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Customs intercepts PMS, expired drugs worth N723.3m in Ogun, Oyo

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The Federal Operations Unit (FOU), Zone ‘A’ of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) has seized 856 Jerrycan of PMS at 25 litres each and contraband products worth over N723.3 million between September and October 2021.

Speaking at a press briefing in Lagos on Friday, the acting customs area controller, Zone A, ag. Compt. Hussein Ejibunu, said the contraband was intercepted at Igbo-Ora, Oyo State.

He said, ” I welcome to you all to the Headquarters of FOU ‘A’, Ikeja, for another round of my Press briefing today, Friday 22nd October, 2021, barely a month after the maiden edition on assumption of office.

According to Ejibunu, “the mandate of FOU ‘A’ as a critical enforcement arm of the Service, particularly in the South West Zone, cannot be overemphasized.

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“Besides stemming the tide of smuggling in the Zone, the Unit stands as a Police providing the much needed security to other Customs Area Commands across the Zone, there is also the implementation of Government Fiscal Policies, Facilitation of Legitimate Trade and inter Agency function.

Ejibunu further revealed that the aforementioned seizures were effected at different flash points in the Zone prominent among them being Ado-Odo, Idogo, Sokoto-Ijoun, Ohunbe, Ilaro, Atan, Abeokuta/Sagamu Interchange, Ijebu-Ode in Ogun State, Iseyin, Igboora, Igbeti in Oyo State, Gbaji, Agbara in Ogun State and of course the creeks.

“Here is the list of 28 seizures made in the last three weeks which include 8,000 bags of smuggled rice of 50kg, 1,419 jerrycans of vegetable oil, 1,301 bales and 128 sacks of secondhand clothing, 233 bundles of wrapper, 621 cartons of expired medicaments, 635 cartons of wine, and 1,046 pieces of used tyres.

“Others are 21 cartons of cutlasses at 60 pieces each, 531 pieces of used compressor, 986 cartons of chocolate biscuit , 229 wraps (114.5kg) of Cannabis sativa (indian hemp) 8561errycan of PMS at 25 litres each, 1,516 cartons of frozen poultry products, 751 pieces of AAA cartridges (70MM) of live ammunition 18 units of motorcycles and inclusive of 80 means of conveyance. All with a duty paid value (DPV) of N 723,288,244.75,” he added.

His words, there is a disturbing new trend of smuggling deployed by smugglers and that has to do with massive use of motorcycles to smuggle parboiled rice at 50kg each using bush paths not accessible to vehicles.

“Another challenge that has remained unabated is the issue of ambush attacks of officers unprovoked. Just on Saturday 16th October, 2021, my patrol team ran into a convoy of more than 24 vehicles laden with smuggled rice and they were able to intercept 12 along Abeokuta/Sagamu Interchange.

As the officers made their way to Lagos, over 300 smugglers and hoodlums had mobilized and attacked the officers with pump-action rifles as well as cutlasses, pebbles and bottles.

In the process, the patrol vehicle was riddled with bullets wounds while the windscreen was shattered. The aftermath of the attack was the forceful retrieval of 8 of the 12 intercepted vehicles and injuring of 2 officers. You can now see what we face every other day.

One thing is very certain; we remain undaunted in the pursuit of our mandate no matter the level of attacks on my operations in the field.

He added that “Let me sound a note of warning to smugglers. No man has the monopoly of violence. We have the backing of the law to bear arms; and to that extent, we will not hesitate to deploy the Rules of Engagement in such dangerous circumstances. Parents should warn their wards on the dangers of smuggling.

‘Within the period under review, we had a total of 37 suspects arrested for various offences. Six of the suspects are already charged to Court, 12 on Administrative Bail while 19 are still in our custody either waiting to be charged to Court or be released through Bail.

“The activities of the Unit are not restricted to the borders alone, searchlight is equally beamed on the seaports in a bid to stamp out or minimize certain sharp practices credited to certain unscrupulous elements at the ports.

On the 7th of October, 2021, the Unit intercepted 1x40ft container no. TGBU 6748844 along Amuwo Odofin in Ojo LGA of Lagos State being transloaded into two trucks with Reg. nos. FKJ621XA and Scania FST331YD. As at the time of interception, 248 bales of secondhand clothing had been transloaded into DAF truck no. FKJ621XA, 240 bales into Scania truck no. FST331YD while 216 bales were still remaining in the container.

Both the container and the two trucks were brought to FOU ‘A’ and converted to seizure. Investigation which is ongoing has so far revealed that the container left APMT Apapa on Transire to Fano Bonded Terminal.

It was further revealed that the containers were 3 in number on one single declaration. We are on the trail of the remaining 2 and of course those behind the dastardly act will not be spared as some people are already in the Cell helping in our investigation.

