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Russian Court Jails US Basketball Star For Nine Years Over Drug Smuggling



A Russian court on Thursday found US basketball star Brittney Griner guilty of smuggling and storing drugs and sentenced her to nine years in prison.

The court “found the defendant guilty” of smuggling and possessing “a significant amount of narcotics”, judge Anna Sotnikova told a court in the town of Khimki just outside Moscow.

Sotnikova sentenced Griner, 31, to nine years in prison and said she would also have to pay a fine of one million rubles ($16,590).

The six-foot-nine (2.06 metres) star was detained at a Moscow airport in February after she was found carrying vape cartridges with cannabis oil in her luggage. The arrest came just days before Moscow launched its military intervention in Ukraine.


Prosecutors had earlier requested the two-time Olympic basketball gold medallist and Women’s NBA champion be sentenced to nine and a half years in prison on drug smuggling charges.

Griner’s trial came with tensions soaring between Moscow and Washington over Russia’s military intervention in Ukraine that has sparked international condemnation and a litany of Western sanctions.

“I made an honest mistake and I hope that your ruling doesn’t end my life here,” Griner said earlier Thursday.

“I want the court to understand it was an honest mistake that I made while rushing, under stress, trying to recover from post-Covid and just trying to get back to my team.”

Griner’s trial has recently accelerated as the United States and Russia discuss a potential prisoner swap that could involve the basketball star.


“I ask the court to find Griner guilty and sentence her to nine years and six months in prison,” prosecutor Nikolay Vlasenko said, requesting a term just short of the maximum punishment of 10 years.

Vlasenko said Griner “deliberately” proceeded through the green corridor at customs and stated she had nothing to declare “in order to conceal” the substance.

Griner walked into the courtroom in handcuffs, escorted by several law enforcement officers and a police dog.

Standing inside a cage for defendants before the start of the hearing, she held up a photo of herself with teammates from the Russian club she plays for.

Her lawyer Maria Blagovolina told the court earlier Thursday that Griner was “an icon for many people” and “was brave” to admit her guilt.


She added that the amount of substance brought in by the athlete was “just over” the allowed amount.

Blagovolina asked the court to acquit Griner or consider a more lenient sentence if she is found guilty.

Griner was detained when she came to Russia to play club basketball with UMMC Ekaterinburg during the US off-season — a common path for American stars seeking additional income.

Griner pleaded guilty to the charges but said she did not intend to break the law or use the banned substance in Russia.

In previous hearings, Griner said she was regularly tested by US, Russian and European leagues.


The WNBA star said she had permission from a US doctor to use medicinal cannabis to relieve pain from her many injuries — “from the spine to cartilages.”

Her case has raised speculation about a potential prisoner swap between Moscow and Washington.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said last week that Washington had made a “substantial proposal” to Moscow to free Griner and former US Marine Paul Whelan, who was imprisoned on espionage charges.

A prisoner swap was also discussed during a Friday call between Blinken and his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov.

The highest-profile Russian prisoner in the United States is Victor Bout, a 55-year-old arms trafficker, dubbed the “Merchant of Death”, serving 25 years in jail.


There is no official confirmation that Washington has offered to exchange him.

Russia and the United States have already conducted one prisoner swap since the start of Moscow’s Ukraine offensive.

In April, Washington exchanged former US Marine Trevor Reed for convicted drug smuggler Konstantin Yaroshenko.


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Kidnappers demand ransom in new naira notes



Gunmen who abducted four persons in Kolo village of Zamfara State have reportedly demanded ransom in new naira notes.

It was learnt that the terrorists demanded N10m and later reduced it to N5m but insisted they won’t collect the old naira notes.

President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday unveiled the new naira notes but the new notes may not go into circulation until December 15, 2022.

The terrorists insisted they would keep the victims until the new notes are in circulation.


“As we were trying to gather the money demanded by the terrorists, they sent another message this morning that they would not collect old naira notes.

“They said they would keep the abducted persons in their camps until the release of the new naira notes in December,” Mohammed Ibrahim, a resident, reportedly said.

The Nation

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Agulu-Awka Ward 5 Endorses Baby Awka As Their Leader



….backs all his preferred candidates for 2023 elections…

On 21st November, 2022, voters in Awka Ward 5, Awka South LGA of Anambra State endorsed Chief Emeka Jude Agumadu popularly known as Baby Awka as their leader who they will follow as the 2023 general Elections draw closer.

In a strategic event organized by Baby Awka in his country home of Umubele Agulu-Awka Ward 5, the crowd numbering over one thousand pledged their allegiance to his preferred choice of candidates. They said that any candidate of any political party adopted by Baby Awka will be the person to vote at the polls in 2023.

Awka Ward 5 is one of the biggest political Wards in Nigeria with over 46 pooling units. It is worthy to note that Awka Ward 5 has taken greater percentage in making Awka South winners of total votes cast in every election year, notable among them are the 2013, 2017 and 2021 Anambra Gubernatorial election.


Monday 21st November saw another build-up ritual towards next year election where all the stakeholders and voters came with their voters card to endorse any candidate chosen by their own, Chief Emeka Jude Agumadu (Ozodinakachukwu).

