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NGO urges grave punishment for perpetrators of domestic violence

A non-governmental organization, Global Peace Development, has called on the executive, legislative and judiciary arms of government to do everything within its powers to ensure that Nigerian women are protected from domestic violence.

In a statement made available to our correspondent on Thursday in Lafia to mark the 2021 International Day For The Elimination Of Violence Against Women, Executive Director of GPD, Ebruke Esike, explained that women’s rights has been the most abused and neglected despite several campaign launched to create awareness on such practices.

He called on State Legislatures that were yet to domesticate the Violence Against Persons Prohibition Act 2015, and state governments that have domesticated but yet to implement the VAPP law to, with utmost urgency, pass and implement the law in their respective states in order to give succor to so many Nigerian women suffering from Domestic Violence.

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Esike noted that the system of punishment for offenders currently being practiced was not enough to address the grave predicament and called on government at all levels to take proactive measures to ensure that women and girls live a safe life devoid of exploitation, intimidation, and cultural impunity.

“The VAPP Act which was passed by the National Assembly in 2015 was intended to eliminate all forms of violence against persons, provide maximum protection, effective remedies for victims, punishment for offenders and for other related matters.

“It was to serve as a platform for protection of women and girls from all forms of Gender Base Violence such as; forced early marriage, female genital mutilation, human trafficking, rape, domestic violence, and sexual exploitation among others if sub-national domestication and implementation were activated and enabled by State Governments”, the statement read in part.

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Our correspondent reports that, according to the United Nations Children Fund, approximately one in three women and girls worldwide will experience physical or sexual violence in her lifetime.

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Correctional service partners ministry for speedy justice delivery in Enugu

The Nigerian Correctional Service, Enugu State Command, says it is partnering with the Ministry of Justice in the state for robust and speedy justice delivery in the state.

The state’s Controller of Corrections, Nicholas Obiako, said this on Wednesday in Enugu when he paid a courtesy call on the state’s Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Mellitus Eze.

Obiako, who doubles as the Commander of NCoS Enugu State Command, called for collaboration by the ministry and the command to aid the decongestion of custodial centres in the state.

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“I strongly believe that greater and close synergy among stakeholders and state actors in the criminal justice delivery system is key to robust and speedy trials for the inmates.

“It is clear that no one stakeholder or state actor in the justice delivery system can function alone. We need each other to succeed,” he said.

Responding, Eze pledged the commitment of his ministry towards sustaining the existing relationship with the command for speedy dispensation of justice.

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“I appreciate you for the visit as well as request that it will be a frequent one as it will assist both establishments to sort out bottlenecks retarding the speedy dispensation of justice.

“Our close working relationship will further lead to the decongestion of the three custodial centres in the state,” the commissioner said.

(NAN)

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Nigeria best FDI destination in Africa based on facts, figures – BMO

President Muhammadu Buhari’s description of Nigeria as Africa’s most viable and attractive investment destination is incontrovertible.

According to the Buhari Media Organisation in a statement on Wednesday in Abuja, the President’s assertion is based strictly on verifiable facts.

In the statement signed by its Chairman, Niyi Akinsiju, and Secretary, Cassidy Madueke, BMO said that apart from available facts and figures, there are also the factors of the country’s endowment as well as the conscious efforts by the Buhari administration to improve on the country’s investment climate.

“President Buhari’s address at the trade and investment forum at Dubai Expo 2020 in which he argued that the country is the most viable and attractive investment destination is not different from what he had said at three other stopover events in recent weeks.

“His sales pitch to potential foreign investors in the United Arab Emirates, and previously in France and Saudi Arabia have centred around outlining how the business environment in the country is changing as a result of efforts to make it better.

“For the avoidance of doubt, the President said in his sales pitch that, ‘our location, our natural resources, our population, and our regulations are there for all to see.’ He also provided some insight into policies, projects and programmes his administration introduced to support private sector investors.

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“This is not different from what he said about two weeks ago at a similar investment forum in Durban, South Africa, where he also argued that the country is putting in place fiscal, monetary and trade policies to support investments and investors in Agriculture, Mining, Telecommunications and Digital Economy, Banking and Financial Services, Tourism, as well as Manufacturing.

