Abia Building Collapse: Police Arrest Project Contractor, Death Toll Rises To Five

The project contractor handling a building that killed four persons and injured others on Wednesday has been arrested by the police in Abia state.

The state government arrested the suspect, Bassey Afokwalam who was initially on the run following the tragic incident.

This was confirmed by the Commissioner of Police, Janet Agbede, during an interview on Friday.

“The contractor, one Bassey Afokwalam has been arrested and owner of the building, Emmanuel Ohaka has been contracted,” she said.

“As at now, five yet to be identified dead bodies of two males and three females have been recovered while one male survivor who sustained minor injuries was rushed to the hospital, where he was treated and discharged,” she said.

READ ALSO: Abia Building Collapse: Death Toll Rises To Four As Rescue Efforts Continue

“More efforts have been intensified to ensure proper evacuation of debris with a view to discovering possible victims, while investigation lasts.

The Abia State Commissioner of Police, Janet Agbede, on September 18, 2020, said the contractor handling a collapsed building in Aba has been arrested.

 

“I wish to use this medium to advise members of the public to ensure that their building project is handled by qualified Architects Structural Engineers and other relevant contractors, this would minimize the occurrence of similar incidents in the future,” she said.

Channels Television learned that the building, located along Nnamdi Azikiwe Street in Aba, caved in two days ago

The death toll from the incident has risen to five.

Soldier Fighting Boko Haram Commits Suicide

Yobe is situated in North-East Nigeria
A map of Yobe, a state in north-east Nigeria.

 

A Nigerian soldier serving with 27 Taskforce Brigade Buni-Yadi in Yobe State has reportedly committed suicide.

A source from the military, who spoke under the condition of anonymity, told Channels Television that the soldier, a Lance Corporal committed suicide on Thursday, September 17 at his duty post in Buni-Yadi.

The corpse of the late soldier has been deposited at Specialist Hospital in Damaturu the state capital.

When contacted, the Acting Assistant Director Army Public Relation, Sector 2 Operation Lafiya Dole Damaturu, Lieutenant Chinonso Polycarp Oteh promised to get back to Channels Television.

He however failed to return the call as at the time of filing this report.

Kogi Govt Writes US Over Visa Ban, Says Action Is Unacceptable

A file photo of Governor Yahaya Bello of Kogi State.

 

The Kogi State Government has written a letter to the United States Government, protesting against the recent visa ban imposed on politicians suspected to have rigged the November 2019 election in the state.

The US had on Monday imposed a visa restriction on some individuals for allegedly rigging the November 2019 governorship polls in Kogi and Bayelsa States as well as in the run-up to the September and October 2020 Edo and Ondo governorship polls.

“We find this unacceptable, and we protest your presumption. The least you could have done if indeed this is about democracy and human right as claimed is create a room, no matter how slim, for a fair hearing,” the letter issued by the State Government, Folashade Arike Ayoade, partly read.

The letter addressed to the Ambassador of the United States of America was dated September 16.

According to the SSG, Governor Yahaya Bello argued that the US should have created room no matter how slim for a fair hearing.

READ ALSO: FG Apologises Over ‘Misleading Tweet’ Ordering Banks, Account Holders To Re-Register

“As it is now, partisan speculation as to who is indicted, who is not and for what has become cudgels, furiously swung in the media space by all comers.

“Your action has therefore added abundant grist to the rumour mills and electrified the merchants of fake news.”

Although the state government admitted that there were some challenges with the governorship poll conducted last year, it, however, noted that subsequent elections would be improved upon.

