Alleged N650m Money Laundering Court strikes Out Charge Against Akinjide, Two Others

A file photo of a court gavel.

 

The Federal High Court, sitting in Lagos has struck out the charge against a former Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Jumoke Akinjide and two others on allegations of fraud and money laundering to the tune of N650m.

Justice Chukwujekwu Aneke struck out the charge for being incompetent.

The former minister was standing trial alongside a former Senator who represented Oyo Central Senatorial District between 2011 and 2015, Senator Ayo Adeseun and a PDP Chieftain, Mrs Olanrewaju Otiti.

They were alleged to have received monies from a former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs Diezani Alison-Madueke, in the build-up to the 2015 general elections.

The money was said to be part of the $115 million allegedly disbursed by Alison-Madueke, to influence the outcome of the 2015 presidential election.

They had all pleaded not guilty to the charge after which trial commenced in the matter.

The defendants chalk Ed the trial and asked that the case be struck out. They also insisted that they could only be tried in the division where the offences allegedly took place.

READ ALSO: Court Convicts Ponzi Scheme Operator In Kano, Orders Return of N110m To Victims

In his ruling on the application, Justice Aneke held that pursuant to Section 45 of the Federal High Court Act, the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court has the overriding powers to transfer any matter from one judge to another, within the jurisdiction of the court.

The judge also held that the charge was vague and defective as it did not specifically mention where the offences were allegedly committed.


The defendants were first arraigned on Jan. 16, 2018, before Muslim Hassan on a 24-count charge to which they pleaded not guilty.

They were granted bail and trial began before Justice Hassan with witnesses testifying, but midway into the case, the defendants alleged bias against the judge and the case was then transferred to Justice Aneke.

One of the counts reads, “That you, Mrs Diezani Alison-Madueke (still at large), Oloye Jumoke Akinjide, Senator Ayo Ademola Adeseun and Chief Olanrewaju Otiti, on or about the 26th day of March 2015, in Nigeria, within the jurisdiction of this honourable court, conspired amongst yourselves to directly take possession of an N650,000,000, which sum you reasonably ought to have known formed part of proceeds of an unlawful act and you thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 18(a) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) (Amendment) Act 2012 and punishable under Section 15(3) and 4 of the same Act.”

Alleged Money Laundering: Court Strikes Out Charge Against Jumoke Akinjide, Two Others

A file photo of a signpost of the Federal High Court in the Ikoyi area of Lagos State.

 

The Federal High Court, sitting in Lagos has struck out the charge against a former Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Jumoke Akinjide and 2 others on allegations of fraud and money laundering to the tune of N650m.

Justice Chukwujekwu Aneke struck out the charge for being incompetent.

The former minister was standing trial alongside a former Senator who represented Oyo Central Senatorial District between 2011 and 2015, Senator Ayo Adeseun and a PDP Chieftain, Mrs Olanrewaju Otiti.

They were alleged to have received monies from a former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs Diezani Alison-Madueke, in the build-up to the 2015 general elections.

The money was said to be part of the $115 million allegedly disbursed by Alison-Madueke, to influence the outcome of the 2015 presidential election

They had all pleaded not guilty to the charge after which trial commenced in the matter.

The defendants chalk Ed the trial and asked that the case be struck out. They also insisted that they could only be tried in the division where the offences allegedly took place.

In his ruling on the application, Justice Aneke held that pursuant to Section 45 of the Federal High Court Act, the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court has the overriding powers to transfer any matter from one judge to another, within the jurisdiction of the court.

The judge also held that the charge was vague and defective as it did not specifically mention where the offences were allegedly committed.

The defendants were first arraigned on Jan. 16, 2018, before Muslim Hassan on a 24-count charge to which they pleaded not guilty.

They were granted bail and trial began before Justice Hassan with witnesses testifying, but midway into the case, the defendants alleged bias against the judge and the case was then transferred to Justice Aneke.

