You Don’t Collect Returned Loot Without Criminal Procedure – George Uboh

Looted funds, returned loot, George ubohThe Chief Executive of Panic Alert Security Systems, Mr George Uboh has condemned the manner in which the government has handled its recovery of looted funds.

He was on Sunrise Daily on Monday, reacting to the government’s decision to withhold names of persons involved in the list of recovered monies and assets released during the weekend.

He believes that concerned authorities are not being sincere with Nigerians in their handling of the anti-corruption campaign by the Nigerian government.

“If a minister on the run comes and says ‘look I have one billion Naira I want to return’, you don’t accept it without going through the criminal procedure,” he argued.

He explained that the removal of the sources of those monies meant that another government would not be able to ascertain that those persons who funds have been traced to have returned such monies traced to them.

He also accused the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) of holding on to some of the recovered funds as he had several documents to back up his claims, having worked for the government to trace looted funds.

“I was engaged by the federal government to trace funds trapped in financial institutions and within 27 days I traced in different currencies aggregate 324 billion Naira. So if the government is coming as a government saying they traced a little over a hundred billion in one year, you be the judge,” he said.

Mr Uboh’s engagement has since been revoked by the Attorney-General of the Federation but he insisted that by recent happenings, he had been vindicated on his past allegations against the EFCC and details of traced loots which he has made public on several occasions.

“I have always accused the EFCC, I have the evidence…and with this (his) engagement I have been able to find the monies EFCC is hiding and more.”

Appointed In Error

The Attorney-General of the Federation, in a letter published in the media had asked the President to disregard Mr Uboh’s published claims that he had traced the amount totalling 1.9 trillion Naira.

Mr Uboh claimed that he was aware of this and had taken it up with the AGF who told him that there had been a public outcry and other ministers had demanded that his engagement for the tracing of looted funds should be revoked.

The AGF’s letter also stated that Mr Uboh was engaged in error as he was later discovered to have been “previously convicted in the United States for bank fraud and was recently jailed by an FCT High Court for fraud related issues”.

Mr Uboh said that the most convenient excuse is for anybody to say he is an ex-convict but “If the evidence I proffered against the EFCC is fake, arrest me. If the evidence I have proffered regarding my tracing is fake, arrest me.

“What has that got to do with anything? Is he denying that he signed the engagement letter?” he asked. He clarified that he was not contesting the issue of the revocation of his engagement but was only insisting on the recovery of what he had traced during his engagement.

“I have the record, names, and account numbers of all the monies I traced…the government has to answer, why are these funds traced not recovered?

He would not deny his conviction as stated by the AGF but insisted that the case was in appeal as he was wrongfully convicted. He vowed that he would win the appeal and clear his name.

On his conviction in the US, he further said, “I am celebrating my conviction. You know why? Because my conviction elevated me to the status of all the idols I admire all over the world who have been arrested, detained, in some cases jailed for fighting corruption and injustice globally. It comes with the territory.”

Distortion of Records

Meanwhile, a legal practitioner, Emeka Onohwakpor, agrees with Mr Uboh’s demand that names should have been published with the funds and assets recovered.

Giving a slightly different perspective, he believes that the names should have been published in order to ensure proper record.

While Mr Oboh earlier suggested there might be a cover up, Mr Onohwakpor believes that the decision to withhold names is a loop hole for more fraud to be committed as there are possibilities that some persons are concealing information.

Emeka-OnohwakporThe lawyer also warned that the manner in which the recoveries were declared will allow for distortion of the records.

He added that anyone who indeed returned money after discovering that monies paid for services were stolen, cannot at the moment be sure if what they returned have gone to the government..

“If somebody who has been accused of looting funds refunds one billion dollars and only 500 million is declared, then there is a problem,” he said.

“We cannot just leave it to only one side declaring what they got. The side that gave, you even owe them a duty to say ‘I got this from Mr B’.

Mr Onohwakpor disagreed with the government’s stance that they might be liable to litigation if they publish names of persons they have recovered monies and other assets from.

He said that publishing a list of recoveries and their sources does not mean the persons mentioned have been tagged looters or have been declared guilty of fraud.

“And the issue of whether it is going to tarnish their image; I don’t think it comes in here because if the money you’re returning to the government is gotten through legitimate means you put your case out there. Nobody is accusing you.”

He also stated that a media organisation or the federal government would not be liable to any form of litigation for naming persons they recovered monies or assets from as long as they truly returned such money. “The point is, let it not be a lie,” he said.

He admitted that no one can be declared guilty until the courts say so but having returned money, the burden of proof swings to the person to proof his innocence.

He also dismissed the view that some persons were not aware that the sources of the monies they were paid for services were illegal arguing that being overpaid should have been an indication that the sources were fraudulent.

“The way forward is to create a level playing field. It doesn’t matter who is involved,” he advised.

 

Rivers Raid: Police May Be Justified by Constitution – Legal Practitioner

A Legal Practitioner, Ikechukwu Ikeji, says the Police raid on the Save Rivers Movement rally in Port-Harcourt on Sunday, January 12, may be justifiable under the Nigerian Constitution.

He threw his weight behind the point of view that everybody’s right of association is guaranteed under the Nigerian Constitution and those rights of association “include the right to hold demonstrations and sundry kinds of rallies.”

He, however, noted that Section 45 of the same constitution goes further to derogate from that right by saying that “nothing in the constitution or in some of the sections mentioned, including the right to freedom of association shall render invalid any law that is made by the National Assembly, that is reasonably justifiable in a democratic society for the interest of public safety.”

