Sunday, 21 January 2018
Items filtered by date: June 2017

The House of Representatives has described the Minister of Works, Power and Housing, Babatunde Fashola’s recent remarks on the 2017 Appropriation Act as an attempt to blackmail the National Assembly.

The lawmakers, in a statement on Saturday said the Minister’s  remarks amounted to peddling inaccuracies, misleading and calculated mischief aimed at setting the National Assembly on a collision course with the executive.

House Spokesman, Abdulrazaq Namdas said Fashola’s remarks were meant to paint the National Assembly as an irresponsible institution, one not concerned with the welfare of the people, and set the Executive and Legislature on an unnecessary collision course on matters of power rather than issues that benefit the Nigerian people.

Saying that the National Assembly has constitutional powers in Section, 4, 59, 80 and 81 to amend the budget estimates submitted by the Executive, Namdas insisted that the National Assembly was not expected to rubber stamp the budget document as presented by the executive as clearly explained by a recent court pronouncement on the powers of appropriation.

According to him,  the National Assembly has not done anything outside what was prescribed by constitution concerning the budget, adding that the Minister was economical with the truth over allocations to Lagos-Ibadan expressway, second Nige bridge and several projects where monies were moved from and injected in others.

It reads: “Responding to specific issues raised by Mr Fashola, Namdas explained that the decision to redistribute the projects proposed by the ministry was in order to ensure an even spread of projects across all regions, which the proposal of the executive had failed to do.

“He added that considering that the funds that were allocated for the 2nd Niger Bridge in 2016 were returned untouched at the end of the year, the National Assembly decided to reduce N5 billion from the 2017 Budget for 2nd Niger Bridge to fund other projects from the South East, leaving N7 billion for the 2nd Niger Bridge.

“The truth is that in the 2016 Budget, N12 billion was appropriated for the 2nd Niger Bridge and not a kobo was spent by the Ministry. Not a kobo. The money was returned. The Ministry could not provide the Committees of the National Assembly with evidence of an agreement on the Public Private Partnership (PPP) or a contract for the 2nd Niger Bridge.

“The projects include – N2.5 billion extra for Enugu/Onitsha Road, N1 billion more for 9th Mile/Nsukka/Makurdi Road; additional N500m for Oturkpa- Makurdi to take care of evacuation of agricultural produce up to Maiduguri; N1 billion more for Ikot Ekpene-Aba-Owerri Road etc. These are strategic Roads in the South-East and North Central parts of Nigeria that had inadequate allocations,” he explained.

“Going further, he added that the National Assembly had to intervene to fund some other critical roads that were totally neglected in the Executive Budget proposal, including the Abuja- Kaduna – Zaria – Kano Road that had Zero allocation from the President’s proposal and no contract, even in spite of due process certification.

“N5 billion was provided in the 2016 Budget. It was not utilised. In 2017 Budget, the National Assembly again provided N3 billion for this very critical road that connects many states and where incidents of kidnapping are rife because of bad roads, as we believe that all parts of Nigeria deserve attention or would the Minister also claim that this road has no design?” he queried.

“On the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, the lawmaker noted that leadership meetings of both the Executive and Legislature were held where it was clarified that alternative funding exists for the road through PPP arrangement and the concessionaires had enough money to fund the project, hence the decision to move some funds to other areas of need.

“The Minister of Power, Works and Housing is fully aware of this but chose to ignore it. Why spend government money if there is a clear existing funding framework in place and so many ongoing road projects are unfunded?” Namdas asked, adding that the Minister proposed a whopping N17 Billion for only Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA)  for Mambila Power plant which the National Assembly felt was misplaced and patently unjustifiable and out of which the Minister himself even wrote to the National Assembly to move some funds from this sub-heads to others.”

“He urged the Minister to be mindful of the fact that the Budget of the Ministry of Power, Works and Housing is not his personal budget but that of the Federation.

“The National Assembly and others are also stakeholders in this country, imbued with patriotism to fix Nigeria’s problems. There are certain matters which the National Assembly Committees discover during oversight activities that are corrected during the budget process.

“There are so many omissions which the National Assembly makes effort to correct on behalf of Nigerians. Even the Ministries also disown allocations contained in their budgets! Should the National Assembly keep quiet and moot and allow infractions patently exposed in the Executive proposals? We think that the Constitution did not design the National Assembly as a “rubber stamp” as eloquently stated by His Excellency Rt. Hon. Yakubu Dogara, the Speaker, House of Representatives, ” the spokesman declared.

