Court Grants Bail To 48 Yoruba Nation Agitators

Alleged Bribery: Witness Testifies As Rickey Tarfa’s Trial Continues
File photo

 

A Chief Magistrate Court sitting in the Yaba area of Lagos has granted bail to 48 Yoruba nation agitators arrested and detained by the Lagos Police Command.

Chief Magistrate Adeola Adeyeye granted them bail on Monday after listening to the application by their counsel, Mr Olasupo Ojo.

Ojo had argued amongst other things that there was no charge yet preferred against the agitators by the police.

At the last sitting of the court on the 5th of July, the Magistrate had granted bail on self-recognizance to one of the agitators who was a lawyer.

The 48 others were granted bail in the sum of N300,000 each with two sureties.

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The court held that one of the sureties must be a family member and the other a community leader or clergy. Both sureties must have proof of tax payment which is to be verified by the police.

The Lagos Police Command had paraded all 49 suspects arrested in connection with Oodua Republic mega rally at Ojota.

Those paraded include 47 men and two women.

According to Commissioner of Police (CP) Hakeem Odumosu, some of them were intercepted and found with guns, axes, Oodua flags, Yoruba Armed Forces vests and other items. Others were arrested at the protest ground in Ojota.

Those granted bail include Olasunkanmi Tanimola; Kabiru Lawanson; Chinemerem Emmanuel; Rasaki Musibau; Lukman Olalade; Olasanmi Oladipupo; Bashiru Shittu; Taofeek Abdusalam; Olamilekan Abata; Abdullahi Sikiru; Tosin Adeleye; Babatunde Lawal.

Also included are, Abiodun Taiwo, Adagunodo Babatunde, Oluwafemi Adeleye, Oloye Taiwo, Saheed Kareem, Adebayo Waheed, Akinbode Sunday, Lawal Akeem, Samuel Ire, Ogundile Dare, Oba Tajudeen Bakare.

Alleged N2.8bn Fraud: Court Grants Ex-Surveyor General Awudu N100m Bail

Logo of a court gavel

 

A Federal Capital Territory (FCT) High Court in Maitama on Monday granted N100 million bail to the former Surveyor-General of the Federation, Ebisintei Awudu.

Awudu was arraigned before Justice Olusegun Adeniyi, on a 22-count charge of fraud.

He is accused to have awarded multiple contracts worth over N2 billion to a company in which he was a director and shareholder as well as to relation and associates.

The former Surveyor General was also said to have received over N300m as gratification from a contractor executing different contracts for the Office of Surveyor-General of the Federation.

READ ALSO: Alleged Unlawful Defection: PDP Urges Court To Sack Zamfara Governor

Upon arraignment, Awudu pleaded not guilty to all counts.

F.B Olorogun, the defendant’s counsel, urged the court to grant bail to his client.

Ruling on the application, Justice Adeniyi granted the defendant bail in the sum of N100 million. Awudu was also asked to produce a surety who must be a director-general or a permanent.

The Judge also remanded the defendant in ICPC custody pending the fulfilment of the bail conditions.  The case has been adjourned to September 13 for the commencement of trial.

ECOWAS Court Orders FG To Pay Journalist, Agba Jalingo N30m

ECOWAS Court Fines FG N30m For Violation Of Rights
File photo of ECOWAS Court’s logo

 

The ECOWAS Court of Justice in Abuja on Friday ordered the Federal Government to pay journalist Agba Jalingo N30m as compensation for ill-treatment and torture while in detention in Cross River State.

In a judgment, the court said the journalist was arrested and chained to a deep freezer for about 34 days without being charged to court, brutalized and dehumanized.

“This action taken on Jalingo’s behalf by SERAP seeks from this court reparation for inhuman treatment and torture meted out to him. We have looked at the evidence before us. There was no answer as to the facts that Jalingo was arrested and illegally detained, brutalized and dehumanized,” the court ruled.

