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Though In Presidential Race, I Don’t See Myself As A Politician – Sowore (AAC Presidential Aspirant |RN

SOWORE         Omoyele Sowore, AAC presidential aspirant

In this interview, Sowore gives the full account of the “drama” that played out when he visited the Ooni of Ife recently.

Ayo Alonge

 

The convener of ‘Take It Back Movement’ and presidential aspirant on the platform of African Action Congress (AAC), Omoyele Sowore, has said that he is not afraid to be in the presidential race even when the action might pitch him against some politicians he has had to fight in the past.

In this interview, Sowore gives the full account of the “drama” that played out when he visited the Ooni of Ife recently. He also bared his mind on the state of the nation, the forthcoming general elections and his unrelenting quest to unseat President Muhammadu Buhari in 2019.

How was the transition from being an activist and a social crusader to being a core politician to the extent that you are now in the 2019 Presidential race?

I do not see myself as a politician, and I have not in any way transited from being an activist to a politician. I know what it means to be called a politician in Nigeria. You have to be corrupt and all that. I only see myself as a revolutionary leader. As such, I have not derailed from my core activism. People like Obama are never called politicians. Nelson Mandela was never called a politician till he died.

On the whole noise on Take-It-Back everywhere on the social media, what are you actually taking back?

I am taking back our country and dignity and all that has been taken from us that could have made us a better country. We are taking back what the minority has taken from our country. We are taking back our education sector, road infrastructure and everything else that you can take back. Even in the US, Barack Obama is part of the campaign that is bent on taking back what belongs to the people.

Using your media platform, you have had to expose a lot of corrupt politicians. Does it occur to you that this same set of people might come for your jugular at this time?

To ask if that is going to be a barrier is the very reason I came out to contest. I am not afraid of them.

What do you hope to do differently, if you become the next president?

I want to make this country different so that we can meet up with other nations all around the world, in terms of poor infrastructure and the way we fight corruption. We want to cause a revolution that will better the lots of Nigeria in agriculture, tourism, and many more. These are the basics. If you follow very closely, you will see that I have been the one initiating the ideas that have now become a big topic of discussion for politicians.

Could you talk about what really transpired in the palace of the Ooni of Ife where you were reportedly teargassed?

We were invited to meet the Kabiesi by 12 noon that day and we arrived at 11:48 a.m. Three hours later, we were still left unattended to.

You mean you were actually invited, and not that you chose to pay him the visit on your own?

If you are not invited, you can’t go into the palace. So, we were actually invited. Three hours later, we were still waiting when I had so many other engagements. Three hours after, nobody explained anything to us as to why we were kept waiting for so long. I respect him a lot. If he was kept waiting, even in the US, I will be the first person to protest against that. So, we were introduced and I went to him and bowed which is what I do to all the traditional rulers that we meet and have met, including the Emir of Kano and the Alaafin of Oyo, even the Olofa of Offa. The person that was moderating the event got upset that I didn’t prostrate for the Oba and you could see that he was so annoyed with us. I was given the microphone and I told the Oba my mind. I said, I wish someone explained to us why we were kept for over three hours. I am a very honest person and I told him that my way of protesting that was to come before you and bow. And I said now that you have explained, we will pay you homage. We were about a hundred that were in the palace. We did that and yet someone said that I didn’t roll on the floor. This was after we prostrated to everyone all around the palace. As we were doing the last prostration, they just teargassed us. I thought it was a joke, but the person who was doing it did not stop. We just couldn’t breathe and even one of the female students with us just passed out. We went out to catch some fresh air and as we did, some guys were already waiting for us and started pushing and manhandling me. I was surprised and asked if that was actually the palace of the Ooni of Ife. So, I turned back to go to complain to him that I had just been assaulted. It occurred to me that this was the same thing they did to Bola Ige before he was killed. He was assaulted at the palace of the Ooni of Ife. I asked the Kabiesi what’s going on. I’m your guest and even if you are upset with me, you can’t treat me like this. We were still gasping for breath and the Ooni said they should take me to a private room, but I refused. I said if anything will happen to me, let it happen to me right in your presence. I heard you wanted to meet a young presidential aspirant like me and that is why I came. At a point, he was insinuating that one of us did the teargassing. That was weird. He also said that the reason I was attacked outside was because people thought that I was leaving him in anger. How do you justify people being attacked for whatever reason within the sanctity of your palace? Anyway, we completed the event and headed for OAU because we needed to meet with the students who were already angry that we were attacked. I had to calm them down and we can back to Lagos.

