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$300,000 Blackmail Scandal: Peoples Gazette editor, Samuel Ogundipe on the run

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Samuel Ogundipe was detained by the Nigerian Police
Samuel Ogundipe, editor of Peoples Gazette is on the run from the law

Samuel Ogundipe, the editor of Peoples Gazette, is on the run after the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Department of State Services (DSS) launched an investigation into his attempt to blackmail chairman of Air Peace, Allen Onyema, into paying him $300,000.

It was gathered that five months ago, Ogundipe had contacted Onyema to say his paper was working on a stinker on him. He, however, offered to drop the story if paid $300,000.

According to sources close to the investigation, Onyema tried to convince Ogundipe that the allegations being packaged against him by Peoples Gazette were false and only calculated to tarnish his reputation.

When the editor refused to back down, according to those familiar with the matter, the Air Peace chairman alerted the EFCC and the Department of State Services (DSS) on the plot to blackmail and extort from him by Ogundipe.

Deal of the day

The EFCC and the DSS then set up a joint sting operation on the matter, our sources said. They asked Onyema to play along while the two agencies continued to monitor and record the communications between the Peoples Gazette Editor and the Air Peace chairman.

While playing along, Mr Onyema offered to pay Ogundipe $150,000 in three installments. After some back and forth, the journalist agreed.

Those familiar with the matter said the Air Peace chairman then requested Ogundipe to provide an account number to which the money could be paid but the journalist insisted that he would only accept the payment in cash.

Onyema continued to play along in line with the script given to him by the law enforcement agencies involved in the operation. He invited Ogundipe to his office in Lagos to collect the first installment of $50,000.

The journalist, however, said he was away in Dubai, UAE, at the time but would send a representative to collect the money on his behalf.

On the agreed day, a representative, said to be a female staff of Peoples Gazette, showed up at Onyema’s office to receive the bribe.

Unknown to her, armed operatives of EFCC and DSS, had planted recording devices in Onyema’s office while also taking positions around the facility.

Law enforcement insiders said immediately Ogundipe’s front received the money from Onyema, the operatives emerged from their hiding positions and swooped on her.

She was immediately arrested and driven to the Lagos office of the EFCC where she was interrogated and detained for one week.

The suspect, law enforcement sources said, told detectives that she did not know that the money Ogundipe sent her to collect was a proceed of blackmail.

The EFCC held on to the suspect for days and invited Ogundipe to show up for questioning. The journalist has since gone underground and has so far refused to return to Nigeria from Dubai.

Meanwhile, a further screening of the suspect’s telephone revealed information that further implicated the Peoples Gazette editor, our sources said.

Ogundipe was a reporter with Premium Times until mid 2020 when left after the medium accused him of unethical conduct.

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Arthur Labinjo-Hughes: National inquiry into boy’s death

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Arthur had more than 130 bruises and was emaciated when he died
Arthur Labinjo-Hughes had more than 130 bruises and was emaciated when he died

The killing of Arthur Labinjo-Hughes will be the subject of a national review to protect other children from such evil crimes, the government says.

The six-year-old was tortured and killed by his father and stepmother after social workers found “no safeguarding concerns”.

Emma Tustin was jailed for 29 years for murder and child cruelty and Thomas Hughes got 21 years for manslaughter.

Nadhim Zahawi said: “We will not rest until we have the answers we need.”

The education secretary announced “a single, national review of Arthur’s death to identify where we must learn from this terrible case”.

This “upgrades” the existing local review, launched shortly after Arthur’s death in June 2020, a statement from the Department for Education said.

Meanwhile, the jail terms of Arthur’s killers will be reviewed to “determine whether they were too low”, the Attorney General’s Office said.

Hundreds gathered to release balloons in tribute to Arthur at a vigil near the house where he died in Solihull, West Midlands.

The crowds released balloons and clapped in tribute to Arthur
The crowds released balloons and clapped in tribute to Arthur

Mr Zahawi has also asked inspectors in social care, health, police and probation to urgently investigate the safeguarding agencies in Solihull to whom Arthur was known.