According to the court, the act violated the international human rights treaties, particularly the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights to which Nigeria is a state party, adding that the “Nigerian government has flouted the provisions of these treaties on international fair trial standards.”

SERAP counsel, Femi Falana, via a statement welcomed the court ruling, saying the judgment could not have come at a more opportune time than now “in view of the ongoing brutalization of hapless Nigerian citizens by the police and other security agencies.”

READ ALSO: NURTW Vice-Chairman Shot Dead In Lagos – Reports

He said, “It is to be hoped that the Federal and state governments and all law enforcement agencies will study the terms of the judgment and desist from further infringing on the human rights of the Nigerian people, including criminal suspects who are presumed innocent until the contrary is proved by the State.”

The judgment followed the suit filed by SERAP against the Federal Government and the Cross River State Government to ECOWAS Court over the prolonged, arbitrary detention; unfair prosecution; persecution, and sham trial of Mr Jalingo.

Jalingo, who is the publisher of CrossRiverWatch, was arrested on August 22 over a report alleging that Mr Ayade diverted N500 million belonging to the state.

The court gave the order for compensation after hearing arguments from Solicitor to SERAP, Femi Falana SAN, and lawyers to the government Abdulahi Abubakar and A. A. Nuhu.

In the suit number ECW/CCJ/APP/10/2020, SERAP argued that: “The sole objective of the government of Nigeria and the Cross River state government of governor Ben Ayade is to perpetually keep Agba Jalingo in arbitrary detention and to silence him simply for expressing critical views and carrying out his legitimate job as a journalist.”

The suit, read in part: “The harassment, intimidation, unfair prosecution and arbitrary detention of Agba Jalingo simply for exercising his human rights violate Nigeria’s international human rights obligations, including under the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights to which the country is a state party.”

“The government of Nigeria and the Cross-River state government of governor Ben Ayade have via the charges of terrorism and treason and denial of bail to Agba Jalingo, violated and continued to breach his human rights.”

“SERAP contends that Agba Jalingo is being unfairly prosecuted because of his reporting in his online news outlet, Cross River Watch, which alleged that the Cross Rivers State Governor diverted the sum of N500 Million, belonging to the Cross-River Micro Finance Bank.”

“On 22nd August 2019, the Nigeria Police, through its special anti-robbery squad arrested Agba Jalingo. On 23rd August 2019, Mr. Jalingo was transferred to a detention facility run by the anti-cult and anti-kidnapping police in Calabar, the capital of Nigeria’s southern Cross River state and was held there for days before his arraignment on 31st August, 2019.”

Russia Jails Jehovah’s Witness Member For Record 8 Years

Man Bags 15 Years In Prison For N5.2m Fraud
A file photo of a court gavel.

 

A Russian court Wednesday sentenced two members of the Jehovah’s Witnesses to seven and eight years in prison, the US-based religious movement said, accusing Moscow of setting a “new record for cruelty.”

Moscow outlawed the Jehovah’s Witnesses in 2017, labelling it an extremist organisation, and nearly 60 people are currently either serving prison terms or in detention.

A court in the Far Eastern city of Blagoveshchensk on Wednesday sentenced Dmitry Golik and Alexei Berchuk to seven and eight years in a penal colony respectively for organising the work of an extremist community, the movement said.

“The judge Tatyana Studilko set a new record for cruelty,” it said in a statement.

Berchuk’s sentence was the longest handed down to a Jehovah’s Witness in Russia so far, the group added.

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RUSSIA-VIRUS-HEALTH
File photo: Russian President Vladimir Putin addresses the nation via teleconference at the Novo-Ogaryovo state residence outside Moscow on May 11, 2020. (Photo by Alexey NIKOLSKY / SPUTNIK / AFP) 

 

In February, a court in the southern Krasnodar region sentenced a 63-year-old member of the Jehovah’s Witnesses, Alexander Ivshin, to seven and a half years in prison.

