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Court Jails Fake Army General Seven Years Over N266.5m Fraud

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Justice Oluwatoyin Taiwo of the Special Offences Court sitting in Ikeja, Lagos, yesterday, convicted and sentenced a fake Army General, Bolarinwa Abiodun, to seven years in prison.
He was convicted on a 13-count charge bordering on obtaining money by false pretence, forgery of documents and possession of documents containing false pretence to the tune of N266,500,000.00.
The offences are contrary to Section 1 (3) of the Advance Fee Fraud and other Fraud Related Offences Act 2006; Section 363 of the Criminal Law of Lagos State 2015 and Section 6 of the Advance Fee Fraud and other Related Offences Act No 14 of 2006, respectively.
The defendant, who was prosecuted by the Lagos Zonal Command of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), posed as a General in the Nigerian Army and was accused of making false representations to the complainant, Kodef Clearing Resources, to the effect that President Muhammadu Buhari, had short-listed him and one other to be appointed as the Chief of Army Staff (COAS), and that he needed a short grant to “press and process the appointment.”
Abiodun, who was arrested at his house in Alagbado area of Lagos State on Wednesday, January 12, 2022, was also accused of forging a letter of appointment as COAS purportedly signed by the president, and showed the same to the victim to further prove his claim.
In the said letter, he claimed that he needed to pay a certain amount of money into the coffers of the Federal Government of Nigeria, as part of the requirements for the appointment as COAS.
Abiodun was also accused of forging a Nigeria Army Identity Card with serial number 387140, claiming the same to have been issued to him from the Nigerian Army, and another forged Letter of Recommendation purportedly signed by Chief Olusegun Obasanjo recommending one Adebayo Rasaq Adebola, with recruitment No 77RRI/OG/556/0032555 and Adeogun Emmanuel Adesola with recruitment No 77RRI/OG/352/0123751 for employment into the Nigeria Army.
He was also accused of being in possession of a forged Certificate of Confirmation dated November 7, 2018, purporting the same to have emanated from the Nigerian Army Headquarters.
He was also accused of being in possession of a forged document titled: Letter of Authorisation, purportedly signed by Chief Olusegun Obasanjo permitting one Bamidele Olusegun Safiriyu of De-Rock Maritime Resource L.T.D. to enter Apapa Port freely and load their truck.
One of the counts reads: “Bolarinwa Oluwasegun Abiodun, between June 15, 2020 and December 31, 2020 in Lagos, within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court, with intent to defraud and whilst holding yourself out as a General in the Nigerian Army, obtained the sum of N111,400,000 from Kodef Clearing Resources Limited, under the pretence that the sum represented part of the amount expended to “press and process” your incoming appointment by the President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, as the Chief Of Army Staff of the Nigerian Army, which pretence you knew to be false.”
Another count reads: “Bolarinwa Oluwasegun Abiodun, sometime in May, 2020 in Lagos within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court, knowingly forged Letter Of Appointment As Chief Of Army Staff dated May 20, 2020, and purported the said document to have emanated from the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, which document you know to be false.”
He had pleaded “not guilty” to the charges when he was first arraigned on April 11, 2022.
Justice Taiwo had also on April 25, 2022, denied him bail, holding that the facts presented by the prosecution showed that he was a flight-risk, and so instead, ordered accelerated hearing.
In the course of the trial, the prosecuting team, Rotimi Oyedepo, A.O. Muhammed, S.I. Suleiman and E.K. Uduak, presented six witnesses, and tendered documentary evidence to prove the case against him.
The prosecution opened its case on April 25, 2022, and closed its case on June 20, 2022.
Thereafter, the defendant was ordered to open his defence.
However, at yesterday’s sitting, the defence counsel, Otunba Ogunleye, informed the court that his client had decided to change his plea, “rather than going through the rigours of defence”.
There was no objection raised by the lead prosecuting counsel, Oyedepo, who noted that “the defendant has the constitutional right to do so, and we are still standing on the same charges.”
Thereafter, the 13 counts were read afresh to him.
“I’m guilty,” he said to all the counts.
Following his guilty plea, Oyedepo gave a review of the facts, urging the court to rely on the evidence of the six witnesses presented by the prosecution and the various documents tendered through them as Exhibit A to W.
He said: “We seek to rely on the unequivocal admission of the defendant by way of his plea admitting the essential ingredients of the offence against him.
“The law is trite; when the defendant pleads guilty to an offence, the burden on the prosecution is as light as feather.
“Even on the strength of his extra-judicial statement, it’s clear as crystal that the defendant admitted to the essential ingredients of the offences alleged against him.
“We seek your lordship’s order to convict the defendant as charged.”
Thereafter, Justice Taiwo convicted him as charged.
Ogunleye in his allocutus, urged the court to temper justice with mercy and to give “a very minimal sentence”, noting that the defendant was remorseful as “demonstrated by his willingness to change his plea and not to further waste the judicial time in this case.
“He has a wife and several children as well as numerous extended family members under his care to whom he is the breadwinner,” he added.
Responding, Oyedepo noted that the prosecution had no record of his previous conviction, but urged the court to impose a sentence to serve as deterrence to others who may want to engage in similar crime.
He further urged the court to order the forfeiture of four vehicles recovered from him, a black Range Rover Sport, a black BMW, a black Toyota Landcruiser, and a white Toyota Hilux, and a property located at No 1A, Joke Ayo Street, Riverside Estate, Alagbado, Lagos as part of restitution to the victim.
He also urged the court to order the closure of the First Bank account used to perpetrate the fraud, in which he changed his name from Hassan Karim Ayinde to Bolarinwa Oluwasegun Abiodun to perpetrate the fraud.
He further urged the court to take cognisance of the fact that the document used for the fraud “was purportedly signed by the Commander-in-Chief, our current and sitting President of the country, the most revered office in the land”, and so prayed the court to impose sentence “that will deter anybody from joking with that office”.
In sentencing the convict, Justice Taiwo held that: “The defendant went the length of involving a former president of this country, General Obasanjo and forged documents allegedly signed by the current president of this country, President Muhammadu Buhari.
“It is so sad that people like the defendant have given our beloved country bad image.
“It is obvious that the defendant appears to be a very intelligent man, more is the pity that he could not put his ingenuity to better use.
“In the light of the seriousness of this scam, and in order to send a clear message to all scammers, fraudsters and criminals, this court is prepared to protect the interest of Nigerians and the society at large.
“I, therefore, sentence the defendant to seven years imprisonment without an option of fine.”
The court also granted the prayers of the prosecution for the forfeiture of the four vehicles and the property in order to help the victim recover his money.
He was also ordered to pay N20million as restitution to the victim.
His First Bank account was also ordered “closed forthwith”.

