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Alleged N544m Fraud: Court Adjourns Babachir’s Case Until Oct 6

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An FCT High Court in Jabi yesterday adjourned until October 6 and October 7 the trial of former Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Babachir Lawal.
Babachir is charged with 10 counts bordering on fraud, criminal conspiracy to diversion of over N544 million belonging to the Federal Government, in the award of contract in removal of evasive plant species in the North -East.
The EFCC also charged Hamidu, the former SGF’s younger brother, Suleiman Abubakar, Apeh Monday and two companies – Rholavision Engineering Limited and Josmon Technologies Limited.
At the resumed sitting on Thursday slated for cross-examination before Justice Charles Agbaza, the prosecution’s third witness, Fatima Umar, a Deputy Director, Head of Digital Forensic Laboratory, EFCC, took to the stand, to be cross examined by Babchir’s counsel, Akin Olujinmi, SAN.
During cross examination, Umar confirmed that as a digital expert, she knew that the internet offered various possibilities in terms of use.
In addition, she admitted being aware of the activities of hackers on the internet and their ability to take over a third party’s device without physically touching nor without the consent or authorisation of the owner.
Umar however said that before a device is hacked into and data get transferred using Bluetooth facility, pairing of devices must be done first before transfer of data can be enabled, which ultimately meant the owner of the device will have knowledge of the transfer.
Olujimi on his part asked Umar to confirm that there was a possibility that if the phone was in possession of another person apart from the owner, such pairing and subsequent transfer of data could be done without his knowledge.
In her response, she said yes, but she however said that was not the case in the extant suit.
According to Olujimi, he said that there was possibility that the phone which was taken from one Musa Bulani by one Ibrahim Ahmad, an EFCC’s operative in November 2017 did not get to Umar until March 9, 2018.
He therefore asked Umar to confirm the chain of custody within that period and the possibility that the phone was not tampered with and incriminating evidence planted in
She confirmed that the phone was in perfect working condition when it was brought for data to be extracted from it and analysed, accompanied by consent, specific analysis and chain of custody forms.
Umar said she had to interact with the owner of the phone as he needed to be brought to the laboratory because the phone had a pass code.
“ He was brought to the lab because in the consent form which was supposed to know the state and information of the device, whether it had a password or not and in this case.
“ In filling the form, he included a password that was wrong, so I requested for him to be brought to give the correct password,” she explained.
Olujimi in response to her answer stated that evidence from exhibit eight which was a letter sent to Umar to extract and analyse information from the phone was just the consent form.
He also pointed out that the evidence about the phone being password was not in any document before the court.
In concluding his evidence, he asked Umar if she could haçk into another person’s phone with her knowledge as a digital forensic expert. She answered in the affirmative, but added “not in this case”.
Justice Agbaza at the end of Olujimi’s cross examination adjourned the matter until October 6 and October 7 for the continuation of cross examination of the witness by the remaining four defence counsel.

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NDLEA Arrests 774 Suspects, Seizes 3,874.3kgs Of Drugs In Benue, Nasarawa, Plateau

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NDLEA arrested 774 suspects and seized 3,874.3kgs of various narcotics and psychotropic substances in Nasarawa, Benue and Plateau State in the first half of 2022.
The three states make the Zone D of the narcotics agency.
Zonal Commander in the zone Umoru Ambrose, said this in Lafia yesterday while marking the 2022 UN International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking.
He said 134 drug suspects were prosecuted during the period, while 378 drug users were counselled and rehabilitated.
He added that states in the zone had intensified their operations in the War against Drug Abuse and sensitisation.
Ambrose called on all stakeholders to get involved in curbing drugs menace in the zone.
In his remarks, NDLEA Commander in Nasarawa State, Peter Odaudu, said the celebrations underscored the need for access to proper treatment for people with drug disorders.
He stressed that the war against drugs must be intensified in Nasarawa State especially given its position as the second highest drug prevalence state in the North Central after Kwara.
“Statistics from the 2018 drug survey showed a very alarming trend, the involvement of females in drug issues.
“We have at least one female out of every four drug users; this development is worrisome and must be reversed,’’ he said.
Odaudu thanked Nasarawa State’s Governor Abdullahi Sule for his support for the NDLEA and solicited urgent intervention in the provision of operational vehicles and the construction of a rehabilitation centre.
Guest speaker, Mr Nwora Okpalaeke, who is coordinator of the Pharmacists Council of Nigeria in Nasarawa State, said 494,000 users died of drug abuse in 2019.
He spoke on “Illicit Drugs in Health and Humanitarian Crises.’’
He said drug abusers suffered liver cirrhosis, stroke, hepatitis, kidney and heart failure, noting that 14.3 million Nigerians are drug addicts, while three million are suffering from drug-related disorders.
“Government should strengthen the system to prevent proliferation of drugs and pay attention to agencies charged with reversing the situation.
“Drug abuse affects economic growth; the higher the abuse the higher the level of insecurity and poverty,’’ he said.
Senior Special Assistant on Primary Healthcare to Governor Sule, Margaret Elayo, commended the NDLEA in the state and assured of partnership to curb drug abuse in Nasarawa State.
The theme for this year’s celebration of the Day is: “Addressing Drug Challenges in Health and Humanitarian Crises.’

