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Daily Archives: April 19, 2019

LASTMA officials can arrest offenders, impound vehicles, says CEO

Lagos State Traffic Management Authority (LASTMA) officials can arrest erring motorists and  impound their vehicles, the agency’s Chief Executive Officer, Chris Olakpe, clarified on Thursday.

Olakpe, a retired Assistant Inspector-General of Police (AIG), was reacting to reports that the officials did not have such powers.

He spoke while receiving in his office, members of the Humanitarian Voluntary Association for Community Development, who came to condole with him over the death of 18 LASTMA officials in the line of duty last year.

Olakpe said the laws also stipulated penalties for neglect of traffic directions and disobedience of traffic control personnel.

The LASTMA boss said: “One thing the people must know is that the purpose of laws in any state is to regulate human conduct and punish violators, to ensure safety and sanity on the roads and at the same time regulate the function and authority of traffic personnel.”

LASTMA’s findings, he said,  showed that gridlock was caused by the unusual driving behaviour of some motorists, adding that it was important for the public to cooperate with traffic officers while on the road.

Instead of taking the law into their hands, motorists should take advantage of LASTMA’s open-door policy by reporting any erring officer, he said.

Olakpe said : “From January to date, over 30 traffic officials have been brutalised by ill-tempered motorists. As an agency, we owe it to our officials and their families the responsibility of ensuring their security and safety while performing their duties,” he said.

He said LASTMA would work with sister agencies and the public to deepen collaboration and cooperation and protect traffic officials.

The vehicle of any motorist, who proved to be an agent provocateur, Olakpe said, would be impounded and taken to LASTMA yard  in accordance with the law.

The LASTMA CEO said his men would soon begin another training on civility, politeness and protocol of arrest with emphasis on respect for the public.

He said measures had been put in place to reduce gridlock during Easter and beyond.

The group’s president, Bankole Odunuga, acknowledged the sacrifice and courage displayed by LASTMA officials, despite the hazards of the job.

Police dismiss Inspector Dania Ojo over Ajegunle Lagos shootings

Inspector Dania Ojo who shot dead one Adaobi Ifeanyi and wounded another, Emmanuel Akomafuwa, in Ajegunle area of Lagos last Saturday, has been dismissed from service and declared wanted.

The Lagos State Commissioner of Police, Mr. Zubairu Muazu, disclosed this while addressing journalists at the Lagos State Police Command headquarters, Ikeja, on Thursday.

The News Agency of Nigeria recalls that Inspector Ojo, together with five other policemen had, on April 13, accosted their victims during which he shot Ifeanyi who died on the spot.

Victim of Ajegunle Police shooting, Adaobi Ifeanyi, aka Jessy Gold

The five policemen were, however, subjected to orderly room trial, while Ojo has since been at large.

“On April 13, 2019 at about 7:00am, Police officers attached to Trinity Police Station who were suspected to be involved in the shooting of Adaobi Ifeanyi and Emmanuel Akomafuwa at Akpiri Street, Olodi Apapa, were arrested and detained,” he said

Muazu gave their names as Insp. Adamu Usman, Sgt. Adeyeye Adeoye, Sgt. Kashim Tijani, Sgt. Lucky Akigbe and Sgt. Paul Adeoye.

“Inspector Dania Ojo, who escaped immediately after the shooting was declared wanted. The other Police officers were subjected to internal disciplinary proceedings at the Command headquarters Ikeja.

“Investigation revealed that Inspector Dania Ojo unilaterally carried out the shooting without consideration for laid down procedures on the use of firearm.

“He is, therefore, found guilty of abuse of power, unlawful and unnecessary exercise of authority.

“He is thereby dismissed from the Nigeria Police Force and declared wanted. Upon arrest, he will be charged to court for murder,” the CP said.


Buhari: I’m more academically qualified than Atiku

President Muhammadu Buhari says he is far more academically qualified than Atiku Abubakar, presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

The president’s statement comes on the back of a petition filed by Atiku and the PDP challenging his victory during the February 23 presidential election.