He said: “Arthur’s murder has shocked and appalled the nation. I am deeply distressed by this awful case and the senseless pain inflicted on this poor boy, who has been robbed of the chance to live his life.”

Mr Zahawi is expected to make a statement to the House of Commons on Arthur’s case on Monday.

The Department for Education said over the next few days it would work with the national panel and the Solihull partnership to agree a timeline for publication of the national review.

It will also agree the full scope of the Joint Targeted Area Inspection with the agencies involved, it said.

Emma Tustin and Thomas Hughes
Emma Tustin was sentenced to 29 years in jail while Arthur’s father, Thomas Hughes, was jailed for 21 years

Justice Secretary Dominic Raab told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show he believed the prison sentences given to Arthur’s killers were too lenient.

He said: “We’ve announced we are going to raise the sentences for child cruelty and in relation to baby Arthur the attorney has already said that she’s minded to submit an application for a review of the sentence.”

Arthur died of a head injury on 16 June 2020. Tustin had shaken him and banged his head on a hard surface after poisoning him with salt, Coventry Crown Court heard.

He was found to have 130 injuries after being routinely beaten, forced to stand for hours on his own, starved and dehydrated.

Arthur’s paternal grandmother had alerted social services by showing them a photograph of bruising on his body.

He was seen by social workers just two months before his death but they concluded there were “no safeguarding concerns”.

The Children’s Commissioner, Dame Rachel de Souza, said reviews into Arthur’s death were “not a quick fix”.

“Arthur raised concerns – he was not a baby, he was six years old – he raised concerns and the system did not hear him. We must listen to the voices of children.” she said.

Arthur died during the first national coronavirus lockdown and Dame Rachel said: “We must not close schools again.”

She said: “I think there’s no doubt that lockdown was such a shock to the whole nation that it weakened the system of support, but actually in Arthur’s case he did have a number of professionals around him, he did have home visits, we have to wait to hear exactly what’s happened there.”

The NSPCC welcomed the review and said “no stone should be left unturned”.

“This must be a watershed moment in which we ask ourselves difficult questions about what we can all do, nationally, locally and in our own communities, to keep children safe,” the charity said.

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Lagos4Lagos Defection: Nothing Can Change PDP’s Misfortune In Lagos – APC

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The All Progressives Congress (APC) in Lagos State says the defection of Lagos4Lagos Movement, a splinter group within the party, to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), cannot change the main opposition’s misfortune in the state.

The APC Publicity Secretary in Lagos State, Seye Oladejo, made this remark in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos on Sunday while reacting to the defection of some aggrieved APC members to the PDP on Saturday.

“There is nothing that is going to happen that will change the fortune of the PDP. They have always lost, it is in their DNA. So, they will lose again.

“So, they are moving to nothing, we will meet at the polls. I can assure you they would not even win a single ward in the state,” he said.

According to him, the aggrieved members’ movement to the PDP underscores their political naivety “for them to think they can bring any special fortune that is unknown and alien to our state”.

Mr Oladejo said the Lagos4Lagos Movement has just formalised its membership of the opposition party and that the ruling party would not miss the group.

“They have always been in the opposition anyway. We have always believed that they were acting a script. There is a limit to hypocrisy which is not sustainable.

“No one plays opposition within the ruling party and hope to sustain that. So, it is a good thing that they have finally moved on.

“We are happy that in some of their interviews, they promised to resurrect a death party. I believe resurrection is left for Almighty God.

“It is good they are mixing and fraternising with the dead now, which is a good thing for them. For us, we are not going to miss them,” he said.

According to him, everyone knows that the group emerged from nowhere in recent times and they have never contributed anything to APC retinue of victories since the advent of democracy in the state.

On possible reconciliation with the group, Mr Oladejo said no one sent the aggrieved out of the party.

“If they want to come back it is for them to make the move. It is a political party, we do not totally shut the door against any one.

