Some Aba residents in Abia have lauded the 12-year jail term handed down to ex-Gov. Orji Uzor Kalu of Abia, by a Federal High Court in Lagos.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Justice Mohammed Idris convicted Kalu on 39 counts of N7.2 billion fraud and money laundering preferred against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.
Aba is the main base of Kalu – now a senator – and some of the residents said that the judgment was a warning to political office holders to be careful.
A lawyer and social critic, Chief Ukpai Ukairo told NAN: “The judgment is momentous and shows that you can run but cannot hide.
“The judgment shows that though the wheel of justice grinds slowly, it will surely grind very well.
“This is the time for Abia to recover money stolen by that regime and use it meaningfully.
“It is also a warning to all those in positions of authority that abuse the trust of the people.”
He urged that assets of Slok Nig. Ltd. – Kalu’s company – should be forfeited to Abia Government and not Federal Government.
A chieftain of the People’s Democratic Party in Abia, Chief Okey Nwagbara, also lauded the judgment, saying that it demonstrated the commitment of the Federal Government to fight corruption.
He added that the judgment showed that the All Progressives Congress-led Federal Government was not selective in its crusade against corruption.
“It is a very straight-forward judgment against corruption.
“The judgment shows that the judiciary is independent and actually the hope of the common man.
“I learnt that the court ruled that the property of Slok, Orji Kalu’s company, should be forfeited to the Federal Government.
“I want the Federal Government to do justice by converting the property of Slok to Abia Government’s, because the money he was accused of stealing, is Abia State Government’s,” he said.
Mr Uche Emeku of the Easy Life Initiative for Rural Youths (ELIRY) said that the judgment showed that the judiciary could act independently.
“It is not about Orji Kalu but sanity in our polity as long as it is not done with prejudice.
“I believe everybody who commits a crime should be punished for the crime he committed.
“Everybody should be very careful because it is about dispensing justice by those in the temple of justice,” he said.
Senator Gaidam Finally Reveals Why He Sponsored Bill For Creation Of Boko Haram Agency
Yobe-born Senator, Ibrahim Gaidam has revealed why he sponsored a “Bill for an Act to establish a National Agency for the education, de-radicalization, rehabilitation and reintegration of repentant insurgents”.
The lawmaker who addressed a press conference in Abuja, said the bill was sponsored to help repentant insurgents re-enter mainstream politics, religion and society.
Gaidam wrote: “Bill for an Act to establish a National Agency for the education, de-radicalization, rehabilitation and reintegration of repentant insurgents would promote reconciliation and national unity.
“The agency when established will provide an avenue for rehabilitating, de-radicalizing, and reintegrating the defectors, repentant and forcefully conscripted members of the insurgent group Boko Haram to make them useful members of the society.
“Provide an avenue for reconciliation and promote national security.
“Provide an-open-door and encouragement for other members of the group who are still engaged in the insurgency to abandon the group, especially in the face of the military pressure.
“Allow the government to derive insider-information about the insurgency group for greater understanding of the group and its inner workings.
“Gaining a greater understanding of the insurgents will enable the government to study the needs of de-radicalization effort, improve the process and address the immediate concerns of violence.
“Enable Government to use the defectors to fight the unrepentant insurgents.
“Help disintegrate the violent and poisonous ideology that the group spreads as the program will allow some repentant defectors or suspect terrorists to express remorse over their actions repent and recant their violent doctrine and in the long run, re-enter mainstream politics, religion and society.
“If defectors told their stories and were made more public, their experiences would play a key role in countering Terrorist propaganda, which in turn would lessen the appeal of joining the group.”
The Senator representing Yobe East further stated that establishment of the agency will help the Federal Government cut the cost of incarceration, render extremist movements obsolete by undermining the foundations upon which the movements were built and also make repentant terrorists become useful members of the society.
