Lagos and everywhere you go, men, women, the young and the old, the affluent and the poor are quick to claim they are Marlians with glee; and the buzz word “I am a Marlian” hits you like an unforgettable dream.

The lewd singer currently has a huge fan base. They call themselves Marlians. His songs and dance steps are inspiring a new generation of morally debased youths, who follow him around. It seems the youth would be his followers for a long time, except something serious is done. They revel in being “outsiders’, and as a trademark, they are disrespectful of rules and agents of law enforcement.

From the dance step, ‘Soapy,’ that has popularised the habit of masturbation to his off and on life inside prison to his recent dance step called ‘Tesumole,’ Naira Marley has continuously been a source of controversy and confusion in the Nigerian music scene.

It’s not for nothing that a clergyman, Chris Omashola, early this year took to his Twitter page, where he shared a series of prophecies concerning Nigeria. He warned that Marley is a demon and his music is inspired by demons, to destroy the youths in Nigeria.

“In 2020, God told me, Naira Marley is A Demon, He is Satanic and should repent before it’s too late. His songs are demonically inspired to destroy the Destiny of The Youths of this generation, Nigerian youths should desist from calling themselves Marlians. #ACOProphecies2020,” he tweeted.

Marley’s fans have since dismissed the clergyman’s warning, as they sent him threat messages; while he himself reacted by sharing screenshots of the pastor’s leaked sex tapes with an interesting caption. “To all Naira Marley’s fans aka Marlian. Please what’s your final judgment on this #NairaMarley and Apostle Chris Omashola case.” . Then on another occasion he tweeted: “Jesus never went to church.”

That’s not all, a certain mother reportedly cried out on social media after her teenage daughter was suspended from school for being part of a Marlian cult. According to the woman, the school caught over 25 girls who were members of the cult, including her daughter.

The teacher had found underwear in one of the girls’ bags and when she was questioned, she revealed that she was part of a cult whose members do not wear underwear to school on certain days.

It was, however, ascertained that the girls don’t wear pants, while the Marlian boys don’t wear belts.

However, it’s said that being a marlian has its ups and downs, from the rumoured beltless trousers for boys and underwear free girls who all believe in the marlian philosophy. You suddenly behold a boy next door who identifies himself as a Marlian, and ready to dance his Marley’s latest dance steps , ‘ Shaku shaku and Soapy (a demonstration of someone pleasuring him or herself through dance) and you are taken aback.

Despite the legal battle and the backlash against him, Marley’s fan base continues to rise., just as the singer is not relenting on his resolve to rule his world. On December 30, 2019, Marlians thronged the Eko hotel venue of the maiden edition of his headlining show, ‘Marlian Fest’ to keep a date with their music idol. While performing at the show, the singer announced his new record label, Marlian Records and resident presented the four artistes who are signed to his music imprint. He equally won his first major award at the 2020 Soundcity MVP Awards, held at the Eko Convention Center, Lagos Nigeria.

The Marlian President beat Tiwa Savage (49-99), Chinko Ekun (Able God), Prince Kaybee (Banomoya), Shatta Wale (My Level), Burna Boy (On The Low), Rayvanny (Tetema), Zlatan (Zanku – Legwork) to clinch the award for Viewers’ Choice for his viral song Soapy. And it was a major boost to his music career. But one wonders how far Naira Marley can go in this journey?

The post Naira Marley soaring amidst controversies appeared first on Vanguard News.

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Persecution of Muslims in China and India Reveals Important Facts About Religion and Geopolitics

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India, China and Myanmar are three Asian countries currently engrossed in carrying out physical and cultural genocides on their Muslim populations. While the plight of Rohingya Muslims and Uighur Muslims is well known, the recent introduction of a new law expressly aimed at dispossessing Muslims of Indian citizenship has alerted many to the reality that India’s ruling BJP government sees itself as Hindu first and foremost.

Questions such as “Why aren’t the rich Arab countries saying anything?” have come up, with the implicit inference that Muslim-dominated countries are supposed to stick up for Muslims everywhere in the world. Others have pointed out that despite suffering oppression in some parts of the world, Muslims are also responsible for brutal acts of oppression against other minority groups elsewhere, which allegedly negates the sufferings of the prior group.

In this article, I will pick through these questions and viewpoints with a goal of isolating some useful truths about how religion, geopolitics and human nature constantly interplay and produce much of the world around us.

Oppression is a Matter of Perspective

Which religion is the most oppressed? I like to troll my Christian friends with the image below whenever the topic comes up about some religion or the other allegedly imposing its will at their expense.

The truth is however, that this image could apply to just about every religion on earth. As a general rule of thumb, the only limiting factor on whether or not a religion functions as an oppressive tyranny in a particular jurisdiction is the proportion of the population that practises it there. Similarly, the only thing stopping any religion from being an oppressed and downtrodden identity is whether it is a small enough minority for that to be possible.

While Muslims in India, Myanmar and China are going through untold degrees of horror because of their religious identities, Muslims in places like Bangladesh, Indonesia, Afghanistan, Malaysia and Northern Nigeria are simultaneously visiting very similar horrors on Bah’ai, Shia Muslims, Christians, Budhists and other minorities in those areas. It turns out that the mere fact of belonging to a religious identity does not in fact, confer unrestricted global victimhood.

This point is important because it disproves the notion held by every major religion that its adherents follow a single set of standards and do things in the manner of a global “brotherhood.” In reality, Islam according to a Rohingya Muslim hiding from the Burmese military, and the same religion according to an itinerant herder in Kogi State bear almost no similarity to each other save for the most basic tenets. Environmental factors in fact have a bigger influence on how religions are practised than their own holy books. 

The current antics of India’s ruling BJP and its Hindu fundamentalist support base provide an important case in point as to how this works. Looking at the evolution of Hinduism from a passive philosophy into an openly militant ideology gives an important insight into how religion is in fact, a thoroughly contrived and amorphous set of ideas that can be changed, adjusted, aligned and revised at a moment’s notice in justification of anything at all. 

Hinduism traditionally sees itself as a religion of thoughtful, considered spirituality as against the angry dogmas of its Abrahamic neighbours, but something interesting is happening. Some argue that it started in the days of Gandhi, and some ascribe it to current Prime Minister Nanendra Modi, but whoever started it is a side note. The key point to note is that based on political factors, i.e anticolonial senitment against the British and anti-Muslim sentiment fueled by India’s national rivalry with Pakistan, Hinduism has somehow been coopted into the narrative of a jingoistic, monotheistic, mono-ethnic state which is  historical nonsense.

India has always been a pointedly pluralistic society, and in fact the geographical area now known as “India” does not even cover the geographical area of the India of antiquity. That India was a place of Hindus, Budhists, Muslims, Zoroastrians and everything in between. Hinduism never saw a problem with pluralism because Hinduism itself is a very plural religion – it has at least 13 major deities. The conversion of the Hindu identity into a political identity movement is a recent and contrived phenomenon first exploited by Gandhi as a means of opposing British colonialism, and now by Modi to oppose the Pakistanis/Muslims – it is a historical falsity.

The creation of Hindu fundamentalist movements like the RSS (which PM Modi belongs to) is something done in response to environmental factors. Spectacles like the RSS march below are evidence of yet another religion undergoing constant and ongoing evolution into whatever suits its purposes.

Something similar happened when medieval Europe turned into colonial Europe and European Christianity transitioned into a peaceful and pacifist ideology after centuries of being a bloodthirsty doctrine. The environmental factors that created the Crusades, the Spanish Inquisition, book burnings and witch hunts went away with the introduction of an industrial society, and thus the religion too transitioned.

In plain English, what all this means is that nobody actually practises a religion in the pure sense they imagine they do. Everyone who subscribes to a religion merely practises a version of it that is subject to the culture and circumstances of their environment and era. This is directly connected to the next major insight raised by these events.

Geopolitics is all About Self-Interest…Everyone Gets it Except Africa

While anti-Muslim violence has continued apace for years in China, Mynammar and India, the question has often been asked: “Why are the wealthy Arab nations not saying anything?” There is a perception that since the Arabian peninsula is the birthplace of Islam and Arabs – particularly Saudis – are viewed as the global gatekeepers of the faith, they must be at the forefront of promoting the interests of Muslims worldwide.