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Tai APC Collapses As Hundreds Return To PDP …Say They Were Blinded By Fake Promises

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Over 500 former members of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Tai Local Government Area have returned to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
The returnees led by the first PDP Chairman of the area, Hon Peter Gwezia, announced their return to the PDP, last Saturday, during the GDI’s sensitisation programme for the collection of Permanent Voters’ Cards (PVC) at the Council Secretariat, Saakpenwa.
Speaking on behalf of the rest of the returnees while renouncing membership of the APC, Hon Peter Gwezia, said he and other APC members decided to leave the party due to failure of leadership.
While promising to work for the success of the PDP in the 2023 election, Gwezia said the APC lacked ideas, and was like a vehicle without engine, could not take them to their desired destination, hence their decision to leave the party.
In his remarks, Deputy Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, Hon Chukwuemeka Aaron, who received the returnees on behalf of the Chairman, PDP Rivers State, Amb Desmond Akawor, assured them of equal treatment, saying there are no new members in the party.
“I want to welcome you all and to say that in PDP and GDI where you are today, no person is new. We all have equal status, we all have equal rights. Some of the people that were with you there doing the jamboree that came back today, they are commissioners; they have gone to the National Assembly, become chairmen of councils.
“So, having seen what our leader, Chief Nyesom Wike has done in Rivers State, and in Tai, and what your chairman of council is doing in Tai, they have come back to take their rightful position. We want to thank all of you, and to say that the party chairman and the chairman of council will integrate you into the activities of GDI”.
Also speaking, GDI President-General, Chief Bright Amaewhule, said the performance of the present administration in the state was enough testimony for any Rivers son or daughter to reckon that PDP was the only party which had their interest at heart.
Amaewhule said that of the candidates lined up for the governorship seat in the state, only the PDP Governorship candidate, Sir Siminialayi Fubara, was competent and qualified to give the state good governance from day one.
He, therefore, challenged eligible voters who have not collected their PVCs to do so as soon as possible, and prepare to cast their votes for the right party which was a master of good governance and quality projects’ delivery in the state come 2023.
The returnees, alongside GDI members from the 10 wards of Tai, including youths, women and students groups, later engaged in a wild gyration, turning the entire arena into dance frenzy.
The event also featured solidarity speeches from stakeholders among them former and current National and State Assembly members, former and serving council chairmen, former commissioners, party stalwarts, and captains of industry, among others.

