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We’are staging Miss Awelewa to promote the rich cultural heritage of the Ijebu people —Dayo Rufai

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Ba’royin Dayo Rufai, is a roving journalist with over a decade experience in celebrity reporting. He is the Founder of Ogun state leading celebrity magazine, Ijebu News Xtra and the CEO, Pigeon Communications. In this interview, he talks about the much celebrated Miss Awelewa beauty pageant which is being organised by his magazine in conjunction with Citi Hotel & Suites Ijebu Ode. Excerpts:

What informed the packaging of the Miss Awelewa beauty pageant?
Like you and I know, we have a distinct culture and tradition in Ijebuland. Over the years, Ijebu people are known to be the most enterprising of their sort in Nigeria. And for your information, hardly will you see any sector in our economy where Ijebu people are not outstanding more than their peers. Apart from this, if you are conversant with the Holy Book of Bible, you would have read about the root of Queen of Shebbah. Till tomorrow, we still have the shrine of that unique woman of style at Oke Eri in Ijebu. In a nutshell, when you couple all these outstanding qualities and rich cultural values of the Ijebus together, you will come to understand the basis of the Miss Awelewa contest. But what we have done in this case is to simply expand the scope of the contest beyond Ijebuland, so that we can collectively celebrate our ageless beauty queen in our campuses across the states. You can therefore simply put that Miss Awelewa beauty contest is to uphold our cultural values by staging a competition to show the talent in our gals.

How would this contest be different from other ones that have been staged in Ijebu?
Thanks. Though, every contest has its limitation. But we have done in this case like I said earlier was to expand invitation beyond our Ijebu soil. Previously, most of the contests are primarily done to make ends meet by the organisers. Ours is outstanding in a way that we are using our platform to discover the talents in these gals for the betterment of their tomorrow. It may interest you to know that we have lined up several activities to enlighten our youths the more against social vices which could lead them astray.

It is not only about contest alone, we are inviting reputable organisations and professionals to where they would be camped to lecture them on these vices. The 15 contestants that we have invited to the camp will also avail themselves with the opportunities some of the tourist attractions in Ijebu and possibly outside the senatorial districts. And we are quite sure we will achieve a better result at the end of the day.

 

What are the activities lined up for the Grand Finale?
You would have read in several newspapers and magazines that Ogun first lady, Mrs Funso Amosun whose empowerment initiative has benefited thousands of people across the local governments is one of our major partners, so also are Mr Segun Oyebolu, the Founder of the Feed The Elderly Foundation, International Breweries, Nestle Nigeria PLC, Consolidated Breweries PLC, Pumavin Herbal Bitter Gin, Citi Hotel & Suites, Bolu Owotomo Initiatives and Wesco Pools and Lottery. We will be putting all these resources together in making the day a grand one.

To be specific on your question, there would be performances from different talented young artistes, display of various artefacts, brief lectures and showcase of Ijebu rich attires and a lot more. Let me quickly add that one of Nigeria leading entertainment companies, Goldmyne Entertainment, owned by Otunba Sesan Rufai, will also be there to handle the red carpet event.

You have not said anything about the prizes?
Smiles…Yes. We have several prizes for different categories of our winners. Don’t forget the fact that we are only doing this in appreciation of our modest ladies and not an avenue to rake in money. Notwithstanding, the winner will be awarded with an all-expense paid trip to United Kingdom, and 21 Inches LCD courtesy Fly4cheaper Nigeria Ltd, one of our major sponsors, a modelling contract for the first runner up and a fridge, while the second runner up will go home with a brand new Tablet.

Apart from these gifts, we also have other consolations prizes for some of the contestants. Once again, I want to seize this opportunity to appreciate many of the media houses that have been helpful in the build-up to this pageant show.

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Ortom begs for forgiveness, withdraws case from tribunal

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Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom, on Tuesday appealed to those he may have offended in the course of his service as governor of the state to forgive him.

This is as he declared his decision to withdraw the case he instituted at the Election Petition Tribunal where he was challenging the victory of the senator-elect of Benue North West Senatorial District, Titus Zam, in the February 25 presidential and National Assembly elections.

Recall that the senatorial aspiration of Governor Ortom was dashed following his defeat on February 25 when he lost to his former aide, Zam.

The governor, while reacting to his loss then, had argued that he was going to challenge the outcome of the election in court as he hinged his decision to what he described as non-transmission of results.

Contrary to that, while addressing journalists on Tuesday after meeting with stakeholders from his constituency and members of his campaign council at the Government House in Makurdi, Ortom said that he had decided to withdraw his case at the tribunal.

“Though there was glaring evidence of malpractices including non-transmission of results electronically during the conduct of the Benue North West senatorial election, I have taken the decision to withdraw my case from the tribunal.”

He added that the decision to withdraw his case from the court was in the interest of peace and without prejudice to the suits filed by other candidates of his party, the PDP.

“As a leader of PDP, I will continue to support the party in collaboration with other leaders to enable it to bounce back from the mistakes and drawbacks that are affecting it at the moment.”