To many, the fabulous wealth and international influence that Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar and the UAE enjoy, in addition to the presence of two of Islam’s holiest cities – Mecca and Meddinah – in Saudi Arabia, means that they have a responsibility to speak for the global Muslim Ummah and stand up for them when they are unfairly targeted and mistreated. Unfortunately for such people, the wealthy nations of the Arab Gulf region tend to respond to such questions with little more than an irritated silence – and with good reason.

To begin with, these countries are not democracies led by the wishes of their almost uniformly Muslim populations. They are autocracies led by royal families who came to power in the colonially-influenced 20th century scramble for power and influence. Saudi Arabia, which houses Islam’s holiest sites, is named after the House of Saud, its royal family which came into power in its current form at the turn of the 19th century. The priority of the regimes in these countries first and foremost is self-preservation.

Self-preservation means that before throwing their significant diplomatic and economic weight behind any attempt to help out fellow Muslims, the first consideration is how doing so will benefit them. India for example, is a country that has close diplomatic ties with the UAE, and supplies most of their cheap labour for construction and low-skilled functions. India has even coordinated with UAE special forces to repatriate the dissident Princess Latika when she made an audacious escape attempt in 2018.

What does the UAE stand to gain if it napalms its diplomatic relationship with India by criticising Modi’s blatantly anti-Muslim policy direction? It might win a few brownie points with Islamic hardliners and possibly buy some goodwill among poor Muslims in South Asia, but how much is that worth? The regime and nation’s self-interest is best served by looking the other way, so that is exactly what they will do.

The Saudis make a similar calculation. At a time when they are investing heavily in military hardware to keep up with their eternal rivals Turkey and Iran, and simultaneously preparing for the end of oil by liberalising their society and economy, does it pay them to jump into an issue in India that does not particularly affect them? As the status of their diplomatic relationship with the U.S. remains unclear following the Jamal Khasshoggi incident, are they going to risk pissing off the Chinese because of Uighur Muslims?

In fact self-interest like that mentioned here is the basis of the considerations that underpin all international relations. Well I say “all,” but what I really meant to say was “all except African countries.” It is only African countries that take diplomatic decisions based on little more than flimsy emotions and feelings of religious affinity. Gambia for example, has dragged Myanmar before the UN and filed a genocide case against it on behalf of the Rohingya Muslims.

This would be commendable and great were it not that Gambia itself is hardly a human rights luminary, and generally has little business fighting an Asian battle when its own worse African battles lie unfought. The only thing Gambia stands to gain from fighting a diplomatic war that the rest of the world seems unwilling to touch is the temporary goodwill of a few Muslims in Asia and around the world – goodwill that cannot translate into something tangible for it.

To coin an aphorism from social media lingo, you could call it ”diplomatic clout chasing.’

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Catholic Church puts seal on abolition of Osu caste in Igboland

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Auxiliary Bishop of Awka Diocese,Most Rev Jonas-Benso Okoye, with priests, some members of Ora-Eri town union executive and the Royal Ezenri cabinet members after the thanksgiving Mass

By Vincent Ujumadu

THE Catholic Church in Anambra State has put a final seal on the abolition of the Osu Caste system in Igbo land with a thanksgiving service celebrated at the ancient town of Ora-Eri in Aguata local government area of Anambra State.

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Recall that the traditional ceremony abolishing the over 500 years old obnoxious system was performed by the Okpala Eri XIII, Anthony Okafor,     on 14th  September last year during which those hitherto referred to as Osu and the freeborn embraced each other and decided to put the past behind.

At that ceremony, the traditional ruler of Ora-Eri, His Royal Highness, Ezenri Emmanuel Nriagu warned that henceforth, anybody who referred to another person as Osu would be seriously dealt with. To drive home the importance of last year’s ceremony, the Ora-Eri community last week invited the church to make Christian pronouncement banning the system in the entire Igbo land.

The Auxiliary Bishop of Awka Diocese, Most Reverend Jonas- Benson Okoye was at the head of the celebration, with five other priests in attendance. Bishop Okoye was particularly happy with Ora-Eri community for collaborating with the church in the abolition of Osu system in the town, explaining that the thanksgiving church service was to conclude the exercise that began last year.

Reverend Monsignor Jerome Madueke, who delivered the homily at the church service, traced the origin of Osu in Igbo land, recalling that some people, out of cheer wickedness, were dedicated to idols for no justifiable reason.

He said: “These (Osu) people lived upright life. They were respected because of the idols that owned them. Nowadays, people are busy destroying the physical structures (idols) which were symbols of worship of our forefathers, but still retaining them in their minds and spirit, fearing them and attributing all their woes to them.

“But since Jesus came that we may have life and have it in full, everybody is equal before God and all gifts come from God and to be used for the good of others, especially the less privileged.

“It is regrettable that we worship God and idols together because of our lack of faith. Our ancestors should be pardoned because they worshiped idols out of ignorance. Let us therefore appreciate that Jesus came and abolished distinction between free born and slaves.

“Unless we allow God to come into our minds, in behaviours and relationship with others, the issue of Osu may still linger. I want to observe that in addition to the formal abolition of Osu system, there is still great work to do and I pray that by the grace of God, we can achieve much more.”

. He thanked Ora -Eri people for living up to Christ’s injunctions by taking the bold step to abolish Osu in the community.

The traditional ruler of the town, HRH Ezenri Emmanuel Nriagu commended the Bishop for celebrating the church service and the parish priest Rev Fr Nwakelu Andrew for his unalloyed support during the preparation of the abolition ceremony, as well as the indigenous priests and the entire people of the community for their support. He also affirmed that his cabinet was ready to confer any title on any deserving indigene of the town irrespective of his background.

Eze Nriagu warned that henceforth anybody in his domain who discriminated against others on the basis of Osu caste system would face the full weight of traditional hammer, describing the Osu system as retrogressive. According to him, the people of Ora-Eri were happy to put behind the system that reduced fellow human beings to second class citizens for centuries.

“With the ceremony we have performed in this community, those formerly described as Osu will start taking traditional titles and intermarry with others.

“Those who were hitherto referred to as Osu in this community have been bestowed with all rights and privileges enjoyed by the freeborn. They are good people and many of them are intelligent and beautiful and everybody stands to gain by putting behind this obnoxious system.”

The Royal Father thanked the Bishop for celebrating the church service and assured that his people would never go back to the dark era.

Chief Anthony Okafor, who presided over the abolition ceremony at the community square last year said he had been campaigning for the abolition for several years, expressing joy that his effort had finally paid off.

Okafor said: “When I took the title of Okpara in 1990, I took it upon myself that Osu Caste system must be abolished. It was not easy at the beginning.

“In the past four years, I chose to be sampling people’s opinion on the matter and it was during that period that I found out that many people in our community also wanted the system abolished, but did not know how to go about it.

“We later renewed the campaign and happy enough, the leadership of Ora -Eri Development Union and our traditional ruler were in support.”

In his speech, the President General of Ora-Eri Development Union, Mr. Okey Atueyi said the community had taken a bold decision and commended everybody in the area for their support in putting the discriminatory system behind. “You can see how happy the people are,” he said.

Anambra police confirm stealing of 5-year-old boy during church service

The Parish priest of Ora-Eri, Rev Fr Andrew Nwakelu expressed appreciation to the people of Ora-Eri for participating in the historic church celebration and enjoined them to remain with the new spirit.

The post Catholic Church puts seal on abolition of Osu caste in Igboland appeared first on Vanguard News.

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How religion divides and under-develops Africa by Reno

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Reno Omokri
Reno Omokri

By Reno Omokri

Yesterday, I saw Nigerian Shiites demonstrating against the United States and President Donald Trump, and I groaned in my spirit. When will Africans become themselves and stop being remote controlled by foreign interests?

Most Africans think they chose their religions. Not true. As a matter of fact, the vast majority of Africans had their religions handed down to them by Europeans or Arabs. How do I mean?

