Alleged N544m Fraud: EFCC Re-Arraigns Ex-SGF Babachir Lawal, Others

cabal, presidency, SGF, Babachir Lawal
A file photo of former SGF, Babachir Lawal.

 

A former Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr Babachir Lawal, and six others have been re-arraigned at the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) in Jabi, Abuja.

Lawal and others appeared before Justice Charles Agbaza on Monday over an alleged fraudulent N544m grass cutting contract.

The defendants were brought to the court by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) which filed charges against them.

When the amended 10 counts of fraud were read to them before the judge, all the defendants again pleaded not guilty.

READ ALSO: Buhari Sacks Babachir Lawal, NIA DG, Appoints New SGF

The re-arraignment, which is the second time since the case started, followed the death of the former trial judge, Justice Jude Okeke, on August 4, 2020.

The defendants were initially arraigned before Justice Jude Okeke on February 13, 2019 – about one and half years after President Muhammadu Buhari sacked Lawal as the SGF.

Other defendants included the younger brother of the former SGF, Hamidu Lawal, as well as Suleiman Abubakar, Apeh Monday, and two companies – Rholavision Engineering Ltd and Josmon Technologies Ltd.

With the defendants’ plea of not guilty to the charges, the defence lawyers pleaded with the judge to allow their clients to continue to enjoy the bail already granted them by the former judge.

In his ruling, Justice Agbaza adjourned the case until January 20 to 22, 2021, for the trial of the defendants.

The EFCC claimed in the 10 counts, among others, that the defendants fraudulently converted cumulative proceeds of grass cutting contracts worth over N500 million which the former SGF allegedly awarded to the companies in which he had interests.

Lawal, and another top government official – the former Director-General of the National Intelligence Agency (NIA), Ambassador Ayodele Oke, were hit with corruption allegations which led to their suspension in 2017.

While Lawal was suspended for allegedly violating the law and due process in the award of contracts under the Presidential Initiative on the North East (PINE), Oke was suspended after the EFCC discovered a huge amount of foreign and local currencies in a residential apartment in the Osborne Towers, Ikoyi, Lagos.

Days after the EFCC made the discovery, the NIA claimed that the funds belonged to it and that they were meant for a covert operation, but the apartment was later discovered to belong to Oke’s wife.

This prompted President Buhari to set up a panel chaired by the Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, to investigate the allegation against both men.

On August 23, 2017, the investigative committee submitted its report with recommendations to the President, but President Buhari did not take a decision until after two months.

Lagos Court Jails Four Oil Thieves, Orders Forfeiture Of Vessel to FG

This image shows four persons who were convicted by a federal high in Lagos for oil theft on November 27, 2020.
This image shows four persons who were convicted by a federal high in Lagos for oil theft on November 27, 2020.

 

A federal high court in Lagos has jailed four persons for oil theft and ordered the seizure of a vessel involved in the crime, a statement from the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) said on Friday.

The convicts, Ukwuoma Ahamefula, Omeogor Nelson, Efemuaya Evans, and Jude Eghreriniovo, were arrested sometime in December 2019 onboard a vessel, MV Tim Begele, by the Nigerian Navy and subsequently handed over to the EFCC for further investigation and prosecution, the statement said.

READ ALSO: Nine Arrested Over Killing Of Nasarawa APC Chairman

They were, however, arraigned alongside the vessel on March 4,2020 on a three-count charge bordering on illegal dealing in 369 metric tons of Automotive Gas Oil (AGO) without appropriate license, to which they initially pleaded not guilty.

One of the counts reads: “That you, MV Tim Begele, Ukwuoma Ahamefula, Omeogor Nelson, Efemuaya Evans, Jude Eghreriniovo and others now at large on the 3rd of December, 2019, within the jurisdiction of this honourable court, conspired among yourselves to commit an offence to wit: dealing in 3,911 metric tons of petroleum products without appropriate licence; and you, thereby, committed an offence contrary to Section 3(6) of the Miscellaneous Offences Act, Cap M17, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004 and punishable under Section 1(17) of the same Act.”

However, on November 25, 2020, the defendants changed their plea from ‘’not guilty’ to ‘guilty’.

Consequently, the defendants were convicted accordingly by the court.

Justice A.M. Liman, in a short ruling, ordered that the terms of imprisonment of the convicts would run retrospectively from the date of the arrest to November 25, 2020.

The Judge also ordered the vessel and the product aboard to be forfeited to the Federal Government of Nigeria.

