Suspected Criminal Gang Attacks Court In Imo, Sets Accused Free.

A suspect standing trial for crimes that include kidnapping, Henry Chibueze, also known as Vampire has escaped from Imo High Court premises following a shootout between gunmen and security operatives.

The attack left several persons wounded. No death has been reported so far.

Men suspected to be members of a gang attacked the operatives when the suspected criminal and other inmates arrived at the premises of the Imo High Court in Owerri, the capital of the southeastern state.

Eyewitness said the gunmen, over six of them, found their way into the court premises shortly after over 50 inmates were conveyed to court for hearing of various suits filed against them.

The gunmen opened fire on the security operatives and inmates at the court premises shooting sporadically into the air for over 10 minutes leaving several people wounded,.

According to the eyewitness, the gunmen were able to whisk away Henry Chibueze, whom was described as a “notorious criminal and kidnapper” who has been in prison since July 2015.

“We were here in the court premises when a lawyer came to call us to enter room three for hearing. Shortly after that we started hearing sporadic gunshots. About six gunmen entered the court and started shooting. Some people were even wounded. They came with a Jeep and eventually they whisked away one of the inmates who the prisons officials brought to the court for hearing. The gunshot lasted over 10 minutes,” the eyewitness, who do not want to be named told reporters.

“We Thought They Were DSS”

Confirming the incident to reporters, the spokesman for the Nigeria Police Force in Imo State, Maduba James, said the suspect, Chibueze, also known as Vampire was presently at large and that over five persons were critically injured due to the sporadic gun shots by the gunmen.

He told reporters that security operatives were on top of the situation to ensure that there was no breakdown of law and order in the state.

Mr James said: “We were in the office this morning when we got a call that some gunmen were in the court premises. We thought they were DSS officials because by then we were conveying over 50 inmates to the state High Court for hearing.

“However, the gunmen attacked some of our men and some of the inmates. They are critically injured now and have been taken to a hospital.

“Meanwhile, one of the inmates, who we know as Vampire, is at large presently but my controller and other security operatives are on top of the situation”.

At the moment, there is heavy presence of security operatives in the court premises and several clusters of people discussing the sad incident.

Senate seeks to amend Constitution to protect federal, state lawmakers from all criminal, civil cases

Nigeria’s battle to exit the league of corrupt nations will suffer a setback as the Senate plans to amend the 1999 Constitution to protect lawmakers from all criminal and civil cases.

Civil society organisations yesterday warned that the proposal could erode confidence in the law, especially in the eyes of the global community that sees Nigeria’s political class as being ‘fantastically corrupt.’

They expressed the concern that with such immunity for all lawmakers at national and state levels, legislators will now be able to blatantly ask for bribes with impunity.

Immunity for Nigeria’s more than 1200 lawmakers at federal and state levels of government means they will escape criminal and civil prosecution for at least four years if the Senate succeeds in altering any part of the constitution for this purpose.

The Guardian obtained the Senate Bill number 342 yesterday and found that it has already been gazzetted and being given accelerated legislative processing.

The main objective of the amendment is to ensure that leaders and members of the legislature — particularly National and State Assemblies — are not subjected to any form of prosecution or legal persecution on account of their actions or statements in the course of carrying out their legislative functions.

Those opposed to the amendment, however, expressed the fear that it could be misconstrued to mean, “The Bill is simply seeking to give the presiding officers of the Senate protection against being prosecuted for their alleged involvement in the Senate rules forgery case.”

It was learnt that the body of Principal Officers of the National Assembly was able to clear the way for the amendment following the withdrawal of the Senate forgery suit by the office of the Attorney General of the Federation last October.

In withdrawing the suit against Senate President Bukola Saraki and his deputy, Ike Ekweremadu last October, the Ministry of Justice filed an application to amend the charges and attached the amended charges. In the new charges, only the former Clerk of the National Assembly, Mr. Salisu Maikasuwa, and a former deputy clerk, Mr. Ben Efeturi, were listed as accused persons.

Sponsored by Senator Solomon Olamilekan, a member of the All Progressives Congress (APC) representing Lagos East Senatorial District in the Senate, the constitution amendment bill is aimed at strengthening “our democratic institutions (The Legislature) by guaranteeing the freedom of speech and protection of members of Parliament over words spoken and actions taken in the normal course of legislative business.”