Let us take Nigeria as a case study. Most Nigerians are either Christian, Muslims, or Catholics. Many of them will even die to defend their faiths. But how did they get these faiths?

Most Muslims in Northern Nigerian were born into Islam. Most Nigerian Muslims did not make a conscious decision to become Muslims. They just found themselves as Muslims and accepted it. But the historical fact is that most of their ancestors were CONQUERED into Islam, either by the Usman Dan Fodio jihad of 1804, or by the Kanem Bornu empire (one of the oldest empires on Earth), or by Arabs during the the Tran Saharan Slave Trade. This is a historical fact and I do not mean to upset my beloved Muslim followers.

At first they resisted. Then they were conquered. They were FORCED to accept Islam. Those who refused were killed, and the survivors, fearing a similar fate, accepted the new religion. Then they had children who knew nothing but Islam, and the rest is history.

Nigeria was colonised by Britain. Britain is OFFICIALLY a very staunch Protestant nation, with the Church of England (Anglican Church) as the OFFICIAL state church. Have Nigerians ever wondered why the British allowed Catholicism to flourish in Nigeria even when it was suppressed in Britain for centuries? Or why they did not allow Christian Missionaries into the North?

Other than the Binis and Itsekiri, who voluntarily accepted Catholicism in the 15th Century due to their trade with the Portuguese, Catholicism only gained ground in Nigeria, and especially amongst the Igbos of the East of Nigeria, in the 19th Century.

The British had a colonial policy of Divide and Rule. They did not allow Christian missionaries into Nigeria for love of Christianity or God, or Africans. It was a deliberate colonial policy to sow discord and division in Nigeria and their other colonial territories all over the world, and to keep nations, like Nigeria, ever subservient to Europe as a supplier of raw materials and human labour in times of war (Nigerians in their thousands fought for the British in both World Wars and were often used almost as cannon fodder) and in times of peace (Nigerians are a backbone of the health sector in both the UK and US. 77% of all Black doctors in America are Nigerian).

The British decided that Anglicanism snd other forms of Protestantism should thrive amongst the Yoruba and that Catholicism should thrive amongst the Igbo, and they refused to let Christian missionaries proselytise in the North to keep it Muslim, so that both the South and the North would be perpetually divided and check each other, and will never be able to unite against the colonialists.

Every missionary that came to Nigeria was licensed by the British. The Catholicism you see in Igboland today is the fruit of four Catholic missionaries who arrived Onitsha in 1885, as part of the Holy Ghost Fathers, led by a certain Reverend Father Lutz. In fact, the house where they first stayed was owned by the Royal Niger Company (which influenced the formation of the colonial Nigerian government, and even provided personnel for them. Lord Lugard was a staff of the Royal Niger Company).

Meanwhile, as they were promoting Catholicism in Eastern Nigeria, the British were promoting Protestantism in Western Nigeria, where Henry Townsend planted the first church in Badagry, in 1842. When the British rescued Samuel Ajayi Crowther from Fulani and Portuguese slavers, he was handed over to the Church Missionary Society (the proselytising mission of the Anglican Church), who educated him, and used him to extend Anglicanism amongst the Edekiri people. Ajayi Crowther eventually changed their name to Yoruba (a bastardisation of the Fulani word Yaribansa), because the British wanted a common identity for all Edekiri people.

That is how we come to have a Nigeria dominated by Muslims in the North, Anglicans and other Protestants in the West, and Catholicism in the East. It was not by chance. It was not by the choice of Nigerians. To the largest extent, with only very few exception, it is by design of external powers.

I urge Africans to think about their religions. Do not just accept your religion because of the accident of your birth. Your eternal soul is too valuable to be left to chance.

I use myself as an example. I was born to a Catholic mother and an Anglican father. While my mother schooled in Europe, I was anglicised by the rest of the family who were Anglican.

I remained an Anglican until I went to university. Free at last from my parents, I at first became a campus evangelist at the University of Benin in 1990 at the age of 16, until I left for another university and became an atheist at age 18, and began reading The Bible, and the Quran in other to know the true God.

May God bless my parents, they did not interfere. They did not force me to go to church. They left me to choose.

For one whole year, I did not believe in God, until after reading Scripture, the Quran and Dr. Yongi Cho’s (now David Yongi Cho) book, the Fourth Dimension, I found God by myself. Alone. Without the help of Arabs, or Europeans, or my parents. That is why today, NOTHING can shake my faith. I was not born as a Christ follower. I was CONVINCED into following Christ by Scripture and a personal experience with God and I was ordained as a pastor on January 15, 2012.

If all Africans can free their minds and choose their religion by themselves, Africans will stop being divided and fighting each other on the basis of religion and region, and we will no longer by the patsies of European and Arab nations, and Africa will be truly free to become the greatest continent on Planet Earth.

Reno Omokri

Gospeller. Deep Thinker. #1 Bestselling author of Facts Versus Fiction: The True Story of the Jonathan Years. Avid traveller. Hollywood Magazine Film Festival Humanitarian of the Year, 2019.

The post How religion divides and under-develops Africa by Reno appeared first on Vanguard News.

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Who ordained you? Gospel artiste, Sammie Okposo slams Pastor for saying ‘you’re a thief if you play church instruments and collect money’

Who ordained you? Sammie Okposo calls out Pastor David Antwi for saying

Nigerian gospel singer, Sammie Okposo has called out UK-based Pastor, David Antwi for saying intrumentalists who take money after playing in churches are thieves.
The founder and General Overseer of Kharis Church in the United Kingdom also described such instrumentalists as Satan’s cousins.
Reacting to the comment, Sammie Okposo stated that it is wrong on all levels. The gospel singer who noted that some instrumentalists serve as volunteers in their home churches, stated that the ones who opt to get paid for playing church instruments on full time basis, do so as their main source of livelihood should be paid. Sammie Okposo also wondered who ordained the UK-based preacher.

Who is this oh my goodness oh my God who is this please which church is this who is this pastor why why why how can you be making such uninformed and misguided statements????
i dont know who you are
and i dont know what you said before and after this clip
but this clip right here is wrong on every level
i have no personal beef with you im not against you
im against this statement and the mindset behind it
some muscians serve as volunteers in thier home churches but the ones who decide that they want to get paid cos they do it full time as their main source of lively hood should be paid
why are you insulting and publicly shaming professional musicians who work in church and earn a living with their skill calling them thieves????and they are satan’s first cousin???
please sir what bible school did you attend that you were taught what you are saying?
which bible verse/verses can you use to back up what you are saying?
ok lets just assume this your theory is correct you that preach in church and collect church money,honourarium,love offering etc”WHAT ARE YOU”???

Who is this oh my goodness oh my God who is this please which church is this who is this pastor why why why how can you be making such uninformed and misguided statements???? i dont know who you are and i dont know what you said before and after this clip but this clip right here is wrong on every level i have no personal beef with you im not against you im against this statement and the mindset behind it some muscians serve as volunteers in thier home churches but the ones who decide that they want to get paid cos they do it full time as their main source of lively hood should be paid why are you insulting and publicly shaming professional musicians who work in church and earn a living with their skill calling them thieves????and they are satan’s first cousin??? please sir what bible school did you attend that you were taught what you are saying? who ordained you??? which bible verse/verses can you use to back up what you are saying? ok lets just assume this your theory is correct you that preach in church and collect church money,honourarium,love offering etc”WHAT ARE YOU”??? Smmmmmmmmmhhhhhhhhhhhhhh
A post shared by Sammie Okposo (@sammieokposo) on

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Sammie Okposo chides Pastor for saying “you’re a thief if you play church instruments and collect money

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Nigerian gospel singer, Sammie Okposo has called out UK-based Pastor, David Antwi for saying intrumentalists who take money after playing in churches are thieves.

The founder and General Overseer of Kharis Church in the United Kingdom also described such instrumentalists as Satan’s cousins.

Reacting to the comment, Sammie Okposo stated that it is wrong on all levels. The gospel singer who noted that some instrumentalists serve as volunteers in their home churches, stated that the ones who opt to get paid for playing church instruments on full time basis, do so as their main source of livelihood should be paid. Sammie Okposo also wondered who ordained the UK-based preacher.