 

SEE THE LETTER BELOW:

KGS/GO/ADM/25/II/XXX

16 September 2020

 

The Ambassador Of The United States of America

Embassy of The United States of America

1075 Diplomatic Drive

Central Business District

Abuja, NIGERIA

 

Your Excellency,

 

RE: VISA RESTRICTIONS ON INDIVIDUALS AND INCLUSION OF THE 2019 KOGI STATE GUBERNATORIAL ELECTIONS IN US STATE DEPARTMENT LIST OF ALLEGEDLY COMPROMISED ELECTIONS – A LETTER OF PROTEST

 

  1. I have been so directed by His Excellency, Governor Yahaya Bello of Kogi State and I hereby make and forward this Letter of Protest to you in respect of the matters contained in it.

 

  1. The Kogi State Government became aware of a United States Government list of individuals who received US visa restrictions for alleged electoral malpractices via a Press Statement to that effect posted on your Embassy website at https://bit.ly/32vD96M. In your own words, the still-unnamed individuals are cited as guilty of ‘acts of violence, intimidation, or corruption that harmed Nigerians and undermined the democratic process.’ They are also alleged to ‘have operated with impunity at the expense of the Nigerian people and undermined democratic principles and human rights.’

 

  1. You also noted in the statement that the sanctions are derived from unspecified misconducts by the said individuals which extend from the February/March 2019 General Elections in Nigeria through the off-cycle November 2019 gubernatorial elections in Kogi and Bayelsa to the as yet unheld governorship contests in Edo and Ondo States. Please note that for the purposes of this protest letter we are only interested in the citations to the extent that they are referable to Kogi State and her citizens.

 

  1. For the most part, we concede that elections in Nigeria are complex affairs which will continue to require improvements for the foreseeable future. The 2019 Kogi State Gubernatorial Election was also not without its challenges. However, it is also crystal clear from critical and composite analyses of the records (official, media, observers, etc) of the November 16, 2020 polls that regrettable incidents were limited to a few polling units, while the overwhelmingly larger portions of the ballot were free, fair and credible.

 

  1. Further, and in line with Nigerian law, the few political parties and individuals who alleged widespread electoral malpractices had free rein to contest the outcome in court. They vigorously litigated their claims over a gruelling 9-month period, through a 3-step hierarchy of courts, to the inescapable conclusion at the Supreme Court of Nigeria that the said elections satisfactorily complied with the Nigerian Constitution and the Electoral Act.

 

  1. Our concern right now is not the prerogative of the United States of America to impose entry restrictions on anyone, for any or no reason at all, which prerogative remains unfettered, but the room for atrocious misinformation which the timing of your Press Statement and the mention of the Kogi elections therein has created in our state.

 

  1. For the February and March 2019 General elections, your advisory came out in July 2019, long before the Supreme Court delivered her judgments in the petitions against those elections, including challenges to President Muhammadu Buhari’s re-election. The presumption is that in spite of your intervention, the Supreme Court still discovered no merit in the petitions and dismissed them accordingly.

 

  1. In our case, i.e., Kogi State, you made the tactical decision to release the update shortly after the Supreme Court delivered judgments in the 4 petitions which made it before her. Amongst a plethora of well-reasoned pronouncements, the Apex Court dismissed the said petitions for failing to prove their allegations and for having no ‘scintilla of merit’. The inference from your timing is that the judgment is somehow tainted and did not meet the justice of the case, thereby casting aspersions, not only on the Nigerian Judiciary but on the second term mandate freely bestowed on His Excellency, Governor Yahaya Bello by the good people of Kogi State.

 

  1. We find this unacceptable, and we protest your presumption. The least you could have done if indeed this is about democracy and human rights as claimed is create a room, no matter how slim, for a fair hearing. As it is now, partisan speculation as to who is indicted, who is not and for what has become cudgels, furiously swung in the media space by all comers. Your action has therefore added abundant grist to the rumour mills and electrified the merchants of fake news.

 

  1. For instance, a United States-based blog, saharareporters.com, has made inflammatory publications in which they named His Excellency, Governor Yahaya Bello of Kogi State, among others, as a definite recipient of your visa restriction. Though you have named no names, accuracy is of no moment to them, just base political expediency, and they quote unnamed US State Department sources to give credibility to what is otherwise unproven.