“Namdas said the legislature also queried an omnibus allocation of N20 Billion in the ministry’s budget whose details were not provided by the Minister and felt it would be irresponsible to appropriate funds that are not tied to specific projects and incurred the wrath of the “almighty Minister.”

“The legislators further noted that when an increment made in the budget favours the executive, it does not complain, as seen in the MTEF which had a $2 increase per barrel that was not part of the 2017 Appropriation Bill proposed by Mr. President.

“Addressing claims by Fashola that certain matters are State or even Local Government matters, the lawmakers challenged him to lead efforts to abolish the National Primary Health Care Development Agency, a federal government agency, if he feels it should not be covered by the national budget.

“As a Senior Lawyer, he should be aware of what is called CONCURENT LIST, and the provisions of S.4(4)(a) and S.4(5) of the Constitution,” the House said, while urging him to familiarise himself with the duties his ministry is saddled with like providing water in Housing Estates so he will not be surprised to see such projects under his Ministry.

“Namdas also added that it was a clear breach for the executive to make calculated statements to undermine and distort understandings between the National Assembly leadership and the Executive arm on the 2017 Budget which were made in good faith when all arms should be concentrating on how to grow the economy to exit the recession, which  the House of Representatives is committed to doing”.

Published in Headliners

Germany coach Joachim Low said he never expected his new-look squad to be "perfect" after they were given a fright by Australia at the Confederations Cup on Monday.

The reigning World Cup champions are without the likes of Toni Kroos, Manuel Neuer and Thomas Muller for the tournament in Russia Russia, with Low experimenting to find a team for the future.

Lars Stindl and Leon Goretzka both scored their first international goals, though goalkeeper Bernd Leno's two blunders made the game a little close for comfort.

And though Germany held on for a 3-2 win, Low said some growing pains were to be expected.

"Who would expect it to be perfect?" Low said. "This is a team that never played together so we have done a lot of work over 10 days.

"We were losing our thread, our attacks were not as consistent and we weren't single-minded.

"We need to work on maintaining our stability... but this is a new team and things have worked very well."

Leno demonstrated that he's far from being able to replace 31-year-old Neuer in the German goal, as he was wrong-footed on Australia's first goal and spilled a soft deflection for their second.

But Low ultimately backed his keeper despite acknowledging his errors.

"He could have held on to that ball but he is a good goalkeeper, no doubt about it," Low said. "Maybe that was a mistake."

Much of Germany's threat came from the right flank, where Brandt and Joshua Kimmich were given space to unsettle Australia.

"We invested a lot in the first half and ran a lot," Kimmich said. "So in the second half, Australia had a bit more possession but I didn't think they had a lot of opportunities and chances."

Still, Julian Draxler, one of the more experienced members in the squad, said the team had plenty to work on before their next game against Chile.

"Obviously, we'll have to improve," Draxler said, "but we will do that."

Published in Sports

The Federal Government is set to release the first tranche of capital release of N350bn to its Ministries, Departments and Agencies for implementation of the 2017 budget.

The Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, disclosed this on Monday in Abuja during the public presentation of the 2017 Federal Government budget.

The event was attended by top officials in government, including the Minister of Budget and National Planning, Udo Udoma; Minister of State for Budget, Zainab Ahmed; Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole; and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyema, among others.

The 2017 budget christened, ‘Budget of Recovery and Growth’, was presented to the National Assembly on December 14, 2016, and passed by the lawmakers on May 11, 2017.

It was signed into law by the Acting President Yemi Osinbajo on June 12, 2017 and had a total expenditure outlay of N7.44tn, out of which N2.99tn was for non-debt recurrent spending; N2.36tn for capital expenditure; while debt servicing is to gulp N1.66tn.

Adeosun said her ministry was ready to make the release as soon as the budget was loaded, adding that a cash plan meeting would soon be held where the funds would be released to the MDAs.

“We are ready to make releases as soon as the budget is loaded. We have a cash plan meeting and we will release the first tranche of N350bn for capital projects,” she stated.

Udoma, in his presentation at the event, said the 2017 budget would run for one full year till June next year.

He, however, said that both the executive and the legislature were working on a template that would enable the country to commence a predictable budget year that would run between January and December of every year.

