Nigerian Bags 22-Year Jail Term Over Human Trafficking

Franca AsemotaA female trafficking boss was sentenced to 22 years in prison on Thursday for using the threat of witchcraft to exert control over almost 40 women brought from Nigeria to Europe for sex work, a British court prosecutor said.

Franca Asemota was found guilty of conspiracy to traffic persons for sexual exploitation, trafficking persons outside of the UK for sexual exploitation and assisting unlawful migration.

Isleworth Crown Court in West London heard that Asemota was part of a criminal network that trafficked girls, boys and women to Europe, using the threat of “juju magic” and rituals with curses to exert control over her victims.

Prosecutor David Davies said Asemota targeted girls from poor, rural backgrounds with little knowledge of the world, promising them legitimate jobs in Europe between August 2011 and May 2012.

“Only when they were far away from their homes were they told the truth – that they would have to work as prostitutes,” Davies said in a statement.

“The girls were told that if they disobeyed their captors or tried to escape, the curse would cause them injury, infertility or even death.”

Asemota was extradited by Justice Abdul Kafarati of the Federal High Court, Abuja in January.

The court gave the consent to her extradition through the office of the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF).

She was accused of allegedly organising a network that trafficked young women, mostly teenagers, from remote Nigerian villages into Europe using Heathrow Airport as a transit hub.

The girls were promised education or jobs, such as hairdressing in countries including France and Spain, but were forced into prostitution.

N1.04trn Fine: Court Adjourns MTN’s Case Against NCC Till March 18

NCCA Federal High Court in Lagos has adjourned till March 18, the suit filed by MTN Nigeria Communications Limited to challenge the 1.04 trillion Naira fine imposed on it by the Nigerian Communication Commission (NCC).

The court’s adjournment was sequel to a request by the telecommunication outfit for more time to pursue an out of court settlement.

MTN had in December 2015 filed the suit through its lawyers led by Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN), arguing that the NCC being a regulator, cannot assume all the functions of the state on its own, considering the fact that they made the regulation, prescribed the penalty and imposed the fine, which is payable to the commission and not the Federal Government.

The telecommunication company also claimed that it was not afforded its constitutional right of fair hearing before a court of competent jurisdiction and more importantly, it had not been found guilty of any offence that will warrant it to pay such an outrageous fine.

The NCC in response urged the court in a motion on notice filed through its lawyers, Ahmed Raji (SAN) and Mahmud Magaji (SAN), to dismiss or decline to hear the suit for want of jurisdiction, or send it to Abuja.

At the resumed hearing of the matter on Friday, Chief Olanipekun informed the court that parties are already discussing on how to resolve the matter amicably.

The lawyer then asked for a 60-day period from the court to allow for the discussions.

But counsel to the NCC, Yusuf Alli (SAN) urged the court to go ahead with the hearing of the matter as he was not aware of any ongoing discussion for settlement among parties.

On his part, lawyer to the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF), Oladipo Okpeseyi (SAN), also expressed reservations on the application for adjournment.

The silk urged the court to make a consequential order that all the processes filed is deemed as properly filed and served.

Justice Idris, in a short ruling, held that all the preliminary objections and substantive applications shall be taken together while all the processes filed shall be deemed as properly filed and served.

The court then adjourned the matter till March 18, for a report of settlement or for hearing.

Kogi Election: PDP Rejects Call For APC’s Candidate Substitution

Olisa-MetuhThe Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has kicked against an advice by the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF), Mr Abubakar Malami, to the All Progressives Congress (APC) that the party can substitute its late candidate in the Kogi State governorship election.

The opposition party also asked Mr Malami to “immediately vacate his office for harrying and misleading the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) into arriving at the decision”.

In a statement by the opposition party’s spokesman, Olisa Metuh, the party said it was shocked that “INEC, a supposedly independent electoral umpire, could allow itself to succumb to the antics of the APC by following the unlawful directive of an obviously partisan AGF to substitute a candidate in the middle of the ballot process”.

The electoral body had earlier said it would allow the APC to look for a candidate to feel the vacancy created by the death of Mr Abubakar Audu before supplementary elections that would hold on December 5 in 91 polling units where elections were cancelled.

Also making comments about the situation on Monday, Mr Malami said that the APC could substitute its candidate in the Kogi State governorship election, who died a day after the November 21 election.

But the PDP is kicking against the statements, saying they were attacks on Nigeria’s democracy.

