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Fraud: Eight Nigerians sentenced to death in UAE

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Eight men, identified as Nigerians, have been sentenced to death in Sharjah, United Arab Emirates, for a string of robberies at money exchanges and cash machines (ATMs) across the emirate in December 2016.

The ninth Nigerian, found guilty for possession of stolen money, was sentenced to six months’ imprisonment.

He will be deported after serving his prison term.

The Gulf News is reporting that the Nigerian denied the charge against him, saying that one of the accused’s brothers asked him to transfer Dh60, 000 to an account in Nigeria.

Both the Gulf News and Khaleej Times, local newspapers, which reported the trial, did not identify all the convicted Nigerians.

A total of 20 suspects were initially held for attacking security guards in four violent attacks at ATMs and money exchanges across Sharjah in late 2016.

Out of the 20 suspects, nine were convicted.

Some of the accused confessed to their crimes, while others denied the charges levelled against them.

Judge Majid Al Muhairi of Sharjah Criminal Court handed down the verdict on Wednesday.

The eight-member gang attacked security trucks and entered establishments by force and threatened and assaulted staff and members of the public with bladed weapons in a spate of robberies, three of which were carried out on the same day on December 18, 2016.

The gang, who were all in the UAE on visit visas, were said to be highly organised and plotted a string of orchestrated attacks to ambush security trucks that were transporting money boxes to and from ATMs, and at least one money exchange in Sharjah.

The first robbery took place at a Dubai Commercial Bank ATM on King Abdul Aziz Street, where Dh340, 000 was stolen.

Then two days later, they attacked an ATM in Al Safeer Mall in Al Nahda, fleeing with Dh700, 000, and an ATM in Muweilah where they stole Dh710, 000.

Police foiled a fourth attack at a money exchange office near National Paints.

The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Foreign Affairs and Diaspora, Mrs Abike Dabiri-Erewa has described the death sentence passed on eight Nigerians in United Arab Emirate (UAE) as unfortunate.

Dabiri-Erewa in a statement yesterday in Abuja expressed concern over the development, saying the incident was not an actual description of personalities of people of Nigeria.

”It is an unfortunate incident, but it is not an incident that defines who we are as a people.

”If a few Nigerians have committed a crime for which they are being punished, thousands of Nigerians are doing great in that same country and are being appreciated and celebrated.

”Mr President, who meets Nigerians every time he goes on official trips outside the country, always appeals to Nigerians to be good ambassadors wherever they are.

”I must commend millions of our brothers and sisters excelling all over the world.

“Bad news travels fast and I appeal to the media to help spread the good news about Nigerians and not concentrate only on the once in a while negative stories,” she said.

The gang of 20 was arrested in record time, but police confirmed that only a portion of the stolen money — almost Dh1.8 million — had been recovered, as the gang members had divided the money among themselves and transferred it to their home country.

Suspects were taken into custody in cooperation with police in Dubai, Ajman and Fujairah.

The gang committed the heists at the busiest times of the day when streets were crowded, which added to the confusion and enabled them to escape, said police.

In each robbery, the assailants struck quickly before police could arrive.

The attackers, however, could not evade security cameras and police were able to recognise the suspects through surveillance footage captured at the exchange house in the mall.

Video footage showed the suspects attacking security guards, making off with cash and in one of the robberies, slashing the hands of a security guard with a knife before running away with moneyboxes.

Police believe the suspects had monitored and tracked the security trucks used to transport money for a period of time before launching the attacks.

A prosecutor told Gulf News on Thursday that as per the law, groups of people who threaten the lives of others, while committing robbery, are subject to the death sentence.

However an appeal is expected to be launched and the sentences could get downgraded to life imprisonment.

The trial appeared unconnected with the arrest of five Nigerians in March this year, who robbed a Bureau de Change operator of Dh2.3 million (N225.4 million) in Sharjai, Dubai.

The suspects were identified as Chimuanya Emmanuel Ozoh, Benjamin Nwachukwu Ajah, Kingsley Ikenna Ngoka, Tochukwu Leonard Alisi and Chile Micah Ndunagu.

