PHOTOS: Ex-Head Of Civil Service Oyo-Ita In Court Over Fraud Allegations

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.

 

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) is set to arraign the immediate past Head of Civil Service of the Federation, Mrs Winifred Oyo-Ita.

Operatives of the anti-graft agency brought Oyo-Ita to the Federal High Court in Abuja on Monday morning over allegations of fraud.

She is to be arraigned along with eight others before Justice Taiwo Taiwo.

See some photos of the former Head of Civil Service of the Federation before the commencement of the court proceedings below:

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.

 

Alleged Money Laundering: Court Adjourns Ikuforiji’s Case To September 30

 

The Federal High Court sitting in Lagos has adjourned the trial of a former speaker of the Lagos State House of Assembly, Adeyemi Ikuforiji to September 30.

Ikuforiji and his former Personal Assistant, Oyebode Atoyebi are standing trial on the allegations of laundering N338.8m.

The duo are being prosecuted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on a 54-count charge.

They, however, pleaded not guilty before Justice Mohammed Liman and were allowed to continue on the bail terms earlier granted them by the previous trial judge.

Without coming out of his chambers, Justice Mohammed Liman ordered the Court Registrar to tell parties in the case that “in view of the directive of the Chief Judge that new trials should not be opened especially because of the impending transfer of judges, the case is adjourned till after vacation”.

The registrar then announced Sept 30 as the next adjourned date.

READ ALSO: Air Force Kills Several Armed Bandits In Kaduna

EFCC Counsel, Ekene Iheanacho, immediately raised a complaint saying that the annual vacation is expected to start in July and the Court could give any date before then but the registrar insisted that this was the directive of the judge.

There are indications that the transfer of judges will be done just before Easter to enable those affected to resume at their new post after the public holiday.

The transfer of this case by Justice Liman also appears to be in clear contravention of the provisions of Section 396 subsection 3 and 4 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act which says upon arraignment, the trial of a defendant shall proceed from day to day and where impracticable, no party shall be entitled to an adjournment which shall not exceed 14 working days.

Court To Hear Oshiomhole’s Appeal Challenging His Suspension

APC National Chairman, Adams Oshiomhole, addressing a press conference in Abuja on February 13, 2020.

 

The Court of Appeal sitting in Abuja is set to hear the appeal filed by the suspended National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Comrade Adams Oshiomhole who is challenging his suspension by an Abuja High Court.

The Abuja High Court presided over by Justice Danlami Senchi had granted an order of interlocutory injunction stopping Comrade Oshiomhole from parading himself as the National Chairman of the APC pending the hearing and determination of the suit seeking to give effect to the suspension order slammed on him by his ward in Edo State.

Following the court order, Mr. Oshiomhole on March 5, appealed the court judgment which suspended him as the National Chairman of the party.

In the notice of appeal filed on four grounds, Oshiomhole faulted the “whole ruling” of the trial court which granted the motion on notice for interlocutory injunction.

Among other claims, he alleged that the trial court erred in law and arrived at a wrong conclusion which occasioned a miscarriage of justice when it decided that question that his performance as APC national chairman would interfere with the party membership rights of the first to sixth respondents in the suit, at the interlocutory stage.

READ ALSO: Oshiomhole Appeals Judgement Suspending Him As APC National Chairman

Oshiomhole who filed the appeal along with the APC, therefore, sought an order of the Appellate Court to set aside the ruling of the trial court.

Some protesters have been demanding the removal of Comrade Oshiomhole for failing in his duties of providing quality leadership for the party, a call the APC leader dismissed, tagging the group “a non-existing” one.

Contempt Proceedings: Court Strikes Out Application Against PDP Chairman, Others

Man Bags 15 Years In Prison For N5.2m Fraud

 

A Lagos High Court sitting in the Igbosere area of Lagos Island has struck out a contempt application filed against the National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Uche Secondus, and other members of the party’s National Working Committee (NWC).

