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Chinese woman freed after two-year jail for setting Lagos hotel ablaze

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A 47-year-old Chinese woman, Zhen Zhen, was on Friday set free by an Ikeja High Court four years after setting ablaze a section of a hotel located in Ikeja, Lagos.

Zhen was set free following a plea bargain agreement she entered into with the prosecution team of the Lagos State Government.

Delivering judgment, Justice Hakeem Oshodi held that Zhen had served more than the two-year sentence recommended in the plea bargain agreement.

“The defendant has shown remorse and has been in prison custody for more than two years.

“The court is satisfied that the defendant understands the charge she pleaded guilty to and therefore accepts her plea of guilt.

“The defendant, Zhen Zhen, having spent two years in prison custody, the court hereby orders that she be released forthwith from prison custody today.

“This is the judgment of the court,” Justice Oshodi said.

Following the judgment, a Chinese interpreter interpreted the judgment to Zhen in Mandarin.

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Zhen, upon hearing that she was now a free woman, smiled and clapped in relief and joy.

Earlier during proceedings, Ms. Yemisi Olatunde, the state prosecutor, had informed the court that the Chinese national had entered a plea bargain agreement dated April 24 with the Lagos State Government.

She noted that under the terms of the plea bargain agreement, Zhen will plead guilty to a lesser charge of willful damage to property contrary to Section 350 of the Criminal Law of Lagos 2015.

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She said Zhen had agreed to serve a two-year prison sentence which will be inclusive of the date of her arrest and detention.

The amended charge was read to her and she pleaded guilty to the charge of causing willful damage to property.

On January 11, 2018, Zhen was arraigned on one count of arson, contrary to Section 341 of the Criminal Law of Lagos 2011.

The prosecution, led by Mr. Tiwaloju Aderoju, said she committed the offense on July 5, 2015, at Ernest Place, a hotel located at No. 28, Bamishile St., Allen Avenue, Lagos.

“The defendant willfully set fire to the building of Mr. Ernest Uwaneyem and destroyed part of the building,” Aderoju said.

Her trial experienced a number of delays, with the prosecution amending the charge on March 6, 2018, and Zhen retaking her plea on November 14, 2018, and pleading not guilty again to a charge of arson.

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Trial commenced a year later on January 11 with the first prosecution witness ASP Gerard Alo.

Alo tendered Zhen’s statement and some documents, which were admitted as exhibits by the court. In his testimony, he noted that the Police had recovered some hard drugs at the crime scene.

Following Alo’s testimony, no other witness testified for the prosecution.

NAN

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Potable water supply: Lagos identifies gaps

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The Lagos State Water Corporation on Thursday said that the state government had evolved measures that would ensure equitable potable water distribution in the state.

The corporation’s Managing Director, Mr. Adekunle Badmus, told journalists that globally there was a shortage of potable water supply.

The LSWC boss spoke on the sidelines of the 11th Olu Awoyinfa Distinguished Annual Public Lecture in Lagos.

The theme of the lecture was “Forming Uncommon Partnership: Solution to Challenges of Developing Nations.“

Badmus said Gov. Babajide Sanwo-Olu’s administration was working on bridging water shortfalls in the state while harnessing the benefits of creating other value chains from water.

“We have a master plan in Lagos State which identified how much water is needed. The gap right now is about 500 million gallons. Whereby we are supposed to be producing 700 million gallons, we are only producing about 210.

“Lagos State is making water a priority. Gov. Babajide Sanwo-Olu has focused on water.

“When he assumed office, he visited all our facilities and he has determined that before the end of his tenure, more people will benefit from safe and potable water in the state,’’ he said.

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The managing director said that ongoing projects in the state had shown that the backwash from some water channels contained substances that could be used for fertilizers.

Badmus said that the resident’s desperation for water supply had led to the proliferation of boreholes in the state, despite the dangers involved in indiscriminate drilling.

The managing director also said that it was imperative for governments in the country to urgently address the water needs, adding that most borehole waters were often polluted due to various factors.

“We need to speed it up, we are still way behind in getting water to everyone that needs to get water. If we continue to delay then our lives will continue to be at risk, because the people who drill boreholes don’t care if the site was a burial ground, dumpster, or old weaponry.

“Yes, there is usually casing for boreholes but they sometimes crack, there is what we call infiltration that goes into the water,’’ he said.

Badmus added that most borehole waters were contaminated from storm waters, groundwaters, and other sources that were harmful for human use.

While delivering his keynote lecture, Badmus called on Nigerian leaders to explore the capacity of local engineers in addressing the nation’s water problem and other developmental challenges.

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He called for partnerships between professionals in various fields to provide scientific solutions to various sectors of the nation’s economy for rapid growth and industrialization.

According to him, developing local capacity would also remove capital flight and ensure the growth of technology in various sectors.

Badmus said that COVID-19 and other current challenges had made the need for partnership with other professional bodies in problems solving inevitable.

“There is enough for everybody to be able to partner and to be able to carry this nation forward. To move Nigeria forward, we have to start to work with each other and bring everybody into the same room and find a way to be able to contribute,’’ he said.

