Four remanded over destruction of Sotitobire church

By Damisi Ojo, Akure

Another four young men have been remanded at Olokuta Correctional Service Centre by a Chief Magistrate Court sitting in Akure over alleged murder, arson, malicious damage and stealing at Sotitobire Church in Akure, the Ondo State capital.

They are: Yusuf Owa, 27, Adebayo Adeyemi, 22, Adeleye Omowumi, 28, and Adu Babatunde, 27.

The accused were fresh suspects to be remanded in prison as 14 persons were earlier remanded in connection with the crisis, making the total number of 18 suspects at Olokuta Correctional Service centre.

The accused persons are facing a six -count-charge of felony, conspiracy, murder, arson and stealing.

According to the charge sheet, they committed the offence on December 18, 2019 at about 9:45am at Sotitobire Church, Oshinle, Akure, in the Akure Magisterial District.

The alleged offences were said to be contrary to sections 383 and punishable under sections 324, 516,319(1), 443(a), 451 and 390(a).

The defendants were alleged to have killed one Sergeant Sheidu Ocheopo (m) by smashing him to death with tyre rim and stones at Sotitobire Church, Oshinle, while performing his lawful duty.

They were also accused of setting ablaze Sotitobire Church Oshinle and Ajipowo branches, including Police Hilux patrol vehicle, AK47 rifle with breach No, 4777 and some vehicles belonging to individuals valued at N2 millions.

Other items that were set ablaze, according to the charge were; Toyota Siena, Range rover Jeep, Toyota venza, Toyota Camry and Lexus car valued at N250 million, belonging to Alfa Babatunde Olumoyo.

Also some church items like rug, amplifier, fans, and other valuables in the church, valued at N600,000 were said to have been stolen.

READ ALSO: 13 remanded over attack on Sotitobire church

The Prosecuting Police Officer, Inspector Uloh Goodluck, informed the court of his intention to move a motion on notice for the remands of the defendants at Olokuta, Correctional Service Centre.

Counsel representing the first defendant, Mr. M.O Ojo, and counsel to third and fourth defendants, Mr. Afe Felix, opposed the moving of the motion, drew the attention of the court to the fact that the motion before it was just serve in the court, adding that they need some time to file their counter affidavit.

While the counsel representing the second defendant Mr. John Olowookere, did not oppose to the prosecutor moving his motion for remand.

The Magistrate, Mrs. Charity Adeyanju, ordered that the defendants be kept at Olokuta Correctional Service Centre, pending when the move of motion on notice for the remand of the defendants.

She adjourned the case till January 20, 2020.

The Sotitobire Church Founder, Alfa Babatunde is expected to appear in court on Thursday for the hearing of his case of alleged kidnapping of one year old boy, Gold Kolawole, who got missing in his church in November 2019.

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MISSING BOY: Church deserted, family reveals how General Overseer lives in prison

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AdeyanjuBy Dayo Johnson, Akure

ALL the branches of Sotitobire Miracle Centre across Ondo State have been deserted after the razing of its headquarters and the General Overseer, Prophet Babatunde Alfa, remanded at the Olokuta Correctional Centre, Akure after one-year-old Gold Kolawole went missing at the headquarters branch over a month ago.

Why plan to recompose NDDC board is against equity, justice — IGBINI

Uncertainty reigned over the church.

Reports said members may have been ‘defecting’ to other churches as the General Overseer spent Christmas and the New Year day in prison.

Many of the members with church stickers on their vehicles and bands on their wrists, it was learnt, have been removing them.

Irate youths had set the headquarters branch ablaze and went further to burn down the Ajipowo branch same day to show their displeasure over the missing boy’s case.

The development forced the police to deploy to the razed churches and the private residence of the clergyman after it was equally attacked and several vehicles damaged.

While the Department of State Service, DSS, which arrested Alfa, took the glory for doing something over the missing boy’s case, the police, which was accused of foot-dragging, arraigned 13 suspected arsonists in court in connection with the razed churches.

Prison walk

Then the DSS, in a surprise move, arraigned the clergyman in the Magistrate Court.

The court was jam-packed on arraignment day as members of the church trooped out to give their prophet moral support.

Police arraigns two FRSC personnel over alleged murder

Their hope that Alfa would be granted bail was, however, dashed.

Even the prophet, who was expecting that he would be released on bail, burst into tears as Magistrate Charity Adeyanju ordered that he be remanded in prison custody.

His church members also could not hold their tears as they wept profusely seeing their prophet being pushed into the Black Maria by prison wardens.

