Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Aluu killings: Court remands 13 suspects in prison

Suspects paraded at the Rivers State Police command.

Suspects paraded at the Rivers State Police command.
| credits: Chukwudi Akasike

THE Magistrate’s Court sitting in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, on Wednesday remanded 13 suspects arrested in connection with the killing of four students of the University of Port Harcourt.

The accused persons were allegedly part of a mob that tortured the four undergraduates to death in Omuokiri Aluu in Ikwerre Local Government Area of Rivers State.

The suspects, who were escorted by security agents, were driven into the court premises about 9.45am in a Toyota Hiace bus with number plate FG 120 F50.

The suspects were in handcuffs and chains as they appeared in court on five counts of conspiracy and murder.

Presiding Magistrate, Emmanuel Woke, however, said the court did not have the jurisdiction to hear the matter.

Woke immediately announced the transfer of the case to the Department of Public Prosecution for legal advice and subsequent arraignment in a High Court.

 The magistrate also said the suspects should seek bail from the high court.

A Chief Superintendent of Police, Mr. Henry Njoku, stood as counsel for the prosecution while Mr. A.A. Finebone was the counsel for the first accused and village head of Aluu, Alhaji Hassan Walewa.

Mr. Austine Ojekudo and others from the Nigeria Bar Association and the Human Rights Commission were in court as concerned parties.

The charges against the accused as contained in Charge Sheet Number PMC/2009C/2012, are “That you conspired among yourselves to commit felony to wit: murder and thereby committed an offence punishable under Section 324 of the criminal code Cap 37 laws of Rivers State of Nigeria 1999.”

The suspects and others at large were accused of lynching Ugonna Obuzor, Toku Lloyd, Chiadika Biringa, and Tekenah Erikena, thereby committing an offence punishable under Section 319 of the criminal code Cap 37 volume III laws of Rivers State of Nigeria 1999.

The court, however, adjourned the case till December 20, 2012.

Meanwhile, the Vice-Chancellor of UNIPORT, Prof. Joseph Ajienka, has explained why he removed Dr. Andrew Efemini, as  Head of Department of Philosophy.

Ajienka, who spoke with newsmen in Port Harcourt on Wednesday, said Efemini made an inflammatory statement that incited students to embark on a violent protest in Aluu.

The students had carried out a protest against the killing of their colleagues by suspected members of Aluu.

The Vice-Chancellor noted that the former HOD’s action on the day of the protest inflamed the already tensed situation, which the university was battling at all costs to contain.

Ajienka stated that such situation would not be tolerated by a responsible administration management, even as he insisted that the decision to remove Efemini was in order.

The Vice-Chancellor added, “Efemini’s ill-advised action on that day inflamed an already tensed situation that we were battling on all fronts to contain. Under the untenable situation in which Dr. Efemini’s action put me, it was better to protect him and myself.”

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Tales of woes as NHRC visits Kirikiri Prison

•Members of NHRC inspecting inmates’ food

Inmates of the Kirikiri Maximum Prison have complained about slow and sometimes unfair judicial process as well as the subhuman conditions they are facing.

The inmates told the National Human Rights Commission during the commencement of the 2012 South-West Zonal prison audit, that many of them had been awaiting trial for years. They added that some of the convicts were facing health challenges due to lack of health facilities in the prison.

Health problems

A death row inmate, Matthew Nwokocha, who is asthmatic, complained that due to the stuffy nature of the cells, he had had frequent asthma attacks. He said the prison’s medical unit had run out of inhalers.

He said, “I was sentenced to death in Imo State in 2006 but was transferred to Kirikiri. When I get asthma attacks, it’s always unbearable. One night I almost died but for one of the doctors that gave me an injection.

“I’ve asked for inhalers and other drugs but they said they don’t have any.”

A doctor at the prison, Hemeson Edwin, said there was need for the government to increase funding especially in the area of health.

Edwin said the prison authorities usually paid for treatment of inmates referred to hospitals outside the facility.

He added that due to lack of funds, all inmates eat the same food even though some of them need special diets due to health challenges.

He said, “All patients, including the diabetic ones are made to eat the same food because that is what we can afford. Inmates who have been referred to hospitals are also made to pay. Recently, a female inmate gave birth through caesarean section and has been bleeding since. We took her to a government hospital and we were made to make down payment.

