ICPC Recovers 40 Stolen Government Vehicles

ICPC Recovers 40 Stolen Government Vehicles The Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), is to arraign some government officials from whom dozens of stolen government vehicles were recovered.

The anti-graft agency said that this would serve as a deterrent to civil servants who misuse or steal government property.

The ICPC announced the recovery of the vehicles at a news conference in Abuja where the agency stated that the over 40 vehicles were recovered from the Water Resource Ministry.

The vehicles included: 14 Hilux pickup trucks, 14 luxury branded sports utility vehicles, 4 luxury branded saloon cars, and eight new edition Toyota saloon cars.

The Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Water Resources, Rabi Jimeta, revealed that those responsible for the theft were from a particular cadre of the civil service.

The agency then used the opportunity to task Nigerians and civil servants on the need to be vigilant and guide against misuse and theft of government property by public officers in the country.

Court Orders Forfeiture Of Diezani’s Allegedly Stolen $153m

Court Orders Forfeiture Of Diezani's Allegedly Stolen FundsA Federal High Court sitting in Lagos has ordered the temporary forfeiture of the sum of $153,310,000, which a former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueze, allegedly siphoned from the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and stashed in three banks in the country.

Out of the allegedly stolen $153.3m, a sum of N23,446, 300,000 was said to have been kept in Sterling Bank Plc, N9,080,000,000 in First Bank Plc and $5m in Access Bank Plc.

After ordering the temporary forfeiture of the monies to the Federal Government on Friday, Justice Muslim Hassan gave Sterling Bank and any other interested party 14 days to appear before him to prove the legitimacy of the monies, failing which the funds would be permanently forfeited to the Federal Government.

The judge made the order in favour of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) which appeared before him on Friday with an ex-parte application seeking the temporary forfeiture of the funds.

In a nine-paragraph affidavit filed in support of the ex parte application, an EFCC investigator, Moses Awolusi, claimed that the anti-graft agency discovered through its investigations how sometime in December 2014 Diezani invited a former Managing Director of Fidelity Bank Plc, Nnamdi Okonkwo, to her office where they hatched the plan of how a cash sum of $153,310,000 would be moved from NNPC to Okonkwo to be saved for Diezani.

According to Awolusi, Diezani instructed Okonkwo to ensure that the money was “neither credited into any known account nor captured in any transaction platforms” of Fidelity Bank.

Awolusi said Okonkwo accepted and implemented the deal leading to the movement of $153,310,000 from NNPC to Fidelity Bank.

He said two former Group Executive Directors of Finance and Account of NNPC, B.O.N. Otti and Stanley Lawson, helped Diezani to move the cash from NNPC, Abuja to the headquarters of Fidelity Bank in Lagos.

Awolusi said in a desperate bid to conceal the source of the money, Okonkwo, upon receiving it, instructed the Country Head of Fidelity Bank, Mr Martin Izuogbe, to take $113,310,000 cash out of the money to the Executive Director, Commercial and Institutional Bank, Sterling Bank Plc, Lanre Adesanya, to keep.

He said the remaining $40million was taken in cash to the Executive Director, Public Sector Accountant, First Bank, Dauda Lawal, to keep.

The investigator said out of the $113,310,000 handed over to Adesanya, a sum of $108,310,000 was invested in an off balance sheet investment using Sterling Asset Management Trustees Limited.

He said the $108,310,000 was subsequently changed to N23,446, 300,000 and saved in Sterling Bank.

Awolusi said the EFCC had recovered the N23.4bn in draft and had registered it as an exhibit marked, EFCC 01.

The investigator said the EFCC had also recovered another $5million out of the money kept with the MD of Access Bank Plc, Mr Herbert Wigwe.

He said the $5m was recovered in draft and had been registered as an exhibit marked, EFCC 02.

According to him, First Bank’s ED, Lawal, had converted the $40million kept with him to N9,080,000,000.

Awolusi, however, said that the EFCC had recovered that also in draft and registered it as Exhibit EFCC 03.

