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Another Judge Withdraws from Okorocha’s Certificate of Return Suit

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The second judge has withdrawn from a suit filed by the Imo State Governor, Rochas Okorocha, seeking an order compelling the Independent National Electoral Commission to issue him a certificate of return as the senator-elect for Imo West.

The development came barely a week after the first judge, Justice Taiwo Taiwo, of the Federal High Court in Abuja, withdrew from the case.

The PUNCH gathered on Monday that after Justice Taiwo withdrew from the case on April 10, it was reassigned to Justice Okon Abang also of the Federal High Court in Abuja.

Justice Abang was said to have on April 11 fixed April 18 for hearing in the suit.

But on the date fixed for the hearing, Justice Abang announced his decision to withdraw from the suit.

His decision was anchored on Okorocha’s letter to the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, Justice Adamu Abdu-Kafarati, asking for the transfer of the case to another judge.

The governor, in the letter, was said to have sought the transfer of the case to another judge because opponents in the case were jubiliating that Justice Abang would dismiss the case.

The judge, upon seeing the letter in the file, immediately informed parties of his withdrawal from the suit.

Justice Taiwo had earlier withdrawn from the suit following allegations of bias levelled against him by two parties to the suit.

INEC had refused to certificate of return to Okorocha on the basis that the Returning Officer for the February 23 election, Prof Francis Ibeawuchi, said he declared the outgoing governor winner of the senatorial election under duress.

Okorocha had subsequently filed the suit, challenging INEC’s decision to withhold the certificate of return due to him as the winner of the election.

But Justice Taiwo, who had been presiding over the matter, announced his decision to withdraw from the case and ordered that the case file be returned to Justice Abdul-Kafarati, for reassignment to another judge.

The judge said he took the decision following allegations of bias levelled against him by Okorocha’s opponents in the February 23, 2019 election, Jones Onyeriri of the Peoples Democratic Party and Senator Osita Izunaso of the All Progressive Grand Alliance.

Onyeriri sent a petition dated April 8, 2019, to the chief judge, demanding that the case file be retrieved from Justice Taiwo and re-assigned to another judge of the court.

In an affidavit deposed to on his behalf by a lawyer, Chijioke Nzekwe, Onyeriri stated that Justice Taiwo on April 5, 2019, had made a bias comment in favour of the plaintiff, Okorocha, when the judge allegedly told INEC’s lawyer, Wendy Kuku, that the commission was responsible for the problems arising from the election.

The affidavit added that the judge had pre-judged the notices of preliminary objection filed by the second and third defendants (INEC and Onyeriri) when he allegedly said he had read through the provisions of the Electoral Act, 2010 (as amended) and found nothing therein that robbed him of the jurisdiction to hear his suit.

Izunaso also filed an application dated April 8, 2019 before the same judge, asking Justice Taiwo to disqualify himself from further handling the matter and return it to the Chief Judge for re-assignment to another judge.

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DHQ Announces Arrest of Two More Suspects of Owo Church Massacre

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The Defence Headquarters on Thursday said two additional suspected terrorists linked with the Owo attack have been arrested.

The Chief of Defence Staff , General Lucky Irabor, had during a meeting with media executives and editors on Tuesday announced the arrest of some suspected terrorists including the mastermind of Owo attack.

The PUNCH reports that armed men stormed the St Francis Catholic Church, Owo on 5 June 2022 and killed no fewer than 40 worshippers.

However, in a statement on Thursday, the Director of Defence Information, Major General Jimmy Akpor, said the duo of Al-Qasim Idris and Abdulhaleem Idris were arrested at the Omialafara (Omulafa), Ose LGA in Ondo State during a joint operation with the DSS, Police .

The statement was titled , ‘Arrest of two additional suspected terrorists in connection with the Owo Catholic Church on June 5,2022.’

It read, “Recall that the Chief of Defence Staff during his parley with media executives and editors yesterday, Tuesday 9 August 2022, informed of the arrest of 4 terrorists among those who carried out the attack on St Francis Catholic Church, Owo on 5 June 2022.

