Man Commits Suicide After Shooting, Killing His Companion

Gunman Kills Four In California Mass Shooting
File photo

A man shot and killed his companion in front of shocked onlookers in the heart of Zurich, Switzerland on Friday before turning the gun on himself, police said.

“A 38-year-old man shot several times at a 35-year-old woman and then shot himself,” Zurich city police said in a statement, adding that according to their initial findings this was “a relationship crime”.

The shots rang out around 2:30 pm (1330 GMT) outside a UBS bank branch just a stone’s throw from Zurich’s railway station.

Police said the exact circumstances surrounding the shooting were still being investigated.

In an earlier statement, police described how “rescue workers were dispatched and found one dead and one person badly injured, who later died of their injuries.”

Police cordoned off a large area around the scene and insisted that the “situation is under control.”

An AFP reporter on the scene saw around a dozen police vehicles and heavily-armed officers controlling the cordoned-off area.

Police did not provide any more details about the couple, but the Blick daily reported that they were both Italian nationals.

The paper also quoted a witness saying the couple had been at a nearby restaurant when they began a loud argument.

“They both went out into the street. There, the man shot the woman, and then turned the gun on himself,” the unnamed witness was quoted as saying.

A picture published by the paper clearly showed a gun lying next to one of two covered bodies.

The 20Minutten daily also quoted a witness saying he had heard five shots ring out and had looked out the window of his classroom at a nearby school.

He said he had seen two people on the ground, one of them apparently holding a gun, the paper said.

AFP

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After Shooting, Florida To Station Police Officer At Every School

In this file photo taken on February 17, 2018 Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School student Emma Gonzalez reacts during her speech at a rally for gun control at the Broward County Federal Courthouse in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. PHOTO: RHONA WISE / AFP

A police officer will be stationed at every public school in Florida, the state’s governor announced Friday as part of a plan to improve security following last week’s deadly high school shooting.

President Donald Trump repeated his call, meanwhile, for arming some of America’s teachers and claimed the controversial proposal was increasingly drawing support.

The push to make schools safer came as the local sheriff’s office released details of nearly two dozen visits to the residences of Nikolas Cruz, the 19-year-old behind the assault at Marjory Douglas Stoneman High School in Parkland, Florida.

Speaking at a news conference in the state capital Tallahassee, Republican Governor Rick Scott unveiled a $450 million security plan in response to Valentine’s Day rampage.

“There is nothing more important than the safety of our children,” Scott said. “We must take care of our kids.”

“I am proposing at least one law enforcement officer for every 1,000 students,” Scott said of putting police in public schools.

Asked about Trump’s proposal that teachers carry concealed weapons, Scott replied: “My focus is on providing more law enforcement officers, not on arming the teachers.”

Scott proposed a ban on “bump stocks” — an accessory which turns a semi-automatic weapon into an automatic one — and making it easier for courts “to prohibit a violent or mentally ill person from purchasing or possessing a firearm.”

Scott also said the age for gun buyers in the state would be raised from 18 to 21 — a move opposed by the powerful National Rifle Association (NRA) gun lobby.

The governor stopped short, however, of endorsing a ban on assault weapons — a demand of many of the teenagers who survived the shooting at Stoneman Douglas that left 14 of their classmates and three staff dead.

“I know there are some who are advocating a mass takeaway of Second Amendment rights for all Americans,” Scott said — referring to America’s constitutional right to bear arms. “That is not the answer.”

“Keeping guns away from dangerous people and people with mental issues is what we need to do,” he said.

Trump also does not support a ban on semi-automatic weapons and in a speech to a conservative gathering near Washington, he returned again to his idea of arming teachers.

– ‘Shot the hell out of him’ –

Speaking to a receptive crowd of thousands of fellow Republicans at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), Trump said “well-trained” teachers could help stop school shootings.

“Maybe 10 percent or 20 percent of the population of teachers,” he said. “Not all of them, but you would have a lot.

“And the beauty is it’s concealed,” Trump said.

Referring to Cruz, the Stoneman Douglas assailant, Trump said: “a teacher would have shot the hell out of him before he knew what happened.”

