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Four Docked Over journalist’s Murder

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A Slovak businessman and three others appeared in court for the first time on Thursday to face charges over the murder of an investigative journalist and his fiancée , a case that triggered mass protests against corruption.

Jan Kuciak and Martina Kusnirova , both 27 , were gunned down in their house outside the capital Bratislava in 2018.

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As she arrived in court , Zlatica Kusnirova ’ s mother demanded that Kuciak ’ s unfinished investigations be resolved.

Prosecutors say entrepreneur Marian Kocner , a subject of Kuciak’ s reporting on fraud cases involving politically -connected businessmen , had contracted his killing .

The murders stoked public anger over perceived corruption in Slovakia , forcing Prime Minister Robert to resign .

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His Smer party will face a tight election on February 29.

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The case is a test of Slovak police and judicial independence given that the investigation exposed business and personal links between Kocner , the police , and public officials.

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“ We will be satisfied only when all the cases Kuciak wrote about are solved.

“ Then their deaths will make at least some sense.

“ It’ s not enough to convict the murderers , ” Kusnirova ’ s mother told newsmen as she entered the Special Criminal Court in Pezinok near the capital Bratislava.

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At Thursday ’ s hearing, judges will either set the date for the trial or ask prosecutors to submit more evidence.

At the start of the hearing , the prosecutor and all defendants – including two men who allegedly carried out the murder and a woman accused of being an intermediary said no when asked by the judge if they wanted a deal for a reduced sentence in exchange for a confession.

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Alena Zsuzsova, who prosecutors say was an intermediary , said : “ I am not interested, I am innocent . ”
They will all face up to life in prison if convicted .

The court may impose a reduced sentence if they confess during the main trial.

Slovak media and Kuciak’ s family lawyer have said one the defendants had admitted during the investigation to be the shooter.

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A fifth man has confessed to facilitating the killing and has made a plea deal with prosecutors to act as a witness .

Prosecutors said in August they had extracted tens of thousands of messages from Kocner ’ s phone containing communication with “representatives of state bodies and the justice system ” .

The revelations caused several senior officials to resign .

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Slovakia ’ s former chief prosecutor was charged with abuse of power in a case also involving Kocner .

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( Reuters /NAN via Punch )

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Crime

Police Arraign Cryptocurrency Marketer Over Alleged N51.7m Fraud

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The Lagos State Police have arraigned a cryptocurrency marketer, Temitope Longe, before a Federal High Court sitting in Lagos for allegedly obtaining the sum of N51,789,222 by false pretence and fraud.

Longe was docked before Justice Tijjani Ringim on the alleged offences by the officers of the Police Special Fraud Unit Ikoyi, Lagos.

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The PSFU’s prosecutor, Mr Justin Enang, told the court that the cryptocurrency operator and others now at large, committed the offences in Lagos sometimes in 2017.

Enang told the court that the defendant fraudulently obtained the sum of N25,894,711 from one Dr. Abiodun Adefunrin with false pretence of investing same in cryptocurrencies and forex trading.

He further told the court that the defendant fraudulently obtained the sum of N25,894,711 property of Francis Aremu, and converted same to his personal use.

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According to the prosecutor, the offences committed contravened Sections 8(a) and 1(1){a) and punishable under Section 1(3) of Advance Fee Fraud and other Fraud Related Offences Act, 2006.

He also told the court that the offence was contrary to and punishable under Section 15(2)(b) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2011 as Amended in 2012.

However, the defendant pleaded not guilty to the allegations levelled against him.

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READ ALSO: Lawyer, Two Others Arraigned In Kogi Over Alleged N2.4m Fraud

Following the defendant’s plea, the prosecutor asked for a trial date and also urged the court to remand him in the custody of the Nigerian Correctional Services until the determination of the charges against him.

But the defendant through his counsel pleaded with the court to admit him to bail in the most liberal terms.

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His counsel told the court that his client was a first-time offender and that charges against him were bailable ones.

Justice Ringim, after listening to the counsels’ submissions, admitted the defendant to bail in the sum of N20 million with two sureties in like sum.

The Judge further ordered that one of the sureties must be a civil servant not below Grade Level 14, among others.