“When prisoners die, we are also made to pay mortuary fees. The only hospital that gives concession as regards corpses is the Isolo General Hospital and that may soon end because there are moves by the state government to privatise that as well.”

The Controller of Prisons, Abayomi Oguntuase, urged the state government to offer free healthcare to inmates.

“The issue of treating inmates for free has become pertinent. When we don’t have funds, taking an inmate to hospital becomes a problem,” he said.

Awaiting trial inmates and congestion

Some of the inmates complained that the slow judicial process was unfair. One of them, Ogechukwu Obioma, said, “I was brought here in 2005 for robbery and conspiracy and was taken to Ebute Meta Magistrate’s Court but I haven’t been to court since then.”

Another inmate, Paul Samuel, said, “I was brought to Kirikiri for alleged robbery in 2005 from Yaba Magistrate’s Court 4 but the Director of Public Prosecutions has yet to issue advice.”

Another inmate, Emmanuel Uzor, said he had been on trial for 11 years despite the fact that witnesses had yet to come forward.

Oguntuase said the congestion was majorly caused by the awaiting trial persons. He said, “The medium prison for instance, has had no less than 2,400 inmates at any point in time this year as opposed to its capacity of 1,500. The cells are no longer conducive for habitation.”

Aged, long-standing inmates seek release

Some of the old inmates pleaded with the government to release them as they no longer posed a threat to society. One of such inmates, Steven Ojoko, convicted of robbery, said he had been in Kirikiri for 34 years.

He said, “I was brought to Kirikiri in 1978 and was convicted in 1984 for robbery. I was initially sentenced to death but my sentence was commuted to life imprisonment. I beg the relevant authorities to release me. I am old and reformed.”

Another inmate, Edet Akpan, 52, who has been in prison for 30 years for robbery and another inmate incarcerated in 1984 for attempted robbery, Ibrahim Lasisi, urged the government to release them.

It was learnt that the oldest inmate is 82 years.

NHRC canvasses increased funding, speedy trial

Meanwhile, the Executive Secretary, NHRC, Prof. Ben Angue, urged the judiciary to address the problem of prolonged trial to ensure fairness.

Angue said prisoners had the right to life and deserved to be taken care of, adding that a country’s human rights index was most times judged by the condition of its prisons.

He said, “A trial is no longer fair when it goes on for too long. For instance, a trial spanning 11 years could affect the witness’ ability to recollect.

“If after 11 years, such a person is found not guilty, how would you compensate the person for the years lost? Some inmates are innocent, many of them are victims of false allegation or were arrested by the police during raids and branded as armed robbers. I’m not saying criminals should go scot free but the innocent ones should not be criminalised.

“The cost of N200 for the daily feeding of an inmate is too low and government needs to increase funding. Some prisoners need to be on special diet due to health conditions and it is their right.”

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The Students killed at Aluu
Stranded residents in Kogi State

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Explosions, gunfire rock Potiskum

Heavy explosions and gunfire rocked Potiskum in Yobe State on Wednesday, residents said, after violence this week left at least 24 people dead in the sister city of Maiduguri in Borno State.

Blasts and shootings shook residents of the town, previously hit hard by violence blamed on the extremist group Boko Haram, residents told Agence France Presse.

Yobe State Commissioner of Police, Patrick Egbuniwe, said there had been a bomb explosion and security forces afterward cordoned off the area and began house-to-house searches.

He did not say whether there had been any casualties.

“There was a bomb explosion this morning and the Joint Task Force has already cordoned off the area for the safety of residents,” Egbuniwe said, referring to a military and police task force.

“Right now, there is a house-to-house search by JTF to fish out the perpetrators of the terror attack.”

Residents said the unrest began just before 6a.m.

“It started with a huge explosion followed by successive blasts and gunfire,” one resident told AFP.
The blasts and gunfire came from an area of the town where a bank, a military base and the office of the anti-narcotics agency are located, residents said.

On Tuesday, Nigeria’s military said 24 Boko Haram members were killed in violence that rocked the city of Maiduguri, Borno State after the extremists launched attacks with bombs and rocket-propelled grenades.

The military has been regularly accused of abuses, including the killing of civilians. Tuesday’s statement said there were no civilian casualties and one soldier was wounded, but the claims could not be independently verified.

