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PDP, Experts Condemn Buhari’s Ban On Food Import …Say It’s Plot To Punish Nigerians

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The Soil Science Society of Nigeria (SSSN) says Federal Government’s outright banning of food importation will lead to inflation and further impoverish the masses.
The President of the society, Prof. Bashir Raji, said this while reacting to the recent pronouncement of President Muhammadu Buhari, that Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) should not give “a cent’’ to importation of food.
In a telephone interview with newsmen, yesterday, he described the move as “a right policy, right timing but wrong approach.’’
It would be recalled that Buhari had, last Tuesday, in Daura, Katsina State, directed the CBN to stop providing foreign exchange for importation of food into the country with the steady improvement in agricultural production and attainment of full food security.
He said the foreign reserve would be conserved and utilised strictly for diversification of the economy, and not for encouraging more dependence on foreign food import bills.
The country had achieved food security, and for physical security, “we are not doing badly,’’ the President had said.
But Raji, who emphasised that the policy would be good if properly articulated, however, advised that the president should put into consideration the nation’s food production as well as consumption.
The don specifically noted that the country required about eight million tonnes of rice annually, adding that “currently, the country is producing just about 3.7million tones.’’
Raji decried that the country was not meeting up to 50 per cent of its needs.
“With the outright ban, there is no way the country can meet up with the required 50 per cent in one year,’’ he said.
He suggested that the Federal Government embark on the ban gradually over the next five years putting in place incentives and measurable targets to ensure that the 50 per cent shortfall was met during the period.
“But now the way was going, definitely there will be a lot of inflation, there will be high prices and considering the economy at the moment a lot of people will suffer.
“The president must have been fed the impression that because of the drop in the importation of rice through our ports, the rice we consumed in this country is produce locally which is not true.
“There is a lot of increase in the production of rice locally but there has been increasing smuggling from neighbouring countries which eventually ends up in Nigeria to complement what is produce locally.
“The policy if properly articulated will be beneficial on the long run but is quite clear that we still rely a lot on importation of food and outright banning is likely to bring about inflation.
“It will also bring about pressure on the black or parallel foreign exchange market and high cost of food, especially rice.
“We don’t import yam, we don’t import cassava, beans and we don’t actually import most of our staple food; the ones we import are basically rice maybe wheat, milk, sugar and some of the exotic foods.
“Unless we can produce one and a half times what we required, it will not be a good decision to ban outright importation of food, especially now that a lot of people are suffering economically,” Raji said.
The SSSN president decried that a lot of populace were currently not eating local rice as it ought to be due to series of complaints. He however advised the Federal Government to give incentives in terms of free seeds of the varieties to enable people to eat locally produced rice.
Raji urged the government to consider issues regarding production and processing by buying some of these medium scale processing mills and giving them to cooperative farmers at 50 per cent discount.
“Government should give incentives in terms of input and processing so that the rice can meet the standard required by the people.
“Such incentives will go a long way in assisting the country to meet the required target of rice production and consumption in the next five years before banning importation,” he said.
Raji pledged the readiness of the society to work with the Federal Government to ensure that land degradation and climate change mitigation safeguards were put in place following the envisaged massive farming activities the policy might generate.
In the same token, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), yesterday, described President Muhammadu Buhari’s directive to the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), not to release forex for the purpose of food importation as a move by the Presidency and the All Progressives Congress to punished and further impoverish Nigerians.
The PDP said the directive would worsen food scarcity, “exacerbate the already harsh economic situation and the general depression, frustration, resentment and despair in our country under President Buhari’s watch.”
In a statement issued by party’s spokesperson, Kola Ologbondiyan, yesterday, the PDP said rather than formulating and implementing policies to make life suitable for Nigerians; the APC-led government is taking pleasure in inflicting more pains to its citizens.
The statement read: “It is indeed appalling that instead of bringing solutions to the depreciating living conditions in our nation, President Buhari is rather imposing more suffering by ordering the removal of subsidy on food even when it is manifestly clear that he had failed on all fronts to achieve any level of food security despite the huge resources available to his administration.
“The party says by the directive, the Buhari-led Presidency and the APC have again demonstrated their insensitivity towards millions of Nigerians who are already suffering from acute hunger and starvation due to severe food shortage and high prices brought by President Buhari’s misrule.