The former vice president alleged that the result from the server of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) showed he defeated Buhari in the election.

According to the result declared by INEC from the 36 states and the federal capital territory (FCT), Buhari polled 15,191,847, while Atiku came second with 11,262,978 votes.

But the PDP candidate claimed he garnered a total of 18,356,732 votes to defeat Buhari, who, according to him, polled 16,741,430 votes.

He also alleged that Buhari was unqualified to contest for the presidential election as he did not possess the minimum qualification of a school certificate as required by the constitution.

But in a response filed by a team of lawyers led by Wole Olanipekun, Buhari said it was Atiku who was not qualified to contest the election, challenging him to produce his educational certificates indicating the schools attended by him with dates.

The president said he “was way above” the former vice president in terms of acquisition of knowledge, certificates, laurels, medals and experience.

He also denied submitting false information to INEC concerning his qualification.

“He (Buhari) did not, at any time, provide any false information in the Form CF001 submitted to the 1st respondent, either in 2014 or 2018,” he said.

“The affidavit of compliance to the 2019 Form CF001 was correct in every material particular.

“In filling Form CF001 in 2014 and 2019, respondent was not oblivious of the constitutional qualifications stipulated in Section 131 of the Constitution and interpreted in Section 318 of the same Constitution.

“Petitioners themselves are also not oblivious of the fact that respondent possesses far more than the constitutional threshold expected for a candidate contesting for the office of President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

“The respondent avers that he is far more qualified, both constitutionally and educationally, to contest and occupy the office of President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria than the 1st petitioner (Atiku); and that in terms of educational qualifications, trainings and courses attended, both within and outside Nigeria, he is head and shoulder above the 1st petitioner in terms of acquisition of knowledge, certificates, laurels, medals and experience.

“Respondent states further that it is the 1st petitioner, who is not qualified to contest the office of President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, and challenges the educational credentials and certificates of the 1st petitioner.

“1st petitioner is hereby given notice to produce and tender his educational certificates, indicating the schools attended by him, with dates.”

The president asked the tribunal to dismiss the petition, saying it contained more of pre-election issues, which the tribunal lacked jurisdiction to hear.

He further challenged the petitioners to produce evidence of their claims that their votes were manipulated.

Courts grants Ofili-Ajumogobia N10m bail

The federal high court sitting in Lagos has granted a N10 million bail to Rita Ofili-Ajumogobia, a former judge.

Ofili-Ajumogobia was re-arraigned before Rilwan Aikawa, her ex-colleague, where she pleaded not guilty to 18 counts bothering on unlawful enrichment, taking property unlawfully, corruption, forgery and giving false information.

The former judge was first arraigned by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) before an Ikeja high court in 2016, but on Tuesday, Hakeem Oshodi, a judge, had struck out the corruption charges against her and Godwin Obla, a co-defendant, on the grounds that the court lacked jurisdiction to hear the suit.

However, the former judge was immediately re-arrested by operatives of the EFCC in the court premises and a fresh criminal charge was filed against her.

In her ruling on Thursday, Aikawa ordered the former judge to submit her passport to the deputy chief registrar of the court on or before 6pm.

She said Ofili-Ajumogobia must fulfill the bail conditions within 10 days or it will be revoked.

“I take judicial notice of the Easter holiday and grant bail in the sum of N10m, with one surety in like sum who must have landed property in Lagos,” Aikawa said.

“The surety must not be below grade level 16 in the federal or state civil service. The defendant must deposit her passport with the deputy chief registrar of the court at or before 6.00p.m. today.

“The defendant shall endeavor to fulfill the conditions within 10-days or the bail will be revoked.

“She shall be released to her lead counsel, Wale Akoni (SAN), pending the fulfillment of the other conditions or the expiration of 10 days, whichever comes first.”

Aikawa also issued summons to compel Obla to appear before the court.

“For the second defendant, an order is hereby made for issuance of summons compelling Godwin Obla to appear before the court on the May 15, for the purpose of trial,” the judge ruled.

