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Man cleared of murder after spending more than 48 years in prison

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An Oklahoma man who in 1975 was convicted of murder in a liquor store robbery was exonerated in court on Tuesday after he had spent more than 48 years in prison, the authorities said.

It was thought to be the longest time served by a wrongfully convicted inmate in the United States, according to the National Registry of Exonerations, which tracks the length of sentences for wrongful convictions.

The man, Glynn Simmons, 70, was declared innocent in a ruling by Judge Amy Palumbo of Oklahoma County District Court. Mr. Simmons was released on bond in July after Judge Palumbo agreed during a status hearing to vacate the judgment and sentence at the request of Vicki Zemp Behenna, the Oklahoma County district attorney who had been reviewing his case.

• Glynn Simmons

Ms. Behenna, whose office did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Wednesday, found that important evidence in Mr. Simmons’s case had not been turned over to his defense lawyers.

An amended order, signed by Judge Palumbo on Tuesday, said that the court found “by clear and convincing evidence” that the crime that Mr. Simmons was imprisoned for “was not committed by Mr. Simmons.”

According to the exonerations’ registry, Mr. Simmons spent more time behind bars — 48 years, one month and 18 days — than any other person cleared of charges.

“It’s a lesson in resilience and tenacity,” Mr. Simmons said of his case during a news conference after the ruling. “Don’t let nobody tell you that it can’t happen, because it really can.”

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Mr. Simmons, who was not available to comment on Wednesday, was 22 when he was convicted of first-degree murder in a liquor store robbery that took place in Edmond, Okla., in December 1974, according to the National Registry of Exonerations. He and Don Roberts were convicted of killing Carolyn Sue Rogers, a clerk who was shot in the head by two robbers, according to the registry.

Mr. Simmons and Mr. Roberts were put in police lineups after the police investigated two other men, Leonard Patterson and Delbert Patterson, brothers who had been involved in a different murder, according to the registry. The police lined up people who had been at a party that the Patterson brothers attended around that time in Oklahoma City, including Mr. Simmons and Mr. Roberts.

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Prosecutors relied on a woman who had been shot in the head during the liquor store robbery, and she identified Mr. Simmons and Mr. Roberts in a lineup. The witness later contradicted some of her own testimony, the national registry said.

Initially, Mr. Simmons and Mr. Roberts were sentenced to the death penalty, according to the Oklahoma County District Attorney’s Office. But their sentences were changed after the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals decided to review their cases, based on a 1972 Supreme Court ruling that deemed the death penalty was unconstitutional because it was applied unevenly. Mr. Roberts was released on parole in 2008, according to the district attorney’s office.

Joe Norwood, a lawyer for Mr. Simmons, said that the Tuesday ruling paved the way for Mr. Simmons to receive up to $175,000 in compensation and gave him the opportunity to file a federal lawsuit.

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Mr. Norwood said that Mr. Simmons, who was recently diagnosed with cancer, had largely been living off donations made through an online crowdfunding platform.

“He was deprived of work experience and being able to have a career where you could financially secure yourself and your family,” Mr. Norwoodq said. “All of that was taken from him.”

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Yahaya Bello: AGF backs EFCC, warns those obstructing agency from performing its lawful duty

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Prince Lateef Fagbemi AGF

Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Prince Lateef Fagbemi SAN, has warned public officials both serving and non serving to desist from obstructing the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission from carrying out it’s statutory operations.

Prince Fagbemi was reacting to news making the rounds in media space that former Governor of Kogi state, Yahaya Bello, has been obstructing the EFCC in it’s attempt to arrest him.

The AGF said “The bizarre drama confronting the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission in the course of its efforts to perform its statutory duty has come to his notice.”

He described such situation “as a matter of very grave concern”.

The Justice Minister warned that the EFCC under the establishing law, has the legal right to invite, arrest or prosecute any person without minding status.

“It is now beyond doubt that the EFCC is given power by the law to invite any person of interest to interact with them in the course of their investigation into any matter regardless of status.

“Therefore, the least that we can all do when invited, is not to put any obstruction in the way of EFCC but to honourably answer their invitation.

“A situation where public officals who are themselves subject of protection by law enforcement agents will set up a stratagem of obstruction to the civil and commendable efforts of the EFCC to perform its duty is to say the least, insufferably disquieting.

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“A flight from the law does not resolve issues at stake but only exacerbates it” the AGF warned.

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In a statement on Thursday, Prince Fagbemi stated unequivocally that he stands for the rule of law and will promptly call EFCC and indeed any other agency to order when there is indication of any transgression of the fundamental rights of any Nigerian by any of the agencies.

The AGF’s press release was titled: “EFCC SHOULD NOT BE OBSTRUCTED FROM PERFORMING ITS LAWFUL DUTY”.

However, he tenaciously held the view that institutions of State should be allowed to function effectively and efficiently.

Nigeria, he said, has a vibrant judicial system that is capable of protecting everyone who follows the rule of law in seeking protection.

“I encourage anyone who has been invited by the EFCC or any other agency to immediately toe the path of decency and civility by honouring such invitation instead of embarking on a temporising self-help and escapism that can only put our country in bad light before the rest of the world” the AGF stated.

