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Bamise: BRT official testifies in court

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An official of the Lagos Bus Services Limited (in charge of the BRT) has testified before a High court in the Tafawa Balewa Square, Lagos, in the murder trial of Andrew Ominikoron on Tuesday.

Mr Ominikoro is accused of raping and murdering a 22-year-old fashion designer, Bamise Ayanwola, in February inside a BRT bus.

He is also accused of raping another passenger, Maryjane Odezelu, on November 25.

Kayode Aluko, a Fleet Operations manager at the Lagos Bus Services Limited, explained how the company employs their drivers.

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He said the employment process of BRT drivers is outsourced to a company, Excel Outsourcing, and once the drivers are fully engaged they are sent to a driving school for a test.

“Depending on their commitment and readiness to be engaged after the test, they will pass through induction and during that, the successful ones among them are given the company policy to go through,” he said.

“The company policy contains various infractions and the remedial consequences if you violate them. After going through, they (employees) sign.”

He said the operational administrative department put them on two-week probation before they are finally engaged to pick up the bus and given the company’s uniform.

He said they pick up the bus in their area of residence. He described their shifts as AM (5 a.m-1 p.m) and PM (1 p.m-10 p.m).

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He noted that before the buses are driven out of their stations, “the code of the bus is written down, the time you are driving out, the fuel level and also the odometer. And you have been allocated to a specific route.”

He told the court that the suspect joined them in September 2021.

The prosecution lawyer, Babatunde Martins, sought to tender a signed copy of the suspect’s employment document as evidence but it was opposed by the defence lawyer.

Abayomi Omotubora, the defence lawyer, said the evidence sought to be tendered was not specifically listed as part of the evidence to be presented by the prosecution.

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But the judge, after stating a section of the Evidence Act, ruled that the evidence be admitted.

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Rape suspect (Andrew Ominikoron) covers face with book

The witness further said that on November 25 and December 29, the driver was allotted bus 271 and was on the PM shift.

On February 26, he was allotted bus 275 and he was on the PM shift. On that day, the witness said the driver drove the 56-seater vehicle out and was allotted the Ajah-Oshodi route.

He said they have different stations within the state. “So, part of the monitoring starts once the driver leaves the station and the bus is confirmed at the station.

“And there is documentation that is done confirming the driver’s arrival at different stations. Part of what we have also is the CCTV camera in some of the buses. And we also have the enforcement unit that monitors our route’s operations.”

Mr Aluko said they never received any complaint against the suspect except on February 28 from the deceased’s relative.

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He told the court that the deceased’s relative came along with the bus code – 240257. “And we checked and it corresponds with what we have. It was driven by the suspect. But he was not on duty at the time they came to report.”

“The driver resumed past 2 p.m. And I had instructed him to see me upon arrival. He was asked to wait but he told the officers of his outsourcing company that he wanted to go and eat. But he never returned.”

Mr Aluko also said that the deceased’s elder brother showed him a voice note and a video. “It displayed my bus code – 240257, and the other voice note of the two ladies.

“And in that conversation, there was an expression of fear from the lady inside the bus to the other friend. This was on a Monday and the incident occurred on Saturday. I said I will do whatever I can to help them.

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“Immediately he left, I went to our outsourcing company and picked up the captain of the bus…we arranged for a manhunt that night. I took my car with about four other personnel to Ogolonto, Ikorodu (the suspect’s residence),” but could not find him.

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Mr Aluko said they tried his known telephone number several times but he didn’t respond. But he would later call that he was in the hospital.

Alleged rape

Earlier in the hearing, the alleged rape victim, who had testified on Monday, was cross-examined by Mr Omotubora.

The sales representative said she had only started working in the Ajah area two months before the incident.

“How long have you been in Lagos?” The lawyer asked.

2014, she responded.

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Lawyer: You are very conversant with the operation of BRT?

Witness: No. I did not enter the BRT bus, that night was my first day.

Lawyer: You would also agree with me that the BRT buses do not operate like the Danfo?

Witness: I don’t know that one. I normally see them on the road.

Lawyer: But you know that BRT has their designated bus stops?

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Witness: I don’t know.