One of the counts reads, “That you, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke (still at large), Oloye Jumoke Akinjide, Senator Ayo Ademola Adeseun and Chief Olanrewaju Otiti, on or about the 26th day of March, 2015, in Nigeria, within the jurisdiction of this honourable court, conspired amongst yourselves to directly take possession of a N650,000,000, which sum you reasonably ought to have known formed part of  proceeds of an unlawful act and you thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 18(a) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) (Amendment) Act 2012 and punishable under Section 15(3) and 4 of the same Act.”

Alleged N570m Fraud: Court Halts Trial Of Former Head Of Service, Oyo-Ita

The immediate past Head of Civil Service of the Federation, Mrs Winifred Oyo-Ita, at the Federal High Court in Abuja on March 23, 2020. Channels Television/ Sodiq Adelakun.

 

A Federal High Court in Abuja has halted the trial of the former Head of Service of the Federation (HOSF) Winifred Oyo-Ita and others over alleged N570million fraud.

The judge, Justice Taiwo Taiwo at the ruling on Wednesday, described the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) act of obtaining an ex-parte order for freezing of bank accounts of the defendants in the matter before another court, as an abuse of court process.

Justice Taiwo said the conduct of the anti-corruption agency was reprehensible and condemnable, noting that it was a contemptuous move that must not be allowed in the interest of justice.

The judge has therefore ordered a stay of proceedings in the trial until the EFCC and its lawyer “do the needful” by withdrawing the application before the other court.

{READ ALSO} Oyo-Ita: Court Defers Ruling On Defendants’ Frozen Accounts Till January 2021

The EFCC had filed an ex-parte motion before justice Folashade Giwa-Ogunbanjo for the freezing of the bank accounts of the defendants an alleged N570 million money laundering charge preferred against the former Head of Service and others, while the matter is ongoing before Justice Taiwo.

Oyo-Ita is facing an 18-count charge of official corruption and money laundering to the tune of N570 million, which involves obtaining estacodes and duty travel allowances, (DTA), for journeys either not undertaken or non-existent.

Facing the same fate as she is: Frontline Ace Global Services Limited; Asanaya Projects Limited; Garba Umar and his companies: Slopes International Limited and Gooddeal Investments Limited.

Others are Ubong Okon Effiok and his companies, U&U Global Services Limited and Prince Mega Logistics Limited.

Court Grants BPE DG Benjamin Dikki Bail

Logo of a court gavel

 

An Abuja High Court presided over by Justice Yusuf Halilu has granted bail to a former Director-General of the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE), Mr. Benjamin Dikki.

Delivering a ruling on the defendant’s bail application, Justice Halilu on Wednesday held that granting bail is an exercise of the discretionary power of judges which must be done judicially and judiciously.

Justice Halilu stated that the offence Mr Dikki was charged with is not treason or one which carries a death sentence if found guilty.

He added that even if the sentence involves death, the court can still grant bail if sufficient materials are placed before it to enable it to exercise its discretion.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) had charged Mr Dikki and his company, Kebna Studio and Communications Limited with four counts bordering on corruption and abuse of office.

The trial has been fixed for April 17, 2021.

 

 

 

AITEO vs Shell: Court Fixes March 9 For Ruling

A file photo of a court gavel.
A file photo of a court gavel.

 

A Federal High Court sitting in Lagos has fixed March 9 to rule on whether to discharge the interim ex-parte order it granted freezing the bank accounts of Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) in 20 commercial banks.

On the same day, the court will also rule on whether it has the jurisdiction to even entertain the suit and another seeking to commit to prison the banks and its officials who were said to have disobeyed the interim ex-parte order.

Justice Oluremi Oguntoyinbo had granted the order at the instance of AITEO Eastern E&P Company Ltd. who is seeking to recover the cash value of “more than 16 million barrels of crude oil” allegedly diverted by Shell.

