News across the country

Interpol arrests 3 Nigerians for online scam

An INTERPOL-led operation targeting malware cyber fraud across Southeast Asia has resulted in the arrest of three Nigerians suspected of engaging in global scamming.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission arrested the suspects in a sting operation conducted simultaneously in a Lagos suburb called Ajegunle and in Benin City, Edo State capital.

The Nigerian sting operation comes as part of a global operation codenamed “Killer Bee” involving INTERPOL National Central Bureaus (NCBs) and law enforcement in 11 countries across Southeast Asia.

The arrests follows the publication of an INTERPOL Cyber Report linking a suspected syndicate of Nigerian fraudsters operating from the West Coast of Africa to the use of a malicious Remote Access Trojan (RAT) known as Agent Tesla.

The men are thought to have used the RAT to reroute financial transactions, stealing confidential online connection details from corporate organizations, including oil and gas companies in South East Asia, the Middle East and North Africa.

This is contained in a statement by the Spokesman for the EFCC Mr. Wilson Uwujaren and made available to Vanguard on Tuesday.

One of the scammers, Hendrix Omorume has been charged with three counts of serious financial fraud and has been convicted and sentenced to one year imprisonment. The trial of the others is still ongoing.

“Through its global police network and constant monitoring of cyberspace, INTERPOL had the globally sourced intelligence needed to alert Nigeria to a serious security threat where millions could have been lost without swift police action,” said INTERPOL’s Director of Cybercrime Craig Jones.

“Further arrests and prosecutions are foreseen across the world as intelligence continues to come in and investigations unfold,” added Mr Jones.

INTERPOL assisted in examining the laptops and mobile phones seized by EFCC during the arrests, helping to confirm the systematic use of “Agent Tesla” malware to access business computers and divert monetary transactions to their own accounts.

“Cybercrime is spreading at a fast pace, with new trends constantly emerging. Through operations like Killer Bee, INTERPOL partners EFCC to keep pace with new technologies and understand the possibilities they create for criminals and how they can be used as tools for fighting cybercrime,” said EFCC’s Director of Operations, Abdulkarim Chukkol.

“The enforcement actions led by Nigeria and coordinated by INTERPOL send a clear message that cybercrime will have serious repercussions for those involved in business email compromise fraud, particularly in Nigeria,” added Mr. Chukkol.

The three men, aged between 31 and 38, were each arrested in possession of fake documents, including fraudulent invoices and forged official letters.

Operation Killer Bee is led by the ASEAN Cybercrime Operations Desk, which is funded by the Japan-ASEAN Integration Fund (JAIF) 2.0 and supported by the Singapore Government.

Operational partners included Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nigeria, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam

Breaking: Court grants ex-Imo gov, Okorocha, N500m bail

The Federal High Court sitting in Abuja, on Tuesday, granted bail to the detained former governor of Imo state, Rochas Okorocha, to the tune of N500million with one surety in like sum.

Trial Justice Inyang Ekwo okayed Okorocha’s released on bail, after he dismissed a counter-affidavit the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, filed against him.

EFCC had through its lawyer, Mr. Mr. Gbolahan latona, urged the court to allow the former governor to remain in custody, alleging that he posed a flight risk.

The prosecution maintained that Okorocha not only breached the administrative bail it earlier granted to him, but equally made himself inaccessible, a situation that led to his forceful arrest on May 24.

It told the court that the erstwhile governor, who is facing a 17-count money laundering charge, has the capacity to interfere with some of its proposed witnesses.

However, counsel to the defendant, Mr. Solomon Umoh, SAN, assured the court that his client would be available to face his trial.

The defence lawyer stressed that his client, being a responsible citizen and a presidential aspirant, would not conduct himself in any manner that would undermine the sanctity of the court.

He, therefore, begged the court to release him on bail on self recognizance or in the most liberal terms, noting that the charge against him contained bailable offences.

In his short ruling, trial Justice Ekwo said he was minded to grant bail to the defendant.

