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17 suspects to be tried over journalist’s murder in Cameroon

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17 suspects to be tried over journalist's murder in Cameroon

Seventeen people, including a top businessman and an ex-secret service chief, will stand trial in Cameroon over the killing of a popular journalist, according to court papers seen by media on Saturday.

The badly mutilated corpse of Arsene Salomon Mbani Zogo, known as “Martinez”, was found a few days after his abduction in front of a police station outside the capital Yaounde on January 17, 2023.

The 50-year-old radio reporter was an outspoken critic of alleged corruption and cronyism in the Central African nation, often singling out government officials by name.

International NGOs say the regime of President Paul Biya, 91, who has ruled with an iron fist for more than 41 years, routinely curtails opposition.

No trial date has yet been set for the suspects, who include Jean-Pierre Amougou Belinga, an influential businessman and owner of Anecdote media group, who was arrested two weeks after Martinez’s murder.

“He has been ordered to stand trial on a fabricated charge — complicity in torture,” Belinga’s lawyer Charles Tchoungang told AFP.

The court order said “sufficient charges against the indicted” justified ending the judicial enquiry and setting a trial.

Maxime Leopold Eko Eko, former head of Cameroon’s DGRE spy agency, must also stand trial on charges of complicity in torture.

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The DGRE’s operations director, Justin Danwe, faces charges of complicity in murder.

But many Cameroonians fear justice may never be done in a country ranked by Reporters Without Borders as 118th out of 180 for press freedom.

After both Belinga and Eko Eko were freed from detention without formal explanation in December, a new investigative judge — the third — was named to handle the case.

SEE ALSO:  Bauchi Zakaat stampede: Death toll hits seven

Rights group Human Rights Watch says freedom of expression continues to be restricted in Cameroon, noting that three independent journalists were killed there last year.

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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.

SEE ALSO:  Soldier arrested for stabbing Kwara DPO

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.

SEE ALSO:  Soldier arrested for stabbing Kwara DPO

‘’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.”

SEE ALSO:  Court jails 23-year-old for forging CAC annual returns receipt

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.

SEE ALSO:  Bauchi Zakaat stampede: Death toll hits seven

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

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