Following growing backlash that has greeted the exoneration of some staff and five students of Dowen College, Lekki, Lagos, who were arrested and questioned over the death of Sylvester Oromoni, a 12-year-old pupil of the school, on the advice of the Director of Public Prosecution, Ms Adetutu Oshinusi, the Lagos State Ministry of Justice has now moved the official to another department – Directorate of Citizens Rights.
Oshinusi had in her recommendation to the police on the matter on Tuesday called for the release of the Dowen staff and students suspected to have a hand in circumstances leading to the death of Oromoni, insisting that autopsy result showed that the victim died of infection and not as a result of being physically tortured as claimed by family members.
The legal advice addressed to the Deputy Commissioner of Police in charge of State Criminal Investigation Department and Chief Magistrate Olatunbosun Adeola, stated that the interim and final autopsy reports issued by the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital and toxicology report of post-mortem samples established the cause of death as Septicaemia, Lobar Pneumonia with Acute Pyelonephritis, Pyomyositis of the right ankle and Acute Bacteria Pneumonia due to severe Sepsis.
Oshinusi stated further that based on the findings; there was no prima facie case of murder, involuntary manslaughter and or malicious administering of poison with intent to harm against the suspects including Favour Benjamin (16), Micheal Kashamu (15), Edward Begue (16), Ansel Temile (14) and Kenneth Inyang (15).
“To hold otherwise would amount to sniffing for an offence and a speculative act which is not permitted in law. It is trite law that suspicion no matter how grave cannot be a ground for conviction,” part of the advice read.
But after the victim’s family rejected the verdict of the DPP and insisted on a coroner inquest through their lawyer, Femi Falana, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, the Lagos State Government apart from acceding to that request also quickly replaced Oshinusi in a desperate attempt not to appear partisan.
A new Director of Public Prosecution, Dr Babajide Martins, who was Head, Office of the Public Defender, has since been named by the state government as confirmed by a memo signed by Solicitor-General and Permanent Secretary of the state, Ms Titilayo Shitta-Bey.
However, reacting to the legal advice by Oshinusi in a statement on Tuesday, Falana had said that her position did not put to rest allegations of murder levelled against the suspects.
He said, “However, the report has not laid the allegations surrounding the gruesome murder of Sylvester Oromoni to rest.
“The report is escapist and hasty as the authorities are aware of the fact that the Chief Coroner of Lagos State has ordered that an inquest be conducted into the circumstances surrounding the unnatural death of Sylvester Oromoni.
“The inquest which commenced before the Coroner on December 16, 2021 has been adjourned to January 15, 2022 for further hearing.”
Also reacting to the exoneration of the Dowen College staff and students, a handful of groups across Nigeria have continued to demand for justice, warning the Lagos Government and police not to comprise but ensure those responsible for Oromoni’s death were punished.
For instance, on Thursday, members of the Ijaw Youth Council staged a protest in front of Dowen College in Lagos, insisting that the school could not resume like others when justice was yet to be served on the matter.
The group condemned the legal advice issued by Oshinusi.
“We are expressing our anger and grievances with the fake and corrupt report released by the Lagos State Director of Public Prosecution that this school where cultists are being trained is cleared. They cleared the same people that killed our son without trial, without concluded investigation; they said they cleared this school to open.
“If they open this school, the whole Ijaw nation will come here, let them try it and see.
“Our son cannot die and their children will walk in here, it’s not possible, we want justice, justice is not done served,” one of the group’s leaders said.
New Zealand PM Jacinda Ardern cancels her wedding amid new Omicron restrictions
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Arden has cancelled her wedding as the nation imposes new restrictions to slow the community spread of the Covid-19 Omicron variant, she told reporters on Sunday.
New Zealand will impose mask rules and limit gathering from midnight on Sunday after a cluster of nine Covid-19 Omicron cases showed community spread from the North to South islands after a wedding.
A family returned to Nelson in the South Island by plane after attending a wedding and other events in Auckland in the North Island. The family and a flight attendant tested positive.
New Zealand will move to a red setting under its Covid-19 protection framework, with more mask wearing. Indoor hospitality settings such as bars and restaurants and events like weddings will be capped at 100 people. The limit is lowered to 25 people if venues are not using vaccine passes, Arden said.
“My wedding will not be going ahead,” she told reporters, adding she was sorry for anyone caught up in a similar scenario. Ardern had not disclosed her wedding date, but it was rumored to be imminent.
Asked by reporters how she felt about the cancellation of her wedding to longtime partner and fishing-show host Clarke Gayford, Ardern replied: “Such is life.”
She added, “I am no different to, dare I say it, thousands of other New Zealanders who have had much more devastating impacts felt by the pandemic, the most gutting of which is the inability to be with a loved one sometimes when they are gravely ill. That will far, far outstrip any sadness I experience.”
