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Outrage In Rivers Over Wike’s Demolition Of Multi-Million Naira Hotels That Violated Lockdown Rules

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Condemnation on Sunday greeted the demolition of two hotels by the Rivers State government in Port Harcourt for allegedly flouting the lockdown rules.

Activist, lawyers, and opinion leaders in the state faulted the action, which Governor Nyesom Wike personally supervised as “unfair.”

Wike had vowed to pull down hotels found to be rendering services and buildings whose shops opened for business during the lockdown.

The Prodest Hotel Alode in Eleme and Edemeteh Hotel in Onne were reported to have contravened the order. They were pulled down.

The government also declared wanted Princewill Osaroejiji, owner of Etemeteh Hotel and placed N5million bounty on his head, available for whoever could supply information on his whereabouts.

Osaroejijin is the youth leader of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the Eleme Local government area.

Prominent lawyers like Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa (SAN), and Jite Ogunye, condemned Wike, saying his ‘action was alien to law.

Ogunye, said in a Facebook post: “Beheading is no cure for headache. Recklessness is no courage and brashness is no strength. It is a weak case and a weak haste to unlawfully demolish a property for violating a COVID-19 regulation.

“It is an act of Executive lawlessness to be the accuser, prosecutor, judge and punishment executioner.”

Also on his Facebook page Adegboruwa, in a comment titled: The Emerging Dictatorship in Rivers State, called on Rivers people to “stand up to every form of lawlessness and arbitrariness and defend their rights under the Constitution.”

He added: “The governor of Rivers State is a lawyer, which should be an added advantage to birth good governance. The governor also has a reliable partner as a judicial officer, so that both in the office and at home, law is following the governor and it is written all over him.

“But the story of Rivers State in recent times has become a major worry for all lovers of the rule of law and democracy.

“The Rivers State governor has no legal right in law to confiscate the property of citizens by Executive fiat. Surely, two wrongs cannot make a right.”

Also, Dr. Otive Igbuzor, the Chief of Staff to the Deputy Senate President, Ovie Omo-Agege, condemned the demotion as “wicked”.

Igbuzor wrote on his Facebook page: Demolish hotels because they did not obey lockdown guidelines. This is wicked.”

Some Rivers State-based lawyers and rights activists like Somina Johnbull, Obiaruko Ndukwe, Higher King, Dumnamene Fyneface, Prince Wiro, and Green Isaac, also berated the governor’s action.

Johnbull said: “It should be stated that there is no power under the Land Use Act to summarily demolish buildings even if the right of occupancy had been revoked. The Land Use Act is the Principal legislation on this subject matter even in Rivers State.

Wike’s opponent in the 2015 governor election on the platform of the All Progressives Congress(APC), Dakuku Peterside, said the governor had through his latest action shown that he had become a” full-blown dictator.”

Peterside, the immediate past director-general of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), said Wike’s action was “wicked, insensitive, irresponsible and unlawful.”

Explaining the action, the governor’s Special Assistant on Electronic Media, Simeon Nwakaudu, said the demolition was in line with the state government Executive Order 6, which bans the operation of hotels across the 23 local government areas of the state during the lockdown.

He quoted Wike as saying: “Government has no alternative but to apply the executive order, which I signed before the lockdown of Obio/Akpor and Port Harcourt. I called all the traditional rulers and council chairmen and told them to ensure that no hotel operates in the state.

“We are not saying it will be forever. This is for now, so that we know where we are. To reduce the cases and check the spread.

“Whether you are PDP or not, all we are saying is that nobody is above the law. If we can do this to a PDP person, then you know we are not discriminatory. Everyone must obey. Whether you are in PDP, SDP or no party, you must obey the law. If any other person does the same thing, the same rule will apply.

“We said no hotel should operate within this period. Unfortunately, the PDP Youth Leader in Eleme joined others to flout the Executive Order. Therefore, the executive order will be applied.

”Look at the rate of infections, most of these people are found in hotels. Look at the man that died, he was at Mingi Hotel in Rumumasi. Due to that contact, we have had other seven cases.

“Some people may not like our strategies, but our objective is to achieve results. People talk about hunger. But it is only a living person that can discuss hunger.

“What we are doing is to tell the people that the state government is serious. This being led by me, people should know that the government is determined to ensure that we defeat Coronavirus.”

BIG STORY

JUST IN: Ebonyi Governor Tests Positive For COVID-19

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Ebonyi State Governor, Dave Umahi, has tested positive for the novel coronavirus disease.

This was contained in a statement personally signed by him on Saturday.

