Alleged Smuggling: Court Fixes Sept 9, To Rule On Bail Applications Of Suspects

Logo of a court gavel

 

A Federal High Court sitting in Lagos has fixed September 9 to rule on whether to grant bail to a Nigerian, Isiaka Musa and two Guineans, Traore Djakouba (Yakubu) and Mohammed Berete.

They are being charged with conspiracy and attempting to smuggle large quantities of elephant tusks, pangolin scales and claws out of the country.

After listening to the arguments of the prosecuting and defence counsel on Wednesday, Justice Tijjani Ringim fixed the date for the ruling.

The court took arguments on whether the counter affidavit submitted by the Prosecuting agency, the Nigerian Customs Service was competent as a result of the failure to affix the NBA stamp of the prosecuting counsel on the court documents.

Ruling on the issue, Justice Ringim agreed with the legal adviser to the Nigerian Customs Service, Smart Akande, that shutting out the prosecution on this basis will amount to a technicality that will infringe on the agency’s fundamental rights.

Subsequently, the counsel on both sides took turns to argue the bail application.

The prosecutor, Smart Akande, in opposing bail submitted that there is compelling evidence to link the accused persons to the crime. He also argued that two of them are foreigners who may jump bail if granted.

READ ALSO: Court Orders Interim Forfeiture Of ₦5.3bn Linked To Firm In Kwara

He stressed that the only known address for the foreigners was the place of arrest in the Ajah area of Lagos which had been sealed up by officers of the Nigerian Customs Service and there was no known record of any other place where they can reside, a situation which makes the possibility of jumping bail higher.

In the likelihood that the court was minded granting bail, the prosecutor asked the court to impose stringent conditions which would guarantee their attendance at trial.

In countering the arguments, the defence counsel, Olayinka Lawal told the court that the defendants would not jump bail. He described as speculative the concerns that they would do so.

Lawal also drew the courts attention to the fact that the defendants had relatives and friends in the country, some of whom had deposed to affidavits attached to their bail applications.

He urged the court to exercise its discretion in their favour and grant bail which he said they were constitutionally entitled to enjoy.

After listening to the arguments, Justice Ringim adjourned till the 9th of September for his ruling.

Court Orders Interim Forfeiture Of ₦5.3bn Linked To Firm In Kwara

 

 

A Federal High Court in Lagos has ordered the interim forfeiture of the sum of ₦5,318,517,789 warehoused in a new generation bank.

Justice Tijjani Ringim made the order on Wednesday following an ex parte motion filed and argued by counsel to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Rotimi Oyedepo.

Oyedepo linked the sum to a firm, Kaiser Strategic Services Ltd, located at 9, Orioko Ilorin Kwara State.

He added that it was reasonably suspected to be proceeds of unlawful activity as the firm has no known business endeavor.

He told the court that the money was deposited in three bank accounts in tranches of ₦1,407,182,797.00, ₦2,275,525,493.17 and ₦1,635,809,499.31.

The lawyer asked the judge to forfeit the sum to the Federal Government for 14 days in the interim and subsequently, permanently.

To this end, he applied for an order of court “directing the publication in any national newspaper the interim order…to enable any interested party in the sum sought to be forfeited to appear before the court to show cause within 14 days why the final order of forfeiture of the funds should not be made in favour of the Federal Government of Nigeria”.

Oyedepo backed his application with a four-page affidavit sworn to by an EFCC investigator, Adamu Usman Yusuf.

Justice Ringim in a bench ruling granted the application.

He then adjourned till September 29, for a report of compliance.

According to the affidavit, Kaiser Strategic Services Ltd was incorporated on November 18, 2010, with a registered address at No. 9. Orioko Ilorin, Kwara State.

Yusuf said: “That there is no business endeavour in the said address. That the Company is not carrying out any legitimate business but rather was primarily procured to retain proceeds of unlawful activities.

“Upon incorporation of the Kaiser Strategic Services Ltd, a corporate account was opened. The account started witnessing huge cash deposits which are not proceeds of a legitimate business but rather represent funds reasonably suspected to be proceeds of unlawful activities.

“We invited the Managing Director of Kaiser Strategic Services Ltd vide a letter dated 3rd August 2021 which letter was acknowledged by one A. Muhamed.