“The PDP states strongly that Nigerians do not, in any way, deserve such suffering being foisted on them by such directive on food.
‘Such situation will only breed further despondency among our citizens, heighten our security challenges and put more pressure on compatriots, many of who, in the face of suffering occasioned by APC misrule, are resorting to suicide and slavery mission as options.”
The party counselled that instead of removing subsidy on food and putting more suffering on Nigerians, President Buhari should cut the “billions of naira being wasted on luxuries in his Presidency and free the funds for the welfare of the masses.
“Furthermore, the PDP urges President Buhari to recover the over N14 trillion siphoned by APC interests under his administration including the stolen N9 trillion detailed in the leaked NNPC memo and channel the resources towards food security for Nigerians.
“The PDP states that it is a complete disservice to Nigerians for the government to place restrictive directives on food for the masses, while interests condoned by the same administration are frittering our common patrimony.
“The PDP wants to believe that while Mr. President enjoys the comfort, luxury, sufficiency and safety of the government house, he is barely aware of the sufferings of Nigerians.”
Also reacting, a Nigerian knowledge institution, Centre for Social Justice (CSJ), called on President Muhammadu Buhari to rescind his directive to the Central Bank of Nigerian (CBN), to stop issuing forex for food importation into Nigeria, warning that such restriction would increase the rate of suffering among majority of Nigerians.

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Serial Killings In Rivers: Police Confirm Eight Young Women Killed In Hotels …Nab Two Suspects, Seal Two Hotels, Arrest Staff …Rivers Security Council Intensifies Crackdown On Culprits

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Miffed by the over-reaching reports in both social and conventional media on the serial killing of women in hotels in recent times, the Rivers State Police Command has confirmed that only eight cases of such murders occurred that were verifiable in Port Harcourt City, the state capital.
The police also denied the media reports making the rounds that two women were killed, last Monday, in an undisclosed hotel along Peter Odili Road axis in Port Harcourt, adding that such reports were orchestrated by their sponsors to over-reach the command.
The state Commissioner of Police, Mustapha Dandaura stated this while briefing newsmen at the command’s headquarters in Port Harcourt, yesterday, on the rising cases of murder in hotels, adding that the two suspects that have already been arrested in connection with the killings would be charged to court when investigations are concluded.
He explained that the victims were always rapped with white cloth material around the neck or waist region, which he alleged signified cult action, adding that the suspects usually drugged their victims before strangulating them to death.
According to him, without such action, it would be difficult to kill the victims as the act may attract attention of people nearby.
He further hinted that the Department of State Security Service (DSS) and other security operatives in the state have been placed on red alert to apprehend the suspected cultists and ritualists.
Mustapha insisted that forthwith, all hotel customers would be profiled, with their valid identification cards placed at the reception unit.
“All hotel customers will be profiled. Those with swimming pools will also have expert divers in case of any emergency”, he said.
“We now have a task force, no more short-time service in hotels. Every customer must book full time”, he added.
Dandaura said the essence the briefing was to express the command’s concerns over the mindless killings in hotels in the state, which he said, were giving the command bad image, adding that measures have been put in place to arrest the disturbing situation.
According to him, in the wake of the development, a meeting under the aegis of Nigerian Hotels Association (NHA), being the umbrella body of hotel owners in the state, was called, and a one-month ultimatum was given to all hotel and motel owners to install closed circuit television (CCTV) within the specified period, warning that failure to adhere to the mandatory resolution would attract severe punishment.
The state CP averred that the meeting also took an action to constitute a nine-member task force drawn from the police, DSS, hotel association and the state Ministry of Culture and Tourism, which would be headed by the ACP Operations at the command.
“The task force will, among other things, enforce compliance on the installation of functional CCTV in all hotels, guest houses and motels to cover the reception, corridors and entrances, strict compliance to check-in and check-out procedures, guest identity cards, phone details, registration of visitors, training of hotel staff on security and safety tips in partnership with the police and other security agencies”, he stated.
The CP, however, regretted that despite the huge efforts being made by the command to nip in bud this criminal tendency, some hotel owners were yet to comply with the directives on the installation of CCTVs in their various hotels.