Trump claimed his proposal to arm teachers, which has been strongly criticized by the nation’s largest teachers’ unions, was drawing support.

“Since I started this two days ago, a lot of people that were totally opposed to it are now agreeing,” he said. “They don’t want their students to be killed or to be hurt.”

Trump proposed measures preventing the mentally ill from obtaining weapons and to “really strengthen up background checks” for gun buyers.

“And I really believe that Congress is going to get it through this time,” he said.

Lawmakers in Washington have been deadlocked on the gun debate, accomplishing nothing despite a spate of mass shootings and polls showing Americans support stricter gun laws by a two-to-one margin.

– ‘Coward’ –

Trump also criticized by name the sheriff’s deputy who allegedly failed to take action against Cruz during theshootingspree, saying he had been a “coward.”

Scot Peterson has resigned after being suspended without pay.

Three other Broward Country Sheriff’s deputies also stayed outside the school and did not enter as the crisis unfolded, US media reported.

The Wall Street Journal obtained a transcript of a call from a tipster to the FBI more than one month before the massacre, in which she expressed concern Cruz would “get into a school and just shoot the place up.”

The FBI has said it received such a call, which did not lead to any law enforcement follow-up, from a person close to Cruz, but it was the first time the details were made public.

The 19-year-old had amassed multiple guns following his mother’s death in November, and had posted on social media that “he wants to kill people,” the caller said, describing a history of disruptive and violent behaviour.

“I know he’s — he’s going to explode,” she warned.

The sheriff’s office also released details of 23 calls to the various homes where Cruz lived over the past nine years.

The earliest call dates from November 2008 when Cruz, then nine years old, threw a rock at another boy who had thrown a rock at him.

Other calls to the police were from Cruz’s late mother, Linda, after she was involved in altercations with her son or he was fighting with his brother.

Two of the most disturbing calls — in February 2016 and November 2017 — were tips that Cruz was armed and may be planning to attack a school.

The sheriff’s office said an internal investigation was underway into how those calls were handled.

AFP

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Gucci Donates $500,000 To US Student Gun Reform March

Italian luxury fashion brand Gucci on Friday followed a slew of US celebrities in announcing a donation of $500,000 to next month’s student march on Washington demanding tougher gun controls.

The donation, first reported by Women’s Wear Daily and confirmed by a Gucci spokeswoman in the United States, gives another huge boost to what is considered an unprecedented youth mobilization against gun violence following last week’sshooting in Florida.

“We stand with March For Our Lives and the fearless students across the country who demand that their lives and safety become a priority,” the label said in a statement.

“We have all been directly or indirectly impacted by these senseless tragedies.”

The rally is scheduled to take place on March 24, with sister rallies planned across the country to demand that US Congress come up with effective legislation to address the epidemic of gun violence in the United States.

The Washington Post says organizers expect up to 500,000 people to attend, according to their event permit application.

The rally is being organized by students from the Florida high school where a 19-year-old armed with a semi-automatic rifle killed 17 people in Parkland, Florida.

On Monday, George Clooney and his human rights lawyer wife Amal, Oprah Winfrey, director Steven Spielberg and his actress wife Kate Capshaw, and film producer Jeffrey Katzenberg and his wife Marilyn each also pledged $500,000.

Gucci creative director Alessandro Michele told Women’s Wear Daily that he was “truly moved” by the courage of the Parkland students.

“My love is with them and it will be next to them on March 24. I am standing with March for Our Lives and the strong young women and men across the United States who are fighting for their generation and those to come,” he said.

Tapping into the millennial market, Gucci’s pre-fall advertising evokes the French student protests of 1968, with Gucci-wearing rebels occupying a campus demanding change.

AFP

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2018 SMW: Thousands To Discuss Future Of Media In Lagos

2018 SMW: Thousands To Discuss Future Of Media

Thousands of social media users and media professionals are set to converge on Lagos on Monday to discuss the future of the media and other key themes in the industry.

The platform for this discussion is the 2018 edition of the Social Media Week (SMW) which will explore the intensifying conflict between community and individualism.

