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Four Brits arrested as drugs worth £50.7m seized in Australia

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Four Brits arrested as drugs worth £50.7m seized in Australia

Four Britons have been arrested as police seized £50.7 million worth of MDMA in a huge drugs bust targeting a UK organised crime syndicate in New Zealand and Australia.

Queensland Police said its officers seized 766kg of MDMA powder, which was the highest purity ever recorded in the region and could have made up to 12 million pills.

The drugs haul had an estimated value of 90 million Australian dollars (£50.7 million), with the police swoop amounting to one of the region’s biggest ever busts, the force said.

It added that the MDMA seizure represented about 7 per cent of the national yearly total in Australia.

Police in the state arrested two British men, a 51-year-old man and a 40-year-old man, as well as a 26-year-old Australian man, in the large-scale operation on Tuesday.

A 51-year-old Australian woman was also arrested in New South Wales in connection with the seizure of approximately 108,000 Australian dollars (£61,000) in cash.

Two other British men, aged 60 and 49, were arrested by police in New Zealand after 200kg of methamphetamine was seized last week as part of the same operation.

“We believe the drug would have been diluted with other agents and had the potential to make between six and 12 million capsules,” Detective Superintendent Jon Wacker, of Queensland State Crime Command’s Drug and Serious Crime Group, said.

“Organised crime syndicates are making significant profit at the expense of our Australian community but more importantly they are placing our young people’s health at risk.

“This operation has been focused on targeting and dismantling this organised syndicate.”

The UK’s National Crime Agency was involved in the investigations, alongside police in Australia and New Zealand, the Australian Border Force, the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission (ACIC) and other agencies.

According to the Evening Standard, Dr Katie Willis, from the ACIC, said it was estimated that more than 1.1 tonnes of MDMA is consumed in Australia each year.

“Removing 766kg of MDMA before it reaches our streets will have an immeasurable impact on the illicit MDMA market,” she said.

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Health

Doctors revive woman after six-hour cardiac arrest

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Doctors revive woman after six-hour cardiac arrest

Doctors in Barcelona have managed to revive a British woman who had a six-hour cardiac arrest after developing hypothermia while hiking in the Catalan Pyrenees in freezing weather last month.
Audrey Mash said she was surprised at the attention her case had attracted and said it had not put her off hiking. “I feel like a fraud for not being back at work. I’m hoping to go back before the end of next week,” she said on Thursday.
She and her husband, Rohan Schoeman – who live in Barcelona – set out from Coma de Vaca to Núria on the morning of November 3, reports the Guardian.
Around lunchtime, after the temperature dropped and it began to snow, Schoeman noticed that his wife was speaking oddly and becoming incoherent.
Shortly afterwards, she stopped moving and fell unconscious. He rang friends, who helped firefighters and rescuers locate them and launch a helicopter rescue operation. But bad weather delayed the rescue and by the time they reached the pair, it was 3.30pm.
“Our first assessment suggested that Audrey was in a bad way,” said one of the rescuers, Pere Serral. “We couldn’t find any vital signs and we did what we could using pre-hospital techniques.”
By that point, Mash had severe hypothermia and her body temperature had fallen to just 18C; normal body temperature is 37C. She was then taken by helicopter to the Vall d’Hebron hospital in Barcelona, which has an extracorporeal membrane oxygenation machine (Ecmo).
When connected to a patient, the Ecmo takes over the functioning of the heart and lungs, oxygenating the blood outside the body then reintroducing it, allowing both organs to rest.
The Ecmo had never been used in Spain for a resuscitation procedure. But by 9.45pm, Mash’s body temperature had risen to 30C and the doctors tried again to revive her, using a defibrillator.
Dr Eduardo Argudo said doctors at the hospital had decided to use the machine “to win some time so that her brain could receive oxygen while we treated the cause of the cardiac arrest”.
He added: “Although hypothermia was about to kill Audrey, it also saved her because her body – and above all her brain – didn’t get any worse. If she’d been in cardiac arrest for that long with a normal body temperature, we’d have been certifying her death. But we knew that the severe hypothermia meant that we had a shot at saving her thanks to the Ecmo.”
Argudo said that while hers was the longest instance of cardiac arrest survival documented in Spain, similar cases had occurred in the Alps and in Scandinavia.
Mash, who is 34, spent six days in the intensive care unit, where doctors monitored her for signs of neurological damage.
“I’m good but a little surprised by all the attention it’s got today – it must be a slow news week,” she told the Guardian on Thursday evening.
“I recovered much faster than I, or I think the doctors, expected. I was out of intensive care after six days and out of hospital six days after that. The doctors have since told me that they expected me to be in intensive care for closer to a month.”
Mash, an English teacher who has lived in Barcelona for more than two years, said she was getting back to normal and that the ordeal had not put her off hiking.
“I think my husband is a little more dubious about it than me – he has to live with the memories,” she said.
“I woke up when it was all over. I don’t think we’ll be out in any high mountain this winter. But I do hope that next spring or summer we’ll be able to go back and do some long walking and feel confident in it. I don’t want it to take away from my enjoyment of the mountains.”