 

  1. Also, other players in the Kogi political space, including candidates and officials of opposition political parties which lost the elections and could not prove their allegations in court as aforesaid have now latched onto this action, holding media conferences and making press releases, claiming that the United States has justified their wild allegations and conspiracy theories where the courts and the administrative quarters failed. This is utterly regrettable.

 

  1. Let it be noted that we are not challenging your visa bans in any way, whoever they may affect and for how long, but we do register the strongest protest possible as a State to the collateral and unwarranted interference in our political and social processes which it represents. You have reignited already dying embers of discord around the February/March General Elections and the November 16 Kogi State Gubernatorial Elections of 2019. This has invariably made our usual post-election duty of reconciliation with fair-minded political opponents all the harder. We are hurt and disappointed.

 

  1. Digressing a little beyond Kogi State to our contiguous states of Edo and Ondo, we wish to advise generally that by so preemptively interfering in their elections, both of which are yet to hold, events on the ground since your publication indicate that the United States has foisted on our political process, not the expected caution or good behaviour by politicians which may have been your intent, but further calcification of hardened attitudes, more violent polemics, and increased sabre-rattling.

 

  1. Even now every camp is trying to spin your action as evidence of US support for themselves and hostility to their opponents. Everyone involved in those elections is now stoked with an aura of invincibility and hellbent on displaying all manners of outrageousness on election day to prove their opponents the aggressors. After all, with sanctions looming over everyone like the Sword of Damocles, every stakeholder, including the security agencies are on tenterhooks and less likely to be lively. We fear you may have done our democracy more harm than good with this action, and we consider it most unfortunate indeed.

 

  1. In conclusion, we believe that if the United States of America, despite her commanding heights and much longer experience as the acclaimed Bastion of Democracy in the world, is still locked in a fight to defend the integrity of her own electoral processes to this very day, then she ought to accord greater empathy, more civility and much less disruption, to nascent democracies.

 

  1. Please be assured of our high regards always.

 

 

MRS FOLASHADE ARIKE AYOADE, Ph.D

Secretary to the Government of Kogi State

Ebonyi To Reopen Schools On October 5

Governor Dave Umahi of Ebonyi State 

 

The Ebonyi State Government has announced October 5 for the reopening of educational institutions in the state.

The state Commissioner for Education, Onyebuchi Chima disclosed this on Thursday after the State Executive Council meeting in Abakaliki, the state capital.

Chima said primary, secondary and tertiary institutions will resume next month, adding that nursery schools/crèche will not be reopened till 2021.

He noted that there will be a staggering of classes in line with the COVID-19 protocols, stressing that the state government has carried out plans to have two sessions, one in the morning (8 am- 12 pm) and the other in the afternoon (12:15 pm – 4.15 pm).

According to him, the social distancing directive in the classes is to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

The commissioner promised to give more details in the coming days on modalities for the safe reopening of schools.

The state government had on March 20 ordered the immediate closure of all schools in the state following the outbreak of the coronavirus in the country.

The government also banned any gathering of more than 50 persons in the state worship centres.

Secretary to the State Government, Kenneth Ugballa, the government approved the immediate deployment of all health officers to all markets, rice mills, quarry, banks and other public event management centres to carry out a test on people randomly.

Ugballa revealed that the house to house test on all residents using 150 infrared thermometer devices will commence immediately.

“Government of Ebonyi State have proactively built a testing and quarantine centres at Unity square and the border between Enugu and Ebonyi and shall build more at all the exit and entering points of Ebonyi State as a way of ensuring that the health of everybody entering or exiting Ebonyi State is ascertained.

“Ebonyians are advised against handshaking and hogging, eating of animals to have been identified as means of contracting the virus should be avoided as a way of protecting themselves,” he said.

