The Court of Appeal in Abuja has dismissed the appeal filed by a former member of the House of Representatives from Kano State, Farouk Lawan seeking to terminate the $3million bribery charges brought against him by the Federal Government.
The appellate court in a unanimous decision held that a prima facie case was well established against Lawan that warranted him to enter his defence in the three counts charge brought against him since 2013.
Delivering the judgment in the appeal filed against the ruling of an Abuja High Court which held that Lawan had a case to answer; Justice Olabisi Ige held that the decision of the lower court was well-founded.
Justice Ige said that contrary to Lawal’s argument, the prosecution evidence at the High Court was not in any way discredited, hence the rejection of his no-case submission.
The appellate court also held that the language of the trial judge, Justice Angela Otaluka which Lawan complained about did not place him in any disadvantage position or was in any way inimical to his trial.
Justice Ige who quoted copiously from the records of proceedings of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) High Court, especially the testimonies of the five witnesses called by the Federal Government, upheld the findings of Justice Otaluka that there were sufficient evidence linking Mister Lawan to the offences.
Justice Otaluka had in 2019 dismissed the no-case-submission filed by Mister Lawan who was then the Chairman of the House of Representatives Ad hoc Committee on Oil and Gas in his alleged $3million bribery trial.
A former official in charge of China’s quality control agency was sentenced to life behind bars on Friday for accepting more than $17 million in bribes, the court said.
Wei Chuanzhong was the deputy director of the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine, which was responsible for standards on internationally traded goods.
The 66-year-old “used his various positions” to take kickbacks in return for help with project bids and professional promotions, according to the court in central Hunan province.
The sentence ordered the seizure of Wei’s property in addition to his prison term, which the court described as “lenient” — implying that his full cooperation in the investigation spared him a possible death sentence.
Millions of officials have been punished for corrupt conduct and numerous senior officials have been sent to prison since Chinese President Xi Jinping inaugurated an anti-corruption campaign after he took office in 2013.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has arrested two Chinese for offering the sum of N100m as bribe to the Zonal head of the anti-graft agency in Sokoto State, Mr Abdullahi Lawal.
The agency disclosed this in a series of tweets on Tuesday, noting that the arrest was made on Monday in Sokoto.
According to the EFCC, the sum was allegedly offered in a desperate bid to compromise ongoing investigations of a construction company, China Zhonghao Nig. Ltd, which was handling contracts awarded by the Zamfara State Government in the sum of N50,000,000,000.00 (fifty billion naira) between 2012 to 2019.
“The zonal office of the Commission is investigating the construction company, in connection with the execution of contracts for the construction of township roads in Gummi, Bukkuyun, Anka and Nassarawa towns of Zamfara state; and also the construction of one hundred and sixty-eight (168) solar-powered boreholes in the 14 local government areas of the state.
“Alarmed by the consistency and professionalism of investigation being conducted, the company reached out to Lawal with an offer of N100,000,000(One Hundred Million Naira) as bribe to “bury” the matter,” the statement read.
It, however, noted that in a grand design to trap the corrupt officials, Lawal played along.
“On Monday, two representatives of the company Meng Wei Kun and Xu Kuoi offered him cash totalling fifty million naira in their office along airport road, Sokoto. The cash was offered as a first installment”.
But the suspects were promptly arrested with the cash as evidence.
The anti-graft agency further explained that the investigation of the construction company was informed by intelligence on alleged conspiracy; misappropriation of public funds; embezzlement; official corruption; abuse of office, stealing and money laundering obtained against the Zamfara State government through inflated and uncompleted contracts awarded to the company.
So far, according to the EFCC, investigations have revealed that China Zounghao Ltd has received payments of over N41,000,000,000.00 (forty-one billion naira) from the Zamfara state government out of which about N16,000,000,000.00 (sixteen billion naira) equivalent to over $53,000,000.00 (fifty-three million US Dollars) was allegedly diverted and traced to some bureau de change operators.
It says the suspects would be charged to court soon.
A High Court sitting in Yola, Adamawa State capital has sentenced two Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) staff for collecting the sum of N362 million as bribe.
The two officials, Ibrahim Mohammed and Sahabo Iya-Hamman, were convicted on Thursday for collecting the said amount from the former Minister of Petroleum, Diezani Allison-Madueke, during the 2015 general elections.