“It is therefore not surprising that ABSA, one of Africa’s largest financial services group named Nigeria among the continent’s most attractive foreign direct investment destinations in its recent Africa Financial Markets Index 2021.”

BMO, however, said it was shocking that at the time Buhari was pitching the country as the most attractive place to invest, some people went to town with a questionable ranking of FDI in Africa.

“We noticed how some unpatriotic Nigerians gleefully shared the questionable data on FDI in Africa from a small, unknown investment bank in South Africa, the same time that the President was providing verifiable information on Nigeria.

“But we want to point Nigerians in the direction of the 2021 AAFMI, posted on the website of one of Africa’s foremost financial service companies which clearly showed that the Buhari administration has not been sleeping at the wheel as far as opening up the economy to foreign investors is concerned.

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“The research done in collaboration with the Official Monetary and Financial Institutions Forum showed Nigeria in third place behind South Africa which retained the top spot for the third year running, and Mauritius.

“And unlike what is being bandied around, the ABSA group outlined the parameters used, as well as country-by-country performance on a scale of 0-100. So this is how Nigeria fared – ‘market depth, 62; access to foreign exchange, 20; market transparency, tax and regulatory environment, 86; capacity of local investors, 44; macroeconomic opportunities, 69 and enforceability of standard master agreement, 100.

“We should add that Nigeria has consistently risen on the AAFMI since its inception in 2017 when it was ranked 6th, mainly because of the success of the Ease of doing Business regime and we also expect further improvement once the Petroleum Industry Act goes into operation next year.”

The group urged Nigerians to always ignore doomsday scenarios regularly painted on social media platforms by those who cannot separate politics from reality.

(NAN)

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Northern coalition threatens protest, condemns fuel subsidy removal

A group under the aegis of Coalition of Northern Groups, on Wednesday, condemned the plan by the Federal Government to remove fuel subsidy, threatening to mobilise the entire people of the region to resist it.

CNG said the plan by the government to increase the pump price of fuel to N340 per litre has continued to elicit varying reactions from Nigerians and civil society organisations.

Addressing journalists in Gombe at the end of their North East stakeholders meeting organised by the group, the North East coordinator of the coalition represented by the Taraba State coordinator, Ibrahim Mohammed, kicked against the planned increase in fuel price.

According to him, the promise to replace the oil subsidy with a payment of N5, 000 stipend each to 40 million citizens is impracticable, stressing that it is ill-intended, saying “even if it will be paid, it will benefit few Nigerians.”

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The coalition explained that they would submit the copy of their resolution to the emir of Gombe Abubakar Shehu III to peruse, having held the meeting in his state.

Mohammed said, “The problems and sufferings in the North today without being compounded by a further hike in prices of essential commodities and mobility are traceable only to inept and insensitive leadership at the national and states level as well as the cowardice of other community and religious leaders who lack the courage to stand up to them in the interest of the people of the region and Nigeria.

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“We resolved to join the move to sensitize all levels of northern society on their duty to support a prolonged and sustained resistance to force government to immediately rescind the implementation of this unpopular, corrupt and inhuman policy within the next four weeks or risk an unprecedented mass action and civil disobedience.”

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BBNaija star, Maria, tests positive for COVID-19

Former Big Brother Naija Shine Ya Eye housemate, Maria Chike, on Wednesday revealed that she has been tested positive for COVID-19.

She made this announcement via her Instagram page where she also appreciated her fans for showing concern about her well-being.

Taking to her Instagram stories, Maria wrote, “My heartbeats, I heard you were all concerned about me. Thank you so much for all your kind messages. Unfortunately, I have tested positive to COVID-19 but I can reassure you, I am doing really well.”

The reality TV star also revealed the troubles she had during the tests, as the earlier results conflicted.

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“I initially had a negative result from Dubai less than 24 hours of coming into Ghana. Upon arrival in Ghana, I tested positive and was asked to quarantine. I got a different doctor that tested me negative again. We had so many back and forth results of positives and negatives. But finally, I have tested positive,” Maria said.

Advising her fans to take the virus seriously, she also assured them that she had been placed in the best possible care.