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US: Iran may have killed more than 1,000 in recent protests

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US: Iran may have killed more than 1,000 in recent protests

A senior State Department official says Iranian forces may have killed more than 1,000 people in response to recent protests that have swept the country.
Special Representative for Iran Brian Hook cited unspecified reports and provided no evidence of the death toll, reports The Associated Press.
Amnesty International recently said more than 200 people were killed in the recent unrest over economic hardship.
Hook told reporters at the State Department on Thursday the U.S. has seen video of one incident in which more than 100 people were shot and killed.

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DSS releases Sowore, pays N.1m fine

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DSS releases Sowore, pays N.1m fine

The Department of State Services (DSS), has released the convener of #Revolution Now Movement, Mr. Omoyele Sowore.
Sowore, the publisher of Sahara Reporters, was arrested alongside an activist, Mr. Olawale Bakare on August 3, for alleged treasonable felony, among other related charges.
However, an Abuja High Court had granted him bail weeks ago without the Service complying with the ruling, prompting the judge to threaten to charge the DSS with contempt.
But confirming Sowore’s release last night, spokesperson for the DSS, Dr. Peter Afunanya, said: “Yes, Sowore was (has been) released”.
Asked if the sum of N100, 000 was paid as fine, he said: “Yes, we paid the N100, 000.”

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Obasanjo eulogizes Ajanaku’s loyalty, commitment to women’s development

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Obasanjo eulogizes Ajanaku’s loyalty, commitment to women’s development

Former President Olusegun Obasanjo, on Thursday, expressed shock over the death of his erstwhile Special Adviser on Women Affairs, Chief (Mrs) Titilayo Ajanaku.
Obasanjo noted that the loyalty and commitment to women development of the deceased was exemplary and worthy of emulation.
This was contained in a statement signed by Kehinde Akinyemi, Special Assistant (Media) to the former president.
Obasanjo, who wrote a personal condolence letter to the Head of the Ajanaku family, stated that his late aide played a prominent role in his decision to contest for the post of President in 1998.
He recalled how Ajanaku joined other Nigerians to visit in 1998 to persuade him in contesting for the Presidential election.
Obasanjo described the deceased as a woman who would do everything in her capacity to uplift, improve and advance the cause of women, saying this largely informed reasons for her being appointed as his special adviser.

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Senate passes N10.59 trn as 2020 budget

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Senate passes N10.59 trn as 2020 budget

*Jerks up initial proposal by N264trn

The Senate on Thursday passed N10.594 trillion as the budget for 2020 fiscal against the N10.33 trillion earlier submitted to the joint session of the National Assembly on October 8 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.

While presenting the report, 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.

According to Jibrin, the statutory transfer stood at N560.5 billion; recurrent expenditure -N4.8 billion, capital expenditure-N2.5 billion, debt servicing-N2.7 billion, fiscal deficit-N2.3 trillion and deficit to GDP of 1.52 per cent.

He also noted that the daily oil production stood at 2.18m 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.

 

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FG loses illegal bunkering case against 4 Ukrainians

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FG loses illegal bunkering case against 4 Ukrainians

The Federal Government has lost out in the illegal bunkering case instituted against four Ukraine nationals at a Federal High Court in Port Harcourt.

