Alleged Port Harcourt ‘Serial Killer’ Changes Plea To Not Guilty

 

 

Suspected “serial killer”, Gracious David West, reversed his plea to not guilty in court Thursday after earlier confessing to strangling nine women in a string of ritual-style killings.

Mr. West, 26, was arrested in September on accusations he lured his victims to hotels in Port Harcourt before drugging and murdering them.

The killings sparked outrage and prompted women to take to the streets of the city, the heart of Rivers state, to demand better police protection.

READ ALSO: Police Nab Alleged Serial Killer In Rivers

Police released a video on Twitter after West was detained showing him admitting to the crimes.

But in court on Thursday he reversed the admission.

“The defendant had earlier pleaded guilty to the 9 count charge of murder but has decided to change his plea today,” prosecutor Chidi Ekeh said.

The suspect’s lawyer Vincent Chukwu dismissed the earlier guilty plea as having “no legal effect”.

“The basis of this matter is the evidence. Let them (the prosecution) put their evidence before the court”, he told AFP.

A second defendant, accused of involvement in the killings, Nimi Thankgod, also pleaded not guilty and was granted bail.

Police arrested the suspects after the bodies of nine victims were found across the city and described West as a “notorious serial killer” and cult member.

The authorities said the deceased were discovered with a white cloth wrapped around their necks and waist in a style that suggested ritual murders.

Port Harcourt and the surrounding region has one of the highest crime rates in Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country.

It is rife with so-called cults, criminal gangs that emerged from university campuses to become organised crime groups and frequently engage in blood rituals and oaths.

Bayelsa Poll: Appeal Court Orders INEC To Retain APC Candidate On Ballot

 

An Appeal Court sitting in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State capital on Friday,  ordered the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to recognise David Lyon as the Candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) for Saturday governorship election in the state.

Ruling on a motion ex-parte filed by the lawyers of Lyon, the court set aside the judgment of the Federal High Court sitting in Yenagoa and presided over by Justice Jane Inyang.

READ ALSO: Appeal Court Dismisses Ogboru’s Appeal, Upholds Okowa’s Victory As Delta Governor

The court said Lyon remained the candidate of the APC for the election pending the determination of an appeal he filed against the judgement of the lower court.

Counsel to Mr Lyon, M.J Numa had earlier moved an exparte application thereby making the court made an order compelling INEC to maintain status quo ante bellum pending the hearing and determination of the Motion on Notice for interlocutory application.

Court Jails Two Internet Fraudsters In Port Harcourt

 

Justice J.K. Omotosho of the Federal High Court sitting in Port Harcourt, Rivers State has convicted and sentenced the duo of Onyeka Ifeanyi Johnson and Andrew Onyebuchi Okwuoha to one year imprisonment each owing to offences bordering on obtaining under false pretences, internet fraud and possession of proceeds of crimes.

The two convicts were both arraigned at the Federal High Court sitting in Port Harcourt on September 9, 2019 by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, Port Harcourt’s Zonal office on one count separate charge.

Ifeanyi’s offence bordered on obtaining under false pretence contrary to Section 1 (1) (a) of the Advance Fee Fraud and Other Fraud Related Offences Act, 2006 and punishable under Section 1 (3) of the same Act, while Onyebuchi ‘s offence bordered on retention and possession of proceeds of crime contrary to Section 15 (2) (d) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition ) Act.

READ ALSO: Three Killed As Troops Rid Borno Village Of Terrorists

The one- count charge read:

“That you Onyeka Ifeanyi Johnson a.k.a (Chewning Roger) on or about the 3rd of August, 2018, at Port Harcourt, Rivers State within the jurisdiction of this honorable court with intent to defraud did obtain the sum of ($900.00) Nine Hundred US Dollars through Western Union, under false pretence from one Kathleen Street, a US national, a pretext you knew to be false and thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 1 (1) (a) of the Advance Fee Fraud and Other Related Offences Act, 2006 and punishable under Section 1 (3) of the same Act.

“That you Andrew Onyebuchi Okwuoha on or about the 5th day of April, 2019 at Port Harcourt, Rivers State within the jurisdiction of this honourable court did acquire, retain and took possession or control of the sum of Two Thousand, One Hundred United States Dollars fraudulently transferred from the Bank of America account of one Tina Sakalarkis knowingly or reasonably ought to have known that the said sum forms part of the proceeds of an unlawful act and thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 15 (2) (d) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition ) Act, 2011 (as amended) and punishable under Section 15 (3) of the same Act.”

