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FG Sounds Tough, IGP Fingers IPOB As Gunmen Free 1,844 Imo Inmates

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Gunmen in the early hours of Monday attacked the Nigeria Correctional Service, Owerri, the Imo State capital and the state police command headquarters.

Also on Monday, gunmen killed two persons and burnt operational vehicles of the Nigerian Army when they attacked a military base at Umuorji on the Owerri- Onitsha expressway.

The headquarters of the NCoS said 1,844 inmates fled the facility in Owerri during the attack.

Amid the increasing spate of attacks on security formations in the South-East, the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), described the attacks in Imo State as terrorism and ordered security agencies to apprehend the culprits.

On his part, the Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, blamed the Indigenous People of Biafra and the Eastern Security Network for the attacks.

But IPOB in its reaction denied involvement in the attack, saying its men were in the bush chasing herdsmen.

An officer of the NCoS, who spoke to one of our correspondents on condition of anonymity, said the gunmen arrived at the correctional centre at 1 am and operated till 3 am.

The hoodlums engaged in a shooting spree and freed no fewer than 1,844 inmates of the correctional service before setting vehicles on fire.

Our correspondents gathered that the hoodlums gained access into the centre with the aid of explosives and told the inmates to go home, saying “Jesus has risen, you have no reason to be here again.”

They were said to have sung solidarity songs at the Government House roundabout for about 30 minutes before attacking the facility.

It was gathered that the armed guards of the facility fled as the invaders stormed the facility. An officer said wardens sustained injuries as they fled.

The officer said the hoodlums carted away arms and ammunition and destroyed the closed-circuit television of the centre during the attack.

At the state police command, it was learnt that the gunmen burnt almost all the vehicles parked at the command and freed all the suspects in almost all the cells at the state Criminal Investigation Department.

It was observed that only the anti-kidnapping department of the state CID was spared by the attackers.

The gunmen, who operated in over 10 vehicles, also attacked soldiers at Umuorji on the Owerri-Onitsha expressway.

A villager told journalists that the hoodlums burnt the operational vehicles of the soldiers, as the military men fled the area.

Two persons including a soldier died during the attack.

When contacted, the police spokesperson in the state, Orlando Ikeokwu, confirmed the attacks.

He, however, assured the people of the state that the security agencies were on top of the matter.

Confirming the attack on the NCoS, the spokesman for the Owerri correctional service, James Madugba, in an interview with one of our correspondents, stated that the attackers also destroyed the prison records.

But while the correctional service headquarters said 1,844 inmates fled, Madugba stated 1,800 prisoners were at large.

He stated only six inmates had been rearrested by the command. He said, “About 1,800 inmates are at large as we speak. We have been able to re-arrest six inmates. If you add the number to what we have at the centre, we are talking about 42 inmates in our custody.

“The gunmen destroyed the CCTV of the centre and burnt the prison’s records but all hope is not lost. In the era of the ICT, we will be relying on the ICT to retrieve the information of the fleeing inmates and go after them.”

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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