Showing posts with label foreign. Show all posts
Showing posts with label foreign. Show all posts

Wednesday, 25 April 2018

Magician David Copperfield secrets now open to public

Having been sued for allegedly caused the injury of an audience, magician David Copperfield has been forced to reveal the secret of one of his signature tricks.
Gavin Cox claims he suffered lasting brain and body injuries after agreeing to take part in the “Lucky #13” illusion in 2013.
Mr Cox, who had previously cooked for the Royal Family, has not worked since he fell over while being led through a secret passageway at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.
The 57-year-old and 12 other volunteers were taking part in an illusion in which they appeared to vanish on stage, before re-emerging later at the back of the theatre.
Mr Cox claims he was injured when he was “hurried with no guidance or instruction through a dark area under construction, with cement dust and debris causing him to slip and fall”.
The audience member was taken to hospital with a dislocated shoulder but claims he suffered chronic pain, headaches and confusion when he returned to the U.K.
Mr Cox, who was diagnosed with a traumatic brain injury and needed two fusion surgeries on his neck and shoulder, claims he has paid out more than $400,000 in medical expenses.
He is seeking unspecified damages in the lawsuit, which also names the MGM Grand, show producer Backstage Employment and Referral, and building firm Construction Management.
Judge Mark Denton said some parts of the magician’s testimony might still be conducted behind closed doors.
Mr Copperfield’s lawyers lost pretrial bids at Clark Country District Court, Nevada, to avoid the secret of the trick being revealed to the public.
Credit: NAN

Monday, 13 November 2017


Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe (R) is congratulated by First Lady Grace Mugabe after he unveiled a plaque at the country’s main international airport in Harare, Zimbabwe, renamed after him on November 9, 2017.<br />Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe attended a ceremony re-naming Harare Airport in his honour on November 9, 2017, as his sacking of the vice president fuelled speculation over his succession plans. The 93-year-old president unveiled a plaque at the newly named Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport, located 15 kilometers (nine miles) outside the centre of the capital. The refurbishment of the airport has been condemned by opposition figures as a waste of money. / AFP PHOTO / Jekesai NJIKIZANA

Four people have appeared in court in Zimbabwe on charges of undermining the authority of President Robert Mugabe after his wife was heckled while addressing a rally, a state-owned newspaper reported Friday.

The Herald said the four were arrested after attending a ruling ZANU-PF party rally in the country’s southwestern city of Bulawayo where Grace Mugabe was jeered during a speech on Saturday.

Prosecutor Jerry Mutsindikwa told a magistrate court that “the quartet, with others allegedly sang the song ‘into oyenzayo siyayizonda'” — whose lyrics in Ndebele mean “we hate what you are doing” — while Grace addressed the rally.

They are “facing a charge of undermining the authority of the president,” he said.

The incident angered Mugabe who spoke at the same rally shortly after his wife, accusing his deputy Emmerson Mnangagwa of organising and sponsoring the hecklers.

He vowed to fire Mnangagwa, which he did two days later, in a dramatic move that appeared to open the way for his wife Grace to succeed him in office.

Grace Mugabe could be appointed as one of the country’s two vice presidents at the party congress next month.

Mnangagwa who had been touted as an obvious successor to Mugabe, fled into exile this week. His whereabouts are unknown.

The arrest of the four ZANU-PF activists came as the Zimbabwe high court Thursday granted bail to Martha O’Donovan, a 25-year-old American journalist charged with charged with insulting Mugabe and attempting to subvert the regime on account of an alleged tweet that described the ageing leader as “selfish and sick”.

Friday, 10 November 2017



LONDON (Reuters) – Britain’s lawyers and judges are to break with centuries-old tradition and cease wearing white horse-hair wigs in non-criminal cases, the head of the country’s judiciary announced on Thursday.
The Lord Chief Justice, Lord Phillips of Worth Matravers, said new dress rules would mean the wigs, which British legal professionals have worn since the 17th century, would not be needed in civil or family court cases.
Wing collars and bands — white cotton strips worn round the neck — can also be dispensed with in such cases according to the reforms, while judges will need just one gown in future instead of a variety of colorful outfits currently required.
The wigs will still be worn in criminal courts.
“At present High Court judges have no less than five different sets of working dress, depending on the jurisdiction in which they are sitting and the season of the year,” Phillips said in a statement.
“After widespread consultation it has been decided to simplify this.”
A review carried out in 2003 found that more than two thirds of respondents wanted to eliminate the wigs in civil cases, although most said criminal court judges should still wear them.
Opponents of wigs thought they were anachronistic, as well as uncomfortable and expensive.
A shoulder-length ceremonial wig costs more than 1,500 pounds ($3,000) while the shorter ones worn by lawyers cost about 400 pounds each.
However, the idea of abolishing them has met with disapproval from some lawyers who feel the wigs give them an air of authority as well as anonymity.
“While there will never be unanimity of view about court dress, the desirability of these changes has a broad measure of agreement,” Phillips said.

Wednesday, 11 January 2017



A U.S. jury on Tuesday condemned white supremacist Dylann Roof to death for the hate-fueled killings of nine black parishioners at a Bible study meeting in a Charleston, South Carolina, church in 2015.

