Month: December 2018

I killed my girlfriend for dating my brother – Suspect

Sixteen-year-old Idrisu Muhammadu of Evutagi village in the Katcha Local Government Area of Niger State has been arrested for allegedly killing one Fatima Isah of the same address.

Muhammadu allegedly killed his girlfriend for having an affair with his elder brother.

It was learnt that the suspect allegedly killed his former lover after her father, Isah Evutagi, decided to give his daughter’s hand in marriage to another man.

Northern City News gathered on Tuesday indicated that Muhammadu had earlier threatened to kill his victim if she did not marry him.

It was learnt that the father of the deceased reported the threat to the police about three years ago.

The suspect told our correspondent that he and his elder brother had been contending for Fatimah’s love.

He stated, “I told my brother to leave Fatimah for me because I planned to marry her, but he would not listen to me and he kept on seeing her until one day, I lost my temper and killed her.

“Look at what it has resulted to; I am now a murderer. I am going to spend all my life in jail from the age of 16; it is unfortunate.”

The Niger State Police Public Relations Officer, Mohammad Abubakar, said the suspect had confessed that he killed his victim with a cutlass, adding that he had previously threatened to kill the lady if she did not stop seeing his brother.

The police spokesperson added that the suspect would be arraigned in court after investigation.

Policeman kicks as Customs officers gun down wife in Lagos

The family of Patience Oni is currently mourning after she was killed by officers of the Nigeria Customs Service in the Badagry area of Lagos State.

PUNCH Metro gathered that the Customs officers attached to the Seme Border Command, reportedly led by one Abu Yusuf, were trying to evacuate bags of smuggled rice found around the F. O. Filing Station in the Badagry area of the state on Tuesday, November 20, 2018.

Our correspondent learnt that the officers allegedly shot in the air to scare people away and to prevent the residents from disturbing the evacuation of the bags of smuggled rice.

It was gathered that Patience, who had gone to the market situated around the scene of the operation, was said to have been hit by a stray bullet allegedly fired by the officers.

The deceased’s husband, John Oni, said Patience, while struggling for life, gave a good Samaritan her phone to call him, adding that she was dead before he could get to the Badagry General Hospital.

The 45-year-old police inspector said, “A good Samaritan, who was at the scene of the incident, called to inform me that my wife had been shot. When I rushed to the scene, I was told that she was still alive and that the Customs officers had rushed her to the Badagry General Hospital. I am yet to recover from the shock of not meeting her alive when I got to the hospital.

“I learnt that the Customs officers were chasing after some smugglers carrying rice before they opened fire on some boys, who reportedly struggled with them. I was told that my wife was at the bus stop close to a filling station around the Badagry roundabout where she was hit by a stray bullet from the Customs officers’ guns.

“I want the government to help me fight for my right, because my late wife was my helper. I have four children who are still in school, and I don’t know how I will cope without her. My life is ruined.”

The deceased’s son, Liberty, said his mother was a pillar to the family, adding that the trigger-happy officers, who allegedly killed her, must be prosecuted.

The deceased’s elder sister, Ruth, 38, said Patience’s death was untimely, adding that the family wanted justice but did not know how to get it.

PUNCH Metro learnt that a bystander, Jimoh Aminu, 43, was also hit by the stray bullets allegedly fired by the customs officers during the operation but survived.

The Lagos State Police Public Relations Officer, CSP Chike Oti, said a team of Customs officers, while on an operation in the Badagry area of the state, fired indiscriminately and allegedly killed a bystander.

Oti said, “On Tuesday, November 20, 2018, around 1pm, a team of Nigeria Customs Service officers attached to the Seme Border Command, led by DSC Abu Yusuf, while on ‘Anti-Flying Operations’ at the Badagry roundabout by F.O. Filling Station along the Lagos/Badagry Expressway, allegedly fired indiscriminately in the area.

“Consequently, bullets hit two bystanders, identified as Patience Oni, 42, and Jimoh Aminu, 43. The injured victims were rushed to the Badagry General Hospital for treatment, where the former eventually died. The remains of the deceased were deposited in the hospital’s morgue for autopsy. Meanwhile, the seven Customs officers have been arrested and handed over to homicide detectives at the State Criminal Intelligence and Investigation Department for thorough investigation.”