He added that if this arrangement was to commence from the 2018 budget year, then the 2017 budget would cease once the next year’s budget was passed and signed into law in January.

The implication of this, according him, is that some of the programmes of government contained in the 2017 fiscal document would be re-introduced in the 2018 budget.

Udoma explained, “The period of the 2016 budget was up till May and the period of the 2017 budget is again by the provision of the bill that was sent to us, which is now an Act of Parliament, continues again, this time, till June.

“However, whenever a new Appropriations Act comes into law, it overtakes the previous Appropriations Act. This means that assuming we were as we intend to achieve this year, we pass the 2018 budget into law; when it is signed into law, then the other one ceases to exist.

“So our aim is by January 2018, we want to get back to the January to December budget year. That means some of the projects in the 2017 budget will have to be carried over.”

He added that the budget that was passed by the National Assembly was what was signed into law by the Acting President, adding that an understanding had been reached for the submission of virement application to adjust the budget to reflect some of the projects, which the lawmakers tinkered with.

Such projects, according to him, are the railways, health and Federal Capital Territory projects.

Udoma said, “We identified some of our priority projects where the allocations have been reduced and discussed with the National Assembly and they graciously agreed that we can bring a virement application to restore the amount of those projects.

“Those projects include the railways, some health projects and Federal Capital Territory projects. But until that is done, the budget and the Appropriations Act reflect exactly what was passed by the National Assembly, and this is what the law is as I speak.

“However, we will be bringing virement application on a number of these projects under consideration. It’s only after they have approved it before it now becomes a law, and the budget will be adjusted to reflect that.”

The minister said the capital allocation of N2.36tn, which represents 31.7 per cent of the total budget, was directed at projects that were aligned with the core execution priorities of the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan.

Udoma noted that allocations had been targeted at critical economic sectors that had quick transformative potential such as infrastructure, agriculture, manufacturing, solid minerals, services, and social development.

For instance, he said the government would be embarking on a rail modernisation programme for which N148bn had been allocated mostly as counterpart funds on projects to be financed by China.

They are Lagos-Kano, Calabar-Lagos, Kano-Kaduna, Ajaokuta-Itakpe-Warri, Kaduna-Idu and other rail projects.

In the area of electricity, the minister said the sum of N40bn service-wide provision had been made to settle reconciled outstanding bills of government agencies as part of the strategy to revamp the ailing power sector.

For the housing sector, Udoma said the sum of N28bn was allocated in the budget for the Federal Government’s National Housing Programme nationwide.

He stated that the government was concerned about the number of abandoned projects scattered across the federation, adding that more targeted releases of funds would be done to relevant agencies of government.

The minister noted that in this year’s budget, funds had been allocated for construction and rehabilitation of over 65 roads and bridges across the six geo-political zones of the country.

Some of them are N10bn for the rehabilitation/reconstruction and expansion of Lagos-Shagamu-Ibadan dual carriageway sections I and II; N13.19bn for the dualisation of the Kano-Maiduguri road Sections I-V; N10.63bn for the rehabilitation of the Enugu-Port Harcourt dual carriageway Sections I-IV; and N7bn for the construction of the Second Niger Bridge phases 2A & 2B, including the access roads.

The Director-General, Budget Office of the Federation, Mr. Ben Akabueze, said the government would be engaging the citizens more in its budgeting process in order to enable the country to have a document that would be all inclusive.

He added that steps were being taken to bridge the gap between the people and the government by promoting transparency and accountability in the entire budget process.

Published in Headliners

Brighter days may lie around in the corner for prospective homeowners, following plans to introduce a public private partnership initiative that seeks to increase access to housing finance in Nigeria through mortgage guarantee insurance and microfinance scheme.

The scheme, ‘My Own Home’ comes as an offshoot of the Nigeria Housing Finance Programme (NHFP) set up by the Federal Government and implemented by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) with the support of World Bank’s $300 million loan.

NHFP is creating the enabling environment for strengthening the nation’s housing sector by setting up sustainable framework by mortgage originators to access long-term refinancing. The new scheme is expected to scale-up mortgage and housing finance awareness.

Under the ‘My Own Home scheme, eight micro finance banks have been selected to stimulate housing finance for low-income earners in the formal and informal sectors. They will benefit from a $15 million technical assistance, which LAPO Microfinance Bank is piloting in the housing sector.

