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Saturday, 24 June 2017

A group of armed men in Ife, Mkpat Enin Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State, have killed a preacher, popularly known as Nnamani.

The hoodlums also shot and chopped off one Sunday Akpan’s left buttock.
It was learnt that the village hooligans had threatened few days earlier to deal with the preacher for ‘disturbing them with message about repentance.’

The Village Head, Chief Saturday Isemin, a retired assistant superintendent of police, told Southern City News in Ife on Thursday that the gangsters dragged the preacher to a bush near the back of a primary school in the night, where they killed him and hid his corpse.

“People saw some of those hooligans drag the preacher in the night to a bush where they killed him and hid his corpse. Since that time, nobody has said anything about the killing of the innocent man.
“His offence was that he used to disturb them with his preaching. They said that he would be going around asking people to give their lives to Christ,” he said.

Speaking on the attack on Akpan, the village head said he had been admitted in Etinan General Hospital, where he was receiving treatment.

He said Akpan could not sit on the bed except by lying down as his buttock had been cut off by the gang men.

Isemin said the problem started in the village when the youths locked and beat up the elders who were having an executive council meeting in the hall.

He added that a security guard who had the keys to the premises was severely beaten up and later they placed a table on his head on which one hefty member of the gang sat.

Speaking also, the youth president of Ife Town, Mr. Tony Akpan, said the police in the area had compromised as the boys wield guns at their presence.He added that the policemen know the hoodlums by name.

He said, “There have been series of problems in our community starting from August 12 last year. We were at executive meeting at the council hall. The meeting started at 7am and after saying the prayer, we saw two men.
“Barely had the meeting started when the two men left and mobilised some of their members to our meeting place. They locked us up and gave all the elders, including me, thorough beating.
“We couldn’t call the police as they seized our phones. They carted away N305,000 that was in my bag which was supposed to be given to somebody.
“If not for one DSS personnel that wanted to see one of us by coming there, we don’t know what they would have done with us.
“What they told the DSS personnel was that they do not want us to be their leaders, saying we are thieves.”

The Police Public Relations Officer in the state, Mr. Chukwu Ikechukwu, said the police were not aware of crime in Ife.

He said he would wire the District Police Officer in the area for information on the crime.

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The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, Friday arraigned a Federal High Court judge, Justice Hyeladzira Nganjiwa, before Justice Adedayo Akintoye of the Lagos State High Court sitting in Igbosere, Lagos on a 14-count charge bordering on unlawful enrichment and giving false information to the EFCC.
Justice Nganjiwa is facing trial for failure to disclose the source of the sum of over $260,000 that he allegedly received through his bank account between 2013 and 2015. He also allegedly received the sum of N8.6 million from unknown sources within the same period. The alleged offences are in contravention of Section 82(a) of the Criminal Law of Lagos State No. 11, 2011.

During today’s proceedings, Justice Akintoye ruled on the preliminary objection to the charge. The accused, through his counsel, Chief Robert Clarke, SAN, had filed an application challenging the jurisdiction of the court to entertain the case. The defence further stated that only the National Judicial Council, NJC, has the power to deal with the matter.

However, Justice Akintoye dismissed the application on the grounds that it lacked merit.

"The notice of preliminary objections is hereby dismissed, “he said.

The judge further ruled that the high Court of Lagos had jurisdiction to entertain the matter, despite the fact that the defendant is a judicial officer of Federal Government sitting in the Federal High Court, Asaba division. Counsel to the defendant, Clarke, also told the court that the prosecution failed to attached the title "Honourable Justice" to his client’s name.

In response, the prosecution counsel, Rotimi Oyedepo, moved a motion orally to amend the charges. Thereafter, the accused took his plea.
The accused pleaded not guilty to the charges when they were read to him. In view of his plea, Oyedepo asked the court for a trial date and prayed that the accused be remanded in prison custody. However, Clark urged the court to grant his client bail on self- recognizance.
Oyedepo, in his response, objected to the application for bail moved by the defence counsel, while urging the court to impose conditions that would secure the attendance of the accused in court for trial.

“My Lord, if the accused will be granted bail, it should not be on self- recognizance,” Oyedepo added

Oyedepo further urged the court to grant accelerated hearing of the matter. After listening to both counsel, Justice Akintoye granted the defendant bail on self-recognizance. The accused was ordered to deposit his international passport with the Chief Registrar of the court within the seven days.

The matter was adjourned to October 6th and 10th for trial.

