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Owo massacre: Ondo Amotekun nabs killers of worshippers, goes after sponsors

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Commander of South-West security outfit, codenamed Amotekun, in Ondo State, Chief Àdetunji Adeleye, yesterday, boosted the campaign for state police, when he narrated how the outfit arrested some suspected killers of worshippers at St Francis Catholic Church, Owo, Ondo State.

The Amotekun commander, who did not give details and identities of the suspects for security reasons, said the security outfit has been on the trail of sponsors of the killers.

Adeleye also did not give the number of the suspects arrested and did not parade them to the public.

It will be recalled that over 40 worshippers were gruesomely murdered during a morning mass on June 5, 2022, while over 100 others were injured during the attack.

Days after the attack, the Federal Government had blamed the Islamic State of West African Province, ISWAP, for the attack, with the Minister of Interior, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, saying it was orchestrated by international criminals.

Aregbesola also said security agencies had been directed to go after the perpetrators of the act and bring them to book, as security agents were zeroing in on them.

He noted that the attack had no ethnic or religious connection even as he affirmed that the group’s activity had nothing to do with real religion.

But Chairman of Nigerian Governors’ Forum, NGF, and governor Ekiti State, Kayode Fayemi, and his Ondo State counterpart, Rotimi Akeredolu had faulted the Federal Government’s claim, saying it was speculative.

Both Fayemi and Akeredolu insisted the Federal Government’s pronouncement was too hasty.

Suspected killers not ISWAP members—Amotekun source

But an Amotekun official, who spoke in confidence, said those arrested were not members of ISWAP.

A second source, who was privy to the arrest, also told Vanguard in confidence that those arrested were “definitely not ISWAP members. That’s all I can confide in you.

“For security reasons, the outfit would want to keep some vital information secret for now.

“We’re still on the trail of other suspects and their sponsors and if details are divulged now, we may not be able to arrest others involved in the massacre.’’

How we arrested suspects— motekun commander

Speaking on how the suspects were trailed and arrested by Amotekun personnel, Mr Adeleye said: “As regards the Owo incident, we have recovered the last vehicle they used for that operation and we made some arrests and we have also recovered some vital things, which we are working on.

“On that day, we pursued them to the point where we recovered the vehicle and we are still pursuing them.

“We will get to the root; I can assure you that the perpetrators and their sponsors will be brought to book. They came on motorcycles and hijacked a Golf vehicle.’’

71 other criminals nabbed in 1 month

Speaking on the 71 other suspected criminals paraded, the commander said: “In the last few weeks, we have been under serious attack. Men of Ondo State Security Network Agency have equally gone after these criminals; we arrested 71 suspects.

“The suspects were arrested within the last one month for various offences, ranging from armed robbery, cattle rustling, suspected kidnaps, rape, fraud to human trafficking.

“The 71 suspects were picked while committing crime and others were tracked to their hideouts in the forests.

“We have been able to get a cartel that specialises in stealing and dismantling motor bikes, which we all know as okada. Also, we were able to recover over 50 bikes during the operation from the suspects.

“We also got reports from some herdsmen that their cattle were stolen. We went after them and brought the cows back to the Fulani herdsmen, who own them.

“We have a group of armed teenagers that turned themselves into a cartel of criminals in a particular local government in Ondo State. They belong to a cult group called ‘Agbado’. We were able to arrest 12 of the 17 members.

“We have about three to four suspected kidnappers and we intend to take most of these suspects, especially the ones we have concluded their investigations to the Directorate of Public Prosecutions, DPP, for onward prosecution in court.

“We want to assure the good people of Ondo State that we will not rest on our oars until we rid the state of criminal elements.

“There is no hiding place for them. They turned the heat on us and we have also turned the heat on them.

“Recently, the number of these sad occurrences in the northern senatorial part of the state had been on the increase. We are intensifying all efforts to get to root of the mischievous and barbaric acts of these criminal elements.

“We will continue with our Operation Clean-Up until these criminals are driven out of the forests.

“Amotekun operatives are working on the waters and land. What we don’t have for now and what we are pleading for is speed and gunboats to confront pirates on the seas.”

‘We’re not aware of any arrest’

Reacting to the arrest of the suspects by Amotekun yesterday, spokesperson of the Police Command, Funmi Odunlami said: “The Police is not aware of any arrest. Our investigation is ongoing. We don’t have information on any arrest.”