“Regrettably, it has come to my notice and utter shock that some hotels are yet to comply with my directive, hence, my order to arrest the manager, receptionist and desk officers in the two hotels where two separate murders were recorded, and they will be investigated, and if found culpable, will be charged for culpable homicide”, Dandaura said.
“Today, I want to reinforce our commitment towards tackling this menace, and assure you that we have come to the end of these monstrous acts by desperate cultists and ritualists”, he added.
Dandaura appealed to the good people of the state to remain calm as the command was on top of the situation, and would spear no efforts in dealing with perpetrators of the inhuman act, even as he linked the killings to cultism.
“This serial killer will strangle his victim to death and a white handkerchief will be tied to her waist or neck without any part of the body removed. This proves to be cultism”, he added.
He disclosed that two hotels have been closed in defiance to the directives, and urged parents to advise their female daughters to shun prostitution.
The Tide learnt that some women groups in the state, including the National Association of Women Journalists (NAWOJ) and others have concluded plans to stage protests against the ugly development in the state, today.
Similarly, the Rivers State Police Command has confirmed that the lifeless body of another middle-aged woman allegedly killed by serial murderers has been found in a hotel near Rumuola in Obio/Akpo Local Government Area of the state.
The police explained that the corpse of the victim was discovered in one of the rooms at the facility located near the Rumuola flyover, when the cleaners went for house-keeping.
However, the police have sealed the hotel following the incident, which they claim, was being investigated.
The identity of the victim, whose body has been deposited in the morgue of an undisclosed hospital, is yet to be ascertained as no form of identification was found on her.
An official of the hotel, who did not want his name in print, told newsmen that the man who took the lady to the room may not have given his real identity at the reception, as it was later discovered that he wrote down an invalid phone number before checking in.
The source further said that all details, including customer register, have been handed over to the police.
Spokesperson of the Rivers State Police Command, DSP Nnamdi Omoni had told The Tide, last Monday, that measures were being put in place to stop the disturbing trend.
“The command is seriously worried about this development, that is the killings in hotels and we are putting measures in place that will curtail these criminal activities.
“It is a disturbing trend. The last incident was the one that happened in certain hotel in Rumuola. It is still being investigated. We have invited the manager and the desk officer and receptionist and they are helping us in our investigations.
“This killing of middle-aged women with the story we are working on now, I think it is likely to be a syndicate, and I can assure you that we are going to bring them down because it has been always the same style of killing,” Omoni said.
He further said that the police is open to speaking with stakeholders with a view to putting an end to serial killing of young girls in hotels in the State.
Speaking on the development, Secretary of the NHA, Theophillus Koko, who disclosed this when he appeared on a life radio programme in Port Harcourt, last Monday, said already a task force has been constituted to visit hotels and enforce compliance.
Koko also disclosed that the association is talking with security agencies to arrest those behind the killings in hotels.
Meanwhile, the Rivers State Security Council says it was working round the clock to ensure that the recent disturbing killing of young women was stopped, and the perpetrators made to face the full weight of the law.
The Secretary to the Rivers State Government, Dr Tammy Danagogo, stated that over the last few weeks, the State Security Council under the leadership of Governor Nyesom Wike, has put in place measures to secure the lives of young women who have been targeted by serial killers.
He stated that the security agencies have been mandated to work with hotels and their managements to implement security measures that would end the ugly trend.
Danagogo said that the Rivers State Government remains committed to the security of lives and property, assuring that in no distant time, the Rivers State Security Council would end the ugly trend.
He added that the government through relevant agencies was embarking on mass sensitization of the people on security measures, and assured Rivers people that the Wike administration would continue to work for the promotion of security.
Reacting to the incident, the Rivers State Deputy Governor, Dr. Ipalibo Harry Banigo has advised young people, especially women to exercise extreme caution in their social lives,
In a statement in Government House, Port Harcourt, last Monday, Banigo said ”as a mother who has gone through the three trimesters of pregnancy and labour, she understands how it feels to lose a grown up child in such a gruesome manner”.
