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Police assaulted me to obtain statement over death of LASTMA official – driver alleges



Police arrest 37 suspects over alleged banditry in Sokoto

A 37-year-old driver, Elijah Shokoya, accused of involuntary manslaughter alleged in court on Monday that police officers assaulted him to obtain his statement.

Shokoya was accused of causing the death of one Mr Olawale Akinmade, an officer of the Lagos State Traffic Management Authority (LASTMA) on Jan. 26, on the Ikorodu Expressway, Lagos.

The newsmen report that Shokoya made the allegations of torture at an Ikeja High Court during a trial-within-trial to determine whether the police obtained his statement under duress.

Led in evidence by Mrs Abiodun Kolawole, his counsel, Shokoya testified in the Yoruba Language.

He said that he gave the police his statement in the morning of Jan. 27 a day after he was apprehended, but it was under duress.

“My statement was obtained in the morning around 7.10 a.m. I was taken to a room outside and I was asked to write.

“I told the police officers that I could neither read nor write the English language.

The police officers said I was lying and they slapped me and the Investigating Police Officer (IPO) started writing something.

“I did not understand what she was writing. The other police officer used a stick to hit me on the hand and while the IPO was writing, he was beating me.

“When she finished writing, she asked me to sign what she wrote and I told her I did not understand what she wrote and I refused to sign it.

“She hit me and the other police officer beat me with a stick and I asked them to give me a cell phone to so that I could speak to a lawyer and to my people.

“I wanted to speak to a lawyer so that my lawyer could interpret what was written down so that I could sign it.

“She slapped me again and the other male police officer with her was hitting me with a stick.

When I realised the beating was too much, I took the pen from her and signed the statement,’’ Shokoya said.

Under cross-examination by Mrs Olayinka Adeyemi, the Director of the Directorate of Public Prosecution (DPP), Shokoya said he is a native of Ogun State and that he attended Oworonshoki Primary School, Lagos.

“I still feel pain on my left arm from the beating.

I informed my lawyer about the assault.

There was no LASTMA officer present when my statement was taken,’’ he said.

Earlier, a policewoman, ASP Mercy Ibok, narrated to the court how she obtained the driver’s statement. She described herself as a traffic officer serving at the Alapere Police Station.

Led in evidence by the DPP, ASP Ibok said that after Shokoya was brought to the police station for the alleged manslaughter of the LASTMA officer, she was cordial and friendly towards him.

She said that her superior officer was in the office alongside two LASTMA officers when the defendant’s statement was taken.

“The office is an open office that contained five chairs and a table. The atmosphere was very calm. I conversed with him in the English Language.

“The defendant asked me to write his statement and he went through it before signing it.

The allegation that he was coerced into giving a statement is false. I did not beat him,’’ she said.

While being cross-examined by the defence counsel, Ibok said that Shokoya never informed her that he did not understand English Language and that a lawyer was not present when his statement was taken.

On why she did not indicate the time the statement was taken according to standard police procedure, Ibok said that she had just received the bad news of Akinmade’s death when she was taking the statement.

“I did not indicate the time of the statement because I was in a state of shock and when I heard the bad news, I took him to the cell.

“I did not write the content of the statement as a result of bias,’’ she said.

The DPP alleges that the defendant mowed down Akinmade with his Opel Car with registration number AAA 74 GG.

The offence contravenes and is punishable under the Criminal Laws of Lagos State 2015.

Presiding Justice Oyindamola Ogala adjourned the case to Dec.12 for adoption of written addresses in the trial-within-trial.


Health and Safety

650 migrants reach Italy by boat, 190 rescued



650 migrants reach Italy by boat, 190 rescued

 About 650 migrants reached the Italian coast in a fishing boat, the latest in increasing attempts to reach the country.

The boat which was about 30 metres long and overloaded, arrived in the southern town of Roccella Ionica, the Italian news agency ANSA reported on Monday.

The report said the boat departed from Libya and its passengers had been travelling for five days.

The passengers were all men who came from Syria, Pakistan, Egypt and Bangladesh, ANSA said.

They reached the Calabrian town unaided, without the involvement of the coast guard or civilian sea rescuers.

Thousands of people arrived in Italy over the weekend. Dozens of others died in the attempt or went missing because their boats capsized.

Meanwhile, the aid organisation Doctors Without Borders brought 190 Mediterranean migrants ashore to the southern Italian city of Bari.

The group’s Geo Barents vessel reached the port on the Adriatic coast previously assigned by Italian authorities late on Sunday afternoon, it said.

The ship picked up people on Friday from an unseaworthy wooden boat, including several unaccompanied minors.

However, many people repeatedly try to reach Lampedusa, Malta, Sicily or the Italian mainland by boats from Tunisia and Libya, crossing the central Mediterranean Sea in a potentially deadly journey.

According to official figures, Italy has already registered more than 21,000 boat migrants since the beginning of January, or more than three times the number of migrants seen in each of the two previous years, when about 6,000 per year arrived.