It was recently reported that a coalition of young aspirants against Buhari hit the rocks. Why do you think that happened?

There was no coalition that I am aware of. I attended an event of young aspirants in a hotel in Abuja. I wanted to convince one of the young aspirants to join our train. When next we got to the conference, I met over 18 young aspirants and when they proposed the coalition to me, I said I cannot be part of it, but I can always attend their meetings on the basis of availability. I told them straight up that I don’t trust coalitions. One of the things we agreed on was that the individual aspirants needed to go and obtain their nomination forms from their different parties so that we know that we are dealing with people who have parties. We later got to Charley Boy’s house, upon my suggestion. We got there and some people started coming up with some strange ideas and that was how people started making vows. We also agreed to protest for the extension of voters’ registration and PVC collection, but when the day came, they didn’t show up. All I am trying to say is that I was never part of any coalition. I am surprised that they are saying I was part of the coalition. They even cooked up a propaganda saying that I was defeated by Fela Durotoye. I knew from the beginning that it won’t work.

In your view, what indices are there to determine the conduct of the 2019 elections?

Over 40 million people are registered to vote in this election as announced by INEC. The last election was won by about 14 million. That tells you that we have a lot of disgruntled people. That’s one. Another is that people are tired of the two major political parties, which are marred by corrupt practices. You will see a shocker. People want their country back, but we know that there is a plan to rig the election, but I will tell you something. The person that won Ekiti in 2014 didn’t win the presidential election. The person that won the presidential election in 2015 didn’t have as much money as the then incumbent, President Jonathan. If you look at all these parameters, you can readily point to where things are heading to.

What winning strategies do you have in place to win in 2019?

People are ready to bet their lives to get what they desire. I have touched 29 states, reaching out to people and I have no doubt that we will win. Not only would we win, we would also have set up a strong political base in the country. In terms of the concrete ideas, maybe you should leave that out. Let me not unravel that. You know in this part of the world, people steal ideas a lot and there are no consequences for such. Just like there are no consequences for stealing money.

Voting-buying is prevalent in the political system today. How do you hope to match money for money in the contest, particularly as the presidential race is competitive in terms of spending money?

We are not going to be involved in that. That’s not who we are. We are selling ideas. People who buy ideas are going to last longer than people who take money. When you take money, you are foregoing your next road, hospital, salary, etc.

What is the future like for the Nigerian youth taking over leadership, against the backdrop of the Not-Too-Young-To-Run mantra?

I believe that there must be a generational shift. Democracy must pass through different levels for it to be well consolidated. We have started by removing the military usurpers. We must also have a situation where the minority has a say and the majority has their way. If that doesn’t happen, democracy becomes a fait accompli. There must also be a party-to-party transfer of power. The final process is a transgenerational handing over of baton. The old generation must give way for the younger generation.

How do you mobilise funds for your campaign?

We do that openly. We are using technology. This is a tech-driven campaign. We are crowdfunding. We go online and ask people to donate voluntarily. So far, we have raised over $70,000. Some even donate through our account with our bank here. Sometimes, I get donations from friends and I also put in my own money. Because we are not buying Gala, Ankara and branded rice, it is costing us less. With a dollar, we can have more impact than our opponents with a thousand dollars.

What is your next option, if you don’t win?

I don’t see how we won’t win that election. The country, Africa and the entire world are looking forward to it. Our liberation can get the rest of Africa liberated too. If I don’t win, that could be a product of providence and I will be sad.    (The Sun)

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Buhari’s Government, HSBC Engagment In Fight Gets Uglier |The Republican News

Buhari-Muhammadu

“We ask them (HSBC) to heed President Buhari’s constant refrain: return our stolen assets, then see how well we will do.”

