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Tension In Imo As Gunmen Kill Seven Suya Sellers In Two Days

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There was panic in Imo State on Friday and Saturday as gunmen murdered seven suya sellers.

It was learnt that the traders were killed in separate shootings in Orlu and Umuaka in the Njaba Local Government Area of the state.

An eyewitness, Harisu Ishiaku, said that the suspected killers, who were dressed in military uniform and numbered more than seven, stormed the Afor Umuaka Market around 8.30 pm, accosted the victims in their shops, and shot them.

He said four of the victims were in the age bracket of 30 to 45 and had lived in the area for many years without any trouble or attack from any member of the community.

While suspecting those, who carried the attack to be strangers in the land, Ishiaku pointed out that before now, there had never been any problem between the traders and the Umuaka community.

According to the Imo State Coordinator of Hausa traders, Mallam Ibrahim Abdulkadir, the first incident happened on Friday as three suya (roasted meat) sellers were about to close for the day when gunmen in a Sienna car emerged from nowhere and shot at them.

He said in a similar commando style, the gunmen operating in the same vehicle shot dead four Hausa traders at Umuaka.

Abdulkadir stated that Hausa traders in Orlu now live in fear as some had relocated to Owerri.

He said, “Actually, this thing started on April 2. I was called that three persons had been killed by some men operating in a Siena car. The victims were suya sellers and were killed just as they were closing their shop in the night.

“Just as we were about to handle the situation, yesterday (Saturday) I was called again that four persons were killed by the same people.”

Our correspondent learnt that the bodies of the victims had been taken to Owerri in preparation to burying them according to Muslim rites.

The Senior Special Assistant to the Governor on Gender, Vulnerable Groups, Northern Affairs (Men), Ibrahim Sulaiman, said the state government, as well as security agencies, were on top of the matter.

While calling for peace to reign, the SA said Governor Hope Uzodimma was disturbed by the incident and was poised to bring the perpetrators justice.

“We have just finished a meeting with government officials and head of security agencies in the state. They’ve intervened in the matter to ensure that peace reigns. We cannot continue like this. We must nip this in the bud for the peace and security of our country,” Sulaiman stated.

He appealed to his northern brothers to remain calm and continue to be their brothers’ keeper at all times.

While saying that the killings were politically motivated by people who never wished the government and people of Imo State well, he expressed regret that the situation was getting out of hand.

Sulaiman assured the northern community of the commitment of the state government to put a stop to the attacks.

Efforts to speak with the Police Public Relations Officer, Orlando Ikeokwu, were not fruitful as his phones indicated that they were unreachable.

He had yet to respond to a text message sent to his mobile phone as of the time of filing this report.

BIG STORY

GTBank Shareholders Endorse N3.00 Total Dividend For 2020, Applaud Agbaje’s Leadership

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Shareholders of Guaranty Trust Bank (GTBank) Plc, at the weekend unanimously endorsed the payment of a total dividend of N3.00 per share to shareholders for the financial year ended Dec. 31, 2020.

This endorsement was made on Friday, April 9th, 2021, at the Bank’s 31st Annual General Meeting (AGM) held in Lagos. The bank had proposed a final dividend of N2.70 per unit of ordinary share held by shareholders in addition to the interim dividend of 30k interim dividend earlier paid in June 2020. GTBank according to the results presented to and applauded by shareholders at the AGM, recorded an increase in all performance indicators despite the challenging operating environment that prevailed in 2020.

Speaking at the meeting, a shareholder, Mr. Tunji Bamidele, commended the bank’s board and management for sustaining profit and dividend payment in spite of the harsh and challenging economy experienced in the year 2020 as a result of the pandemic that challenged the world.

Applauding the Managing Director’s leadership acumen and dexterity, Bamidele noted that the MD/CEO’s steering of the bank in the past 10 years has been a blessing to shareholders and the bank’s well-meaning stakeholders.

In his comments, the Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, Mr Segun Agbaje, noted that the year 2020 was arguably the most challenging year that the world has faced in decades and that in such unprecedented times, the bank has been at the forefront of safeguarding lives and livelihood across the communities where it operates.

“We continue to receive positive and goodwill messages for the role we played at the height of the pandemic; especially for putting together very timely, a 110-bed Isolation Centre, with an intensive care unit, in partnership with the Lagos State Government,” he said, citing the Bank’s Excellence in Leadership in Africa Award which was specially created by the renowned Euromoney Magazine to spotlight private institutions at the forefront of tackling the pandemic.

Mr Agbaje also spoke about GTBank’s solid performance in a very challenging year and his confidence in the organization’s ability to keep delivering for all its stakeholders. His words, “The strength, scale and liquidity of our balance sheet, coupled with the quality of our past decisions and the efficacy of our digital-first customer-centric strategy gave us the resilience and flexibility to navigate the economic shocks and market volatility that dominated the year.”

“Amidst the many challenges that persist, we remain ardent believers in Africa’s growth potential. Our world is increasingly digital, and we see it opening new and exciting opportunities for empowering people and uplifting our communities. With our commitment to deepening customer relationships and intense focus on delivering innovative financial solutions, we enter 2021 well-positioned”, he added.

