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City Crime

Of Taskforce And Hoodlums

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Only recently, a six-member taskforce pursued a truck carrying bundles of iron from Eliozu to Rumuo-domaya in Obio/Akpor Local Government Area of River State.
They had chased the trailer driver coming from Aba in Abia State from Eliozu, where the office of their principal is.
The six-member taskforce was determined to extort money from the trailer driver, either by hook or crook.  They had hired a small white bus to chase the fleeing trailer driver. Three of the taskforce members alighted from the bus, climbed onto the moving truck and pummeled the driver with blows. They had ransacked and emptied his pockets in search of money to steal but the truck driver was not deterred and did not budge.  He could not stop because he did not know what the assailants were up to. He had no inkling about whether they were legitimate or not.
One of his assailants got hold of a noxious liquid and administered same to his eyes. As the driver bent down to evade the onslaught, the trailer veered, smashed a yellow Nissan Xterra Jeep with registration number: EKY 298CC and ended up in a gutter. But for the bashing of the Nissan Xterra jeep which caused the trailer to stop, many citizens at the National Identity Registration Centre would have been killed.
As soon as the taskforce members noticed the damage they had caused, they fled for their lives as a crowd that had gathered around the scene chased them. But one of the taskforce members was caught by the mob as he ran out of luck. He was seriously manhandled but the vehicle owner, a legal practitioner, who did not want him to be killed, implored the mob to hand him over to law enforcement agents. The matter was reported at the Rumuodomaya Special Area Division in Obio/Akpor Local Government of Rivers State.
The two suspects caught by good citizens of Rivers State were handed over to the police in that division and detained therein.
At Rumuigbo, a similar incident occurred. Also, at Mile 3, Diobu; Port Harcourt, The Tide gathered another incident had also unleashed mayhem.
The Mile 3 incident, according to an eye witness, provoked commercial drivers bearing machetes to block the road.
Our source disclosed that it took the intervention of officers and men of the Nigerian police to quell the rampage.
For the umpteenth time, taskforce members wreaked havoc in the state. The state government had earlier banned the use of taskforce following the ugly incidents that occasioned their revenue drives. The present taskforce that has started on a bad note, The Tide gathered, is purportedly assigned to check wrong parking.
Unfortunately, the task-force members are faceless people drawn from hoodlums and a preponderance of jobless people. Most of them, according to reports, are not only unemployed but are also unemployable. Hooliganism and ruthlessness are their stock-in- trade. They execute benumbing cruelty on their victims. Sometimes, they kill, maim and rob their victims in the name of raking in revenue for government. They are in the semblance of the biblical Devil whose mission is to steal, kill and destroy.
Unfortunately, this class of taskforce members does not carry identity cards. They are not given any by their principals but are simply foisted on the society to wreak havoc and unleash mayhem.  For them it is the survival of the fittest, and the society is worse for it. It is pathetic that this kind of thing is happening in the 21st century, when the world has become a global village and most of these ugly scenes are posted on the social media.
Regrettably, the negative image the activities of the hoodlums’ paint can only be imagined, no wonder, our country is often referred to as a shithole country. But what manner of revenue collection requires touts to jump into a moving trailer. Apart from endangering their own lives and that of the vehicle driver, the entire society is at risk in the unfolding drama of the absurd.
Two years back, a female police officer was killed when she was on traffic duty around the Rumukrushe axis of Obio/Akpor Local Government Area of the state. A stray bullet had hit her skull and killed her immediately when another policeman had shot at hawkers in the area. The police woman who was married with three children was felled in a disgusting manner. As she lay in the pool of her own blood, she was posted on the social media.
The state governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, summarily disbanded the task force and it was soothing to many frayed nerves. It also alleviated the pains of those in business and right-thinking members of the society.
The word “task force, according to Oxford Advanced Learners Dictionary is “a military force that is brought together and sent to a particular place, (2) a group of people, who are a brought together to deal with a particular problem.”
When one looks closely at the definition of the word “task force”, one is bound to find out that the concept of taskforce precludes an assembly of rejects of the society or hoodlums who are taking a toll on a society that has no place for them. Task forces are constituted to deal with certain problems and not as revenue agents. They are often on adhoc basis and once the problem is solved, they are disbanded.
