By Ebitonye Akpodigha
Nigeria’s Senate President, Mr Bukola Saraki, has condemned reports that of assault on those at the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) camps in Nigeria, saying the act is inexcusable.
Speaking on Tuesday when the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) led by Mrs Angele Dikongue-Atangana visited him at the National Assembly in Abuja, the Senate President frowned at the increasing cases of social injustices like ràpe, diversion of food items and other corruption related cases within the camps.
Mr Saraki pledged the cooperation of the Senate in ensuring the quick passage of bills to help address the crisis of the IDPs in the country.
“It is disheartening and heartless when you read and hear of cases of corruption in the supplies of food items, when you see cases of malnutrition and mortality in the IDPs. When you see children with cases of malnutrition and you know there can be speedy recovery when the necessary drugs and nutritional items are provided with the necessary food items,” he said.
He pledged the readiness of the National Assembly to cooperate with the UN Commission for Refugees in addressing the challenges facing the various IDPs in the Middle belt region of Nigeria.
Mr Saraki told the leader of the delegation that despite the fact that the Senate has no committee on the Internally Displaced Persons did not mean that the upper chamber is unmindful of its legislative duties in the IDPs, explaining that there are committees of the Senate that are saddled with the responsibilities of tackling poverty and its related challenges.
He pledged the cooperation of the Senate to work with the House of Representatives in the passage of legislation that would enhance the welfare of the persons in the IDPs.
Mr Saraki also pledged to help facilitate the domestication of the Kampala Convention on Statelessness and Protection of Refugees.
Earlier, leader of the delegation, Mrs Dikongue-Atangana, told recounted the efforts of the UNHCR to rally support on the domestication of the Kampala convention in the troubled regions within the country.
She added that the UNHCR is planning a workshop for the parliamentarians on the role of law makers in internal displacement for the Senate and that the workshop is aimed at creating the awareness among members regarding international standards on IDP protection and lesson learnt on parliamentary oversight of national response to internal displacement crisis.
N805m Scam: EFCC Moves Senator Nwaoboshi from Hospital to Prison
By Modupe Gbadeyanka
Mr Peter Nwaoboshi, the Senator representing Delta North in the National Assembly, has been taken to the Ikoyi Correctional Centre on Wednesday to commence his prison term.
Senator Nwaoboshi was convicted and sentenced to seven years imprisonment by the Lagos Division of the Court of Appeal for money laundering.
According to a statement from the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), the lawmaker was intercepted by its operatives at a hospital in Lagos on Monday, February 6, after months of avoiding them.
The Court of Appeal had, in a judgement, it delivered on July 1, 2022, sentenced him to prison after it convicted him on a two-count charge of money laundering and also ordered the winding up of his two companies, Golden Touch Construction Project Ltd and Suiming Electrical Ltd, in line with the provision of Section 22 of the Money Laundering Prohibition Act 2021, and their properties forfeited to the federal government.
But the lawmaker, who was not present in court at the time of the ruling, went underground and refused to present himself to the Nigerian Correctional Service. Instead, he proceeded to the Supreme Court, praying the apex court to not only set it aside the judgment of the appeal court but grant him bail, pending the determination of his appeal.
But in a unanimous decision on January 27, 2023, the apex court dismissed the application. In the lead judgement by Justice Emmanuel Agim, the apex court wondered why Nwaoboshi, who refused to submit himself to the law, would seek the indulgence of the law.
Justice Tijani Abubakar, in his contribution, upbraided the Appellant for filing the bail application while on the run.
“We must make it very, very clear to all Nigerians that nobody is above the law. The government and the governed are subject to the rule of law. And, we must ensure that there is respect for the rule of law”.
The Court of Appeal judgement that convicted Nwaoboshi followed an appeal by the EFCC against the judgment of Justice Chukwujekwu Aneke of a Federal High Court in Lagos, which had on June 18, 2021, discharged and acquitted the lawmaker and his companies.
Mr Nwaoboshi and his companies illegally acquired a property named Guinea House, Marine Road, in Apapa, Lagos, for N805 million. Part of the money paid for the property was transferred by Suiming Electrical Ltd on behalf of Nwaoboshi and Golden Touch Construction Project Ltd. The funds are believed to be proceeds of the illicit activities of the convict.
