Ajudua Trial Resumes, Faces Fresh Arraignment On February 5

Alleged serial fraudster, Fred Ajudua, is to face a fresh arraignment on February 5, 2014, more than ten years after he was first arraigned in 2003 for fraud charges totalling about $1.69m. 

He will be arraigned before Justice Kudirat Jose of the Lagos High Court, Ikeja who has been assigned the case following the withdrawal of the former trial judge, Justice Olubunmi Oyewole.

Justice Oyewole’s withdrawal may not be unconnected with a petition written to the Economic and Financial Commission, EFCC, by a former Chief of Army Staff, Lt.-Gen. Ishaya Bamaiyi (Rtd).

In the petition, Lt.-Gen. Bamaiyi alleged that Ajudua and some others, swindled him of $8.395m on the pretext of helping him to secure his release from the Kirikiri Maximum Prison where he was remanded between November 2004 and June 2005.

The anti-graft agency also alleged that Ajudua and the others, who are said to be at large, had fraudulently claimed that $1m out of the total money collected from Bamaiyi was for financial assistance for the treatment of Justice Oyewole’s father.

Back in 2003, the EFCC had arraigned Ajudua and one other person before Justice Oyewole for allegedly defrauding two Dutch business men of about $1.69m between July 1999 and September 2000.

The prosecution had already called six witnesses in proof of the case against him before Ajudua absconded from trial in 2005. After a bench warrant was issued for his arrest, he voluntarily reappeared in 2013 and this time Justice Oyewole denied him bail.

He was eventually granted bail by the vacation judge, Justice Ganiyu Safari, and had not attended his trial before Justice Oyewole withdrew from the case.

The matter, which was then reassigned to Justice Jose, was fixed for re-arraignment today (January 28) but the proceedings were stalled owing to the absence of the prosecuting counsel, Mr. Wemimo Ogunde, and the second accused person in court. Ajudua and his counsel, Mr. Olalekan Ojo, were however present.

Channels Television’s Judiciary Correspondent, Shola Soyele, reports that another Lagos High Court judge, Justice Oluwatoyin Ipaye has also fixed February 12 for the arraignment of Ajudua based on Bamaiyi’s petition to the EFCC.

A 13 count charge of fraud and conspiracy has already been made against Ajudua.

Celebrations In Central African Republic After Leader Resigns

Thousands of people celebrated on the streets of Central African Republic’s capital after interim President, Michel Djotodia resigned on Friday (January 10).

President Michel Djotodia caved in to international pressure after failing to halt inter-religious violence.

As news from the summit reached the capital, thousands of residents took to the streets, dancing, singing and honking horns in celebration.

Cheers erupted at a camp for 100,000 displaced Christian civilians at the French-controlled airport.

A displaced man said that people were happy with the resignation but remained concerned over their security.

“A lot of worries because you still have people from rebels who have weapons. What is sure is that if the safety of the civilian population is not guaranteed, there will still be some harm being done, as we have seen lately,” said the man, who gave his name as Armand.

There was some sporadic gunfire but there were no signs of the pro-Djotodia fighters who once dominated the city.

The resignation of Djotodia and his Prime Minister, Nicolas Tiangaye, was announced in a statement issued by regional leaders at a two-day summit in neighbouring Chad.

Talks to decide on new leadership will take place in Central African Republic, it said.

350 Police Officers Removed In Turkey Corruption Probe

Turkey has removed 350 Police officers from their posts in the capital Ankara, after a corruption probe targeting people close to the government.

It is the biggest shake-up since the police carried out raids in December. Three cabinet ministers resigned after their sons were detained.

The Prime Minister has accused the police and judiciary of a “dirty plot”.

Turkey’s top judiciary body says it will investigate high-ranking officials overseeing the inquiry for misconduct.

Hundreds of police officers across the country have been dismissed or reassigned in the aftermath of mass arrests by officers investigating corruption claims.

The arrests were carried out as part of an inquiry into alleged bribery involving public tenders, which included controversial building projects in Istanbul.

Kwara Govt. Sets Up Committee To Verify Claims of Christian Marginalization

The Kwara State Government has set up a committee to look into claims of marginalization by the state branch of the Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN.

This is in response to allegations by the organization that Christians in the State Civil Service are less favoured in the area of appointments, promotion and transfer.

Members of C.A.N. had earlier complained to the State Government, forcing several meetings with the organization.

The seven-member fact-finding committee inaugurated by the Deputy Governor, Peter Kizira, has been asked to look into the alleged favoritism in deployment of staff in the State Civil Service.

The committee has as members; the former Head of Service, HOS, in the state, Alhaji Yusuf Kawu Daibu as Chairman, while Mrs. Modupe Oluwole will serve as the secretary along with five others as members.

World Cup 2014: Brazil’s Most Expensive Stadium Has Leaking Roof

Reports from stadium operators in Brazil have revealed that the most expensive of the 12 stadiums built or renovated for the 2014 FIFA World Cup has a leaking roof, less than eight months after it was finished.

SECOPA, the local government agency that runs the Mane Garrincha National Stadium in Brasilia, will ask the company that rebuilt it to explain why parts of the roof let in rain during the women’s match between Brazil and Chile.