– dpa

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Health and Safety

African migrants stuck in Tunisia say racism persists, following weeks of crackdown



African migrants stuck in Tunisia say racism persists, following weeks of crackdown

African Migrants in Tunisia have urged their government to evacuate them, saying the country is no longer safe as racism still persists.

Outside the United Nations refugee agency in Tunis, dozens of African migrants stood protesting this week in the temporary camp where they have lived, including with children, since authorities urged landlords to force them from their homes.

Weeks after a violent crackdown on migrants in Tunisia that triggered a perilous rush to leave by smuggler boats for Italy, many African nationals are still homeless and jobless and some say they still face racist attacks.

“We need evacuation. Tunisia is not safe. No one has a future here when you have this colour. It is a crime to have this colour,” said Josephus Thomas, pointing to the skin on his forearm.

In announcing the crackdown on Feb. 21, President Kais Saied said illegal immigration was a criminal conspiracy to change Tunisia’s demography, language the African Union described as “racialised hate speech”.

U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Barbara Leaf told Reuters on Thursday that Saied’s comments had unleashed “attacks and a tidal wave of racist rhetoric”, with rights groups saying hundreds of migrants reported being attacked or insulted.

Saied and Tunisia’s foreign minister have rejected accusations that he or the government is racist and they announced steps to ease visa regulations for Africans and reminded police of anti-racism laws.

While the official crackdown appeared to end weeks ago, migrants say they still face abuse.

“People told me ‘since you are in our country after the president’s speech, don’t you have any dignity?’ I kept silent and they told me I am dirt,” said Awadhya Hasan Amine, a Sudanese refugee outside the UNHCR headquarters in Tunis.

Amine has lived in Tunis for five years after fleeing Sudan and then Libya with her husband. Now 30, she has been living on the street outside the UNHCR headquarters since local people pelted her house in the capital’s Road district with rocks.

“We want to live in a place of safety, stability and peace. We don’t want problems in Tunisia,” she said.

Although some West African countries evacuated hundreds of their citizens earlier this month, many remain stuck in Tunisia, unable to support themselves let alone afford passage home or pay smugglers hundreds of dollars to ferry them to Europe.

“Tunisia is an African country. Why do they do racist things to us?” said Moumin Sou, from Mali, who was sacked from his job working behind a bar after the president’s speech and was beaten up the next day by a man in the street who stole his money.

Sou wants to return home, he said, but many others are determined to travel on to Europe.

In the wake of the crackdown, in which police detained hundreds of undocumented migrants and authorities urged employers to lay them off and landlords to evict them, smuggler crossings to Italy have surged.

Tunisian National Guard official Houssem Jbeli said on Wednesday that the coast guard had stopped 30 boats carrying more than 2,000 people. On the same day and the following day four boats sank, with five people drowned. 

– Reuters

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Health and Safety

NAFDAC urges journalists to join in fight against circulation, use of bleaching creams 



NAFDAC urges journalists to join in fight against circulation, use of bleaching creams 

 The National Agency For Food and Drugs Administration and Control (NAFDAC) has urged journalists to collaborate with the agency in the fight against the circulation and use of bleaching creams in the country.

Prof. Mojisola Adeyeye, Director-General (D-G), NAFDAC, made the call while sensitising journalists in the North Central States on the dangers of bleaching creams.

She made the call at a North Central Zonal Media Sensitisation Workshop on the dangers of bleaching creams and regulatory controls which was organised for the Association of Nigeria Health Journalists on Friday in Jos.

Adeyeye said the workshop was aimed at educating and challenging health journalists in Nigeria to play frontline role in the agency’s effort to eradicate the menace of bleaching creams.

The D-G was represented by Dr. Leonard Omokpariola, Director, Chemical Evaluation and Research of the Agency.

 “Bleaching creams damage vital organs in the body, cause skin irritation, allergy, skin burn, rashes, wrinkles and prolong the healing of wounds.

“Black is beautiful, we don’t need to change our color.

“NAFDAC will constantly engage the mass media as we strive to bring down to the grass root levels positive impact of our regulatory activities,” she said.

On his part, Dr. Abubakar Jimoh, Director,  Public Affairs of the Agency, said: “The workshop was meant to educate the mass media with the right information and campaign against the use of bleaching creams in Nigeria.

“Public ignorance is not an excuse before the law. The role of the mass media in the promotion of public health is very important not only for cosmetics and all other NAFDAC regulatory products”. 

In a remark, Mr. Hassan Zaggi, President, Association of Nigeria Health Journalists, said: “Skin bleaching cream is a serious concern among the citizens in the country.

“Why would somebody use his hard-earned money to buy a cream that will endanger his skin?.

“As journalists, we have a responsibility to educate people on the dangers and as well shape the opinion of the people,” Zaggi said.

He appealed to the journalists to pay attention to the workshop for onward circulation of learning outcomes to members of the public. 

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