There was a disruption of proceedings at the Federal High Court Sitting in Lagos on Tuesday when men of the Environmental Monitoring Task Force of the Lagos State Government stormed the court to tow away vehicles belonging to lawyers and litigants parked outside the court premises.
Some lawyers were making submissions and arguments before various judges of the court when the news filtered in that their cars were being towed away.
Most judges had to stop proceedings to allow the lawyers and litigants go out to assess the situation.
Channels Television gathered that not less than 20 cars were towed away in the exercise. Many onlookers who tried to film the exercise also had their phones seized by the men of the TaskForce.
Channel’s Television‘s cameraman was also assaulted while trying to film the exercise.
Long after the men of the TaskForce left, lawyers, litigants and court staff gathered in groups condemning the exercise.
They lamented that they only parked outside because the car park of the court is not spacious enough to accommodate the vehicles of everyone who makes use of the court on a daily basis.
They, therefore, urged the Lagos State Government to let the lawyers and litigants carry out their work in peace.
Madrid on Wednesday temporarily banned the oldest, most polluting vehicles from driving its streets, two weeks after new driving restrictions were introduced to fight air pollution in the centre of the Spanish capital.
The latest bid to reduce emissions comes as the city battles acutely high pollution levels, partly due to little wind.
Under the ban, gas vehicles made before 2000 and diesel vehicles manufactured before 2006 were prohibited from the city centre and surrounding M-30 ring road until Thursday daytime, the city hall said.
Cars meeting these criteria account for 17 percent of Madrid’s vehicles.
It is the first time that the city’s authorities have activated stage two of its new anti-pollution protocol which came into effect in October.
In addition to this protocol, Madrid’s left-wing city hall last month launched a separate traffic restriction scheme in the historic city centre, which aims to reduce gas emissions by 40 per cent.
The move by Madrid follows other European cities like London, Stockholm and Milan that have taken steps to restrict traffic in their centres — although they have charged drivers to enter.
In the Spanish capital, on the other hand, drivers of the oldest and most polluting vehicles have been banned from accessing the centre altogether and will face fines in the future if they do so.
With 3.2 million residents and some 1.8 million cars, Madrid often suffers from high pollution levels.
Located on a high plateau where atmospheric conditions routinely trap dirty air close to the ground level when there is little wind, Madrid’s smog is such a fixture that it has been given a nickname — “la boina” or “the beret”.
The city has attempted a number of initiatives in recent years, including in December 2016 when half of most private cars were ordered off the roads to fight a particularly bad bout of pollution.
The Federal government has begun the implementation of the agricultural programmes for value chain development and processing in Benue, Kogi and Kaduna states.
This is through the Bill and Melinda Gate assisted food sufficiency programme.
The Head of Delegation, Bill and Melinda Gate Foundation, Audu Yerima disclosed this in Makurdi at a meeting with Governor Samuel Ortom, after a stock taking session of the Benue states agricultural programmes with relevant stakeholders.
Governor Ortom on his part, is willing to open up the state agricultural policy for impute and greater efficiency for the growth of the sector.
Ortom asked the Foundation to deploy its expertise knowledge and marketing network, to make millionaires out of Benue farmers.
Besides this meeting, the State Executive Council also approved the cancellation of the ongoing auctioning of government vehicles and equipment due to some lapses.
The Commissioner of Information, Onoja Otokpa, said some government vehicles and generators, removed from the auction, have generated concerns about the entire exercise, prompting government to cancel the auction.
The Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) has begun installation of mobile cameras in its operational vehicles to track traffic offenders.
The agency explained that the cameras would be used to check traffic light violators, assaults and other operational offences.
The development was announced on Wednesday by the FRSC Corp Marshall, Mr Boboye Oyeyemi, at the decoration of some senior officials of the corps in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital.
“Already we’ve received mounted cameras from the World Bank installed already in the vehicles and we are activating this and it has a radius of 200 metres.