“Till date, we have not received any objection or opposition from Kaiser Strategic Services Ltd to the Commission’s decision proceeding against the funds sought to be forfeited to the Federal Government of Nigeria, same having been reasonably suspected to be proceeds of unlawful activities.”

Maina To Remain In Custody As Court Rejects Fresh Bail Application

A file photo of Mr Abdulrasheed Maina

 

A Federal High Court in Abuja has refused to hear a fresh bail application filed by the former Chairman of the defunct Pension Reform Task Team, Abdulrasheed Maina.

The judge, Justice Ahmed Mohammed declined to hear the bail application filed by Maina’s lawyer, David Iorhemba, on the ground that it was contentious.

He ruled that the matter could not be heard during the court’s vacation and consequently returned the case to Justice Okon Abang who has been the trial judge in the substantive case, for hearing on the application when the court resumes from vacation.

Earlier in his argument, counsel to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Andrew Ocholi had opposed the application filed by Maina, saying he had filed a counter-affidavit and a preliminary objection to show that the applicant was no longer entitled to bail.

Maina is standing trial alongside his firm, Common Input Property and Investment Limited over a 12-count charge bordering on money laundering of over one billion naira, among other offences.

READ ALSO: Olawunmi Honours DIA’s Invitation, Storms Agency With Falana

The ex-pension boss was first arraigned on October 25, 2019, after which Justice Abang ordered that he be remanded in the Correctional Centre at Kuje, pending a hearing of his bail application.

He was subsequently released from the correctional centre in July after perfecting his bail conditions.

However, his bail was revoked on November 18, 2020 on the grounds that he jumped bail and was rearrested.

Upon his rearrest, he returned to court where the court ordered that he be returned to the custody of the correctional centre in Kuje until his trial was concluded.

With the development, his lawyer, Francis Oronsaye, withdrew from the case while his new lawyer, Anayo Adibe, filed another bail application.

However, in a ruling on February 28, Justice Abang refused to grant the application on the grounds that it was without merit and that Maina failed to place sufficient materials before the court to convince it that he deserved another bail.

He held that Maina did not deserve to be admitted to bail again after violating the conditions of the bail granted him earlier and later adjourned the matter until October 4 when the court would resume from its vacation.

Court Freezes Kogi Salary Account Over ₦20bn Bail-Out Loan

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

 

A Federal High Court sitting in Lagos has frozen a Kogi State salary bailout account domiciled in Sterling Bank Plc over a ₦20 billion loan obtained from the bank.

Justice Tijjani Ringim granted the order to freeze the account pending the conclusion of the investigation or possible prosecution by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

The EFCC had approached the court for the order in an ex-parte application brought pursuant to section 44 (2) of the Constitution and section 34(1) of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission Act.

Counsel to the EFCC, Abass Muhammed, told the court that the order was necessary so as to preserve the ‘res’ and abate further dissipation of the funds in the account.

In his submission, Muhammed informed the court that the ₦20 billion loan meant to augment the salary payment and running cost of the State Government was kept in an interest-yielding account with Sterling bank.

He added that instead of using the money for the purpose it was meant, Sterling Bank Plc acting on the instruction of the Kogi State Government transferred the money from the loan account and placed same in a fixed deposit account.

He concluded by saying that Sterling Bank Plc is yet to present any credible evidence to show that the facility is well secured.

READ ALSO: Buhari Urges Graduates To Apply For ‘20,000’ Jobs Programme

In his ruling granting the application, Justice Ringim directed the EFCC to publish the court order in a national newspaper. He also asked the commission to make a quarterly report to the court on the progress of its investigation.

The judge then adjourned the matter till December 1, for the report of investigation.

Background

The EFCC in its 13-paragraph affidavit in support of the ex-parte originating summons deposed to by a member of a team of investigators attached to the Chairman Monitoring Unit Lagos of the EFCC stated that the Commission received a credible and direct intelligence which led to the tracing of funds reasonably suspected to be proceeds of unlawful activities warehoused in account No. 0073572696 domiciled in Sterling Bank, Plc with the name Kogi State Salary Bailout Account

He said the Commission acted on the said intelligence and assigned same to the Chairman Monitoring Unit, where it was discovered that on April 1, 2019, the management of Sterling Bank Pic approved an offer of N20bn bailout loan facility for the Kogi State Government.