• As EFCC allegedly traces $33.6m to 3 Nigerians’ accounts with bank

• You’re hypocrite, Atiku slams govt

Iheanacho Nwosu, Abuja

The Federal Government appears not to be taking lightly the alarm raised by the British multinational bank (HSBC), which predicted that re-electing President Muhammadu Buhari in 2019 could further worsen Nigeria’s present economic situation.

Barely 48 hours after the presidency issued a statement, accusing the bank of aiding the collapse of Nigeria’s economy in the past by conniving with past Nigeria’s leaders to loot the country’s resources blind, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), yesterday, took a swipe at the bank, accusing it of engaging in money laundering.

But former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, came hard on the government for attacking the bank, just because it gave a verdict that Buhari’s re-election for another term would spell doom for the country’s economy.

The EFCC in a statement it posted on its Instagram page noted that the international bank “is one of the largest banking and financial services organisations in the world. HSBC’s international network comprises around 7,500 offices in over 80 countries and territories in Europe, the Asia-Pacific region, the Americas, the Middle East and Africa.

“Since inception, HSBC is synonymous with money laundering and has paid billions of US Dollars in fines across the world. In Nigeria, the bank laundered more than $100 million for the late dictator, Gen Sani Abacha in Jersey, Paris, London, Switzerland and Geneva. The bank is also involved with laundering proceeds of corruption for over 50 Nigerians including a Nigerian serving Senator.

“Part of Abacha Assets yet to be recovered are: $12 million in HSBC Fund Admin Ltd with account number S-104460 in Jersey; $20 million in HSBC Life (Europe) with account number 37060762 in U.K and $1. 6 million in HSBC Bank plc with account number 38175076 in U. K.”

The presidency had in a statement signed by Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity to President Muhammadu Buhari, Garba Shehu, last week alleged that one of the things that helped to destroy Nigeria’s economy in the past was the connivance of HSBC with some Nigerians to loot Nigeria’s money, adding that “rather, we ask them (HSBC) to heed President Buhari’s constant refrain: return our stolen assets, then see how well we will do.”

 

Reacting to the government’s outburst, Atiku, whose position was conveyed by his Presidential Campaign Organisation, yesterday, said he was amused when he read the statement that emanated from the presidency.

He added that, “It is at once comical and pathetic that the Buhari government’s statement called HSBC corrupt. It seems they are unaware that some of the record 12 trillion worth of debt which the Buhari administration has saddled Nigeria with is actually funded from HSBC, which is the world’s largest bank.

“When they were taking their money, the ever begging Buhari administration did not know that HSBC was corrupt. It was after the HSBC told the truth about the Buhari government that they knew that the HSBC is keeping looted funds.

 

“In their statement, the presidency called HSBC ‘a bank that soiled its hand with millions of US dollars yet-to-be-recovered Abacha loot.’ They forgot that their principal, Muhammadu Buhari said ‘Abacha did not steal.’ So if Abacha did not steal, how could HSBC keep recovered Abacha loot? When you tell so many lies, you begin to contradict yourself,” Atiku said.

He reminded the All Progressives Congress-led administration that the British Prime minister, Theresa May and other international organisations have condemned Nigeria under Buhari’s leadership as one that is being regarded as the world’s centre for “extreme poverty.”

He also called on the government to put on its thinking cap so as to change the negative narrative about Nigeria.

“The fact remains that Nigeria under Buhari has been adjudged as the world headquarters for extreme poverty by the World Economic Forum and the World Poverty Clock as well as the British Prime Minister, Theresa May. Are these people also corrupt?

“Only last month, the National Bureau of Statistics revealed that our second quarter GDP growth rate was lower than our first quarter GDP growth. Another quarter of negative growth and Nigeria will enter a second recession under the Buhari administration. The same NBS published in December 2017 that 7.9 million Nigerians lost their jobs in 21 months under Buhari’s watch.

“These are the things that the government should be focused on and not to haul infantile insults at the world’s largest bank,” Atiku added.  (The Sun)

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Bad Economy: APC Berates The Economist, HSBC For Predicting Buhari’s Defeat |RN

Yekini-Nabena

APC National Publicity Secretary, Yekini Nabena

Niyi  Odebode, John Alechenu, Olusola Fabiyi, Olaleye Aluko, Ted Odogwu,  Enyioha Opara, Olaleye Aluko and  Godwin Isenyo

 

The All Progressives Congress has rejected what it described as doomsday prophecies by two British-based institutions about Nigeria’s economy and the 2019 presidential election.