“So with this I believe (traffic offences), especially for these traffic light violators, assault cases and critical operational offences (would be checked). We are activating the usage of these mobile cameras in the patrol cars,” he said.
Mr Oyeyemi disclosed that the mobile cameras would be operational from February 1, 2017 stressing that more cameras would be installed in due course.
“For 2017 I think we are going to have more appropriation to install cameras in the patrol cars. Technology is improving and we need more cameras to be able to get recalcitrant offenders, especially for these traffic light violators.
“Since we have a robust database, we only need to take their numbers and get their records and we issue a citation to them, (as well as) get the magistrate for warrant of arrest and prosecute them.
“That is our focus; we need to improve on the mode of our operations in 2017,” he said.
The Edo State Police Command has paraded 96 suspected criminals arrested for cultism, kidnapping, armed robbery among other offences along with some recovered items like guns, vehicles, laptops, charms and so on.
All the arrests were made during the recent festive season.
Speaking to journalists during the parade at the state headquarters in Benin City, the Edo state capital, Commissioner for Police, Haliru Gwandu, said that the successes recorded in the various operations carried out since November 29, 2016 are largely due to the synergy between the Police and community members.
The Edo Police boss also insisted that his command has no outstanding case of kidnapping or any other related criminality.
The Chief Executive of Panic Alert Security Systems, Mr George Uboh has condemned the manner in which the government has handled its recovery of looted funds.
He was on Sunrise Daily on Monday, reacting to the government’s decision to withhold names of persons involved in the list of recovered monies and assets released during the weekend.
He believes that concerned authorities are not being sincere with Nigerians in their handling of the anti-corruption campaign by the Nigerian government.
“If a minister on the run comes and says ‘look I have one billion Naira I want to return’, you don’t accept it without going through the criminal procedure,” he argued.
He explained that the removal of the sources of those monies meant that another government would not be able to ascertain that those persons who funds have been traced to have returned such monies traced to them.
He also accused the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) of holding on to some of the recovered funds as he had several documents to back up his claims, having worked for the government to trace looted funds.
“I was engaged by the federal government to trace funds trapped in financial institutions and within 27 days I traced in different currencies aggregate 324 billion Naira. So if the government is coming as a government saying they traced a little over a hundred billion in one year, you be the judge,” he said.
Mr Uboh’s engagement has since been revoked by the Attorney-General of the Federation but he insisted that by recent happenings, he had been vindicated on his past allegations against the EFCC and details of traced loots which he has made public on several occasions.
“I have always accused the EFCC, I have the evidence…and with this (his) engagement I have been able to find the monies EFCC is hiding and more.”
Appointed In Error
The Attorney-General of the Federation, in a letter published in the media had asked the President to disregard Mr Uboh’s published claims that he had traced the amount totalling 1.9 trillion Naira.
Mr Uboh claimed that he was aware of this and had taken it up with the AGF who told him that there had been a public outcry and other ministers had demanded that his engagement for the tracing of looted funds should be revoked.
The AGF’s letter also stated that Mr Uboh was engaged in error as he was later discovered to have been “previously convicted in the United States for bank fraud and was recently jailed by an FCT High Court for fraud related issues”.
Mr Uboh said that the most convenient excuse is for anybody to say he is an ex-convict but “If the evidence I proffered against the EFCC is fake, arrest me. If the evidence I have proffered regarding my tracing is fake, arrest me.
“What has that got to do with anything? Is he denying that he signed the engagement letter?” he asked. He clarified that he was not contesting the issue of the revocation of his engagement but was only insisting on the recovery of what he had traced during his engagement.
“I have the record, names, and account numbers of all the monies I traced…the government has to answer, why are these funds traced not recovered?
He would not deny his conviction as stated by the AGF but insisted that the case was in appeal as he was wrongfully convicted. He vowed that he would win the appeal and clear his name.
