Cynthia Osukogu’s Murder: Court Fixes March 23 For Judgment

Cynthia Osukogu's Murder: Court Fixes March 23 For JudgmentThe Lagos State High Court sitting in the Igbosere area of Lagos Island will on March 23 deliver judgment in the trial of four men charged with the gruesome murder of Cynthia Osukogu, a postgraduate student of Nassarawa State University.

Justice Olabisi Akinlade fixed the date on Thursday after counsel to the Lagos State government and those who represented the defendants adopted their final written addresses.

The late Cynthia Osokogu was murdered on July 22, 2012 at Cosmilla Hotel, Lake View Estate, Festac Town in Lagos by men she allegedly met and became friends with on the popular social media platform, Facebook.

Those accused of the crime are Okwumo Nwabufo aged 38; Ezike Nwabufo aged 28; Orji Osita, 37; and Ezike Nonso, 29.

They were all arraigned before the court on a six-count charge of conspiracy, murder, stealing, reckless negligence and possession of stolen goods, charges brought against them by the Lagos State government.

The offences are said to contravene sections 221, 249, 285 and 327 of the Criminal Laws of Lagos State, 2011.

They all pleaded not guilty to the charges.

One of the defence counsel, Victor Opara urged the court to dismiss the charges against the defendants because the state had failed to link them to the crime.

The lawyer also argued that it is the law that in any situation where the prosecution fails to prove its case beyond reasonable doubt, the court must rule in favour of the defendants.

However, the Lagos State Director of Public Prosecution, Mrs Idowu Alakija urged the court to convict the defendants on the strength of the evidence the state has placed before it.

NNPC Opens Bid For Crude Oil Sale And Purchase

Maikanti-BaruThe Group Managing Director of Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation, Dr Maikanti Baru, says only refiners, big traders and companies with substantial investment in the oil and gas sector, will scale through the bid for the 2016 to 2017 term contracts for Nigeria crude oil sale.

A total of 224 companies are bidding for the 12 month term contracts tender, for a number of slots the Group Managing Director says will be decided on actual production focus by February 2017.

Representatives from the 224 companies converged on the amphitheater of the NNPC for the opening of the bid.

Dr Baru, who opened the bid after a test of transparency, said that the volume of crude put out for the contract bid is nearly 700,000 barrels of crude per day.

He added that the actual number of companies to emerge from the bidding would be decided in the first quarter of 2017.

The NNPC GMD also stated that Nigeria’s crude is not struggling for market, contrary to speculation but continues to earn premium, with major markets in Europe and Asia, with the United States recently added to the list.

Police Intercepts Shi’a Weapons, DSS Raids Bureau De-Change In Kano

Skaters, Unregistered driversThe Kano State police has intercepted a truck carrying weapons and supplies allegedly belonging to the members of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria popularly known as Shiites.

Addressing a news conference, the command’s Public Relations Officer DSP Magaji Majia says the truck is coming from Potiskum in Yobe State and is said to be going to Zaria where the Shiites are marking the Arba’een ritual of the killing of Imam Hussain.

“You can see the weapons made off of cutlasses, generators and other supplies and the truck full of clothes and flags of the movement.”

According to Majia, the weapons are illegal and capable of killing its target on the spots.

“You can remember few days ago, members of this movement attacked and killed one police officer and injuring three others during their illegal procession, since then we embarked on investigation including stop and search to see if it is true they are carrying dangerous weapons, the results of such investigation led us to this discovery.”

Meanwhile, store keeper of the group who maintained that he was not aware that weapons were among the supplies he was escorting to Zaria also disclosed that the weapons are used to construct tents in an event of stop over during the course of their seven day trek to Zaria.

“We don’t carry weapons, am not aware the weapons are here but we used them to make tent and to protect women and children against intruders especially at night since we are all trekking”.

In a related development, over 40 people are said to have been arrested by operatives of the Department of State Security Service DSS at the popular Wapa Bureau De-Change market in the state.

Although no official statement from the DSS in Kano, but association of the bureau de-change in the state through the union auditor general one Kabir Abdul confirmed the arrest.

“They came arresting people on allegations that we are selling dollars above government approved price and up till this time we don’t know where they are keeping our members.”

An attempt to speak with the DSS was not successful as the Department Public Relations Officer told Channels Television that he has no knowledge that Wapa Bureau De-Change market was raided by his operatives.

Reps To Meet Buhari On Insecurity In Nigeria

Insurance FraudThe leadership of the House of Representatives is to meet with President Muhammadu Buhari in a bid to find a solution to the state of insecurity in the country.

This is part of the resolutions reached by lawmakers following a debate on a motion presented by Rep. Simon Arabo on the killing of some people in the southern part of Kaduna State

The House is also calling on the Department of State Security, (DSS) which is in charge of internal security in the country, to rise up to its responsibility.

Gunmen Kill 31 In Kaduna

About 31 people were killed and several others injured, as gunmen attacked four communities in Kauru Local Government Area of Kaduna state.

