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Drama As Three Pastors Deny Ministry, Church Members To Evade Arrest In Abuja

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Following the COVID-19 restriction, three pastors of some new generation churches on Sunday in Abuja denied their ministries and members after operatives of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Ministerial Enforcement Team arrested them for violating the ban on congregational worship in the nation’s capital.

The pastors are Ibitoye Kayode of the Liberty Faith Gospel Church, Joshua Olaniru of Liberty Gate Ministry, and Vitalis Udeazi of Dominion Chapel.

Trouble started when the Enforcement team on COVID-19 Restrictions stormed the area following a tip-off but found it difficult to identify worshippers and their religious leaders.

After a brief interrogation, the three pastors were identified from the crowd, even though one of them, Vitalis Udeazi of Dominion Chapel struggled to conceal his identity.

He said none of his members were present at the time the task force arrived at the mountain top, but this did not go down well with other pastors who protested vehemently that he was one of them.

Luck, however, ran out on him when some members pointed at him as their pastor.

Despite his identity, the pastor still insisted that they were his prayer members.

For Joshua Olaniru of Liberty Gate Ministry, who argued that he was not among those holding worship session, a resident of the community availed the taskforce of a video clip which showed the cleric holding a worship session, a development which had led to a fight about an hour before the taskforce personnel arrived.

Speaking to the pastors, Chairman of the taskforce, Ikharo Attah queried that: “why are you all denying these large groups of worshippers? No one among you agreed that anyone came to worship with them even when they turned out in large numbers. One of you even went ahead to deny being a pastor”.

Also another cleric, Pastor Effiong Bassey of the Holiness Revival Ministry Church, Karamajiji was apprehended for holding a church service to mark the 60th birthday of a retired military colonel, P.E Ebong who left the military in 2015.

Addressing the pastor, Attah said: “you cannot hold a worship service in defiance of the directives of the Commander in Chief just to mark the 60th birthday of a retired colonel.

“Even for a serving colonel, it is very wrong. You have to come with us and explain it to the magistrate at the mobile court”.

The Clerics were consequently arraigned before a Mobile Court presided over by Magistrate Akonni who found them guilty and fined them N5,000 each in addition to three hours of community service.

The team also shut down the informal sector at the Dutse Alhaji market which was fully in operation on Sunday in contravention of the Administration’s guidelines.

Four traders were arrested and arraigned at the Mobile court.

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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BIG STORY

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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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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