It was a pitiable sight as the church members and the clergyman wept like a baby.

While arraigning the General Overseer and six children teachers of Sotitobire Miracle Centre in court, the DSS accused them of conspiracy to kidnap and aiding kidnapping of Gold during a Sunday service at the headquarters of the church in Oshinle area of the state capital on November 10.

The six children teachers are Omodara Olayinka, Margaret Oyebola, Grace Ogunjobi, Egunjobi Motunrayo, Esther Kayode and Peter Anjorin.

Peter Anjorin was separately accused by the prosecutor of destroying evidence by secretly taking away evidence that would have aided speedy investigation of the missing child.

The charge against anjorin read, “That on the 10th day of December 2019 at about 2:00 pm at the premises of the Department of State Service, Alagbaka, Akure, Ondo State in the Akure Magisterial District, you did destroy evidence by secretly taking away vital evidence that would have aided speedy investigation in respect of the missing child (Gold Eninlaloluwa Kolawole) and thereby committed an offence contrary to and punishable under Section 123 of Criminal Code, Cap 37, Vol. I Laws of Ondo State 2006.”

The accused persons were brought to the court by operatives of the DSS around 9am in a white bus marked AKR – 54-AM.

The prosecutor, Joseph Dada, said the offence was contrary to and punishable under Section 5(i) of the Ondo State Anti-Kidnapping and Anti-Abduction Law, 2010 as well as under Section 516 of Criminal Code, Cap 37, Volume I Laws of Ondo State 2006.

The charge sheet for all the suspects read, “That you Prophet Alfa Babatunde ’m’, Omodara Olayinka ’f’, Margaret Oyebola ‘f’, Grace Ogunjobi ‘f’, Egunjobi Motunrayo ’f’, Esther Kayode ’f’, Peter Anjorin ‘m’ and others now at large, on the 10th day of November 2019 at about 11:45 am at Sotitobire Praising Chapel, No. 48, Solagbade Street, Oshinle Quarters, Akure, Ondo State in the Akure Magisterial District, did conspire together to commit felony to wit: Kidnapping, and thereby committed an offence contrary to and punishable under Section 516 of Criminal Code, Cap 37, Vol. I Laws of Ondo State 2006″.

Trial Magistrate Adeyanju, after listening to the arguments of the prosecutor and counsel to the defendants, Olusola Oke, ruled that she did not have the jurisdiction to try the alleged offences.

She then said that the accused persons be remanded in prison custody pending the conclusion of investigation and arraignment at the High Court and adjourned the case till January 17, 2020.

Recall that the mother of the missing boy, Modupe Kolawole, had taken him to the church while looking for miracle but ended up losing him to suspected kidnappers.

Modupe said she dropped the son at the church children section only to come back to discover that he had disappeared without trace since November 10.

Speaking after the court session, Oke said, “The prosecution presented two contradictory positions. There was an application filed where they alleged that the General Overseer confessed to the allegation of kidnapping.

“We challenged them to present the evidence of his confession but they did not bring something like that to court.

“Also, contrary to what we heard in the public domain about kidnapping, they were charged with conspiracy and aiding kidnapping. These are two different situations because if he actually kidnapped, it would be brought to the public that he kidnapped but apparently they have nothing against him.

“We believe that if the man indeed is culpable, he should be punished. But at the same time, there is no need to crucify somebody who has done no wrong.”

Also, 13 suspected persons were ordered to be remanded at the Olokuta Correctional Center by an Akure Magistrate’s Court for their alleged involvement in the killing of a policeman and the razing of Sotitobire Miracle Centre.

They were arraigned on six count charges of murder, arson, theft and vandalism.

The prosecutor, ASP Moses Adeosun, prayed that the defendants be remanded in prison pending investigation into the matter.

Ooni intervention

In a related development, the Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi, and his Olori, Naomi, are reported to have waded into the case of the missing boy.

The mother of the boy confirmed this to Sunday Vanguard.

“It is true that the Kabiyesi, the Ooni of Ife, and the wife invited us to the palace in lfe”, Modupe Kolawole said.

“We briefed the Kabiyesi and the Olori on how the incident happened over a month ago. “They sympathized with us and promised to get back to us”.

Hunger strike

Meanwhile, family sources said the embattled clergyman has turned the Olokuta Correctional Centre to a crusade ground and reportedly winning souls for Christ in the prison.

The sources said Alfa organised programmes for the prison inmates during Christmas and New Year day, thereby leading many of them to Christ.

