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Widows of slain soldiers lament husbands’ unpaid life insurance claims

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Some widows of soldiers killed in the decade-old war against Boko Haram fighters are currently lamenting the failure of the Ministry of Defence to pay them their husbands’ life insurance claims several years after their demise.

The widows, who spoke with Saturday PUNCH during separate interviews on condition anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the matter, said they fulfilled the requirements to qualify for the payments yet nothing was done. The dead soldiers were mostly officers in the Nigerian Army with ranks ranging from lieutenant to captain.

Speaking during an interview on Friday, one of the women who lost her husband to an ambush by terrorists who attacked 157 Battalion in Metele, Borno State, in 2018, said the situation had left her and her children in a thorny situation.

She said, “Some other widows and I wrote the defence ministry which is in charge of the insurance but there was no response. We have resorted to begging them. The sudden death of our husbands was a hard hit on us. We need help. The Federal Government should help us.’’

Another widow who was moved to tears as she narrated her ordeal to Saturday PUNCH said life had been extremely tough for her and her children since the death of her husband.

She noted that it was excruciating when the news got to her that her husband died at the battlefield. The woman said, “But that sadness has been compounded by the silence of the defence ministry on my late husband’s life insurance claim. It’s quite traumatic. It has been difficult to survive with my children. My husband was killed by insurgents on August 7, 2014 in Borno State. I went to the Army Headquarters many times to know when the insurance would be paid and they kept saying they were working towards it. It’s frustrating.’’

Saturday PUNCH gathered that the insurance under the “Group Life Assurance” is supervised by the Ministry of Defence mandates the widows to submit the required documents for onward processing of their late spouses’ life insurance claims. Saturday PUNCH learnt that the claims vary based on the ranks of the slain soldiers.

Section 4(5) of the Pension Reform Act 2014, provides that “every employer shall maintain a Group Life Insurance Policy in favour of each employee for a minimum of three times the annual total emolument of the employee and premium shall be paid not later than the date of commencement of the cover.”

Saturday PUNCH exclusively gathered that to commence processing for claims accruable to their husbands, each widow is to present a condolence letter, affidavit and declaration as next-of-kin, (from a magistrates’ court), death certificate (from a hospital), death notification including 12 passport photographs of the next-of-kin and the slain soldier among other requirements.

In the long-fight against insurgency, both the Nigerian Army and terrorists had recorded casualties. In one of the recent attacks, over 30 soldiers were killed in April when the Islamic State-aligned fighters ambushed a military convoy escorting weapons and overran a base in Mainok, Borno State. Also in the same month, troops killed at least 40 insurgents in the town of Dikwa, Borno State.

A widow, who said she was told that her husband died in December 2014 in Gombe State, added that all she was told when she inquired about the life insurance claim from the army was that they were resolving some issues associated with it.

She said, “It has not been easy taking care of my child. I have tried everything possible but there had been no positive response. There was a time I was told that the issues had not been resolved. They should help us and not let us suffer because our husbands died fighting for Nigeria.’’’

The pain of losing her husband in Gombe in 2014 is still fresh in the heart of another widow who noted that he was pregnant when the news of her husband’s death was broken to her.

The woman added, “The boy is now six years old. It has been me and my God. He (my husband) was killed in an ambush. We have tried to get the life insurance claim but it has been difficult. My children and I survive on the little I get selling confectioneries.”

Contacted for his comment on the matter, the Nigerian Army spokesman, Brig. Gen. Mohammed Yerima, said the payment process was ongoing, adding that the service was desirous of facilitating the insurance claims as soon as possible.

Yerima said, “We know that they (widows) need the money more than you do, so we are still processing the claims and as soon as it is done, they would be given the cheques.”

Asked how long the processes normally take, Yerima noted, “Our own is to process the payment and once this is done, they (beneficiaries) would be invited to pick up the cheques and you (media) will be invited to the cheques presentation ceremony.”

Commenting on the development, a human rights lawyer, Mr Jiti Ogunye, said the development was yet another sad indicator that the country doesn’t treat its own well.

Ogunye stated, “Soldiers prosecute wars successfully based on their weaponry, training, fighting spirit, morale and patriotism. Men of our armed forces may have the best weapons in the world (and we know they fall short in this aspect) and could be well trained. If, however, they lack motivation; if their morale is low and their fighting spirit is down, they can hardly succeed in vanquishing the enemy. And there can be no worse subverter of the fighting spirit, morale and motivation of soldiers than the knowledge that should they die in battle, making the supreme sacrifice, their family would be left in the lurch, their children would become abandoned orphans and their wives neglected widows. At that level, therefore, by abandoning the families of our slain soldiers, Nigeria is cutting its nose to spite its face.’’

He noted that at other level, the legal level, the non-payment of the insurance claims was illegal.

The lawyer added, “It is an inhuman breach of insurance contract. Our understanding is that the armed forces are not the insurers of the soldiers; all the same they played a key role in paying to the insurance companies or deducting monies from the salaries of the soldiers and remitting same as premiums. The armed forces should therefore be interested in ensuring that the claims of these fallen heroes are settled.

Source: PUNCH NEWSPAPER

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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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