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Buhari signs AMCON, two other bills into law

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Buhari signs AMCON, two other bills into law

President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday assented to the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (Amendment) Act, 2019 and Defence Intelligence Agency Civilian Pensions Board (Establishment) Act, 2019. Senior Special Assistant to the President on the National Assembly (Senate), Senator Ita Enang, said Buhari also signed the National Biosafety Management Agency (Amendment) Act, 2019.

The presidential aide in a statement yesterday said the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (Amendment) Act, 2019 further amends the 2010 Act by increasing the powers of the Commission in enforcement of recovery of debt from persons owing legacy banks or seizure of property subject of loan obligation.

In particular, it empowers AMCON to place any bank account or any other account comparable to a bank account of a debtor of an eligible financial institution under surveillance. According to him, the new Assets Management Corporation of Nigeria Act gives AMCON powers to obtain access to any computer system component, electronic or mechanical device of any debtor with a view to establishing the location of funds belonging to the debtor, and obtain information in respect of any private account together with all bank financial and commercial records of any debtor of any eligible financial institution, banking secrecy, and the protection of customer confidentiality is not a ground for the denial of the power of the Corporation under this section.’’

He said the law now makes it mandatory for AMCON to, despite the convention of confidentiality of banking, business and contracting relations to: “furnish the Federal Government, Ministries, Departments and Agencies with a list of recalcitrant debtors and then impose an obligation to seek clearance on the Federal Government, Ministries, Departments and Agencies when the Federal Government, any Ministry, Department or Agency proposes to contract with, or pay, debtors on the list furnished by the Corporation.’’ It further provides that: “All money standing to the credits of the Corporation in any bank account is deemed to be in the custody and control of the Corporation. Where any proceeding is pending in any court of competent jurisdiction by or any the Corporation, the grant of any interim, interlocutory or preservative order of attachment against the Corporation’s funds in any bank is prohibited.

The Corporation may require any eligible financial institution from which it has acquired an eligible bank asset or any director, manager or officer of such eligible financial institution to furnish information and produce documents, books, accounts and records in relation to any eligible bank asset acquired by the Corporation from such eligible financial institution or in relation to the borrower or other obligator connected with such eligible bank asset. Enang noted that, “the Act also states that upon dissolution of the Corporation: (a) all unresolved eligible bank assets then held by the Corporation shall be transferred by the liquidator or joint liquidator to such government agency, or for valuable consideration, to a third party asset management company or other entity specified by the Central Bank of Nigeria; all then existing staff shall be redeployed to and absorbed into the Central Bank of Nigeria or the Nigeria Deposit Insurance Corporation.”

The Act provides for ‘’a part-time Chairman who shall be a Deputy Governor in the Central Bank of Nigeria to be nominated by the Central Bank of Nigeria.’’ The Defence Intelligence Agency Civilian Pensions Board (Establishment) Act, 2019. establishes an agency charged with the responsibility for administering pension scheme for civilian personnel of the Agency. This covers pension on voluntary retirement and benefit if death occurs in course of duty as well as pension if in normal course of retirement.

Other laws signed are the National Biosafety Management Agency (Amendment) Act, 2019 which amends the National Biosafety Management Agency Act No. 20, 2015 to enlarge the scope of application of the act by including the emerging aspects of modern biotechnology and biosecurity in Nigeria with a view to preventing any adverse effect to human health and environment. The Amendment empowers the Agency to put in place measures to ensure Bio-Security. The Three Acts have come into effect as laws of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

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Economic crimes: Kenya public prosecutor orders arrest of Nairobi governor

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Economic crimes: Kenya public prosecutor orders arrest of Nairobi governor

Kenya’s public prosecutor on Friday ordered the arrest of the Nairobi County governor and a number of county government officials on suspicion of economic crimes.

Noordin Haji, the country’s top prosecutor, told a news conference that he had sufficient evidence to arrest Mike Mbuvi Sonko, reports Reuters.

He also named county government officials whom he said he had evidence to prosecute for various economic crimes as well as a number of businesspeople on charges of money laundering related to Sonko’s alleged crimes.

