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ICPC arraigns REA staff for stealing N298m from payment platform

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The Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) has arraigned Usman Kwakwa, an official of the Rural Electrification Agency (REA), for allegedly stealing N298 million through the agency’s payment platform.

He was arraigned on Thursday before a federal high court in Abuja on a four-count charge.

Kwakwa is one of several officers allegedly involved in over “N1.2 billion fraud” at the agency.

At least, five officials of the agency, including Kwakwa, have been charged separately by the ICPC for various amounts of funds they allegedly stole from the agency in March 2023.

Kwakwa pleaded not guilty to the four-count charge and was granted bail in the sum of N50 million.

Earlier during the proceedings, Suobeni Akponimisingha, prosecution counsel, informed the court about the absence of three other defendants — Emmanuel Titus, Umar Karaye and Henrietta Okojie.

Akponimisingha said all the defendants were served with copies of the charges and duly informed of the day’s proceedings, but they chose to stay away.

He prayed for the court to issue a bench warrant against them.

In a short ruling, Emeka Nwite, the presiding judge, ordered the arrest of the three accused persons.

“The defendant decided not to come to court. I am convinced that the defendant deliberately absented himself from court,” Nwite ruled.

Nwite fixed June 13 for Titus and Karaye’s arraignment, while June 14 was fixed for Okojie’s arraignment.

The ICPC, in the separate charges filed against the defendants, accused them of moving funds belonging to the agency through the Government Integrated Financial Management Information System (GIFMIS) payment platform to their personal accounts in tranches.

The public funds were meant for the provision of electricity to rural communities across the country.

In March, President Bola Tinubu approved the indefinite suspension of Ahmad Salihijo Ahmad, the managing director of REA, as well as three executive directors of the agency, following findings obtained during a comprehensive investigation into the financial activities of the agency.

However, Ahmad’s name did not appear in any of the charges by the ICPC. He is yet to be recalled from suspension.

Crime

Chief Imam’s Sallah ram stolen in Jos

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The sacrificial ram belonging to Chief Imam Abdulkadir of the Mista Ali community in Bassa Local Government Area, Plateau State, has been stolen.

The theft occurred during a heavy rainstorm on the night before Eid-el-Kabir.

Malam Haruna Yaqub, another Imam in the community, revealed this incident during his sermon following the two Raka’at prayers. He criticised the act, calling it insensitive.

“The Ram of our Chief Imam, which he purposely bought to sacrifice, has stolen in the night. We are really shocked by the incident. We were surprised to hear this story. This means that people are not God-fearing. It is scary that people have gone to the extent of stealing ram meant for religious activity,” Yaqub said, according to Daily Trust.

Residents of the community also expressed their disappointment and called for heightened vigilance and security to prevent such incidents.

Meanwhile, the Chief Iman appealed to people to be God-fearing as he revealed the gravity of the act.

He urged them never to engage in stealing or any act of criminality, emphasising that everyone would be held accountable for their actions in the hereafter.

He said, “It is high time people repented and took the path of Allah. It is not too late. People should stop committing bad things and act according to Allah’s commandments.”

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Crime

Four arrested as NDLEA raids Lagos warehouse, seizes 82,000 bottles of codeine

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The National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) says its operatives have raided a warehouse containing a large consignment of codeine-based syrup.

The anti-drug agency said the warehouse was discovered in the Kirikiri area of Lagos state.

In a statement released on Sunday, Femi Babafemi, NDLEA spokesperson, said four suspects were arrested in connection with the warehouse.

“NDLEA operatives in Lagos state have uncovered an expansive warehouse stocked with a large consignment of codeine-based syrup, located at Comfort Oboh area of Kirikiri, where four persons connected with the importation and distribution of the opioid were arrested during an intelligence-led raid on the facility,” Babafemi said.

“Those arrested include: Kingsley Amanambu Obumneke, 38; Emeka Emmanuel, 48; Bonaventure Ugochukwu, 59; and Martin Dike, 56, while a total of 82,000 bottles of the opioid worth more than N600 million in street value, Toyota Tacuma truck and two buses used for distributing the substance were recovered from the premises on Monday 10th June 2024 when NDLEA officers conducted the operation.”

The NDLEA also arrested another suspect — Ibrahim Abdulhamid — with 29,100 pills of tramadol and other opioids as well as 3.9 litres of codeine syrup in the Alaba area of Ojo LGA, Lagos.

OTHER ARRESTS

In Abia state, NDLEA operatives raided an alleged drug cartel and arrested two suspects — Kelechi Monday Nwaobasi and Chinwe Rose Nwaobasi — for allegedly running the cartel.

The suspects were nabbed after NDLEA operatives raided their hideout in Abia and seized “methamphetamine consignments worth over N4.1 billion in street value”.

In Ekiti state, the NDLEA operatives destroyed 7.37 hectares of farmland used for planting psychoactive substances.

In Edo state, hectares of farmland used for planting cannabis were destroyed in Uhen forest, Ovia north-east LGA.

The NDLEA operatives also arrested one Emmanuel Ogechi with 11,200 pills of tramadol along Otukpo-Enugu road in Benue state.

Two suspects — Muhammad Abba and Samson Ehizogie — were also arrested with 3,550 bottles of ‘Akuskura’ a new mixture of psychotropic substances.

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Crime

Customs seizes N3bn worth of cannabis imported from Canada at Tincan port

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The Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) says its officers at the Tincan Island port in Lagos have intercepted a container loaded with 1,072 kilograms of cannabis worth N3 billion.

Adewale Adeniyi, comptroller-general of customs (CGC), who spoke to journalists on Friday, said the container was imported from Canada.

Adeniyi said the agency is collaborating with the Nigeria Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) to fight against illicit drug trafficking.

The customs CG said the agency also seized 877 cartons of cough syrup with codeine imported from India.

“Three plastic drums concealing several packets of Cannabis Indica and 46 bags containing 2,144 packets of Cannabis Indica, all weighing 1,072 kg, were seized from 01x40ft Container No. GAOU 669921/5 imported from Canada,” he said.

“The approximate street value of the illicit substances is N3,216,000,000, while 877 cartons of Barcadin cough syrup with codeine—200 bottles of 100ml per carton—and 82 cartons of really extra diclofenac sodium 50mg tablets—600 packs per carton imported from India—were seized.

“The approximate street value of the cough syrup is N964,339,348.00.”

Adeniyi lamented that some criminal elements are using the network of customs officers and terminal operators to undermine the system.

He added that there is a growing number of containers that are not examined in the ports but are being released to importers.

“The NCS will continue to work closely with relevant national and international agencies to conduct operations that lead to the interception of illegal goods and the disruption of criminal networks,” he added.

“Investigations are ongoing, and perpetrators will be made to face the full wrath of the law.

“Let this seizure serve as a warning to those who engage in illicit activities that the NCS remains vigilant and dedicated to protecting our society.”

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Bodex F. Hungbo, SPMIIM is a multiple award-winning Nigerian Digital Media Practitioner, Digital Strategist, PR consultant, Brand and Event Expert, Tv Presenter, Tier-A Blogger/Influencer, and a top cobbler in Nigeria.

She has widespread experiences across different professions and skills, which includes experiences in; Marketing, Media, Broadcasting, Brand and Event Management, Administration and Management with prior stints at MTN, NAPIMS-NNPC, GLOBAL FLEET OIL AND GAS, LTV, Silverbird and a host of others

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