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Dangote Cement Group on Thursday said its chief finance officer, Guillaume Moyen, has resigned.

The company in a disclosure to the Nigerian Exchange said Mr Moyen’s resignation is based on personal reasons and takes effect from June 30,2022.

It added that Gbenga Fapohunda has been appointed as the company’s acting CFO.

“This to inform Nigerian Exchange Limited (NGX) and other stakeholders of the resignation of Mr Guillaume Moyen as Group Chief Finance Officer of Dangote Cement Plc (DCP) for personal reasons”, the company said.

“The Board would like to thank Mr Guillaume Moyen for his commitment and contributions to DCP and wishes him well in his future endeavours”.

Mr Fapohunda, who replaces Mr Moyen as the Acting Group Chief Finance Officer of the company, is a multi-skilled finance professional with over twenty years of experience.

He joined Dangote Cement Group as the Regional Chief Finance Officer (CFO) in Nigeria, effective March 1, 2021.

He served as the executive finance director for West Africa at Japan Tobacco International (JTI), where he was on the board. He joined JTI from United Parcel Service (UPS), where he was Nigeria’s Chief Finance Officer (CFO).

Roles held before joining the DCP are CFO and a board member at British American Tobacco (BAT) Ghana, where he oversaw 12 countries in Africa, a manager within the financial advisory team at PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC). He also worked as a consultant at KPMG Professional Services.

Mr Fapohunda is a graduate of Delta State University. He also holds an MBA in Finance from London Business School U.K.

He is a Fellow Member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria; an associate member of the Chartered Institute of Taxation; as well as associate member of the Institute of Cost Management Accountants.

He is also an associate member of the Institute of Treasury and Financial Administration; an associate member of the Institute of Credit & Risk Management; and an associate member of the Nigerian Institute of Management.
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A file photo of BRT buses at a park.

The Lagos State government has announced an increase in Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) bus fares for all routes in the state.

Operators of the BRT buses, the Lagos Metropolitan Area Transport Authority (LAMATA) announced this in a statement on Thursday.

It disclosed that Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu has approved an additional increase of N100 for fares across all routes, saying bus passengers would have to pay the new fares effective from July 13.

LAMATA explained that the decision followed the increase in the cost of diesel and the lack of spare parts to replace damaged components of the buses.

It said, “To sustain the operations of regulated bus services in Lagos State, the State Governor, Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu, has approved a flat rate increase by N100 in bus fares for all Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) and standard routes. The increase, which will come into effect on Wednesday, 13 July 2022, is aimed at ensuring the sustainability of the BRT and standard route schemes.

“Operations of the transport scheme, of late, had been hampered due to rising cost of inputs required for sustainable service offering and the attendant high number of buses out of operation as a result of lack of spare parts.

“For instance, the exponential increase in the pump price of diesel from N187 to N830/litre between August 2020 and June 2022, had greatly affected the optimal performance of the bus operating companies leading to the withdrawal of buses from the operation and longer waiting time at bus stations.

“The governor, in consenting to the fare increase, also approved a proposal for a bailout for the bus operating companies in other to cushion the effect of the harsh operating environment and safeguard private partnership investment and forestall the demise of formalised bus operations in the state.

“With the increase, a bus ride from Ikorodu – TBS will now cost N600 from N500 while Berger to Ajah is now N700, up from N600. Oshodi to Abule Egba will cost N450 from N350 and Abule-Egba-CMS-Obalende will attract a fare of N600.”
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People hold the Hong Kong and Chinese flags while singing to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the city’s handover from Britain to China, in Hong Kong on July 1, 2022.  (Photo by ISAAC LAWRENCE / AFP)

As Chinese leader Xi Jinping left Hong Kong Friday after a rare visit to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the city’s handover from Britain, reactions to his speech ranged from deeming it “reassuring” to terming his stance “delusional”.

The Chinese Communist Party places great importance on anniversaries, and the trip presented Xi with an opportunity to emphasise China’s authority over Hong Kong after three years of political upheaval there.

“Xi’s speech and language reiterated the political message to Hong Kong since the national security law,” political scientist Kenneth Chan from Hong Kong Baptist University told AFP.

“Beijing now exercises total control over the city through the loyalists.”

Since China imposed a national security law on the city following huge pro-democracy protests that engulfed the city in 2019, dissent has been stifled in the once politically vibrant city.

Xi’s insistence that democracy was flourishing despite the years-long political crackdown was met with scorn by those who had been most affected by Beijing’s tightening grip on the city.

Ted Hui, a former opposition lawmaker who fled overseas in 2020 after being arrested multiple times, said Xi’s remark that “true democracy” only began after the handover was “a lie”.

“As early as the 1970s and 1980s, Hong Kong people had started our own democracy movement, and begun to develop our civil society,” he told AFP.

He said that under British rule the city had never had full democracy, but that now “we have lost both the formality and the substance of democracy, particularly after the implementation of the national security law”.

One of his former colleagues, Emily Lau, said that “true democracy never started in Hong Kong –- neither before or after 1997”.

She agreed that now, the city had “lost both freedoms and democracy”.

– ‘Clear and solid’ –

After waving Xi off at a high-speed train station, new Hong Kong Chief Executive John Lee said the visit had been “inspiring”.

Xi said repeatedly that One Country, Two Systems — the governance model agreed by Britain and China under which the city would keep some autonomy and freedoms — was working well and did not need to change.

Lee said Xi’s remarks were a “very clear and very solid” declaration.

The sentiment was echoed by Hong Kong’s Law Society, which put out a statement saying Xi’s “clear reassurances and inspirational directions on the well-being of Hong Kong and our integration into the overall development of our country were encouraging”.

Hui was scathing of the idea that the governance model was working well.