At Tuesday’s proceedings, the judge listened to arguments from lawyers to AITEO Eastern E&P Company Ltd., SPDC, the banks, and lawyer to four Shell subsidiaries all involved in the matter.

Arguing the application for committal, counsel to Aiteo Eastern E&P, Kemi Pinheiro, said that it was “necessary that the named persons in committal proceedings (the bank officials) be present in court” because the proceedings “attached to their person”.

He said the alleged contemnors had been served with the court processes but had not filed a response.

AITEO had specifically said two banks and their officials disobeyed the courts interim ex-parte order.

The banks and its officials were listed as Citi Bank Ltd., its Company Secretary Sola Fagbure, and Chief Financial Officer, Sharaf Mohammed, as well as United Bank for Africa (UBA) Plc, its Company Secretary, Bill Odum, and Chief Financial Officer, Ebenezer Kolawole.

In opposing the application, counsel to the banks, Olawale Akoni, acknowledged that they were served with the court papers on February 24 and 25, but said they were still within the time limit to file a response.

He indicated that the banks intended to challenge the competence and validity of AITEO’s application.

The lawyer also asked the court to make an order vacating the ex-parte order freezing the accounts because according to him, it lapsed 14 days after it was made.

Adewale Atake, who represented Shell, aligned himself with Akoni’s argument on vacating the ex-parte order.

Chukwuka Ikwuazom, also who represented the Shell subsidiaries, made a similar submission and drew the court’s attention to a pending application before the court challenging its jurisdiction to hear the matter.

He asked the judge to declare that the ex-parte order was spent.

Pinheiro, however, countered by arguing among others that the court made the order to last pending the hearing of the motion and determination of the motion on notice for interlocutory injunction filed before it by AITEO.

He described the defendants’ arguments as “premature, unfair, and time-wasting.”

In her response, Justice Oguntoyinbo held, “The avalanche of submissions cannot be wished away. The court owes all parties the duty of careful consideration of all authorities cited.”

She adjourned till next Tuesday for the ruling.

In the case, AITEO Eastern E&P Company Ltd. is the plaintiff/applicants while SPDC Ltd. is the first defendant.

The subsidiaries Royal Dutch Shell Plc, Shell Western Supply and Trading Ltd., Shell International Trading and Shipping Company Ltd., and Shell Nigeria Exploration and Production Company Ltd. are listed as second, third, fourth, and fifth defendants.

On January 25, Justice Oguntoyinbo directed the banks to “ring-fence any cash, bonds, deposits, all forms of negotiable instruments to the value of $2.7 billion and pay all standing credits to the Shell companies up to the value into an interest yielding account in the name of the Chief Registrar of the court.”

The Chief Registrar was to “hold the funds in trust,” pending the hearing of the motion and determination of the motion on notice for interlocutory injunction filed before the court by AITEO.

This followed an application by AITEO Eastern E&P, in its bid to recover the cash value of its “more than 16 million barrels of crude oil” allegedly diverted by Shell.

The defendants subsequently filed an application seeking to discharge the order while AITEO initiated committal proceedings against two banks and their officials for allegedly “interfering, obstructing and/or frustrating compliance with the interim Mareva orders”.

On Thursday last week, the judge adjourned to consider whether to first entertain a motion challenging its jurisdiction or to consider contempt proceedings.

Money Recovered By Maina Was Used To Fund 2012 Budget, Witness Tells Court

A file photo of Abdulrasheed Maina.

 

The trial of former Chairman of the defunct Pension Reform Task Team, Abdurasheed Maina, continued on Tuesday at the Federal High Court Sitting in Abuja.

During the proceedings presided over by Justice Okon Abang, a defence witness, Ngozika Ihuoma, continued his testimony which was in favour of the defendant.

He told the court that Maina recovered N282 billion in cash and 222 choice properties valued at N1.6 trillion.

Ihuoma explained that the said money was warehoused at the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC).

He disclosed that out of the money, N74 billion was used to finance the 2012 national budget, as passed by the then National Assembly.

