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NAPTIP Secures Benin City High Profile Trafficker, Mama Masha

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NAPTIP Secures Benin City High Profile Trafficker, Mama Masha

By: Michael Mike

The National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP) has secured the conviction of a well-known socialite in Benin City and high-profile trafficker, Felicia Osaigbovo, also known as Mama Masha.

Mama Masha was sentenced to 12 years in prison and fined N24 million by Hon. Justice Geraldine Imadegbelo of the High Court, Criminal Division, Benin City.

According to a statement on Tuesday by the spokesman of NAPTIP, Vincent Adekoye, the 62-year-old woman, is a member of a human trafficking syndicate, and was involved in the recruitment and trafficking of 12 Nigerian girls to Belgium for sexual exploitation.

He said notably, 12 collaborators, including three of the convict’s children, have already been convicted in Belgium.

The case against the convict commenced on July 1, 2021, with a 24-count charge that included assisting the activities of persons engaged in trafficking in persons and organizing foreign travels that promote prostitution, in violation of the Trafficking in Persons Prohibition Enforcement and Administration Act (TIPPEA), 2015.

Mama Masha was said to have pleaded not guilty to all counts. The statement said the prosecution presented three witnesses, including a Belgian Chief Inspector of Police and submitted 13 exhibits as evidence.

Following a thorough trial, the court found the convict guilty on all 24 counts, leading to a sentence of 12 years in prison and a fine of N24 million.

In response to the judgment, Director General of NAPTIP, Prof. Fatima Waziri–Azi, PhD expressed her appreciation for the verdict by the judiciary, emphasizing that it represents an appropriate and significant punishment. She lauded the collaborative efforts of the Belgium Police Authorities, the Federal Ministry of Justice, the UK National Crime Agency under the Joint Border Task Force Initiative, and UNODC in ensuring justice for the victims.

Upon assuming office in September 2021, the Director General pledged to pursue high-profile traffickers vigorously. This conviction underscores NAPTIP’s determination to send a clear message to those involved in this heinous crime.

She said: “NAPTIP shall continue working tirelessly to ensure a safer and better society.”

NAPTIP Secures Benin City High Profile Trafficker, Mama Masha

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National News

Fraud and Mismanagement Rock INGO’s IDP Cash Assistance Effort in Bama

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Fraud and Mismanagement Rock INGO’s IDP Cash Assistance Effort in Bama

By: Zagazola Makama

Corruption has recently undermined humanitarian efforts in Bama, located in the northeast of Borno State, where aid workers responding to the 13-year insurgency have been accused of fraud.

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) and Mercy Corps oversee a multi-purpose cash assistance (MPCA) program, providing financial aid to newly arrived internally displaced persons (IDPs) at Bama IDP Camp. This program aims to meet the basic needs of the refugees, alleviate their households’ financial burdens, and guide them towards sustainable recovery.

Despite being designed to assist 1,000 selected IDPs, the program has been tainted by fraudulent activities carried out by humanitarian workers. This has led the United Nations to establish an investigative team to look into the accusations.

Here’s how the issue unfolded:

From November 2023 to January 2024, the IOM compiled a list of 1,000 newly arrived IDPs to receive cash assistance and issued them tokens. However, during the distribution process, it was discovered that 83 IDPs had already departed the camp for Pulka, Banki, and Konduga to reunite with family, resulting in excess tokens.

An IOM volunteer, tasked with training women in tailoring, was given 50 of these surplus tokens to distribute under a covert arrangement with an IOM officer. This deal stipulated that each recipient would return 95% or 80% of the cash received. After compiling the list, it was sent to Mercy Corps for verification before the commencement of the cash distribution. Each beneficiary was to receive N91,030.

When the funds were disbursed, however, the IDPs who received tokens through the IOM volunteer were asked to return amounts between N86,000 and N70,000. This caused discontent among some IDPs, who felt cheated out of the full N91,030 they were entitled to.

Mr. Abdulrahman Busube, the Councillor of Bama, initiated an investigation after 33 IDPs complained of receiving only N20,000 or N5,000. Busube promptly reported the matter to the police, leading to the questioning of the IOM volunteer. The police found her with 42 tokens and N600,000, but she claimed to have received these from “Judith,” an IOM staff member overseeing the program, for collecting the kickbacks.

Judith was summoned by the police but denied any involvement, despite the volunteer’s insistence that she was acting under Judith’s instructions. Alhaji Modu Ali Gujja, the Chairman of Bama, called for a thorough investigation.

On February 26, a five-member IOM team visited Bama to investigate the fraud allegations. They met with the camp coordination team and interrogated the accused volunteer, who stood by her story. Camp officials informed the investigators that numerous complaints had been received about IDPs being shortchanged and that some recipients of new arrival tokens were actually Bama community members, not IDPs.

During a subsequent emergency meeting at the UN Humanitarian Hub in Bama, which included various officials and two participants joining virtually from Maiduguri, Judith again denied distributing the 50 tokens.

However, the situation took a turn when some of the N600,000 recovered by Busube was misappropriated. While the investigation was ongoing, the Chairman directed the Councillor to distribute N5,000 to each of 92 new arrival IDPs and N10,000 to each of ten head of households. However, of the N600,000, Busube only presented N450,000, with N150,000 unaccounted for. When questioned about the discrepancy, Busube claimed he had used the funds to settle the police and shared N45,000 among his fellow councillors.

