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Anambra police arrest Punch correspondent over certificate forgery reports on UNIZIK lecturer

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PUNCH correspondent

Some policemen attached to the Anambra State Police Command have arrested the PUNCH correspondent in the state, Tony Okafor, over reports on a suspended senior lecturer of the Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, Dr. Peter Ekemezie.

It was gathered that Okafor was manhandled by the police team before his detention for over six hours at the Area Command.

The reporter said the police claimed to be acting on a petition by Ekemezie.

He said,

“At about 11.15am, two plain-clothes policemen came to Aroma junction, a meeting point for journalists in Awka, the Anambra State capital and said I was under arrest. When I inquired, they said a lecturer at the Nnamdi Azikiwe University wrote a petition against me.

“While the policemen were still explaining to me, the lecturer, Peter Ekemezie, surfaced and started shouting ‘arrest him, he is the purveyor of my travails’.

“The policemen first took me to ‘B’ Division and later transferred me to Awka Area Command, where I was detained for six hours after the intervention of the State Commissioner of Police, John Abang, and the Police Public Relations Officer, Haruna Mohammed. I was taken on bail by a colleague.”

The police spokesperson, Mohammed, however, denied that Okafor was arrested, adding that he was only invited to make a statement based on Ekemezie’s petition against him.

There was an allegation against him. We are investigating an allegation from the petitioner. The allegation is still under investigation. Ask the person and he will tell you the allegation,” he said.

When our correspondent asked the spokesperson if the petitioner provided any evidence for the allegation, he said, “That is what the police are investigating now. That is why I said it was an allegation.”

The PUNCH had run a series of investigation on the lecturer, which culminated in his suspension after years of the alleged cover-up.

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He was to be promoted from the position of a senior lecturer to a Reader (associate professor) when our correspondent began reporting on the matter.

Ekemezie was employed by UNIZIK in July 2010, but his employment immediately generated controversies because he was allegedly employed as Lecturer I Level 11, instead of Lecturer 2, Level 9.

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Sometime in 2013, one Mrs Egolum claimed that the 46-year-old collected money from her to help her process a special degree programme at the University of Port Harcourt.

An investigation into the allegation by a senior staff committee set up by the management of UNIZIK led to the discovery that Ekemezie himself was allegedly parading a forged BSc certificate.

The committee’s recommendation to the management was reportedly swept under the carpet.

A few years after, some lecturers accused Ekemezie of using plagiarised works to gain promotion and special favour from the institution, an allegation confirmed by another committee set up by the school.

Like the BSc certificate, the recommendations were also allegedly ignored.

Ekemezie himself wrote a petition to the Commissioner of Police, Anambra State, accusing some lecturers of fighting against his promotion and planting incriminating documents in his curriculum vitae to implicate him.

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The police investigated and discovered that he lied.

He was subsequently charged with giving false information and certificate forgery.

Still, the university did not act.

The Chairman of the Governing Council, UNIZIK, Azeez Bello, while promising that the council would act on the matter, said some members of the institution’s senate might have been compromised.

Ekemezie’s claim to being an external examiner at the Ambrose Alli University, Ekpoma, and the University of Benin were denied by the authorities of those schools.

The Anambra State indigene had concocted lies against Punch correspondent with which he filed a suit against him before a magistrate’s court. The matter was struck out.

He also sent more than 20 threat and abusive text messages to the journalist.

Further investigation into the academic records of the lecturer showed that he allegedly did not also meet the minimum number of years for his postgraduate diploma, master and Doctor of Philosophy degrees.

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Flood: FCTA demolishes 102 houses in Gwagwalada

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The Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA) has begun the demolition of about 102 houses built along waterways, following the recent flood incident which had claimed some lives in the Gwagwalada Area Council.

Garba Kwamkur, Deputy Director, Monitoring and Enforcement, Department of Department Control, who led the exercise on Tuesday in Gwagwalada, said that the illegal houses had been marked for demolition over one year ago.

Kwamkur noted that the occupants of the affected houses were given enough time to move out of the flood-prone areas, adding, however, that they had refused to obey the directive.

He said that the government could not spare the houses anymore, following the recent forecast of more rains and consequential flooding that would affect the area.

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Kwamkur explained that the affected community was part of the land covering about 260 hectares, allocated within the Abuja Master Plan, for the development of the University of Abuja at Gwagwalada.

He, however, expressed the regret that some indigenous people and other squatters were still occupying the land temporarily.

“The University of Abuja had written to us about the encroachment issue. The settlement here that is due for resettlement has grown beyond its boundary.