She also warned them not to follow friends or strangers to any destination or business meeting without notifying family members of their movement, stressing that they must resist the temptation of accepting lifts, food or drinks from strangers to avoid being drugged, abducted, raped or killed.
The statement further advised people to ensure that there is a little air time in their phones to call or send SMS for help in the event of an emergency.

 

Akujobi Amadi & Dennis Naku

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Tribunal Reserves Judgement On Rivers Guber Petition …INEC, Wike, PDP Seek Dismissal Of Case …AAC Collation Agent Confirms Wike’s Victory

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The Rivers State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal has reserved judgment in the petition filed by the defeated Governorship Candidate of Action Democratic Party (ADP), Mr Victor Fingesi against the re-election of Governor Nyesom Wike.
The Chairman of the Rivers State Governorship Election Tribunal, Justice Kingsley Orjiako said that the tribunal would inform the parties when judgment would be delivered.
The tribunal reserved judgment after all the parties adopted their final written addresses following the hearing of the petition.
However, lawyers to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), the Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) have asked the Rivers State Governorship Election Tribunal to dismiss the petition filed by the Governorship Candidate of Action Democratic Party (ADP), Mr Victor Fingesi because the petitioner failed to lead evidence to prove his petition.
In his final written address, INEC’s lawyer, Garba Tetengi, stressed that the electoral commission presented the accurate and authentic results.
He said that the 2019 Governorship Election was conducted in substantial compliance with the Electoral Act and INEC guidelines, and noted that after the collation of results, Wike emerged victorious.
In his final written address, Counsel to Wike, Emmanuel Ukala (SAN) urged the tribunal to dismiss the petition because the ADP Governorship Candidate failed to prove the three grounds on which his petition is premised upon.
Ukala told the tribunal that the petitioner failed to prove his case beyond reasonable doubt as required by law.
Ukala said: ”One of the grounds requires he proves that illegal votes were credited to the winner of the election, which the petitioner is asking the court. There is nowhere that the petitioner showed that Wike obtained illegal votes. He couldn’t show that the results were not in line with the Electoral Act and INEC guidelines”.
Ukala said that the petitioner, in line with the Supreme Court judgment, ought to have called witnesses from the 4,442 polling units to prove that voting did not hold.
He said: “The allegation of non compliance in voting process needed to be proven beyond reasonable doubt. The Supreme Court had already provided a standard of proving no voting and the petitioner would have called voters in each of the pulling units in the entire state.
“There are 4,442 polling units in the governorship election, how many witnesses did they bring before the tribunal to prove their petition as required by law? They brought only two witnesses, one from Okrika LGA and the other from Etche LGA. This means they did not comply. It falls below the standard of the law”.
The counsel said that the petitioner led no evidence to prove that there were corrupt practices during the governorship election, adding that the petitioner’s evidence was lacking in quality and quantity, and so, should be dismissed by the tribunal.
Counsel to the PDP, Chief Godwin Obla said that the ADP failed to prove during the hearing of the petition that the election was marred by irregularities.
He said as long as collation of results was carried out, the petitioner has no locus standi to challenge the victory of the governor, and urged the tribunal to dismiss the petition.
Obla stated that the petitioner tendered certified true copies of the collated results for the 2019 governorship election and made no attempt to prove that the results were not the true reflection of the election, adding that the petitioner failed woefully to prove his case.
Similarly, the African Action Congress (AAC) State Collation Agent for the 2019 Rivers State Governorship Election, Mr Nenye Kocha has confirmed that Governor Nyesom Wike emerged victorious on the strength of the governorship collation between April 2 and 3, 2019.
Kocha, who appeared as star witness of AAC at the Rivers State Governorship Election Tribunal, last Monday, said all through the collation of results, there was no time that the defeated AAC governorship candidate led in the race.
Kocha, who is also the secretary of AAC, said that he was a registered member with party card registration number: AAC8016ONL, adding that he joined the AAC in August, 2018.
The AAC state collation agent told the tribunal that the party had only 418 agents across the 4,442 units in the state, emphasising that as a new party, they were able to clear only four House of Assembly candidates and one governorship candidate for the March 9, 2019 elections.
