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N80m fraud: former registrar Udoh by kaduna court

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A Federal High Court, sitting in Kaduna presided over by Justice P. Mallong has sentenced a former Registrar of the court, Mr Joseph Udoh to four years imprisonment for laundering the sum of N80 million.

Udoh and his wife, Grace, were in December 2019 arraigned by the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission on 12-count for alleged misappropriation of N80m deposited in the court by a litigant.

According to a statement on Thursday by the ICPC spokesperson, Azuka Ogugua, the convict reportedly issued cheques in the name of his wife, also a staff member of the Federal High Court of Justice, Abuja, and used the money to acquire properties in some major cities across the country.

Based on a plea bargain agreement entered with the convict, the charges against him were amended to four counts and those against his wife dropped.

He pleaded guilty to the charges.

The prosecution counsel, Shehu Yahaya, urged the court to convict and sentence the defendant according to the terms of the plea bargain agreement before the court as provided in section 270(10) of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015.

Counsel to the defendant, Gbenga Ogunniran, concurred with the submission of the prosecutor, stating that “the convict did not only embarrass himself but also embarrassed his family.”

He pleaded with the court to temper justice with mercy, especially looking at the fact that the convict is a family man with an aged mother.

The statement titled, ‘Court jails former High Court registrar over N80m fraud,’ read, “The presiding judge, Justice Mallong convicted and sentenced Mr Udoh to 12 months imprisonment on each count, but to run concurrently from the date of his arraignment, which was from 12th December, 2019.

“The court also ruled that all properties seized by ICPC in the course of investigation, as listed in the schedule of the plea bargain agreement be forfeited to the Commission, and be sold with the proceeds given to the victims of the crime.”

In addition, a lien would be placed on the convict’s retirement benefits and/or pension savings for any balance still outstanding against the defendant after the sale of the forfeited properties.

“In the event any outstanding sum and balance payment by the convict remain unpaid, same is to be paid by instalments as agreed by the complainant and the convict in accordance with section 429 of the ACJA, 2015,” the statement added.

-The Punch

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Zamfara killings: Buhari says it’s time to crush bandits

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President Muhammadu Buhari was aghast by the latest orgy of violence visited on innocent people in Zamfara State by bandits and issued a fresh order to security agents to crush the gunmen.

More than 25 people were killed in attacks on Gobirawa, Rini, Gora, and Madoti Dankule in Bakura and Maradun LGAs in Zamfara — the death toll has since risen.

The gunmen were said to have invaded the communities on motorcycles and shot sporadically, on Wednesday.

Reacting, Buhari said the “insane and persistent violence against innocent people must stop”, adding that “such wanton disregard for life will be brought to an end sooner than later”.

A statement by presidential spokesman, Garba Shehu, on Thursday quoted Buhari to have said this, adding,“These criminals should stop pushing their luck too far by believing that the government lacks the capacity to crush them.

“The violence against poor villagers who are struggling with poverty and other severe economic challenges is not going to be tolerated by this administration.”

He directed security agencies to close all existing gaps in their operations while expressing hope that the special operation launched by security agencies will prove decisive in ridding the state of the “frequent and horrifying” bandit activities.

“Let’s not give these criminals any opportunity to succeed by taking the war to their own camps and stop them in their tracks before they even have the time to respond under our massive fire power,” the president added.

Buhari reassured residents of the state of his administration’s determination to defeat the enemies, despite the latest setback.

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MASSOB rejects UK asylum offer, says it’s plot against Biafra

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The Movement for the Actualisation of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB) has turned down the United Kingdom’s offer of asylum for its members.

It said the offer was an arrangement probably taken with President Muhammadu Buhari and the Federal Government to divert the attention of the people of Biafra.

A statement by MASSOB leader, Uchenna Madu, made available to journalists in Enugu, said the asylum offer was part of plans by the Buhari regime hatched with the British government against the emergence of Biafra.

The statement read in part, “The government of Britain is the sole architecture of the political, economic and religious problems of the people of Biafra in Nigeria even till today.

“It has not shown any remorse or apologise to the people of Biafra.

“Britain killed, maimed mesmerised and wounded our fathers, mothers and brethren through the Hausa Fulanis. MASSOB rejects their asylum gift.

“How can the chief persecutor of the people of Biafra suddenly turn to be our pacesetter? Britain and Nigeria can no longer deceive the world again concerning the plights of the people of Biafra.

“Our unified resilience, resolutions and unshakable spirit of no surrender will continue to hunt down this geographical expression called Nigeria.

“MASSOB demands referendum on Biafra not asylum.”

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Security: Avoid 14 Nigerian states, US warns citizens

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The United States has asked its citizens to stay away from 14 Nigerian states considered as hotspots of terrorism, banditry and kidnapping.

It stated this in its latest travel advisories even as it urged its citizens to “Reconsider travel to Nigeria”.

The US State Department in the updated advisory added at least 116 countries this week to its ‘Level Four: Do Not Travel’ list.

The UK, Canada, France, Israel, Mexico, Germany and others are on the list, citing a “very high level of COVID-19.”

Before Tuesday, the State Department listed 34 out of about 200 countries as “Do Not Travel.” The State Department now lists 150 countries at Level Four.

Nigeria is categorised as Level 3.

Unlike countries categorised as Level 4, based on the advice of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Nigeria has a good rating on COVID-19 prevalence.

“The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued a Level 1 Travel Health Notice for Nigeria due to COVID-19, indicating a low level of COVID-19 in the country”, the State Department said.

It listed areas American visitors should avoid, while in Nigeria as Borno, Yobe, and northern Adamawa states due to terrorism and kidnapping, Bauchi, Gombe, Kaduna, Kano, Katsina, and Zamfara states due to kidnapping.

It also banned American citizens from going to Coastal areas of Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Cross River, Delta, and Rivers states (with the exception of Port Harcourt) due to crime, kidnapping, and maritime crime.

In a country summary on Nigeria, the U.S. State Department wrote:

“Violent crime – such as armed robbery, assault, carjacking, kidnapping, hostage taking, banditry, and rape – is common throughout the country.

“Kidnappings for ransom occur frequently, often targeting dual national citizens who have returned to Nigeria for a visit, as well as U.S. citizens with perceived wealth. Kidnapping gangs have also stopped victims on interstate roads.

“Terrorists continue plotting and carrying out attacks in Nigeria, especially in the Northeast.

“Terrorists may attack with little or no warning, targeting shopping centers, malls, markets, hotels, places of worship, restaurants, bars, schools, government installations, transportation hubs, and other places where crowds gather. Terrorists are known to work with local gangs to expand their reach.

“There is civil unrest and low-level armed militancy in parts of Southern Nigeria, especially in the Niger Delta region. Armed criminality, including kidnapping and maritime crime, is also pervasive in this region.”

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