Police promote 19 Officers in Ondo

They denied a report that the prophet took ill following alleged hunger strike.

The post MISSING BOY: Church deserted, family reveals how General Overseer lives in prison appeared first on Vanguard News.

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Mark Latunski Kevin Bacon death after Grindr date – what happened

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Mark Latunski Kevin Bacon death after Grindr date – what happened

Mark Latunski Kevin Bacon death – Kevin Bacon missing December 24 was found dead December 28 in Shiawassee County Bennington Township after meeting up with a man he’d met on Grindr, a dating app.

A 50-year-old man has been arrested on an open murder charge related to Kevin Bacon death. The suspect’s name is being withheld pending arraignment which according to Michigan State Police Special 1st Lt. David Kaiser could be in Shiawassee County District Court as early as Monday, Dec. 30.

Read below alleged reports on social media about Mark Latunski kidnapping and Kevin Bacon death:

Holy Sh*t the #GrindrKiller’s name is Olykos Kai Lukas

His real name Mark Latunski

His real name Mark Latunski

— Lord Humungus the Chuggernaut (@flintdivebarguy) December 29, 2019

@JeffreeStar
this man was found murdered after a grindr meet up in Michigan on Christmas Eve. I saw it on facebook and noticed he had several #jeffreestar tattoos. I wanted you to see this and all of us can keep his friends and family in our thoughts.

@JeffreeStar this man was found murdered after a grindr meet up in Michigan on Christmas Eve. I saw it on facebook and noticed he had several #jeffreestar tattoos. I wanted you to see this and all of us can keep his friends and family in our thoughts. pic.twitter.com/J9ryxTmgVz

The man who murdered him was convicted of kidnapping in 2013 and then about a month or two ago he was holding someone hostage in his basement who was able to flee and get away safely but the courts said he was not fit for trial, and then this happens. Sad day.

Mark Latunski

The craziest part is man who murdered Kevin was chasing the man who escaped,who has naked only wearing a cape, down the road and the murderer told police it was consensual and he was only chasing him because he wanted his cape back.

It’s been all over the news in Michigan since Christmas, have multiple friends who knew Kevin. The community is most definitely shocked. This could’ve been prevented.

The man who murdered him was convicted of kidnapping in 2013 and then about a month or two ago he was holding someone hostage in his basement who was able to flee and get away safely but the courts said he was not fit for trial, and then this happens. Sad day.

— Kathryn Pertler (@KathrynPertler) December 29, 2019

The craziest part is man who murdered Kevin was chasing the man who escaped,who has naked only wearing a cape, down the road and the murderer told police it was consensual and he was only chasing him because he wanted his cape back.

— Kathryn Pertler (@KathrynPertler) December 29, 2019

It’s been all over the news in Michigan since Christmas, have multiple friends who knew Kevin. The community is most definitely shocked. This could’ve been prevented.

In 2013 Mark Latunski was charged with kidnapping and parental interference. He went thru a competency hearing and was found INCOMPETENT to stand trial! We pray that he doesn’t get away with murder and is found competent to stand trial!

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Akeredolu kicks against death penalty for hate-speech offenders

 Adekunle Jimoh, Ilorin

Ondo state Governor Rotimi Akeredolu on Monday opposed proposed death penalty for hate-speech offenders in the country.

He likened the penalty to sentencing someone who steals N10,000 to death and freeing another that steals one million Naira.

Governor Akeredolu said this in Ilorin, the Kwara state capital at the opening ceremony of the sixth biennial international conference of the University of Ilorin Centre for Peace and Strategic Studies department.

The theme of the conference is: “Domesticating sustainable development goal 16 in Nigeria: Peace, justice and strong institutions.”

The governor added that “when I was the president of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) I vehemently opposed capital punishment for condemned criminals. I will be a turncoat as governor to now support death penalty for hate-speech offenders.

“As the governor of Ondo state I will not commit to death those condemned criminals, instead I will look into how to commute their sentences to life imprisonment. Or I will transfer them to other administrations.”

He regretted that there is no virile opposition in the country, adding that “every other person who was in opposition in 2015 has now crossed over to the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC). I am amused if I
see them decamping in droves to the APC.”

Ex-ABA president added that injustice real or imagined has been responsible for the absence of peace in Nigeria.

Said he: “Any discussion on justice which leaves out the deplorable conditions of the people is self-serving; it is patently unjust to have the mass of the people depend on handouts from the political class having lost the capacity to contribute to the development of the polity.

