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Three Chinese miners abducted in Osun released

Three Chinese miners abducted in Ijoka village near Itagunmodi, Osun State, on Monday have been released.

The three men regained freedom on Wednesday.

Although details of how they were freed was not available as of the time of filing this report, the Osun State Police Commissioner, Abiodun Ige, however, confirmed their release in a chat with our correspondent.

Details later…

US indictment: Allen Onyema disowns suit filed at Abuja court

The Chief Executive Officer of Air Peace, Allen Onyema, has distanced himself from a human rights suit that was filed at the Federal High Court in Abuja.

Onyema’s lawyers, A.O Alegeh & Co, in a statement issued on Wednesday, said that the suit no. FHC/ABJ/CS/1446/2019 filed before a federal high court in Abuja by one Mr Johnmary Jideobi was instituted without the consent of their client.

Part of the statement read, “The attention of our client, Allen Onyema has been drawn to news reports now trending in the social media suggesting that an Abuja based Legal Practitioner, Mr. Johnmary C. Jideobi, has instituted an action in Suit No. FHC/ABJ/CS/1446/2019 – Johnmary C. Jideobi v. Federal Government of Nigeria & Ors at the Federal High Court, Abuja Division, purportedly seeking the enforcement of our client’s fundamental human rights.

“We hereby state on behalf of our client, that at no time did he instruct the said Mr. Johnmary C. Jideobi to institute any action on his behalf in respect of the subject matter of the Indictment now pending against him in the United States of America. Our Client has no knowledge of the said action and did not consent to the filing of same. As a matter of fact, Our Client does not know the said Mr. Johnmary C. Jideobi.”

Onyema has been indicted by the US on allegations of money laundering and bank fraud.

EFCC says charges against Diezani not dropped

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) says it has not withdrawn the criminal charges it filed against Diezani Alison-Madueke, former minister of petroleum resources.

The commission filed a 14-count charge of money laundering against Alison-Madueke, Dauda Lawal, a former executive director of First Bank; Ben Otti, Nnamdi Okonkwo, Stanley Lawson and Lanre Adesanya, in 2018.

They were accused of diverting $153 million public funds in the build-up to the 2015 presidential election.

Attempts to arraign the accused have been stalled several times.

Reacting to reports that the charges against the suspects have been withdrawn, Wilson Uwujaren, EFCC spokesman, said it is not true.

He said the suspects, including Alison-Madueke, were charged separately because some of them are frustrating the trial.

“At no time did the commission withdraw the charge, which is still before Justice Muslim Hassan of the federal high court, Lagos,” Uwujaren said.

“The only development was that the commission took a prosecutorial decision to split the initial 14-count charge to enable separate arraignment of the defendants following a spate of adjournments that prevented the arraignment of the defendants more than one year after the case was listed.”

“The charges were first filed on November 28, 2018. Since then, every attempt to arraign the defendants had been frustrated by one excuse or the other. In more than four times that the matter was called for arraignment, it was either that Lanre Adesanya was sick and bedridden in a London hospital or Nnamdi Okonkwo was hypertensive and on admission in a hospital or Stanley Lawson had had a domestic accident and could not appear in court.

“It was clear that these recurring excuses were ploys to frustrate the arraignment. To get around this, the Commission took a deliberate decision, which was disclosed in open court, to separately prosecute the defendants in different courts. This explains why the four count amended charge brought against Dauda and Lawal did not include other defendants, except the two who are at large( Diezani Alison-Madueke and Ben Otti). And the ingredients of the offence stated therein only pertains to Lawal’s involvement in the alleged crime, which is the receipt of $25million from the $153million 2015 Peoples Democratic Party presidential election slush fund.

“The non-inclusion of other defendants in the original charge in the amended four count charge does not mean that have been exonerated by the Commission of any criminal allegation.”

Police ‘shoot schoolgirl’, arrest two journalists at IMN protest in Abuja

A secondary school student was shot on Wednesday when policemen who were dispersing protesting members of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN ) opened fire at Wuse market in Abuja.

The girl was returning from Government Secondary School, Wuse, when she ran into the policemen dispersing the crowd.

A witness said a policeman identified as Geoffrey A. Rafah was the one who mistakenly shot the victim but TheCable could not independently verify this claim.

Two journalists, who were covering the incident, were arrested. One of the arrested reporters is Afolabi Sotunde of Reuters.

Anjuri Manzah, spokesman of the federal capital territory (FCT) police command, was not available for comments as of the time this report was filed.

In July, the federal government outlawed IMN following a clash between IMN members and security operatives.