The APC position was contained in a statement by its acting National Publicity Secretary, Yekini Nabena, in Abuja on Wednesday.

The statement was the APC’s response to reports by The Economist Intelligence Unit, the research unit of The Economist, and a multinational banking and financial services company, HSBC.

The Economist had in a report by its EIU predicted that the Peoples Democratic Party would win the 2019 presidential election.

The HSBC also said the second term of President Muhammadu Buhari would stunt the economy of the country.

But Nabena said the reports were nothing but the usual doomsday prophesies about Nigeria, which had serially proved false, deceptive and unreliable.

The statement read in part, “The All Progressives Congress urges Nigerians to regard these ‘expert analyses and prophecies’ for what they are and dismiss them accordingly.

“We should remember similar prophesies and analyses about the political situation in Nigeria made some years back by similar Western institutions.

“It was prophesied that Nigeria would collapse in 2015, resulting in some ethnic nationalities going their separate ways.

“Here we are, nearly four years after the doomsday prophecy; the Nigerian federation rather than collapse is waxing stronger with President Buhari administration striving to unite the country and consolidate positively on the strength of our diversity.”

The party wondered why it was only negative reports that The Economist, HSBC and similar institutions had about Nigeria.

It added that the two institutions did not see all the positive impacts that the APC administration was making in relation to ongoing economic reforms, fight against corruption, infrastructure drive and counter-insurgency.

The APC listed some of the recoveries made from officials of the immediate past administration by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission as well as increases in remittances by public institutions such as the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board and the Federal Inland Revenue Service as evidence of the Buhari-led administration’s success in transparency.

In a veiled reference to the ex-minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs Diezani Alison-Madueke, the statement read, “A former minister in the immediate-past administration who is resident in the United Kingdom is alleged to control enough corruptly-obtained assets whose value if put to productive use could have employed thousands of Nigerians.

“How much of this loot has the United Kingdom, the base of these experts, returned to Nigeria? Of course, these experts are conveniently oblivious of these and many similar cases.

“Rather than consider the plight of Nigerians and campaign for the return of the stolen funds, these institutions have chosen to dissipate energy spewing doomsday prophecies on Nigeria.

“We advise these economic experts to focus on their pressing domestic issues and ponder, for example, on the important question of the role Britain will play in the world, post Brexit.”

Nigeria is doomed if Buhari is elected –SDP, ADC

The Social Democratic Party and the African Democratic Congress have lambasted the APC for defending Buhari.

The SDP National Publicity Secretary, Alfa Mohammed, said, “The APC is only denying what is obvious. The reports are genuine and we know these things already. Of course, we all know that Nigeria will be doomed if a President, who is not in charge, returns for another four years.”

In his reaction, the ADC National Chairman, Chief Okey Nwosu, said, “I wish I could rewind to four years back when the APC was condemning Nigeria’s economy based on the same foreign reports.

“Are these reports true? Yes. The poverty and unemployment index in the country is obvious. Even in agriculture and healthcare, we are not catching up. Our President still goes to same Britain periodically for medical attention.

“The APC has closed its eyes to the truth and has tried to suppress the opposition by all means. It has now extended this condemnation to the international community.

PDP hails reports

The PDP said the reports confirmed its position that Nigerians had rejected Buhari ahead of the 2019 presidential election.

The PDP said Buhari’s rejection was predicated on his alleged failure and the deception of the APC in the last three years.

The National Publicity Secretary of the party, Mr Kola Ologbondiyan, in a statement in Abuja on Wednesday said the findings by the two organisations that President Buhari stood no chance in the general elections and that his winning portended grave danger for Nigeria was in tandem with the stance of majority of Nigerians.

He noted that Nigerians were fed up with Buhari due to his alleged incompetence and unprecedented corruption under his watch.

This, he said, had resulted in the ruining of the nation’s once robust economy, “with attendant mass job loss, ravaging hunger, starvation and disease, as well as escalated insecurity.”

“The world knows the reason the Buhari-led APC administration has resorted to harassment and vicious attacks on the opposition, assaults on the judiciary and the National Assembly, as well as unrelenting machination to compromise the Independent National Electoral Commission to rig the elections.