Read Also; Akeredolu warns against ‘unwarranted’ agitations on bitumen

“Until and unless the identifiable geo-political zones are encouraged to realize their potentials with a view to participating actively in the economic activities for growth and prosperity, there will be no end to crises.

“Current measures put in place seem insufficient to rescues the country from socio-economic doldrums.

Therefore, the preponderance of conflicts in virtually all parts of the country seems to suggest failure of the system. Working at these manifest lapses will assist greatly.

“Institutions of state must be self-regulating. The basic law of the land, the Constitution, and relevant subsidiary legislations must be the instruments which determine the life and functions of any institution created to take care of the welfare of the people.”

Earlier, Vice Chancellor of the university Prof Sulyman Abdulkareem lamented that the world, particularly developing countries are caught up in the ensnaring web of ceaseless and needless conflicts as well as entwining miseries of ineffective governance that sustain structural tensions and retard sustainable development.

Prod Abdulkareem added that “by 2017, 68.5 million people mostly from developing nations of the world, were estimated to have been forcibly displaced as a result of conflicts, violence or human right violations.

“Corruption, bribery and theft are said to have caused developing countries $1.26 trillion per year, thereby retarding their sustainable growth. It is saddening that our continent of Africa is suffering more than any other parts of the world from these centrifugal forces against sustainable development.

“Sadly, too, Africa has become the centre of conflicts. Various intra and inter conflicts, uprising and violence spread across the continent. Boko Haram in the north eastern part of Nigeria has become seemingly insurmountable. Kidnapping has become a common menace that threatens the security and guarantee of human rights of citizens in most parts of developing nations of the world.”

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JUST IN: 3 Kidnappers of Lagos monarch sentenced to death | P.M. News

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Oba Goriola Oseni

Three kidnappers who kidnapped a Lagos monarch, the Oniba of Iba, Oba Yushau Goriola Oseni some years ago have been sentenced to death by the Special Offences Court in Ikeja, Lagos, Southwest Nigeria.

The conviction was secured by the Lagos State Government through the Ministry of Justice.

In a landmark ruling presided over by Justice Oluwatoyin Taiwo of the Special Offences Court in Ikeja on Wednesday, and handed down in an hour long proceedings, the trial judge found all the accused guilty of all the charges brought against them.

The defendants were charged for the offences of conspiracy, murder, attempted murder, armed robbery and kidnapping contrary to sections 223, 230, 233, 271 (3), 297 (2)and 411 of the Criminal Law of Lagos State, 2011.

The convicts are, Duba Furejo, alias General Cuba, (who is now paralyzed), Reuben Anthony and Yerin Fresh.

The Prosecution team led by Solicitor General/Permanent Secretary Ministry of Justice, Ms Titilayo Shitta-Bey presented seven witnesses and tendered 13 exhibits which were admitted by the court.

The trial judge said she found all the convicts guilty of the charges brought against them.

According to her, “I believe the offence of conspiracy, attempted murder, armed robbery and kidnapping leveled against the accused. I therefore find them guilty as charged. This is the judgement of the court,” he said.

However, Ms Shitta- Bey argued that maximum sentence commensurate to the offence should be given. She explained, “A heinous crime of kidnapping does not only terrorize the victims, but also the society, as nobody is safe. Consequently a statement should be made that Lagos State has zero tolerance for kidnapping, murder and armed robbery.”

She gave the orders thus; “For causing the death of Sunday Okanlawon and Joseph Okeke, a security guard, you are sentenced to death. I hereby sentence the offenders to life imprisonment for shooting Olori Abosede Goriola in the abdomen. Conspiracy to murder; 10 years. Conspiracy to commit kidnap; 10 years. Armed robbery; life imprisonment. Kidnapping; 21 years imprisonment.”

“This is the ruling of the court, sentence to run concurrently,” she said.

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Outrage Greets Senate’s Death Penalty for Hate Speech

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•Bill scales first reading
•Monitoring agency underway

Deji Elumoye, Alex Enumah in Abuja and Segun James in Lagos

The Senate came under fire yesterday for proposing the Hate Speech Prohibition Bill, which seeks to criminalise the offence with death as a penalty.

The bill, which passed first reading at the plenary yesterday, seeks to establish a federal government agency to check hate speech.

But senior lawyers, activists and a chieftain of Afenifere, Chief Ayo Adebanjo, who spoke with THISDAY, condemned attempts to make hate speech a capital offence and urged the National Assembly to tread carefully on the issue.

