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Bill Cosby freed after top court overturns sexual assault conviction

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US comedian Bill Cosby has left prison hours after his sexual assault conviction was overturned by Pennsylvania’s Supreme Court.

The judges said there had been a “process violation” by the prosecution, but admitted their ruling was unusual.

Mr Cosby, 83, served more than two years of a three to 10-year sentence at a state prison near Philadelphia.

In 2018 he was found guilty of drugging and molesting ex-basketball player Andrea Constand.

Dozens of women have publicly accused Mr Cosby of sexual assault, but he was only tried criminally for the incident against Ms Constand. His conviction in 2018 was widely seen as a landmark moment in the #MeToo movement.

In a verdict issued on Wednesday, Pennsylvania’s highest court found there was a “process violation” because Mr Cosby’s lawyers had made an agreement with a previous state prosecutor that he would not be charged in the case.

What was Bill Cosby accused of?

Mr Cosby was found guilty on three counts of felony indecent assault toward Ms Constand.

Decades his junior, she met him in 2002 when working at Temple University in Philadelphia and described the comedian as a mentor figure. She later testified at trial how she became “frozen” after Cosby drugged and molested her at his home in 2004.

Ms Constand first came forward to police about the assault in 2005, but former Montgomery County District Attorney Bruce Castor did not press criminal charges. She then sued the comedian for sexual battery and defamation, reaching a settlement with a confidentially agreement in 2006.

In 2014 and 2015, dozens of women came forward with similar allegations of drugging and assault by Mr Cosby. Local authorities knew that statute of limitation rules meant they could not pursue the majority of these accusations – but they reopened the case involving Ms Constand and eventually charged him just days before the 12-year limit on her allegations was set to expire.

A judge declared a mistrial in his first trial in 2017 after the jury failed to reach a verdict after 52 hours.

The testimony of other accusers was then allowed during a second trial, which helped prosecutors paint a pattern of predatory behaviour by Mr Cosby.

What did the court say?

The judges cited a written agreement reached by the former prosecutor, Bruce Castor, stating he would not prosecute Mr Cosby criminally if he testified in Ms Constand’s civil lawsuit.

The judges also found that testimony from accusers unrelated to the case had tainted the trial.

“There is only one remedy that can completely restore Cosby to the status quo ante. He must be discharged, and any future prosecution on these particular charges must be barred”, a 79-page finding released on Wednesday reads.

“We do not dispute that this remedy is both severe and rare. But it is warranted here.”

A spokesman for Mr Cosby, Andrew Wyatt, thanked the court in a statement.

“This is the justice Mr Cosby has been fighting for. They saw the light,” Mr Wyatt said. “He was given a deal and he had immunity. He should have never been charged.”

Actor Phylicia Rashad, who played his wife on the Cosby Show, wrote on Twitter: “A terrible wrong is being righted – a miscarriage of justice is corrected!” in response to the news.

State prosecutor Kevin Steele said in a statement that Mr Cosby “was found guilty by a jury and now goes free on a procedural issue that is irrelevant to the facts of the crime”.

“My hope is that this decision will not dampen the reporting of sexual assaults by victims… We still believe that no one is above the law – including those who are rich, famous and powerful.”

Lawyer Gloria Allred, who represented more than 30 accusers of Mr Cosby, described the court’s ruling as “devastating” but said the decision did not vindicate the comedian’s conduct.

“My heart especially goes out to those who bravely testified in both of his criminal cases,” her statement added.

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Crypto is a danger to world economy, tool for money laundry- EFCC Boss

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Advancement in digital assets such as cryptocurrencies increasingly portends huge risks to the world economy, the chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Abdulrasheed Bawa, has said.

This, according to Bawa, is partly because, many criminals now play significant roles in crypto-currency markets. He said the virtual currencies had become their preferred mediums of exchange.

Bawa spoke while delivering his keynote address Monday at the 38th Cambridge International Symposium on Economic Crime, themed, ‘Economic Crime-Who pays and who should pay?’

The event was organised by the Centre for International Documentation on Organised and Economic Crime (CIDOEC), Jesus College, University of Cambridge, United Kingdom.

EFCC’s spokesperson, Wilson Uwujaren, who captured some highlights of the event in a statement, quoting Bawa as saying, “The developments in new technologies and the growth of cryptocurrencies portrays a far greater danger to the world economy than ever before with many criminals playing significant roles in crypto-currency markets.

“Criminals now elect to transact or receive illegal monies (such as ransom money) for

cyber-attacks in cryptocurrencies with Bitcoins and Ethereum as the most commonly used mediums for these exchanges.”

He lamented that “the sophistication and complexity that defines the dynamics of economic crime in the 21st Century continues to evolve, spurred by technological advancement in the global economy that has become borderless and transnational.”

This he said had “inevitably led to the prioritisation of law enforcement action on crimes that drive Illicit Financial Flows (IFFs) across the globe”.

