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Nigeria’s ex-Pension Boss, Maina, Faints in Court as Fraud Trial Resumes

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Abdulrasheed Maina, the former Chairman, Pensions Reform Task Team (PRTT), collapsed in court on Thursday as his trial resumed at the Federal High Court, Abuja.

The drama began when Anayo Adibe, counsel to Maina, told the presiding judge, Justice Okon Abang, of the Federal High Court, that he would be unable to continue with his client’s no-case submission motion today because he was yet to receive the record of proceedings of the court since Maina’s arraignment.

But, Justice Abang told Adibe that it was his duty to get the record of proceedings, which had already been processed, from the registry rather than waiting for the registrar to look for him.

However, as the registrar was reading out the proceedings, that were ready for collection, Maina, who was sitting beside the dock, slumped, causing confusion in the courtroom.

Maina was hurriedly rushed out of the courtroom by Nigerian Correctional Centre officers, as Justice Abang suspended the proceedings.

As of the time of filing this report, the former pensions reform chairman was still being attended to by court-assigned medical officers.

Maina had, through his counsel, told the court on Wednesday that he had no case to answer in the allegations levied against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

Maina had earlier told Justice Abang, shortly after counsel to the EFCC, Farouk Abdullah, had closed the commission’s case, that he would be filing a no-case submission.

Maina was first arraigned before Justice Abang, on 25 Oct., 2019, by the EFCC, alongside his firm, Common Input Property and Investment Ltd, on a 12-count charge bordering on money laundering to the tune of N2 billion, allegations that he denied.

On Nov. 18, Justice Abang ordered Maina’s arrest following his refusal to appear in court since Sept. 29 when his case resumed.

Sen. Ali Ndume (APC – Borno), who stood surety for Maina, was remanded in prison custody on Nov. 23, for failure to produce him in court, but was granted bail five days after, on grounds of his good conduct.

Maina was, however, produced in court on Dec. 4, by security operatives after he was arrested in neighbouring Niger Republic and extradited to Nigeria.

At Wednesday’s sitting, Maina’s counsel told the court that he would be filing a no-case application in accordance with Sections 302 and 303 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA) 2015, arguing that the evidence tendered by the prosecution was insufficient to justify the trial of his client.

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Ghana Busts Baby Factory, Arrests 11

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No fewer than 11 people, including two doctors, have been arrested in Ghana for their alleged roles in a “baby-harvesting” and child-trafficking syndicate.

Authorities busted the syndicate after a tip-off from a taxi driver in 2020 and several months of investigation.

During the investigation, members of the syndicate allegedly sold two babies to investigators for $5,000 and $4,800 each.

The investigations were jointly led by the Ghana Medical and Dental Council and the Economic and Organised Crime Office.

After conclusion, 11 suspects including two doctors, four nurses, two mothers, two social welfare officers, and a traditional birth attendant were arrested.

They were allegedly operating at health facilities in the Accra, Ghana’s capital and the neighbouring city of Tema.

Authorities believe some of the mothers may have been told their babies had died after delivery, adding that others who were unable to take care of their newborns may have been encouraged to sell them.

The two rescued baby boys are now in the care of the authorities.

Operation of baby factories is rampant in Ghana’s neighbouring country, Nigeria, where several baby harvesters have been arrested.

In December 2020, Police in Nigeria rescued 10 people, including four children, four pregnant women and two other women from an illegal maternity home. The operation was carried out at the so-called “baby factory” in the Mowe area of the southwestern Ogun state.

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Sahrawi Army Sustains Attacks Against Moroccan Forces

Coordinated armed struggle commenced in response to the Moroccan violation of the cease-fire agreement on November 13, 2020.

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For the tenth consecutive week since Moroccan forces violated a cease-fire agreement in November 2020, the Sahrawi People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) have sustained its military offensive against the positions of the Moroccan occupation forces behind the Wall of Shame, a statement from the Sahrawi Ministry of Defence has said.

The statement said, “the Sahrawi army forces on Sunday launched a series of heavy attacks targeting the positions of the Moroccan occupation forces in several sectors, like the regions of Ajbailat Al-Khader in the Guelta sector, as well as the Kalb Enos area in the Auserd sector, which was bombarded three times during the day.”

The Sahrawi army carried out further bombardments targeting the positions of the Moroccan royal army entrenched in several areas of Rous Echadhimiya zone (Mehbes sector), Frerina in Smara, Adhim Oum Adjloud, Azmoul Oum Khemla sector among others.  

Coordinated armed struggle commenced in response to the Moroccan violation of the cease-fire agreement on November 13, 2020.

Secretary-General of the Sahrawi Ministry of Security and Documentation, Sidi Oukal said Tuesday that 510 military operations have been carried out against the Moroccan army in the past 67 days.

Oukal said Moroccan military bases have incurred huge human and material losses while deploying all forms of weapons and materials despite its discretion with regard to war.

“The region has entered into an intensified war that will escalate in the future” he added.

In a similar press conference on Tuesday, the Frente POLISARIO representative to the United Nations Sidi Mohamed Amar declared that the Sahrawi cause had taken a new turning point since violation of the ceasefire adding that its involvement in any negotiation is dependent on developments on the ground and the seriousness of the UN Security Council. The Sahrawi Army attacks targeting the positions of the Moroccan occupying forces linger on as diplomatic relations remain testy. 

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The Gambia Signs Protective Cooperation Deal with Switzerland

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The Gambian government says it has signed a Cooperation Agreement on migration matters with the government of Switzerland.

The Gambian government says the cooperation agreement is meant to curb irregular migration and ensure effective protection of the rights of Gambian citizens who are migrants in Switzerland.

“The Agreement will create cordial working relations between the government of The Gambia and the government of Switzerland in identifying opportunities, coordinating and managing challenges of migration.

These, the two countries believe, will further strengthen relations and deepen cooperation with regard to the effective management of migration, unemployment and creation of more opportunities for women and youth in The Gambia,” the statement said.

The statement reads that the Gambian government further negotiated for all undocumented Gambian migrants in Switzerland to be trained on livelihood skills and integrated in the Swiss community.

“As The Gambia progresses in enhancing its democracy, there is a need to ensure that the country adheres to international Human Rights Instruments by respecting the laws of other countries whilst also ensuring that Gambian citizens within and outside enjoy the required protection of the Government.

“In this regard, the Gambian Government and the Government of Switzerland agreed that all legal remedies will be exhausted before any voluntary returnees will be repatriated,” the statement pointed out.

The statement also said that the Gambian government further assured all Gambians that it was approaching migration as a developmental issue and that the signed cooperation agreement would also pave the way for the establishment of a multi-purpose skills training centre and create other opportunities for young people to achieve their goals in The Gambia.

The statement said both countries agreed on the spelt-out modalities which serve as an enabling tool to ensure equitable and balanced intervention with a view to attaining dignified life for Gambians in Switzerland and Swiss citizens in The Gambia.

Furthermore, as part of efforts to strengthen the excellent bilateral relations that exist between the two countries and on the invitation of the Honourable Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dr. Mamadou Tangara, the Vice President and Federal Councillor of Switzerland, Ignazio Cassis, is expected to visit The Gambia on Friday, 12 February, 2021.

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