The bill, sponsored by a former Senate spokesperson, who is now the Deputy Senate Whip, Senator Sabi Abdullahi, is entitled “National Commission for the Prohibition of Hate Speeches (Establishment etc) Bill 2019.”

Abdullahi had sponsored a similar bill in the Eighth Senate, which prescribed among others, death by hanging for anyone found guilty of the offence.

The bill Abdullahi presented to the previous Senate said an offence is committed when “a person publishes, presents, produces, plays, provides, distributes and/or directs the performance of any material, written and/or visual, which is threatening, abusive or insulting or involves the use of threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour, commits an offence if such person intends thereby to stir up ethnic hatred, or having regard to all the circumstances, ethnic hatred is likely to be stirred up against any person or persons from such an ethnic group in Nigeria.

“A person subjects another to harassment on the basis of ethnicity for the purposes of this section where, on ethnic grounds, he unjustifiably engages in a conduct which has the purpose or effect of (a) violating that other person’s dignity or (b) creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for the person subjected to the harassment.

“Conduct shall be regarded as having the effect specified in subsection (1) (a) or (b) of this section if, having regard to all the circumstances, including in particular the perception of that other person, it should reasonably be considered as having that effect.”

Part two of the 26-page bill talks about the discrimination that the bill applies to include ethnic discrimination, hate speech, harassment on the basis of ethnicity, offence of ethnic or racial contempt, discrimination by way of victimisation and offences by body of persons.

In his own reaction, human rights lawyer, Chief Mike Ozekhome (SAN), called on Nigerians to rise up against the bill, to ensure that it does not see the light of day.
He wondered when making a speech which is guaranteed as freedom of expression under Section 39 of the 1999 Constitution, became punishable by death.

Ozekhome described the bill as ill-intentioned, ill-conceived, and ill-digested to breed dictatorship and absolutism.
“An obnoxious law such as this will further drive underground and into hiding, the opposition and genuine social critics, who speak truth to power and criticise serial opaque, anti-people, corrupt and high-handed policies of government,” he added.

According to him, since the current government has been tested and known to be allergic to constructive criticisms, the bill if allowed would embolden it to clamp many Nigerians in detention.
Ozekhome’s other colleagues also warned the Senate against passing the bill, describing it as a violation of the 1999 Constitution.

Mr. Dayo Akinlaja SAN, while describing the move as weird and absurd at this age, said inasmuch as the menace of hate speech in the country should not be tolerated, there was need for caution to ensure that innocent people did not suffer.

“As much as one would not want to condone anything like hate speech the reality is that one would have to be extra careful to avoid the possibility of an abuse,” he said, adding: “If the punishment is that capital, then what happens if somebody is wrongly accused? That is rather absurd and preposterous at this age and I pray that such a thing does not come through.”

Dr. Kayode Olatoke SAN also noted that the bill violated constitutional provision on freedom of speech.
Olatoke while recalling that the matter is already a subject of litigation at a Federal High Court, stressed that the punishment is outrageous when compared with other similar crimes, which borders on law of torts.

He, however, urged the National Assembly to refrain from going further with the bill until the issue is resolved in the court of law.

Another SAN, Mr. John Baiyeshea, expressed confidence that the National Assembly would listen to public outcry.
“I’m sure the sentence will be reviewed/reduced to terms of imprisonment”, he said.
Mr. Ahmed Raji SAN called for a probe of what constitutes hate speech in the proposed law.

“I think we should start by probing into what constitutes hate speech under the proposed legislation. Notwithstanding what may constitute hate speech, the world is moving away from death penalty,” he stated.

Also, human rights activist and Executive Director of Environmental Rights Action (ERA), Dr. Nnimo Bassey, told THISDAY that it was outrageous and shameful for the Senate to contemplate a bill of that nature.

He said: “Death penalty for so called hate speech; who decides what constitutes hate speech? Our political leaders? If social media statements that have landed some Nigerians in the Gulag approximate what the drafters of this bill have in mind, then there is real threat of a dark cloud over Nigeria. The idea smacks of total insensitivity and is not expected of even the most autocratic. It is a bill with murderous intent. The National Assembly should spend its time on bills that deepen rather than constrict the democratic space. This bill should be withdrawn!”

A chieftain of the Yoruba socio-political group, Afenifere, Chief Ayo Adebanjo, said he was speechless.
“This is inconceivable in a Senate under a constitutional democracy. There is no arrest or prosecution for Fulani herdsmen’s atrocities not to talk of death penalty for culprits but for free speech. God Save Nigeria,” he said.
Also reacting, a former Special Adviser to ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo on Political Matters, Mr. Akin Osuntokun, said the new bill would amount to mindlessness.

