Eight men, identified as Nigerians, have been sentenced to death in Sharjah, United Arab Emirates, for a string of robberies at money exchanges and cash machines (ATMs) across the emirate in December 2016.
The ninth Nigerian, found guilty for possession of stolen money, was sentenced to six months’ imprisonment.
He will be deported after serving his prison term.
The Gulf News is reporting that the Nigerian denied the charge against him, saying that one of the accused’s brothers asked him to transfer Dh60, 000 to an account in Nigeria.
Both the Gulf News and Khaleej Times, local newspapers, which reported the trial, did not identify all the convicted Nigerians.
A total of 20 suspects were initially held for attacking security guards in four violent attacks at ATMs and money exchanges across Sharjah in late 2016.
Out of the 20 suspects, nine were convicted.
Some of the accused confessed to their crimes, while others denied the charges levelled against them.
Judge Majid Al Muhairi of Sharjah Criminal Court handed down the verdict on Wednesday.
The eight-member gang attacked security trucks and entered establishments by force and threatened and assaulted staff and members of the public with bladed weapons in a spate of robberies, three of which were carried out on the same day on December 18, 2016.
The gang, who were all in the UAE on visit visas, were said to be highly organised and plotted a string of orchestrated attacks to ambush security trucks that were transporting money boxes to and from ATMs, and at least one money exchange in Sharjah.
The first robbery took place at a Dubai Commercial Bank ATM on King Abdul Aziz Street, where Dh340, 000 was stolen.
Then two days later, they attacked an ATM in Al Safeer Mall in Al Nahda, fleeing with Dh700, 000, and an ATM in Muweilah where they stole Dh710, 000.
Police foiled a fourth attack at a money exchange office near National Paints.
The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Foreign Affairs and Diaspora, Mrs Abike Dabiri-Erewa has described the death sentence passed on eight Nigerians in United Arab Emirate (UAE) as unfortunate.
Dabiri-Erewa in a statement yesterday in Abuja expressed concern over the development, saying the incident was not an actual description of personalities of people of Nigeria.
”It is an unfortunate incident, but it is not an incident that defines who we are as a people.
”If a few Nigerians have committed a crime for which they are being punished, thousands of Nigerians are doing great in that same country and are being appreciated and celebrated.
”Mr President, who meets Nigerians every time he goes on official trips outside the country, always appeals to Nigerians to be good ambassadors wherever they are.
”I must commend millions of our brothers and sisters excelling all over the world.
“Bad news travels fast and I appeal to the media to help spread the good news about Nigerians and not concentrate only on the once in a while negative stories,” she said.
The gang of 20 was arrested in record time, but police confirmed that only a portion of the stolen money — almost Dh1.8 million — had been recovered, as the gang members had divided the money among themselves and transferred it to their home country.
Suspects were taken into custody in cooperation with police in Dubai, Ajman and Fujairah.
The gang committed the heists at the busiest times of the day when streets were crowded, which added to the confusion and enabled them to escape, said police.
In each robbery, the assailants struck quickly before police could arrive.
The attackers, however, could not evade security cameras and police were able to recognise the suspects through surveillance footage captured at the exchange house in the mall.
Video footage showed the suspects attacking security guards, making off with cash and in one of the robberies, slashing the hands of a security guard with a knife before running away with moneyboxes.
Police believe the suspects had monitored and tracked the security trucks used to transport money for a period of time before launching the attacks.
A prosecutor told Gulf News on Thursday that as per the law, groups of people who threaten the lives of others, while committing robbery, are subject to the death sentence.
However an appeal is expected to be launched and the sentences could get downgraded to life imprisonment.
The trial appeared unconnected with the arrest of five Nigerians in March this year, who robbed a Bureau de Change operator of Dh2.3 million (N225.4 million) in Sharjai, Dubai.
The suspects were identified as Chimuanya Emmanuel Ozoh, Benjamin Nwachukwu Ajah, Kingsley Ikenna Ngoka, Tochukwu Leonard Alisi and Chile Micah Ndunagu.
The five Nigerians reportedly barged into the BDC on March 20 and smashed the glass barrier between the customers and the staff, stole the money in multiple currencies and fled.
Two employees at the exchange were injured as they resisted the robbers.
One of them managed to notify the police.
The Sharjah Police coordinated with forces from Abu Dhabi, Ras Al Khaimah and Ajman to nab the suspects from four emirates within 48 hours after the robbery was committed.
A top police official said the suspects came to the UAE on visit visas on March 18, 2019.
Buhari confirms the appointment of Mohammad Adamu as Police IG
President Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday confirmed the appointment of Mohammad Adamu as the Inspector General of Police.
According to Buhari’s aide on New Media, Bashir Ahmad, Adamu’s appointment was confirmed at the Police Council Meeting which held at the State House.
The meeting was presided over by Buhari.
Lawan, Ndume, Goje intensify Senate leadership battle
The battle for the Ninth President of the Senate has heightened with senators-elect involved in signatures drive for the three contenders – Senate Leader Ahmad Lawan, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Appropriations Danjuma Goje and the former Senate Leader Ali Ndume.
All the three camps have been overwhelmed by tally counting ahead of the election of principal officers in the next dispensation.
But the three contenders have kept their tallies under wraps while intensifying strategic sessions and lobbying of their colleagues across party divides.