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When news broke that suspected notorious kidnap kingpin, Chukwudubem Onwuamadike (aka Evans) had been arrested in Lagos by the police on June 10, many people celebrated the security agencies that made it happen.

But far less known was the celebration it produced in the compound of the Iloenyosi family of Abagana, Anambra State.

For this family, the news of Evans arrest was a personal victory.

It all began one early morning on November 25, 2013 when the patriarch of the family, Chief James Iloenyosi, was kidnapped on his way back from mass.

His son, Chikelue Iloenyosi, former Super Eagles player who played professional football in France and Turkey, has not been able to get over what happened to his father. He narrated the event that quickly became a game of hide and seek between criminals and the law enforcement agents.

He told Saturday Punch in an emotion-laden tone that his father, who was 86 at the time, was on his way back from their local Catholic church when three SUVs double-crossed him and whisked him away.

He would never see his father alive again.

“When they took him away, they did not talk to us until after five days. They phoned my twin sister. She was sobbing when she called me that the kidnappers had made contact.

“When we the children gathered, my sister called the kidnappers again and they simply told us that they would call back. They did not call back until after another five days just to build our anxiety.”

The N50m ransom negotiation

According to Chikelue, with no idea what could be going on with his father, the kidnappers on the morning of the fifth day called to demand a ransom of N50m.

The routine of begging and pleading for the reduction of the ransom started at this point and after many days, they eventually reduced the ransom to N15m.

Chikelue said, “When we paid the N15m, my father was already dead and we did not know.

“What made me upset was that despite how seriously we worked to get him back, my father did not come out of it alive.”

But upon payment of the ransom, the kidnappers said they were not releasing their victim until the family brought more money. But they never heard from the kidnappers again.

Breakthrough arrests four months later

However, after four months of investigation into the kidnap, said to have involved hundreds of policemen in Anambra State combing the forest at the time, security agencies got a break when a member of the gang that kidnapped Chikelue’s father, a suspect known as Nonso, was arrested along with three other members of his gang.

Chikelue said at the time, Evans was already a popular criminal well known to the State Anti-Robbery Squad of the Anambra State Police Command.

He was said to be a wanted robber known for hitting bullion vans.

“The SARS boss in Anambra told me at the time that any suspect arrested for any major crime always mentioned the name of Evans,” he said.

According to him, the family had to involve a private investigator in the case at a point when there was no longer news about their father’s whereabouts months after the family paid the ransom.

In addition to this, he said a friend of his based in Israel helped to track his father’s line and traced it to a young lady, who said Nonso was her boyfriend.

Chikelue told Saturday Punch, “When we arrested the girl, she said Nonso only gave her the phone for safe-keeping, instructing her not to put it on. We started tracking Nonso. At a point, the current leader of the IRT, Abba Kyari, gave us 18 of his men to follow us to Cotonou, Benin Republic because our trace on Nonso’s line showed he was there.

“We got there and the police arrested a young man, who said he came to buy a car. He said the number was not his and that he only wanted to use it to call somebody in Nigeria. The police had to let him go when it was clear he knew nothing.

“Later we left the Cotonou guy. Again, our private tracker traced him to Lokoja, Kogi State.”

However, intelligence later suggested that Nonso was in Lokoja.

According to him, he and other members of the gang were said to have relocated there immediately they shared the ransom because many security agencies were after the gang.

Chikelue said after identifying the hotel the suspect might be hiding in, some members of the SARS team in Kogi State moved in to make the arrest.

He said, “I was in Lokoja for two months with a private tracker before we arrested Nonso.

“When we got to the hotel with the police that day, we requested for the list of the people staying at the hotel. The hotel staff mentioned a “small boy” with his girlfriend in one of the rooms.

“We knocked on the door and the girlfriend came out. He said her boyfriend was in the bathroom. But I was hearing a sound inside. He was trying to escape through the window but SARS operatives were already stationed around the hotel.

“He eventually came out and said his name was Emmanuel. But I knew it was him right away because we had been able to obtain his photograph ahead.

“But because I did not want him to panic, I pretended it was not him and told the SARS operatives in his presence that the person we were looking for was an older man.

“He relaxed and was going inside when I called him and said I wanted to ask him something. I dialled his phone number there and then when it rang, we took it and it showed the name ‘Kidnapper football’. The SARS operatives immediately pounced on him and handcuffed him.

“I asked Nonso if he knew me, he said he did not. I told him I was the footballer whose number he saved with that name. He then asked if I was ‘General’ – my alias – and I said yes.”