One of the counts reads: “That you, Peter Nwaoboshi and Golden Touch Construction Projects Limited, between May and June 2014, within the jurisdiction of this court, did acquire a property described as Guinea House, Marina Road, Apapa, Lagos, for the sum of N805 million, when you reasonably ought to have known that the sum of N322 million out of the purchase price transferred to the vendors by order of Suinming Electricals Limited formed part of the proceeds of an unlawful activity of fraud and you thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 15(2) (d) of the Money Laundering Prohibition Act of 2011(as amended) and punishable under Section (15)(3) of the same Act.”
N3.1bn Fraud: EFCC Arraigns Kogi Governor’s Wife, Nephew
By Modupe Gbadeyanka
On Wednesday, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) arraigned Mrs Rashida Bello, the wife of Kogi State Governor, Mr Yahaya Bello, before Justice Obiora Egwuatu of a Federal High Court in Abuja.
The Governor’s wife, who is at large, was brought before the court alongside Mr Bello’s nephew, Mr Ali Bello, and three others over allegations of N3.1 billion fraud.
The EFCC, which brought Mr Abba Adauda, Mr Yakubu Siyaka Adabenege, and Ms Iyada Sadat to court today, filed an 18-count charge bordering on criminal misappropriation and money laundering against the suspects.
According to the agency, the defendants, sometime in June 2020 in Abuja, procured E-Traders International Limited to retain the aggregate sum of N3.1 billion believed to be part of the proceeds of unlawful activity.
In a statement issued on Wednesday, the organisation said the defendants in November 2021 in Abuja also procured E-Traders International Limited to transfer $570,330 to account number no; 426-6644272 domiciled in TD Bank, United States of America, “which sum they reasonably ought to have known forms part of proceeds of unlawful activity to with: criminal misappropriation, and thereby committed an offence contrary to section 15(2)(d) of the Money Laundering Prohibition Act, 2011 as amended and punishable under section 15 (3) of the same Act.”
However, they pleaded “not guilty” to all the charges preferred against them, which prompted the prosecuting counsel, Mr Rotimi Oyedepo (SAN) to urge the court to give a trial date to enable the prosecution to prove its case.
But the defence counsel, Mr Ahmed Raji (SAN), prayed the court to grant his client bail pending the hearing and determination of the case.
Justice Egwuatu adjourned the case till February 13, 2023, and ordered that the defendants be remanded in a correctional centre pending the determination of the bail application.
Rite Foods Removes Over 100k Plastic Bottles From Lagos Shorelines
By Modupe Gbadeyanka
Over 100,000 plastic bottles have been taken away from Lagos shorelines by Rite Foods Limited through its sponsored riteonthebeach initiative aimed at cleaning the country’s beaches.
Launched in August 2021 by Rite Foods’ Managing Director, Mr Seleem Adegunwa, the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) project went live in the Lagos beach communities in January 2022 with a success story.
This campaign by the market leader in Nigeria’s food and beverage industry is geared towards promoting environmental conservation.
To date, the communities have removed over 100,000 bottles from their beaches, with school children taking the responsibility of dropping off twenty-two bottles or 1kg of plastics before school each day.
Through the beach cleaning initiative, 74 scholarships and over 20 jobs have been created from the collection and recycling process, spearheaded by the Founder of Popbeachclub, Mr Akin Disu, the convener of Riteonthebeach, with its festival held in November 2022.
The academic festival sensitises the public on the effects of climate change and plastic pollution on the environment centred in the remote Lagos fishing communities of Ilashe, Ibeshe, and Ikaare.
In partnership with Disu, Riteonthebeach created the Plastic Neutral Token, a community-driven social enterprise system that encourages members of the public to take responsibility for the plastic waste they produce, as the average human being uses 84 kilograms of plastic yearly.
By members of the public buying a plastic-neutral token, the scheme will remove 84kgs of plastic from the ocean, thereby making it plastic-neutral and eco-friendly.
The plastic waste is processed and sent to the city for recycling, with the entire process verified by a third party and tracked on its transparent online platform. They achieved this by engaging the communities of these remote coastal fishing villages, rewarding the children with scholarships, while the women and youth were provided with jobs. This is to save the fishing ecosystem under threat from extensive ocean waste from the city.
The fishing communities serve a crucial role in Lagos state’s economy, providing fish and tourism services for the city of Lagos. These coastal communities on the Lagos western peninsular are separated from the city by the Owo river basin watershed, with the residents under a constant deluge of plastic waste transported by the ocean to their doorsteps.
Interestingly, the Riteonthebeach is committed to creating 300 scholarships in two years, in partnership with the coastal communities removing one metric ton of plastic per week, thereby attaining sustainability.
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