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Mother of Richard Okorogheye calls for public inquiry

Richard Okorogheye

Mother of Richard Okorogheye calls for public inquiry

The mother of 19-year-old Richard Okorogheye has called for a public inquiry into how the police deal with reports of missing black people, after a damning report by the police watchdog.

The Metropolitan police failed the family of two black sisters who disappeared and were later found murdered, the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) concluded on Monday.

The Met said it would issue an apology to the family of Bibaa Henry and Nicole Smallman.

Evidence Joel, whose son Richard was found dead two weeks after he went missing, said an apology had to be the start and more needed to be done to tackle what she sees as a longstanding issue affecting the black community.

Joel, who criticised the watchdog’s decision that no officer should face a disciplinary hearing in the case of the two sisters, said there were “biases in the system when it comes to us”, adding: “If it was someone who was white, I think they would have been treated differently.”

Joel previously has criticised the Met’s handling of her son’s case, claiming her concerns were not “taken seriously” after his disappearance from his home in Ladbroke Grove, west London, in March. His body was later discovered in a lake in Epping Forest, Essex.

She said she was told by the force that Okorogheye, who suffered from sickle cell disease and had been shielding due to the pandemic, was not considered “high risk” until he had been missing for six days.

Two Met staff members have been given misconduct notices over potential failings in the disappearance of Okorogheye.

Mina Smallman, the mother of the murdered sisters, made similar criticisms and said she believed race was a factor as the family’s pleas for help over the weekend her children were missing went unheeded. Their friends found the bodies “after organising their own search party”.

The IOPC said it had looked exhaustively at whether bias was a factor in the case of the two sisters and found it was not.

“The parents had to actually go out and look for their own children. So the question is what’s going on? Why is it not taken seriously when we are reporting our children? Yes, of course they are adults, but it doesn’t matter. They’re missing, they’re missing. They should have taken it very seriously … But at the end of the day, as usual, they’re not very proactive,” Joel said.

She added: “I think more should have been done, not just an apology. Lessons need to be learned so that this sort of thing cannot carry on. It has happened to me, I’m sure it has happened to other parents as well. It needs to stop.”

She called for a public inquiry into the issue of missing black people and believes it should look “into the police”.

A report by the UK Missing Persons Unit published in March found black people were overrepresented in regards to being reported missing.

In England and Wales for the year 2019-20, black people made up 14% of reported missing incidents recorded by police forces, despite making up just 3% of the population. White people accounted for 76%, despite making up 86% of the population.

This disproportionality may be due to London having in general a higher number of missing person reports.

Overall, research by the charity Missing People shows 170,000 people are reported missing to the police every year in the UK. Many will go missing more than once. The vast majority of missing people are found or return within 24 hours. About 2% of children and 5% of adults that go missing are gone for longer than a week.

Families do not have to wait 24 hours before reporting someone missing. Forces such as the Met tell people to call 999 if the missing person is in immediate danger, is a young child or is at risk of harm. But there are frustrations at what some argue is a racial disparity in how different cases are treated.

Missing People launched a study this year on the discrimination faced by black families whose loved ones go missing. Josie Allan, its policy and campaigns manager, said: “Some talk to us about feeling like they weren’t listened to when they first tried to report their loved ones missing and that their concerns were not taken seriously. In some cases, they spoke about assumptions being more likely to be made about their missing person; that the risk wasn’t as high as it was, or in some cases that that person was assumed to be taking part in criminal activity rather than being vulnerable.”

Dominic Norton, who set up the website, said the police were just one part of the problem. He believes support services for mental health and youth centres, which have been drastically cut in the past decade, are better equipped to intervene.

He points to research from Missing People that showed mental health was the No 1 reason why adults went missing. For children, risks around exploitation, including sexual and criminal exploitation, were also a significant concern.

Over 20,000 people signed his petition calling for a public inquiry into the causes surrounding missing black people, but the government rejected it.

“But all these other support services have also been underfunded, which has led to an overreliance on the police,” Norton said. “What I’ve been finding in my conversation with police is when a missing person goes missing, because there’s a sheer caseload, they’re doing more administrative work than investigative work.”

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Court grants Adoke bail, trial resumes Jan 11

OPL 245: I’ve been vindicated again, says ex-AGF Adoke

A Federal High Court in Abuja on Friday granted permission to former Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mohammed Adoke, to travel to the United Arab Emirates to meet with his family.

Adoke is currently standing trial alongside Aliyu Abubakar, a property developer, over allegations of money laundering amounting to N300m.

The EFCC alleged that Adoke made a cash payment of $2,267,400 to Unity Bank in 2013 in contravention of money laundering laws.

Adoke, through his lawyer, Kanu Agabi, SAN, prayed the court to invoke sections 36 and 37 of the 1999 Constitution to allow him to travel to see his family.

He noted that since the trial of Adoke in money laundering charges brought against him by the FG commenced, he had not been with his family members based in the UAE. Agabi said the former AGF needed to spend time with his family to maintain his physical and mental health, urging the court to grant his request.

He added that since his client was admitted to bail, he had been religiously and consistently attending the trial and had never behaved in any manner suggestive of intention to jump bail.