He wrote;

“Who is this oh my goodness oh my God who is this please which church is this who is this pastor why why why how can you be making such uninformed and misguided statements????
i dont know who you are
and i dont know what you said before and after this clip
but this clip right here is wrong on every level

i have no personal beef with you im not against you
im against this statement and the mindset behind it
some muscians serve as volunteers in thier home churches but the ones who decide that they want to get paid cos they do it full time as their main source of lively hood should be paid
why are you insulting and publicly shaming professional musicians who work in church and earn a living with their skill calling them thieves????and they are satan’s first cousin???

please sir what bible school did you attend that you were taught what you are saying?
who ordained you???
which bible verse/verses can you use to back up what you are saying?
ok lets just assume this your theory is correct you that preach in church and collect church money,honourarium,love offering etc”WHAT ARE YOU”???
Smmmmmmmmmhhhhhhhhhhhhhh”

See video below;

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Christ Embassy Church probe in UK: The Full report | P.M. News

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Pastor Chris Oyakhilome: heads the Christ Embassy Church in UK

Christ Embassy Church, owned by Pastor Chris Oyakhilome and registered in the UK in 1996 as a charity came under probe of the Charity Commission in 2013, following complaints about the use of charitable funds on large connected party payments.

Truly, investigators discovered numerous failings in its management. They established that a number of informal grants and payments were made, including over £1.2 million* to a broadcasting company, Loveworld Television Ministry, which was wholly owned by a trustee of the charity.

Also, for six years the charity had allowed Loveworld free use of a £1.8 million property it had purchased, and was subsidising a proportion of the company’s utility bills. The inquiry found a lack of formal contracts or appropriate record keeping, and a lack of evidence of proper decision-making or of conflicts of interest being appropriately managed.

Financial management at the charity was also found to be poor. The trustees claimed 9 bank accounts held funds belonging to Christ Embassy Nigeria, and that 3 UK properties belonged to Christ Embassy Nigeria, however the inquiry concluded that all of these in fact belonged to the charity.

Oyakhilome’s ex-wife Anita Ebodaghe: was on the charity board at the time

The inquiry considered that there was serious misconduct and/or mismanagement in the administration of the charity, and took action to remove two of the trustees of the charity, however the individuals resigned before the sanction was applied. The Commission has since been granted new powers to address this loophole, which it secured under the Charities (Protection and Social Investment) Act 2016.

As a result of the inquiry, a new board of trustees was set up to strengthen the administration and management of the charity.

Amy Spiller head of the investigation team spoke on how the investigation was able to dissect the complex web of entities connected with the Christ Embassy Church:

“This was a complex inquiry that unveiled numerous failings by those running Christ Embassy over a number of years, which exposed the charity to undue risk. I am pleased that these issues have been resolved and that the new board of trustees has shown a clear commitment to move the charity forward responsibly.

“Those running a charity should always be guided by their charitable purpose. Trustees have an important responsibility to ensure that they act in the best interests of their charity at all times, and take care to safeguard their charity’s assets. Our guidance around governance arrangements is there to help trustees ensure they do just that.

“Charities are trusted in a way that is unique, and people often put a lot of faith in religious charities. It is therefore vital that trustees, particularly those with a large following, do all that they can to inspire public trust”.

Christ Embassy operates over 90 churches in the UK, providing religious services to over 5000 people, and has a substantial international following.

Here is the full report released 14 November, 2019 as culled from www.gov.uk

The Charity
Christ Embassy (the charity) was registered on 19 November 1996. It is governed by a Declaration of Trust dated 23 October 1996.

The charity’s entry can be found on the register of charities.

Charity Structure
The charity was established in South London in 1996. The charity’s Headquarters is located at the Loveworld Conference Centre (commonly referred to as the “Christ Embassy International Office”), in Folkestone, Kent and is supported by three sub offices situated in Bermondsey, Croydon and Hendon. The sub-offices operate in excess of ninety churches throughout the country, providing religious services to in excess of five thousand beneficiaries.

The charity has a trading subsidiary company called Christ Embassy Limited (Company Registration No. 05862298) which became a subsidiary in 2012. The trading subsidiary shares the charity’s UK headquarter premises. The trading business involves the production, sale and distribution of religious books and media products.

The charity’s reported income in the year ending 31 December 2013 was £14,055,229 and its expenditure was £15,923,977.

Trustees
During the Commission’s engagement with the charity (since 2012) there have been numerous trustees in office. The table below only lists the trustees who were in office for a part of the inquiry.

Trustee From To
A (Reverend Christian Oyakhilome) 23 October 1996 17 May 2014
B (Reverend Anita Oyakhilome) 6 April 1999 2 June 2015
C (Pastor Obioma Chiemeka) 6 October 2009 13 October 2015
D (Pastor Nkemakonam Odiakah) 6 October 2009 15 February 2016
E (Pastor Ifeoma Onubogu) 6 October 2009 12 February 2016
F (Pastor Uche Onubogu) 17 May 2014 26 January 2015
G (Pastor Tony Obi) 17 May 2014 16 October 2015
H (Reverend Raymond Okocha) 17 May 2014 8 August 2017

Trustee A resided in Nigeria and was the founder and international leader of the charity. His wife, trustee B, resided in the UK and was leader of the UK based charity.

Trustees B, D and F were also paid employees of the charity during periods of their trusteeships, which was permitted by their governing document in particular circumstances.

Following the appointment of an Interim Manager and full governance review, a new board of trustees (the new board of trustees) was appointed on 12 April 2016 who are now responsible for the administration and management of the charity going forward. Significant progress has been made to address the governance and improve oversight and control by the new board of trustees.

Issues under Investigation

On 29 July 2013, the Commission opened a statutory inquiry (the Inquiry) into the charity under section 46 of the Charities Act 2011 (the Act).

The Inquiry closed with the publication of this report.

The scope of the Inquiry was to examine a number of issues including:

*the transactions between the charity and “partner organisations” that include grants made to a number of unidentified entities and Loveworld Television Ministry, Healing School, International School of Ministry, Christ Embassy France, Christ Embassy Canada, IPCC Conference and Rhapsody of Realities

*the administration, governance and management of the charity by the trustees with specific regard to connected party transactions in respect of payments to Loveworld Limited and the management of conflicts of interest

*the financial controls and management of the charity

*whether or not the trustees had complied with and fulfilled their duties and responsibilities as trustees under charity law

Findings
Transactions between the Charity & “partner organisations”
The Inquiry team examined the accounts of the charity, for the period 2009-2011 which showed that the charity had paid substantial grants to organisations classified as “partner organisations”.

During 2009-2011, the charity’s accounts show grants amounting to £1,281,666 were paid to Loveworld Television Ministry; £118,995 to Healing School, £186,616 to International School of Ministry, £10,000 to Christ Embassy Canada, £10,566 to Christ Embassy France, £37,216 to IPPC Conference and £77,266 to Rhapsody of Realities.

The trustees provided the Commission with a copy of their grant making policy, and admitted to the Inquiry that “Prior to the involvement of the Charity Commission the grant making practice consisted of a discussion by the Trustees at a Trustee meeting regarding who should receive grant”.

Following his appointment on 6 August 2014, the Interim Manager (the IM) examined the charity’s records and found no evidence of compliance with the Grant Making Policy. Documents examined, by the IM, demonstrated a lack of records and receipts to account for grants made and there appeared to be little consideration given to whether the receiving parties had expended grants appropriately and for intended purposes, as was required by the policy.

This demonstrates failure to comply with its grant making policy and inadequate recording of decision making by the trustees which is misconduct and/or mismanagement in the administration of the charity.

Administration, governance and management of Charity by trustees-specific regard to connected party transactions in respect of payment to Loveworld Limited (also known as Loveworld Television Ministry – registered number 4691981) and management of conflict of interest
The inquiry had serious concerns regarding the trustees’ decision making relating to the charity’s relationship with Loveworld Limited.

It was established that Trustee C, was the sole shareholder of Loveworld Limited since its incorporation in March 2003. Trustee C had also been trustee of the charity between October 2009 and October 2015. The primary objective of the Loveworld Limited was to advance Christian programming in the UK and to provide entertaining and educational programmes for the diverse demographics of the UK, which it did by carrying out both radio and television broadcasting services.