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NDLEA Arrests 218 Suspects, Seizes 1,471.314kg Of Drugs In Imo

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The Imo State Command of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) has arrested 218 drug suspects made up of 171 males and 47 females.
The agency has also seized 1,471.314kg of drugs between July 2021 and June 2022.
The state commandant, NDLEA, Mr. Reuben Apeh, disclosed this while speaking to The Tide ahead of this year’s International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Drugs Trafficking.
He said that 1,458.49kg of Cannabis Sativa, 1,0513kg of cocaine, 0.2077kg of Heroine, 3.896kg of Methamphetamine and 3.184kg of Tramadol were exhibits seized within the period under review.
Apeh disclosed further that cannabis farm in hectares was also destroyed in Imo State while 0.5278kg of Rohypnol and 2.5135kg of diazepam were among the seized exhibits.
He stated that some of the arrested suspects had been arraigned and convicted for drug related offences at the Federal High Court.
According to him, “Within the period covered, 51 were convicted and 145 were charged and their cases are still on going”.
Apeh described the drug situation in Imo State as worrisome, saying women have joined the illicit trade for financial gains.
He lamented that drug peddling was alarming among the younger generation in the state.
He, therefore, called on the stakeholders to partner with NDLEA to sensitize the society on the dangers of drug abuse.

By: Joe Nwachukwu, Owerri

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NDE Trains 750 Youths On Apprenticeship Skills In Imo

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The National Directorate for Employment (NDE) has commenced the training of 750 youths on various apprenticeship skills in Imo State.
Director-General of the NDE, Mallam Abubakar Nuhu-Fikpo, made this known while flagging off the training programme in Owerri, the Imo State capital.
The Tide reports that the training is captured under the Advanced National Open Apprenticeship Scheme (A-NOAS) and Basic National Apprenticeship Scheme (B-NOAS) of the Directorate’s Department of Vocational Skills Development (VSD).
The training skills include barbing, basic tailoring, hairdressing, welding, event planning, make- up, confectionery and auto mechanic, among others.
Nuhu-Fikpo, represented by the State Coordinator of the NDE in Imo State, Mrs Ngozi Ihenacho, explained that the trainees include youths and women drawn from the 27 local government areas of the state.
According to him, the intensive training programme will take place in the Directorate’s training centres, one in each senatorial district of the state, and last for three months.
He urged the trainees to utilise the opportunity provided by the training programme to acquire viable skills that would enable them become self-reliant, and thereby decongest the labour market, and reduce poverty and hunger.
“In today’s world, opportunities such as these are rare and hardly come on a platter and I  urge you, my dear beneficiaries, to take this opportunity serious, be punctual at the training venue with the aim of liberating yourselves from the chains of poverty and unemployment”, he advised.
Also speaking at the programme, Director of the VSD, Mallam Isa Abdu, explained that the training scheme would run simultaneously, with the beneficiaries receiving transport allowances for the duration of training.
Abdu, represented by a senior staff in VSD, Mr Onyekwelu Igwesi, said that expert trainers had been hired to conduct the training and urged the trainees to justify the opportunity given them to become employers of labour.
“All over the world, as the value of money depreciates, entrepreneurs are adjusting with the times, hence the need for viable skills that can drive the economy. Learn the skills and be your own boss”, he said.
One of the trainees, Miss Oluchi Uchenna, who responded on behalf of his colleagues, thanked the NDE for creating the opportunity for them to thrive in their quest to become economically independent.

By: Joe Nwachukwu, Owerri

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