Precious Owolabi, a journalist, and Usman Umar, a deputy commissioner of police, were among those killed during the protest which held in Abuja.

IMN members have been protesting over the detention of Ibraheem El-Zakzaky, their leader, who has been in detention since 2015.

Border closure contributing to rising inflation, says finance minister

Zainab Ahmed, Minister of Finance, says the closure of the country’s land borders is contributing to rising inflation.

Last week, the Nigeria Bureau of Statistics (NBS) released figures that showed that the consumer price index, which measures inflation, rose to 11.61% in October, an increase of 0.36 percentage points compared to 11.24% recorded in September.

That was the exact inflation rate recorded in May 2018 when the country was recovering from the recession and high inflation rate.

At the end of the federal executive council meeting on Wednesday, Ahmed told state house correspondents that inflation rose due to hikes in food prices arising from border closure.

“On inflation, headline inflation declined every month for several months before we noticed an optic in the last two months. And now headline inflation is at about 11:61 percent as at the end of October. The slight increase in this inflation between September and October is due to food inflation,” she said.

“The food inflation we are ascribing to prices of cereals, rice and fish. And part of the reason is the border closure but the border closure is very very short and temporary and the increase is just about two basis point. Remember there was a time inflation was nine percent and it grew to about 18 percent in January 2017 when we were in recession.

“The relationship between inflation, interest rates and growth is managed by the monetary authorities and is a management that is tracked on a regular basis.

“So if you reduce interest rate you expect more borrowing for investments in the real sector. But at the same time that also has the tendency of reducing money that is used for consumption on a day to day basis.

So it’s a balance that we continue to watch on a regular basis, we expect that this will be moderated as border closure impact fizzles out and also as the monetary authorities continue to support the MPR rate therefore ensuring that interest rates are not on the high side.”

Ahmed added that closure of the border is temporary, highlighting the benefits of closing the borders.

“I need to remind us that the border closure is temporary. We have really advanced in our discussions between ourselves and our neigbours. We expect that the outcomes of those discussions and agreements is that each party will respect the protocols that we all committed to and then the borders will be open again,” she said.

“What we are doing is important for our economy. We signed up to the African Continental Free Trade Area (ACFTA) agreement, we have to make sure that we put in place checks to make sure that our economy will not be overrun as a result of the coming into effect of the ACFTA. That is why we have this border closure to return to the discipline of respecting the protocols that we all committed to.”

Senate introduces bill to establish Electoral Offences Commission

The Senate has finally introduced a bill seeking to establish the Electoral Offences Commission in the country.

The long awaited bill, titled, “Electoral Offences Commission (Establishment) Bill”, 2019 passed second reading at Wednesday’s plenary session.

Abubakar Kyari, senator representing Borno north, sponsored the bill.

It was introduced a day after the senators lamented the violence and irregularities that have continued to mar Nigeria’s elections.

For instance, the just concluded elections in Kogi and Bayelsa states witnessed widespread violence and intimidation of voters and electoral officials.

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) as is currently constituted is not empowered to prosecute electoral offenders.

Even the electoral commission has at various times expressed frustration at its inability to handle such cases.

If passed into law, the legislation will help unbundle the commission as well as help in speedy prosecution of electoral offences.

British Airways flight heading to Abuja loses engine mid-air

British Airways flight heading to Abuja from London on Tuesday returned to Heathrow Airport after the plane lost one of its engines mid-air.

The airline confirmed that BA 083 flight returned to Heathrow and was met by the emergency services as a precaution measure after what it called “a minor technical issue.”

In a mail sent to media outlets, the airline said, “For your information, the aircraft experienced a minor technical issue and our pilots elected to return to Heathrow. In terms of the emergency services meeting the aircraft, this is standard practice.

“Our aircraft returned to Heathrow and was met by the emergency services as a precaution after experiencing a minor technical issue. Our teams looked after our customers last night, providing them with overnight accommodation. We’re sorry to our customers for the delay to their travel plans.”

 

Abubakar Tsav’s verdict: Our politicians don’t believe in God

Former Lagos State Commissioner of Police, Alhaji Abubakar Tsav, says most politicians in Nigeria do not believe in God.

This was contained in a statement he personally signed in Makurdi on Tuesday.

“Our politicians do not believe in God and the nothingness of this world. They don’t even think of death.

“Our democracy is turning into something else. We seem not to know what democracy even means. Many see it as a means to acquire wealth albeit by fraudulent and dishonest means,” Tsav said.