The four men, Vaskov Andriy, Garchev Mykhaylo, Shulga Vladyslav, Orlovkyi Lyvan and a ship, MT. San Pedro PIO, were cleared of the alleged offence by Justice Adamu Turaki Mohammed.

They were discharged and acquitted of six counts of conspiracy to deal in petroleum products, dealing in petroleum products, making false documents and uttering contrary to Sections 3(6) and 1(17)(a), 1 (2)(c) of the Miscellaneous Offences Act, 2007.

Delivering judgement in the matter, Justice Mohammed upheld the arguments of defendants’ lawyer, Babajide Koku (SAN), that government has failed to prove the case.

“By virtue of the sale agreement between AUGUST A Energy and ANOSYKE Group of Companies, the amended purchase order together with evidence of the 6th prosecution witness under cross-examination, who admitted that the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) import permit is valid, I have no doubt that the prosecution has failed to prove that the defendants had no licence or authority to deal in petroleum product.

“Again, Exhibit A1 has shown that naval approval was obtained in respect of Exhibit J, while the Department of Petroleum Resources import permit attached to Exhibit 63 has shown that the necessary permit was equally secured in respect of Exhibit J from the DPR.

“It is clear both from Exhibit A1 and the DPR permit, that the company in whose favour the approvals were granted is ANOSYKE Group of Companies.

“Similarly, as I have held above that the prosecution has failed to prove count two of the charge against the defendants, I am equally unable to infer, from the entire evidence adduced by the prosecution, how the 1st to 5th defendants conspired with each other to, without lawful authority or appropriate licence import; distribute or deal in/with petroleum product as contained in Count 1, particularly having regard to Exhibit A1 and the DPR permit attached to Exhibit G3.

“Accordingly, therefore, 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th defendants are found not guilty as charged and are hereby discharged and acquitted,” the judge held.

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Pipeline explosion in Lagos

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Pipeline explosion in Lagos

A pipeline explosion has occurred in Isheri Olofin, Egbe-Idimu Local Council Development Area of Lagos State on Thursday morning, forcing residents to flee for safety.

More details later…

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US sailor kills workers at Hawaii navy base

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US sailor kills workers at Hawaii navy base

A US sailor shot dead two workers before taking his own life at the Pearl Harbor military base near Honolulu in Hawaii on Wednesday.

Officials say the gunman also injured a third worker before he killed himself

The incident prompted a lockdown at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, which is on the Hawaiian island of Oahu, reports the BBC.

The shooting was reported at about 14:30 (00:30 GMT) local time. The identities of those involved in the shooting have not yet been confirmed.

All three victims were civilian defence department employees and the survivor is in stable condition, officials said.

Rear Admiral Robb Chadwick, speaking at a press conference, said it was unclear if the victims were targeted or shot at random.

He said the gunman has tentatively been identified as an active duty serviceman assigned to the USS Columbia.

The submarine is currently undergoing maintenance at the base, US media reports.

“Obviously our thoughts are with the families of the victims and everyone involved,” Rear Adm Chadwick added.

The shooting prompted a lockdown at the military base, which is home to US navy and air force personnel.

Both base security and the Naval Criminal Investigative Service are investigating the shooting, a spokesman said.

Hawaii’s governor, David Ige, responded to the shooting in a tweet and confirmed the White House had offered federal assistance.

The shooting comes just three days before the 78th anniversary of a Japanese attack on Pearl Habor naval station, which left more than 2,300 Americans dead.

The surprise attack, on December 7, 1941, prompted the US to declare war on Japan and enter World War Two.

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Senate raises 2020 budget by N450bn, Reps N260bn

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Senate raises 2020 budget by N450bn, Reps N260bn
  • Lawmakers increase debt servicing from N2.45trn to N2.725trn
  • Parliament passes Appropriation Bill today
  • Ministry: NDLEA, NAPTIP have N876m for constituency projects

 

 

There are strong indications that the National Assembly will today pass the 2020 Appropriation Bill.

