Thu. Jun 23rd, 2022

Month: May 2022

Embattled former Imo State Governor, Rochas Okorocha, finally regains his freedom from the custody of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission after meeting his bail conditions. Okorocha arrived Transcorp Hilton Hotel, Abuja, where the presidential screening of the All Progressives Congress is ongoing at about 09:35 pm, Tuesday. Details later…


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The embattled former Governor of Imo State and one of the presidential aspirants of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), Senator Rochas Okorocha has arrived at the venue of the party’s presidential screening in Abuja.
 
The APC presidential screening exercise which started on Monday is expected to end today (Tuesday).

Okorocha arrived at Transcorp Hilton Hotel, the venue of the exercise on Tuesday night shortly after he was released by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
 
Justice Inyang Ekwo of the Federal High Court had on Monday granted the former governor, who was arrested by the anti-graft agency over alleged N2.9 billion fraud, bail of N500 million with a surety in the same amount.
 
One of his legal counsel, Steve Asimobi, had said that Okorocha would be attending the screening exercise of presidential aspirants later in Abuja.
 
“His Excellency, Rochas Okorocha would be attending the APC presidential screening later today. The court has granted him bail. Of course, there were two options, either to remand him in Kuje prison or the EFCC custody pending when we meet the bail condition.


“Hence the judge asked the EFCC to keep him in protective custody, and that is a usual administrative procedure. The judge also ordered the EFCC to return his international passport to the court today with immediate effect.
 
“As I speak to you, the sureties required are currently in court with all the requirements, and they’re processing it. So, once we’re done with these, the judge would order the EFCC to release him. He’s only under the protective custody of the EFCC based on the directive of the court,” Asimobi had said.

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File photo used to illustrate story.
File photo used to illustrate story.


The police in Oyo State, acting on the orders of the Director-General of the Forestry Research Institute of Nigeria (FRIN), Ibadan, Oyo State, Prof Adepoju Olusola, have arrested a worker of the institution, Mr Abaraham Taiwo Joseph over stories published by SaharaReporters.
 
The police also arraigned Joseph, who was illegally sacked by Olusola for allegedly making false allegations against government officials before a magistrate court sitting in Ibadan, Oyo State.

File photo used to illustrate story.

“Joseph was invited to come for a meeting at the police headquarters on Monday, but on getting there, he was detained and around 6 am on Tuesday, he was arraigned before a magistrate.
“They didn’t even allow him to have access to a lawyer. They seem to have finalized everything with the magistrate but he granted him bail and adjourned the case till June 29,” a court document obtained by SaharaReporters reveals.
 
According to the court document, Joseph was accused of working with some people at SaharaReporters to cause civil unrest in the institution.

“That you Abraham Taiwo Joseph and others now at large on the 29th June 2021 at about 1400hrs at the Forestry Research Institute of Nigeria, Ibadan in the Ibadan Magisterial District did conspire with others in Sahara Reporters to commit the offence to wit publication of defamatory message and conduct likely to cause the breach of peace intent to damage the reputation of one Professor Adepoju Olusola and thereby committed an offence contrary to and punishable under section 517 of criminal code cap 38 vol 11 laws of Oyo State of Nigeria 2000,” part of the document read.
 
SaharaReporters had reported how the Director-General, FRIN, Professor Adepoju Olusola embarked on a witch-hunt and victimisation of some workers of the Institute, following a story that exposed how he awarded fraudulent contracts without recourse to procedure and due process.
  See Also Scandal Nigeria’s Forestry Research Institute Boss, Olusola Unjustly Sacks Worker, Believing He Exposed His Fraudulent Acts
A source had told SaharaReporters that FRIN board members were deprived of access to information about all financial and administrative activities of the agency, including records of budgets, expenditures, contracts, appointments, and promotions undertaken under Olusola.
 
Weeks after the story, it was learnt that Olusola ordered the transfer of workers he described as ‘enemies’ from the headquarters of the agency in Ibadan, Oyo State to some Northern and South-Eastern states.
 
Not satisfied, he dismissed Joseph without any evidence of wrongdoing.
 
According to the dismissal letter, which was later published by SaharaReporters, the institute had claimed Joseph was dismissed because of alleged insubordination and his refusal to proceed on redeployment.
 