On his conviction in the US, he further said, “I am celebrating my conviction. You know why? Because my conviction elevated me to the status of all the idols I admire all over the world who have been arrested, detained, in some cases jailed for fighting corruption and injustice globally. It comes with the territory.”
Distortion of Records
Meanwhile, a legal practitioner, Emeka Onohwakpor, agrees with Mr Uboh’s demand that names should have been published with the funds and assets recovered.
Giving a slightly different perspective, he believes that the names should have been published in order to ensure proper record.
While Mr Oboh earlier suggested there might be a cover up, Mr Onohwakpor believes that the decision to withhold names is a loop hole for more fraud to be committed as there are possibilities that some persons are concealing information.
The lawyer also warned that the manner in which the recoveries were declared will allow for distortion of the records.
He added that anyone who indeed returned money after discovering that monies paid for services were stolen, cannot at the moment be sure if what they returned have gone to the government..
“If somebody who has been accused of looting funds refunds one billion dollars and only 500 million is declared, then there is a problem,” he said.
“We cannot just leave it to only one side declaring what they got. The side that gave, you even owe them a duty to say ‘I got this from Mr B’.
Mr Onohwakpor disagreed with the government’s stance that they might be liable to litigation if they publish names of persons they have recovered monies and other assets from.
He said that publishing a list of recoveries and their sources does not mean the persons mentioned have been tagged looters or have been declared guilty of fraud.
“And the issue of whether it is going to tarnish their image; I don’t think it comes in here because if the money you’re returning to the government is gotten through legitimate means you put your case out there. Nobody is accusing you.”
He also stated that a media organisation or the federal government would not be liable to any form of litigation for naming persons they recovered monies or assets from as long as they truly returned such money. “The point is, let it not be a lie,” he said.
He admitted that no one can be declared guilty until the courts say so but having returned money, the burden of proof swings to the person to proof his innocence.
He also dismissed the view that some persons were not aware that the sources of the monies they were paid for services were illegal arguing that being overpaid should have been an indication that the sources were fraudulent.
“The way forward is to create a level playing field. It doesn’t matter who is involved,” he advised.
The Federal Government has finally released the interim report on funds and assets recovered from individuals who looted the nation’s treasury.
According to a statement from the office of the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, the total cash recoveries comes to the sum of seventy eight point three billion Naira; one hundred and eight five million point one US Dollars, three point five million Pounds, and eleven thousand Euros, from May 29, 2015 to May 25, 2016.
This comes after the Federal Government failed to publish the list of individuals and the amount stolen on May 29, as earlier promised.
The Federal Government made cash recoveries totaling N78,325,354,631.82 (Seventy eight billion, three hundred and twenty-five million, three hundred and fifty-four thousand, six hundred and thirty one Naira and eighty two kobo); $185,119,584.61 (One hundred and eight five million, one hundred and nineteen thousand, five hundred and eighty four US Dollars, sixty one cents); 3,508,355.46 Pounds Sterling (Three million, five hundred and eight thousand, three hundred and fifty-five Pounds and 46 Pence) and 11, 250 Euros (Eleven thousand, two hundred and fifty Euros) from 29 May 2015 to 25 May 2016.
In a statement in Lagos on Saturday, the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, also disclosed that Recoveries Under Interim Forfeiture (cash and assets) during the period totaled N126,563,481,095.43 (One hundred and twenty six billion, five hundred and sixty three million, four hundred and eighty one thousand, and ninety five Naira, forty three Kobo; $9,090,243,920.15 (Nine billion, ninety million, two hundred and forty three thousand, nine hundred and twenty Dollars, fifteen cents; 2,484,447.55 Pounds Sterling (Two million, four hundred and eighty four thousand, four hundred and forty seven Pounds, fifty five Pence) and 303,399.17 Euros (Three hundred and three thousand, three hundred and ninety-nine Euros, 17 cents).