Justice Taofikat Oyekan-Abdullahi struck out the application following a request by the applicants to withdraw it.

The applicants in the suit are Dr Adegbola Dominic, for state chairman of the party; Elder John Babatunde Agbaje, Alhaji Fatai Ajisefinni, and Chief Taiwo Kuye, of the PDP’s Lagos State chapter.

While the defendants are Secondus, Senator Ben Obi, the PDP, Senator Biodun Olujimi, Jarigbe Agom Jarigbe, Danladi Baidu Tijo, Ahmed M. Mukthar and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

The applicants had alleged that Secondus and the others disobeyed the court’s order of last November 12, which restrained them from conducting a special election for vacant offices in the party’s Lagos chapter.

They are, therefore, seeking among other reliefs an order setting aside the election of officers for vacant offices in the party’s Lagos chapter.

READ ALSO:  Sanusi Sues IGP, DSS, Others Over Alleged Illegal Detention

The applicants claim that the PDP conducted the “illegal” election, despite having foreknowledge of the case and pending application for interlocutory injunction. According to them, the special election committee was chaired by Senator Obi at the instance of Secondus.

Last year December, Justice Oyekan-Abdullahi, ordered the defendants to show cause why an order for committal should not be made against them for disobeying the court’s order.

Secondus, Obi and the other defendants appeared in court on the last adjourned date of, February 11, 2020, following which the judge adjourned till today for hearing of pending applications.

At today’s proceedings, Secondus was absent. Only the first claimant, Dr Dominic, and second defendant, Obi represented the parties.

Counsel to the applicants, Francis Akinlotan informed the judge of the claimants’ intention to abandon their contempt application.

“The second contemnor (Secondus) is not in court today. I don’t want to belabour the point.

“I want to withdraw my contempt application so that we can go to the merit of the case.”

But counsel to the defendants, Emmanuel Enoidem opposed him, on the ground, that Akinlotan had not given a valid reason for the withdrawal.

He said: “My lord, we are not objecting, but we shall ask for costs. I am asking for costs of N500,000 each for the first and second persons cited for contempt.”

Following Akinlotan’s refusal to concede costs, Justice Oyekan-Abdullahi held: “Since the learned counsel (Akinlotan) is the sole conducting officer of his case, he has graciously applied to the court to withdraw the contempt proceedings application.

“I do not think that costs will be appropriate in the circumstances.

“There is nothing more important in contempt proceedings than attendance, composure, and remorse in the face of the contemnors.

“While appreciating the learned counsel’s objection, I am of the view that money is not the price for contempt to compensate the contemnor, rather, his attendance of court proceedings to face his or her charge.

“This is however averted by the withdrawal and I hold the contemnor in high esteem for the remorse and attendance in court. No further respect must be shown by any court than this.

“Based on this reasoning, the contempt proceedings application is accordingly struck out and the substantive suit shall be taken forthwith. This is my ruling.” Justice Oyekan-Abdullahi held.

Further proceedings were adjourned till April 29.

Alleged N450m Fraud: Court Fixes March 12 To Rule On Belgore’s Electronic Evidence

Man Bags 15 Years In Prison For N5.2m Fraud

 

The Federal High Court sitting Lagos has fixed March 12, 2020, to rule on the admissibility of the Closed-Circuit Television (CCTV) footage and its Certificate of Identification sought to be tendered in evidence by a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Dele Belgore.

Mr Belgore is standing trial alongside a former Minister of National Planning, Prof. Abubakar Sulaiman, on five counts of conspiracy and possession of proceeds of crime to the tune of N450million.

The Economic And Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), alleged that the defendants laundered the money in the build-up to the 2015 General Elections.

The anti-graft agency claimed that the N450m was part of a larger sum of $115.01m, which a former minister of petroleum resources, Diezani Alison-Madueke, allegedly doled out to influence the outcome of the 2015 General Elections.

The EFCC also alleged that the defendants handled the huge sum without going through any financial institution, contrary to the provisions of the money laundering (prohibition) act.