Again, trap setting for members of the society is not one of functions of government. A government that lures its citizens into crime with the aim of extorting them for the sake revenue is at best a totalitarian one. That is why the prosecution of criminal wrongs ends up in imprisonment. Only minor criminal wrongs are given the option of fine.
The use of a task force that bastardizes the psyche of the society often attracts deprecatory comments about the government in power.
A taskforce consisting of faceless citizens with the sole aim of extorting money from drivers can only originate from illegality. It is a nullity. You cannot put something on nothing. In civilized countries, the police are in charge of traffic not hoodlums or taskforce.  Traffic policemen or traffic wardens are in charge of traffic related offences. Traffic offences are quasi- criminal matters and their punishments are not as severe as such that is why policemen who are knowledgeable in law should handle it. Again, no person can be punished for any crime which is not written in any legal code. Crimes and punishments are codified. Among the various taskforces, the amount of money extorted from vehicle drivers depends largely on the naivety of their victims. The drivers that are greatly extorted are the ones that come from other states.
The taskforce set up by National Union of Road Transport Workers is the most vicious one. It works with benumbing insensitivity to the plight of its victims.
More pathetic is the fact that the task forces have no adjudicatory mechanism to prove the validity of their allegations against the so-to-speak defendants. They are the police and the court at same time. They allege, arraign, try and punish offenders, all by themselves. The right of fair hearing enshrined in Section 36 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended) is at best jettisoned. The barbarity of the process stares every right-thinking Nigerian in the face.
Pathetically, taskforce members drawn from hoodlums are anti-society. Moreover, since most of them are on a daily pay, they can afford to commit crimes and go scot free.  This is because there is certainly no means of identifying who they are. They fizzle into thin air on the least apprehension of danger and the society is victimized.
One hardly understands where members of the taskforce derive their powers to harass and molest innocent citizens. There is obviously no statute backing the use of anonymous and faceless citizens as members of a taskforce to cause mayhem in the society.
The police that are enlisted in the Nigeria police, wear name tags and numbers and can be identified with a specific police division. Taskforce members are everywhere and recruited from everywhere. A policeman that pleaded anonymity told The Tide that one of the frequent cases that attended Police stations in recent times had to do with the excesses and depravity of the taskforce: an uncouth assemblage of hoodlums. Indeed, nothing good can come from this kind of arrangement.
On the one hand, some taskforces are established by government but a preponderance of others that take liberty for license aren’t. They are impersonators. There is grave danger in assigning specific duties to taskforce members that are not profiled. Again, making taskforce assignment exclusively for hoodlums goes against the grain.  Those who are not trained and have no conscience put the society at risk. Power of any kind must not be given to men of questionable characters.
On the other hand, if government does not establish a taskforce with a relevant legislation who does that? Again, is there any provision in any extant statute authorising the use of a taskforce peopled by hoodlums?
Interestingly, every organization established by government is a creation of the law, and it derives its power from the law. Where an organization or body is not created by the law, it is nonexistent. Any act done by such a body or purported to be done by such non-existent body is null and void. That is why the operation of the taskforce set up by the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW) without the necessary backing by the law can at best be described as an illegality.
In Lagos State, there is the Lagos State Ministry of Transport fondly referred to as LASMA, which levies fine on vehicle drivers that violate traffic regulations. The Ministry can be taken to court when the rights of drivers and vehicle owners are violated. But faceless task force members without proper means of identification are a grave danger to the society.
Years ago, the Rivers State Ministry of Transport used a taskforce simply referred to as MOT to deal with ubiquitous wrong parking of vehicles, obstruction of traffic and sundry other traffic offences and it was good.
MOT could sue and be sued.
What is very offensive today is that members of taskforce depend solely on what they are able to rake in on a daily basis to get paid. This again, is bound to cause problem as “man must eat” syndrome relieves them of any sense of responsibility and justice. Members of taskforce today are not profiled; they cannot sue and cannot be sued especially as they are faceless.
But how long will the society remain in this ugly state of affairs. There are indications that more illegal taskforces are likely to emerge as 2023 draws nearer.