COVID-19 Vaccines Will Not Be Available Until Next Year – FG

The Minister of Health, Osagie Ehanire, gives an update on COVID-19 in the country during a press conference in Abuja on July 6, 2020.

 

The Federal Government has cautioned Nigerians to be careful during this COVID-19 pandemic era, adding that vaccines will not be available until 2021.

Speaking during a briefing by the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 on Thursday in Abuja, the Minister of Health, Osagie Ehanire, asked the citizens to adhere to the non-pharmaceutical interventions.

“Vaccines will not be available until next year at best. No reliable therapeutics has been confirmed but our country must restart businesses, including travel to allow citizens to earn their livelihood,” he said.

He also appealed to Nigerians to adhere to the protocols aimed at reducing the spread of the virus in the country.

“Compliance with all the recommended measures like wearing your masks, social distancing, avoiding gatherings etc will go a long way to help.”

READ ALSO: Edo Election: Obaseki Lists Achievement, Confident Of Violent-Free Poll

Speaking further, the Minister again appealed to the striking health workers to call off their industrial actions.

According to him, the best way to settle industrial disputes is to come to the negotiation table with the Federal Government.

“I also use this opportunity to renew my calls to members of the Joint Health Sector Union (JOHESU) to put the plight, safety and well-being of their patients into consideration and to call off the ongoing strike while the differences are being addressed by negotiations.

“It is important to remind ourselves that COVID-19 is real and spreading gradually in some parts of the world as we speak.

“It is risky to believe that it is going away even though it looks as if the figures are reducing here. Some countries are experiencing the so-called second waves with all the complications that go along with this easily spreading disease,” he said.

WHO Warns Of ‘Alarming’ COVID-19 Spread In Europe

Moderna's COVID-19 Vaccine Set For Final Trial Stage After 'Promising' Results
In this file photo taken on May 18, 2020, a syringe is pictured on an illustration representation of COVID-19. JOEL SAGET / AFP

 

The World Health Organization on Thursday warned of “alarming rates of transmission” of Covid-19 across Europe and cautioned against shortening quarantine periods as countries in the region scrambled to find ways to reduce infections without resorting to new lockdowns. 

The WHO’s regional director for Europe Hans Kluge said a September surge — Europe set a new record last week, with some 54,000 cases recorded in 24 hours — “should serve as a wake-up call for all of us.”

“Although these numbers reflect more comprehensive testing, it also shows alarming rates of transmission across the region,” he told an online news conference from Copenhagen.

Across Europe, governments are battling to contain the fresh spike in cases, while wanting to avoid inflicting fresh damage on their economies and imposing broad new restrictions on their virus-weary populations.

In Britain, new measures will take effect Friday, with Prime Minister Boris Johnson warning that pubs may have to close earlier to help avoid a “second hump” of coronavirus cases.

Residents of northeast England, including the cities of Newcastle and Sunderland, will no longer be allowed to meet people outside their own homes or immediate social circles.

The government, which is facing criticism over a lack of testing capacity, imposed rules across England on Monday limiting socialising to groups of six or fewer, as daily cases reached levels not seen since early May.

Britain has been Europe’s worst-hit country with nearly 42,000 deaths.

The city of Madrid meanwhile backtracked on a plan for targeted lockdowns and said it would instead move to “reduce mobility and contacts” in areas with high infection rates.

Austria announced that private indoor gatherings would be limited to 10 people, including all parties, private events and meetings indoors.

Chancellor Sebastian Kurz had warned earlier this week that the Alpine nation was entering a second wave of infections.

Outside of Europe, Israel is set to be the first developed country to enforce a second nationwide shutdown, to begin on Friday afternoon.

Its government called for hundreds of its citizens who are blocked on the Ukraine-Belarus border to return home.

Around 2,000 Hasidic Jew pilgrims, mainly from the US, Israel and France, are massed at the border which has been closed by Ukraine for most of this month to prevent the spread of the virus.

The pilgrims were hoping to reach the city of Uman for the Jewish New Year this weekend.