He revealed during cross examination by counsel for 2nd respondent (Wike), Emmanuel Ukala (SAN) that one Donatus Barikor from Gokana LGA and Henry Iyala from Degema LGA, who testified for Awara as the party collation agents, were imposters and not AAC members.
He further noted that there were no results collated for Gokana and Abua/Odual local government areas during the State Collation of the Rivers State Governorship Election.
The AAC witness said: “We had just four House of Assembly candidates and one governorship candidate. Out of the 32 seats in the Assembly, we only had four candidates. No candidate for National Assembly. We had collation agents in only 418 polling units across the 4,442 polling units in the state.
“No result was declared for Abua/Odual and Gokana LGAs as at the time of collation. INEC conducted the election in strict compliance of the Electoral Act and INEC guidelines”.
The AAC collation agent declared that he would not dent his integrity because of mere politics, emphasising that he was at the tribunal to declare the truth.
He said: ”Donatus Barikor for Gokana and Henry Iyala for Degema were not AAC party agents.
“This is the first time I am in politics, coming from industry I am in politics for integrity. APC adopted our governorship candidate two days to the election”.
Kocha admitted that at the party no longer has a deputy governorship candidate following the withdrawal of Chief Akpo Bomba Yeeh from the ticket.
He said that the AAC won in only two local government areas – Akuku-Toru and Oyigbo LGAs as clearly declared by INEC during the collation of results.
Nenye added that most of the witnesses presented in court by Biokpomabo Awara initially were not members of AAC, stressing that the AAC started in August, 2018 and only prepared for the election two days to the polls after it was adopted by the leadership of the APC.
Also, last Monday, a certified video clip presented by the African Action Congress through its subpoenaed witness, an African Independent Television (AIT) staff, Osademe Joseph, proved Governor Nyesom Wike as the winner of the 2019 Governorship election in Rivers State after the collation of results between April 2 and 3 of 2019.
Osademe told the Rivers State Governorship Election Tribunal that he was one of the producers of the live broadcast of the Rivers State Governorship election results collation held between April 2 and 3, 2019, at the state headquarters of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), in Port Harcourt.
In the video clip played in court, INEC declared Wike winner of the poll with 888, 264 votes ahead of the AAC Gubernatorial candidate, Biokpomabo Festus Awara, who came second in the list with total of 173, 859 votes.
The video also confirmed the collation and declaration of Obio/Akpor LGA election results and non-declaration of Gokana and Abua/Odual LGAs by INEC.
Meanwhile, a serving Assistant Commissioner of Police in Rivers State, ACP Victor Onugbo, yesterday, tendered a document before the Governorship Election Petition Tribunal, authenticating the electoral victory of Governor Nyesom Wike during the March 9, 2019 election.
Onugbo, who serves at the State Criminal Investigation Department (SCID), Port Harcourt, appeared before the tribunal based on the court subpoena on the state commissioner of police.
Responding to questions from counsel to African Action Congress (AAC), Henry Bello, Onugbo told the tribunal that the document he presented was the incident reports of all that occurred during election, and added that the report was sealed by the Rivers State police command.
Onugbo also told the court that the then commissioner of police, CP Usman Belel, signed the documents of the results sheets after declaration of the winner of the March 9 election.
Also responding to questions from counsel for Governor Wike, Emmanuel Ukala (SAN), on whether it was a practice in the police that certified copies of the documents are kept in the custody of the command, Onugbo said all the documents were certified and kept in the custody of the Officer in Charge of Legal Matters at the command.
Onugbo also told the court that he was an observer during the election, and dismissed evidence that the police wwere indicted in the alleged electoral violence in the state.
Also, the AAC has closed cross examination of its witnesses with appearance of the ACP in court.
The tribunal adjourned till, today, for the Independent National Electoral Commission to present its witnesses.
However, speaking with newsmen outside the courtroom, the AAC counsel, Henry Bello, noted that his client has closed its case with the cross examination of the police officer who tendered evidence documents before the Tribunal.
He said: “It is not the number of witnesses you call that is important but the materiality of the evidence given by the witnesses. I am an advocate for change of a lot of things concerning the conduct of election litigation in Nigeria. Most of the things we do in election are basically documentary.
“It is my considered opinion that AAC as with these vital witnesses demonstrated a lot of things before the tribunal. We will await the decision of the tribunal on the points we have made before the tribunal.