Kaduna Court Convicts Man For N1.5m Land Scam

A file photo of a court gavel.

 

Justice Muhammad Tukur of the Kaduna State High Court on Wednesday convicted and sentenced one Auwal Aliyu for land fraud.

Aliyu was prosecuted by the Kaduna Zonal Office of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on amended one count of obtaining by false pretence to the tune of N1.5 million from his victim, Sa’ad Bello.

The charge read, “That you, Aliyu Auwal Aliyu (“m”), sometime in July 2019, within the jurisdiction of this honourable court, dishonestly misappropriated and converted to you own use the sum of N1,500,000 (One Million Five Hundred Thousand Naira), belonging to Sa’ad Ahmadu Bello and thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 293 of the Kaduna State Penal Code Law, 2017 and punishable under Section 294 of the same Law.”

READ ALSO: Senate Considers Buhari’s Request To Confirm Ex-INEC Chairman’s Reappointment

When the charge was read to him, Aliyu pleaded guilty while the prosecution counsel, P.C. Onyeneho, urged the court to convict him accordingly.

The judge convicted Aliyu, but sentenced him to a fine of N,1000, noting that he had restituted his victim the sum of N1.5 million he lost in the scam.

Trouble started for Aliyu following a petition in which his victim alleged that he sold a plot of land to him at the cost of N1.5 million, which did not belong to him.

The land is located in the New Millennium City in Kaduna State.

Saraki Bought Lagos Properties With Kwara Funds, EFCC Tells Court

A file photo of former Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki.

 

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has told a Federal High Court sitting in Lagos that former Senate President, Bukola Saraki used Kwara State Government funds to pay off loans he obtained from Guarantee Trust Bank Plc, for the purchase of two properties in Lagos.

The allegation was made by an Investigating officer with the EFCC, Olamide Sadik who testified on Wednesday in a suit filed by the commission, seeking to seize and forfeit to the Government, two properties situated at 17 & ‪17A, McDonald Road, Ikoyi, Lagos, belonging to Saraki.

Sadik also told Justice Mohammed Liman, that that sometime in 2009 his boss, who was the Zonal Head for the EFCC, Ilorin Zone asked him to join an ongoing investigation of some properties linked to the former Senate President, who was also a former Governor of Kwara State.

The EFCC investigator claimed that he commenced the investigation by inviting an employee of GTB, Bayo Abdulrahaman Daudu to produce Saraki’s statement of account.

The witness testified that in the course of his interaction with Dauda, he recovered an offer letter for loans obtained by Saraki for the purchase of the two properties from the Presidential Committee for the sales of Government Properties.

Sadik said that there was evidence that the loans were disbursed by the bank on behalf of Saraki to the Presidential Committee for Sales of Government Properties through bank drafts.

He also claimed that he interrogated a Cashier with the Government House, Hafeez Yusuf, “who was persistently withdrawing money from the Kwara State government house account with Access Bank PLC.”

The EFCC operative added that from his investigation and interaction with Yusuf, he discovered that one Abdul Adama, a domestic servant to Saraki “usually and constantly withdraws cash from the government and pays same to Saraki’s account with GTBank and the same government funds was then used to repay the loan obtained from GTBank.

“EFCC investigation also revealed that Adama was collecting an average of N100 million monthly and depositing same into Saraki’s personal account which was eventually used to repay the loans obtained from GTB to purchase the properties in Lagos,” the witness said.

READ ALSO: Senate To Invite Communications Minister Over Nigeria’s Security Challenges

The witness also alleged that to beat the Anti- Money Laundering Act, the money was deliberately being structured and this led the bank to write the Financial Intelligent Unit (FIU) to complain about the way the money was being paid into the account.

“The summary of our investigation is that Dr Bukola Saraki obtained loans from GTB to buy the properties, but repaid the loans from money being collected by Abdul Adama, his domestic aide and other unidentified people,” he maintained.

Before Sadik’s testimony, the Chief Accountant at the Kwara State Government House, Hafis Yusuf had told the court that he gave monies to Abdul Adama on the instruction of his boss, Isiaka Kareem, a former Controller of Account and Finance.

But during cross-examination by Saraki’s counsel, Kehinde Ogunwomiju (SAN), the two witnesses told the court that they did not have any interface with the former Senate President.

Sadik specifically said that he did not investigate the Kwara State budget, neither did he know what the money was used for.

After the EFCC concluded its oral evidence as ordered by the court, counsel to Saraki, told the court that he relied on the evidence of the anti-graft agency as their defence in the suit.

