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More Queen’s College pupils take ill…• Parents call for prosecution of ex-principal

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on a daily basis, a pupil of Queen’s College, Yaba, is admitted in one general hospital or another in Lagos State, we learnt.

A parent, whose child had been admitted at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital, Idi Araba, for about a week, told our correspondent that no fewer than 15 pupils of the school were receiving treatment in LUTH.

 

The parent and other parents with children in the school called on the Federal Government to recall a former principal of the school, Dr Lami Amodu, to face criminal charges for negligence and the death of two pupils of the school.

 

Our correspondent had reported that many pupils of the school had diarrhoea after eating spaghetti and water, said to have been contaminated.

 

A teacher in the school had disclosed to our correspondent that one-fourth of the school population was infected with diarrhoea and were initially admitted at the school’s sickbay.

 

Two pupils of the school–Vivian Osuiniyi and Bithia Itulua – were reported to have died after being taken away for proper treatments at home.

 

The Lagos State Commissioner for Health, Dr Jide Idris, had released a statement, saying health records from the school’s sickbay indicated that the illness started on January 16, 2017, adding that a total of 1,222 pupils presented themselves at the school’s clinic on account of abdominal pain, fever, vomiting and diarrhoea.

 

Idris had advised an indefinite suspension of academic activities in the school.

 

The Minister of Education, Mallam Adamu Adamu, was reported to have asked the school’s new principal, Mrs. Bola Are, to cease plans for the resumption of the school.

 

PUNCH Metro, however, learnt that the school’s Junior Secondary School three pupils and Senior Secondary School three pupils had been going to the school as day students because of their certificate exams.

 

A parent, who spoke with our correspondent on the telephone from LUTH on Thurday, said the decision was wrong, adding that some parents had been bringing their children from the school in their uniforms to LUTH.

She said, “My daughter did not show any symptom until about two weeks ago. We took her to a private clinic in our area, where she stayed for five days without any improvement.

 

“Then, we took her to a standard hospital where some consultants battled with the infection. After I had spent about N150,000, I was advised to take her to LUTH.

 

“In LUTH, I saw a lot of Queen’s College parents with their children. We were about 15 in number. Just yesterday, they brought a girl in school uniform. She was brought by her parents directly from the school. Unfortunately, while some of our children are struggling to survive, the school is trying to manage its reputation by lying that all is well.

 

“They are bringing pupils on a daily basis. The school authority and the Federal Ministry of Education are paying lip service to this unfolding incident.”

 

He said on the average, each admitted pupil spent two weeks in the hospital.

 

On Friday, the parent sent a message to our correspondent that another child had been brought in her school uniform to LUTH.

 

PUNCH Metro learnt that the Minister of Health, Isaac Adewole, had instructed all federal hospitals to treat pupils of the school free of charge.

 

A parent said one of the doctors attending to the children cautioned that pupils who had yet to show any sign of infection were more at risk.

 

He said, “We were told that the more the bacterial stays dormant in the body of the girls, the more dangerous it would be. There is a need for the school management to sensitise all the parents whose children have not fallen ill to take urgent action. It is dangerous for pupils to still be using that environment because the infection has not been isolated.”

 

A parent said many of the parents were of the opinion that the former principal of the school must be recalled and made to answer for the incident.

 

He said, “She was just transferred, which is wrong. She should be made to answer to what happened. She should be prosecuted for criminal negligence or manslaughter. The same principal bought a Ford Explorer Jeep.  The Jeep is on the school’s premises. This principal denied that anything happened, and the question is why? Somebody must pay for this.”

 

The Public Relations Officer of LUTH, Mr. Kelechi Otuneme, said he could not confirm the number of Queen’s College pupils in the hospital.

 

He said, “I don’t have that case before me right now, so I cannot tell the frequency at which they bring in pupils and the number of those in the hospital. I will get back to you tomorrow (Monday).”

 

The President of the Old Students Association, Dr Frances Ajose, confirmed the development, adding that she was informed each time a new pupil took ill.

 

She said, “Of course I am aware. I am notified each time they (the pupils) are going to hospitals.”

 

Ajose, however, directed our correspondent to the state Commissioner for Health, Idris, saying he was the only one authorised to comment on the outbreak.

 

A top official of Queen’s College, who begged not to be identified, said she had spoken with LUTH director and was informed many of the pupils had been discharged.

 

“I was told only five pupils are on admission. We are monitoring the situation. I have been praying for the pupils to return to school. The past principal really messed things up and I believe all other schools must have learnt from her mistake,” she added.

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FCMB Manager Arrested For Hoarding New Naira Notes

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A manager of the First City Monument Bank (FCMB) branch in Osogbo, Osun State capital, has been arrested for allegedly preventing Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) loaded with cash from dispensing money to customers.

The spokesperson of the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offenses Commission (ICPC), Azuka Ogugua, in a statement on Friday said the cash bundles were loaded into the ATMs while still wrapped, and as such, could not be dispensed through the machines

“The ICPC Compliance Team in Osogbo has busted an FCMB in Osogbo, Osun State, where some ATMs were loaded with cash with their wrappers un-removed, thus preventing the cash from being dispensed.

“The Team, therefore, directed that the wrappers be removed, and the cash loaded properly’.

Similarly, seven Point of Sale (POS) operators as well as a security guard were arrested during the ongoing exercise in Osun State for charging exorbitant commissions for cash.

Investigations, however, revealed that they got the money from Filling Stations that collect new notes from fuel buyers, but they then resell the cash to the public at exorbitant rates.

