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Court Convicts Pipeline Vandals Accused of Killing Seven DSS Operatives

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A Lagos High Court sitting in Ikeja has convicted two members of a group of pipeline vandals for the 2015 murder of seven operatives of the Department of State Security (DSS) in the Ishawo area of Ikorodu.

Justice Hakeem Oshodi in his judgment held that the prosecution – Lagos State Government – proved the offence of conspiracy to commit murder, murder, and possession of firearms with intent to commit a felony against the first defendant, Clement Ododomu, while the second defendant, Tiwei Monday was convicted for conspiracy to commit murder and failure to report a felony.

The offences are contrary to Sections 223 and 298 (3) of the Criminal Law, Cap. C. A Vol. 3, laws of Lagos State 2015.

The court, however, adjourned the sentencing of the convicts to November 14, 2023.

The prosecution had told the court that in Sept. 2015, the DSS received a distress call about an alleged kidnap. They subsequently despatched a nine-man rescue team.

Saheed Adetunji, an investigation officer with the DSS told the court during the course of the trial that seven out of the nine-man rescue team were ambushed by the vandals in the Ishawo area and taken captive. The remaining two managed to escape.

“The first defendant said that they took the seven DSS personnel to their hideout, into the Ishawo Creeks, called Barracks,” Adetunji said.

The officer also identified the 2nd defendant, Monday, who confessed that he was a part of the group of vandals who used teargas and pepper spray on the DSS personnel.

“When they got to their Barracks, the first defendant said he personally shot two of the DSS personnel with a pump-action rifle, while one Agbala shot the remaining five with an AK-47.

“The dead bodies were buried in three separate graves. The first defendant said that the graves were dug by some Ijaw boys and three slim operatives were packed in one. And the bigger ones were put in twos into the other graves,” he stated.

And though the defendants pleaded guilty and denied committing the offence during their trial, Justice Oshodi in his judgment, held that the prosecution was able to prove part of the charge against the two convicts beyond all reasonable doubt.

The judge also rejected the alibi of the defendants, describing it as a ruse and an afterthought as there was no credible evidence to back up their claims of being at different places when the offence was committed.

He further held that their attempts to deny their confessional statement were not convincing and that evidence before the court confirmed that their statements were made voluntarily.

The Director of Public Prosecution, DPP has urged the court to impose the maximum sentence on the defendants to send a strong message that the state will not tolerate the killing of anyone particularly officers on lawful duty. He also used the opportunity to reiterate the call for the DSS to fish out one Agbala who was said to have shot five of their officers.

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FG Drops Tax Charges Against Binance Executive

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The Federal Inland Revenue Service, on Friday, says it is dropping the tax charges against Tigran Gambaryan, Binance’s head of financial crime compliance.

Confirming the development, Dare Adekanmbi, the agency’s spokesperson, said the federal government “is dropping charges against the two individuals sued along with the cryptocurrency firm, Binance.

“Please note that the charges are being dropped against the second and the third defendants in the matter,” he added.

Speaking in a statement on Friday, Binance said the development illustrates that Gambaryan is not a decision-maker at the cryptocurrency firm.

“We are relieved that the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) has served and filed amended charges today, resulting in tax charges against Tigran Gambaryan being dropped,” the statement reads.

“Further illustrating that Tigran is not a decision-maker at Binance and does not need to be held in order for Binance to resolve issues with the Nigerian government.

“We await the court’s ruling on this, discharging Tigran from this matter completely.”

Binance also commended the FIRS for their diligence and professionalism throughout this process.

The company said the situation unequivocally demonstrates its commitment to resolving the issue with the government transparently and cooperatively.

Gambaryan and Nadeem Anjarwalla, Binance’s regional manager for Africa; were detained by the Nigerian authorities on February 28.

Although Anjarwalla escaped from the custody of the office of the national security adviser (ONSA), both executives, alongside Binance, were charged by the federal government for tax evasion and money laundering.

On March 25, FIRS filed a criminal charge against Binance for “tax evasion”.

According to the service, the move was to uphold fiscal responsibility and safeguard the economic integrity of the country.

The lawsuit, designated as suit number FHC/ABJ/CR/115/2024, was said to “implicate Binance with a four-count tax evasion accusation”.

On May 17, the FIRS filed an amended four-count charge against Binance Holdings Limited and its executive, Gambaryan, on alleged tax evasion.

The matter drew the attention of lawmakers in the United States who accused the Nigerian government of taking Gambaryan, “hostage”.

