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Finally, GTCO suspended over illegal collections by Nigerian national assembly

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The Nigeria Customs Service has suspended GTCO, formerly GTBank, from collection of duties on imported cargoes at Nigerian ports following an order from the National Assembly.

The development has led to tons of cargoes being trapped at the port since Monday because freight forwarders could not complete the process of clearing their goods from the port.

Confirming development, National Public Relations Officer of Nigeria Customs Service, Deputy Comptroller Mr. Timi Bomodi said the bank was on temporary suspension on orders of the National Assembly.

Demurages have started accruing on some cargoes that have already made payments through the GTB Bank.

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Reacting to the development, the President of the National Council of Managing Directors of Licensed Customs Agents, NCMDLCA, Mr. Lucky Amiwero disclosed that it is only the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, and the Nigerian Customs Service through the Ministry of Finance that suspended an import duty collecting Bank.

Amiwero also said that the National Assembly by virtue of its oversight function can also suspend a Bank if the Bank is found to be involved in any form of corrupt or sharp practice.

“The people who are supposed to suspend them is the Central Bank of Nigeria going by the law but because of the oversight of the National Assembly, they have a right to do that if the Bank is found to be involved in any corrupt practice” Amiwero disclosed.

Similarly, Taskforce Chairman of Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents, ANLCA, Tin Can Port Chapter, Alhaji Rilwan Amuni lamented that there was no official notice or circular from customs to warn the agents from making payments through the suspended bank.

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Amuni said: “There are cargoes we have paid duty on, using Gtbank, some people have paid money, while some have captured the cargo for payment.

“It is unfortunate that when we are about processing our documents after payment, the customs did not attend to the jobs we have paid for, they said that Gtbank has been suspended from their portal.

“Since last week Friday, most of our jobs have been trapped at the port until now, and this is happening at all ports generally.

“I want to believe that the remittances to the Federal Government have not been paid for some time and this could be the reason.

“Ordinarily, customs should have cleared the cargoes we have paid for, but they have refused.

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“The effect is that we are going to be paying huge demurages, the customs are supposed to inform the shipping companies, in order to help us from paying these demurrages but they would not do that, there is lack of communication among all the players at the port.”

Crime

NDLEA intercepts ‘single largest’ heroin consignment at Lagos airport

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The National Drug Law Enforcement Agency has intercepted what it described as the single largest heroin consignment at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Ikeja, Lagos State.

The agency also said it had arrested members of an organised criminal organisation that specialises in trafficking heroin across Nigeria, South Africa, Mozambique, Europe, and America in an operation leading to the seizure of the consignment, which weighed 51.90 kilograms on February 12, 2024.

Meanwhile, checks by Press revealed that the seized drugs have an estimated worth of £5,190,000 (N10,365,987,000 at the N1,997.3/£ exchange rate) in street value of £100,000 per kilogram.

The Chairman of the NDLEA, Buba Marwa (retd.), while briefing journalists on Tuesday in Lagos, said the operation was the single largest seizure of heroin at the airport.

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The NDLEA boss said the consignment was concealed in 15 cartons of 2300-watt metal cutting machines and set to be delivered at a warehouse in the Ipaja area.

He noted that there was a parallel between the seizure and the September 18, 2022, seizure of 2,139.5 kg of cocaine in a warehouse in the Ikorodu area of the state, which he described as the biggest singular cocaine seizure in the history of NDLEA.

He said, “NDLEA operatives of the Murtala Mohammed International Airport Command intercepted a suspicious package at the SAHCO Import Shed of the airport’s cargo terminal.

“The consignment was concealed in 15 cartons of 2300-watt metal cutting machines. Each carton was stocked with three blocks of high-grade heroin. In total, we recovered 45 blocks of the illicit substance with a total weight of 49.70kg.”

Marwa added after the discovery, the agency arrested a freight agent, Olowolagba Wasiu Babatunde, hired for clearing services by one Mr. Kola resident in South Africa.

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While chronicling the sequence of the operation, the NDLEA boss said, “Next, we conducted a follow-up operation at the company’s warehouse in the Shogunle area of Oshodi, Lagos, and arrested the warehouse manager, whose name is Ajayi Lmole Moses.

“Thereafter, we set up an ambush for the expected receiver of the consignment, who was duly arrested when he showed up for collection. This receiver, whose name is Adinnu Felix Chinedu, confessed during interrogation that he is the main distributor for a drug syndicate whose membership is spread across Nigeria.

“He admitted that he usually conveyed the consignment to a dedicated warehouse located in Ayobo. That place served as a workshop where he would dismantle the consignment and remove the drugs from the machines. Thereafter, he would wait for a list of various recipients to be forwarded to him from South Africa by the head of the criminal group.

“Our operatives did due diligence by conducting a thorough search of the warehouse, which led to the recovery of 56 similar cartons of the cutting machines that were used previously as modes of concealment to ferry heroin into Nigeria. At this point, it was clear that we were dealing with a syndicate that operates in other countries. By the time we were done exploring the various leads we had, we had unraveled an organized criminal network that operates in South Africa, Mozambique, Nigeria, and parts of Europe and America.

