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Sexual Harassment: ICPC closes case against UNICAL professor, lawyer

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The Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), on Wednesday, closed its case against Cyril Ndifon, the suspended dean of the Faculty of Law, University of Calabar (UNICAL), and his co-defendant, Sunny Anyanwu.

ICPC’s counsel, Osuobeni Akponimisingha, told Justice James Omotosho of the Abuja Division of the Federal High Court after Bwaigu Fungo, the fourth prosecution witness, a forensic and intelligence analyst with the commission, was cross-examined by the defence lawyer, Joe Agi.

Mr Akponimisingha had earlier informed the court that the anti-corruption commission had about seven witnesses and planned to amend the charge to increase the witness number in proving their case against the defendants.

Mr Ndifon was, on January 25, re-arraigned alongside Mr Anyanwu as first and second defendants on an amended four-count charge bordering on alleged sexual harassment and attempt to perverse the cause of justice.

Mr Anyanwu, who is one of the lawyers in the defence, was joined in the amended charge filed on January 22 by the ICPC on the allegation that he called one of the prosecution witnesses on her mobile telephone during the pendency of the charge against Mr Ndifon to threaten her.

They, however, pleaded not guilty to the counts.

The judge had, on Friday, granted bail to Messrs Ndifon and Anyanwu in the sum of N250 million and N50 million, respectively, with two sureties each in the like sum.

Upon resumed trial on Wednesday, Mr Fungo’s cross-examination continued.

When Mr Agi asked the forensic analyst if he knew what Mr Ndifon and TKJ, the female student alleged to have been sexually harassed, discussed in the call log, he said he did not know.

When the lawyer asked the witness if he knew the first communication between Mr Ndifon and TKJ, Mr Fungo said from the analysis he carried out on the mobile phones, their first communication through the WhatsApp channel was on March 14, 2023, and the message was: “Good evening sir.”

The witness, who also said he did not analyse TKJ’s phone during the investigation, said the ICPC did not give him TKJ’s phone to analyse.

After Mr Fungo’s testimony, Mr Akponimisingha told the court that the prosecution was closing its case.

“This is the case for the prosecution, and we have closed our case today,” he said.

Responding, counsel to the defendants, Mr Agi, told the court they planned to file a no-case submission.

He said he would need seven days to file the application.

The ICPC lawyer assured the court that immediately, the defence served him with the no-case submission, he would also need about seven days to reply.

The judge consequently adjourned the matter until February 27 to hear the defendants’ no-case submission.

Meanwhile, Messrs Ndifon and Anyanwu have yet to perfect their bail described as being too stringent.

The judge had, on February 9, admitted Mr Ndifon to a N250 million bail with two sureties.

The judge held that the two sureties, who must be owners of landed property in the FCT with registered titles and a minimum valuation of N150 million, must submit their certified bank statements to the court’s registrar.

He also directed Mr Ndifon to submit his passport to the court registrar.

The judge ordered the suspended dean to sign an undertaking not to interfere with the case, be ready to stand his trial and not to delay the trial.

Also ruling on Mr Anyanwu’s bail plea, the judge, who granted him a N50 million bail with two sureties, held that one of the sureties must have a property in FCT, but not with a registered title.

The judge directed the sureties to file their bank statements and ordered Mr Anyanwu to equally sign an undertaking not to interfere with the trial, to be ready to stand his trial and not delay the trial.

The judge also ordered accelerated hearing of the matter.

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“We can no longer feed, Our shops are under siege” – Aba Traders protest Military siege, call on Gov Otti to intervene

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Following the May 30th killing of five soldiers by unknown gunmen, which has led to the military siege in Aba, commercial city of Abia State, Traders from Ngwa Road market Aba, Tuesday, stormed Abia Government House Umuahia, in protest.

The traders who stormed the Abia government house Umuahia, to seek the intervention of Gov. Alex Otti for the reopening of their shops, carried placards with various inscriptions.

Some of the inscriptions read:” We are tired of staying at home”; “We have no access to our shops any more”,; “Our shops are under siege”.

Speaking to the press, President of the Traders’ Association, Chinedu Oforndu who spoke on behalf of the traders, lamented that they had not been able to open their shops since the incident.