Earlier, Rotimi Oyedepo,  EFCC’s lead counsel, had called the attention of the judge to a pending charge against Obla and his absence, saying every attempt made to inform Obla of the pending charge proved abortive.

Oyedepo urged the court to give an order compelling Obla to appear before the court on the next adjourned date.

The case was adjourned till May 15 for trial.

Kogi varsity student commits suicide over boyfriend

A 100-level student of the Kogi State University, Ayingba, Miss Rebecca Michael, on Wednesday allegedly committed suicide after her boyfriend reportedly broke up with her.

According to Punch Metro,  the victim recently gained admission into the varsity’s Department of Philosophy.

She was said to be about 20 years old.

It was reported that the undergraduate drank local insecticide, Sniper, after her boyfriend, a prominent DJ in Lokoja, met her and said he was no longer interested in the relationship.

After drinking the substance, she was said to have been rushed to the Federal Medical Centre, where she gave up the ghost.

Michael was later buried at the Lokongoma Cemetery, Lokoja, Kogi State.

The state Police Public Relations Officer, William Aya, said he had yet to get any report on the incident.

“I will call back after contacting the C Division,” he added.

He had yet to call back as of press time.

FG to sell 60% stake in Bank of Agriculture

The  Federal Government yesterday said it will divest 60 per cent of its stakes in the Bank of Agriculture (BoA) as part of plans to restructure the lender.

The Director-General, Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE), Mr. Alex A. Okoh, who spoke at the meeting for the recapitalisation of the bank in Abuja, said the bank has been performing sub-optimally due to the myriad of challenges it faced since inception in 1972.

He said: “The process will lead to the privatisation of equity of the bank.We envisage that the Central Bank equity will be reduced to 20 per cent, Federal Ministry of Finance (incorporated) will be reduced to 20 per cent.The government agencies equity in the new bank will be a minority of 40 per cent. We will then invite private sector investors who will own 20 per cent and the remaining 40 per cent equity will be owned by farmers and farmers’ cooperatives,” he said in a statement endorsed by Head, Public Communications, BPE, Amina  Tukur Othman.

Okoh said the new strategy envisages that bank will be transformed into a truly agriculture finance bank modeled along the lines of Agriculture Bank of China and Rabobank of the Netherlands. He said upon its establishment in 1972 to serve as an agricultural and cooperative bank to provide services of a development finance institution, it was vested with the responsibility of providing low cost credit to small holder and commercial farmers.

He, however, lamented that the bank had been unable to realise its  responsibilities due to its current structure, stressing that the proposed restructuring and recapitalisation of the bank seek to transform it strictly into an agricultural finance bank with functional branches in all the local government areas and major towns in the country.

The Director-General said the model was sure to  encourage farmers to form clusters of cooperatives and thrift societies throughout the six geo-political zones for the purpose of participating in the ownership of the Bank.

Okoh  added that the model would fundamentally ensure that the BoA becomes a farmers’ bank owned by farmers.

On the sustainability of the strategy and attracting investment, Okoh said measures would be put in place to take non-performing credit facilities off the balance sheet and books of the bank and possibly sold off to a factor agent. He said the measure was  to make the bank attractive to investors and attract cheap funding from multilateral development institutions and other institutional investors with a focus on agricultural financing.


Two killed as fuel tanker rburns in Ibadan

Two unidentified persons were burnt beyond recognition on Thursday when a tanker conveying Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) spilled its content on Sawmill Bridge, Onipepeye area of Ibadan, the Oyo State capital.

The incident, which started at about 2p.m., also destroyed six vehicles, more than 10 motorcycles and many houses.

Safe for the timely intervention of the men of the state fire service, the situation would have resulted in a likely explosion from a nearby gas station around the Onipepeye area as a result of the fuel spill, which also extended to parts of the Onipepeye area.

According to sources, motorists and commuters scampered for safety when the tanker driver coming from Lagos axis end of the expressway lost control of the vehicle just after the Sawmill Bridge.

In a bid to stabilise the vehicle, the driver could not prevent the fuel from spilling on the highway.

In the process, a man and a woman were burnt beyond recognition while trying to escape from the scene of the fuel spill.