Newsdirect

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3 Nigerians ‘Steal’ Over $5m From US Universities

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The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has accused three Nigerians living in the United Kingdom of defrauding universities, individuals and companies in the United States of over $5 million.

According to a statement obtained from the US Department of Justice, the FBI extradited Oludayo Kolawole John Adeagbo, Donald Ikenna Echeazu and Olabanji Egbinola to the US from the United Kingdom on August 10.

The three Nigerians allegedly swindled universities and companies in North Carolina, Texas and Virginia out of millions of dollars between 2016 and 2018.

Adeagbo and Echeazu are charged with wire fraud conspiracy, money laundering conspiracy and aggravated identity theft for defrauding a North Carolina university of more than $1.9 million via a business email compromise scheme.

“According to allegations contained in the indictment, from August 30, 2016, to January 12, 2017, Adeagbo and Echeazu conspired with other individuals to obtain information about significant construction projects occurring throughout the United States, including an ongoing multi-million-dollar project at the victim University,” the statement read in part.

“To execute the scheme, the defendants (Adeagbo and Echeazu) allegedly registered a domain name similar to that of the legitimate construction company in charge of the University’s project and created an email address that closely resembled that of an employee of the construction company.

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“Using the fake email address, the co-conspirators allegedly deceived and directed the University to wire a payment of more than $1.9 million to a bank account controlled by an individual working under the direction of defendants. Upon receiving the payment, the co-conspirators allegedly laundered the stolen proceeds through a series of financial transactions designed to conceal the fraud.”

Adeagbo also conspired with others to defraud individuals, local governments and a college in Houston, Texas.

Between November 2016 and July 2018, Adeagbo allegedly conspired with others to take part in cyber-enabled business email compromises to steal more than $3 million from victims in Texas. Adeagbo targeted local government entities, construction companies and a Houston-area college, among others.

He and his co-conspirators registered domain names that looked similar to legitimate companies. They then sent emails from those domains, pretending to be employees at those companies, according to the charges. Adeagbo and his co-conspirators deceived those customers into sending wire payments to bank accounts they controlled.

The Eastern District of Virginia is charging Egbinola with wire fraud and money laundering.

According to a criminal complaint issued by the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, from September 26, 2018, to December 26, 2018, Egbinola allegedly conspired with others to defraud a Virginia-based university.

Egbinola and co-conspirators created and used a fraudulent email account that incorporated the name of a construction company that had a large ongoing contract with the university. Using this email account, Egbinola and co-conspirators deceived the university into transferring $469,819.49 to a bank account they controlled. The money was quickly laundered and transferred overseas through numerous transactions.

FBI investigation showed that Egbinola repeatedly accessed the email account used to defraud the Virginia university.

UK authorities arrested Adeagbo, Echeazu and Egbinola on April 23, 2020. The US ordered their extradition in September 2021. The three filled appeals, but the UK High Court rejected them on July 12, 2022.

Echeazu and Egbinola face up to 20 years in prison if convicted for their crimes, while Adeagbo faces up to 40 years if convicted for his crimes perpetrated in North Carolina and Texas.

FIJ

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One killed as commercial cyclists, police clash in Lagos

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The clash, which occurred around 4:30pm at the Oko-Oba area of Abule Egba, was said to have been triggered by a minor accident on the Abule Egba Bridge involving a motorist and a rider.

It was gathered that police operatives who went to the accident scene to broker peace between the motorist and a mob of motorcyclists that gathered were violently attacked by the irate crowd.

The operatives were said to have defended themselves leading to the death of one of the riders.

Confirming the incident, police spokesman, SP Benjamin Hundeyin, said the situation was brought under control by the Divisional Police Officer (DPO) and his men.

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He said two suspects were arrested and that investigation was ongoing.

“We are fully aware of the disturbances in Oko-Oba area of Lagos State. Our officers have been deployed. Situation has been brought under control.

“After a minor accident involving a car and a motorcycle occurred on the Abule-Egba Bridge at about 1630hrs today, motorcycle riders in their numbers started fomenting trouble.

“Police arrived on the scene to quell the unrest. The riders violently attacked the Police.

“This resulted in the death of one of the riders. Normalcy has been restored to the area. The DPO Oko-Oba and his men are fully on ground to forestall any breakdown of law and order.”

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Insecurity: Terrorists, bandits are threats to 2023 poll, says Dambazzau

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Former Interior Minister Abdulrahman Dambazau
  • Governors meet today on insecurity

  • Lagos stakeholders seek total ban on Okada

Former Interior Minister Abdulrahman Dambazau yesterday reflected on the worsening insecurity in the country, warning that terrorism and banditry may threaten next year’s general election.