The High Court presided by Justice Nathan Musa convicted the two officials and subsequently sentenced them to 21 years in prison on a three count charge.
While delivering judgement, Justice Musa said the evidence from the 15 witnesses presented by EFCC including the suspect’s testimonies proved their involvement beyond reasonable doubt.
The two officials were brought before the court by EFCC alongside Mrs Allison- Maduekwe (still at large) as the third defendant, under the Corrupt Practices and other related offences Act 2000.
Justice Musa noted that out of the N362 million they collected, only five percent of the amount was shared among the INEC staff and they could not account for the balance as they claim that hoodlums attacked one of them and carted away part of the money.
This however, they could not be substantiated.
Following plea by their counsel for leniency, Justice Musa said the best that could do for them was that the seven years each for the three counts they were convicted would run concurrently.
The judge urged the Inspector General of Police (IGP), Mohammed Adamu, to liaise with the Interpol to arrest and present the third respondent (Diezani) to face her charges.
The Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) says it has secured a 12-year jail term for its ex-board nominee, Saad Alanamu and the Director of Namylas Nigeria Limited, Salman Sulaiman, for collecting and giving a bribe respectively.
This was disclosed in a statement signed by the spokesperson for the commission, Rasheedat Okoduwa.
The convicts had earlier been arraigned before Honourable Justice Mahmud Abdulgafar of Kwara State High Court sitting in Ilorin on an 8-count for bribery.
Alanamu who is also a former Chairman of the Governing Council of Kwara State Polytechnic, Ilorin, was nominated into the Board of ICPC in 2017. He was later dropped on an allegation of corruption which the Commission was investigating.
He was charged for collecting N5million bribe from a contractor friend of his as a kickback for the award of a contract.
Sulaiman, on the other hand, was accused of bribing a government official when he paid the said sum of money into Alanamus Guaranty Trust Bank account as a reward for the award of a contract to his company.
Counsel to ICPC had averred that Namylas Nigeria Limited had submitted falsified and doctored documents during the bidding process.
The court was also informed of how Alanamu ensured that the contract for the construction and furnishing of an auditorium in Kwara State Polytechnic, at the cost of N182,369,625, was awarded to a company belonging to his friend when it was not qualified to execute the contract.
The prosecution, having established very strong evidence of collusion, bid rigging and corrupt practices against the accused, urged the court to mete out appropriate sanctions to them.
Having considered the totality of evidence adduced by the prosecution in the course of the trial, and recognizing that it had discharged the burden of proof placed upon it by law beyond reasonable doubt, the trial judge in his ruling, found Dr. Alanamu guilty and sentenced him to seven years imprisonment on counts 2 and 3, and five years with hard labour on counts 1, 4, and 5, without an option of fine.
He was also ordered to pay the sum of N25 million pursuant to Section 20 of the ICPC law which states: Without prejudice to any sentence of imprisonment imposed under this Act, a Public Officer or other person found guilty of soliciting, offering or receiving gratification shall forfeit the gratification and pay a fine of not less than five times the sum of the value of the gratification which is the subject-matter of the offence
Justice Abdulgafar further found Sulaiman guilty on counts 5 and 6, and sentenced him to five and seven years imprisonment respectively. The third defendant which is the company has been ordered to pay a fine of N1 million.
The Director-General of the National Agency for Food and Drugs Administration and Control (NAFDAC), Mojisola Adeyeye, has revealed some ‘abnormalities’ she has experienced during her time on the job.
According to her when she assumed her role as NAFDAC DG, some House of Representatives members demanded bribes from her and even threatened her upon refusing to concede to their demand.
“When I came to NAFDAC, there were a lot of things that were wrong. Take oversight function or whatever that is done, I was shocked when I was told to give money, I said money for what? … money to the committee that visited us. The Health Care Services Committee of the House of Representatives,” she said on Friday during an interview on Channels TV’s Sunrise Daily.
Adeyeye further stated that the request from the federal lawmakers came at a time the agency was ‘bleeding profusely’ from a paucity of funds.
Beyond shocking, she described the day as the worst day of her life as ‘a chief regulator.’
“I said I cannot. For just the visit? I couldn’t believe my ears because it saddens me. Yes, it can be referred to as them asking for a bribe. It saddens me. This is an organisation that was bleeding profusely.