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Justice Ringim ordered that the defendant be remanded in NCS custody until when he is able to meet the bail conditions, and adjourned the case to March 30, 2023, for trial.

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Akwa Ibom YPP Guber Candidate Bags 42 Years In Prison Over Corruption

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The senator representing Uyo Senatorial District, Bassey Akpan has been sentenced to 42 years in prison without an option of fine for corruption.

Akpan, the governorship candidate of the Young Progressives Party, (YPP), Akwa Ibom State, was prosecuted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commissíon (EFCC).

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Delivering her judgement at the Federal High Court, Uyo, Akwa Ibom State on Thursday, the presiding judge, Justice Agatha Okeke found Senator Akpan guilty on a six-count charge bordering on money laundering and receipt of exotic cars worth two hundred and four million naira (N204m).

During the court proceeding, Defense Counsel Solomon Umoh (SAN) pleaded with the Court for leniency as the convict has a young wife and children to cater for.

He also pleaded that the court should temper justice with mercy by including an option of fine. But that was opposed by EFCC, citing legal authority to convince the court not to give fine as an option, particularly in the light of the fact that the court has not opted for the maximum sentence.

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Akpan was arraigned by the anti-graft agency on June 24, 2019, at the Federal High Court, Uyo for corruption charges.

He was accused of receiving from Jide Omokore, a BMW X5 (bulletproof) worth N50 million in December 2012 and another Infinity QX 56 (bulletproof) worth N45 million from the same source.

In November 2013, he also received a Toyota Landcruiser V8( bulletproof) valued at N40 million and in March 2014, he received a Range Rover, valued at N40 million. Also in September 2014, another Toyota Hiace High Roof bus valued at N27 million was received from the businessman.

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READ ALSO: Lawyer, Two Others Arraigned In Kogi Over Alleged N2.4m Fraud

Additionally, he was prosecuted for receiving at different times between 2012-2014, Toyota Hiace High Roof buses valued at N16 million and six units of Toyota Hilux vehicles valued at N36 million.

The EFCC which was investigating money used for the 2015 elections, spotlighted Jide Omokore, who was suspected as a conduit through which illegal funds were used for elections. While interrogating the businessman, he mentioned his numerous transactions with Obong Bassey Albert, who was a commissioner in the state and now a senator.

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Meanwhile, the senator has been taken to the Correctional Centre, Ikot Ekpene, Akwa Ibom State, where he is expected to serve his jail term.

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How Lagos RCCG Pastor Was Killed –Brother

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A prosecution witness, Omoniyi Dada, in the ongoing trial of two teenage boys, Farouk Mohammed, and Kasali Jamiu, who allegedly killed a Redeemed Christian Church of God’s pastor, Babatunde, has told the court how he found out about his brother’s death.

Omoniyi, who is the first prosecution witness, told a Lagos State High Court sitting at Tafawa Balewa Square, Lagos State that he got to know that his brother was killed in the church when he received a phone call from his younger sister.

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Justice Sherifat Sonaike remanded Mohammed and Jamiu on October 20, following their arraignment over the murder of the 46-year-old pastor.

At the commencement of trial, Omoniyi, who was led in evidence by the Director of Public Prosecution, Dr Babajide Martins, told justice Sonaike that before he got to the church, his sister informed him that the pastor’s corpse had been taken to the Navy Town Hospital.

The witness said, “According to my sister, Oluwakemi, on that fateful day, my deceased brother told her and the other laundry workers that he was going to the bank and that he would be back.

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“She said when he returned, he went upstairs in the church to rest, and she was now thinking of why her brother had not come down after resting for quite some time.”

One of the laundry workers went up to pick a cloth to wash, on getting there, he screamed.

“The worker screamed and called the rest; they all met the pastor in a pool of blood and he was coughing out blood. They noticed that the two strange boys, Farouk and Jamiu, were not there.”

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READ ALSO: Teenage Artistes Stab RCCG Pastor To Death During Robbery

During cross-examination, the counsel for the first defendant, Oyekanmi Isijola, asked the witness how he got to know about the incident.

The witness confirmed that the whole incident was related to him by his sister, as he didn’t witness it.

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The court could not proceed with the second witness, Inspector Daniel Olumuyiwa, because his name was not listed on the list of witnesses.

 

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