At the proceedings today (Wednesday), Ebun Sofunde (SAN), counsel to the first defendant Belgore, sought the leave of the court to recall him (Belgore) into the witness box.

Sofunde asked Belgore to confirm the subpoena served on Yinka Omar, branch manager, fidelity branch, Ilorin, Kwara, asking him to produce the CCTV footage of the events that took place in the bank when the money was collected and its certificate of identification, which he did.

Belgore also said that after the documents were produced before the court, he viewed part of the footage, adding that he was aware that some people in his legal team had also seen the footage.

Shofunde, thereafter, sought to tender the CCTV footage contained in a flash drive and the certificate of identification attached to it.

Counsel for the EFCC, Rotimi Oyedepo, however, objected to the tendering of the documents on the grounds that the defendant was not the maker, so he could not give direct oral evidence or be cross-examined on it.

“In view of the fact that the device and certificate of identification were not made by the defendant; and the fact that he was not privy to the making, direct oral evidence will not be admissible, according to section 84 of the evidence act,” Oyedepo said.

He further argued that “the defence did not apply to tender the document in their subpoena, but to only produce it; hence, the admissibility of the document is to be determined by the court.”

Oyedepo, therefore, urged the court to reject the documents.

Sofunde, countered by submitting that the defendant was not giving direct evidence but only identifying the documents before him.

The defence counsel also argued that Section 84 does not say that documents cannot be tendered without the maker, but only stipulates what needs to be done for a document to be tendered in evidence.

After listening to both parties, Justice Aikawa adjourned the case till March 12 to rule.

Harvey Weinstein Sentenced To 23 Years In Prison

Harvey Weinstein arrives at a Manhattan court house for the first day of opening statements at his trial on January 22, 2020 in New York City.  Spencer Platt/Getty Images/AFP

 

Harvey Weinstein was sentenced to 23 years in prison by a New York judge on Wednesday, two weeks after he was convicted of rape and sexual assault.

Judge James Burke ignored the pleas of Weinstein’s defense team to give their client the minimum of five years behind bars.

Weinstein, 67, was found guilty of a criminal sexual act in the first degree and rape in the third degree on February 24, in a verdict hailed by the #MeToo movement.

AFP

UPDATED: Court Adjourns Trial Of Sowore, Bakare Till April

File Photo: Channels TV/Sodiq Adelakun

 

 

A Federal High Court sitting in Abuja has adjourned the trial of the Convener of #RevolutionNow movement, Omoyele Sowore, and his co-defendant, Olawale Bakare.

Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu adjourned the trial until April 1 and 2 in a ruling on Wednesday following the objection raised by the counsel to the defendants, Femi Falana.

Falana had challenged the testimony of the first witness presented by the prosecution, for giving evidence outside his written statement.

But the prosecutor, Kayode Halilu, insisted that he served a summary of the witness statement on the defendants’ counsel and the witness.

The witness is one Rasheed Olawale, a Principal Staff Officer of the Department of State Services (DSS) in charge of Surveillance and Communication Intelligence at the Lagos State Command.

After listening to both counsels, the trial judge ruled that the witness cannot be allowed to depose to a four-paragraph statement and give a 10-page of evidence.

She subsequently adjourned the trial to enable the prosecutor to reproduce the witness’ statement.

Sowore and Bakare are facing trial over treason and money laundering charges filed against them by the Federal Government.

They have, however, pleaded not guilty and have since been granted bail by the court.

The government had filed a motion on notice praying the court to grant an order excluding persons other than lawyers and accredited members of the press from witnessing the proceedings.

It also sought an order to clear the court whenever the prosecution witnesses were testifying, such that only the trial judge, parties and legal representatives, as well as accredited members of the press, would be able to see them.

The prosecution also asked for an order that the real names and addresses of the prosecution witnesses in the proceedings should not be disclosed.