“I had 1650 witnesses, I donated some of them to the 1st petitioner and they were able to call 20 out of the 500 we gave them”.
On his part, counsel to INEC, Woyike Livingstone, said “Today, the court has heard evidence from the PW23 in the capacity of the Assistant Inspector General of Police who was subpoenaed to come and give evidence in this regard and he has given evidence to the effect that the report which he tendered as an exhibit which was marked as Exhibit X1 were reports authenticating the victory of the Governor of Rivers State, Chief Nyesom Wike
“He has also given evidence to the effect that the report never in anyway indicted the security agencies or even INEC as an agency.
“And so today the 2nd Petitioner has closed their case and we optimistic by tomorrow when the tribunal reconvenes, INEC which is the commission which I represent will open their case for witnesses”.
Also speaking, one of the counsels representing the second respondent, Governor Nyesom Wike, Dike Udenna, noted that: “The 2nd Petitioner, AAC, a political party, they have closed their case today after calling a total of three witnesses, which has brought the total number of witnesses called by the petitioner to 23. So, it is now for the 1st respondent (INEC) to open and conduct their own defence’.

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Coutinho To Spark Bayern’s Champions League Charge

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As Bayern Munich launches its Champions League campaign against Red Star Belgrade tonight, Bavarian hopes of reclaiming European club football’s top prize to a large extent on the shoulders of Philippe Coutinho.
Following seven semi-final appearances in the last decade, the former Liverpool’s midfielder has been hailed as the man who can take Bayern the extra step in European football’s flagship competition this season.
Last season’s defeat to Liverpool in the last 16 sparked fears that Bayern’s Champions League aura was fading.
The departure of veteran stars such as Franck Ribery and Arjen Robben seemed to confirm the end of an era, but Coutinho’s arrival on loan from Barcelona has prompted fresh hope that Bayern can be restored as one of the continent’s most feared sides.
“There are always big expectations at Bayern and of course the Champions League is a goal,” said Coutinho at his unveiling in August.
Many believe that the 27-year-old can inspire Bayern to their first Champions League title since 2013.
Earlier this month, his Brazil team-mate and Manchester City goalkeeper Ederson told German newspaper Bild that Coutinho’s arrival put Bayern among the title favourites this season.
Fellow Bayern midfielder Corentin Tolisso echoed that sentiment in an interview with Sky last month, saying that the loan signings of Coutinho and Croatian winger Ivan Perisic would be decisive for Bayern.
“Before those two arrived, we didn’t necessarily have a team that was capable of winning the treble,” said Tolisso.
“With this team, we can go very far in the Champions League. I think the title is possible.”
Such expectations could weigh heavy on Coutinho, who is looking to reboot his career after struggling to hold down a first-team spot in a year and a half at Barcelona.
His price tag is also a potential burden. Though Bayern paid a loan fee of just 8.5 million euros ($9.5m) to secure his services, German media estimate Coutinho’s wages at around 13 million euros a year after tax, which would make him the highest-paid player in the Bayern dressing room.
“Those things don’t bother me. I want to enjoy being on the pitch, play in big games and win titles. The numbers are just a side note for me,” Coutinho told TideSports source last week.
The Brazilian has charmed the Munich press so far, promising to learn German and speaking in glowing terms of the welcome he has received at Bayern.
He told Sport Bild that he hoped to emulate the sort of form which once made him a fan favourite at Liverpool.
“I have noticed in my first few games for Bayern that football here is very intense like it is in England. Much more so than in Spain and Brazil. That is good for me,” he said.
Coutinho even claimed he could imagine staying longer at Bayern if the club were to win the Champions League this season.
“That is a big dream for me, similar to winning the World Cup,” he said.
Yet it remains early days for Coutinho, who has made just one start for Bayern in three Bundesliga appearances so far.
He played just 10 minutes in last Saturday’s 1-1 draw at RB Leipzig, with Thomas Mueller preferred in the starting line-up.
Coach Niko Kovac insisted that Coutinho needed time to recover after returning from Brazil following the international break.
“He only had 72 hours recovery time. He will definitely play in the next few games,” said Kovac.

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