Saturday Punch learnt that as soon as Nonso was arrested, he became submissive.

He reportedly pleaded for his life, saying he would provide any information the police needed.

“He immediately told us that his leader was Evans. But he said there was no way we could get Evans because he had fled to Lagos after the completion of the operation. At this point, Nonso kept our hope alive. He said my father was still alive. He refused to give precise information,” Chikelue told Punch correspondent.

The ex-footballer said he was very hopeful at that point and believed he was indeed going to get his father back alive.

Nonso, who was transported back to Anambra in the company of SARS operatives later provided the police with Evans’ phone line, with which they started tracking him.

When the police team got to Anambra with the suspect, he reportedly began to plead not to be taken to SARS headquarters in the state for fear of being tortured and killed. He said he was willing to give up all the necessary information.

Nonso told the police that Evans was always on the move after each operation.

Chikelue said, “We were calling Evans to pinpoint his location but it was all abortive. Nonso was later made to call another member of the gang called Awolowo to inform him that there was an operation.

“But Awolowo said he did not want to do any operation at the time because his wife had just put to bed. Nonso said Awolowo was part of Evans’ Asaba, Delta State group.”

Suspects refused to confess

The police later arrested Awolowo and two others.

For many days, these suspects were said to have kept mum.

It was learnt that they refused to divulge any information about Evans, which the police suspected was owing to the fact that they had taken an oath.

In fact, one of the suspects, who was on the verge of confessing was said to have suddenly started acting like someone with a mental illness.

Even Nonso’s girlfriend who was also arrested was said to have refused to give any information that could implicate her boyfriend.

“The most shocking thing was that when the police interrogated Nonso, he said that if the SARS ever wanted peace in Anambra, they should kill the lady.  He said she was the one responsible for taking care of the gang and that she helped them buy drugs and collected ransom on their behalf,” Chikelue said.

But he said while all these were going on, his only concern was knowing his father’s whereabouts.

One day, while Chikelue was at the SARS office, he found a sudden ally in an armed robbery suspect called Onyeso, who was detained there.

Chikelue said, “He pulled me aside and said, ‘My brother, you are a good man because you always give money so that the police could buy us food when you come here’. He said he wanted to give me a privileged information.

“He said if we wanted any result, we should take Awolowo to the backyard and tell the police to shoot their gun in the air as if they had killed him. He said the other one would start confessing because they had indeed taken an oath.

“When the police did this, Nonso started confessing when he was told Awolowo had been killed. He said he would take us to where my father was buried.

“We journeyed into the forest for three and half hours before we got to where they buried him. I broke down and my sister who was there at the time fainted.”

Saturday Punch learnt that the late Pa Iloenyosi was buried around Nneyi village in Umueri community.

But most heartbreaking was the information that the old man might have been starved or beaten to death.

When Nonso was asked how the old man died, he explained that it was the fault of those manning the hideout where Evans kept the man.

Pa Iloenyosi was said to have been stripped to his underwear, kept in a cold room and beaten regularly in order to put more pressure on his children.

Chikelue said, “While we were negotiating for ransom, they would call and put the phone on speaker so I could hear how they beat him. My father would cry and beg me to find a way to ensure his freedom.

“We buried him few days after we found his body and started the search for Evans. One of the vital information Nonso gave us was that they were on their way to a robbery when they got information about my father and they diverted to Abagana to kidnap him. So, I was really particular about the arrest of Evans so that he could tell us who in our community gave them the information.”

Chikelue said he was the happiest man in the world the day he heard Evans had been arrested. But he said he was particularly upset when he read that Evans was begging for his life with the excuse that he had never killed a victim before.

“What Evans did to my family was the most painful thing anybody can experience. When I read he has been begging for sympathy, I just laughed. The death penalty for people like him is the only solution. Evans can never repent despite all the second chance he is begging for.”

Chikelue said the police were already aware of Evans connection to his father’s kidnap and murder and are taking it into account in the case against him.

Meanwhile, the Anambra State Police Command says it is liaising with its Lagos State counterpart on the records of Evans’ past crimes in the state.

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Three children have been confirmed dead at the Bulabulin Ngaranam Medical Clinic and several others hospitalized after their parents allegedly forced them to take water drawn from gutters and concoctions.

According to reports, the parents did this so they can be given Plumpy nuts and other gifts donated by UNICEF and other agencies after their children developed fever and diarrhoea and they were taken to clinic for treatment.