“It is like using a bulldozer to crush a mouse. In the first place, classifying what qualifies as hate speech is problematic and prone to abuse. It will end up creating more problems than it can solve. There are extant laws that can be adapted for the same purpose. The law against defamation for instance,” he said.

Also in its reaction, the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) in a statement jointly issued by the President, Chris Isiguzo and National Secretary, Shuaibu Usman Leman, said most actions being taken in recent times were deliberately crafted to target and silence journalists.

“Safety implies freedom from danger and, in the news gathering context, safety implies protection from a range of threats journalists encounter, including arrest, legal action, imprisonment, kidnapping, intimidation and murder, amongst others. Journalists that are hitherto exposed to more danger in violent armed conflicts than in peace and stable situations, now face greater threats in a democracy like Nigeria. These threats and attacks against the media are aimed at inducing fear and self-censorship and regrettably these are the basic strategies of authoritarian regimes and not democracies like in Nigeria,” the NUJ stated.

The post Outrage Greets Senate’s Death Penalty for Hate Speech appeared first on THISDAYLIVE.

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Priest tightens security after latest threats at Quinn firm – Independent.ie

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It hardly inspires confidence that the parish priest known for speaking out against this intimidation is forced to take security measures for his own protection.

Fr O’Reilly delivered a searing homily last month calling out the mafia-like “paymaster or paymasters” who funded the savage attack on Mr Lunney. In an interview with the Sunday Independent, he said: “The more you speak, the more you are at risk.”

For now, he plans to step back from the robust public commentary he has become known for, in the hope of fostering peace. “I want to get back to my normal parish work… I find that in the last month, a whole lot of things have happened. I want to take a back seat for a while. But if there is further intimidation, I intend to return to the fray.”

A second death threat to the directors of Quinn Industrial Holdings (QIH) last week – companies founded and lost by the former billionaire Sean Quinn – has finally catapulted the long-standing campaign of intimidation and violence into the lap of Government.

The threat was issued via the Irish News last Monday by a man in a balaclava reading from a statement purporting to be a “last warning” to directors to resign or face a “permanent solution”. The directors “hadn’t learned their lesson” since the attack on Mr Lunney, the man said, chillingly noting that they could have “easily killed” him if they had wanted to.

In the same week, Sinn Fein TD Martin Kenny’s car was set alight outside his home in Leitrim, the Garda station in Emyvale, Co Monaghan was set ablaze and two Monaghan hauliers were named as persons of interest in the investigation into the deaths of 39 Vietnamese people smuggled into the UK.

Garda Commissioner Drew Harris and the Minister for Justice, Charlie Flanagan, have struggled to explain why the years-long intimidation has not been stopped.

The Sunday Independent has learnt that Taoiseach Leo Varadkar privately rang John McCartin, one of five directors of QIH under threat, twice last week saying he was “appalled” at the intimidation. That the Taoiseach should open a direct line of communication with the victims of this campaign indicates that the penny has finally dropped.

For eight years, the directors of QIH and its property have been under siege. The businesses were once owned by Sean Quinn, the local former billionaire who lost control of his empire in 2011. He has repeatedly denounced the attacks on the companies, saying they are not carried out in his name. According to Mr McCartin, the failure of authorities to act – from Cavan County Council not taking down signs to gardai not making arrests – has “emboldened” those responsible and allowed for an escalation of violence and the creeping involvement of paramilitaries.

A photograph in the Irish News of the masked man bearing the latest death threat prompted a number of calls to the police confidential lines from local people claiming to recognise him, sources said. They suspect he is a dissident republican, originally from Northern Ireland but now living in Cavan, who has served jail time for possession of explosives. He was once prominent in the Real IRA. A director of QIH has also reported this man’s suspected identity to the PSNI and gardai.

The abduction and assault on Kevin Lunney bore the hallmarks of a paramilitary- style operation. He was kidnapped, tortured and had his legs broken in an attack resembling a punishment beating. The care that his attackers took to destroy a forensic trail, viciously pouring bleach over Mr Lunney before dumping him on a Cavan roadside, was also redolent of paramilitary thugs.

Drew Harris said last week that the investigation into the attack is making progress. Garda sources say several of the suspected gang members have been identified, and a van seized in Meath recently is believed to have been used by the gang in the attack.