According to the deponent, in the June 19, 2019 fiscal year, the Kogi State Government, Ministry of Finance and Economic Development, Office of the Honourable Commissioner, applied for a Credit facility of Twenty Billion Naira N 20, 000,000,000, with an interest rate of 9 percent for a tenure of 240 months from Sterling Bank Plc”.

He added that the said facility was meant to augment the salary, payment and running cost of the State Government.

He stated further that on June 26, 2019, the credit facility offer was accepted vide a memorandum of acceptance signed by His Excellency, Yahaya Bello, the Executive Governor of Kogi State, Asiwaju Asiru Idris, the Commissioner of Finance Kogi State and one Alhaji Momoh Jibrin, Accountant General, Kogi State.

He stated that prior to the said application for the loan, Kogi State Government on the 19th June, 2019 vide a letter to the Manager Sterling Bank Plc, Lokoja applied for an account opening in the Bank with the name Kogi State Salary Bailout Account with Alhaji Momoh Jubril, Accountant General of the State and Elijah Evinemi, the Acting Director Treasury as the signatories to the said account.

“That upon the opening of the said account with No. 0072969301, Sterling bank Plc disbursed salary intervention loan to the tune of ₦20,000,000,000.00 to the account.

“That rather than use the intervention funds for the purpose for which it was granted, the State Government proceeded to open a fix deposit account No. 0073572696.

“That on the 25 day of July, 2019, Sterling Bank Plc acting on the instruction of the Kogi State Government transferred the money from the loan account and placed same on aforementioned fixed deposit account.

“That the said Account sought to be frozen received the Sum of Twenty Billion Naira, (₦20, 000,000,000) on the 25th July 2019.

“That as at 1st day of April, 2021 the balance standing to the credit of the said fixed deposit account was ₦19, 333, 333, 333.36 billion.

“That we are still tracing what the sum of ₦666,666,666.64bn has been deducted from the said funds and were not used for the payment of the salary.”

NBA Raises Alarm Over Conflicting Court Orders

Alleged $40m Fraud: Jonathan’s Cousin To Know Fate On May 27
A file photo of a Federal High Court.

 

The Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) has raised an alarm over the recurring trend of contradictory court decisions and orders, especially among courts of coordinate jurisdiction.

In a statement on Monday, the President of the Bar, Olumide Akpata, says such decisions typically arise from ex-parte applications and almost always in political matters.

He believes the recurring contradictory decisions of the courts, based on the apparently indiscriminate grant of orders and counter-orders – relating to the nomination of candidates by the major political parties for the forthcoming governorship election in Anambra State, and the equally embarrassing situation playing out in respect of the leadership crisis of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) that has seen three different contradictory rulings by courts of coordinate jurisdiction – leaves a lot to be desired.

“These are antithetical to the actualisation of the just society and independent judiciary that we all aspire to, and run contrary to everything we teach and hold dear as a profession,” Akpata said. “They do nothing but bring the judiciary and the system of administration of justice to ridicule.

“Before blaming the judges, we must first look inwards and call out our members, most of whom are senior members of the Bar, who continue to yield themselves to be used as willing tools by politicians to wantonly abuse the judicial process.

“In our view, these actions contravene the RPC esp Rule 1 which requires a lawyer to uphold and observe the rule of law, promote and foster the cause of justice, maintain a high standard of professional conduct, and not engage in any conduct unbecoming of a legal practitioner.”

According to the NBA President, the Bar agrees with Justice Chioma Nwosu-Iheme in her condemnation of the indulgence by some judicial officers of politicians who go round the country shopping for judgments, and thereby bring the judiciary to public ridicule.

“Beyond that, we shall say no more at this time,” he said. “I will on behalf of the NBA, urgently seek audience with My Lord, the Honourable Chief Justice of Nigeria to address this issue holistically.”

Akpata also sought the support of the NBA Judiciary Committee Chairman, Dr. Babatunde Ajibade, SAN; NBA-SLP Chairman, Mr Oluwaseun Abimbola, SAN; and NBA-SPIDEL Chairman, Dr Monday Ubani, for the proposed engagement.

“As the nation approaches its next round of general elections, the NBA cannot, and will not, be a spectator whilst our hard-earned democracy is threatened by the venal acts of a few.

“It can no longer be business as usual,” he averred.

SERAP Sues FG, Seeks Details Of ‘Payment Of ₦729bn To Poor Nigerians’

A photo combination of SERAP and the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disasters Management and Social Development, Sadia Umar-Farouk

 

The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has sued the Federal Government, asking for details of the ₦729bn payment to 24.3m poor Nigerians across the country.

