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Ex-Gov. Kalu: Court adjourns judgment on N7.2bn fraud charge



A Federal High Court in Lagos on Monday adjourned until Dec. 5, judgment in a N7.2 billion fraud case against former Gov. Orji Kalu of Abia.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) prosecuted Kalu and a former Commissioner for Finance in the state, Ude Udeogo.

Also charged along with Kalu is a company, Slok Nig. Ltd.

The judgement could not be delivered on Monday (Dec. 2) as earlier slated, as Justice Mohammed Idris was not available.

The Nigeria News Agency reports that EFCC had on Oct. 31, 2016, preferred a 34-count charge against the defendants.

The charge was later increased to 39 counts.

The defendants, however, pleaded not guilty to all the counts, and were granted bail.

NAN reports that Idris, who tried the case, has been elevated to the Court of Appeal.

He consequently conducted and concluded the trial by fiat.

Following accelerated hearing, Idris concluded trial in August.

On Oct. 22, both the prosecution and defence counsel adopted their written submissions before the court.

The judge then reserved judgement now to be delivered on Dec. 5.

NAN reports that on Nov. 12, 2018, Kalu was absent for his trial, after being absent on a previous adjourned date – Nov. 5, 2018.

Although, defence counsel informed the court that he was away for medical treatment in Germany, the court revoked his bail, and ordered that at his return to Nigeria, he must submit himself and his travel documents to the EFCC, or be arrested.

In the charge, the EFCC said that the defendants committed the alleged offences between August 2001 and October 2005.

It said that Kalu utilised his company’s account to retain N200 million in First Inland bank (now First City Monument Bank).

The commission claimed that the sum formed part of funds illegally derived from the coffers of the Abia State Government.

In one of the counts, Kalu’s company (Slok Nig. Ltd.) and one Emeka Abone said to be at large, were alleged to have retained in the company’s account, the sum of N200 million on behalf of the ex-governor.

In counts one to 10, the defendants were alleged to have retained about N2.5 billion belonging to the Abia.

The EFCC said that the defendants diverted over N7.2 billion from Abia government’s treasury during Kalu’s tenure as the governor, in contravention of Sections 15(6), 16 and 21 of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2005.

The commission said that the offences also contravene the provisions of the Money Laundering Act of 1995 as amended.

Edited & Vetted By: Ijeoma Popoola


Roundup: Libya’s UN-backed gov’t takes over western Libya, advances to control Sirte




The spokesman of the UN-backed Libyan government on Saturday announced launching an offensive to take over the city of Sirte, some 450 km east of the capital Tripoli, from the eastern-based army after it withdrew from western Libya.

The spokesman said the UN-backed government’s forces launched five airstrikes on the eastern-based army in Sirte that destroyed military vehicles of the eastern-based army.

Mohamed Gonono on Friday announced taking over all of western Libya after controlling Tarhuna city, the last stronghold of the rival eastern-based army in western Libya that is located some 90 km southeast of the capital Tripoli, following withdrawal of the rival eastern-based army.

The spokesman of the eastern-based army of Libya, Ahmad al-Mismari, on Friday said the eastern-based army had withdrawn from western Libya due to “international pressure.”

Munther Al-Zawi, a military commander of the UN-backed government’s forces, said that Tarhuna was the biggest threat to the UN-backed government in western Libya, which the eastern-based used as a major hub for military operations.

“Currently, we are chasing the remnants of the militias of Haftar (commander of eastern-based army) fleeing southeast of Tripoli. We will not allow any of his forces to remain in western Libya. Now, things have changed and we will not allow threats from eastern Libya, where Haftar’s is based and launches attacks,” Al-Zawi told Xinhua.

“We do not have any problems with our people in the east, unlike the godfather of chaos Haftar, who caused the loss of thousands of Libyan lives in a losing war only because of his greed for power at any cost,” he added.

Libyan parliament member, Mustafa Abu-Shagour, confirmed that the UN-backed government had defeated an “international coalition” that supported the eastern-based army.

“The 14-month epic fight of Tripoli ended with victory of the defenders of the country over the international coalition that brought mercenaries from all over the world to support Haftar, who wanted to destroy Tripoli and destroy the hope of the Libyans for a state. The Libyan freemen presented convoys of martyrs to repel this brutal aggression on their capital,” Abu-Shagour said in a statement.