‘No nation is immune’

According to the EFCC Boss, “economic crimes which are largely illegal acts committed for private gain affect the vital structures of global economies, causing significant damage to the Global Financial System and depriving developing nations of the needed resources for sustainable development”.

He noted that developed countries are not immune to the scourge, which, according to him, has “magnified with the proliferation of cyber-crimes which threatens the stability of Global Financial Institutions.”

Bawa said the platform of the event provided an opportunity to interrogate the challenges of economic crimes.

“As the victims of crime continue to suffer globally from the effects of financial crimes, either directly or indirectly as part of a social system, the determination of who pays or who should pay becomes a critical measure of the criminal justice system in place.”

He underlined the imperatives of an impartial judiciary in ensuring that “the perpetrators of acts and not the victims pay for their crimes.”

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) had barred commercial banks and other financial institutions from transacting with cryptocurrency in fear of the risks it poses to investments and the economy at large.

Despite these actions, there have been reports over the use of these digital or virtual currencies such as Bitcoin and Ethereum and others, with criminals turning it to a haven to launder proceeds of corruption, fraud, drug trafficking, and other heinous crimes.

PRecall that last month that the United States Department of Justice training over 50 Nigerian investigators and prosecutors to tackle cryptocurrency-enabled organised crimes.

Efforts to fight crypto-related crimes

While highlighting some of the transparency and accountability achievements of the current administration by President Muhammadu Buhari, Bawa pointed out that the EFCC, as the rallying point in the fight against economic crimes in Nigeria, has recorded important milestones in investigations, prosecutions and assets recovery.

“Since its establishment in 2003, the Commission has recorded no less than 3,500 convictions and recovered assets of significant value including properties in Nigeria, the UK, USA, and the UAE. All these have measurably contributed to the national efforts against economic crimes in Nigeria,” he said.

The EFCC charged participants to come up with practical solutions to curb the international threat of economic crimes.

Meanwhile, the chairperson of the symposium, Saul Froomkin, thanked the EFCC boss for his insightful presentation, and the support received from Nigeria in organising the event.

Participants at the symposium were drawn from law enforcement and security agencies, accountability institutions and partners across the world.

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SuperTV CEO: Lagos DPP to charge Chidinma Ojukwu, two others

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A Yaba Chief Magistrates’ Court in Lagos State has adjourned to sept 29, further hearing in the murder of Usifo Ataga, the Chief Executive Officer of Super TV.

A 21-year-old student, Chidinma Ojukwu and one Adedapo Quadri were again presented. before the Chief Magistrate, Adeola Adedayo on Monday after they were ordered to be remanded for thirty days at the Kirikiri Correctional Centre last month.

Police Prosecutor, Cyril Ejiofor, informed the court that the Lagos State Directorate of Public Prosecution had issued a legal advice on the case, recommending their trial for murder which implies that the case will now be heard at the high court of Lagos state which has jurisdiction to hear matters of this nature

She, however, adjourned the case to await further Information from the DPP as to the status of the case at the high court that will now hear the matter.

The News Beat also gathered that the Lagos State Director of Public Prosecutions, Olayinka Adeyemi, recommended the release of four persons who are also standing trial at the Magistrate court for obstruction of justice and dishonestly receiving stolen belongings of the deceased .

The four persons are Babalola Disu, Olowu Ifeoluwa, Olutayo Abayomi, Nkechi Mogbo, Ojukwu Onoh, who is said to be Chidinma’s adopted father.

One Egbuchu Chioma who was allegedly found in possession of the deceased’s iPhone 7, and who had initially refused to release the phone on demand, is however to continue her trial.

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Omoyele Sowore’s younger brother shot dead

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A file combo photo of Omoyele and Olajide Sowore

Sahara Reporters Publisher and ex-presidential candidate, Omoyele Sowore, has narrated how kidnappers shot dead his brother in the Okada area of Edo State on Saturday.

According to him, Olajide was killed in the early hours of Saturday on his way from the Igbinedion University where he was studying Pharmacy.

Sowore, in a tribute on his Facebook page, described his deceased brother who almost clocked 50 as an “out-of-the-box thinker”

He wrote, “My immediate younger brother, Olajide Sowore was today shot and killed near Okada in Edo state by reportedly herdsmen /kidnappers on his way from Igbinedion University in Edo sate where he is studying Pharmacy.

“They snuffed out the life yet another real human being!

“Rest In Power, “Dr. Mamiye!”

“This act in itself will not delay their day of justice.

“I travelled widely with you and our father as a little kid. You were the most loved robust kid I ever first knew. You, Mr. magnet had no enemy!

“You, Mr. Sunshine Foundation who made everyone happy.

“You, the boy who snuck out his older ones to parties, taking all the blames when our disciplinarian father found out.

“You, the guy who was an out-of-the-box thinker who decided school wasn’t for you and created you own genre of music and then turned around to go to school after you almost turned 50!

“You lived your life so that everyone could be alright but now assassinated by everything that’s not alright!

“Saddest day yet!”

Details later…

 

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