He ordered the defendant to produce one surety that must be a responsible citizen and owner of landed property in Abuja worth the bail sum.

The court equally gave bail to the 2nd defendant in the matter, Mr. Anyim Nyerere Chinenye, who is a chieftain of the ruling All Progressive Congress, APC, on terms of the administrative bail the EFCC earlier handed to him.

Justice Ekwo subsequently adjourned the matter till November 7, 8, 9, 10 and 11 for trial.

Okorocha, who piloted affairs of Imo state from 2011 to 2019, was arraigned on Monday alongside Mr. Chinenye and five companies, Naphtali International Limited, Perfect Finish Multi Projects Limited, Consolid Projects Consulting Limited, Pramif International Limited, and Legend World Concepts Limited.

All the defendants pleaded not guilty to the charge dated January 24.

Finance minister suspends AGF

The Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs. Zainab Ahmed, has suspended the Accountant-General of the Federation, Mr. Ahmed Idris, over N80 billion fraud allegation.

Idris was arrested by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, in Kano, on Monday.

2nd Niger Bridge very dear to President, says Zainab
The suspension letter with reference number:HMFBNP/AGF/SUSPENSION/5/2022 and dated 18th May, 2022, reads in part, “Following your recent arrest by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on allegations of diversion of funds and money laundering, I write to convey your suspension from work without pay effective 18th May, 2022.

“During this period, you are not expected to attend your place of work or contact any official in your office except for any disciplinary hearing that may be advised.

“It is expected that you will strictly comply with any instructions that will be forwarded to you in your current location or your known recorded address as stipulated in the extant rules.”

Special Adviser to the Minister on Media, Mr. Tanko Abdullahi, confirmed that the AGF was suspended indefinitely, to allow unhindered investigations into the alleged fraud.

Idris’ arrest, according to the spokesman of the EFCC, Mr. Wilson Uwujaren, followed allegations that he fraudulently amassed the money through bogus consultancy contracts, and other illegal activities, using proxies , associates and family members.

The commission alleged that Mr. Idris laundered the money using real estate investments in Kano and Abuja.

He was said to have been arrested, following his failure to honour invitations by the anti-graft agency.

Deborah Samuel: FG urged to stop escalation of jungle justice across Nigeria

The National Legal Adviser of the Accord Party, Maxwell Mgbudem, has called for urgent measures by the government to ensure that the killing of Miss Deborah Samuel, a 200-level Economics student of Shehu Shagari College of Education in Sokoto State, over alleged blasphemy does not cause an escalation of jungle justice to other parts of the country.

Mgbudem, who gave the warning in a statement issued in Abuja on Wednesday and made available to our correspondent, said if allowed, would worsen the insecurity challenges facing the country.

He regretted that “life has become short and brutal in the country” and therefore, called on the government to “take a decisive action that will not only deter future occurrence, but ensure peace across Nigeria.”

The Accord Party chieftain also expressed fears over the rising tension and insecurity across the country, even as he cautioned that such a situation poses a serious threat to the peaceful conduct of the 2023 general elections

He further charged the youths to resist the temptation of taking laws into their hands, adding that protesters should allow the state government and security agencies to investigate the root cause of the ugly incident.

Nonetheless, he commended eminent Nigerians who have joined their voices to condemn the dastardly act.

Mgbudem, however, enjoined the security agencies to take urgent steps to address the insecurity across the country before the commencement of the 2023 general elections, expressing fears that the present security situation is not favourable for the conduct of the polls.

While citing the cases of Monday and Wednesday sit-at-home order in the South East by the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, the Fulani/herders violence in the North Central, banditry in the North West and Boko Haram in the North East, he said the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, would be in a dilemma if the Federal Government refused to take immediate action.

It would be recalled that irate youths last Thursday murdered Miss Deborah Samuel, over alleged blasphemy against Prophet Muhammad.