 Quarantine guidance

In further comments on Thursday, the WHO Europe said it would not change its guidance for a 14-day quarantine period for those exposed to the virus.

The recommendation is “based on our understanding of the incubation period and transmission of the disease. We would only revise that on the basis of a change of our understanding of the science,” WHO Europe’s senior emergency officer Catherine Smallwood said.

France has reduced the recommended length for self-isolation to seven days, while it is 10 days in the UK and Ireland. Several more European countries, such as Portugal and Croatia, are also considering shorter quarantines.

Elsewhere, a study released by Oxfam found that rich nations have already bought up over half the promised Covid-19 vaccine stocks.

“Access to a life-saving vaccine shouldn’t depend on where you live or how much money you have,” said Robert Silverman of Oxfam America.

Drugs companies are racing to produce an effective jab to counter a virus that has now killed more than 940,000 people around the world and infected almost 30 million.

The five leading vaccine candidates currently in late-stage trials will be able to supply 5.9 billion doses, enough to inoculate about three billion people, Oxfam said.

Some 51 per cent of those jabs have been snapped up by the wealthy world, including the United States, Britain, the European Union, Australia, Hong Kong and Macau, Japan, Switzerland and Israel.

The remaining 2.6 billion have been bought by or promised to develop countries including India, Bangladesh, China, Brazil, Indonesia and Mexico.

As tragedies multiply, governments face legal action from citizens for alleged response failures.

A French association of Covid-19 victims plans to file a legal complaint against Prime Minister Jean Castex over France’s handling of the pandemic, its lawyer said.

The 200-member group accuses the government of “playing it by ear” in its response, lawyer Fabrice de Vizio told AFP.

In China, however, bereaved relatives have had their lawsuits abruptly rejected while dozens of others face pressure from authorities not to file, according to people involved in the effort.

The families accuse the Wuhan and Hubei provincial governments of concealing the outbreak when it first emerged there late last year, failing to alert the public and bungling the response.

AFP

Trump Faces New Sexual Assault Allegations

U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during a bill singing ceremony with his economic team in the Rose Garden at the White House June 05, 2020 in Washington, DC. Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images/AFP
File photo: U.S. President Donald Trump speaks in the Rose Garden at the White House June 05, 2020 in Washington, DC. Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images/AFP

 

 

A former model has accused US President Donald Trump of groping and forcibly kissing her in 1997 — the latest allegation made against the Republican incumbent just weeks before he seeks reelection.

Amy Dorris told Britain’s The Guardian that Trump sexually assaulted her in his VIP suite at the US Open tennis tournament in New York — claims he denied via his lawyers.

“He just shoved his tongue down my throat and I was pushing him off. And then that’s when his grip became tighter and his hands were very gropey and all over my butt, my breasts, my back, everything,” Dorris said in an interview.

“I was in his grip, and I couldn’t get out of it,” she added.

Trump has faced more than a dozen allegations of sexual misconduct, including a claim by prominent American columnist E. Jean Carroll that he raped her in a department store changing room in the mid-1990s.

But he brushed them aside in his run for the White House.

Shortly before the 2016 election, a tape recording emerged from 2005 in which he was heard boasting about how his fame allowed him to “grab” women by the genitals when he wanted.

Trump dismissed this as “locker room banter” but subsequently apologized.

Dorris was 24 at the time of the alleged incidents. Trump was 51 and married at the time to his second wife, Marla Maples.

The accuser provided The Guardian with several photos showing her in Trump’s company, and multiple people corroborated her account, saying she told them at the time.

She says she told Trump to stop but “he didn’t care.” She added: “I felt violated, obviously.”

Asked why she continued to be around Trump in subsequent days, Dorris responded: “That’s what happens when something traumatic happens — you freeze.”

But Trump’s attorneys told the newspaper that her version of events was unreliable and there would be other witnesses if she had been assaulted.

