Ex-Lawmaker Sues EFCC

A former member of the House of Representatives, Napoleon Gbinije has dragged the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) before an Abuja High Court over alleged breach of his fundamental human right.

The EFCC had on January 8, 9 and 10 declared Gbinije wanted through press releases and advertorials in newspapers and radio over alleged breach of trust and illegal diversion of funds to the tune of N281 million.

Gbinije, who represented Okpe/Sapele/Uvwie Federal Constituency of Delta state between 2003 and 2007, had approached the court through his counsel, praying for a declaration that the actions of the respondent culminating in the threatened arrest and indefinite detention of the applicant by the respondent are unconstitutional, illegal and amounts to a violation and/or likely violation of his fundamental rights to personal liberty as guaranteed by the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999.

​​He therefore prayed the court for an order of perpetual injunction restraining the respondent, by itself, agents, officers, servants, privies or anybody howsoever described from arresting, detaining or in any manner interfering with his fundamental rights to personal liberty as enshrined in chapter IV of the 1999 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) without following the due process of law.

Otedola appeals to court to hear his N250billion suit against Tambuwal and Farouk Lawan

Oil mogul, Mr Femi Otedola has asked an Abuja High Court to allow and sustain the N250 billion suit he filed against the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Aminu Tambuwal and former chairman of the Fuel Subsidy probe committee, Representative Farouk Lawan.

Mr Otedola in the suit alleged that he suffered harassment, intimidation and some business losses from the defendants.

Counsel to the oil mogul, Mr Babajide Kokusan told the presiding judge, Justice Peter Kekemeke, that the law makers should not be allowed to hide under any legislative immunity to escape the action they committed outside their legislative powers.

Reacting to the lawmaker’s plea that suit action be dismissed because they cannot be sued on any action carried out on behalf of the house, Otedola’s counsel argued that the defendants were sued in their personal capacities for the intimidation he (Femi Otedola) suffered from phone calls before he parted with $620,000 out of $3million bribe demanded and collected by Mr Lawan.

He insisted that legislative immunity cannot be used to defend the allegation of request and receipt of bribe and asked the judge to make the two defendants defend themselves as allowed by law.

Mr Kokusan also objected to the prayer of Tambuwal and Farouk that the Federal High Court and not Abuja Court can adjudicate over the matter because the House of Representatives was an agency of the federal government.

His counsel argued that the case of Otedola and Zenon Oil Ltd was on the demand for bribe with the use of harassment and intimidation and not an attack against the fuel subsidy or the report of the subsidy committee.

He further adds that the issue of jurisdiction of a court in any matter could be determined by the nature of reliefs, facts and statement of claims and that since the suit did not challenge the revenue of the federal government or the administrative decision of the national assembly, an Abuja High Court has the power and jurisdiction to hear the case.

The Speaker of the House of Representative and Mr Lawan had through their counsels, Kehinde Ogunwumiju and Mike Ahamba opposed the suit filed by Otedola.

They claimed that the two lawmakers enjoy absolute legislative immunity for words spoken on the floor of the house.

Justice Kekemeke will however rule on January 30 on whether to maintain or strike out the case.

N16 million scam: Court arraigns former police IG

Justice Mudashiru Oniyangi of an Abuja High Court on Friday dismissed an application by former Inspector General of Police, Sunday Ehindero, which urged the court to stop Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) from arraigning him.

Justice Oniyangi also dismissed similar application filed by the suspended Commissioner of Police in charge of Budget at the Force Headquarters, John Obaniyi.

The judge further refused to vacate the leave granted the ICPC to arraign the duo.

The duo had filed separate notices of preliminary objection challenging the jurisdiction of the court as well as the leave granted the ICPC to file charges against them.

They had prayed the court to quash the six counts preferred against them by the anti-graft agency. The ICPC had filed a charge of alleged corrupt embezzlement of N16 million against them.

The ICPC said the amount was the interests generated from N567 million donated to the Nigeria Police by the Bayelsa State Government for the purchase of arms, ammunition and riot control equipment.

The accused persons could be imprisoned for seven years if convicted.

Delivering his ruling, Justice Oniyangi held that the anti-graft agency had, by the proof of evidence before the court, successfully established a prima facie evidence against the accused to warrant their being put to trial.

“Prima facie evidence has been shown by the ICPC through the exhibits and statements of witness to proceed with trial,” he said.

Justice Oniyangi also held that the ICPC was competent to prosecute the accused, adding that the ICPC Act 2000, under which the duo were charged, was a valid law.

He said that the submission of Mr Ehindero’s counsel, Mike Ozekhome, that the ICPC Act 2000 was a non existing law, was not tenable.

He said that the offence the suspects were charged with were known to written laws, stressing that it was not correct to say the ICPC was charging the accused under non-existent law.

The judge further held that the commission is empowered to prosecute offences which fall under the penal and criminal codes.

Justice Oniyangi, therefore, dismissed the objections and subsequently ordered that Misters Ehindero and Obaniyi be arraigned.

After the ruling, Justice Oniyangi read the charges to accused persons who pleaded not guilty.

Justice Oniyangi, refused to grant bail to Misters Ehindero and Obaniyi on liberal terms as made in an oral application by Mr Ozekhome.

He granted them bail in the sum of N10 million each and one surety in like sum and ordered that the surety must swear to an affidavit of means.

He also said the accused persons should be detained in prison if they failed to meet the bail conditions.

