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The trial of president of the Nigerian Bar Association, Paul Usoro, over N1.4 billion fraud, could not proceed on Tuesday before Justice Muslim Hassan of Federal High Court Lagos, following the transfer of the case to a new judge, Prof. Chuka Obiozor.
Usoro is being prosecuted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission on 10 counts bordering on fraud.
Also named in the charge, is the incumbent governor of Akwa Ibom, Governor Emmanuel Udom, who is described in the charge as being “currently constitutionally immune from prosecution”.
Others charged are, the Akwa Ibom State Commissioner for Finance, Nsikan Nkan; Accountant-General of Akwa Ibom State, Mfon Udomah; the Akwa Ibom State Attorney-General, Uwemedimo Nwoko and Margaret Ukpe.
The defendants were said to be at large.
Usoro was charged on December 18, 2018 before Justice Hassan, and his plea was taken.
Hassan had subsequently admitted him to bail in the sum of N250 million with one surety in like sum.
The court had then adjourned the case until February 5, March 5, and March 6, for continuation of trial.
However, on Tuesday, when journalists approached the court for coverage of the trial, it was observed that the case was not on the cause list.
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On enquiry, journalists were informed that the case had been transferred to Justice Obiozor by the Chief Judge, following application to that effect.
In the charge marked FHC/418c/18, the anti-graft agency alleged that the accused committed the offence on May 14, 2016.
The commission alleged that Usoro conspired with others, to commit the offence within the jurisdiction of the court.
He was alleged to have conspired to convert the sum of N1.4 billion, property of Akwa Ibom State Government, which sum they reasonably ought to have known formed part of the proceeds of unlawful activity.
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Ten and thousands of Hong Kong protesters flood city streets in largest rally in weeks
Source: AFP- A sea of democracy activists flooded the streets of Hong Kong Sunday in a defiant show to the city’s leaders that their movement still pulls wide public support, despite mounting violence and increasingly stark warnings from Beijing.
Hundreds of thousands of protesters carrying umbrellas poured across the heart of Hong Kong island defying torrential rain and a police order not to march from a park where they had gathered earlier for a rally.
Weeks of demonstrations have plunged the financial hub into crisis, with images of masked black-clad protesters engulfed by tear gas during street battles against riot police stunning a city once renowned for its stability.
Sunday’s action, which organisers the Civil Human Rights Front said drew more than 1.7 million in the largest rally in weeks, was billed as a return to the “peaceful” origins of the leaderless protest movement.
“It’s been a long day and we’re very tired, but to see so many people out in the rain marching for Hong Kong gives strength to everyone,” said Danny Tam, a 28-year-old graphic designer.
The unprecedented political crisis was sparked by opposition to a plan to allow extraditions to the Chinese mainland.
But protests have since morphed into a wider call for democratic rights in the semi-autonomous city.
Anger has been sharpened among protesters by the perceived heavy-handedness of the police who have used tear gas, baton charges and rubber bullets in incidents that have pinballed across social media.
“The police are doing things that are totally unacceptable,” said Yim, who like many of the protesters gave only one name.
“They are hurting citizens, they aren’t protecting us.”
AFP / Manan VATSYAYANATorrential rain failed to dampen the enthusiasm of protesters in Hong Kong
Communist Party-ruled mainland China has taken an increasingly hardline tone towards the protesters, decrying the “terrorist-like” actions of a violent hardcore minority among the demonstrators.
Despite the near-nightly clashes with police, the movement has won few concessions from Beijing or the city’s unelected leadership.
Hong Kong Activities face crucial weekend test after airport setback
Source: AFP- Hong Kong’s pro-democracy movement faces a major test this weekend as it tries to muster another huge crowd following criticism over a recent violent airport protest and as concerns mount over Beijing’s next move.
Ten weeks of protests have plunged the international finance hub into crisis with the communist mainland taking an increasingly hardline tone, including labelling the more violent protester actions “terrorist-like”.
Chinese state media have put out images of military personnel and armoured personnel carriers across the border in Shenzhen, while the United States has warned Beijing against sending in troops, a move many analysts say would be a reputational and economic disaster for China.
The nationalistic Global Times newspaper said there would not be a repeat of the Tiananmen Square crackdown, in which hundreds — or even thousands — are believed to have been killed, if Beijing moves to quash the protests.
“The incident in Hong Kong won’t be a repeat of the June 4th political incident in 1989,” it said, insisting the country now had more sophisticated approaches.
It was a rare reference to the bloody events, which are taboo in China.
Hong Kong’s protests were sparked by opposition to a plan to allow extraditions to the mainland, but have since morphed into a wider call for democratic rights in the semi-autonomous city.
Millions of people have hit the streets while clashes have broken out between police and small groups of hardcore protesters for 10 consecutive weekends.
For most of that time, US President Donald Trump has taken a hands-off approach to the unrest but began speaking up this week, suggesting any potential trade deal with Beijing could be upended by a violent response from the mainland.
Speaking on Thursday, Trump urged his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping to meet protesters and solve the crisis “humanely”.
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