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Indian police kill four men suspected of gang rape, murder; draw cheers

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Indian police kill four men suspected of gang rape, murder; draw cheers

Indian police shot dead four men on Friday who were suspected of raping and killing a 27-year-old veterinarian in the city of Hyderabad, a police official told Reuters, drawing applause from her family and citizens outraged over crimes against women.

The men had been in police custody and were shot dead near the scene of last week’s crime where they tried to snatch the weapons of accompanying policemen, said N. Prakash Reddy, a Deputy Commissioner of Police in Shamshabad, near Hyderabad.

Reddy said that the four men – two truck drivers and two truck cleaners, aged between 20 and 26 years – had been taken to the spot to re-construct the crime around 6 a.m. (0030 GMT), reports Reuters.

“And there was a cross-fire. In this, all the four accused have died,” Reddy said. “Two policemen have been injured.”

No details were immediately available about how many police had escorted the four accused and whether they were handcuffed or roped together as is usually the case.

Earlier a local police official had put the time of the deaths at around 3:30 a.m. There was no immediate explanation for the discrepancy.

Indian police have frequently been accused of extra-judicial killings, called “encounters”, especially in gangland wars in Mumbai and insurrections in the state of Punjab and in disputed Kashmir. Police officers involved in such killings were called “encounter specialists” and were the subject of several movies.

During the past week, thousands of Indians have protested in several cities following the alleged rape and murder of the veterinarian.

The woman had left home for an appointment on her motor-scooter and later called her sister to say she had a flat tire. She said a lorry driver had offered to help and that she was waiting near a toll plaza.

Police said she was abducted, raped and asphyxiated and her dead body then set alight on the outskirts of Hyderabad.

Her family welcomed the news of the killings of the alleged perpetrators.

“It has been 10 days to the day my daughter died. I express my gratitude towards the police & govt for this. My daughter’s soul must be at peace now,” Reuters partner ANI quoted her father as saying.

A crowd gathered at the site of the shooting and threw flower petals at police vans in support of the action. Some shouted “Long live police”; others hoisted police officials onto their shoulders.

UNABATED

Crimes against women have been unabated in India despite tough new laws that were enacted following the 2012 gang rape and murder of a woman in a Delhi bus that led to an outpouring of anger across the country.

Despite the setting up of fast track courts, cases have moved slowly, for lack of witnesses and the inability of many families to go through the long legal process. Some victims and their families have ended up being attacked for pursuing cases against powerful men, often local politicians.

Many Indians applauded the killings on Friday, taking to Twitter to support the police.

“Great work #hyderabadpolice ..we salute u,” wrote Indian badminton star and former world No. 1 Saina Nehwal.

On Twitter, #encounter was the top-trending hashtag in India and No. 4 worldwide.

In Uttar Pradesh state, where a rape victim was set ablaze on Thursday while she was on her way to court, opposition politician Mayawati said the police there should take “inspiration” from what happened in Hyderabad.

Indian police registered more than 32,500 cases of rape in 2017, according to the most recent government data. But courts disposed of only about 18,300 cases related to rape that year, leaving more than 127,800 cases pending at the end of 2017.

But some people said the lack of progress in the courts did not mean the police had a free hand to dispense justice.

“This isn’t instant justice – this is the absence of justice. We’re not going to make women safer by abandoning the rule of law – is that so hard to understand?,” said Rukmini S., an Indian columnist in a tweet.

Supreme Court lawyer Vrinda Grover said the police who were involved in Friday’s incident should face an inquiry, but in all likelihood would be rewarded with medals. “Killing accused like this is a short cut, but in the long run this won’t work, it will carry its own consequences.”

There was no immediate word from Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government on the incident, but Maneka Gandhi a lawmaker from his Bharatiya Janata Party said the police appeared to have over-reached.

“You can’t take law in your hands, they (accused) would’ve been hanged by Court anyhow. If you’re going to shoot them before due process of law has been followed, then what’s the point of having courts, law & police?”

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Cellphone-related head and neck injuries on the rise, study says

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Cellphone-related head and neck injuries on the rise, study says

People distracted by their cellphones are tripping, falling and hurting their heads and necks more often, with such injuries increasing “steeply” over a 20-year period, a new analysis has found.

