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June 12: Abiodun Commutes Death Sentences for 45 Inmates, Pardons 41 Others

L-R: The Olu of Ilaro and Paramount Ruler of Yewaland, who is also the Chairman, Ogun State Council of Obas, Oba Kehinde Olugbenle; Ogun State Deputy Governor, Engr. Noimot Salako-Oyedele; Prince Dapo Abiodun; First Lady of Ogun State, Mrs. Bamidele Abiodun and the Speaker of the Ogun State House Assembly, Rt. Hon. Oludasi Elemide, at the 2024 Democracy Day celebration, held at the June 12 Cultural Centre, Kuto, Abeokuta, on Wednesday.

Ogun State Governor, Prince Dapo Abiodun has commuted the death sentence of 45 condemned prisoners to prison terms.
He also granted pardon to 41 other inmates serving in different Correctional Centres across the state.
Speaking at the 2024 Democracy Day, held at the June 12 Cultural Centre, Kuto, Abeokuta, Prince Abiodun said the decision was in exercising his perogative of mercy as the governor of the state.
He said: “Government has a duty to uphold democratic values by consistently applying principles of mercy, justice, and the rule of law. In this vein, the Nigerian Constitution empowers me to exercise a prerogative of mercy to anyone convicted of an offense in Ogun State.
“Having received the guidance of the Ogun State Advisory Council on the Prerogative of Mercy, I have signed the appropriate warrants ordering the release of 41 convicts currently imprisoned across different correctional facilities in Ogun State. I have also signed warrants converting the death sentences of 45 inmates to prison sentences.
“This gesture signals a break from past grievances and a move towards a more inclusive and compassionate society where merciful second chances are granted to deserving offenders.
“All convicts who have received this gesture have shown remorse for their crimes, acquired skills and certifications in prison, with several of them receiving university degrees from the National Open University of Nigeria. They have also demonstrated verified good conduct during their imprisonment.”
He said the celebration holds immense significance as it marks the triumph of democracy, the power of the people, and the pursuit of justice and freedom, observing that the history of Nigeria’s democracy is one of struggle and perseverance.
“June 12, 1993, stands as a watershed moment in this journey. On that particular day, Nigerians transcended differences of tribe, gender, and even the unique joint Muslim-Muslim ticket to speak unanimously through the ballot.
“They elected the late Chief Moshood Kasimawo Olawale Abiola and Babagana Kingibe of the defunct Social Democratic Party (SDP) as President and Vice-President, respectively.
Although the election was globally acclaimed as the freest and fairest in Nigeria’s history, the military annulled its results, dashing the hopes raised by this democratic exercise.
“That election remains a pivotal moment in our country’s democratic history. It has become the benchmark against which the successes of subsequent elections are measured. For all its import, it reminds us of the power of unity, resilience, and the collective determination to uphold the principles of democracy.
“It is a testament to the strength and resilience of the Nigerian people, who have shown unwavering commitment to democracy and the belief in a better future,” the governor added.
He said the late Chief M.K.O. Abiola stands as one of the finest trailblazers from Ogun State just as his courage and unwavering commitment to democratic ideals remain an inspiration to the people adding that his campaign slogan, “Hope ’93,” was a national reawakening rooted in faith and the limitless ability of Nigerians to face their challenges and solve the problems of nation-building.
While noting that the celebration signifies the commitment to continue the journey towards a better Nigeria, building on the sacrifices made by Chief MKO Abiola and countless others who fought for democracy and paid the ultimate price, Prince Abiodun said the courage and unwavering commitment to democratic ideals serve as a reminder of the power of the people and the importance of upholding the principles of justice, freedom, and equality laid by our forefathers.
In a lecture titled: “June 12: Defining Moment in the Democratic Development of Nigeria,” the guest lecturer, Mr. Richard Akinnola, while giving a background to what led to the crisis, chided the nation’s judiciary for being a tool in the hands of the military government to annul the June 12 elections.
He condemned those who have been calling for the return of the military as the result of the hardship in the country.
“In fact, June 12 stands as a defining moment and a watershed in our quest for democracy. That is why we should be very careful. Some people who did not experience what we went through are not subtly calling for the military. We must say no, never do we call for military again. Whatever the challenges we are having, let’s fight, let us argue, let us disagree, let us abuse each other, but never should we be tempted to invite the military,” he advised.
Akinnola who described the June 12 elections as the best in the history of the nation, noting that the aftermath of the annulment led to killings of pro-democracy activists just as it ushered in mutual mistrust among the citizens.
The guest lecturer said for democracy to thrive in the country, Nigerians must keep their leaders on their toes, saying though it is necessary to celebrate the day, people should not forget those who sacrificed their lives for the democracy being enjoyed in the country now.
In his goodwill message, a pro-democracy activist and former Commissioner for Information and Strategy in Ogun State, Dr. Niran Malaolu, eulogied Chief Abiola for paying the supreme prize for the nation to experience democracy, noting that several Nigerians also suffered in the course of returning the country to democratic rule.
In his welcome address, the Deputy Chief of Staff (DCOS) to the governor, Dr. Toyin Taiwo, said the celebration symbolizes the collective will of Nigerians to chose their leaders in a free and fair elections as witnessed on June 12 1993, just as it demonstrated the power of the people in bringing about change.