Justice Liman has refused an application by the EFCC seeking to subpoena one of Saraki’s allies, Kennedy Izuagbe, to give evidence as to the affidavit he deposed to in response to the suit.

The judge has also adjourned till December 16, for the adoption of parties’ final written addresses in the suit.

EFCC Receives Four Suspected Oil Thieves From Navy

The four suspected oil thieves were handed over to the EFCC by the Nigerian Navy on November 24, 2020.

 

The Nigerian Navy has handed over four suspected oil thieves to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) in Rivers State.

They are Ebenezer Afonka (captain), Bernard Umor (engineer), Kingsley Monday, and Ishmael Willy, the EFCC Head of Media and Publicity, Wilson Uwujaren, disclosed in a statement.

The Port Harcourt Zonal Office of the anti-graft agency received the suspects from the navy on Tuesday alongside a vessel – MV Captain Samuel.

Commander S.G. Muhammed, who handed over the suspects and the vessel, disclosed that they were arrested on October 24 by the Nigerian Navy Ship (NNS) Pathfinder for their alleged involvement in illegal oil bunkering.

READ ALSO: Six Foreigners, Nigerian Sentenced To Seven Years In Prison For Oil Theft

Two Nigerian Navy officers and an EFCC officer pose for a photograph in Rivers State on November 24, 2020.

 

At the time of arrest, he noted that the vessel was laden with an unspecified quantity of substance suspected to be illegally refined Automotive Gas Oil (AGO), also known as diesel.

The representative of the Head of EFCC Port Harcourt Zonal Office, Tasui Abubakar, received the suspects and the vessel on behalf of the commission.

Abubakar, who is also the Head of the Counter-Terrorism and General Investigation (CTGI), assured the navy that justice would be served on the matter.

Uwujaren noted that the EFCC had begun investigating the suspects and would charge them to court upon the conclusion of its probe.

The vessel seized by the Nigerian Navy was handed over to the EFCC in Rivers State on November 24, 2020.

 

This comes a day after a Federal High Court in Port Harcourt, Rivers State convicted and sentenced six foreigners and a Nigerian to seven years imprisonment for oil theft.

Justice Kolawole Omotosho gave the sentence after three years of prosecution of the convicts by the EFCC.

The convicts included Mohammed Ejaz and Nasser Khan – Pakistanis; Oleksandr Nazarenko and Oleksandr Kashernvi – Ukrainians; Romeo Annang – Ghanaian, Fredrik Omenu – Indonesian; and David Otuohi – Nigerian.

A combination of photos of the foreigners and Nigerian sentenced by the court in Rivers State on November 23, 2020.

Court Jails Sisters 10 Years Over N1.7m Scam

A combination of the two sisters convicted by a court in Kaduna State on November 24, 2020.

 

The Kaduna State High Court has convicted and sentenced the duo of Maryam Jallo and Rukaiya Jallo to 10 years imprisonment for offences bordering on criminal breach of trust.

Justice Muhammad Tukur sentenced Maryam and Rukaiya, who are siblings, on Tuesday, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) said.

EFCC Head of Media and Publicity, Wilson Uwujaren, noted in a statement that both sisters were prosecuted on an amended count by the Kaduna Zonal office of the commission.

READ ALSO: How Nigeria Will Become A Net Exporter Of Petrol, Others – Buhari

The charge read, “that you Maryam Jallo and Rukaiya Jallo on the 30th day of March, 2019 in Kaduna within the judicial division of this honourable court, while being entrusted with the sum of One Million Seven Hundred Thousand Naira (N1,700,000) only by one Alhaji Badamasi Shanono and Adio Bukar Hashia for medical treatment of one Usman Umar dishonestly misappropriated same and you thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 293 of the Kaduna State Penal Code Law, 2017 and punishable under Section 294 of the Same Law”.

The defendants pleaded ‘guilty’ to the amended charge preferred against them.

Justice Tukur, thereafter, convicted and sentenced them to 10 years imprisonment with an option of N100,000 fine.

In a petition to the anti-graft agency, Shanono alleged that in 2019, Jamal Health Foundation – owned by the convicts – used its social media platform in soliciting donations and contributions from donors for the medical expenses of one Usman Umar who had been bedridden for over two years as a result of partial paralyses.

The petitioner claimed he donated N1 million to the foundation, while N700,000 was chipped in by a woman.