The trustees informed the Inquiry, payments made by the charity to Loveworld Limited were not grants/donations as indicated in their accounts but represented payments for broadcasting services provided by the company to the charity. On 28 March 2013, the trustees were asked to provide all documentation held by the charity or its trustees that recorded the decisions made in respect of the payments by the charity to Loveworld Limited. On 19 September 2013, the trustees provided only two sets of minutes of trustee meetings (minutes of trustees meeting dated 6 January and 6 April 2012) that appeared relevant to the issue. However, neither set of minutes included any decision or resolution to make payments to a company of which one trustee was sole shareholder.

The trustees did not have any formal contracts in place, or indeed rationale for using Loveworld Limited as opposed to any other broadcaster. Additionally the IM, during his inspection of books and records found no evidence to suggest that any of the trustees considered whether the costs charged by Loveworld Limited were better value than the costs charged by any other service provider. The trustees have failed to take, or have failed to record, any proper decisions as to why such payments are in the best interests of the Charity.

The IM confirmed that as early as 2009, the Audit Report highlighted to trustees that transactions with organisations and companies controlled by trustees were required to be disclosed in the financial statements as related party transactions. Auditors also recommended that trustees seek professional advice on whether these payments were permitted under their governing document, discuss and decide whether the payments were in the best interests of the charity and minute those discussions, ensuring that any conflicted parties withdraw from the meeting during discussions. The IM’s investigation into these matters found that this advice had not been followed and in particular there was no evidence that the trustees had sought legal advice.

The IM’s scrutiny of charity records and documents demonstrated that the trustees had failed to comply with the terms of the charity’s governing document and that they failed to comply with the requirements of section 185 of the Act in paying for services by a company owned by a trustee.

Additionally, the Inquiry identified that the charity had purchased a property in March 2006, costing £1.8 million and allowed Loveworld Limited free use of the property from 2006 until September 2012. The trustees informed the Inquiry that Loveworld Limited had only occupied a “small part of the premises”, on an informal basis, with the charity using the premises themselves until February 2014. They informed the Inquiry that the arrangement had been formalised since 2012 and the company was charged £75,000 per year for use of the property. The Inquiry considers that this level of rent indicates that Loveworld Limited occupied a substantial proportion of the building.

The trustees failed to demonstrate that rent for occupation of the premises was a properly assessed market rent which would cover the charity’s overheads. The trustees stated, that the yearly rental income covered all mortgage costs incurred by the charity, however later stated that the charity’s annual mortgage payment was higher than this.

It was unclear to the Inquiry how the permitted, free use of the premises to Loveworld Limited between 2006 -2012 was in the best interests of the charity and was properly authorised.

This indicates that the trustees failed to act in the charity’s best interests or with reasonable care and skill in terms of their decision-making and in the negotiation of the arrangements with Loveworld Limited and in not seeking appropriate advice regarding formalising occupation of premises by the company. In addition, the fact that the charity was also subsidising a proportion of the company’s utility bills indicates a lack of reasonable care and skill and a failure to use the charity’s resources responsibly. These actions were not in the charity’s best interest or in furtherance of its objects and were misconduct and/or mismanagement in the administration of the charity.

Ventaja Limited
An audit conducted by the IM on appointment also identified purchases in excess of £30,000 by the charity from Ventaja Limited – trustees’ reports and financial statements for year ending 31 December 2013: the charity declared £44,925 of purchases made from Ventaja Limited for decorating and the construction of a stage. The company was wholly owned by Trustee G. The payments were made while, Trustee G was church pastor and zonal pastor (prior to being appointed trustee in May 2014). His wife was also director of the company, church pastor and a salaried employee of the charity. The IM found evidence indicating that Trustee G had employed the services of Ventaja Limited to provide services to the charity but it was unclear from the charity’s records what considerations were made regarding potential conflicts of interest. It is unclear to the Commission that the decision making trustees, in position at the time payments were made, were acting only in the interests of the charity.

The trustees failed to provide any records to evidence that conflicts of interest had been identified or correctly managed prior to the opening of the Inquiry. Although the trustees provided the inquiry with a copy of their new “Conflicts of Interest Policy” in their 2013 response, they did not have any policy which covered the conflict which arose as a result of Trustee G, being a church pastor and trustee, authorising payments from his church to his company and therefore effectively paying his own company. The trustees failed to demonstrate that they had recognised or properly managed conflicts of interest. Consequently the Inquiry found this was misconduct and mismanagement in the administration of the charity.

Financial control & management of the Charity
When interviewed by the Inquiry in October 2013, the trustees explained the structure and administration of the charity to the Commission. The structure involved Chapters (also known as churches) within the charity which were spread across the UK with the use of over 100 premises. The IM found that cash collection and payment recording processes were not uniform across the charity, with a number of basic key controls (for example timely bank reconciliations or maintenance of the SAGE records ) found to be lacking.

Bank Accounts/Assets
The inquiry identified nine active bank accounts that the trustees identified as holding funds belonging to Christ Embassy Nigeria (Christ Embassy Nigeria is a separate company to the charity). The inquiry found no evidence to suggest that any of the banking institutions were aware that they were holding funds controlled by Christ Embassy Nigeria. In addition, the accounts were not named in such a way as would indicate the funds are controlled from Nigeria: for example, two of the active accounts are named Christ Embassy East London.

The inquiry, not being satisfied that the funds held in these accounts were owned by Christ Embassy Nigeria, exercised legal powers and issued orders dated 8 august 2014, under section 76(3)(d) of the Act, freezing six of these nine bank accounts, protecting funds to a value of £615,420.

In the absence of clear evidence to support the trustees’ position, the Inquiry concluded that funds held in the accounts belonged to the charity and these accounts remained frozen until the order was revoked on 24 August 2016. The Inquiry being satisfied that the new board of trustees had assumed control of the charity’s property discharged the freezing order on 24 August 2016.

This demonstrates the trustees’ failure to deal with the bank accounts appropriately and their lack of understanding of financial management and the importance of clearly identifying the charity’s property and/or assets held on behalf of another entity and is mismanagement and/or misconduct in the administration and governance of the charity by the trustees.

Tax related issues
The IM informed the Inquiry that the trustees’ failed to submit the charity’s 2010-11 and 2012-13 Self-Assessment Tax returns on time to HMRC thereby incurring penalties for late submissions. In addition, the IM found that the trustees had failed to comply with information Notices issued by HMRC thus incurring further penalties.

The trustees’ non-compliance and failure to submit the charity’s Self-Assessment forms within statutory deadlines resulted in scrutiny by HMRC creating a risk to the charity’s assets in regard to financial penalties incurred and is further evidence of trustees failing in their duty to protect and manage resources responsibly.

Gift Aid is available on donations made by UK tax payers such that the charity can reclaim the tax already paid on the donation by the donor. This means the charity can receive an extra 25p for every £1 donated. It is the trustees’ responsibility to ensure that the charity has effective systems and internal controls in place to ensure complete and accurate returns are made, reducing the risk of amounts being reclaimed by HMRC and ensuring that the charity receives the Gift Aid promptly and with confidence.

The IM established that the charity had failed to maintain:

*sufficient records or processes to show that expenditure by employees had not been an employee benefit and therefore subject to tax
*sufficient records to show that charity vehicles were being used solely for charitable purposes and not used by trustees/employees for private use
*sufficient records to support the charity’s claim to Gift Aid and to demonstrate the expenditure was in fact charitable

The IM dealt with these inquiries and agreed a settlement with HMRC. During discussions with HMRC, the IM made payments on account of £250,000 in order to minimise interest/penalty charges.

The IM informed the Inquiry, in excess of £1.4m of expenditure was disallowed by HMRC and became subject to tax.

The IM reached final settlement over these matters prior to his discharge.

The trustees’ failure to maintain sufficient records and processes to account for expenditure resulted in scrutiny by HMRC creating a risk of criminal proceedings and loss to the charity’s assets in regard to tax liabilities and is further evidence of trustees failing in their duty to protect and manage resources responsibly.


