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A 24-year-old photographer, Olabode Adekunle,

A 24-year-old photographer, Olabode Adekunle, shares with GODFREY GEORGE his experience in the hands of kidnappers who abducted him along the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway after his vehicle had a flat tyre

What is your name?

My name is Olabode Adekunle. I live in Magboro, Ogun State. I am 24 years old. I am a photographer.

There was a report that you were kidnapped along the Long Bridge stretch of the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway. Is this true?

Yes, this is very true. I was kidnapped by Fulani men along the bridge, very close to the Mikano factory on Tuesday (September 6, 2022). It happened around 3.45am or so that morning.

What were you doing out that early in the morning?

My brother, who was travelling abroad, and I were trying to beat the traffic. You know how terrible the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway has been these past months. If one had to arrive at the airport at 7am, one had to leave before 4am. It is terrible. So, I was the one driving one of the cars. Another brother of mine was driving another, in which my brother who was travelling was.

What happened then?

Everything happened very fast, I must say. I was driving and one of the tyres of the car I was driving just burst. It happened close to Mikano factory. Before I got to that spot, there was a ghastly motor crash there, and the person with me in the car and I were still talking about it when the tyre burst. Some police officers were even around the spot. It was just like a dream, honestly. The guys were fast. It was not even up to five minutes and the Fulani guys just came out and attacked us and abducted me.

Before then, I had just come down from the car – a Toyota Highlander (2006) – to see how we could change the tyre or manage it till we could change it. Before I got down, I was telling the person beside me how I thought it was a bad idea to have stopped there. After I checked and entered the car, the Fulani guys just attacked us. There were about three of them at first. So, while I was struggling with them, another one joined them and the guy beside me ran because the attackers came from the driver’s side. I couldn’t overpower them alone as they were hitting me and pushed me down from the bridge and I landed on the ground where others were waiting to collect me. When I found myself in that position, I just told myself that the end had come. I couldn’t struggle with them from that position again. That was how they took me inside the bush. We walked for like two hours on foot inside the swamp and through the water till we got to their hideout which is an uncompleted building with a decking.

The boys who attacked me are very young boys – teenagers! The oldest of them, from my assessment, would not be more than 23 years old.

How did you ascertain they were Fulani people?

They were Fulani people. If they were not, I wouldn’t say so. They spoke their language and they also communicated with clicks just the same way they talk to their cows.

Did they have their cows there with them?

No, they didn’t but with the way they behaved and the way they spoke, it was crystal clear they were Fulani people. They had the demeanour of the pastoralist and it is not something I would just make up.

For how long were you with them?

We were there for about the entire day. They didn’t speak to me or say anything. They didn’t even say I was kidnapped or what they wanted. They just stared at me and smoked all manner of hard drugs. It was such a horrible sight to watch these young people destroy their lives with drugs! After an hour, one of them came to meet me and asked me if I was the one travelling, and I told them I was only accompanying my brother who was travelling. They didn’t believe me so they insisted that I was the one travelling because, according to them, they saw the bags in the car. They also asked if I was a police officer. I said I wasn’t. They said a lot of police officers were looking for me. I said I wasn’t an officer. It angered them and they brought out their whip and began to beat me. It was merciless! They beat me with the stick they use to herd their cows; you can’t even imagine that kind of torture.

After they were satisfied with the torture, they then told me that they had kidnapped me and I had to bail myself with a ransom of N100m. I was taken aback. I told them that there was no way I could afford that so, and they reduced the ransom to N30m. I told them I couldn’t afford that either. So, they asked me what I could afford, and I said I could afford N2m. They said it was N10m they wanted, and it was final. They threatened to resume the beating, but I begged that even if they killed me, there was no way my family would be able to produce that amount of ransom. So, one of them told me that I would not be able to reach out to my family till after six days. I was silent because I was too tired.

Did you sleep there?

Of course, I did on the bare floor with a dirty wrapper they provided. But what choice did I have? I slept there till the next day (Wednesday, September 7, 2022). At around 8am, they told me to pack and follow them. They left the building and went deeper into the bush. They pitched their tent and mosquito net. They carried bags which contained all they needed so it was not difficult for them at all. It was as though they lived on the road. I guess they must have sensed that they might be traced there. We waited till around, say, 2pm, before they gave me the phone to call my family. Before they gave me the phone, they gave me another round of beating, perhaps, to instil fear in me, so I would be shivering when I call my family. They also warned me not to disclose the location I was. I called my parents and told them what had happened. Then, I told them I was at Kara. I spoke in Yoruba. Immediately they heard ‘Kara’, they took the phone from me, hung up and slapped me. I told them I didn’t know when I said so.