They suggested in comments to The Guardian that the allegation could be politically motivated, coming weeks before Trump faces Joe Biden in the November 3 election.

Dorris, now 48, said she decided to come forward to be a role model for her teenage twin daughters.

She first told The Guardian her story more than a year ago but asked the newspaper not to publish it.

“I’m sick of him getting away with this,” Dorris said.

AFP

Edo Election: Obaseki Lists Achievement, Confident Of Violent-Free Poll

A file photo of Edo State Governor, Godwin Obaseki.

 

 

With the Edo State governorship election barely 48 hours from now, Governor Godwin Obaseki has listed the achievements of his administration since assuming office in November 2016.

Speaking during a state-wide broadcast at the Government House in Benin on Thursday, Obaseki said the state government has made giant strides in rewriting the development narrative of Edo.

“Since November 2016, we have made giant strides in rewriting the development narrative of our dear state. We have revamped our primary healthcare system through deep-rooted reforms.

“We have reformed our basic education to be more responsive to the needs of the 21st century by training teachers and introducing technology to our schools.

“We have rebuilt critical physical and digital infrastructure across the state; strengthened our security architecture; enacted civil service and pension reforms for productivity and sustainability and have created thousands of opportunities for our young people to be employed and empowered,” he said.

The governor also said he is confident that the election will be free from violence owing to the security arrangements put in place by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

READ BELOW HIS FULL STATEMENT AT THE STATE-WIDE BROADCAST:

My dear good people of Edo State, as you are already aware, the Edo State Governorship election will take place on Saturday, September 19, 2020. I am sure that you are also aware that I am seeking re-election as governor under the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

My campaigns have taken me through every local government in Edo State. The ward-to-ward campaign offered me the opportunity to meet with thousands of people including farmers, teachers, traders, pensioners, civil servants and every other actor in the different spheres of life in Edo State.

Undoubtedly, the 2020 governorship election will be a watershed in the democratization process in our dear state and Nigeria at large. I assure you that at the end of this exercise, we would all be proud to be part of this history-making event.

My campaign across the 192 wards in the state offered me the opportunity to show the achievements recorded by my administration, including the over 2000 projects that dot the nooks and crannies of the state.

My party and I have ensured that my people-centred approach to politics, which is driven by our commitment to work for our people at the bottom of society is fostering development and participation in our politics.

From the hills of Kukuruku to the rice farms of Ilushi, through the maize fields at Sobe, to the lush forest in Urohi-Ojogba, and the forests and waters of the Ovia River, we have met with leaders of our traditional institutions, conversed with traders, journeyed with transporters, and met with pensioners and public servants who appreciate the work we have done in the last four years.

Since November 2016, we have made giant strides in rewriting the development narrative of our dear state. We have revamped our primary healthcare system through deep-rooted reforms. We have reformed our basic education to be more responsive to the needs of the 21st century by training teachers and introducing technology to our schools. We have rebuilt critical physical and digital infrastructure across the state; strengthened our security architecture; enacted civil service and pension reforms for productivity and sustainability and have created thousands of opportunities for our young people to be employed and empowered.

Some of our reforms have included energy projects such as the 55MW Ossiomo Independent Power Plant (IPP), which is completed and ready for commissioning, and the 6000bpd Edo Modular Refinery. We also have the Emotan Gardens, in which the first phase is completed.

With the critical physical and social infrastructure which we have started building, we have laid the foundation for the next four years and the future.

As we enter a post-COVID world, in the next four years, we will be focusing on our programmes to make Edo great again. Under our Making Edo Great Again (MEGA) manifesto, we will emphasis deeper governance reforms, including rebuilding the public service and emplacing a citizen-centric leadership through which we will continue to transform our social services and infrastructure. We will reposition the government as an enabler to consolidate and enhance our signature projects, such as Edo Jobs, Creative and Innovative Hubs, and industrialization projects.

