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Court Sends Two Nigerians To Jail For Alleged €14.7m COVID-19 PPE Fraud

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Two Nigerians – Babatunde Adesanya and Akinpelu Abass – have been remanded in Kuje Correctional Centre for their role in a major multi-million Euro scam bordering on procurement of COVID-19 Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).

The duo were remanded on Monday by Justice Anwuli Chikere Federal High Court sitting in Abuja and adjourned the matter until November 9 to hear the application for bail.

The Federal Government charged Adesanya, a 50-year old graduate of the University of Lagos (UNILAG), and the Managing Director of Musterpoint Investment Nigeria Limited, Akinpelu Abass, for fraud.

Earlier, the Attorney -General of the Federation and Minister of Justice Abubakar Malami, SAN, alleged that the defendants were members of a sophisticated transnational criminal network.

The federal government alleged that they cloned the corporate Website of ILBN Holdings BV, Holland to transact with and defrauded a businessman, Freiherr Hahn, a representative of the German State of North Rhine-Westphalia.

In the 10-count, the defendants were said to have fraudulently obtained 1.5 million Euros and another 880,000 Euros as an advance payment for the supply of COVID-19 PPEs, worth 14.7 million Euros from Hahn.

Adesanya and Abass both pleaded not guilty.

Counsel to the defendants, Ms Bunmi Aina-Craig, applied for bail for her clients but the prosecution said that they had not been served with the application for bail.

The duo were arrested in September. After their arrest, the Nigerian Police had issued a statement saying they acted in cohort with Holland-based Eduardus Boomstra and Geradius Maulder.

The arrest was made after a Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty (MLAT) received by the Bureau from the office of the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, the police authorities said.

The police authorities said the treaty contained a request from the German Government for investigations into a fraudulent transaction on the procurement of COVID-19 Personal Protective Equipment linked to a Nigerian-based Bank Account.

“The suspects fraudulently obtained from Mr Freiherr Fredrick Von Hahn the sum of 1.5m Euro and another 880,000 Euro as advanced payment for the supply of COVID-19 PPEs valued at 14.7million Euros,” the police said.

“Disturbed by the non-arrival of the PPEs, Mr Freiherr Fredrick Von Hahn eventually visited the corporate office of ILBN Holdings BV in Holland to inquire reasons for the delay in supplying the items only to find out that the company never did business with him and that the transaction was a scam.”

The police said Fredrick reported the case of fraud to the Police in Holland and this led to the arrest of Eduardus Boomstra and Geradius Maulder in Holland and investigations extended to Nigeria.

Investigation by INTERPOL Nigeria revealed that Babatunde Adesanya received 498,000 Euro from Eduardus Boomstra and Geradius Maulder through his Citibank London account and transferred same to an account number domiciled with a Lagos branch of a leading commercial bank.

East Africa News

South Sudan Launches Fresh Attack on SPLA-IO Base

South Sudan’s army has on Thursday launched a fresh attack against forces of the main armed opposition group and peace partner, SPLA-IO

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SOUTH SUDAN FRESH ATTACKS

South Sudan’s army on Thursday launched a fresh attack against forces of the main armed opposition group and peace partner, SPLA-IO at the Morota Unified Training centre. 

The deputy spokesman of the SPLA-IO in Juba, Colonel Lam Paul Gabriel said the attack was ordered by General Moses Lokujo who defected from the group to join the SSPDF in September.

According to Colonel Lam Paul Gabriel “… this morning November 26, at about 6:00am, the defected force of Maj. Gen. Moses Lokujo who is now under the command and control of the SSPDF attacked the SPLA-IO component of protection force for Morota Unified Training Centre, in complete violation of the permanent ceasefire,”  

The statement also confirmed the death of one SPLA-IO soldier and two others injured as the fighting continues.

Last week, the ceasefire monitoring body, CTSSAM-VM identified General Moses Lokujo as being responsible for the recent displacement of civilians around Kajo-Keji area. He was also accused of blocking access to a military training camp.

The revitalized peace deal expects all the parties to desist from actions that may obstruct or delay the provision of humanitarian assistance, protection of civilians, or restrict the free movement of people.

The armed opposition group further urged the SSPDF to cease attacks against it while urging that security mechanisms established under the revived peace agreement be implemented to halt the attacks.

He called on the SSPDF command to restrain Maj. Gen. Lokuj from incessant attacks against the SPLA-IO.

“It should also be noted that the forces in Morota Training Centre are not only SPLA-IO forces but a component of the unified forces under the command and control of the JTSC and JDB. Therefore, attacking this force is not only a violation but a direct attack against the Security Arrangement in particular and the R-ARCSS in general.”

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Over 40 People Trapped in Zimbabwe Mine Collapse

Takavarasha said those who were rescued said there were about 40 people in the mine shaft at the time of the incident, and that rescue efforts were ongoing.

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At least 40 informal miners in Zimbabwe have been trapped underground after a shaft in a disused gold mine collapsed, this is according to Zimbabwe’s miners’ federation.

This was disclosed by the head of Zimbabwe’s Miners Federation Wellington Takavarasha who said the incident occurred late Wednesday in the town of Bindura, around 70 kilometres (43 miles) north of the capital Harare.

Takavarasha told reporters that the miners were working inside the unused Ran Gold Mine when a shaft caved in.

Six miners have since been pulled from the rubble and taken to hospital.

Takavarasha said those who were rescued said there were about 40 people in the mine shaft at the time of the incident, and that rescue efforts were ongoing.

Read also: 12 Illegal Miners Feared Dead in Zimbabwean Collapsed Mineshaft

Mining is a major source of foreign currency for Zimbabwe, where gold alone accounts for 60 per cent of exports.

The landlocked southern African country is home to vast gold and mineral reserves, including diamonds and platinum.

The gold sector provides jobs to nearly 10 per cent of the country’s population, according to the International Crisis Group.

Small-scale miners often operate illegally to avoid selling their bullion to the state-owned buyer, Fidelity Printers and Refiners, as they are paid only 55 per cent in foreign currency.

The remaining 45 per cent is paid in Zimbabwean dollars, which is notorious for its weakness.

Accidents are relatively common in decommissioned mines, particularly when the ground is loosened by rain.

 

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80 Final Year Students Quit School in Kenya, Say Principal Was Too Strict

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No fewer than 80 final year students of a secondary school in eastern Kenya left the school in a day over claims the principal, Joseph Makau, was too strict.

The students also told local media that they were tired of studying.

They also raised concerns over the poor diet offered at the school and the recent withdrawal of entertainment sessions that ran on a weekly basis.

Local media also reported that the incident left only 36 final years students in Matungulu Boys Secondary School compound.

The students, who had earlier boycotted meals during the day, were said to have walked out of the school on Wednesday evening without staging any form of a riot.

Makau said some of the students had been undergoing counselling due to the use of hard drugs before the closure of schools due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Those who walked out of the school are suffering from ‘freestyle’ kind of living where they don’t want to adhere to basic regulations for conducive learning. We will remain firm and as a school, we will not entertain any indiscipline that threatens smooth learning.” he said.

Some of the students told local radio stations that the principal was too strict and they were tired of studying. They said they would prefer to come back just to sit for final examinations scheduled for next year.

The principal said parents had been informed and asked to bring back the students.

Schools reopened in October for final-year students after being closed because of coronavirus, while other classes will resume in January.

The ministry of education advised administrators to minimise interaction between students in boarding schools and people outside to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

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