The witness also told the court that a presidential directive was issued by former President Goodluck Johnathan that 2.5 per cent which amounted to N7.05 billion of the recovered money be used to run the PRTT’s official duties.

He, however, stated that the fund was never released despite several requests and reminders to the Ministry of Finance and the National Assembly.

After listening to the testimony of the witness, Justice Abang adjourned the case until March 4 for the continuation of the trial.

Maina is being prosecuted by the EFCC on charges of money laundering to the tune of N2 billion.

Alleged Corruption: EFCC Arraigns Former Bureau of Public Enterprises DG

A file photo of the EFCC logo.

 

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC has arraigned a former Director-General of the Bureau of Public Enterprises, (BPE) Mr. Benjamin Dikki, before Justice Yusuf Halilu of the Federal Capital Territory High Court, Abuja on four counts of alleged corruption and abuse of office.

Mister Dikki who was docked alongside his Company, Kebna Studios & Communications Limited, allegedly received about a billion Naira as gratification from Best worth Insurance Brokers for his role in facilitating the approval of outstanding insurance premiums and claims of deceased and incapacitated staff of Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN).

The defendants pleaded not guilty when the charges were read to them and in view of their plea, the prosecution counsel Benjamin Menji asked the Court for a date to commence trial and to remand the defendant at a Nigerian Correctional Service facility.

Counsel for the first defendant, Abdul Muhammed however urged the court to grant his client bail citing Section 158, 162, and 163 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, ACJA.

But Menji opposed the oral bail application, arguing that the defendant should file a formal application to enable the prosecution to respond accordingly.

Justice Halilu after listening to the plea of the defendant remanded him at Suleja Correctional Centre and adjourned till March 3, 2021, for consideration of his bail application.

Alleged Money Laundering: Abdulrasheed Maina Opens Defence, Calls First Witness

File photo of Abdulrasheed Maina

 

A former chairman of the defunct Pension Reform Task Team, Abdulrasheed Maina, has opened his defence in a case of alleged money laundering preferred against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

Maina opened his defence by presenting a witness, Ngozika Ihuoma, a consultant whose firm between 2010 and 2011 carried out the biometric verification of pensioners in the country.

The witness told the court that prior to the biometric capture, the sum of ₦1.5billion was paid monthly as police pension but upon completion of the exercise, the pension payments dropped to 4 ₦66million.

Ihuoma further informed the court that the PRTT headed by Maina had on November 2011 recovered the sum of ₦181billion in pension fund surplus which was subsequently warehoused at the Central Bank of Nigeria by the EFCC..

After listening to the evidence of Ihuoma, the trial judge, Justice Okon Abang adjourned further trial to March 2 to enable the witness to conclude his testimony.

Maina and a firm, Common Input Ltd are standing trial on a 12-count charge bordering on money laundering to the tune of two billion Naira.

Lagos East: Court Dismisses PDP’s Case Against Senator Abiru

A file photo of a court gavel.

 

A Federal High Court in Lagos has dismissed a suit seeking to disqualify Senator Adetokunbo Abiru of the All Progressives Congress (APC) from continuing to represent Lagos East senatorial district in the National Assembly.

Justice Chuka Obiozor dismissed the suit filed by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in a five-hour judgment delivered on Monday.

He upheld the argument canvassed by Abiru’s lawyer and a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Kemi Pinheiro, that the PDP’s case was statute-barred.

The judge also disagreed with the PDP’s argument made through its counsel and SAN, Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa, that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) cannot transfer a voter’s registration details.

Abiru, who has since been sworn into office, won the last senatorial bye-election conducted by INEC on December 5, 2020, by a landslide.

He polled 89,204 votes to defeat the candidate of the PDP in the election, Ademola Gbadamosi, who scored 11,257 votes.

The lawmaker’s victory in court comes a week after the National Assembly and State House of Assembly Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Ikeja struck out a suit challenging his election.