Later on, they told me they were armed robbers who were not scared of death. They threatened that if my parents did not bring the money, they would transfer me to a place called Mafia and to Zaria. They later said my family should take the ransom money to Ilorin.

How much did they collect as ransom in the end?

After they saw that there was no way in the world I could afford N10m, they reduced it to N3m. My family begged them for N2m, but they said even if they collected the N2m, they would still kill me. One of them said I should pray to my God because it was only Him who could save me from their hands. I was so scared. He kept saying he would collect that ransom and kill or transfer me to the Mafia. At around 8pm, we left that place and went back to the uncompleted building barefoot, where they told me to negotiate with my family. My people told them that the money was ready. They then said they should buy suya (roasted meat), cartons of tin milk and malt drink; packs of cigarettes and lighter when they were bringing the ransom. As we waited, no minute passed without them smoking hard drugs. I was so scared for my life.

Were they armed?

One of them had a gun. The rest had knives, daggers and other weapons. This is something they do often and they were prepared. They attacked us like experts. Those guys know every part of that bush. They didn’t walk like they were confused. They had left footprints so they knew exactly where they were going in that forest. When they wanted to release me, I overheard one of them talking to one of their colleagues on the phone, and they were mentioning names of ‘streets’ they have carved out in the forest. I heard one say something like, “We dey Zaria Road”. With this, it is clear they know every part of that bush.

Did you eat anything?

They gave me that their garri that has onions inside and water. That was all I ate.

How did you regain freedom?

I had even lost hope; I had resigned to fate that I would die there because I didn’t hear anything from my family and I thought they couldn’t come up with the money as they had promised. They just told me to follow them and it looked like they were heading out. I think one of them had gone to collect the money. They called him ‘Sergeant’. The others were called ‘officers’. The money was brought to the uncompleted building, I guess, before I was allowed to go. There was one of them there who understood Yoruba well, but he was also Fulani because he also communicated in Fulfulde. That one is the devil among them. He was ruthless. He was a very young boy but his heart is dark and it didn’t look like he cared about humanity at all.

They just took me to a part of the road and I met their boss. He was the one who told me that my family loves me and they have given them the money. They asked me to clear my iPhone but I didn’t log out on iCloud. So, it is still active on that phone and can be tracked. They returned my SIM card and told me to call my family to meet me at Fagbems Filling Station, around OPIC.

Did they drop you off there?

No, they didn’t do that. They simply led me to a bush path and told me to walk straight through the water path till I see Fagbems. That was what I did. Before I knew it, I could see the block industry. It was not up to 30 minutes before I got to the bus stop. One of them was kind enough to give me N3,000 as transport fare. This was around 3.40am when I checked my iPhone to clear it on their instruction.

How have you coped with the trauma?

Honestly, this Lagos-Ibadan Expressway is a deadly road. It is not new that that place has become a den of ruthless terrorists. I messed up big time! I shouldn’t have stopped when the tyre went flat. I should have managed it. Stopping was the window I gave them. I have had a similar experience on that bridge before when these same terrorists came out to rob passengers during traffic. I had to run for my life. I jumped down from the bus that day and ran. I was driving this time and there was nothing I would have done.

Did you report this to the police when you regained the freedom, to share your experience?

Yes, I have, together with my family. The car was even parked at the police station before we bailed it. It was my dad’s car I drove, not mine. The terrorists had broken the glass that day. Everyone should just be cautious on that road especially at night and early in the morning. If you have a flat tyre, just keep moving. If the car is bad, leave it and run as fast as your legs can carry you till you get to safety. It has now become a deathtrap.

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Swedish Scientist and 2022 Nobel Prize Winner in Physiology, Svante Paabo,

A 67-year-old Swedish scientist, Svante Paabo, won the 2022 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine on Monday.

Paabo became a Nobel laureate following his outstanding years of discovery work of extracting deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) from 40,000-year-old bones.

This includes his expertise in sequencing the genome of the Neanderthal, an extinct relative of present-day humans.

He was also able to establish that gene transfer occurred between extinct hominins and homo sapiens.

The Nobel Prize organisation, on its website, said Paabo won the prize “for his discoveries concerning the genomes of extinct hominins and human evolution.”

