Nigerians Jailed In Dutch ‘Voodoo Curse’ Trial
Two Nigerians accused of using voodoo curses to force about 140 Nigerian girls into prostitution in Europe were sentenced to jail terms of four and and four-and-a-half years.
Four other defendants received terms of one or two years while three were found not guilty by a court in Zwolle in the central Netherlands Thursday. Prosecutors had asked for eight years in jail for the two main accused and up to four years for the others.
The trial, on charges of human trafficking and membership of a criminal organisation, opened last March.
Prosecutors said about 140 Nigerian girls brought by the gang into the Netherlands as asylum seekers had disappeared from asylum centres in 2006 and 2007.
About a dozen of the girls were traced, while the rest were thought to have been forced into prostitution in Italy, Spain and France. Most were minors at the time, their ages ranging from 16 to 23.
The Netherlands allegedly served as a transit point for the girls, sent by the suspects from Nigeria with false identity papers and instructions for an asylum application.
“The suspects used voodoo to influence the girls,” said a prosecution statement. “They had to give blood, nails or a piece of clothing and make a promise to a voodoo priest to repay the ‘debts’ incurred for their travel to Europe” — between 30,000 euros (44,400 dollars) and 60,000 euros each.
That means that they would have had to have forced sex about 3,000 times and give up the proceeds. In a foreign country, far from home, with no way out — living with the fear of going crazy or dying if they disobey their handlers,” said the statement.
Subsidy: FG Owes NNPCL N2.8trn-Kyari
The Group Chief Executive Officer of the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPCL), Mele Kyari, yesterday in Abuja said the Federal Government still owes the company N2.8tn that it had spent on petrol subsidy.
“Today, we are waiting for them to settle up to N2.8tn of NNPC’s cash flow from the subsidy regime and we can’t continue to build this,” Kyari told State House Correspondents after meeting with President Bola Tinubu at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
During his inaugural speech on Monday, the President said he was aware that the 2023 appropriation act does not provide for petrol subsidy beyond June; the end of the 18-month extension period approved by the Buhari administration for the discontinuance of petrol subsidy.
Therefore, he confirmed that the subsidy will not be continued.
Affirming the President’s stance, Kyari argued that the subsidy payment is no longer tenable as it makes it difficult for the company to fund its core businesses.
He said, “Since the provision of the N6tn in 2022, and N3.7tn in 2023, we have not received any payment whatsoever from the Federation.
“That means they (Federal Government) are unable to pay and we’ve continued to support this subsidy from the cash flow of the NNPC. That is, when we net off our fiscal obligations of taxes and royalty, there’s still a balance that we’re funding from our cash flow. And that has become very, very difficult and affecting our other operations.
“We’re not able to keep some of these cash for invest on our core businesses. And the end result is that it can be a huge challenge for the company and we have highlighted this severally to government that they must compensate and NNPC they must pay back an NNPC for the money that we have spent on the subsidy”.
Kyari who said the NNPCL has footed petrol subsidy from its cash flow said the government is unable to pay back the N2.8tn spent so far.
“So today, the country don’t (doesn’t) have the money to pay for subsidy. There’s incremental value that will come from it. But it is not an issue of whether you can do it or not because today we can’t afford it and they are not able to pay our bill. That comes to how much is the federation owing NNPC now.
“Today, we are waiting for them to settle up to N2.8tn of NNPC’s cashflow from the subsidy regime and we can’t continue to build this,” he explained.
Kyari said the reemerging petrol queues nationwide are understandable as marketers will like to understand the meaning of the President’s pronouncement that “subsidy is gone.”
He said that the uncertainty on the remark also caused consumers to rush for the product, causing queues.
The NNPCL boss assured Nigerians that the government would initiate measures to cushion the effects of the subsidy discontinuance.
Kyari was also joined by the Chief Executive Officer of Nigerian Mainstream and Downstream Regulatory Authority, Faruk Ahmed, who said the government will not place any price cap on the sale of petroleum products in the country.
DSS Siege On Lagos Office Shocking -EFCC
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has described as shocking the seizure of its office on Awolowo Road in Lagos by operatives of the Department of State Services (DSS).