The defendants pleaded guilty to the one- count charge when read to them.

In view of their plea, prosecution counsel, M.T. Iko prayed the court to convict and sentence the defendants accordingly. Defense counsels: K.C. Orjiako and Agumagu C. Agumagu did not oppose the prayer of the prosecution counsel.

Justice J.K. Omotosho thereafter convicted and sentenced Ifeanyi to one year imprisonment with an option of Five Hundred Thousand Naira (N 500,000.00) commencing from the date of arrest while Onyebuchi was convicted and sentenced to one year imprisonment without an option of fine.

The Judge ordered that the monies fraudulently made be restituted to the victims. He also ordered that the Iphone X, HP Pavilion laptop which was recovered at the point of arrest be forfeited to the Federal Government.

Johnson’s journey to prison started when operatives of the EFCC raided his apartment at No. 5, Emmanuel Avenue, off Sekibo Road, Odili road, Port Harcourt sometimes in August 2019 after a tip- off.

Investigations revealed that the convict is a notorious fraudster who has been defrauding unsuspecting foreigners through online dating scam and business e-mail compromise.

As for Okwuoha, his ordeal started when he retained the sum of Two Thousand One Hundred US Dollars ($2,100.00), fraudulently transferred from the Bank of America’s account of one Tina Sakerlarkis, an American into his own account, without any lawful transaction between them.

EFCC Grills 58 Suspected Oil Thieves In Port Harcourt

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital has commenced an investigation of 58 persons allegedly involved in illegal oil bunkering.

They include one Mexican, one Ukranian and 56 Nigerians.

According to a statement by the commission, the suspects, as well as four vessels, one barge and two wooden boats, were handed over to the EFCC by the Nigerian Navy Ship (NNS) Pathfinder.

Read Also: [FBI LIST] EFCC Nabs Major Suspect, Five Others In Sokoto

The vessels, MV Western Orient; MV Temile, AHT Ajemisan and AHT Jascon 23, and the two boats were intercepted around Onne Anchorage, while Barge Hannamarine was intercepted at Okorochiri Creek in Okrika.

DPR Shuts Down Four Filling Stations In Port Harcourt

 

The Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) has shut down four filling stations in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital.

According to the agency, the filling stations violated the operational guidelines handed down to marketers to desist from fraudulent practices against the public and motorists.

Zonal Operational Director of DPR, Mr Bassey Nkanga, disclosed this during an interview with journalists in the state, shortly after a surveillance visit to 38 filing station.

He further explained that two of the filling stations were shut down for under dispensing, one for obstruction and the other, for operating without a valid licence.

According to him, the four stations will be fined and those guilty of under dispensing would be made to pay a sum of N100,000 to the Federal Government.

He also assured Nigerians that the exercise is a continuous process until all markets comply with the laid down rules and regulations.

The DPR boss stressed that the agency will not tolerate any form of non-compliance and any attempt to cheat unsuspecting members of the public.

Court Convicts, Fines Two Oil Thieves In Port Harcourt

Bauchi Assembly Crisis: Court Orders Parties To Maintain Status Quo

 

Justice A.T. Mohammed of the Federal High Court sitting in Port Harcourt, Rivers State has convicted and sentenced two persons, Nura Hassan and Uchenna Iwuoha to a fine of N100,000 each.

The convicts were arraigned on Friday by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) Port Harcourt’s Zonal Office, on one- count separate charge bordering on illegal dealing in petroleum products without appropriate licenses.

A statement from the EFCC said the offence was contrary to Section 4 (1) of the Petroleum Act, Cap P10 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria (LFN) 2007 and punishable under Section 4 (6) of the same Act.

READ ALSO: Truck Crushes Soldier To Death In Ogun

The charge read, “That you Nura Hassan, being the driver on board a DAF Truck with registration number ZUR 219 YL on or about the 22nd day of November, 2017 at Abonema within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court did deal in petroleum products to wit: loading illegally refined Automotive Gas Oil (AGO), and thereby committed an offence contrary to  Section 4 (1) of the Petroleum Act, CAP P10 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria (LFN) 2007, and punishable under Section 4(6) of the same Act”.