The identity and whereabouts of the driver of the fuel tanker remain unknown at the time of filing this report.

A witness, who identified himself as Abbey, said: “It was the fuel spill from the tanker at the main road that caused the fire that sparked from under Onipepeye Bridge. Before we could know what happened, we heard a big explosion. It was terrifying. There were tick flames everywhere. In the process, people started running away from the scene. Two persons were so unlucky, as they were burnt beyond recognition.

”We called the fire service personnel to come and rescue the situation before the fire started. But it took them more than 40 minutes before they arrived. And by the time they got here, the fire had already burnt the two people to death.

“The victims were inside a car, trying to navigate their way to the main expressway. They should be coming from either Gbagi market or Gate axis. We did not recognise any of them. As you can see, they are burnt beyond recognition with all their personal belongings also burnt with them.”

Assistant Director, Oyo State Fire Service Mr. Isiaka Adeleke said his men raced to the scene of the incident immediately they received the call.

He confirmed that the tanker fell down while its content spilled on the highway, leaving no fewer than six vehicles burnt.

Adeleke said: “We just heard that the tanker fell down and that petrol spilled on the road. The driver of the Micra tried to manoeuvre the vehicle but was unlucky. The man and the woman jumped out of the vehicle, but the fire later caught up with them.”

The incident led to a gridlock on the Iwo road end of the Lagos-Ibadan expressway.

Officials of the Oyo State Command of the Federal Road Safety Corps and the Red Cross were seen removing the remains of the two victims.

At the time of filing this report, officials of the State Fire Service were seen at the scene trying to put off the fire from the tanker. Officers and men of the State Police Command were also on ground to forestall a breakdown of law and order.

When contacted, the command’s Police Public Relation, Olugbenga Fadeyi, a Superintendent, confirmed the incident.

But, Oyo State Governor Abiola Ajimobi yesterday commiserated with the family and loved ones of the victims of the fire incident, describing the incident as depressing.

In a condolence statement by his Special Adviser on Communication and Strategy, Mr. Bolaji Tunji, the governor said he received the news of the attendant loss of lives and property with grief and sadness.

While the exact cause of the accidents remains sketchy, the governor said he was pained that it consumed lives and gutted houses and vehicles.

Ajimobi said: “I received the depressing news of the unfortunate accident with grief and sadness. I am, especially pained that it led to the loss of lives and property of innocent citizens, who were going about in search of their daily bread.

“I condole with the family and friends of those that died in the accident and I wish those injured speedy recovery. I’m using this opportunity to appeal to vehicle owners to put their vehicles in good condition before hitting the roads during this festive season.

“I also urge motorists to drive carefully and adhere to all safety precautions to avert a recurrence. We should always remember our loved ones and have consideration for other roads users while plying the roads.

“May God grant the soul of our deceased compatriots eternal rest and mitigate the loss of those who lost properties to the accident.”

Mueller details extensive Trump campaign-Russia contacts

Special Counsel Robert Mueller may not have found evidence of a criminal conspiracy between Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign and Russia, but his report details extensive contacts between the campaign and Russian operatives who sought to influence the election.

Mueller said in his report released on Thursday that he found “numerous links” and that the Trump campaign “expected it would benefit” from Russia’s effort to tilt the ballot in Trump’s favour.

Ultimately, Mueller determined the various contacts either didn’t amount to criminal behaviour or would be difficult to prove in court, even if people in Trump’s orbit sometimes displayed a willingness to accept Russian help, the report showed.

Trump and his allies, who derided the Mueller probe as a political “witch hunt”, portrayed the report as vindication. “No collusion. No obstruction. For all the haters and the radical left Democrats, game over,” Trump tweeted on Thursday.

“The bottom line is the president is exonerated and the campaign is exonerated of collusion,” said Michael Caputo, a former adviser to Trump’s campaign.

Some legal experts and political strategists were more circumspect, saying the report confirmed the Russian government was attempting to help Trump with the election.