The same jury last month found Roof, 22, guilty of 33 federal charges, including hate crimes resulting in death, for the shootings at the historic Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church.
Roof was unrepentant at his federal capital trial on Tuesday, telling jurors who will decide whether he should be executed that he still felt killing nine black people at a South Carolina church was something he had to do.

Roof, a 22-year-old white supremacist who is representing himself, did not ask the jury to spare his life for the 2015 massacre at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston.
“In my confession to the FBI, I told them that I had to do it,” Roof said during his short closing argument. “I felt like I had to do it when I said that and I still feel that way.”
Jurors began deliberating the penalty phase of the trial just after 1:30 p.m. ET (1830 GMT). Last month, they deliberated for about two hours before finding Roof guilty of 33 charges, including hate crimes resulting in death.

Roof told the jury that federal prosecutors who accused him of being filled with hatred did not understand real hate. He noted it would only take one juror to block the unanimous verdict needed for a death sentence.
“I have a right to ask you to give me a life sentence, but I’m not sure what good that will do anyone,” Roof said.
A U.S. prosecutor argued Roof deserved to die because the shooting was calculated and intended to incite racial violence.

Roof sat for 40 minutes with parishioners gathered for a Bible study meeting on June 17, 2015, before opening fire as they closed their eyes to pray, Assistant U.S. Attorney Jay Richardson said.
“He’d come with a hateful heart and a Glock 45,” the prosecutor said during his two-hour final argument. “This was cold and calculated, planned for months, researched for years.”
Jurors again viewed photos of the bodies of victims Clementa Pinckney, 41, the church’s pastor and a state senator; DePayne Middleton Doctor, 49; Sharonda Coleman Singleton, 45; Cynthia Hurd, 54; Susie Jackson, 87; Ethel Lance, 70; Myra Thompson, 59; Daniel Simmons Sr., 74; and Tywanza Sanders, 26.

Roof’s offer to plead guilty in exchange for life in prison, his cooperation with authorities and his lack of a violent past did not outweigh the aggravating factors of the crime, Richardson said.
“What’s wrong here is the calculated racism, the choice to target a church, particularly the people in a church,” Richardson said. “What’s wrong here is precisely why this is a case that justifies the death penalty.”

Source : Pm News

Saturday, 27 August 2016



A South African court has rejected a prosecutor’s request to appeal Oscar Pistorius’ six-year murder sentence.

The Judge, Thokozile Masipa said their petition had no reasonable prospects of success.

The court had sentenced the Paralympics gold medallist in July for murdering his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, in 2013, but the prosecution had said the decision was too lenient.

Pistorius’ defence had earlier argued the state was prejudiced and had dragged the case on for too long.

Pistorius did not attend Friday’s hearing.

His sentencing was sequel to his initial five-year conviction for manslaughter was changed to murder last December on appeal.

The state had called for him to receive no less than the prescribed minimum of 15-year sentence for murder.

Source : Channels Television News

Saturday, 16 April 2016



The FBI is involved with the investigation into the death of a pit bull that was severely raped while being restrained and later hanged in Washington on the property of the Department of Natural Resources on Monday.

A $10,000 reward has been offered by The Humane Society and Pasados Safe Haven for information that leads to the conviction of the person or people responsible for the dog's death.

In a press statement, Dan Paul, the Humane Society's Washington director said:
"This is a truly horrific situation in all aspects. To think about the suffering this dog experienced in her final moments, as well as knowing there's an individual or individuals in our state who would perpetrate this type of abuse, is sickening. We are hopeful this reward will bring someone forward with information about this despicable crime," said

Erika Johnson of the Thurston County Animal Services said:
"Something like this is not very common. This is horrific,". She added: "Fortunately we don't see something this heinous very often."

Source: CBS

Friday, 15 April 2016



.Says 69% of inmates await trial, Boko Haram committed pogrom

Zacheaus Somorin

The United States has released yet another damning report on Nigeria, accusing the government at all levels of injustice, brutality and inflicting pain on poor Nigerians.
The report, which was released by the US Department of State, accused the Nigerian police, DSS and the military of gross abuse of power including citizens’ brutality, arbitrary detention and bribery, among other scandals.

The report also revealed that 69 per cent of persons in prisons across the country are awaiting trial – blaming the situation on lack of judicial capacity and corruption.
While acknowledging that the insurgency in the North-east has rendered many homeless, the US blamed the terror Islamist sect, Boko Haram, for committing a pogrom in which more than 20,000 people have been killed and maimed with permanent injuries.

“The most serious human rights abuses included those committed by Boko Haram, which conducted numerous attacks on government and civilian targets that resulted in thousands of deaths and injuries, widespread destruction, the internal displacement of an estimated 1.8 million persons, and the external displacement of 220,000 Nigerian refugees to neighbouring countries,” the report said.

It pointed out that in response to Boko Haram’s violent attacks, and at times to crime and insecurity in general, “security services perpetrated extra-judicial killings, and engaged in torture, rape, arbitrary detention, mistreatment of detainees, and destruction of property”.

“The country also suffered from widespread societal unrest, including ethnic, regional, and religious violence. Other serious human rights problems included vigilante killings; prolonged pre-trial detention, often in facilities with poor conditions; denial of fair public trial; executive influence on the judiciary; infringement on citizens’ privacy rights; and restrictions on freedoms of speech, press, assembly, and movement.

