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Mother of murdered sisters backed by ex-police chiefs over bias claim




Mother of murdered sisters backed by ex-police chiefs over bias claim

Three former police chiefs have said errors made in the search for two missing sisters was the result of bias, as the murdered women’s mother dismissed as “hollow” an apology for the blunders.

The mother of Bibaa Henry, 46, and Nicole Smallman, 27, found murdered in June 2020 in a London park, said her daughters’ friends and family were left to search themselves after the Metropolitan police failed to do so.

Mina Smallman said the partner of one of her daughters who found the body has been left haunted and maintained bias had been a factor despite a report from the police watchdog finding no evidence it was.

Britain’s biggest force offered the apology after a report from the Independent Office for Police Conduct found failings.

The two sisters, Henry, a senior social worker, and Smallman, a photographer, were murdered in the park where they had been celebrating the elder sibling’s birthday.

The next day police were called, but no physical searches took place. The following days the bodies were found stabbed to death.

Sue Fish, the former chief constable of Nottinghamshire, said on Tuesday that bias had been a factor: “I see plenty of bias. The IOPC report gives licence to continue to fail people of colour, and women of colour, into the future.”

“It does not have a finding of racism, it addresses things in performance terms and misses this everyday casual unconscious bias against people of colour and women.”

Former Met chief superintendent Dal Babu said the mother of the murdered sisters was right in insisting bias was a factor: “If this had been a white, middle class social worker, would police have dealt with it differently. I’m convinced they would have.”

Babu, who has defended white officers against racism claims when he thought they were unmerited, said an independent investigation was needed into how missing persons’ cases are handled.

Former Met chief superintendent Victor Olisa, a former head of diversity at the force, said: “I think there is bias, I know the investigation of missing persons is not as professional as it ought to be.

“There is bias, the IOPC can’t find it.”

The IOPC identified that two police staff and one inspector performed poorly, and will not face a disciplinary hearing, but undergo action to improve their performance.

A call handler referred to one of the missing women as a “suspect” and appeared dismissive when a friend of one of the sisters phoned asking for help, the watchdog found.

Mina Smallman said: “We’re not the only parties who suffered mental anguish at the hands of the Met police’s incompetent, reprehensible and blatant disregard of agreed procedures regarding missing persons.”

Smallman added: “The inspector on the second shift made erroneous assumptions about the whereabouts of our daughters. We’re also of the view that his unprofessional comments about Bibaa and Nicole’s picnic suggest racial profiling, misogyny or classism.”

The report has not yet been made public by the IOPC, which declined to comment on whether Smallman’s claims about the alleged comments made by the inspector were correct. The Met also did not comment. The Met said the inspector was working on a shift with 16 missing persons cases open, with his unit “under capacity by almost 50% during the Covid pandemic”.

Smallman said that police inaction led the family and friends to search themselves with harrowing consequences: “There were approximately 14 people – friends and family – involved in our own missing persons investigation, which started at approximately 4am on Saturday morning and ended with Nicole’s precious Adam discovering their bodies. This lasting image of his soulmate will forever remain in his mind’s eye.”

Smallman added the apology was not enough: “Sorry just won’t cut it. It’s too hollow … Sorry is something you say when you comprehend the wrong you have done and take full responsibility for it, demonstrating that by taking appropriate proportionate action – which the Met police have failed to do.”

The issues from the case are far from over for the Met. Two Met officers face criminal charges over the taking of photos at the scene where the sisters’ bodies were found murdered. They are scheduled to appear in court next week.

Danyal Hussein, 19, was found guilty of the sisters’ murder in July. He was said to have drawn up a “contract” in his own blood with a demon to sacrifice women in return for winning the lottery.

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UN chief warns of ‘catastrophe’ from global food shortage



UN chief warns of ‘catastrophe’ from global food shortage

The head of the United Nations warned Friday that the world faces “catastrophe” because of the growing shortage of food around the globe.

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said the war in Ukraine has added to the disruptions caused by climate change, the coronavirus pandemic and inequality to produce an “unprecedented global hunger crisis” already affecting hundreds of millions of people.

“There is a real risk that multiple famines will be declared in 2022,” he said in a video message to officials from dozens of rich and developing countries gathered in Berlin. “And 2023 could be even worse.”

Guterres noted that harvests across Asia, Africa and the Americas will take a hit as farmers around the world struggle to cope with rising fertilizer and energy prices.

“This year’s food access issues could become next year’s global food shortage,” he said. “No country will be immune to the social and economic repercussions of such a catastrophe.”

Guterres said U.N. negotiators were working on a deal that would enable Ukraine to export food, including via the Black Sea, and let Russia bring food and fertilizer to world markets without restrictions.

He also called for debt relief for poor countries to help keep their economies afloat and for the private sector to help stabilize global food markets.

The Berlin meeting’s host, German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock, said Moscow’s claim that Western sanctions imposed over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine were to blame for food shortages was “completely untenable.”

Russia exported as much wheat in May and June this year as in the same months of 2021, Baerbock said.

She echoed Guterres’ comments that several factors underlie the growing hunger crisis around the world.

“But it was Russia’s war of attack against Ukraine that turned a wave into a tsunami,” Baerbock said.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken insisted that Russia has no excuse for holding back vital goods from world markets.