He said unless the courts expedite trial of accused corrupt public officials and possibly convict them to serve as deterrents to others, many would continue to indulge in corrupt practice.
Tsav said public condemnation without commiserate punishment by the law would not deter corrupt officials in the country.

“The fight against corruption has no impact on our people and that is why politicians are still fighting and killing themselves for elective offices.

“If the courts expedite trial of accused persons facing corruption charges in various courts, perhaps their conviction will serve as deterrent to others.
“This will slow down the urge and madness for corruption,” he said.

Tsav further said developments at the just concluded Kogi governorship election showed that it was time for full amendment of the electoral laws to accommodate stiffer punishment for electoral offenders.

He also condemned the killing of the state’s PDP Women Leader after the election, describing it as the most horrible thing he has heard of in recent times.

“I am happy that President Muhammadu Buhari has ordered for a thorough investigation on this dastardly act with a view to bringing all those involved, no matter their status to justice.

“Buhari should go beyond that. The electoral laws should be amended for true democracy to take root.

“My sad experience during my days in the Nigeria Police Force, was that, where government was interested in a case; such case does not see the light of the day. Let that not happen in this case o!”.

EFCC withdraws charges against Diezani co-accused

 

With increasing speculation on the tenure of office of the Acting Executive Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Ibrahim Magu, the commission has recently been sending out mixed signals on its treatment of several persons accused of financial crimes under the Goodluck Jonathan Administration.

While there have always been concerns about the selective prosecution of accused persons by the EFCC, some recent actions by the EFCC have buttressed this perception, fueling the belief that the Commission may be acting a script aimed at persecuting some persons who are believed not to be in the good books of the Government, while letting others off the hook.

A case in point is the recent Interpol arrest warrant executed against the former Attorney General of the Federation, Mohammed Adoke, SAN, in Dubai, which is believed to have been based on a request from the EFCC, even though the Judge who issued the initial warrant, Justice D. Senchi had quashed the warrant since on 25th October, 2019.

Surprisingly, while the EFCC has gone ahead to seek Mr. Adoke’s extradition based on the quashed warrant, it has continued to develop cold feet with respect to Diezani’s extradition to Nigeria to face trial.

Prior to the arrest of Mr. Adoke in Dubai on 11th November, 2019, the EFCC had in a surprising twist withdrawn all charges against three accused persons Nnamdi Okonkwo, Managing Director, Fidelity Bank, Lanre Adesanya, former Executive Director, Sterling Bank and Stanley Lawson, former Group Executive Director, NNPC, regarding the alleged transfer of US$153 million.

While the charges allege, that the transfer was done on behalf of Mrs. Diezani Allison Madueke, they do not show any nexus between the accused persons and in particular, Mr. Dauda Lawal and Diezani.

Although, this is the only case in which Diezani has been directly mentioned, the EFCC is yet to formally arraign any of the accused persons, since it first filed the charges in November, 2018. Yet at the last sitting of the Court on 5th November, 2019, the Commission surprisingly withdrew charges against the principal accused persons and only charged the former Executive Director, First Bank, Mr. Dauda Lawal with sundry charges of money laundering in an amended charge sighted by our correspondent.

Mr. Lawal’s case in particular, is quite intriguing, as he is not accused of been a beneficiary of any the funds allegedly transferred on behalf of Diezani, rather he is accused of having facilitated the transfer of the funds in the course of normal banking operations.

Mr. Lawal was the Executive Director, Public Sector at First Bank, in which role he was responsible for dealing with government agencies and officials and it is believed that his close relations with top officials in the Goodluck Jonathan administration is the reason for his current travails with the EFCC.

Mr. Lawal was first arrested by EFCC in May, 2016, where he spent weeks with the EFCC and was subsequently released without any charges. After resigning from First Bank, he joined politics and declared his intention to run for Governor in Zamfara State, it was only after his declaration to run for office that the EFCC revived the case of 2016 and again arrested him in 2018, where he was detained for another two weeks without any Court order.

Since commencing its investigation into the alleged transfer of US$153 million, the Commission is yet to arraign the accused persons and take a plea from them.

This latest action of the EFCC in withdrawing charges against Nnamdi Okonkwo, Lanre Adesanya and Stanley Lawson, but retaining only Mr. Dauda Lawal, has again brought to the fore the inconsistent approach of the EFCC to some of its cases.

In some instances, such as that of Mr. Adoke and Mr. Lawal, the EFCC is seen to be bullish in its approach, while it treats other cases with kid gloves, which opens the Commission to charges of bias, political persecution and trial by media.