“I think it’s delusional to say that Hong Kong can continue to maintain its unique advantages under the current system,” he said. “Because Hong Kong’s uniqueness used to lie in its liberty, its autonomy in policy making.”

On Hong Kong’s streets, wet from thunderstorms that pummelled the city all day Friday, 46-year-old Jonathan Yeung said Xi’s position that One Country, Two Systems had no reason to change was “laughable”.

“He was behind the biggest changes,” he said.

“(Xi’s) speech was just a to-do list for John Lee, I don’t think he was addressing Hong Kongers like me.”

A jewellery shop owner surnamed Wan, 44, said he thought it was good Xi had set out clear priorities for the next administration.

He agreed with Xi’s sentiment that Hong Kong “could not afford to fall into chaos”.

“The past few years were very tough, no matter one’s politics and occupation,” Wan said.

In his speech, Xi put particular emphasis on young people, saying that authorities “must enhance their national pride and sense of ownership”.

A man surnamed Lee, a 19-year-old university student, was unimpressed by Xi’s exhortations.

“When he says more focus on youth, that only means more nationalistic agenda being pushed in schools,” he told AFP.

“He doesn’t care what young people themselves want.”
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This photograph taken on September 15, 2021 shows the D2 division unit at the Fleury-Merogis prison, in Fleury-Merogis, on the outskirts of Paris. Ludovic MARIN / AFP

A French court on Friday jailed a man for 20 years over dozens of rapes and sexual assaults he committed over a 30-year period along the border with Belgium.

Dubbed the “Rapist of the Sambre” for the river running through the region where he operated, 61-year-old Dino Scala will serve at least two-thirds of the sentence behind bars.

A former janitor and family man seen as a pillar of the community, his 2018 arrest and subsequent trial for 17 rapes, 12 attempted rapes and 27 assaults shocked France.

“I want to apologise to my victims,” Scala said Friday before the judges retired to consider their verdict, his voice betraying little emotion.

Prosecutors had called the defendant “extremely dangerous”, saying he embodied “the unthinkable banality of evil”.

And an expert psychologist consulted by the court spoke of a “gulf between the social face and the hidden face” of the accused.

“The law is not up to” the seriousness of Scala’s crimes, said Fanny Bruyerre, who represented nine of the victims.

The maximum penalty of “20 years is so little” for 56 “lives destroyed”, she added ahead of the verdict.

– ‘Compulsions’ –

Scala confessed to around 40 of the 56 rapes and assaults he was charged with, attributing them to uncontrollable “compulsions”.

Investigators suspect that beyond the crimes tried in court, there were other victims who did not come forward to police.

Around half the victims stayed away from the trial, with some complaining they were mistreated when trying to file criminal reports or even told they were lying.

“I’ve been reliving this rape for 22 years, it’s torture,” one woman told the court.

Expert testimony suggested Scala’s frustration at what he felt was a lack of recognition in his personal, professional and sporting lives — he also coached a local football team — may have contributed to a desire to dominate and inflict terror on others.

But the defendant himself said it would be “impossible” for him to reoffend if released from prison.

“I’ve caused too much unhappiness around me. When I attacked those people, I didn’t realise how serious the things I was doing were,” he told the court.

– ‘Hunter’ –

Between 1988 and 2018, Scala’s youngest victim was 13, the oldest 48, and most were attacked the same way — surprised on deserted streets on early winter mornings, strangled and dragged into nearby bushes or trees.

Police began their search in November 1996, when a 28-year-old woman said she was raped alongside a motorway near Maubeuge. Investigators found the attacker’s DNA at the scene but found no matches in police databases.

Other attacks followed, with more than 15 alleged victims over two years, but then reports of similar cases suddenly stopped.

Despite increased patrols, the assailant was never found and the case was closed in 2003.

Three years later a new series of assaults in Belgium relaunched the inquiry, and police began to suspect that other earlier cases in the area might be linked to the same man.

It was only in February 2018, when a teenager was assaulted in Erquelinnes, Belgium, that video surveillance cameras revealed a Peugeot car at the scene, and Scala was arrested a few weeks later.

A knife, gloves and cords that could serve as garrottes were found during searches, and DNA matches were made at several of the crime scenes.

After his arrest he told investigators how he carried out his attacks.

“I hung around… I watched where women would pass by,” he said. “I have the nature of a hunter.”
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This handout photo provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention was taken in 1997 during an investigation into an outbreak of monkeypox, which took place in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), and depicts the dorsal surfaces of a monkeypox case in a patient who was displaying the appearance of the characteristic rash during its recuperative stage. (Photo by Brian W.J. Mahy / Centers for Disease Control and Prevention / AFP)

The World Health Organization called on Friday for ‘urgent’ action to prevent the spread of monkeypox in Europe, noting that cases had tripled there over the past two weeks.

“Today, I am intensifying my call for governments and civil society to scale up efforts … to prevent monkeypox from establishing itself across a growing geographical area,” WHO Regional Director for Europe, Hans Henri Kluge said.

“Urgent and coordinated action is imperative if we are to turn a corner in the race to reverse the ongoing spread of this disease.”

Since early May, a surge in monkeypox cases has been detected outside West and Central African countries where the viral disease is endemic.

Ninety percent of all laboratory-confirmed cases registered worldwide — or 4,500 infections — are in Europe, Kluge said.

Thirty-one countries and areas have now reported infections.

Kluge said Europe remains at the centre of the expanding outbreak and the risk remains high.

The WHO does not think the outbreak currently constitutes a public health emergency of international concern but will review its position shortly, he said.

Most monkeypox infections so far have been observed in men who have sex with men, of young age, chiefly in urban areas, according to the WHO.

It is investigating cases of possible sexual transmission but maintains the disease is primarily spread through close contact.