Maiduguri is considered the base of Boko Haram. The conflict is believed to have killed at least 2,800 people since 2009.

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Police dismiss sergeant for ordering killing of UNIPORT students

The Nigerian Police Force has dismissed a Sergeant identified as Lucky Orji for allegedly instigating a mob to kill four students of the University of Port Harcourt on October 5, 2012 in Aluu in Rivers State.

Deputy Force Public Relations Officer, Frank Mba, told Channels Television on Wednesday morning during a breakfast programme, “Sunrise,” that Orji’s dismissal followed Tuesday’s confession by one of the suspected killers, David Chinasa Ugbaje.

The students were set upon by a mob in Aluu, a community close to the university, and lynched.

They were later identified as 19-year-old Lloyd Toku ( 200 level Civil Engineering); 18-year-old Ugonna Obuzor (200 level  Geology student); 20-year-old Chiadika Biringa, (200 level Theatre Arts student); and Tekena Erikena, a 20-year-old  a diploma (Technical) student by the management of the university.

The police, on Monday, had named Coxson Lucky, alias Bright, as the mastermind of the lynching.

Lucky, who was said to owe one of the students an undisclosed sum of money, reportedly raised the alarm that the students were robbers when they went to his house to demand for the money.

The mob, which converged on the venue of the altercation, then beat and burn the students to death.

Mba said the discovery was made after the police carried out an internal investigation, adding that he would also be tried for murder.

The dismissed policeman and a colleague were alleged to have stumbled upon the angry mob beating the students, Mba said.

“The officers were not even sent to the scene; he (sergeant) went on his own, outside the code of conduct and professional ethics of the job.

“One was professional to ask the mob to stop and the other asked them to continue,” he said.

He said the fact that the police were prepared to prosecute Orji was a measure of its resolve to put an end to all forms of impunity in the Nigerian Police

He said mob attacks were not peculiar to Nigeria, adding, “It is something we must work together to review. Nigerians must not be quick to heap the blame on the police alone.”

He insisted that, like other agencies in the country, the police force also had persons of questionable character.

“f you recruit an officer, the person carries the family value around. We need reorientation from the families and to the various worship centres.

“We must look at the content our mass media is dishing out, we have to review all this,” Mba said.

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FAAN warns travellers on Abuja airport taxis

Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria has warned travellers and visitors to be cautious when boarding airport taxis in Abuja in view of the new wave of security threat posed by some illegal taxi drivers.

FAAN’s Regional General Manager at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, Mr. Chris Bature, gave the warning in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria on Wednesday in Abuja.

He said, however,  that security measures put in place by FAAN and other security agencies at the airport had reduced the activities of  fraudsters and touts at the airport.

Bature said that FAAN’s security operatives had discovered that fraudsters had devised a new system known as “one-chance,” where a taxi driver would carry passengers from the airport and rob them on the way.

The FAAN official advised travellers to make use of registered taxi drivers or official car-hire taxis with evidence of registration or FAAN identification cards upon arrival and when departing the airport.

Bature said that the rate of crimes at the airport had drastically reduced, due to the activities of security agents, following the measures initiated by the Minister of Aviation, Princess Stella Oduah, to make Nigeria’s airports safe and secure for travellers.

“The frequency of suspects arrested at the airport has dropped because we are working tirelessly in conjunction with the Air Force, Police and other security officials to apprehend criminals day and night to secure the airport.

“Presently, the security challenge at the airport is that of ‘one-chance,’ where illegal taxis carry passengers and along the way, they will push out the passengers and do away with their belongings.

“We are advising member of the public to use the official airport taxis if they must use commercial vehicles from the airport to avoid ugly incidents,” Bature said.

A document given to NAN by the FAAN Crime and Investigation Bureau, showed that 180 suspects were arrested between June and October this year for offences ranging from drug peddling, illegal car hire operation, stealing, touting and ticket-racketing.

Four suspects, Kenechukwu Eze, Mohamadu Abdulkadir, Keneth Udo and Emmanuel Igwe, were arrested on Wednesday for illegal car hire operation and were handed over to the police for prosecution.

The National Drug Law Enforcement Agency Commander at the airport, Mr. Lawal Hamisu, also revealed that the number of drug traffickers arrested at the airport had reduced by half in comparison with 2011.

He told NAN that the number decreased, following the installation of modern scanners at the airport between January and June.

