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Court sentences man to death after stabbing colleague

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Muritala Dare was sentenced to death by hanging by the Kogi State High Court of Justice in Lokoja on Thursday for stabbing a coworker with a broken bottle.

After analyzing the defendant’s role in an incident that occurred on August 16, 2021, around the NUJ region of the Lokoja metropolis, Justice Josiah Majebi, who presides over High Court 2, Lokoja, found him guilty.

The defendant was charged with Culpable Homicide, which carries a death penalty under Sections 221 (a) and (b) of the Kogi State Penal Code, and the charge stated that he “caused the death of one Lukman Karim by doing an act to wit, stabbing him on the neck and hand with a broken bottle with the intention of causing his death and thereby committed an offence.”

To prove that the defendant committed the offence, the prosecutor called three witnesses and tendered seven exhibits which included the defendant’s confessional statement, a Coroners Ordinance (Chapter) Report of Medical Practitioners, and a Nigeria Police Post Mortem Examination report dated 19th August 2020.

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While giving evidence, the principal witness, who is attached to the Quick Response Unit of the Kogi State Police Command, said the condemned defendant was apprehended from his hideout after committing the crime while the deceased, who died at the scene of the incident, was confirmed dead at the Specialist Hospital, Lokoja where the corpse was later deposited.

Upon examination of the evidence presented before the court and particularly relying on the confessional statement made by the defendant, Justice Majebi averred that “a confession is an admission at any time by a person charged with a crime stating or suggesting that he committed the crime”

He noted that “it is well settled that in a criminal trial (that) an issue may be proved by direct evidence (evidence of an eye witness) confession or admission voluntarily made by the Defendant and circumstantial evidence”.

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Thus while concluding that the entire case of the prosecution was built on the confessional statement of the defendant, which though he tried effortlessly to deny during the trial, the statements he made during the course of investigating the matter were adequate to rely upon in passing the judgment according to the Judge.

According to the trial judge, “it is trite law that a valid voluntary statement entered without objection and admitted in evidence is good evidence and no amount of subsequent argument against it or retraction will vitiate its admissibility and potency as a voluntary statement and the mere denial by the defendant will not be a good reason for rejecting it.

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“It is only desirable to have some evidence of circumstances which make it probable that the confession was truly confessional, as in Exhibit P1 in the instant case.”

“I have carefully perused and considered Exhibit P1. It is confessional in nature. I am compelled to consider the legal propriety/status of the said Exhibits P1 & P P6 in view of the fact that their admissibility is being challenged by the learned counsel for the defendant under issue two of his issues for determination and more importantly, that as earlier stated, the entire case by the prosecution herein is built on them particularly Exhibit P1,” he added.

Elaborating further, he said there were sufficient reasons to arrive at the conclusion that the evidence contained in the statements made by the defendant were convincing enough even outside his confessional statement.

“I am of the view that there is sufficient evidence outside the confessional statement of the defendant to make it probable that the statement is true. Aside from the admission of the defendant that he stabbed the deceased to death with a broken bottle, his averments in Exhibits P6 are materially the same as his averments in Exhibit P1,” he said.

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“Hence, his averments in Exhibits P6 corroborate his averments in Exhibit P1.”

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In the two exhibits, the defendant averred that he knew the deceased.

In Exhibits P6, the defendant stated that he worked with the deceased at the same place under high tension, and in Exhibit P1, he stated that he had issues with the deceased after they were sacked from their former shop. According to him, on the 16th day of August 2020, he had a fight with some persons including the deceased.

While in Exhibit P6, he stated that he removed the broken bottle he had earlier kept in his pocket and stabbed the deceased with it on his neck and left hand leading to his death”.

The court, therefore, held that the stated evidence of circumstances made it possible that the statement made by the defendant and contained in Exhibit P1 was “truly confessional” while noting that for the prosecution to succeed in a charge of Culpable Homicide, under Section 221 (a) of the said Penal Code, it must have the ingredients of the death of a deceased resulting from the act of a defendant whose act would have been done with the intention to cause death or that the defendant knew or had a reason or know that death would be the probable and not only likely consequence of his act.

He therefore concluded that all these essential ingredients were already manifest in the matter and supported by other evidences.

