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Alleged organ harvesting: Court to rule in Ukpo’s application Dec. 5

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A Federal High Court, Abuja, on Tuesday, fixed Dec. 5 for ruling on an application filed by David Ukpo, the kidney donor, asking the court to set aside its orders made on July 1 and July 6 which gave Ike Ekweremadu, former Deputy Senate President, and wife, Beatrice, access to his biodata.

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Justice Inyang Ekwo fixed the date after counsel for parties in the suit adopted their processes and presented their arguments.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Ukpo, through his lawyer, Bamidele Igbinedion, had filed a motion on notice marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/984/202, urging the court to set aside the orders, directing some agencies of government and banks to release his biodata to Ekweremadu and his wife.

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Ukpo, who joined the Ekweremadus as applicants/respondents in the motion, also listed the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) (1st respondent) and four others in the apllication.

Others mentioned in the motion are the Comptroller General (C-G), Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS); Stanbic-IBTC Bank; United Bank of Africa (UBA) and Nigeria Inter-Bank Settlement System Plc as 2nd to 5th respondents respectively, but the 5th respondent was later dropped form the charge.

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Ukpo, who is currently in the United Kingdom (UK) in connection with the alleged organ harvesting charge against the Ekweremadus, had said that granting the couple’s request violated his fundamental rights to privacy guaranteed by Section 37 of 1999 Constitution (as amended).

But in a counter affidavit deposed to by Bright Ekweremadu, the immediate younger brother to the ex-deputy senate President, the applicants said Ukpo was not entitled to the reliefs sought as the law does not permit such.

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The counter affidavit was dated and filed on Sept. 8 by their counsel, Adegboyega Awomolo, SAN.

In a 20-pont argument, Bright averred that though the court gave its ruling on July 1, Ukpo’s right to fair hearing was not breached.

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He said that the documents which were released by the agencies and banks upon the orders of the court had been transmitted to the UK and had been “tendered at the Uxbridge Magistrate Court, and at the Central Criminal Court in the UK and have subsequently formed part of the record of the courts.”

At the resumed hearing on Tuesday, Eyitayo Falogun, SAN, who appeared for the Ekweremadus, adopted his applications and urged the court to dismiss Ukpo’s request.

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He said he was aware that a coalition of civil society organisations under the auspices of the Edo Civil Society Organisation (EDOSCO), initiated the motion on Ukpo’s behalf.

Falogun, who called the attention of the court to Upko’s motion, described EDOSCO as “a meddlesome interloper.”

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Muazu Dikwa, lawyer to NIMC, argued that the orders made by court on July 1 and July 6 were in line with Section 2.11 of the National Data Protection Regulation (NDPR), 2019.

According to him, the regulation says that every transmission of data to a foreign land shall be done under the supervision of the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF).

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He, therefore, prayed the court to dismiss Ukpo’s application.

Lawyers representing other respondents also asked the court to discountenance the motion.

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But counsel for Ukpo, Bamidele Igbinedion, disagreed with their submission.

He said that contrary to Dikwa’s argument, “Sections 2.2 and 2.3 of the NDPR requires that if anyone applies for another person’s biodata, one must put the subject person on notice that there is an application for the disclosure of his or her personal information which is held by government.”

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Igbinedion argued that there was no authority given to government to disclose personal information of any Nigerian without putting that Nigerian on notice.

He, therefore, contended that the court did not have jusridiction to have ordered the release of Ukpo’s biodata to the AGF for onward transmission to the UK in the first instance.

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He added that the respondents, including the Ekweremadus, had not shown that the court had the statutory jusridiction to order the disclosure of private information held by government.

The lawyer prayed the court to grant the reliefs sought and reverse the orders.

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Justice Ekwo adjourned the matter until Dec. 5 for ruling.

In an interview shortly after the hearing, Igbinedion told the newsmen that public information is covered by Freedom of Information Act which authorises the court to disclose public information where proper application is made.

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“What Ekweremadu sought was not public information but private information of a Nigerian citizen,” he said.

He said if the court “grants their prayers, it means that the information was obtained illegally and the UK court cannot rely on it.”

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Igbinedion, who said he had urged the court in his reply on points of law to disregard Bright Ekweremadu’s averment, said Ukpo’s documents that were released had not been used in the UK court because trial has not commenced.

“We said in our reply that you don’t rely on oral evidence to tell the court about what happens in another court.

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“So we urge the court to disregard that,” he said.

NAN reports that on June 27, Ekweremadu, who currently represents Enugu West Senatorial District, and his wife had, in an application dated and filed on June 27, sued NIMC and four others following the criminal charge filed against them in the UK.

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They had sought the order of the court directing all the respondents to release to them certified true copies of Ukpo’s biodata information in their care to enable them present the documents before the UK court and the judge granted the request on July 1.