“Recall your appearances before the Staff Disciplinary Committee of the Institute in respect of your misdemeanour bordering on false claims against Government Official, refusal to proceed on redeployment and insubordination, all these are considered as serious acts of misconduct going by Chapter 3 Sections 3 and 4 of the Public Service Rule,” the letter had read.
  See Also Corruption BUSTED: Nigeria’s Forestry Research Institute Boss, Olusola Accused Of Corruption Intimidates Workers With Queries, Transfers To Cover Up
“Consequently, the Governing Board of the Institute, at its meeting held on 27 September 2021, ratified the recommendation of the Committee to wit
“Dismissal from service with effect from 27 September 2021.
 
“The institute wishes you well in your future endeavors.”
 
Apart from Joseph, many workers were issued queries by the Director-General, who felt they were responsible for exposing him.
 
“He has been using the management to hunt perceived enemies. The aftermath of that publication by SaharaReporters is the victimisation of staff with transfer threats.
 
“Sadly, the board and management haven’t brought a verifiable report of an objective investigation on the alleged issues.
 
“Also, most of us transferred to other states have not been furnished with any allowances to aid our redeployment. When one of us called their attention to this, they issued him a query.
 
“The labour union has been divided and bought over on this. The DG has turned himself into a god in the institute, always intimidating and threatening staff with his connection and influence in Abuja.
 
“Section 130105 of the public service rule maintains that transportation and resettlement allowances be made available before transfer or posting,” a source had told SaharaReporters.
 
SaharaReporters had also reported how Olusola illegally promoted staff members without regard for public service rules.
 
"The Director-General, Professor Adepoju Olusola has been found doing the following; withholding of staff deductions (Contributions of over N50,000,000) to co-operative society for the month of October 2020, as confirmed by IPPIS.
 
"Illegal removal or deduction from salaries of staff (This is done randomly) with no reason, explanation and move to refund (He does not listen to anyone) for same October 2020.
 
“Flouting of civil service rule in relation to the promotion of staff. In the year 2020, a promotion exercise was conducted, and over 30%-40% of staff were denied promotion even though they passed the examination, but he claimed there was no vacancy.
 
“By January 2021, this year, those who got promoted received their letters and were promoted appropriately. To our amazement, by June 2021, part of those promoted and served their letters were given another promotion. We found out that they are his partners in crime in the institute.
 
“Imagine, someone got promoted to Grade Level 11 in January 2021 and received another promotion in June 2021 to Grade Level 13, in the space of five months.
 
“All efforts to have him explain this move proved abortive as he will never give room for questioning. He's above the law and people are afraid to challenge him,” the source had said.

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President Muhammed Buhari has called on governors and other stakeholders in the ruling All Progressives Congress to reciprocate support for him in picking his successor.

 

He spoke on Tuesday during his meeting with the governors before departing Nigeria for Spain.

The ruling party had scheduled its convention and presidential primary to hold between June 6 and June 8.

 

This had followed the Independent National Electoral Commission’s extension of the deadline for party primaries from June 3 to 9.

 

In his address, Buhari said the governors and relevant stakeholders within the party must allow interests to converge and focus on changing dynamics ahead of the convention.

 

He said: "As we approach the convention, I appeal to all of you to allow our interests to converge, our focus to remain on the changing dynamics of our environment, the expectations of our citizens and the global community. Our objective must be the victory of our party and our choice of a candidate must be someone who would give the Nigerian masses a sense of victory and confidence even before the elections.

 

"In keeping with the established internal policies of the Party and as we approach the Convention in a few days, therefore, I wish to solicit the reciprocity and support of the Governors and other stakeholders in picking my successor, who would fly the flag of our party for election into the office of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in 2023."

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A regional quarterly report on Freedom of Expression (FOE) by the Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA), has shown that Nigeria recorded 5 cases of freedom of expression violations.

This puts Nigeria in second place behind Ghana as the most repressive country in West Africa during the first quarter (Q1) of 2022.

The report which covers January-March 2022, showed that Nigeria recorded three physical attacks on journalists and two attacks on media houses. These violations were classified under Arrest/Detention and Seizure/Destruction of property.

Also, a report jointly produced by the MFWA and the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) in 2021 showed that Nigeria recorded over 300 press freedom and freedom of expression violations during the first four years of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration.
 
It is worrisome how Nigeria and the troubled Guinea Bissau found themselves in the same position on violation of freedom of expression, even without a war going on in the country.
 
Meanwhile, Ghana recorded 11 violations to rank first as the West African country with the highest cases of press freedom and freedom of expression violations during the period under review.
 
Journalism in Nigeria and many other West African countries is becoming more toxic on a daily basis as journalists are frequently being attacked by security agencies including police, and the military.
 