SERAP Deputy Director, Kolawole Oluwadare, disclosed this in a statement issued on Sunday, adding that the suit with the number FHC/L/CS/853/2021 was filed at the Federal High Court in Lagos.

He said the group is seeking “an order directing and compelling the Federal Government to clarify whether the proposed payment to poor Nigerians is part of the ₦5.6 trillion budget deficits.”

SERAP wants the court “to compel the Federal Government to disclose details of proposed payments of ₦729bn to 24.3 million poor Nigerians, including the mechanisms and logistics for the payments, list of beneficiaries, and how they have been selected, and whether the payments will be made in cash or through Bank Verification Numbers or other means”.

The suit followed the group’s Freedom of Information (FoI) request to the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Sadiya Umar-Farouk.

READ ALSO: Nigerians ‘Will Miss Him’: Buhari Mourns Sir Victor Uwaifo

It is asking the minister to disclose “the details of beneficiaries and selection criteria, as well as the payment plan [which] would promote transparency and accountability, and remove the risks of mismanagement and diversion of public funds”.

“Providing support and assistance to poor Nigerians is a human rights obligation but the programme to spend five percent of the 2021 budget, which is mostly based on deficit and borrowing, requires anti-corruption safeguards to ensure the payments go directly to the intended beneficiaries, and that public funds are not mismanaged or diverted,” the statement added.

“The Nigerian Constitution of 1999 [as amended], UN Convention against Corruption, and African Union Convention on Preventing and Combating Corruption to which Nigeria is a state, require the government to set the highest standards of transparency, accountability and probity in programmes that it oversees.

“The government has a responsibility to ensure that these requirements and other anti-corruption controls are fully implemented and monitored and that the payments are justified in light of the huge budget deficit and borrowing, and whether there are better ways to spend N729bn to support poor Nigerians.”

No date has been fixed for the hearing of the suit.

Court Upholds FRSC’s Power To Fine Motorists

File photo of the Federal High Court in Abuja.

 

A Federal High Court in Abuja has upheld the powers of the Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC) to fine motorists for alleged traffic offences without first prosecuting them in a court of law.

Justice Taiwo Taiwo gave the decision on August 27, 2021, while dismissing a suit by a motorist, Dr Mohammed Suleiman, seeking N10 Million as damages from the FRSC for the detention of his car.

Suleiman filed the suit following the detention of his car, for, among others, his making a call in his car while driving.

He sought nine reliefs, including a declaration that a fair hearing was not achieved by the FRSC issuing a ticket to him to pay a fine, since the defendants were the complainants, prosecutors and the judge in their cause and consequently the fine he paid was unlawful.

He further sought a declaration that the defendants, not being courts of law, lacked the competence to find people guilty of offences.

READ ALSO: 31 Inmates Of Kano Correctional Centre Regain Freedom

In another instance, he prayed for a declaration that the defendants lacked the competence to detain his Toyota Picnic car,  for the fulfilment of the condition of proving his innocence of the violation of any of the provisions of the FRSC Act, 2010 and or the Federal Road Safety Rules, 2012.

The plaintiff also asked the court to strike out Rules 174(1) and (2), 176, 188(1) and (2), 189(2), 211(4) 213(2), 218, 219 and 220 of the FRSC regulation 2012.

In dismissing the claims for want of merit, Justice Taiwo Taiwo held that contrary to the plaintiff’s claim, the practice whereby road marshals issue tickets to motorists on allegation of the commission of offences under the National Road Traffic Regulations, 2012 and demand ‘offenders’ to pay a fine, did not offend section 6(6) of the Constitution, Rules 166 and 220 of the National Road Traffic Regulations.

He noted that the matter had already been settled by Tijani Abubakar JCA (as he then was) at the Court of Appeal, Lagos Division in the 2019 case of Olookan v FRSC.

Justice Taiwo also noted that Suleiman did not deny making a call in his car but that his phone was connected to his car.

He said: “It is borne out of the facts presented by both parties before the court that the Plaintiff was issued with a Notice of Offence and that the plaintiff actually paid the fine. I see no wrong done to the plaintiff who elected to pay the fine rather than being prosecuted.

“The Court of Appeal, Lagos Division has decided this issue is similar to the complaint of the plaintiff herein in the case of Olookan v FRSC (2019).