Badmus listed various areas of collaboration in solving societal problems to include agriculture, infrastructure, engineering, and other sectors.

He said there was pressure on health facilities occasioned by poor water supply and sanitation while stressing the need for urgent measures with COVID-19 pandemic to better address the problems of water.

“To deal with these challenges in developing countries, we must be innovative and form uncommon partnerships,” Badmus said.

He said that there should also be uncommon partnerships between Google and pharmaceutical companies, schools, and banks to evolve digital platforms for carrying out activities.

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Badmus said that there should be uncommon partnerships like the Lagos and Kebbi States LAKE Rice partnership that would be of mutual benefit.

“If we are to rid the developing countries of the many challenges encumbering them, then we must be innovative.

“We must begin to form uncommon partnerships across all sectors, from the health sector to the water supply and sanitation, to building infrastructure, agriculture, banking, and so on.

“Uncommon partners will help us to succeed by providing us with capabilities we shouldn’t build ourselves, as well as with fresh insight.

“We should help uncommon partners succeed by creating a mutual relationship which both parties can prosper from,’’ he said.

The lecture, which was organised by the Ikeja Branch of the Nigerian Society of Engineers (NSE), also featured induction of new engineers and presentation of scholarship awards.

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PHOTONEWS: Senate president, principal officers visit Orji Kalu

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Senate Minority Leader, Enyinnaya Abaribe; Chief Whip, Orji Uzor Kalu (left); President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan; Deputy Senate President, Ovie Omo-Agege; and Senate Leader, Yahaya Abdullahi; and Deputy Whip, Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi during a solidarity visit to the Chief Whip after his release from the Kuje correctional facility in Abuja.

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Okowa pledges to connect Delta with roads, bridges for economic growth

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Gov. Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta on Thursday pledged his administration’s resolve to connect the state with roads and bridges for economic growth.

The governor said this while speaking with newsmen after inspecting the Alihami-Agbor-Nta-Oki road in Ika South Local Government Area of the state.

Okowa, who also inspected the Owanta erosion control road project and Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC) Training School, Owa-Oyibu in Ika North East Local Government Area, said the government would sustain road development in spite of the coronavirus pandemic.

He said that the importance of road connectivity to economic development could not be overemphasized, adding that the prevailing pandemic could not stop good governance and infrastructural development of the state.

According to him, connecting the state with roads and bridges will ensure the economic growth of communities.

He assured the people of Delta of his administration’s commitment to executing projects that would impact their lives.

Okowa, who was conducted round the projects by the Commissioner for Environment, Mr. Chris Onogba, and his housing counterpart, Chief Festus Ochonogor said: “we will continue to execute programs and projects that will make our people be prosperous.’’

“In spite of the COVID-19 and the slowdown of so many things we are doing as a state, there is a need to go down and check the things that we intend to continue in the next few weeks.

“I first visited the Alihami-Agbor-Nta-Oki road; it was a surprise visit and the contractor himself was not on site but the workers were on site and it afforded me the opportunity to have first-hand knowledge of the level of work being done.

“A lot of drainage work has been done and some sections of the road have been stone-based.

“That road is very important because when it is completed to Edo border, it means that those going to Jesse, Oghara and Sapele axis will have a much faster route.

“That is very good for us and our people because it connects Delta with a section of villages that are actually in Edo and then to the Jesse end.

“The road interconnectivity is good for commerce and economic development of the benefiting communities and we will continue to construct as many roads as our finances can enable us,” Okowa said.

The governor, who also inspected the Owanta gully erosion and road project, said that the place was terrible before now as several homes had been lost to the erosion, but expressed optimism that with the work being done now, several homes had been saved.

“It’s actually a project of Delta with the World Bank.

“This is one of the five sites in Delta and the contractor, Levante Construction is doing well.

“We are happy with the work being done and he has assured us that even though the rain they will continue working to ensure that a lot of homes are saved.

“We are in the process of awarding contracts for other erosion control projects in the state,’’ he said.

Okowa said the FRSC training school was a collaborative project between the state and the corps because “we believe that the school will have an impact on the economy of this area.’’

“We are providing the buildings; they will provide other needed infrastructure and provide the staffing to enable the school to take off.

“Right from the lockdown, we allowed some contractors to return to the site with strict adherence to the NCDC protocols and that is why we allowed the erosion control project to continue because it can have been a very devastating impact.

“I am glad that the contractors are on course and they have assured me they will continue to work throughout the rains,’’ the governor said

The governor, however, revealed that the state had recorded 106 confirmed cases on COVID-19 to date.

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He said that though the numbers were restricted to certain local government areas, the state had continued monitoring the development.

“For us in Delta, we have 106 cases of COVID-19 now but they are actually restricted to certain local government areas at the moment.

“And we are monitoring the trend and whatever decisions we are going to take as we move into future is going to be based on the data that is available before us.

“This is to ensure that we are making informed decisions and having a targeted approach; that is our intention and we hope that God willing, we will continue to do our best to combat the pandemic,” he said.

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