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“And we had an issue of the flood last week where five persons, who were carried away by the flood, were confirmed dead.

“We actually had to discuss with the village leaders on the need to move away from the flood-prone area,” he said.
“The FCT Emergency Management Agency has also predicted that there would be heavy flood this year.

“So we are taking some precautionary measures; that’s why all the buildings along flood plains will have to go.

“All the contravention notices have been issued since 2019. No government will sit down and do nothing when the lives of its citizens are being threatened by either flood or any other thing,” he said.

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Responding, the Chief of the community, Mr. Isah Egari, said that he was not opposed to the demolition of the houses built on water channels.

Egari, however, appealed to the FCT administration to give the residents more time to move out of the affected community.

He also called on the demolition team to restrict the bulldozers to the areas close to the water channels to avoid undue hardship on other residents who were not affected.

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Lebanon blast kills over 25 people, leaves scores injured

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Beirut blast

A massive explosion ripped through central Beirut on Tuesday, injuring thousands of people and blowing out windows in buildings across the city.

The blast near the port in the Lebanese capital sent up a huge mushroom cloud-shaped shockwave, flipping cars and damaging distant buildings.

It was felt as far as Cyprus, hundreds of miles away.

At least 25 people were killed in the blast and over 2,500 people have been wounded, Health Minister Hamad Hassan told reporters.

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Footage from the scene captured the injured staggering through streets in the capital; and ambulances, cars and military vehicles packed with the wounded.

One eyewitness described the scenes as “like an apocalypse.”

There were conflicting reports on what caused the explosion, which was initially blamed on a major fire at a warehouse for firecrackers near the port, according to NNA.

The director of the general security directorate later said the blast was caused by confiscated “high explosive materials,” but did not provide further details.

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A red cloud hung over the city in the wake of the explosion as firefighting teams rushed to the scene to try to put out the fire.

At least 10 firefighters were missing, according to the city’s governor Marwan Abboud, who said the scene reminded him of “Hiroshima and Nagasaki.”

“In my life I haven’t seen destruction on this scale,” Abboud said.

“This is a national catastrophe.”

The blast comes at a tense time in Lebanon.

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On Friday a UN-backed panel is expected to issue a verdict on the 2005 assassination of former prime minister Rafik Hariri, a move many fear will stoke sectarian tensions.

The country is also in the midst of an economic meltdown, with ballooning unemployment, a tanking currency and poverty rates soaring above 50%.

 

 

 

 

CNN

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Bayelsa LG chairman’s father regains freedom

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Eighty-year-old Pa Napoleon Alale, the father of the Sagbama Local Government Chairman, Mr. Embeleakpo Alale, has regained freedom after spending about two months in the den of his alleged kidnappers.

The octogenarian was whisked away from his residence at Agbere, Sagbama, on Friday, May 8, 2020, by unidentified gunmen.

Embeleakpo in a statement on Tuesday by his Press Secretary, Dr. Nikade Anderson, confirmed the release of Pa Alale.

The council chairman revealed that the kidnappers dropped his father at Otuokpoti riverside in Ogbia LGA of Bayelsa at about 1am on Tuesday, after making series of contacts with the family towards securing his release.

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Embeleakpo did not however disclose if the family paid any ransom before securing the release of the aged man.

The council boss, while noting that his father was receiving medical attention to ascertain his health status, expressed appreciation to God over the safe return of his father.

He also expressed gratitude to Governor Douye Diri and his deputy, Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo, for their intervention and moral support while the harrowing experience lasted.

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He also appreciated associates, members of the public, security operatives, and the media for the overwhelming display of solidarity during the trying period.

Meanwhile, the Bayelsa State Police Command says it has arrested one ‘Commander’ Mummy Reuben, the alleged mastermind of Pa. Napoleon Alali.

A spokesman for the command, SP Asinim Butswat, said in a statement after the release of the octogenarian that combined efforts by security agencies led to the arrest of the mastermind.

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He said the suspect had confessed to how he conspired with others to carry out the kidnap.

Butswat said: “Consequently, the kidnappers released the victim, Pa. Napoleon Alale, aged 80, on Tuesday, August 4, at about 0100hours at Otuokpoti, Ogbia LGA of Bayelsa.

“The Commissioner of Police, Bayelsa State Command, Mike Okoli, has rejigged the security strategy of the command to reduce crime to the barest minimum in Bayelsa.

“Investigation is ongoing to arrest other fleeing suspects.”

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