By Orkula Shaagee, Abuja
Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has called on the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to open probe procedures against Senators Godswill Akpabio and Isa Misau for alleged diversion of constituency funds.
In a petition addressed to Professor Bolaji Owasanoye, Chairman, ICPC and Ibrahim Mustafa Magu, Acting Chairman EFCC, DERAP urged the two bodies to “jointly and urgently invite Senators Godswill Akpabio and Isa Misau for interrogation and further questioning over alleged diversion of constituency projects.”
The organization said: “If the ICPC and EFCC consider the recovered hospital equipment and six tractors allegedly diverted for the personal use of the senators as relevant and sufficient admissible evidence, we urge you to promptly begin prosecution of the former senators.”
The ICPC had last week stated that it recovered from the premises and farmland allegedly belonging to the senators equipment meant for constituency projects in some local government areas of Akwa-Ibom and Bauchi states.
In the petition dated August 2, 2019 and signed by SERAP deputy director Kolawole Oluwadare, the organization said: “Inviting those suspected to be involved for interrogation and further questioning, and for them to promptly face prosecution as appropriate, would show that no one is above the law. It would be entirely consistent with the exercise of your mandates to combat corruption, and with both the spirit and the letter of the UN Convention against Corruption to which Nigeria is a state party.”
SERAP expressed: “concern that these cases illustrate the growing allegations of massive corruption in constituency projects and the importance of not only monitoring the projects but thoroughly and effectively investigating reported cases of corruption and promptly bringing suspected perpetrators to justice.
“When members of the National Assembly divert constituency projects for personal use, the essence of such projects is defeated, and the integrity of the mechanism compromised.”
The group also copied Professor Itse Sagay, Chairman, Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption.
“Corruption in the provision of public services such as healthcare affects and distorts the delivery of services and the right to the highest attainable standard of health.
“As the recoveries by the ICPC have shown, cases of corruption in constituency projects cause under-provision, divert public resources, or simply limit access to public services or make them unavailable.
“SERAP notes Section 15(5) of the Constitution of Nigeria 1999 (as amended) to the effect that ‘The State shall abolish all corrupt practices and abuse of power.’ Similarly, the UN Convention against Corruption to which Nigeria is a state party requires the authorities to ensure effective, proportionate and dissuasive sanctions and penalties for corruption¸the petition read in part.
Police Parade Suspected Killers of Former Benue Judge
By David Trough, Abuja
The Benue State Police Command has paraded four suspects in connection to the murder of Retired Justice Margaret Igbetar, who was murdered in August this year.
State Commissioner of Police, Bartholomew Onyeka who disclosed this while briefing newsmen in Makurdi on Tuesday said the suspects have since confessed to the crime.
According to him, among those who were arrested was a nephew to the deceased, Aondohemba Joseph, adding that Joseph had alleged that Justice Igbetar was holding his father’s property which should have been bestowed on him, but she (Justice Igbetar) had refused to relinquish the said property.
Onyeka said, “You will recall that on 24th August 2023, a case of Culpable Homicide involving the late Justice Margaret Mary Igbetar (rtd) was reported and I had promised to ensure that Justice is served. One Aondohemba Joseph, a nephew of the deceased was arrested immediately.
“A more detailed and advanced investigation started when the case was transferred to the State Criminal Investigation Department (SCID) and handed over to the Operation Zenda investigative team to continue.
The suspect who eventually confessed to having planned and recruited other people to help him in killing his Aunty (Justice Igbetar) led a team of detectives to Adikpo, in Kwande Local Government Area of the state where more suspects were arrested including, Igbazenda Gbidye, 63yrs old and Dzungwenen Ukor, 40yrs old.
“These suspects admitted that Aondohemba Joseph had reported to them that his father died and left so much property in the hands of his aunty (the deceased) and she has refused to hand the said property over to him. They agreed to join him in eliminating her so that he could have access to his property.
