PHOTOS: Four-Year Trial Ends As Metuh Begins Jail Term

Olisa Metuh being taken to the Nigeria Correction Service after a judgement was passed on his case on February the 25th, 2020. Photos: Sodiq Adelakun/ChannelsTV

 

The four-year trial of a former National Publicity Secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Olisa Metuh, came to an end on Tuesday after the Federal High Court in Abuja found him guilty and sentenced him to seven years in prison.

Metuh was sentenced on seven counts of money laundering and criminal diversion of funds to the tune of N400 million.

According to Justice Okon Abang, the sentence is expected to take effect immediately (today, February 25, 2020).

See photos of him being taken to the Nigeria Correction Services, Kuje.

Read Also: Court Sentences Olisa Metuh To Seven Years In Prison After Four-Year Trial

10 Killed As Riot Rocks Jail In Venezuela

 

 

Gang fighting at a jail in Venezuela left at least 10 inmates dead, an NGO reported Tuesday.

At least four grenades were detonated in clashes that began Monday evening in the northwestern state of Zulia, said the NGO, a human rights group called Una Ventana a la Libertad.

Venezuelan authorities have not said anything about a toll from the rioting, which the NGO said broke out at a jail which serves as a holding pen at a regional police headquarters.

Prisoners set fire to one wing of the facility, it said.

READ ALSO: Pentagon Says Sending 750 Troops To Mideast After Embassy Attack In Iraq

It quoted local residents as saying explosions and then gunfire were heard starting late Monday, with the violence continuing overnight.

Zulia governor Omar Prieto said Monday that he is planning to close the detention center.

On December 23, an uprising at the jail left six people dead, the NGO said. One of those was shot by security forces, it added.

It said the jail holds about 1,000 inmates.

Venezuelan prisons suffer from severe overcrowding despite a 2011 plan to upgrade them.

Holding pens like the one in Zulia are full of detainees, who are not supposed to spend more than 48 hours there.

Nationwide, these facilities hold more than five times their capacity. Detainees suffer from violence, malnutrition and diseases such as tuberculosis, La Ventana a la Libertad said.

It said that in just the first half of 2019, 149 prisoners died in police holding pens, due to a variety of causes.

On May 24, a total of 29 inmates died during an attempted breakout from another such jail in the town of Acarigua in the western state of Portuguesa.

Clashes between prisoners and police left 19 officers injured in that incident.

Three Dead In Riyadh Prison Fire

Medina, Qatif, Saudi Arabia

 

A fire erupted in a Riyadh prison early Thursday, killing three inmates and injuring 21 others, Saudi state media reported.

The inmates were evacuated and the injured were rushed to hospital after the fire broke out at dawn in Al-Malaz prison, jail authorities said in a statement carried by the official Saudi Press Agency said.

Firefighting “specialists with the help of civil defence were able to bring the fire under control and prevent it from spreading,” the statement said.

“As a result (of the fire) three deaths occurred and 21 were injured.”

It did not state the cause of the fire, but said an investigation had been launched.

Accidental fires are common across the desert kingdom of Saudi Arabia, sometimes because of lax enforcement of safety regulations.

In September, five people were injured in a fire that broke out at a new high-speed train station in the western city of Jeddah, according to state television, with huge palls of smoke seen rising into the air.

The station serves the main Haramain High Speed Rail system, which transports passengers between Mecca and Medina, Islam’s holiest sites.

AFP

Alleged Homicide: Court Remands 60 Shiite Members In Correctional Facilities

A file photo of policemen dispersing Shiite members during a protest in Abuja on July 22, 2019. Photo: Channels TV/ Sodiq Adelakun.

 

 

A High Court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), sitting in the Apo area of Abuja has remanded 60 members of the proscribed Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN), otherwise called the Shiite group to Kuje prison in Abuja and Suleja prison in Niger State on remand.

The 60 proscribed IMN members were arrested during the July 22 bloody protest at the Federal Secretariat area of Abuja, which led to the death of a Deputy Commissioner of Police, Usman Umar, and Precious Owolabi, a National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) member with Channels Television.

They were arraigned before the court on November 27 by the FCT Command of the Nigeria Police.