Moving the ex-parte application on Friday, the EFCC lawyer, Mr. Rotimi Oyedepo, urged Justice Hassan to order the temporary forfeiture of the funds to the Federal Government and to order Sterling Bank and Lawal, who were joined as defendants in the application, as well as any other interested parties, to appear in court within two weeks to show cause why the funds should not be permanently forfeited to the Federal Government.

Oyedepo, who said the application was brought pursuant to Section 17 of the Advance Fee Fraud and Other Related Offences Act No. 14, 2006 and Section 44(2)(‘) of the 1999 Constitution, said granting the application was in the best interest of justice.

After hearing him out, Justice Hassan granted the order and adjourned till January 24, 2016 for the respondents to appear in court to show cause why the funds should not be permanently forfeited to the Federal Government.‎

Alleged Money Laundering: Justice Ngwuta’s Trial Stalled

Alleged Money Laundering: Justice Ngwuta's Trial StalledA Federal High Court sitting in Abuja, has adjourned the trial of Justice Sylvester Ngwuta, to January 18 and 23, 2017.

The Supreme Court Justice, is standing trial for corruption, alleged money laundering, breach of professional ethics and passport forgery related offenses.

The adjournment followed an application by the counsel to Justice Ngwuta, Chief Kanu Agabi, who told the court that he needed more time to prepare for trials as some documents given to him by the prosecution still needed to be studied.

This did not go down well with the prosecutor who urged the court to turn down the application.

However, trial judge, Justice John Tsoho delivered his ruling in favour of the defendant, Ngwuta, on the ground that section 36 of the constitution allows a defendant time to prepare for his defense.

He also added that the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, also allows parties in a suit to at least five request for adjournment, afterwhich he adjourned the case.

Justice Ngwuta is one of the justices arrested and detained by the department of state services on October 8, 2016 for corruption and breach of professional ethics.

In November, Justice Sylvester Ngwuta had entered a not guilty plea to the 15-count charges leveled against him by the federal government.

He was also been granted bail in the sum of 100 million Naira on self-recognition.

Alleged Money Laundering: Justice Ngwuta Pleads Not Guilty, Granted Bail

Alleged Money Laundering: Justice Ngwuta Pleads Not GuiltyJustice Sylvester Ngwuta has entered a not guilty plea to the 15-count charges of money laundering, breach of professional ethics and forgery leveled against him by the federal government.

He has also been granted bail in the sum of 100 million naira on self-recognition.

When the charges were read to him, the Supreme Court judge told the court that he was not guilty of the 15 counts.

Attempt by his lawyer to ask for bail was opposed by the prosecutor, Mr Adeogun Philips who said he had just been served and would need a short adjournment to respond.

With no objection by the defence lawyers, the trial judge, Justice James Tsoho, stood down the case by two hours.

On resumption of hearing on the bail application, counsel to Justice Ngwuta, Kanu Agabi asked the court to release the defendant on self-recognizance, taking judicial notice of the fact that he is a justice of the Supreme Court and the fact that he has been on administrative bail since on October 8, 2016.

Opposing the application, the prosecuting counsel, Mr Charles Philips, said that the defendant cannot be granted bail with respect to his position.

Mr Philips, who referred to charges number three and charges numbers 10-16 against Justice Ngwuta, informed the tribunal that barely 20 minutes after he was released on administrative bail, Justice Ngwuta gave instructions to a witness in the case to remove two or three bags containing 27 million naira from his bathroom at his residence in Abakaliki, Ebonyi state.

The prosecuting counsel also told the court that Justice Nwguta also instructed the said witness to remove three exotic cars from his residence on the same day and that they are nowhere to be found. That is what forms the subject of charge number three.

Speaking further he informed the court that in the course of investigation, the Department of State Services (DSS) discovered that Justice Ngwuta maintained multiple identities.

According to him Justice Ngwuta had four passports which he used concurrently.

Although he had reported two of those passports missing, he argued that in any jurisdiction in the world, if a person possesses several identities he cannot be released on self-recognizance.