She said, “Please, do not take COVID-19 for granted, and don’t try to be as stubborn as myself always. I have been placed in the best possible care and receiving treatment. I will be in Ghana until I am fully recovered and tested negative. I love you all and cannot wait to get back to work.”

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Students lament as NASU strike grounds Taraba varsity

Some students of the Taraba State University, Jalingo, on Tuesday, lamented the hardships they were facing as a result of the strike embarked upon by the Non-Academic Staff Union of Nigerian Universities, Taraba State University chapter.

Some of the students who spoke to our correspondent said the strike was affecting their ongoing examination as water supply had been cut off in their hostels.

A 400-level student in the Department of chemistry told our correspondent, “We don’t have water in the hostels and light is not also stable as a result of the strike.

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“Some students who paid their school fees late are having issues obtaining receipts which they must present before writing examination.”

The non-academic staff of the Taraba University, comprising Senior Staff Association of Nigeria Universities and the Non-academic Staff Union of Nigerian Universities under the umbrella of Joint Action Committee had on Monday barricaded the Senate building of the university in protest to the nonpayment of their October and November salaries among other issues.

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Non-academic staff who vowed not to vacate the building until their salaries were paid prevented the entrance and exit of vehicles and staff working in the Senate Building.

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Man kills neighbour over alleged witchcraft in Akwa Ibom

Fear has gripped Inen Community in OrukAnam Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State as a young man suspected to be a member of a cult group on Monday murdered his neighbour and attacked another in the same community.

Our correspondent gathered that the suspect identified as Aniebet Ekpu alias United accompanied by other members of his group allegedly dragged their victim, Udo Mfuk, from his compound and killed him after tying him to a tree.

The suspect, according to a source, moved in the same anger to a nearby compound where he attacked the village council’s chairman, Uduak Okon, and dispossessed him of his motorcycle before fleeing from the village.

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Although, the cause of his action could not be ascertained as at the time of filling this report, an eyewitness, Ntiense Noak, told our correspondent on Tuesday that the suspect had accused his victim of using witchcraft powers to torment his son who had been bedridden for many years without solution.

Noak said, “The gang led by Aniebiet Friday Ekpu moved to the deceased’s compound and dragged him out, tied him to a tree and beheaded him.

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“After killing the man, he went to a nearby compound and ransacked houses seizing their phones and robbed the village council chairman, Mr Uduak Noah, of his new lady motorcycle that he bought recently.”

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British PM under fire over video of staff joking about lockdown party

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson was under fire Wednesday after a video emerged of his senior aides joking about holding a Christmas party at Downing Street last year when social gatherings were banned under Covid rules.

The government has been accused repeatedly of hypocrisy over breaches of lockdown rules and in a major scandal health secretary Matt Hancock resigned in June after revelations that he broke coronavirus restrictions during an affair with an aide.

The video, obtained by broadcaster ITV News, shows Johnson’s then press secretary Allegra Stratton, advisor Ed Oldfied and other staff joking about “a fictional party” during a rehearsal press conference on December 22, with no media present.

In the leaked footage, Stratton is seen answering questions about a Downing Street Christmas party the previous Friday — when the alleged rule-breaking gathering took place.

“This fictional party was a business meeting and it was not socially distanced,” she laughs over joking exchanges about “cheese and wine”.

At that time, London was under strict Covid restrictions and indoor social gatherings of two or more people were banned.

In response to the video, Downing Street insisted: “There was no Christmas party. Covid rules have been followed at all times.”

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Keir Starmer, leader of the opposition Labour Party, blasted the government for its “shameful” actions at a time when Britain was under lockdown.

“People across the country followed the rules, even when that meant being separated from loved ones. They had a right to expect the government was doing the same,” Starmer tweeted, with a link to the video.

“To lie and to laugh about those lies is shameful. We have a Prime Minister who’s socially distanced from the truth.”

– ‘Upsetting and shameful’ –
The leader of the Scottish National Party, Ian Blackford, said the prime minister could not be trusted and called for him to resign.

“Here we have Number 10, a government in London, breaching its own Covid rules and then joking about it on a video,” Blackford told STV News.

“It really isn’t acceptable and I have to say, unfortunately, that on the basis of this behaviour … he should go, and he should go now.”

Some lawmakers from Johnson’s Conservative Party also wanted answers.