“This is also the reason President Buhari rejected the amendment to the Electoral Act passed by the National Assembly, which practically checks all APC’s rigging strategies ahead of the 2019 general elections,” Ologbondiyan added.

He said the fear of imminent defeat was the reason Buhari was allegedly against the amendment that checked the use of underage voters, provided for online publication of voter register in addition to instant transmission of results from the polling to collation centres, thus eliminating interferences and planned alteration of results by the APC.

“Nigerians are aware that this APC and INEC have been conniving to secretly create 30,000 illegal polling units in remote areas, as well as registration of compromised observers to validate their machinations.

“Now that Mr President is aware that his approval rating among Nigerians and across the world has hit the rocks despite the many choreographed endorsement stunts by his handlers, the PDP urges him to rein in his lackeys, bury the idea of rigging the elections and get ready to accept an inevitable defeat.”

The National Chairman of the Labour Party, Abdulkadir Abdulsalam, also said the APC would lose the 2019 election as predicted.

He spoke to one of our correspondents on the telephone on Wednesday.

Abdulsalam said, “The British groups merely stated what some of us already know, Nigerians are tired of this government and will vote it out in 2019 if we have a free and fair election.”

APC’s change brought hunger – Kwankwaso

In a related development, a PDP presidential aspirant and a former Governor of Kano State, Senator Rabiu Kwankwaso, on Wednesday said he and others who supported Buhari in 2015 made the “greatest mistake.”

Addressing the Niger State PDP supporters at the party’s secretariat in Minna, the former governor said the much talked about change only brought hunger, killings and unemployment.

He said, “I will not support or remain in that type of change. That is why I am back to the PDP to change the change that has brought untold hardship on Nigerians.”

In Kano State, a former Vice-President and PDP presidential aspirant, Alhaji  Atiku Abubakar,   promised a turnaround in the “current misfortune of Nigerians.”

He spoke while addressing the PDP chieftains and supporters at the residence the party’s state Chairman in Kano, Ma’sud El-Doguwa.    (Punch)

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BREAKING NEWS: Buhari Returns From London After 10-Day Vacation |RN

Buhari-Returns11

Muhammadu Buhari at the airport on his return

By Ike A. Offor

President Muhammadu Buhari who left for London today Saturday returned from his 10-working-day vacation to London

His Vice, Yemi Osinbajo, acted as the president while he was away in London.

Here are some photos from his arrival and Bashir Ahmad shared this tweet about his return too.

Buhari-returns-from-London

 

 

Buhari-returns-from-London1

Buhari-Returns11

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Nigeria’s Debt Hits New High, N22.38tn – DMO |The Republican News

Everest Amaefule, Abuja

The country’s debt profile now stands at N22.38tn, the Debt Management Office has said.

At a press briefing in Abuja on Tuesday, the Debt Management Office said the country’s debt stood at N22.38tn as of June 30.

It also disclosed that the nation’s debt profile rose by 3.01 per cent in the last six months. The DMO attributed the increase to the $2.5bn Eurobond issued by the Federal Government in February.

In a statement, the DMO said, “The Total Public Debt which encompasses the Domestic and External Debt Stock of the Federal and 36 State Governments and the Federal Capital Territory stood at N22.38 Trillion or USD73.21 billion as at June 30, 2018.

“This figure was a marginal increase of 3.01 per cent over the Public Debt Stock for December 2017. The increase in the Public Debt Stock over the six months period was due largely to the $2.5bn Eurobond issued in February 2018.

“When compared to the Debt Data for March 2018, the Public Debt Stock actually decreased by 1.44 per cent from N22.71tn in March 2018 to N22.38tn in June 2018. 

“The decrease was due to a 3.38 per cent decline in the FGN’s domestic debt stock between March and June 2018. There were however marginal increases of 0.07 per cent in the external debt stock and 2.75 per cent in the domestic debt of states.”

