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Absence of EFCC Counsel Stalls Oyo-Ita’s N570m Fraud Trial

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The trial of the immediate past Head of the Civil Service of the Federation, Winifred Oyo-Ita, was on Wednesday, stalled due to the absence of the lawyer to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Mohammed Abubakar.

The EFCC had, on March 23, charged Oyo-Ita and eight others with 18-counts of money laundering to the tune of N570 million.

Those arraigned alongside the former HOSF were Frontline Ace Global Services Limited; Asanaya Projects Limited; Garba Umar and his companies: Slopes International Limited; Good Deal Investments Limited; Ubong Okon Effiok and his own company, U & U Global Services Limited and Prince Mega Logistics Limited.

The defendants were accused of fraud in relation to duty tour allowances (DTA); estacode; conference fees fraud and receiving kickbacks on contracts.

According to the anti-corruption agency, investigations revealed that Oyo-Ita, in her roles in the civil service as director, permanent secretary and head of service, used her companies as well as Effiok’s and Umar’s companies as fronts to receive kickbacks from contractors of various ministries and parastatal agencies she worked.

However, at the resumed hearing on Wednesday, Abubakar, the prosecution counsel, was not in court.

Oyo-Ita’s Counsel, Paul Erokoro, told Justice Taiwo Taiwo he did not know the reason for Abubakar’s absence.

Erokoro then urged the court to grant an adjournment.“Since we do not know why they are not here, we ask for a fairly long adjournment to give the prosecution time subject to the court’s convenience.“We also ask that they be issued hearing notices,” he said.

Lawyers, who represented the other defendants, aligned themselves with the submissions of Erokoro and did not object to the application for an adjournment.

Justice Taiwo, in his ruling, said he took judicial notice of the prosecutor’s absence.

He also agreed to grant a long adjournment since the matter “is not classified urgent and time bound” and to give the prosecutor time to make himself available.The judge, therefore, adjourned the case until July 8 and ordered that a hearing notice should be served on the prosecution. (NAN)

CRIME

Gunmen Attack Ortom’s Ex-Chief-of-Staff, Abduct Wife

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Suspected armed Fulani herdsmen on Friday, attacked former Chief of Staff to Benue State Governor, Honorable Terwase Orbunde, and abducted his wife and house help.

Orbunde, a former governorship aspirant of the Peoples Democratic (PDP) in Benue state served under the administration of the immediate past Governor of the state, Dr Samuel Ortom.

The attack, it was learnt took place close to the “Genocide Cemetery” along Mobile Barracks-Welfare Quarters Road in Makurdi, the state capital at about 6.

00 PM.

The former Chief of Staff escaped with a gunshot on his right arm, while the attackers whisked away his wife, Mrs Abigail Kashimana Orbunde and her house help, Patience Ogute.

Eyewitnesses told DAILY ASSET that Orbunde, his wife and the house help, had gone to inspect the their farm when the incident happened.

The eyewitnesses said after the inspection of the work and payment of the workers five gunmen suddenly attacked their victims as they walked back to their car.

The attackers were said to have opened fire and Orbunde received a bullet on the right arm, while they ordered him and the women to follow them to an unknown destination.

The shooting was said to have caused villagers and passersby to scamper for safety in different directions.

As they marched along, the former Chief of Staff was said to be bleeding profusely, witnesses further said.

The witnesses who watched from a distance said the leader of the group ordered him to walk away while the gunmen took the women to an unknown destination.

An unidentified ‘good Samaritan’ was said to have conveyed the former Chief of Staff to an undisclosed hospital for medical attention.

The State Police Commnad could not be reached for comments at the time of this report.

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CRIME

AONN Seeks Multiple Approaches to End GBV

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The Association of Orphan and Vulnerable Children (AONN) has advocated for the adoption of a multifaceted approach to combat Gender-Based Violence (SGBV) both within Nigeria and on a global scale.

Speaking during a one-day GBV sensitization in Apo-Dutse, Abuja, marking the 16 Days of Activism to End Violence Against Women and Girls, Kiema Ogunlana, the AONN FCT coordinator, stated that this has become necessary due to the increasing complexity of GBV in recent times.

 

More women are coming forward to report abuses by their wives and partners.

Additionally, there is a rising trend of children being reported as perpetrators of violent acts against their peers.

“We intervened in a recent case where a girl slashed her best friend with a razor over claims of emotional abuse,” she said.

 

Mrs. Ogunlana said AONN as an organization that focuses on children welfare, thought it wise to sensitize them irrespective of the sexual difference.

“Children within the age range of 10-17 years old were selected inline with the year’s 16-day  activism theme: ‘Unite! Invest to prevent violence against women and girls.’

“When we say ‘unite,’ we mean the total involvement of everyone to achieve a violence-free society. 

“Including the males in such sensitization is important because the boys will grow up to become men and husbands to the girls. If they are ignorant of the forms of violence, they will continue perpetrating violent actions against the female folks,” she said.