Specifically, the eight micro finance banks are expected to facilitate access to flexible housing finance for low-income earners for incremental construction or home improvement. “It could be financing to buy a piece of land for building or laying foundation on an existing land and commence building stage by stage.

“After every stage of building, and with a good history of repayment, the microfinance bank keeps financing the customer until the building is completed. Housing microfinance is not a mortgage and is not for the purchase of homes.

“Housing microfinance is closer to our traditional sense of incremental construction. Not everyone has money to finance mortgage but under the microfinance scheme, a homeowner can stretch his building plan in such a way that he takes different tranches of loan as he builds,” according to Mr. Adedeji Adesemoye, CBN’s Head, Project Administration Team of the National Housing Fund Programme.

He revealed in Lagos that the technical assistance would be provided in partnership with the Frankfurt School of Management and AFC Consultants International, Germany. “The objective is to catalyse the growth of the housing sector through de-risking the housing finance value chain and improving access to finance,” he said.

Adesemoye stated that the programme is targeted at inspiring the younger generations of Nigerians on the need to key into mortgage process and start owning homes. “We need to educate our people that owning a home with a mixture of equity and debt is not a negative thing; having a home that you will live in the next 50 years does not require you to spend all your life savings,” he said.

Published in Business and Economy

Real Madrid president Florentino Perez says Cristiano Ronaldo's apparent dissatisfaction is "all very strange," but that both he and the club expect the superstar to stay at the Bernabeu this summer.

Ronaldo, the reigning Ballon d'Or award winner, feels he is being treated unfairly by Spain's tax authorities, whose "persecution" has made him determined to leave Real Madrid and the country, a source confirmed to ESPN FC.

After initially avoiding the burning question Ronaldo's future during the address he gave to mark his re-election on Monday evening, Perez opened up in an interview on radio station Onda Cero for the first time since the news broke on Friday.

"I have not spoken with Ronaldo," Perez said. "During the election period, I've tried to be respectful and keep out of everything.

"I learned of the [reports] through what a newspaper said. He's immersed in the Confederations Cup [with Portugal] at the moment, which is an important competition, and for the moment there's nothing until that ends. Like the all other players, though, he has a contract and is a Real Madrid player.

"In football and life, in general, we encounter situations which we don't expect and we have to find the best solution for everyone. I know Cristiano and he's a good guy, not just with the ball, but as a person. This is all very strange, I will have to speak with him to see what's going on."

Manchester United and Paris Saint-Germain have been linked with a move for the Portuguese forward, while Bayern Munich denied interest on Monday.

But Perez was adamant that Real Madrid were not prepared to allow Ronaldo to move on.

"Not I or anyone at Madrid is contemplating that Cristiano could leave the club," Perez said. "He is not a business, he forms part of this club's history, he's at the level of [club legend Alfredo] Di Stefano."

Florentino Perez believes Cristiano Ronaldo is innocent of the tax accusations levelled against him.

Real Madrid previously released a statement supporting Ronaldo after prosecutors announced that they were seeking €14.7 million in taxes they felt the player hid in offshore accounts, and Perez reiterated his belief in Ronaldo's innocence on Monday.

"I will defend [Ronaldo] at all costs as both a player and as a person. [I have] complete confidence [that he is innocent], he has always wanted to fulfil his fiscal commitments," Perez said.

"There must be some sort of confusion which will be clarified. What I have been told is that he has the same structure [in Spain] that he had in England -- and there was no problem there.

"I'm sure Cristiano wouldn't want us to pay his fine if there was one, he's not like that. If he's angry it's because he feels unjustly treated.

"I've been affected by how the Cristiano news has been treated by the media. The presumption of innocence has not been respected. The only thing I know is that he's angry about the treatment the media have given him. [Jorge] Mendes called me and told me that."

Ronaldo, 32, only signed a new deal with Real in November and is under contract until 2021, though his disgruntlement has caused an issue for Perez as he begins his new term as the head of the European and Spanish champions.

When speaking publicly on Monday having ran unopposed to return as president for the next four years, Perez did not reference Ronaldo when discussing the current state of Los Blancos. Perez read a prepared speech and did not take questions from journalists at the event.

In quotes published on Marca's website, Perez said: "We have built a legendary team with the best players from Spain and the world, but also with many players from our youth academy.

"This is the model that will continue to define Real Madrid. When united, this club is practically indestructible."