According to DMO, a major highlight in the public debt data was the consistent decrease in the FGN’s Domestic Debt which declined from N12.59tn in December 2017 to N12.58tn in March 2017 and N12.15tn in June 2018.  (Punch)

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Kwakwaso, Mark, Jang, 46 Other Senators Sign pro-Saraki List |RN

John Alechenu, Abuja

Former Senate President, David Mark, and Senators Jonah Jang, Abiodun Olujimi and Rabiu Kwankwaso were among 49 senators who signed a list rejecting any move to force a change in leadership in the Senate.

The list was made available to reporters in the Senate on Tuesday.

It was gathered that the list was meant to serve as a notice to those behind the alleged botched attempt to remove the Senate President, Bukola Saraki,  and the Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu.

The list, which is made up mostly members of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party, was compiled at the foyer of the National Assembly.

A copy of the list sighted by our correspondent, read, “We, the undersigned senators, hereby declare our total support for Senator Bukola Saraki and Ike Ekweremadu as President and Deputy Senate President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. We are against any purported illegal impeachment being cooked up by a few minorities (sic).”

Recall that speculations that a group of senators of the All Progressives Congress were plotting to invade the National Assembly to reconvene and effect a leadership change led to the appearance of several PDP senators, who decided to suspend their recess, to thwart the move.

They were, however, initially prevented from entering into the National Assembly complex by armed and masked operatives of the Department of State Services who said they were acting on “orders from above.” (Punch)

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Lagos Trader Running From Scorpion Falls Into 100-ft Well, Died |Rn

Well-death

Samson Folarin

Tragedy struck in Alaja community, Megida, in the Ayobo area of Lagos State, after a 40-year-old petty trader, Ablavi Hunkpati, fell into an abandoned well and died.

PUNCH Metro learnt that the mother of four was running from a scorpion when she slipped and fell into the well said to be about 100 feet deep.

Our correspondent learnt that after failed attempts by residents, relatives and sympathisers to rescue her, officials of the Lagos State Fire Service were called to the scene.

Her remains were subsequently recovered and handed over to the police by officials of the Lagos State Emergency Management Agency.

The Togolese woman, her husband and their four children were said to have lived in the house for over 20 years.

A resident, who did not identify himself, said the incident happened on Saturday around 2pm.

He said, “The woman has been living in the house for over than 20 years. As of the time she packed in, that well had been abandoned. Usually, people sit and relax on the planks used to cover the well. She was trying to run from a scorpion. She rested on the planks, which gave way. That was how she fell into the well and died.”

When our correspondent visited the house on Monday, he observed that the abandoned well was at the entrance into the victim’s room and parlour apartment.

The house had also been cordoned off by security operatives.

A relative of Hunkpati, who identified himself only as David, showed our correspondent a bottle of soft drink he bought for her before the incident.

He said, “She kept the drink on a drum and wanted to rid the planks on the well of insects because children usually play around there. She had finished cleaning the place when she fell.”

David explained that the victim had sighted a scorpion, and panicked when she fell into the well.

“She screamed and we rushed to see how to help her, but it was too late. She had died before anyone could do anything because the well is over 100 feet deep. We called the fire service, but when they came, it was too late,” he added.

It was learnt that the victim’s husband and children had gone to Togo to break the news to other family members.

The Public Affairs Officer of the Lagos State Fire Service, Mrs Bola Ajao, who spoke for the acting Director, Rasak Musibau, said firefighters arrived as soon they received a distress call about the incident.

She said, “We received the distress call around 2.59pm and the Abesan Fire Station, being the closest to the area, responded. The officials arrived at the scene around 3.06pm. By the time they got there, it was discovered that some of the victim’s relatives had lowered themselves into the well with ropes. They, however, could not bring her out. The fire service men recovered the woman’s corpse.

“We have been telling residents that no matter how little an emergency may appear, they should always get in touch with emergency workers. The person who tried to bring the deceased’s woman out was not trained in safety techniques and it is possible that it was in the process of dragging her with ropes that the situation aggravated.”

Our correspondent learnt that LASEMA workers handed over the remains of the deceased to the police from the Ayobo division.

“The body was put in a body bag and handed over to the police. But before we left the scene, we were told that the victim’s family members had shown up to collect it,” an official said.

A representative of the deceased’s family, who identified himself only as Volvo, said the family had accepted its fate.

He said Hunkpati would be buried in Lagos on Friday.  (Punch)

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