Whether complied and fulfilled duties and responsibilities as trustees under charity law

The Inquiry found a number of breaches of their legal duties by the trustees as evidenced in the previous sections of this report. Additionally the Inquiry found evidence that the trustees exposed the charity, its assets and/or its beneficiaries to harm or undue risk for example:

Property Related matters
The charity is unincorporated, and as such does not have legal personality and cannot hold property in its own name. Instead property must be held on behalf of the charity by nominated individuals (known as holding trustees, and often in practice one or more of the charity’s trustees). From time to time these individuals will change for example due to retirement or death, and the legal ownership of the property will need to be transferred to the new trustees to ensure that the Land Registry records are accurate.

The charity’s main asset other than cash was its ownership of a number of properties. The Inquiry identified 3 UK properties that were not disclosed to the Commission in the trustees’ first responses or during the October 2013 meeting. The trustees asserted that despite the legal title of the properties being vested in the name of two of the charity’s trustees, the properties “were acquired on behalf of, and held in trust for, Christ Embassy Nigeria”.

The Inquiry noted that the Land Registry entries in respect of the 3 properties made no reference to the beneficial owner being Christ Embassy Nigeria and documentation supplied by the trustees provided no evidence to support their assertions. None of the Land Registry proprietorship registers differed in any material way from those of the properties originally disclosed to the Commission as belonging to the charity. These matters were explored further by the IM. His investigations confirmed that the properties were held legally and beneficially by the charity and that there was no trust in place suggesting they were held on behalf Christ Embassy Nigeria.

The Inquiry obtained evidence that the trustees’ failed to ensure land registry details for charity properties were amended once trustees resigned. This was raised a number of times by Auditors in their reports from 2009 onwards and as a result the trustees failed in their duties and responsibilities as trustees to act in the charity’s best interests.

Insurance
The Inquiry found that the trustees failed to secure adequate insurance to protect charity assets and protect against claims for accidental damage to property/or compensation for accidental injury to third parties. The IM was made aware of an outstanding claim in February 2015, brought by a member of the congregation who was injured at a charity premises in 2012. The IM sought to identify whether any relevant insurant was in place. The trustees confirmed that there was no relevant insurance cover and following legal advice obtained by the IM, he settled the claim, in order to avoid lengthy and costly litigation.

The failings of trustees to act appropriately left the charity open to financial and reputational risk and losses, as well as to risk of litigation.

Planning & Building
The trustees failed to ensure that a property purchased by the charity had the necessary planning permission for use as a place of worship – D1 use as Non-Residential institutions, which include a place of worship and church hall. The previous owner had applied for permission to use the property as a place of worship, in 2003 but the planning application had been refused by the local authority. The charity appealed the decision unsuccessfully. Enforcement action was commenced by Southwark Council (18 April 2011). This was also unsuccessfully appealed by the charity. The continued unauthorised use of the premises as a place of worship by the charity, exposed it to enforcement action by the Council. The IM team liaised with the Council to permit a planned exit from the premised which was vacated in January 2015.

The existence of the enforcement notice is a criminal matter. Any breach of the enforcement notice and continued unauthorised use of the premises as a place of worship exposed the charity to prosecution by Southwark Council. Legal advice obtained by the IM confirmed that the breach could have led to criminal sanctions being imposed against the charity and potentially exposed the charity to confiscation proceedings under the Proceeds of Crime Act.

This demonstrates the trustees’ lack of understanding regarding planning law and regulations which exposed the charity to substantial financial risk as well as legal costs.

Conclusions
The Inquiry concluded that there was serious misconduct and/or mismanagement in the charity’s administration. The former trustees, at the relevant times had not complied with or fulfilled their duties as trustees under charity law. They failed to:

*exercise reasonable care and skill in the execution of their roles and as a result exposed the charity to risk and financial loss
*ensure sufficient financial controls and procedures to protect the charity’s property file their annual accounting information, in accordance with their statutory obligations, on time
*ensure that conflicts of interest were effectively managed comply with the terms of the charity’s governing document in relation to remuneration of trustees
*obtain professional advice during their decision making process and to properly record their decision-making
*comply with planning law and regulations and adhere to enforcement notices, causing the charity substantial financial loss
*address the need for Health & Safety compliance and the lack of adequate property insurance exposed the charity to considerable losses which could have been avoided or minimized with proper management and prompt action

In light of the findings and evidence of misconduct and/or mismanagement, the Inquiry exercised its legal powers under section 79(2)(a) of the Act to remove two of the trustees of the charity.

However the trustees subject to regulatory action resigned prior to the Commission being able to complete the process. Section 79(5) and 82 of The Charities (Protection and Social Investment ) Act 2016 has closed this loophole, thereby allowing the Commission to proceed to remove a charity trustee who has resigned following the Commission having given notice to the charity trustees of its intention to make a removal order. The law has since been amended so that resignations following the Commission issuing a notice of intention to remove a trustee would not prohibit the trustee’s removal and consequent disqualification from action as a trustee in the future.

Regulatory Action Taken
During the course of the Inquiry the Commission exercised its legal powers (Sections 47, 52 and 54 Charities Act 2011), provided by the Act, to issue various orders and directions for the purposes of information gathering from local authorities, private individuals and companies, including financial institutions.

The Inquiry directed trustees to a meeting on 18 October 2013 to discuss regulatory concerns and seek further explanation from the trustees. The charity’s books and records were also inspected on 13/14 November 2013.

The Inquiry, being satisfied in accordance with section 76(1) of the Act, that there had been misconduct and / or mismanagement in the administration of the charity and that it was necessary or desirable to act for the protection of the property of the charity, used a number of regulatory powers, under the following sections of the Act:

*section 76(3)(d) orders (8 August 2014), directing the banks not to part with the charity’s property without the Commission’s prior written consent, protecting £615,420 of the charity’s funds

*section 76(3)(g) appointing an Interim Manager on 6 August 2014 (appointment to take effect from 11 August 2014) and then under 337(6) varying the order (25 January 2016) to authorise the
*Interim Manager to appoint a new board of trustees
section 337(6) discharging (18 November 2014) the order not to part by further order, once the

*Interim Manager assumed control of the charity’s property

The former trustees exercised their right to appeal (8 August 2014) to the First-tier Tribunal, General Regulatory Chamber (Charity) against the order appointing the Interim Manager. The appeal was withdrawn on 20 January 2015 with the charity’s legal representatives, notifying the Commission that the trustees were “now willing to accept that the statutory threshold under section 76 of the Act was met in the present case”.

Appointment of an interim manager
The Inquiry appointed an interim manager, Rod Weston of Mazars LLP, (the IM) on 6 August 2014 under section 76(3)(g) of the Act to take over the management and administration of the charity to the exclusion of trustees. The trustees were not excluded from performing the religious and/or spiritual functions connected with their roles as Pastors within the charity.

The scope of the IM’s appointment included:

*taking control of the management and administration of the charity to the exclusion of trustees and taking steps to secure and protect charity property

*reviewing the governance and administration of the charity and taking remedial action in the best interests of the charity

*reviewing the charity’s financial controls, systems and reporting procedures, safeguarding funds and ensuring proper expenditure controls and governance
consider whether any of the decision making trustees were personally liable for any breach of duty/loss of the charity, taking remedial action to regularise any breaches of duty in the best interest of the charity

The costs of the IM’s appointment, including legal advice and fees that would have been necessary and incurred by any trustee, amounted to £1,244,983.50 excluding VAT. The costs of the IM’s appointment were met out of the charity’s funds and are itemised as follows:

*fees directly related to work as IM – £390,358.40
*professional fees – £854,625.10 (relating to work conducted by 3rd parties on behalf of the IM)
*In addition £208,000 of work was undertaken by the IM on a pro bono basis.

As part of his appointment, the IM completed a full governance and infrastructure review of the charity and its activities. His initial findings, on 9 October 2014, corroborated the Commission’s regulatory concerns relating to the charity, reporting that “the board of trustees appears to be fragmented” and “appear to have little appreciation of their roles, duties and obligations as Trustees”. He identified a number of Health and Safety risks and concerns as well as legal issues relating to property matters which had failed to be dealt with by the trustees and which posed financial risks to the charity. The IM’s investigations found failings in the charity’s governance, leadership and management structures and personnel, including identifying that the charity had insufficient financial controls and procedures.