According to NBC News, most cases were mild, but some involved facial lacerations and traumatic brain injuries that could lead to long-term consequences, the authors warned.

The study, published Thursday in JAMA Otolaryngology–Head & Neck Surgery, is believed to be the first to investigate the role smartphones play in injuries to these parts of the body. Previous studies have found that all types of “distracted walking” injuries have been on the rise.

Dr. Boris Paskhover, a reconstructive surgeon and the lead author of the new paper, started looking into the statistics after seeing patients with broken jaws or facial wounds who would tell him they fell while staring at their phones and not paying attention to their surroundings.

“I don’t think people are aware of how fragile we are as humans. We’re resilient, but we’re also fragile. You fall and you can get a pretty bad injury,” Paskhover, an assistant professor in the department of otolaryngology, head and neck surgery, at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School, told NBC News.

“You walk in the city and you see everyone just looking at their phones,” he said. “Be aware that you can hurt yourself.”

The study looked for cellphone-related injuries to the head and neck listed in the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System, a database that collects information about emergency room visits from about 100 U.S. hospitals.

From January 1998 to December 2017, there were 2,501 patients who sought help for such issues. If translated onto a national scale, the number of cases would amount to more than 76,000 people, the authors estimated.

Head and neck injuries related to cellphone use were relatively rare until the rate began to increase sharply in 2007, the year the first iPhone was released, followed by a much steeper increase that peaked in 2016.

Cellphone users aged 13 to 29 made up almost 40 percent of the patients, and most of the injuries caused by distraction happened in this age group.

A third of the cases involved the head; another third affected the face, including the eyelids, eye area and nose; and about 12 percent involved the neck.

Many of the injuries were caused by falls when people were looking at their phones and not paying attention to their surroundings — like texting while walking, for example, Paskhover said.

Children younger than 13 were more likely to be directly hurt by the phone — accidentally hit by a device that was in their parent’s hand, for example. Paskhover has also had patients who were playing a game on their phone when it slipped, hit them on the face and broke their nose. “It happens,” he noted.

The most common injuries included lacerations, which accounted for 26 percent of the cases. Scarring from facial lacerations can lead to anxiety and lower self-esteem, the study noted.

Another quarter of patients suffered bruises and abrasions.

Internal organ injuries made up almost a fifth of the cases, or 18 percent. When referring to the head, this diagnosis most commonly indicated traumatic brain injuries — “those are the scary ones,” Paskhover said.

“We have a skull that protects our brain, but it doesn’t mean it’s impervious. Your brain is soft,” he noted. “I see patients who die just from falling. A fall from upright — you fall, you hit your head the wrong way, you get a traumatic brain injury.”

Still, most patients in the study were treated and released from the hospital, or released without any treatment required.

The findings suggest there’s a need for public education about the risks of being distracted by cellphones beyond texting and driving, the authors noted.

The takeaway is “don’t be distracted — period,” Paskhover said. “Be self-aware. Answer a text message, fine, but you shouldn’t be walking around reading articles on your phone.”

Earlier this year, New York lawmakers proposed a ban on texting while crossing the street.

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4 killed in shootout following theft of UPS truck in Florida

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4 killed in shootout following theft of UPS truck in Florida

Two suspects and two civilians died in Florida on Thursday after an attempted robbery led to the theft of a UPS truck and a shootout with police.

The incident began at a jewelry store in Coral Gables, police said.

At least one store employee was injured. That person’s status is unknown, reports ABC News.

The two suspects, police said, then carjacked a UPS truck, holding the driver hostage during police pursuit.

The driver was among those killed, along with an innocent bystander at the scene of the shootout.

The attempted theft began around 4:15 p.m. local time, FBI Special Agent in Charge George Piro told reporters later Thursday night.

As the suspects fled Regent Jewelers, shots were fired, and the two men carjacked the UPS truck before leading authorities on a high-speed pursuit, Piro said.

The two suspects died in a firefight with police. It’s unclear how the truck driver and bystander were killed — whether it was gunfire from the suspects or if they were caught in the crossfire with police.

