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UNILAG: 5 students sent to prison for alleged gang-rape of minor

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An Ikeja Domestic Violence and Sexual Offences Court on Tuesday remanded five students of the University of Lagos (Unilag) for allegedly defiling a minor.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the students are- Moboluwaji Omowole, 19, Chuka Chukwu, 19, Peace Nwankama, 19, James Aguedu, 20 and Osemeka Josephine, 20.

They plead not guilty to a three-count charge of defilement of a child, permitting the defilement of a child in a premises and procuration.

The lead state prosecutor, Mrs. K.A Momoh-Ayokambi, said the defendants alongside others who are at large, committed the offence in January 2017 at the premises of Unilag, Akoka, Yaba, Lagos.

“Omowole and another individual who is now at large defiled the complainant (name withheld).

“Chukwu, at his premises located at No. 25, Shobande St., Akoka, Yaba, Lagos knowingly allowed Omowole and the other individual who is still at large to defile the complainant.

“Nwankama, Aguedo and Osemeka between January 2017 to March 2017 were into procuration of underage girls for the purpose of defilement,” Momoh-Ayokambi said.

According to her, the offence contravened the provisions of sections 137, 138 and 140(1)(a) of the Criminal Law of Lagos 2015.

NAN reports that the arraignment of the students which was to initially hold on Sep. 24, 2018 was stalled on two occasions, due to the absence of Daniel Ugochukwu, a unilag student who was to be charged alongside the others.

On Jan. 30, Mr. Chukwudi Nneke, the counsel to Ugochukwu told the court that the student was absent due to ill health and was receiving treatment in the eastern part of the country.

Mrs. Fehinti Igbemudia, the lead state prosecutor had disputed Nneke’s claims stating that the defendant was fleeing from justice as there was no proof of Ugochukwu’s ill health.

However, during Tuesday’s proceedings, Nneke presented before the court, a medical report dated Feb. 22 from the Imo State General Hospital as proof of Ugochukwu’s ill health.

Responding, Momoh-Ayokambi said “We were to request for a bench warrant for the third defendant (Ugochukwu) but on the face of the medical report, we have an amended charge dated Feb. 20 and we will like the defendants to take their plea.”

Following the plea of the defendants, Justice Sururat Soladoye, ordered that they be remanded in the Kirikiri Medium Prisons.

She adjourned the case until March 18 for hearing of the bail application

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AFRICA

#NigeriaDecides: Buhari re-elected as president

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Muhammadu Buhari was on Tuesday re-elected Nigeria’s president, after a delayed poll that angered voters and raised political temperatures, leading to claims of rigging and collusion.

Buhari, 76, took an unassailable lead of more than four million votes with the last states yet to be declared, making it impossible for his nearest rival, Atiku Abubakar, to win.

The former military ruler was first elected as civilian president of Africa’s most populous nation and leading oil producer in 2015.

Supporters of Buhari’s All Progressives Congress (APC) had gathered to celebrate at his campaign headquarters in the capital, Abuja, even before the final results were announced.

Some sang “We’re popping champagne!” while Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo was seen in a video clip singing “Up we go!” in a reference to Buhari and his “Next Level” campaign slogan.

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Buhari’s spokesman, Garba Shehu, posted a photograph of the president on Twitter, watching the results on television. “#BuhariHasWon,” he wrote.

But there were none of the spontaneous street parties that marked his victory four years ago, when he became Nigeria’s first opposition candidate to beat an incumbent president.

To win the presidency, a candidate needs a majority of votes nationwide and at least 25 percent of support in two-thirds of the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

Initial results showed Buhari won 15 191 847 votes (56 percent) while Abubakar, of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) won 11 262 978 votes (41 percent).

Buhari won in 19 states – including the two most populous, Lagos and Kano – while Abubakar was victorious in 17 states and the FCT.

There was no immediate official concession from Abubakar, whose party had earlier called on the Independent National Electoral Commission to halt the count, citing irregularities.

