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Evans’ jail term salutary, againt Injustice of Wadume’s sentence — HURIWA

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By Ridwan Adekunle

Civil rights advocacy group, Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria, (HURIWA) has described as appropriate justice the fresh jail term handed out to kidnap kingpin, Chukwudumeme Onwuamadike, popularly known as Evans by Justice Oluwatoyin Taiwo of the Lagos State Special Offences Court.

HURIWA’s National Coordinator, Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko, in a statement on Tuesday described as a strong demonstration of the wheel of justice, the 21 years imprisonment apportioned to Evans (an indigene of Anambra State) who was convicted for kidnapping, alongside his accomplices.

This is just as the Rights group said no sane mind will begrudge the judgment because the crime of kidnapping is worst than slavery and must be stamped out by all means possible.

Earlier in February 2022, Justice Hakeem Oshodi of an Ikeja High Court sentenced Evans and two others to life imprisonment for conspiracy and abduction. Evans, however, still has outstanding cases before Justice Adedayo Akintoye also of the same court.

The group said on the other hand, in August, Justice Binta Nyako of a Federal High Court in Abuja sentenced Taraba-based kidnap kingpin, Hamisu Bala, aka Wadume to seven years imprisonment for similar charges as Evans.

HURIWA viewed the sentence as a slap in the wrists demanding that the Police authority must initiate fresh prosecution of the Taraba kidnap kingpin and his co-conspirators over the murder of some police operatives who arrested him in Taraba State.

Against this, the group held that “no decent-minded young Nigerian should be encouraged to enlist in the Nigeria Police Force that is unwilling to defend the sanctity of life of their operatives.

“The fresh conviction of Evans, a kidnap kingpin is salutary but when compared to the Taraba kidnapping kingpin Wadume the judgment from the Federal High Court on Wadume is a mockery of the judiciary and the entire wheel of justice in Nigeria.

“The judiciary is allegedly aiding kidnapping because whilst Evans offences attracted far heavier sanctions which we are not particularly opposed to, Wadume, who was arraigned for exactly the same crime of kidnapping, amongst others got lighter punishment after the years of secrecy that shrouded his trial.

“In this situation where the same offences attracted different punishments because of the individuals involved, HURIWA is forced to believe that Nigeria’s judiciary has been exposed to ridicule.

“This is because there is no justification anywhere for the injustice done on the case of Wadume whereas we as a civil rights members who are fully aware of the danger of kidnapping we pleased with the handling of the case of Evans.

“It is the case of Jacob I love, Esau I hate even though the Jacob in this instance – Wadume – is treacherous even above the Esau in this case.

“The judiciary should be dispassionate and no respecter of persons. The Lady of Justice is supposed to be blindfolded and not reckon with religious sentiments but it is unfortunate that certain actions of some judges have removed the blindfold on the Lady of Justice in Nigeria, serving their kinsmen lighter sentences and their foes grave and unjustifiable jail terms or persistent adjournments and languishing in the dungeons of the law enforcement agencies.

“We don’t want to believe that the sentencing of Evans to prolonged imprisonment is probably because of his place of origin given that as human rights crusaders we are in support of the application of the death penalty for armed kidnapping but the reason for the slap on the wrists given to Wadume is despicable and absolutely awkward.

“HURIWA unequivocally call for the retrial of Wadume or asks that no self-respecting persons should offer themselves to enlist in the Nigeria Police Force since the lives of three policemen were allegedly wasted by Wadume.

“And going by the skewed judgement of Justice Nyako, it is apparent that the loss of lives of three persons who may be the breadwinners of their families doesn’t matter to the judiciary or rather the office of the Federal Attorney General and minister of justice who may have framed weak charges which offend the expectation of the citizens on the Justice minister who should be the upholder of justice and nothing else.

“That verdict in Abuja on the Taraba kidnapping kingpin is absolutely treacherous and if the reason is because of the deliberately distorted charges with lesser sentence framed by the prosecutors then President Muhammadu Buhari needs to sack the federal Attorney General and minister of justice with immediate effect.

“Alas! The executive arm of government has captured the judiciary! The Nigeria Bar Association and other allied bodies must not look on or pretend not to be aware of this sham as well as this unacceptable verdict in the case of the Taraba kidnapping kingpin being served in the courtrooms,” HURIWA argued.

Crime

Terrorist attack: 3 teens arrested in Germany for allegedly plotting terror attack

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German authorities have arrested three teenagers aged 15 and 16 on suspicion of plotting a deadly Islamist terrorist attack in the western German state of North Rhine-Westphalia, prosecutors said on Friday.