The same month a 69-year-old female member of the Jehovah’s Witnesses faith, Valentina Baranovskaya, was sentenced to two years in prison — a first in the country’s crackdown on the faith.

The religious movement said Russian law enforcement officials had wiretapped Golik’s apartment in 2018.

Although President Vladimir Putin said in 2018 that Jehovah’s Witnesses should not be considered terrorists, Moscow has continued bringing legal action against members.

The Russian Orthodox Church has spoken out against the movement, with one official describing it as a “destructive sect”.

Founded in the United States in the late 19th century, the religious movement has been repeatedly accused of refusing to respect state symbols such as flags.

AFP

Court Orders Remand Of Fmr Local Govt Vice-Chairman In Lagos

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

 

A Federal High Court sitting in Lagos has ordered that the former Vice Chairman of Lagos Island Local Government Area, Asekun Sakiru Kehinde, be remanded at the correctional centre following his arraignment on a charge of allegedly exporting 1,000 kilogrammes of cocaine.

Justice Ayokunle Faji gave the order on Wednesday after Kehinde pleaded not guilty to one count bordering on the offence.

The defendant was arraigned by the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA).

The NDLEA prosecutor, Abu Ibrahim, told the judge that Kehinde had committed the offence on July 7, 2021, during the outward clearance of passengers on a Virgin Atlantic Airlines flight from Lagos to London-Heathrow, at the Departure Hall of the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Ikeja Lagos.

The court heard that the defendant, “without lawful authority exported 1,000 kilogramme of cocaine, a narcotic drug” that is prohibited in the country.

Following Kehinde’s plea, his counsel, Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Supo Shasore informed the judge of a pending bail application.

He, therefore, asked the court to admit the defendant to bail on liberal terms, noting that the offence for which he was charged is a bailable one.

But the prosecution counsel opposed the application. Citing the gravity of the offence, he asked the court to refuse the bail application.

Justice Faji then adjourned his ruling till July 16 and ending the ruling, he ordered the remand of the defendant in custody.

PHOTOS: Lawan Escorted To Prison After Getting Seven Years Sentence For Bribery

A photo taken on June 22, 2021, shows Mr Farouk Lawan at the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) in Abuja. Channels Television/ Sodiq Adelakun.

 

It was an unexpected end for Mr Farouk Lawan on Tuesday when he appeared before Justice Angela Otaluka of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja.

Lawan, a former chairman of the House of Representatives ad-hoc committee on fuel subsidy, was accused of soliciting a $3 million bribe from Femi Otedola while probing the multi-billion naira fuel subsidy fraud in 2012.

The bribe was to remove Otedola’s then company Zenon Petroleum and Gas Limited from the list of oil companies allegedly involved in the scam.

Although the former lawmaker had been walking freely while awaiting the court to determine his fate in the bribery charges filed against him, he is expected to spend the night in jail after he was found guilty of the counts.

In the first count, he was said to have corruptly asked Otedola for a bribe of $3 million as an inducement to remove the name of his company from the report of the House of Representatives Ad-Hoc Committee on Monitoring of fuel subsidy regime.

An official of the Nigerian Correctional Service escorts Mr Farouk Lawan out of the court after he was sentenced on June 22, 2021.

 

Count two also stated that Lawn collected the sum of $500,000 as a bribe to exonerate Zelon Petroleum and Gas from the fuel subsidy probe report.

 

The Long Journey To Justice

Following a long journey to justice for Lawan who has been standing trial since 2013, Justice Otaluka finally sentenced him to seven years in prison.

He was found guilty of counts one, two, and three which bothered on corruptly asking for bribe and obtaining same from Otedola.

The presiding judge stated that the evidence listed and submitted before the court by the prosecution counsel remained unshaken during cross-examination.

She added that the conduct, responses, and submissions of the defendant and witnesses established the charge in the first count, while the defendant demanded a balance after receiving the first and second tranche of the payment.

