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Court jails Chibok girls’ abductor 15 years

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The Federal High Court sitting in Wawa Cantonment, Kainji, Niger State, on Monday sentenced 35-year-old Haruna Yahaya to 15 years imprisonment for terrorism offences.

Yahaya, whose left arm and left leg are crippled, was convicted for being a member of the proscribed Boko Haram terrorist group and participating in the abduction of over 200 schoolgirls in Chibok, Borno State, in 2014.

He was said to have participated in Boko Haram’s attacks in Chibok, Chibok Local Government Area of Borno State and Gabsuri town in the Damboa Local Government Area of the state.

Yahaya had on Monday pleaded guilty to the two counts preferred against him by the Federal Government, but pleaded for mercy, saying he was forcefully conscripted into the terrorist group.

Four judges of the Federal High Court are sitting in the special courts established in Kainji by the court management to fast-track the trial of over 1,000 suspects currently held in the Wawa Cantonment.

The National Human Rights Commission and the Nigerian Bar Association were on the ground to observe the proceedings.

The defendants are being prosecuted by lawyers from the Federal Ministry of Justice while they are being defended by lawyers from the Legal Aid Council.

The Monday’s proceedings which commenced at about noon were still going on as of when the report was filed at about 7.30pm.

As of the time of filing this report, over 30 cases had been heard by the four courts.

At least 20 persons, who pleaded guilty to the various crimes they were accused of had been convicted as of the time of filing this report.

They were convicted for offences mainly bordering on being members of the Boko Haram sect, giving information to the sect in support of its operations and refusing to disclose information to secure the apprehension of members of the sect to law enforcement agencies.

They were charged and convicted under various provisions of the Terrorism Prevention Act 2011 (as amended).

Others who pleaded not guilty had their cases transferred to Abuja for continuation of trial.

At least two of the defendants were discharged on Monday due to lack of evidence.

A particular case was withdrawn and struck out due to defects in the charges.

Yahaya was among those brought before one of the courts on Monday.

He confessed to committing the alleged crimes but said he did so against his will.

“I was threatened that I would be killed if refused to join them,” he said.

He told the court that he was a trader in Damboa and was in his shop when the members of Boko Haram forcefully conscripted him.

Yahaya said on the night of his conscription into the sect, he was forced to be part of the attack on Chibok.

The convict said during the attack, a girl named Mariama pleaded with him to help her to escape but that he told her that he was helpless as he was captured to be part of the attack against his will.

“I told her that if I had a choice I would help them,” he said.

He also said he later had a love affairs with Mariama at the sect’s camp and at a time bought her dresses worth N4,000.

But the prosecution urged the court to convict the defendant as charged.

The prosecution said Yahaya had been with the sect for two years before he was arrested.

“He was carrying out attacks and said he did not know the number of people he had killed,” the prosecution said.

Delivering judgment, the judge said the court was “not fooled” by Yahaya’s story.

The court noted that the convict was “using the misfortune of his handicap to draw sympathy,”adding that everybody has a choice.

The judge thereafter sentenced the convict who had been in detention since 2015 to 15 years imprisonment.

The court ordered that the sentence would commence counting from Monday.

The proceedings continue on Tuesday.

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BREAKING: Pinnacle Floors ICPC In Court

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Federal High Court Judge Nnamdi Dimgba has ordered ICPC to unfreeze the account of Pinnacle Communications Limited and counselled anti-corruption agencies of government against taking drastic action that could prevent private enterprises from flourishing prior to concluding investigations to justify such action.

Delivering his ruling in the case instituted against ICPC for instructing Zenith Bank to freeze it’s account Friday, the judge maintained that the anti-corruption war was as beneficial to the society as flourishing private enterprises pointing out that scuttling the operations of major private organizations like Pinnacle Communications Limited also sends negative signals to the international community about Nigeria’s business environment.

Justice Dimgba described ICPC’s action against Pinnacle Communications Limited as “an overkill just like using a sledgehammer to kill a fly” considering that even after six months since the case was instituted and despite lèeway provided by many adjournments by the court, ICPC could not file any charges against the company, emphasizing that it should not have frozen the account without establishing a prima facie against it. The judge remarked that anti-corruption agencies should not base their actions on rumours or “beer parlour stories” but on thorough investigations that could sustain judicial scrutiny.

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Senate Approves $1bn Completion Fund For Ajaokuta

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The Senate on Thursday passed a bill seeking to approve the release of the sum of $1 billion from the Federal Government share of Excess Crude revenue for the immediate completion of the Ajaokuta Steel Company.

The lawmakers stated through the motion that all monies that may from time to time be appropriated and authorized by any tier of government should be part of the funding for the completion of the company.

The Senate also added that all loans or grants from time to time made to the country for the purpose of completing the Ajaokuta Steel Company should be ploughed in the completion purse.

The bill titled: “Ajaokuta Steel Company Completion Fund Bill, 2018” is in concurrence to the earlier one passed in the House of Representatives on March 28, 2018.

Senate Leader, Senator Ahmed Lawan representing Yobe North had presented the bill for concurrence to the Senate which handled the bill at a Committee of the Whole.

The lawmakers clarified that there was the need for the Federal Government to complete the plant as against the then plan to concession it.

According to the proposed law, all fund shall be applied by the minister subject to appropriation by the National Assembly only for the purpose of ‘’the construction, improvement, extension, enlargement and replacement of infrastructure and works, including the provision, acquisition, improvement and replacement of other capital assets required in respect of or in connection with the completion of the Ajaokuta Steel Company project.

‘’The acquisition of land and of any right or interest in or over land and in respect of the use of any invention.

‘’The carrying on of any survey, research or investigation preparatory to the undertaking of any such purpose as is referred to in paragraph (a) and (b) or the formation of any plan or scheme for the development, improvement, of Ajaokuta Steel Company project.’’

Deputy Senate President, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, who presided, said that the bill if signed into law, would go a long way to facilitate the quick completion of the Ajaokuta Steel complex.

The Senate also adopted the Presidential Programme on Rehabilitation and Reintegration (establishment and implementation) Bill 2018.

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Governors Meet Over Minimum Wage Again

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Governors of the states of the federation have yet again met in Abuja on Thursday night to continue their deliberation over the new national minimum wage which they have yet to reach an agreement on.

The states had offered to pay N22,500 while the federal government wants to pay N24,000 against the N30,000 being demanded by the organized labour.

The meeting presided over by the chairman of the Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF), Governor Abdulaziz Yari of Zamfara state at its National Secretariat in Abuja, did not appear to make much progress as Yari said there was nothing new to report.

Many state governors did not show up for the meeting that was a prelude to the National Economic Council (NEC) scheduled to hold on Friday.

In rejecting the N24,000 proposed by the federal government, the NGF had in their last meeting, set up a committee to meet with President Muhammadu Buhari to canvass its position.

It was not clear whether the committee was able to convince the president to back the NGF’s position on the minimum wage.

The NEC meeting to be presided over by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo will however focus on the Human Capital Development Programme of the present administration hinged on “investment in our people.”

The meeting is being convened in line with the administration’s Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) for inclusive growth human development nationwide.

Expected at the extended session are all NEC members including state governors and Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

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