He directed that the documents should be released to the AGF for onward transmission to the UK.

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Besides, Ekwo also made an order on July 6, directing NIMC to release Ukpo’s information to the Ekweremadus in line with the earlier court order.(NAN)

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Fani-Kayode Withdraws Case Against Estranged Wife

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A former Nigerian Aviation Minister, Chief Femi Fani-Kayode, on Thursday, withdrew an attempted murder suit filed against his estranged wife, Ms Precious Chikwendu.

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Prosecution counsel, John Ijagbemi, told Justice Inyang Ekwo of a Federal High Court, Abuja shortly after the matter was called for the defendants to take a plea.

“The matter was slated for re-arraignment of the defendants today. However, we want to plead to your lordship for the withdrawal of the case,” he said.

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Ijagbemi informed the court that the FCT Commissioner of Police was in receipt of a letter from the nominal complainant (Fani-Kayode) about his intention to withdraw the case.

He said the withdrawal of the charge was provided for in Section 108 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA), 2015.

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After the lawyer to Ms Chikwendu, Peter Abang, did not oppose the request, Justice Ekwo dismissed the suit.

In the amended 14-count charge marked: FHC/ABJ/CR/01/2022 dated and filed on April 28, Chikwendu was the 2nd defendant in the matter.

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Other defendants in the trial include Emmanuel Anakan, Prisca Chikwendu and Osakwe Azubuike as 1st, 3rd and 4th defendants respectively, while others are said to be at large.

Speaking to newsmen after the sitting, Abang described the withdrawal of the suit as “a welcomed development.”

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On his part, Ijagbemi said, “the complainant, via the prosecution, has the unfettered power to withdraw a charge before the court.”

He said with the provision of ACJA, 2015, a charge could be withdrawn even until a judgment against any of the defendants or accused persons standing trial before the court.

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The lawyer said the ex-minister, in his withdrawal of the case letter, informed that “the whole family members had a sit-down and amicably resolved the matter without any rancour or recourse to previous occurrences and they are happily standing and living together in love and in harmony.

“And we, being an institution of government saddled with the responsibility of the protection of lives and property, seeking peace and order in the society including individual family. We are glad to apply for the withdrawal of this case against the defendants.

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“You all know that it is the family that is really involved and we are interested in the peace and tranquillity of the family and that is why we have withdrawn it and it is our pleasure.”(NAN)

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SPOTTED: Tinubu Reading 8-Month-Old Newspaper In New Photo Showing He’s Well

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A picture of Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, Presidential Candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), has sparked fresh controversy.

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There have been different rumours about the health of Tinubu, who has been away from the country before the kick off of the campaign for the 2023 elections.

On Sunday, the ruling party’s presidential candidate released a proof of life video, where he was seen on a thread mill.

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Despite the footage, critics of the APC insinuated that some things were hidden about the health condition of Tinubu.

However, in an apparent manner to clear doubt on his health condition, Tinubu released some pictures on Thursday morning.

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In one of the pictures, he was seen reading an old copy of The Nation Newspaper, which he has the largest share in.

It is unclear whether the picture was taken in January when the paper was published or in October when the Presidential Candidate has been convincing people about his health condition.

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Below are the front cover of the Paper and the picture that Tinubu put up on social media today:

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Reactions as new photos of Tinubu with grandchildren resurface on social media

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By Francesca Iwambe

Reactions have continued to trickle from Nigerians on social media over photos of presidential candidate of the All Progressive Congress, APC, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu with his grandchildren, which surfaced on Twitter and Instagram on Thursday.

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Tinubu’s son shared photos of the APC flag bearer on his verified Instagram handle with the caption and hashtags, “ Hi Grandpa #FamilyFirst#TinubuFamily #FamilyMan #Grandpa #TakenOnSunday #Noella #BATSenior #BATJunior #Leader.”

Special assistant on digital communications to President Muhammad Buhari, Bashir Ahmad, also shared Tinubu’s photos on Twitter on Thursday.

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Ahmad tweeted, “Good morning from our presidential candidate, Asiwaju Bola Ahmad Tinubu, and his grandchildren. A wonderful family person.”

Recall that Tinubu shared a video of himself cycling on a fitness bike on Sunday.

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The video, which went viral, had since elicited questions about his whereabouts.

But, the spokesperson of the APC presidential campaign council, Festus Keyamo has said cycling is a regular routine for Tinubu, adding that the former Lagos state governor was not trying to prove any point.

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Keyamo, while speaking in an interview with Channels Television’s Politics Today on Wednesday, described Tinubu as an “avid cyclist.”

His words, “People who are close to him know that he is an avid cyclist. He does that all the time. It is his regular routine. So, we are not trying to prove anything to anybody.”

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Meanwhile, Tinubu also posted picture of himself in an office on Instagram on Thursday with a caption that simply reads, “Stay Focused.”

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