On October 20, 2020, during the nationwide #EndSARS protest in Nigeria, operatives of the Nigeria Police Force and military officers physically assaulted and damaged the gadgets of journalists in Lagos, Abuja and some parts of the country.
 
Similarly, on October 20, 2021, journalists, including one Daily Post correspondent, Sikiru Obarayese, were physically assaulted at the Lekki Toll Gate by the police.

Earlier today (Tuesday), police officers from Housing Estate Police Station, Ring Road, in Osun state opened fire on peaceful protesters in Osogbo, Osun State capital, shooting a Nigerian journalist working with The Nation Newspaper, Toba Adedeji.

Adedeji, alongside other journalists, was covering a peaceful protest by demonstrators who were mourning the death of their friend, Abiola Afolabi,
Afolabi was shot by policemen at his friend’s house on Monday, April 4, 2022.

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Miyetti Allah group
Miyetti Allah group

The South-East chapter of the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (MACBAN) has lamented the killing of four of its members in Anambra State.
According to the Chairman of MACBAN in the region, Alhaji Gidado Sidikki, in a statement on Tuesday, the attack occurred at Ndukwenu community, in the Orumba North Local Government Area of the state.

Miyetti Allah group

The herders’ union also said 60 cows were stolen by assailants.
A group of armed men now known as ‘unknown gunmen’ have been terrorising Anambra and other states in the South-East and enforcing a sit-at-home exercise in the troubled region.
The Nigerian government and a section of the public have accused the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), led by Nnamdi Kanu, of being behind the killings and violence in the region, but the secessionist group has repeatedly denied the allegations.
“It has happened again, yesterday (Monday, May 30, 2022), by 7:30 PM, a group of persons well equipped with guns and matchets, raided a Fulani camp at Ndukwenu community Orumba North LGA, killing four persons and about 60 cattle were not seen.
“Our members are being innocently killed oftentimes; we don’t know our sin in Anambra State. As we appreciate the state government under Prof Chukwuma Charles Soludo and security agencies, we also implore the quick intervention to stop killing our people.
“We can no longer move freely now in the state. The 4 persons killed are; Mohammed Idris, Sale Idris, Abdulmumkni Idris and Musa Idris.
“At the moment, the corpses of Mohammed Idris and Sale Idris were recovered while the other 2 persons were still missing.”
SaharaReporters on Sunday, May 8, 2022, reported how some gunmen set ablaze a truck loaded with cows along Uga-Ezinifite Road in the Aguata Local Government Area of Anambra State.
In a video shared online, an eyewitness said the truck was being driven by northerners before it was attacked by the gunmen who set it on fire.
 
However, no casualty was recorded in the incident, the man who made the video noted.
He had said, “Good morning everybody, unknown gunmen just attacked Hausa men carrying cows this early morning Sunday. The gunmen did not kill anyone but they injured the driver. As you can see, they have set this vehicle on fire. This is a full trailer carrying cows.
“Unknown gunmen attacked at Ezinifite road between Ezinifite and Uga. This is live, it just happened now."
The attack came exactly a month after unknown gunmen shot dead over 20 cows and several goats at the Nkwo Igboukwu market in the Aguata local government area of Anambra.
SaharaReporters had reported at the time that some residents who were thrown into a state of confusion following the incident, gathered around the dead livestock, deliberating what could have happened.
From videos shared, some of the traders were seen running, as they assumed the gunmen had returned to attack them. However, they returned when they observed their assumption was baseless.
A man had said, “People can just start running at any time. We are just being vigilant. This is happening live at Igboukwu.”

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Former Deputy Senate President, Senator Ike Ekweremadu may likely join the All Progressives Congress (APC) to contest the governorship seat of the Enugu State in 2023.
 
The twist, SaharaReporters gathered, comes after discussions between Ekweremadu and Governor Hope Uzodinma of Imo State and the National Chairman of the APC, Senator Abdullahi Adamu.

They were said to have held a meeting in Abuja on the terms of the agreement before he would join the ruling party.
 
The closed-door meeting lasted three hours at the party’s secretariat in Abuja.

Sources close to the party secretariat disclosed to SaharaReporters that Ekweremadu requested the governorship ticket of the APC in Enugu State but he was told that the party had already concluded its governorship primaries during which Chief Uche Nnaji emerged as the candidate of the party.

A source said, "The leadership of the party told Ekweremadu to join the party first with his supporters and other positions could be worked out for them."
 
"Although Uzodinma disclosed after the marathon meeting ended that he came to see his ‘friend’ for a tete-a-tete, many however believed the meeting was to probably make a case for Ekweremadu who had already been edged out of the Peoples Democratic Party’s (PDP) political equation in Enugu state."
 