“It wasn’t taken well at all. I was threatened and I couldn’t believe that too, you are threatening me?” she stated.
Speaking further, the NAFDAC boss explained that since assuming office in 2017, the agency has cleared debts of about 3 billion Naira.
Asked how funds are generated, she stated that officials rake in money from user fees and the Internally Generated Revenue.
According to her, user fees comprise charges on companies for the evaluation and subsequent approval of their products.
The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has gone to court over the alleged failure of President Muhammadu Buhari to order an investigation into allegations of bribery against Governor Abdullahi Ganduje of Kano State.
The group in a statement signed on Sunday by its Senior Legal Adviser, Bamisope Adeyanju, said President Buhari failed to order the probe after widely circulated video clips emerged, allegedly showing the governor receiving a bribe.
SERAP had in November asked President Buhari to direct the investigation of Mr Ganduje, stating that, “if there is relevant and sufficient admissible evidence, for him to face prosecution at the expiration of his tenure as governor.” The organisation also sought protection for the journalist Jaafar Jaafar, who reportedly published the video clips.
Consequently, the group filed a suit last week Friday at the Federal High Court in Ikoyi, Lagos State, seeking an order for leave to apply for judicial review compelling President Buhari to immediately direct the investigation of the bribery allegations
“Investigating allegations of bribery against Mr Ganduje would be entirely consistent with the provisions of Section 15 Subsection (5) of the 1999 Constitution, which requires the government of the respondent to abolish all corrupt practices and abuse of power, regardless of the state where such practices are taking place,” the statement read in part.
The group also claimed that “growing allegations of corruption against many state governors have not been investigated and several of the governors involved are getting away with their alleged crimes.
According to SERAP, investigating Ganduje would assist the President to succeed in his fight against corruption and help to combat corruption.
“The Applicant’s requests are not onerous but simply based on issues of public interest, good governance, transparency and accountability. It is in the interest of justice to grant this application, as the Respondent has nothing to lose if the application is granted,” SERAP added.
Former Congolese vice president Jean-Pierre Bemba is to be sentenced on Monday by international judges for bribing witnesses during an earlier war crimes trial, which led to him being excluded from running for DR Congo president.
The International Criminal Court in The Hague acquitted the businessman-turned-rebel leader on appeal for war crimes and crimes against humanity three months ago — but a second minor case has continued to haunt him and his political ambitions.
In June, a sharply divided five-judge ICC bench overturned Bemba’s 2016 conviction and 18-year jail term for murders, rapes, and pillaging committed by his private army in the neighboring Central African Republic in 2002-2003 and acquitted him.
However, Bemba and five co-accused were found guilty on appeal in March of bribery, corruption and of coaching 14 defense witnesses in the main trial.
Bemba, 55, was handed a year-long prison term and a 300,000 euro ($350,000) fine.
ICC appeals judges, however, then ruled that the sentences of up to two-and-half years were too low and sent the case back for re-sentencing.
Prosecutors called for a maximum five years to be imposed on Bemba, his lawyer Aime Kilolo and his legal case manager Jean-Jacques Mangenda.
The ICC is to hand down its new rulings at 1300 GMT on Monday.
– ‘Miniature-Mobutu’ –
In response to the corruption conviction, the Congolese Constitutional Court ruled that Bemba was ineligible to run in presidential polls on December 23.
He has already spent a decade behind bars during his trial and is thus unlikely to serve any more time.
After his June 8 acquittal in the main war crimes case, Bemba was provisionally freed by the ICC pending his sentencing in the corruption case.
It was unclear whether he would be present in court during Monday’s proceedings.
The bribery case has impeded the political ambitions of a man sometimes referred to as a “miniature-Mobutu”, in reference to former Zaire’s long-time ruler who was ousted in 1997.
Bemba had declared his candidacy after making a triumphant return home last month, with tens of thousands of supporters turning out to greet him.
After being barred from the ballot by the election commission, the thick-set and imposing Bemba appealed the decision.
The Congolese Constitutional Court, however, in its ruling confirmed “the ineligibility of Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo for suborning witnesses by resorting to bribery”.
Bemba in return denounced the elections as a “parody”.
In an interview published in the magazine Jeune Afrique on Monday, Bemba said that if the elections were democratic and the opposition united behind one candidate, he would support that person and “make them win”.