The week-long event with the theme “Closer” will start on Monday, February 26 at the Landmark Event Centre, Victoria Island, Lagos and end on Friday, March 2.

Beyond being expected to attract thousands of social media users, it will bring together a diversity of perspectives to discuss the most productive ways to harness the forces to drive innovation and improve consumer experiences.

During the week, there will be over 100 other keynotes, panels discussions, master classes, digital installations, co-working spaces, and networking events.

Among this is the session ‘The Future Of Broadcast Media: A Conversation With Chairman/CEO, Channels Media Group, Mr John Momoh, and award-winning public relations and communications expert, Claudine Moore.

The hour-long conversation is scheduled to commence at 10:30 am. Click to register: http://sched.co/DoaT

The Social Media Week will also explore a wide range of topics including business, entertainment, education, technology, and politics.

The event is part of the larger Social Media Week conference hosted in 12 cities around the world.

According to the organisers, the event is free and open to the public.

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Yobe Attack: FG Has Failed To Learn From Chibok – BBOG

BBOG Co-convener, Aisha Yesufu

Co-convener of the Bring Back Our Girls (BBOG) movement Aisha Yesufu has said that the Federal Government has failed to learn lessons from the abduction of the Chibok School girls in 2014 – a situation which she says has resulted in a recurrence of such in Yobe state.

“It’s a sad situation, it’s really heart breaking that we are seeing April 2014 all over again because what is happening right now is exactly the same thing that happened with our Chibok Girls’ abduction and it’s so sad that as a country we didn’t learn anything and right now, we have sketchy information all over the place – exactly what happened in the case of the Chibok girls,” she said.

Yesufu made the comments on Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily on Friday, while addressing the issue.

Over 50 schoolgirls went missing on Monday, from the Government Girls Science Technical College (GGSTC) located in Dapchi, Headquarters of Bursari Local Government area of the Yobe state.

They were said to have disappeared after gunmen suspected to be Boko Haram terrorists invaded the school.

The news comes nearly four years after over 200 girls were abducted in a similar manner, from their school in Chibok, Borno state by the insurgents.

While the Federal Government has been able to secure the release of some of the girls in the passing months, many are still yet to be rescued.

Read Also: Over 50 Schoolgirls Missing After Boko Haram Attack, Yobe Govt Confirms

In the wake of the fresh attack, there are renewed fears that the same might be the fate of the Yobe school girls.

The Bring Back Our Girls group which immediately swung into action over the Chibok girls, with series of protests aimed at mounting pressure on the government to do more in its efforts to rescue them, has yet again urged the government to invest in intelligence gathering and proper investigation of such cases.

Yesufu criticised the state government for disseminating false information regarding the release of the girls; 50 of whom were earlier reported to have been released.

“It’s quite sad and it’s time for the Federal Government, the state and the military to come out with accurate information. What is the value of the Nigerian life if this is allowed to happen again almost four years after.

“It just tells us like I said earlier that nothing was learnt.

“Our focus, as we have said repeatedly, is that the government must invest in Intelligence gathering, it must invest in investigation. So obviously what happened is that there was more interest in bringing out a statement than there was in investigation and actually verifying how many of our girls are missing,” she said.

Speaking further, Yesufu also accused the state government of slow response to the news saying: “The incident happened on the 19th, yesterday was 22nd, immediately it happened, the governor ought to have been there, the President ought to have been there by now too.

When asked if the group is optimistic of the girls’ return, she explained that in the first place it was a ‘hard pill to swallow’ as they were yet to come to terms with the news, especially considering the lingering pain of the Chibok attack.

“Ignorance, they say, sometimes is bliss. When we started the movement four years ago, we didn’t know what it will entail but right now we know what it is. We were looking at the light at the end of the tunnel with some of our rescued Chibok girls, saying that in no time they will come back home and now we have been thrown back into the darkness of where we started from where there was no hope”.

The state and Federal Government have, however, promised to do all they can to bring back the missing school girls.

