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N644m, $137,680 forfeiture: His wealth didn’t affect our lives, he should carry his cross –Perm Sec’s kinsmen

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It was a shocking revelation to the people of Issele-Asagba in Aniocha South Local Government Area of Delta State when Justice Saliu Saidu of the Federal High Court in Lagos ordered the permanent forfeiture of N664 million and $137,680.11, belonging to their son, the Permanent Secretary in the Federal Ministry of Labour and Productivity, Dr. Clement Illoh Onubuogo, to the Federal Government. Prior to this, another Judge of the court, Justice Abdul Azeez Anka, had on August 17, last year, in an ex-parte order by the commission, granted a temporary forfeiture of the Permanent Secretary’s property, located at 19, Madue Nwafor Street, Off Achala-Ibusa Road in Asaba and his residence, described as “Clement Illoh’s Mansion”, situated at Ikom Quarters, his home-place in Issele-Asagba.

His kinsmen thought the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) was on a wild goose chase when it applied to the court to grant an order of forfeiture of the money, as they pondered it in their hearts where could their son come about such a huge money.

But to their dismay, the counsel to the anti-graft agency, Rotimi Oyedepo, pursued the case to its logical conclusion, in pursuant to Section 17 of the Advance- Free-Fraud and other Related Offences Act, No 14, 2014, having backed his submissions with a nine-paragraph affidavit, two exhibits and a written address, until Illoh was found guilty by Justice Saidu as charged in the absence of a superior argument by Illoh’s counsel, T.S Awhana.

The situation in Issele-Asagba:

The situation of things in Issele-Asagba, an agrarian community, which shares boundary with Asaba, the state capital, and co-opted into the Asaba Capital Territory Development Plan of Governor Ifeanyi Okowa, has remained the same. There was no outward appearance of crisis about Illoh’s predicament. Farmers were seen going to their farm places, the market in the locality was bustling. The aged ones were seen, chatting and having palm-wine in their popular ‘Ogwua’, a small hut for gettogether, erected in front of their houses.

His kinsmen’s regrets:

His kinsmen expressed displeasure that Illoh, who rose from lower-cadre in the Federal Civil Service to become a Director and now a Permanent Secretary, failed to help the teeming graduates in his locality, lamenting thus: “we didn’t know he has such money.”

They were unhappy that he failed to site an industry in his home town to absorb unemployed youths as he could not give them job slots in Abuja. One of the unemployed graduates in Issele-Asagba, who identified himself simply as Chinonso, lamented that the Permanent Secretary amassed such wealth and yet the majority of his ‘brothers and sisters’ were languishing in abject poverty in the village.

“Yes, the bad news about the former governor of our state, Chief James Ibori, was that he enriched himself with our state’s money when he was at the helm of affairs but the good news today is that Ibori remains great and evergreen in Oghara, his home place, and across towns and villages in Delta State because he did not forget the son of whom he is. Hence, during his trials and temptation, his people, friends and acquaintances stood by him. Today, he is the greatest politician that ever lived in Delta State.

Can this be said of our P.S despite what he forfeited? “In Ibusa, Oshimili North council area, we have people like Chief Fred Ajudua, who was accused of the same offence (Advance-Free-Fraud and other Related Offences) but their people stood by them.

They stood by them because of their philanthropic services to the community they hail from. In this case, we are not aware of his wealth, he did not use it to better our lot. We can’t stand in his defence because his riches didn’t rob-off on us.

So, he should carry his cross alone”, Chinonso said. While Chinonso lamented that he had been to Abuja on several occasions in search of job slot but to no avail since he bagged his Firsr Degree at the Delta State Univerity (DELSU) Abraka in 2016, a 78 year old Pa Okwuchukwu, who said he never admired the wealth of the Permanent Secretary since his position at the Federal level, urged him to carry his cross alone. “I doubt if the youth of Issele-Asagba will come out to resist agents of the Federal Government from confiscating his properties because all the while, he pretended as if he didn’t have. How do you explain that we have a son at the Federal Ministry of Labour and Productivity, where job slots abound and yet graduate youths wal- l o w in joblessness?”, Pa Okwuchukwu lamented.

A n o t h e r resident in Issele-Asagba, who refused to give his name but said he was transferred to the locality to work as a t e a c h e r said he had been seeing the mansion but did not know who the owner is. He confirmed to have read the forfeiture story in the newspapers but did not know it affected the owner of the house. He however lamented that the community had such a person at the helm of affairs and no developmental project was attracted to the town to boost social engagements.

His hotel:

It was a different tale at his property, named, Ojeagu Luxury Suites and Apartment Limited, in Achala-Ibusa axis of Asaba. The hotel was in full-swing. Clients were seen patronising the place. No sign of fear that the property had been confiscated by a competent court of jurisdiction.