New Zealand’s borders have been shut to foreigners since March 2020. The government pushed back plans for a phased reopening from mid-January to the end of February out of concern about a potential Omicron outbreak as in neighboring Australia.
People able to travel to New Zealand under narrow exceptions must apply to stay at state-managed quarantine facilities. The government last week stopped issuing any new slots amid a surge in the number of people arriving with Omicron.
About 94% of New Zealand’s population over the age of 12 is fully vaccinated and about 56% of those eligible have had booster shots.
SERAP drags Nigerian government to ECOWAS Court over undisclosed loans spending
The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project has filed a lawsuit against the government of President Muhammadu Buhari before an ECOWAS Court over “secrecy in the spending of loans so far obtained, the unsustainable level of borrowing by the government and the 36 states, and the crippling debt burden”.
Last week, SERAP lawyers, Kolawole Oluwadare and Opeyemi Owolabi filed a suit before ECOWAS Court of Justice in Abuja, in which the organisation sought, “An order directing and compelling the Federal Government to issue an immediate moratorium on borrowing by itself, and the 36 states, in conformity with the country’s international human rights obligations.”
SERAP is also seeking, “An order directing and compelling the Federal Government to publish details of spending of the loans obtained by governments since 1999 including the list of projects and locations of any such projects on which these loans have been spent.”
The organisation maintained that, “Persistent and unsustainable borrowing by the federal and state governments and the crippling debt burden undermine the rights of Nigerians to economic and social development, and are antithetical to the public interest.
“There is lack of transparency and accountability in the spending of the loans so far obtained, and opacity around the terms and conditions in loan agreements, including repayment details for these loans. The details of the projects on which the loans are spent are shrouded in secrecy.
“Without a moratorium on borrowing, the Federal Government and many of the 36 states may be caught in a process driven mostly by creditors’ needs.
“This will result in an exorbitant social cost for the marginalised and vulnerable sectors of the population.
“The Federal Government and many of the 36 states would seem to be in debt distress or at high risk of debt distress.
“The Senate and House of Representatives recently approved the loans of $5,803,364,553.50 and a grant component of $10million under the 2018-2020 External Borrowing (Rolling) Plan of the Federal Government.
“This followed previous approvals by the National Assembly of $16.2 (16,230,077,718) billion loan; €1 (1,020,000,000) million and a grant component of $125 million loan; $36.8 billion, €910 million loans, and a grant component of $10 million; $8.3 billion and €490 million loans; $6.1 billion, $1.5 billion and 995 million loans; and $4(4,054,476,863), €710 million and grant component of $125million.
“Several of the 36 states are also facing a debt crisis, and vicious debt cycles. According to the Debt Management Office, the foreign debt stock of the Federal Government, 36 state governments and the Federal Capital Territory presently stands at $37.9billion.
“The loans from China alone amount to $3.59billion. According to the UN Independent Expert on foreign debt and human rights, Nigeria faces debt service relative to tax revenues that exceed 20 per cent, with escalating social tensions linked to poverty and inequality.
“According to the World Bank’s IDA FY21 Report, with debt exposure of $11.7billion US Dollars, Nigeria ranked fifth among the top 10 countries with highest debt risk exposure. The top four countries are India with $22billion, Bangladesh ($18.1billion), Pakistan ($16.4billion), and Vietnam ($14.1billion).”
Meanwhile, no date has been fixed for the hearing of the suit.
COVID-19: Nigeria records 29 fresh infections, lowest in two months
The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control has said that 29 people tested positive for Coronavirus on Saturday.
The figure is the country’s lowest single-day count since November 19, 2021 when 23 cases were reported.
In its latest update, NCDC said the positive cases of Coronavirus came from three states.
A breakdown of new cases showed that Lagos — Nigeria’s pandemic epicentre — recorded the highest number of new infections with 27 new positive samples, followed by Kano and Rivers with one each.
According to the agency, 40 persons recovered from the infection while 225,946 people have now been discharged.
No death figure was recorded from COVID-19 complications, leaving the death toll at 3,124.
Since the index case in February 2020, a total of 251,959 Coronavirus infections have been confirmed across Nigeria — out of which 22,889 are active cases.
On Saturday, the Lagos government said the consistent decrease in COVID-19 cases indicates the end of the pandemic’s fourth wave in the state.
Giving a situation update via Twitter, Akin Abayomi, the state’s Commissioner for Health, said there was a reduction in positivity rates — from 29.3 percent recorded on December 21, 2021, to 1.9 percent as of January 20, 2022.
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- SERAP drags Nigerian government to ECOWAS Court over undisclosed loans spending
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