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US Asks UN To Blacklist North Korean Entities For Smuggling

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley delivers a speech during a United Nations Security Council meeting at the United Nations headquarters on December 8, 2017, in New York City. Photo: Stephanie Keith/Getty Images/AFP

The United States asked the United Nations Security Council on Friday to blacklist a number of North Korean entities involved in smuggling oil and coal in violation of sanctions resolutions.

The US request came after President Donald Trump announced new sanctions against North Korea-linked shipping assets in a package he described as the “heaviest” ever against Pyongyang.

The US mission said it had submitted a list to the council’s sanctions committee “aimed at shutting down North Korea’s illicit maritime smuggling activities to obtain oil and sell coal.”

The mission did not provide details but said the action coincided with one taken by the US Treasury Department, which is expected to target “56 vessels, shipping companies and trade businesses,” according to the White House.

Imposing sanctions on North Korean entities requires the approval of all 15 council members, including the North’s ally China. It was not immediately known when a decision on the request would be made.

“Today’s unprecedented actions make it clear that the United States will not let up on North Korea,” US Ambassador Nikki Haley said in a statement.

“We are ramping up the pressure on the North Korean regime, and we’re going to use every tool at our disposal, including working with our allies and through the UN, to increase the pressure until North Korea reverses course.”

The Security Council last year adopted a series of resolutions to tighten and expand export bans aimed at cutting off revenue to North Korea’s military programs.

The measures ban coal exports and severely restrict deliveries of oil and refined petroleum products, but a recent report by a UN panel of experts found that North Korea had succeeded in circumventing sanctions.

North Korea earned $200 million in revenue last year from exports of coal, iron, steel and other banned commodities, the report said.

AFP

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Car Bombs Kill 18 In Somali Capital

This file photo shows the scene of a car bombing in Mogadishu on October 29, 2017. Photo: Mohamed ABDIWAHAB / AFP

At least 18 people were killed and 20 wounded when two car bombs exploded on Friday near the presidential palace and a hotel in the Somali capital of Mogadishu, the city’s main ambulance service said.

Jihadist rebels claimed the attack.

“We have so far collected 18 bodies and 20 wounded persons from one of the blast scenes,” Abdukadir Abdurahman Aden of the Aamin Ambulance told AFP.

The bombings targeted the presidential palace and a city hotel, police said.

The first blast, followed by gunfire, occurred at a checkpoint close to Villa Somalia, the name for the seat of government, while a second followed soon after at a hotel.

“I can confirm an attack in the vicinity of the presidential palace,” said police officer Ibrahim Mohamed.

“Another car loaded with explosives went off close to a recently opened hotel,” Mohamed added.

The Shabaab Islamist militant group claimed the attacks in a statement posted online, saying it was targeting the government and security services.

The blasts follow weeks of relative calm in Mogadishu.

According to officials, the main attack involved the use of a vehicle loaded with explosives attempting to breach a checkpoint leading to the presidential palace but security forces prevented the assault.

“The security forces foiled the intent of the terrorists. They were aiming for key targets but they could not even go closer, there were five of them killed by the security force,” said Abdulahi Ahmed, a security officer.

“The situation is back to normal and the security forces are in control,” he added.

The Shabaab is fighting to overthrow Somalia’s internationally-backed government. In October it carried out its deadliest-ever bombing, killing over 500 people.

In the wake of that attack Somalia’s government declared a fresh offensive against the group and US drone strikes have increased in frequency.

While the militant group was pushed out of the capital in 2011 by an African Union force it continues to control large parts of the countryside and launches regular attacks on government, military and civilian targets.

AFP

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US To Open Jerusalem Embassy In May For Israel’s 70th Anniversary

A picture shows the Dome of the Rock mosque and a general view of Jerusalem on December 1, 2017. Photo: THOMAS COEX / AFP

The United States said Friday it will relocate its embassy in Israel to Jerusalem in May, bringing forward the contested move to coincide with the Jewish state’s 70th birthday — and enraging Palestinians, who called it a “blatant provocation.”

Palestinians object to recognition of the disputed city as Israel’s capital, and say it could destroy a two-state solution to the decades-old Middle East conflict.

