Dozens of distraught parents and guardians on Saturday besieged Government Science Secondary School, Kankara, Katsina State in search of their children and wards, following an attack on the school by gunmen on Friday night.
Hundreds of students could not be accounted for on Saturday, although the police said they rescued 200.
Many are feared abducted by the hoodlums.
President Muhammadu Buhari, who arrived in the state on a private visit a few hours before the attack, directed the army and the police to go after the bandits immediately with a view to rescuing the missing children.
In its first reaction to the attack, the state government ordered the closure of all boarding schools to avert a reoccurrence.
Governor Aminu Masari said no one could yet ascertain the number of students who were kidnapped.
Speaking with reporters, the governor said 426 students had been counted as safe.
“This incident has gone beyond imagination,” he said in Hausa.
“For us, it’s highly worrisome and disturbing. I am assuring parents and guardians of these children that – we couldn’t say that we are more disturbed than them – but to rest assured that we share the same worries with them, because we know that we have the responsibility to protect their lives and their health.”
The governor said he had met with the army, who told him they were on top of the situation as efforts intensified to locate the bandits.
“And by God’s grace, we will do all that it takes to rescue the entire abducted students,” Masari said.
“I urge you people in the name of Allah and his prophet to please remain patient and intensify prayers.
“This is because sharing blames and all sorts of abuses are not the solution in this trying time. Honestly speaking, we are not enjoying what is taking place and we are not executing what we are supposed to do when it comes to the issue of protection of the lives of our people.
“We want to assure you that we will do all that is possible on the school children, as we have directed the immediate closure of all schools in the state and that all students should be taken back home.”
The gunmen stormed the school at about 11.30 pm in an attack reminiscent of the April 14, 2014 night invasion of Government Girls Secondary School, Chibok, Borno State by the terror sect, Boko Haram.
Students, teachers, and non-teaching staff fled into surrounding bush for their lives.
A headcount in the boarding school yesterday amid reports that hundreds of them had been abducted indicated that 54 students were missing.
Eight hundred and eighty four students were said to be in the school at the time of the attack.
The state police command said 200 of the students who fled for safety were found by the divisional police officer in the area and returned.
The police said they received report of the attack around 11:30 pm. They were told that bandits armed with AK-47 rifles had attacked the school.
One of the policemen on security duties on the school premises was shot during the attack.
He was rushed to the hospital for treatment.
The Katsina State Police Command, in its account of the incident, said the fully armed bandits announced their arrival with heavy shooting.
Spokesman for the command, Superintendent Gambo Isa, said: “Yesterday (Friday), around 11:30pm, we heard a report that bandits in their numbers armed with their AK-47 rifles attacked Government School, Kankara, and they were shooting sporadically.
“We had our men guarding the school, so there was an exchange of gunfire. That gave the students an opportunity to escape. Many of them scaled through the fence of the school.
“The attackers injured one of our inspectors. Reinforcement was drafted and the DPO led an armoured personnel carrier (APC) team.
“While we were exchanging fire with the bandits, they were retreating into the forest. This morning, the DPO called and said he had found over 200 of the students that escaped.
“Search parties are still rallying into the town and nearby farms in order to get the students that escaped from the school.
“So, we are still counting the numbers in order to know those that are missing. We cannot ascertain at this particular time whether these bandits were able to kidnap any of the students.
“Counting is still ongoing because the students had the opportunity of scaling the fence for safety. Later on, we will be able to confirm if some students were kidnapped because they will call to demand ransom in their usual way.”
He said a combined operation of the police, army, and the Air Force was working closely with the school authorities to ascertain the actual number of the missing or kidnapped students while search parties are assiduously working with a view to rescuing the missing students.
He added that no death was recorded during the attack.
Governor Aminu Masari has ordered immediate closure of all boarding secondary schools in the state.
The governor, who visited the school in company of his deputy, Mannir Yakubu, other government officials, some parents, traditional and religious leaders as well as security officials, pleaded with the people to be patient and show restraints and understanding.
Amid sobs, the governor assured them that government would do every necessary thing to ensure the release of any abducted student.
He said already, the military, the police and the Department of State Security had swung into action and were on the trail of the bandits.
Masari said the Federal and state governments were doing their best to bring an end to banditry and other debilitating criminal activities in the state.
“The government is very firm in its resolve to be ruthless in any engagement with the bandits,” he said.
Speaking to reporters during the visit, Masari said: “This is a big tragedy, and our concern and commitment towards rescuing the schoolboys is beyond measure.
“We can’t say we are more concerned than the parents, but we deeply share in their pains, knowing full well that we are responsible for the protection of their lives and well-being.
“The soldiers have informed me that they are currently battling with the bandits, and we will do our best to rescue them all. We have ordered the closure of all schools and directed that all the schoolboys be returned to their parents.”