Perez's latest four-year term has started as many of his previous ones have -- with frenzied transfer speculation about which big-name players might arrive at the club and, perhaps more crucially in this instance as Ronaldo's future dominates the headlines, who might end up leaving.

The Madrid electoral board met overnight and, with no other candidate putting themselves forward for election ahead of the deadline, it was confirmed that the long-serving Perez would continue in the role, taking his overall stay in the position to 18 years.

Published in Sports

Wife of billionaire kidnapper, Evans, arrested recently in Lagos has begged the authorities to temper justice with mercy and give her husband a second chance.

The wife, Precious, who is based abroad said she was not privy to the exploits of her dare-devil husband Chikwudubem Onwuamadike, a.k.a. Evans.

In a recent interview with Vanguard newspaper, Precious revealed that she could not believe all that she had heard about her husband, she said she did know he was a criminal because he presented himself as a God-fearing man who always led the family in prayer. In fact, his favorite bible verse is Psalm 23.

“I feel very bad because I did not know if he was doing all these or not. Even if he was into all these, why did he not stop because of me and his children? All the time when we pray, he used to promise God that he would tell Him his story later in life. Here reads psalm 23 a lot. Even his phone, he sets alarm for 12 noon to read psalm 23. He took part in our daily prayers in the morning, evening and night. He used to lead us in prayers. We attend Anglican Church. He has never given them money to show off. We used to give N5000 or N10,000 and the highest we have given so far was N50,000 when we baptized one of our children,” she told Vanguard newspaper.

Evans, after he was captured

She also asked for forgiveness on behalf of her husband, saying his wealth should be distributed back to his victims.

She also said she would be willing to come and see the Lagos state governor to explain her own part of the story.

“I am appealing to the powers that be to spare his life (crying), as I speak now, I am kneeling down with my children, crying and begging for forgiveness. Have mercy on us. He did not know what he was doing. He did not know what came over him. I am ready to come back to Nigeria and plead on his behalf. What I am reading in the news is shocking. Though, I have not heard that he killed anybody but all those he injured or took their money should please forgive him because of me and my children.

Happier times. Precious with Evans’ children

”They should kindly forgive him, he will repent. God knows I will not be alive and see my husband doing bad thing and keep quiet. All his wealth should be sold off and given to his victims. I am ready to come back and testify on his behalf. I will also like to see the Governor of Lagos state and explain the whole thing to him.”

Published in Business and Economy
Sunday, 18 June 2017 14:18

Spain mourns slain matador Fandino

Spain’s royal family joined politicians and the bullfighting world Sunday in mourning matador Ivan Fandino, gored to death in a fight in France.

The death of Fandino, a 36-year-old from the northern Basque region, was front page news in several newspapers in Spain, where interest in the controversial centuries-old tradition remains high.

The royals paid homage on their official Twitter feed to “a great bullfighting figure” while Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy lamented the “sad news,” as did his culture minister.

Valencia torero Enrique Ponce also paid tribute to a fighter well-known for his daring.

“Dear Ivan, “Torerazo” (super torero), I shall always remember you … those glorious afternoons. May God receive you in his glory.”

French fighter Sebastien Castella wrote in Spanish that “death has taken a friend and in a sense a part of our souls.”

Fandino died in hospital on Saturday after being gored in the ribs by a bull, whose horn punctured his lung, at the Aire-sur-l’Adour bullfighting festival in the south of France.

Fandino, who had won an earlier fight and cut off the bull’s ear, was photographed being carried away from the scene by colleagues with blood seeping through his embroidered traditional costume.

Bullfighting retains its popular aura in Spain, which hosts hundreds of shows annually in a country of some six million “aficionados” who see it as a sport that is an art integral to their culture.

But recent years have seen opponents vociferously decrying it on animal rights grounds.

Only last month thousands attended a Madrid rally calling for the practice to be banned.

In 2010, the regional Catalan government voted for a ban — but last year Spain’s top court overturned that decision, judging that it was part of Spain’s common cultural heritage

Published in News & Stories
Sunday, 18 June 2017 13:21

Beyoncé delivers twins

U.S. singer, Beyonce, has given birth to twins in Los Angeles, several celebrity news websites reported on Saturday, citing unidentified sources.

Beyonce, 35, and rapper and music producer Jay Z, already have a five-year-old daughter, Blue Ivy.