A source told Sunday Vanguard:

“Nearly all medicines may cause diarrhea. However, some of these parents resort to either drawing water from gutters, mixed it with concoctions and forcefully injected into the mouth of their children, which eventually caused the muscles of the intestines to contract, leading to severe diarrhea for the sake of recieving food items and later sale them.”

Reacting, yesterday, the Officer in Charge of Ngaranam Medical Clinic in Maiduguri Metropolitan Council, MMC, Sister Maryam Baba Gaidam and the Village Head of the Area, Lawan Mala Modu, Aliye expressed dismay over the increasing cases of diarrhea among children in the clinic.

Both lamented when delegations from National Primary HeathCare Development Agency, NPHCDA, led by Hajiya Jamila Hamanga, Borno State Primary HealthCare Development Agency officials and that of the Local Government Area including officials of the state Project Implementation Unit, PIU visited the clinic.

They had come for the ongoing assessment status and implementation on the pilot scheme of the Nigeria State Health Investment Project, NSHIP and Performance Based Financing, PBF in 37 Health Facilities selected in Jere and Maiduguri Council Areas.

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A middle-aged man, Ailabogie Aikpaojie, arrested by the Lagos State Police Command for unlawful possession of firearms – three pump action single barrelled guns and 250 live cartridges – has said that he bought the arms and ammunition from the state police command.

Speaking to journalists after he and several others were paraded for different offences by the Acting Commissioner of Police in Lagos State, Deputy Commissioner of Police Dasuki Galadanchi, on Friday, Aikpaojie, who also had a pistol with 9mm live ammunition on him when he was arrested, said he had done nothing wrong.

“I’m not a criminal, I wonder why I was being paraded,” he exclaimed. 

In a chilling revelation that turned out to be an interesting one, the suspect said he bought the firearms from the Lagos State Police Command sometime in 2002 when he needed protection.

He said when he arrived the country then from the United States, where he has residency permit, he had security challenge, thus, he approached the then Police Commissioner, who helped him to arrange for the guns. He said he also had a function to attend in his village during the period, hence, he had to fortify himself.

He explained, “I had security challenge then, so I approached the police commissioner at that time. I told him I had a function in my village and I needed to be protected. I purchased the guns here in this Lagos State Police Command (Ikeja). I purchased the three pump action guns here.

“That place (pointing at the armoury) was where they sold the guns to me and this (pointing) box of cartridges. That other building (pointing) was where I did the licences for the three guns and I was given. But the licences are now with the Area Commander; they have seized them.

“Each of these (pump action) guns cost me N150,000, but I can’t remember how much I paid for the cartridges. Can anyone prove that I used it to commit crime? I need the guns for security.”

He queried why he should be arrested by the police that sold the guns to him.

He added, “If the police know I’m not supposed to have these pump action guns, why sell them to me? They brought someone who sold them to me right here on this police ground. In fact, I couldn’t take them out after they sold them to me until the licences were ready.”

As if that was not enough, Aikpaojie explained that as a businessman who has trucks that lift petroleum products, there were times his trucks would break down and he would need to send someone to the spot, saying he needed protection given his kind of business.

He said, “At times, the police provided me with policemen that travel with me, but sometimes when I come here (Command) to get approval for policemen, they hand the policemen to me without rifles, so I tell the policemen to use mine; the ones I bought here. I tell them that although it might not be as good as the ones they use, but they can manage them.”

He maintained that he was licenced to carry the guns, thus he had committed no crime.

Speaking about the pistol, he explained that he bought the pistol while he was in the US. When asked how he brought it in without being accosted whether at the seaport or the airport, he said, “I shipped the pistol around 2002. The gun mistakenly found its way to my luggage.”

When pressed further to know which of the ports, he said it was through the Tin Can Island Port in Apapa, Lagos State. “The pistol was not discovered at the port,” he said.

Explaining how he was arrested, he said that the gun had been in the country since 2002 but that it was when his family members saw the pistol somewhere in his house and showed him that he decided to take the gun to the Police Command to do the licence. According to him, he was arrested on the way.

He added, “I came to Nigeria on June 19. I was on my way to the office, driving, and I reversed to buy plantain when I was stopped. During their search, they asked where I got the gun on me and I told them I was taking the gun to the Command for licencing because it mistakenly came with my personal effect to this country. I expected the policeman to tell me how to go about it but instead he locked me up.

