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Akwa Ibom: Police uncover babies’ factory

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The Police in Akwa Ibom State have busted child trafficking and theft syndicate who take possession of pregnant girls until delivery and sell out the babies reportedly at the rate of N400,000 and N300,000 for male and female respectively. in Oruk Anam council of the oil rich state.

The suspects are one Ndukeabasi Ndianabasi Okon, f, of Nung Ukim village Uyo and her husband one Ndianaabasi Okon, who is now at large. Police Public Relations Officer, Frederick N-Nudam , Chief Superintendent of Police, who made the disclosure, said the Police acted on a tip-off , immediately swooped on the ‘’babies factory’’, rescuing two pregnant teenage victims, one Peace Okon Sunday, 17, from Eka Ediene Village with seven pregnancy and Esther Victor Jeremiah 15, of Ikot Inyang Village.

According to him, the female suspect during interrogations confessed that she and her husband now at large have been in the illicit business since 2016, adding that they normally sell male and female children at the rate of N400,000 and N300,000 respectively. CSP N-nudam also disclosed that a combined team of Itu Division and Anti-Child Theft equally intercepted an 18-seater a bus with registration number YEN 709 XA, conveying six under age children and that during investigation, the suspects, one Esther Asuquo Akpan, 42, and Otobong Solomon Akpan21, confessed that they were taken the victims to Osun State for child labour.

The victims included, Elisha Joseph Akpan, 12, Emmanuel Peter Edim, 14, Elijah Victor Michael, 15, Saviour Etete Amos, 16, Effanga Asuquo Etim, 16, , David Sunday Akpan, 16, all male of Akpabuyo, Cross River and that . He said the Command had transferred the children to Ministry of Women Affairs for custody, while the suspects were charged to court. Meanwhile, the Police have also arrested one Peace Bassey Okon who allegedly abducted one Joy Effiong Ekpeima, 16, and Peace Effiong Ekpeima, 17, in November, 2019 and taken them to her sister house in Ogun State, denying them access to contact their parents even as she subjected them to forced labour and exploitation .

He said, ‘’During questioning, suspect admitted sending the victims to her sister without their parents or guardians consent. ‘’Investigation revealed that the suspect took advantage of the victims being dropped out of school occasioned by their parents inability to pay their school fees and abducted them for forced labour ‘’In view of the above, operatives proceeded to Ogun State and arrested the suspect’s sister one Sandra Bassey who took custody of the victims. Suspects have been charged to court.’’

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Obinwanne to US court: I didn’t commit fraud on American soil, FBI searched my phones and laptops illegally

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32-year-old CEO of Invictus Group and Forbes-rated young Nigerian billionaire, Obinwanne Okeke who is facing two counts of computer and wire fraud in the United States has filed a prelimnary objection to the charges. 

Obinwanne Okeke stated that the American authorities lacked jurisdiction to charge him for fraud as he did not commit the offence he is being accused of in America, neither was any American companies or individuals defrauded at the time of his indictment.

The businessman’s lawyers who asked for the case to be struck out as the arrest should have never happened, pointed out that prosecutors only stated in the indictment that he swindled Unatrac, a subsidiary of American equipment manufacturer ‘Caterpillar’ of $11 million. They also cited multiple previous authorities to back their argument.

FBI prosecutors however stated Obinwanne’s lawyers were wrong to argue that no American companies or individuals were defrauded on the basis of the indictment. The prosecutors averred that the indictment was to show probable cause to secure an arrest warrant for Mr Okeke who travelled to the U.S. in the course of the fraud. They also disclosed that in the course of the trial, more victims of American citizenship and residency will be introduced. 

The Invictus Group CEO’s lawyers also accused FBI agents of accessing his mobile phones and laptops illegally, an act they claimed was enough to get the charges dismissed. 

FBI agents who arrested the businessman were accused of searching and seizing his phones without proper procedure. They were also accused of  telling him to unlock his iPhone and Macbook Pro without first reading him his Miranda rights which involves telling him he has the right to remain silent and not cooperate with authorities, especially when a suspect has not contacted a lawyer.