Ekweremadu, who had been in the governorship race of Enugu State under PDP, suddenly announced his withdrawal 24 hours before the primary election, citing irregularities in the April 30 delegates election of the party.
 
To worsen his case, an Abuja Federal High Court had dismissed suits filed by Ekweremadu's followers seeking the notification of the delegates’ congress.

The move by the senator to join APC comes hours after Enugu State Chairman of the APC, Ugochukwu Agballah, rejected pleas by Ekweremadu to be given the governorship ticket of the party.
 
Agballah had described the lawmaker’s demand as “repugnant” and antithetical to the Electoral Act.
The APC chairman further warned that the party would not give Ekweremadu the governorship ticket because the ticket was already won by Nnaji.
 
Sources within the state chapter of the party disclosed that the state chairman, Agballah and the National Vice Chairman, South East, Dr. Arodiogbu had before the party primaries met Senator Ekweremadu, asking him to join the APC because according to them, it was clear that the PDP would not give him its governorship ticket.
 
"They told him to join APC early enough so that he could participate in the party's primaries, but that it would be late if he joins after the primaries and when the party must have elected a candidate," another source told SaharaReporters.
 
Ekweremadu was reported to have told them that he would remain in PDP to see the end of the battle therein.
 
SaharaReporters learnt that key APC members in the state are of the opinion that his bid for the governorship ticket of the party came a little too late.
 
Members of the party are upbeat about the APC governorship candidate, Nnaji, seeing him as more of a technocrat than a politician.
 
Some people see him as a politician who prefers to work behind the scene.

In 1999, he won the senatorial seat for Enugu East under his former party, the Alliance for Democracy (AD), but stepped down for the former Anambra State Governor, Chief Jim Nwobodo. 
 
This tends to portray in some circles as a man not desperate for power.

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The Federal High Court sitting in Ikoyi, Lagos State on Tuesday sentenced a Chinese national, Li Lei Lei, to 24 months imprisonment for mutilating the Nigerian currency, Naira.
Li Lei Lei was arrested by the operatives of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Lagos Zonal Command and arraigned before Justice I. Nicholas Oweibo, on four counts bordering on tampering with the Nigerian Naira note, an offence contrary to and punishable under Section 21(1) of the Central Bank of Nigeria Establishment) Act.

Justice Oweibo on Tuesday found the accused guilty as charged and sentenced him to two years imprisonment.
The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) had on several occasions cautioned the public against abusing the Naira.

For instance, in May 2021, the Principal Manager, Currency Operations Department, Mrs. Dorothy Onyene, urged traders and other Nigerians to stop abusing the Naira.
Onyene condemned the way some Nigerians mutilate, fold, and deface the Naira, saying, “It is a punishable offence to abuse the Naira. Defaulters are liable to six months imprisonment and/or N50,000 fine.
“Improper handling of the notes, including mutilation, hawking, squeezing and spraying money at events would not be tolerated.”
 

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Tunde Bakare
Tunde Bakare

The Serving Overseer of the Citadel Global Community Church, Pastor Tunde Bakare, has boasted that he will defeat former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar, the Peoples Democratic Party’s presidential candidate if he is given the All Progressives Congress’ (APC) ticket.


The presidential aspirant on the platform of the ruling APC stated this to newsmen after he was screened by the party’s National Working Committee, The Punch reports.

Tunde Bakare

Bakare, however, described Atiku as a worthy candidate.
He said, “The screening exercise went very well.

Appropriate questions were asked about how we are going to fix the challenges facing our nation and appropriate answers were given to them.


“By God’s grace, we are pleased that we had something to offer this nation. In this critical moment in our history, nobody can say I have all the solutions. But we did say to them that we will assemble the best, brightest and fittest from within the country, north and south, and from outside of the country, those in the diaspora.

“The time has come for us to raise the foundation of many generations, to restore our path and ensure that our nation becomes great again.”

Meanwhile, it was observed that like the opposition PDP, the ruling APC also disregarded the request of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) to administer drug tests on aspirants.

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Eno Umo and Emmanuel Udom
Eno Umo and Emmanuel Udom

Some residents of Akwa Ibom have accused Umo Eno, the governorship candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Akwa Ibom State of the forceful takeover of some parcels of land belonging to them.

They accused Eno of committing the atrocity while he was a commissioner.

Eno Umo and Emmanuel Udom

Eno was the state Commissioner for Lands and Housing before resigning to join the governorship race.
 