The Public Relations Officer, Seme Border Command, NCS, Saidu Abdullahi, said the death of Patience was unfortunate, adding that the officers, who were conduting an operation to evacuate smuggled rice, fired shots in the air to scare those preventing them from carrying out the operation.

Abdullahi said, “The command regrets the accident; we pray that the soul of the deceased rest in peace and hopes that the family is granted fortitude to bear the loss. Based on the incident report, the officers were carrying out their statutory duty. They found out that there were over 120 bags of rice in a warehouse around F. O. Filling Station. So, the officers went there to evacuate the rice and in the process of moving the evacuated items back to the station, they were waylaid by a mob.

“In order to get out, they fired shots in the air, which unfortunately resulted in the death of that woman. The officers were shooting in the air to scare the crowd so that they could move the items. The woman who died that day was just an unfortunate victim; we were later informed that the team took her to the hospital where she died.”

One dead, as mourners clash with Police in Edo

A mourner, Osakpamwan Agbons, was reportedly killed by a police officer during a clash between the police and some people escorting a corpse to a funeral venue in Benin, Edo State capital.

It was gathered that the mourners, who were driving behind the hearse conveying a corpse from a mortuary to a funeral ground in Useh quarters, shot sporadically into the air.

An eyewitness said on getting to TV Road in Oliha quarters of the city, they met a Police team, “and a clash ensued.” The eyewitness added that the victim, Agbons, was shot by the Police in self-defence as those in the funeral convoy allegedly shot at him in an effort to disarm him.

One Osama Maldona was reportedly arrested and helping in the investigation. Confirming the incident, the Edo State Commissioner of Police, Johnson Kokumo, warned against illegal possession and open display of prohibited firearms.

“They did not only openly brandish prohibited firearms they also shot at policemen, who were on patrol. The policemen fired back at one. “I think this is one of the instances a policeman is justified to use his firearm. It should be seen as an act of self-defence”.

CP Kokumo stated. He, however, called on members of the public to turn in their illegally acquired firearms to avoid arrest and prosecution. Meanwhile, the CP disclosed yesterday that police in Edo have killed a suspected kidnapper and arrested no fewer than 46 other suspected criminals in the last few weeks.

He said Police operatives also recovered 126 assorted arms and ammunition from the suspects. Among those arrested, he said, were 17 suspected kidnappers of some clerics at Urhonigbe near Agbor, Delta State.

The commissioner said investigation showed that the same suspects were responsible for the kidnap of one Anthony Atemagbo, his wife and daughter on Ubiaja-Uromi Road in Edo. Kokumo said that while detectives successfully arrested the criminals in their hideouts, they also rescued their victims unhurt.

He also said that nine robbery suspects and 20 suspected cultists were among those arrested in different parts of the state.

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Rape: We’ll ensure justice for Ochanya-Benue AG

In an interview with Vanguard Newspaper, the Benue state Attorney General and Commissioner of Justice , Mr Mike Gusa spoke on efforts by Benue state government to get justice for the late 13 year old rape serial victim, Ochanya Ogbaje, the state government’s case against the EFCC, the alleged harassment and persecution of government’s officials by the commission, release of prison inmates on death row and lots more. Excerpt:

What is the Benue State Government doing to ensure that justice is dispensed in the Ochanya’s rape case?

Governor Samuel Ortom is deeply concerned about the Ochanya’s case and other related rape cases in the state. He has directed that we should take over the prosecution. As I talk to you, there are two cases against the perpetrators of the act. One is the culpable homicide and then the rape aspect of it. We are following it up diligently. The police have done their arrest, their investigations and filed in their papers and we are going to continue from there. Apart from the national outcry, Governor Ortom is very passionate about the well-being of the girl child. When the alleged rape case came up from somebody who is supposed to be a father to the small girl, he felt very bad and immediately directed me to personally take over the matter and supervise the prosecution of the case. We are assuring the world that Justice would be done to that matter. In fact, that is being done already, we are on it.

Benue State Government has been involved in several court cases including those instituted against the EFCC and the APC National Chairman. Are these cases not a distraction to the government?