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“I have carefully looked and considered Exhibit P1 and I am satisfied that it is direct, positive and admits the essential elements of the offence of Culpable Homicide as stated against the Defendant….There is a nexus between the act of the Defendant and the death of the deceased. The fact that the deceased died on the 16th day of August, 2020 is not in dispute between the prosecution and the Defence. The substance of the case, established by the evidence adduced is that the deceased was killed by the Defendant.” And there was “no Scintilla of evidence from the Defendant both in Exhibit P1 and his oral evidence to show that the killing of the deceased was in Self-Defence or Provocation” as was canvassed by his counsel.

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In conclusion, his lordship found the Defendant guilty of the charge of Culpable Homicide against him and convicted him accordingly.

“Premised on the above findings, I hold that the prosecution has proved all the ingredients of the charge against the Defendant and thereby raising the presumption of guilt against him in respect of the charge.

“That, you, Dare Murtala, is hereby sentenced to death for the offence of Culpable Homicide for which you are convicted. The sentence of this Court upon you is that you will be hanged by neck until you be dead and may the Lord have mercy upon your soul,” he pronounced.

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Crime

EFCC to go after Jaiz Bank over disgraced fmr AGF alleged fraud

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The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, or EFCC, may soon summon Hassan Usman, the managing director of Jaiz Bank Plc, and other senior members of the Islamic bank for questioning regarding their alleged roles in the N109 billion that Ahmed Idris, the disgraced former Accountant General of the Federation, is accused of stealing, according to sources in the commission.

Idris, who is currently facing charges from the EFCC along with two other conspirators, Godfrey Olusegun Akindele and Mohammed Kudu, allegedly stole the enormous sums of money by hacking into the Treasury Single Account (TSA), Government Integrated Financial Management Information System (GIFMIS), Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS), and smuggled away billions of naira that belonged to the government.

The group was last week charged before Justice A. O. Adeyemi Ajayi of the Maitama, Abuja-based Federal Capital Territory High Court.

Investigative work by the EFCC revealed that the former Accountant General had opened bank accounts with an Islamic bank and utilized those accounts to refine his money-laundering techniques.

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Investigations indicated that the bank was used to launder a sizable amount of money to high government officials at the federal and state levels, while the magazine is unable to determine the extent of some bank employees’ involvement in the crime.

According to information obtained by The Source Magazine, the commission is currently working to uncover any shady dealings the former AGoF may have had with some Islamic bank executives, which may have “enabled him to use the bank to launder public monies.” The bank must respond to important queries, according to an EFCC source.

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“The Accountant General and his accomplices must have chosen Jaiz bank, in order not to draw any suspicion from the public and banking regulators. But it’s now obvious that there’s no hidden place for the bank and greedy government officials who committed the fraud. The EFCC will get to the bottom of the fraud and expose those involved” another EFCC top official said on Tuesday.

“There is a need to question more top officials of the bank apart from the chief executive who must be privy to how and when huge sums of money were moved without deeming it fit to alert constituted authority in the country and EFCC. There’s no way huge sums will be moved without the MD’s knowledge, and we are quite sure these officials are not unaware of the money laundering law,” the official said.

The EFCC claimed that Idris utilized a substantial portion of the stolen money to launch businesses and buy real estate in Kano, where he is from, as well as Abuja and other places.

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These properties include, among others, the Kano City Mall, the Gezawa Exchange Limited, and the Gezawa Integrated Farms.

A portion of the earnings from the theft were also utilized by the disgraced former accountant general to bribe important members of the state and federal governments, including former governor Abdul’Aziz Yari of Zamfara state, who was at the time the chairman of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF).

During the trial last week, an EFCC prosecution witness Hayatu Ahmed, said Idris has accounts with Jaiz Bank which he used to make payments to individuals and companies, including a N280 million he paid into “Gezawa Commodity Market with Jaiz Bank.”

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Additionally, it was discovered from EFCC sources that the bank was used in a large number of transactions that the disgraced Idris conducted with bureau de change. Several bureau de change in Kano and Abuja were paid via the bank, according to credible proof. The source stated that the dollar equivalent was then collected in cash and afterwards paid directly to people who had benefited from the crime.