“There were reports during the year of official corruption; violence against women and children, including female genital mutilation/cutting; infanticide; sexual exploitation of children; trafficking in persons; early and forced marriages; discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity; discrimination based on ethnicity, regional origin, religion, and disability; forced and bonded labour; and child labour,” the report added.

The report pointed out that impunity remained widespread at all levels of government, saying: “Although President Buhari’s administration began initial steps to curb corruption, authorities did not investigate or punish the majority of cases of police or military abuse.

“Boko Haram perpetrated numerous attacks, often directly targeting civilians. The group, which recruited and forcefully conscripted child soldiers, carried out bombings–including suicide bombings–and attacks on population centres in Adamawa, Bauchi, Borno, Gombe, Kano, Plateau, and Yobe States.
“In some cases, the group employed women and children as suicide bombers. The government investigated these attacks but prosecuted only a few members of Boko Haram.”

It said between November 2014 and February 2015, Boko Haram abducted more than 500 women and 1,000 children from one local government area in Borno State alone; subjecting many abducted women and girls to sexual and gender-based violence, including forced marriages and rape.
“Organised criminal forces in the southern and middle parts of the country committed abuses, such as kidnappings. Violence between farmers and herders in the North-central states claimed hundreds of lives,” it said.

On arbitrary and unlawful deprivation of life, the US accused the government and its agents of committing numerous arbitrary and unlawful killings, pointing out that the nation’s security “used lethal and excessive force to apprehend criminals and suspects as well as to disperse protesters”.

“Authorities generally did not hold police, military, or other security force personnel accountable for the use of excessive or deadly force or for the deaths of persons in custody. State and federal panels of inquiry investigating suspicious deaths did not make their findings public.
“Security forces’ use of excessive force, including live ammunition, to disperse demonstrators resulted in numerous killings,” it added.

The report gave the December 12 Army, Shiite clash as example, stating: “The army troops killed an undetermined number–possibly hundreds according to some credible reports–of members of the Shia group Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN) in Zaria, Kaduna State, following an altercation at a roadblock that disrupted the convoy of the chief of army staff.”

It said in May 2015, following the killing and mutilation of six soldiers by cattle rustlers, “army troops killed dozens of civilians and razed scores of houses in Wase District, Plateau State. Community leaders accused the military of storming several villages at night and firing indiscriminately”. “They also alleged government forces had previously killed more than 80 persons in similar attacks. While acknowledging it had carried out an operation against militants,” the report noted.
It said despite evidences, the military denied killing any civilians and promised to investigate, saying there were no reports of any investigations as of December 2015.

“Local NGOs, international human rights groups, and political and traditional leaders from affected states continued to accuse the security services of illegal detention, inhuman treatment of detainees, and torture.
“In May, Amnesty International (AI) released a report documenting mass arbitrary arrests, unlawful detention, and torture by security forces in the North-east. After the report’s release, President Buhari vowed to investigate.

“This report followed a 2014 AI report alleging the routine and systematic practice of torture and other mistreatment by security services. AI reported that police sections in various states, including the Special Anti-robbery Squad and the Criminal Investigation Division, had ‘torture chambers’, special rooms where suspects were tortured while being interrogated.

“The military and police reportedly used a wide range of torture methods, including beatings, shootings, nail and tooth extractions, rape, and other forms of sexual violence,” the US report added.
The report accused the police of “commonly using a technique called ‘parading’ of arrestees. Parading involved walking arrestees through public spaces and subjecting them to public ridicule and abuse”.
“Bystanders often taunted and hurled food and other objects at arrestees. Police defended the practice, claiming that public humiliation helped deter crime.

“Prison and detention centres conditions remained harsh and life-threatening. Prisoners and detainees, the majority of whom had not been tried, were reportedly subjected to extra-judicial execution, torture, gross overcrowding, food and water shortages, inadequate medical treatment, deliberate and incidental exposure to heat and sun, and infrastructure deficiencies that led to wholly inadequate sanitary conditions that could result in death.

“Guards and prison officials reportedly extorted inmates or levied fees on them to pay for food, prison maintenance, and release from prison. Female inmates in some cases faced the threat of rape,” it stated.
It said the problem of overcrowding has been a significant problem, adding that while the total designed capacity of the country’s prisons was 50,153 inmates, an imbalance in prison occupancy rates resulted in underutilisation at some facilities, while others were at more than 800 per cent of designed capacity.

SSource : This Day 

Wednesday, 13 April 2016


The Federal Government has said that it is ready to receive Nigerians serving various jail terms in different prisons across the world.

This was contained in a statement signed by Mr Francis Enobore, the Spokesperson of the Nigerian Prisons Service (NPS).

The statement said the decision followed the Prison Transfer Agreement entered with the governments of the various countries involved.

A former governor of Delta state, Mr James Ibori, is among some high-profile Nigerians currently serving jail terms in the United Kingdom.

According to the statement, Dr Peter Ekpendu, the Comptroller-General of the NPS made the disclosure during an inspection visit to the Kuje Medium Security Prison. The Minister of Interior, retired Lt.-Gen. Abdulrahman Dambazau, and officials of the UK Embassy in Nigeria were among dignitaries that paid the inspection visit.