In particular some legal experts have posited that the EFCC has no actual intention of trying Mr. Lawal, before the Courts, but is rather using the charges to harass him and deter him from pursuing his claims against EFCC to recover some funds that were wrongly seized from him.

One issue that is confusing is the withdrawal of charges against accused persons who are physically available for trial in Nigeria and substituting them with persons such as Ben Otti and Diezani Allison Madueke who are both stated on the charges to be at large and are therefore not available for trial.

It is even more curious that Nnamdi Okonkwo, Lanre Adesanya and Stanley Lawson and Dauda Lawal were charged with the same offences, yet the others were discharged from the case, while fresh charges were filed against Dauda Lawal.

The EFCC is a body funded by taxpayers and the burden of transparency and responsibility is on the Commission to prove that they have not truly become an agent of witch-hunt and for settling personal scores.

It is therefore widely believed that this recent act of the EFCC in Diezani’s case and others will only fuel the belief that the EFCC may be subject to political and extraneous influence in its choice of persons to prosecute for alleged financial crimes, while letting others with even worse allegations off the hook.

Political watchers are of the view that Mr. Magu is acting out a script towards achieving a particular end and that time will reveal all.

Senate invites NNPC, LNG over Brass project

…wants upgrade of Ibadan domestic airport

The Senate on Tuesday invited the management of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and the Brass LNG to brief the Committee on Gas on the extent of implementation of the LNG project in Brass Island, Bayelsa State.

The decision was reached sequel to the consideration of a motion sponsored by Senator Biobarakuma Degi-Eremienyo (APC, Bayelsa East).

The upper chamber, in its resolutions, also urged the Federal Government to create an enabling environment for reputable oil and gas companies to take over seventeen percent shares each previously owned by Conoco Philips and Total.

Senator Degi-Eremienyo, in his motion, recalled that the Brass LNG is a green field project established to operate Liquefied Natural Gas Plant located in Brass Island, following an agreement signed in 2003 by NNPC with forty-nine percent shares; and Conoco Philips, Total and ENI International, with seventeen percent shares each.

He added that the Brass LNG project had suffered several setbacks occasioning unnecessary delays in the signing of her Final Investment Decision (FID) which led to the di-investment of two shareholders, Conoco Philips and Total.

According to him, the moribund state of the Brass LNG project could rightly be described as “consciously organised sabotage by several stakeholders including NNPC through diversion of funds budgeted and provided for the execution of the project.”

Meanwhile, the Senate on Tuesday also urged the Federal Ministry of Aviation and relevant authorities to upgrade the Ibadan domestic Airport to the status of an International Airport.

The call was made sequel to the consideration of a motion sponsored by Senator Kola Balogun (PDP, Oyo South).

The lawmaker noted that the presence of an International Airport will complement the activities of the Ibadan inland dry port and accelerate the derivation of the expected socio-economic benefits from the inland dry port.

According to Balogun, an International Airport in Ibadan will enhance efficient and effective movement of goods and people from Nigeria and across the world, as well as reduce pressure on road infrastructure within Oyo and adjoining states.

Criminal Code: Senate seeks removal of gender restrictions for rap

The Senate on Tuesday began an amendment of the Criminal Code Act, 2004, when it considered a Bill to that effect.

The bill sponsored by Senator Oluremi Tinubu (APC, Lagos Central) seeks the removal of gender restrictions on rape offences as well as a proposal of stiffer penalties for kidnapping.

The proposed amendment by the upper chamber also seeks to delete the statute of limitation in cases of defilement.

Tinubu, in her lead debate on the bill, objected to the provision of Section 218 of the Criminal Code.

The Section provides that “anyone who has unlawful carnal knowledge of a girl under the age of thirteen or attempts same is guilty of felony and liable to life imprisonment or fourteen years imprisonment, respectively.”

According to Tinubu, prosecution of an offender under the section constitutes a limitation that should be extended as against the Act’s provision which allows for only two months after the offence is committed.

“This is untenable in a country where investigations often take longer than two months”, Tinubu stated.

“Considering the shortage of Police personnel, relative to our population as prescribed by international standards, the two months limitation is unlikely to be met at all.

“With the development and innovation in forensic technology and the accessibility or otherwise of such infrastructure in Nigeria, rushed investigations with a view to commencing prosecutions within a two month period leave a possibility of a huge margin for error,” the lawmaker posited.