President Muhammadu Buhari, who arrived in the state a few hours before the attack, directed the army and the police to go after the attackers immediately and ensure the rescue of the missing students.
The President, in a statement issued by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu, strongly condemned the attack.
He said his thoughts and prayers were with the parents of the students.
The President urged the school authorities to carry out an audit of the students population.
Parents who rushed to the school and removed their children and wards were also required to notify the school and police authorities in order to have a full account of the school population.
“I strongly condemn the cowardly bandits’ attack on innocent children at the Science School, Kankara. Our prayers are with the families of the students, the school authorities and the injured,” said President Buhari while pledging to continue to support the police and military struggle against terrorists and bandits.
The President received briefing from the Army Chief of Staff, General Tukur Buratai, who said the military, supported by air power, had located the bandits’ enclave deep inside the Zango/Paula forest in Kankara and there had been an exchange of gunfire in operation.
The police said so far, there had not been any reported student casualty.
The President directed the reinforcement of security of all schools in line with the safe schools policy of the administration.
The Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, ordered the deployment of additional operational and investigative assets to support the ongoing search and rescue operations in Kankara and its environs.
“The deployment, which includes personnel from the Police Tactical Squads and crack detectives from the Force Intelligence Bureau, will provide investigative support to the Katsina State Police Command,” Force Public Relations Officer, DCP Frank Mba, said in a statement last night.
He said: “They are also to work in sync with the military and other law enforcement agents in coordinated efforts aimed at rescuing the students, hunting down the perpetrators and bringing them to book.
“Investigations so far reveal that one of the attackers was killed and a policeman injured during the attack. The exact number of students missing cannot be ascertained at the moment as massive operations including investigations, search and rescue exercise are still ongoing.
“Meanwhile, the IGP has ordered the immediate review and strengthening of security arrangements around educational institutions in the country,” Mba said.
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) branded the attack on the school as a failure of the security system in the country.
Spokesman of the PDP, Kola Ologbondiyan, at a press conference in Abuja, asked President Buhari “who promised to lead from the front, to account for the abducted students, as the large-scale abduction happened a few hours after the President and his security machinery took over the state.”
He added: “”Our party holds as perplexing that at a time the people of Katsina should have heaved a sigh of relief because of his presence, the abduction happened right under Mr. President’s nose, in his home state where he had gone holidaying.
“This development has further exposed the failure of President Buhari to manage high level security intelligence that ought to accompany a presidential visit.
“The time of the attack buttresses the fact that President Buhari, as the commander-in-chief, is totally incapable of securing our nation; the very reason there have been widespread calls by patriotic Nigerians that he should resign.
“This insolence of Mr. President towards issues of national security compelled our caucus in the House of Representatives to demand for his impeachment.
“Our party believes that if President Buhari had listened to wise counsel as proffered by the PDP and other patriotic Nigerians including the two chambers of the National Assembly to rejig the nation’s security architecture, our situation would not have deteriorated to this sorry state.
“Moreover, this particular abduction in the President’s home state, under his watch, raises further serious questions over this government’s capacity to fight insurgency.
“This is more worrisome as the state government had been known to have established contacts with, as well as pampering bandits, which Mr. President had not condemned.”
The main opposition party called on the President Buhari to immediately quit his “needless holidaying” in Daura and go in search of the abducted pupils.
The PDP charged the President to ensure that the abducted pupils were rescued, to match his oft repeated insistence that issues of security remain his exclusive responsibility.
“Our party sympathises with the people of Katsina State, particularly the parents of the kidnapped students, who have been subjected to harrowing experience occasioned by the incompetence of the Buhari administration.
“The PDP, working in concert with other patriotic Nigerians will not rest until President Buhari finds and returns each of these students.”
Amnesty International condemned the attack on the school and the abduction of a yet to be determined number of students.
“Terrifying attacks on rural communities in the north of Nigeria have been going on for years. The ongoing failure of security forces to take sufficient steps to protect villagers from these predictable attacks is utterly shameful,” it said in a tweet by its Director in Nigeria, Osai Ojigho.
It asked government to protect the citizens, especially women and children in rural communities.
Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, in his reaction, said the abduction of a large number of students at the Government Science Secondary School, Kankara was a very unwelcome escalation of the spate of insecurity in the nation.
He said: “I sympathise with the parents of the abducted children and the government and people of Katsina, my adopted home state and home of my late benefactor, Tafida Shehu Musa Yar’adua. I pray for their safe return.
“While I urge our nation’s law enforcement agencies to immediately swing to action and rescue the missing students, I am nevertheless conscious of the fact that we cannot continue to be reactionary in our response to the growing insecurity in Nigeria. Something has to give.