“Our prisons are ready. We are ready to receive the prisoners anytime they are brought back,” the statement quoted Ekpendu as saying.

Earlier, Dambazau cleared the air on the speculation that government was concentrating on developing the Kuje Prison as it normally hosts high-profile inmates.

“Our concentration is not just on Kuje prison but some prisons in other states, including the Kirikiri Prison.

“We are hoping that by the time the budget is signed and we get our releases, we are going to embark on renovation of some prisons, capacity building and reinforcement of security.

“The prisoners exchange agreement is quiet at an advanced stage, but there are a lot of issues involved.

“First of all, we have to clear that, legally, in terms of the rights of the prisoner, so that we do not violate any and there are still other issues that we are considering,” the minister said.

PM News

Friday, 8 April 2016

German police detained an Iraqi aged 46 and a Nigerian aged 29 on Thursday on suspicion of having links with Islamic State and of planning “a serious act of violence”, officials said.

Security sources had provided information that both could have been in contact with members of Islamic State, state prosecutor Thomas Steinkraus-Koch said in a statement.

The suspects were detained in the Bavarian capital Munich and nearby Fuerstenfeldbruck, police said in a separate statement, adding there had been no imminent threat to the public.

Police did not immediately find any suspicious items, but were pursuing their investigation, they added. They declined to give any more details, saying there would be no further statements before Friday.

Islamic State released a video on Tuesday suggesting it might carry out further attacks in the West, naming London, Berlin and Rome as possible targets.

Islamic State has claimed responsibility for bombings that killed 31 people in Brussels in March and attacks in Paris in November that killed 130.

REUTERS

Thursday, 7 April 2016

French MPs have passed a law that makes it illegal to pay for sex and imposes fines of up to €3,750 (£3,027, $4,274) for those buying sexual acts, reports the BBC.

Those convicted would also have to attend classes to learn about the conditions faced by prostitutes.

It has taken more than two years to pass the controversial legislation because of differences between the two houses of parliament over the issue.

Some sex workers protested against the law during the final debate.

The demonstrators outside parliament in Paris, numbering about 60, carried banners and placards one of which read: “Don’t liberate me, I’ll take care of myself”, the AFP news agency reports.

Members of the Strass sex workers’ union say it will affect the livelihoods of prostitutes, estimated to number between 30,000 and 40,000.

But supporters of the law have said it will help fight trafficking networks.

It will also make it easier for foreign prostitutes to get a temporary residence permit in France if they agree to find jobs outside prostitution.

“The most important aspect of this law is to accompany prostitutes, give them identity papers because we know that 85% of prostitutes here are victims of trafficking,” Socialist MP Maud Olivier, who sponsored the legislation, told the Associated Press news agency.
The law was passed in the final vote on the bill in the lower house of parliament by 64 to 12 with 11 abstentions, France’s Le Monde newspaper reports.

It supersedes one from 2003 that penalised sex workers for soliciting.

Correspondents say the predominantly right-wing Senate has been opposed to the ban – and parliamentary debates have often ended in deadlock.

Those found guilty for paying for sex will have to pay a first time fine of 1,500 euros, which will more than double for a repeat offence.

Sweden was the first country to criminalise those who pay for sex rather than the prostitutes.

Swedish authorities say the number of women on the streets in the prostitution area in Stockholm has fallen since the legislation was introduced.

PmNews

Saturday, 2 April 2016

US abortion laws are set for now, Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump said Friday, reiterating that he thinks abortion is “murder” days after igniting a firestorm by suggesting women who have them should be punished.

Trump has been criticized by abortion supporters and opponents for not being clear about his position on the hot-button political issue. Abortions are still fiercely opposed by many Republicans, four decades after the US Supreme Court affirmed its legality nationwide.

“The laws are set now on abortion and that’s the way they’re going to remain until they’re changed,” Trump said in an interview with the NBC News program Face the Nation. Later in the interview, which will air in full on Sunday, Trump said he agreed that “abortion is murder”. Hours after the interview excerpt was released on Friday, Trump campaign spokesperson Hope Hicks denied his candidate was backtracking on his opposition to abortion.

“Mr. Trump gave an accurate account of the law as it is today and made clear it must stay that way now — until he is president,” Hicks said. “Then he will change the law through his judicial appointments and allow the states to protect the unborn. There is nothing new or different here.” The 69-year-old Trump — who has been a Democrat, a political independent and is only a recent convert to the “pro-life” anti-abortion position — has been accused of flip-flopping on the issue.

Trump shocked many watchers in an interview on MSNBC, broadcast Wednesday, when he said “there has to be some form of punishment” for a woman who has an abortion.

The Trump campaign later issued a statement saying that if abortion were to become illegal under US law, then the doctor or any other person involved in performing the procedure would be legally responsible. “The woman is a victim in this case as is the life in her womb,” the statement read. “I am pro-life with exceptions.”

Vanguard

Saturday, 9 January 2016

Egypt’s top appeals court upheld on Saturday a three-year prison sentence for ousted president Hosni Mubarak and his two sons for corruption.
It was not immediately clear, however, how long Mubarak would remain in detention. Both of his sons were set free in October with time served taken into account.

Mubarak, 87, has spent most of his time in a military hospital since his arrest in 2011, months after his ouster in popular uprising.

