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Passengers Feared Dead As Bus Carrying Church Members Plunges Into River

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A 30-passenger bus carrying church members returning from a burial in Afikpo, Ebonyi State plunged into a river along Akaeze-Ishiagu bridge on Friday, with many people missing.

A woman out of the five persons rescued by local divers as of 10pm was said to have died in a hospital. The accident occurred around 6pm.

This is just as emergency agencies responded to a tanker explosion at Anthony inward Gbagada area of Lagos. While two vehicles were burnt, casualty figures could not be ascertained as of 11pm.

In the Ebonyi accident, Saturday PUNCH learnt that the bus driver wanted to overtake a truck when he lost control and skidded off the bridge.

The Federal Road Safety Sector Commander in the state, Stella Uchegbu, who confirmed the crash to our correspondent on the phone, said the number of people on board could not be ascertained as the bus was still trapped.

She said, “The accident involved a 608 bus carrying members of a church returning from a burial. They were coming from Afikpo to Enugu. The bus lost control on Akaeze Bridge while trying to overtake a truck or while the truck was trying to overtake it. It lost control and plunged into the river.

“I learnt about five people were rescued by divers organised by the local government area chairman and they were taken to a hospital. We could not ascertain the number of people on board because the vehicle has not been found.

“Being a group outing, we do not know whether they observed COVID-19 protocols. That kind of bus normally carries up to 30 or more passengers. We do not know whether it was fully-laden. Search and rescue is still on and our men are on the ground. The divers said it was already dark and they could not continue.”

The police spokesperson in Ebonyi, DSP Loveth Odah, told our correspondent that one of the rescued victims had died while the four others were receiving treatment.

“The bus is still trapped in the river. We don’t know the number of passengers in the bus,” she added.

A preliminary report on the tanker explosion released by the General Manager, Lagos State Emergency Management Agency, Dr Olufemi Oke-Osanyintolu, indicated that the petrol-laden tanker fell while in motion.

It read, “The agency responded to distress calls and upon arrival at the scene of the incident, it was discovered that a tanker with unknown registration number conveying PMS lost control while in motion and subsequently fell sideways. This led to an explosion in which two unidentified vehicles were burnt.

“A joint team of responders led by LASEMA, LASG fire service, LRU fire unit, Nigeria Police and LASTMA are working together to curb the inferno from escalating further. Casualties cannot be ascertained at this time (11pm) Rescue operation is ongoing.”

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Robbers Shoot Victim for Resisting Rape in Rivers

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Some gunmen suspected to be armed robbers on Wednesday shot their female victim for allegedly resisting a rape attempt on her at Agip Flyover, Rumueme, in the Obio/Akpor Local Government Area, near the Rivers State College of Health Sciences and Management Technology.

PUNCH Metro learnt that the victim was found in a pool of blood and taken to a medical centre, where she was resuscitated.

Speaking to our correspondent in Port Harcourt on Thursday, the President of the Student Union Government, Rivers State College of Health Sciences and Management Technology, Igwe ThankGod, said security guards of the college, who were attracted to the gunshot sound, found the victim and administered first aid to her before the arrival of the police.

ThankGod added that the assailants escaped after perpetrating the act.

He said, “Around 9pm, we heard a gunshot around the flyover at Agip Roundabout, close to my school, and when we went out to investigate what happened, we found out that a girl was shot in her hand after she was robbed of her money, phone and all her valuables. The hoodlums were attempting to rape her when our school security came out and rescued her.”

ThankGod called on the police and the Rivers State Government to beef up security around the flyover to avert a recurrence of the incident.

“We contacted the police at the Sani Abacha Road divisional headquarters and a team came and took the girl to a clinic. But before the police came, we had already taken her to the college clinic, but health officials demanded a police report before they would commence treatment on her, so first aid was given to her before the police patrol team came.

“They said they would be taking her to either the police hospital or the Rivers State University Teaching Hospital so that they could attend to the girl in their presence,” he added.

A spokesman for the Rivers State Police Command, Nnamdi Omoni, who confirmed the incident, said he had yet to get the details.

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I Acted in Self-Defence, Corps Member Who Killed ‘Boyfriend’ Alleges

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The police in Akwa Ibom State have confirmed the arrest of a female National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) member who reportedly killed a man she spent a night with.

A mob almost lynched the woman, identified as Odume Paschaline.

The incident happened in Uyo, Sunday night.

The police spokesperson in the state, Odiko MacDon, said Ms Paschaline is being treated as a murder suspect.

“She was arrested because she murdered (killed) one Akwaowo,” Mr MacDon, a superintendent of police, told PREMIUM TIMES, Monday.

“We got a distress call, we responded to that distress call at 219 Abak Road, Uyo. When we got there they were at the verge of lynching her, so we had to rescue her. Preliminary investigation revealed that she and the guy went out to the guy’s house. She said that the guy, in his house, brought out a machete and said he wants to kill her. She said she acted in self-defence, picked up the machete and used it on him.

“The CP (commissioner of police) has ordered a very ‘discreet’ investigation. As I speak, we have her in custody and as soon as we are done with our investigation, that matter will be charged to court.”

Julius Amusan, the NYSC coordinator in Akwa Ibom State, confirmed that Ms Paschaline is a corps member serving in the state.

Mr Amusan said the incident was “very sad and unfortunate”.

“We cannot run away from the fact that she is a corps member, we owe her the obligation to ensure that thorough investigation is carried out into the matter. As it is, it is a criminal offence and beyond what NYSC can handle,” he said.