Although Lawan group has adopted a one-on-one strategy in its final phase of the campaign, the PDP has initiated plot to give block vote. It was learnt that a former Abia deputy governor, Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe, has been coordinating the opposition group.
Investigation revealed that the inauguration of the Ninth National Assembly will hold on June 11 after the Senate President Bukola Saraki and the House of Representatives Speaker Yakubu Dogara, would have completed their tenure.
Saraki and Dogara will leave office on June 9, 2019, to end turbulent four-year tenure.
All the three contenders are locked in permutations with a collection of signatures of Senators-elect.
While APC senators-elect are trying to remain intact, some of the PDP senators-elect are opposed to block vote.
The opposition senators-elect met in the home of their coordinator, Sen. Enyinnaya Abaribe, a few days ago to strategize ahead of the election of the principal officers of the Senate.
After the session, some of the senators-elect later had an audience with one of the principal officers of the Senate to brief him on the situation at hand.
PDP hits back at Tinubu
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has accused the national leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC) Asiwaju Bola Tinubu of hauling insults at it to curry political relevance.
The main opposition party also faulted Tinubu’s recent visit to President Muhammadu Buhari in Saudi Arabia where the party alleged that the APC leader hauled invectives and diatribes against the PDP
In a statement Tuesday by its spokesman, Kola Ologbondiyan, PDP said through his actions Tinubu has further demonstrated that he has nothing to offer towards the development of the nation.
“It is atrocious that at the time other leaders are in the Holy Land offering prayers and supplications for our nation, Asiwaju Tinubu is in Mecca for photo-ops, playing dirty politics and hauling insults at other Nigerians just to curry relevance before President Buhari,” the statement said.
The party further noted nothing but sheer hypocrisy would push Asiwaju Tinubu to engage in “unholy praises of a failed administration” in desperation.
The statement said: “This is the same Asiwaju Tinubu, who, in January 2018, at the 15th Annual Daily Trust Dialogue, berated the Buhari administration for its nepotism, incompetence, corrupt oil subsidy regime; blaming it for the high-level poverty in our country and counseled Nigerians to be guided by their conscience in electing leaders in the 2019 general elections.
“Asiwaju, in criticizing the Buhari administration, held rightly that too much political and economic power resides in the hands of too few.
“This result in a society described by too much of unemployment, inadequate infrastructure, too little food, yet too much poverty.
“He then added correctly that under President Buhari, “rather than becoming a joyous nation, Nigeria has become a cruel playground where the fears and concerns of the average person get exploited but their interests never get promoted.”
“The PDP, therefore, lambasted Asiwaju Tinubu for making allusion to its determination with Nigerians to retrieve Atiku Abubakar’s stolen Presidential mandate at the court, adding that no amount of blackmail can detract from this resolve.”
INEC withdraws Certificates from lawmakers
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has so far withdrawn 25 Certificates of Return issued to some candidates that won during the 2019 general election, following court orders. Twenty of the 25 certificates of return were withdrawn from All Progressives Congress (APC) members to other APC members; while two from People Democratic Party (PDP) members were withdrawn and issued to other PDP members.
The Chairman of Information and Voter Education Committee (IVEC), Mr. Festus Okoye, said that the other three were withdrawn from APC and PDP; and given to other political parties. Okoye made the disclosure at a ‘Forum on Media Coverage of 2019 General Election’ held in Enugu yesterday and in a statement. The APC has lost one House of Representatives seat each to the PDP and Accord Party respectively, based on the order of the court. Also, the party lost a state constituency seat to the PDP. Okoye, in a statement yesterday, however, disclosed that there are still many cases still pending in various state and Federal High Courts arising from pre-election matters.
“The commission, pursuant to orders of court, is still updating the list of candidates that contested the 2019 elections or deemed to have contested the elections. “As at the 16th May 2019, INEC withdrew the certificates of return issued to 25 candidates of the different political parties in Nigeria and issued fresh ones to other candidates,” Okoye said. Based on the order of court, Okoye disclosed that the commission withdrew certificates of return from the APC candidates in Ekiti North federal constituency and Ehime-Mbano/Ihitte Uboma/Obowo federal constituency of Imo State and issued them to PDP and Accord Party respectively.
“In Darazo state constituency of Bauchi State, the commission withdrew the certificate of a candidate of the APC and issued to the candidate of the PDP,” he further explained. Okoye stated that the commission withdrew a certificate of return from APC senatorial candidate in Bauchi South senatorial district and issued to another APC candidate. “In Delta State, the commission withdrew the certificate of return issued to the candidate of the PDP in Delta North Senatorial District and issued to another candidate of the PDP.
“Before we left INEC national headquarters on Friday (May 17, 2019); the commission has withdrawn 25 certificates-of-return from the first owners to their new owners following court orders to do that,” he said. Speaking at the Enugu event, President of the Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ), Chris Isiguzo, said that the media and its practitioners enjoyed a vast and robust consultations and meetings with INEC before, during and after the elections. Isiguzo said that INEC performed creditably given the resources and length of cooperation from other stakeholders involved in the electoral processes. “However, we are here to evaluate the entire process and see where we can strengthen our engagement and better the electoral system,” he said. In his address, the Enugu State Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC), Dr. Emeka Ononamadu, noted that evaluation of processes of the elections would help better the electoral processes as well as strengthen institutions and stakeholders involved in the entire processes.