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Alleged Blasphemy: CSOs demand arrest, prosecution of perpetrators

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A coalition of civil society organisations (CSOs) under the umbrella of State of Emergency GBV Movement, on Friday, demanded the immediate arrest and prosecution of those that participated in the lynching of a female student in Sokoto, Deborah Samuel, over the allegation of blasphemy.

Ms Samuel, a 200 level student of Shehu Shagari College of Education, Sokoto, was on Tuesday violently murdered by an angry mob that accused her of blasphemy against Muhammed, a prophet of Islam.

The mob said the late Ms Samuel shared a voice note on a WhatsApp group belonging to her classmates, reacting to a religious message shared by one of the classmates.

The voice note, spoken in the Hausa language, was described by the mob as derogatory to the prophet of God.

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The civil societies in a press statement on Friday described the mob action as barbaric, despicable, and criminal.

They added that the conduct contravenes the provisions of the Nigerian Constitution “that uphold the right to life and mandates all citizens to respect the rights and dignity of others.”

The coalition comprises Invictus Africa, TechHerNG, Yiaga Africa, Dorothy Njemanze Foundation, Connected Development (CODE), Stand To End Rape Initiative, YouthHubAfrica, Education as a Vaccine, Enough is Enough Nigeria, and SilverChipFox Consulting Service.

The statement, which was jointly signed by the members of the coalition, read in part: “Section 33(1) of the 1999 Constitution provides that “every person has a right to life, and no one shall be deprived intentionally of his life, save in execution of the sentence of a court in respect of a criminal offence of which he has been found guilty in Nigeria”.

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The groups further noted that the Nigerian Constitution, described as the supreme law, does not recognise blasphemy.

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They, therefore, advised whoever may feel offended or that their right to freedom of religion and belief has been violated, to seek redress from the courts and not resort to “jungle justice.”

The groups said such crimes when they go unpunished exacerbate the degenerating security situation in the country, “and lack of safety of women and girls in higher institutions particularly as girls account for 60 per cent of the nation’s out-of-school children, one of the highest in the world.”

“Allowing this injustice by a depraved criminal mob to go without prosecution and punishment will enable anarchy in our system and further shred the fabric of our humanity as Nigerians.

“We, therefore, call on law enforcement agencies to swiftly apprehend and prosecute the perpetrators, whose faces are identifiable in the now-viral gruesome video”, the CSOs said in a statement.

They asked that swift and commensurate justice must be served to “deter future occurrences of the crime.”

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The CSOs also called on the Nigerian government, the legislators, Nigerian Governors’ Forum, and security agencies to be “loud and unambiguous in their condemnation of the gruesome murder”.
Backstory

Since the viral video was released, the Sokoto State Police Command said it arrested two suspects in connection with the dastardly act.

Also on Thursday, the Sokoto sultanate council, the state’s traditional institution, condemned the act.

Also, the Governor of Sokoto State, Aminu Tambuwal met with Christian leaders and heads of security agencies in the state over the matter.

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Crime

NURTW member, two others jailed for drug trafficking

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A 45-year-old driver and member of the National Union of Road Transport Workers, Tapha Mustapha, and two others, were on Thursday convicted and sentenced to two years’ imprisonment for trafficking hard drugs.

Other convicts sentenced alongside the NURTW member are Andrew Ukelere and Anthony Chiemerem.

The three convicts were earlier arraigned before the court by the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, on April 27, 2024, on charges bordering on conspiracy, trafficking in 13.9 kilograms of tramadol and 590 litres of Pentazocine, a psychotropic drug similar to cocaine.

During their arraignment, the prosecutor, Mariam I. Erondu, who was represented by Julian Negedu, told the court that the convicts were arrested with the drugs on March 19, 2024, on the Long Bridge area of the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, Lagos State.

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According to the prosecutor, the offences committed contravened Sections 11(b) of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency Act Cap N 30, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004, and are punishable under the same Act.

The trio, however, pleaded guilty to the charges.

Following their guilty plea, Justice Kehinde Ogundare, adjourned the matter to Thursday for a review of facts and sentence, and then ordered that they be remanded at the Ikoyi Correctional Centre.

At the resumed hearing of the matter for review of facts, the prosecutor called Mr Benjamin Naetah, a Senior Exhibits Keeper with the agency, who tendered the drugs and other exhibits, which were admitted by the court.

Upon the conclusion of the review of facts, the prosecutor urged the court to convict and sentence the trio in accordance with the sections of the NDLEA Act that they were charged with.