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Police arrest, parade two suspected drug traffickers in Imo

The Imo State Police Command has paraded two persons, Uchechukwu Nwaguma, 28, and Onyekosi Chukwu Ebuka, 35, as suspected drug traffickers who specialise in selling different kinds of illicit drugs.

According to a statement from the Public Relations Officer of the command, ASP Henry Okoye, the arrest of the suspected drug pushers was carried out by the operatives of the command’s anti-narcotics unit in different locations through painstaking investigations.

He stated that Uchechukwu Nwaguma was arrested on July 17, 2024, at Caroline Hostel, Okwu Uratta, Owerri, with large quantities of weeds suspected to be Canadian Loud, a substance the police spokesperson said to be an imported strong synthetic strain of cannabis, and hard drugs commonly known as molly or happy pills.

According to ASP Okoye: “The suspect, upon interrogation, confessed to the crime, stating that his parents were late and that he moved into the sale of hard drugs to enable him to take care of himself and his siblings.”

In another successful operation by the operatives of the command’s anti-vice unit on the same day, Onyekosi Chukwu Ebuka of Uloano in Isu LGA of Imo State was arrested for unlawful possession of weeds suspected to be Indian hemp. He was arrested following a tip-off received from a concerned citizen.

The police spokesperson in the statement further informed that the suspects will face prosecution upon completion of a diligent investigation.

Following the development, Commissioner of Police Aboki Danjuma has reaffirmed the command’s dedication to clamping down on illicit drug dealers and peddlers in the state.

He implored parents to caution their children against indulging in the intake or sale of hard drugs or illicit substances, warning that violators will face severe legal consequences.

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Student loan scheme will thrive on equity and inclusiveness says President Tinubu

President Bola Tinubu says the Nigerian Education Loan Fund (NELFUND) will thrive on fairness and equity and promote inclusiveness by removing the financial barrier to higher education for Nigerian students.

The President, who launched the digital NELFUND disbursement exercise at the State House on Wednesday, said the provision of loans to students will encourage more people to seek knowledge, go for higher education, and become valuable contributors to national development.

“As I earlier said, my belief is that education is the greatest weapon against poverty. Without education, there is no vision; without education, there will be no development; without education, you cannot successfully conquer poverty, insecurity, and abuse in society.

“Education is that light at the end of the tunnel, and no matter how sluggish it moves, it will give you light and the hope you need. We are investing in it. We do not want to try ignorance as an alternative. We want education from the foundation to the topmost level.

“I am glad we are achieving it with NELFUND and that the leadership has accepted this responsibility, and they are working hard,’’ the President said.

President Tinubu commended the Chairman of the Fund, Mr. Jim Ovia, and the Managing Director, Mr. Akintunde Sawyerr, for their efforts in driving the critical agency.

The President expressed his determination to ensure the success of the Fund and the fulfilment of the dream of higher education by indigent Nigerian students.

“The tool is available, and the hope is here; genuine, and the commitment to inclusiveness is what democracy is all about. I am fulfilling one of my greatest promises of the campaign. We are building an inclusive society. You can find many ways around any opportunity, but you cannot find a way if you are not well-educated,’’ President Tinubu stated.

The President emphasized that education is an essential antidote to some of the challenges faced by the nation.