Shortly before Sowore and Bakare’s trial began on Wednesday, Justice Ojukwu adjourned ruling on an application by the prosecution seeking to have witnesses shielded in the trial of the defendants.

This followed the request of Halilu who informed the court that the defence team served him a counter-affidavit and he needed time to reply to it.

UPDATES: Trial Of Sowore, Bakare Resumes

File Photo: Channels TV/Sodiq Adelakun

 

The Convener of #RevolutionNow movement, Omoyele Sowore, and his co-defendant, Olawale Bakare, have returned to the Federal High Court in Abuja.

Both men appeared before Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu on Wednesday over allegations of treason and money laundering, among others.

The charges were brought against them by the Federal Government, but the duo have pleaded not guilty and have since been granted bail by the court.

On March 5, the government had filed a motion on notice praying the court to grant an order excluding persons other than lawyers and accredited members of the press from witnessing the proceedings.

It also sought an order to clear the court whenever the prosecution witnesses were testifying, such that only the trial judge, parties and legal representatives, as well as accredited members of the press, would be able to see them.

The prosecution had also asked for an order that the real names and addresses of the prosecution witnesses in the proceedings should not be disclosed.

At the resumed sitting, the prosecutor, Kayode Halilu, informed the court that the defence team led by a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Mr Femi Falana, served him a counter-affidavit and he needed time to reply to it.

Based on the request, Justice Ojukwu adjourned the hearing of the motion and directed the prosecutor to call his first witness in the case.

Halilu called Rasheed Olawale, a Principal Staff Officer of the Department of State Services (DSS) in charge of Surveillance and Communication Intelligence at the Lagos State Command.

The witness said Sowore was arrested on August 3, 2019, for allegedly planning to revolt against a democratically elected government on August 5, 2019.

He added that the defendant made ‘Revolution Now’ inscriptions on Maryland Bridge, sensitising people on the need for a revolution.

Falana, however, interjected saying the witness was giving evidence outside his original statement which was an attempt to ambush them.

He, therefore, prayed the court to restrict the witness to his written statement.

Ruling on Falana’s objection, the trial judge said the defence was entitled to all documents the prosecutor intended to rely on and not just a summary of the witness statement.

She warned that the court would not allow a situation where a witness gives 10 pages of evidence after writing a one-page statement.

According to Justice Ojukwu, this will amount to subjecting the defence to cross-examine the witness based on statements not served on them.

After listening to both counsels, the trial judge ruled that the witness cannot be allowed to depose to a four-paragraph statement and give a 10-page of evidence.

She subsequently adjourned the trial until April 1 and 2 to enable the prosecutor to reproduce the witness’ statement.

Court Adjourns Ruling On Application To Shield Witnesses In Sowore’s Trial

Man Bags 15 Years In Prison For N5.2m Fraud

 

The Federal High Court in Abuja has adjourned ruling on an application seeking to have witnesses shielded in the trial of the convener of #RevolutionNow movement, Omoyele Sowore, and his co-defendant, Olawale Bakare.

Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu gave the adjournment on Wednesday shortly before the trial of the duo commenced in the court.

Sowore and Bakare are facing trial over treason and money laundering charges filed against them by the Federal Government.

They have, however, pleaded not guilty and have since been granted bail by the court.

The government had filed a motion on notice praying the court to grant an order excluding persons other than lawyers and accredited members of the press from witnessing the proceedings.

File Photo: Channels TV/Sodiq Adelakun

 

 

It also sought an order to clear the court whenever the prosecution witnesses were testifying, such that only the trial judge, parties and legal representatives, as well as accredited members of the press, would be able to see them.

The prosecution also asked for an order that the real names and addresses of the prosecution witnesses in the proceedings should not be disclosed.

At the resumed sitting, the prosecutor, Kayode Halilu, informed the court that the defence team led by a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Mr Femi Falana, served him a counter-affidavit and he needed time to reply to it.

Based on the request, the trial judge adjourned ruling on the motion and directed the prosecutor to call his first witness in the case.