According to him, the situation had been taking a toll on them and their families as they now find it difficult to feed.

”Our shops are under siege by the military since May 30. We don’t have access to our shops again. Hunger is dealing with us. Governor please come to our rescue”, he pleaded.

In his response, the Secretary of the traders, Mr Ikenna Ohanaba, said that the traders had been frustrated over the situation, and needed Government’s help.

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Abducted Kaduna Catholic priest regains freedom

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The kidnapped Kaduna Catholic Priest, Rev. Fr. Gabriel Ukeh, of St Thomas Parish, Zaman Dabo in Zango Kataf Local Government Area of Kaduna State has been released barely 24 hours after his abduction.

Director of Communications, Rev. Fr. Okafor Tochukwu, disclosed this on Monday night in a statement  in Kaduna.

Ukeh was abducted in the early hours of Sunday at the Parish Rectory.

“With gratitude to God, we announce the safe release of our brother and priest, Rev Fr Gabriel Ukeh, who was abducted from the Rectory of St Thomas Parish, Zaman Dabo, Zango Kataf Local Government Area of Kaduna State, where he shepherds on Sunday 9th June 2024.

” Fr Gabriel was happily welcomed home to his parish community at about 9pm, Monday, 10th June 2024.

“We acknowledge and appreciate the kind and prayerful support of all and sundry who worked round the clock to make this a reality.” Rev. Fr. Okafor stated.

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Two soldiers wounded, hospitalised as bandits attack Niger military base

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Bandits operating in Tegina, Rafi Local Government Area of Niger State, have shot and wounded two soldiers at a military base.

Rafi is one of the troubled LGAs in Niger State, suffering incessant attacks from bandits, who prevent farmers from going to their farms.

The attack on the military base was said to have occurred in the early hours of Monday.

It was learnt that one bandit was killed while two soldiers sustained gunshot injuries in the exchange of gunfire.

The Chairman of the Rafi Local Government Area, Ayuba Katako, who confirmed the incident, said, “It happened in my domain. The two soldiers have been taken to the IBB Specialist Hospital where they are responding to treatment.

“The military, police and vigilantes are trying their best to ensure peace and security of lives and property in the state and they deserve to be commended.”

Katako decried the continued attacks on the security operatives and called for patience, support and prayers to overcome the menace of insecurity bedeviling the state and Nigeria at large.

The Niger State military cantonment in Minna could not be reached for comments.

Attempt to speak to the Niger police spokesman, Wasiu Abiodun, was also not successful as calls placed to his mobile line did not connect.

Meanwhile, troops of Operation Whirl Punch and Operation Forest Sanity II continued their patrol of the Rijana general area of the Kachia Local Government Area of Kaduna State on Monday, as they killed two bandits during a clearance operation.

The development came less than 24 hours after the troops encountered some bandits at the Kachia-Kajuru general area, killing five and leaving many with gunshot wounds.

The Commissioner for Internal Security and Home Affairs, Samuel Aruwan, in a statement on Monday disclosed that troops on clearance operation engaged some bandits in a gun duel in the Rijana area and killed two, while scores escaped with gunshot wounds.

The troops, according to him, recovered three AK-47 rifles, two motorcycles, two AK-47 magazines, 19 rounds of 7.62mm ammunition, two mobile phones and two MP3 players.

He said, “According to operational feedback to the Kaduna State Government, the troops began their advance, clearing several locations, including Amale, Gidan Jatau, Gidan Danfulani and Gidan Duna with no resistance.

“As the forces progressed to Gidan Dutse, the troops made contact with bandits and, in the ensuing firefight, two of the criminals were neutralised while several escaped with gunshot wounds.

“The troops searched the area and recovered three AK-47 rifles, two motorcycles and two AK-47 magazines, 19 rounds of 7.62mm ammunition, two mobile phones and two MP3 players.

“The Kaduna State Governor, Senator Uba Sani, expressed satisfaction at the report and congratulated the troops for another sterling outing. The governor praised the leadership of the Chief of Army Staff, Lt.Gen. T.A. Lagbaja, and the unflinching morale of the troops, in the ongoing operations.”

The commissioner enjoined the citizens to continue “to utilise the 24-hour Security Operations Room by volunteering actionable intelligence on the movement of bandits and their collaborators.

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