“One Akuhwa Barnabas, 32yrs old, a driver to the deceased who was also arrested, corroborated their statements by admitting that he was the one who allowed the gang access to the house and manned the gate for them until they finished the assassination process”, the State Commissioner of Police stated.
Onyeka said commended the people of the state for their patience and cooperation adding that the command would continue to do its best to rid the state of crime
Gunmen Kill Three As They Abduct Eight In Sokoto Village
Three persons have been killed while others sustained varying injuries as bandits invaded Soro community, Binji Local Government Area of the state on Monday.
The state police Public Relations Officer, ASP Ahmad Rufai, while confirming the attack, disclosed that some gunmen suspected to be bandits launched an attack on the Soro community but men of the command with the support of military operatives swiftly moved in and successfully repelled the attack.However, the police spokesman said the bandits out of frustration, set some houses on fire as a result of which three of the residents lost their lives while a few others sustained various degrees of injuries. The PUNCH learnt from sources in the affected village that the marauders regrettably successfully abducted several other persons.“ Eight people, who are mostly women were abducted and carried away on motorcycle by the bandits,” a local hunter disclosed .Some community members who spoke about the incident informed The PUNCH that some vigilante groups who carried out a reprisal attack on a Fulani community led to a situation that forced the police commissioner, Ali Kaigama, to intervene and initiate a dialogue among the residents of the affected areas.
Freed Journalist Narrates Ordeal in Kidnapper’s Den
By David Torough, Abuja
A journalist with The Pavilion Newspaper, Moses Ogaga , who was recently abducted described his experience in the hands of his abductors as horrible.
Ogaga was kidnapped along with 13 others on September 17, in Benue.
He, said, although an undisclosed amount of money was paid by family members before they were released, no man should take the glory except God as he said, only God’s grace and mercy kept them alive.
Narrating his ordeal to DAILY ASSET, Ogaga stated that their vehicle ran into the kidnappers numbering about 6, carrying sophisticated weapons, who shot sporadically in the air with their faces masked.
He said that the criminals broke some portions of the vehicle’s windscreens, held passengers on-board captive and guarded them into the forest, where they were severely tortured.
“The abductors who were suspected to be nomadic Fulanis communicated among themselves in Fulani language but speak the common broken-English to their captives; and have cattle mooing around in the nearby bushes and the cattle were always moved to a closer range to wherever we were moved to.”
“When we were asked to declare our tribal identity, we were so discretional; it was later gathered from our captors that if any was found to be a Tiv, Agatu or Igede person from Obi LG specifically, it would have been deadly.”
He stated that while in the forest, their abductors ensured that any communication to their family members or friends was not in any other dialect but the common broken-English and was restricted and targeted at payment of ransom only.
“ We were stripped of everything in our pockets and given no food or water for the first two nights and days and we were severally moved from one spot to another through the nights and days; ordering us to lie face down, drenched in the mud, beaten by pests and the heavy rains in spite the corporal punishment and we became so weak and tired and felt hell while on earth,’ he lamented.
He disclosed that ransom for the victims was not the same but dependent on the amount accepted by the kidnappers, using based on their judgment to rate victims differently and the power of bargain from the respective rescuers.
Ogaga further hinted that his case was bad because he was found with an NUJ identity card and was believed to be government functionary and instrumental to castigating their operations, adding that two of his SIM cards and a 3-sim Tecno touch-light phone were not returned to him by the kidnappers.
He faulted the security architecture in the country and lamented that the security officers on highway check-points have turned their priority on financial gains from commercial vehicle drivers instead of protection of lives and property.
“And except proactive and tactical security measures are deployed to nip this ugly trend to the bud, we are vulnerable and left at the mercy of the perpetrators of this heinous act,” he reinstated.
He maintained that while in captivity, there was no security intervention of any sort, “no police, no soldier or the villagers attempted in any way to rescue us.”
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