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Scavengers, Enugu Taskforce clash at Abakpa, Taskforce vehicle burnt

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• Scavengers at a refuse dump

• Enugu residents count losses, hail govt

The Enugu State taskforce enforcing government’s ban on the activities of plastic and iron scavengers, Tuesday, clashed with scavengers, as team members were trying to prevent the loading of suspected stolen and vandalised items into trailers to their illicit buyers.

The incident occurred at the scavengers’ dumpsite located at Abakpa Nike, Enugu, where a vehicle belonging to the taskforce was also torched by the scavengers.

This was even as residents, who recounted their losses over the activities of the scavengers, commended the effort of the Peter Mbah Administration to enforce the provisions of the Enugu State Environmental Law, which prohibits the activities of scavengers and also prescribes a two-year prison term for violators.

The taskforce had taken the scavengers unawares as they were loading the items into a trailer. However, an attempt to stop them resulted in a violent attack on the taskforce members with dangerous items like iron and broken bottles.

Not even the reinforcement of the team with a detachment of police personnel could deter the scavengers, as they became more violent, hauling various missiles at the police and the taskforce.

It was gathered that the scavengers burnt a car belonging to the taskforce as the confrontation intensified, while one of the scavengers, who sustained serious injury, as he reportedly fell on a sharp iron, was rushed to the hospital.

A shopkeeper in the area, Ukamaka Udeh, said, “Look at what they did here today. Just imagine. You are doing something illegal. You are vandalising street lights, water galleries, and stealing things up and down. And you were caught red-handed, loading these items into a lorry. Instead of running away or pleading for mercy, you mobilise yourselves to fight the taskforce and fight the police. What more evidence do you need before you know that these are hardened criminals? They smoke weeds and take ‘Mkpuru Mmiri’ around this area as if there is no tomorrow.

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“It is those of us who do business here that will tell you what we pass through. Everyday, shop vandalisation. I mean everyday.

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“It is the same type of people that vandalise iron components of the newly constructed Second Niger Bridge as we saw in a trending video today. So, it is good that the government is now doing something about it. But the government must prepare for full war because these people are not easy nuts to crack,” she said.

A resident of Achara Layout, Enugu, who simply identified herself as Chidimma, described the scavengers as security and economic risks, saying, “They have finished us in this area.”

“They are vandalisers and security risks. They break into people’s shops at night in this neighbourhood and steal all they can. If you leave any valuable item outside, they will quickly steal them. They steal generators and generator parts. The same goes for electrical wirings in people’s homes. They remove the wires and burn them to extract the copers for sale. They even make the whole environment very, very dirty. We don’t want them here.

Another resident, who lives at Independence Layout, lamented that since the government banned them, they dropped the carts in the area and now carry sacks.

“We are not comfortable with them. Inside their bags are people’s valuables. These people have finished us here,” she stated.

It was further revealed that the Chief Security Officer of Ogbete Main Market caught the same scavengers with 15 bags of rice concealed in their carts.

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From Monkey Roundabout at Independence Layout to Kenyatta, Gariki area, Coal Camp, and Emene, among others, the complaints are the same against the scavengers in virtually every part of the state capital and across the state: vandalism, theft, dirt, drug, and other forms of criminality.

Meanwhile, security sources said police stations across the state record 28 reports each on the average on the activities of scavengers.

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He said, “Their activities have reached dangerous proportions. So, we are now targeting the big men behind them, the off-takers, who sponsor them or buy these things from them. Enough is enough.”

It is recalled that the Secretary to the State Government, Prof. Chidiebere Onyia, had at a meeting with leaders and representatives of Yoruba, Igbo, and Hausa/Fulani communities in January restated the government’s ban on the operations of scavengers, warning that defaulters would be prosecuted.

He said the ban followed numerous petitions by members of the public against the activities of the illegal waste merchants, revealing that enforcement of the ban, arrest and prosecution of violators would commence on Monday, 29 January, 2024, as some scavengers were associated with house breaking and stealing.

“The government will no longer condone the activities of scavengers in the state. We have to rid the state of every vestige of crimes by restoring sanity. We want to assure all residents in the state who are into genuine business that we will continue to work towards making the environment safer for them.

“You will recall that sometime in November 2023, after reports from residents complaining about harassment and theft from scavengers and illegal waste pickers, the government set up a committee to assess the extent of the threats scavengers posed to the wellbeing of our law-abiding citizens.

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“It was established that criminals are now roaming the streets posing as scavengers. Following this establishment, the government activated Section 20 of the Enugu State Environmental Law, that provides against scavenging activities by outlawing these illegal operators,” Onyia stated.

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Ex-Kogi Gov Bello’s trial for alleged N80.2Bn graft stalled again, to appear in court June 27

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Follow AGF’s advice, submit to EFCC – Group tells Yahaya Bello
Former Governor of Kogi State, Yahaya Bello

The arraignment of former Kogi State Governor Yahaya Bello for alleged N80.2 billion fraud slated for Thursday was stalled again as the case was adjourned to June 27 based on requests from both counsels in the case.

Bello, who was expected in court on Thursday, before Justice Emeka Nwite at the Federal High Court Abuja on a 19-count charge, was absent.

According to the EFCC, through the counsel, Rotimi Oyedepo (SAN), the court had previously adjourned the case on May 10 with the expectation that Bello would be present for arraignment today.

However, Bello’s lawyer, Adeola Adedipe (SAN), argued there was a misunderstanding.

