630m Naira Fraud: Rickey Tarfa’s Client Know Fate April 27

Rickey TarfaRuling on the application filed by Mr Rickey Tarfa, seeking to quash the charge preferred against two of his clients, Gnanhoue Sourou Nazaire and Senou Modeste Finagnon, has been adjourned till April 27.  

Justice Taiwo Taiwo of the Lagos State High Court adjourned the case on Tuesday.

Both men, who are citizens of Republic of Benin, are standing trial for allegedly defrauding one Rachidatou Abdou and her company 630 million Naira.

Upon their arraignment on February 17, they pleaded not guilty to the charge.

At the resumed hearing of the matter on Tuesday, Mr Tarfa filed an application backed by a 50 paragraph affidavit urging the court to quash the charge against his clients on the grounds that it lacked jurisdiction to hear the matter.

He also alleged that the charge was incompetent and that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission was prosecuting his clients without any petition from anybody.

However, EFCC’s counsel, Rotimi Oyedepo, in an 11 paragraphs counter affidavit, asked the court to assume jurisdiction and hear the matter.

Mr Rotimi stated that most of the averments contained in the first and second defendant’s application were false.

He said: “The Commission does not need a petition to prosecute a matter even though it received a petition from one Rachidatou Abdou through the Law Firm of Falana and Falana against the defendants”.

On the competency of the charge, the prosecuting counsel submitted that upon receipt of the petition, the Commission assigned a team of investigators to investigate the case and that investigation revealed that the defendants conspired to commit felony, forgery and stealing.

Mr Rotimi also told the court to dismiss the submission of the defendant, as the Commission was a Federal Government agency statutorily empowered to prosecute cases of this nature.

He added that the office of the Attorney General of Lagos State had through a fiat conceded its prosecutorial powers to the Commission to prosecute economic and financial crime related offences in the state.

The defendants are facing a seven-count charge of alleged forgery, stealing and conversion of funds.

One of the counts read: “You, Gnanhoue Sourou Nazaire and Senou Modeste Finagnon between 5 January and 31 December 2012 in Lagos within the jurisdiction of this honourable court, with a dishonest intent, converted to your own use the sum of 141,460,915 Naira property of Rana Prestige Manufacturers Industries Nigeria Limited and thereby committed an offence contrary to section 285(1) of the Criminal Code Law of Lagos State”.

Justice Taiwo adjourned the case to April 27 for ruling.

Tarfa To Know Fate On Application To Quash Charges On April 20

Rickey Tarfa in court Lagos NigeriaA Lagos State High Court in Igbosere will on April 20 rule on an application by a Senior Nigerian lawyer, Mr Rickey Tarfa, seeking to quash a two-count charge of obstruction of justice and attempt to pervert the course of justice.

The charges were brought against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

The court fixed the date after listening to arguments from counsels in the matter.

Arguing the preliminary objection on Monday, Mr Tarfa’s lawyer, Mr Jelili Owonikoko, said the offence was not an economic and financial crime and that the EFCC had no power to institute the charges.

Mr Owonikoko said two other judges, Justice Adebiyi and Justice Candid-Johnson, had already made pronouncements on similar cases, where they held that “outside of economic and financial crimes the EFCC has no right to prosecute general offences”.

Describing the charges as an abuse of the EFCC’s prosecutorial power, Mr Owonikoko said the charges against Tarfa arose from a civil case at the High Court.

He said the allegation that Tarfa had an unlawful conversation with Justice Yunusa was already the subject of a petition before the National Judicial Council and also the subject matter of an appeal before the Court of Appeal.

He urged Justice Opesanwo to resist an attempt by the EFCC to set her on a collision course with the Court of Appeal.

Mr Owoniko also said the charge against Tarfa was not competent because the EFCC did not seek legal advice from the Attorney General of Lagos State.

But counsel for the EFCC, Mr Gbolahan Latona, said the claim that the EFCC was abusing its prosecutorial power existed only in the imagination of the defendant.

Mr Latona said the offence with which Mr Tarfa was charged was captured in Section 38(2) of the EFCC Establishment Act, adding that Section 13(2) of the same Act also created a legal and prosecutorial unit in the EFCC to try the same offence.

He said that the EFCC Act, being a legislation of the National Assembly, must take precedent over the Administration of Criminal Justice Law of Lagos State whenever there was a clash in their provisions.

The counsel for the EFCC also maintained that the offence of perversion of the course of justice fell within economic and financial crimes under Section 46 of the EFCC Act, 2004.

After listening to the parties, Justice Opesanwo adjourned ruling till April 20.

Tarfa was arraigned before Justice Opesanwo on February 16.