The takeover of the office is reported to have prevented staff of the anti-graft agency from gaining access to their desks as they reported to work on Monday morning.
The operatives of the DSS are said to have used armoured personnel carriers to block the entrance, which they have been sharing with the EFCC over the years.
The spokesman for the EFCC, Mr Wilson Uwujaren, described the blockade of the office by the DSS as strange to the commission given that the two agencies had been sharing the facility for over 20 years.
“We have cohabited with the DSS in that facility for 20 years without incident”, he said.
Uwujaren added: “By denying operatives access to their offices, the commission’s operations at its largest hub with over 500 personnel, hundreds of exhibits, and many suspects in detention have been disrupted.
“Cases scheduled for a court hearing today have been aborted, while many suspects who had been invited for questioning are left unattended. Even more alarming is that suspects in detention are left without care with grave implications for their rights as inmates.
“All of these have wider implications for the nation’s fight against economic and financial crimes.
“The siege is inconsistent with the synergy expected of agencies working for the same government and nation, especially when there are ongoing discussions on the matter.
But in dismissing the claim of seizure of the EFCC office, the DSS said it was not in a fight with the EFCC over the facility.
The Public Relations Officer of the DSS, Dr. Peter Afunanya, in a statement on Monday, said it was incorrect to say that the secret police had barricaded the premises and barred EFCC agents from functioning.
The statement said: “The attention of the Department of State Services (DSS) has been drawn to some media reports that it barricaded the EFCC from entering its Lagos office. It is not correct that the DSS barricaded EFCC from entering its office. No. It is not true.
The Service is only occupying its own facility where it is carrying out its official and statutory responsibility.
“By the way, there is no controversy over No. 15A Awolowo Road as being insinuated by the Media. Did the EFCC tell you it is contesting the ownership of the building? I will be surprised if it is contesting the ownership. Awolowo Road was NSO headquarters. SSS/DSS started from there. It is common knowledge. It is a historical fact. Check it out.
“There is no rivalry between the Service and the EFCC over and about anything. Please do not create any imaginary ones. They are great partners working for the good of the nation. Dismiss any falsehood of a fight”.
Senate Approves N1.4trn As Budget For NDDC
The Senate has approved a total sum of N1,413,991, 634,495.65 for the 2021 and 2022 budgets of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).
According to what was approved yesterday by the Senate, the sum of N485,794,575,131 is for the 2021 fiscal year of the agency, while N928,297,049,364.65 is for the 2022 Appropriation of the agency.
The approval was sequel to the presentation and consideration of the report of the Senate Ad-hoc Committee on 2021 and 2022 budget estimates of NDDC chaired by Senator Yusuf Yusuf, APC, Taraba Central.
In his presentation, he observed that details of revenue and expenditures of 2021, 2022 and 1st quarter of 2023 were not provided as requested for the committee’s thorough scrutiny, “thus it could not be well ascertained if the expenditures incurred duly follow the Financial Regulations and confines within the bidding thresholds.
According to him, there was a trust deficit between the NDDC Board and Management “which has, on the one hand, caused the management to ignore Board’s decisions, and on the other rendered the Board less efficient to the extent of not being able to compel the management to follow due process, or impose sanctions where necessary.”
The committee made some recommendations that were adopted by the Senate.
The report read, “The Senate mandates its committee on Niger Delta Affairs to wade in and resolve the obvious trust deficit between the NDDC Board and its management to ensure that the commission is legally compliant in all processes and focus on achieving its mandate
“The Ad-hoc Committee notes that without approval and regularizing the 2021 and 2022 budget estimates, the Commission cannot operate the already approved Appropriation of the 2023 budget estimates as required by the provisions of the Public Procurement Act requiring the approval and performance of the previous years.
“That in view of NDDC not meeting its contractual obligations which are liable to a preponderance of litigation and considering the fate of about 40 million people in Niger Delta region, the Ad-hoc Committee hereby urges that the Senate do consider and approve the 2021 and 2022 budget proposals of the Niger Delta Development Commission as recommended by the Senate Committee on Niger Delta Affairs, earlier considered at the plenary and referred to this Ad-hoc Committee to investigate, and for further legislative action.”
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