Alleged Fraud: Trial Of Kalu, Two Others Stalled

Alleged Fraud: Court Stalls Trial Of Kalu, Two OthersThe trial of a former Governor of Abia State, Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu, and two others on allegations of fraud was stalled at the Federal High Court in Lagos amid a heavy downpour.

The failure of the prosecution to serve the statement of one of its witnesses on the defence team halted the proceedings before Justice Mohammed Idris.

When the case came up on Monday, the court directed the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to call its first witness in the case.

The witness, Onovah Ovenevoh, was about to begin his testimony when lawyer to the second and third defendants, Solo Akuma, drew the court’s attention to the fact that his statement was not part of the proof of evidence given to him by the prosecution.

He said service of witness statement on the defence was a constitutional right and a facility that should be provided for an accused person as enshrined in Section 36(6)(b) of the 1999 Constitution.

Aligning himself fully with Mr Akuma’s submissions, lawyer to the former governor, Mike Ozhekome, urged the court to hold that since the prosecution has not provided the statement, the witness cannot testify.

Counsel to the EFCC, Rotimi Jacobs, however, urged the court to discountenance the submissions of the two defence lawyers.

He insisted that the witness was in court by virtue of a court’s order which summoned him to appear and as such, the Commission should not be concerned about providing his statement.

The court then fixed Tuesday, March 7 for ruling on the matter.

The defendants, Dr. Kalu, Udeh Jones Udeogu and Slok Nigeria Limited were arraigned on October 31, 2016 before the court by the EFCC on a 34-count charge of alleged 3.2 billion Naira fraud.

Patience Jonathan’s Loyalists Storm Court Again

patience jonathanA crowd of women gathered again on Tuesday at the Federal High Court in Lagos to show their loyalty to the former first lady, Mrs Patience Jonathan.

Mrs Jonathan through her lawyer had made an oral application before Justice Mohammed Idris, seeking the restrain of another judge of the court, Justice Babs Kuewunmi, from taking any steps on a disputed sum of $15.5 million which she claims belongs to her.

Her lawyer, Ifedayo Adedipe, who moved the oral application, urged Justice Idris to stop Justice Kuewumi from making any order forfeiting the $15.5 million, which was frozen by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), to the Federal Government until the determination of an interlocutory application filed by the former first lady.

At the resumed hearing of the matter on Tuesday, Justice Idris acknowledged a letter from the counsel representing Skye Bank, Lanre Ogunlesi, stating that he was indisposed and would not be available in court.

The judge said since Mr Ogunlesi requested for a new date to enable him appear in court, the hearing of Mrs Jonathan’s application could not go on.

But before the court could adjourn the case, the former first lady’s counsel urged the court to direct the EFCC not to tamper with the money, which is the subject matter of the case, pending the hearing and determination of the interlocutory application.

However, counsel to the EFCC, Rotimi Oyedepo, urged the court to dismiss the application, submitting that the accounts in which the money was kept had long been frozen by the commission while the identified directors to the companies had pleaded guilty to an offence of conspiracy and money laundering in an ongoing criminal trial before Justice Kuewumi.

The lawyer further argued that it would be “extremely” prejudicial to the orders made by Justice Kuewumi if the court goes ahead to hear Mrs Jonathan’s application.

Justice Idris, in a short ruling, held that he would not go into the merits or demerits of the interlocutory application until it is moved and argued. He, however, ordered an accelerated hearing of the case.

The judge then adjourned the case till the December 7, for the hearing of the main application.

Mrs Jonathan is claiming the sum of $200 million against the EFCC, Skye Bank Plc, a former special assistant to former President Jonathan, Waripama-Owei Dudafa and four others for what she described as “the inconvenience and embarrassment she suffered as a result of the freezing of her accounts”.

The former first lady also wants the court to issue an order discharging the freezing order it placed on the $15.5 million. She also wants an order restraining the EFCC and its agent from further placing a freezing order on the said accounts warehousing the sum.

EFFC Begins Trial Of Patrick Akpobolokemi, Three Others

EFCC, Patrick AkpobolokemiThe trial involving former NIMASA DG, Patrick Akpobolokemi, retired Major-General Emmanuel Atewe, and two others has begun at the Federal High Court Ikoyi Lagos.

Prosecution witness for the Economic And Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Teslim Ajuwon, has revealed evidence to the court.

While answering questions from the counsel to the EFCC, Rotimi Oyedepo, Mr Teslim said that over eight billion Naira was transferred from the Nigerian Maritime Administration And Safety Agency (NIMASA) to the joint task force, Operation Pulo shield.