By: Nelson Chukwudi

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MOSOP Tasks SPDC On Fresh Oil Spill

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Factional President of the Movement for the Survival of Ogoni People (MOSOP), Mr. Fegalo Nsuke, has called on Shell Petroleum Development Company (Shell) Joint Venture (JV), the oil and gas multinational company, to take full responsibility and appropriate action to curb a fresh oil spill in Bodo Community in Gokana Local Government Area of Rivers State.
Nsuke, who noted that the spill was first noticed in the community early last week, blamed Shell for the spill and urged the Dutch multinational to alleviate its impact on the community, curtail its spread and commence proper remediation and compensation in accordance with global best practices.
The MOSOP leader noted that the oil spills from the Trans Niger Pipeline operated by the Shell JV, suddenly erupted within the residential area of the community, alleging that it must have been caused by equipment failure.
He observed that although the cause of the spills, which was occurring 11years after the release of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) reports, was yet to be ascertained, the spills have affected residential areas and community dwellers have been asked by the MOSOP to evacuate the area, to avoid causality in case of a fire.
“This massive spill is occurring 11 years after the UNEP released a damning report exposing Shell’s devastation of the Ogoni environment.
“We have communicated with community leaders to cooperate with investigations and ensure that every detail about this spill is communicated to our secretariat as soon as possible”, he said.On his part, Executive Director, Youths and Environmental Advocacy Centre (YEAC), Fyneface Dumnamene Fyneface, said, “the cause of the crude oil spill which occurred inside the community where people live is not yet known at this time.”

By: Tonye Nria-Dappa

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Nigeria’s Freedom Of Expression Attracting Global Attention, Buhari Claims

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The President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), on Sunday, said it was instructive that Nigeria was attracting positive international attention as a country that promoted media freedom and freedom of expression.
He said this was premised on the government’s understanding of the important roles that information literacy and media education played in sustainable development.
According to a statement signed by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, Buhari said this while pledging his “full support” for three major international events scheduled to hold in Nigeria in October and November 2022.
They include: the 2022 United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation’s Global Media, Information Literacy Week in Abuja, in October, the first Global Conference on Cultural Tourism and Creative Industry in Lagos, as well as the second Global Association of Literary Festivals Conference, Abeokuta, in November.
In the statement titled ‘President Buhari pledges support as Nigeria hosts major cultural, tourism and literary events,’ he said the global events were opportunities to showcase the nation’s rich heritage in culture, arts, tourism and entertainment as well as advancements on media freedom.
Earlier, the Minister of Information ad Culture, Lai Mohammed, said that hosting the 2022 UNESCO Global Media, Information Literacy Week, would help to address the rising spate of fake news, misinformation and hate speech.
Expressing his delight to welcome international visitors to Nigeria, Buhari urged citizens to leverage the events to exhibit the values “that make us a unique, friendly and peace-loving people.”
The statement read in part, “Welcoming the decision by the UNESCO’s World Tourism Organisation and the Global Association of Literary Festivals to grant Nigeria the right to host these separate historic events, the President assures all relevant stakeholders and participants of the warmth and hospitality of the people of Nigeria.
“On the MIL Week, Buhari notes that it is instructive that Nigeria is attracting positive international attention as a country that promotes media freedom and freedom of expression, recognising the important roles information literacy and media education play in sustainable development.
“On the first Global Conference on Cultural Tourism and Creative Industry, the President says the rapid growth of Nigeria’s film, fashion, music, and the Information and Communications Technology sector, and the increase in international appeal and acceptance would continue to spur government to devote more resources to the sector.”
Among other initiatives, Buhari noted that the Creative Industry Financing Initiative, established by his administration and managed by the Central Bank of Nigeria in collaboration with the Bankers’ Committee, had provided single-digit financing to many young Nigerians in the fields of fashion, film, music and information technology.
He noted that the $100 million re-development of the National Theatre, Lagos, into a world-class creative park is also ongoing, following the handover of the facility to the CBN and the Bankers Committee.
The President, therefore, expressed confidence that the literary world would find many good things to celebrate about Nigeria when they meet in the historic city of Abeokuta, homeland and birthplace of one of Nigeria’s finest literary icons and Nobel Laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka.

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