Witness Says Iba Monarch Abductors Got N15.1m As Ransom
By Dipo Olowookere
“My abductors demanded N500m ransom but my family paid N15.1m to free me” the traditional ruler of Iba Town, Oba Goriola Oseni, told a Lagos High Court sitting at Igbosere.
Oseni said this on Friday while giving evidence at the commencement of trial of the four men accused of kidnapping him.
The accused are Duba Furejo, Ododowo Isaiah, Reuben Anthony and Yerin Fresh, who were first arraigned before Justice Oluwatoyin Taiwo on October 24.
They are standing trial on an eight-count bordering on conspiracy, murder, attempted murder, robbery, armed robbery, stealing and kidnapping preferred against them by the Lagos State Government.
At the commencement of hearing, the Lagos State Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Adeniji Kazeem (SAN), who led a team of lawyers for the state, obtained the leave of court to exclude the public from the trial.
In an oral application, Kazeem told the court that the accused were part of a criminal enterprise, therefore, it would be in the interest of justice and the safety of the witnesses for the case to be closed to the public.
The court granted his request despite the objections of all the three counsel for the accused.
Mr Selowei Baidi was for the first and second accused, Mr. J. O. Egwuaroje for the third accused while Anthony Onwueze represented the fourth accused.
Justice Taiwo, in her ruling, said that there was nothing prejudicial about Kazeem’s application and assured the defence counsel of fair hearing.
She ordered all journalists in court to identify themselves with their official identification card in order to be allowed to cover the proceedings.
Led in evidence by Kazeem, Oseni, 73, testified as first prosecution witness and narrated how at about 8:00pm on July 16, he was kidnapped while watching TV in his palace.
Oseni told the court that he was held in captivity for three weeks in an unknown camp.
He described his abductors, about nine, as shirtless, heavily armed men wearing only black trousers.
He said, “This is the king, the gunmen said. I asked them, ‘what can I do for you?’ Then they grabbed me. I was in only a boxer because I was preparing to take a bath.
“My Olori (Queens) came in and asked them where they were taking me to but they fled when the gunmen released some bullets in the decking of the room.”
He said the gunmen dragged him out of the palace and shot sporadically, in the process, killed his security guard and a motorcyclist.
He said they demanded N500m ransom but his family paid N12m and then another N3.1m to another group of the kidnappers, totalling N15.1m, following which he was released.
The Oba’s son, Prince Kazeem, who testified as the second prosecution witness, said he delivered both ransom money of N12m and N3.1m to the abductors at a canal near Igbehinadun in Iba.
He said they negotiated the ransom from N500m to N40m but they couldn’t raise that amount, especially after the government refused to pay any ransom.
The militants, he added, gave him directions to the drop off point on phone after warning him not to tell anyone.
Justice Taiwo adjourned the case till November 18, following a request by the prosecution for time to present more witnesses.
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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