 

By: Chidi Enyie

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City Crime

Sustaining Existing Peace In ONELGA

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Security is one area that leaders of all tiers of government must address their minds to. This is because government originated from the desire of the bourgeoisie to secure their property from the commoners.
Consequently, one of the fundamental responsibilities of government is to ensure the security of lives and property of the citizenry.
Most importantly, the present situation in the country calls for concerted efforts by all and sundry to ensure that law-abiding citizens of the federation were safe.
Interestingly, less than 24 hours from now, chief security officers of the 23 local government councils executive in the Rivers State will be sworn in by the executive governor of the state, Chief Nyesom Wike.
It is expected that the council chairmen will complement the robust security architecture already fixed by the governor. The proactiveness of the state chief executive has paid handsomely as the level of security in the state has been beefed up. This is exemplified by the short fall in security challenges.
Many people who spoke with The Tide on their expectations from the council chairman across the state harped on the need to battle insecurity.
Speaking with newsmen in Port Harcourt on Monday, a business operator and resident of Omoku, Mrs Patience Ndidi (Nee Obuah), who spoke on behalf of the business community urged the incoming chairman to sustain the existing peace in Ogba/Egbema/Ndoni Local Government Area of the State.
She described the chairman-elect, Hon. Vincent Job as a trusted leader as well as epitome of what a leader should be.
Mrs Ndidi expressed hope that the incoming chairman would sustain the existing peace in the area. According to her, “the peace we are enjoying today must be sustained even as we pray for him”.
Also speaking, an elder statesman in the area, Chief Ono Eze Obi, said, “my expectation is for the chairman elect to accord the security of lives and property a priority because our people must stay alive to enjoy the dividends of democracy.”
He noted that insecurity had relegated the local government to the background which they did not want to recur.
“We expect the incoming chairman to tackle security holistically by partnering with relevant stakeholders, security operatives, especially the local government vigilante called ONELGA Security Planning and Advisory Committee (OSPAC),” he stated
“Hon Vincent Job understands administration especially at this level. He is assuming this exalted office at this critical time in our history, when insecurity has been a great source of worry to all and sundry.”
Hon Azubuike Awuya, a youth leader in Obrikom stated.
“He should act like a desired messiah in this regard. I can assure you our people will be pleased with his administration; Hon. Awuya noted.
Another person, who spoke with The Tide, the female youth leader, Hon. Sarah Woko, said the blueprint conveyed by Hon Vincent Job during his electoral campaign received wide acceptance.
She averred that the blueprint had given them the assurance of peace and tranquility in the area.
She said, “the security architecture must be adequately strengthened to further boost both economic and social activities of our people.
Also speaking, a farmer residing in ONELGA, Mr Ossai Tony, noted ,” I join other farmers to plead with the incoming chairman to ensure farmers could conveniently go to their farms without security threats. We give kudos to ONELGA OSPAC. They are the reason farmers can carry out their legitimate business, so we expect him to sustain it.
A trader, Mr Okechukwu Nwokocha who spoke with The Tide noted,” I must thank you for this opportunity. A lot of expectations but the one that concerns us is that of security. Since the arrival of OSPAC business activities have grown steadily. We operate freely without molestation. The only thing he can do for us is the sustenance of security, peace and order. We will be grateful to him”, he said.
It would be recalled that ONELGA was the hotbed of crisis during the era of late Don Wani, the cult kingpin that relegated the LGA to the background. The killing of Don Wani and the formation of OSPAC were two things that brought a new lease of life to residents of the area.
The issue of reliving the horrible and ugly experiences of the pre-OSPAC days has often assailed the minds of ONELGA residents, little wonder then that everyone craves for the sustenance of the security apparatus in the area.
Before OSPAC was formed, many ONELGA communities had been deserted. Raping of women and girls was commonplace. Killings, decapitation and selling of body parts were the order of the day.
Don Wani was the notorious dictator in the entire local government area.
It would be pertinent therefore for successive council administrations in the area to sustain peace so that there should be no relapse into the horrors of the past.
Ralph Echefu is a public affairs analyst, based in Port Harcourt.