He therefore asked the court not to grant bail but if it is inclined to, it should grant bail in the most stringent terms.

Reacting to the counter application, counsel to Justice Ngwuta, Mr Kanu Agabi, told the court that he was not willing to join issues with the prosecutor because he had gone into the substantive suit which is not allowed by law and that the constitution is clear as to when bail should be granted or not.

He added that should the court reach its conclusion based on the prosecutor’s submissions, verdict would have been decided before the case is started.

Having listen to both parties, the trial judge, Justice John Tsoho stood down the matter for ruling at 2:30PM.

Granted Bail

On resumption, Justice John Tsoho granted bail to Justice Sylvester Ngwuta in the sum of 100 million naira on self-recognizance.

According to Justice Tsoho though the prosecution sought to impress the court on the defendants’ unworthiness for bail, it failed to show that in spite of the concerns raised, the defendant had his administrative bail revoked.

He also added that it is no secret that the security agencies are watching every move made by the judge with kin interest, which is how they found that he had multiple passports.

As such the prosecution should rely on the same security apparatus to prevent any attempt not to be available for trial.

He added that it would be great injustice to prevent any citizen from enjoying bail in available offence.

According to Justice Tsoho, it is on record that the prosecution had filed an affidavit of completion of investigation and on the other hand it is raising objections that witnesses and evidence will be tampered with.

The prosecution, he said, should be able to maintain consistency rather than the inconsistencies.

Justice Tsoho then went on to say that there is no evidence before the court that Justice Ngwuta would not be available for his trial and because the offence for which he is standing trial is bailable, he is inclined to grant bail.

Trial has been fixed for December 7 and 8.

Justice Ngwuta was one of the seven judges arrested after a DSS raid on the homes of High Court and Supreme Court judges across the country on October 8, 2016.

EFCC Re-Arraigns Former Governor Orji Kalu In Lagos

EFCC, Orji KaluA former Governor of Abia state, Mr Orji Kalu, has been docked at the Federal High Court in Lagos, answering alleged corruption charges by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

It is, however, not clear what specific charges the former governor is facing at the Lagos court.

He had been previously arraigned before the Federal High Court, along with two other people.

They were in that instance accused of diverting about 3.2 billion Naira from the Abia government’s treasury.

The court adjourned the case till December 6, 2016 for commencement of trial.

In March, the Supreme Court had ruled that the EFCC could prosecute the former Abia Governor, ruling that the anti-graft agency had established prime-facie cases against the defendant.

The former governor was accused of laundering and illegal diversion of public funds of about 5.6 billion Naira.

Mr Kalu was said to have perpetuated the fraud between 1999 and 2007 while he was the Governor of Abia State.

 

Two Federal High Court Judges Report To EFCC

Judges in EFCC custodyTwo Federal High Court judges in Nigeria, Mohammed Yunusa and Hyeladzira Nganjiwa have reported to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

Following an invitation letter the EFCC extended to them, the judges arrived at the anti-graft agency’s office at about 10:05am on Monday, October 17 in Lagos, southwest Nigeria.

Their invitation was sequel to the alleged bribery and money laundering the commission discovered while investigating an ongoing case for which two senior lawyers had already been arraigned in court.

The lawyers, Rickey Tarfa and Joseph Nwobike, were arraigned by the EFCC before a Lagos High Court on March 9, 2016, on allegations of bribery and offering gratification to a public official.

Tarfa and Nwobike are facing criminal prosecution for allegedly offering gratification to Federal High Court judges, to refrain them from exercising the duties of their office.

Subsequent investigation revealed that the two judges allegedly received money from the two senior lawyers severally.

The judges were questioned by operatives of the anti-graft agency.

Anti-corruption War Extended To Judiciary

The anti-corruption war of the present administration has been extended to legal practitioners, with top judges being investigated.

On October 8, operatives of some security agencies raided homes of some judges and arrested some of them.