READ ALSO: Police Arrest Traditional Ruler Accused Of Raping Boy, Family Demands Justice

The suspects were arraigned on charges bordering on homicide, disturbances of public peace, and destruction of government properties.

They had, however, pleaded not guilty to the charges preferred against them by the police.

On resumption of the case on Tuesday, counsel for the defendants, Mr Bala Dakum, informed the court that he had filed a bail application on behalf of the Shiite members.

When the court drew his attention to filing only one bail application for the 60 defendants, which was brought by way of summon, Dakum said he would withdraw it.

He subsequently did in order to file separate applications for the defendants.

Justice Sulaiman Belgore then struck out the application, having been withdrawn by the defence counsel with no objection from the prosecution.

As a result, the prosecuting counsel, Mr Simon Lough, requested that the defendants should be remanded in Kuje and Suleja correctional facilities.

Lough, who is a Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP), asked that 54 male defendants be remanded at the correctional facility in Kuje, while the remaining six defendants who are females be sent to the Suleja correctional on remand.

He also applied that trial of the defendants be held where they are remanded for convenience, adding that the trial should be given an accelerated hearing considering their number.

The prosecution’s oral applications for the remand of the defendants and trial being held where they are being remanded were not opposed by their counsel.

Ruling on the applications, Justice Belgore held that having not been opposed by the counsel for the defendants, the court was minded to remand the defendants at the correctional facilities.

“The defendants be remanded at the correctional facilities. They are to be remanded at Kuje and Suleja correctional yards. Trial to be held in Kuje correctional yard,” he ruled.

The judge then adjourned until February 5, 2020, for the commencement of trial which he ordered to be on a daily basis.

Tanzania To Free 5,500 Inmates From Overcrowded Prisons

Tanzania Church Accuses Govt Of Harming Democracy
Tanzania’s newly elected President John Magufuli delivers a speech during the swearing in ceremony in Dar es Salaam. Daniel Hayduk / AFP

 

President John Magufuli on Monday ordered that around 5,500 inmates be freed from Tanzania’s overcrowded prisons at a ceremony to mark the anniversary of the country’s independence from colonial rule.

The populist president, who has publicly expressed both sympathy and derision for the country’s prison population, announced the mass pardon at an event marking Tanzania’s national day.

“I believe this will relieve those who were jailed on minor charges, and those who were unable to have lawyers represent them or money to pay fines,” Magufuli said in Mwanza, a city on the shores of Lake Victoria.

“The pardon will also help to decongest our prisons.”

Magufuli, who came to power in 2015 as a corruption-fighting “man of the people”, has toured overcrowded prisons in the past and ordered authorities to free those being held for long stretches without trial.

Tanzania’s current prison population is around 36,000, the government says, with some facilities considerably over capacity.

In July, Magufuli said his visit to a jail in Mwanza left him “saddened” because many prisoners had languished there many years without trial.

But he also drew criticism from rights watchdogs in 2018 by ordering that prisoners be made to work “day and night” and suggesting they should grow their own food and be kicked if they are lazy.

Magufuli’s talent for high-profile appearances that bolster his reputation as a no-nonsense leader have made him wildly popular among some.

But his intolerance of criticism, impulsiveness and disregard for due process worry others who see authoritarianism at the core of his populism.

The United States and Britain in August expressed concern about the steady erosion of due process under his rule, pointing to a growing tendency of authorities to resort to lengthy pre-trial detentions.

Nicknamed “tingatinga” — meaning “bulldozer” in Swahili — Magufuli has cowed the press, and many of his political opponents are routinely arrested. Some opposition activists have been kidnapped and beaten.

For the first time since his election, the main opposition party, Chadema, attended the national day celebrations, sharing the stage with Magufuli.

Chadema leader Freeman Mbowe called for a return to democratic norms and freedom of expression in Tanzania, which goes to the polls next year to choose a president.

“Mr President, you have the chance to make history by rectifying all these challenges,” he said.

Chadema boycotted last month’s local elections, citing intimidation, handing the ruling party a sweeping victory in polls criticised by the international community as lacking credibility.

Magufuli, 60, has not said whether he will stand for re-election to what would be his second and final term.