UPS released a statement, saying, “We are deeply saddened to learn a UPS service provider was a victim of this senseless act of violence. We extend our condolences to the family and friends of our employee and the other innocent victims involved in this incident. We appreciate law enforcement’s service and will cooperate with the authorities as they continue the investigation.”

The FBI is leading the investigation.

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Senate passes N10.59trn 2020 budget

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Senate passes N10.59trn 2020 budget

…returns budget cycle to January-December

 

The Senate, yesterday, passed N10.594 trillion 2020 budget, which is N264 billion higher than the N10.33 trillion presented to the joint session of the National Assembly on October 8, 2019 by President Muhammadu Buhari.

The Senate passed the Appropriation Bill following the consideration and adoption of the report of its Committee on Appropriations, laid before the Chamber on Wednesday.

The Senate, by this action, broke the record of passing the country’s annual budget in less than two months of its presentation by the President, being the first of its kind since the nation’s return to civil rule in 1999.

While presenting the report for approval, the Chairman of the Committee, Senator Barau Jibrin, explained that the increase of N264 billion was made for interventions in critical areas such as national security, road infrastructure, mines and steel development, and health among others.

Based on the recommendations of the Committee, the Senate approved N10,594,362,364,830 as total budget for the 2020 fiscal year.

The breakdown shows that N560,470,827,235 is for statutory transfers, N2,725,498,930,000 for Debt Service; N4,842,974,600,640 for Recurrent (Non-Debt) Expenditure; and N2,465,418,006,955 for Contribution to the Development Fund for Capital Expenditure for the year ending on December 31, 2020.

The apex legislative chamber further approved a fiscal deficit of N2.2 trillion and Deficit/Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of 1.52 per cent for the 2020 financial year.

Senator Jibrin also noted that the daily oil production stood at 2.18 million barrels per day while the oil benchmark was increased from $55 proposed by the Executive to $57 per barrel, and that the exchange rate remained N305 per dollar.

The Red Chamber also approved Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and inflation rate of 2.93 per cent and 10.81 per cent respectively as recommended by the Appropriations Committee.

The expeditious passage of the money bill was the outcome of the resolve of the National Assembly to return the country’s budget cycle to January – December, for effective implementation.

According to the passed Bill, Capital Expenditure for Ministries, Departments and Agencies of Government (MDAs) for the 2020 fiscal year are: Ministry of Defence N116,181,290,730; Ministry of Foreign Affairs, N7,608,141,474; Ministry of Information and Culture, N7,555,803,233; Ministry of Interior, N34,035,825,302; Office of the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation, N1,722,796,040;Ministry of Police Affairs, N15,959,986,864; Ministry of Communication Technology, N5,919,002,554; and Office of the National Security Adviser, N27,418,469,323.

Others are: Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, N25,188,940,930; Special Duties and Inter-Governmental Affairs, N2,158,620,395; Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, N124,395,096,917; Federal Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning, N4,976,199,925; Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment, N38,583,331,761; Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment, N24,445,756,678; Federal Ministry of Science and Technology, N62,882,531,566; Federal Ministry of Transport, N121,366,932,571; and Federal Ministry of Aviation, N52,061,533,122.

Furthermore, the Ministry of Power has an allocation of N129,082,499,363; Ministry of Petroleum Resources, N3,337,444,887; Ministry of Mines and Steel Development, N10,431,563,177; Ministry of Works and Housing, N315,563,564,269; Ministry of Water Resources, N91,679,927,042; Ministry of Justice, N3,853,600,220; Federal Capital Territory Administration, N62,407,154,360; and Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs, N23,120,350,399.

Others include: Ministry of Youths and Sports Development, N3,735,486,210; Military of Women Affairs, N6,650,300,966; Federal Ministry of Education, N84,728,529,572; Ministry of Health, N59,909,430,837; Federal Ministry of Environment, N12,350,140,731; and Federal Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, N61,085,146,003.

In his comment on the budget, Senator Bassey Akpan (PDP, Akwa Ibom) said that the executive arm would have no reason not to implement the 2020 budget in full since the bill was passed expeditiously by the National Assembly.

In his remarks after the passage of the budget, Senate President Lawan noted that one of the issues resolved in the legislative agenda of the Ninth Senate, was return the budget cycle to January to December.