The Department of State Services (DSS), which carried out the operation with some police officials, said that the judges were being investigated for alleged corruption and misconduct.

Their arrest had whipped up diverse comments, with the Nigerian Bar Association saying it was unconstitutional.

The association further declared a state of emergency in the judiciary over the midnight arrest of the judges and demanded that they should be released unconditionally.

After days in detention and several other demands for their release, the DSS granted them bail on self-recognisance, with a mandate that they must report to the security agency’s office when needed.

Freezing Accounts Is Backed By Law – EFCC

EFCCThe Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) says freezing of accounts suspected of being used for financial crimes is a mandatory investigative step backed by law.

The anti-graft agency was responding to reactions that trailed the freezing of accounts of suspects that were investigated or currently being investigated.

A statement by the Head, Media and Publicity of the EFCC, Wilson Uwujaren, on Monday stressed the need to explain the reason behind the actions in order to prevent misinformation.

“Indeed, Section 34 (1) of the EFCC Act 2004 empowers the Commission to freeze any account suspected of being used for financial crimes.

“The section stipulates that, the Chairman of the Commission or any officer authorised by him may, if satisfied that the money in the account of a person is made through the commission of an offence under this Act, or any enactment specified under Section 6(2) (a)-(f) of this Act, apply to the Court ex-parte for power to issue or instruct a bank examiner or such other appropriate authority to freeze the account,” the statement read.

Incidental To Investigation

The agency also noted that similar provision in the Money Laundering Prohibition Act also allowed the EFCC Chairman or his representatives to place a stop order on any account or transaction suspected to be involved in any crime.

“The intendment of these provisions is to ensure that the Commission safeguards suspected proceeds of crime pending the completion of its investigation.

“It is without prejudice to the social standing of the holder of such accounts or whether they are individual, corporate or government accounts,” the statement added.

The anti-graft agency maintained that the freezing orders were incidental to investigation and doing otherwise would jeopardise the prospects of recovering stolen assets.

Corruption: Expect Conclusion Of Some Trials In Six Months – Prof Sagay

Itse-Sagay-Professor on corruption Within the next six months, federal authorities will begin to conclude cases filed against alleged corrupt individuals who are currently being prosecuted, a Nigerian government official said on Sunday.

In an interview on the current’s administration’s one year in office, the chairman of the Presidential Advisory Committee on War Against Corruption, Professor Itse Sagay denied allegations that the government was being selective in the anti-graft war assuring Nigerians that justice would prevail in all ongoing cases.

According to him, the persons that had access to funds were part of the previous administration and are being tried for looting the funds.

He said: “Vigorous dynamic prosecution that the EFCC has come across. The cases are progressing aggressively.

“It is a fresh start and a normal criminal case of sought use to take between 10 to 12 years and still be in suspense.

“If you follow what is going on now, the case are moving on. In some cases the government has concluded its prosecution and the defence has been opened.

“Within the next six months, there will be a series of concluded cases.

He assured Nigerians that there would be an end to what what he called “suspended cases”.

FG Alleges 1.34trn Naira Stolen By 55 People In 7 Years

Lai-mohammed on Corruption The Federal Government of Nigeria says 55 people have stolen from the nation to the tune of 1.34 trillion Naira between 2006 and 2013, more than a quarter of 2015 national budget.

The Minister of Information and Culture, Mr Lai Mohammed, said persons linked to the loot were past government officials, bankers and businessmen.

At a press conference in Abuja on Monday, Mr Mohammed appealed to the media to collaborate with the government in the newly launched national sensitisation campaign against corruption.

The revelation is coming just as the anti-corruption fight by President Muhammadu Buhari has drawn various reactions, controversies and outright revelations.

Some Nigerians accuse the All Progressives Congress (APC) administration of engaging in a vendetta against the opposition, but the Minister of Information said Nigerians should not be misinformed about the true state of affairs and the true cost of the stolen funds.

He pointed out that irrespective of political affiliations or even the pending cases of corruption matters in court, everyone who had stolen public funds would not go scot-free.