However, an official of the command, who preferred anonymity, said the command wanted the suspects handed over, if they had been arrested.

Catholic Church, CAN, Olowo keep mum

When contacted, the Catholic Church declined to react to the arrest of the suspected killers.

In an interview, its Director of Communications, Rev Augustine Ikwu, said the church would not react now until it had full information on the suspected killers’ arrest.

Also, the Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, in Ondo State, speaking through its Public Relations Officer, Daisi Ajayi, pleaded for time to get the full details of the arrest.

Similarly, the Olowo of Owo, Oba Ajibade Ogunoye, said he was yet to be briefed of any arrest.

Oba Ogunoye said: “I have not heard from the security outfit. Until I am briefed, I cannot comment.”

Suspects should be paraded before the public —Victim’s brother

But, a brother to one of the victims, Ngozi Okechukwu, said: “If the report is correct, then it’s good news.

“If Amotekun truly arrested the killers, they should not only tell us the number of those arrested, but parade them to the whole world to see. Until they do this, their story cannot be believed hundred per cent.”

It’s time for State Police —Afenifere

Reacting to the development, National Publicity Secretary of the pan-Yoruba socio-political organization, Afenifere, Mr Jare Ajayi, said if news of the arrests was confirmed, “then it is worthy of commendation and celebration.”

Ajayi said: “We in Afenifere, as is the case with the Yoruba and other well-meaning people, have not recovered from the shock we suffered in the wake of the massacre that took place at St. Francis Catholic Church, Owo, Ondo State.

“This was why we kept praying for the apprehension of the perpetrators of the evil act. So, having them arrested and ultimately prosecuted accordingly would be seen as one of our prayers being answered.”

While commending the efforts of Amotekun, he restated the call for state police.

“The valiant efforts being put up by Amotekun in the states where it has been established, particularly that of Ondo State, justify the need to have willing states to have their police force.

“The heroic performances of those Amotekun corps would be more if they have the full power of the police. We, therefore, seize this opportunity to, once again, call for an urgent approval of state police.

“We commend Governor Rotimi Akeredolu and pray that he, along with his colleagues in other states, overcome those enemies of peace in our midst.”

Oyo govt to register commercial motorcycle operators

Meanwhile, Oyo State Government, yesterday, announced its readiness to issue identification numbers and registration jackets to commercial motorcyclists, popularly called okada riders, in the state.

The government said the registration would help in planning properly for the security architecture of the state, in the long-run.

The Commissioner for Budget and Economic Planning, Professor Musibau Babatunde made this announcement during a stakeholders’ meeting with over 100 commercial riders’ association leaders in Ibadan. Babatunde said: “States across the south-west have been banning operations of commercial motorcyclists, but we know that will have its own socio-economic challenges.

“So rather than banning them, we felt it is pertinent to know the number of bike-riders in the state and use that for our security architecture.”

The Commissioner for Information, Culture and Tourism, Dr Wasiu Olatubosun, also said the registration would help regulate the influx of commercial motorcyclists into the state.

Olatubosun said: “We will set up a task force, consisting of both the union and other relevant agencies that will make sure unregistered riders don’t operate within the state.”

Responding on behalf of the commercial riders, Mr Yusuf Muritala, said motorcyclists in the state are ready to cooperate with the government to register its members in the state’s database.

Vanguard News Nigeria

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Private Jet Owners Sue Government Over N30 Billion Tax

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Owners of foreign-registered private jets, comprising top business moguls, leading commercial banks and other rich Nigerians, have dragged the Federal Government to court seeking to prevent the government from grounding their planes for allegedly refusing to pay import duty on the jets.

The Federal Government had last November approved the decision of the Nigeria Customs Service to ground 91 private jets belonging to some wealthy Nigerians over their alleged refusal to pay import duties running to over N30bn.

As such, following a presidential approval, the NCS in a letter directed the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria, and the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency to ground the affected private jets with immediate effect.

But owing to issues bothering on inter-agency rivalry and disagreements, the relevant government agencies could not ground the private jets.

However, in the past few months, the Customs has been making underground moves to perfect the process of grounding private jets whose owners failed to pay the import duty, multiple sources close to the development confirmed to The PUNCH on Tuesday.

17 jet owners

Also, further findings by our correspondents over the weekend revealed that at least 17 private jet owners had gone to court to stop the Federal Government from implementing the order.