“They were arrested through a combined operation by military and DSS personnel at Eika, Okehi LGA, Kogi State on 1 August 2022. Those arrested include Idris Abdulmalik Omeiza (a.k.a Bin Malik), Momoh Otohu Abubakar, Aliyu Yusuf Itopa and Auwal Ishaq Onimisi.

“Barely few hours after the disclosure by the CDS of the arrest of four of the Owo Catholic Church attackers, two additional ISWAP terrorists, who were also connected to the attack on the church were apprehended at Omialafara (Omulafa), Ose LGA, Ondo State yesterday, August 9 2022.

“The arrests were made through the collaborative effort by military and DSS personnel. The suspects are Al-Qasim Idris and Abdulhaleem Idris. ”

He, however, said that Abdulhaleem, alongside other high profile ISWAP commanders, had previously coordinated attacks on military targets in Okene, Okene LGA, Kogi State , which led to the death of many.

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How 12-Year-Old Boy Killed Nigerian Mother in US

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A 12-year-old Nigerian boy has killed his mother, Ayobiyi Cook, at their home in Forestdale, Alabama, United States.

According to CBS News, the boy “accidentally discharged a firearm” which struck and killed his 29-year-old mom on Monday.

His father, Djuan, a policeman, was said to be at work when the incident happened.

A statement from the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office revealed that the boy had initially lied to detectives about the cause of his mother’s death after cops arrived at the scene some minutes past midnight.

He was reported to have said an intruder broke into the house, shot his mother and fled.

But on further investigation of the killing, he reportedly admitted to killing his mother.

The statement read in part, “The child originally fabricated a story that detectives determined was not possible; the child eventually gave a true account of what happened

“The boy’s family, who he will remain with, has been cooperative. The case will be addressed through the family court system.”

A prior statement by the Jefferson County deputies stated that there had been no forced entry into the home when they arrived at the scene.

It read, “On Saturday, August 6, 2022, at 12:10am, Jefferson County Deputies received a 911 call for help at a residence in the 2400 block of Freemont Avenue in the Forestdale community.  Deputies arrived and found a 29-year-old woman deceased on the scene. There appeared to be no forced entry into the home and a man was seen fleeing from the residence shortly before the 911 call was made. Sheriff’s detectives were able to recover evidence on the scene and are continuing to investigate.”

The deceased’s husband, Djuan, in a Facebook post, said Ayobiyi was known as “Yo” or “YoYo.

He wrote, “The funeral arrangements would be held on August 12. Orange was Yo’s favourite colour so feel free to wear it as we celebrate her life.”

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Ihedioha Denies Making Statement Against Igbo, Peter Obi

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A former governor of Imo State, Emeka Ihedioha, has denied talking down on the presidential candidate of Labour Party, Peter Obi.

Some reports had on Monday claimed that Ihedioha had called Obi ‘crafty’, and had asked Igbos to wait till 2031 for Presidency.

However, a statement by Ihedioha’s media aide, Chibuike Onyeukwu, had asked the public to disregard the statement, adding that it was fake news.

The statement dated August 8, 2022 was titled, ‘RE – 2023: Igbos Should Wait Till 2031, Peter Obi is Crafty’.

It read, “Our attention has been drawn to another fake news, with the above caption, circulated in some social media platforms.

“This is one of the many orchestrated efforts by political opponents of His Excellency, Rt. Hon. Emeka Ihedioha CON and their collaborators who are afraid of squaring up against him in the coming elections.

“It is noteworthy that His Excellency did not grant any interview in Abuja or elsewhere as claimed.

“His Excellency is known to acquit himself in the most civil, decent and respectful manner and therefore could not have employed such uncouth words.

“We are aware that the purveyors of these unfounded reports are unrelenting in their desperation to impugn His Excellency’s integrity and reputation.

“The public, therefore, is alerted and indeed advised to kindly ignore and disregard the fake news.”

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