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“The No.10 party has all the hallmarks of another ‘Barnard Castle’ moment,” North Thanet MP Roger Gale tweeted, referring to an incident last year when Johnson’s then chief aide Dominic Cummings drove hundreds of kilometres during a lockdown, triggering outrage over perceived hypocrisy by the government.

“No.10 clearly has some serious questions to answer. Fast.”

During the mock press conference, Oldfield mentions reports about a Downing Street party and asks: “Would the prime minister condone having a Christmas party?” to which Stratton says “What’s the answer?”

Oldfield says he doesn’t know as a Downing Street staffer says to laughter that “It wasn’t a party… it was cheese and wine.”

Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice said it was “the behaviour of people who think they’re above us.”

“There are simply no words to describe how upsetting and shameful it is to then hear Boris Johnson’s team laughing about breaking the rules they had made, whilst others followed them and could only say goodbye to their loved ones through a screen,” it said in a statement.

AFP

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Women group ​raises $600,000 to empower members

Herconomy, a women-focused community with the focus of enabling women for success, formerly known as AGS Tribe, has said that it recently raised a pre-seed round of $600,000 for the empowerment of women in Nigeria.

In a statement made available to our correspondent in Lafia, Founder and CEO of Herconomy, Ifedayo Durosinmi-Etti, explained that the organization was making efforts to ensure that Nigerian women are positively impacted in order for them to be valued in the society.

She said, “This year, we unveiled the Herconomy Cooperative Multipurpose Society, which was described as a first step on the community’s mission to owning a female-focused bank here in Nigeria.

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“To fund the expansion of Herconomy, the community embarked on its capital raising exercise. Very recently too, through the AGS Savings Challenge, over 500 women were able to save $100,000 cumulatively in 6 months.”

She further said that Herconomy has been able to reposition itself as a financial technology service provider to democratize economic opportunities for women and even the financial landscape.

“We decided to rebrand this year to Herconomy so that the essence of what we do is easily communicated. 70% of the funding we received came from our community while the rest was from Venture Capitalists and Angel Investors.

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“Due to the minimum floor of $20,000 investment, a Special Purpose Vehicle was created to onboard members with less than $20,000”, the statement read in part.

Durosinmi-Etti concluded by saying that the funds will be channeled towards hiring an in-house tech team, improving on their product, increasing their marketing efforts and expanding their operations.

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Rights abuses: US hits Ugandan military chief with sanctions

The U.S. Treasury Department on Tuesday imposed financial sanctions on Uganda’s chief of military intelligence, Major General Abel Kandiho, over alleged human rights abuses committed under his watch.

Uganda’s military said it was disappointed by the decision and would seek clarification from Washington, for whom Kampala has been a security partner against militancy in East Africa in recent years.

The Treasury announced the sanctions alongside measures against Iranian and Syrian officials it said were involved in repression and undermining democracy in those countries.

The Treasury is imposing a series of sanctions this week to mark President Joe Biden’s U.S. Summit for Democracy, targeting people it sees as engaged in corruption, serious human rights abuses, and who undermine democracy.

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Under Kandiho, the Treasury said in a statement, military intelligence officers have arrested, detained, and physically abused Ugandans “due to their nationality, political views, or critique of the Ugandan government”.

Those detained by Kandiho’s Chieftaincy of Military Intelligence were held without legal proceedings, “subjected to horrific beatings and other egregious acts” including sexual abuse and electrocutions that led to long-term injury and even death, Treasury said.

“In some cases, Kandiho was personally involved, leading interrogations of detained individuals,” it said.

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The action freezes any U.S. assets of Kandiho and generally bars Americans from dealing with him.

In April, the United States imposed visa bans on Ugandan government officials accused of human rights violations and repressive acts that tainted the January election.

Uganda’s military said earlier it had been officially notified of the sanctions.

“…We are disappointed that such a decision could be made by a country we consider friendly, a partner and a great ally, without due process…,” a statement from the military said.

(Reuters/NAN)

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Nigeria will never grow if resources are mismanaged —Special duties minister

THE Minister of Special Duties and Intergovernmental Affairs, Senator George Akume, has charged local government chairmen to imbibe the culture of accountability and good governance for effective service delivery.