According to the court papers seen by The PUNCH, the jet owners are seeking a judicial review as to whether it is lawful for them to pay the controversial import duty on their private jets or not.

The jet owners had sued the government using the foreign shell companies and trustees through which the foreign-registered jets were purchased.

Oftentimes, Nigerians and corporate bodies buy their foreign-registered private jets through foreign shell companies and trustees. Experts believe they often prefer to register the jets in foreign countries like the United States, United Kingdom, and Isle of Man, among others, to preserve the value of the aircraft in the event they want to sell it, as well as pay cheaper insurance premiums.

The latest findings showed that the jet owners had approached the Federal High Court Abuja seeking the court to determine, among other things, if they were liable to pay import duty.

The suit, with number FHC/ABJ/CS/1565/2021, is described as the matter of an application for judicial review by foreign registered aircraft against the Nigeria Customs Service and Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority.

According to the court document, the 17 applicants, which are mostly foreign companies of the Nigerian jet owners are: Aircraft Trust and Financing Corp Trustee, UAML Corp, Bank of Utah Trustee, Masterjet AVIACAO Executive SA, and Cloud Services Limited.

Others are MHS Aviation GmbH, Murano Trust Company Limited, Panther Jets, SAIB LLC, Empire Aviation Group, and Osa Aviation Limited.

The list also includes BUA Delaware Inc, Flying Bull Corporation Limited, Air Charter Inc, Sparfell Luftahrt GmbH, WAT Aviation Limited, and ATT Aviation Limited.

The NCAA and Customs were listed as respondents.

In a written address in support of the first respondents objector notice of preliminary objection, the court paper read in part, “The brief facts of this case are that the first respondents, having discovered that some operators of aircraft imported them under the guise of Temporary Importation Permit, were permanently imported into Nigeria and given TIP status to evade payment of lawful customs.”

A hearing date is yet to be fixed for the suit, according to preliminary findings by our correspondent.

However, there are strong indications that the NCS is making frantic efforts to get the private jet owners to pay the import duty.

Multiple sources confirmed on Tuesday that the NCS was not giving up on the decision to collect the revenue on behalf of the Federal Government, having obtained a presidential approval on the matter.

It was gathered that the agency might take a major decision on the matter very soon. It was further learnt that the Customs is in possession of government documents indicating that the private jet owners are by law required to pay import duty.

NCAA reacts

However, the spokesperson for NCAA, Mr Sam Adurogboye, said he was yet to be briefed but noted that, “’If a case is filed against an individual or organisation, what is to be done is to put up appearance and defend oneself.”

The NCS had in March last year embarked on a review of import duties paid on private jets brought into the country since 2006.

Following the alleged discovery that several private jet owners, under the guise of Temporary Import Permit, had failed to pay the statutory import duty to the coffers of the government, the CG of Customs, Hameed Ali, set up a verification panel to review all TIPs and the relevant aircraft import documents of all private jets in the country.

At the end of the 60-day exercise, 57 private jets, which had licences for commercial charter operations, were cleared and issued with Aircraft Operators Certificate by the Customs.

However, 29 private jets, whose owners came for the verification, were found to be liable to pay the import duty.

The Customs also compiled a list of another 62 private jets whose owners failed to appear for the verification exercise but were found liable for import duty payment.

However, other private jet owners seeking to pay their import duty were given a 14-day ultimatum to clear the debts.

It is unclear the number of the jet owners that later paid the duty.

However, a list of 91 private jets whose owners had failed to present themselves for the import duty payment were presented to the NCAA, FAAN, and NAMA for the immediate grounding of their operations.

Some owners of the 91 jets reportedly wrote protest letters to the NCS, arguing why they could not pay the import duty because the jets were under lease payments.

The Customs, in its response to the letters, queried the rationale for bringing in the planes and allegedly fraudulently exporting them under questionable documentation processes in the past 10 years.

Unconfirmed officials had said the Ministry of Aviation directed the NCAA, FAAN and NAMA to suspend the grounding of the flight operations of the affected private jets.

Aircraft owners speak

Speaking on the development on Tuesday, the President, Association of Private Aircraft Owners Association, Mr Alex Nwuba, there is a need for the government to become transparent in the process of registering private jets.

He also said it might be difficult for the government to collect tax on private jets that are not fully imported into the country.