Mrs. Ogunlana mentioned that the children were also taught how to deal with an abuser. “Every child is a product of learning from his or her society, and we have emphasized the need to speak out given the recent rise in mental health cases. The children were able to internalize the lessons learned and called out for the end of violence,” she added.

The District Head of Apo Dutse, Ishaku Sagbede, highlighted the wisdom of engaging children in such sensitization while welcoming members of AONN to his palace. 

“Indeed, the increase in violence among children is a reflection of the entire society, but with such sensitization Nigeria will become like London,” he asserted.

The Daisy Oak Program’s Manager, Chibueze Okechukwu, admonished the children of the consequences of SGBV, using rhymes to press the message home.

Program Manager of the Catholic Action Committee on HIV/AIDS (CACA) noted that most children suffer from abuse but do not know that they are being abused.

“When children come to understand the term ‘abuse,’ that is the only time they can speak out,” she said.

Chito Obiora-Anaekwe further said that the organization has caseworkers who follow up on cases of abuse in the community. She added that victims are beginning to speak out as a result of such activism over the years.

Segun Samuel, representing the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Primary Health Board, said girls and women are mostly affected by Gender-Based Violence as a result of early or forced marriage. “Women are denied access to medical services as a result of cultural practices. These have ripple effects. The most commonly experienced issues are Vesicovaginal Fistula (VVF), obstructed labor, and maternal risks.”

The event also included a session on personal hygiene carried out by Sam Empowerment Foundation, Communication Officer, Chiamaka Nwankwo.

Additionally, free services such as HIV/AIDS Testing Services, Hepatitis testing, Malaria Testing, Drug dispensary, and counseling services were offered to the children.

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CRIME

Tiv Residents in America Seek Justice for Late Joshua Terngu Gwebe

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The Mutual Union of the Tiv in America (MUTA), a non-profit and non-partisan charitable organization representing the Tiv community in the Americas, has condemned in strong terms, what it described as “the horrific and violent mob attack on Joshua Terngu Gwebe, a young Tiv man, on November 20, 2023”

“This attack, stemming from unfounded allegations of car theft, is unacceptable and regrettable,” the association said in a statement released by its President, Dr Akaa D.

Ayangeakaa, and Secretary General, Beeior Rov-Ikpah.

“We are deeply concerned about the unprofessional conduct of the Nigerian Police Force, particularly the reported involvement of a Superintendent of Police, Mr Haliru, in this assault.

Instead of performing his duties as a peace officer, he was alleged to have participated in the attack on Mr. Gwebe and Tersoo, a passerby who merely communicated with the victim in our native Tiv language. This incident culminated in the tragic death of Mr. Gwebe in police custody. The grievous loss of Mr Gwebe due to such conduct cannot be overlooked or excused. 

“The actions of the mob, fueled by a baseless accusation from Mr Barka Ibrahim, a taxi driver, and the complicity of police officers, including, SP Haliru, are reprehensible and unacceptable. This case is a stark example of the mob mentality plaguing Nigeria, which has no place in a democratic society. Furthermore, the ethnic profiling of Tiv people is a serious issue that demands immediate attention and action. Such discriminatory practices undermine the principles of equality and justice, and must be eradicated from our society. Those responsible must be held accountable to prevent further tragedies” the statement said.

MUTA urged the Inspector General of Police, Mr. Kayode Egbetokun, to heed his warnings against human rights violations by the police just as it demanded immediate action to apprehend and prosecute all individuals involved the “brutal assault, including the dismissal of SP Haliru from the Nigeria Police Force for his unconscionable actions”. 

“We further urge a comprehensive reorientation of officers of the Nigeria Police Force to embrace their role as community peace officers, not violators of human rights. The reckless and brutal treatment of innocent civilians must cease if Nigeria is to progress as a democratic nation.

“Furthermore, we strongly urge lawmakers of Tiv and Benue extraction to rise to the occasion and fulfill their duties in defending the rights and lives of the Tiv people. It is their responsibility to ensure that their constituents are treated fairly and justly under the law. 

“Justice must be served not only for Joshua Terngu Gwebe but for every citizen whose rights have been trampled upon. We call on the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) of Nigeria to investigate this incident thoroughly and ensure that all perpetrators, including erring security personnel, are held accountable” the association further stated.

It however, commended the the bravery of a passer by, Mr. Tersoo, who suffered alongside Gwebe and extended its sympathies to the family of th deceased.

“We demand an official apology from the Nigeria Police Force to the Gwebe family, along with adequate compensation for their irreplaceable loss.

“Finally, we commend the frontline actors, especially Pastor Dave Ogbole and his team, for their relentless pursuit of justice for Mr Joshua Gwebe. Their work and commitment are invaluable, and they inspire hope in these difficult times.

“MUTA remains steadfast in its commitment to advocating for justice, accountability, and reform on behalf of the Tiv community and all Nigerians who seek a fairer and more equitable society,” the statement also said.

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