But the directors of QIH struggle to see that progress. On Tuesday, the directors will hold their first meeting with the Garda Commissioner in Monaghan. Present will be chief executive Liam McCaffrey, chief financial officer Dara O’Reilly, non-executive director John McCartin and production director Tony Lunney. Mr Lunney’s brother Kevin, the company’s chief operating officer, will also attend if he is well enough.

“We are preparing for the meeting with the Commissioner. We will be asking for an update on the investigation, what progress has been made and why there have been no arrests six weeks after Kevin was attacked,” Tony Lunney told the Sunday Independent.

An obvious question is whether in the vacuum of any arrests, those responsible for the intimidation felt emboldened to issue a second death threat. The paramilitary theatrics surrounding its delivery suggests an element of playing to the media gallery too, and the statement even referenced newspaper articles about the attacks on the Quinn group.

John McCartin believes this is all part of the strategy: “We have had intimidation, signs and posters going up, defamation on Facebook and on social media, physical assaults, and now torture and kidnapping, and using mainstream media attention to scare away future investors.”

The directors believe the endgame of the campaign of violence is to run them, and the US investors, out, risking more than 2,000 jobs connected to the businesses and leaving the remnants of the group there for a new buyer to pick over. The Garda investigation is building on the question cui bono? Who ultimately benefits from running the directors and their investors out of town?

Sean Quinn has made no secret of wanting “his” company back. But he has repeatedly condemned the attack on Kevin Lunney as “barbaric”, acknowledging that his family would be “blamed”. He told Channel 4 News that he no hand, act or part in the attack, and had abandoned his ambitions to return to the businesses as a result of it. In his most recent statement to RTE last week, he said: “I call on those who have advanced threats to withdraw them immediately. If they feel that they are doing it in mine or my family’s name, they are badly mistaken.”

Mr Quinn is also clearly irked at Fr O’Reilly. He called to his home two weeks ago to challenge him on his now famous homily, even though the priest did not identify anyone in it.

This weekend, Mr Quinn confirmed to the Sunday Independent that he has complained to the priest’s Kilmore Diocese. He said he met the administrator, Monsignor Liam Kelly, and has written to “other people”.

He denied threatening legal action but he didn’t rule it out either. “I made no threats to anybody,” he said, in a phone call. Asked if he is considering legal action, he replied: “Well, we are where we are…”

Asked why he wrote the letter, he said: “I’m not going there but sure any fool would know why I wrote the letter.” He accused the priest of “telling lies” from the altar. “So, it’s not hard to know, anybody with any wit would know the man was off his head.”

Fr O’Reilly told the Sunday Independent this weekend that he wrote his homily in “anger” at the “awfulness of the inflicted injuries on Kevin Lunney”.

“It is not a good way to be writing something when you are angry,” he said. “I have to take that on board myself before asking anyone else to do that. I don’t want to vilify anyone. It never was my intention. I want to give more rational debate a chance, with the hope that these years of intimidation are now coming to an end.”

In the sitting room of his parish home in Ballyconnell, a large detached house clearly visible on the hill, Fr O’Reilly cited Nelson Mandela’s words about “leaving bitterness and hatred behind”.

“The most terrible walls are the walls that grow in the mind. I believe that applies to this area. Walls grow in the minds of some people that are causing great difficulty for themselves and for others. These walls are about perceived grievances, and I suppose prejudice plays a major part and they become entrenched,” he said.

“We must find ways and means of helping people to take down these walls.”

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Kidnappers of nine Kano kids to get death sentence — Daily Times Nigeria

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Kano State Governor, Dr. Abdullahi Umar Ganduje, on Thursday, directed the state Ministry of Justice to immediately amend the Penal Code to death penalty for kidnappers.

Ganduje dropped the hint during the inauguration of the 16-man Commission of Inquiry on Kano nine children kidnapped and sold in Onitsha, Anambra State, headed by retired Justice Umar Wada Rano.

Ganduje also gave the Commission 30 days to complete and submit its assignment to the state government.

Ganduje also offered University scholarship and cash gift of N1 million each to their parents.

He condemned the act and described it as wicked and noted that what the kidnappers cum human traffickers did was against the tenets of Islam and Christianity.

The Governor requested the state Council of Ulamas to facilitate the re-orientation of the rescued children who were apparently robbed off their socio-cultural and religious background during their years in captivity.

Ganduje also used the occasion to inaugurate a 16-man Commission of Inquiry headed by retired Justice Wada Umar Rano to look into the remote and immediate circumstances surrounding the kidnap of Kano children since 2014.