Hamisu had said that only five suspected drug peddlers were arrested at the airport as against the average of 10 monthly in 2011 before the installation of the screening equipment.

“We arrested a minimum of 10 drug barons monthly in previous years but since the beginning of this year, it has gone so low that in a month, there may not even be an arrest,” he said.

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Patience Jonathan's arrival
Suspects paraded at the Rivers State Police command.
Special Adviser to the President on Niger Delta, Kingsley Kuku

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Photo Of The ALUU UNIPORT Student Killers, People That Clubbed And Burnt Them

This is the exclusive photos of the suspects that beat the four innocent students to death, God help us in this country, every criminal look pitiful and innocent once they are arrested:

LP urges transparency as stage set for Ondo gov poll

Chairman of the Labour Party in the Federal Capital Territory, Mr. Adejobi Peter, has called on INEC to be transparent in the discharge of its functions as preparations for the Ondo State governorship election gather momentum.

Peter made the call in Abuja on Wednesday in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria.

He told INEC Chairman, Prof. Attahiru Jega, to transfer the INEC National Commissioner in Ondo State, Prof. Lai Olurode, “because of his partisanship.”

The chairman emphasised the need for the electoral body to ensure that the contest was free and fair.

 “When a particular party is saying that it does not want a particular person to represent us, I believe INEC ought to have complied, at least for the sake of peace,” he said.

 He urged INEC to make the political environment neutral by bringing in a neutral person to supervise the election to ensure fairness and justice.

Peter alleged that there were strategies which opposition parties in the state had adopted to discredit Labour Party during the election.

“The oppositions are trying to use the party’s logos on T-shirts and caps on the day of election to look as if Labour Party is campaigning.

“It is against the rules of INEC for any party to engage in electioneering campaign 24 hours to the election.

“The security agencies should be on the alert for this, so that our party will not be accused wrongly.

Peter also urged security agencies to keep the entry points into Ondo State secured, to prevent hoodlums from neighbouring states, causing chaos in the state.

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Gunmen attack oil vessel, kidnap seven expatriates

Gunmen have attacked a vessel belonging to Bobon International Oil Limited off the coast of Southern Ijaw Local Government Area, Bayelsa State abducting six Russians and another expatriate believed to be an Estonian.
Our correspondent gathered that the expatriates were abducted at a time the security sources described as “wee hours of Tuesday”
Though the identities of the attackers and their motives were not known, security sources described them as pirates.
The incident which had created tension and fear of resurgence of kidnapping of expatriates in the Niger Delta region occurred along the Pennington River.
Fifteen workers were said to be on board the vessel which was believed to be sailing from the Pennington Offshore Terminal situated 16 miles to the entrance of Fishtown River
 when the incident happened.
While eight of the workers were said to have arrived Nigerian Port at Onne after escaping the attack, seven others were unlucky as they were captured by the bandits and taken to an unknown destination.
A source told our correspondent that communities close to the Coast of Pennington are host to Chevron’s oil platform in the area and belong to the company’s cluster known as the KEFFES communities.
 Operatives of the Joint Task Force, codenamed Operation Pulo Shield and the Central Naval Command of the Nigerian Navy were said to be combing the creeks to locate the whereabouts of the foreigners.
Confirming the incident the Media Coordinator, JTF, Lt. Col. Onyema Nwachukwu, told our correspondent that operatives of the outfit had intensified search for the expatriates.
 He said, “Some unknown gunmen attacked a vessel and abducted seven persons consisting of six Russians and one Estonian national. We have deployed our naval elements to comb the area and track down the kidnappers. We have also alerted all operational bases.”

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Police arrest 39 officers for various offences

Lagos State Police Commissioner, Mr Umar Manko, on Wednesday disclosed that 39 of its officers, including four women, have been arrested for various offences in the last seven months.

Manko who disclosed this during an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria, added that the officers were arrested by the Command’s Monitoring Unit.

He expressed displeasure over the deviant attitude of some officers, stressing that he would no longer tolerate any act of indiscipline in the command.

“Officers arrested included Inspectors and other ranks; 11 of the officers were arrested for illegal duty operation, 9 officers arrested for discredited conduct.

“One officer was arrested for corruption, while 18 others were arrested for extortion, “ Manko said.