The eastern-based army launched a military campaign in April 2019, attempting to take over Tripoli from the UN-backed government.

The fighting killed and injured hundreds of civilians and forced more than 150,000 others to flee their homes.


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Kebbi Governor donates N5m to victims of bandits attack in Sokoto



Gov. Atiku Bagudu of Kebbi has donated N5 million to victims of recent bandits attacks in Sabon Birni Local Government Area of Sokoto State.

A statement issued in Birnin Kebbi on Saturday by Malam Yahaya Sarki, the governor’s Special Adviser on Media, said that the donation was announced when Bagudu visited Sokoto on sympathy visit on Friday.

Bagudu noted that the obnoxious mayhem unleashed on innocent victims had left many people injured and multi-million naira worth of property destroyed.

He extolled the commitment, proactive actions and foresightedness of Gov. Aminu Tambuwal in addressing the security and social needs of Sokoto citizens.

He recalled the recent visit by Tambuwal to President Buhari where he intimated him on the sad development.

”We are happy that President Muhammadu Buhari has since directed the Armed forces and other security agencies to urgently stem the tide of bandits’ nefarious activities.

”The condolence visit is also, to express support and solidarity to the government and people of Sokoto State.

”I prayed to Almighty Allah to repose the souls of the deceased and grant their respective families and the state government the fortitude to bear the irreparable losses,” he said.

Responding, Tambuwal commended Bagudu for the visit and the uncommon show of love, support and solidarity.

He appreciated Bagudu’s style of leadership in Kebbi and as Chairman of APC Progressive Governors Forum.

He also said Sokoto and Kebbi States were one and would remain inseparable and that whatever affected one affected the other.

Tambuwal said that the Federal Government had responded to the ugly development in the state and other neighbouring states.

He restated his commitment to securing the lives and property of the people of the state .

Similarly, Gov. Bagudu, accompanied by Tambuwal, were at the palace of the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Sa’ad Abubakar, to condole with him over the sad incident.

Bagudu said: “We are at this prestigious and highly revered palace to offer our sincere heatfelt sympathy on behalf of the government and people of Kebbi State.”

He also acknowledged the role played by the Sultan in taking decisions to curtail the spread of the raging coronavirus apart from providing plausible solutions to the recurring security challenges in the country.

Respnding, the Sultan, thanked Gov. Bagudu for the visit, describing the relationship between Kebbi and Sokoto states as cordial.

While praying for the souls of the deceased, Sultan also harped on the need for sustained unity amongst the two states.

The Sultan acknowledged the ongoing concerted efforts by the governors to bring to an end the obnoxious acts of banditry in the region.

He said: “We will continue to play our role as leaders and offer useful advice to leaders, to serve the people better.

“Let me reiterate that COVID-19 is still around the corner, I am appealing to the Governors to continue to take plausible measures to contain the spread of the disease,” Abubakar said. 

Edited By: Chidinma Agu/Maharazu Ahmed (NAN)

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Land dispute: Kwara Govt sues for peace between 2 communities



The Kwara Government has called on the two feuding communities in the state over a land tussle to sheathe their swords and ensure peaceful coexistence.

The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the people of Edogi Dukum and Tako Gabi in the Lafiagi Emirate Council of the Edu Local Government of the state had engaged in a clash on Tuesday over the land bordering the two communities.

More than five people were seriously injured in the fracas.

The state Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, Hajiya Aisha Ahman-Pategi, during her visit to the area on Saturday,
urged for calm while the government proffer a lasting solution.

She said that the visit was to strategize with members of the two communities on how to find a lasting solution to the conflict.

According to her, the government would ensure that both sides involved in the dispute come together as one family.

According to her, peaceful resolution of the age-long land dispute between the two communities is paramount because Kwara is known to be a peaceful state.

“I wish to plead with everyone to forgive and forget the past and show love to each other.

“This singular gesture will further assist in lifting up the communities for better future and positive development,” she said.

While expressing her happiness at the current situation on the ground, she stated that Gov. AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq would be very happy with the peaceful resolution to the land disputes.