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Junior Pope: South East filmmakers protest in Enugu

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• Protesting Southeast filmmakers
Different groups involved in filmmaking under the auspices of South East Film Crew Welfare, Wednesday afternoon, took to the street protesting the manner five of their members died after a boat conveying them to shooting location capsized in Anambra River.

Junior Pope, Abigail Frederick, Precious Oforum, Joseph Anointing and Friday Okoroafor, all lost their lives in the unfortunate incident.

Members of Actors Guild of Nigeria (AGN), Creative Designers Guild of Nigeria (CDGN) in Enugu State and others marched on the streets of Enugu metropolis from Okpara Square, Independence Layout, through Rangers Avenue, Bissala Road and terminated at Film Arena, National Museum.

A candle light procession was slated in honour of the fallen heroes and heroines.

Their spokesperson, Jonas Onunweze, a props and set designer, condemned the treatment given to artistes and other Nollywood crew members by film producers.

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Yoruba Nation: Those threatening Nigeria’s sovereignty have price to pay, Tinubu warns

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Yoruba Nation: Those threatening Nigeria’s sovereignty have price to pay, Tinubu warns
President Bola Ahmed Tinubu

–As he receives Afenifere leaders

—Says he’s resolute in achieving economic security

PRESIDENT Bola Tinubu on Wednesday gave a strong warning to ethnic agitators, saying that those who think they can threaten the sovereignty of Nigeria will have a price to pay.

President Tinubu also  said that his administration remained undeterred in its pursuit of comprehensive economic security for the country while addressing foundational challenges and creating a fair and equitable system in which all Nigerians can thrive.

Speaking when he received leaders of Afenifere, the respected Yoruba Socio-Cultural Organization, at the State House in Abuja, the President said his administration is re-engineering Nigeria’s finances and seeking to boost the purchasing power of citizens, and spread prosperity down the line, by instituting a credit system where the element of cash is not an impediment to a significantly enhanced standard of living for all citizens.

He said Nigeria must secure itself economically first before it can achieve any of its more sophisticated objectives.

The President in a statement issued by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Chief Ajuri Ngelale, was quoted as saying, ‘’We are committed to the economic survival of our country. To re-engineer the finances of our country, we must start in earnest. So first, retool, revamp the economic opportunities available, and resolve to continue taking the firm and steady baby steps that are necessary.

‘’Education is a strong weapon against poverty. To empower the people, we must invest in the future of our youths. We have seen the problems parents face in training their children in school; it is the reason why we established the National Student Loan Programme, which is taking off well.

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‘’We are equally examining what to do with the high degree of unemployment. We must help vulnerable people by providing social security. We are looking at how to provide allowances for the unemployed, and we are developing ways to boost the purchasing power of citizens with the Consumer Credit Scheme. If we remove the cash upfront element to buy a car or a house, we will reduce the propensity for fraud and corruption across the land,’’ President Tinubu said.

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Speaking on security, the President declared that those who threaten the sovereignty of Nigeria would pay a heavy price.

The President threat is coming on the heels of the recent report in which some people from the South West embarked on agitation for Yoruba nation.

Tinubu said, ‘’I am irrevocably committed to the unity of Nigeria and constitutional democracy.Constitutional democracy is reflected greatly here since we assumed office. What we face now is the challenge of terrorism. Security of life and property is very necessary for development. I can tell you we are achieving success. We have degraded terrorism to a level that they cannot threaten the sovereignty of Nigeria any longer.

‘’Banditry and kidnapping will be defeated. And there is no payment of ransom whatsoever. We are taking the battle to them. We are getting results more rapidly than before. We are working hard on intelligence gathering. Those who think they can threaten the sovereignty of Nigeria will have themselves to blame. They have a price to pay. And we are not going to relent.”

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The President thanked the esteemed delegation for their prayers and support, assuring them that he would not relent in his resolve to advance Nigeria.

‘’God bless Nigeria. God bless our unity; our diversity must bring prosperity for all for the sake of Nigeria,’’ President Tinubu concluded.

Earlier in his remarks, His Royal Majesty, Oba Olu Falae commended the President for his courageous decisions and for the rehabilitation of the Third Mainland Bridge in Lagos, as well as other critical ongoing projects.

He urged the President not to relent in ensuring fairness and equity for all Nigerians while noting the importance of a constitutional amendment to devolve more powers to the states.

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‘’We are delighted about what you are doing for our country, and we assure you of our continued support. We thank you for your visit to Akure in February 2024, and we believe it is right and proper to reciprocate your kind gesture. We appreciate this relationship, and we need to make it work in the interest of Nigeria.

‘’Mr. President, you are the leader of Nigeria now and the most important political figure in Africa. We expect you, in view of your legacy and pedigree, to lead our country with knowledge, courage, and integrity. We have no doubt that your tenure will mark a turning point in the history of our country. Under your leadership, Nigeria will be repositioned.

‘’We will stand by you as you make all efforts to change the Nigeria story for the better. Be assured Afenifere will not abandon you in fair or foul weather. As long as you remain faithful to the principles of fairness, integrity, and courage that is expected of you as the leader of Nigeria, we will stand by you,’’ Oba Falae said.

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The delegation was led by Pa Reuben Fasoranti, leader of Afenifere; Oba Falae, alongside other eminent citizens.

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