Giving an overview of the fraud last week, the EFCC witness claimed that three groups shared the stolen money, including members of the Revenue Mobilization Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC), including one of its commissioners, Peace Akomas, a former deputy governor of the Abia State who is accused of collecting N18.8 billion.

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“The second group is the AGF group, and it got a total sum of N18.01 billion.

“The third group, the Commissioners of Finance in the nine oil producing states, received N21.4 billion. The money was withdrawn by Akindele, converted to US dollars, and handed over to Akomas on behalf of the group.

“The fourth group is called the Yari group. This group received N17.15 billion. The entirety of the sum was transferred to the account of Fimex Professional Services on the instruction of the representative of this group – Abdul’Aziz Yari, former Zamfara state governor.

“The remaining N8.9 billion was retained by the second defendant. Furthermore, N4.29 billion was converted to US dollars by Akindele as appreciation for the consultancy contract, and the balance of N4.6 billion was given to Akindele,” the EFCC witness said in court.

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NDLEA release photos of Chris Nzewi, owner of Meth laboratory uncovered in VGC Lagos state

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The National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, NDLEA has confirmed the arrest of the owner of a meth laboratory that was being operated by one Chris Nwezi in the Victoria Garden City estate in Lagos State.

Over the weekend, Freelanews reported how men of the anti-drug agency carried out a sting operation in the estate and arrested the man who ran the laboratory where the toxic substance was produced.

Confirming this development to newsmen today August 2, the Chairman/Chief Executive of NDLEA, Brig. Gen. Mohamed Buba Marwa (Retd) said two METH laboratories have so far been uncovered.

“The first one, located in Victoria Garden City (VGC) Estate of Lekki, Lagos, is owned by a baron, Chris Emeka Nzewi.

“The laboratory in Lagos was set up inside the Boys Quarter building of a four-bedroom duplex. From there, we recovered a total of 258.74 kilograms of crystal methamphetamine and various precursor chemicals used for the production of the toxic drug. The complete paraphernalia of laboratory equipment such as gas cylinders, giant gas burners, industrial face masks, industrial gloves, tubes and flat-bottomed conical flasks, among others were also found,” he said.

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He said the owner of the laboratory in VGC, for instance, was producing this highly unstable and toxic drug in a house where he lived with his family.

”This speaks volumes about his insensitivity to the consequences of exposing his family, which includes a three-month old baby, to the danger of hazardous chemicals. If that is the case, that is an indication that public health was of no concern to him.

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In this particular case, aside from the laboratory being close to the kitchen of the main house, the waste from the laboratory was channelled into the septic tank and soakaway in the compound, with a high risk of contamination of the water table of the entire neighbourhood.

On average, the lab produced 50 kilos of methamphetamine every week with plans underway to increase the capacity of production to at least 100kg per week.”

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Crime

Rivers LG Sets Up Own Security Outfit

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The Emohua local government council in Rivers State, has set up a security outfit, Emohua Vigilante Service (EMOVIS), which which will work with the Nigerian Police and other security agencies to ensure peace and security.

Members of the security outfit, who were nominated by the various communities in the local government area, however, will not bear any form of arms.

Speaking at the inauguration of EMOVIS as well as the commissioning of its operational headquarters at Emohua on Wednesday, the local government chairman, Dr. Chidi Julius Lloyd, said members of the outfit were profiled by the Nigerian Police and the Department of State Services (DSS).

Lloyd, who stated that the effort was aimed at assisting in providing intelligence to the Police and other security agencies, said members of the outfit will work in their respective communities.

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He further stated that the local government council decided to form its own security outfit after a vigilante group, popularly known as OSPAC, which was adopted by most of the communities in the area, failed.

The LGA chairman said: “On assumption of duty in June 2021, we observed to our chagrin that the security situation in the local government area needed urgent intervention in order to avoid a total relapse to anarchy.

“The existing contraption, as it then was, OSPAC, which was initially designed to cut the excesses of cultism in the area, later became a major source of challenge.

“There were several reports of breaches of our security in the same local government area, where OSPAC had been adopted to bring about peace and tranquility.

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“It was observed that the few communities that didn’t have OSPAC were enjoying relative peace than those that had OSPAC, because they adopted their own local policing.”

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