“I think that’s a pretty extraordinary finding of historical significance, whether or not there’s a crime,” said Matthew Jacobs, a former federal prosecutor who is now a San Francisco-based lawyer.

Many of the contacts in the report were already known. They included former national security adviser Michael Flynn’s conversations in late 2016 with Sergei Kislyak, Russia ambassador at the time, and former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort’s interactions with Konstantin Kilimnik, a political consultant who the FBI has determined has ties to Russian intelligence.

But the report contained fresh details on the range of official and unofficial dealings Trump campaign advisers and supporters had with Russians before and after the 2016 election.

For example, the report says that Manafort, shortly after he joined the campaign in the spring of 2016, directed his deputy to share internal polling data with Kilimnik with the understanding it would be passed on to Oleg Deripaska, a Russian oligarch known to have close ties to the Kremlin.

Lawyers for Manafort did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Kilimnik did not reply to an email seeking comment.

A Washington-based attorney for Deripsaka said he could not comment. In a statement to Reuters in January, representatives for Deripaska said he has never had any communication with Kilimnik.

The report also says that Manafort told Kilimnik in August 2017 about the campaign’s efforts to win the battleground states of Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Minnesota. Trump ended up winning three of those states in the November election.

Mueller’s investigation did not find a connection between Manafort’s sharing of polling data and Russia’s meddling in the U.S. election or that he otherwise coordinated with Russia.

Frank Montoya, a former senior FBI official, said he was nonetheless bothered by the interactions between Manafort and Kilimnik, especially their talking about battleground states.

“As a longtime counterintelligence investigator it makes the hair stand on the back of my neck,” Montoya said.

The report detailed a meeting in December 2016 between Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner and Sergei Gorkov, the head of a Russian state-owned bank under U.S. sanctions. Gorkov gave Kushner a painting and a bag of soil from the town in Belarus where Kushner’s family is from, the report says.

Mueller’s team said it could not resolve a conflict in the accounts of Kushner, who said the meeting was diplomatic in nature, and Gorkov, who said it was business related.

Kushner has said neither sanctions nor his business activities were discussed at the meeting. Kushner’s lawyer did not respond to a request for comment on Mueller’s report.

The report also provided new details about a meeting that campaign advisers Donald Trump Jr., the president’s oldest son, Kushner and Manafort held with a Russian lawyer at New York’s Trump Tower in June 2016. The meeting was set up after the advisers were promised “dirt” on Hillary Clinton, Trump’s Democratic challenger for president.

Mueller’s team considered whether the advisers violated laws barring election contributions from foreigners. But, the report says, they ultimately decided there was not enough evidence to show they “wilfully” broke the law and they might have had problems proving the information offered on Clinton was really valuable.

When news of the Trump Tower meeting broke in July 2017, Trump Jr. issued a statement saying the meeting was set up to discuss adoption policy, not politics, before later admitting he had been expecting intelligence on Clinton.

Such interactions have broadly been referred to by Democratic congressional investigators as examples of possible “collusion”. But because collusion is not a legal term, Mueller’s team examined the Trump Tower meeting and other contacts through the lens of federal conspiracy law.

Mueller said his investigation was unable to establish that such contacts with Russians met the bar of criminality which required that the contacts “amounted to an agreement to commit any substantive violation” of U.S. laws, including those governing campaign finance and foreign agent registration.

Therefore, Mueller said his office “did not charge any individual associated with the Trump Campaign with conspiracy to commit a federal offense arising from Russia contacts.”

Museveni can seek sixth term: Uganda’s Supreme Court

Uganda’s top court paved the way Thursday for the country’s 74-year-old leader Yoweri Museveni to seek a sixth term in office, upholding a ruling to scrap presidential age limits.

The Supreme Court dismissed a challenge by Museveni’s opponents, who had appealed against a constitutional court ruling that removed an age cap of 75 for presidential contenders.

“This appeal therefore fails,” Chief Justice Bart Katureebe declared in handing down the court’s majority 4-3 verdict.

The decision allows Museveni — who has ruled Uganda since seizing power at the head of a rebel army in 1986 — to seek re-election in polls due in 2021.