He added that Jamal Foundation refused to hand over the funds to the patient but converted it to personal use.

Ex-Banker Jailed 17 Years For Fraud, To Refund N93m

A combination of photos of Rabiu Dawaki, released by the EFCC on November 23, 2020.

 

The Kano State High Court has convicted a former banker, Rabiu Dawaki, of charges of conspiracy and criminal breach of trust.

Justice Dije Aboki convicted Dawaki in her judgement on Monday and ordered him to restitute N93,232,500.

Mr Wilson Uwujaren who is the spokesman for the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) disclosed this in a statement.

Dawaki was arraigned alongside two others – Abdullahi Rano and Samuel Obende – who are now deceased on 28 counts of conspiracy and criminal breach of trust.

READ ALSO: Court Orders Senator Ndume To Be Remanded In Prison After Failing To Produce Maina

The three defendants, all former employees of an old generation bank, were responsible for receiving, processing, and distributing money to all their bank’s cash centres across Kano, Katsina, and Jigawa States.

They were, however, said to have betrayed the trust of their employers and conspired among themselves to defraud the bank by diverting the funds to their own use.

The convict, alongside his co-defendants, reportedly altered figures to show that they made cash deliveries to designated branches whereas the monies were never delivered.

When they were arraigned on February 26, 2015, Dawaki and his co-defendants pleaded not guilty to the charges, thereby setting the stage for the full trial.

But Dawaki’s co-defendants died and their names were subsequently removed from the charge.

The prosecution called seven witnesses to prove the case against the convict, while the defendant called six witnesses, including himself.

In her judgment, Justice Aboki found Dawaki guilty of seven counts of the charge and convicted him accordingly.

She, however, acquitted him on 21 counts.

The judge convicted the defendant on count one which bordered on conspiracy and counts two, 11, 22, 24, 25, and 26, all of which bordered on criminal breach of trust.

On counts one, 11, 22, 24, 25, and 26, the convict was sentenced to two years imprisonment and a fine of N200,000 on each.

On count two, he was sentenced to five years imprisonment and a fine of N200,000.

Justice Aboki noted that sentence on counts two and 11 were to run consecutively while counts one, 22, 24, 25, and 26 would run concurrently.

Six Foreigners, Nigerian Sentenced To Seven Years In Prison For Oil Theft

A combination of photos of the foreigners and Nigerian sentenced by the court in Rivers State on November 23, 2020.

 

The Federal High Court sitting in Port Harcourt, Rivers State has convicted and sentenced six foreigners and a Nigerian to seven years imprisonment for oil theft.

Justice Kolawole Omotosho gave the sentence on Monday after three years of prosecution of the convicts by the Port Harcourt Zonal Office of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

They include Mohammed Ejaz and Nasser Khan – Pakistanis; Oleksandr Nazarenko and Oleksandr Kashernvi – Ukrainians; Romeo Annang – Ghanaian, Fredrik Omenu – Indonesian; and David Otuohi – Nigerian.

The convicts were arraigned on Tuesday for oil theft alongside four other persons – Victor Mikpayi (Beninois), Francis Ahorlu and Kwesi Attah (Ghanaians), and Victor Azebiri (Nigerian).

READ ALSO: Court Orders Senator Ndume To Be Remanded In Prison After Failing To Produce Maina

But the four others were discharged and acquitted by the court.

They were all docked alongside a company – Asztral Shipping Corporation SA, and a Vessel, MT. TECNE (also known as MT STAR), on four counts of conspiracy, dealing in petroleum products without a licence and tampering with oil pipelines.

When the charges were read to them, all the defendants pleaded not guilty to them.

Their pleas prepared grounds for their trial that lasted three years during which the EFCC presented evidence and witnesses who testified against the defendants in court.

In his judgment on Monday,  Justice Omotosho found the second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh, and eleventh defendants guilty of all the four charges and sentenced them to seven years imprisonment, with an option of fine of N2 million each.

According to the court, the sentences run concurrently from their date of arraignment.

On the other hand, the first, eighth, ninth, and tenth defendants were discharged and acquitted on the ground that “they were not linked to the commission of the crime”.

The company involved in the crime – Asztral Shipping Corporation SA – was wound up by the court while the vessel carrying the offensive crude oil was forfeited to the Federal Government.

The suspected oil thieves ran into troubled waters when their ship was intercepted by the Nigerian Navy Ship (NNS) DELTA on April 25, 2017, at Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC), Afremo ‘A’ Terminal, South East of Escravos in Burutu Local Government Area of Delta State.

