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JUST IN: Court Orders Orji Kalu’s Release From Prison

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The Federal High Court in Lagos on Tuesday ordered the release of a former governor of Abia State, Orji Uzor Kalu, from prison.

Kalu was jailed for 12 years on December 5, 2019, after he was convicted of N7.1bn fraud alongside his firm, Slok Nigeria Limited, and a former Director of Finance at the Abia State Government House, Jones Udeogu.

However, the Supreme Court, in a May 8, 2020 judgment, nullified the trial and conviction of Kalu and others on the grounds that the judge who handled the case lacked jurisdiction.

The Supreme Court’s judgment followed an appeal by Udeogu, contending that the trial judge, Justice Mohammed Idris, concluded the 12-year-old trial and gave judgment after he had been elevated to the Court of Appeal and ceased to be a judge of the Federal High Court.

On Tuesday, Kalu’s counsel, Chief Lateef Fagbemi (SAN), urged Justice Mohammed Liman to the release of the ex-governor from prison custody, based on the pronouncement of the Supreme Court in Udeogu’s appeal.

“Our application is brought pursuant to Section 159 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act.

“This is a fallout of the Supreme Court decision delivered on the 8th of May,” Fagbemi said.

In response, the prosecuting counsel for the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Mr Rotimi Jacobs (SAN), the anti-graft agency would not, in principle, oppose Fagbemi’s application for Kalu’s release from prison.

“But we are also urging the court that the order made by the Supreme Court for trial de novo should be complied with by all parties; so that Your Lordship will give us a date when arraignment will be done.

“We want the trial to go on; losing more time will be dangerous for us,” Jacobs added.

BIG STORY

FG, LASG Release Traffic Plans, Alternative Routes Ahead Third Mainland Bridge Closure

Peter Okunoren

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Barely three weeks to the six months closure of Third Mainland Bridge for repair works, the Federal and Lagos State Governments have released traffic management plans and alternative routes to ensure seamless execution of the project.

They said that the decision to embark on a repair of the bridge, one of the longest in the continent, scheduled to commence July 24th and ends January 24th, 2021, was reached to save millions of commuters that use the infrastructure daily.

Announcing the traffic plans on Tuesday at a press briefing in Alausa, Ikeja, Federal Controller of Works in Lagos, Olukayode Popoola, Commissioner for Transportation, Dr. Frederick Oladehinde, and Special Adviser to the state Governor, on Works and Infrastructure, Aramide Adeyoye, stressed that routine work was needed for longevity of the bridge.

Popoola disclosed that the bridge would be partially closed and there would be a diversion of traffic while repairs would be done in two phases to prevent untold hardship on residents in Lagos.

The controller of works stated that the Oworonshoki bound carriageway would be the first to be shut to traffic during the first three months of the repair works.

Popoola said beginning July 24, the bridge would be closed between 12 am to 1 pm from the Lagos Island end of the bridge inward Oworoshonki, while motorists coming from Lagos Mainland to Island would be allowed to use the other side of the bridge.

He added between the hours of 1 pm and 12 am, the bridge would also be closed from Oworonshoki end inward Lagos Island while the other side of the bridge would be opened to motorists coming from Island to Mainland and that this would go on for an initial three months before a reversal.

“The last time this bridge was repaired was 2012 and that is eight years. The federal government wants to replace the bearings and the expansion joints. We know the partial closure will bring discomfort but this is the right thing to do. We do not want the bridge to collapse. The contract was awarded in 2018 but an order was placed for the components because they are not produced in Nigeria,” Popoola said.

On the alternative routes, Olukayode said motorists could use the Ido-Oyingbo route passing through the Carter bridge, Ijora through Western Avenue.

Other routes are Ozumba Mbadiwe through Ahmadu Bello Way, Bonny Camp to Zone Police Command to Eko Bridge, and Funsho Williams Avenue.

Oladehinde explained that the plans were drawn in consideration of traffic hours, saying, if you do not have to travel, I will advise you to stay at home so we can minimize traffic.

He also advised Lagosians to make use of the waterways, adding more public transport buses would be provided by the state government so as to discourage residents from traveling in their personal cars.