AFP

Three Sentenced To Prison Over Algeria Concert Stampede Deaths

Man Bags 15 Years In Prison For N5.2m Fraud

 

An Algerian court has handed three people prison sentences for “negligence” over a deadly stampede at an August concert, a judicial source told AFP Thursday.

Five people aged between 13 and 22 were killed and more than 80 injured on August 22 when fans thronged an entrance of a stadium in Algiers where France-based rapper Soolking was performing.

Samy Benchikh, the former head of Algeria’s public body for organising concerts, was sentenced to six months in prison, with three months suspended, a judicial source said on condition of anonymity.

The manager of a ticket company was handed six months in jail with four months suspended, and the same sentence was handed to the head of the company handling security at the event.

All three were charged with “negligence” after the court dropped manslaughter charges, the judicial source added.

Eleven security guards also on trial were released.

The incident forced culture minister Meriem Merdaci to resign and led to the sacking of Benchikh and Algeria’s police chief, Abdelkader Kara Bouhadba.

Soolking, 29, is a major star in Algeria, and his song “La Liberte” (Freedom) became a mainstay of the anti-government protest movement that has swept Algeria since February.

The choice of the August-20 stadium, one of the country’s oldest, to host the rapper’s sole planned concert in Algeria since his international career took off in 2018, was heavily criticised, in particular by families of the victims.

The day of the concert, large numbers of spectators were still waiting to enter shortly before the show began, and fears of not being able to enter reportedly sparked the stampede.

Court Remands Mompha In Prison Over Alleged N32.9bn Money Laundering

A file photo of Mompha.

 

 

The Federal High Court in Lagos has ordered that suspected internet fraudster, Ismaila Mustapha, also known as Mompha, be kept in the custody of the Nigerian Correctional Services.

Justice Mohammed Liman gave the order on Monday after “Mompha” pleaded not guilty to the 14 charges of laundering N33 billion filed by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.

The court also fixed November 29 for the hearing of the bail application filed by the defendant.

The anti-graft agency alleged in the charge sheet signed by one of its counsels, Rotimi Oyedepo, that Mompha laundered the funds through a firm which was the second defendant – Ismalob Global Investment Ltd – between 2015 and 2018.

It claimed that the funds, domiciled in a commercial bank, were moved in tranches of N18,059,353,413 and N14,946,773,393.

The EFCC also claimed that both defendants, not being a financial institution or an authorised foreign exchange dealer, negotiated a foreign exchange transaction in the sum of N9.416 million, N20 million, N10,437,400, N10 million, N2.46 million, N10 million, N100 million, N61 million, N100 million, N40.7 million, and N42 million.

The funds were domiciled in the defendants’ commercial bank account.

In one of the counts, the anti-graft agency alleged that Mompha, “Between 2015 and 2018… procured Ismalob Global Investment Ltd to retain the aggregate sum of N18,059,353,413 in its account No. 5260000846 domiciled in Fidelity Bank Plc which sum you reasonably ought to have known formed part of the proceeds of unlawful act to wit: fraud.”

The first defendant was also alleged to have between 2015 and 2017, aided the company “to retain the aggregate sum of N 14,946,773,393.00 in its account No. 5260000846 domiciled in Fidelity Bank Plc from Pitacalize Ltd.”

Both actions, according to the EFCC, offend Sections 18(3) and 15(2)(d) of the Money Laundering Prohibition Act.2011 (as amended) and are punishable under section 15 (3) of the same Act.

Europe’s Prisons Not Monitoring Inmates’ Health, Says WHO

 

Prison authorities in Europe are not doing enough to monitor the health of inmates, meaning prisoners are more likely to suffer untreated conditions and are released without adequate support, the World Health Organisation said Thursday.

The UN body warned that such failings will come at a “high cost” for society at large as they add to the public health burden.

The WHO collected the data of 39 European countries between 2016 and 2017 and recommended that prisons test for tuberculosis, sexually transmitted diseases, mental health problems, and addictions.

“A prison sentence takes away a person’s liberty; it should not also take away their health and their right to health,” said Dr Bente Mikkelsen of WHO’s Europe branch, according to a statement from the body.

She said the prison population has a “disproportionate disease burden”.

“To achieve universal health coverage and better health and well-being for all, as in WHO’s vision, it is vital that prisons are seen as a window of opportunity to change lifestyles and ensure that no one is left behind,” she said.