He said the syndicate had a wide network in Nigeria because the consignments seized were marked with several codenames, showing that they belonged to different members of the organised criminal group.

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ALSO READ  NDLEA intercepts ‘single largest’ heroin consignment at Lagos airport

He explained that the agency, during a follow-up operation, uncovered from the suspect a long list of receivers of illicit drugs and was able to identify the kingpin of the syndicate, Reginald Peter Chidiebere, who owned the Golden Platinum Hotel and Suite, located at 16 Reginald Peter Chidiebere Street, Hope Estate, Ago Palace.

The NDLEA boss said several days of surveillance on the hotel culminated in a raid operation on Monday, February 19, in which another drug mule, Igboanugo Thankgod, was found in possession of two parcels of 2.2 kg of heroin with codes similar to the ones found on the seized drug shipment, bringing the total seizure to 51.90 kilograms.

“He readily confessed that he was invited by Mr. Reginald Peter Chidiebere to the hotel on Sunday, February 18, 2024. He was lodged in one of the rooms and was later summoned by the receptionist to meet a guest, from whom Reginald Peter Chidiebere had informed him over the phone to receive a package. This sequence of action was confirmed by a review of the CCTV at the hotel,” he stated.

He said the pre-emptive actions taken against members of the syndicate include freezing a total of 107 bank accounts associated with 14 members of the cartel as well as N119,582,928.31 found in some of the already traced bank accounts.

He added that the hotel and a mansion linked to the head of the syndicate in Nigeria, Reginald Chidiebere, and another mansion linked to the head of the syndicate in Mozambique, Festus Ibewuike, located in the Ago Palace area, had already been marked for forfeiture to the Federal Government.

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He noted the measure yielded further fruit on Thursday, February 22, when a female member of the syndicate and wife of Festus Ibewuike, Mrs Confidence Ibewuike, who is one of those to collect part of the consignment from Adinnu Felix Chinedu, was arrested at the Ago Palace area on Thursday.

He said a search was promptly conducted in their residence located in the Ago Palace area of Festac Town, where a Toyota Venza car was recovered, as well as several documents, including bank and property documents belonging to Festus lbewuike, adding that their mansion in the Ago Palace area had also been marked for forfeiture to the Federal Government.

“NDLEA has shared comprehensive intelligence with our South African counterparts for necessary action regarding the other members of the group living in that country,” Marwa stressed.

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I’m back to chase killer herdsmen out – Sunday Igboho

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Yoruba nation activist, Sunday Adeyemo, popularly known as Sunday Igboho has said that he is ready to face and chase out killer herdsmen from Yorubaland.

Adeyemo said this in a video that went viral on Tuesday where he was seen addressing some people who were cheering him following the burial of his mother in his hometown, Igboho area of Oyo State.

According to the activist who spoke in Yoruba, the Federal Government and the soldiers deployed to Yorubaland, especially to Ekiti where monarchs were killed in broad daylight cannot combat the supposed killers.

He said, “I want you all to stand with me so that we can liberate ourselves from the herders encroaching on our lands. Let us mount security in all the Yoruba lands ourselves, if not, they will take our lands.

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“We don’t have to wait for the government or anyone. Let’s just work in unison. We cannot farm on our lands because of these herders. And our people are going hungry and angry. We don’t need the soldiers the government claims to have deployed to Ekiti State. We work in accordance with our elders and mount the places ourselves.

“It was my mother that was my fear before but now she’s gone, I have nothing to be scared of again. I am now back to take back our land.”

While faulting the rumour about him working for politicians, the Ibadan-based activist queried if he could be working for politicians and if they would still want him dead.

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“I am not working for any politician. In fact, if I incidentally slapped someone, the government would be ready to arrest me and put me behind bars. I know they are watching me closely now to know my next action but I’m ready to take a step to stop these marauders’ activities in our lands,” he maintained.

Theheute reported in 2021 that Adeyemo escaped from a deadly night raid on his Ibadan residence by the operatives of the Department of State Service.

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He was subsequently arrested in Benin Republic on his way to Germany on July 19 together with his wife, Ropo. Although, he was released in October 2023.

Recently, the freedom fighter returned to Nigeria, ahead of his mother’s burial.

Igboho said the raid on his Ibadan residence was an attempt to assassinate him.

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Most Superior Evangelist Olagbaju Moris Gbade Fadehan was murdered by his serving assistant, Evangelist Olalekan Ogundipe

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M/S/E Moris Fadehan is the Shepherd In-Charge of CCC Grace of Comfort Parish, Obaloran Quarters, Omitoto Lane 2, Oke Ado, Ilode, Ile-Ife Osun State Nigeria .

The Shepherd was murdered in by his assistant Shepherd Evang. Lekan Ogundipe who was having a conflict with him which was not able to be managed. The conflict resulted into a serious confrontation after the closed of service and just about on Monday evening hours. it was reported that the Shepherd have died in the hands of his assistant. The assistant after stabbing the Shepherd to death, set him ablaze on fire with his sutana on him.

Evangelist Lekan Ogundipe have been handed over to law enforcement and in the custody of Iloro Divisional Police Station.

More update will be shared as news come in..

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May the soul of the Shepherd rest in peace.

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