He expressed satisfaction that the Senate was able to achieve that objective, commending his colleagues for their cooperation in ensuring the accomplishment of the set goal.

He said: “When we came in, all of us approved our legislative agenda, and one of the key pillars of this agenda is to take back our budget cycle from the very undesirable cycle that cannot be defined to something that can be defined and bought into by our country and business partners living in and outside the country.

“Today, we have been able to achieve this. It means where there is will, there is always a way. This is something that we have been able to achieve together with the House of Representatives.

“I must give members of the Ninth National Assembly the credit, because we thought it was going to be impossible.”

Lawan also expressed optimism that, with the recent passage of landmark legislations such as the Production Sharing Contract (PSC) Act, Finance Bills and Public Procurement Bills by the National Assembly, the Executive arm of government had been sufficiently empowered to ensure the successful implementation of the 2020 budget.

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Senators, Reps increase own budget by N3bn

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Senators, Reps increase own budget by N3bn

The House of Representatives, yesterday, raised the National Assembly budget by N3 billion, increasing it from N125 billion to N128 billion.

This is the earliest budget to pass by the National Assembly since 1999.

The 2020 budget was presented to the National Assembly on October 8, 2019 and passed on December 5, 2019. It took one month and 27 days to be passed.

In the 2017, 2018 and 2019, the National Assembly budget was kept at N125 billion from the N150 billion, which had existed for years.

Explaining the reasons for the increase in the budget, chairman of the House of Representatives committee on media and public affairs, Hon. Benjamin Kalu (APC, Abia) said with the increment, “it is now clear that we are not a rubber stamp legislature as many people thought.”

Briefing House correspondents, Kalu said: “You wouldn’t expect the budget to come and go the way it came. I am sure what the president presented had a, b, and c; but what is going out may have d, e and f,” adding that “the addition was to cater for critical areas of the economy.”

He said: “Beginning from now, Nigerians will believe that the 9th Assembly is walking the talk. The 9th Assembly has broken the jinx and it is not for self-glorification, but it is targeted at meeting national goals.”

The lawmaker noted that the “ball is now in the court of the executive to do the needful.

Kalu promised that in line with the amendment of section 56 of the 1999 constitution, which provides that bills passed by the National Assembly should be transmitted not later than seven days from the time of passage, the appropriation bill will be sent to the president in a few days.

The Bill was passed in the House of Representatives after clause by clause consideration of the report of the appropriation committee at the committee of supply chaired by Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila.

Chairman of the appropriation committee, Hon. Muktar Betera (APC, Borno), while presenting the report, stated that the National Assembly of Nigeria has authorized the issue and appropriation of N10,594,362,364,830 from the Consolidated Revenue Fund for 2020.

He said the 2020 Appropriation Act authorised: “The Accountant-General of the Federation shall, when authorized to do so by warrants signed by the minister charged with responsibility for finance, pay out of the Consolidated Revenue Fund of the Federation during the year ending on the 31st day of December 2020, the sums specified by the warrants, not exceeding in the aggregate N10,594,362,364,830 only.”

The N10.59 trillion budget has total recurrent expenditure (non-debt) of N4.84 trillion, total capital expenditure of N2.46 trillion and N560.470 billion for statutory transfers as well debt service allocation of N2.72 trillion.

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DSS frees Sowore, pays N100,000 fine as women protest nude

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DSS frees Sowore, pays N100,000 fine as women protest nude

The Department of State Services (DSS) has released the convener of #RevolutionNow protest, Omoyele Sowore, and his co-accused, Olawale Bakare, after spending 124 days in their custody.

Sowore and Bakare were let off the hook of the DSS at 7:15p.m. yesterday.

They were released to their lead counsel, Femi Falana (SAN).

Sowore, the publisher of Sahara Reporters, was arrested alongside an activist, Bakare on August 3, for alleged treasonable felony, among other related charges.

Confirming Sowore’s release last night, spokesperson for the DSS, Dr. Peter Afunanya, said: “Yes, Sowore has been released.”

Asked if the sum of N100,000 was paid as fine, he said: “Yes, we paid the N100,000.”