He said:-

“The idea is to ensure that people pay tax on imported aircraft. However, by keeping the registration of the jets offshore, how do you then pay tax on something that is foreign? The aircraft may have come and gone, but how do you pay tax on something that is not imported.

“The dilemma is if you register your private jet in Nigeria (5N), it is seen that it now have a lower value. The problem is that there is no transparency in our aircraft registration process. You cannot take the number of the aircraft, do a search and get the details. But if you do that for US-registered plane, you can get the details. But the summary is that you cannot collect duty on aircraft that is not imported.”

Nwuba, a pilot and former managing director of Associated Airlines, said the cost of duty might be one of the factors discouraging some private jet owners.

He said:-

“Of course, you are made to put up a bond when you are bringing in an aircraft on a temporary basis. However, while we are looking for revenue, it is not everywhere we can get it. Another issue is that, if you buy a private jet for $80m, you may need to pay a duty of over $10m; that may be high to some people.”

Some of the 91 private jets meant to be grounded belong to the senior pastors of some popular Pentecostal churches in the country, some Tier-1 banks with one of the banks owning two upmarket jets, the CEOs of some indigenous oil companies, and the chairmen of some Tier-1 banks.

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Governor Adeleke Reverses Self On Sack Of Civil Servants, Monarchs

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Ademola Adeleke

Adeleke said yesterday his administration has not sacked any worker and dethroned three monarchs.

Adeleke spoke against the earlier announced Executive Order 3, 4 and 5, which stated nullification of employment, appointment made by former Governor Adegboyega Oyetola from July 17, 2022 till his inauguration and vacation of the throne of three monarchs appointed by past administration.

The order states: “All employments in the service of Osun State Government made in any capacity into any capacity in all the ministries, departments, agencies, commissions, boards and parastatals after July 17, 2022 are hereby nullified.

“All appointments in the service of Osun State Government made in any capacity into any capacity in the ministries, departments, agencies, commissions, boards and parastatals after July 17, 2022 are hereby reversed.

“All appointments of traditional rulers made by Osun State Government after July 17, 2022 are hereby ordered to be reviewed to ensure there was strict compliance with due process of chieftaincy declarations and native law, custom and tradition relating to such chieftaincies. In the case of Ikirun, Iree and Igbajo, to avoid further breakdown of law and order, the appointments of Akinrun of Ikinrun, Aree of Ire and Owa of Igbajo are hereby put on hold pending review. Subsequently, the palaces of Akinrun of Ikirun, Aree of Iree and Owa of Igbajo should remain unoccupied, while security agencies are hereby ordered to take charge.”

However, the governor through his spokesperson, Olawale Rasheed, speaking yesterday on a private radio station, Rave FM, in Osogbo, during a talk show programme, ‘Frank Talk’, said Adeleke had not sacked any worker.

He said the appointment and employment made by the Oyetola administration would be reviewed to ensure legality and due process, stressing that nobody had been sacked, the executive order was misquoted.

All Progressives Congress (APC) in Osun State has described the setting up of review panels by Governor Adeleke as an afterthought designed to arrive at predetermined outcomes.

The party urged the governor to settle down to study the handover notes, so as to prevent the blunders he was committing.

In a statement signed by its Director of Operations, Sunday Akere, APC said: “We told you from day one that these people have nothing to offer. We can all see from their first action that they are even confused.

“They had told us long time ago that they were coming to sack. They came and announced it. Why set up a panel after taking a decision? What they are doing can be likened to doing ablution after observing prayers. Who does that?”

Governor Adeleke has ordered the dissolution of non-statutory boards.

Spokesperson Malam Olawale Rasheed said in a statement that the directive was conveyed to heads of ministries, departments and agencies by Mr. Teslim Igbalaye, the Secretary to the State Government.

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Secondary School Principal Beaten By Mob After Being Caught Pants Down With Student (Photo)

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A South African Secondary school deputy principal got an instant mob justice after being caught pants down with a student.

The deputy principal at Kgagatlou Secondary in Polokwane, Limpopo was beaten after being caught having sex with a student during school hours.

In a video circulating on Twitter, the principal was seen being beaten while tied to a pole.

It was also alleged that this is not the first time he had been caught carrying out pedophilic acts in schools. He was reportedly moved from another school before taking the deputy principal post at Kgagatlou Secondary School.

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