The future will be driven by technology and data and Edo State will be repositioned to participate in the fourth industrial revolution.

Part of our plan to develop a large, local, sustainable economy will include accelerating our current initiatives in human capacity development, agribusiness, energy, and mining. Our legacy will be to leave for future administrations, a 30-year regional, urban, social and economic master-plan based on which Edo will regain its greatness.

We are very optimistic that Edo will be able to take advantage of the post-coronavirus world economy to achieve more in the second term than we did in our first term.

I implore you all to come out and re-elect me and my deputy, Philip Shaibu, by voting the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) on the 19th of September, 2020.

We are trusting God Almighty that election day will be violent-free because of the preparations which have been made by security agencies and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

Thank you

God bless Edo State.

God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria

PHOTOS: INEC Distributes Electoral Materials For Edo Poll

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on September 17, 2020 distributes sensitive materials for the Edo State governorship election slated for Saturday.

 

Less than 48 hours to the Edo State governorship election, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has begun the distribution of sensitive electoral materials for the exercise.

Channels Television learned that the sensitive materials are kept in the Central Bank of Nigeria in Benin City, awaiting onward distribution.

There is also a heavy security presence comprising officials of the Nigeria Army, the Nigeria Police Force among others.

See Photos Below:

Drug Trafficking: Singapore’s Appeal Court Frees Nigerian After Nine Years

Alleged Bribery: Witness Testifies As Rickey Tarfa’s Trial Continues
File photo

 

The Court of Appeal in Singapore has acquitted and discharged a Nigerian, Ilechukwu Uchechukwu Chukwudi, on death row for drug trafficking, nearly a decade after he was arrested.

The country’s apex court, in a rare decision, reversed itself and found Ilechukwu not guilty, five years after the same court convicted him of the offence.

Ilechukwu faced a charge of trafficking almost 2kg (1,963.3g) of methamphetamine found in a black trolley bag he brought with him from Nigeria into Singapore on November 13, 2011.

The charge was punishable by death.

He had collected the luggage at the airport in Nigeria, found only clothes in it. The luggage passed several immigration checks in both countries without problems.

The Nigerian was said to have handed the bag to a Singaporean stall assistant named Hamidah Awang at a Clarke Quay bus stop.

Hamidah’s car was then searched at Woodlands Checkpoint in River Valley Road, Singapore and drugs were discovered in the luggage.

Ilechukwu was initially acquitted after a trial in the High Court in 2014 but the appellate court reversed that decision in 2015 and found him guilty of drug trafficking.

His lawyers — Mr Eugene Thuraisingam, Mr Suang Wijaya and Mr Johannes Hadi from Eugene Thuraisingam LLP, as well as Ms Jerrie Tan from K&L Gates Straits Law — argued for the decision to be reviewed.

At the sentencing stage, they provided “material evidence” showing that Ilechukwu was suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) with dissociative symptoms.

The Court of Appeal then ordered a review of the case in light of the fresh evidence, given by the psychiatrist who was a prosecution witness.

At the review, the court upheld their submissions and found that Ilechukwu experienced PTSD symptoms while giving statements to authorities.

In a split decision on Thursday, four out of five justices on the case found that Ilechukwu did not know there were drugs in the bag, finding that he had been “deceived” unwittingly into transporting drugs.

The apex court quashed its own decision, setting the Nigerian free.

“The picture that emerges from the evidence is that he had grossly misjudged (his childhood friend and acquaintance), and naively believed that he was doing a simple favour in return for promised business contacts.

“Unwittingly, he had been deceived into transporting drugs on their behalf to (their) contact in Singapore,” the judges added.

Judge of Appeal, Tay Yong Kwang dissented, while Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon, Senior Judge Chao Hick Tin, and Judges of Appeal, Judith Prakash and Andrew Phang ruled in Ilechukwu’s favour.