They were released after Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu of the Federal High Court sitting in Abuja, gave the DSS 24 hours to release the activists.

Justice Ojukwu had expressed displeasure over the act of the security agency.

Sowore and his co-defendant are facing a seven-count charge bordering on conspiracy to commit treasonable felony in breach of Section 516 of the Criminal Code Act, money laundering and cybercrimes, amongst others.

They pleaded not guilty to the charge and were granted bail on October 4, in the sum of N100 million and N50 million respectively with two sureties in like sum.

For Sowore, one of the sureties, according to the judge, must deposit the sum of N50 million cash as security for the bail.

However, the court had, two weeks later, varied the bail conditions following a request to that effect.

Justice Ojukwu had signed the release of the bail of the defendants after they met the bail conditions.

But the DSS had refused to release the defendants even after evidence that they have met the conditions attached to the bail.

However, at the resumed hearing yesterday, Justice Ojukwu was infuriated that her order on the release of the defendants was yet to be obeyed.

Counsel to the defendants, Falana, had complained to the court that its order as regards release of documents and the defendants who have been granted bail and have met the attached conditions has not been complied with by the prosecution.

Falana, who told Justice Ojukwu that one month after the court ordered service of documents to be tendered on the defence, the prosecution only served the defence the documents yesterday and hence would be needing time to study the documents as well as watch the attached videos with the defendants.

He also prayed the court to direct the prosecution to serve the full statements of all listed witnesses instead of a summary statement to aid their defence.

The defendants’ counsel further told the court that he was having difficulty gaining access to his client who is still in custody of the prosecution despite meeting his bail conditions.

At this instant, Justice Ojukwu called on the prosecution counsel to explain why Sowore and Bakare were still in their custody.

Responding, prosecution counsel, Hassan Liman (SAN), admitted that the order was served on the prosecution, but the defendants were yet to be released because the DSS had asked their sureties to come for identification.

Interjecting, Justice Ojukwu asked the prosecution counsel whether that request was part of the court’s order.

“Is that part of the order? Is there a parallel court here, who is directing that? Is there another court elsewhere?” the court queried.

Justice Ojukwu expressed pain that the DSS could flout her orders even after she took time to ensure that the bail conditions were met.

In a short ruling, the judge ordered that the defendants be released within the next 24 hours and adjourned to Friday, December 6 for report of compliance.

On the request for adjournment by Sowore’s counsel for time to study the documents and videos tendered as evidence against Sowore, Justice Ojukwu held that because the adjournment was created by the prosecution, she was inclined to award cost against the prosecution.

She recalled that while adjourning the matter in November, she had ordered that the prosecution serves all necessary documents it intends to tender on the defence before the commencement of trial yesterday.

“Since the last time, you did not deem it necessary to serve,” she said while refusing Liman’s claim that the late service was due to administrative bottleneck.

Justice Ojukwu subsequently awarded a cost of N100,000 against the prosecution, adding that trial would only go on upon payment of the N100,000 fine.

Meanwhile, there was a protest by some old women numbering up to about 50.

The women, who protested nude, came with different inscriptions, such as “Free Sowore”, “Enough of injustice”, among others.

There were also chanting different songs in their local dialect. 

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Buhari, APC govs meet in Aso Rock, keep mum

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Buhari, APC govs meet in Aso Rock, keep mum

Governors elected on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC) yesterday met with President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

The meeting it was gathered was not unconnected with the crisis in the party over the protest against the current national chairman, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole.

The meeting was attended by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo.

Although no official reason was given for the meeting, there have been speculations that some governors elected on the APC platform are no longer comfortable with the national chairman of the party, Adams Oshiomhole, and are seeking to remove him.

The meeting in Aso Rock started at about 3p.m. and lasted over two hours.

The governors who attended the meeting were: Kayode Fayemi (Ekiti), Babajide Sanwo-Olu (Lagos), Babagana Zulum (Borno), Inuwa Yahaya (Gombe), Badaru Abubakar (Jigawa), Abubakar Sani Bello (Niger), Atiku Bagudu (Kebbi), Abdullahi Sule (Nasarawa), Simon Lalong (Plateau), Godwin Obaseki (Edo) Nasiru El-Rufai (Kaduna), Gbenga Oyetola (Osun), and Dapo Abiodun (Ogun).