The five Nigerians reportedly barged into the BDC on March 20 and smashed the glass barrier between the customers and the staff, stole the money in multiple currencies and fled.

Two employees at the exchange were injured as they resisted the robbers.

One of them managed to notify the police.

The Sharjah Police coordinated with forces from Abu Dhabi, Ras Al Khaimah and Ajman to nab the suspects from four emirates within 48 hours after the robbery was committed.

A top police official said the suspects came to the UAE on visit visas on March 18, 2019.

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PDP allays defection fears

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The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Thursday ruled out any mass defections in the party due to the outcome of the Supreme Court judgment that dismissed the party’s presidential election petition against the victory of President Muhammadu Buhari.

The party also raised the alarm over plans by the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to manipulate the outcome of the party’s governorship primary elections in Kogi State with a spurious allegation that the commission did not monitor the primary election, thus questioning its credibility.

Addressing journalists Thursday at the party’s secretariat in Abuja, the National Publicity Secretary, Mr. Kola Ologbondiyan, said the party was strong, adding that the Supreme Court’s decision will not in any way affect it.

He said: “If for anything, the Supreme Court’s dismissal of our presidential petition will make the party stronger. This is because Nigerians perceived the judgment as anti-people. Indeed, the judgment will make Nigerians see PDP as a rallying ground because the party is always the champion of the people’s interest.

“It will not cause any mass defections; rather, it will make Nigerians who are suffering from bad government policies to see PDP much more as people-oriented party. Mark my words, PDP will rebound and the chances are brighter.”

The main opposition party also condemned and cautioned INEC and APC not to, in anyway, attempt to alter INEC’s monitoring report on the governorship primary in Kogi State or attempt to tamper with the record of submission of candidate for the November 16 governorship election.

Ologbondiyan said PDP’s warning was predicated on intelligence available to its national secretariat of plots by known INEC officers and certain APC leaders to alter INEC’s monitoring report and delist the PDP candidate in a bid to make Governor Yahaya Bello the only strong candidate and deny the people of Kogi State their desire to vote in its candidate, Musa Wada, as their next governor.

“Of course, this plot is dead on arrival, as our candidate, Musa Wada, remains duly nominated through the statutory processes of our primary, which was well covered in the monitoring report released by INEC. The PDP cautions that any attempt to tamper with his candidature will trigger the wrath of the people,” he added.

According to him, the party is already aware of every stage in this conspiracy against the Kogi State as well as the actors involved.

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ASUU insists on strike over IPPIS

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The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), Wednesday insisted on embarking on industrial action if the federal government stops the payment of their salaries for their refusal to enroll in the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS).

The Benin, Sokoto and Ilorin zonal branches of the union said yesterday that their members would resort to their “no pay, no work” policy if the federal government carry out its threat to stop their salaries.
The Benin Zonal Coordinator of ASUU, Mr. Fred Esumen, said during an enlarged meeting of the Benin Zone of the union, held at the Ugbowo campus of University of Benin, in Benin City, that if the federal government sanctions its members, who do not enroll for the IPPIS on the October 31, 2019 deadline, ASUU will embark on “no pay, no work.”

The ASUU membership in the zone comprises University of Benin, Ambrose Alli University (AAU), Ekpoma both in Edo State; Adekunle Ajasin University (Akungba, Akoko), University of Science and Technology (Okitipupa) both in Ondo State; Delta State University (Abraka) and the Federal University of Petroleum Resources (FUPRE) both in Delta State.

Esumen who addressed journalists, declared that the IPPIS policy being championed by the Office of the Accountant-General of the Federation (OAGF) was a mere directive, which cannot and should not take precedence over the law.

The directive, he said, violates the agreement ASUU had reached with the government in the past and the laws establishing universities via the miscellaneous act as amended in 2003 that vested powers in the Governing Councils to take control and manage funds of the universities including staff recruitment and promotion.”

The ASUU coordinator however, ruled out legal option in the pursuit of justice, saying that government does not honour agreement.
The Sokoto Zonal Coordinator of the union, Mr. Jamilu Shehu, said wednesday at a press conference held at the Umaru Musa Yar’Adua University, Katsina, that the attempt by federal government to “forcefully” enroll staff of universities in the IPPIS was not only an illegality, but total violation of university autonomy.