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But the convicts’ lawyers, Lilian Omotunde and Ore-Ofe Ogunleye, in their plea for mercy, urged the court to award a non-custodian sentence on their clients, being first-time convicts and for not wasting the time of the court.

Omotunde, who is the counsel for the first and second convicts, said: “The first convict is a first-time offender; he is a member of the National Union of Road Transport Workers. He was contracted by the roadside to deliver a good after Lagos State, but he was caught up by the law.

“The second convict is a 35-year-old medicine store attendant, who was sent on an errand by his master.

“I urge the court to award a non-custodian sentence,” she said.

Also, counsel for the third convict, Ogunleye, urged the court to award a non-custodian sentence to her client.

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She particularly cited Section 426(2) paragraphs a, b, d and e of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA) 2015.

Responding to the counsel’s submissions, the prosecutor, Erondu, who also cited Section 311 of ACJA, urged the court to consider the commercial quantity of the prohibited drug seized from the convicts and the damage it would have done to the country.

In his judgment, Justice Ogundare sentenced the first and second convicts to two years imprisonment, while the third convict was sentenced to a year imprisonment.

The judge however ordered both the first and second convicts to pay the sum of N500,000 each, and the third convict to pay the sum of N100,000, in lieu of the jail term.

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NAFDAC arrests five for allegedly selling fake cosmetics in Abuja

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The National Agency for Food and Drugs Administration and Control (NAFDAC) on Wednesday in Abuja arrested five persons for selling counterfeit cosmetics.

Theheute reports that the arrest was made at the Garki and Wuse axis, during an enforcement to curb the sales of substandard goods.

Speaking with newsmen after the enforcement, Mr Embugushiki-Musa Godiya, NAFDAC Head of Investigation and Enforcement, Federal Taskforce, said that the arrested persons would be investigated.

Godiya said that NAFDAC would work to ensure that fake cosmetics and other counterfeit products were completely wiped out of the country.

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He said that the agency had been investigating some of these counterfeit cosmetics, following intelligence reports. He added that some of these products were illegally imported into the country, in spite of security at the border.

“NAFDAC is present in all the ports of entry of the country, but with the nature of our borders, these smugglers will always find a way to beat the system that the government has put in place.

“That is why if they escape from the port or borders, we go to the market and to all the places, gather intelligence reports, go after them and confiscate these products for possible prosecution,” Godiya said.

He said that the market value of the seized cosmetics was N35 million, adding that NAFDAC would continue investigation into the issue, to unravel the level of involvement of the suspects.

Godiya said that after investigation, the management of the agency may prosecute those suspects for the crime committed.

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He called on Nigerians to collaborate with NAFDAC to fight counterfeit products in the country.

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NDLEA busts 80 suspects, seizes 3,000kg of drugs in FCT

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The National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) has arrested over 80 suspected drug dealers with over 3,000kg of drugs in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) between January and March.

Mr Kabir Tsukuwa, Commander of Narcotics (CN), NDLEA, FCT Command, said this in an interview with the press

Tsakuwa said that over 50 suspects had been prosecuted adding that out of the number, 12 had been convicted and sentenced to different jail terms.

He said that the command had been going after the drug peddlers and the records were there to show from the arrest and seizure over the years.

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”If not for the continuous effort of the agency and the command in particular, the drug situation in FCT and even the entire country would have been worst,” he said.

The NDLEA commander said that the current situation of drug abuse in the FCT was not a peculiar one as it was same world over.

Tsakuwa said that drug abuse was a major concern to all countries of the world.

He said that all regional and global bodies like ECOWAS, EU and UNODC were advocating for global concerted efforts to deal with the challenge of drug trafficking and abuse.

He said: “the drug situation varies from countries to countries, states to states and even localities.

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According to him, the command has maintained consistent raids of drug joints within the FCT, even though, that cannot be said to have been dismantled completely but it is a continuous process.

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“There is no society that is crime free, not even the developed world.

“In 2023 alone, we arrested over 500 suspects with over 7,000kg of assorted drug seizure and conviction of over 200 offenders.

Tsakuwa said that the issue of drug abuse was serious, adding that Nigerians must join in the continuous fight against the drug menace.

He emphasised that there was a strong nexus between drug abuse and other criminalities like kidnapping, insurgency, theft, armed robbery among others.

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“When drug abuse and trafficking is dealt with, the rise in other criminalities will certainly drop.

“Although, we have had cases where we carry out operations of drug joints, but the next minute, they are back again.

“Be that as it may, we shall continue to give in our best to ensure sustainable action in our efforts.

“We shall not rest until we achieve our desired goal of drug free environment in the Federal Capital, “he said.

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