 

As of the early hours of April 24, 2012, when Lawan received the second tranche, according to Justice Otaluka, no complaint was made to any security agency or anti-corruption agencies as he claimed he took the money to show as evidence before the House.

She affirmed that the former lawmaker failed to convince the court that his acceptance of the said bribe was to serve as evidence before the House that Otedola intended to bribe the committee.

In her judgement, the judge sentenced Lawan to seven years in prison on counts one and two, while he got five years on count three.

She said the sentences were to run concurrently and ordered the former lawmaker to return $500,000 to the Federal Government.

After the judgement, Lawan was driven out of the court premises in a Toyota Hilux van owned by the Nigerian Correctional Service.

In this photo taken on June 22, 2021, Mr Farouk Lawan is driven out of the court by officials of the Nigerian Correctional Service.

Court Convicts Architect, One Other For Impersonation

Alleged $40m Fraud: Jonathan’s Cousin To Know Fate On May 27
File photo.

 

A Federal High Court in Ogun State has convicted the duo of Oluwole Caleb and Ayoola Oluwafemi for fraudulent impersonation.

The duo were convicted by Justice Oluremi Oguntoyinbo during the sitting on Monday in Abeokuta, the state capital.

Mr Wilson Uwujaren, the spokesman for the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), confirmed this in a statement.

According to him, the offence runs contrary to Section 22 (2) (b) (i) and is punishable under Section 22 (2) (b) (IV) of the Cybercrimes (Prohibition, Prevention, Etc.) Act, 2015.

They were convicted on a separate count of fraudulent impersonation preferred against them by the Ibadan Zonal Office of the anti-graft agency.

Oluwole, 26, who claims to be an architect, was arrested on February 9, 2021, and in the course of an investigation, a number of incriminating documents were recovered from his email, Uwujaren said.

Upon arraignment, he noted that Oluwole pleaded ‘guilty’ to the one count.

Justice Oguntoyinbo, thereafter, convicted and sentenced him to one-month imprisonment.

Apart from his conviction, Oluwole was also ordered to restitute the sum of $200 to his victim, as well as to forfeit his Infinix mobile phone.

Similarly, the judge convicted and sentenced Ayoola to three months imprisonment and ordered him to restitute his victim in the sum of $200.

The convict was also directed to forfeit one iPhone 6 mobile phone and a Lexus RX 350 SUV car to the Federal Government of Nigeria.

Court Acquits Senator In Money Laundering Case

Nwaoboshi Appeals Judgment Sacking Him As Delta North Senator-Elect
A file photo of Senator Peter Nwaoboshi.

 

A Federal High Court sitting in Lagos has acquitted and discharged the lawmaker representing Delta North, Senator Peter Nwaoboshi, of the allegation of laundering N322 million.

Justice Chukwujekwu Aneke held that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) failed to prove the elements of the offence against the lawmaker.

He also cleared Nwaoboshi’s two firms – Golden Touch Construction Project Ltd and Suiming Electrical Ltd.

The judge held, among other things, that the EFCC’s case collapsed because “bank officials were not called to testify” and prove the money laundering charge.

Nwaoboshi, a chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), was arraigned alongside his companies in 2018 before Justice Mohammed Idris who was later elevated to the Court of Appeal.

This necessitated a re-arraignment before Justice Aneke in October 2018.

The prosecution had alleged that Nwaoboshi and Golden Touch Construction Projects purchased a 12-storey building property, known as Guinea House, on Marine Road in the Apapa area of Lagos for N805 million between May and June 2014.

According to the anti-graft agency, N322 million out of the N805 million was part of proceeds of “an unlawful act of fraud”.

The EFCC alleged that the N322 million was transferred to the property’s vendor on the order of Suiming Electricals which was accused of aiding the accused to commit money laundering on or about May 14, 2014.

The alleged offences contravened the provisions of Sections 15 (2) (d) and 18 (a) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act 2011, it claimed.