The WHO said in a statement on its report that it found “the general state of monitoring and surveillance systems for health in prisons is poor”.

It warned prisoners with undiagnosed and untreated health conditions will “add to the public health burden in the outside community after their release”.

The report said that mental health was a key issue, especially after release, when prisoners are most at risk of suicide, self-harm and drug overdoses.

WHO said this meant care during the transition phase was “critical”.

The report found that 13.5 percent of deaths in prison were caused by suicide and that 14 percent of EU states do not screen for severe mental health disorders on arrival in prison.

Europe’s prisons also have a reoccurring problem of overcrowding, which can affect the health of detainees.

An estimated 6 million people are being incarcerated each year in the region, according to WHO.

Eight countries including France, Italy, and Portugal have “a serious overall problem” with overcrowding, according to a 2018 study by the Council of Europe.

AFP

Court Orders Transfer Of Ex-Brazilian President To Sao Paulo Prison

Lula Says Party Free To Find New Candidate For Brazil Vote
Former Brazilian president (2003-2011) Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva attends a rally of Brazilian leftist parties at Circo Voador in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

 

A judge in Brazil on Wednesday ordered the transfer of jailed leftist icon Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva to a prison in Sao Paulo, citing the inadequacy of the current facility. 

The ex-president is serving eight years and 10 months for accepting a bribe as part of a massive kickback scheme involving state oil giant Petrobras.

Since April 2018, Lula has been incarcerated at the federal police headquarters in the southern city of Curitiba, where a group of supporters has been camped out to demand his release.

READ ALSO: British Airways Cancels Flights After ‘Systems’ Failure

Police have requested Lula’s transfer, claiming the presence of “antagonistic groups” outside the facility had stretched security resources, Federal Judge Carolina Lebbos said.

Another issue was the design of the federal police headquarters, which was not suitable for long-term prisoners. Lula is living in a room, not a cell.

Lebbos said Lula would be transferred to Sao Paulo where he would be closer to family and have better conditions for “resocialization”.

The court order did not say when Lula would be transferred.

A Sao Paulo court said Lula would be held in the Doctor Jose Augusto Cesar Salgado Penitentiary II in Tremembe, some 150 kilometres (90 miles) from the state capital.

Lula’s lawyers have demanded the former president be kept in conditions “compatible” with his current accommodation.

They also pushed for the supreme court to decide quickly on whether Justice Minister Sergio Moro, who was the convicting judge in 2017, had been biased, which could lead to a review of Lula’s case.

Moro, the powerful judge behind the Car Wash probe before he was appointed to President Jair Bolsonaro’s cabinet, has been accused of conspiring with prosecutors to keep Lula out of the 2018 election race that he was favored to win.

Scores of high profile politicians and business leaders have been caught up in the years-long investigation.

Lula was sentenced to almost 13 years in jail in February in a separate corruption case and still faces another half dozen corruption trials.

He has denied all the charges.

AFP

At Least 52 Killed In Brazil Prison Riot

 

 

At least 52 inmates were killed in a prison riot in northern Brazil on Monday as rival gang factions fought each other, an official said.

Sixteen of the dead were decapitated in the second major eruption of violence to rock the country’s severely overpopulated and deadly prison system in as many months.

Fighting broke out in the Altamira Regional Recovery Center at around 7:00 am (1000 GMT), an official from the Para state government’s penitentiary department told AFP.

Two guards were taken hostage during the hours-long clashes, which were brought under control at around midday. They were eventually freed.

Brazilian TV stations showed footage of thick black smoke rising from the prison compound and people sitting on the roof of a building.

Other images showed flames inside a building that almost reached the ceiling and people, apparently prisoners, sitting on the ground outside.

“It is likely that many detainees died from asphyxiation (from smoke),” the government official said, adding the death toll could rise.

Around 300 prisoners were being held at the jail, the official said, which reportedly has a capacity for 200.

READ ALSO: Three Killed In US Festival Shooting, Suspected Gunman Dead

An outbreak of violence in the same prison in September 2018 left at least seven inmates dead, local media reported previously. Guards had apparently foiled an attempted prison escape.