The EFCC accused the senior lawyer of wilfully obstructing two of its authorised operatives – Moses Awolusi and Sanusi Mohammed – from effecting the arrest of one Gnanhoue Sorou and Nazaire Modeste, “who were reasonably suspected to have committed economic and financial crimes”.

Tarfa was also accused of having an illegal telephone conversation with Justice Mohammed Yunusa of the Federal High Court to allegedly pervert the course of justice.

The EFCC accused him of violating Section 38(2) (a) of the EFCC (Establishment) Act, 2004 and Section 97(3) of the Criminal Law of Lagos State No.11, 2011.

He was said to have committed the offences on February 5, 2016.

But Tarfa pleaded not guilty to both counts and was granted bail on self-recognisance.

He later filed a preliminary objection, challenging the jurisdiction of the court and the prosecutorial power of the EFCC to file the charges against him.

Cynthia Osokogu Murder: Judge Accuses Defence Counsel Of Stalling Trial

Cynthia OsokoguThe Lagos High Court sitting in Igbosere, Lagos Island has accused the defence counsel of stalling the trial of the four men charged with the murder of Cynthia Osokogu.

Presiding judge, Justice Olabisi Akinlade, specifically noted the attitude of the second defence counsel, Mr Micheal Ajayi, from the chambers of Mike Igbokwe, S.A.N, who failed to show up in court on Friday despite sending a letter to the court for a stand down.

This is the second time that the second defence counsel has stalled the proceedings of the trial of the late Cynthia who was killed in Lagos in 2012 by men she met and allegedly became friends with on a popular social media platform, Facebook.

The prosecution closed its case in proof of the crime on September 19, 2014 for the defence to open its case.

But a string of absence of the defence counsel has continued to stall the proceedings.

The Attorney-General of Lagos, Mr Ade Ipaye, who is prosecuting the suspected murderers of the late Cynthia, had on Monday, May 5, showed the court some obscene pictures of the late Cynthia Osokogu from a laptop.

One of the pictures presented showed the late Cynthia cello-taped on the mouth with her international passport placed on her chest and another was a close-up shot of her private part.

Four men, Okwumo Nwabufo, 34; Olisaeloka Ezike, 24; Orji Osita, 33; and Ezike Nonso, 25, are standing trial for conspiracy and the murder of the late Cynthia Osokogu, a 25-year old postgraduate student from the Nassarawa State University.

Igbo Deportees Seek 1 Billion Naira Compensation From Lagos State

The suit filed by over 80 Igbo ‘deportees’ against the Lagos State Government came up on Thursday at the Federal High Court sitting in Lagos, with the plaintiffs demanding a compensation of 1 billion Naira (about 6.3 million dollars) .

Seven plaintiffs filed the suit on behalf of 66 others and they are jointly seeking the compensation from the Lagos State government as general damages for breach of their rights.

The seven plaintiffs are; Joseph Aniebonam, Osondu Mbuto, Osondu Agwu, Nnenna Ogbonna, Emily Okoroariri, Friday Ndukwe and Onyeka Ugwu.

Joined as respondents are the Attorney-General of Lagos State and the Commissioner of Police, Lagos State.

When the case was mentioned in court, the counsel representing the plaintiffs, Mr Ugo Ugwunnadi, told the court that the case was coming up for the first time.

He informed the court that he had only been served with the processes from the first respondent, the Attorney General of Lagos and that the second respondent, the commissioner of police, was yet to serve his process.

The counsel, therefore, asked the court to give parties a date for the hearing of the matter by which time lawyers involved would have perfected their processes.

The Counsel representing the Attorney General of Lagos State, Mr Tayo Odupitan, told the court that he had filed a counter-affidavit, written address and an exhibit, all in response to the plaintiffs’ suit.

He, however, informed the court that the A-G Lagos State, Mr Ade Ipaye, had indicated his intention to defend the suit personally.

Meanwhile, Counsel to the Commissioner of Police, Mr Sam Adebeshin, told the court that he was yet to regularise the processes on behalf of the second respondent.

After listening to all the parties, Justice Rita Ofili-Ajumogobia adjourned the case to February 19 for further hearing.

Breach Of Fundamental Rights

In the suit, the plaintiffs want the court to declare that they, as Nigerian citizens, were entitled to their fundamental rights as enshrined in the Constitution.

They are also seeking a declaration that their arrest and detention in various camps in Lagos and subsequent deportation to Anambra on July 24, 2013, for no offence, amounted to a serious breach of their fundamental rights.

