I have been a kidnapper for four years. I started in Lokoja. I have kidnapped over 50 persons. We kidnapped them when they were travelling.
Mr. Sam Amuka [“Sad Sam”] Publisher of “Vanguard” newspaper weighed in with the devastating front page headline: “Bank managing director who bought 134 buses, 20 houses with ₦11.4 billion slush fund arrested by EFCC.”
The audience were so shocked and incredulous that they pleaded that unless the report was supported with more facts and figures that they would not buy it. Being a veteran journalist (the vintage generation of Peter Enahoro; Alhaji Alade Odunewu; Chief Augustine Ayo; Chief Peter Osugo; Alhaji Mamam Daura; Mrs. Omobola Onajide; Dr. Haroun Adamu; Gbolabo Ogunsanwo; Mrs. Theresa Ogunbiyi etc.), “Sad Sam” opted for diligent pursuit of accuracy and integrity. He withheld publication until April 13, 2018.
In the meantime, vanguard released as its front page headline: “I’ve made over ₦100 million from kidnapping, says herdsman (Murtala Umaru ) in Edo”
Confirmation was provided by “The Nation” newspaper which also carried it on its front page with a slightly different headline: “We made over₦100 million from kidnapping, says herdsman”
“A herdsman, who the police claimed has been to prison several times, has said his gang made over N100 million from kidnapping.
An AK47 rifle with breech number KO340119 and 10 rounds of 7.62mm ammunition were recovered from him.
The herdsman, whose name was given as Muritala Umaru, was said to have been responsible for kidnapping in parts of Edo and neighbouring states.
He sang like a canary when he was paraded before reporters at the police headquarters.
Umaru said he became a kidnapper four years ago in Okenne, Kogi State and had participated in several kidnapping across Edo State.
He said he had cattle, adding that his gang had 10 AK47 rifles with which they carried out kidnapping.
He said it was somebody he described as a ‘Chief’ from an Edo community who gave them identities of their victims.
The kidnapper said they realised N10 million from one of their victims, pledging to cooperate with the police.
On what happened to some of their victims, he said it was his boss that was responsible for the killing of victims who refused to cooperate.
Umaru said: “I am married. I stay in Auchi, but I was born in Lokoja. I am into kidnapping. I have been a kidnapper for four years. I started in Lokoja. I have kidnapped over 50 persons. We kidnapped them when they were travelling. One man gave us target. I collected N3 million in our last operation. It is my boss that kills people. He had killed many people. We operate in Auchi, Ekpoma, Okenne and other places.
Police Commissioner Babatunde Kokumo described Umaru as a kidnapper who disguised as a herder.
“The man has been in an out of prison. He has kidnapped in Edo and other states. The prison official he kidnapped identified him.”
A welder, who was on Monday rescued from the kidnappers’ den at Afuze in Owan East Local Government, Mr. Idirisu Mohammed, has identified a herdsman, Abubakar Ilyasu, as one of his abductors.
He said he was rescued before Abubakar returned.
His words: “I am 51 years old. I am a farmer and a welder. On Monday morning, I was taking my workers to the farm. At Warrake road near Afuze, I saw herdsmen come out of the bush. They had guns. They collected our phones and used cutlass to attack us. They took us to the bush. It was a vigilance group, hunters and police who rescued me. They ran away and abandoned me when the rescued team shot at them.
This one that was nabbed was sent to buy food. Before he returned, the rescued team arrived and the food was with him.”
Abubakar said he left his cattle to buy food when he was arrested.”
Matters took a dramatic turn when Dr. Orji Uzo Kalu, the former Governor of Abia State and Publisher of “Daily Sun” newspaper rose to his feet to deliver his endorsement of the front page editorial of his paper.
Headline: “The Lagos land use charge controversy”
“The public outcry that greeted the Lagos State government new Land Use Charge (LUC) is quite understandable. The increase, which was considered astronomical, came at a wrong time. Although the increase is believed to shore up revenue for infrastructural development of the state, the matter can still be revisited.
The drive by successive administrations to give Lagos a befitting status of a megacity is well known but it must be done gradually. While announcing a downward review of the charge, the state Commissioner for Finance, Mr. Akinyemi Ashade, explained that the new charge was imposed because of the state’s desire “to build world-class infrastructure and improve the well-being of its citizens.”
The new charge, said to be as high as 400 per cent in some cases, affects all property owners across the state. Properties used for wholly commercial purposes attracted the highest percentage increase, while efforts were made to make concessions to the aged, pensioners and physically-challenged persons that own property in the state.
The government was highly criticised for introducing the high land charge at this period when the economy is struggling. In fact, the new Land Use Charge Law 2018 would most probably go down as the most controversial law the Lagos State government has enacted in recent time.
Various interest groups, including the Ikeja Branch of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) and the Lagos Chapter of the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) embarked on mass protests against the new law. This resulted in a capitulation on the part of the state government but which many stakeholders still believe is not far enough. They want a return to the old regime of Land Use Charge.
In the bid to appease agitated Lagosians, the state government announced a downward review of the Land Use Charge by 50 per cent on commercial property owners. The reduction came on the heels of public outcry against the new charge and government’s intervention on the matter after a prolonged session at the State Executive Council presided over by the state governor, Akinwunmi Ambode. In the same vein, properties occupied by owners and third parties in the same premises but used for commercial and manufacturing purposes would enjoy a 25 per cent discount while owner-occupier properties would get a 15 per cent discount on the earlier announced rates.
Government also explained that a commercial property valued at N20 million, which was earlier meant to pay N91,200 would now pay N45,600 per annum. In the second category, a N20 million property expected to pay N30,720 will now pay N23,040 per annum, while in the third owner-occupier category, the charge on the same N20 million valued property would now be N7,752 per annum instead of N9,120 initially proposed.
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