He explained that this implied that a law could be made by the National Assembly in any form to curtail some of those rights so as to ensure public safety.

He went further to state that the Police Act is such law that the National Assembly had made which curtails the citizens’ rights of association for the sake of ensuring public safety, law and order. This according to him, empowers the Police to step in if it sees “that a particular situation may be likely to result in breakdown of law and order.”

Ikeji was asked to clarify the key elements that the Police would need to identify for it to conclude that a situation may result in breakdown of law and order, he referred to antecedents as the key elements that the Police would need to consider. These include the volatility of the polity and the environment, the parties involved, and the prevailing security situation.

Ikechukwu made this assertion on Channels Television’s daily breakfast programme, ‘Sunrise Daily’.

He insisted that it would be left for the court to decide who was right or wrong in the Rivers State crisis.

Watch this video for more of Ikechukwu Ikeji’s arguments.

Rivers State Commissioner of Police Should Be Sued – Legal Practitioner

A Legal Practitioner, Emeka Onohwakpor, has advised members of the Save Rivers Movement who had their rally disorganised following a police raid, to sue the Rivers State Commissioner of Police, Joseph Mbu, for ordering the attack.

According to him, the Police Force as well as the Rivers State Commissioner of Police himself can be sued for disrupting the Save Rivers Movement Rally, an act which analysts said was ‘unconstitutional.’

Mr Mbu had told Channels Television that the organisers of the rally failed to obtain permission from him before going ahead with their rally which he claimed was political.

However, Onohwakpor said that Mr Mbu’s actions were against the law and “If it’s outside his purview as a Police man, sue him in his name.” The Police Commissioner’s reason for ordering the raid was wrong and he was acting beyond his purview. “I watched the Commissioner of Police arrogating to himself powers he doesn’t have.”

He further stated that the “Constitution as well as the Police Act did not envisage that powers to grant permission to persons interested in conducting rallies would be granted to the Police” because there are forms for different activities involving the Police including application for bail or exhibits but “the Police has no form for permission for rally.”

“It’s not something that was envisaged to be part of their jobs,” he added.

Speaking further on Channels Television’s breakfast programme, ‘Sunrise Daily’, he disclosed that there are several cases in court against the Force, as well as the Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Abubakar, and that judgment had been pronounced on some of the cases.

The disruption of the rally was an ‘unnecessary reaction from the Police because people have a right to gather and as long as they have not started constituting themselves in a breach of public peace, they should not have been attacked.”

He added that the action of the Rivers State Police Command, led by Joseph Mbu, whose integrity has been questioned by critics and analysts, attempted to label the organisers and the rally a ‘threat’ even though the right to assemble is an ‘overflogged fact’.

He maintained that the participants of the rally should not have been attacked with the use of teargas and rubber bullets but should have been advised to disperse on the condition that the rally had become volatile.

According to Mr Onohwakpor, the only reasonable solution to the problem is the court, because “If you don’t take these people to court, they will use self-help and you cannot even match them. Your last bet is to go to court.”

He also wondered why the affected individuals are yet to proceed on a legal battle. “Why the people of Rivers State are afraid of going to court, I don’t know,” he said.

Lack of Planning Increases Spate Of Kidnapping – Analyst

A legal practitioner, Emeka Onohwakpor has said that lack of planning contributes to the rise in cases of kidnapping, including the kidnapping of  human rights activist, Mike Ozekhome.

Mr. Onohwakpor said the Police was ill prepared for the kidnappers who took Mr Ozekhome captive, disclosing that there was an exchange of fire between the police and the kidnappers, before Mr Ozekhome was taken.

“The police didn’t have the Rapid Response Squad team on ground,” he said.

Speaking on Channels Television breakfast programme, Sunrise Daily, Mr. Onohwakpor advised that air support system should be put in place in the fight against crime.

He also highlighted the need to increase the use of technology in fighting crime and corruption. “There is so much corruption in the air, we don’t have good role models,” he said.

Mr. Onohwakpor further called on security personnel in the country, including immigration officers to join forces in curbing the kidnapping menace.

Human Rights Activist, Mike Ozekhome,

Provision Of Basic Amenities Will Stop Corrupt Practices- Analyst

A legal practitioner and public affairs analyst, Emeka Onohwakpor, on Wednesday said that Nigeria can tackle corruption if “we attack it from the roots and take a lead from other countries by providing the basic necessities of life”.

“Corrupt people gather money for future purpose but if these things are taken from them it leads to more greed. If necessary things like public transport are in place then people won’t need to buy luxuries like cars”, he said on Channels Television’s morning breakfast programme, Sunrise Daily.

He added that if we really want to fight corruption in Nigeria we have to put things like good roads, electricity, education, water and security in place for the low income and unemployed to at least live on.

He asked that if we have all this things in place, “what else do you need so much money for?”

“We celebrate the politicians that steal our money, meanwhile those that have been seen to be corrupt have not been stigmatised rather reverse is the case, in Nigeria robbers go about without masks because there is no means of tracing them, a system needs to be put in place to check those in power”, he said.

He advised that the government should make a point of duty to follow up on every Nigerian citizen so that any previous crime committed by a person should be recorded to allow for proper background checks for future purposes.

He concluded by saying that if the number of the downtrodden becomes too high, those on top will not be able to enjoy their wealth, people don’t need money to be given to them, they need good amenities and when the destitute are trained they will help to add more value to the society at large.