Gaidam added: “In view of the fact that the Boko Haram insurgency is becoming increasingly aggressive since its inception in 2009, marked by extreme brutality and explicit targeting of civilians…it has become necessary for us to go back to the drawing board and adopt an alternative approach, in addition to the military option which has so far performed significantly well.
“There is no doubt that many members of the insurgents’ group have defected and many more are willing to repent given a window of opportunity and this is confirmed by many organizations including NGO’s that have unalloyed access to the Boko Haram.
“There is the need for a more strategic and comprehensive approach to entice those members of the group who, after realizing the futility of the course they are pursuing have eventually decided to voluntarily lay down their arms and chose the path of peace.
“Hence, the need for the establishment of the National Agency for the Rehabilitation, De-radicalization and reintegration of repentant insurgents to accommodate the defectors.
“The agency when established shall be charged with the responsibility of the planning, designing and organizing specialized programs aimed at deradicalizing, rehabilitating and reintegrating defectors and repentant insurgents.
“Those who have become weary of the perpetual violence and have voluntarily laid down their arms and defected from the group will be accepted and rehabilitated using various tools of deradicalization, rehabilitation and reintegration.
“In contrast, those captured active in the battlefields will be required to, in addition to the psychological therapy, participate in the criminal justice process.
“In dealing with the insurgency, Nigerian Government needs to introduce both preventive and corrective measures in addressing violent extremism.”
Presidential Committee Seeks Scrap Of Alcohol Adverts
The Presidential Advisory Committee for the Elimination of Drug Abuse has recommended thay the adverts on alcohol and other recreational drugs be scrapped to discourage its use.
Chairman of the Committee, Brig. Gen. Buba Marwa made the announcement while appearing on Channels Television “Sunrise Daily”.
He said the recommendation of scrap of such adverts which is contained in the 2019 report the committee submitted to President Buhari, will discourage its use.
Marwa said, “You really can’t say zero-alcohol because people have the rights. But when you consume more than is required and perhaps you are caught driving drunk, you know there is a penalty. So these penalties also have to be enforced. The drug control scourge in Nigeria, unless it is tackled, we are finished.”
He further disclosed that the second committee is expected to meet later this week and he would be “surprised” if the recommendations in its report does not “start in another month.”
BREAKING: Court Strikes Out Charges Of Non-Declaration Of Assets Against Ekweremadu
The Federal High Court in Abuja, on Monday, struck out charges of non-declaration of assets instituted against a former Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, by the defunct Special Presidential Investigation Panel for the Recovery of Public Property.
The dissolved panel then led by Mr. Okoi Obono-Obla had in 2018 instituted the case marked FHC/ABJ/CR/62/2018 against Ekweremadu, alleging that, “without reasonable excuse”, the serving senator refused and neglected to declare his assets upon being served the panel’s “notice to declare”.
The AGF office took over the case and other suits being handled by the SPIP upon a presidential directive dissolving the panel in 2019.
On Monday, Justice Binta Nyako struck out the case against Ekweremadu after the prosecuting counsel from the AGF office, Mr Pius Akutah, said the former lawyer handling the case for the panel had disappeared with the case file.
Akutah pleaded with the judge to order the former counsel to release the file to the AGF office but the request was declined by the judge.
But Ekweremadu’s lawyer, Chief Adegboyega Awomolo (SAN), urged the judge to strike out the case.
Responding, Justice Nyako dismissed the prosecution’s request.
She said, “You are attorney general (referring to the lawyer as representing the AGF), you should know what to do.
“You should not be waiting for me to make an order against an individual.”
Justice Nyako added, “So, as it is today, you don’t know the case against the defendant since you don’t have the file. I am going to strike out the case, when you are ready you can come back.
“The case is hereby struck out for want of diligent prosecution. The prosecution is allowed to come back whenever they are ready to proceed with the case.”
The PUNCH reports that Ekweremadu was present in court and stood in the dock while the proceedings lasted on Monday.