“We cannot even fight terrorism and banditry unless there is inclusiveness, and our people are properly educated and can invest in their own lives. I promise that we will hand a banner without stain to our children. Therefore, it is my honour to launch the portal,’’ the President said.

In his remarks, the Chairman of NELFUND thanked the President for the privilege to serve the nation.

“I am grateful for the opportunity to be here today for Mr. President to formally launch the Nigerian Education Loan Fund (NELFUND). Mr. President, I would like to make reference to the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals, of which education is number four.

“The President has recognized that; hence, he inaugurated and also signed into law in February the NELFUND. We are all grateful for Mr. President’s time for inaugurating and also sanctioning the activities of NELFUND,’’ Mr. Ovia said.

The Managing Director of NELFUND affirmed that there were enough funds to meet the initial requests of students across the country.

“Your Excellency, at this stage, we have more than enough funding. When we start to promote properly, we might need more, but right now, we can disburse to any single person who has applied,’’ he said.

Mr. Sawyerr said the portal was opened on May 25, 2024, and had so far received 110,000 applications, with more than 164,000 visits; noting that the applications have been increasing daily.

“Clearly, what we want to ensure is that there is equity in the distribution of the loans across the six geo-political zones. So, we are having to look very closely at the data we are receiving to ensure that we are doing the right things and pushing the right buttons to ensure that those who need these funds get them, and that it is seen to be fair and equitable,” Mr. Sawyerr added.

President Tinubu presented cheques to some of the students and institutions that had already been processed by NELFUND. Students are to receive stipends for their upkeep, while tuition goes directly to the institutions.

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Imo House of Assembly recommends sack of Chief Judge for misconduct and age falsification

The Imo State House of Assembly has recommended the removal of the state’s Chief Judge, Justice Theresa Chukwuemeka-Chikeka, citing misconduct and alleged age falsification.

This decision was reached during a plenary session on Thursday, with a two-thirds majority of the lawmakers voting in favour of the recommendations made by an ad hoc committee.

The committee was established to investigate a petition filed by the Civil Society Engagement Platform (CSEP), which accused the Chief Judge of falsifying her age. The petition, titled “Petition Against The Chief Judge of Imo State, Hon Justice Theresa Chukwuemeka Chikeka For Age Falsification Which Is A Grave Criminal Offence And An Act For Which Many Other Judges And Justices Have Been Summarily Dismissed And Some Are Currently Being Prosecuted By The Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC),” prompted the House to take action pursuant to Section 292 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended).

The ad hoc committee, chaired by Hon Ikenna Ihezue, included Hon Bernard Ozoemenam, Rt Hon Clinton Amadi, and Hon Ebonine Beneath, with Mrs. Anne Martins Ezirim serving as the committee clerk. They conducted thorough investigations by inviting relevant individuals and institutions to provide oral and documentary evidence.

Despite the committee’s invitation, Justice Chukwuemeka-Chikeka declined to appear, citing the Constitution and insisting she would only appear before a panel set up by the National Judicial Council (NJC).

Key testimonies and documents were obtained from the Civil Society Engagement Platform, represented by its Director of Investigations, Comrade Ndubuisi Onyemaechi. Additionally, the Head of Service of Imo State, the Secretary of the Imo State Judicial Service Commission, the Secretary to the Council of Legal Education, and the Director of Administration at the Nigerian Law School were consulted. These consultations aimed to verify the actual date of birth of the Chief Judge, as recorded during her admission to the Nigerian Law School in 1981 and her employment with the state’s civil service in 1993.

Evidence revealed that Justice Chukwuemeka-Chikeka had altered her date of birth from October 27, 1956, to October 27, 1958, via a statutory declaration of age sworn in 2006. This adjustment was made long after she had initially declared her birthdate when enrolling in law school. The statutory declaration was later submitted to the Judicial Service Commission.

The ad hoc committee concluded that Justice Chukwuemeka-Chikeka had indeed engaged in misconduct and recommended her removal from office by Governor Hope Uzodimma. The House also resolved that this recommendation be forwarded to the National Judicial Council for further action.

All 19 members present at the plenary session unanimously adopted the committee’s recommendations. The resolution marks a significant development in the state’s judicial administration, with further actions anticipated from the NJC.

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