In May, a court sentenced him and his sons to three years for having embezzled 125 million Egyptian pounds ($16 million/14.7 million euros) from funds meant for the maintenance of presidential palaces.

They were fined that same amount and an extra 21 million pounds.

Charges against Mubarak, who ruled for three decades, had been dropped in a separate trial for the killings of protesters during the uprising.

The prosecution has appealed that verdict.

The Guardian

Friday, 25 December 2015

United States actor, Robert Downey Jr, has been granted an official pardon for a drug conviction that sent him to prison nearly 20 years ago.

California Governor Jerry Brown announced pardons for 91 people who had been out of custody for 10 years and turned their lives around, the BBC reports.

The conviction itself will remain on Downey Jr’s record.

In 1996, police found cocaine, heroin and a pistol in the actor’s car when they stopped him for speeding.

Downey Jr, who is best known today for his role as Iron Man in a series of Marvel films, was sent to prison in 1999 after violating his probation.

He had achieved early success in Hollywood after making his screen debut at the age of five, but went on to fall victim to drink and drugs, before spending time in rehab and rekindling his commercial success.

A proclamation from Mr. Brown’s office said Downey Jr has “lived an honest and upright life, exhibited good moral character, and conducted himself as a law-abiding citizen.”

THE NATION

Friday, 18 December 2015

Activists say the ruling sets landmark precedent for legal action against Dutch-
based companies across the world

Four Nigerian farmers will have the chance to sue Shell, the multinational oil
and gas company, in the Netherlands for pollution they blame on leaking
pipelines, a Dutch appeals court has ruled.

The farmers, backed by the Dutch branch of environmental group Friends of the
Earth, first filed the case in 2008 against Shell in the Netherlands, wanting the
Anglo-Dutch company to clean up devastating oil spills in four heavily polluted
villages in Nigeria's oil-rich Niger Delta.

The case also asked Shell to prevent further spills and pay compensation.
Shell had argued that it had no liability in the case and that Dutch courts did
not have jurisdiction.

"It cannot be established in advance that the parent company is not liable for
possible negligence of the Nigerian operating company," The Hague Appeals
Court said in a statement.

Shell said it would comment after studying the decision.
Activists said Friday's ruling sets a landmark legal precedent that clears the
way for Netherlands-based companies to be sued for alleged negligence of their
subsidiaries elsewhere in the world.

"There is now jurisprudence that means victims of human rights violations or
pollution can sue Dutch multinationals in the Netherlands," said Geert Ritsema
of the Dutch arm of Friends of the Earth.
In 2013, judges rejected most of the case, saying pipeline leaks were caused by
saboteurs, not Shell negligence.

The decision means the case can proceed, most likely next year.

In one case, the judges ordered a subsidiary - Shell Nigeria - to compensate a
farmer for breach of duty of care by making it too easy for saboteurs to open
an oil well head that leaked on to his land.

In another victory for the plaintiffs, the court also ordered Shell to give the
farmers and environmental activists supporting their case access to internal
documents that could shed more light on the case.

Shell's local subsidiary is the top foreign oil producer in the Niger Delta, an oil-
rich region of mangroves and swamps about the size of Portugal.
Its production forms the backbone of crude production in Nigeria.

Shell, which discovered and started tapping the country's oil reserves in the
late 1950s, has been heavily criticised by activists and local communities over
oil spills and close ties to government security forces.

Al Jazeera

Wednesday, 16 December 2015

A British Judge on Tuesday refused to release $85 million (N17 billion) to Malabu, a fraudulent company controlled by Nigeria’s former petroleum minister, Dan Etete.

In refusing to release the money to Malabu, Justice Edis of the Southwark Crown Court declared that he was not sure the administration of President Goodluck Jonathan acted in Nigeria’s interest when it approved the transfer of the money to Malabu.

“I cannot simply assume that the FGN which was in power in 2011 and subsequently until 2015 rigorously defended the public interest of the people of Nigeria in all respects,” the judge ruled.
PREMIUM TIMES had reported how the Jonathan administration controversially approved the transfer of $1.092 billion from Nigeria’s JP Morgan account in London to Nigerian accounts controlled by Malabu.
The money was paid by global oil giants, Shell and ENi, for Africa’s richest oil bloc, OPL 245.
The former Attorney General of the Federation, Mohammed Adoke, and the former Minister of State for Finance, Yerima Ngama, signed the documents approving the transfer to Malabu.
The fraudulent deal, shaded in various layers of corruption, has been condemned by Nigerians and international transparency advocates and is being investigated by authorities in four different countries.

THE SEIZED $85 MILLION
The $85 million was seized at the request of Italian prosecutors who are also investigating the deal. The money was the last part of the OPL 245 largesse not yet distributed.
Sensing that the Muhammadu Buhari administration was yet to find its feet on international legal matters, Mr. Etete approached the British court and asked that the money be returned to him.

At a two-day hearing that started on November 23, Mr. Etete’s lawyers argued that there was no fraud in the deal and asked that the money be released to him.
While Mr. Etete argued that the money be released to him, the Italian prosecutor argued that “their investigation could lead to a potential forfeiture of the money down the road.” a source who has followed the case and was present at the proceedings told PREMIUM TIMES.