“I therefore call on the Federal Government to immediately declare a state of emergency in states bedevilled by banditry and terrorism for an offensive and decisive war on terror and insecurity.
“For the avoidance of doubt, the emergency I call for should follow the steps prescribed by the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended), and case law, by leaving all democratically elected state and local government structures intact.
“The rationale is quite simple: We cannot win the war on terror by continuing with the same strategies we have deployed over the last five years. That they have not worked is very glaring, with the Government Science Secondary School, Kankara incident being the latest in a long line of proofs.
“If we must get better results, we must implement better strategies. Strategies that may have to include the temporary stoppage of the boarding school system in favour of a day students approach, until the situation is brought under control.
“Strategies that must include 24 hours armed military guard for each school in the affected states.
“No sacrifice is too great to make to return law and order to the affected communities, and that must be the singular focus of the Federal Government until this menace is eradicated.”
The House of Representatives on Thursday said it was still expecting President Muhammadu Buhari to appear before it to shed light on the security situation in the country.
Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila told State House Correspondents that the lawmakers expected the president to fulfil his promise to appear before the House as a man of honour and integrity.
He said Buhari, who has not honoured the promise, was yet to communicate with the House on why he has not appeared before the lawmakers.
However, on Wednesday, Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice Abubakar Malami said the parliament lacked the power to invite the President.
Also, the Senate had dissociated itself from the invitation extended to the President by the House.
Deputy Senate President Ovie Omo-Agege said it is unconstitutional and an aberration for any arm of the national Assembly to summon the President to speak before it.
The Senate Committee Media and Public Affairs Chairman, Ajibola Bashiru, said the Senate had nothing to do with the invitation.
The House maintained that its resolution on the invitation of the President has not been withdrawn.
The Chairman of its Committee on Media and Publicity, Benjamin Kalu told reporters after plenary that since the House was yet to receive any official communication from the President, it would be wrong assume that he would not honour the invitation.
On Thursday, All Progressives Congress (APC) chieftain and Director-General of the Voice of Nigeria ( VON), Osita Okechukwu, said the President’s appearance before the House would be counter-productive, adding that it would heat up the polity.
Shedding light on why Buhari was summoned to the House, Kalu clarified that the move was not to ridicule him over security matters.
He explained that the President was invited for an engagement with the House on ways to address the lingering security challenges and get a feedback from him on steps already taken on the situation.
He emphasised that the House did not act in error by inviting the president, stressing that lawmakers were exercising their constitutional rights.
Kalu said the parliament was constitutionally empowered to order the arrest of a sitting President, adding that the power was not being exercised because of the immunity clause as contained in Section 308 of the constitution.
He added that the Attorney-General of the Federation was neither a spokesman of the President nor that of the All Progressives Congress (APC), adding that he cannot be said to have spoken for the party.
Kalu acknowledged the president’s right to listen to the advice of the party in the spirit of party supremacy.
He said: “When that motion was passed last week, the House was rowdy. It was rowdy because some people wanted the President to be here and others felt otherwise. But, majority of our members, through the mandate of their constituents, moved the resolution, even against the position of the Speaker.
“If you were there, you will discover that the Speaker struggled to ensure that the House towed the line of using diplomatic approach to it. But, the position of the parliament overrides the presiding officer because to do otherwise is to be biased. At the end of the day, it is the opinion of the people that matters.
“As a mark of honour, the leadership of the House sent a delegation made up of the Speaker, Deputy Speaker and the Majority Leader to engage the President beyond the resolution of the House, which was not compelling him or summoning him to come as many put it. It was an invitation.
“The House invited Mr. President. There is a difference between compelling and inviting and the ability to resolve this will enable us to know the mood of the House and the intention of the House. The President assured them and we believe in the integrity of the words of the President, having shown commitment to address Nigerians. But, the date was not specified.
“There was official communication from the President committing to the position of the Speaker that the President has accepted to come, which was a confirmation that the Speaker and his delegation were not acting on their own.
“Up to that extent, we felt very honoured by the President, having communicated his desire to engage with Nigerians, especially when his aide made it more obvious that he has shown interest to address the parliament.
“What we operate is a democracy that is hinged on party supremacy. This is not a military rule where one man takes a decision. Beyond the President lies the supremacy of the party. The President answers to the party even though he is the leader.
“He is not more powerful than the party because he is President on the card given to him by the party. So, if he took a position as President of the country and his political party which is supreme weigh on him to alter his position, if he is truly a party man, he must have obliged his party.