“Permit me to reproduce the decision of Lord Tijani Abubakar JCA (as he then was), which to my mind has laid to rest the complaint of the plaintiff as to payment of the fine:

‘I do not think I need to add any of my reasoning to the decision of my Lord Tijani Abubakar JCA (as he then was) which has decided the issues as to the payment of the fine which constitutes a waiver by the plaintiff to so do in order not to be charged to court.

“It is my conclusion therefore that all the issues for determination ought to and are hereby resolved against the plaintiff herein from my analysis of the issues vis a vis the law and decided cases cited in this judgement.

“Therefore, all the reliefs being sought are hereby refused whether in the main or consequentially.

“On the release of the vehicle of the plaintiff, and his claim for general and exemplary damages in the sum of N10,000,000, his entitlement to this claim has not been proved by the plaintiff.

“All he stated was that his vehicle was detained illegally from the 4th of July 2019 till the time the case was filed. It is not on record as to when the vehicle was released to him, especially after the payment of the fine. The law is clear as to when the 1st defendant must release the vehicle lawfully impounded. It is trite law that the court cannot make up a case for any of the parties before it and the court is also not a Father Christmas to give unto anyone as it pleases.

“In concluding this judgment I think it proper to state that no reasonable court of law will set aside a law that is justiciable in a democratic society like the Regulations made pursuant to the Act establishing the 1st and 2nd defendants.

“These regulations are made in the interest of defence of public safety, public order and public morality. All hands must be on deck to ensure that the highways are safe for all motorists, road users and all the members of the public.

“Therefore, I find no merit in the suit filed by the Plaintiff. Same is accordingly dismissed. This is the judgement of the court.”

UPDATED: Court Orders Resident Doctors To Suspend Nationwide Strike

A file photo of doctors during a protest.

 

The Abuja Division of the National Industrial Court (NIC) has ordered the National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) to suspend its ongoing nationwide strike, the Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment has said.

According to a statement by the ministry’s spokesperson, Charles Akpan, the court presided by Justice John Targema gave the order on Monday afternoon.

This followed an ex-parte motion filed on Friday last week by the Federal Ministry of Health, seeking an order of interlocutory injunction restraining members of NARD from further continuing the industrial action pending the determination of the substantive suit.

The heath ministry stated that the strike which began on August 2 was contrary to Section 41 of the Trade Dispute Act.

The motion brought under Suit No: NICN/ABJ/197/2021 has the Federal Ministry of Health and the Federal Government as first and second claimants/applicants and NARD as the only defendant/respondent.

During proceedings on Monday, according to Akpan, the court heard the motion ex-parte and affidavit in support sworn by the Director of Legal Services at the health ministry, Ahmed Nasiru.

He revealed that Justice Targema granted an order of interlocutory injunction, compelling all members of the defendants/respondents in all the states of the Federation to suspend the industrial action and resume work immediately, pending the determination of the substantive suit.

“The court held that the continued downing of tools by the striking doctors have inflicted a lot of damage on the health system and the sick, especially in this perilous time of COVID-19 pandemic,” the statement said.

“Targema further ordered that the claimant/applicant and the defendant/respondent suspend all forms of hostilities forthwith pending the hearing and determination of the motion on notice.

“The judge adjourned the matter to September 15, 2021 for the hearing of the motion on notice and any other pending application.

In his reaction, the Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, described the court ruling as a welcome development.

He, however, reassured the affected doctors that the ruling would not prevent the Federal Ministry of Health, Federal Ministry of Finance, Budget Office of the Federation (BOF), Office of the Head of Service of the Federation (OHOCSF) and the National Salaries, Incomes and Wages and Commission (NSIWC) from the implementation of the agreements contained in the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) reached at the last meeting with the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) and affiliate associations with timelines affixed to them.

The NMA had led three doctors’ associations to the negotiation that lasted several hours on Friday after a series of negotiations between the government and the doctors failed.

SERAP Sues Buhari, Others Over Alleged Missing ₦106bn In 149 MDAs

A photo combination of SERAP and President Muhammadu Buhari

 

The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has sued President Muhammadu Buhari “over his failure to probe allegations that N106bn of public funds are missing from 149 ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs), and to ensure the prosecution of those suspected to be responsible, and the recovery of any missing public funds”.