The state’s Central Office for the Prosecution of Terrorism (ZenTer NRW) sought an arrest warrant for the teenagers over the Easter holiday.

They were suspected of plotting a terrorist attack in accordance with the aims and ideology of (extremist militia organisation) Islamic State.

The detained suspects are a 15-year-old girl from Dusseldorf, a 16-year-old girl from the Märkischer Kreis district and a 15-year-old boy from the Soest district, located about 100 kilometres to the east of Dusseldorf.

A fourth suspect has reportedly been identified in the south-western German state of Baden-Württemberg, and the local court there has issued an arrest warrant.

According to the investigators, the teenagers are accused of having agreed to commit murder and manslaughter.

This is in conjunction with the preparation of a serious act of violence endangering the state.

The presumption of innocence applied in all stages of the proceedings.

Security sources told newsmen that the young people had formed a chat group, but had not drawn up a concrete attack plan for a particular time and place.

However, sources said the cities of Dortmund, Dusseldorf and Cologne were discussed as targets, and attacks with knives and Molotov cocktails on people in churches or police officers in police stations had been considered.

The sources said authorities had also conducted searches as part of the investigation.

A machete and a dagger were seized in Dusseldorf, but no evidence of the construction of incendiary devices was discovered.

Sources said the father of the Dusseldorf suspect had already attracted attention from authorities in the past because he had allegedly collected donations for the Islamic State.

The investigators declined to reveal how the suspected terrorists were tracked down, but said that foreign intelligence agencies “did not play a role.”

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Crime

Task force nabs woman 317 live ammunition in Benue

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The tactical team of the ‘Operation Zenda Joint Task Force’ in Benue State has apprehended a 37-year-old woman suspected for being in possession of 317 live ammunition.

The task force commander, Felix Nomiyugh confirmed the arrest on Tuesday in Makurdi.

According to him, the arrest took place at Ayati Junction in Ukum Local Government Area (LGA) of Benue State, where the suspect was found in possession of a substantial cache of live ammunition.

Commander Nomiyugh disclosed that the woman is believed to have ties with a notorious bandit kingpin operating within the locality.

Further investigation led to the recovery of 200 rounds of live ammunition for general-purpose machine gun (GPMG) and 117 rounds of 7.6mm ammunition from the suspect. The apprehension underscores the commitment of Operation Zenda in tackling criminal elements and enhancing security across Benue State.

The successful operation demonstrates the effectiveness of joint task forces in combating illegal arms trafficking and curbing the activities of armed groups in the region. Authorities continue to intensify efforts to dismantle criminal networks and maintain law and order for the safety and well-being of residents in Benue State.

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Crime

Eld-el-Fitr: Violence erupts as NSCDC officials shoot woman at prayer ground in Zamfara

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Gusau, the capital of Zamfara State, was engulfed in violence yesterday leading to sorrow and anger, following reports of a fatal shooting incident by members of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) at an Eid prayer ground.

The Wednesday incident, which resulted in the death of a lady, ignited widespread outrage and violent protests in the neighborhood.

According to witnesses, NSCDC officials, in pursuit of alleged criminals, fired randomly, accidentally hitting the victim while she was caught up in the chaotic situation. The tragic incident triggered spontaneous demonstrations, with locals expressing their dismay by setting ablaze an NSCDC truck in a communal outburst.

Confirming the incident, ASP Yazid Abubakar, the police spokesperson, disclosed that two NSCDC employees were arrested by the Nigerian Police in Zamfara State. He assured that a comprehensive investigation is underway to ascertain the facts surrounding the incident, highlighting the delicate relationship between law enforcement and civilians in such volatile situations.

However, the Zamfara State NSCDC Spokesperson, Ikor Oche, refuted claims that the victim was shot by Civil Defence personnel. He asserted that NSCDC officials were stationed at their post when they heard the gunfire. They rushed to the scene only to find the injured woman. Oche emphasized that the NSCDC personnel did not shoot or kill anyone, and an inquiry has been initiated by the NSCDC state headquarters to determine the cause of the incident.

Meanwhile, Nigerian Police personnel intervened to restore calm in the area, dispersing the group vandalizing the Civil Defence vehicle, which had already been set ablaze.

As the investigation progresses, residents of Gusau are demanding justice and measures to prevent similar tragedies in the future, underscoring the urgent need for accountability and restraint in law enforcement operations.

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