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Fraud: Eight Nigerians sentenced to death in UAE

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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.

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Politics

1999 Constitution is a fair constitution – President Buhari

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President Muhammadu Buhari has described the 1999 Constitution as fair to all segments of the country.

To justify his position, Buhari cited the fact that each of the 36 states must have a minister representing it in the cabinet.

He also noted that it was for the same reason that Bayelsa, a small state with only eight local governments, would have three senators in the National Assembly, compared to a big state like Kano with 44 local governments, also having three senators.

Buhari spoke in Abuja when members of the Muhammadu Buhari/Osinbajo Dynamic Support Group visited him at the Presidential Villa.

The group, which was led by the National Coordinator, Usman Ibrahim, was one of the many groups that worked for the re-election of Buhari and Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo during the February 23 presidential poll.

The President said, “The Constitution facilitates one thing; that there must be a member of the (Federal) Executive Council from each state of the federation.

“Why I praise the authors of our constitution is that Bayelsa with eight local governments has three senators and Kano with 44 (local governments) has three senators. So, you can’t be fairer than that in the context of one Nigeria.

“Please, try and understand that I appreciate you, you are doing a thankless job; nobody is paying you. You use your resources and time to come together and discuss national issues. I pray God will help us to keep this country strong economically and morally.”

He informed the group that his administration was determined to provide safety to all Nigerians, wherever they reside.

“As leaders in your various communities, I urge you all to take the message back to your communities. It is not about politics, religion or tribe, it is about having a Nigeria where our families will be safe and our children will have plenty opportunities to earn a living and have a comfortable life.”

Earlier, Ibrahim recounted the sacrifices the group made to ensure Buhari won the election, saying there were instances where the members were attacked, while its coordinator in Kwara State paid the supreme price.

He said the members did their work without asking for any financial support from the President, adding that it was because they believed in Buhari to rescue Nigeria.

He added that the group was blessed with many professionals, who could render their services to the administration if given the mandate to do so.

“We, therefore, request that you give consideration to this noble men and women and we promise that we will never let you down,” Ibrahim told Buhari.

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Abia state governor debunks being sick

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The governor of Abia State, Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu has debunked the news making rounds that he is sick and incapable of performing his official duties.

In a statement issued by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Onyebuchi Ememanka, Ikpeazu said that he is hale and hearty, and discharging the duties of the office of Governor of Abia State with zeal, zest, and passion, as he has done since 2015.

According to Ememanka, Ikpeazu had a busy schedule on Friday attending to a long line of official visitors who came to Government House Umuahia.

“Those carrying the rumor that the Governor is sick and bedridden are political fifth columnists and agents of destabilization whose stock in trade is to spin rumor mills and trade on falsehood.

“The unfortunate news they have been spreading exist only in their disjointed imaginations.

“The good people of Abia State are advised to completely disregard these agents of confusion and their evil machinations.

“Your Governor is in a perfect state of health and is prepared to challenge any of those spreading the rumor to a game of soccer,” the statement concluded

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Senate confirms Abubakar as commissioner of NCC

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The Senate has approved the nomination of Aliyu Saidu Abubakar as non-executive commissioner of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC).

Abubakar who is to represent the Northeast geopolitical zone in the commission was rejected in 2016 when Senator Bukola Saraki was the Senate President.

Also confirmed are Eng Uba Maska, executive commissioner (North West) for reappointment, Professor Millionaire Abowei, non-Executive director (South South) and Abdulazeez Mohammed Salman (North Central).

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Southwest governors rebuke Northern elders

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Governors in southwest states, on Friday, reacted to a statement credited to the Northern Elders Forum (NEF), asking persons of Fulani extraction, resident in the southern part of the country, to return to the north. They described the claim as most unfortunate, divisive and retrogressive.

A statement personally signed by the forum’s chairman and the Ondo State governor, Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, said, “With no intention to engage anyone, it is incumbent on us, as elected representatives of our people in the southwest region of the country, to denounce this divisive and retrogressive statement in the strongest terms possible.

Akeredolu said, “It is appalling, to assert the least, that the tragic incident, which claimed the life of Mrs. Funke Olakunrin, the daughter of Pa Fasoranti, the leader of Afenifere, would be used by certain persons to advance the cause of parochial and prebendal politics.
”We intend to get to the root of the sad occurrence as we await the findings of security agencies on the unfortunate incident,” he said.

Akeredolu said the governors and the people of the southwest are working assiduously, to find lasting solutions to the current security challenges and curtail the nefarious activities of undesirable elements bent on wrecking the country’s peace.

He said: “We are not unaware of the antics of certain elements, who hope to garner political mileage from the contrived crises in virtually all parts of the country. We are equally convinced that this confusion serves the narrow interests of some persons.
”The country has a rich history; she has had to encounter adversities in the course of her transition to nationhood. She has overcome them all. This distraction will also pass. We look up to the security agencies to take cohesive steps to curtail this major challenge of insecurity which engenders hopelessness.

”We can only enjoin all citizens, on our part, to be patient and continue to cooperate with them as they combat the festering crises. We on our part have taken great strides with the hope that great success will be achieved.

”We, however, note, with discomfiture, the unpatriotic acts of some Nigerians, who will stop at nothing in their bid to undermine the Federal Government.

The forum reiterated the commitment of the governors and the people of the southwest to the nationhood project, as they continue to address the challenges confronting the people, saying: ”We will promote, with renewed vigor, all activities which encourage amity among our people”.

The southwest governors called on all persons of Fulani extraction, and indeed all Nigerians from other parts of the country, resident in the southwest region, to discountenance NEF’s unpatriotic outburst and other self-serving organizations of opportunists.

The forum welcomed all Nigerians, who have legitimate reasons to be in the region, stressing that the governments and people of the southwest would protect all persons regardless of their ethnic and religious backgrounds.

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