The convicts pleaded “guilty” to the charge when read to them.

In view of their pleas, the prosecuting counsels, F.O. Amama and S. Chime prayed the court to convict and sentence them accordingly.

The defense counsels, O.N. Ofordile and P.C. Dike did not oppose the prosecution counsel’s prayers.

Justice Mohammed, thereafter, convicted and sentenced Hassan and Iwuoha to a fine of 100,000 each and ordered that that the content of the trucks they were arrested with should be forfeited to the Federal Government.

The convicts were intercepted by troops of the Nigerian Army, 6 Division, Port Harcourt in 2018 and 2019 at different locations.

They were said to be loading and distributing AGO using different trucks without appropriate licences.

The duo were later handed over to the EFCC for further investigation and prosecution.

Court Jails Nine Oil Thieves In Port Harcourt

Bauchi Assembly Crisis: Court Orders Parties To Maintain Status Quo

 

Justice A.T. Mohammed of the Federal High Court sitting in Port Harcourt has convicted and sentenced nine people.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) reveal this in a statement on Thursday.

According to it, those convicted were arraigned on Wednesday before the judge who sentenced them to two years imprisonment with an option of fine of N100, 000 each for illegal dealing in petroleum products.

Those convicted are Ndubisi Ebezim, Eze Igwe Charlse, Kingsley Nwosu, Chukwuman Odum, Sunday Josiah, Mohammed Yahaya, Najib Abubaka, Abubaka Idi, and Babagida Jiddah.

They were arraigned on a one-count separate charge bordering on illegal dealing in petroleum products contrary to Section 4 (1) of the petroleum Act, CAP P10 laws of the Federation of Nigeria (LFN) 2004, and punishable under Section 4(6) the same Act.

READ ALSO: ‘Nigerians Don’t Deserve To Suffer’, PDP Asks Buhari To Rescind CBN Directive

The charge read: “That you Babagida Jiddah, being the driver on board a truck with registration number BER 844 XR, on or about the 4th May, 2019 at Igbo Etete in Port Harcourt within the jurisdiction of this Honorable court deal in petroleum product to wit loading and transporting illegally refined Automotive Gas Oil (AGO), without appropriate licence or authority and thereby committed an offence contrary to  Section 4 (1) of the Petroleum Act, CAP P10 laws of the Federation of Nigeria (LFN) 2004, and punishable under Section 4(6) the same Act”.

They all pleaded “guilty” when the charges were read to them.

“In view of their pleas, prosecuting counsels:  S. Chime; F.O. Amama; A. Osu and A.N Dodo, prayed the court to convict and sentence them accordingly.

“Defence counsels, O.N.Ofordile; C.O. Okpute, W.A. Ugwu, did not oppose the prayers of the prosecution,” the statement said.

Justice Mohammed, thereafter, convicted and sentenced the defendants to two years imprisonment with an option of fine.

He also ordered that the petroleum products they were caught with be forfeited to the Federal Government.

The convicts’ journey to prison started when they were intercepted by Nigerian Army, 6 Division, Port Harcourt in 2017, 2018 and 2019 at different locations in the Rivers State capital.

They were said to be loading and distributing AGO using different trucks without appropriate licenses.

Navy Destroys Illegal Refineries In Warri, Port Harcourt

 

The Nigerian Navy has destroyed some illegal refineries tucked in the hard to reach areas of the Niger-Delta creeks.

In the latest operations, the navy destroyed some illegal refineries located in Warri and Port Harcourt the commercial nerve centres of Delta and Rivers states.

Some of the areas combed by the navy include the Benette Island and Yeye creeks in Warri as well as Bakana creek in Port Harcourt.

Over 80 drums of 250 litres of products and 13 suspects were arrested during the Portharcourt Operation.

The illegal refiners are said to get their products by either breaking oil pipelines or wellheads, after which they proceed to their refineries where they distill the crude and then dispense to buyers who come from various parts of the cities by boat.

READ ALSO: Oil Theft: Navy Hands Over Eight Suspects, Boat To EFCC

Commodore Ibrahim Idewu, the Commander NNS Delta, says this breach, in the long run, affects the country’s oil production capacity while the refined products end up damaging the facilities and equipment of users.