He urged security agencies to intensify the war against terror and kidnapping by taking the battle to the criminals in their hideouts.

Gen. Dambazau, a former Chief of Army Staff, who delivered a paper at the yearly Public Lectures and Impact Series/Awards of the Blueprint Newspaper Limited in Abuja, lamented that terrorists were creating cells close to the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja.

He called for the review of security strategies and reforms to combat criminality, while also warning against ethno-religious politics.

As concern mounts on insecurity, governors are expected to meet today in Abuja to deliberate on the common threat and solutions.

Yesterday, Zamfara State Governor Bello Matawalle signed the death penalty bill as part of measures to combat kidnappings.

In Lagos State, stakeholders who expressed worry about the security situation in the country, called for a total ban on commercial motorcycles (Okada) operators in the metropolis.

In Imo State, Governor Hope Uzodimma, who donated 10 armoured vehicles to the police, charged them to effectively maintain law and order in the state.

At the Blueprint Lecture Series to commemorate its 11th anniversary were Yobe State Governor Mai Mala Buni, his Kogi counterpart, Yahaya Bello, the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai  Mohammed, the Minister of Sports, Sunday Dare, and the Sarkin Sudan of Kontagora, Alhaji Mohammed Barrau II.

Danbazzau urged security agencies to take the war against terrorism, banditry and kidnapping to criminals, who are building their cells close to Abuja.

He said:” From the recent attacks on the Abuja-Kaduna train; the Shiroro mining site; the Kuje prison; military patrol in Bwari; and the attack on soldiers deployed at Madallah checkpoint, it is evident that Boko Haram insurgents are gradually establishing cells close to the Federal Capital, specifically in the neighboring states of Kogi, Kaduna and Niger.
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“Terrorists are inching closer to the seat of power. So, also the motorcycle bandits whom had almost taken control of the Abuja-Kaduna Road; and to some extent, the Abuja-Lokoja Road, and Kaduna-Birnin Gwari Road.

“These roads or highways must be constantly dominated by security activities, and the terrorists and/or bandits must be pursued with adequate firepower aimed at eliminating them.

“It is clear that the violent activities of these groups are designed to make citizens uncomfortable, in addition to embarrassing and discrediting the government.

“To elicit emotions, raise tension, and influence public opinion against the government, the terrorists would normally post video of their helpless victims and/or activities.

“They extort money as ransom from family members of their victims, and sometimes they even murder their victims after payment.

“They make deliberate efforts to put the government on panic mode, leading to closure of schools, businesses, and other public activities.

“This situation will encourage their audacity. From now on, we should take fight to wherever they are, put pressure on them and make them very uncomfortable, where the opportunity avails itself, eliminate them.

“We must live our normal lives, and not allow some violent gangs to make us live miserable lives, full of uncertainties.

“As we are preparing for the 2023 elections, we are also thinking about the possibility of attacks or disruptions of the election processes by these violent groups.”

He added: “The security threats against the 2023 politics are not limited to the activities of the terror groups in the North, but also the proscribed IPOB in the southeast, which has not only been terrorizing the people of the region, especially while enforcing their illegal sit-at-home orders, but also killing and destroying properties of northerners seeking livelihood in the region.”

The former COAS, who made recommendations to address the security challenges, said the welfare of military personnel is paramount, regretting that the Police and the military are currently being overstretched right now.

He also advised the military to put their differences aside and work together as a team in tackling the security challenges.

Danbazzau said: “The reforms of the security sector in line with the current and future security challenges are inevitable, and there are no options other than to carry them out.

“The sooner we commence the process, the better. I believe that this should be the very first item on the agenda of the government coming in May 2023.

“Aside the issues or factors earlier mentioned, the reasons why these reforms are necessary are that firstly, there appears to be no synergy among the security agencies in terms of cooperation, coordination, and collaboration while carrying out their activities, rather they operate in silos with no role convergence; they hoard information; and are reluctant to share intelligence, as if they are in competition.

“Secondly, there is poor security governance, making accountability and transparency almost impossible; and thirdly, there is duplication of efforts, leading to wastages of resources.”

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Dambazau urged Nigerians not to focus on ethnicity and religion in making their choices in 2023 general elections.

He said with over 60,000 abandoned projects in Nigeria, which is estimated to cost about N12 trillion, Nigerians should be more interested in poverty reduction; food security; youth unemployment; improved power sector and others..

He defended the choice of ex-Governor Kashim Shettima of Borno State as the running mate to the All Progressives Congress (APC) presidential candidate, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu.

He said Shettima was a product of merit and not religious factor.