Alien To The Constitution

The party in a statement said: “We are all aware that the two legal documents guiding INEC in the conduct of elections; the Constitution and the Electoral Act, have provisions for electoral exigencies as well as empower the electoral body to fully take responsibility for any of its actions or inaction without undue interference from any quarters whatsoever.

“We are therefore at a loss as to which sections of these two relevant laws, INEC and the AGF relied on in arriving at their bizarre decision to substitute a dead candidate in an on-going election even after the timelines for such has elapsed under all the rules.

“INEC as a statutory body has the full complements of technical hands in its legal department to advice it appropriately and we wonder why it had to wait for directives from the AGF, an external party, if not for partisan and subjective interest”.

The PDP further rejected what it said was “a brazen move by the APC and INEC to circumvent the laws and ambush the yet-to-be concluded election by introducing a practice that is completely alien to the constitution and the Electoral Act”.

The party claimed that the clear implication of this action of the AGF and INEC was that the APC would be fielding two different governorship candidates in the on-going Kogi election, a situation it said meant that INEC would be transferring votes cast for late Prince Abubakar Audu to another candidate.

According to the opposition party, the scenarios had no place in the Nigerian Constitution.

The opposition party further said: “Whereas the PDP, in honour of the sanctity of human life and respect for the dead, had since Sunday refrained from making comments on the conduct of the election, we can no longer maintain such in the face of the barefaced attack on our democracy.

“This INEC, under the leadership of Professor Mahmood Yakubu, has shown itself as partisan, morally bankrupt and obviously incapable of conducting a credible election within our laws”.

It also demanded for the resignation of the INEC Chairman, as claimed that the nation’s democracy could not afford to be left in the hands of an electoral umpire that could not exert its independence and the sanctity of the electoral process.

On Sunday, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) declared the Kogi State governorship election inconclusive.

After election results from the 21 local government areas were collated on Sunday, the All Progressives Congress’ candidate, late Mr Audu, was leading while the incumbent Governor, Captain Idris Wada of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) trailed by a margin less than the number of cancelled votes.

The candidate of the All Progressives Congress had 240,867 votes while that of the PDP got 199,514 votes.

HDP Sues NSA, CDS, Jonathan Over Election Postponement

inec-1The Hope Democratic Party (HDP) legal action has instituted against President Goodluck Jonathan, the National Security Adviser, Col Sambo Dasuki (Rtd) and the Chief of Defence Staff, Air Chief Marshal Alex Badeh, challenging the legality of their powers to effect a postponement of elections already scheduled by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

Also joined as co-defendants in the court filed at the Federal High Court in Abuja are the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Mr Mohammed Bello Adoke as well as INEC.

In the originating summon issued by counsel to HDP, Mr. Okechukwu Ehogwu, the plaintiff is asking the court to declare that the purported postponement of the scheduled February 14 presidential election was not in conformity with the provisions of the law since there was no natural disaster or natural emergency.

The party also canvassed that the letter of information from the Chief of Defence staff and the National Security Adviser dated February 3 to INEC on their inability and failure to guarantee security for Nigerians does not qualify as a natural disaster or emergency that could warrant election postponement.

The Plaintiff, who also has a presidential candidate, also asked for court declaration that INEC was not under any duty or bound to obey or comply with any unverified or cogent reasons to postpone scheduled election in the absence of a natural disaster.

The party is praying the court for an order restraining the Chief of Defence Staff, NSA, President Jonathan and AGF from further interfering in the party’s right to participate in an election and to also stop the usurpation of powers of INEC under any guise.

FG Restates Commitment To Tackling Insecurity

The federal government has announced plans to create more jobs for the nation’s unemployed youths as part of measures in tackling insecurity in the country.

The Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Mr Mohammed Adoke, announced this at the opening of a two-day peace and security summit organised by the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) in Abuja, where he promised that the government will continue to pursue genuine reconciliation of all aggrieved persons.

He said the attacks by terrorists are an attack on the core values of the nation which the government is working hard to overcome.

However, a former Head of State, retired General Muhammadu Buhari, who was also at the summit, argued that the nation can do better in managing the security situation than what obtains now.

Also speaking, the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Mariam Aloma-Mukhtar, noted that peace is attainable when leaders resort to dialogue.

On his part, a former Director-General of the State Security Service (SSS), Albert Horsfall, stressed the need for justice and fair play as a panacea for peace just as the president of the NBA, Okey Wali, expressed optimism that the summit will proffer solutions to the nation’s security challenges.

The summit titled, Comprehensive and Sustainable Peace and Security in a Plural Society, was convened to find ways of ensuring peace in the country.