“Yes, I have a pistol. Illegal possession? Yes, but with an explanation. Can anyone prove that I use it to commit crime?”

Meanwhile, the Public Relations Officer of Lagos State Police Command, ASP Olarinde Famous-Cole, dismissed the claim that the suspect bought the guns from the command, saying there was no such thing. He added that the suspect had no licence for the guns.

Earlier, the acting commissioner had said the suspect was arrested on June 22 about 3pm by police operatives, saying he would be charged to court for unlawful possession.

He added, “He could not give a satisfactory account of where he got the Parabellum Baretta Pistol with 9mm live ammunition. Another search in his house led to recovery of three long single-barrelled pump action rifles with 250 cartridges.”

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The popular Liberation Stadium, now Yakubu Gowon Stadium in Port Harcourt, has remained uncompleted till date since 2006, when a group of militants wrote a letter to the contractor handling the expansion.
The contractor, a Chinese firm, China Civil Engineering and Construction Company, was awarded the contract by the then Dr. Peter Odili administration to expand the stadium from its 16,000 capacity to 26,000.

But 11 years after, the expansion of the stadium that hosted some of the Nigeria ’99 FIFA Under-20 World Cup matches, has not been completed. The contract was expected to gulp over N5bn with the sum of N2.9bn said to have been paid to the Chinese company.

The Chinese engineers, who had begun the project after bringing in some seats and erecting pillars, suddenly abandoned the project and fled.

One of the minders of the facility told PUNCH correspondent that workers at the site of the project, who were mostly Chinese, received a letter from a group of militants, informing them that they would soon be attacked and abducted.

The minder, who spoke on condition of anonymity, explained that the contractor and his workers immediately fled the site (stadium), leaving behind some of the materials they had already brought for the project.

He said,

“In 1999 when Nigeria hosted the Under-20 World Cup, the stadium was good; that was why England played here. Ronaldinho and Xavi played in this stadium. Then the VIP stand was covered so that rain would not affect spectators.
“After the World Cup, the then governor of the state, Dr. Peter Odili, said he would rebuild the stadium and increase the capacity by 10,000 and put a cover around the sports facility. All the lighting was removed to that effect and some of the covers were also removed. This is happening after many competitions were held there. Ever since, this stadium has not been what it should be.
“We heard that the contractor handling the project then was CCECC. The company stopped work because of the security situation in the state then. They resumed work and fabricated many seats for the stadium before they left everything and ran out of the state because of a threat from militants.
“We heard that militants threatened to kidnap their officials. So, they left the state then. Currently, there are no lights in the stadium, As a result of this, games cannot be played at night here. The tartan tracks are pilling. The tracks are seriously in bad condition. The fences are broken.”

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Friday, 23 June 2017

Repentant ex-militant leaders in the Niger Delta region, yesterday, urged the Federal Government to avoid fresh crisis in the region by ensuring that the 30 per cent pipeline surveillance money was paid directly to each of the leaders and not through a single individual.

It will be recalled that after President Muhammadu Buhari terminated the pipeline surveillance contract which was given to the ex-militants by the administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan, he agreed to pay them for the period of their services with a view to ensuring peace in the region.

However, addressing journalists in Benin City, Edo State, Awe Akuke, Indian Fineboy Kolotor, Augustine Aboh and others, raised alarm over alleged plans by a few of the ex-militant leaders to hijack the money, noting that same will create fresh crisis in the region since all the leaders were involved in the surveillance job.

According to Akuke, “We don’t want the 30 per cent payment to be given to a single ex-militant leader.

 We, the ex-agitators, particularly those of us from Delta State and other parts of the Niger Delta, note that nobody bought arms for us. We got arms to fight the struggle before dropping them and we are all leaderss in our own right.

“This 30 per cent fund which is already with the NNPC should be given directly to the ex-militant leaders so that peace will reign in the region.”

And if the Federal Government wants to know the authentic Generals they should call the chairman of the Amnesty Committee, Gen. Paul Boro (retd) to invite all of us so that we can identify ourselves.

“The coming pipeline security contract that they want to give to ex-agitators by the Federal Government should be shared among all the leaders in the Niger Delta.

They should ensure that the ex-agitators who embraced amnesty in the first, second and third phase are captured to avoid crisis. We all want peace in the region but we will not accept any attempt to cheat or undermine any body in the sharing of the money.

“The government should also advise NNPC to always invite all the leaders of the ex-agitators each time they want to discuss issues with them rather than invite just a few of them,” he added.

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