In a statement, Ilechukwu’s lawyers said: “It has been a long and hard-fought pro bono case, involving specialist psychiatric evidence and issues of cross-cultural sensitivities…

“Had it not been for the fortuitous production of the IMH report, our client would have been sentenced to death or life imprisonment. We are delighted that justice has prevailed to acquit our client this morning.”

Ilechukwu’s acquittal makes it the second time in the last two years that a Nigerian citizen has defeated a capital drugs-related offence in Singapore.

In May 2019, Adili Chibuike Ejike, who had been sentenced to hanging for importing almost 2kg of methamphetamine, was cleared by the Court of Appeal.

Adili had similarly been arrested in 2011 in a related case.

UNILAG Crisis: Visitation Panel Submits Report To FG

Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu

 

The Special Visitation Panel set up by the Federal Government to investigate the management crisis rocking the University of Lagos has submitted the report of its findings.

The Minister of Education, Mallam Adamu Adamu, received the report on behalf of the Federal Government in Abuja on Thursday.

He said the recommendations of the panel will be thoroughly scrutinized with the aim of full implementation.

READ ALSO: UNILAG Crisis: Visitation Panel Concludes Investigation

Shortly before presenting the report to the minister, the Chairman of the panel, Professor Tukur Sa’ad expressed optimism that the report of the panel will bring an end to the crisis that has festered in the university over the last one year.

READ ALSO: FG Inaugurates Presidential Panel For UNILAG

This comes three weeks after the Federal Government inaugurated the panel to resolve the lingering crisis facing the institution.

While setting up the panel on August 26, Adamu warned members against interfering in the activities of the university management.

He encouraged the stakeholders in the university to fully cooperate with the panel and to allow it to work unhindered.

“Councils are to lay down policies while managements are to implement them, but over the past one year, the ministry has been inundated with complaints and correspondences from the management and the governing council of the University of Lagos as well as the National Assembly, on the lingering governance issues in the institution, including allegations of financial infractions and breach of responsibilities,” he said.

The panel was set up to investigate the crisis rocking the university, following the earlier removal of its Vice-Chancellor, Professor Oluwatoyin Ogundipe, by its Governing Council led by Mr Wale Babalakin, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria.

 

Nigeria Bar Association Closely Monitoring Edo Election, Says Aikpokpo-Martins

The Nigeria Bar Association (NBA) says it is closely monitoring the activities leading to the governorship election in Edo State.

NBA First Vice President, John Aikpokpo-Martins, disclosed this on Thursday during an interview on Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily in Abuja.

He explained that the body is satisfied with the peaceful manner political actors have conducted themselves so far.

“The NBA does not have the resources to follow up from the beginning to the end. As an association, this particular team was set up to observe from tomorrow till the election will be over; that is to say to the announcement of the result.

“However, we have been watching and observing all that is going on. For now, we are satisfied to the extent that the parties have conducted themselves very well, they have campaigned hard,” he said.

Speaking on the possibility of violence in the polls, the legal practitioner said there have been allegations of “threat to violence but not actual violence yet.”

The NBA leader said the allegations and counter-allegations do not automatically translate to violence on the election day.

Aikpokpo-Martins, who is also an indigene of Edo State, said the state does not have a history of violence in previous elections.

NBA First Vice President, John Aikpokpo-Martins, speaks on the September 19 governorship election in Edo State.

Although he admitted that the political atmosphere is tensed with the “temperature very high,” he is however optimistic of peaceful conduct of the exercise on September 19.

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“The security is very tight now. There are a lot of soldiers, a lot of policemen on the streets. I am very sure that will dissuade merchants of violence from going out to disrupt the election in a violent way,” he said.

His remarks come two days after the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidate and incumbent governor, Godwin Obaseki embraced his main rival and contender in the poll, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu of the All Progressives Congress (APC).

The duo beaming with smiles warmly hugged each other, an indication that they have decided to toe the line of peace and avoid unnecessary bloodshed in the election.