The coordinator said ”(as soon as) the NYSC authorities heard of the incident, they got in touch with the police to establish if the person involved was truly a corps member.

“We have met with the police and we have established that she is a corps member, and the police have assured us they are going to carry out an investigation into the circumstances surrounding the incident,” he said.

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Opinion: OMS: The Missing Links in Hosa Okunbo’s Tale

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By Anthony Badmus

Ordinarily, the attempt by Captain Hosa Okunbo to obfuscate the real issues and confuse the public through a massive manipulative media onslaught should be dismissed as a desperate and futile effort to clean his Augean stable. However, the inept and unskillful manner of his media campaign has only revealed to the discerning mind the missing links and his deliberate attempt to sidestep, if not totally avoid, addressing the substance of the issues in contention.

The issues in contention are crystal clear and unambiguous. The deliberate and orchestrated campaign to demonise Tunde Ayeni, a major investor and co-founder of Ocean Marine Services Ltd has failed to achieve its intended purpose but has rather resulted in leaving people wondering why the substance of the critical issues recently brought to fore in the public domain have been intentionally left unattended to.

Captain Okunbo wants Nigerians to believe that Tunde Ayeni has irrationally relinquished his shares in Ocean Marine Services to him. His claims are premised on an illogical notion that a highly discerning and successful entrepreneur such as Tunde Ayeni sold the totality of his over 30% equity stake in OMS, a multi-million dollar going concern valued well in excess of US$100 million, for a paltry sum of N2 billion (US$4.5 million) and a little change. He wants the corporate Nigeria to buy into the false narrative that a business strategy aimed at ensuring that huge debts owed the company was recouped was actually a forfeiture of investment decision, thereby resulting in a situation where he, Okunbo, has become the absolute Lord of the OMS Manor, whilst the man whose idea and contacts gave birth to the investment can take a dive.

However, it is common knowledge that deception has its limits and treachery has its expiry date. Discerning corporate players are not taken in by Okunbo’s wasteful media antics and the attempts to give a bad name to the one on whose back he rode to wealth and stardom. Assuming, without conceding, that his erstwhile Partner’s investments are now his in return for the proverbial bowl of pottage, a la Essau, does that, in any way, extinguish the critical corporate issues bordering on the illicit diversion of OMS’s corporate revenues that Okunbo has been called out to address?

Many still wonder what type of media battle is this that fails to address the salient issues that could clear his name once and for all, provoking the question: “Why is Okunbo dodging confronting the real issues?”

The critical issues here are gross mismanagement, stealing and criminal diversion of company funds. This matter is fundamentally about the abuse of business ethics and corporate governance for selfish ends.

Why is Okunbo maintaining a deafening silence on the allegation of the unauthorised withdrawal of $10 million allegedly spent on settling a Senate Hearing on one of the Subsidiary Companies, Secured Anchorage Area, SAA? When did the Board sit to approve such bizarre expenditure and on what basis?

Why is the recently deposed King Maker of Edo State Politics not in town to address the issue of the alleged illegal withdrawal of $8 million allegedly and supposedly spent on the Presidency, whatever that means. That withdrawal, which is what EFCC is currently investigating, was claimed to be funds withdrawn to take care of the dispute between the company and Ministry of Transportation and the Nigeria Ports Authority, NPA.

Why is this self-acclaimed Lord of the OMS Manor with intimidating resources to buy all available media spaces and pages not addressing the gross allegation of diverting $5.5 million, being the proceeds of the sale of the company’s Challenger Aircraft, to his personal farm in Benin?

And this is not all. The EFCC is also beaming its searchlight on the company’s $5 million, which Okunbo allegedly singlehandedly withdrew and claimed to have invested in an oil block owned by Star Oil as a 5 per cent stakeholder.

Another key issue that will engage the attention of the anti graft agency is the $1 million which the Captain allegedly claimed to have borrowed from the company but which he has refused to pay back.

The alleged infractions are legion. How does one justify a claim by a company Chair that he expended $30 million on a film on Oil Spill in the Niger Delta Region and expect investors and, even the long suffering Niger Delta people to be excited?

But the mother of all infractions appears to be Okunbo’s recent political misadventure in Edo State where he threw in an intimidating war chest which unfortunately yielded a colossal failure. An unspecified amount of money estimated at about $18 million allegedly withdrawn from the company’s account, was said to have been expended on that costly political misstep.

The EFCC definitely has its job clearly cut out for it in respect of the many infractions at OMS.
Okunbo will be explaining to the anti graft agency why he singlehandedly moved the company’s account from Polaris Bank to StanbicIBTC and thereby abandoning the loan repayment commitment by the company to the consortium of banks that funded the acquisition of Ibadan and Yola Electricity Distribution Companies. The loan currently is about $100 million.

As damning and mind boggling as these issues are, corporate watchers find it strange that at OMS’ so-called Board meeting of December 17 2020, the Board could only have a one line response to the issues raised as follows: “…that its accounts are in good and correct order and its funds are intact and not missing, misappropriated or otherwise mismanaged.” Of course, the so-called Board members are his minions and those with insignificant stakes in the company.

That the ‘Board’ could take such major issues bordering on corporate governance and accountabily with such levity and treat Nigerians with such disdain speaks to the mindset of this Lord of the Manor who must have convinced himself that he could get away with any infractions since, in his worldview, everything and everyone has got a price.

But the day of reckoning draws closer and it is just a little more time before Nigerians will find out that some gods truly have feet of clay.

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