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HoS Suspends Perm Sec over Sexual Harassment Allegation, Orders Probe

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The Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Ibrahim Lamuwa, has been suspended by the Office of the Head of Service over sexual harassment allegation.

The Head of Service, Folashade Yemi-Esan, said the permanent secretary would be on suspension pending the outcome of a probe into the allegation against him.

“The permanent secretary has been suspended pending the outcome of the probe by the committee set up, “ a senior director in the OHCSF told our correspondent in Abuja.

It was learnt that following a petition submitted by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Yusuf Tuggar, against Lamuwa, the HoS constituted a committee to look into the matter.

The complainant in the petition submitted by Tuggar was one Simisola Ajayi, who accused Lamuwa of serial sexual harassment.

Ajayi, in the petition filed by her lawyer, Femi Falana (SAN), outlined alleged instances of harassment.

In a letter addressed to the Head of Service on May 27, 2024, Tuggar expressed his concern over the serious nature of the allegations involving the permanent secretary.

“I am compelled to write to inform you of a formal complaint against the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Ibrahim Adamu Lamuwa, on allegations of sexual harassment.

“Bearing in mind the gravity of the matter, I feel it necessary to draw your attention to it and ask that you handle it accordingly,” the minister stated in the letter.

An official familiar with the case told our correspondent on Wednesday that following the receipt of Tuggar’s letter on the allegation against Lamuwa, the HoS had set up a probe panel.

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity due to the sensitive nature of the matter, said, “Yes, the Head of Service has set up a committee to probe the whole matter. There are pieces of evidence, which will be tabled and witnesses who will also be invited to speak on the matter,  so it is not a matter that will be swept under the carpet.

“The minister (Tuggar) is also very much interested in the outcome. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is a special ministry that operates even outside the shores of the country, so you can’t expect that an issue of such gravity will be swept under the carpet.”

Ajayi had, in a petition dated May 29, 2024 and addressed to Tuggar, accused the permanent secretary of serial sexual harassment.

The petition, signed by Adebayo A. Oniyelu LP of Falana & Falana’s, was titled “Request For An Investigation Of Amb. Ibrahim Lamuwa’s Conducts Of Sexual Harassment At The Place Of Work, Abuse Of Office, Official Intimidation And Discrimination.”

According to the petition, Ajayi narrated multiple instances of harassment allegedly by Lamuwa, which had created an unsafe and uncomfortable working environment.

She claimed for instance that during a policy retreat on October 7, 2023, Lamuwa allegedly made inappropriate advances towards her, suggesting she joined him in his hotel room.

He reportedly continued with inappropriate remarks throughout the retreat.

She also cited an incident on November 10, 2023, where Lamuwa allegedly invited Ajayi to travel to Hong Kong, promising significant personal benefits from the trip.

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DSS Warns Against Protests to Undermine Public Safety, National Security

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The Department of Security Services (DSS) has issued an alert, warning the public about a planned physical protests across the country.

A statement signed by the Service’s Director, PR & Strategic Communications, Mr. Peter Afunanya, also noted that though citizens have a right to protest, it should not be to undermine public safety and national security.

Read the statement in full:

The attention of the Department of State Services (DSS) has been drawn to plans by certain individuals and groups to stage physical protests in some parts of the country on 12th June, 2024. The protests are designed with sinister objectives to coincide with the Democracy Day Celebration. While citizens may have the rights of assembly and expression, such freedoms should not be used to undermine public safety and national security.

The determination by some non-state actors to incite mass disaffection through demonstrations that may turn violent will not be tolerated. However, it is instructive to note that violent demonstrations are at variance with the peaceful disposition of the Federal Government to amicably address all contentions including the minimum wage. Citizens are, therefore, called upon to resist any persuasions to be lawless or cause disorder and anarchy in the nation. Displeased persons are rather encouraged to appropriately channel their grievances through the right channels and procedures.

Consequently, the DSS reaffirms its unequivocal position to protect the country from inimical acts being orchestrated by disgruntled groups to cause a breakdown of law and order. It will also sustain collaboration with all relevant stakeholders, including sister security agencies, to maintain the peace as well as protect lives and property across the nation. Law abiding citizens are enjoined to go about their businesses without fear.

The Service, while felicitating the government and citizens on this auspicious occasion of celebrating 25 years of unbroken democracy, calls for continued patriotism, unity and commitment in building a Nigeria of our collective dream. Meanwhile, the DSS website, dss.gov.ng; email address- dsspr@dss.gov.ng and Telephone lines +2349153391309;+2349088373514 remain open to the public in the event that there is need to contact it.

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