The present administration is no doubt gathering steam in the anti-graft war, determined to change the narrative from all sides and the state of the economy.

The heightened anti-graft war has seen the arrest of some officials of the previous administration, with the latest being the arrest of the spokesman of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party, Mr Olisa Metuh.

Metuh’s arrest had further generated more reactions, with the opposition claiming that the arrests made by the anti-graft agency were mere witch-hunt.

The ruling APC has dismissed this claim.

Metuh is facing a seven-count charge of corruption and money laundering in the case before a High Court in Abuja.

Few days ago, the court remanded Mr Metuh in Kuje Prison in Abuja after he pleaded ‘not guilty’ to the charges.

Akpabio Returns Home

AkpabioThe embattled former governor of Akwa Ibom State, Godswill Akpabio, is off the hook, albeit temporarily, as the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) set him free after long interrogation at the Abuja office of the commission.

The former governor, who is also the Senate Minority Leader, is accused of allegedly mismanaging 108.1 billion naira while he was in office.

His invitation by the EFCC followed a petition by an Abuja based lawyer and activist, Leo Ekpeyong.

The lawyer had petitioned President Muhammadu Buhari and the EFCC, calling for Akpabio’s probe, accusing him of looting Akwa Ibom Treasury.

The former governor, now Senator, was elected in 2007 at a time the state enjoyed robust oil revenue.

The former Governor of Akwa Ibom State had visited the office of the EFCC for questioning on Friday, accompanied by his lawyers and a few aides.

Akpabio’s media team on Saturday debunked the reports that he was arrested.

“Senator Akpabio was never arrested. He simply obliged an invitation to come and answer some questions at the EFCC headquarters.

“Senator Akpabio has nothing to hide. That’s why he walked into EFCC himself this evening to answer questions about his tenure in Akwa Ibom.

“Those who are playing politics with the decision of Senator Akpabio to honour the EFCC invitation must be acting a known script.

“Senator Akpabio was called from the EFCC to come for explanations and he drove there himself 50 minutes later. So, why all the news of arrest?” the media team said via Twitter.

Akpabio Returns To EFCC For Questioning

I’ve Nothing To Hide About My Tenure As Akwa Ibom Gov – AkpabioSenate Minority Leader and a former Governor of Akwa Ibom State, Senator Godswill Akpabio, who was quizzed on Friday by the Economic And Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has returned to the commission for questioning.

A source close to the EFCC says that Senator Akpabio returned to the EFCC on Saturday morning.

On Friday, Senator Akpabio said he had nothing to hide about his term in office as the Governor of Akwa Ibom State.

The Senate Minority Leader said through his twitter handle, that he arrived home some hours after being quizzed by the anti-graft body.

Senator Akpabio was invited on Friday to Abuja headquarters of the EFCC, over a petition dated June 22, 2015 and addressed to President Muhammadu Buhari and the EFCC.

The petitioner, Leo Ekpenyong, alleged that Senator Akpabio, fraudulently converted 108.1 billion Naira belonging to Akwa Ibom State during his tenure as governor.

The tweets by his media team read: “His Excellency, Senator Akpabio is back to the house. We want to reaffirm that he has nothing whatsoever to hide about his term in office in Akwa Ibom.

“Senator Akpabio was never arrested. He simply obliged an invitation to come and answer some questions at the EFCC headquarters.

“Senator Akpabio has nothing to hide. That’s why he walked into EFCC himself this evening to answer questions about his tenure in Akwa Ibom.

“Those who are playing politics with the decision of Senator Akpabio to honour the EFCC invitation must be acting a known script.

“Senator Akpabio was called from the EFCC to come for explanations and he drove there himself 50 minutes later. So, why all the news of arrest”?

The Senate Minority Leader was governor of Akwa Ibom State from May 29, 2007 to May 29 2015, before he was succeeded by Governor Udom Emmanuel.

He is presently representing Akwa Ibom North-west Senatorial District at the Upper Chamber of the National Assembly.