Local media reported that almost the entire lower ring of the stands was soaked. SECOPA however played down the problem, saying the leaks were not serious and would not affect any of the matches being played there during next year’s World Cup.

“Because it is a new, grandiose and complex stadium, some small points are still being corrected and tested but there is nothing that compromises the running of the stadium or the holding of events there,” SECOPA said in a statement.

The stadium comes with a five-year guarantee and any repair work will be paid for by the builders, SECOPA added.

The national stadium in the capital Brasilia cost more than 1.2 billion Real ($508.99 million). It will stage six World Cup matches including a quarter-final and the third-place playoff.

The venue was inaugurated in May and it hosted the opening match of the Confederations Cup between Brazil and Japan in June. It has held 17 major events since then, including several first division football matches, stadium officials said.

At least three of the six World Cup stadiums still to be finished before the tournament kicks off in June will be handed over behind schedule. A total of five people have died while working on the 12 venues, including one man in Brasilia.

Emergency Rule: INEC Expects Resolution Ahead Of 2015 Elections

The Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, in Nigeria says it expects that security challenges in the three north-eastern states under emergency rule would be resolved before the 2015 general elections.

This position was made by the Chief Technical Advisor to the INEC Chairman, Prof. Okey Ibeanu, during a workshop by the Commission on Media and Communication Strategy.

The commission has recently faced a lot of criticism due to media reports that quoted the chairman of the commission, Professor Attahiru Jega, as saying that elections will not hold in the Adamawa, Borno and Yobe States if the State of Emergency persists.

At a forum held at the the National Assembly in Abuja, Professor Jega,  had said that the security situation in the areas could not guarantee the conduct of a credible election. He said that he had advised against the conduct of the Yobe State local government election, which is scheduled to hold on December 28.

U.S. Urges Nigerians To Be Wary of Counterfeit New $100 Notes

The Acting U.S. Consul-General in Lagos, Mrs Dehab Ghebreab, on Thursday urged Nigerians to always examine the newly introduced $100 note in any transaction.

Ghebreab spoke with journalists at the Launch of the new note at the office of the U.S. Consulate-General in Lagos.

She said that such an examination would enable them to differentiate the “new authentic $100 note” from the old notes, as well as counterfeited ones.

The U.S envoy said that it was imperative for Nigerians to be on their guard, especially now that they were making Christmas and New Year transactions.

“As we all know, the U.S Federal Reserve Board in October this year came up with a redesigned $100 note that incorporates new security features.

“As the new note transitions into daily transactions, Nigerian businesses and general public should watch out for its security features.

“The new security features will deter counterfeiters and help businesses and consumers tell whether a note is genuine,’’ she said.

According to her, the new note has a blue 3-D security ribbon with bell images and 100s, as well as a colour-changing bell in an inkwell.

Ghebreab said that the U.S. government was embarking on a “global public education” programme on the newly introduced and redesigned $100 note.

The Acting Consul-General said that the U.S. government had also come up with a system of retrieving the old $100 notes globally.

“Consumers worldwide are advised that it is not necessary to trade in older-design $100 notes for new ones,’’ she said.

Ghebreab urged the public to swiftly report suspected cases of dealings in counterfeited notes to the Nigerian Police.

Madagascar Hopes Run-Off Election Ends Five-Year Crisis

Candidates in Madagascar’s run-off presidential election face off on Friday, December 20 for the final round in what voters hope will mark the end of five years of political and economic uncertainty in the Indian Ocean Island nation.

Both candidates failed to score a commanding victory in October’s first round, and voters may not deliver a clear mandate to either Hery Rajaonarimampianina, a former finance minister backed by outgoing President Andry Rajoelina, or Jean Louis Robinson, an ally of Marc Ravalomanana, who was deposed by Rajoelina with the army’s help in 2009.

However, old rifts may persist, extending a crisis begun by the 2009 coup that deterred investors and donors of aid to one of Africa’s poorest nations.

Parliamentary polls also taking place on Friday could lead to one camp holding the presidency and the other controlling the legislature, perhaps forcing them into a power-sharing deal.

Smooth elections could help restore the confidence of mining and other investors, revive the battered tourist industry and re-open the aid taps to a country of 22 million people, of whom 9 out of 10 live on less than 2 US dollars a day.

Candidates took part in a televised debate on Wednesday, December 18, and while many voters say it was informative, they also said that it did not change their decision on who to back come Friday.

“There was already a debate such as this one during the time of Presidents Zafy and Didier Ratsiraka, but this time all the aspects have been addressed,” said Lanto Rakotoarisoa, an Antananarivo resident.

“The leaders say they want national reconciliation but they can’t even agree on just one debate,” said Dizo Henri, another resident of the capital.

Political analyst, Gilbert Raharizatovo, said that none of the candidates have the experience to lead the country out of crisis.

“What Madagascar is looking for now is a man who’s able to organise (things), who has a vision, so that’s called a statesman. In Madagascar, it doesn’t really exist. Why? Simply because, in my opinion, a statesman is a man who’s been trained for long years to recognise what are the ethics of governance, the deontology of governance or the deontology of politics,” he said.