“Paabo’s seminal research gave rise to an entirely new scientific discipline; paleogenomics. By revealing genetic differences that distinguish all living humans from extinct hominins, his discoveries provide the basis for exploring what makes us uniquely human,” the statement added.

According to the Chairman of the Nobel Committee for Physiology or Medicine and a Professor in Medical Biochemistry for the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Dr Nils-Goran Larsson, what Paabo’s work achieved had been considered impossible.

Speaking in an audio posted on Nobel Prize’s website, Paabo said his work made him realise that other types of humans existed and contributed to the homo sapiens of today.

“Well, it does tell us that we are very closely related, first of all, and we are so closely related that they have contributed quite directly, 50, 60 thousand years ago, DNA to the ancestors of most people today, those who have their roots outside Africa.

And that variation that, sort of, those variants do have an influence, and influence many things in our physiology today,” he said.

While speaking on the possibility of the discovery to alter how humans perceived themselves today, he said, “In some sense, I do think it does so, the sort of realisation that until quite recently, maybe 14 hundred generations or so ago there were other forms of humans around and they mixed with our ancestors and have contributed to us today.

“The fact that the last 40 thousand years are unique in human history, in that we are the only form of humans around. Until that time, there were almost always other types of humans that existed.”

In his reaction to the work and prize, Paabo said he “did not think that this really would qualify for a Nobel Prize,” adding that he never expected to get the call informing him of the win.

“So I was just gulping down the last cup of tea to go and pick up my daughter at her nanny where she has had an overnight stay.

“And then I got this call from Sweden and I of course thought it had something to do with our little summer house… I thought the lawn mower had broken down or something.

Paabo was born on April 20, 1955, and is one of the founders of paleogenetics and a professor at Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology, Japan.

His research investigating how the E19 protein of adenoviruses modulates the immune system earned him a PhD from Uppsala University in Sweden, in 1986.

He’s the director at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany.

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Enioluwa Adeoluwa, also known as “Lip-gloss Boy” or “Beauty Boy,” is a multi-talented individual who has positions as a writer, host, media expert, influencer, and public speaker.

Enioluwa Adeoluwa, also known as “Lip-gloss Boy” or “Beauty Boy,” is a multi-talented individual who has positions as a writer, host, media expert, influencer, and public speaker. Adeoluwa’s climb has been unmatched since 2020; he is well-known for his videos in which he can be seen putting on lip gloss and making observations about his daily life in Lagos.

Enioluwa Adeoluwa, The Lip-Gloss Boy

As one of the few Nigerian guys working in the cosmetics and beauty sector, Adeoluwa is not only expressing himself online like every other influencer, but he is also breaking barriers. He discusses his upbringing, influences, and how he overcame the stigma associated with being femme in Nigeria in an interview with Guardian Life.

What was your childhood like?

My childhood was pretty interesting. As a pastor’s child, I was a church boy, and it was a lot of fun. Aside from the fact that I did some quite interesting activities, like playing with friends, I lived in a very close-knit community in Akure.

When did you get into the beauty industry and why lip-gloss?

I think I started making beauty-influencing videos in 2019. I don’t think lip-gloss boy as a character really relate to beauty influencing. When I do make-up and skincare videos, it’s when I do beauty influencing. That is what I started with. One day, I was making a makeup video and then I used my lip gloss and ranted and it blew up. I wish I could say “Oh, this is the reason why it was lip-gloss and this is what makes it special,” but there isn’t any of that, it just fell on lip-gloss and that is how it became lip-gloss. Beauty influencing has always been my love. I learned how to take care of my skin by seeing my mother when I was a child. I think I am reaping the benefits now.

Enioluwa Adeoluwa, The GENZ Superstar

You are one of the few male beauty influencers in Nigeria. In your experience, what do you think is responsible for the stigma surrounding male makeup?

Being one of the few male beauty influencers is exciting. It is such a good opportunity that I am one of the first to do it, but there are new people doing it as well. I feel like there is just this feeling of fulfilment. When I started, a lot of people talked about the stigma, but I am glad it was different for me. I understand the stigma directed towards it, but I feel like that is changing and that is what representation does. Once we hear more success stories related to beauty male influencers, then people will start to become more accepting of it.

What is your definition of self-care?

Self-care is what you make of it; it doesn’t feel like work; it feels like care, because you are caring for yourself. Saying to yourself, I am going to find love, going for a massage or manicure are all forms of self-care, and watching Netflix with family is another form of self-care. That moment where you are feeling relaxed, you are feeling better and you just feel like it isn’t stressful to do, i believe that moment will define self-care for you.