Busube maintained that some of the money was distributed to the police and the remaining was shared among the new arrivals and heads of households, with 92 new arrivals each receiving N5,000 and ten households each receiving N10,000.

This misappropriation came to light amidst the ongoing investigation into the broader corruption scandal within the humanitarian operations in Bama. The situation highlights not only the initial fraud committed by the IOM volunteer and potentially other staff members but also the subsequent mismanagement of recovered funds by a local official.

The case continues to be under scrutiny, with calls for accountability and transparency to restore integrity to the aid efforts in the region.

Fraud and Mismanagement Rock INGO’s IDP Cash Assistance Effort in Bama

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Marwa Commends British Govt Over Marine Headquarters Project for NDLEA

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Marwa Commends British Govt Over Marine Headquarters Project for NDLEA

By: Michael Mike

Chairman/Chief Executive Officer of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), Brig. Gen. Buba Marwa (Retd) has commended the British Government for offering to undertake the provision of headquarters house and personnel accommodation for the Marine Unit of the anti-narcotics body at the Eko Atlantic city beach.

Marwa, who gave the commendation while performing the groundbreaking ceremony to signify the commencement of the project facilitated by the UK Home Office International Operations (HOIO), assured that the agency will continue to live up to the expectations of Nigerians and its international partners.

He said the confidence reposed in the agency by President Bola Tinubu and the UK government as well as their all-round support will always be a morale booster for the officers and men who daily take huge risks to dismantle drug cartels with the sole aim of curbing the menace of substance abuse and illicit drug trafficking in Nigeria, while significantly contributing to the global effort to address the drug problem.

He noted that the office and accommodation facilities being provided by the UK government for personnel of the marine unit of the agency will in no small measure enhance their safety, efficiency and confidence. “You have provided us a place here, you’ve given us the trainings, you’ve supported with the boats and the repairs and now the accommodation. We can only say thank you. We wish to give the assurances on what you already know that the NDLEA is a serious Agency, we do what we have to do without fear or favour, we will get the job done, that I can give you the assurance as we continue to partner. Thank you very much”, the NDLEA boss said while addressing the British government officials and their contractors at the site of the project.

He also commended personnel of the Navy, Customs, Immigration and other services in the area for their collaboration with NDLEA. “We all must stand up together, though the NDLEA is the lead agency in this enterprise, the work is collaborative. We must partner to get the job done. I’ve been briefed that there’s lot of collaboration going on the same way I was at MMIA this morning and spoke to your senior colleagues there and they are all working together as you are here. I urge you to keep it up in this spirit and I wish you more success.”

Addressing officers of the Unit, Marwa said the leadership of the agency is restructuring the Marine Unit so that it “can become a lean and mean force under an able commander”, adding “you should brace up, stand up on your two feet and work very hard to make sure that drugs do not pass by water.”

In his brief remarks at the ceremony, Kris Hawksfield of the UK Home Office International Operations assured that the project will be completed latest by July 2024.

Speaking earlier at a War Against Drug Abuse (WADA) advocacy meeting with the leadership of the Performing Musicians Association of Nigeria (PMAN), Marwa said there is need for the organization to partner with the Agency in the fight against substance abuse and illicit drug trafficking. He urged the PMAN President, Prettywise Okafor and other executives to mobilise their members to use their God-given talents for the good of the society rather than using their music to promote drug abuse especially among the youths.

Okafor in his response expressed the preparedness of PMAN to partner with the Agency. He also gave details of their effort to organise advocacy campaign against drug abuse across the country and their plan to build rehabilitation centres as part of their ongoing projects in Abuja and Lagos.

Marwa Commends British Govt Over Marine Headquarters Project for NDLEA

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National News

Oronsaye Report: Don’t Merge Nigerian Army University With NDA, Olowu Urges President Tinubu

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Oronsaye Report: Don’t Merge Nigerian Army University With NDA, Olowu Urges President Tinubu

By: Michael Mike

President Bola Tinubu has been advised not to merge the Nigerian Army University with the Nigerian Defence Academy as part of the implementation of Steve Oronsaye report.

The advice was given by the Olowu of Kuta, HRM Oba Hameed Adekunle Makama, Tegbosun III, in a statement on Tuesday.

The monarch in a statement issued by his media office, said Nigerian Army University, Biu, unlike the Nigerian Defence Academy, Is a full fledged federal university like other federal universities in the country, and offers various courses, and not specialised university which the NDA is.

He added that the Nigerian Army University was established by the Act of Parliament and cannot be reversed without going back to the National Assembly to repeal the act that set it up, noting that merging NAUB with NDA means the federal government is ready to merge every federal university created by the act of parliament.

Oba Makama also reminded President Tinubu that Nigerian Army University Biu was set up to cater for the multitude of students in search of university education in the north east axis, adding that merging it with the NDA will reduce it to an institution where military personnel are trained.

Oba Makama, however, commended President Tinubu for the political will to implement a far-reaching civil service reform that was initiated twelve years ago so as to cut the over bloated costs of governance

He said: “I believe the mixed up should not have arisen if proper wide consultation is made before advising Mr. President on inclusion of NUAB because Army University is not even in existence during the Orosanye panel.”

Oronsaye Report: Don’t Merge Nigerian Army University With NDA, Olowu Urges President Tinubu

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