Malabu’s lawyers told the court that freezing the money was an assault on Nigeria and questioned how the court could imagine that Messrs. Adoke and Ngama would be a party to a corrupt deal.

THE RULING
While giving his ruling on Tuesday, Justice Edis said while he could not say for certain if the deal was fraudulent pending conclusions of investigations, it would be inappropriate to release the money to Malabu.

“I am not making any findings of fact about misconduct by anyone. I am simply assessing the evidence before me to determine whether a restraint order should be discharged which was granted by way of MLA (Mutual Legal Assistance between the UK and Italy) to support an investigation by the Italian authorities,” the judge said.
The judge also made reference to evidence provided by the Italian authorities that ex-President Jonathan was directly involved in the fraudulent deal.

“The suggestion from the wiretaps is that “Fortunato” was implicated and I am told that this was a reference in code (not subtle) to the former President of Nigeria, President Goodluck Jonathan,” the judge said.
“Aliyu (Abubakar) is said to be associated with him and Aliyu received, in a way which was not transparent, $523m of the money paid for the OPL 245 licence in August 2011.”

PREMIUM TIMES had reported how fictitious companies owned by Abubakar Aliyu, a man referred to as ‘Mr. Corruption’ by anti-graft officials, received over half ($532 million) of the total $1.092 billion.

Mr. Aliyu, a close ally of Mr. Jonathan was recently quizzed by EFCC operatives for the first time despite being a central character in the deal whose investigation was virtually stalled during the Jonathan presidency.

ACTIVISTS REACT
Reacting to the ruling, Simon Taylor of Global Witness stated that “Given the gathering pace of the EFCC investigation in Nigeria under new leadership and a call by the Nigerian House of Representatives to cancel the deal in 2014, investors in Shell and Eni should demand to know why they were exposed to such risk.”
The UK based Global Witness has been at the forefront of the demand for transparency in the deal and other similar deals across the world.

Also reacting to the judgement, Dotun Oloko, an anti-corruption campaigner in Nigeria said, “In light of these allegations in a UK court, the role of the senior Nigerian officials involved in this deal, including Goodluck Jonathan, must now be fully investigated.”
With the ruling, Nigerian now has the opportunity to not only claim the money but also another $110.5 million of the funds held in a Swiss bank while investigations continue.

Below is a statement by Global Witness after the court ruling:
Court refuses to unfreeze funds from “smash and grab” raid on Nigerian oil block

Prosecutors allege that “fronts for President Goodluck Jonathan of Nigeria” received US$523m in proceeds of “smash and grab” OPL 245 deal
Southwark Crown Court today rejected an attempt by a company owned by the former Nigerian oil minister Dan Etete to unfreeze US$85m in proceeds of the corrupt deal for the Nigerian offshore oil block, Oil Prospecting Licence 245 (OPL 245), which was sold to Shell and Eni for $1.1bn in 2011.
The funds were restrained at the request of Italian authorities, who are investigating the sale of the block by Malabu Oil & Gas, a company secretly owned by Mr Etete, to the international oil companies.
The Federal Government of Nigeria (FGN) under Goodluck Jonthan acted as a middleman in the deal, and the court received evidence based on wiretaps that prosecutors allege show that the then President, Goodluck Jonathan, was directly involved. The deal deprived the Nigerian people of a sum equivalent to 80% of the country’s 2015 health budget.
“In light of these allegations in a UK court the role of the senior Nigerian officials involved in this deal including Goodluck Jonathan must now be fully investigated,” said Dotun Oloko, a Nigerian anti-corruption campaigner.
Evidence from US authorities presented to the court and included in the judgement “shows payments following circuitous routes which total $523m and which arrived at Abubakar Aliyu, aka ‘Mr Corruption’” […] “Aliyu’s companies are allegedly fronts for President Goodluck Jonathan of Nigeria”. The Crown Prosecution Service, acting at the behest of the Public Prosecutor for Milan (PPM), described OPL 245 as a case of “grand corruption”.

The OPL 245 deal is currently under investigation by the Public Prosecutor of Milan, the UK’s National Crime Agency (NCA), and the Nigerian Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC). The EFCC have reportedly recently interviewed Abubakar Aliyu in connection with the case, and earlier this year interviewed Dan Etete.

Justice Edis of Southwark Crown Court turned down Malabu’s application to discharge the freezing order rejecting Malabu’s arguments that the Crown had failed to follow proper procedures in securing the freezing. Justice Edis concluded in his judgement:

It is extremely important that what I am about to say is not misunderstood. I am not making any findings of fact about misconduct by anyone. I am simply assessing the evidence before me to determine whether a restraint order should be discharged which was granted by way of MLA to support an investigation by the Italian authorities. That investigation is not complete (and appears to be still at quite an early stage). What misconduct it may ultimately prove, if any, will be a matter for the PPM and the Italian court if proceedings are brought. However, precisely because I cannot reach firm factual conclusions, I cannot simply assume that the FGN which was in power in 2011 and subsequently until 2015 rigorously defended the public interest of the people of Nigeria in all respects. Mr. Fisher QC who appeared for the CPS used the phrase “grand corruption” to describe the form of corruption in which the state itself is culpable. The suggestion from the wiretaps is that “Fortunato” was implicated and I am told that this was a reference in code (not subtle) to the former President of Nigeria, President Goodluck Jonathan. Aliyu is said to be associated with him and Aliyu received, in a way which was not transparent, $523m of the money paid for the OPL 245 licence in August 2011.