Lawyer: Are you saying that you have been since 2014, you have not seen BRT buses loading point since 2014?

Witness: The only place that I normally see BRT is at Ajah.

Andrew Ominikoron escorted by prison officials after the hearing

Lawyer: Do you know that the Alex hotel bus stop is not the designated bus stop?

Witness: Yes, but they normally pick passengers there.

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The witness explained that she never knew that BRT buses use cards. Neither was she aware that every cash payment comes with a receipt.

She said she boarded the bus around 8 p.m. and had never met the driver until that night.

She noted that the suspect parked around Lekki Conservation and raped her. She said the area was dark at the time.

“You said that the driver attacked you and dragged you?” the lawyer asked.

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“After he ended the call, I noticed that my life was in danger and his manhood had risen. I brought my big phone. That was when he locked the door and the light went off and he dragged me to the back seat,” the witness said.

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“While this was going on, you didn’t raise any alarm?” The lawyer asked.

“He held my neck and raised a knife, how do I raise an alarm?” The witness questioned.

“Please, tell the court how you were dressed?

“I dressed normally. I wore that gown with my tummy belt.

The lawyer brought out the gown. “This cloth is just a blouse,” he told the court.

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But the witness insisted that it was a gown.

“I didn’t wear the gown with any trousers because it almost touched my knee,” she added.

“I want to make an application that the court directs the witness to wear these clothes,” the lawyer requested.

But the judge frowned at his request. “No. Why should I ask her to wear it in the courtroom?” She asked.

“I will apply for that, my lord,” the lawyer replied.

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The witness said she gave her account number and phone number to the driver when he requested because he refused to let her go.

“And you received the money with thanks and gratitude. Yes or no?

“I said thanks to him because I wanted him to free me,” she responded.

She, however, said she discussed the incident with her male friend.

The defence lawyer accused the witness of promiscuity using “indecent language” but the judge cautioned him against such a word in questioning the witness.

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The witness continued that the money sent to her by the suspect was withdrawn and given to some beggars in Ajah.

The next hearing of the matter is fixed for June 1, 7, and 9.

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Crime

Inspector sentenced to death for killing phone dealer

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The Delta State High Court sitting at Asaba on Tuesday sentenced Inspector Ubi Ebri of the Nigeria Police Force to death on a murder charge.

The court presided over by Justice C. D. Diai convicted and sentenced the Inspector to death for killing a phone dealer, Mr Onyeka Ibeh, in Asaba.

 

Also read: Delta police arrest inspector for shooting boy during stop and search

 

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Ibeh, a popular phone dealer in Asaba, along with his wife was driving from Ugbolu to Asaba on April 5, 2023, when they were flagged down by the police team for a search.

The deceased was said to have stopped but after waiting for a while to be searched, and they were not being attended to, decided to move away

Infuriated by the action of the deceased, the police inspector immediately opened fire into the vehicle and the bullet hit the late Ibeh on the head and he died on the spot.

The wife of the deceased who sat in the front seat was unhurt.

The killing of the phone dealer led to protests by youths along the streets of Asaba and to police headquarters to demand justice.

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However, the prosecution, led by a director in the Ministry of Justice, Mr E.H. Edema, accused the policeman of killing Ibeh.

Edema alleged that the defendant was part of a police patrol team that mounted a stop and search exercise on April 5, 2023, along the Ugbolu Asaba Road in the state capital.

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Edema who told Journalists after the judgement said, “Today’s judgement is a landmark judgement because justice has been served in this case to the deceased and society at large.”

Also, the elder brother of the deceased, Mr Ifeanyi Ibeh, who witnessed the judgement, also commended the court for delivering justice to his family.

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Terrorists kidnap travellers along Maiduguri-Kano Highway

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Suspected Boko Haram terrorists have abducted scores of travellers along the Maiduguri-Kano highway.

According to Theheute, the insurgents abducted the passengers on Monday evening between Garin Kuturu and Mannanari village near Auno along the Damaturu highway.

 

Also read : Terrorists attack Yobe military base, kill soldier

 

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It was learnt that the insurgents reportedly blocked the highway before forcefully abducting some passengers, while other commuters had to return to Benishek and Auno, respectively.