The amendment bill also seeks an amendment to Section 221 of the Criminal Code which provides that “where a person has or attempts carnal knowledge of a girl being of or above the age of thirteen and under the age sixteen, an ‘idiot or imbecile’, he shall be liable to imprisonment for a period of two years provided that the prosecution is commenced within two months after the offence is committed.”

The bill proposes an amendment to Section 221, to substitute for the words ‘idiot or imbecile’, the words ‘mentally challenged’.

According to Tinubu, while words like idiot, moron, and imbecile were professionally used to measure Intelligence Quotient (IQ), they have acquired pejorative connotations, become derogatory and obsolete, and should no longer be contained in our laws.

On rape, Tinubu said the Criminal Code Act, 2004, defines rape in Section 357 as an offence against women.

While describing the definition as “grievous” because it perpetrates the socio-cultural belief that men do not need to consent to sexual acts, the lawmaker noted that “there are incidents of non-consensual sex perpetrated against the male gender.”

Additionally, Section 364 of the Criminal Code under amendment proffers punishment of imprisonment for a term of ten years where a crime of kidnap is established.

The law under the Act defines kidnap as “unlawful imprisonment of any person to prevent him from applying to a court for his release or from disclosing to any person where he is imprisoned.”

Tinubu while juxtaposing the penalties for kidnapping alongside the term of robbery provided by the Criminal Code Act, which is twenty-one years and death for armed robbery said, “why is the punishment for stealing property and replaceable things higher than what is obtainable when you steal a human being?”

“The frequency of kidnap across the federation and its resulting trauma, not to mention the number of lives lost to the crime, make it imperative to review our laws with a view to ensuring appropriate punishment for perpetrators and deterrence for would-be perpetrators,” she added.

The Senate President, after debate on the bill, referred same to the Senate committee on Judiciary, Human Rights, and Legal Matters for further legislative work.

 

13 French soldiers killed as 2 helicopters collide in Mali

Thirteen French soldiers were killed when two helicopters collided during an operation against jihadists in Mali, the French president’s office said.

Monday’s accident is one of the single largest losses of life for the French military in decades.

French President Emmanuel Macron expressed his “deep sadness” over the incident. An investigation has begun.

In 2013, France deployed thousands of troops to Mali after Islamist militants seized huge parts of the north.

Mali’s army has since recaptured the territory but insecurity there continues and the violence has spread to other countries in the region.

France now has 4,500 troops deployed to support the forces of Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Burkina Faso and Chad against Islamist militants.

The Tiger attack helicopter and Cougar military transport collided mid-air on Monday when they were supporting ground forces engaging insurgents near the borders of Burkina Faso and Niger.

Among the dead was the son of centrist Senator Jean-Marie Bockel, the politician told the AFP news agency.

President Macron in a tweet said; “These 13 heroes had only one goal: to protect us.

“I bow my head to their loved ones and comrades.”

Another French soldier, Brig Ronan Pointeau, was killed earlier this month after an explosive device detonated near his vehicle.

In total, 38 French soldiers have been killed in Mali since the country first intervened.

The brunt of the violence though is faced by local forces and civilians. An attack on a northern military post this month left 53 Malian troops dead

Senate receives Buhari’s request for consideration of 2019/2020 NDDC budget

The Senate on Tuesday received a formal request from President Muhammadu Buhari for the consideration and passage of the 2019/2020 budget estimates for the Nigerian Delta Development Commission (NDDC).

The request was contained in a letter addressed to the President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, and read on the floor during plenary.

The letter reads: “Pursuant to Section 18(1) of the Nigerian Delta Development Commission Establishment Act, I forward herewith 2019/2020 budget estimates of the Niger Delta Development Commission for the kind consideration and passage by the Senate.

“While hoping that the Senate will consider this request in the usual expeditious manner, please accept, Mr. President, the assurances of my highest consideration.”

Immediately after the letter was read, the Senate Minority Leader, Enyinnaya Abaribe, coming under order 43 of the Senate standing rules, drew the attention of his colleagues to the fact that members of the NDDC board duly confirmed by the Senate were yet to resume official duty.

According to him, the failure of the executive to swear-in members of the board duly confirmed by the Senate sequel to a request from President Buhari, may threaten early consideration and quick passage of the 2019/2020 budget of the NDDC.

He added that the Interim Committee of the NDDC, led by Joy Nunieh, is an “illegal contraption” that lacks the backing of law to defend the commission’s budget.

He said, “Having regard to the fact that this Senate has confirmed members of the board of the NDDC and they are yet to resume office.

“I fear that we may run into a problem of delayed budget again since nobody will come to defend this budget.