No. In a democratic setting what obtains is rule of law and not rule of might. We cannot go to fight anybody when we feel that our rights are being trampled upon. The only arbiter you can resort to is the court which is the hope of everybody. So when you have issues that you feel very strong about, the only thing you can do is to go to court. Just like you have rightly said, we have noticed a lot of persecution and intimidation from very high quarters particularly when we defected from the APC to the PDP here in the state. We took the EFCC to court when we noticed that an investigation that was done in 2016 and we were exonerated was reopened when we moved from APC to PDP.

You know that at the time we came in, the paramount ruler of the Tiv nation, the Tor Tiv died. A committee was set up for his burial, which is the normal thing that should be done. The committee came up with a budget and the Governor in his own wisdoms sat with them and looked at the entire budget vis a vis our own income and they came to a figure of N120million. N20million was to go for the resettlement of the family of the late Tor Tiv. It is very sad that even the widow of our deceased paramount rule was invited to Enugu by the EFCC for questioning. Can you imagine the trauma that they now put this people into? She was invited to Enugu on the pretext that they were carrying out an investigation. That was done and no prima-facie case was established. Just because we now moved from APC to PDP, they now went back and reopened the case and invited for questioning all the local government council chairmen in Benue state who are now reporting to EFCC office in Abuja.

All the treasurers in the local government were also invited. And then you have other subcommittee members also reporting. If you collected N100,000 to dig the grave you are invited to explain how you expended the money. That is what is happening now. If you collected N500,000 to buy casket, you are going to Abuja to explain how and why you collected the money to purchase a casket to bury the paramount ruler of the Tiv nation. So that is persecution. The Tiv people have become endangered species. That is what is happening. So we went to court to seek redress. Can you imagine operatives of the EFCC asking our staff here to produce minutes of Security Council meetings? We went to court and the court dismissed our claims because we went to say that by virtue of the provisions of the constitution the EFCC has no right to audit our account, but the court saw otherwise. We have gone on appeal. We will hear what the court of appeal will also say.

What is the state government doing in the area of prison decongestion as being done in other parts of the country?

We have been doing a lot in that area. The Chief Judge here is heading the Criminal Justice Committee. During the prison visits by the immediate past Chief Judge, several inmates were set free. Between April and now, over 40 inmates were set free. In the last three years, the Advisory Council on the Prerogative of Mercy which I head, has commuted several death row sentences to life imprisonment. Others who had stayed in prison for up to 15 years were also set free. On the whole, 40 inmates benefitted from our assignment. Governor has been giving life to people who ordinarily would have died.

Some judges have been accused of subverting Justice through corrupt practices. What is your take on the matter especially in Benue state?

Well, that is very wide because I can only talk about the judiciary in Benue state, I can only be specific and I know of the integrity of our judges here in Benue State. I can vouch for them. In know that in whatever you do, you still have some bad eggs but I don’t think we have had an incident like that. I can vouch for the integrity of the Judiciary in Benue state. And you can see that as reflected in their performances, when they are called upon to perform any national duty like election tribunal members or chairmen they have down very well. They have done their assignments without any blemish. At the state level here you will see them dispensing justice and you have had occasions where lawyers will confess that it is always difficult to upturn their judgements at the appellate court. There may be mistakes here and there but by and large I think I can score them 90 percent.

What would you say are your greatest challenges in the process of administration of Justice in the state?

The problems of administration of Justice in Benue State just like in any other state in country are so many. It is not peculiar to Benue State. We may have our own local peculiarities here but most of these problems are common. Basically our challenges stem from scarcity of resources. Prosecution is not just an event, it’s a process. When you talk of criminal cases, you start with the arrest, investigation, arraignment in court and then the actual trial then subsequent conviction. And when you talk about civil cases, you talk about filing of these cases, hearing of the matters and all that. And then you talk of the arresting authorities, they are part of the prosecution and then in criminal cases that require our taking over because it is the office of the Attorney General that prosecutes for the state, you are part of the prosecution and then the arraignment and actual trial in court and the aspect of the bench that is presiding judge or magistrate.

So the problems are there because you start from the arrests, sometimes a crime is committed it becomes even very difficult for the police to affect arrested sometimes. Sometimes even when arrests are made, one or two things will be required to carry out investigation and they may not be there. But again our Governor is always handy and if in the course of the process there is any challenge and he is aware of either in the police or even the DSS or Civil Defence in the line of arraignment and prosecution, he is always prepared to come to the rescue. So I want to say that whereas things would have been extremely difficult for us, he is always there to assist. We are doing our best in the midst of these scarce resources.