Palestinians also object to the date chosen for the embassy move — they call May 14, on which Israel declared independence in 1948, Naqba, their “day of catastrophe.”

Israel’s intelligence minister meanwhile congratulated US President Donald Trump on the embassy move, which had previously been expected to take place in 2019, saying there was “no greater gift.”

The embassy move is expected to complicate efforts to restart peace talks between the Israelis and Palestinians — and jeopardize the traditional, if disputed, US role as an “honest broker” in efforts to resolve one of the world’s most intractable conflicts.

“In May, the United States plans to open a new US embassy in Jerusalem. The opening will coincide with Israel’s 70th anniversary,” State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert in a statement.

Until now, the US embassy has been located in Tel Aviv with a separate consulate general located in Jerusalem that represents US interests in the Palestinian territories.

The new embassy will be initially located in a US consular building in Jerusalem’s Arnona neighborhood while Washington searches for a permanent location, “the planning and construction of which will be a longer-term undertaking,” Nauert said.

The interim embassy will contain office space for the ambassador and “a small staff,” she said.

“By the end of next year, we intend to open a new embassy Jerusalem annex on the Arnona compound that will provide the ambassador and his team with expanded interim office space,” she added.

Trump broke with decades of policy in December to announce US recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and a pledge to move the embassy, drawing near global condemnation, enraging the Palestinians and sparking days of unrest in the Palestinian territories.

It ruptured generations of international consensus that Jerusalem’s status should be settled as part of a two-state peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians.

‘Destruction of two-state option’

The Palestine Liberation Organization immediately decried Washington’s embassy announcement as a “provocation to all Arabs.”

“The American administration’s decisions to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and choose the Palestinian people’s Naqba as the date for this step is a blatant violation of international law,” PLO number two Saeb Erekat told AFP.

He said the result would be “the destruction of the two-state option, as well as a blatant provocation to all Arabs and Muslims.”

Israel follows the Jewish lunar calendar, so this year’s official independence celebration falls on April 19.

Israeli intelligence minister Israel Katz welcomed the May opening, taking to Twitter to congratulate Trump on the decision to transfer the embassy.

“There is no greater gift than that! The most just and correct move. Thanks friend!” Katz wrote.

Israel claims all of Jerusalem as its capital, while the Palestinians see the eastern sector as the capital of their future state.

Trump said his recognition of Jerusalem — making good on a 2016 campaign pledge — marked the start of a “new approach” to solving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Israelis and Palestinians alike have seen his move as Washington taking Israel’s side in the conflict — a view reinforced by the White House’s recent decision to withhold financing for the UN agency for Palestinian refugees.

Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas this week travelled to the United Nations to call for an international conference by mid-2018 in which the United States would not have the central mediating role in launching a wider peace process.

Trump’s envoy for Middle East peace, Jason Greenblatt, and his son-in-law and advisor Jared Kushner subsequently met behind closed doors with UN Security Council ambassadors soliciting their support for a prospective Trump peace plan.

While the Palestinians want a new international mechanism to shepherd peace talks, the details of the Trump plan and its timing are still unclear.

The revised schedule on the embassy move comes after US Vice President Mike Pence pledged only last month to move the embassy by the end of 2019 in a speech to Israel’s parliament that saw Arab lawmakers expelled after they shouted in protest.

“The hardest deal to make of any kind is between the Israelis and Palestinians,” Trump told reporters Friday at the White House.

“We’re actually making great headway. Jerusalem was the right thing to do.”

AFP

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Indian State Offers Free Breast Implants To Poor Women

Thousands of poor women in India’s Tamil Nadu state have been offered free cosmetic breast surgery, including implants, its health minister said Friday, because “poor people also have a right to look beautiful”.

The southern Indian state is known for its populist schemes, which have previously included free canteens and providing thousands of disadvantaged people with goats, laptops and bicycles among other items.

It will now offer cosmetic breast surgery free of cost to all women — for aesthetic or medical reasons — with priority given to those from the poorest sections of society.

“If a poor woman desires to look beautiful, we will support her financially,” state health minister C. Vijayabaskar told AFP.