Speaking at the event, the Awka South Chairman of All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), Hon. Chikaodili Nonyelu while welcoming voters that gathered, appreciated them for their solidarity over the years. She thanked them for massively supporting Chief Emeka Agumadu and APGA in previous elections and assured them that their supports will never be in vain.

The voters who came with their voter’s card spoke differently in acknowledgement of his philanthropic gestures towards them, claiming that it has earned him their loyalty which they have concluded to reciprocate by voting all his candidates as a way of payback for everything he has done for the community and Anambra State at large.

With joy of fulfilment, Chief Emeka Jude Agumadu (Baby Awka) appreciated the crowd who came to endorse him as their Leader. He used the opportunity to intimate them on his political choice and candidates. He later introduced his candidates of All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) which he tagged “The Winning Team”. In Anambra Central, he introduced Hon. Dozie Nwankwo as APGA candidate, in Awka North and South Federal Constituency, he asked his followers to voted for Hon. Obi Nwankwo (Okwu Ego Nibo) as his choice while maintaining that Hon. Samuel Igwedimma Nwofor is the best that must be voted for Awka South 1 State Constituency. He promised that if they support all his candidates, he will make sure they come back to deliver all the campaign promises to the people of Awka South LGA.

The Candidates in their separate speeches reeled out their plans and what they will do for the people of Awka Ward 5 and Awka as a Community.


During vote of thanks, the former Transition Chairman of Awka South LGA, Hon. Kenechukwu Okoye (Jakpo) thanked the voters in Awka Ward 5 for their solidarity and support to Chief Emeka Agumadu. He narrated that their support over the years has given Baby Awka courage in bargaining for democratic dividends for Awka Ward 5 and the entire Awka Community. He reminded the voters that their support attracted the building of new classroom blocks at Agulu-Awka Primary and Secondary School Awka, and furnishing it with 21st century educational gadgets. Including other projects attracted by the former Senator who represented Anambra Central Senatorial District through Chief Jude Agumadu.

Dignitaries that attended the event are Hon. Dozie Nwankwo ably represented by his Campaign DG, Hon. Ayo Obiadi, Hon. Obi Nwankwo, Hon. Chikaodili Nonyelu, Hon. Samuel Igwedimma Nwofor, Hon. Mrs. Felly Okika , Comr. Obi Ochije, Chief Okwuchukwu Ogbuefvi (CEO Trig Point Hotels, Nibo), Hon. Ekene Obidinma, Hon. Kenechukwu Okoye, Hon. Chinedu Okafor, Chief Alex Chinwuko “D Great” (APGA Awka Ward 5 Chairman), Hon. Chuks Ikebudu, Lady Chimdi Orakwue, Hon. Emmanuel Onwurah Nonyelu (Agu Awka), Ozo Omesilibe, Mr. Igwedimma Arinze (Ogbuefvi Amalazoba), Hon. Patrick Agunobi, Hon. Perol Nosike, Hon. Ogbonna Akabogu (Inspector), Hon. Nonso Nwekweghi, among others.

Written By
Uzoma Ferdinand
Awka, Anambra State

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Soludo Threatens To Deface Posters Of Obi, Others




Anambra Governor Chukwuma Soludo has given presidential candidate of Labour Party (LP) two weeks to clear debts of posters and billboards or have them defaced.

Anambra State Signage and Advertising Agency, (ANSAA) threatened other candidates and parties to pay up too or face similar action.

A statement by ANSAA MD/CEO Tony Odili Ujubuonu on Sunday warned it would
deface billboards and-posters of political parties and candidates owing the agency.


The agency said the enforcement of the order would begin on December 5,2022

The statement reads: “Anambra State Signage and Advertisement Agency through a letter dated 14th November, 2022, urged all Out-Of-Home advertising practitioners in the state to revalidate and register all their billboards.

“According to a letter addressed to both OAAN and registered Non OAAN practitioners, the agency has taken major steps towards sanitizing outdoor advertising practice in the state through ban on individuals, clients and government agencies ownership of billboards in the state.

“Having done this, the agency expected maximum cooperation from the practitioners in terms of registering their billboards and payment of campaigns but are yet to get such.

“As a result of the above, the agency has directed all billboard owners to provide the information required to register each billboard and also pay up for any campaign on them.


‘Through this release, the entire political party candidates for the upcoming general elections are urged to make sure those handling their campaigns have made payments to the government to avoid ANSAA defacing their campaign materials.

“The agency has also given a two-week grace to make such payments or face a legal enforcement.

“It has also gotten to the knowledge of the Agency that some political party candidates are erecting billboards on their own ignorantly. The Agency wants to state that this is not only wrong but illegal and any such billboard would be brought down without any notice, the structure seized permanently and auctioned.

“This lasts between 14th November to 5th of December.

‘It’s the wish of the Agency that by the 5th of December 2022, all billboards in the State must have been duly registered and paid for, as legal enforcement starts immediately.


“Remember ANSAA is your progress partner in business and we want you to succeed.”

By Nwanosike Onu
The Nation Online

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