“The sanctions that we’ve imposed on Russia collectively and with many other countries exempt food, exempt food products, exempt fertilizers, exempt insurers, exempt shippers,” he said.

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Bandits release Zamfara wedding guests after payment of ransom



Bandits release Zamfara wedding guests after payment of ransom

Local and federal highways in the North-west have become vulnerable as bandits continue to ambush and abduct travellers.

The gunmen who abducted 29 people returning to Zamfara State from Sokoto State where they had gone to attend the wedding of colleagues have released them after the payment of an unspecified ransom.

The victims, who were mostly dealers of mobile phones and phone accessories at Bebeji Communication Market (Bebeji Plaza) in Gusau, the capital of Zamfara State were abducted in Sokoto 13 days ago.

Secretary of the GSM Dealers Association in the state, Ashiru Zurmi, confirmed the release of the victims but didn’t give details.

One of the victims reportedly died in captivity.

Though the amount paid as ransom to secure the release of the hostages has not been revealed, Abdullahi Lawal, whose brother was among those abducted, said their relatives were asked to make donations. He said his family raised N33,000 while the phone sellers’ association “provided the remaining money.”

“Every family was told to gather N400,000 while the members of the plaza and their colleagues in the state provided the remaining money. Some family members were able to raise the money in full, but we couldn’t. I took the money to the plaza and I was told that they were still negotiating with the bandits” he said.

He said he didn’t know how much was given to the bandits “but I’m happy that my brother is okay,” he said.

From N5m to N700,000

A phone accessories seller, Sharhabilu Muhammad, told PREMIUM TIMES over the phone that the officials of the phone dealers association negotiated with the bandits to reduce the ransom they originally demanded to release the captives.

“You know that the initial money they said was N5m for each of the captives but our officials kept negotiating with them (bandits) until they reduced the money to N700k,” he said.

When asked about the person who reportedly died in captivity, Mr Muhammed said his identity has not been revealed.

“We don’t know because even the bandits didn’t tell but we’ll surely find out when they (captives) arrive at Gusau tonight,” he added.

The police command spokesman, Mohammed Shehu, didn’t respond to calls and SMS sent to him on the development.


PREMIUM TIMES reported that the wedding guests were abducted when bandits opened fire on the two buses they were travelling in a few kilometres after Bimasa in the Dogon Awo junction, Sokoto State.

They were returning from Tambuwal town in Sokoto State where they had attended the wedding of a colleague, Jamil Umar.

The captives were travelling on a Toyota Coaster bus belonging to the Universal Basic Education Commission UBEC and another bus owned by Gusau Local Government.

The bandits had demanded a ransom of N145 million to release the 29 hostages.

Bandits have been terrorising North-west states and a part of North-central Nigeria, killing and displacing hundreds of people and rustling domestic animals.

Travelling on federal and local highways is becoming dangerous as bandits block roads, abduct and kill motorists.

Major federal highways including Abuja-Kaduna, Gusau-Sokoto-Birnin Kebbi, and Birnin Gwari-Kaduna have become travellers’ nightmares with attacks and abduction or killing of travellers becoming a daily occurrence.

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Reps demand review of public officers’ salaries, allowances



Reps demand review of public officers’ salaries, allowances

A motion seeking the intervention of the House of Representatives in the conflict between the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Tanko Muhammad, and Justices of the Supreme Court, over issues bordering on welfare and working conditions suffered a setback on Thursday.

While the House called for a general review of salaries and allowances of all political office holders and public servants, the members were divided over which committees should handle the task.

The Chairman of the House Committee on Judiciary, Onofiok Luke, had moved a motion to seek the intervention of the chamber in the crisis rocking the apex court and better welfare package for judicial officers across the courts.

Luke, who moved the motion titled, ‘Need to Address the Deteriorating Working Conditions of Judicial Officers,’ prayed the House to urge the Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission to upwardly review the remuneration of judicial officers in line with present economic realities.

The lawmaker prayed the House to urge the Federal Government to increase the budgetary allocation of the judiciary for the upcoming fiscal year and provide special intervention funds for the development of the arm

He further prayed the House to mandate the Committee on Judiciary to ensure compliance and report back within six weeks for further legislative action.

While the lawmakers were making amendments to the prayers, the Deputy Speaker, Ahmed Wase, called for an upward review of the welfare package of all public office holders.

Wase, who stated that he appreciated the memo from the Justices to the CJN, noted that only the RMAFC had the responsibility to review remuneration of government officials.

The Deputy Speaker made reference to a part of the motion that read, ‘The remuneration of judicial officers was last reviewed in 2008 by the RMAFC when the official exchange rate was N117.74 to $1, whereas the naira has considerably depreciated.’

Wase partly said, “I think this particular element does not affect just judicial officers, maybe because they cried out now. I don’t think it is right that we have to wait every time until people write letters of complaints and there is protest before we begin to do the right thing.”

Rephrasing Wase’s proposed amendment, Speaker of the House, Femi Gbajabiamila, said: “The DSP’s amendment is that we should not isolate the Judiciary and all those enumerated constitutional bodies and public office holders. They should be reviewed; a comprehensive review based on all the things that Hon Luke said – the exchange rates and this and that.”

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