Similarly, in his brief, Commodore Sam Bura, the Commander NNS Port Harcourt expressed the resolve of the Navy to keep the waterways safe, protect national assets and keep illegal refiners off operations.

He, however, calls for urgent prosecution of arrested vessels as maintaining the vessels at the naval jetties is draining the purse of the Navy.

 

Five Injured As Explosion Rocks Port Harcourt Shopping Mall

MOSOP Accuses Military Of Killing In Gokana

 

Five people have been injured following a gas explosion at a shopping mall in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital.

The Police Public Relations Officer, DSP Nnamdi Omoni, confirmed the incident on Wednesday.

He said the explosion, which occurred in the Kitchen area of the mall, left five persons seriously injured.

READ ALSO: NAF Aircraft Crash-Lands In Katsina

The police spokesman added that the victims are currently receiving treatment at the Braithwaite Memorial Hospital, and activities have returned to normal.

DSP Omoni also said that investigations are ongoing to unravel the cause of the gas explosion.

Wike Gives Mechanics, Others One Month To Vacate Port Harcourt Roads

Wike Gives Mechanics, Others One Month To Vacate Port Harcourt Roads
A file photo of Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike.

 

Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, has issued an ultimatum of one month to roadside mechanics, car dealers, street traders, and private taxi park operators to vacate the streets of Port Harcourt.

He gave the order at a meeting with some artisans and traders on Friday at the Government House in the state capital.

The governor explained that it was important for them to comply with the stipulated period because his administration was committed to restoring Port Harcourt to the garden city status.

“I am giving all groups one month to leave the roads, he said, adding “Within this one month, you should find alternative locations to carry out your businesses.

“By the first week of July, the state government will swing into action. Port Harcourt must be clean, whether you like it or not.”

Governor Wike noted that he convened the meeting to avoid unnecessary conflict and to negotiate the time for all the traders, mechanics and car dealers to leave the roads.

He said, “Our roads are now mechanic workshops, our roads are now markets and motor parks. There is this spirit that makes the traders and mechanics believe that you can only make money on the road; we will end that spirit.

“Your activities litter the roads. There will be consequences for mechanics using the road for their trade after the one month period. The vehicles being repaired will be seized.”

The governor warned that the state government would not allow the operation of illegal motor parks and car shops along the roads.

He said that police and other security agencies have been co-opted to serve on the implementation process.

In his remarks, the Commissioner of Police in Rivers, Usman Belel, gave assurance that the command would work with the State government to ensure that the artisans leave the roads.

However, representatives of artisans and traders requested different timeframes to vacate the roads.

Monarch Calls On Fleeing Abonnema Residents To Return Home

 

The Amayanabo of Abonnema, King Disreal Gbobo Owukori (VI), has appealed to fleeing residents of the community to return home.

He made the call in a statement issued on Monday, a day after residents began to flee the community for fear of reprisal, in the wake of an attack on soldiers.

In the attack, one soldier was said to have been shot dead and another was left seriously injured from gunshots.

Read Also: Residents Flee Abonema In Fear Of Reprisal Attack By Soldiers

But the monarch called on residents to return home, saying “the military is not after Nyemoni” because, the young men that committed the offence, have been shot dead in same regard.

Port Harcourt Building Collapse Death Toll Rises To Seven, 38 Rescued

 

 

Seven persons have been brought out dead from the rubbles of a seven-story building which collapsed on Friday in Port Harcourt, Rivers State.

Thirty-eight others were also rescued by emergency workers with some of them seriously injured and one of them with an amputated hand.

Although an unconfirmed number of persons may be dead under the rubble as some stench of suspected corpses are beginning to permeate the air and voices reportedly heard as well.

The seven-storey building which is located on Woji road in the Port Harcourt G.R.A. was under construction when it collapsed around 4:30 pm on Friday.

About 60 persons – mainly construction workers – were said to have been working on it when it collapsed.

One of the construction workers told Channels Television that he had just left the building when he heard a loud bang and turned around to discover what had happened.

He explained that there were many workers in the building when the incident occurred because they are usually paid for the week on Fridays.

On Sunday the state governor, Nyesom Wike visited the scene of the collapsed building and vowed to ensure that appropriate sanctions are taken.

Governor Wike who regretted the loss of lives said that he was surprised that approvals were given for the story building with a promise to get to the bottom of it.