Justice Bassey Ikpeme who chaired a three-man panel of judges on Tuesday last week had struck out the petition filed by the Allied Peoples’ Movement (APM) and its candidate, Olusola Babatope, following an application to withdraw their petition.

The other two members of the panel were Justice Mohammed Abubakar and Justice M.M. Odanya.

Apart from the third defendant – Abiru, the APC and INEC were listed as the first and second respondents in the petition.

Court Strikes Out N5m Suit Against ICPC

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A Federal High Court sitting in Enugu has struck out a case seeking enforcement of fundamental human rights and an award of damages to the tune of Five Million Naira (N5m) against the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) for lack of merit.

The suit against the Commission was instituted by one Mr. F.U. Eze, a serving Magistrate, was being investigated by ICPC for alleged corrupt practices, gratification, and abuse of office as a judicial officer.

The applicant had some time in 2018 been invited to the Enugu Office of the Commission to answer questions bordering on the above allegations. After his interview, he was granted administrative bail with a bond to report to the said office on 9th August 2018 for further investigation.

However, instead of appearing before the Commission as he was bonded to, Mr. Eze, in a suit No. FHC/CS/EN/98/2018, approached a Federal High Court, seeking an order restraining the Commission from what he termed “further intimidation; harassment and unlawful detention; and general or specific damages for unlawful arrest and detention in the sum of Five Million Naira (N5m).”

The presiding judge, Justice Abdullahi Liman, having listened to the arguments of both the counsel to the applicant and that of the respondent, agreed entirely with the submission of the counsel to the respondent and dismissed the case in its entirety for want of merit.

Court Dismisses Maina’s Fresh Bail Application For Lack Of Merit

Abdulrasheed Maina

 

A Federal High Court in Abuja on Thursday dismissed the fresh bail application filed by a former Chairman of the defunct Pension Reform Task Team (PRTT), Abdulrasheed Maina, on the ground that it lacks merit.

Ruling on the application, Justice Okon Abang said though it was at the court’s discretion to grant bail, the ex-pension reform boss did not deserve a fresh bail after jumping the first bail.

The judge said Maina did not place sufficient materials before the court to convince that he deserves the second bail as he insists that the medical report brought from the University of Abuja Teaching Hospital showed he was not under any medical emergency.

Justice Abang further said that Mr. Maina was not only a flight risk but a proven one, having fled to the Republic of Niger and Chad in violation of the court order.

The Judge who refused to grant Maina’s application for an order directing the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to release his confiscated property, including a BMW Car, also dismissed his request for an order to set aside the November 18 and December 4, 2020 orders.

The court had on November 18, 2020, ordered the trial in absentia of Mr. Maina after he jumped bail.

On December 4, 2020, the court also ordered him to be remanded in prison custody pending the hearing and final determination of his case.

Court Fixes March 17 To Hear Suit Challenging Extension Of IGP’s Tenure

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A Federal High Court in Abuja presided over by Justice Ahmed Mohammed has fixed March 17, 2021, to hear an application seeking to restrain Mr. Mohammed Adamu from parading himself as the Inspector General of Police, pending the hearing and determination of the suit challenging the extension of his tenure.

At the resumed hearing of the suit, the applicant’s counsel while asking for an adjournment informed the court that he was served with a counter-affidavit late on Monday and needed time to respond.

Lawyer to the inspector general of police, Mir Alex Ejesieme who did not oppose the application for adjournment also informed the court that the applicant served him with a motion seeking to abridge time late on Tuesday.

Justice Ahmed Mohammed after listening to the parties adjourned the hearing to March 17, 2021, for the hearing of the substantive suit.

In the suit filed by an Abuja based lawyer against President Muhammadu Buhari, Inspector General of Police, Muhammed Adamu, the Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, and the Nigerian Police Council, the applicant argues that Mr. Mohammed Adamu’s tenure as the IGP elapsed since February 1, by virtue of the police act.