“We have not received any formal or official communication from the Presidency. The time now is past One o’clock, Thursday, December 10, we are yet to receive a formal communication from the office of the President stating that the appointment is cancelled or shifted. We have received any communication from the President saying ‘I am no more coming’. All you have heard are from unofficial sources
“The question then is what is the relevance of this visit and whether it is morally or legally right? Nigerians have been asking this question. The Parliament does not have a different voice from the voice of Nigerians. If you want to know what parliament feels about an issue, the easiest way is to feel the pulse of those who sent us here.”
On the position of the Minister of Justice, Kalu said: “I would have said let us leave the judicial and legal interpretation of the constitution to the judiciary.
“If you want to address the question on whether the House as a committee of the whole is investigating insecurity, money appropriated for security, inefficiency in security or any petition around insecurity, if the House has the power to look into that, the answer is yes. The position of the law as contained in Section 4 of the Armed Forces Act, the President is Chairman of the Security Council.
“The Armed Forces Act is a legislation made by the parliament. It is the provision of Section 89 that we have the right to investigate issues bothering on any issue that we have power to legislate on. It is called legislative competence.
“We have the competence to legislate on all these. Therefore, if there are things that we need to find out in those areas, the power empowers us to invite any person for the purpose of obtaining any evidence or information.
“There is also a section in the constitution which is the power to arrest or command presence of the President. But, because of Section 308 which guarantees immunity, we cannot exercise that. The power of discretion (section 218) is there. The power of discretion as found in section 67 (1) which says the President may visit the National Assembly to address certain issues is discretional.
“But, if the House is investigating any issue that bother on all the places that we make laws, the position of section 88 and 89 is there that we have power to invite people to give us evidence. But, the question is, is the President under investigation? Or did we invite the President for investigation? The answer is no.
“We invited him to have an engagement that will help us review few things and to know whether the strategies we are using now is in order or not and get feedback. We cannot command the President to attend, but we can invite him.”
However, Okechukwu maintained that Buhari should not honour the invitation.
He said: “My take is that it is better for Mr President to stay away in the midst of the storm. I support APC governors, Attorney-General of Federation and all those who advised Mr President to hold on.
“The heat his appearance will generate will be too much. Those who are condemning his non-appearance today should be mindful of the anger in the land.
“The management and control of the security sector is exclusively vested on the President by Section 218 (1) of the Constitution as the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, including the power to determine the operational use of the armed forces. An invitation that seeks to put the operational use of the armed forces to a public interrogation is indeed taking the constitutional rights of law making beyond bounds.”
Asked for his take on the disagreement of some prominent senior advocates to the Minister on the points of law?
“In fact, from the musings and comments from some members of the NASS, your imagination is better than mine on the vile embarrassment and darts which seem targeted at Mr President. Indeed, only God knows the huge embarrassment packaged for him.”
“No one will deny the hovering political land mines and propaganda grenades packaged for Mr President.
“For me these propaganda grenades are neither solution nor security plan. We share the same anguish over the insecurity in the land, but let’s not forget the mileages covered since 2015 by Buhari’s regime.
“Mr President can attend when the storm is over or as President Franklin D. Roosevelt did on 6 January, 1941 when the World War II was raging to address the nation.”
By Taiwo Okanlawon/ PM NEWS
Two suspected female kidnappers were lynched and set ablaze by an angry mob at Ojude Oba area of Iwo, Osun State on Thursday.
PM NEWS gathered that the women with another man had gone to kidnap a child around Ori Eru but luck ran out of them and they were caught but the male kidnapper escaped.
A witness told PM NEWS that the outburst of the people in the area attracted passers-by where the suspects were still being held.
The witness said the passers-by later marched the two female suspects to Oba’s palace where they were set ablaze alive.
SIR: There have been persistent calls from various angles for President Muhammadu Buhari to take a bow and resign due to the deteriorating insecurity bedevilling the country. The first group to ask for Buhari’s resignation is Northern Elders Forum (NEF), followed by other socio-cultural groups.
In 2015 when President Buhari and his party (APC), were looking for votes and the country was grappling with myriad security and economic challenges, their campaign promises were premised on securing the country, fighting corruption and fixing the economy. The enthusiasm and expectations that greeted his first coming were high. Although, it took him six months to constitute his cabinet, Nigerians had confidence that Buhari administration would be the best thing to happen to their democracy.
To the satisfaction of Nigerians, the war against Boko Haram insurgents improved significantly. The bombing of places of worship, markets and motor parks were contained and drastically reduced. The people of Northeast who were held hostage by the dreaded Boko Haram heaved a sigh of relief, as the group were pushed back and their negative operation limited to soft targets. Our battered economy improved before it was hit in the third quarter of 2016 with recession. Notwithstanding, the government, through its social investment programs such as N-power, Trader-moni, school feeding stimulated the economy and development. The war against corruption took an impressive turn with many corrupt people arrested and their illegally acquired assets recovered or seized. At least, Buhari first tenure deserves a pat on its back for delivering on its campaign promises.