Prosecutors however insisted that Obinwanne Okeke was told he could remain silent, but he willingly agreed to let authorities search his devices by providing passwords to them. They also affirmed that even without reading him his Miranda rights as his lawyers claimed, the evidence collected from his phone cannot be dismissed because they only corroborated evidence already collected in the year-long investigation into his alleged involvement in the $11 million fraud.

The FBI prosecutors concluded by stating that it cannot be argued that Obinwanne did not know the implication of submitting his passwords for federal agents to collect information, as he is an educated adult with both undergraduate and graduate degrees, and has also travelled extensively across the world over the years. 

Though February 18 was initiallly fixed for the commencement of trial, the defence team’s preliminary objections to get the matter dismissed and for Mr Okeke to return to Nigeria led to the adjournment of commencement of trial to a date that would later be determined by both parties.

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Alleged N86m fraud: EFCC arrests Ganduje’s commissioner in Kano

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By Adamu Aminu, Kano.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, has arrested Mukhtar Ishaq, Kano State Commissioner for Special Duties.

This was contained in statement on Friday by EFCC spokesman, Tony Orilade.

Ishaq was arrested for allegedly diverting monies meant for Kano Municipal Local Government while he was Chairman of the said Local Government.

A petition against him stated that while he was Chairman, Kano Municipal, he allegedly diverted N76,000,000 meant for projects, development, and empowerment of the people.

EFCC quoted the petitioner as also alleging that the suspect ordered the deduction of N30,000 from the account of each council member without justification.

“The Commissioner is also alleged to have converted property of Kofar Nasarawa Primary School, Kano, into shops and sold same at the rate of N10,000,000 only per shop and diverted the money to personal use”, EFCC said.

The statement added that Ishaq would be charged to court as soon as investigations are completed.

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Maryam Sanda appeals death penalty

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Following her conviction by an FCT High Court over the alleged killing of her husband, Bilyaminu Bello, Maryam Sanda has approached the Court of Appeal, Abuja Division, asking the court to set aside the verdict and acquit her.

Sanda, who was sentenced to death by hanging by Justice Yusuf Halilu on Jan. 27, said the trial judge “was tainted by bias and prejudices.”

According to her, this led to the denial of her right to fair hearing and her consequent conviction based on circumstantial evidence despite the reasonable doubt that was created by evidence of witnesses, lack of confessional statement, absence of murder weapon, lack of corroboration of evidence by two or more witnesses and lack of autopsy report to determine the true cause of her husband’s death.

In a notice of appeal predicated on 20 grounds and filed by her legal team composed of Rickey Tarfa, SAN, Olusegun Jolaawo, SAN, Regina Okotie-Eboh and Beatrice Tarfa, the applicant said the judgment of the trial court was completely “a miscarriage of justice.”

She pointed to the failure of the trial judge to rule, one way or the other, on her preliminary objection, challenging the charge preferred against her and the jurisdiction of the court as evidence of bias and a denial of her right to fair hearing as constitutionally guaranteed.

In her application, she said: “The honourable trial judge erred in law when having taken arguments on the appellant’s preliminary objection to the validity of the charge on the 19th of March, 2018 failed to rule on it at the conclusion of trial or at any other time.

“The trial judge exhibited bias against the defendant in not ruling one way or the other on the said motion challenging his jurisdiction to entertain the charge and therefore fundamentally breached the right to fair hearing of the defendant.”

In ground II, the appellant contended that the trial judge erred and misdirected himself by usurping the role of the police when he assumed the duty of an Investigating Police Officer (IPO) as contained in Page 76 of his judgment.

It was submitted that “the circumstantial evidence which the trial court relied upon in its application of the last seen doctrine does not lead to the conclusion that the defendant is responsible for the death of the deceased.”

Consequently, Sanda prayed the Court of Appeal to allow her appeal, set aside her conviction and sentence imposed by Justice Halilu and acquit her

No date has been fixed for hearing in the matter.

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