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City Crime

Whether Rent Is Refundable

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A Tenancy Agreement is a contract between a landlord and the tenant which sets out the rights and obligations of both the landlord and the tenant when renting property in Nigeria. Both landlord and tenant have something called implied rights in all tenancy relationships whether or not a tenancy agreement exists. However, a tenancy agreement is important because it provides further protection for both the landlord and the tenant, and it expands on the implied rights.
As the tenancy agreement is a contract between two parties, the landlord and the tenant, the tenant has the right to review the terms of the tenancy agreement to determine whether or not the agreement protects his/her interests.
As a landlord or a tenant, you need to ensure that your tenancy agreement includes the following terms and information at a minimum:

  • The names and addresses of the landlord and the Tenant and the address of the property
  • The start date and end date of the tenancy
  • How much the rent will be
  • Other applicable amounts including legal fees, agency fees, security deposits, service charges/fees etc as applicable.
  • The obligation of both the landlord and the tenant.
  • An outline of bills the tenant is responsible for.
    The above list is not exhaustive, these and more terms that are frequently included in well-drafted tenancy Aaeements. It is advisable therefore, that a well drafted tenancy agreement is signed by both parties.
    Having established the fact that a tenancy is a contract, it must be noted that breaking it at will does not entitle the tenant any refund. In simple terms, there is no refund of rent after payment. If the tenancy surrenders before the contract is executed, the Landlord may return the amount gained which was let out during the subsistence of the tenancy which was surrendered, apart from that; a tenant is not entitled to refund. See Abdurahman V. Thomas (2019) 12 NWLR (PT 1685) 107 SC @ 129, Nig Con Holding Com. Ltd V. Owayele (1988) 4 NWLR (PT 90) 588 @ 603.
    The mere fact that the tenant returned key does not mean rescission of the tenancy. When tenants returns key before the expiration of his tent, he is not entitled to refund of rent except the property was let out, and it is only for the remainder of the period let out and paid for by the new tenant within the period under by the old tenant.
    In other words, your tenancy will continue to subsist in the apartment until it is let to a new tenant. Once the place is let after you have vacated (and before the expiration of your tenancy), you are then refunded for the unexpired term.
  • By: Nkechi Bright-Ewere
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City Crime

Five Friends In Court For Abduction, Robbery

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An FCT High Court, Kubwa, has fixed July 5 for the definite hearing in a case against five friends.
Justus Alex, Victor Alex, Marcus Eze, Asogwa Johnson and John Ofor face four counts of armed robbery and abduction filed by the police.
Justice Kezziah Ogbonnaya fixed the date after prosecution counsel, Sadiq Haruna, announced he had made rearrangements with the court registrar to serve the defendants’ sureties.
The sureties could not be served due to the Judicial Staff Union of Nigeria (JUSUN) strike.
The defendants are accused of robbing one Theophilus Kelechi and three others of five phones, one digital camera and N50,000 cash at Nandu Plaza, Wuse Zone 5, Abuja on October 15, 2019.
They also allegedly abducted Chief Benard Nwora from his office at Suite 52 of the same plaza and took him to Ado village in Nasarawa.
According to the prosecution, they demanded N50 million ransom from his wife, Bethel.
The police recovered two pistols, six live cartridges without licence, from the friends in Ado on October 16, 2019.
Their offences contravened the provisions of Section 2(3) of the Robbery and Firearms Special Provision Act Cap 398 LFN 1990 and Section 273 of the Penal Code.
All the suspects have pleaded not guilty.

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