The second coming is markedly different. The president seems to have lost it. His popularity has continued to wane on daily basis. Many Nigerians who thought he would be the Messiah have given up His die-hard supporters have started expressing anger and frustration with the way and manner which he is piloting the affairs of the country. This cannot be unconnected with the rising cases of insecurity, poverty and hunger in the country with government looking helplessly on. The North which gave Buhari the highest votes both in 2015 and 2023 election is bleeding. Bandits and kidnappers have overrun the region. The recent massacre of over 43 rice farmers in Zabarmani has proven that the war against the insurgents is far from over. What Nigerians keep hearing from Mr. President is that, he has been giving directives to the service chiefs to arrest the situation and do the needful. While Mr. president claims to have absolute confidence in his service chiefs, most Nigerians have long passed a vote of no confidence on them due to the escalation of attacks under their watch.
Constitutionally, President Buhari was elected in 2019 to serve for another four-year term. Buhari is neither terminally ill nor has he committed impeachable offences to warrant his impeachment or resignation. Instead of calling for his head, Mr. President’s appointees should save his neck by buckling up. Let them tell him Nigerians are suffering with insecurity spreading like bush fire.
President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday told 36 governors that the Federal Government was looking into reopening the nation’s borders ‘as soon as possible’.
He charged them to work more with traditional rulers and community members to improve local intelligence gathering that will aid the work of security agencies.
Buhari on his official twitter handle @MBuhari said, “In my meeting with State Governors today I explained that the closure of Nigeria’s land borders was partly an attempt to control the smuggling in of weapons & drugs. Now that the message has sunk in with our neighbours, we’re looking into reopening the borders as soon as possible.
“Intelligence-gathering is also very critical to ensuring lasting security in Nigeria. In this regard, everyone has a role to play, in addition to the security agencies: Governors, traditional rulers, community leaders, citizens. We must all work to boost intelligence-gathering.
President Buhari gave assurances that the country’s military will continue to get the support they needed to fight criminals.
“We are investing heavily in weapons and equipment for our military. They have already received armoured cars and other equipment, and aircraft, and more will come in. We will continue to give them all the support they need to fight criminals. We must and will secure Nigeria.”
By Taiwo Okanlawon/ PM NEWS
Nobel Laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka has said the high level of insecurity in the country is so much that people now sleep with one eye open and the other closed.
Soyinka stated this at the launching of his new novel titled, ‘Chronicles Of The Happiest People On Earth’ held at Terra Kulture Arena, Victoria Island, Lagos.
Speaking at the book presentation, Soyinka said except “our leaders allow a decentralization of governance and accept that they have failed, we might have a new set of conflagration along different lines unlike before.”
“I think we are not merely at war, we are in a war zone,” he maintained.
“The term, one eye open and one eye close has become a common parlance everywhere” he said.
Asked whether he feels things have changed since independence, the literary icon said nothing has really changed, adding that the more things seem to be changing, the more they remain the same.
Soyinka also decried the dependence of Nigerians on religion, adding that it reduces our humanity. He also said it is only when Nigerians learn to reduce their total dependence on religion, that is the only way they can habit with it.
Senegalese football hero Papa Bouba Diop, who died in France last week aged 42, has been buried at a private ceremony at his birthplace near Dakar.
On Friday, President Macky Sall led tributes to him, saying the nation's loss was "immense".
Diop scored the only goal in the 2002 World Cup match which saw Senegal upset then reigning champions France.
Several of his former teammates, some overcome with emotion, attended Friday's ceremony.
They wore the shirts of the national team bearing his name, and his number, 19.
Striker El Hadji Diouf said Diop had been a model team-mate, while Henri Camara said he had lost his "twin brother".
Diop's body was flown back on Friday from Lens in northern France, where he died after a long illness.
President Sall said that Diop's goal against France meant Senegal would go down in the annals of global football.
After beating France, Senegal reached the quarter-finals. No African team has gone further.
The president announced that a museum at a 50,000-seater stadium being built outside the capital, Dakar, would be named after Diop, who has also been given a posthumous national award, the Knight of the National Order of Merit.
The highlight of his club career was winning the 2008 FA Cup with Portsmouth. He also played for Fulham, West Ham United, Birmingham City and French club Lens.
His Portsmouth manager Harry Redknapp last week told the BBC he was "very lucky to have managed such a fantastic boy - he was special".
"They called him the Wardrobe, he was so big you couldn't move him," he said.
Deputy Senate Majority Leader and Chairman Senate Committee on Science and Technology, Ajayi Boroffice, has revealed that the space agency that should be employing scientists and engineers are employing graduates of religious studies and other unrelated courses.