The ship was seized for illegal loading of petroleum products suspected to be crude oil.

Members of the crew, according to the EFCC, connived with Victor Azeberi, one Peter Ala, and David Ogoma (who is at large), to siphon about 1905.836 cubic litres of crude oil.

The ship had no clearance from relevant Nigerian maritime agencies to navigate in Nigerian waters and all the foreign crew on board the ship had no valid documents to enter the country.

Count one of the charges read, “That you Victor Azebiri, David Otuhohi, Mohammed Ejaz, Naseer Khan, Oleksandr Nazarenko, Oleksandr Kashernvi, Romeo Annang, Francis Ahorlu, Kwesi Attah, Victor Mikpayi, Frederik Fatin Omenu, Astral Shipping Corporation SA, MT TECNE a.k.a MT STAR (Vessel), Peter Ala (at large), David Ogoma, a.k.a Ambassador (at large) and others now at large, on or about the 20th and/or 25th day of April 2017 at Escravos within the jurisdiction of this honourable court did conspire among yourselves to commit felony to wit: distribute, deal in, or with petroleum product without appropriate licence and thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 3(6) of the Miscellaneous Offences Act CAP M17 of the Revised Edition (Laws of the Federation of Nigeria) 2007 and Punishable under Section 1(17) of the same Act”.

Another count read, “That you Victor Azebiri, David Otuhohi, Mohammed Ejaz, Naseer Khan, Oleksandr Nazarenko, Oleksandr Kashernvi, Romeo Annang, Francis Ahorlu, Kwesi Attah, Victor Mikpayi, Frederik Fatin Omenu, Astral Shipping Corporation SA, MT TECNE a.k.a MT STAR (Vessel), Peter Ala (At large), David Ogoma, a.k.a Ambassador (at large) and others now at large, on or about the 25th day of April 2017 at Escravos within the jurisdiction of this honourable court did without appropriate authority or licence distribute, deal in, or with petroleum product to wit:1905.836 cubic litres of crude oil conveyed in a vessel christened “MT TECNE” (VESSEL) and thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 1(17) (a) of the Miscellaneous Offences  Act CAP M17 of the Revised Edition (Laws of the Federation of Nigeria) 2007 and Punishable under Section 1(17) of the same Act”.

Trial Of Ex-Niger Governor, Aide Over Alleged N2bn Fraud Stalled

A file photo of a court gavel.

 

The trial of former Niger State Governor, Babangida Aliyu, and his then Chief of Staff, Umar Nasko, has suffered a setback at the Federal High Court in Minna, the state capital.

Their trial could not hold on Monday as it was noted that the representative of Nasko’s counsel, Mamman Osman, had filed an application for adjournment based on the lawyer’s ill health, which he served on the prosecution and first defence counsel.

The Head of Media and Publicity at the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Wilson Uwujaren, said in a statement that the application for adjournment was filed on Thursday last week.

Although the counsel disclosed that he was in possession of Osman’s medical report, he declined reading it in court, stating that it was confidential.

READ ALSO: Court Orders Senator Ndume To Be Remanded In Prison After Failing To Produce Maina

In his reaction, the prosecution counsel, G.O. Adebola, objected to the application, noting that it was “bereft of reasons why adjournment has to be granted.”

Adebola decried that he had gone to a great length to bring witnesses from Abuja, Port Harcourt, and other places to the court, stressing that the defence was wasting the time of the court and that of the defendants.

But counsel to the former governor, Musa Sulaiman, supported the application, saying he was not aware of any human being that was immune to sickness.

The presiding judge, Justice Aminu Aliyu, gave a ruling in favour of the defence lawyer and adjourned until January 18 and 19, 2021, for the continued trial of the defendants.

Former Governor Aliyu and Mr Nasko are facing prosecution by the EFCC on amended three-count charges of breach of trust and money laundering to the tune of N2 billion.

While the case was initially struck out on June 19, it was relisted on October 27 and adjourned till November 23 for hearing.

Why Magu Didn’t Honour CCB’s Invitation – Lawyer

BREAKING: Police Promote EFCC Boss Magu, 17 Others
File photo: Ibrahim Magu

 

The legal counsel to suspended EFCC boss, Ibrahim Magu, on Sunday said his client “did not shun” a Code of Conduct Bureau invitation.

Mr Magu was expected to appear before the CCB on November 17, where he was expected to produce acknowledgment slips of all the asset declarations he made since he joined public service, with all documents of certified true copies.