The arrested persons are helping the Commission with information to assist investigations and bust any syndicates involved in the hoarding or sales of the redesigned notes.

 

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New naira: ICPC arrests Stanbic IBTC Bank manager over sabotage

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The Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission (ICPC), has arrested an official of Stanbic IBTC Bank in Abuja for alleged sabotage.

The ICPC spokesperson, Azuka Ogugua, said the development was in continuation of ICPC’s clampdown on elements frustrating efforts in making the redesigned Naira notes available to members of the public.

The bank official, who is the branch service head of Stanbic IBTC Bank, Deidei Branch in Abuja, was taken into custody for her deliberate refusal to upload cash into the branch’s Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) even when the cash was available and people were queuing at the ATM points.

The statement reads: “When the ICPC monitoring team stormed the bank at about 1:30pm on Friday to ensure compliance, and demanded explanation as to why all the ATMs were not dispensing cash, the team was informed by the branch’s head of operations that the bank just got delivery of the cash.

“However, facts available to the ICPC operatives indicated that the branch took delivery of the cash earlier around 11:58am and either willfully or maliciously refused to feed the ATMs with the cash.

“Against this backdrop, the ICPC team compelled the bank to load the ATMs with the redesigned Naira notes and ensured that they were all dispensing before arresting the culprit.

“The ICPC said investigations were still ongoing and the Commission will take appropriate actions as soon they are concluded.

“Similarly, seven Point of Sale (PoS) operators as well as a security guard were arrested during an ongoing exercise in Osun State for charging exorbitant commissions for cash.

“Investigations, however, revealed that they got the money from Filling Stations that collect new notes from fuel buyers, but they then resell the cash to the public at exorbitant rates.

“The arrested persons were helping the anti-graft commission with information to assist investigations and bust other syndicates involved in the hoarding and sales of the redesigned Naira notes,” the anti-graft agency said.

 

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N24Billion Fraud: Appeal Court Okays Trial Of Ex-Accountant General, Otunla, After Refunding N6.4 Billion To Nigerian Government

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The Court of Appeal in Abuja has set aside the judgment of a lower court barring the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, from initiating either civil or criminal proceedings against former Accountant-General of the Federation, AG-F, Jonah Oguniyi Otunla.

In a judgment, a three-member panel of the Court of Appeal marked: CA/A/657/2021, on Monday, January 30, 2023, held that Otunla failed to prove that there was actually a non-prosecution agreement between him and the EFCC.

The court upheld the arguments of the lawyer for the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Sylvanus Tahir, SAN, and resolved the four issues, identified for determination, in favour of the Commission.

 

Justice Danlami Senchi, who read the judgment, noted that Otunla did not provide any written commitment, except his words and that of his lawyer, that such an agreement existed.

Justice Senchi held that Otunla could not halt his prosecution by merely claiming that there was an agreement, which existence he failed to establish with any credible evidence.

 

“In the instant case, there is no evidence to support the pleading of the respondent (Otunla) that he will not be prosecuted; that criminal or civil proceedings should not be instituted or initiated against him.

“There is no plea bargain or any documentary evidence relating to the President Panel for the Recovery of Funds. On the whole, the appeal is meritorious and it is allowed. The judgment of the Federal High Court, in suit number: FHC/ABJ/CS/2321/2021 delivered on the 16th day of July 2021 delivered by honourable Justice I. E. Ekwo is hereby set aside,” he said.

 

Other members of the panel – Justices Stephen Adah and Elfreda Williams-Daudu – agreed with the lead judgment.

The EFCC investigated Otunla in relation to two cases: The alleged diversion of about N24 billion meant for disengaged staff of the defunct Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) and the N2 billion allegedly received from the office of the National Security Adviser, ONSA.

 

In July 2021, Justice Inyang Ekwo of the Federal High Court in Abuja upheld Otunla’s claim of an existing verbal agreement between him and the then-acting Chairman of the EFCC, Ibrahim Magu, that he would not be prosecuted if he made a refund to the Federal Government.

Justice Ekwo, in the 2021 judgment on the suit, marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/2321/2021 filed by Otunla, held among others, that, in view of the assurance given to him by Magu, which informed his refund of the money, he could no longer be prosecuted for his actions while in office between 2011 and 2015.

 

Otunla had, in an affidavit, claimed that Magu promised him that he would not be prosecuted should he return funds traced to him and companies linked to him and his associates.

He stated that sometime in 2015, he was invited by a team of EFCC investigators to probe the alleged diversion of funds from the office of the National Security Adviser, ONSA, and the Power Holding Company of Nigeria, PHCN, pension funds. Otunla said he later met with Magu, in the course of the investigation, when the then acting EFCC chair told him in person to “refund the monies linked to your companies and nobody will prosecute you.”

 

He said, based on Magu’s promise, he had a reconciliatory meeting with the team of investigators, where he immediately undertook to make available some funds as refunds.

In line with the agreement, Otunla said one of the companies linked to him – Stellar Vera Development Ltd – refunded N750 million, another company – Damaris Mode Coolture Ltd – refunded N550 million, while the two firms later made an additional joint refund of N2,150,000,000.00 (Two billion, One Hundred and Fifty Million Naira only).

 

He added at a point, he raised several managers’ cheques for N10 million in favour of the EFCC, which he handed to the Economic Governance Section.

Otunla said, in all, he made a refund of N6,392,000,000.00 (Six Billion, Three Hundred and Ninety-Two Million Naira only) to the Federation Account through the EFCC.

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