Ever since you have been in the public eye, you have continuously used your platform to advocate, especially for femme men. With Nigeria being a conservative country, how do you navigate through the negativity and what message are you hoping to pass across?

No matter what you do, people are always going to talk, so I don’t see the negativity. Rather, I focus on positivity and I know it is a sort of protection. The message I want to pass across really is representation and what you look like or who you are doesn’t define you. I try to avoid interviews where people ask “femme this and that”. Why don’t you ask me about how you were able to achieve first class at 19 or finish your master’s degree or get signed with brands? One thing that is very important to me is to not let my life be based on one thing. It doesn’t matter if you are femme because it is also being different. Just telling yourself “I can be successful” is fine as long as you aren’t hurting anybody and as long as you are working on it.

Content creation is something everyone is doing now, but looking at your journey, you have done very impressive things with your brand deals. What has been your strategy to stand out in the influencer market?

Again, I would say it isn’t for everyone. Yes, it is a flooded industry right now because people see that it is a successful industry where you can make money. But if you are still trying to get into it, make a name for yourself and work towards that name, then ask yourself, “what are you bringing that is different?”

With influencer marketing, there is also a strategy. You have to also understand that it is business and be kind. I think people love kind people to the extent that even if they haven’t met you, they can just tell that you are a loving and kind person. That is something about me that stands out.

One fact no one knows about you?

I recently got a dog. Her name is Princess.

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Movie Star and Two-time Emmy Winner, Bruce Willis

Bruce Willis’s agent has denied reports that the film star has sold the rights to his face.

Last week, it was widely reported that Willis, in the first deal of its kind, had sold his face to a deepfake company called Deepcake.

However, a spokesperson for the actor told the BBC that he had “no partnership or agreement” with the company.

And a representative of Deepcake said only Willis had the rights to his face.

Willis announced his retirement from acting in March after being diagnosed with aphasia, a disorder that affects speech.

Deepfakes use artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning technology to create realistic videos – often of celebrities or politicians. For actors that can no longer act, the technology has the potential to be game-changing.

On 27 September, the Daily Mail reported that a deal had been struck between Willis and Deepcake.

“Two-time Emmy winner Bruce Willis can still appear in movies after selling his image rights to Deepcake,” the story reads.

The story was picked up by the Telegraph and a series of other media outlets.

“Bruce Willis has become the first Hollywood star to sell his rights to allow a ‘digital twin’ of himself to be created for use on screen.” said the Telegraph.

But that doesn’t appear to be the case.

What is true is that a deepfake of Bruce Willis was used to create an advert for Megafon, a Russian telecoms company, last year.

The tech used in the advert was created by Deepcake, which describes itself as an AI company specializing in deepfakes.

Deepcake told the BBC it had worked closely with Willis’ team on the advert.

“What he definitely did is that he gave us his consent (and a lot of materials) to make his Digital Twin,” they said.

The company says it has a unique library of high-resolution celebrities, influencers and historical figures.

On its website, Deepcake promotes its work with an apparent quote from Mr Willis: “I liked the precision of my character. It’s a great opportunity for me to go back in time.

“The neural network was trained on content of Die Hard and Fifth Element, so my character is similar to the images of that time.”

However, Willis’s agent told the BBC, “Please know that Bruce has no partnership or agreement with this Deepcake company.”

The BBC asked Willis’s agent whether he had ever worked with Deepcake, or whether the quote used by the company was accurate.

The BBC has not yet received a response.

In a statement from Deepcake, the company said reports that it had bought the rights to Bruce Willis’s face were inaccurate.

“The wording about rights is wrong… Bruce couldn’t sell anyone any rights, they are his by default,” a representative for the company said.

The confusion highlights just how new this technology is – and the lack of clear rules around it.

AI replacement appears to be a growing trend. Darth Vader actor James Earl Jones has recently retired from playing the famous character, but his voice has carried on. Respeecher, another AI firm, has reportedly used archival materials and a proprietary algorithm to replicate the Vader vocals.

This summer, Disney released its latest Star Wars spinoff, Obi-Wan Kenobi. The show used Respeecher’s technology to reproduce Vader’s speech and even make him sound younger.

AI replacement, however, is controversial.

In April, Equity, the UK’s performing arts workers union, launched the campaign, Stop AI Stealing The Show. Some are concerned AI deep fakes could take work away from actors.

There are also concerns that actors could lose control of their faces and voices.

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