Attorney General Mwesigwa Rukutana declared the verdict “a big win for Uganda”.

“We are elated. This is a sign of how democracy has taken root in our country,” he told AFP.

But a lawyer for the petitioners, Erias Lukwago, said “it is democracy that suffers”.

“It is a disappointment, but in Africa it is a miracle to win (against) a sitting government,” he told AFP.

Observers had expected a ruling in Museveni’s favour, but the narrow margin came as a surprise.

“The ruling was so close. Museveni will take a lesson from it,” said Kassim Male Mabirizi, an activist from the Uganda Law Society and one of the main petitioners.

A bill removing presidential age limits was signed into law in December 2017 after a chaotic passage through parliament that saw MPs engaging in fisticuffs.

That decision sparked protests and an outcry from the opposition, which accused the president of seeking to rule for life.

The constitutional court upheld the amendment in a ruling in July last year, but it was challenged by the opposition in Uganda’s highest court.

A seven-judge Supreme Court bench began hearing the appeal in January, with opposition lawyers arguing the bill was unconstitutional.

Some of the judges agreed.

“The power to amend is not the same as the power to rewrite the constitution,” said Justice Lillian Tibatemwa, one of the three judges who ruled for the opposition.

Museveni once said leaders who “overstayed” were the root of Africa’s problems.

But in 2005, he scrapped a two-term presidential limit which has allowed him to keep running for office.

While contesting a fifth term in 2016, he said it was not the right time for him to leave as he still had work to do.

In February, the ruling party endorsed Museveni as its candidate for 2021.

– Growing discontent –

He is the only president most Ugandans have known in a country where the median age is less than 16.

But young Ugandans have recently been energised by pop star-turned-MP Bobi Wine, who spearheaded protests against the age-limit amendment and has rapidly become a thorn in the government’s side.

Bobi Wine, whose real name is Robert Kyagulanyi, told CNN in an interview in February that he was “seriously considering” running for president in 2021.

Kyagulanyi was charged with treason last August, along with more than 30 opposition politicians, over the alleged stoning of Museveni’s convoy after a campaign rally.

During the campaign, Kyagulanyi’s driver was shot dead when soldiers from the elite presidential guard raided the hotel in which he was staying.

The singer has accused the security forces of torturing and beating him while in custody and later received medical treatment in the US for the injuries he said he received. The authorities have denied the allegations.

Mali’s prime minister Maiga, cabinet quit after massacre

Mali’s prime minister, Soumeylou Boubeye Maiga and his whole government resigned on Thursday, four weeks after a massacre of some 160 Fulani herders by an ethnic vigilante group shocked the nation.

“The President accepts the resignation of the prime minister and that of the members of government,” a statement from President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita’s office said.

It gave no reason for the departure of Maiga, but legislators had discussed on Wednesday a possible motion of no confidence in the government because of the massacre and failure to disarm militias or beat back Islamist militants.

The March 23 killings by suspected hunters from the Dogon community on Ogossagou, a village in central Mali populated by rival Fulani herders, were bloody even by the recent standards of Mali’s ever-worsening violence.

They followed a deadly assault by jihadists on an army post that killed at least 23 soldiers, also in Mali’s central region, which was claimed by an al Qaeda affiliate that counts many Fulani herders in its ranks.

Malian authorities have detained five people suspected of taking part in the massacre. But they have not yet succeeded in disarming the militia that many believe organized it, despite pledges by Maiga and Keita to do so.

Mali has been in turmoil since a rebellion by Tuaregs and allied jihadists took over half the country in 2012, prompting the French to intervene to push them back the following year.

8 Nigerian ATM robbers sentenced to death in UAE

Eight Nigerians, all men, have been sentenced to death in Sharjah, United Arab Emirates(UAE) for a string of robberies at money exchanges and cash machines(ATMs) across the emirate in December 2016.

The ninth Nigerian, found guilty for possession of stolen money was sentenced to six months imprisonment.

He will be deported after serving his prison term.

