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Investors worried billions gone as Pipminds cuts communication ties

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Investors in Emem Alban’s Pipminds International Ltd. are afraid of never recovering their funds from the forex trading company.

Pipminds first reneged on the contract it signed with its investors in February 2021, when it said it was having problems with its electronic payment platform. Since then, none of the investors have been paid.

In October, FIJ reported how Emem Alban, the company’s CEO, defrauded over 2,000 investors of billions of naira before going into hiding.

An investor who asked to simply be identified as ‘Omowunmi’ said some victims of the scheme had reported the matter to officials of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State, but no arrests had been made.

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Omowunmi said she invested N1.9m in Pipminds after she was given an assurance that her money was safe.

“They assured me that nothing would happen to my money,” she told FIJ.

“The memorandum of understanding stated that if anything happened to the company’s trading activities, they would refund my money while the company bore the loss.

“Now, we, the victims, are worried that we may never recover our money again after the organisation stopped communicating with us in November, 2021.”

Joseph Benjamin, another investor, said his N2 million is still with the company.

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“I have N2 million naira in investment with the organisation. When they asked us to verify our investment, I replied that same day with bank statements that showed I sent money to Pipminds as an investment capital,” Benjamin said.

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“However, ever since a reply was sent to acknowledge my mail, they have not returned our money.”

Benjamin, like other investors, believes no one is talking about the forex trading company or their money anymore. He also believes his funds as an investor may never return to him.

Despite the verification exercise the company carried out on its investors in November 2021, there are no signs that payments will be made anytime soon.

The company’s social media pages have since been inactive and phones have been turned off.

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N10bn fraud: Court grants ex-Kwara gov N50m bail

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A Federal High Court sitting in Ilorin, Kwara State, has given a N50m bail condition for the embattled former governor of the state, Abdulfatah Ahmed, after he pleaded not guilty to 12 counts bordering on alleged mismanagement of public funds to the tune of N10bn.

The Ilorin Zonal Command of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission arraigned Ahmed before Justice Evelyn Anyadike of the Federal High Court in Ilorin on Friday.

The immediate past governor of Kwara State has been in the custody of the EFCC after being initially invited for questioning on Monday.

Among the charges against the former governor is the use of N1,610,730,500.00 meant for the security and running cost of the Government of Kwara State, in chartering private jets for local travels, on different occasions through Travel Messengers Limited, while he was governor between 2015-2019.

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Another charge against the governor was the conversion of the sum of N411m meant for the provision of security in the state between January and December 2018.

Also named as second defendant, was former Kwara state Commissioner of Finance, Ademola Banu, who, in a statement by EFCC Director of Media and Publicity, Dele Oyewale, is facing a 10-count charge “also bordering on mismanagement of public funds while he served under Ahmed’s administration as commissioner for finance”.

According to the statement, when the matter was called, EFCC’s lead counsel, Rotimi Jacobs, SAN, informed the court that Banu jumped an administrative bail granted him by the EFCC and efforts to arrest him had proved abortive.

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He urged the court to rely on Section 83 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, to issue a summons against his surety, Salami Bashiru Ola and/or a warrant of arrest against the second defendant (Banu).

The defence led by Kehinde Eleja, SAN, did not put any defence in favour of the second defendant, as he said that his appearance was for the first defendant. In a short ruling, Justice Anyadike issued a bench warrant against Banu.

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“After listening to the arguments and counter-arguments of both counsels, Justice Anyadike admitted the first defendant to bail in the sum of N50m, with two sureties in like sum.

“According to the judge, the sureties must deposit their passports with the court’s registrar. One of the sureties must have a landed property in Ilorin with the title documents of the property deposited with the Registrar of the Federal High Court,” the EFCC state read in part.

Justice Anyadike thereafter ordered the defendant to be remanded in EFCC custody pending the perfection of his bail terms, while the case was adjourned to April 29th and 30th, 2024 for the commencement of trial.

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Two guards, fuel attendants killed in Ebonyi community attack

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There was panic at the Iboko community in the Izzi Local Government Area of Ebonyi State on Tuesday, when gunmen stormed the area and killed no fewer than two security guards and two fuel attendants during attacks in the community.