In his ruling, Justice Inyang Ekwo agreed that Adoke had been attending the trial and had never attempted to jump bail, adding that he was persuaded to grant the request.

The judge thereafter ordered that Adoke’s passport deposited with the Registry of the Court be released to him to travel to the UAE.

Justice Ekwo ordered that the former AGF must return to Nigeria before January 11, 2024, for continuation of his trial in the charges against him.

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Nigerian Man Defrauds 34 victims in 13 countries of $592,000

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), on Thursday, secured the conviction and sentencing of Eze Harrisson Arinze before Justice J.K Omotosho of the Federal High Court sitting in Abuja for defrauding 34 victims in 13 countries of $592,000(Five Hundred and Ninety Two Thousand United States Dollars).

Arinze was re-arraigned on one count charge bordering on impersonation and obtaining under false pretence.

The amended count charge reads:

That you, EZE HARRISON ARINZE alias Charlotte Brain, sometime between April, 2021 and December, 2022 in Abuja, within the jurisdiction of the Federal High Court, did fraudulently impersonate one Charlotte Brain a purported owner of digitrades.netxxxxxxxxxxxxxx investment platforms on telegram and in that assumed character obtained cryptocurrency worth $592,000.00 (Five Hundred and Ninety Two US Dollars) from Coinbase exchange users, through your bitcoin address -333AgHuT8wAhowRBQZ2ASxxxxxxxx domiciled with Coinbase, a Virtual Asset Service Provider and thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 22(3)(b) of the Cybercrime (Prohibition, Prevention) Act, 2015 and punishable under Section 22 (4) of the same Act.

The defendant pleaded guilty to the charge when it was read to him.

In view of the plea, prosecution counsel, Christopher Mshelia, urged the court to convict and sentence the defendant as charged.

Earlier, Ogunjobi Olalekan, a prosecuting witness and a detective of EFCC, while concluding his testimony-in-chief, told the court that the evidence gotten in the course of investigation was based on the printout from the defendant`s email, other digital currency platforms, his telegram page code named `Digi-trade, including response from banks which was in a cumulative sum of $592,000 worth of cryptocurrency as at December 4, 2023.
He added that the defendant was afterwards invited to make statements under words of caution.

Justice Omotosho convicted and sentenced Arinze to three years imprisonment, with an option of N3,000,000.00( Three Million Naira only) fine. He added that 11.07 Bitcoins valued at $461,280.70 as at December 4, 2023 be restituted to the 34 victims from 13 countries as identified.

Furthermore, the judge ordered that a total sum of N37,977,108 domiciled in his bank accounts be forfeited to the Federal Government, including a plot of land located at plot No. 34 Anioma Layout, Umuchigbo Iji-nike in Enugu East Local Government Area of Enugu State measuring approximately 1380.609 Squares meters.

Arinze’s journey to the Correctional Centre started when he impersonated one Charlotte Brain, and created a fictitious investment platform, digitrades.netxxxxxxxxxxxxxx on telegram and in that assumed character, obtained cryptocurrency worth $592,000.00 (Five Hundred and Ninety Two US Dollars) from Coinbase exchange users, through his bitcoin address.
His victims are from Burundi, Cameroun, Costa Rica, Germany, Ghana, Hungary, India, Rwanda, Singapore, South Africa, Uganda, United States of America and Zimbabwe.

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Abdulfatai Adeyemi, son of late Alaafin, dies few hours to his 47th birthday

Prince Abdulfatai Adebayo Adeyemi, one of the sons of the immediate past Alaafin of Oyo, Oba Lamidi Atanda Olayiwola Adeyemi, is dead.

The Prince, popularly known as D-Gov, died in the early hours of Friday at the University College Hospital (UCH), Ibadan after battling diabetes.

His father died in April, 2022.
The Oyo prince, who was the immediate past Chairman of Oyo State Local Government Pension Board, died a few hours to his 47th birthday.

Abdulfatai was the House of Representatives candidate for the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the 2019 elections.

The election was won by his younger brother, Prince Akeem Adeyemi (Skimeh), who contested on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC).

A family member in Oyo said on Friday: “Yes. He is dead. People are there now. They are preparing the grave”.

The Public Relations Officer of UCH, Mrs Funmilayo Adetuyibi, confirmed the death of the late Alaafin’s son, saying that he died at the hospital on Friday morning.

Adetuyibi said that AbdulFatai was brought to the hospital around 12.05 a.m. on Friday and died at exactly 3:50 a.m.

She, however, declined when asked about the disease that the late Oyo prince was suffering from which eventually resulted in his death.

“I can’t disclose his diagnosis or what killed him because it is against our professional ethics,” the UCH spokesperson said.
Another source from UCH also spoke about the death of the late Alaafin’s son.

“Fatai Bayo Adeyemi, one-time Secretary of Atiba Local Government, died this morning (Friday). He was married with children. He was reported very ill sometime last year but survived,” the source said.

AbdulFatai’s death, it was gathered, has thrown the family of the late Oba Adeyemi and the ancient town of Oyo into mourning.

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