But Senator Nwaoboshi had pleaded not guilty to the charge.

DR Congo Court Cuts Jail Term For Ex-Presidential Aide

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

 

A former presidential aide in DR Congo who had been sentenced to 20 years in a high-profile corruption case has had his term reduced by seven years on appeal, his lawyer said.

Vital Kamerhe, 62, who was also a former speaker of the National Assembly, was sentenced last June for embezzling nearly $50 million (44 million euros) of public funds.

“The sentence has been reduced to 13 years,” Kamerhe’s attorney Jean-Marie Kabengela told AFP late Tuesday after a decision by an appeal court in the capital Kinshasa.

Kamerhe, who has his own political party, was a major figure in national politics before dramatically falling from grace.

He had been an early contender in the Democratic Republic of Congo’s presidential elections in December 2018.

But he cut a deal with fellow candidate Felix Tshisekedi under which he pulled out of the race and campaigned alongside him.

He was then appointed chief of staff after Tshisekedi became president in January 2019.

He and a prominent Lebanese businessman, Jammal Samih, were accused of siphoning off funds earmarked for building 1,500 social housing units under a programme announced by Tshisekedi after his inauguration.

Samih’s sentence was cut from 20 years to six, Kabengela said. A third defendant who had been sentenced to two years saw his jail term reduced to one year.

Kamerhe’s case became the emblem of the president’s proclaimed crackdown on DR Congo’s endemic corruption.

He was sentenced to forced labour, a term that remains on DR Congo’s statute books but is not implemented.

Kamerhe has insisted that he was the victim of a “political trial” to prevent him from running for president in 2023.

His appeal began last August, but proceedings were repeatedly postponed.

A pro-Kamerhe demonstration in Kinshasa late Tuesday was dispersed by police, witnesses said.

AFP

Belarus Activist Returned To Jail After Stabbing Himself In Court

A Belarusian activist who was hospitalised after stabbing himself in the neck in court has been returned to prison following surgery, the Viasna rights group said Wednesday.

Stepan Latypov, 41, on Tuesday rammed a pen into his neck on the first day of his trial on several protest-related charges during a hearing seen by government critics as part of a sweeping crackdown on political opposition.

Viasna, citing Latypov’s relatives, said Wednesday the activist was returned to prison and that family had been able to deliver him a parcel there.

READ ALSO: Southgate Eyes Euro 2020 Semis As Barometer For Success

Latypov was detained last September and went on trial in the capital Minsk on several charges including creating protest symbols and resisting law enforcement.

Viasna said he appeared in court with bruises and that after his father was questioned Latypov climbed on a bench and stabbed himself in the neck with what appeared to be a pen.

Belarus was gripped by months of demonstrations that erupted after a disputed presidential election last August saw Alexander Lukashenko claim a sixth term.

Security forces cracked down hard on protests, detaining and imprisoning thousands of demonstrators and pushing opposition leaders into exile. Several people died in the unrest.

Another Belarusian political activist, 50-year-old Vitold Ashurok, died in jail in the east of the country last month, reportedly of cardiac arrest.

Belarus has faced a global outcry after Lukashenko’s government ordered the diversion of a European flight over its airspace last month and arrested dissident Roman Protasevich and his girlfriend who were on board.

AFP

Australian Court Rejects Challenge To India Travel Ban

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

 

An emergency legal challenge to Australia’s contentious ban on citizens returning from Covid-struck India failed Monday, dashing stranded travellers’ hopes of an immediate return.

Federal Justice Thomas Thawley ruled the government had not overstepped its biosecurity powers in banning Australians from returning home temporarily.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison earlier this month shut the door to all travel from India, fearing a large number of Covid-positive arrivals would overwhelm Australia’s already strained quarantine facilities.

The move stranded an estimated 9,000 Australian citizens and threatened them with large fines and jail time if they tried to dodge the ban and return on non-direct flights.