The parcels of land in question, according to the residents, are located at Anua Offot/Eniong Offot/Use Offot/Ifa Ikot Okpon, Etoi, all in Uyo Local Government Area with Survey Plan No. AK/U 175.
 
Four of the affected residents, in a petition written by their counsel, Inibehe Effiong, accused the government of illegally allocating their land to political cronies and “senior government officials” as alluded to by Governor Udom Emmanuel while flagging off the development of the said Emily Haven Residential Estate.
 
They asked the government to confirm to them in writing, within 7 days of receiving their petition, that it will no longer encroach on their land in any manner.
 
“Our clients are bonafide owners and lawful holders of the right of occupancy of various plots duly allocated to or acquired by them as follows: 1. Mr. Kufre Udo Akpan - Plot 86 with Survey Plan No. AK/U.175 measuring approximately 512.093 square metres and Plot 145 with Survey Plan No. AK/U/175 measuring approximately 947.556 square metres.
 
“2. Itoro James Essang – Plot 1 measuring approximately 1026.373 square metres. 3. Mr. Henry Ambros Ekpenyong and Barr. (Mrs.) Aniebiet Henry Ambros – Plot No. 13 measuring approximately 882.282 square metres. 4. Mr. Aniebiet Effiong Robert – Plot 143 measuring approximately 1061.560 square metres.
 
“Our clients’ attention has been drawn to a publication dated 4th June 2021 in Vol. 33 No. 21 of Pioneer Newspaper of Monday, June 7-8, 2021, wherein Pastor Umo Eno, the Commissioner for Lands and Water Resources at the material time, announced via Akwa Ibom State Notice No. 002/2021, a purported revocation of Right of Occupancy existing in the plots numbering from No. 1 – 169, Block ‘G’ at Government Residential Estate (extract) Anua Offot/Eniong Offot/Use Offot/Ifa Ikot Okpon, Etoi, Uyo Local Government Area with Survey Plan No. AK/U 175.
 
“In the said publication, it is stated that the “revocation” is for “public purposes absolutely and particularly for rationalization.” Our clients are bewildered by the purported revocation which in essence, declares audaciously, the government’s intention to grab plots of land belonging to our clients and other citizens and rationalize (allocate) them to some political cronies and “senior government officials” as alluded to by Governor Udom Emmanuel on 1st March 2022 while flagging off the development of the said Emily Haven Residential Estate.
 
“We are by this letter notifying the Akwa Ibom State Government, that the publication in the Pioneer Newspaper is legally untenable. Our clients entirely reject the contents of the publication and are not willing to cede any inch of their lawfully acquired plots to anyone for numerous reasons, including the following:
“1. The government has neither paid compensation to our clients nor initiated any credible and verifiable process for payment of compensation. We are impelled to draw your attention to Section 44 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended) which makes payment of compensation a condition precedent to compulsory acquisition of land by the government.
 
“2. The illegal attempt to grab plots of land belonging to our clients in the guise of revocation for “public purposes and rationalization” is a slap on the face of the Nigerian Constitution. By law, the federal and state government have no power to forcefully takeover, revoke, appropriate or acquire land belonging to private citizens for the purpose of rationalization or reallocation to other citizens. Such action is brazenly illegal, reckless, immoral and unconstitutional.
 
“3. Our clients have not been notified by the government that their plots have been acquired for public purposes. Mere newspaper publication does not qualify for, and cannot supplant the personal notice to which our clients are individually entitled under the law. Sir, as you are aware, there are a number of highbrow residential estates in the State, such as Ewet Housing Estate, Osongama Estate, Shelter Afrique Estate, etc., that have been exclusively appropriated by the elites, politicians and senior government officials.
 
“The Emily Haven Estate was designed for low- and middle-class-income earners like our clients. It smacks of brazen criminality and greed for some people who feel they are politically connected, or that Akwa Ibom State is their personal fiefdom, to now try to use the instrumentality of the state to grab plots of land belonging to our clients and other less advantaged people of Akwa Ibom State.
 
“In the light of the foregoing, we respectfully demand that you should confirm to us in writing, within 7 days of receiving this letter, that the government will not encroach in any manner whatsoever, with any of the above-mentioned plots (That is Plots 1, 13, 86, 143 and 145) belonging to our clients. We have attached the necessary documents to this letter for your reference.
 
“Take notice that we shall institute legal proceedings against the state government if we do not receive your confirmation as demanded. Sir, accept the assurances of our best regards, please.”

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