In May this year, at least 55 prisoners were killed in several jails in the neighboring state of Amazonas in violence also blamed on an apparent drug trafficking gang dispute.

Most of the victims were killed by asphyxiation, the state government said at the time.

The federal government dispatched reinforcements to boost security in the jails.

Overcrowded prisons

Brazil has the world’s third largest prison population after the United States and China, with 726,712 inmates as of June 2016, according to official statistics.

The population is roughly double the capacity of the nation’s jails, which in the same year was estimated to be 368,049 inmates.

The federal government had been expected to add another 115,000 inmates by the end of 2018, Human Rights Watch said in a recent report.

Around 40 percent of the prison population is made up of pretrial detainees.

Along with severe overcrowding and gang violence, riots and breakout attempts in Brazil’s prisons are not uncommon.

Experts have described conditions in the country’s jails as inhuman, with most inmates poor, black and with little formal education.

Man Gets 15-Year Jail Term For N5.2m Fraud

Man Bags 15 Years In Prison For N5.2m Fraud

 

The Federal Capital Territory (FCT) High Court sitting in Apo has sentenced one Clement Joseph to 97 years in prison with no option of fine.

Justice A.O. Otaluka gave the judgement during the arraignment of the defendant by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on Wednesday.

Joseph, who is also known as ‘Dr Omale’, was first arraigned by the EFCC on March 7, 2017, on seven counts of conspiracy and obtaining money by false pretence to the tune of N5,600,000 only.

READ ALSOMan Gets Death Sentence For Killing Ex-Deputy Governor’s Daughter

He was sentenced to seven years imprisonment on the conspiracy charge and 15 years each on the rest of the six charges, totalling 97 years.

Justice Otaluka held that the prison terms would run concurrently.

But Joseph would serve only 13 years, having been in custody for two years.

The judge also ordered the accused to make N5.6million restitution to his victim, one Bola Akintola, following a plea by the prosecuting counsel Elizabeth Alabi.

Joseph had defrauded Akintola of the said sum on the false pretence of having mystical power to deliver her from an untimely death.

According to the EFCC, the offence is contrary to Section 8(a) and 1(3) of the Advance Fee Fraud and Other Related Offences Act 2006, and punishable under Section 1(3) of the same Act.

Neymar May Go To Prison Over Barca Move, Says Spanish Magistrate

 

A Spanish magistrate leading an investigation into alleged irregularities in Neymar’s move to Barcelona in 2013 said on Wednesday the Brazilian superstar could face up to six years in prison.

“The term imposed, in principle, could be between four and six years,” said a decree issued by judge Jose Maria Vazquez Honrubia, a copy of which was seen by AFP.

Neymar, his parents, Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu and his predecessor Sandro Rosell are all awaiting trial over alleged corruption concerning Neymar’s move to the Spanish La Liga giants in 2013.

The Brazilian international forward is now with Paris Saint-Germain in France’s Ligue 1.

The case, which follows a complaint by DIS, a Brazilian group which part-owned the rights to Neymar, surrounds allegations of “corruption” and “fraud” in the player’s move to Barcelona.

Neymar moved to the Spanish La Liga giants in May 2013 for a reported fee of 57.1m euros. Although no financial details of the deal were revealed by either Barcelona or his Brazilian club FC Santos, Neymar’s parents were said to have received receive 40m euros and FC Santos 17.1m.

In January 2014, prosecutors in Madrid began investigating the transfer because documents requested by the authorities contained contradictory information.

Rosell resigned from his post as president a week later and Barcelona subsequently revealed they had actually paid 86.2m euros for the Brazilian star.

DIS, who received 6m euros of the 17.1m given to FC Santos, alleges that Barcelona and the Brazilian club colluded to mask the true cost of the deal.

Bartomeu, Rosell, Barcelona, FC Santos and its former president, Odilio Rodrigues Filho, are now expected to answer charges of fraud, according to the decree.

Because the prison term involved exceeds five years, three judges are set to preside over Neymar’s trial which is expected to be heard at the Audiencia Nacional, a high court with jurisdiction over Spanish territory as well as over international crimes which come under the jurisdiction of Spanish courts.

Whether Neymar faces a prison term remains to be seen, however.

In May 2017 the Spanish authorities said Neymar should stand trial but no date has yet been set.

AFP