Parts of the Terms of Reference given to the Commission include: “To conduct an inquiry into cases of missing persons in Kano State from the year 2010 to date and to procure all such evidence, written or oral, and to examine all such persons as witnesses as the commissioners may think it necessary or desirable to procure or examine.”

“To summon any person in Nigeria to attend any meeting of the commissioners to give evidence or produce any document or other thing in his possession and to require the evidence (whether written or oral) of any witness to be made on oath or declaration, such oath or declaration.

“To admit or exclude the public or any member of the public or press from any hearing of the commission, to prepare comprehensive data of missing persons in Kano State within the period and circumstances in which they disappeared.

“To find out both immediate and remote causes of cases of missing persons and to prepare and submit a written report including findings and recommendations to the Government of Kano State.”

The Commission is also expected to hear from the victims or their relatives, collect evidence both written and oral, visit sites (as the case may be), find both immediate and remote causes of the kidnap case and make recommendations to the Government for proper action, in order to eradicate such wicked act.

The Solicitor-General of Kano State, Bar. Amina Yusuf Yar Gaya, administered Oath to members of the Committee.

In his remarks during the occasion, chairman of Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Rev. Adeolu Samuel Adeyemo, who is a member of the Commission of Inquiry, wept as he condemned the act of kidnapping children disassociating Christians and CAN from such dastardly act.

He said: “As I sit here today, I see the gravity of sin committed by the perpetrators of this crime. I have seen the harm done to the parents because I am a parent.

“I was touched, very touched when we learnt about the rescue of these kidnapped children. It hooked my heart and my heart is still broken. This is a crime against humanity which is condemned by God.

“In the Bible, it is not permitted to separate a child from the mother until the age of 13. This is evil punishable in the sight of God. Those people who committed this crime are not Christians, and do not represent the tenets of Christianity.

“Kano is mini Nigeria and we want to thank Governor Ganduje for making Kano a home for all. Nobody kidnaps for Christ. CAN condemns this act and Christians all over the world condemn it”.

Also speaking, Eze Ndigbo in Kano, His Highness, Igwe Boniface Ibekwe, described the issue as worrisome and condemnable.

Igwe Boniface said: “Whatever is bad is bad. This is not only a taboo, it is a criminal matter that must be tackled. The Igbo community in Kano has not experienced this kind of thing.

“Not only that the children were kidnapped but they changed their religion. We want to thank Kano people for their understanding. We condemn it and our leaders in the East condemn it too.

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Cross River House of Assembly seeks death penalty for cultism ⋆

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The bill, christened ‘Cross River State Public Order Prohibition of Secret Cult And Offensive Weapons Bill 2019′ was sponsored by the Deputy Speaker of the House, Mr Joseph Bassey, on Thursday in Calabar.

Bassey told the House that the bill which seeks to, not just define who is a member of a secret cult, but to actually explain who is a cultist.

He added that the bill is expected to stop the countless killings of young people of Cross River on campuses by cultists.

“Cultism has become a top killer factor in the state, even more, deadly than some diseases. The killing of young Crossriverians on campuses is alarming and we must take steps to address it.

“This bill seeks to outline stiffer punishment for any individual who is arrested for involvement in cultism to set as a deterrent to others,” he said.

Contributing to the bill, Mr Elvert Ayambem, who represents Ikom II State Constituency, argued that it was not enough for the bill to sentence cult culprits to few years imprisonment.

Ayambem added that a death penalty on one or two persons would deter the rest from the crime.

According to him, the crimes of kidnapping, robbery and cultism have the same endpoint of taking human life, hence the house should resolve on death penalty for offenders.

“When kidnappers seize a victim and a ransom is not paid, they often result in killing the victim. Likewise armed robbers; when they break into a home and there is nothing to rob, they kill the victims.

“Accordingly, the same is applicable to cultists who by the end of the day, also kill. So, I maintain that the death penalty is spelt out for any offender,” he said.

On his part, Mr Nelson Ofem, who represents Yakurr 1 State Constituency, advised that the new bill should also create an anti-cultism orientation unit where young people would, on regular basis be spoken to, on why not to subscribe to join the secret cult.

In his reaction, Speaker of the Assembly, Mr Eteng Jonah-Williams, said the bill, if successfully amended would be another milestone for the 9th Assembly.

He assured that all necessary efforts would be put into ensuring that the law is successfully amended.

News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the bill, after its second reading, was sent to the House Committee on Security, to be reported back to the House in three weeks. (NAN)

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