The Christmas trees and other attractions that were mounted to wish the teeming customers or new visitors to the hotel Happy New Year, were shinning like the morning stars. While residents of the area claimed not to know Illoh as the owner of the hotel, they praised his business acumen for citing a relaxation centre in the budding area. According to a member of the landlords’ association in the area, who does not want his names in the print, “the hotel had boosted night-life in the area for years. The hotel had compared favourably with others, including the Nice View Hotel that seems to be the modern and most expensive in the area for now.” On his ordeal, the source, who maintained that his major occupation is politics said, “This goes to show that it is not only political office holders that steal or misappropriate money. Here we have a case of a civil servant, a Permanent Secretary for that matter, who was involved in sharp practices.

I think if the civil servants can steer-clear of fraud, and stop teaching politicians the way to loot the treasury, things will get better in this country. Because in most cases, they are the ones showing the politicians the way to steal public funds. That is the lesson I see in this case.” One of the ladies working at the hotel, who identified herself simply as Cynthia, was unperturbed about what now happens to the owner of the property. According to her, the only contract between the owner and herself is work and payment of my salary.

She said, “We are not aware of his predicament here. As you can see, we are on duty. Maybe it as a rumour that he lost a court case in Abuja. My work here is soldier go, soldier come, barrack remains. How much am I being paid on a monthly basis to warrant wagging war for somebody whose quiver is filled to the brim in Abuja. If they come seal off the hotel, instead of allowing myself to be arrested for a crime I did not commit, I will quit. If work fails here because of the seizure by the Federal Government, I will seek employment elsewhere.”

A resident in the area who said she also work in the hotel, lamented that the manager of the hotel refused to pay her for two months, claimining that they didn’t make profit. “So, what you are telling me now is a shocking revelation”, she said.

Escape death by the whiskers (Reporter’s diary):

Our correspondent escaped being lynched by irate youths in Issele-Asagba. He did not know he ran into one of the youth who had benefitted from Illoh. “I was asking the young man, who is within 22 to 26 age bracket of how I could locate the said ‘Clement Illoh’s mansion’, but little did I know that some youths had placed survellance on the structure. “Before I know what was happening, he beckoned on his colleagues, six of them, all in their 20s, immediately surrounded me and began to interrogate me.

I had to tell them it was one of his business partners in Abuja, who knew I was undergoing my National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) in Asaba, that sent me to know the condition of the house after the court verdict in Abuja, to ascertain that no agent of government had infiltrated it.” When they heard thisthey relaxed, but they did not allow me to see the house as they turned me back from the spot, saying, “tell him no problems with the house, it is intact.”

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Metro and Crime

IGP advises against inflammatory statements on herdsmen/farmers clashes

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The Inspector General of Police, Mr. Ibrahim Idris, on Thursday advised Nigerians to avoid making inflammatory statements and playing politics with the herders/farmers clashes so as to achieve genuine reconciliation. Speaking during the launch of his book in Lagos, Idris said the security challenges needed to be properly managed so as not to drag the country into unending crisis. He said: “This is the only way the country can secure genuine reconciliation among herders and farmers so that they can once again live in peace, harmony, love and avoid unnecessary loss of lives.” he said.

The IGP said that even though President Muhammadu Buhari mandated the security agencies to arrest and prosecute offenders in the clashes, the nation needed serious conversation on the issue. “I have realised that the issue is beyond apprehension and prosecution of offenders: There has to be speedy dispensation of justice and the protection of the rights and interests of the suspects and victims of crime,” Idris said.

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I killed 4 for ex-NURTW chair –Suspect

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●I gave him N5OO, 000 when he threatened my family –Olohunwa

A notorious South-West assassin, Adeola Williams alias Ade lawyer, yesterday said he had killed about four persons for the former Lagos State Chairman of the Nigerian Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW), Akanni Olohunwa, at different occasions. The suspect, who confessed that he had also killed for many people in the state, among who are traditional rulers said Olohunwa sent him to kill Kunle Poly.

According to Williams, he had known Olohunwa since he was the NURTW chairman in Lagos.
He said: “I have carried out many killings for him, during the clash between him and Musiliu Akinsanya, alias MC, I killed two people for him. On this present one, he contacted me to kill Kunle Poly that he betrayed him. “Olohunwa told me he brought Kunle Poly into NURTW and there is money he is entitled to as ex-chairman but they were giving him the money anymore claiming that it was Kunle Poly that was blocking the money from getting to him from their office at Abule- Egba.

“He then said as a result of that, he does not want to see Kunle Poly, he asked me to come and meet him somewhere to discuss, but I told him I don’t have a car, he personally drove to where I was at Igbosere area to discuss with me on how to carry out the operation.” Williams further said, he called me on his phone and I went to meet him in his car; that was how we discussed on how to carry out the attack on Kunle Poly.