Ekiti election: Chairman Dumps ADP for APC

Action Democratic Party (ADP) Chairman in Ekiti State, Abegunde Olakunle has dumped the party.

Olakunle moved to the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) ahead of the June 18 election.

The development followed the defection of ADP deputy governorship candidate, Idowu Afuye to the APC.

Olakunle announced the defection at a news conference on Tuesday, days after his suspension.

The politician said he delayed his move due to the negative effect it would have on ADP governorship candidate, Kemi Elebute-Halle.

”I Pastor Chief Abegunde Emmanuel Olakunle, Chairman of the ADP in Ekiti hereby declare that I quit the ADP,” he said.

Olakunle assured that his relationship with Elebute-Halle remains “very cordial”.

“I wouldn’t know what she feels. To me, I have nothing against her”, he told reporters.

Sit-at-home: Tragedy in Ebonyi State as gunmen kill LG Chairman’s 3 brothers and one other

Unknown gunmen, on Wednesday, raided one of the populous Ebonyi community in Ikwo Local Government Area, and allegedly killed three brothers of the Local Government Chairman and one other for unidentified reasons.

It was gathered that the gunmen invaded the community and moved straight to the family house of the Ikwo LGA Chairman, Steve Oruogwu and opened fire on the residents.

Investigation revealed that the gunmen had been threatening the life of the Council Chairman, Oruogwu, since he assumed office as the Ikwo LGA Council boss, and had attempted to raze his house but were prevented by security operatives on several occasions.

The unknown gunmen were said to have invaded the council chairman’s family house in the night and killed his brothers.

It was learnt that the council chairman was in Abakaliki town when the unknown gunmen stormed his house.

A source, who spoke under anonymity to newsmen confirmed that: “at the Federal Teaching Hospital, Ebonyi, four men were brought in dead.

“And out of the four deceased, 3 were from the same family.”

When contacted, the Police Public Relations Officer, PPRO, Ebonyi State Police Command, SP, Loveth Odah acknowledged hearing the alleged killing of the Ikwo LGA council Chairman’s brothers.

Meanwhile, Ebonyi State metropolis, at the early hours of Wednesday, was totally deserted following the sit-at-home declared by the leadership of the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB.

ASUU’s warning strike ends today, union may go on full blown action

As the second round of the eight-week warning strike embarked upon by members of the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, ends today, the union is poised to go on an indefinite industrial action,

Sources said the national leadership of the union would make public its decision today.
It was gathered that the National Executive Committee, NEC, of the union had earlier given the go ahead to the national leadership to call out members on indefinite strike, if nothing tangible was achieved during the eight weeks of their warning strike.

The union had earlier gone on a month warning strike on February 14 this year, and extended it by another eight weeks, which comes to an end today.

While ASUU was into the second round of its warning strike, other staff unions in the university system also embarked on strike.

The unions are Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities, SSANU; National Association of Academic Technologists, NAAT, and the Non-Academic Staff Union of Education and Allied Institutions, NASU.

Though the Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige, had met with the leadership of SSANU, NAAT and NASU, noting concrete came out of the meetings.
He is yet to meet with ASUU leadership, though he announced last weekend that he would meet with them.

When contacted, National President of ASUU, Prof. Emmanuel Osodeke, said the union had not got any invitation from the government’s team as at the weekend.

“We too heard it in the news what the Minister of Labour said about meeting with us, but as we talk, nobody has reached out to us for any meeting. We don’t know when the meeting will be called,” he said.

Asked what would be the next line of action, Osodeke said the national leadership of the union would decide that.

NSCDC, Army arrest six-man rail line vandals in Enugu

The Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) and troops of the 82 Division of the Nigerian Army, Enugu have arrested a six-man gang specialising in vandalising rail line tracks in Enugu State.

NSCDC spokesman in Enugu, CSC Denny Manuel, stated on Thursday that the vandals were rounded up by joint operatives at Ubahu community in Nkanu East Local Government Area of Enugu State.