The senator that said the agency needs to be sanitised, adding that presently, such actions amount to misemployment, considering that the support staff of the agency constitutes about 80 per cent of the workforce.
He stated that for efficiency, the agency needs scientists to constitute about 70 per cent of the workforce instead of what is in existence at present.
Boroffice added that the Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) is presently scrutinising the employment documents of the agency.
He said this on Friday in Abuja at the annual national space dialogue/media conference on space science and technology.
The Deputy Senate Majority Leader also added that he learnt that people are made to pay between N2 million to N2.5 million for employment, describing it as sad.
He said: “How can you be taking people with religious studies in space centre? It is misemployment when the support staff that constitute about 80 per cent are the workforce. It is wrong.
“We need experience. We need scientists to constitute about 70% per cent of the workforce but the reverse is the case.
“I learnt that the ICPC is around, scrutinising employment documents, I heard employment is earned with N2 million, N2.5 million. It is sad.
“We have to reexamine ourselves. We have to sanitise the space agency so that we can achieve the purpose of nation itself.”
In response, the Minister of Science and Technology, Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu, said the government was determined to correct the mistakes made.
He said: “I want to assure you that this administration is very interested and this minister here is a big champion for space science and technology, and we will continue to do the best we can.
“We are trying to ensure that some additional satellites are put in orbit.
“I will like to assure the deputy majority leader of the Senate that we agree with you about the mistakes that were made here.
“They are also mistakes that you can find in government institutions. But we are determined to correct those mistakes and we are taking the neccesary steps to make sure they are corrected.”
A Federal High Court in Lagos Friday heard how a former Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) President Mr. Paul Usoro allegedly received N1.1billlion from the Akwa-Ibom State Government.
Usoro is being prosecuted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for an alleged N1.4billion fraud.
He was first arraigned on December 18, 2018 before Justice Muslim Hassan of the same court.
He was later re-arraigned on March 1, 2019 on a 10-count charge bordering on money laundering to the tune of N1.4bn.
An EFCC witness Abdulrahman Arabo testified against Usoro Friday at the resumed sitting before Justice Rilwan Aikawa.
Led in evidence by prosecution counsel, U.U. Buhari, Arabo told the court that the defendant failed to link the money found in his account to the cases he claimed to be handling in courts.
When asked by the defence counsel, O.E.B Effiong SAN, if he received any letter from the defendant that was addressed to the Chairman of the EFCC stating the details of the job he did for the Akwa-Ibom State government and the payment received, Arabo answered in the affirmative.
Arabo, during cross-examination by the defence, also revealed that “there was an allegation that the defendant was laundering money for the Akwa-Ibom State government, and the evidence showed that he received about N1.bn between 2015 and 2016 from the State Government.”
Arabo, however, denied holding the defendant till the wee hours of the night of June 4, 2020, during his first visit to the EFCC office in Abuja.
He said the delay experienced by the defendant on the said day was due to the fact that he had been given a bail condition to meet and his international passport was to be brought to him at the EFCC office in Abuja from Lagos.
Justice Aikawa adjourned till December 4, for continuation of trial.
One of the counts against the defendant reads: “That you, Paul Usoro, SAN, Emmanuel Udom (currently constitutionally immune against criminal prosecution), Uwemedimo Thomas Nwoko (still at large), Nsikan Linus Nkan, Commissioner of Finance, Akwa Ibom State (still at large), Mfon Jacobson Udomah, Accountant-General, Akwa Ibom State (still at large) and Margaret Thompson Ukpe (still at large), sometime in 2015 in Nigeria, within the jurisdiction of this Honourable court, conspired amongst yourselves to commit an offence, to wit: conversion of the sum of N1. 410, 000, 000, 000.00 (One Billion, Four Hundred and Ten Million Naira), property of the Government of Akwa Ibom State of Nigeria, which sum you reasonably ought to have known forms part of the proceeds of an unlawful activity to wit: criminal breach of trust and thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 18(a) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2011 as amended and punishable under Section 15(3) of the same Act.”
He pleaded “not guilty”
By Ariwodola Idowu/Ado Ekiti/ PM NEWS
The Chinese expatriate, kidnapped in Ekiti state last week, has been released, with the payment of a record N100m ransom, about $220,000.
The expatriate, identified simply as Wang, works for the company engaged by the Ekiti State government to build the new Ado Ekiti-Iyin Ekiti road.
He was abducted last Friday at the site by gunmen, who also killed one of the policemen attached to the company.
A source close to the company said the abductee was released by his captors around 11pm on Tuesday after the payment of N100 million ransom.
According to the source, the ransom was collected in Kwara state, and the expatriate was released around Ilawe-Igede road in Ekiti state. According to the source, the ransom was collected in Kwara state, and the expatriate was released around Ilawe-Igede road in Ekiti state.