E! News, citing multiple unidentified sources, reported the birth and that Jay Z and Blue Ivy were seen at a Los Angeles area hospital on Thursday.

U.S. Weekly, also citing multiple unidentified sources, reported that the couple welcomed twins earlier this week.

“Bey and Jay are thrilled and have started sharing the news with their family and closest friends,” one unidentified source told PEOPLE.

Reuters could not verify the reports. A representative for Beyonce did not respond immediately to a request for comment.

The celebrity news websites did not provide additional details, such as the date and time the twins were born or the sex of the infants.

The “Lemonade” singer, one of the most powerful women in the music business, announced the pregnancy on her Instagram account in February along with an image of her posed in lingerie and caressing a noticeable baby bump.

The announcement got more than 8 million “likes” in the first 24 hours to become the “most-liked” Instagram ever.

The R&B singer performed live at the Grammy awards in Los Angeles two weeks later, proudly displaying her swelling belly in a motherhood-themed show.

She has since posted numerous pictures of her bare baby bump on her social media accounts.

The birth of Blue Ivy caused a paparazzi storm in 2012, with New York’s Lenox Hill hospital shutting down part of its maternity wing to accommodate music’s royal couple.

News of the pregnancy came less than a year after the release of Beyonce’s 2016 album “Lemonade,” in which she appeared to address long-standing rumors of trouble in her eight-year marriage.

The lyrics of several songs spoke about being cheated on, and regretting being married.

But Beyonce made clear in the final tracks of the album and in music videos featuring Jay-Z that she had decided to stay in the relationship.

The couple have never addressed the rumors publicly. (Reuters/NAN)

Published in News & Stories

• Kingpin begs government to seize all he owns but spare his life
• Says native doctor collected 10% of loot
• Had premonition about his arrest
• Fingers aide to the transporter

Suspected kidnap kingpin, Chukwudumeje George Onwuamadike alias Evans has told his interrogators how he once bullied a Lagos transport magnate, to pay him a large sum of foreign exchange to avoid kidnap.

Evans’ initial demand was $1millon but the transport magnate, ended up parting with less than that amount.

The suspect, who is gradually adapting to life in police custody and has started eating, claimed that a close aide of the transporter provided all the information he required about the victim.

The plot to kidnap the transporter who hails from the South East, according to him, was hatched in 2013.

He said that he stopped threatening the businessman and his family once the money was paid.

The Nation gathered yesterday that although Evans still agonises about his condition in police cell, he finds time to smile and joke with his cell mates and interrogators.

The police plan to inspect all the detention camps operated by Evans and his gang.

A source said: “He collected a huge sum of dollars but not up to the $1million he demanded in order to stop threatening the man with kidnap. He also said that the native doctor who prepared charms for him is a traditional ruler and that he usually collected 10percent of the money generated.

“Evans pleaded that Eze (native doctor/monarch) should not be arrested. He said whenever they went for an operation without telling the juju man, he always knew and would confront him. He said that the native doctor most times knew he was planning something and would tell him to stay away if he foresaw danger.

“He also said he heard of the kidnap of Ikenga Nnewi but that he was not responsible for it. He said that he knew something bad would happen the week he was arrested but he didn’t know the exact thing.

“He said he was planning to travel abroad because he knew police were looking for him. Evans said he was able to evade arrest over the years because the charms his native doctor prepared made him invincible to those who wanted to hurt him.”

He claimed that he never cheated members of his gang and that he usually performed sacrifices before and after each operation.

He begged government to spare his life but is free to confiscate all his wealth and properties.

He craves a fresh lease of life to enable him turn a new leaf.

“Evans claims that he never assaulted any of his kidnap victims. That he didn’t rape the women and never slapped any of the men. He said he only chained them and ensured their families paid the demanded amount.

“He has started laughing and feeling relaxed now, unlike before. He eats rice sold by one of the caterers at the station and drinks only bottled water. He insists that his wife knew what he was doing for a living and even used to collect ransom for him.”

Published in News & Stories

These are certainly not the best of times for notorious kidnapper, Chukwudidume Onuamadike, popularly known as Evans, who was last weekend arrested by operatives of the Inspector General of Police Intelligence Response Team as he has gone spiritual in police cell.

Saturday Tribune gathered that the suspect, who is being detained at the Ikeja headquarters of the Lagos State police command, requested for a copy of the Holy Bible on Friday.