He listed factors that could influence 2023 politics, including zoning, restructuring debate, ethnicity, religion, widespread insecurity and socio-economic challenges.

Dambazau delivered a paper in Abuja at the Annual Public Lectures and Impact Series/ Awards of the Blueprint Newspapers Limited.

He expressed concerns that 2023 politics has started with the mundane issues, which have led to insecurity and instability.

He said: “It is apparent that we have started 2023 politics with the mundane issues that brought us to the level of insecurity and instability we are today.

“We have more than enough challenges or issues confronting us. Rather than directing our energy on religious or ethnic controversies, we should be more interested in such issues as poverty reduction; food security; youth unemployment; improved power sector; quality and affordable healthcare services; and improved education system.

Dambazau however, defended the choice of ex-Governor Kashim Shettima as the running mate to the Presidential Candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu.

He added: “If it(religion) were, he could have picked from the Northwest, where about 90 per cent of the population is Muslim.

“When strategising for winning elections, all factors are put on the table for consideration. Tinubu’s choice of Kashim Shettima could not be by chance. Kashim Shettima had in the past demonstrated leadership as a two-term Governor of Borno state under the stress of insurgency, violent extremism, and terrorism.”

“We are also aware that Borno state is one of the northern states that have been hard hit by the impact of Climate Change, resulting in land degradation. With the insecurity challenge in Nigeria, including climate-related conflicts, the choice of Kashim Shettima to leverage on his crisis management experience was apt.

“At the level of personal relationship, it is an open secret that Shettima had shown loyalty and support for the presidential aspiration of Bola Ahmed Tinubu. “While it is not expected that everyone agrees with such strategic decisions, no one can also deny the candidate his right to make his choice, of course, after due consultations with party stakeholders, and this is applicable to all our fifteen or so candidates.”

Dambazau listed issues that may shape 2023 politics, especially the presidential race by 15 candidates.

He said: “So, what are the likely issues or factors that could influence the 2023 politics? Firstly, the politics of zoning the presidency between North and South, that re-emerged when the Southern and Middle Belt Leadership Forum insisted that for the 2023 presidential elections, the parties must produce candidates from the South, to which the Northern Elders Forum opposed.

“As a matter of fact, the zoning controversy was further reduced to the level of ethnicity with the agitation of what was termed “Igbo presidency”, meaning that 2023 was the chance of the Igbo ethnic group to produce the next president after Buhari.

“The development of critical infrastructures is also a key area of concern, and although the APC government under Buhari has done remarkably well by completing many of the projects it met in 2015, in addition to new ones it originated, there are however approximately 60,000 abandoned projects in Nigeria, estimated to cost about N12 trillion. And what can we do to mitigate such waste? These are only a few critical areas the 2023 politics should focus attention on, not religion and ethnicity.”

The ex-minister said tackling insecurity should be on the front burner in 2023.

He said the security problems could affect 2023 poll because “some communities would still be displaced and the terrorists would likely continue attacks on soft targets.”

“While the government records significant success in tackling Boko Haram in the North-East, the Northwest caught the insecurity virus with several incidents of banditry, cattle rustling, and kidnapping for ransom. Banditry is multifaceted with a variety of events and activities, but unlike the Boko Haram insurgency, which is ideologically driven hoping to establish a state, the bandits have not shown such territorial ambition.

“It is a complex combination of violent business entrepreneurship through kidnapping for ransom, cattle rustling by the criminal gangs, and attacks on rural settlements.”

Dambazau said the nation must address its population explosion, especially what he described as the “youth bulge.”

“The UN had projected that by 2050 the population would double to a little over 400million which also means that the young population would also double. The extent to which this human capital is developed, and its well-being adequately taken care of, is of utmost importance. The youth  bulge is a matter of serious security concern now and in the future. What are our plans for the youth? This is a relevant question for 2023 politics.

“If we do not have positive plans for them in terms of poverty reduction, accessible and quality education, employment opportunities, skills acquisition, healthcare services, shelter, and other aspects of human development, there are readily available criminal and terror organizations that would easily recruit them for their violent activities.”

Buni said: “The theme “2023 Politics, National Security and Nigeria’s Stability” is very apt in view of the security threats that usually accompany National elections and the already existing security challenges that have bedeviled our nation.

“The success or otherwise of the 2023 elections hugely depends on us the politicians, the political parties, candidates and their supporters, and of course, the political umpire the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

“The need for peace to conduct the elections and to have good governance and development cannot be overemphasized. It, therefore, becomes obvious for all of us to make sacrifices and consider national interests above personal interests for a free and peaceful election in 2023.

“As patriots, with the zeal to ensure the unity of Nigeria, there is no election or interest of any single individual that is worth sending Nigeria to war.”

The Nation

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