The Gulf News reported that the Nigerian denied the charge against him and said that one of the accused’s brothers asked him to transfer Dh60,000 to an account in Nigeria.

All the convicted Nigerians were not identified by both the Gulf News and Khaleej Times, all local newspapers, which reported the trial.

One of the cash vans attacked by the convicted Nigerians in Sharjah in December 2016

A total of 20 suspects were initially held for attacking security guards in four violent attacks at ATMs and money exchanges across Sharjah in late 2016. Out of 20 suspects, nine were convicted.

Some of the accused confessed to their crimes while others denied the charges levelled against them.

The verdict was handed down by Judge Majid Al Muhairi of Sharjah Criminal Court on Wednesday.

The eight-member gang attacked security trucks and entered establishments by force and threatened and assaulted staff and members of the public with bladed weapons in a spate of robberies, three of which were carried out on the same day on December 18, 2016.

The gang — who were all in the UAE on visit visas — were said to be highly organised and plotted a string of orchestrated attacks to ambush security trucks that were transporting money boxes to and from ATMs, and at least one money exchange in Sharjah.

The first robbery took place at a Dubai Commercial Bank ATM on King Abdul Aziz Street where Dh340,000 was stolen, then two days later they attacked an ATM in Al Safeer Mall in Al Nahda fleeing with Dh700,000, and an ATM in Muweilah where they stole Dh710,000. A fourth attack at a money exchange office near National Paints was foiled by police.

The gang of 20 was arrested in record time but police confirmed that only a portion of the stolen money — almost Dh1.8 million — had been recovered, as the gang members had divided the money among themselves and transferred it to their home country.

Suspects were taken into custody in cooperation with police in Dubai, Ajman and Fujairah.

The gang committed the heists at the busiest times of day when streets were crowded, which added to the confusion and enabled them to escape, said police.

In each robbery the assailants struck quickly before police could arrive, the attackers however could not evade security cameras and police were able to recognise the suspects through surveillance footage captured at the exchange house in the mall.

Video footage showed the suspects attacking security guards, making off with cash, and in one of the robberies slashing the hands of a security guard with a knife before running away with money boxes.

Police believe the suspects had monitored and tracked the security trucks used to transport money for a period of time before launching the attacks took place.

A prosecutor told Gulf News on Thursday that as per the law, a group of people who threaten the life of others while committing robbery are subject to the death sentence, however an appeal is expected to be launched and the sentences could get downgraded to life imprisonment.

The trial appeared unconnected with the arrest of five Nigerians in March this year, who robbed a Bureau de Change operator of Dh2.3 million (N225.4 million) in Sharjai, Dubai.

The suspects were identified as Chimuanya Emmanuel Ozoh, Benjamin Nwachukwu Ajah, Kingsley Ikenna Ngoka, Tochukwu Leonard Alisi and Chile Micah Ndunagu.

The five Nigerians reportedly barged into the BDC on March 20 and smashed the glass barrier between the customers and the staff, stole the money in multiple currencies and fled.

Two employees at the exchange were injured as they resisted the robbers. One of them managed to notify the police. The Sharjah Police coordinated with forces from Abu Dhabi, Ras Al Khaimah and Ajman to nab the suspects from four emirates within 48 hours after the robbery was committed.

A top police official said the suspects came to the UAE on visit visas on March 18.

Zamfara council deputy chairman arrested for links with bandits

Troops of Operation Sharan Daji have arrested Yahuza Ibrahim Wuya, Vice Chairman of Anka Local Government Area of Zamfara over alleged links with bandits terrorizing the state.

He was arrested on 13 April, based on intelligence linking him with bandits in Wuya and Sunke communities.

Major Clement Abiade, information officer for Operation Sharan Adaji, Wuya allegedly seamlessly sold rustled/stolen cows and donkeys.

He was accused of giving information about troops, other security agencies and vigilantes’ movement.

He was also accused of aiding the release of a notorious gun runner, one Sani Yaro from Gusau prison.

Mr Wuya will be handed over to relevant security agency for possible prosecution after initial investigation.