The deportees also want the court to make an order mandating the respondents to tender a written apology to them by publishing same in three national newspapers continuously for 30 days, for unlawful and gross violation of their constitutional rights.

They also want an order, directing the LASG to re-integrate the applicants into Lagos State, and a perpetual injunction restraining the respondents, their agents, and officers from further deporting or refusing them free entry into Lagos State.

Meanwhile the LASG, in its counter-affidavit, contends that the deportation was not borne out of malice, but out of genuine intention to re-unite the applicants with their families.

They further contend that the applicants were assisted by the government, to re-join their families, after pleading that they had no homes, relatives or businesses in Lagos State.

Lekki-Ikoyi Toll Gate: Court Adjourns Suit To Feb. 7

A Federal High Court sitting in Lagos has fixed February 7 for hearing in a suit against the Lagos State Government, over collection of tolls on the newly constructed Lekki-Ikoyi Bridge.

The suit which was slated for parties to file written addresses was adjourned, as the Presiding Judge, Justice Saliu Saidu, was said to on be on official assignment.

Lagos based lawyer and Human Rights Activist, Mr Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa, had filed the suit, challenging the collection of tolls on the bridge, arguing that the bridge was erected on a federal navigable waterway.

Adegboruwa had filed the suit on November 26, 2012, seeking an order of injunction, restraining the Lagos Government from collecting any toll or tax in any form whatsoever, from motorists on the bridge.

While seeking the court’s resolve as to whether there exists any law in Nigeria, that authorises the collection of such tolls, tax or fee, from citizens, he also wants  the court to declare that the imposition of such a tariff on road users, is an illegal form of taxation and is inconsistent with the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

The Attorney-General of the Federation, and the National Inland Waterways Authority, also joined as first and second respondents in the suit.

The Attorney-General of Lagos State, Adeola Ipaye, and the Lagos State Government, are third and fourth respondents.

Cynthia Osokogu Murder Trial Stalled By Defence Counsel

The Lagos High Court sitting in Igbosere on Lagos Island could not make much progress on Monday, in the case of the late Cynthia Osokogu, as the two defence counsel failed to file their written addresses.

The late Cynthia Osokogu, a 25-year old postgraduate student of the Nassarawa State University was allegedly murdered on July 22, 2012, in Lagos by men she met and became friends with on a social media site, Facebook.

Two men, 33 year old Okwumo Nwabufo and 23 year old Olisaeloka Ezike are already standing trial for her murder. They were charged alongside 33year old Orji Osita and 25year old Ezike Nonso, who allegedly aided in the commission of the crime.

The offences are contrary to Sections 221, 249, 285 and 327 of the Criminal Law of Lagos State, 2011.

The first two defendants at the last sitting of the court had, however, told Trial Judge, Justice Olabisi Akinlade, that the Police obtained confessional statements of the crime from them, “under duress”. The case then went into a “trial within trial” to determine the voluntariness of the confessional statements.

After the defence closed its case on November 20, 2013, Justice Akinlade ordered the lawyers to the defendants to file their written addresses before the Christmas vacation to enable her listen to the adoption of the addresses on Monday, January 13, 2014, and possibly give a ruling.

Channels Television Judiciary Correspondent, Shola Soyele, reported that the Judge was angry that despite the length of time, the two defence counsel failed to act on the directions of the court.

She accused them of deliberately wasting the time of the court, and made another order for the written addresses to be filed and served on the prosecution within the next ten days, while the prosecution, the Attorney-General of Lagos State, was given two weeks to file his response.

Further hearing in the case was then adjourned to February 27 for the adoption of written addresses.

FG Loses Control Of Hotels, Tourism To States

The Supreme Court has ruled that it is only a State House of Assembly that can make laws on tourism or licensing and grading of hotels, restaurants, fast food outlets and other hospitality establishments.

A panel of the apex court judges on Friday unanimously dismissed the case filed by the Attorney General of the Federation and upheld the contention of the Attorney General of Lagos State, Ade Ipaye, that the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 as amended, only empowers the National Assembly to regulate tourist traffic, a term which does not extend to hotel registration or licensing.

The Supreme Court declared valid both the Hotel Licensing Law of Lagos State (as amended) and the Hotel Occupancy and Restaurant Consumption Law of Lagos State, while the offending sections of the Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation (NTDC) Act were declared null and void.

The Lagos state government and federal government had been embroiled in controversy over the proper authority to license and grade hospitality establishments.

This had resulted in the NTDC and the state government setting up parallel registration and regulation structures in the state.

The Lagos Attorney General on behalf of the state government had argued during the hearing that the only power reserved to the National Assembly on the Exclusive Legislative List in Schedule 2 of the Constitution was the regulation of tourist traffic, which only pertained to immigrations and the issuance of visas.