But Magu’s lawyer, Wahab Shittu, said his client did not have access to the relevant documents.

READ ALSO: (Magu Probe) No One Is Too Big To Tackle, Says Buhari

“We wish to state with a high sense of responsibility that we have written two letters to the Chairman of the CBB, intimating him about the inability of our client to have access to the relevant documents as required by the CCB,” Mr Shittu said in a statement on Sunday.

“The letters, which were dated November 16 and 17, 2020, were addressed to the CCB Chairman.

“The letters were titled- Re: Investigation of Activities- Letter of Invitation, Breach of Code of Conduct for Public Officers

“Please note that the letters were stamped and acknowledged by the office of the CCB Chairman on the said date of November 17, 2020.

“We also wish to state the said letters were copied to the Director of Intelligence, Investigation, and Monitoring while the letters were also stamped and acknowledged by his office.”

Meanwhile, a presidential panel investigating Mr Magu for corruption submitted its report to President Muhammadu Buhari on Friday.

The panel, headed by a retired justice and former president of the appeal court, Ayo Salami, presented the reports contained in four boxes at the council chambers of the presidential villa.

President Muhammadu Buhari inaugurated the panel in July and was given 45 days to carry out the assignment but the time frame was extended further after the panel requested more time.

Court Convicts Two In Calabar For Impersonation

Logo of a court gavel

 

Two fraudsters have been convicted by Justice Simon Amobeda of the Federal High Court sitting in Calabar, Cross River State.

This followed their arraignment by the Uyo Zonal Office of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

The duo – Okanezi David Tamunonengiyeofori and Unuafe Robert Oghenetejiri – were found guilty on a separate one-count charge bordering on impersonation and obtaining by false pretense.

Their journey to prison started when Oghenetejiri fraudulently obtained the sum of N492, 000 from one Julius Austin Nkpung after hacking into the electronic identity of his UBA account, while Tamunonengiyeofori was convicted for impersonating one James Ogbonda in order to gain monetary advantage for himself from unsuspecting victims.

Both pleaded “guilty” to the charges preferred against them.

In view of their guilty pleas, the Prosecuting Counsel, Joshua Abolarin, asked the court to invoke Section 270 (9) and (10a) of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act in convicting the offenders.

Abolarin also informed the court of the plea agreements dated November 19, 2020, entered by the guilty duo and the prosecution, and adopted same for the prosecution.

READ ALSO: Army Arrests 27 Suspected Cultists In Plateau

The defence counsel, C. N. Nweke raised no objection, but prayed the court to tamper justice with mercy during sentencing, because, according to him, they were first time offenders.

Delivering judgement, the presiding Judge, Justice Amobeda convicted the accused persons and sentenced them in accordance with the provisions of the extant laws.

“I have considered all the factors, particularly the fact that the convicts are first-time offenders and who have exhibited sincere penitence in the circumstance rather than insist on their inalienable rights to trial. They pleaded guilty, thereby saving tax payers resources and the time of this court,” Justice Amobeda said.

They were both sentenced to three months imprisonment each.

While Tamunonengiyeofori was given the option of a fine of N150,000 and ordered to restitute N250,000 to his victim through the prosecution, Oghenetejiri was given the option of fine of N200,000.00 and was also ordered to restitute the sum of N492,000 to his victim through the prosecution.

The court also ordered that the convicts forfeit every instrument used in committing the crimes to the Federal Government and make an undertaken to the prosecution to be of good behaviour and never to be involved in any form of crime.

Alleged Corruption: Lawyer Says Magu Will Be Vindicated, Urges Buhari To Do The Needful

Ibrahim Magu, EFCC Chairman, Senate
A file photo of the suspended acting EFCC chairman, Mr Ibrahim Magu.

 

“The suspended acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Ibrahim Magu, will be vindicated at the end of the day,” his lawyer, Wahab Shittu has said.

Shittu made the remark in a statement on Friday, following the submission of the report of the Justice Ayo Salami led Judicial Commission of Enquiry to President Muhammadu Buhari.

He believes his client is not guilty of the corruption allegations against him and urged the President to make an informed decision on the matter and do the needful.

According to the legal practitioner, Magu did not collect any bribe from anybody and all the allegations of diversion of recovered assets against him are baseless and unfounded.

He stressed that the suspended EFCC boss was innocent, alleging that the forfeited assets and the proposed sale were the main reasons his removal from the agency was being pushed.