While I was about going out of his car he gave me N500,000 as part payment and promised to give me the remaining N1 million as agreed. “After he had given me the money, he said he did not want to know about the operation, that was why he came to me personally. And I assured him that nobody would hear about the killing. “We were supposed to carry out the operation on Tuesday, January 22, but we shifted it to the following day. We missed our target which is Kunle Poly but killed his aide Ganiyu Ayinla on the fateful day. Immediately,

I called Olohunwa on phone to inform him about the development. “Because I missed the target, he started behaving strangely to me whenever I called him. I later called him with my private line but told me he did not want to talk anybody and I told him not to be afraid, that whatever happened had happened, that he should come out to face it.” When he said he did not want to talk to anybody, I told him he’s going to pay me my balance. I was surprised when he sent his brother to give me a Toyota Camry car and I told his brother that I don’t need that, that what I need is Hyundai jeep and he went to bring it to me. “His brother who brought the jeep said Olohunwa promised to settle me after which he would collect the car and the car has been with me for about three weeks now.”

When asked how many people he had killed for Olohunwa, Williams said: “I have killed four persons for him. I also killed for one Kazeem Eletu and Olumegbon.”
Olohunwa on his part, said: “The N500,000 I gave to Williams was not part payment to kill Kunle Poly. There was a time, when I was travelling to Ede, in Osun State, he called me that he had accident along Lagos-Ibadan expressway and he was disturbing my boy that they should tell me to do something for him. “I did not do anything for him, I travelled to England. While abroad he was sending threatening messages to me that if I fail to give him he would kill me and my family members.

“When I came back, I called one of my boys to explain what was happening to him, that my boy said we should give him something because he’s a troublesome person. That was how I gave that my boy N500,000 to him so as to some respise. “I did not give him my car, it was my brother who gave him the car. I did not send my brother. I was sleeping when my son and one of my brothers came to wake me up that brother Skoda had given my car to Williams. “Immediately my brother gave him my car, I was looking for who to contact so as to retrieve it.

And it was then I knew William was afraid of one person which is Abija that was how I called the said Abija and he promised to get it back for me that I have to be patient. “What made me fear Williams most was when about nine people were coming from Ajah to the Island and the nine of them were shot dead by him and he also killed a branch chairman of NURTW at Oyingbo. With these two scenarios, I have been afraid of him since then.”

The Lagos State Commissioner of Police, Mr. Imohimi Edgal, who paraded the suspects at the command’s headquarters yesterday, said they were arrested based on a confessional statement of other suspects arrested.

Edgal said on January 23, about 9pm, one Ganiyu Ayinla was killed by unknown gunmen on Lagos Island, while one Azeez Adekunle alias Kunle Poly a branch chairman of National Union escaped death.

He said based on the strength of the complaints, Inspector General of Police Ibrahim Idris directed the Commander Intelligence Respons Team, ACP Abba Kyari, to apprehend the hoodlums. With the credible intelligence generated with the support from Technical Intelligence Unit one Adeola Williams alias Ade lawyer was arrested in connection with the crime.

“He confessed that one Rafiu Olohunwa Akanni former chairman of NURTW contracted him with the sum of N1.5 million to assassinate Kunle Poly. One AK47 rifle with number 3501357, two empty magazines, one black Hyundai Santafee Jeep with registration number EKY 741DL seized from Olohunwa was recovered from him.”

The CP, however, said the investigation is ongoing, while effort is on to arrest the fleeing suspects.

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Flood victims get respite from A’Ibom gov

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Two victims of yesterday’s heavy downpour in Ewet Housing Extension area of Uyo, Akwa Ibom State whose buildings were submerged by flood will get compensation for their property and vacate the area. Already, the victims Mr. Anselem Etuk and Mr Micheal Ukpong, two retired civil servants, have been given some palliatives to seek alternative accommodation pending when their compensation money will be ready for them to erect new structures elsewhere.

The state’s Governor, Udom Emmanuel, who gave the directive yesterday during the project tour of the sixteen ongoing road construction in the area consoled the victims who lost properties worth hundreds of thousands naira along with some vital documents to the flood. Represented by the Commissioner for Works, Mr. Ephraim Inyang-Eyen, he advised those affected to immediately get money for rent from the ministry and move to a safer place till they receive their compensation. The commissioner recalled that last year, flood claimed the life of a child in the same building stressing that government is out to find lasting solution to the flood menace in the area.

Inyang-Eyen said: “At the peak of the rainy season last year, a young child was killed by flood in this same compound , we are here to find permanent solution to the flood problem here” “You can clearly see that these houses were built far below the road level. The road level is the same length with their roofs. But, because this government is about the people, we have asked them to move out immediately and save their lives. Government is giving them rent today to get a secured place until work on the road is completed.”

The commissioner who declared the area disaster prone warned residents to discontinue all building projects within the marked area. He equally advised residents to always consider their safety and the safety of others when they are building, Our correspondent observed that residents of the area woke up to be confronted by flood caused by yesterday’s heavy rain with farmlands and property worth hundreds of thousands of Naira destroyed. Responding on behalf of the affected residents, Bassey expressed gratitude to the state government for quick intervention in coming to their rescue pledging to cooperate with government by vacating their homes immediately.

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