Much hangs on how the loser reacts and whether the army, which had backed Rajoelina, stays in its barracks this time.

In the first round Robinson secured 21 percent of the vote, while Rajaonarimampianina won 16 percent, both far short of the 50 percent plus needed for outright victory.

Gov. Ahmed Presents 124 Billion Naira 2014 Budget

The Kwara State Governor, Abdulfattah Ahmed has presented a budget proposal of over 124 billion Naira (about $775m) to the State House of Assembly for the 2014 fiscal year, with the education sector gulping the highest fund of over 19 billion Naira.

Presenting the budget christened “the budget of expansion for inclusive prosperity”, the governor noted that the budget proposal has an increase of 27% as against 96 billion Naira of last year.

While the recurrent expenditure will be 48 billion Naira, the capital expenditure is 58 billion.

The governor noted that the expected federal allocation will be 44 billion Naira while the internally generated revenue is 16 billion Naira with the excess crude account raking in 3 billion Naira.

The education sector is expected to gulp the highest amount of 19 billion Naira with the construction of schools, completion of the international vocational centre in Ajasse Ipo among other projects.

Purchasing of additional aircrafts for the aviation college, installation of closed circuit television and construction of roads will also be accorded priority.

The Speaker, Rasak Atunwa, while responding, promised to give accelerated passage to the budget proposal and defer the second reading of the bill till January 7, 2014.

Stakeholders Meet In Kano Over Public Safety And Security

Stakeholders have stressed their belief that fighting terrorism in Nigeria requires the collaborative effort of all security agencies, if the country is to ensure public safety and security.

This position was taken during a consultative forum on the development of a national policy on public safety and security for the North Western states held in Kano.

Initiated by the Ministry Of Police Affairs, the national policy on public safety and security will streamline relationship among various security agencies, as well as define meaningful and popular rules of engagement in such a way that public safety and security will not be jeopardised.

The stakeholders’ forum which brought in representatives from the North West geo-political zone of the country is aimed at consulting the relevant authorities on the overall framework of the policy.

Lead facilitator, Professor Femi Odekunle, who admitted that Nigeria is currently facing various security challenges ranging from terrorism to kidnapping, also maintained that the national policy on public is urgently required if Nigerians are to be protected.

However, according to the Speaker, Jigawa State House of Assembly, the performance of Nigeria’s security agencies at the volatile areas of Maiduguri, Yobe, Adamawa and perhaps Kano is not satisfactory; a situation which he said also requires the public safety policy to protect the innocent.

It was also agreed at the stakeholders’ brainstorm that Nigeria’s needs on security are not just about developing the paper work, but having the political will to implement the paper work.

Police Demolish Houses In Badagry

Over 500 houses illegally built on a land owned by the Police at Atipolome community in Mowo area of Badagry, Lagos State, have been demolished.

The land covering over 64 hectares was acquired by the Police in 2006 and a Certificate of Occupancy was issued in 2008.

Although members of the community admitted they had no government approval on the land, they explained that they bought the property from land grabbers, popularly known as “omo onile.”

It was gathered that the land grabbers started encroaching on the land when the Police authorities failed to put the land to use. However, on noticing the encroachment, the Police in 2011 issued a quit notice to the illegal owners of the houses to vacate their land.

Series of quit notices came after, with the last one served to them two weeks preceding the demolition ordered by the Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Abubakar, after the illegal occupants refused to heed the quit notice.

Over 200 armed policemen and seven bulldozers took part in the demolition operation which was led by Assistant Commissioner of Police, Osu Ekpo.

The exercise caught some of the occupants of the houses unawares, as many of them could not retrieve their properties while a few others were only able to recover a few of their belongings.

EFCC To Arraign Ajudua For Defrauding Bamaiyi

A Lagos high court sitting in Ikeja has fixed February 12, 2014 for the arraignment of Mr. Fred Ajudua, for fresh charges of defrauding a former chief of army staff, Lt.-Gen. Ishaya Bamaiyi (rtd.) of about $8.395million

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, in the fresh charges dated October 14, 2013, alleged that Mr. Ajudua, along with others still at large, had committed the crime between November 2004 and June 2005.

Mr. Ajudua, along with other suspects, are said to have defrauded General Bamaiyi at the Kirikiri Maximum Prisons, where he and the other fraud suspects were on remand for various crimes.

The EFCC claims that the suspects had fraudulently collected the money from General Bamaiyi in parts, falsely claiming that the payments represented the professional fees charged by a legal practitioner, Afe Babalola (SAN) to handle Bamaiyi’s case in court and to facilitate his release from prison.

The anti-graft agency also alleged that Ajudua and others fraudulently claimed that $1m out of the total money collected from Bamaiyi was for financial assistance for the treatment of Justice Olubunmi Oyewole’s father.

Justice Oyewole was then presiding over Bamaiyi’s case in court.

Justice Ipaye of the Lagos High Court in Ikeja has adjourned till February 12 for the arraignment, ordering that a warrant of production should be served on the prison authority to produce Ajudua at the next hearing.