But both the Senate and the House of Representatives have increased the 2020 Budget laid before the parliament by President Muhammadu Buhari on October 8, 2019.

New Telegraph learnt that the Appropriations Committee of the Senate had increased the initial proposal of N10.33 trillion budget by N450 billion.

Consequently, it was learnt that the figure to be passed by the apex legislative chamber today, is N10.78 trillion.

The House of Representatives has jerked up the 2020 appropriation bill to the tune of N260 billion, even as both the Senate and the House are set to pass the bill today.

The increase in the budget proposal by the House was mostly in the servicing of debt. The Debt Service also reflected an increase from N2.45 trillion estimates to approximately N2.725 trillion.

Following the differences in the reports of the appropriation committees of the two chambers of the National Assembly on the 2020 budget estimate, it is expected that after the passage of the budget today, a harmonization committee, consisting of both senators and representatives will be constituted to reconcile the differences.

Members of the harmonisation committee are usually drawn from the standing committees on appropriation, finance, loans, aids and debt and national planning.

It was further revealed that the Senate Committee earlier increased it by N500 billion but on a second thought, removed N50 billion from the amount before laying the document to the Senate in plenary yesterday.

The Chairman of the Senate Committee on Appropriations, Senator Barau Jibrin, had laid the report during plenary.

The President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, in his brief comment, hinted that the recommendations of the Committee would be considered in plenary today.

While President Buhari presented before a joint session of the National Assembly an aggregate expenditure of N10.33 trillion for the Federal Government in 2020, the lawmakers have jerked up the 2020 budget to N10.59 trillion.

The increase is contained in the report of the budget proposal, which was laid before the House by the chairman, committee on appropriations, Hon. Mukhtar Betara (APC, Borno) at yesterday’s plenary.

Betara, shortly before laying the report, told the House that the committee raised the budget from the N10.33 trillion proposed by the executive to N10.59 trillion.

He said N2.7 trillion was meant for debt service, while N4.8 trillion is for recurrent non-debt expenditure, with N2.4 trillion as contribution to the capital development fund expenditure for the 2020 fiscal year.

The report reflected the total sum of N10,594,362,364,830, indicating a change in the estimates of N10.33 trillion earlier presented.

The report also stated that out of the over N10.59 trillion, N560.47 billion is for Statutory Transfers, which also indicates an increase from the estimates of N556.7 billion initially presented.

The Recurrent (non-debt) Expenditure was put at about N4.843 trillion which showed a reduction from N4.88 trillion initially presented.

Approximately N2.465 trillion is for contribution to the Development Fund for Capital Expenditure for the year ending on December 31, 2020.

The report as presented before the House reads: “A bill for an act to authorize the issue from the consolidated revenue fund of the Federation the total sum of N10,594,362,364,830 only of which N560,470,827,235 only is for statutory transfers

“N2,725,498,930,000 only is for debt service; N4,842,974,600,640 only is for recurrent (Non-Debt) expenditure.

“The sum of N2,465,418,006,955 only is for contribution to the development fund for capital expenditure for the year ending on 31st day of December, 2019.”

The committee also recommended that the current 2019 budget terminates on December 31, 2019.

It will be recalled that the National Assembly had promised to return the budget circle to January to December.

The 2020 Budget presented by President Buhari comprises statutory transfers of N556.7 billion, non-debt recurrent expenditure of N4.88 trillion and N2.14 trillion of capital expenditure (excluding the capital component of statutory transfers).

The budget estimates presented by Buhari pegged debt service at N2.45 trillion and put provision for Sinking Fund to retire maturing bonds issued to local contractors at N296 billion.

The laying of the 2020 budget report was originally scheduled for November 28, but it was postponed to December 3, following the inability of the various standing committees to complete their defence before the appropriations committee.

The submission was later shifted to December 4, following the adjournment of plenary in honour of late Hon. Jafaru Auna (APC, Niger), who died last Monday in Abuja.

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Court orders AGF to recover pensions from senators, ministers

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Court orders AGF to recover pensions from senators, ministers

Justice Oluremi Oguntoyinbo of a Federal High Court in Lagos has ordered the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) to immediately institute legal action aimed at recovering all pensions collected by former governors now serving as ministers and members of the National Assembly.