He said the country will not prosper if it continues to sustain a system that allows a quarter of her resources to be mismanaged by a few.

Akume said this on Tuesday at a two-day National Retreat for Local Government Chairmen in Nigeria which was held in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State, with the theme, ‘Good Governance, Resource Mobilisation and Financial Management for Rural Development.’

According to the minister, the local government has to be properly organised and allocated funds to provide effective and efficient service delivery for the good of Nigeria.

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“As a matter of fact, Nigeria will never grow if we sustain a system that allows about one quarter of our resources to be mismanaged by a few.

“It has, therefore, become absolutely necessary to imbibe the culture of accountability, good governance as well as prudent financial management for effective service delivery.”

While warning the council bosses against mismanagement of council funds, the minister noted that the third tier of government was created solely to attend to the development needs of people at the rural settlements, stressing that embezzling its funds would deepen poverty.

“The importance of local government as the third tier of government duly recognized by the 1999 constitution (as amended) by the framers of the constitution is deliberately calculated.

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“It is intended to give them access to federally collected resources for enhancement of their wellbeing as well as raising their standard of living.

In a goodwill message at the event, Akwa Ibom State Governor, Udom Emmanuel said the state had maintained good relationships with local government administrations in order to ensure service delivery.

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Insecurity: My people may resort to self-help, says Benue Senator

THE Vice Chairman, Senate Committee on the Army, Senator Abba Moro, on Tuesday, raised the alarm that the people of Benue State may resort to self-help over the worsening insecurity in the state.

He said, “My people are at the verge of resorting to self-help. Communities are ready to defend their people,” Moro told journalists in an interview in Abuja.

The Senator was reacting to the assassination of a lecturer at the Benue State Polytechnic, Echobu Adah, in the midst of three policemen.

The sad incident occurred while the deceased was coming from a community meeting.

Moro expressed concern that the security agencies were becoming helpless regarding the security situation in the state.

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He added that the local vigilante groups were also incapacitated while criminals were sufficiently equipped to torment the people of the state.

He said the local security outfits were also helpless while the criminals in the state were sufficiently equipped.

The former minister of Interior condemned the gruesome murder of the lecturer, alleging that the government had been paying lip service to security.

He said, “The assassination of the Benue Poly lecturer is one death too many. He was coming from a community meeting when he was assassinated by some unknown gunmen in the midst of three policemen. How do we explain the killing of an innocent lecturer?

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“It is like the policemen are helpless in this situation; we have been paying lips service to security. Policemen are not well equipped to confront the situation. We have to recruit and equip the police to tackle the security situation.

” Very soon Nigeria will lose confidence in government with the security situation in the country.”

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Secondus-led PDP NWC holds valedictory session today

The Uche Secondus-led National Working Committee of the Peoples Democratic Party will today hold a valedictory session to mark the end of its four-year tenure which officially comes to a close on Thursday.

The session will be the last official meeting of members of the 21-member body who are due to hand over party affairs to the incoming Prof. Iyiochia Ayu-led NWC.

Outgoing National Publicity Secretary of the party, Kola Ologbodinya confirmed the development in a telephone interview, with The PUNCH, in Abuja, on Tuesday.

He said, “Arrangements for the valedictory session have reached an advanced stage. It will be held as scheduled tomorrow (Wednesday).”

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It was gathered that the body will be putting finishing touches to its handover notes which will include the state of the party’s finances, legal and other liabilities as well as the general state of the party.

The handover ceremony is scheduled to take place in Abuja, on Friday.

The outgoing National Chairman of the party, Uche Secondus, is not expected to attend the session because of a subsisting Court order barring him from parading himself as national chairman.

The PUNCH had reported that the outgoing NWC had on Monday, extended the tenure of all party officials in Anambra State.

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It also upheld the decision of the Kebbi State chapter of the party sacking 15 members for anti-party activities.

The decisions were contained in two separate statements one was titled, ‘PDP Extends Tenure of Anambra Ward, LGA, State Caretaker Committees,’ while the other was titled, ‘PDP Affirms Expulsion of Erring Members In Kebbi Chapter,’ both were signed by Mr. Ologbondiyan.