She also expressed delight that the warring factions had come together and agreed to find a common ground and proffer permanent solutions to their dispute.

The commissioner told the Boundary Committees of both communities to report back to her office on the final outcome of the matter.

Briefing the commissioner on the situation, the Representative of the Office of the Secretary to the State Government, Alhaji Yahaya Mohammed, said that the Emir of Lafiagi and the State Boundary Committee have agreed on a permanent solution.

Mohammed, who is also the Director, Special Services, said that security operatives, the warring communities, as well as other relevant stakeholders, have similarly agreed on a permanent solution.

According to him, this require a visit to the site and the demarcation of the land by the State Office of the Surveyor-General with clear indications on what belongs to each community to forestall future reoccurrences.

A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) will also be signed by all the parties,” he said.

The director commended the timely visit of the commissioner and assured her that the detailed MoU agreement would be forwarded to her office for record purposes, signed by all parties to the agreement.

Earlier, the commissioner had paid a courtesy call on the Emir of Lafiagi, HRH Alhaji Saadu Kawu Haliru (OFR) to brief him on the purpose of her visit as well as to seek his royal blessings.

She thanked the royal father for the maintenance of peace in his domain and his support for the present administration in his policy drive for a better Kwara.

The Emir, in his response, thanked the commissioner for the visit and her zeal in seeking first-hand information about the dispute.

The royal father also stated the disputes had been permanently resolved with the demarcation of the disputed land.

The Director, Personnel Management of the local government council, Prince Timothy Adeyemi, disclosed that amicable grounds had been agreed upon and assured that such incidents would not be repeated.

He also commended the royal father for his fatherly role in ensuring the parties agreed to allow a permanent and peaceful resolution.

Adeyemi assured the commissioner that the council would make available the details of the MoU to her Ministry and relevant stakeholders.


Edited By: Kamal Tayo Oropo/Felix Ajide (NAN)

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Gov. El-Rufai urges FG to transfer Ecological Funds to Environment Ministry



Gov. Nasir El-Rufai of Kaduna State on Saturday canvassed for the transfer of the Ecological Fund to Federal Ministry of Environment, which has the expertise and national reach to manage the fund more efficiently.

The governor made the call when the Minister of Environment, Dr Mohammad Abubakar, presented one million seedlings to him in Kaduna, for planting across the state, to mark the World Environment Day.

The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the theme of this year’s World Environment Day is ‘Bio-diversity, time for nature.’

El-Rufai said that it was only proper for the Ecological Fund to be domiciled with the Ministry, because the fund was meant to fight environmental issues like erosion, deforestation and desertification.

“Apart from that, the ministry has the knowledge, technicality and expertise as well as the national reach to better manage the fund and utilise it for the benefit of the entire country,’’ he said.

El-Rufai revealed that he headed a committee during the first term of the Buhari administration, which recommended the transfer of the Fund to the environment ministry.

According to him, the matter was further tabled before the Federal Executive Council (FEC) and a decision was taken on it, but the resolution has not been implemented.

The governor regretted that Kaduna State has lost a lot of its forest in the last few years before the coming of his administration, adding that the state is being re-forested again.

‘’In the last five years, we have been planting 1.5 million trees every year. Only about 50 per cent of the trees survive, but we have not given up.

“It is an investment that we are willing to make for our children and grandchildren,’’ he added.

El-Rufai promised the minister that the state will plant the seedlings and ensure that at least 90 per cent of it survive.

“We will match the number of what the minister donated to the state; in Kaduna state, when we promise to do something, we always deliver on our promise.

“We will invite you next year so that you will see what we have done; you will then know that your donation was not in vain,’’ he added.

Earlier, the minister said that his ministry had promised five million seedlings to Kaduna state in fulfilment of President Muhammadu Buhari’s pledge to plant 25 million trees across the country.

Abubakar said that the ministry decided to commemorate this year’s World Environment Day with the state because of Gov. El Rufai’s commitment to environmental issues and support to the ministry.

The minister promised that the balance of four million trees will be delivered to the state.