In 2015, president Goodluck Jonathan won plaudits for conceding to Buhari in a phone call, when the results indicated he could not win.

The concession is acknowledged as having prevented a repeat of the political violence that has marked previous elections in Nigeria, in which hundreds of people have been killed.

This year’s election – the sixth in the 20 years since the return of civilian rule after decades of military government – was initially scheduled for February 16.

But INEC postponed them for one week just hours before polls were due to open, citing logistical difficulties in delivering ballot boxes and other election materials.

Voting took place on Saturday after a week in which the APC and PDP intensified their war of words, accusing the other of conspiring with INEC to rig the result.

The PDP’s claimed data from handheld devices used to authenticate voters’ identities at nearly 120 000 polling units had been altered in favour of the ruling party.

It called for the results in at least two states to be re-run and for a reversal of the cancellation of tens of thousands of “valid, legal” votes elsewhere.

Observers also pointed out discrepancies in declared tallies.

The claims – and Abubakar’s insistence that he would only accept a free, fair and credible election – could be a prelude to a legal challenge of the outcome.

The vote was marred by violence, including 53 deaths, according to the Situation Room, an umbrella group of more than 70 civil society groups that monitored polling.

Some observers reported instances of vote-buying, intimidation and violence towards voters and officials, which have been a problem in previous polls in Nigeria.

The issues will likely prompt calls for electoral reform, including the introduction of technology capable of directly transmitting results from polling units.

Several international monitors meanwhile said repeated postponements could undermine confidence in the electoral process, after similar delays in 2011 and 2015.

A total of 72.7 million people were eligible to vote in the presidential poll as well as parliamentary elections held at the same time.

Low voter turnout – in some places as low as 18 percent – was blamed on a combination of apathy because of the delay, organisational and logistical problems, as well as unrest.

But Nana Nwachukwu, a lawyer and political activist, said: “If people could see the effects (of voting) they would care more.

“You pump your own water, fuel your own electricity, transportation is private. That apathy is there because people don’t rely on government.”

Voter cards were also a cheap way of getting identification, she said, adding: “So, people collect them who have no intention of actually voting.”

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AFRICA

Gabon president returns home for second time since suffering stroke

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Ali Bongo took over the presidency when his father Omar Bongo died in 2009.
Gabon President Ali Bongo returned to his country late on Sunday for the second time since suffering a stroke in October, a source at the presidency told Reuters on Monday.

Contradictory information about Bongo’s health and an extended convalescence in Morocco have fuelled instability in Gabon which his family has ruled for over 50 years.

“The president returned yesterday. This morning he has meetings with the heads of constitutional institutions and then with certain members of the government,” the source said, adding that no public appearances were scheduled.

Asked if the return was permanent, the source said: “nothing has been said or determined by his medical staff on this subject”.

Frustration at the lack of information boiled over in January, when a small group of soldiers briefly took over state radio and called for the president to step aside.

In an apparent effort to shore up his political base after the failed coup attempt, Bongo paid a short visit to Gabon the following week to swear in a new government. From televised footage of the ceremony it was not clear if he could walk or move his right arm.

Bongo took over the presidency when his father Omar Bongo died in 2009. He won re-election in 2016 by fewer than 6,000votes amid widespread accusations of fraud, sparking deadly clashes between protesters and police during which the country’s parliament was torched.

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BREAKING: Panic in Maiduguri over heavy firing

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Maiduguri residents have been thrown into panic following heavy firing heard in different locations in the capital early today.

Scores of residents around 1000 Housing Estate and those along Maiduguri-Damaturu Road are fleeing their homes as heavy sounds like multiple bomb explosions were heard in the area between 6:18am and 6:35am.

Military jet is also hovering around the city, fuelling fears among residents.

Two military sources said the heavy sounds were from a “simulation” exercise to keep off Boko Haram who might be at the outskirts attempting to cause any violence.

There was no public information from the military earlier regarding such exercise.

Spokesman of Operation Lafiya Dole, Col Ado Isa, neither picked nor return calls to him to confirm the development as preparations for voting get underway.

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