He claimed the lead prosecutor, Kemi Pinheiro (SAN), had suggested to his colleague, Aliyu AbdulWahab, of postponing the arraignment to June 27 for convenience sake during an informal meeting outside of court.

Adedipe stated that he was surprised to find EFCC lead counsel, absent from the court today.

“They (EFCC) agreed that junior counsel would be sent to court today to formally pick a date. And the registry can confirm this.

“Kemi Pinhero, SAN, has been calling us to say today is not convenient,” Adedipe said, accusing the prosecution of attempting to “ambush” him.

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The EFCC prosecutor, Rotimi Oyedepo (SAN), countered by saying the defense team was misrepresenting the situation. He argued that holding an unofficial meeting was not a valid reason for Bello’s absence and called for an apology to the court.

“Assuming without conceding that there was a conversation between the counsel for Bello and the prosecution (outside the court), to have this matter adjourned, the fundamental issue today is compliance with the order of my lord; to with, the appearance of the defendant,” he said.

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According to Adedipe, Yahaya Bello was prepared to appear today as originally scheduled.

“Under 266 ACJA there are instances when defendants don’t need to come and this is one of them.

“We came here to pick a date. Of what use will the defendant coming here be? It is the prosecuting counsel that approached us, we did not approach them. We have nothing to hide,” Adedipe argued.

After hearing the arguments from both sides, the judge acknowledged the confusion and accepted the defense team’s apology.

“I am minded to take the apology on the ground that the defendant is making a fresh undertaking that the defendant (Bello) will be produced on June 27.

“The matter is adjourned to June 27 for arraignment,” the judge ruled.

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Alleged N80bn Fraud: Yahaya Bello to appear in court for trial today

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Ex-Kogi State Governor, Yahaya Bello

After several months of hide-and-seek between the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the former governor of Kogi state, Alhaji Yahaya Bello, the ex-governor is expected to appear before the Federal High Court in Abuja on June 13 for arraignment on the corruption charge against him.

The former governor, through his lawyer, finally agreed to submit himself to the court at the last adjourned date.

Bello’s lead counsel, Abdulwahab Mohammed, gave the undertaking to Justice Emeka Nwite on May 10, shortly after the court rejected the defendant’s request for suspension of trial.

According to him, the former governor was not afraid of arraignment but of the safety of his life in the hands of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) in Abuja.

He said the life of his client has been under consistent threats in Abuja, hence his decision to go underground for safety.

The agreement to submit to court trial was informed by Justice Nwite’s remarks that the EFCC, as a law-abiding body, would not do anything contrary to the provisions of the law.

The judge said Bello was not the first former governor to be merely invited by the anti-graft agency and would not be the last.

The judge also said that the charges are based on allegations that have not been proved, adding that the law presumes any accused person innocent until proven otherwise.

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He advised the senior lawyer to prevail on his client to respect the law and order of the court as a law-abiding person.

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Bello’s lawyer, responding to the admonition, thanked the Judge for the hint, adding that, with the assurance that the EFCC would not do anything untoward, the former governor would be brought to court.

“All my client needs is just an assurance for the safety of his life, which has been under threat for some time in Abuja.”

The lawyer requested for four weeks to bring his client before the court.

He said Bello would, however, come to the court instead of the EFCC to take his plea in the charges.

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‘I did my Dobale’, Tinubu breaks silence on Democracy Day fall at Eagle Square

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Minimum Wage: FG denies offering N105,000
President Bola Tinubu

President Bola Ahmed Tinubu late yesterday, Wednesday, June 12, 2024, broke his silence on a viral video on social media where he missed his steps and tripped earlier in the day during the proceedings at the Democracy Day Parade at Eagle Square, Abuja.

Speaking at the Democracy Day Dinner, Tinubu, a Yoruba from South West Nigeria, said tongue-in-cheek that he was only performing a traditional Yoruba gesture of respect.

“Early this morning, I had a swagger and it is on social media. They are confused on whether I was doing Buga or doing Babariga but it is a day to celebrate democracy while doing ‘dobale’ for the day. I am a traditional Yoruba boy and I did my Dobale,”

The president also underscored the importance of national orientation and collective effort in fostering a prosperous future for the country.

“Nigeria is blessed, our complexity, our diversity is there, but is the best road to success. Whatever we have to invest in our national orientation, we have to do it,” Tinubu declared, stressing the need for a concerted effort to instill a sense of service and patriotism among Nigerians.

He also noted that the nation’s national anthem encapsulated the essence of service, a value he observed being practiced by many governors across the country.

He expressed his gratitude to the governors, acknowledging their dedication to serving their people irrespective of their political affiliations.

“We include in our national anthem, the essence of service. I have seen many governors, both live and on tv, serving their people. They belong to other parties and many of them are here tonight. Thank you, Governor Eno, of Akwa Ibom, thank you Governor Okpara, my comrade from Kaduna, thank you, Sheriff and Abia, thank you. If I miss you, forgive me. Everybody has forgotten the partisanship column and embraced that green, white, green that depicts Nigeria.”

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Acknowledging criticisms of the national anthem, he called on governors to redouble their efforts in fostering a sense of duty and national character among citizens.

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“Citizenship is not just the dictionary meaning of it, it is the actual character. Let us teach this to our children, so that Nigeria collectively, we will do the job that we are called upon to do as both family or nation under God almighty,” Tinubu urged.

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