“Hopefully, someday, they will see the light and know that Lagos has always been a progressive state and remains one. They can return.

“So, if they want to come back in the future, why not? Our doors remain permanently open to those who are ready to repent and see the light,” he added.

On APC’s efforts to reconcile other aggrieved groups within the party like Conscience Forum, AAMCO group and the Democrats, Oladejo said that the reconciliation process in the party is open-ended.

According to him, anytime the party has issues, the party has internal mechanisms to reconcile aggrieved members or groups.

He said: “Reconciliation becomes easy when people are ready to play by the rule but if your target really is all about ambition, then your ambition becomes difficult to achieve.

“In our party, you earn the ticket to aspire to whatever office. It is not by arm twisting, blackmailing or causing needless trouble.”

Former Senate President, Bukola Saraki, met with the leaders of the aggrieved APC members on Saturday to woo them into the PDP.

The declaration of the group’s defection is scheduled for December 18.

Mr Saraki, chairman of PDP’s National Reconciliation Committee, met with hundreds of members of the Lagos4Lagos Movement, and the group’s leader, Olajide Adediran, at an event organised for the defection.

The Adediran faction of the APC held parallel local government congresses at different locations in the state in September.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the group had alleged impunity, imposition and marginalisation of candidates in the APC for its action.

The National Caretaker Committee of the APC led by Yobe’s Governor Mai Mala Buni, however, dismissed the claims and did not accord the group any recognition.

Speaking on the possibility of having a rethink, spokesman of the group, Kazeem Bakare, told NAN on Sunday in Lagos that the movement took the decision having exhausted all avenues for reconciliation.

“The die is cast actually because the argument has been that we can’t make any change elsewhere.

“We have exhausted all processes of reconciliation within the APC. Even at that, we are law-abiding.

“We have what it takes to win elections and that is why we are taking our leave.

“We believe in a few weeks, unfolding events will tell Lagos residents that we are ready to take over the state for the good of Lagos State,’’ Mr Bakare said.

NAN

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Mkpiru Miri: Shun Hard Drugs, Uzodimma Warns Youths

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Hope Uzodinma ISOPADEC

 Imo State governor Chief Hope Uzodinma has advised students in Imo State to desist from taking Methamphetamine or Crystal Meth, commonly known as ‘Mkpurummiri’ and other hard drugs capable of damaging their health and derailing their dreams.

Uzodinma stated this on Saturday, during the 33rd convocation ceremony of the Federal University of Technology Owerri (FUTO).

Uzodinma who was represented by his deputy governor, Prof. Placid Njoku said “your future is at a crossroad as a youth, so avoid taking this dangerous drug called Mkpurummiri and other negative vices capable of destroying your future.”

While congratulating the Vice-Chancellor of the University for being the first female Vice-Chancellor of the institution, Uzodinma expressed delight at the huge progress the University had made over the years,

Speaking further, Uzodinma reiterated that Imo state government was ready and willing to partner with the institution in many ways for the growth and development of the state.

In her address of welcome, the Vice-Chancellor of the University, Prof. (Mrs) Nnenna N. Oti stated that in the past 40 years, FUTO had been living up to the dreams of its founding fathers in terms of production of quality graduates, responsive researches and impactful community services.

The 33rd convocation ceremony of the institution featured the award of different degrees to 4,032 graduates of which 64 students made first class and Osuigwe Chisom Henry of the Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering emerged as the overall best graduating student with a (CGPA) of 4.96.

President Muhammadu Buhari, who was represented by the Minister of State for Education, Hon. Chukwuemeka Nwajiuba stated that “Federal Universities of Technology in Nigeria are national assets created for advancing Science and Technology as well as providing solutions to Nigeria’s fundamental technological challenges.”

President Buhari, therefore, thanked the host state, Imo, particularly the immediate communities for her hospitality and timeless support of the activities of the University, he equally extended his congratulations to the class of 2019/2020 FUTO graduands, assuring them that the future holds the best for them.

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