Remedial actions were taken to regularise the charity’s governance to ensure it was fit for purpose. This encompassed the following:

*establishing a central record of all properties leased and/or rented by the charity to ensure that the terms of leases were being met appropriately and suitable exit plans were in place where leases were due to expire
*establishing an accurate record of assets (ownership of a number of properties, motor vehicles and a range of fixed assets ) owned by the charity, gaining control of the charity’s property portfolio and cash reserves – the IM reduced the number of bank accounts in operation from approximately 40 to 8 and in September 2015 took control of just under £12,000,000

*introduction and implementation of financial controls, systems and reporting procedures, regularising the management of income and expenditure

*Health and Safety audits and fire risk assessments were carried out; training provided to staff and implementation of suitable Health & Safety policies and procedures
extensive liaison with HMRC resulting in settlement of the charity’s tax liabilities
recruitment of new board of trustees

*induction and training of new trustees

Restitution
On 18 November 2015, the IM considered professional advice and the particular circumstances of this case and decided that restitution (by way of civil claims against former trustees for breaches of duties and losses to the charity was not in the best interests of the charity.

Following the appointment of a new Board of Trustees on 12 April 2016, significant progress has been made to address the governance and improve oversight and control by the new trustees, as a result of which the IM was discharged on 12 April 2016.

Issues for the wider sector
Financial Controls & Accounting Records
Proper financial controls are a necessary feature of any well-run organisation. Because of the special characteristics of the charitable sector, they play an essential part in helping to show potential donors and beneficiaries that a charity’s property is safeguarded, and that its management is efficient.

Trustees are equally responsible for the overall management and administration of the charity. Every charity’s accounting records must be sufficient to show and explain its transactions and disclose with reasonable accuracy its financial position. Trustees should ensure that financial controls are not only adequate but provide sufficient information to satisfy the trustees that the controls are being observed. If, due to the nature of the charity, its work, location and /or set up the trustees delegate supervision of financial arrangements to one or a small number of trustees or employees, they need to ensure that there are arrangements in place for proper reporting back to the whole trustee body. In this way, system failures or issues can be identified at an early stage.

Therefore, in order to show that they are complying with their legal duties, trustees must keep records and an adequate audit trail to show that the Charity’s money has been properly spent on furthering the Charity’s purposes for the benefit of the public.

Conflicts of Interest Policy
Charity trustees should ensure that they have a conflicts of interest policy in place to ensure that they are fully aware of their responsibilities and that any conflicts that do arise are appropriately managed.

Where a charity trustee has a conflict of interest they should follow the basic checklist set out in the Commission publication Conflicts of interest: a guide for charity trustees (CC29) and where necessary or appropriate take professional advice.

The law states that trustees cannot receive any benefit from their charity in return for any service they provide to it or enter into any self-dealing transactions unless they have the legal authority to do so. This may come from the charity’s governing document or, if there is no such provision in the governing document, the Commission or the Courts. Further information is available from Trustee expenses and payments (CC11).

Charity Property
Charity trustees have a general duty to manage their charity’s resources responsibly, reasonably and honestly. This means not exposing their charity’s assets, beneficiaries or reputation to undue risk. It is about exercising sound judgement and then taking decisions that a reasonable body of trustees would do.

Trustees must put appropriate policies, procedures and safeguards in place and take all reasonable steps to ensure that these are followed.

If a charity owns land or buildings, trustees need to know on a continuing basis what condition it is in, that it is being properly used, and that adequate insurance is in place. The essential trustee: what you need to know, what you need to do (CC3) makes clear that decisions about charity land and property are important. If the charity owns or rents land or buildings, the trustees need to:

*make sure the property is recorded as belonging to the charity
know on what terms it is held
*ensure it is properly maintained and being correctly used
*make sure the charity has sufficient insurance

A charity’s governing document or the general law can provide a ‘power to insure’. If the governing document imposes a positive duty to insure, if trustees then fail to insure property, this will be a breach of trust. More details are available in the Commission’s guidance Charities and insurance (CC49).

Trustee Decision Making
Charity trustees are responsible for governing their charity and making decisions about how it should be run. Making decisions is one of the most important parts of the trustees’ role. Trustees can be confident about decision making if they understand their role and responsibilities, know how to make decisions effectively, are ready to be accountable to people with an interest in their charity, and follow the 7 principles that the courts have developed for reviewing decisions made by trustees. Trustees must:

*act within their powers
*act in good faith and only in the interests of the charity
*make sure they are sufficiently informed
*take account of all relevant factors
*ignore any irrelevant factors
*manage conflicts of interest
*make decisions that are within the range of decisions that a reasonable trustee body could make

It is important that charity trustees apply these 7 principles when making significant or strategic decisions, such as those affecting the charity’s beneficiaries, assets or future direction.

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Mum stabbed toddler son to death after being tormented by Ryanair pilot fiancé – Mirror Online

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A mum stabbed her 23-month-old son to death after she suffered a mental breakdown triggered by her bullying and cheating Ryanair pilot fiancé.

Former flight attendant Magda Lesicka, 33, was subjected to relentless psychological torment by Peter Chilvers, a flight captain with the budget airline, as she felt trapped in the toxic relationship, a court heard.

Lesicka, who met Chilvers while also working for the Dublin-based carrier, inflicted a sustained attack on their son, James Chilvers, at her home in Wythenshawe, Greater Manchester, on August 26, 2017.

She tried to kill herself after knifing the boy multiple times.

Chilvers had inflicted a campaign of cruelty against Lesicka, forcing her into degrading sexual acts and into eating hairs he plucked from his head, while he had an affair with another flight attendant, Lisa Spencer, who is now his partner and mother to his two young daughters.

#nature

Lesicka, a Polish national, was jailed for 15 years last year after she pleaded guilty to manslaughter by reason of diminished responsibility, the Manchester Evening News reports.

She was sentenced on the basis that her mental illness emerged suddenly and without any warning, and she had no memory of committing the offence.

Chilvers, 33, from Northwich, Cheshire, denied any wrongdoing and subsequently went on trial at Manchester Crown Court where a jury convicted him last month of controlling or coercive behaviour.

Reporting restrictions were lifted on the case on Thursday as Chilvers was jailed for 18 months, allowing the facts to be reported for the first time.

Abortion

The former couple were dealt with in separate hearings.

Chilvers, originally from Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire, returned home from a flight to Tenerife in the early hours when Lesicka fell injured into his arms, the court heard.

As he rushed her to hospital he had no idea she had killed James.

Police found the toddler dead in an upstairs bedroom at the family home after concern was raised for him.

At Lesicka’s sentencing hearing in Preston in July last year, the court heard she suffered “deliberate, relentless and ultimately overwhelming psychological torment”.

Read More

Top news stories from Mirror Online

Chilvers was violent towards her, repeatedly threatened to kill her if she removed their son from his care, carried out bizarre acts of cruelty, isolated her from her friends and restricted her finances.

On one occasion, he squeezed her nose tightly so she couldn’t breathe.

He also nicknamed her “sheep” and referred to himself as a “sheep owner”, the court heard, while Lesicka told the jury the pilot would pick errant hairs from his forehead and force her to swallow them.

He demanded they continue to live together at a new home he bought in the Cheshire village of Wincham, jurors heard.

Abuse

The pilot warned her in a “visceral” 33-minute phone call – played in court – on August 26 that she did not have the financial resources to win a custody battle and shouted: “I want James to have brothers and sisters… not a half-brother and sister with a f***ing moron that you find.”

The pilot had downloaded an app on to his mobile phone which enabled him to record his calls.

The court heard Lesicka had been planning to leave Chilvers in the days before she killed their son.

The couple had been in relationship since 2010 but Chilvers cheated on Lesicka from 2014 with another Ryanair cabin crew member.

Her fear of him was revealed in court, which heard Lesicka made internet searches about “taser UK law”, “self defence weapons UK” and “killing in self defence” in the days before James’ death. She later contacted domestic abuse charity Women’s Aid.