The AGF’s suit, according to the judge, must also challenge the legality of states’ pension laws permitting former governors and other ex-public officials to collect pensions.

The orders were contained in a judgement delivered by the judge in an application filed by a rights organisation, the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP), for an ‘order of mandamus’ against the AGF.

In the suit marked FHC/L/CS/1497/2017, SERAP urged the court to compel the AGF to file action to challenge states’ pension laws for former governors and recover public funds collected by them in the public interest.

The organisation dragged the AGF to court following his refusal to act on its Freedom of Information (FOI) request to institute action on the pensions being received by the former state executives.

However, in his preliminary objection to the suit, the AGF, among other points, contended that he was not constrained to institute any action because laws duly passed by states cannot be challenged.

But in her judgement on the case, Justice Oguntoyibo faulted AGF’s claim that laws passed by states cannot be challenged, saying he is expected to approach the court where a particular law is seen as not being in the best interest of the country.

The judge held that the AGF should be interested in the legality or validity of any law in Nigeria and how such laws affect or will affect Nigerians, being the Chief Law Officer of the Federation.

“I have considered SERAP’s arguments that it is concerned about the attendant consequences that are manifesting on the public workers and pensioners of the states who have been refused salaries and pensions running into several months on the excuse of non-availability of state resources to pay them. SERAP has also argued that there is need to recover such public funds collected by former governors.

“It is clear from the facts of this case that SERAP had written the Attorney General to institute appropriate legal actions to challenge the legality of states’ laws permitting former governors, who are now senators and ministers, to enjoy governors’ emoluments while drawing normal salaries and allowances in their new political offices and to seek full recovery of funds from those involved.

“SERAP has stated that since the receipt of the said letter, the Attorney General has failed, refused and/or neglected to institute appropriate legal actions to that effect. In my view, the principle of ‘demand and refusal’ has been satisfied by SERAP. I have also considered the fact that in action to protect a public right or enforce the performance of a public duty, it is the Attorney General that ought to sue.

“Having considered all the facts presented by SERAP on the need for the suit and the counter-affidavit against same, I find no reason why the order of mandamus should not be granted. I am of the view that SERAP’s suit has merit.

“I resolved this issue against the Attorney General, in favour of SERAP. I hold that the motion of notice for mandamus, dated 6th February, 2018 and filed on 7th February, 2018 has merit. It is, therefore, granted in the terms sought.

“In other words, the Attorney General is hereby directed to urgently institute appropriate legal actions to challenge the legality of states’ laws permitting former governors, who are now senators and ministers to enjoy governors’ emoluments while drawing normal salaries and allowances in their new political offices and to identify those involved and seek full recovery of public funds from the former governors.

“I take judicial notice of the essence of the creation of SERAP. I believe that SERAP has the locus standi to bring this suit. More so, this is a constitutional matter. In constitutional matters, the requirement of locus standi becomes unnecessary to a great extent as it may merely impede judicial function. This issue is, therefore, resolved against the Attorney General, in favour of SERAP,” the judge held.

Justice Oguntoyinbo has fixed 3rd February, 2020, as the date for hearing of report of compliance with the court’s orders by the Federal Government.

No fewer than 22 states have passed life pensions laws for former governors and other ex-public officials. Some of the states include Lagos, Akwa Ibom, Edo, Delta, Kano, Gombe, Yobe, Borno, Bauchi, Abia, Imo, Bayelsa, Oyo, Osun, Kwara, Ondo, Ebonyi, Rivers, Niger, Kogi, and Katsina.

Some of the former governors in the Senate are: Kabiru Gaya (Kano), Theodore Orji (Abia), Abdullahi Adamu (Nasarawa), Adamu Aliero (Kebbi), Danjuma Goje (Gombe) and Sam Egwu (Ebonyi).

Other ex-governors in the Federal Executive Council (FEC) are Babatunde Fashola (Lagos), Rauf Aregbesola (Osun), Godswill Akpabio (Akwa Ibom), Chris Ngige (Anambra), George Akume (Benue), and Rotimi Amaechi (Rivers).

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