The fresh attacks came just a day after the launching of public apology billboard by the state governor, Nasir El-Rufai signaling the return of peace and an end to the frequent conflicts between Fulani Herdsmen and natives of Southern part of the state.

Eyewitness account reports that the gunmen invaded the four communities, Ungwan Rimi, Kitakum, Ungwan Magaji and Kigam all in Kauru LGA, on Sunday night, shooting people and burning down houses And farmlands. An indigene of the area told our correspondent on telephone that the entire communities have been deserted as people flee from their homes for fear of being caught up in the

Alleged N4.9b Fraud: Trial Of Fani-Kayode Stalled

Fani-KayodeThe trial of former Aviation Minister, Mr Femi Fani-Kayode over a 4.9 bilion naira fraud charge could not proceed at the Federal High Court in Lagos on Monday.

This is because he is still in Kuje prison trying to perfect the conditions for his bail granted by a Federal High Court in Abuja on five-count charge of diversion of 26 million naira.

His counsel, Mr Wale Balogun, told the court that he has been in Kuje prisons because he is yet to meet the bail conditions granted him by an Abuja court.

“My lord, the second accused (Fani-Kayode) was kept in custody of the prosecution for 21 days without any word, and finally, arraigned on November 10 before your learned brother, Justice John Tsoho in Abuja, on a five-count charge bordering on N26million.

“He was subsequently remanded at the Kuje prisons, and in view of this, we are helpless, as his bail conditions have not been perfected in spite of frantic efforts by family and friends,” Balogun said.

Mr Fani-Kayode had been facing a 17-count charge of money laundering to the tune of N4.9 billion before he was re-arrested on Friday, October 21 by operatives of the anti-graft agency.

He has been re-arraigned on fresh charges bordering on corruption, criminal breach of trust and diversion of funds by the EFCC.

Fani-Kayode, who was also spokesman for the Goodluck Jonathan Presidential Campaign, has pleaded not guilty to the five-count charge.

Court Grants Fani-Kayode Bail

Fani-KayodeA Federal High Court in Abuja has granted bail to former Aviation Minister, Femi Fani-Kayode, in the sum of 50 million naira and one surety in like sum.

The court says that the surety must be resident in Abuja and own a landed property in the capital city.

The former minister is to submit his passport and other travel documents to the court.

The presiding judge, Justice John Tsoho, has directed that Mr. Fani-Kayode be remanded in Kuje Prison until he meets the conditions of his bail application.

Mr. Fani-Kayode was arrested on Friday, October 21 by operatives of the anti-graft agency, as he left the Federal High Court premises in Lagos.

His arrest is connected to the recent 17-count charge of money laundering to the tune of N4.9 billion filed by the EFCC in Abuja against him.

He has been arraigned on fresh charges bordering on corruption, criminal breach of trust and diversion of funds by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

Fani-Kayode, who was also spokesman for the Goodluck Jonathan Presidential Campaign, has pleaded not guilty to the five-count charge.

The former Aviation Minister has described his arrests as efforts to silence him.

Speaking to newsmen while being taken away by operatives of the EFCC as he left the Federal High Court premises in Lagos on Friday, he said: “They will not take my life, I am not scared, I’m not intimidated (and) I will not be silenced.

“I am very proud of the fact that the Nigerian people are beginning to understand what is going on in this country.

“They can re-arrest me a thousand times, torture me, lock me up, beat me, deprive me of food and my phones; they can do anything to me, I will never change.”

Zuma Lodges Complaint Over Leaked Audio Recording

zumaSouth African President Jacob Zuma has lodged a complaint with the office of the Public Protector over a leaked audio recording of his meeting with the anti-graft watchdog, his office said on Monday.

Zuma’s discussion with the former Public Protector, Thuli Madonsela, during her investigation into allegations of influence-peddling was broadcast on a private television channel at the weekend.

“The Presidency has sought clarity from the Office of the Public Protector on the policy of the institution regarding the release of audio recordings of interviews conducted during the course of investigation,” Zuma’s office said in a statement.

A transcript of the four-hour interview was made public by the Protector’s office last week when it released a report calling for a judge to investigate allegations of influence peddling in Zuma’s government.

Zuma is due to face a no-confidence vote in parliament later this week over the 355-page report by the constitutionally mandated watchdog.

It focused on allegations that members of the Gupta family of business tycoons influenced the appointment of ministers, and called for an investigation into whether Zuma, some of his cabinet members and some state companies had acted improperly. It stopped short of saying crimes had been committed, saying it lacked the resources to reach such conclusions.

Zuma denies granting undue influence to the brothers, who run a business empire ranging from media to mining, or to anyone else. Through their family spokesman, the Guptas have denied seeking influence.

Russia Says Resumption Of Syria Peace Talks Delayed Indefinitely

russia2Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu said on Tuesday a Western failure to rein in violent Islamists in Syria had indefinitely delayed the resumption of peace talks.

Shoigu said that rebels backed by Western governments had been attacking civilians in the Syrian city of Aleppo, despite a pause in Russian and Syrian air attacks.