He stated that the suspects gave their names as follows Zakari Ishaka (25); Amadu Danladi (40); Abdulkareem Haruna (19); Ousman Idris (19); Musa Hamza (23) and Arma Yau Magaji (42).

He added that the vandals were arrested on April 22.

“The suspects were arrested after a sustained surveillance and intelligence gathering.

“They were arrested while conveying vandalised railway slippers belonging to the Nigeria Railway Corporation, Eastern District, Enugu, in a truck with registration number BSA 189 XA.

“The suspects were arrested with the help of troops of the Nigerian Army following a tip-off by NSCDC intelligence officers.

“Items recovered from the suspects include some sizeable quantity of rail slippers and rail tracks cut to size and other railway materials and a truck,’’ the NSCDC spokesman stated.

Manuel noted that the suspects had been assisting in investigations to unravel other culprits and sponsors in their unholy trade.

He added that the NSCDC Commandant in Enugu State, Mr Valentine Afrika, had reemphasised the resolve of the corps to deal decisively with those vandalising or tampering with social infrastructure.

“I am reminding members of the public that they play a crucial role in assisting security agencies with credible information on activities of criminal elements especially public utility vandals,’’ Manuel quoted the commandant as saying.

FG declares May 2, 3 Public Holidays for Workers’ Day, Sallah

The Federal Government has declared Monday 2nd and Tuesday 3rd May 2022 as Public Holidays to mark this year’s Workers Day and EIdul-Fitr Celebrations.

Permanent Secretary in the Ministry, Dr Shuaib Belgore disclosed this in a statement issued Thursday night in Abuja.

He said the Minister of Interior, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, made the declaration on behalf of the Federal Government.

The statement congratulated workers across the country on this year’s celebration.

“Ogbeni Aregbesola commended workers for their hard work, diligence and sacrifice, noting that their efforts are largely responsible for the greatness of the country and the respect Nigeria now commands in the comity of nations.

“Labour is the very essence of humanity. We are alive because we work and only the dead is incapable of working” , the statement added.

The minister enjoined workers to imbibe the culture of productivity, saying “the end of work is productivity. It is productivity that leads to the satisfactory provision of goods and services and wealth creation. It is, therefore, the path to national and individual prosperity”.

He urged workers to raise the bar of their trade-in line with the President Muhammadu Buhari led administration’s drive to rev up the vehicle of governance and make all the people of Nigeria derive maximum benefit from the nation.

“The Minister also congratulates all Muslims for the successful completion of the holy month of Ramadan.

Ogbeni Aregbesola calls on all Muslims to imbibe and practice the virtues of kindness, love, tolerance, peace, self-denial, sacrifice and good neighbourliness, as exemplified by the Holy Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon Him).

“The self-restraint, self-denial, sacrifice and deep spiritual consciousness that accompanied the fasting period should not end but be maintained and improved upon, in order to be a better person and true worshipper”, the minister advised all Muslims.

The minister expressed confidence that the security challenges in some parts of the country will soon be a thing of the past, noting that the government is putting determined efforts and all necessary measures in place for Nigerians to enjoy unfettered peace all around.

He assured Nigerians that the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari is fully committed to the security of life and property of every citizen and foreigners alike.

Missing Abuja NYSC member, Stephanie Terungwa, found dead

The corpse found wearing the NYSC khaki trouser with the face defaced beyond recognition in the highbrow Maitama district of Abuja has been confirmed by the police as that of a missing corps member deployed to the nation’s capital, Stephanie Se-Ember Terungwa.

The NYSC Director, Press and Public Relations, Eddy Megwa, made this known in a statement, yesterday, entitled, ‘Re: Missing Body.’

Terungwa, a graduate of Microbiology from the Federal University of Agriculture, Makurdi, went missing April 14 after she left home fully dressed in her NYSC uniform. Unfortunately, she did not return alive.

Her death is still being treated as “unexplained.” However, sources at the NYSC headquarters believe that at this stage, there was a third-party involvement.