“There was an incident between Mannanari and Garin Kuturu where some Boko Haram fighters came out to block the upcoming vehicles and some passengers were abducted.

“We are not sure of the number as we speak but certainly there was an abduction on Monday evening,” the source told the newspaper.

Residents also narrated that commercial drivers took refuge in their community during the attack by bandits between Garin Kuturu and Mannanari villages.

“They came out with three wheelbarrows and I believe they were looking for foodstuff. We don’t know how many people were abducted but some commercial drivers came back and later returned to Maiduguri before reinforcement of military arrived.”

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Also speaking, a passenger, who craved anonymity, said he and others were stranded along the highway for hours.

He said: “We were heading for Kano from Maiduguri when the driver got hinted about the attack and took a detour

“We have been waiting for the military to clear the road but we don’t know when. We are stranded here.”

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Crime

2,545 security personnel killed in four years, says group

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2,545 security personnel killed in four years, says group

The Advocacy Centre for Development has lamented the killing of 2,545 security officers, and 17,886 civilians and the abduction of 15,597 persons from 2019 to 2023.

Disclosing this on Friday in Gombe State at the end of a one-day roundtable engagement with stakeholders on National Day of Mourning, the Convener and Team Lead, Ibrahim Yusuf, blamed the political class for the wanton killings.

Also read : Over 87 FCT residents killed, 176 kidnapped under Tinubu – Investigation

 

This year marks the 7th National Day of Mourning, as declared by the Joint Nigeria Crisis Action Committee on May 28, 2018.

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The day was called to denounce the level of impunity and frequency of violent killings in the country.

A statement in 2018 by Chidi Odinkalu, Yemi Adamolekun, Abiodun Baiyewu, Ier Jonathan-Ichaver and Auwal Musa (Rafsanjani) on behalf of the Co-Ordinating Committee of JN-CAC said the day of national mourning would witness a set of activities for remembrance, solidarity and awakening to the challenges confronting the nation.

Speaking on the seventh edition in Gombe, Yusuf decried the reckless use of the military in civil matters, calling for an end to killings and abductions in the country.

Yusuf said, “The killing of 2,545 security officers and 17, 886 civilians as well as abduction of 15,597 persons from 2019 to 2023 across the country were the clear absence of political will.”

While lamenting the surge in atrocities against women, children, Persons with Disabilities, students, teachers and the most vulnerable, schools and institutions of learning, he regretted that the government appeared unwilling to take urgent action to protect the demographics.

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“The armed forces are deployed in all 36 states of Nigeria on internal security operations, thereby retrenching the constitutional role of the Nigeria Police Force. This is a constitutional anomaly. The rise in fatalities from military operations shows that the military is over-stretched. This cannot continue.

“Here in Gombe State, we have issues of farmer/herder clashes in some communities of the state during the rainy season and we are calling on the state government and the security agencies and the traditional institutions to do the needful, without fear or favour, by putting an end to the issues of unrest in the state,” he said.

He lauded as timely, the establishment of the Ministry of Internal Security and Home Affairs and and the inauguration of Operation Hattara and Gombe Security Traffic and Environmental Corps by the Gombe State Governor, Inuwa Yahaya.

“As Nigerians bleed, we have come together on this seventh National Day of Mourning to ask the people in authority to take urgent steps in preventing the menace,” he said.

The group, in a 10-point communique signed by Saidu Malala, chairman; Abubakar Jibrin, member; and Garba Ubale, member; asked communities to participate in providing useful, timely and accurate information to security operatives.

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It called for the reactivation of the roles of traditional institutions in society and, the reintroduction of educational marshals in schools to guard against drug abuse, youth restiveness and other social vices.

It added, “Religious leaders should at all times preach the gospel of peace, tolerance and mutual understanding in their places of worship.

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“Operators of social media handles and platforms should refrain from posting unverified information that may trigger friction between communities.

“Conventional media have been described as key players in sensitising the public on the importance of peaceful coexistence.

“Proactive measures to be taken by both security operatives and citizens in bringing lasting peace in the country.

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“The roundtable also emphasised peaceful coexistence among communities, irrespective of the diverse ethnic, cultural, political and religious settings in the country.”

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