He also revealed that within a number of days, the monies were distributed to six different companies, during the tenure of Patrick Akpobolokemi.

Mr Teslim further stated that the transaction instrument which transferred the part of the monies to Jaggan limited, was signed by the two signatories of the JTF which included Major General Emmauel Atewe.

Justice Saidu Salu, however, adjourned the case till November 22, while cross examination will begin on December 5, 2016.

The trial is coming months after a High Court in Igbosere dismissed an application by Mr Akpobolokemi, challenging its jurisdiction to entertain his trial.

 

At the hearing held on March 21, Justice R.I.B. Adebiyi threw out Akpobolokemi’s suit, stressing that the application lacked merit.

“This court finds preliminary objections raised by 1st and 4th defendants/ applicants to lack merit. both preliminary objections are accordingly dismissed,” he said.

Court Remands Metuh In Kuje Prison

Olisa-MetuhA Federal High Court in Abuja has remanded the spokesman of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Olisa Metuh, in prison following his ‘not guilty’ plea to a seven-count charge of corruption and money laundering.

Mr Metuh appeared in court on Friday, days after he was arrested by officials of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission for the charges.

According to the charges, the PDP spokesman transferred the sum of $1 million through his agent, Nneka Nicole Ararume, to one Sie Iyenome of Capital Field Investment, committing an offense contrary to Section One of the Money Laundering Act.

He is also accused of receiving the sum of 400 million Naira from the office of the former National Security Adviser, Colonel Sambo Dasuki, without a contract contrary to the Money Laundering Act.

Mr Metuh, is also accused of converting the said money to funds for political activities of the People’s Democratic Party.

He pleaded not guilty to the accusations.

Attempts by his counsel, Ifedayo Fadipe, to make an oral application for bail was rejected by the counsel to the EFCC, Sylvanus Tahir, who insisted that such an application could not be made orally.

Having listen to the two parties Justice Obong Abang agreed with the EFCC that such an application could not be made orally.

He then ordered Mr Metuh and his counsel to file his bail application within the next six hours, while the EFCC is to respond 24 hours after service of the of the bail application.

Hearing in the bail application has been adjourned to January 19.

before Mr Metuh was arraigned, the anti-graft agency asked him to return the money to effect his release.

“Witch Hunt”

Days after Mr metuh was held in detention, the opposition party’s federal lawmakers gave the EFCC 48 hours to either release its spokesman or charge him for the crime he was accused of.

The PDP caucus in the House of Representatives, led by the Minority Leader of the House, Representative Leo Ogor, said Mr Metuh had not committed any treasonable offence and should not be detained indefinitely.

Threatening to give the issue an international dimension should he be kept in detention without bail, the caucus said “the continued incarceration of the party’s spokesperson violates the law and borders on witch hunt”.

Another issue raised by the PDP caucus was what the members in the House of Representatives termed preferential treatment given to a member of the ruling party, Mr Jafaru Isa, who was also arrested over the same diversion of funds but was released eight hours later.

In defence to claims of preferential  treatment, a member of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), Mr Parry Ariase, argued that the APC member in question was released after he refunded part of the money he collected illegally from the office of national security adviser and that he still has a case to answer.

Money Laundering Charges: Change Of Counsel Stalls Lagos Speaker’s Trial

The trial of the Speaker of the Lagos State House of Assembly, Adeyemi Ikuforiji, was on Tuesday stalled by a change of counsel.

Ikuforiji is standing trial before the Federal High Court, Lagos, for allegedly laundering over 339million Naira. The charges were brought against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

The EFCC alleged that he and one of his aides, one Oyebode Atoyebi accepted various cash sums on behalf of the State House of Assembly without going through a financial institution.

At the resumed hearing of the case, Former President of the Nigerian Bar Association, Wole Olanipekun, told Justice Ibrahim Buba, that he had just been briefed by the Speaker to take over the case from the previous counsel, Tayo Oyetibo.

While no reason was given for the change of counsel, the new counsel however asked the court for time to study the case file in order to adequately prepare for the defence of his client.

Although, Counsel to the EFCC, Godwin Obla, had expressed his readiness to proceed with the trial, he did not oppose the motion for an adjournment.

The counsel merely expressed regret that the Nigerian Constitution did not make any provision for a demand for cost.

After listening to both lawyers, Justice Buba was forced to cancel Wednesday and Friday, January 8 and 10, 2014 which he had earlier fixed for the continuation of the trial. The case was then adjourned till the March 17.