READ ALSO: FG Offers N65bn To ASUU For Earned Allowances, Revitalisation Fund

The lawyer also claimed that some powerful government officials were not comfortable with Magu’s “incorruptible style of leadership”, saying they preferred someone they could manipulate.

He questioned why the Salami-led panel sat for about six months when it was mandated to sit for 45 days.

Shittu also faulted the recommendation of the panel that the headship of the anti-graft commission should come outside the police force.

 

Read the full statement below:

Salami Probe: Magu Will Be Vindicated- Wahab Shittu

We wish to state that in view of today’s submission of the much-awaited report of Justice Isa Salami – led Judicial Commission of Enquiry to President Muhammadu Buhari, we wish to state with a high sense of responsibility that the suspended Acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Mr Ibrahim Magu, will be vindicated at the end of the day.

We observed that Hon Justice Isa Salami, in a televised speech at the Presidential Villa, Abuja,  made certain recommendations outside the mandate of the panel and proceeded to make case for the headship of the commission outside the Police Force.

We wish to state that all over the world, the police is central to law enforcement. The EFCC is a law enforcement agency, separating the police from the EFCC is anti- law enforcement.

How come the Salami Panel did not say anything on alleged mismanagement of recovered assets, insubordination and abuse of office against Mr Magu?

We are further alarmed that Salami could in the public glare at the seat of power, attack the police as an institution and recommended the exit of police officers from the EFCC within two years.

We wish to ask at this juncture – what happened to the huge amount of money expended by the Federal Government on these police officers in terms of investigations, money laundering, and specialised economic crimes.

Without preempting President Muhammadu Buhari on his decision over the report, we urge the President to make an informed decision and do the needful on the matter.

We also wish to state with a high sense of responsibility that Magu remains incorruptible and his stellar achievements in EFCC is unprecedented in the history of the commission.

We are further urging the general public to take note of these salient points:

*Mr Magu did not collect any bribe from anybody as we insist that all allegations of diversion of recovered assets leveled against our client were baseless and unfounded.

*Please note that Magu is innocent of all the allegations leveled against him.

*The forfeited assets and the proposed sale are the main reason they are pushing for his removal from EFCC.

*Powerful government officials are not comfortable with Mr Magu’s incorruptible style of leadership. They prefer somebody they can manipulate.

* There is no doubt that Mr Magu must have stepped on powerful toes in the course of doing his job.

*Salami Panel was mandated to sit for 45 days but ended up sitting for about 6 months.

We also anchor our position in view of the following incontrovertible facts:

In the past, many false stories against Magu had featured in the public space only for such unfounded allegations to collapse like pack of cards during the proceedings of the Salami panel. These false allegations include:

NFIU Alleged N573million Property in Dubai

  • The reported inflow of N573million into the account of Pastor Emmanuel Omale’s church allegedly used to purchase property in Dubai for Magu was shown to be false during the proceedings. For the avoidance of doubt, the FCMB publicly confirmed through press statements and advertorials that there was an error entry and apologized during the proceedings.

No Link of Laundered Funds by Pastor Omale on Behalf of Magu

  • It was not established that Pastor Emmanuel Omale laundered any funds for Magu.

No Evidence of Diversion or Illegal Sale of Forfeited Assets.

  • It was not established that Magu sold, converted or diverted any of the forfeited assets to anyone.

No Link of Laundered Funds by BDC Operators traced to Magu

  • All the BDC operators including the Shanono brothers denied any business or financial links with Magu during the proceedings and no such evidence was found. In the proceedings, Magu’s alleged links to the BDC operators and money laundering as contained in the NFIU report and PCARA reports collapsed like a pack of cards.

No Link of Laundered Funds by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo (SAN) and Femi Falana SAN traced to Magu

  • There is no proof that Vice President Yemi Osinbajo (SAN) Femi Falana SAN or any other person laundered funds on behalf of Magu

No Allegation of Bribery Established Against Magu

  • There is no proof of allegation of bribery established against Magu throughout the proceedings

No Proof that Funds in the TSA account with CBN missing

  • The CBN confirmed that all recovered funds were lodged in the TSA account with CBN and details of such funds were furnished to the Judicial Commission of Inquiry by the CBN.

No Interest on Funds lodged in TSA Account with CBN

  • The Accountant-General of the Federation confirmed that funds kept in TSA account with CBN do not generate interest and as such no interest on funds lodged in TSA account was capable of being diverted.