Buhari signs N30,000 minimum wage into law

President Muhammadu Buhari has signed the national minimum wage bill into law.

The senate passed the bill on March 19, approving N30,000 as the new national minimum wage. The house of representatives had earlier passed the bill.

On Tuesday, workers in the federal capital territory (FCT) begged Buhari to sign the minimum wage bill into law before May 1.

Buhari sent the wage bill for consideration after the national council of state approved it.

The council had approved N27,000 while the federal government said it would increase it to N30,000 for its workers.

The tripartite committee earlier set up by the federal government had approved N30,000 for both federal and state workers.

Commenting on the new law, Ita Enang, senior special assistant to the president on national assembly matters (senate), said it has become compulsory for all employers of labour in Nigeria to pay their workers N30,000.

Enang made it clear that this excludes persons who are employing less than 25 workers; persons who work in a ship which sail out of jurisdiction; persons who are in other kinds of regulated employments are excepted by the Act.

“It also gives the workers the right if you are compelled by any circumstance to accept salary that is less than 30,000 for you to sue your employers to recover the balance,” he said.

“It authorises the minister of labour and any person nominated by the minister of labour or any person designated by the minister of labour in any ministry, department or agency to on your behalf take action in your name against such employer to recover the balance of wages.

“It also ensures and mandates the National Salaries, Incomes and Wages Commission and the minister of labour to be the chief and principal enforcers of the provisions of this law; and this law applies to all agencies and persons and bodies throughout the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

“The effective date is April 18, 2019 as Mr President has assented to; it has been assented to and it takes effect today except such other provision as are contained in the Act.”

Enang said the enforcement and the right to start the implementation of the provisions commenced immediately including such steps that would to be taken gradually under the provisions of the Act.

He urged Nigerian workers to celebrate Buhari and support his administration and policies.

The senior special assistant said the administration would come out and march together with Nigerian workers and Workers Day.

“Mr President will celebrate Workers Day and this government will celebrate. This is Mr President action showing the love he has for Nigerian workers,’’ he said.

The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) had led the campaign for an upward review of minimum wage from N18,000.

Onnoghen rejects CCT judgement, heads to appeal court

Walter Onnoghen, suspended chief justice of Nigeria, has rejected the judgement of the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT).

Danladi Umar, CCT chairman, had found Onnoghen guilty of the six counts preferred against him by the federal government.

Umar, therefore, ordered that Onnoghen be removed from office of CJN and banned from holding public office for 10 years.

He also ordered the forfeiture of the money in the five accounts which the defendant failed to declare as part of his assets

But Onnoghen has filed a notice of appeal at the appellate court in Abuja to challenge the ruling of the tribunal.

The federal government was listed as the only respondent.

In the appeal filed by Adeboyega Awomolo, Chris Uche, Okon Efut, Ogwu Onoja and George Ibrahim, his counsels, the embattled judge said tribunal erred when it dismissed his application.

“The appellant was at the time the charges were filed on the 11th of January, 2019 before the lower tribunal a judicial officer and was not subject to the jurisdiction of the lower tribunal,” Onnoghen said in ground one.

In ground two, he asked the CCT chairman to recuse himself from further proceedings.

“Once an allegation of real likelihood of the bias is raised the court or tribunal will have nothing more to say except to wash its hands from further proceedings in the matter.”

In ground sixteen, Onnoghen said the tribunal erred when it placed on the defendant the burden of proving his innocence which according to him is a violation of section 36 (5) of the constitution.

“The onus was on the prosecution to prove that that the defendant did not declare and submit his assets declaration form to the Code of Conduct Bureau for over 11 years as charged,” he said.

Onnoghen thereby sought for the following reliefs:

  • An order allowing this appeal.
  • An order that the lower tribunal lacks jurisdiction to entertain the case.
  • An order that the lower tribunal ought to have recuse itself from proceedings before it.
  • An order that the charge has become academic
  • An order setting aside the the conviction of the appellant.
  • An order setting aside the order for forfeiture of assets made by the honorable tribunal.
  • An order discharging and acquiting the appellant.