The former Belgian colony has not seen a peaceful transition of power since 1960.
But President Joseph Kabila, who has held office since 2001, has said he will not run again.
Some experts fear the current crisis may spiral into bloodshed.
Kabila, who took over in 2001 after his father Laurent-Desire Kabila was assassinated by a bodyguard, is an arch-foe of Bemba.
Kabila’s tenure over the vast mineral-rich country has been marked by a reputation for corruption, inequality, and unrest.
Bemba lost presidential elections to Kabila in 2006 and was later accused of treason when his bodyguards clashed with the army in Kinshasa.
In 2007, he fled to Belgium, where he had spent part of his youth before he was arrested on an ICC warrant and transferred to the court.
The Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership (CACOL) has hailed the Edo State Police Command for returning a sum of N100,000 which was allegedly extorted from one Emmanuel Alabede by some police officers in the state.
Alabede, who is a contractor was travelling from Ibadan to Abuja a few weeks ago when his vehicle was stopped by the policemen along the Ibillo-Okene highway.
In a statement signed on Monday by its Media Coordinator, Adegboyega Otunuga, CACOL explained that it had condemned the act and called on the police authorities to investigate the case.
CACOL said, “When we read about the illegal behaviour of the police officers along that busy highway – specifically how they habitually extort cash from travelling passengers – we immediately condemned their action and enjoined the Police authorities to investigate the matter and bring the culprits to book.
“It is therefore commendable that the Edo Police Command swung into action by investigating and taking measures, not only towards recovering and returning the extorted cash to the victim, but also by punishing the affected officers.
“Why Emmanuel Alabede’s case is condemnable is the fact that he was actually accompanied to a Point of Sale (POS) operator and coerced to withdraw money at gunpoint.
“This we regard as criminal. But we take solace in the swiftness and thorough approach of the State Police Commissioner on the matter.”
CACOL maintained that its position has always been that any officer arrested over any involvement in a criminal act should be instantly dealt with and shown the way out of the Force.
It called for a review of the recruitment and training process for all officers to ensure discipline in the police.
Beyond that, the organisation called for proper remuneration of the officers so as to minimise the tendency for bribery.
“We are persuaded to agree with Mr Emmanuel Alabede that the problem with the Nigerian Police is actually institutional and structural,” CACOL said.
“This is why we wish to reiterate that the modus operandi, recruitment and training of officers and men of the force should be reviewed to make it more amenable to contemporary times while their allowances and salaries should be upwardly reviewed to discourage the temptation of bribery and extortion. This is to enable the society to nurture the kind of police it truly deserves.”
The trial of a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Mr Rickey Tarfa, for alleged bribery of judges continued on Monday at the Lagos High Court in the Igbosere area of the state.
Mr Tarfa is being prosecuted on 26 counts for among other things offering monetary gratification to two judges of the Federal High Court – Justices Hyeladzira Nganjiwa and Mohammed Yunusa – to allegedly pervert the course of justice.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) claimed that Tarfa paid a total of N5.3 million in several tranches into Justice Nganjiwa’s account between June 27, 2012, and January 8, 2016.
He was also accused of paying a total of N800,000 in three tranches between February 9 and November 30, 2015, into Justice Yunusa’s account.
The senior advocate was equally accused of age falsification.
At his arraignment on March 9, 2016, and subsequent re-arraignment on November 16, 2016, Mr Tarfa pleaded not guilty to the charges.
He consequently called a Deputy Chief Registrar of the Federal High Court in Lagos, Mr Bello Okandeji, as his witness at the proceedings today (Monday).
Led in evidence by the defendant’s counsel, Jelili Owonikoko, Okandeji said he knew Tarfa very well as one of the counsels who appear before the Federal High Court in Lagos on a daily basis.
He explained that his appearance in court was based on a subpoena issued to him by the trial judge, Justice Adedayo Akintoye.
Okandeji, however, said he was not aware of any official complaint lodged with the Federal High Court authorities against Justices Nganjiwa and Yunusa.
He added that he did not know Justice Nganjiwa before his appointment as a judge, but knew that Justice Yunusa previously worked at the industrial court before his appointment as a judge.
The deputy chief registrar told the court in his testimony that only the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court and the administrative judges in different divisions of the court were in charge of assignment of cases to judges.