An eyewitness, who pleaded anonymity, said the gunmen disguised as natives, stopped at strategic locations in the community and bought food items before unleashing the mayhem.

According to him, no few than over 500 people in the area, comprising women, traders and pupils, scampered for safety while equally abandoning their wares, when the incident occurred.

A worker at the Ebonyi State High Court, Abakaliki, told our correspondent in confidence that she missed being lynched by the hoodlums, adding the incident was destabilising.

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He said, “According to a report, the gunmen first stopped at a popular filling station at Iboko and filled their vehicles with fuel before gunning down two persons there.

“They moved to where the Ebubeagu operatives (now called Neighbourhood Vigilante members) were and opened fire on them, killing one Fredrick Idike and another person.”

The source added, “They equally used an axe to slice two of the vigilante members, whose corpses have been deposited at the mortuary.

“Yesterday was Iboko Market and the ugly incident made the traders to start running for safety.

“The whole market was deserted yesterday because of the ugly incident.”

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The Ebonyi State Police Command confirmed the incident when our correspondent contacted it.

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The Police Public Relations Officer, DSP Ukandu Joshua, said, “Yes. It happened. Two lives were lost. But we are still investigating.”

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Crime

Painter bags life jail for raping neighbour’s daughter

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The Ikeja Sexual Offences and Domestic Violence Court, on Wednesday, convicted and sentenced a painter, Azeez Salau, to life imprisonment for defiling his neighbour’s nine-year-old daughter.

Justice Abiola Soladoye handed down the sentence after finding Salau guilty of the offence of defilement charge preferred against him by the Lagos State Government.

Delivering her judgment, Justice Soladoye held that the convict was a sexual pervert who entered the room of his neighbour while she had gone to work at night and sexually assaulted the girl.

The court held that the survivor recognised the convict as ‘Daddy Kalid’ who had sex with her three times in her mother’s room while her mother was at work.

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Justice Soladoye said the testimony of the survivor was clear, coherent and consistent even when she was cross-examined, as her evidence was corroborated by the medical report.

She said that the prosecution had sufficiently proved the three ingredients of defilement against the convict.

The judge held that the survivor, in this case, gave vivid, thorough evidence which was corroborated by the medical report.

“The survivor who was the first prosecution testified before this court that she lived with her mother and identified the Salau in the dock as their neighbour, known as Daddy Kalid.

“She said that the convict would come to her room and have sexual intercourse with her and that no one was usually home when it happened. She said ‘I am always on the bed and he is also on the bed with me.

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“He touches my body with his hands and uses his penis to have sex with me through my vagina.”

The court also held the evidence of Dr. Alagbe Oyedeji of Mirabel Medical Centre who said that the medical report showed multiple healed lacerations as there was blunt forceful penetration of the vagina.

Justice Soladoye also held that the testimony of the survivor’s mother who testified that she was a night worker and that the survivor and her brother were made to sleep alone in the house.

“The survivor’s mother told the court that one of her neighbours, Mummy Darasimi, informed her of the incident.”

But Salau in his defence said he had an issue with the mother of the girl but his story did not add up as he tried to distance himself from the commission of the crime.

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However, Justice Soladoye convicted him of the charge and sentenced him to life imprisonment.

The judge said his name should be registered in the Lagos State Sexual Offences Register.

She said: “The convict is a neighbour to the victim and in this case, he ought not to have done what he did to the child.

“This should serve as a strong warning to the perpetrators of this act that the day of reckoning is near.

“Parents are once again advised that the need for mentorship and monitoring of their children is not negotiable. Salau is hereby found guilty and sentenced to life imprisonment.”

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During the trial, the state prosecution counsel, Mr Olusola Soneye, who led Ms Abimbola Abolade, had called three witnesses while the convict testified as a sole witness.

The prosecutor told the court that the convict committed the offence sometime in January 2020 at Oshiboyede Street, Selewu, Igbogbo, Ikorodu Lagos.

According to the prosecution, the offence contravened Section 137 of the Criminal Laws of Lagos State, 2015.

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