GTBank is one of Africa’s most profitable financial institutions. In 2020, the Bank reported Profit before tax of ₦238.1billion, representing a growth of 2.8% over ₦231.7billion recorded in the corresponding year ended December 2019. The Bank also continues to post the best metrics in the Nigerian Banking industry in terms of key Financial Ratios i.e. Post-Tax Return on Equity (ROAE) of 26.8%, Post-Tax Return on Assets (ROAA) of 4.6%, Full Impact Capital Adequacy Ratio (CAR) of 21.9% and Cost to Income ratio of 38.2%.

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FG Enlists Interpol’s Help Over Fleeing 3,471 Dangerous Prisoners

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The Federal Government has asked the International Criminal Police Organisation to be on the alert and look out for the inmates who escaped in the recent jailbreaks in the country, including the most recent in Owerri, the Imo State capital.

It added that the Nigerian Immigration Service had also been issued an alert, noting that the data of the inmates were being compiled and would be sent to the relevant organizations in batches so as not to delay the manhunt.

A senior official with the Nigerian Correctional Service on Saturday told one of our correspondents on condition of anonymity that the number of “dangerous” inmates on the loose officially was 3,471, including those who escaped in Owerri.

The source noted that the inmates included hardened criminals, kidnappers, armed robbers, and condemned criminals awaiting execution. “Suffice it to say that the bulk of those who fled Owerri correctional center are hardened criminals,” the source added.

No fewer than 1,844 inmates escaped from the Owerri Custodial Centre on Monday when unidentified gunmen broke into the facility with the aid of explosives. The gunmen also attacked the state police headquarters, where they freed about 600 suspects in custody. The attackers torched the facilities and also vehicles on both premises.

Despite the persuasion by the Federal Government and its assurance that they would be given amnesty from fresh prosecution if they returned to the facility, the NCoS said on its website on Wednesday that it had a total of 84 inmates back in custody. It said the figure included those who did not flee during the jailbreak, those recaptured, those who voluntarily returned, and those brought back by their relations, traditional rulers and religious leaders.

Further investigations showed that about 1,780 inmates were on the loose, while only 35 inmates didn’t escape during the attack.

On Friday, NCoS authorities published on its Twitter handle the names and pictures of 36 of the fleeing inmates.

Meanwhile, following the escapees’ refusal to return to the custodial center, the NCoS said it was compiling the names and pictures of the fleeing inmates for dispatch to the NIS to prevent them from leaving the country and INTERPOL to track those who might have fled.

The NCoS spokesperson, Francis Enobore, a Controller of Corrections, said the service would seek the assistance of the two agencies in arresting the escaped inmates.

Disclosing this to journalists on Saturday, Enobore said, “We are putting the list together, we would definitely seek INTERPOL and NIS’ assistance.”

Asked how soon they planned to do it, Enobore stated, “Like the ones we are processing now, we want everything to be comprehensive so that we send them at the same time. We also realize that waiting for the list to be comprehensive before sending may also slow down the manhunt, so these batches that are coming up would be sent for local searches at motor parks and other places but everything would be uploaded to the (INTERPOL) platform.”

Investigations by one of our correspondents showed that the 3,471 inmates, who are now part of society, escaped from three custodial centers. Some of them are said to be serving jail terms for various crimes, including murder, armed robbery, and kidnapping while hundreds are facing trial for different crimes.

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Lagos Eases Restrictions On Event Centers, Pegs Occupancy Limit At 500

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The Lagos state government has eased the restrictions on social and event centres.

In the new guidelines, the state government pegged the occupancy limit for event centres at 500 while social events can now have up to 200 people at a time.

Uzamat Akinbile Yusuff, the commissioner for tourism, arts and culture, released a statement to this effect on Friday.

According to the statement, safety marshals will be deployed to any social event with over 200 people and event centre exceeding the 500 limits.

The statement read: “All event centres must hold a valid license of The Lagos State Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture prior to operating as an event centre in the State.

“All event centres must be duly registered and verified on The Lagos State Safety Commission website www.lasgsafetyreg.com prior to holding any event.

An Event Safety Clearance must be obtained from the Lagos State Safety Commission through the website www.lasgsafetyreg.com for any proposed event or exhibition.

“Safety Marshals shall be deployed by an accredited event safety consultant from Lagos State Safety Commission for every social event with attendance exceeding over 200 people.

“Occupancy limit at any event must not exceed 50% of the maximum design capacity of the hall, wherein Occupancy Limit stickers provided by the Lagos State Safety Commission must be boldly posted at the entrance of the event hall.

“Maximum allowable capacity for Event Centres irrespective of the occupancy limit is 500 people. Deep cleaning must be carried out before and after every event.

“Physical distancing shall be maintained between seated guests and a maximum number of seated guests should be 6 (six) people on a table of 10 persons.

“Event duration should not exceed a maximum period of 6-hours. All guests and service providers at the facility must wear a nose mask and make use of hand sanitisers.

“All guests and service providers must endeavour to wash their hands before entering the venue or in the alternative use hand sanitisers. Temperature checks must be taken at all entry points into a facility.

“Guests and service providers with temperature (above 37.5) are to be politely turned back and referred to paramedics or the emergency response team on the ground. Hand sanitisers must be positioned at the entry points and different spots within the hall.

“All event centres must endeavour to display standard COVID-19 safety signs. The signs must be bold and installed at conspicuous locations. Event centre owners/ planners/vendors would be responsible for any breach of protocols by their staff.”

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