“As a result, the prospects for the start of a negotiation process and the return to peaceful life in Syria are postponed for an indefinite period,” Shoigu said.

Separately, a Kremlin spokesman said that a temporary pause in Russian and Syrian government air strikes on Aleppo was in force for now, but could not be extended if the rebels in the city did not halt their attacks.

Insurgents launched an offensive last week against government-held western Aleppo, more than a month into an operation by the army to retake the city’s rebel-held eastern districts, which it had already put under siege.

The United Nations said on Tuesday that all sides fighting over Aleppo may be committing war crimes through indiscriminate attacks in civilian areas.

Russia backs Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in Syria’s civil war, and its military operation in Syria, now in its second year, has shored up Assad’s position. That has put Moscow on a collision course with Washington and its allies who want Assad removed from office.

Since Oct. 18, Russia and its Syrian allies say they have halted air attacks in Aleppo. Western governments had alleged that the strikes had been killing civilians in large numbers, an allegation Moscow denied.

But the pause in the air attacks on Aleppo is fragile: Russian President Vladimir Putin said last month its continuation depended on the behavior of moderate rebel groups in Aleppo and their Western backers.

LOST CHANCES

Shoigu, who was addressing a meeting of Russian military officials, railed against those rebels and their backers, saying they had squandered a chance for peace talks.

“It is time for our Western colleagues to determine who they are fighting against: terrorists or Russia,” Shoigu said, in remarks broadcast on Russian television.

“Maybe they have forgotten at whose hands innocent people died in Belgium, in France, in Egypt and elsewhere?”

Listing attacks he said had been carried out by Western-backed rebels inside Aleppo, he said: “Is this an opposition with which we can achieve agreements?”

“In order to destroy terrorists in Syria it is necessary to act together, and not put a spanner in the works of partners. Because the rebels exploit that in their own interests.”

New Earthquake Rocks Italy, Buildings Collapse

italyA powerful earthquake struck Italy on Sunday in the same central regions that have been rocked by repeated tremors over the past two months, with more homes and churches brought down but no deaths reported.

The quake, which measured 6.6 according to the U.S. Geological Survey, was bigger than one on Aug. 24 that killed almost 300 people. Many people have fled the area since then, helping to avoid a new devastating death toll.

The latest quake was felt across much of Italy, striking at 7.40 a.m. (0640 GMT), its epicenter close to the historic Umbrian walled town of Norcia, some 100 km (60 miles) from the university city of Perugia.

Panicked Norcia residents rushed into the streets and the town’s ancient Basilica of St. Benedict collapsed, leaving just the facade standing. Nuns, monks and locals sank to their knees in the main square in silent prayer before the shattered church.

“This is a tragedy. It is a coup de grace. The basilica is devastated,” Bishop Renato Boccardo of Norcia told Reuters.

“Everyone has been suspended in a never-ending state of fear and stress. They are at their wits end,” said Boccardo, referring to the thousands of tremors that have rattled the area since August, including two serious quakes on Wednesday.

Italy’s Civil Protection unit, which coordinates disaster relief, said numerous houses were destroyed on Sunday in the regions of Umbria and Marche, but either they were deserted at the time or most of the residents managed to escape beforehand.

“No deaths have been reported, but there are a number of people injured,” said Civil Protection chief Fabrizio Curcio, adding that just one person was in a serious condition.

Prime Minister Matteo Renzi said Italy was living through extremely difficult times, but promised a massive reconstruction effort in the years ahead regardless of any possible objections from the European Union over the eventual costs.

“We will rebuild everything, the houses, the churches and the businesses,” Renzi told reporters. “Everything that needs to be done to rebuild these areas will be done.”

Prosecutor’s Absence Stalls Trial Of Former Militant Leader, Tompolo

TompoloThe absence of the federal government prosecutor, Mr Festus Keyamo at the Federal High Court, Lagos on Thursday stalled the scheduled trial of former Niger Delta militant leader, Government Ekpemupolo, popularly known as Tompolo.

Tompolo is facing a 22-count charge of alleged fraud of N47.6bn.

He was arraigned in absentia by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on April 18, 2016 alongside six brothers of a former Director-General of the Nigerian Maritime and Safety Agency, Patrick Akpobolokemi.

All seven of them were declared as being “at large” when the charges were read before Justice Ibrahim Buba.

But Akpobolokemi and three others who were also listed as defendants in the amended charge, were present in court to answer to the charges.

The charges border on conspiracy, advance fee fraud and money laundering. But the defendants who were in court pleaded not guilty to all of them.

At the proceedings on Thursday, the court said that the prosecutor, Mr Keyamo wrote to ask for an adjournment on the grounds that his main witness was not available.

The trial judge, Justice Ibrahim Buba, consequently adjourned the case till December 13 and 14, 2016 for trial.

One of the defence counsels, has however filed a preliminary objection to challenge the competence of the charges.

He asked the court to strike out the entire 22 counts filed by the EFCC against his client.

Another defence counsel also informed the court of his client’s pending bail application.

Justice Buba adjourned till November 10, 2016 to take the two pending applications.