“Whether they require medical procedures or beauty treatment, it will be free.”

Tamil Nadu is ranked among the top states in India’s public healthcare system, compared with ailing government-run facilities in many other parts of the vast country.

But critics of the new scheme said the state government is wasting public money on cosmetic surgery instead of spending money on treating serious ailments.

“It is sad that we are now focusing on beauty instead of life-saving surgeries,” Dr S. Elango, a former public health official in Tamil Nadu, told the Times of India newspaper.

Cosmetic breast surgery is becoming increasingly popular in India, but private hospitals charge anywhere between $2,300 to $3,800 for a procedure — a year’s wage for most Indians.

More than 90,000 such procedures were carried out in the country in 2016, according to the International Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, up from 50,600 in 2010.

The Tamil Nadu scheme was launched Wednesday at a state-run clinic in state capital Chennai, with a promise to soon expand it to other districts of the state.

V. Ramadevi, who heads the clinic, told AFP some women want such surgery because they “face psychological issues that may severely impact their lives.”

“Their career, (their) marriage are derailed because they are taunted and their confidence is shattered,” she said, adding that the clinic expects up to 150 women a month to take up the offer.

One of India’s more prosperous states, Tamil Nadu has for decades offered freebies to its marginalised population, mostly under the government of popular actor-turned-politician Jayalalithaa. She died in 2016 but her party still rules the state.

AFP

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U.S. Condemns Abduction Of Dapchi Schoolgirls

U.S. Condemns Abduction Of Dapchi Schoolgirls
Mr Stuart Symington

The United States government has strongly condemned the abduction of some girls from the Government Girls Technical College, Dapchi, in Yobe State.

Addressing reporters in Kaduna State, the U.S. Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr Stuart Symington, described the invasion of schools and abduction of innocent students by the Boko Haram terrorists as the highest height of desperation by the outlawed group.

READ ALSO: Dapchi Schoolgirls’ Abduction A National Disaster – Buhari

Symington who spoke after visiting a tomato farm in Igabi Local Government Area of the state alongside Governor Nasir El-Rufai, urged Nigerians to support the government in tackling insecurity in the country.

“There are many reasons for insecurity in the world, but the greatest reason is that people sometimes depend on others to keep them secured,” he said.

The business of keeping Nigeria secure is not the business of any small group of Nigerians, it’s the business of every day of every Nigerian.”

On ways to tackle the Boko Haram insurgency and develop the country, the US Envoy is of the view that the Federal Government must tackle poverty, illiteracy, and underdevelopment at all levels.

He stressed that such challenges are what breed insecurity, pointing out the urgent need for the government to address the issues, especially in the North East where the insurgency has killed several people displaced thousands.

“The fundamental way for Nigeria to be even greater tomorrow than it is today is for every Nigerian to be educated and healthier; have a better job, have a better life, have a better sense of their own civic duties and responsibilities,” Symington said.

Conflicting figures of the abducted girls had emerged after suspected terrorists stormed the school on Monday and forcefully took away some girls while others were said to have fled into the bush.

In a statement by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity Garba Shehu, President Muhammadu Buhari described the abduction as a national disaster.

The President, however, gave the assurance that no effort would be spared by the Federal Government to rescue the girls and bring succour to their families.

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EFCC Re-Arraigns Justice Ofili-Ajumogobia, Obla

Ajumogobia
Rita-Ofili-Ajumogobia

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission has re-arraigned a serving judge of the Federal High Court, Justice Rita Ofili-Ajumogobia and a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, SAN, Godwin Obla, for allegedly involving themselves in unlawful enrichment and conspiracy to pervert the course of justice.

They were re-arraigned before Justice Hakeem Oshodi of a Lagos High Court sitting at Ikeja after the EFCC amended the charges against them.

The duo was first arraigned in November 2016 on 30-counts but the new charge has 31 counts.

In the fresh charges, Justice Ofili-Ajumogobia was, among other things, accused of receiving a total of $793,800 in several tranches from different sources between 2012 and 2015 “so as to have a significant increase in your assets that you cannot reasonably explain the increase in relation to your lawful income.”