The suit followed allegations by the Office of the Auditor-General of the Federation in his 2018 annual audited report that over ₦105 billion of public funds are missing, misappropriated, or unaccounted for across 149 MDAs.

Joined in the suit filed by SERAP were the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation; Abubakar Malami and Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed.

In the suit number FHC/ABJ/CS/903/2021 filed last week at the Federal High Court in Abuja, the group asked the court to “direct and compel President Buhari to promptly investigate the alleged missing N106bn of public funds, ensure prosecution of anyone suspected to be responsible and the full recovery of any missing public money”.

READ ALSO: Ooni Condemns Killing Of Farmers, Says Attack Not Linked To Ife/Modakeke Clashes

SERAP argued that recovering the alleged missing public funds would reduce the pressure on the Federal Government to borrow more money to fund the budget, enable the authorities to meet the country’s constitutional and international obligations, and reduce the growing level of public debts.

“Directing and compelling President Buhari to ensure the investigation and prosecution of the alleged grand corruption documented by the Auditor-General would be entirely consistent with the government’s own commitment to fight corruption, improve the integrity of MDAs, and serve the public interest,” the statement issued by SERAP’s Deputy Director, Kolawole Oluwadare partly read.

“The alleged missing public funds have hampered the ability of the indicted MDAs to meet the needs of average citizens, as the missing funds could have helped the government to invest in key public goods and services, and to improve access of Nigerians to these goods and services.”

In addition, the group wants the court to compel the president “to publish full details of the yearly budgets of all MDAs, and issue regular updates that detail their expenditures, including by making any such information easily accessible in a form that can be understood by the public”.

No date has been fixed for the hearing of the suit.

Conflicting Judgements Will Have Far-Reaching Consequences On Our Electoral Processes, INEC Warns

A file photo of an INEC official carrying a bag with electoral materials.

 

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has again raised an alarming over conflicting court judgements on electoral matters.

INEC National Commissioner and Chairman of Information and Voter Education Committee, Mr Festus Okoye, believes such a trend poses a serious threat to the nation’s electoral system if it is allowed to continue.

“What is going on is what in legal parlance, we call ‘forum shopping’ — people who are looking for a place where they can get a favourable decision,” he said on Friday when he featured as a guest on Channels Television’s Politics Today.

“I believe that it is important for the Nigerian Bar Association and for the judiciary to intervene in what is going on because if this spate of multiple and conflicting court orders is carried forward to the 2023 general elections, it is going to have far-reaching consequences on our electoral process.”

The INEC spokesman referenced the events in the build-up to the governorship election in Anambra State scheduled to hold on November 6, 2021.

He decried the situation where the electoral umpire received multiple court orders as a result of the actions of politicians who he said were shopping for favourable judgements.

Okoye, however, stated that the laws of the land do not empower a court to stop an election or political party primaries.

He explained that Section 285 of the Constitution fundamentally gave the definition of pre-election matter.

According to the INEC official, a pre-election matter can only be filed by an aspirant in a party primary election or by a political party that complains about the breach of the decisions of the electoral umpire or the Electoral Act.

“For a party primary that took place in Anambra, for instance, some people will go to Bauchi State, some people will go to Jigawa State, some people will go to Imo state and to other places to go and look for a place where they can get a favourable decision,” he said.

“So, I think that all the institutions that are concerned must intervene, and courts must not donate their jurisdiction, donate their forum for people who engage in forum shopping.

“By so doing, some persons may at the end bring the institution of the judiciary to disrepute and that will not augur well for our democracy and for our electoral process.”

Evans Loses N200m Suit Against Police In Appeal Court

This file photo shows Evans after he was arrested in 2017.

 

The Court of Appeal, Lagos Division has dismissed an appeal filed by suspected kidnapper Chukwudumeme Onwuamadike, popularly known as Evans, challenging the seizure of his 25 trucks by the Nigerian Police.

Three justices of the court dismissed Evans’ appeal for lacking in merit when the matter came up on Thursday.

Justice Joseph Ikyegh read the lead judgment which was supported by other members of the panel – Justice Abubakar Umar and Justice Onyekachi Otisi.

He held that the search warrant issued and executed in line with Section 144 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act of Nigeria, 2015 empowered the police to recover the trucks.

The judge also held that Section 153 of the Administration of Criminal Justice of Nigeria 2015, permits the police to retain proceeds of crime until the case is disposed of.