“The N100 million was taken to a bush in Kwara state where the kidnappers collected and confirmed it before the man was released at a very difficult location along Igede-Ilawe road in Ekiti state.
Reacting, the Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO) in Ekiti state, ASP Sunday Abutu, confirmed the release, but declined to comment on the ransom.
He claimed the release was made possible after a serious manhunt for the kidnappers was launched by a combined team of security operatives.
“Yes, he was released after a serious manhunt and pressure from the security operatives around Ilawe-Igede at about 11:30 pm on Tuesday,” he said.
Sixty-six Nigerians are spending various terms in prisons in Bangladsh for fraud and other crimes, a report by the country’s top newspaper, Dhaka Tribune said.
The Nigerians make up majority of the 86 Africans jailed across the country.
The other 20 prisoners are from Cameroon, Tanzania, Ghana, Algeria, Mali and Kenya.
There are 2927 people from 32 African countries now staying in Bangladesh.
Among them, 455 have already crossed their visa expiration dates.
Many Nigerians end up staying in Bangladesh past their visa expiration date due to the long visa renewal process.
There is no Nigerian embassy in Bangladesh, and visas have to be processed in New Delhi.
A total of 157 Africans are accused of fraud and some other charges, according to information from the Special Branch (SB) of police
The Dhaka Tribune said fraudsters from Nigeria have recruited Bangladeshi counterparts to join their crimes and have succeeded in scamming many victims.
Several fraudsters from Nigeria have been detained by Bangladeshi law enforcement agencies over the past year, leaving honest members of Bangladesh’s Nigerian community feeling ashamed.
Members of the Nigerian community said the parlous economic condition in Nigeria led many of their countrymen to turn to a life of crime, including fraud.
Nigerian fraudsters come to countries like Bangladesh, India, and Pakistan as they see them as lands of opportunity, and they bring disrepute on the entire community when they are caught.
Asking to remain anonymous, a Nigerian student in Bangladesh said: “There are good people and bad people in every country. Please do not judge us because of the misdeeds of these criminals [Nigerian fraudsters].”
In raids on August 6 and July 22 this year and July 4 last year, a total of 16 Nigerians and two of their Bangladeshi associates were detained by law enforcement agencies.
On October 23 this year, Nigerian Chukwuemeka Samuel was detained from Dhaka’s Khilket area for fraud.
Most of the fraudsters travelled to Bangladesh on business visas. Several Nigerian students are in the country on student and player visas, but there are no allegations of criminal activities against them.
The scams used by the caught Nigerian fraudsters differed in minor details but shared a similar structure.
Bangladeshi fraudsters often play crucial roles in the scams by posing as local officials.
The scammers would usually make first contact with potential victims through fake accounts on social media platforms or messenger services, such as Facebook or WhatsApp.
After gaining the victim’s trust, the scammers would offer them a sum of money as a gift or prize.
Chukwuemeka Samuel would claim to be Coca Cola representative Richard Phillip and told his victims they had received a cash prize.
Some of the fraudsters would contact their victims while posing as female American soldiers in Syria who wanted to give away their money.
When the victims came to collect the money, usually at Dhaka airport or Chittagong port, they would be met by the Bangladeshi associates of the Nigerian fraudsters.
The Bangladeshi fraudsters, posing as customs officials, would demand that the victim pay a 10% “customs tax” before collecting the money.
The fraudsters sometimes threatened to file embezzlement charges against the victim if they did not pay. After collecting the “tax” from the victim, the fraudsters would disappear without giving anything in turn.
One victim lost Tk2 crore in this manner, after being told she had won Tk20 crore at an online art competition.
The fraudsters had initially contacted her through email and asked her to submit a painting.
Nigerian Jacob Frank, who owns a restaurant opposite Jamuna Future Park in Dhaka and has been living in Bangladesh for many years.
He helped many fraudsters from Nigeria with their entry visas, according to the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) Organized Crime unit Additional Superintendent of Police Zakir Hossain.
Most of the fraudsters who have been detained gained visas by claiming they were travelling for garment business purposes, Zakir added.
“Among the culprits, most of them lived in the Basundhara and Pallabi areas. There is no evidence of any crime by Nigerian students or those who are here on player visas,” the CID official continued.
Additional Superintendent of Police Zakir said there are two main reasons fraudsters from Nigeria target Bangladesh.
“First, there are a lot of uneducated people in Bangladesh and it is easy to cheat them, so they are easy targets.
“Second, there are quite a few people who are very greedy and the Nigerian fraudsters take advantage of this greed as well,” he said.
West African gold producer Ghana is preparing to elect a president on Dec. 7, in a race dubbed the “battle of two giants.”