According to the statement, which is based on the interim report on the financial and assets recoveries made by the various government agencies from 29 May 2015 to 25 May 2016, the Funds Awaiting Return From Foreign Jurisdictions total $321,316,726.1 (Three hundred and twenty one million, three hundred and sixteen thousand, seven hundred and twenty six Dollars, one cent); 6,900,000 Pounds (Six million, nine hundred thousand Pounds) and 11,826.11 Euros (Eleven thousand, eight hundred and twenty six Euros, 11 cents).
It showed that Non-Cash Recoveries (Farmlands, Plots of Land, Uncompleted Buildings, Completed Buildings, Vehicles and Maritime Vessels) during the period total 239.
The following is the breakdown of the recovered cash and assets:
INTERIM REPORT ON FINANCIAL AND ASSET RECOVERIES MADE BY THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT OF NIGERIA FROM 29 MAY 2015 TO 25 MAY 2016
EFCC Cash at hand
Royalty/tax/payment to FGN account in JP Morgan account New York
The Oyo State Police Command has given scholarship to 12 pupils drawn from both primary and secondary schools of Police Children in Ibadan.
The new scholarship scheme was introduced by the Inspector General of Police, Solomon Arase, for exceptional Police children and those who lost their parents on duty, as part of measures aimed at improving the welfare of Police officers in the state.
The scheme was in fulfilment of the promise made by the IGP during his visit to the state that brilliant children of Police officers and those who lost their parents in active duty would be assisted by the force through scholarships to actualise their dreams.
The Command also paraded 17 suspected criminals whose offenses range from illegal arms manufacturing, fraud to armed robbery.
Items recovered include various locally made pistols at different stages of fabrication, assorted guns, charms, vehicles, motorcycles, handsets among other exhibits.
Addressing journalists at the command headquarters in Eleyele Ibadan, the state Police Commissioner, Adeleye Oyebade, said the command has taken measures to discourage bank robbery and other forms of organised criminal activities in the state.
The Nigeria Customs Service, Federal Operations Unit (FOU) Zone C Owerri, the Imo State capital, has impounded various contraband goods.
The goods include fake human and veterinary drugs, vehicles, second hand clothing, expired vehicle tyres, furniture and bags of rice.
While conducting newsmen round the seizures, the Area Comptroller of the FOU Zone C, Mr Victor Dimka, said that the seizures were made by his men after tip off by their strategic partners in the zone, consisting of all the South-South and South-East states.
Mr Dimka said that the total cumulative duty paid value for all the seizures is over 250 million naira.
Director of the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) in Imo State, David West, who received the fake drugs from the Customs on behalf of the DG of NAFDAC, advised consumers to be conscious of the products they consume and report any issue relating to fake products in the market.
Impounded goods include over 1700 cartoons of fake and unregistered human and veterinary drugs with cumulative duty paid value of 141 million naira, 182 impounded vehicles, 160 bales of second hand clothing, 192 pieces of used vehicle tyres, furniture and bags of imported rice.
12 persons including a pregnant woman were confirmed dead in two separate auto crashes which occurred at about 8 o’clock on Monday night in Igbado town along the Ondo-Ore Expressway.
One of the accidents involved a truck loaded with plantain with registration number LAGOS XA 200 GND going to Lagos and an 18-seater Toyota Hiace bus with registration number OSUN XD 982 GNN heading towards Ondo town in the opposite direction.
Several occupants of the vehicles were burnt beyond recognition while others sustained various degrees of injuries.
Commenting on the incident, the Ondo town unit Commander of the Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC), Mr. Gabriel Folawe who supervised the rescue operation informed Channels Television that he got a distress call concerning the incident in his office at about 8.30pm in the evening of yesterday and immediately rushed there to rescue the victims.
The second accident which occurred along the same route few hours later, involved a truck loaded with liquor drinks that veered off the road while four other vehicles were crushed.