They, however, declined to speak to newsmen at the end of the meeting as one by one, they filed out of the Council Chambers accompanied by the Chief of Staff to the President, Abba Kyari.

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Mixed reactions trail senator’s sentence

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Mixed reactions trail senator’s sentence

Mixed reactions from two political party chieftains in Abia State greeted yesterday’s judgement of a Lagos High Court, which sentenced the Senate Chief Whip and former Abia governor, Orji Kalu, to 12 years in prison over alleged fraud.

The chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the state, Chief Donatus Nwankpa, said in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) that he was disappointed and angry with the judgement.

Nwankpa, who was a member of the Abia House of Assembly when Kalu was governor, said that the judgement was not fair.

“The party will meet to take a position on the judgement. But as an individual, I am very saddened by the judgement.

“I am not convinced that judgement was given,” he said, adding that the court’s verdict sustained his doubts about the integrity and objectivity of the nation’s judiciary.

Nwankpa said that he never had the confidence that Kalu would get judgement, “considering the utterances of the judge.”

“I’m highly convinced that something went wrong. The judgement is not fair,” he said.

Conversely, the Chairman, Inter-Party Advisory Council in Abia, Mr. Ceekay Igara, described the judgement as “good precedence.”

According to him, “If Kalu was found wanting as governor of the state, he should face judgement.

“It is a normal thing and goes to prove that nobody is above the law.”

Igara, who is the state Chairman of the Labour Party, said that the judgement was supposed to teach two lessons.

He said: “The first lesson for those who are in government and second for others who intend to take over is that whatever they do, there is always a judgement day.”

Mr. Maduka Okoro, the South-East Media Aide to Kalu, told NAN that the former governor would appeal the judgement “to allow other judges and a higher court take another look at the case.”

Okoro said that Kalu was not bothered by the judgement but considered it as one of the travails that every leader must experience “before becoming what God wants him to be.”

He expressed optimism that the judgement would be reversed by a higher court, adding that Kalu would be acquitted at last.

He said that as governor, Kalu administered Abia transparently and never defrauded the state.

Kalu was Abia governor from 1999 to 2007 and won election to the Senate in the 2019 election, after three attempts.

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Erectile dysfunction increases risk of heart health

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Erectile dysfunction increases risk of heart health

Scientists in the United States (U.S.) have said that men with erectile dysfunction (ED) are more likely to be diagnosed with irregular heartbeat, which is also called atrial fibrillation or a-fib.

They presented the preliminary findings of their new study at the American Heart Association (AHA) Scientific Session in Dallas, Texas, last week.

Atrial fibrillation, or a-fib, is an irregular or quivering heartbeat that can lead to blood clots, stroke, and heart failure.

A Cardiologist and Postdoctoral Researcher at Northwestern University in Chicago, Dr. Yoshihiro Tanaka said: “It is well known that ED symptoms appear two to three years before we see cardiovascular disease; so, if we can use ED symptoms as a marker for predicting future AFib, we may be able to treat the patient early and hopefully stop the disease’s progression.

“If patients have ED, physicians should investigate other cardiovascular risk factors and initiate treatment as soon as possible,” Tanaka told participants at the AHA conference.

ED is the inability to get or keep an erection firm enough to have sexual intercourse. It is also sometimes referred to as impotence. Occasional ED is not uncommon. Many men experience it during times of stress. However, frequent ED can be a sign of health problems that need treatment.

Previous studies had shown a link between cardiovascular disease and ED.

Subsequently, the new study wanted to find out how AFib fits into the picture, said Dr. Yoshihiro Tanaka.

The new study included 1,760 older men without a history of AFib. After four years, 9.6 per cent of men who reported having erectile dysfunction were diagnosed with AFib compared with 2.9 per cent of men without the condition.

“Even after adjusting for various risk factors, including smoking, weight, diabetes and blood pressure, men with erectile dysfunction were 66 per cent more likely to be diagnosed with AFib,”the NewsmaxHealth’reported.

Based on the outcome, Tanaka said: “That’s a reasonably strong association.”

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