“This Senate, having confirmed the board of the NDDC will not countenance any illegal contraption coming to represent NDDC.

“To prevent a late budget for NDDC that is helping Nigeria on revenue and development of the region, it will be better for us to prevent this issue from coming.”

Lawan, who sustained Abaribe’s point of order in his ruling said, “We are receiving the budget of the NDDC for the year 2020 at the right time.

“This is the first time ever, and this is a good sign that we are operating on the same frequency with the executive arm of government; that we are in a hurry to deal with matters of the budget because it is an issue that will bring about development in the country.”

“As far as we are concerned, this Senate knows that we have confirmed the request of Mr. President on the board membership of the NDDC, and we have communicated that.

“The next logical thing to do by law is for the appointments of the members of the board to take immediate effect.

“I believe that the executive arm of government will attend to that quickly so that we have the right people to defend the appropriation request of Mr. President”, Lawan said.

 

Thieves loot priceless treasure trove in Dresden museum heist

Thieves have broken into Dresden’s Grünes Gewölbe, one of the world’s oldest museums, and made off with three priceless’ sets of 18th century jewelry.

The museum houses one of Europe’s largest collection of treasures.

Thieves broke into Dresden’s Grünes Gewölbe early Monday morning and stole priceless treasures, police said.

The eastern German museum, known in English as the Green Vault, houses one of Europe’s largest collection of treasures.

Two thieves were seen on camera entering through a window and later escaping in a vehicle. Police said there may be more people involved.

Police said the thieves targeted the historic section of the museum, which is divided into two sections — the historic treasure chamber of Augustus II the Strong dating to 1733, and the new section, which displays individual treasures.

The thieves stole at least three priceless 18th-century jewelry sets, according to General Director of Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden Marion Ackermann. She said the material value was low, but the worth from its historic and cultural value was impossible to gauge.

“We are shocked by the brutality of the burglary,” Ackermann said.

The museum’s power supply was possibly sabotaged by a fire before the break-in. The responsible energy supplier confirmed the incident and said it was investigating if the two events were linked. Police said power failure plunged the entire area into darkness, making video analysis difficult.

Ackermann told German broadcaster ZDF later Monday that multiple alarms were triggered by the burglary itself and through motion detectors in the room. Police were notified with the first alarm.

She also said the perpetrators “couldn’t take everything with them because all the objects were also individually secured and were sewn with stitches into the ground.”

The high-profile heist comes after a 100 kilogram (220 pound), 24-carat giant gold coin was stolen from Berlin’s Bode Museum in 2017.

Police said they had alerted neighboring authorities to watch for the offenders and had even closed motorways to search for the vehicle.

A car was later found torched, but police said they were investigating if it was related to the incident.

Saxony State Premier Michael Kretschmer denounced the crime. “Not only the state art collections were robbed, but we Saxons,” Kretschmer said.

“The treasures that can be found in the Green Vault and in the Residence Palace have been hard-won by the people in the Free State of Saxony over many centuries.

“One cannot understand the history of our country, our Free State, without the Green Vault and the State Art Collections of Saxony.”

Across 10 highly decorated rooms, about 3,000 pieces of jewelry and other masterpieces made of gold, silver, precious stones, ivory and other valuable materials are displayed.

The building was damaged in World War II but was subsequently repaired. Since its reopening in September 2006, it has been one of Dresden’s tourist magnets.

(dpa, AFP)

Wole Soyinka reveals how he was diagnosed with prostate cancer

Nobel Laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka, has revealed that he has been diagnosed with prostate cancer.

Soyinka told BBC Life Clinic’s Charles Mgbolu at his Ogun State home in an interview published on Tuesday that he was diagnosed with early-stage prostate cancer in 2014 when he went for a routine medical check-up.

“It hadn’t yet gotten to the stage where it was non-reversible and so (the doctor) gave us a number of guidelines. I say us because he wanted to make sure that my wife made sure that I followed it. He sensed that I wasn’t going to be a very good patient. So he spoke to her most of the time rather than me,” he said.

The professor of English used an advanced technology known as proton therapy, which is said to be unavailable yet in Nigeria, to treat the disease.

Soyinka queried the reason why people go outside the country “to receive the kind of treatment which is affordable in this nation.”

According to the BBC, 13,000 cases of prostate cancer were reported in Nigeria in 2018.

The 85-year-old, however, said that the treatment for him was an ‘easy ride’.

He added: “I don’t go to the gym and I do not jog. I look at people who are jogging on the streets, some of them should go and jog behind walls. They look ridiculous. But I believe that my normal active life is more than sufficient. At least if I feel sluggish, I take a walk. If I feel very, very sluggish, I take my gun and go in the bush and go hunting.”