Incumbent Nana Addo Akufo-Addo of the ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP) will face former president John Dramani Mahama, leader of the National Democratic Congress (NDC).
It is the third time Akufo-Addo and Mahama will compete against each other for the highest office, with each previously having won one poll – Akufo-Addo in 2016 and Mahama in 2012.
Although 12 candidates are vying for the presidency, including two women, only Akufo-Addo and Mahama are said to have a chance of coming out victorious.
The electoral campaign has been dominated by Ghana’s economy, infrastructure development, education, corruption, and debt relief.
Akufo-Addo, 76, has been touting economic growth during his current four-year term in office as well as the streamlining of government services and implementation of free schooling for senior high school pupils.
Mahama, 62, has meanwhile stressed the many infrastructure projects, including roads, bridges, schools and hospitals, he realised during his presidency, promising do invest more in this area if re-elected.
Political analysts of the University of Ghana in the capital, Accra, predict a slim win for Akufo-Addo in the December elections.
Polls have indicated voters prefer Akufo-Addo’s policy-driven approach to running the nation of 30 million people, the university’s head of the political science department, Kaakyire Frempong, told dpa.
A candidate needs to gain at least 50 per cent of votes to be elected in the first round.
Ghana’s roughly 17 million registered voters will also elect 275 legislators from 914 candidates on Dec. 7.
Akufo-Addo’s NPP is expected to once again gain the majority of seats in parliament.
Voting will take place at more than 33,000 polling stations between 7 am and 5 pm (0700 and 1700 GMT).
The electoral commission will announce results within 72 hours after the election.
Pep Guardiola said his forward players have to score more goals after ending a recent drought with a 5-0 thrashing of Burnley to bounce back to winning ways in the Premier League.
Riyad Mahrez scored a hat-trick, while Benjamin Mendy and Ferran Torres bagged their first Premier League goals as City eased to within six points of league leaders Liverpool with a game in hand.
“We have to score, that’s why they are here and play upfront,” said Guardiola.
“Especially for Riyad. Gabriel (Jesus) has to score, (Raheem) Sterling when he plays has to score goals.
“The most important thing now is we have almost 21 players fit; this is important.”
Mahrez was one of four changes Guardiola made from a 1-0 win at Olympiakos in midweek that booked City’s place in the last 16 of the Champions League, and he took the most of his chance to start with Sterling left on the bench.
The Algerian opened the floodgates on six minutes as he swept home Kevin De Bruyne’s pass.
Mahrez then outwitted a sleeping Burnley defence as he latched onto Kyle Walker’s throw-in before dancing round three challenges and firing in off the far post.
De Bruyne was handed a rare rest in midweek and the Belgian was back to his best with another assist for Benjamin Mendy to score his first City goal over three years since arriving from Monaco.
The French left-back produced an exquisite finish by cushioning De Bruyne’s cross back across Bailey Peacock-Farrell, who had a Premier League debut to forget in the absence of England international Nick Pope.
After City’s struggles to score goals in recent weeks, the hosts made sure to cash in after the break rather than saving their energies for a hectic upcoming schedule.
Torres has been prolific in the Champions League since his signing from Valencia, but the Spanish international finally opened his Premier League account with a smart finish from Gabriel Jesus’s lay-off.
Torres was then replaced by Phil Foden and with his first touch, Foden was the provider for Mahrez to complete his hat-trick in uncharacteristic fashion with a bullet header at the back post.
“Probably the last one (was my favourite) because I don’t score too many with my head,” said Mahrez.
“Of course when you play in front and don’t score you have a bit of frustration but we had to keep working, training to get the confidence back.”
VAR came to Peacock-Farrell’s rescue after he turned the ball into his own net after a fine save to deny Jesus, with the goal ruled out for offside against the Brazilian striker.
Burnley boss Sean Dyche was angry at his side’s display as they were beaten 5-0 for the fourth straight visit to the Etihad.
“We didn’t turn up,” said Dyche.
“You are still looking for a performance. We didn’t get that in the first half. You can’t let these get their noses in front.”
By Kazeem Ugbodaga/ PM NEWS
The Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, on Friday agreed to call off its eight months old strike.
This was after an eight-hour meeting between the Federal Government and ASUU leaders in Abuja.
Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige disclosed after the meeting which ended on an amicable note.
According to Ngige, government also pledged to increase the total payment to the union to N70 billion.
Representing the union were its President, Prof. Biodun Ogunyemi and other top members.
This is happening one week after the Federal Government accepted the demand by the ASUU that they be exempted from the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System.
The union embarked on strike before Coronavirus lockdown demanding for improved working conditions and rejected the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS).
Efforts to make the lecturers go back to the classroom has proved abortive as they demanded reversal to the original pay system.