Justice Oniyangi adjourned the case to 12 November for accelerated hearing.

 

Court restrains Massalla, Okwenna from parading as APGA leaders

An Abuja High Court has restrained Alhaji Sadiq Massalla and Dr Ifedi Okwenna from parading themselves as the Acting National Chairman and Acting National Secretary of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA).

The Court presided over by Justice Baba Yusuf, on Tuesday, gave the order after hearing an ex-parte application moved by Counsel to the Party Patrick, Ikwueto.

The court also restrained Massalla and Okwenna from convening, calling or organizing or holding any meeting of any organ of the party.

The two were also barred from interfering in any manner whatsoever in the affairs of APGA at any level pending the hearing and determination of the motion on notice which has been fixed for August 16th, 2012.

APGA’s national chairman, Chief Victor Umeh and national secretary Alhaji Sani Shinkafi had in a motion ex-parte asked the court to restrain the duo from interfering in the affairs of the party as they have been suspended from the party since June 19th 2012.

In a 37 paragraph affidavit deposed to by Shinkafi, he averred that the defendants were members of the National Working Committee of the party until June 19th when they began a dissident campaign against the National leadership of the Party.

Witness narrates how Nyame allegedly withdrew N282 million from state’s treasury

 The Abuja High Court today listened to the testimony of a key witness, an accountant, Mr Abdurrahman Mohammed of the rural electrification board, Jalingo, Taraba state in the prosecution of the former governor of the state, Reverend Jolly Nyame.

The witness told the presiding Judge, Justice Adebukola Banjoko how 20 Zenith Bank PLC, cheques valued at over N282 million were issued with the money withdrawn and given to the former governor.

Former governor Jolly Nyame who is being prosecuted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission is facing a 41 count charge of money laundering, criminal breach of trust and gratification of funds totalling N1.3billion.

Led in evidence by the prosecution counsel, Mr Rotimi Jacobs, the witness who served between 2003 and 2007 as the accountant of the Taraba state liaison office Abuja said anytime the former governor was in the city, the permanent secretary of the government house, Mr Japhet Wubon always instructed him to withdraw funds from the bank via a Zenith bank cheque for the governor.

This money the witness says was always collected in company of two police escorts and a driver who then took him to the former governor’s lodge at TY Danjuma street in Abuja where it was received by the former governor Nyame himself or his steward without a receipt or a signed voucher.

Mr Mohammed identified exhibits of the Zenith bank financial statements and copies of the cheques he signed to withdraw the funds.

The defence team however objected to the exhibits been tendered as evidence in court through the witness.

They argued that the witness was a staff of the Taraba state government and not an employee of Zenith bank who ordinarily ought to have the documents in its possession.

Justice Banjoko adjourned further proceedings till the 30th of April

Court strikes out Halliburton trial over EFCC’s delay to arraign suspects

Justice Abubakar Umar of an Abuja High Court has struck out a suit filed by the Economic and Financial Crimes commission (EFCC) against three persons named in the Halliburton bribery scandal. The judge struck out the case for EFCC’s failure to arraign the defendants since the trial commenced over a year ago.

The Judge struck out the suit after counsel to the EFCC, Ms Kauna Pindam, prayed the court to grant the commission another adjournment to enable it to arraign the accused persons.

The EFCC is charging a former Permanent Secretary in the Office of the Head of Service, Alhaji Ibrahim Aliyu, retired AVM Abdullahi Bello and Mohammed Bakari of the Urban Shelter Ltd., on a nine-count charge of corruption and bribery. The trio are alleged to have used their companies, Intercellular Nigeria Ltd., Sherwood Petroleum Ltd and Tri-Star Investment Ltd. to benefit from a $7.5 million Halliburton bribe.

Justice Umar refused to grant the adjournment but reminded the EFCC of an order he gave on January 23 that the commission should be ready to arraign the three suspects named in the $180 million Halliburton bribery scandal unfailingly today.

“I will not grant any more adjournment. Remember I gave an order on January 23 that March 26 date would be the last time the court would give the EFCC chance to arraign the suspects.

Recalling that he granted the leave to prosecute the trio, over a year ago, the Judge stated that the EFCC has since failed to arraign the defendants. “I have checked my records and in the past one year, since February 17, 2011 when I granted leave to the prosecution to arraign the accused; they have not done so.”

“It has been over a year now and still the EFCC is coming up with excuses; the EFCC should know that if it is not ready to prosecute and bring cases to conclusion, it should not apply for leave of court to arraign anybody” he stated.

“The EFCC should know that I am answerable to the National Judicial Council and what will I say is the reason why this case has been at arraignment stage for the past one year” he asked.

The Judge, who had earlier warned that he will report the anti-graft agency to the Minister of Justice for its delaying tactics, noted that “I warned the EFCC that upon its failure to arraign the accused today, I will strike out the case and write to the Minister of Justice to lodge a complaint about the attitude of the commission.”

“I remember I also warned the EFCC and the accused counsel to adhere to the specific details of the order or suffer certain penalties for not following the instructions” he said.

Justice Umar then urged the EFCC not to expose the judiciary to ridicule.

The anti-graft agency is yet to sustain any ruling on the Halliburton bribery scandal which occurred over a decade ago, whilst it counterpart in the US, recently got a conviction for the company’s former boss, who was in charge during the bribery era.

A number of Halliburton’s senior staff has also been imprisoned in the US for bribing Nigerian government officials to get contracts in the nation’s liquefied natural gas establishment.