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Seven students convicted for impersonation, others in Ilorin

Tunde Oyekola, Ilorin

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission has secured the conviction of seven students who were found guilty of Internet fraud by different courts sitting in Ilorin, Kwara State between Monday and Tuesday.

Two Internet fraudsters were convicted over offences bordering on personation and identity theft, an offence contrary to and punishable under Section 22 (2) (b) (i) of the Cybercrime (Prohibition, Prevention etc) Act, 2015 .

The convicts, Fuad Olowo and Adepoju Emmanuel, who pleaded guilty were prosecuted on separate charges before Justice Mohammed Sani of the Federal High Court sitting in Ilorin.

According to the Commission, “Fuad, 21, from Kwara State was one of the 30 suspected internet fraudsters arrested on May 4, 2021 at the Unilorin gate Hostel, Tanke Area, Ilorin during a sting operation by operatives of the Ilorin Zonal Command of the EFCC.

“Investigation revealed that the 400Level Plant Biology student of University of Ilorin presented himself as an American Musician; Rick Ross, to deceive unsuspecting victims.

“On the other hand, Adepoju from Ekiti State, was accused of using the identity of one Kelvin Montalvo, while presenting himself as a military and a gym instructor living in Carlifonia to deceive his victims.

“Upon arraignment, Fuad and Adepoju pleaded guilty to the charge.

“Following the plea of guilty entered by the defendants, prosecuting counsel, Andrew Akoja, urged the Court to consider the extra-judicial statements of the defendants, the guilty plea and exhibits tendered through the investigating officer as well as the provisions of the law to convict the defendants.

“Justice Sani, after evaluating the facts and the evidence placed before the court, pronounced the duo of Fuad and Adepoju guilty.

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“The judge sentenced Fuad to six months imprisonment on each count, to run concurrently with N200,000 option of fine on each on the two counts. The court also ordered the forfeiture of iphone XR used as instrument of the crime to the Federal Government.

“In the same vein, Justice Sani sentenced Adepoju to one year imprisonment with N300,000 option of fine.

“According to the judge, the convict would forfeit the HP Laptop and Tecno Spark 4 phone that were used to perpetrate the crime to the Federal Government.”

The EFCC had earlier on Monday, secured the conviction of five Internet fraudsters, also known as ‘Yahoo Boys’, over offences bordering on cyber fraud before two justices of the Kwara State High Court sitting in Ilorin.

The convicts: Adeniyi Samson, Ezekuse Somtochukwu, Nwadei Oluwapelumi, Ibrahim Mobolaji and Akinola Kasumu were prosecuted on separate charge of two counts each except for Kasumu that was tried on a lone count.

According to the Commission, “The defendants, upon arraignment pleaded guilty to the charge when it was read to them.

“While Samson, Somtochukwu and Oluwapelumi were prosecuted before Justice Mahmud Abdulgafar, Mobolaji and Kasumu were tried before Justice Adenike Akinpelu of the State High Court, Ilorin.

“Delivering judgment, Justice Abdulgafar found the trio of Samson, Somtochukwu and Oluwapelumi guilty on each of the two counts against them. The judge thereafter sentenced the trio to six months imprisonment on each count, to run concurrently.

“However, Samson, a 300L varsity student, would have his sentence suspended. Nonetheless, he would forfeit $300 (Three Hundred Dollars) found to be proceed of the crime to the Federal Government.

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“On the other hand, the judge ordered the forfeiture of Somtochukwu’s Iphone 11 which was used to perpetrate the crime and a manager’s cheque of N261,00 (Two Hundred and Sixty-One Naira Only) raised as restitution to the victim with the sum of $500 (Five Hundred USD), which he benefited from the crime to the Federal Government.

“In the same token, the judge ordered the forfeiture of Oluwapelumi’s iphone 11, Dell Laptop that was used to perpetrate the crime and the sum of $170 (One Hundred Seventy USD) which he benefited from the crime to the Federal Government.

“Similarly, Justice Akinpelu imposed a prison term of six months on Mobolaji on each of the two counts with option of fine of N100,000 on each count. According to the judge, the convict would forfeit iphone 12 promax, which he used as instrument to perpetrate the crime and the sum of $2000 (Two Thousand Dollars) which he benefitted from the crime as well as the draft of N200,000 raised as restitution to the victim.