The governor, however, reassured the people of the state that he will continue to provide selfless service in all sectors of development till the end of his tenure on May 29, 2023.

He however made a passionate appeal, “For those I might have offended in this journey of serving the state and our country, I seek their forgiveness as I also forgive those who have offended me.”

The governor commended the resilience of the people of the state for participating massively in the just-concluded elections despite what he described as “glaring provocation and intimidation by the federal might” and also appreciated the PDP in the state for supporting him all the way.

He noted that it had been an honour to serve the people of Benue State as governor, saying he always ensured equity, fairness, justice and the rule of law and has executed the mandate given to him by God through Benue people, adding that he will always be available and ready to carry out God’s mandate as He directs him.

 

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Interview

Fraudsters hack ITEX Integrated Services Limited’s server, steal N435.3m

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The Lagos State Police Command has arraigned a fraud syndicate comprising eight men before the Federal High Court in Lagos for allegedly hacking into the server of an electronic platform, ITEX Integrated Services Limited, and stealing N435.3m.

The defendants including Aderuku Adedayo, Adigun Benjamin, Awopetu Tosin, Ajibade Ayomide, Ojo Olwaseun, Miller Oluwafemi, Olaleye Samuel and Ajibade Ayodeyi, are facing charges bordering on conspiracy, hacking, stealing and fraud preferred against them by the police.

The prosecutor, Morufu Animashaun, told the court that the defendants conspired among themselves and others now at large to commit the offences on September 7, 2022, at 1E, Sinari Daranijo Street, Victoria Island, Lagos.

He said the defendants jointly hacked the company’s server and defrauded the company of N435, 386, 699. 99.

The prosecutor told the court that the first defendant benefitted the sum of N29.9m, while the second defendant received N51m, with the third and fourth defendants benefitting N19m and N20m respectively from the alleged fraudulent acts.

Animashaun further told the court that the fifth to eighth defendants benefitted from the sums of N13m, N3m, N13m and N20m respectively.

He said the first, second, third, seventh and eighth defendants, after the alleged fraud, transferred parts of the money to some people in different banks.

According to the prosecutor, the offences committed contravened Sections 8(a), 1(1)(a), 2(a) and 7(2)(b)of the Advance Fee Fraud and other Fraud Related Offences Act, 2006, and punishable under Section 1(3) of the same Act.

All the defendants pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Following the defendants’ not-guilty plea, the prosecutor asked the court to remand them till the determination of the charges against them.

But the defendants’ counsel, F. F. Abisagbo, told the court that he had filed his clients’ bail application and the same had been served on the prosecution.

The prosecutor, however, told the court that he had not been served with the application.

The court also confirmed that the defendants’ bail application was not before the court.

Consequently, Justice Ambrose Lewis-Allagoa ordered that the defendants be remanded in the custody of Nigerian Correctional Services, and adjourned the case till April 27, for the commencement of trial.

 

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Lagos tenant escapes after storing hemp, landlord jailed

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A Federal High Court sitting in Lagos has sentenced a 51-year-old landlord, Saheed Ojomu, to five-year imprisonment for allowing his tenant to use his shop to warehouse cannabis.

Justice Daniel Osiagor handed down the sentence to the convict after he changed his not-guilty plea to guilty.

The convict was arrested over the banned substance found in one of his shops on March 31, 2017, by operatives of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency.

During his arrest and arraignment, he claimed that the banned substance belonged to one of his tenants, Sakiru (now at large), and pleaded not guilty to the charge.

The charge read, “That you, Saheed Ojomu, 46, on or about March 31, 2017, at No. 1, Osho Street, Island, Lagos State, within the jurisdiction of this honourable court, being occupier and manager of a shop at No.1, Osho Street, Lagos Island, unlawfully permitted same to be used by one Sakiru (now at large) for the purpose of storing and dealing in 372.6 kilogrammes of cannabis sativa, a narcotic drug similar to cocaine, heroin and LSD, thereby committing an offence contrary to and punishable under Section 12 of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency Act, Cap. N30 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004.”

During trial, the prosecution called two witnesses and tendered some exhibits, which the court admitted.

However, at the resumed trial of the convict on Wednesday, his counsel, Mrs Vivienne Ekwegh, informed the court that her client had decided to change his plea.

The prosecutor, Mrs N. J. Mamza, did not object to the application of the defence.

After listening to both counsel on the new development, Justice Osiagor ordered that the convict retake his plea.

After his plea was retaken, the prosecutor reviewed the facts of the case and urged the court to sentence the shop owner in accordance with relevant laws.

But counsel for the convict, Ekwegh, in her plea for mercy, described her client as a ‘victim of circumstances’, as he was unaware that his tenant warehoused the banned substance in his shop.

She, therefore, urged the court to award a fine option in lieu of a custodian sentence.

In his judgment, Justice Osiagor sentenced the convict to five-year imprisonment.

However, the judge ordered the convict to pay a fine of N300,000.

In addition to the monetary fine, the judge also ordered the convict to perform three weeks of non-custodian community service.

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