Representing the Attorney General of the Federation, Tunde Busari, contended that the phrase was enough to cover all tourism subjects and that the NTDC Act had therefore covered the field.

On those grounds, Mr. Busari called on the court to invalidate the Hotel Licensing Law and Hotel Consumption Tax Law of Lagos State.

The Court however ruled in favour of Lagos state in this case and also in another case filed on the same subject which was consolidated with the first one for hearing.

Justice Suleiman Galadima who read the lead judgment rejected the submissions made by Busari on behalf of the federal government in both cases, and dismissed the case.

By dismissing the case of the federal government, the apex court has put paid to this controversy and paved way for state governments to take full charge of tourism regulation and development within their respective jurisdictions.

Commenting on the judgment, the Commissioner for Tourism and Intergovernmental Relations in Lagos state, Disun Holloway declared the ruling as a landmark and commended the Supreme Court for upholding the tenets of Federalism.

He added that the judgment will eradicate multiplicity of taxation and regulation, thereby enabling states to take charge and properly plan for the hospitality industry in their respective territories.

Fashola has no right to ban us on federal highways – Okada riders

A Lagos High Court has granted accelerated hearing into the suit filed by some commercial motorcycle operators,known as  okada riders, against the Lagos State Government for banning their operations on some federal highways in the state.

The suit filed by the commercial motorcycle operators under the aegis of the All Nigerians Autobike Commercial Owners and workers Association (ANACOWA) want the court to declare Section 3(1) of the new Lagos Traffic Law, which prohibits the riding, driving or propelling of a cart, wheel barrow, motorcycle or tricycle on the major highways in Lagos, as unconstitutional.

They further asked for a declaration that the defendants have no power ‘whatsoever’ to make any law to regulate traffic on any of the Federal Trunk or Highway Roads.

They argue that restricting their operations on the said roads would violate their rights to freedom of movement, guaranteed by Section 41(1) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 as amended.

The defendants in the suit are the Lagos State Government, the Lagos State House of Assembly and the Attorney-General of Lagos State, Mr Ade Ipaye.

Presiding Justice Aishat Opesanwo however dismissed an interlocutory application which they filed to restrain the government from implementing the new Lagos State Traffic Law.

At Wednesday’s proceedings, counsel to the plaintiffs, Mr Bamidele Aturu, told the court that they were withdrawing their interlocutory application so that they could get an accelerated hearing of the main suit.

“We believe that there is a need for the court to urgently deal with this matter because it is in the interest of the generality of the populace”adding that “many of them (Okada riders) have been suffering from this draconian action of the government to restrict the motorcyclists from operating in federal high ways” stated Mr Aturu.

“We are therefore asking the court to strike out the application and grant us an accelerated hearing of the substantive suit”, he said.

In the main suit, the motorcyclists challenged the ban placed on them from plying 475 roads in the state.

Road rampage

However, the Attorney general of the State, Mr Ade Ipaye who is the third defendant and counsel to Lagos State Government, informed the court that the law was already being enforced in the state with effect from the 2nd of August 2012.

He noted that “it was in reaction to its enforcement that the claimants herein only on Monday October 22, 2012 went on rampage.”

The Attorney General also noted that the law enforcement agencies were not joined as defendants in the suit.

“They are not parties to this action and we cannot tell this honourable court that they will not do their duty in enforcing the law”, he said.

The court has however fixed the 16th of November for hearing of the substantive suit.

 

 

Lagos to prosecute men who abandon women they impregnate

It is now a criminal offence in Lagos for a man to desert a woman he impregnated, the State Attorney General, Ade Ipaye, said on Tuesday.

At the sensitisation programme on the ‘Criminal Law of Lagos State, 2011’ and ‘Administration of Criminal Justice Law, 2011’, Mr Ipaye said the law was enacted to protect pregnant women and their babies.

“Any person who impregnates a woman or girl and fails, refuses or neglects to contribute to maternity related cost from ante-natal or post-natal stages, is guilty of an offence under section 277 of the Criminal Law of Lagos State and is liable to face the wrath of the law,” he said.

Mr Ipaye, who also doubles as the Commissioner for Justice, said the state criminal law was enacted to regulate public order and provide rules on criminal conduct, among other objectives.

According to the Attorney General,  the old law handed down by the British Colonial Government was outdated, as it mainly reflected the values of the colonial administration.

He however stressed that the new law has replaced the Criminal Code Law of Lagos State Cap.C17 Laws of Lagos State of Nigeria, 2003, introduced in Southern Nigeria in 1914.