South African President, Ramaphosa Cleared Of Graft Accusations

President of South Africa, Cyril Ramaphosa addresses a public meeting in the Western Cape Province. RODGER BOSCH / AFP

 

A South African court on Tuesday ruled in favour of President Cyril Ramaphosa in a probe of suspected money laundering and personal enrichment linked to his 2017 party leadership election campaign fund.

Judges dismissed an investigation by Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane, who had accused Ramaphosa of misleading parliament over his campaign financing.

In a damning report last year, Mkhwebane — South Africa’s ethics watchdog — published findings concerning a 500,000 rand ($31,460) donation to Ramaphosa’s campaign from a company that is facing extensive corruption allegations.

Ramaphosa initially told lawmakers the payment was to his son for consultancy work at the company, now known as African Global Operations (AGO).

He later backtracked and said it was a donation towards his campaign to become ANC party leader — a hard-fought battle in which he beat ex-president Jacob Zuma’s chosen candidate in 2017.

Mkhwebane accused Ramaphosa of deliberately misleading parliament for illegal purposes.

But the president dismissed the report and took the case to the High Court, which on Tuesday declared Mkhwebane’s findings as “unlawful”.

“There is simply no evidence that the president received personal financial benefit from any campaign contributions,” said judge Elias Matojane.

“Her findings on the money laundering issue were not only irrational but indeed reckless,” he said.

Ramaphosa’s office welcomed the sentence and reaffirmed its “commitment to honest and effective governance” on Twitter.

Mkhwebane’s spokesman Oupa Segalwe told AFP the Public Protector would “study the judgement” along with her legal team before “mapping the way forward”.

Mkhwebane was appointed Public Protector in 2016 and her term ends in 2023.

While her position is meant to investigate public corruption and misconduct, she has been criticised for being close to graft-tainted Zuma.

A handful of Mkhwebane’s other investigations have already been dismissed in court, and parliament is currently assessing her competency for the job.

A few months after winning the ANC leadership, Ramaphosa went on to become president after Zuma was entangled in graft scandals that forced him to step down in February 2018.

Ramaphosa led the ruling African National Congress (ANC) in the May 2019 national elections where the party won with a reduced majority.

He has vowed to crack down on high-level corruption that looted state coffers during Zuma’s nine-year administration.

The ANC remains bitterly split between Zuma and Ramaphosa’s supporters.

AFP

Judge Orders Ronaldinho To Remain In Prison

Brazilian retired football player Ronaldinho arrives to Asuncion’s Prosecution to declare after his irregular entry to the country, in Asuncion, Paraguay, on March 5, 2020./ AFP

 

Brazilian football great Ronaldinho will remain in pre-trial detention in Paraguay after being refused bail or house arrest on accusations of entering the country with a fake passport.

A court rejected a request for conditional release for the 39-year-old World Cup winner and his brother, who were spending a fifth day in a police cell in Asuncion, said prosecutor Osmar Legal.

Judge Gustavo Amarilla cited the seriousness of the case and the discovery of new evidence, as well as the involvement of public officials and entrepreneurs who helped Ronaldinho get into Paraguay.

Amarilla acknowledged the harshness of the measures taken against the brothers but said it was his responsibility to ensure the they did not flee the country.

“There are many procedures that need to be done with the presence of both of them,” the judge said.

Legal said he opposed house arrest because the property offered as a guarantee was only valued at $750,000 to $800,000.

“It’s a tiny amount given the economic solvency of one of the (accused),” he said.

The brothers arrived in Asuncion from Brazil on Wednesday and showed their passports to immigration police, who did not immediately notice any problem.

Hours later, when the passports were determined to be fake, investigators raided the football star’s hotel room and seized the brothers’ identity cards and travel documents.

 ‘No crime’ 

Ronaldinho said the passports had been given to him by people who had invited him to attend conferences sponsored by charities working with disadvantaged children.