A police source, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said “he (Evans) asked for a copy of the Bible today (Friday) and we gave him one. He has been reading it since then. He has been very sober. He has been focusing on Job and Lamentations in the Bible. He kept shifting his focus between the two books of the Bible”.

Lamentations consists of series of poetic and powerful laments, traditionally ascribed to Jeremiah over the destruction of Jerusalem in 586 BC while Job is a series of monologues, giving an account of a righteous man who suffers under terrible disasters.

The police source added that “other suspects in his (Evans’) cell claimed that he has been keeping to himself. He has become quiet since the Bible was given to him this morning (Friday).”

Also, operatives of the IRT have begun analyses of the call data of the over 190 SIM cards recovered from Evans.

A police source at the IRT told Saturday Tribune that “what we are doing now is to look at the call history of all the SIM cards and possibly arrest other members of his gangs who may want to continue with the business.

“We are still looking at the possibility that he has more SIM cards, but he stated that the only remaining few are with his wife but we still want to continue with our investigations. We want to put a permanent end to his gangs. We want to ensure that every single member of all his gangs is arrested.”

He also stated that “he (Evans) is very experienced and some of his gang members might have acquired enough experience to start a new gang but we will put an end to Evans’ dynasty in kidnapping and other crimes.”

A source at the Force Headquarters, Abuja, told Saturday Tribune that apart from ACP Abba Kyari, the leader of the police team who was recently promoted, the Inspector General has approved the promotion of all other members of the team.

A close neighbour of Evans in Magodo (names withheld) told the media that he was yet to recover from the shock of realising that he had lived so closely with Nigeria’s most-wanted kidnapper.

He recalled that he and Evans used to have their haircut at the same barbing salon in Shangisha.

It was learnt that he usually paid the same amount for the haircut as his neighbour in order to take any attention of affluence away from him.

He was also said to be a regular face at the bar sharing fence with the salon, with those who sat around him before claiming that he never exceeded two bottles of beer at any given drinking session.

“He (Evans) is well known around here and it is a big surprise that he was wanted by police for close to four years,” the source said, while raising the suspicion of collusion, either with certain persons within Magodo who allegedly kept watch for him, or within the security system.

However, cab hire operators around Magodo and Shangisha were said to have been the biggest beneficiaries of his generosity.

Regardless of the distance, he reportedly paid high amount, making him very popular among them.

Whenever he was done with barbing his hair or taking his beer, he would, according to those who knew him, pick a cab to his Fred Soboyede home, a distance of less than 10 minutes, for a high amount of money.

One rule, however, was that the cab operator would not take him to his house.

One of his neighbours said “he always disembarked from the taxi at our area and would walk home.”

His mansion is part of the three on the first plot on the street.

It was also learnt that cars were rarely seen in his compound, with a shouting distance neighbour disclosing that “cars had never been parked in his home, which we now believe was to ensure he wasn’t being trailed and avoid being trailed at all through car registration.

“It was only yesterday, in about a year of him being with us here, that the house was without light. He wasn’t using government electricity. His noiseless generator was always on, every minute of the day.”

A police source, who pleaded for anonymity, while speaking on the recent arrest of Evans, disclosed that he was also very popular in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, where he had choice houses and other properties in many parts of the state.

Another reliable police source also told the said that Evans took police operatives to a mechanic’s workshop on Liasu Road, Ikotun, Lagos, on Tuesday, where one of his cars, which got damaged in an accident within the area, was kept.

However, a couple of high-profile residents had already made representations to the Chief Security Officer (CSO) of the estate on how to sanitise the area.

Apart from this, the police are set to spread their dragnets in a bid to root out more kidnappers in Lagos State.

“With the arrest of Evans, we hope to crack other gangs that live like kings in Lagos State,” the police source added.

Evans was the acclaimed brains behind most of the high-profile kidnap cases in the country. For over four years, he was declared wanted in Edo, Anambra and Lagos states.

According to a police source, who spoke anonymously, “Vampire is the most deadly kidnapper in Nigerian history and Evans remains the most notorious, brilliant and crafty kidnapper in our history.

A police source had told the media that “after a strategic monitoring by our men, Evans was tracked to Magodo in Lagos and he was finally arrested by ACP Kyari and his men at his Magodo Estate mansion in Lagos State.

Published in Headliners
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