Specifically, the bill seeks to amend Section 56 of the Constitution by adding new Sub-Sections which read: “No civil or criminal proceedings may be instituted against any member of the Senate or the House of Representatives in respect or words spoken before that House or a Committee thereof or in respect of words written in a report to that House or to any Committee thereof or in any petition, bill, resolution, motion or question brought or introduced by him therein.”

According to Olamilekan’s Bill, the Constitution will be further amended by adding new Subsections (4) and (5) in Section 98 to read:

“No civil or criminal proceedings may be instituted against any member of a State House of Assembly in respect of words spoken before that House or a committee thereof; or in respect of words written in a report to that House or to any committee thereof or in any petition bill, resolution, motion or question brought or introduced by him therein.”

It was learnt that the earlier disagreement generated within the National Assembly on the matter has been resolved at regular meetings of the body of National Assembly principal officers where it was stated that the amendment was not just to benefit presiding officers but to protect all lawmakers from frivolous political machinations that could manifest through litigations.

The Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) described the proposed amendment as self-serving and an attempt to frustrate democracy in the country.

It’s Criminal To Owe LG Workers 18 Months Salaries- Ize-Iyamu

The PDP candidate, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu, yesterday described as criminal the failure of APC governments to pay council workers for 18 months while the state government is allegedly doling out N120 million to female supporters of Governor Oshiomhole.

Assuring the citizens that their weeping would soon be over, Ize-Iyamu was quoted in a press statement issued by his campaign, in reaction to a peaceful protest by local government workers over non payment of their salaries, yesterday.

“It is only a wicked, insensitive and irresponsible governor that will deny the workers their salaries, especially when Oshiomhole just donated N120 million to some selected market women at the Dr. Osaigbovo Ogbemudia Staduim, Benin-City, thanking them for supporting his administration.

‘’How did he spend the $225 million loan he took from the World Bank, which he said would improve the investment climate and increase the internally generated revenue of the state?

‘’How can the governor justify the N18m he pays to the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) and Channels Television at every rally for live coverage – when workers are being owned salaries?

‘’Is it right and just for Oshiomhole to be giving each local government council N18m anytime he goes for campaign, spends millions of naira hiring touts and hoodlums and yet, the welfare of government workers means nothing to him?”

Credit: Vanguard

US Opens Criminal Probe Linked To #PanamaPaper Leak

The US Justice Department has opened a criminal investigation involving the leaked Panama Papers on offshore shell companies, according to an official letter to the group that brought the records to light.

The letter from the office of Manhattan US Attorney Preet Bharara, obtained by AFP Wednesday, asks to discuss the investigation with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, which worked with media outlets to reveal the documents.

The letter, dated April 3 and obtained from the ICIJ, said Bharara’s office “has opened a criminal investigation regarding matters to which the Panama Papers are relevant.”

His office said it “would greatly appreciate the opportunity to speak as soon as possible” with someone from ICIJ on the matter.

The letter gave no information on the subject of the investigation, and was not a subpoena that would force the ICIJ to turn over any of the 11.5 million confidential documents leaked from Panama law firm Mossack Fonseca.

Access to the documents remains limited to a handful of international media organizations.

Reports from the ICIJ and the media groups based on the Panama Papers link a number of international leaders, including Russian President Vladimir Putin, British Prime Minister David Cameron, and leaders and top officials in Ukraine, China and Argentina, to offshore shell companies that can be used to hide wealth and launder money.

Iceland’s Prime Minister Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson was also forced to resign after the documents showed he and his wife made use of an offshore company.

Coroner Accuses Synagogue Of Criminal Negligence, Says They Should Prosecuted

A coroner on Wednesday said a megachurch run by popular Nigerian preacher TB Joshua should be prosecuted after a building collapse killed 116 people, most of them South Africans.

“The church must be investigated and prosecuted for not obtaining the relevant approval before embarking on the construction of the building,” Oyetade Komolafe said in his ruling on last year’s tragedy.

“The church was culpable because of criminal negligence resulting in the death of the victims.”

The coroner’s inquest was called to determine the circumstances of the collapse of the guesthouse for foreign followers of Joshua’s Synagogue Church of All Nations (SCOAN) on September 12 last year.

Komolafe also dismissed Joshua’s claims in his ruling, which recorded that the victims likely died from multiple injuries, including fractured skulls, caused by the collapse.

“The collapse was as a result of structural failures,” he said, calling for the prosecution of the two engineers used by the church.