The commissioner said that the officers were arrested in different parts of the state carrying out duties which were contrary to police operations.

“There is a new order by the Inspector General of Police, which includes discipline. This order must be carried out in this command. Anyone that is not ready for the new order should look elsewhere.

“We are treating their matter in line with police discipline. In Lagos State, no police officer has any reason to be indisciplined or corrupt.

“My monitoring unit is out every day, anyone caught for illegal duty would be arrested, “ he said.

Manko said that the officers have already been tried according to police laws and regulations.

Areas where the officers were arrested, according to him, include Mushin, Surulere, Dopemu, Owode and Ogudu.

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President Jonathan’s wife, Patience, returns to Nigeria

Patience, wife of President Goodluck Jonathan returned to Nigeria on Wednesday.

She had been away from the country two months ago for medical treatment in Weisbaden, Germany for an undisclosed ailment.

Her Chief Press Secretary, Ayo Osinlu, had said at the time that she was on holiday.

But press reports indicated that she was flown from Abuja to Germany in an air ambulance for treatment.

She returned to Abuja in a presidential jet.

More details later.

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INEC Commissioner, Lai Olurode, not a politician – Jega

Independent National Electoral Commission Chairman, Prof. Attahiru Jega, on Wednesday said the Labour Party’s allegation that the commission’s National Commissioner, Prof. Lai Olurode, is a member of a political party.

Speaking in Akure on Wednesday during a stakeholders’ meeting, Jega said INEC’s had found out the claim was meant to smear the commissioner’s integrity.

He stressed that none of INEC’s workers had any affiliation with any political party.

Jega said,” Your allegation is spurious. No member of INEC is a member of any political party.

“If you have any evidence to support your allegation, provide it. We will do the right thing.

“But our investigation has shown that your claim is spurious.

“We don’t take any allegation as spurious immediately it is made. We investigate every allegation.”

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Cape Verde cap rise with Nations Cup ticket

Samuel Eto'o

| credits:

The Cape Verde Islands will become the smallest country to compete at an Africa Nations Cup finals after qualifying at the expense of Cameroon and their remarkable rise is the culmination of a project to target ‘top talent’.

The Portuguese-speaking country’s elimination of the four-time winners in Sunday’s final qualifying round ranks as one of the biggest shocks in the tournament’s history but it has been on the cards in recent years.

Just 10 years ago the ‘Tubaroes Azul’ (Blue Sharks) beat Mauritania 2-0 at home to record their first win in a competitive international and now they are ranked 51st in the world.

“There was a conscious decision by the federation to embark on a project that would pursue the top talent available and after many years of hard work this has now come to pass,” said Joao de Deus, coach of Portuguese second division club Oliveirense, who was in charge of Cape Verde in 2008 and 2009.

By tapping into a large number of descendants of migrants who have been steadily leaving the island archipelago over the last century, Cape Verde football’s ability far exceeds the country’s 500,000-strong population.

“We now have some 90 percent of our squad members who are playing at clubs in Europe, in Portugal, France, Spain, Holland and other countries,” coach Lucio Antunes said in a recent telephone interview.

“These are professional players who are desperate to show what they can do at the Nations Cup finals. It has been so easy to work with them because of their experience and their desire,” he added.

But while almost all of Cape Verde’s players are drawn from overseas clubs, there remains a fairytale element to the way they have gone from novices to Nations Cup qualifiers in the space of 10 years.

Antunes is on long leave from his job as an air traffic controller and the majority of the squad have no profile outside the Cape Verde. Sunday’s goal hero Heldon, from Maritimo in Portugal, and Ryan Mendes of Ligue 1 Lille are among the exceptions.

Better known Cape Verdians are Manchester United winger Nani and Porto defender Rolando, who both play for Portugal, and former Sweden striker Henrik Larsson, whose father hailed from the island nation.

The Cape Verde, more desert than tropical and situated off the west coast of Africa, won independence in the mid-70s from Portugal but did not play an international until more than a decade later.

They have been FIFA members since only 1986 and did not enter the Nations Cup or World Cup qualifiers until 1992 – two years after Cameroon became the first African country to reach the World Cup quarter-finals.

But on Sunday they looked consummate veterans of the international circuit, toying at times with their Cameroonian hosts as they advanced to January’s finals in South Africa 3-2 on aggregate over two legs.

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