Soyinka is an advocate of cancer awareness and is on the board of the African Cancer Centre.

Alleged N3.6bn Fraud: Trial of ex-NDDC boss stalled

A Federal High Court in Lagos State will on December 17 resume the trial of a former Director of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Tuoyo Omatsuli, charged with a N3.6 billion fraud.

Mr Omatsuli is charged alongside Don Parker Properties Ltd, Francis Momoh and Building Associates Ltd, as second, third and fourth defendants respectively.

They were arraigned on a 45-count charge bordering on corruption, fraud and money laundering.

They pleaded not guilty to all the counts and were granted bail in the sum of N100 million each with two sureties each in like sum.

The prosecution called 10 witnesses to testify for it.

The suit was scheduled for the continuation of trial on November 26, but was adjourned due to the absence of the judge, who was away for a conference.

According to the charge, the defendants committed the offences between August 2014 and September 2015.

Mr Omatsuli was said to have procured the third and fourth defendant (Momoh and Building Associates) to utilise a total sum of N3.6 billion paid by Starline Consultancy Services Ltd. into an account operated by Building Associates.

The prosecution said that the defendants ought to have known that the sums formed part of proceeds of unlawful activities, including corruption and gratification.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the alleged offences contravene the provisions of Sections 15(1), 15(2), 15(3) and 18 of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2011, as amended by Act No 1 of 2012.

(NAN)

EFCC arrests Kirikiri prison boss, doctor

The head of one of Nigeria’s largest prisons and the medical doctor at the prison have been arrested.

Emmanuel Oluwaniyi and Hemeson Edwin were arrested by the anti-graft agency, EFCC, for “allegedly giving exaggerated medical reports that warranted a convicted internet fraudster, Hope Aroke, who is serving a 24-year jail term, being given a referral to be treated outside the facility.”

Both men are Deputy Controllers (DC) of the Nigerian Correctional Service (NCS).

Mr Oluwaniyi is the Controller, Kirikiri Maximum Prison,while Mr Edwin is the head of the medical facility in the prison.

Media outlets last week reported how the EFCC said Mr Aroke despite currently serving his jail term in the prison has been attending parties as well as hosting guests at a hotel outside the prison facilities. He was also operating bank acounts from inside the prison where he was able to commit another $1 million fraud, the EFCC said.

The arrest of the prison officials was announced by the EFCC spokesperson, Wilson Uwujaren, in a statement issued on Tuesday.

Read the full statement by Mr Uwujaren below.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Lagos Zonal office, has arrested the duo of Emmanuel Oluwaniyi, a Deputy Controller (DC) Nigerian Correctional Service, NCS, and Hemeson Edwin, also a DC, for allegedly giving exaggerated medical reports that warranted a convicted internet fraudster, Hope Aroke, who is serving a 24-year jail term, being given a referral to be treated outside the facility.

The first suspect, Mr Oluwaniyi, who is the Controller, Kirikiri Maximum Prison, as well as the second suspect, Mr Edwin, who is in charge of the medical facility, was arrested on Monday, November 25, 2019, by operatives of the Commission.

The suspects have given useful information to the commission about their alleged involvement in the crime.

Aroke, also known as H.Money, had masterminded a mega scam to the tune of over $1m scam.

He committed the alleged crime from prison, using a network of accomplices.

Aroke was one of the two Malaysia-based Nigerian undergraduate fraudsters arrested by the EFCC towards the end of 2012 at the 1004 Housing Estate, Victoria Island, Lagos, following a tip-off.

Aroke, who hails from Okene In Kogi State, had claimed to be a student of Computer Science at the Kuala Lumpur Metropolitan University, Malaysia.

However, investigations by the commission revealed Aroke as the arrowhead of an intricate web of an internet fraud scheme that traverses two continents.

When Aroke was arrested, a search conducted by EFCC operatives on his apartment led to the recovery of several items such as laptops, iPad, traveling documents, cheque books, flash drives, internet modem, and three exotic cars – a Mercedes Benz Jeep, One 4Matic Mercedes Benz Car and a Range Rover Sport SUV.

He was eventually convicted by Justice Lateefa Okunnu of the Lagos State High Court, Ikeja on two counts of obtaining money by false pretence, cheque cloning, wire transfer and forgery.

He was sentenced to 12 years imprisonment on each of the two counts.