Under cross-examination by the prosecutor, Rotimi Oyedepo, Okandeji said he was aware that the National Judicial Council had sent a letter to President Muhammadu Buhari, recommending Justice Yunusa for dismissal, “but the President was yet to sign it.”
When asked if he would be surprised to learn that Justice Yunusa’s suspension had to do with the way he handled a case filed before him by Tarfa, Okandeji said, “What I know is that there was a petition before the NJC.”
Also responding to a question about whether constant private communications between a judge and a lawyer who has a case before him were part of the Federal High Court’s policy, he answered, “My Lord, it is not in our rule.”
Okandeji affirmed that the court’s rule does not permit a serving judge to open and maintain a bank account in the name of a company.
He further testified that it was improper for a judge to recommend a lawyer to a defendant before him and receive payment for the services.
The witness said that if the Chief Judge or the administrative judge were aware of the relationship between Tarfa and Justice Yunusa, they would not have assigned Tarfa’s cases to the judge.
He went on to highlight several payments made by Tarfa into the bank accounts of the two judges, reading from Tarfa’s statement of account, which had been admitted as an exhibit.
Further proceedings were subsequently adjourned till Tuesday, May 8.
The Lagos State High Court Sitting in Ikeja has fixed April 30 to deliver judgment in the case of a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Mr Joseph Nwobike, who was accused of offering gratification of N750,000 and N300,000 to two judges.
Justice Raliat Adebiyi fixed the judgment date after parties in the suit adopted their final written addresses.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, is prosecuting Mr Joseph Nwobike for offering gratification to Justice Mohammed Yunusa and Justice Hyeladzira Nganjiwa both of whom had been dragged to court by the EFCC.
The EFCC claimed that Mr Nwobike offered them the money to allegedly pervert the course of justice.
But the senior lawyer pleaded not guilty.
Mr Nwobike was first arraigned on five charges on March 9, 2016.
The charges have been amended on two different occasions, each time leading to the re-arraignment of the SAN.
The last amendment to the charges saw Nwobike re-arraigned today (Thursday), after which the lawyers canvassed their final arguments.
Canvassing final arguments on Thursday, Nwobike’s lead counsel, Mr Wale Akoni (SAN), urged the court to discharge and acquit his client, contending that the EFCC failed to substantiate its allegations against him.
Mr Akoni, who argued that there was no law that makes giving gifts to judges a crime, accused the EFCC of being desperate to nail his client at all costs.
He said in the EFCC’s desperation, it had amended the charges on three occasions after seeing that its case was going nowhere.
He said the EFCC’s case was based on mere suspicion or speculation, maintaining that “no matter how sweet or interesting it (speculation) may sound, speculation cannot amount to proof.”
Mr Akoni also said that contrary to the claim by the EFCC, the N750,000 that Nwobike gave to Justice Yunusa was not a bribe but “for the specific purpose of helping the (sick) mother of the gentleman.”
He said all the judgments which the EFCC claimed that Nwobike paid Justice Yunusa to give in his favour were all upheld at the Court of Appeal.
He also wondered why the EFCC failed to call the judges and court officials that Nwobike allegedly bribed to come and testify in court, despite interrogating all of them.
He urged Justice Adebiyi to dismiss the charges and set Nwobike free.
But the EFCC prosecutor, Oyedepo, countered him, urging the court to convict Nwobike.
“Could it be said that in line with the evidence of PW1 to PW7, the exhibits that we have tendered and the evidence elicited from the defendant during cross-examination, the defendant did not commit the offence he was charged with?” Oyedepo queried.
He noted that Nwobike did not deny giving N750,000 to Justice Yunusa when he had cases before the judge, adding that it was no defence that the Court of Appeal upheld Justice Yunusa’s judgments in the cases.
Oyedepo said Akoni turned the law on its head with the arguments that judges can receive monetary gifts.
“The only gifts that are allowed are complimentary gifts – cards, books,” he said.
The EFCC counsel also said it was implausible that the commission would call the judges whom Nwobike allegedly bribed as witnesses since they were also complicit.
He noted that, already, those judges had been separately charged in relation to the allegations.
He urged the judge to apply full probative value to all the evidence given by the prosecution and convict Nwobike accordingly.
After hearing the parties out, Justice Adebiyi adjourned till April 30, 2018, for judgment.