At the end of your tenure as AG what would you want to be remembered for?

I want appreciate God who made me Attorney General and Commissioner of Justice through Governor Samuel Ortom. It a rare privilege to be so appointed from so many people that are qualified to occupy an office. When you get there it’s a call to service and you will do everything to give that service to the people because you are holding that office in trust. So I give the Governor a lot of appreciation for the opportunity.

I want to say that if there is anything I have done to add value to this administration I give the credit to the Governor who is a boss that is very unique. He is ever ready to listen to you anytime you call on him about any challenge in your office.

You know that we came to government in a period of recession where everyone including the Governor is battling several challenges and trying to execute one capital project or the other and the resources are not there.

But I know of a fact that so many things have happened in my own Ministry here since I came and I want to say that I give credit to him because if not that he has been listening to my complain this wouldn’t have been possible.

SARS reform Public Hearing ends in Lagos

The Presidential Panel on SARS Reform, which began its public hearing in Lagos on Tuesday, Nov. 13, ended its sitting on Saturday after listening to 36 cases.

The five-day public hearing had some cases successfully resolved, while one was dismissed as complainants refused to show up Some other cases were adjourned for panel’s decision and the rest reported to have been settled by necessary authorities.

The public hearing, organised by National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), came to an end after evaluating the inadequacies of the police as well as members of the public.

The panel revealed that failure of some complainants to report as well as bad timing of report of some incidents were challenges in resolving some issues. NAN reports that most of the cases listened to by the panel exposed the failure of SARS to follow due process in discharging their duties.

According to the Chairman of the Panel, Mr Tony Ojukwu, there are some cases which ordinarily should not be the business of SARS. He cited such instances to include a case where a SARS official was assigned to handle a matter bordering on debt between two parties.

“This is a matter that a policeman can handle in any police station, not SARS. So, when you are called upon that a bank robbery is ongoing, you will say you are taking statements from market women,” he said.

The Chairman also addressed the issue of SARS official covering name tags while on illegal duties and questioned why policemen would not register their presence at the nearest police station so as to check issues of illegal duty shifts.

On a case bordering on extra judicial killing, Ojukwu questioned policemen on why they would carry out coroner inquest on a body without informing relatives of the deceased.

“If you have invited a pathologist to carry out autopsy on a body without a relation to identify the body, how are we so sure you have the right body?

“There is need to always do the right thing. You should have in mind that there will always be a day of account.

All of these have to stop. “Some of the reasons we face these inadequacies of the police is because people do not report, as they are not sure if any action will be taken.

“This is why impunity continues. Our people are docile and they don’t fight for their rights, because if an officer knows that someone will hold him accountable for his actions, he will do what is right. “I know that recommendations of this panel will put things in order, but I hope we don’t degenerate into looking for other ways to evade being held accountable for our wrongs,” he said.

Ojukwu, however, commended the policemen that accepted their wrongs, saying that it is when policemen try to outsmart the panel that cases keep taking time to resolve.

NAN reports that the panel is proceeding to Owerri for the joint South-East and South-South Zone public hearing.

Madagascar: Strengthening the rights of persons in police custody

Anyone in custody should be able to benefit from fundamental safeguards such as the right to a lawyer, the right to see a doctor, or the right to notify a relative of his or her arrest, so that he or she is not subject to ill-treatment or enforced disappearance. The APT is working with various partners in Madagascar, including the Ministry of Public Security, to operationalise the existing provisions in the law. These joint efforts aim in particular to ensure that any person deprived of his or her liberty by the police is notified of his or her rights, a prerequisite for exercising them.

To this end, the APT and the Ministry started, in early 2018, a joint project that will be divided into several phases, which will last until 2020. On 25 October, a Memorandum of Understanding was signed in Antananarivo with the Minister of Public Security, thus sealing this cooperation and establishing its main milestones. Working meetings with project referents – identified among police officers – who will supervise the implementation of the project, have led to progress in the development of tools, including the optimisation of the police custody registers. In addition, a meeting with representatives of the Bar, the Public Ministry, the Ministry of Justice, civil society and the police forces has made it possible to clarify certain essential points of the procedure. The coming months will be devoted to the finalisation of the tools that will then be used in pilot police services in 2019, before being finalised and then generalised to the entire police force of the Malagasy territory in 2020

Candidates to UN torture prevention body elected for 2019-2022 period

Elected by the States Parties to the Optional Protocol to the UN Convention against Torture, these five men and eight women come from 13 different countries and are drawn from a variety of backgrounds, including in law, medicine or psychiatry.