Details later…

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Heritage Bank Shuts Branch For Disinfection Over Suspected Coronavirus Case

Gbemileke Ajayi

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Heritage Bank Plc said it has closed down an Experience Centre- EC (branch) at Allen Avenue; Ikeja over the “unconfirmed case” of Coronavirus for deep hygiene clean up after an employee took ill last week.

The bank in a statement made available to the press and customers noted: “in line with our emergency response plan and following regulatory practices, we have taken immediate steps to close down Allen Avenue, Ikeja Experience Centers- EC (branch) for thorough disinfection of the affected location.”

Contrary to rumour, the bank disclosed that whilst the suspected staff awaits her medical test from the Covid-19 Test Centre in Yaba, she had not exhibited any symptoms related to the virus.

“Neither of the suspected person or others in the EC had exhibited any symptoms,” the bank said in the statement.

Specifically, the bank stated that staff were advised to self-isolate for 14days forthwith which was in consonance with Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC).

The bank stated that the EC will undergo “thorough disinfection,” further affirmed, “Customers and staff safety remains paramount; hence we will recommence business with a new set of relief employees, as the current staff self-isolate.”

In the interim, the bank advised customers, “please visit other ECs or branches in Ikeja where you can conduct your daily transactions. Otherwise, you can use our alternate e-channels for seamless service deliveries.

“Heritage Bank remains resolute to continually serve you seamlessly despite prohibitions imposed on physical contact through our bouquet of electronic products which have been made available on notable mobile stores and our website (www.hbng.com).”

The bank noted that it would continue to intensify ongoing efforts via its intranet and other channels to keep staff and customers up-to-date with the latest COVID-19 information and provide clear direction and guidance expected of workers and customers.

“We have set up a COVID-19 Support Centre to offer COVID-19 safety tips to all our customers during this period, in support of the efforts of the Government and relevant bodies. Please send any information relating to the COVID-19 pandemic via these channels: E-mail: [email protected] and contact number: 01-2369099,” the bank stated.

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BIG STORY

Hushpuppi Conspired To Defraud Premier League Club Of $124 Million

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United States authorities on Friday said an English Premier League club was among the victims the suspected Nigerian fraudster Igbalode Ramoni Abbas, also known as Hushpuppi, conspired to defraud.

US Department of Justice said Hushpuppi will face criminal charges, alleging he conspired to launder hundreds of millions of dollars from business email compromise (BEC) frauds and other scams, including schemes targeting a U.S. law firm, a foreign bank and an unnamed English Premier League soccer club.

“Abbas and others further conspired to launder hundreds of millions of dollars from other fraudulent schemes and computer intrusions, including one scheme to steal £100 million (approximately $124 million) from an English Premier League soccer club, the complaint alleges,” the Department of Justice said in a statement on Friday.

Abbas, popularly known as Huspuppi was arrested earlier in June along with Olalekan Jacob Ponle, also known as Woodberry and 10 others.

The 12 suspects were arrested in six simultaneous raids carried out by the e-police unit of the Dubai Police.

The gang was responsible for Dh1.6 billion (about N169 billion) fraud involving over 1.9 million victims. Items worth N15.845 billion (Dh 150 million) were also seized.

13 luxury cars worth N2. 640 billion (Dh 25 million), 21 laptops, 47 smartphones, 15 memory storage devices, 5 external hard drives, and 800, 000 emails of potential victims were also recovered from the gang.

Their arrest in an operation codenamed Fox Hunt 2 came after about four months of painstaking investigations into their activities., during which their social media activities were monitored by the highly trained police unit.

The video posted by the Dubai Media Office said their police were able to track the locations of the suspected fraudsters using their social media activities.

The Dubai Police said the Hushpuppi and his gang specialized in hacking corporate emails and then send fictitious messages to the clients of the companies whose email accounts they have hacked to redirect financial transactions and bank details to their own accounts.

“This was a challenging case, one that spanned international boundaries, traditional financial systems and the digital sphere,” said Jesse Baker, Special Agent in Charge of the United States Secret Service, Los Angles Field Office.

The DoJ affidavit alleges that Abbas and others committed a BEC scheme that defrauded a client of a New York-based law firm out of approximately $922,857 in October 2019.

DoJ said Abbas and co-conspirators allegedly tricked one of the law firm’s paralegals into wiring money intended for the client’s real estate refinancing to a bank account that was controlled by Abbas and the co-conspirators.

The Dubai Police said he and Woodberry were extradited to the United States this week to face charges of money laundering. If convicted, Hushpuppi would face a statutory maximum sentence of 20 years in federal prison.

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