Why FG plans to ban consumer ownership of gas cylinders – Official

The Federal Government’s plan to ban consumer ownership of Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) cylinders is aimed at enhancing safety and deepening cooking gas penetration in the country, an official said on Tuesday.

Mr Dayo Adeshina, Programme Manager, National LPG Expansion and Implementation Plan, spoke at the Nigeria LPG Summit 2019 on Tuesday in Lagos.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the summit was jointly organised by the Nigeria Liquefied Petroleum Gas Association (NLPGA) and Liquefied Petroleum Gas Summit, based in Singapore.

Adeshina said that the government would also continue to support the LPG industry with fiscal policies and incentives to enable the actualisation of its target of five million metric tonnes of LPG consumption by Nigerians in 2023.

The LPG Programme Manager, who represented Vice President Yemi Osinbajo but spoke in his personal capacity, said standardisation of LPG cylinders and safe use in Nigerian homes could only be achieved when ownership rests strictly with dealers and distributors.

He explained that cooking cylinders ought to be recertified periodically, adding that the average life span of a cylinder was 15 years.

Adeshina said two investors with the support of the Standard Organisation of Nigeria (SON) had indicated interest to establish recertification plants in the country.

“That is why we need to retrieve some of these cylinders still in circulation because we need to recertify them to ensure that they are safe for usage.

“The government’s focus is to create awareness through sensitisation campaigns and cylinder injection programme,” he said.

Adeshina said the government would continue to act as an enabler for the LPG industry to thrive and create a market viable for all the players in its value chain.

According to him, Nigeria has made a giant stride in the LPG market with about 70,000 million tonnes per annum (MTPA) in 2007 to 624, 000 MPTA as at September 2019.

He said this was made possible through the removal of five per cent Value Added Tax on LPG and 25 per cent to 30 per cent Import Duty waiver on LPG equipment and appliances.

Also, Mrs Neasa Hapiak, Director, LPG Summit, said many industry stakeholders were paying attention to the Nigeria LPG market, noting that there should be concrete steps to sustain the business in the country.

Hapiak said this could be achieved with the collaboration of government and LPG industry stakeholders as well as entrenching a culture of safety and training of personnel in the industry.

Earlier in his address of welcome, Mr Nuhu Yakubu, President, NLPGA, said the theme of the summit, ” LPG: Harmonising Development and Growth in Nigeria and Africa,” was very apt.

“There is no better time to discuss on the industry imperatives as it relates federal government agenda to deepen the safe use of LPG in Nigeria.

“This can be deduced from facts and figures that speak to the ever dynamic and geometric growth which we have witnessed in the last decade,” he said. (NAN)

FUTA expels six students ‘who assaulted’ female schoolmate

The Federal University of Technology Akure (FUTA) has expelled six students for allegedly assaulting another student.

The expulsion was communicated by Adegbenro Adebanjo, deputy director of corporate communications of the institution, on Tuesday.

According to Adegbenro, the expulsion followed the recommendation of an investigative panel which probed the incident that took place in an off-campus hostel on November 16.

“The Expelled students are: 1. Popoola Olaniyi Agboola IDD/ (300L) 2. Oluwadare Faith Tobiloba FST ( 200L) 3. Nandi Yohanna Jessica IPE/ ( 200L) 4. Ajuwon Tolani Emmanuella FAT/ (100L) 5. Emmanuel Funmilayo Taiwo FAT/ (100L)and 6. Alao Olabimpe Cecilia CSP/ (100 L),” he said.

“The expulsion is in line with the position of Page 48 of the 2019/2020 Students Handbook which prescribes expulsion from the University for Students who engage in, “Physical assault or battery on another student outside the university premises”.

“As a consequence of their expulsion their studentship of FUTA ceases forthwith with all its rights and privileges.”

Adegbenro said the punishment meted out to the affected students is not to pander to the public outcry which followed the act, but that it is in line with the rules and regulations of the university which all students signed to.

Last week, video clips of where a group of five students — one male, four females — were seen beating up a female 100 level student in her room rippled on social media.

 

CBN MPC holds interest rate at 13.5%, says increased inflation was expected

The Monetary Policy  Committee of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has announced its decision to maintain the monetary policy rate (MPR), which is thr benchmark interest rate at 13.5%.

Addressing journalists on Tuesday after the committee’s two-day meeting, Godwin Emefiele, the CBN governor, said the upward movement in inflation was expected.

Saying the decision was made to protect prices, Emefiele said the cash reserve ratio (CRR) will be retained at 22.5%, liquidity ratio at 30% and asymmetric corridor at +200 -500 basis point.

More to follow…