Adeyoye, however, assured motorists that the state government would embark on an aggressive repair of alternative routes to reduce travel time in the state.

“These repairs are long-awaited and we appreciate the federal government for doing this. As a state, we are going to make the alternative routes motorable. We have identified the areas where there gridlocks. We urge truck owners that are coming into Lagos to stay away if they do not have something important to do. This is also not a time for trucks to park on the roads,” she added.

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BIG STORY

JUST IN: Kwara Governor’s Chief Of Staff Dies Of COVID-19

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Aminu Adisa Logun, the Chief of Staff to Kwara Governor Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq, is dead.

He died on Tuesday of COVID-19 complications, only a few hours after the result of the test carried out on him returned positive.

He was 73.

A statement by the Chief Press Secretary to the Governor, Rafiu Ajakaye, confirmed the sad incident.

He said: “With total submission to the will of the Almighty Allah, we wish to announce the passing of the Chief of Staff to the Governor of Kwara State Aminu Adisa Logun (mni).

“Logun, an industrialist, a public intellectual, and an elder statesman, died Tuesday evening of complications from COVID-19. He died only a few hours after the test of his result returned positive.

“The entire government and the people of Kwara State have lost an outstanding public servant who diligently served the state at various times, including as Chief of Staff to the Governor from June 7, 2019, until he returned to his Lord.

“The Governor has declared seven-day mourning in honour of the late Chief of Staff.

“The Governor commiserates with the family of the late Chief of Staff and the entire Ilorin Emirate for this tragic development.

“We pray the Almighty Allah to grant him Al-Jannah Firdaus and give the family the fortitude to bear the huge loss.

“Details about his Janazah will be made public by the family and the government in due course.”

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BIG STORY

Senate Passes Anti-Sexual Harassment Bill

Peter Okunoren

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The Senate on Tuesday passed the bill on sexual harassment in tertiary institutions after reading it for the third time.

The bill titled: ‘A Bill for an Act to prevent, prohibit and redress Sexual Harassment of students in tertiary educational institutions and for matters concerned therewith, 2019’, was sponsored by the Deputy Senate President, Ovie Omo-Agege, and 106 other senators.

The passage of the bill followed the consideration of the report of the Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters – which was in charge of reviewing the bill and organising a public hearing on the legislation.

The bill was reintroduced in the Senate on October 9 and scaled second reading on November 6.

The bill, with 25 clauses, seeks to promote and protect ethical standards in tertiary institutions. It also seeks to protect students against sexual harassment as well as prevent sexual harassment of students by educators in tertiary institutions.

The bill also proposes up to 14 years jail term for offenders.

The bill was reintroduced to the Senate two days after a BBC documentary exposed two lecturers of the University of Lagos, and a lecturer of the University of Ghana for sexual harassment. The documentary sparked reactions from many Nigerians who described the issue as a norm in Nigerian universities.

During the public hearing, lecturers, students, academic bodies and civil organisations raised concerns and proposed amendments to the bill.

One of such was the chairman of the Academic Staff Union of Universities, Biodun Ogunyemi, who described the legislation as biased.

He said the bill will stigmatise lecturers in universities.

In his presentation, chairman of the committee, Bamidele Opeyemi, said sexual harassment has been made an offence by removing mutual consent as a defence in the prosecution of sexual harassment cases in tertiary educational institutions.

The bill, he said, seeks to maintain the relationship that exists between educators and students with the aim of making tertiary institutions conducive centres of learning.

“This bill seeks to tame the hydra-headed monster in the name of sexual harassment which has become a pandemic in our tertiary institutions.”

The Senate, thereafter, resolved into the Committee of the Whole to consider and pass the bill.

In his remark, the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, said the bill is an important and landmark legislation that the ninth Senate has passed.

“We have to protect our daughters, sisters, mothers from sexual predators. From the recommendations, we wanted a fair means of offence that somebody is accused of.

“We want tertiary institutions to be a safe and peaceful learning environment for everyone,” he said.

The bill will be transmitted to the House of Representatives for concurrence and then sent to the president for assent.

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