On Obla’s part, he was accused of offering N5m as gratification to the judge so as to allegedly pervert the course of justice.

The offences are said to be contrary to certain sections of the Criminal Laws of Lagos State No. 11, 2011.

The defendants again pleaded not guilty to the fresh charges.

The EFCC Immediately called its 12th prosecution witness, Abdullahi Lawal, an investigator, who continued his testimony before the court.

Lawal, who was led in evidence by the prosecutor, Rotimi Oyedepo, pointed out three deposits – N4m, N3m and 5m – made into the account of Nigel and Colive Nigeria Limited, a company allegedly belonging to Justice Ofili-Ajumogobia.

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Zidane, Valverde Condemn Violence After Killing Of Policeman In Bilbao

Real Madrid’s French Coach Zinedine Zidane OSCAR DEL POZO / AFP

Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane and his Barcelona counterpart Ernesto Valverde on Friday strongly condemned the violence which led to a police officer dying before a Europa League game in Spain between Athletic Bilbao and Spartak Moscow.

“Our thoughts are with his family. I don’t like violence, and it is very hard to understand when these things happen. Let’s hope these things don’t happen again in a football stadium,” said Zidane of the incidents which took place prior to Thursday evening’s match.

Nine people were arrested, including three Russians and a Pole, during clashes outside San Mames in which a police officer died of a heart attack.

The incident also raised fears over hooliganism at this summer’s World Cup which will be hosted by Russia.

“Football was invented to be enjoyed, for people to experience happiness or suffer with their teams,” said Barcelona coach Valverde, formerly in charge in Bilbao.

“But others use football as an excuse for other things, because football is seen by so many. It sullies football but it is not a problem for football, it is a wider problem. And of course, we absolutely condemn that.”

FIFA said it “deeply regrets” the clashes in Bilbao but had “complete trust” in Russia’s ability to ensure a safe World Cup — despite this being just the latest incident of hooligan violence involving Russians.

A minute’s silence will be held before all games in Spain’s top two divisions this weekend in memory of the dead policeman.

“La Liga reiterates its strongest condemnation of the violence and continues to work to eradicate it from football,” La Liga said in a statement.

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy earlier offered his condolences for the death of the 51-year-old Basque police officer as he also “strongly condemned” the violence in the northern Spanish city.

The officer was one of over 500 deployed to San Mames for the high-risk Europa League last-32 tie.

He “suddenly felt ill during the serious incidents… despite being taken quickly to hospital, he suffered cardiac arrest,” the Basque government’s security department said in a statement, adding his death was not “directly” linked to an injury he suffered in the clashes.

The trouble began as Spartak ‘ultras’ arrived at the stadium.

Some lit and threw smoke bombs and bins towards Athletic supporters, before police charged them.

Valverde

Police detained five Spaniards, three Russians and a Polish man over the clashes, a spokesperson for the Basque security department said. They face charges of causing public disorder, rioting and disrespect for authority.

Five other police officers were injured, none of them seriously, and treated on the scene, the spokesperson added.

There was concern ahead of the match because of the reported presence of hardcore Russian fans in Bilbao, and police seized knives, bags full of rocks and brass knuckles from supporters of the two teams, the Basque security department said.

Earlier Thursday, German police arrested a Russian suspected of the “attempted murder” of a British football fan during the European Championship in France two years ago. He was detained at Munich airport as he was trying to travel to Bilbao to attend the match, according to German police.

But a spokesman for Russia’s embassy in Germany, Denis Mikerine, “strongly protested” the arrest on Facebook, saying it was a “possible pretext” to “politicise the theme of football hooliganism before the 2018 World Cup in Russia”.

Russian authorities will be on high alert this summer for the World Cup after Russian fans were involved in pitched battles with England supporters in Marseille during Euro 2016.

Spartak won Thursday’s match 2-1, but Athletic went through 4-3 on aggregate.

They will face Marseille in the next round in March, but Spanish rivals Atletico Madrid have been drawn against another Russian club in Lokomotiv Moscow.

AFP

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