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Panic-Gripped Residents Flee Imo Street As Army, Police Begin Show of Force

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There was panic in Owerri, the Imo State capital, on Monday as news filtered in that a group of gunmen were on the rampage.

Schools, markets, banks and eateries immediately shut down as residents ran for their lives.

While parents and guardians rushed to withdraw their children and wards from schools, all roadside shops and motor parks were deserted.

Vehicles that were on transit when the news broke reversed and discharged their passengers.

One of our correspondents saw parents withdrawing their children from Orji Primary School, as students of Imo State University deserted the campus.

A parent who refused to disclose his identity told one of our correspondents that his neighbour told him that hoodlums were going to schools to attack pupils, saying that it was a huge risk to allow his children remain in school considering the current situation.

The PUNCH observed that the panic situation, which began at about 10 am, was as a result of Operation Show of Force embarked upon by the army and police in the state.

The situation forced vehicles owners, and barrow pushers to quickly leave the roads and streets just as road side traders also took to their heels.

The state Commissioner for Information and strategy, Declan Emelumba, said the stampede was uncalled for, adding that the security operatives were on Operation Show of Force in the state capital.

The  302 Artillery Regiment General Support, on Monday, launched  ‘Exercise Golden Dawn’, to provide security in the state.

The exercise, according to the Commander 302 Artillery Regiment (General Support) Col Abdulkarim Usman, will help to combat insecurity in the state and foster inter agency cooperation.

Usman said the exercise would routine training in various  South-East geopolitical zone.

He said that the rise of insecurity across the country had made it imperative that the Nigerian Army needed to come in to assist.

Usman said, ”The military will use the golden opportunity in conjunction with other security agencies to curb the existing security threats in Anambra State.

“The threats range from secessionist agitations, by the Movement for the Actualization of Sovereign State of Biafra, the Indigenous People of Biafra, and Eastern Security Network.

“Others are banditry, kidnapping, cultist activities, land disputes clashes, communal clashes, chieftaincy issues, assassinations and youths restiveness. To curb these countless security challenges, a robust posture in what the unit has always maintained”

The launching of the military operation was held as The PUNCH learnt that South-East governors and some selected Igbo leaders would be meeting on Tuesday (today) in Enugu to discuss the crippling effects of the sit-at-home and the detention of Mazi Nnamdi Kanu by the Federal Government.

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Court Denies Binance Executive Tigran Gambaryan Bail

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Justice Emeka Nwite of the Federal High Court Abuja, on Friday, refused to grant bail to an executive of Binance Holdings Limited, Tigran Gambaryan.

Justice Nwite held that Gambaryan is likely to jump bail if granted to him.

The company and its executive were arraigned on a five-count charge bordering on money laundering before Emeka Nwite, judge of a Federal High Court in Abuja.

The defendants pleaded not guilty to the charge.

Moving an application, Counsel to the Defendant, Mark Mordi, argued that the court had the power to grant bail to the defendant and impose conditions to ensure his presence in court.

The prosecution counsel, Ekele Iheanacho, however opposed the bail application, stating that the defendant is a flight risk.

He stated that the defendant attempted to obtain a new passport, which he claimed was stolen, and this is a suspicious act given the proximity to his colleague’s escape from custody.

He added that the court cannot risk granting Gambaryan bail, especially as he is not attached to any community in Nigeria.

“The fact that the passport of the defendant is with the complainant does not guarantee that he will remain in Nigeria because the defendant is not only an American citizen but also an Armenian citizen by birth.

He urged the court to refuse the application and instead remand him in EFCC custody to ensure his safety and prevent potential flight risk.

Delivering ruling, the judge said several factors including the nature of offence and its severity must be considered when trying to decide whether or not bail should be granted to the defendant applicant.

Justice Nwite agreed with the depositions made by prosecution and was of the view that the applicant will jump bail if bail is granted to him.

He subsequently ordered that the trial be given an accelerated hearing.

After the ruling, the EFCC called its first witness, a staff of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

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Governor Adeleke Felicitates with Dele Momodu at 64

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The Executive Governor of Osun State, Senator Ademola Adeleke has felicitated with the celebrated journalist, and Publisher of Ovation Magazine, Akinrogun Dele Momodu on the occasion of his 64th birthday, describing him as “a pride of the media industry.”

Governor Adeleke noted Akinrogun Momodu’s heartwarming contributions to a just and equitable society, saying he has touched the minds and hearts of countless people with insightful words, logistic support and unwavering dedication to truth and justice.

The Governor appreciates the Ovation Magazine Publisher’s sustained commitment to informing and enlightening the public as a weapon of nation building, acknowledging him as an inspirational figure, who has empowered readers to think critically, and engage meaningfully.

“I congratulate my dear friend, Akinrogun Dele Momodu, on the auspicious occasion of his birthday. The Aare Tayese of Iwoland is a unique personality, who has touched lives positively and brought smiles to countless faces,” the Governor was quoted in a congratulatory message, signed by his spokesperson, Mallam Olawale Rasheed.

“On this auspicious occasion, I honour both your wonderful life and exceptional contributions to the media sector and the larger society. I note, with admiration, Akinrogun Momodu’s deep sense of commitment to a better Nigeria, which is manifest in columns and public discourse.

“On behalf of my family, I convey best wishes to Akinrogun Momodu on his birthday and it is my prayer that God grant him many celebrations in good health and happiness while also bestowing him the grace to give more to humanity.”

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Why We’re Charging Helicopter Landing Fee – Aviation Ministry

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The Ministry of Aviation and Aerospace Development on Monday said the introduction of helicopter landing levies was in line with global best practices and cost recovery measures.

This is contained in a statement by Odutayo Oluseyi, Head, Press and Public Affairs of the ministry in Lagos.

According to Mr Oluseyi, the ministry recognises the importance of helicopter operations in Nigeria’s aviation industry and is committed to implementing international best practices in helicopter operations.

He said that helicopter landing levies were commonplace in countries such as the US, the United Kingdom, India and various other regions worldwide.

He maintained that Tallahassee International Airport in Florida began implementing helicopter landing levies under Vector Airport Systems, since 1 October 2022.

Mr Oluseyi said helicopter landing levies were common across airfields in the United Kingdom, ranging from major commercial ones, to small general aviation fields.

He added that, typically, helicopter levies matched or exceeded those for fixed-wing aircraft, and varied based on factors like location and services provided.

“The federal government has granted NAEBI Dynamic Concepts Ltd exclusive rights to collect helicopter landing levies in line with the MoU between NAEBI Concept and NAMA (focal Agency), Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) and the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA).

“It is instructive to note that NAMA, under the Act as amended in 2022, is empowered to collect aeronautical revenues in both the upper and lower airspace to support her self-sustainability.

“However, over the years, NAMA has predominantly relied on the upper airspace for her revenue generation.

“Government in her wisdom, having discovered a lacuna on the lower airspace where helicopter operations is dominant, directed NAMA to live up to its responsibilities, to enable them generate enough resources, to sustain their aeronautical architecture, enhance security and surveillance and improve the overall quality of helicopter operations in Nigeria,” he said.

According to Mr Oluseyi, the government is confident that the move will improve capacity, efficiency, safety, security and attract more investments in the aviation industry.

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