He stated that these sections were in line with section 44(1)(k) of the Constitution of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended), which permits the temporary seizure of property for the purpose of investigation or for restitution.

Justice Ikyegh also held that since the trial was still pending, the word ‘confiscate’ as used by Evans’ counsel was not appropriate in this circumstance.

Consequently, he upheld the decision of Justice Hadiza Rabiu-Shagari of Federal High Court and dismissed Evans’ appeal for lacking in merit.

At the Federal High Court, Evans had accused the Inspector-General of Police and four others of unlawfully seizing his 25 trucks and converting same to their own.

The other four respondents are the Nigeria Police Force (NPF), Inspector-General of Police Response Team (IRT), Lagos State Commissioner of Police, and Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS).

Through his counsel, Olukoya Ogungbeje, Evans alleged that the said trucks were seized from him without a court order, as the police forcefully confiscated the trucks from him since June 15, 2017.

He asked the court to award N200 million as general and exemplary damages against the police for the alleged violation of his rights under Sections 36, 43, and 44 of the 1999 Constitution.

But the police, through their counsel, Emmanuel Eze, asked the court to dismiss the suit as the trucks were proceeds of crime and exhibits.

In a counter-affidavit put before the court, Inspector Haruna Idowu, said the suspect acquired 11 trucks with proceeds of crime, adding that 10 of them were recovered by the police.

He added that the trucks were listed as exhibits in the criminal charges filed against Evans at the Lagos State High Court.

“The applicant is the notorious and most dreaded armed robber and kidnapper known as Evans, who defiled police arrest for over 10 years and who had terrorised many states of Nigeria with his various gang members,” the policeman told the court.

“The applicant has no other source of livelihood except armed robbery and kidnapping, as so many arms and ammunition were recovered from the applicant during his arrest. The applicant had purchased various properties with proceeds of armed robbery and kidnapping.

“He purchased 11 trucks with proceeds of crime. The police recovered 10 in Lagos while they were able to tow the remaining one from Anambra State to Lagos due to the fact that the applicant’s brother-in-law, Mr Okwuchukwu Obiechina, and his wife had tampered with the brain box of the truck in a bid to pervert the course of justice.”

In a judgement delivered on April 19, 2019, Justice Rabiu-Shagari of the Federal High court dismissed Evans’ suit for lacking in merit.

Dissatisfied with the judgment, Evans through his lawyer, Ogungbeje, approached the appeal court.

But the police through its counsel, Mr Eze Esq, also filed a counter to the appeal and urged the court to dismiss the appeal.

UPDATED: Court Orders Shell To Pay Ogoni People N45.9bn Fine In 21 Days

A combination of file photos of a gavel and a logo of Shell Petroleum Company.

 

A Federal High Court sitting in Abuja has ordered Shell Petroleum Company to pay the sum of N45.9 billion to the people of Ogoni in Rivers State.

Justice Ahmed Mohammed who gave the order on Wednesday held that the money must be paid within 21 days.

The sum is a cost awarded against the company several years ago for oil spillage in Ogoniland.

In his submission, Counsel to Shell Petroleum Company, Aham Ejelamo, informed the court that his client had agreed to make the payment.

He proposed that the money be paid through the Registrar of the court in a bank about to be opened for the purpose.

But Justice Mohammed ruled against the request and ordered that the payment be made within the period given through the account of the lawyer to the Ogoni people, Mr Lucius Nwosu.

 

He explained that this was in line with the decision of both the high court and the Supreme Court.

Ogoniland is located in the south-east senatorial district of Rivers in the nation’s Niger Delta region.

Its people – who share common oil-related environmental problems with the Ijaw people – have been victims of oil spillage for several years.

Their plights caught international attention following a massive public protest campaign against Shell Petroleum Company, led by the Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP) – a body that is a member of the Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organisation (UNPO).

The case between the Ogoni people and shell has lasted for about 31 years.

A Lagos Division of the Federal High Court presided by Justice Ibrahim Buba awarded the cost against Shell Petroleum Company in a judgement delivered on June 14, 2010, for the sufferings inflicted on the people of Ogoniland.

After several years of legal tussle, the Supreme Court upheld the judgement of the lower court – but Shell Petroleum Company was not satisfied as it sought for some considerations.

When the matter came up on Wednesday, Justice Mohammed explained that it would amount to burying the judgement of the apex court to rule otherwise.