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Asset Declaration: Court Declines FG’s Request To Arrest Ekweremadu

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The Abuja Division of the Federal High Court, yesterday, declined to order the arrest of the Deputy Senate President, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, following his absence in court to face trial over his alleged refusal to declare his assets to the Special Presidential Investigative Panel for the Recovery of Public Assets.
The court, in a ruling that was delivered by trial Justice Binta Nyako, turned down an application the Chief Okio Obono-Obla-led Presidential Panel made for a bench warrant to be issued against Ekweremadu.
Justice Nyako said she was not unmindful of the fact that Ekweremadu had earlier filed processes to challenge the jurisdiction of the court, as well as the legal competence of the two-count criminal charge the panel preferred against him.
The panel had through its lawyer, Mr. Celsius Ukpong, insisted that Ekweremadu ought to physically appear before the court to either enter his plea to the charge, or to query the validity of his trial.
It told the court that the Defendant was duly served with all the relevant processes in the charge that was entered against him since May 11.
The prosecution accused Ekweremadu of deliberately making himself unavailable in court so as to frustrate his trial.
It, therefore, applied for an order to compel security agencies to arrest and produce him before the court for arraignment.
However, Ekweremadu’s lawyer, Chief Adegboyega Awomolo, SAN, persuaded the court to refuse the application which he said was highly unmeritorious.
Aside drawing the attention of the court to his client’s grounds of objection, the defence lawyer said it was more honourable for the Presidential Panel to withdraw the charge since the Court of Appeal has declared its operations as illegal.
Awomolo tendered a copy of the appellate court’s judgment that was delivered on November 5, stressing that the higher court made it abundantly clear that the panel, which filed the criminal charge against his client, has no prosecutorial power under the law.
After she had listened to both parties, Justice Nyako, said there was no necessity for the court to issue a bench warrant against Ekweremadu.
The Judge subsequently adjourned the case till February 26, 2019, to hear Ekweremadu’s preliminary objections to his trial.
The Presidential Panel had in the charge marked FHC/ABJ/CR/62/2018, alleged that Ekweremadu refused to declare his assets in a manner it prescribed for him.
It alleged that the Defendant ignored several invitations extended for him to “clarify issues in the allegation of excessive wealth or suspicious assets” which it said “cannot be justified or explained” by his legitimate income.

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Bello’s Gunmen After My Life, Family -Kogi Dep Gov

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Deputy Governor of Kogi State, Elder Simon Achuba yesterday alleged that the governor of the state has sent gunmen after his life.
Acbuba called on the inspector General of Police, the Department of State Services (DSS), the Army and other security personnel to safeguard his life, family members and his aides.
Achuba, who spoke with newsmen at his official residence in Lokoja said, “From all information at my disposal, the governor has mobilised gunmen to attack me.
“I want the police, SSS, IGP to know that if anything should happen to me, my family and aides, the governor should be held responsible.”
The deputy governor likewise called on the President to beam his searchlight on the state.

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LGAs Responsible For Farmers, Herdsmen Clashes In Nigeria -UN

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Zebulon Takwa, Peace and Development Adviser, Office of the UN Resident Coordinator in Nigeria, says poor Local Government administration is largely responsible for farmers-herdsmen clashes in Nigeria
Takwa, who gave the position in an interview with newsmen yesterday in Abuja, expressed concerns over “weak operational structures at the local government level’’.
He said that issues that were supposed to be addressed by local administration authority were left unattended to over a long period.
The UN official noted that most of the issues that escalated to crises ought to have been resolved at the local level by the authorities, traditional and religious leaders.
He decried the situation where structures for such prompt amicable settlement were not effective enough to prevent conflicts.
Takwa condemned the situation where most local government officials migrated to urban centres instead of concentrating on their primary responsibilities of settling crises, developing infrastructure and social amenities, among others.

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Reprisal Killing: Taraba Police, Tiv, Junkun Differ On Casualities

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The Police Command in Taraba State has said that only one individual was killed in what appeared to be a revenge for the alleged murder of a Junkun man yesterday.
While the Tiv claimed that no fewer than nine of their kinsmen were killed in Takum town, Takum Local Government Area of Taraba State on Tuesday, the Police said the figure was not true.
Takum is the hometown of Governor DariusIshaku who turned 65 today.
Multiple sources in Takum said trouble started yesterday morning when a Jukun man was killed on his farm along Takum-Wukari road, and irate Jukun youths in Takum went on the rampage, killing at least eight people in the town.
A resident of Takum, Mr. Nathaniel Jato, in a telephone interview with our Correspondent said the eight people killed in Takum town were all Tiv resident in the town.
“We counted at least eight dead bodies around General Hospital Junction and Zenith Bank around the Wukari roundabout.
“We were told that many people were killed around Rimi Primary school area, but there is tension, so we can’t go there.
“The Caretaker Chairman of Takum Local Government Council, ShibanTikari, has assured us that the situation will not escalate, but I am afraid the situation might degenerate if adequate security measures are not put in place,” he lamented.
Jato, who said there was threat that their houses would be attacked in the night, called on Governor Darius Ishaku and security authorities to quickly restore peace in the area to pave way for proper investigation of the matter.

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