“Given the gathering pace of the EFCC investigation in Nigeria under new leadership and a call by the Nigerian House of Representatives to cancel the deal in 2014, investors in Shell and Eni should demand to know why they were exposed to such risk,“ said Simon Taylor, a Director of Global Witness.

Suspects named in the Italian case include Eni and its current and former CEOs Claudio Descalzi and Paolo Scaroni, as well the company’s Chief Development, Operations & Technology Officer Roberto Casula and former executive Vicenzo Armanna. Other suspects in the Italian case include Dan Etete and middlemen Emeka Obi, Gianluca Di Nardo and Luigi Bisignani. Shell and Eni have denied any wrongdoing.

“It is clear from evidence in the public domain that high level executives in Shell personally took part in negotiating this deal. Citizens in the UK, US, Netherlands and Nigeria should demand that Shell and its executives are investigated in their respective countries,” said Nicholas Hildyard of The Corner House.
Shell and Eni have invested at least $1.8bn in purchasing and developing the block, which they own 50-50. It reportedly holds probable reserves of 9.23 billion barrels of oil, which if proven, would represent the equivalent of a third of Shell’s proven reserves, and two thirds of Eni’s.

Antonio Tricarico of Re:Common said: “$85 million paid by Eni and Shell for the benefit of Dan Etete’s company Malabu remains frozen in London. The time has come that Eni and Shell come clean about what they knew about this deal and who else this money was intended for.”

Premium Times

Saturday, 12 December 2015

The Harrow Crown Court in northwest London, has convicted a British couple who were found guilty of keeping a Nigerian immigrant enslaved for more than two decades.

Damaris Lakin, the Crown Prosecution Service, said on Wednesday in London that Emanuel Edet, 61, and Antan Edet, 58, held their victim captive from the time he was brought to Britain when he was 14 years old.
The prosecutors said the couple was convicted on charges of child cruelty, slavery and assisting in illegal immigration.
He said the couple forced him to work for no pay and threatened him with deportation if he tried to escape.

Mr. Lakin said the Edets had told the teen when they brought him from Nigeria in 1989 that they would pay him and provide him with an education.
The prosecutors said instead, the victim, now 40, was forced to cook, clean, garden and care for the couple’s children without any pay for up to 17 hours a day.
“He got no education and had only very limited contact with his family and the outside world.

“The couple took his passport, and he had no identity documents, and is forced to eat alone and typically slept on hallway floors,’’ the prosecutors said.
Mr. Lakin said the Edets told their captive he would be arrested as an illegal immigrant and deported if he left the house and contacted police.
“He believed this and felt trapped and completely dependent on the Edets.
Lakin said Emanuel and Antan Edet cruelly robbed the victim of 24 years of his life and they treated him with complete contempt.

“This was a shocking case of modern day slavery.
The prosecutor said the Edets changed the victim’s name and added him to their family passport as their son when they brought him into Britain.

(Reuters/NAN)

Thursday, 3 December 2015

Athlete to be re-sentenced

Olympic athlete Oscar Pistorius has been found guilty of murder after a South African appeals court overturned an earlier manslaughter verdict.

He killed his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp in February 2013 after shooting her four times through a locked toilet door, the BBC reports.

He is currently under house arrest after spending one year of his original five-year sentence in jail.

Pistorius will have to return to court to be re-sentenced, for murder.

It was earlier incorrectly reported that the court had ruled the manslaughter verdict would remain.

South Africa’s Supreme Court of Appeal ruled that the lower court did not correctly apply the rule of dolus eventualis – whether Pistorius knew that a death would be a likely result of his actions.

Reading the ruling reached by a panel of five judges, Justice Lorimer Leach said that having armed himself with a high-calibre weapon, Pistorius must have foreseen that whoever was behind the door might die.

Pistorius’ lawyer argued that he believed that there was an intruder in the house, but the judge said the identity of the person behind the door was irrelevant.

Ms Steenkamp’s mother, June, was present but Pistorius did not attend the hearing at the Supreme Court of Appeal in Bloemfontein.

The double amputee was released from prison on October 19. Under South African law, he was eligible for release under “correctional supervision,” having served a sixth of his sentence.

Pistorius can challenge the ruling in the constitutional court but only if his lawyers can argue that his constitutional rights have been violated

The Nation

Wednesday, 28 October 2015

A bill has been sent by a United States Congressman demanding President Barack Obama’s comprehensive plan to assist Nigeria to battle Boko Haram.

Rep. Frederica Wilson (Democrat-Fla.), a member of the Congressional Black Caucus, last Monday, introduced legislation that would require the Departments of Defence and State to submit a five-year plan to Congress to help Nigeria fight the Islamic extremist group.

The plan, according to the lawmaker, would have to boost Nigeria’s military capacity, provide humanitarian aid to those affected by the group, and help strengthen the rule of law in Nigeria, among other things.

So far, the Obama administration has resisted any direct intervention in the fight against Boko Haram. A few dozen troops have been sent to Nigeria.

In October, the White House announced the deployment of 90 troops to Cameroon, and plans to send a total of about 300.