A Brazilian businessman has also been arrested in connection with the fake travel documents, while two Paraguayan women have been placed under house arrest and the country’s migration director has resigned.

Ronaldinho’s Brazilian lawyer Sergio Queiroz has said the brothers were carrying Brazilian documents and were given the Paraguayan passports “to facilitate the possibility of doing business” in Paraguay.

“Ronaldinho did not commit a crime because he did not know that the passport they gave him was faked,” he said.

However, the body overseeing the creation of companies in Paraguay told AFP there was no regulation preventing Brazilians for applying for a business permit.

The administrator of the charity that invited Ronaldinho, Dalia Lopez, has admitted requesting the passports but said she didn’t know they were forged.

A warrant has been issued for her arrest.

 Money laundering 

Amarilla said the investigation is looking into possible criminal association and money laundering.

He said the brothers’ phones needed to be examined, in order to “know the true intention for their presence” in Paraguay.

Ronaldinho, considered one of the greatest footballers of all time, was a star of Brazil’s 2002 World Cup win and played for European giants Barcelona, Paris Saint-Germain and AC Milan, among others.

There had been rumors he needed to use the Paraguayan document because his real passport had been seized by Brazilian authorities in late 2018 after he failed to pay a $2.5 million fine for building a pier in a protected lake.

But it was returned to him a year later following an agreement with the public prosecutor in Rio Grande do Sul state.

As both countries are part of the MERCOSUR trade bloc, travelers between Brazil and Paraguay need only carry an identity document rather than a passport.

AFP

Alleged Fraud: Ex-Banker Testifies In Fayose’s Trial

Fayose Involved In Road Accident
Former Ekiti State Governor, Ayodele Fayose (file).

 

 

Justice Chukwujekwu Aneke of the Federal High Court sitting in Ikoyi, Lagos has adjourned the fraud trial of former Ekiti State Governor, Ayodele Fayose.

The former governor is standing trial alongside his company, Spotless Investment Limited, on an 11-count bordering on fraud and money laundering to the tune of N2.2 billion.

At Friday’s sitting, a prosecution witness and a former employee of Skye Bank Plc (now Polaris Bank Plc), Olugboyega Falaye, gave his testimony before the trial judge.

He told the court how the bank had sold a property on 44, Plot 1214, Osun Crescent, Maitama, Abuja for N200 million sometime in 2016.

Falaye, who worked in the Real Estate Department of the bank, told the court that the property in question was put up for sale among other properties by the bank, after the approval granted by the Board, as well as the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

He said the list of the properties to be sold was given to a property agent.

The witness stated, “Thereafter, Skye Bank got a contact with a letter from Philtech Properties Limited in respect of the property in question. Philtech Properties Limited was represented by one Mrs. Titilayo and she made an offer for the property for the sum of N200 million.

“Skye Bank countered for N300 million, but we later agreed to sell the property for N200 million. We came up with all necessary documents for the transaction and the property was sold out.”

Falaye also told the court that the documents for the transaction with some attachments were submitted to the EFCC.

He said, “The attachments are ‘letter of offer’ from Skye Bank to Signature Integrated Limited (the principal to Philtech Properties Limited); letter from Philtech in response to Skye Bank’s letter making a counter-offer of N200 million to Skye bank; an email to confirm the office address of Philtech and the list of assets that was approved for sale by Skye Bank.”

Under cross-examination by counsel to the defendants and Senior Advocates of Nigeria (SANs), Ola Olanipekun and Olalekan Ojo, Falaye admitted that Skye Bank issued receipts of payment to Signature Integrated Limited.

He, however, told the court that he was not aware of any transaction between Still Earth and Signature Integrated.

The witness, during further cross-examination, told the court that the valuation of the property was carried out before the sale.

“There was nothing unusual about the transaction because the transaction went through the normal process,” he said.

Falaye, however, told the court that he did not know the individual who bought the property.

After listening to the testimony of the witness, Justice Aneke adjourned the case until May 18, 19 and 20, 2020 for the continuation of trial.