INTERPOL Nabs Criminals Across West Africa Borders
By Dipo Olowookere
An INTERPOL-led border security operation across West Africa has resulted in the arrest of human traffickers, migrant smugglers and the seizure of drugs, stolen vehicles, cash and counterfeit goods.
During the eight-day Operation Adwenpa II, more than 100 frontline officers used INTERPOL global policing capabilities to identify criminals, victims and illicit goods at 28 key border control points across 14 countries.
With several of the involved countries part of key people smuggling routes to Europe, at the Kourémalé checkpoint on the Mali/Guinea border, seven Guinean nationals were arrested on suspicion of facilitating the illegal immigration of seven men and women aged between 16 and 22, heading towards Italy.
At the same checkpoint, 10 men being trafficked to Europe via Libya and to gold mines in Guinea were rescued and two men arrested on suspicion of human trafficking.
At Dakola on the Burkina Faso/Ghana border, seven children from Cote d’Ivoire aged between 11 and 16 were taken into protective custody and two men from Nigeria and Cote d’Ivoire arrested on suspicion of human trafficking.
Other key results include:
- The seizure of more than 20 vehicles – including luxury cars from Belgium, France and Italy – recorded as stolen via INTERPOL databases;
- Multiple seizures of drugs including cocaine, cannabis, heroine and 90 kg of methamphetamine;
- The identification, arrest and extradition from Dakar’s Léopold-Sédar-Senghor airport of a Central African Republic national wanted by France for armed robbery;
- The recovery of USD 332,000 in cash concealed in luggage and vehicles;
- The seizure of counterfeit goods including cigarettes, pharmaceuticals and food products. Fake military badges and uniforms were also seized.
“INTERPOL clearly recognizes the severity of the transnational organized crime problem in this region, and has made it a priority to provide a wide range of tools and services to help member countries reinforce their border security procedures and coordinate police action with their neighbours,” said Commissaire Divisionnaire Kambile Pale Elie of the Cote d’Ivoire National Police.
INTERPOL National Central Bureaus coordinated activities on the ground, exchanging real-time data via INTERPOL’s global policing network supported by specialized officers from the General Secretariat and the Regional Bureau in Cote d’Ivoire.
Checks of airline passengers and crew were also made against INTERPOL’s databases to determine if any individuals were attempting to illegally enter countries using a passport reported lost or stolen to INTERPOL, or were wanted internationally.
“Operation Adwenpa II demonstrates what can be achieved when law enforcement officers on the ground are given the INTERPOL training and tools needed to detect crime and criminals effectively,” said Tim Morris, INTERPOL’s Executive Director of Police Services.
“West Africa’s border management capacity has been boosted in a sustainable manner, demonstrating the importance of INTERPOL’s global capabilities and support services in strengthening national and regional security,” added Mr Morris.
Funded by the German Federal Foreign Office, Adwenpa II builds on the success of the first operation conducted in February as part of a two-year Capacity Building Programme to Strengthen Border Management in West Africa.
With sustainability an integral part of the programme, a series of capacity building training sessions including a train-the-trainer session were held throughout West Africa prior to the operation.
Operation Adwenpa II partners include WCO, UNODC, and INTERPOL’s FormaTrain network which deployed vehicle identification experts to key land borders.
Countries which participated in Operation Adwenpa II: Benin, Burkina Faso, Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Gambia, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Liberia, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone and Togo.
Tinubu Travelled Abroad to Rest, Will Return Soon–Aide
By Modupe Gbadeyanka
The office of the president-elect has confirmed that Mr Bola Tinubu has jetted out of Nigeria for a rest in the United Kingdom and France ahead of his swearing-in ceremony slated for May 29, 2023.
An online platform on Wednesday reported that the winner of the February 25 presidential election travelled to Europe for urgent medical attention.
But in a statement issued by one of his aides, Mr Tunde Rahman, it was emphasized that the former Governor of Lagos State only left the country to have a rest in London and Paris before going to Saudi Arabia for lesser hajj.
It was disclosed that Mr Tinubu travelled out of Nigeria on Tuesday night via the Murtala Mohammed International Airport (MMIA) Ikeja Lagos.
“After a very exhaustive campaign and election season, President-elect, Asíwájú Bola Tinubu, has travelled abroad to rest and plan his transition programme ahead of May 29, 2023 inauguration.
“The President-elect left the Murtala Mohammed International Airport, Ikeja, for Europe on Tuesday night.
“The President-elect decided to take a break after the hectic campaign and election season to rest in Paris and London, preparatory to going to Saudi Arabia for Umrah (Lesser Hajj) and the Ramadan Fasting that begins Thursday.
“While away, the President-elect will also use the opportunity to plan his transition programme.
“He is expected back in the country soon.
“We enjoin the media to stop publishing rumours and unsubstantiated claims and to always seek clarifications from our office,” the statement said.
INEC Declares Labour Party’s Alex Otti Abia Governor-Elect
By Modupe Gbadeyanka
The candidate of the Labour Party in the governorship election in Abia State, Mr Alex Otti, has been declared as the winner of the exercise by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
The former banker polled a total of 175,467 votes to defeat his closest rival in the poll, Mr Okey Ahiwe of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), who garnered 88,529 votes.
The Abia State governorship election was earlier declared inconclusive by the electoral umpire due to issues arising from over-voting. The collation centre had to be moved to Abuja from Umuahia, the state capital.
The governor-elect, in a short post via his verified Twitter handle, reacted to the development by saying, “See what the Lord has done.”
Mr Otti left the banking industry a few years ago after serving as the managing director of the defunct Diamond Bank, which merged with Access Bank. He left his office in the bank to pursue his political ambition in 2015, but he failed until he succeeded in 2023.
Cash Scarcity: NLC Orders Workers to Embark on Strike
By Adedapo Adesanya
The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has directed public sector workers in the country to embark on strike beginning from Wednesday, March 29, 2023.
President of the union, Mr Joe Ajaero, gave this directive at a media briefing at Labour House in Abuja on Wednesday, March 22.
He also directed affiliate unions of the NLC to be on standby for a picketing exercise across all branches of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) nationwide.
The union leader said the directive became imperative following the expiration of a one-week ultimatum given to the apex bank to make cash available for Nigerians.
The scarcity has heightened with plans by the central bank to mop up the old Naira in circulation. The apex bank recently said it had removed N2.3 trillion from circulation between October 2022 and February 2023 while printing fewer new notes.
Business Post reported that between October last year and February 2023, the cash in circulation dropped to N982.09 billion from N3.29 trillion.
This is one of the factors that has extended the scarcity of the Naira and have also prolonged it into March.
Despite the Supreme Court judgement on March 3, 2023, that the old Naira remain legal until December 31, 2023, new notes have not reached many households with the old notes and new notes difficult to acquire.
With the cash in circulation dropping and the currency in commercial banks’ vaults or that of the CBN rising, Nigerians still find it difficult to access the money deposited in their accounts despite the ruling that the new and old notes should co-exist for 10 months.
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