Edited By: Kamal Tayo Oropo/Maharazu Ahmed (NAN)

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Lebanon sees violent anti-government protest




Hundreds of protesters demonstrated on Saturday in Beirut’s downtown area calling for the overhaul of the political system in Lebanon, MTV local TV channel reported.

Protesters threw stones at security forces and destroyed shops’ windows near the Parliament.

Meanwhile, security forces who were deployed in the area closed streets in the downtown while riot police fired tears gas at the demonstrators.

Some protesters demanded the disarmament of Hezbollah and the implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 1559, which sparked anger among supporters of the two Shiite parties prompting them to run toward a crowd of protesters.

The Lebanese have been suffering from dire economic circumstances in the past few months due to successive failing policies adopted by previous governments which led to an accumulated public debt of over 89 billion United States dollars.


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Foundation lauds Gov Fayemi’s enforcement of lockdown directive in Ekiti



The CLEEN Foundation on Saturday lauded the efforts of Gov. Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti on the enforcement of lockdown directives to contain the spread of COVID-19 pandemic in the state.

The Foundation gave the commendation in a communique at the end of Ekiti State Administration of Criminal Justice Working Group Bi-monthly meeting in Ado Ekiti.

The communique was signed by Ms Rita Ilevbare, Founder, Gender Relevance Initiative Promotion (GRIP), Ms Yetunde Kolawole, Ministry of Justice and Mr Osubu Ojo, Police Command in Ekiti.

It also commended Mr Olawale Fapohunda, the Attorney-General’s issuance of periodic statements, calling on security agents to respect the principles of human rights in the enforcement of the lockdown directives.

The foundation said review of progress of the implementation of ACJL in Ekiti, as regards compliance with the State Government directives on COVID-19, revealed that both the conventional and state security outfits were not trained before being deployed to enforce the COVID-19 lockdown directives.

It commended the substantial compliance with rules of engagement and ACJA by the security agents, particularly the police and the NSCDC in the enforcement of the COVID-19 lockdown directives.

The foundation said Ekiti witnessed minimal human rights violations by security agents, including no record of extra judicial killings as witnessed in some states

It decried the use and involvement of the military in the enforcement of the COVID-19 lockdown directives.

“This is against the tenents of civil engagements, as some of the human rights violations witnessed in the state were mostly perpetrated by the military and the state’s security outfits,” the foundation said.

While commending Courts’ sittings during the COVID-19 lockdown it, however, alleged that violators of the lockdown directives, were denied legal representation.

“This negates the principles of access to justice; particularly, the right to fair hearing as preserved under the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria (as amended).

“That following the gradual ease of the lockdown by the government and the full return to work, that Courts has commenced full sitting in all cases, including corruption cases,” the communique said.

It said that in case of future special duties, security agents, both conventional and state security outfits, should be specially trained by the government before deployment.

The communique said that the military personnel should not be involved by the government in the enforcement of special duties, which were entirely civil in nature.

It said that goverment should categorise lawyers as essential workers, should there be need for future lockdown.

The communique also proposed a training session on ACJA for security agencies, particularly the Police and NSCDC.

The News Agency of Nigeria reports that CLEEN Foundation, with support from MacArthur Foundation, was implementing the Project, “Promoting Accountability and Transparency in the Administration of Criminal Justice System in Nigeria” in Ekiti.

It reports also as part of the project activities, CLEEN Foundation set up a State Working Group to monitor the effective implementation of Administration of Criminal Justice Law (ACJL) in Ekiti.

NAN reports that the stakeholders were in the justice sector and meet bi-monthly to deliberate on the effective implementation of the Administration of Criminal Justice Law.

It is to explore strategies for collaboration with partners toward the attainment of the ideals of ACJL in Ekiti.

It reports that the usual Bi-monthly meeting could not hold due to the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic in the state.

Edited By: Chidinma Agu/Olagoke Olatoye (NAN)

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Post COVID-19: Lagos Govt advises women to acquire skills, embrace agriculture



Mrs Cecelia Bolaji-Dada, Lagos State Commissioner for Women Affairs and Poverty Alleviation, on Saturday advised women to embark on skills acquisition that would sustain them after the COVID-19 pandemic.