But the White House stressed they were not there in a “combat role,” and instead, to help regional partners combat Boko Haram.

U.S. troops have not been sent to Nigeria because of alleged dismal record on corruption and human rights.

But the Boko Haram group has continued to pillage and destroy in Nigeria. Over the weekend, 21 were killed at a religious site by bombs hidden there by the group.

The State Department condemned the attack in a statement yesterday.

Department of State Spokesperson, John Kirby said the October 23 and 24 attacks on mosques in Adamawa and Borno states were horrific and indiscriminate.

It decried the use of children as suicide bombers, adding that it was prove of the horrific measures Boko Haram was willing to take to terrorise civilians in northeast and the Lake Chad Basin region.

“We offer our deepest sympathies and condolences to the families and loved ones of the many innocent civilians, who were killed and injured.

“The apparent use of children – particularly young girls – to commit these attacks is especially heinous, and it provides yet more examples of the horrific measures Boko Haram is willing to take to terrorise civilians in northeast Nigeria and the Lake Chad Basin region.

“The United States continues to support the governments and people of the Lake Chad Basin region in their ongoing struggle to defeat Boko Haram. We will continue to assist these vital efforts in every appropriate way,” it stated.

The Nation

Wednesday, 21 October 2015

Oscar Pistorius was released from prison in South Africa Monday and placed under house arrest, Correctional Services spokesman Manelisi Wolela said.

The former Olympic athlete had been in prison since October last year, when a judge sentenced him to five years for culpable homicide in the killing of his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp.

Pistorius shot the model and law school graduate on Valentine’s Day 2013. He has said he mistook her for an intruder.

Last week a South African parole board said it had approved his placement under house arrest and correctional supervision for four years.

After the parole board’s decision last week, a lawyer for the Steenkamp family said they saw it coming.

“Nothing has changed for June and Barry, nothing will bring Reeva back,” Tania Koen said, referring to Steenkamp’s parents. “They are not surprised at all by this announcement. They expected this.”

South Africa’s correctional services act allows convicted criminals who have served at least one-sixth of their sentence to serve the remainder under house arrest.

News of Steenkamp’s killing stunned the nation, where Pistorius is nicknamed the “Blade Runner” because he ran on special carbon-fiber prostheses.

Despite having both legs amputated below the knee as a toddler, he excelled in sports, representing his country in the Paralympic Games and the 2012 London Olympics.

Steenkamp was found shot to death in his home, and he acknowledged firing the fatal shots through his bathroom door.

Last year, a judge found him “negligent” in Steenkamp’s death. But the judge said he did not commit murder nor did he intend to kill her.

Prosecutors are appealing the verdict, believing Pistorius, who is now 28, should be convicted of murder.

The state’s appeal is set to take place next month.

(Source: CNN)

Tuesday, 6 October 2015

Ghana has suspended seven of 12 High Court judges implicated in allegations of bribery stemming from a documentary made by an investigative journalist.
The seven had a case of "misbehaviour" to answer, an official statement said.

Journalist Anas Aremeyaw Anas says he has nearly 500 hours of video evidence on tape, showing judges alleging asking for bribes and demanding sex.
Twenty-two lower court judges have also been suspended. Some of the judges have denied the allegations.
Mr Anas' documentary has shocked the nation, and has been shown to packed houses at cinemas in the capital, Accra.

The seven are the most senior judges to be suspended so far in what is the biggest corruption scandal to hit Ghana's judiciary.
Chief Justice Georgina Theodora Wood had established a "prima facie case of stated misbehaviour against them", the statement by Ghana's Judicial Council said.
An inquiry would now be held to determine whether or not they are guilty, it added.
They could be sacked if they are found guilty.

The public is keenly following the scandal and it has been the lead story in the local media for almost a month.
But people are no longer queuing at cinemas to see Mr Anas's film - Ghana in the eyes of God; Epic of Injustice - which is touring the country and had reached the second city, Kumasi, after showing to packed houses in the capital, Accra. This is because a court has, for now, blocked further screenings in the city, following a case brought by one of the implicated judges who says its screening will prejudice him.
The courts resumed sitting this week after a holiday break. But the suspension of judges has meant delays in judgements as their workload is being handed over to colleagues, who are already overburdened.

Of the other five High Court judges implicated by the investigation - two have retired, another two are in court challenging it and one has been cleared as a case of mistaken identity
Last month, 22 lower court judges and magistrates were suspended pending the outcome of investigations ordered by the chief justice.
Lawyers for 14 of the accused judges have denied the allegations and the High Court has dismissed their attempt to get the investigation suspended. The other accused judges have yet to comment in public.

Anas Aremeyaw Anas is something of an enigma, as he is never seen in public without a disguise. His fans call him a modern-day folk hero or the "James Bond of journalism" for his work in exposing alleged corruption and malpractice in Ghana and beyond.

In his 15 years of undercover journalism he has among other disguises, posed as a female investor in high heels, sunglasses and lipstick, and a janitor in a brothel. He has also secreted himself inside a fake rock placed at the side of the road with a peep hole for his eyes.
In his work he has exposed a human trafficking racket, corruption in the police and malpractice in a food processing plant.
He argues that "there is no point in doing journalism, if it does not lead progress in your society". Before becoming a journalist, Mr Anas worked as a lawyer for two years.

BBC

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