Thawley ruled that Morrison acted within the law, dashing the hopes of a 73-year-old Australian man who brought the case as he tries to return from Bangalore.

READ ALSO: COVID-19 Variant In India ‘Of Concern’, Says WHO

During the hearing, a government lawyer argued that biosecurity rules are a “bulldozer” that can clear away any other rights.

The judge did not rule on the more complex question of whether the decision was unconstitutional, an issue that is set to be taken up at a later date.

After widespread public outcry, Morrison indicated that the ban will not be extended beyond May 15.

But with the pandemic still raging and access to Australia set to be severely restricted until at least 2022, the case was being closely watched.

Since March 2020, Australians have been barred from travelling overseas and a hard-to-get individual exemption is needed for foreign visitors to enter the country.

Australia has no widespread community transmission of Covid-19, but has seen several outbreaks emerge from hotel quarantine facilities, causing disruptive city.

AFP

Court Removes Prosecutor Investigating FIFA President, Infantino

FIFA President Gianni Infantino addresses the media during a press conference following the FIFA Council Meetings in Miami, Florida, on March 15, 2019. Infantino on Friday confirmed plans to launch an expanded 24-team Club World Cup in 2021 following a meeting in Miami. The new tournament, which has drawn threats of a boycott from leading European clubs, is to be staged in June-July 2021 instead of the Confederations Cup. RHONA WISE / AFP.
(File Photo) FIFA President Gianni Infantino addresses the media during a press conference following the FIFA Council Meetings in Miami, Florida, on March 15, 2019. RHONA WISE / AFP.

 

The prosecutor who was investigating FIFA president Gianni Infantino has been removed for public statements that were ‘biased’ against the head of world football’s governing body, a Swiss court announced on Wednesday. 

Stefan Keller opened an inquiry into Infantino in July 2020 over three informal meetings with the former head of the Swiss public prosecutor’s office (MPC). In March he started investigating Infantino’s use of a private jet paid for by FIFA.

Keller had not yet started formal proceedings in either case.

The Federal Criminal Court in Bellinzona “admitted Gianni Infantino’s request for recusal against Stefan Keller” in a decision taken last Friday and published on its website on Wednesday.

The judgement centred on four press communications and a statement to a legal journal by Keller, which, the court said in its judgement, did not constitute “objective, neutral and correct information in the public interest”.

“It appeared obvious that there was not only the mere appearance of a possible bias, but that he was in fact biased towards the applicant,” said the decision.

In particular, Keller had noted in mid-December “indications” that the FIFA boss had been guilty of “unfair management” for using a private jet, funded by the body, to fly between Suriname and Switzerland in 2017.

FIFA was quick to welcome the ruling.

READ ALSO: Hertha Berlin Dismiss Jans Lehmann For Racist Comment

“Mr Keller had clearly violated the presumption of innocence and damaged the standing of the FIFA President, contrary to his personal rights protected under the law,” it said in a statement.

Keller rejected the accusation in the ruling that he “communicated misleading and factually incorrect information”.

Keller said in his own statement that he would discuss the further procedure with the Office of the Attorney General of Switzerland (AB-BA) and with the Judicial Commission.

“It must be clarified what effects the decision from Bellinzona will have on the various proceedings as well as the other parties involved,” said his statement.

The Swiss Federal Criminal Court has not yet examined FIFA’s request for the “nullity of the procedural acts carried out so far”.

Infantino was being investigated for “incitement to abuse authority”, “violation of official secrecy” and “obstruction of criminal proceedings”.

Keller was appointed as “extraordinary prosecutor” in July last year to investigate suspicions of collusion between FIFA and the former head of the MPC, Michael Lauber.

The investigations focused on three secret meetings held in 2016 and 2017 between Lauber and Infantino.

Lauber resigned last summer while FIFA’s internal justice system cleared Infantino.

The executive Infantino just wanted to show Lauber how much FIFA had changed since the “corrupt” rule of his predecessor Sepp Blatter.

AFP