Security Votes

  • Although the Judicial Commission of Inquiry took up issues with Magu on security votes, this was adequately explained by Magu that such funds were utilized for operational and intelligence purposes with receipts of expenditure provided in the appropriate cases.
  • Details of Recovered Assets across the EFCC Zones furnished to the Judicial Commission of Inquiry
  • Details of Forfeited Vessels furnished to the Judicial Commission of Inquiry by the Nigerian Navy
  • Details of Assets forfeited to the Federal Government by Mrs Diezani Allison- Maduekwe and associates intact and furnished to the Judicial Commission of Inquiry
  • Allegation of N75million alleged traced to Magu boys proven to be false before the Judicial Commission of Inquiry
  • No allegation of purchase of N750million property belonging to Late Ojo Maduekwe’s Estate traced to Magu. Saleh Ahmadu who bought the property confirmed he has no links to Magu.

Biased Constitution Of The Judicial Commission Of Inquiry

As admitted by the Honourable Attorney General of the Federation Mr. Abubakar Malami (SAN) the allegations leading to the establishment of the judicial commission of inquiry, was as a result of reports from law enforcement and security an agency. Notwithstanding the above, membership of the judicial commission of inquiry was constituted mainly by our client’s accusers including membership of the office of the AGF , thereby raising significant issues of fair hearing against our client.

The membership of the judicial commission of inquiry are as follows:

  1. Justice Ayo Isa Salami (rtd), former PCA, North-Central, Chairman
  2. DIG Anthony Ogbizi Michael (NPF)- South-South, Deputy Chairman
  3. Muhammad Abubakar Babadoko- Federal Ministry of Justice (North Central)
  4. Hassan Yahaya Abdulahi (DSS) (North Central)
  5. Muhammad Shamsudeen (OAGF) (North West)
  6. Douglas Egweme (NFIU), (South East)
  7. Kazeem Attitebi (South-West), Secretary.

Professor Itse Sagay’s Position on the panel’s composition.

The Chairman, Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption (PACAC), Prof Itse Sagay SAN, has  also faulted the composition of the judicial commission of inquiry on the ground of bias as follows;

“I criticize the Salami Panel for taking evidence from the accusers behind Magu’s back and for not giving him the petitions against him in advance of his defence.

Also from the report we read, the panel is packed with representatives of DSS, Ministry of Justice and others from security agencies, these are also his accusers”

The HAGF Mr. Abubakar Malami SAN is aware that this composition breaches fair hearing as decided by settled authorities, including LPDC V FAWEHINMI (1985) NWLR Pt.7 300.

It is instructive to state that the memo of AGF Malami SAN to Mr President including the letter addressed to the President from NFIU triggered the establishment of the judicial commission of inquiry, thereby making AGF  Malami SAN the main accuser of our client for alleged corrupt enrichment amongst several other allegations.

Regrettably and shockingly in spite of public assurances by Mr Abubakar Malami SAN to appear before the judicial commission of inquiry to testify and notwithstanding the issuance of a subpoena on the HAGF by the commission of inquiry to testify, the HAGF Mr. Abubakar Malami SAN refused to appear to justify the serious allegations of corrupt enrichment leveled against our client.

The HAGF failed to justify the allegations against our client contrary to the principle that “He who asserts must prove” The Chief Law Officer of the Federation defied the law by failing to appear to valid summons issued by the judicial commission of inquiry.

In specific terms, there was no evidence linking our client with the following allegations:

  • Absence Of Proof Of Allegations Of Corrupt Enrichment Against Magu
  • Lack of evidence of corrupt enrichment against Magu
  • NFIU Alleged N573million Property in Dubai
  • No Evidence of Diversion or Illegal Sale of Forfeited Assets.
  • No Link of Laundered Funds by Pastor Omale on Behalf of our Client
  • No Link of Laundered Funds by BDC Operators traced to our client
  • No Link of Laundered Funds by Femi Falana SAN traced to our client
  • No Allegation of Bribery Established Against our Client
  • No Proof that Funds in the TSA account with CBN missing
  • No Interest on Funds lodged in TSA Account with CBN

The following details were obliged to the Judicial Commission of Inquiry directly from the relevant quarters during the proceedings.

  • Details of recovered funds in TSA Accounts furnished to the commission by the CBN
  • Details of Recovered Assets across the EFCC Zones furnished to the Judicial Commission of Inquiry
  • Details of Forfeited Vessels furnished to the Judicial Commission of Inquiry.

Signed

Wahab Shittu Esq