“In the same vein, Justice Akinpelu found Kasumu guilty of the lone count against him and sentenced him to six months imprisonment with option of fine of N100,000 (Hundred Thousand Naira Only). The judge also ordered the forfeiture of iphone 5 used as instrument of crime by the convict.”

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Akeredolu opens seventh Ondo cocoa factory, firm projects 17,000 jobs

A new cocoa processing industry, in Akure, the Ondo State capital, Johnvents Industries Limited, has said the firm will generate a lot of direct and indirect jobs for the people of the state.

The Group Managing Director, CapitalSage Holdings, the parent company of Johnvents Industries Limited, Mr John Alamu, said this at the inauguration in Akure.

He said, “It is an automated processing plant, which means that the factory will operate at 98 per cent operational efficiency at full blast. With a capacity to crush over 15,000 metric tonnes of cocoa beans annually; this is one of the biggest cocoa-processing factories in Nigeria.

“We have built into this factory a solid-fired boiler that generates steam and 33KVA electricity supply to reduce overhead costs by over 40 per cent, while also upgrading the factory from 14 pots to 16 pots to improve the efficiency of fat extraction and better processing yield.”

The Ondo State Governor, Mr Rotimi Akeredolu (SAN), who performed the inauguration, said the government would create an enabling environment for the company to thrive in the state.

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“This cocoa factory is very important to us in this state. We are the largest producer of cocoa in the country. It is on record that today’s commissioning brings to about seven cocoa processing factories in Ondo State,” he added.

Akeredolu, who reiterated the commitment of his administration to boosting agriculture for the purpose of revenue and employment generation in the state, said a lot had been done to encourage the youths to go into agriculture.

“Over two million of improved cocoa seedlings have been made available to farmers in the state free of charge. The Cocoa Revolution and Management Agency is doing well.

“We are also working on 2,000 hectares of land of improved cocoa farm for young farmers. Many youths will be working.”

According to Alamu, the factory is well-positioned to positively impact the economy of Ondo State, in particular, and Nigeria as a whole, through its immense contribution to job creation.

“It is projected that this factory will create around 300 direct jobs and over 17,000 indirect jobs,” Alamu added.

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He described the company as a wholly indigenous agro-business incorporated in 2016 to drive sustainable growth across the entire agricultural value chain.

“We are confident that this project will enrich and bolster the agricultural value chain in Ondo State and Nigeria by making sure that the economic benefits of producing cocoa do not stop at exporting raw cocoa beans – a trend that has robbed us of the opportunity to milk out as much value as possible from being the producers,” he said.

The Deji of Akure Kingdom, Oba Aladetoyinbo Aladelusi, said the entire Akure land was delighted with the establishment of the company in his domain.

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Remove Nigeria, others from red list, Archbishop of Canterbury tells UK govt

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, has urged the British government to remove Nigeria and other countries from its red list.

There has been outrage over the inclusion of Nigeria, South Africa and other African countries on the United Kingdom’s red list over the Omicron variant of the COVID-19 virus.

In a series of tweets on Tuesday, the Archbishop said the UK should avoid ‘travel apartheid’, echoing the words of the Nigerian High Commissioner to the UK, Ambassador Sarafa Isola.

He wrote, “With Omicron set to become the dominant variant in the UK, I appeal to the British government to remove Nigeria and South Africa from the red list – together with all other countries currently on it.

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“We must find fair and effective approaches for those who are vaccinated and tested to enter the UK. I agree with the Nigerian High Commissioner to the UK – we cannot have ‘travel apartheid’.”

Welby also stated that it was morally wrong to punish countries that are transparent with their discoveries regarding COVID-19.

He, however, canvassed for vaccine equity and condemned the hoarding of doses urging for cooperation to get vaccines to countries that need it the most.

“It is also morally wrong – and self-defeating – effectively to punish other nations for being transparent when they discover new Covid variants, as Archbishop of Cape Town (Thabo Makgoba) has said.

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“The only route out of this pandemic is vaccine equity. We must end vaccine nationalism and stockpiling. We must get vaccines distributed in countries that need them the most. The choice is vaccine nationalism or human solidarity,” the Archbishop added.

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