Bolaji-Dada, who gave the advice at the monthly congress of the Nigeria Association of Women Journalists (NAWOJ), Lagos State Chapter’s Zoom Meeting, also enjoined women to embrace agriculture.

Theme of the Zoom Meeting was: “Post COVID -19: Financial Recovery and Empowerment Opportunity for Women.”

According to her, COVID-19 has started affecting the economies of the countries in a way that is leading to many job cuts and losses.

”We cannot wish COVID-19 and its impact away, but we must make deliberate efforts toward skill acquisition and engagement in agriculture.There is surely life after COVID-19.

“I strongly recommend that women in Lagos should go back to invest in agriculture. The time to invest in specific skills and agriculture is now,” she said.

The commissioner noted that women were often worst hit by the economic challenges, adding it was imperative for women to begin to evolve strategies for absorbing the shocks.

Bolaji-Dada said that various sectors were currently being adversely affected by the effects of COVID-19, and reminded women on the need to be proactive by acquiring skills and going into farming.

She said it was important for women to know that skills acquisition was one of the surest ways to achieving women empowerment and financial independence.

Bolaji-Dada said the state government has several vocational centres that had empowered many women in the state in various skills as well as gave them startups.

The commissioner, while thanking NAWOJ for its collaboration with her ministry and for choosing her as patron, promised to assist female journalists who were willing to go into agriculture.

She said that the state government currently had various agricultural programmes and other empowerment initiatives that had attracted women in the state.

In her remarks, Chairperson of NAWOJ in Lagos, Mrs Adeola Ekini, at the special congress dedicated to the first anniversary of her tenure in office, thanked the commissioner for her partnership with the association.

Ekini promised to make the list of female journalists and other programmes to the ministry.

She thanked members of the association for their supports.

Edited /Olagoke Olatoye

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Spanish gov’t to levy fines on violators of face mask rules




People who do not wear a face mask in closed public areas will face fines of up to 100 euros (113 United States dollars), according to the Spanish government’s draft plans appearing in several Spanish newspapers on Saturday.

Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez confirmed during the week that his cabinet would approve the measures to be put into effect in Spain when the State of Alarm and the special lockdown measures it contains expires on June 21.

Among the “new normality” measures are fines for those who don’t wear face masks in closed public areas and outdoors where it is impossible to maintain a safe distance of two meters.

In workplaces, employers will be obliged to provide adequate hygiene and cleanliness and ensure that workers are able to maintain social distancing and have access to soap, water, and hand gels. Employers will be required to take measures to avoid overcrowding.

Similar measures are to be put into place for schools and educational centers. Commercial centers will have to pay “special attention” to food markets and common areas, and limit the number of people allowed into a center at any one time.

Travel between Spain’s 17 Autonomous Communities will be allowed once all of them have passed the four stages in Spain‘s plan to relax restrictions. However, passenger numbers will still be limited on long and medium distance trains and also on busses carrying out inter-city routes.

Meanwhile, airlines will be obliged to keep passenger lists for a month after a flight, for the sake of tracking those who have contact with an infected passenger.


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Flood: Adamawa govt urges residents to relocate to safer places



Adamawa State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA), has appealed to people residing in flood-prone areas in the state to relocate to safer places to avoid flooding.

Dr Muhammad Suleiman, Executive Secretary of the agency, made the call in an interview with News Agency of Nigeria in Yola on Saturday.

Suleiman said that Nigeria Meteorological Agency (NiMet) had predicted flooding in some areas of the state this year.

He noted that some areas had started experiencing the devastating effect of flooding.

According to him, the affected areas include Jili and Ukituki villages in Fufore Local Government Area and windstorm in Mayobalwa Local Government Area.

“We have also experienced flooding in some parts of Jada and Ganye Local Government Areas and there was a flash flooding in Nasarawa-Damsa, Damsa Local Government Area,” he said.

Suleiman said property worth millions of Naira were lost as a result of the disaster.

He also called on the people to stop indiscriminate dumping of waste in waterways, as such contributed to flooding.

He said government would provide relief materials to the victims, urging stakeholders to continue sensitising public to the dangers of such disaster.

Edited By: Tayo Ikujuni/Donald Ugwu (NAN)

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