“The APT congratulates the elected candidates and looks forward to working with them. We are pleased that continuity is ensured within the SPT thanks to the re-election of current members. We trust that the skills and experiences of all future members will contribute to the strengthening of the OPCAT system and a better protection of the rights of persons deprived of their liberty in all settings,“ said Barbara Bernath, APT Secretary General.

Of the elected members, five were re-elected for a second term of four years:

Marija Definis-Gojanovic (medical doctor), Croatia
Roberto Feher (medical doctor), Uruguay
Gnambi Kodjo (public prosecutor), Togo
Catherine Paulet (psychiatrist), France
Nora Sveaass (psychologist), Norway
The other eight members are:

Patricia Arias (criminologist), Chile
Carmen Comas-Mata (lawyer), Spain
Hameth Saloum Diakhaté (psychiatrist), Senegal
Suzanne Jabbour (psychologist), Lebanon
Nika Kvaratskhelia (lawyer), Georgia
Maria Luisa Romero (lawyer), Panama
Juan Pablo Vegas (lawyer), Peru
Sofia Vidali (lawyer), Greece

Established in 2007, the SPT is composed of 25 independent experts from States parties to the OPCAT, serving in their individual capacity. The SPT mandate is unique within the United Nations, as its members have unrestricted access to any place of deprivation of liberty in States parties to the OPCAT – which includes prisons, police stations, as well as mental health and social care institutions – where they must be able to conduct private and confidential interviews with detainees. Based on these visits, the SPT issues recommendations to State authorities and National Preventive Mechanisms (NPMs); and work in close collaboration with them, as well as with other international, regional and national organisations and institutions on how to better prevent torture and other forms of ill-treatment.

Presidential Panel On SARS Reforms Begins Hearing In Imo.

The Presidential Investigation Panel yesterday in Owerri, began public hearing on alleged human rights violations by the Special Anti-Robbery Squad, SARS, of Nigeria Police Force, in the South South and South East geo-political zones of the country. In his welcome address, the Executive Secretary, National Human Rights Commission, NHRC, Mr. Tony Ojukwu, enumerated a litany of allegations levelled against SARS operatives across the country.

“There has been persistent public outcry, complaints and numerous reports in the electronic, print and social media, alleging gross violations of human rights of fellow citizens by officers and men of SARS”, Ojukwu said.

According to the NHRC boss, some of the complaints and reports border on issues of alleged abuse of power, arbitrary and unlawful arrest and detention.

“SARS operatives are equally accused of extortion, brutality, torture, inhuman and degrading treatment, as well as involvement of SARS in assignments totally unconnected with their primary duties”, Mr. Ojukwu said.

The NHRC Executive Secretary, who also doubles as Chairman of the Presidential Panel, was not happy that SARS were even employed to settle matrimonial disputes, contracts, tenancy problems and recovery of debts.

“It is important to note that before the request of the Presidency for the constitution of this Panel, the NHRC, in line with it’s statutory responsibility of investigating and determining cases of alleged human rights violations, had conducted public hearings into some allegations against SARS officials”, Ojukwu said.

It will be recalls that some of the matters slated for hearing included the alleged extra judicial killing of Mr. Emmanuel Ette Nkim, filed by Mrs. Esther Etta Nkim against SARS, Cross River State, Deputy Superintendent of Police Sekiru Akinlaja and seven others.

Also slated for hearing is how Ani Okechukwu allegedly gave N1 million to a policeman in Force Headquarters, Abuja, for the recovery of his stolen tipper in February 2017.

“While the policeman is still waiting to receive a balance of N.3 million, as he demanded, the vehicle has not been recovered and my money not refunded till date”, Okechukwu lamented.

No fewer than 31 matters are slated to be heard at this venue, before the Panel winds up December 1, 2018.