Aid

Lesicka phoned Greater Manchester Police and two police officers were sent to her address on August 25 where she showed them bruises to her arms and thigh.

She was informed the next day – the day of the killing – that Chilvers would be arrested after he flew back to the UK and a scared Lesicka said she did not want that to happen.

However she was told it was police policy to take positive action over such allegations.

The Crown accepted Lesicka’s defence that she killed James following a breakdown induced by the “deliberate, relentless and ultimately overwhelming psychological torment” inflicted by Chilvers who had portrayed a “landscape of unending misery if she did not comply with his demands”.

Sentencing, Mr Justice Dove told Lesicka: “As a tragic, innocent victim he (James) was caught, caught between two warring parents.

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“Whatever the rights and wrongs of that dispute, the last thing that should have happened was that he should have lost his life – killed by a parent.”

At Manchester Crown Court last month, Chilvers was found guilty of controlling or coercive behaviour between December 2015 and August 2017, as well as counts of common assault and damaging property.

The trial heard that Chilvers had been violent towards his partner after finding out she had had an abortion without telling him.

Rob Hall, prosecuting, told Chilvers’ trial: “(Lesicka) could not cope with being trapped in an abusive, humiliating and dishonest relationship with the father of her son.”

He said Chilvers’s intention may have been to aid any forthcoming legal proceedings over his son’s future but instead he had inadvertently confirmed his “bullying, controlling, self-centred nature”.

Lesicka had described their relationship as a “living hell”.

All

Chilvers told her he wanted to stay with her for their son’s sake.

Police had told Lesicka that they would arrest Chilvers on the night of August 26, 2017, once he returned home following a flight from Tenerife.

But she begged the force not to arrest him and to just log her complaint.

Lesicka killed James the night that police said they would arrest Chilvers.

Her solicitor, Timothy Roberts QC, told the court that pressure “had caused her crack”.

When she was sentenced, Mr Justice Dove told her: “James Chilvers was not quite two years old when he was brutally stabbed to death by you.

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“It was a sustained attack with a knife in which multiple blows were struck whilst he was on his bed at home.

“There was no conceivable outcome other than he would be killed.

“His unique presence in the world was taken from us.

“Who knows what he might have grown up to achieve?”

Speaking of her mental illness, Lesicka’s barrister Mr Roberts said: “It was not a condition that had been previously diagnosed.

“It was not a condition that was wilfully exacerbated by the defendant.

“The significant feature of this case is this accused has never had any mental health difficulties at all in her life.

“The onset of this particular abnormality was very rapid and sudden.

“It was induced by the deliberate, relentless and ultimately overwhelming psychological torment inflicted on her by Peter Chilvers.

“It was imposed upon her repeatedly.”

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How I Came to Own the Largest Virtual Assistant Agency on the African Continent

The year was 2008. I had started my own business due to a request from an ex-client at a previous full-time position.

Now what was I to do? I had already accepted and started a full-time post at another corporate and didn’t want to miss that opportunity.

And there, an entrepreneur was born. Back then I had not heard of the term “Virtual Assistant” and yet, that was apparently what I was offering my clients. To me I was offering marketing support on an ad hoc basis and loving the idea of running a side hustle whilst working.

It took quite a bit of juggling, yet with the help of an assistant I was able to do this quite successfully. And then that business folded. The emotional attachment I had to that brand was natural for a first time business owner.

It took me quite a few years to get beyond what I perceived was an absolute failure. Little did I realise then, but know now, was that failure should be embraced and seen as an opportunity to learn and to grow.

Out of what was left of that business I did learn a few business lessons. One of the things I learned was that although outsourcing was at its infancy stage, especially in South Africa, there was still a demand for it. Virtual assistance was only surfacing in our market, even though our international counterparts had been making use of this service for 2 decades by that stage.

Fortunately I forged ahead. For some reason I just had this feeling that I needed to make this work. Now to really understand the full picture, I had no idea of really running a business, the importance of having proper contracts in place, a decent invoicing system, a marketing plan or any of those essentials required to run a successful business.

I was of course up for the challenge! Building my business was my learning ground.

I was thrown into the deep end when it came to sales and discovered a natural love for this environment. Having always worked in a sales and marketing arena on the admin side certainly did open doors for me in terms of growing my business.

Then I discovered that having the ability to market oneself was a huge blessing. As it turns out, one of the key skills lacking in this industry is the ability to craft a winning marketing plan to gain new clients. I’m very grateful for those Virtual Assistants-turned Coaches and Trainers who were willing to share their expertise with the rest of us. Being able to learn from them helped pave the way to a successful agency.

…and the interest to join my team.

I started realising the value I could bring by helping other entrepreneurs and business owners with managing their day and time. At the end of the day I truly want to see everyone around me succeed, whether it be colleagues or clients.

How much the landscape has changed since 2008, when apps like Slack and Dropbox were unknown. And now we can hardly run our businesses without it.

We went from running an ad on an online directory, to creating a full-blown marketing campaign using platforms like Facebook and LinkedIn. These platforms have brought the four corners of the world closer together, allowing us to engage and improve the lives of those around us, no matter where we find ourselves.

Now we can revel in the delight of working remotely. You could very easily go for a cup of joe and sit at the coffee shop for a couple of hours getting your work done and your client would be none the wiser, as the quality of work still remains high.

I’m so grateful that I was placed on this path in 2008, with an innocent request from a client to handle his account. If it weren’t for him, who knows where I would find myself today.

Learn more about Karen and her business here!

Karen Wessels is a business woman and co-founder of VA Connect, the largest Virtual Assistant Agency on the African continent.

Karen comes from a sales, marketing and admin focused background, so she really gets how to build a business successfully from the ground up.

Karen hosts regular sales strategy workshops to assist other entrepreneurs with building and growing their businesses. Her passion for people and helping them succeed is the essence of VA Connect. As a working mom she understands the need for an extra pair of hands and has built this agency around that vision.

VA Connect’s exclusively South African VA’s are in high demand and they service an international client base. For more details on how VA Connect can add time to your day and get you working ON your business instead of IN your business, then visit their website.

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Women hold IGP accountable for PDP Woman leader’s death

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Women groups have re-stated their call for justice for the death of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Woman Leader, Mrs Salome Abuh, who was burnt to death in her house during the Nov. 16, Kogi governorship election.

National President, Women in Politics Forum (WIPF), Ebere Ifendu, made the demand while briefing newsmen at the end of a panel session on women in politics during the national women’s dialogue titled “Womanifesto”.

News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that various groups of women, NGOs, female religious groups and others embarked on a match from the National Centre for Women Development to the Federal Ministry of Women Affairs after a three-day conference in Abuja on Friday.

Ifendu at the briefing decried the poor participation of women in politics, which she attributed to violence and intimidation.

She said the situation would discourage more women from participating in politics, thereby stalling their contribution to national development.

“There must be justice for Salome because this is a huge crime against women; we are still struggling to find our feet with all the challenges women face and now this.

“We are afraid and going down on a daily basis but there must be justice to give us reasons to continue.

“We hold Inspector-General of Police accountable, we will follow the prosecution because somebody must pay for that gruesome murder.

“If we fail Salome we fail ourselves, but if there is justice we know that she didn’t die in vain.

“Women should not run away from politics because of this because if we do we are helping them to achieve their aim,” she added.
Ifendu, therefore, stressed the need for a violence-free society which would herald a bright future for women in politics and all sectors.

She also called for an amended Electoral Act adding that political parties should also ensure internal party democracy where people have equal fields to contest for any position.

“In fact what women are demanding now is twinning. That is a situation whereby when we have male president a woman should be vice president and so at all levels of governance,” she said.

Also, the National Coordinator, 100 Women Lobby Group, Mrs Felicia Onibon, blamed the challenges women faced on patriarchy, urging women and all stakeholders to hold the ace and unbundle it so that women could move forward.

A female politician from Cross River state, Ms Eucharia Bisong, expressed sadness over the death of Salome Abuh and other persons during electioneering processes and encouraged women not to give up their struggle.

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