According to him, the IPPIS also violates university autonomy and FGN/ASUU agreement and did not tackle the peculiarity inherent in the nature and structure of universities.

Shehu explained that IPPIS does not capture the remuneration of staff on sabbatical, external examiners and assessors, earned academics allowances part time and consultancy services being rendered by lecturers across universities.

He stressed that the union viewed the claim by the Accountant-General of the Federation (OAGF) that ASUU’s position against IPPIS is an endorsement of corruption as cheap blackmail and calculated attempt to sabotage university autonomy.

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Atiku vows to keep fighting for Nigeria despite S’Court loss

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In a dramatic twist, the Supreme Court Wednesday affirmed President Muhammadu Buhari’s victory in the February 23 presidential election.

Atiku Abubakar Photographer: George Osodi/Bloomberg

A seven-man panel of the court, led by the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Ibrahim Tanko Muhammad, described the appeal as lacking in merit.

“The panel has read all the documents and exhibits filed in the case for two weeks and found the appeal to be lacking in merit,” Muhammad said in a terse judgment.
But Atiku and the PDP expressed deep reservation, with the candidate calling the judgment part of the challenges of democracy in the country.

“It is said that the Supreme Court is not final because it is infallible, but that it is infallible because it is final. While I believe that only God is infallible everywhere, and only Nigerians are infallible in our democracy, I must accept that the judicial route I chose to take, as a democrat, has come to a conclusion,” Atiku said in a statement, adding: “Whether justice was done, is left to the Nigerian people to decide. As a democrat, I fought a good fight for the Nigerian people. I will keep on fighting for Nigeria and for democracy, and also for justice.”
“One man, one woman, one youth, one vote, should be the only way to make gains in a democracy. And when that is thwarted, the clock starts to tick. Two and a half millennia ago, Sophocles said, ‘If we are to keep our democracy, there must be one commandment: ‘Thou shalt not ration justice.’ Nigeria will do well to observe this warning.

“This is not a time for too many words. It will suffice for me to remind Nigeria of this – we are an independent nation and we are the architects of our fate. If we do not build a free Nigeria, we may end up destroying her, and God forbid that that should be the case.”
Atiku warned that the nation might implode unless it embraces the principles of freedom. In a statement, he regretted: “The Nigerian judiciary, just like every estate of our realm, has been sabotaged and undermined by an overreaching and dictatorial cabal, who have undone almost all the democratic progress the Peoples Democratic Party and its administrations nurtured for 16 years, up until 2015.”He said: “To those who think they have broken my spirit, I am sorry to disappoint you. I am too focused on Nigeria to think about myself. I gave up that luxury 20 years ago. The question is not if I am broken. The question is if Nigeria is whole.

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How immunity saved Yahaya Bello from prosecution

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The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) wednesday said that it could not prosecute the Kogi State governor, Yahaya Bello, for double registration because he has immunity.

He also said that the commission could not enforce his disqualification for double registration because double registration is not an offence under the Electoral Act.
The INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, who made the clarification, also called on the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to provide evidence that the commission collected a list of partisan ad-hoc staff from the All Progressives Congress (APC). Speaking yesterday at a quarterly media meeting with journalists, the INEC chairman said, “On the issue of double registration, there is nothing INEC can do with someone who has a constitutional immunity. The governor in question has a guaranteed constitutional immunity.

“We disciplined our staff that were involved because it is within our reach to take administrative action against them. Moreover, the Electoral Act does not permit us to disqualify any one based on the account of double registration. This is our handicap”.
On the allegation of receiving a prepared list from the APC, the INEC chairman challenged the PDP to provide actionable evidence as it is not enough to make frivolous allegations.

He said that it is common to hear from politicians make unsubstantiated allegations, citing the case of a politician in Anambra State who claimed that INEC had stocked two-lorry loads of ballot boxes to rig the elections against his party but after the elections, he sang another song.

“By and large, all we have to say is to ask those making these allegations to provide to INEC actionable evidence and we will move into action. Give us evidence and INEC will act swiftly”, Yakubu said.

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