Akingbola ask court to restrain EFCC from collecting rent on his properties

The Former Managing Director of Intercontinental Bank Plc (now Access Bank), Erastus Akingbola on Thursday asked a Federal High Court sitting in Lagos to restrain the Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and its agent, one E.L Etudo from collecting rents from his properties seized by the anti-graft agency in December 2009

The EFCC had in December seized some buildings belonging to the former bank Chief Executive officer following allegations of financial impropriety leveled against him.

In an Originating summons brought pursuant to Order 3 Rules 6 and 7 of the Federal high Court Civil Procedures Rules 2009, Mr Akingbola also wants the court to declare that by virtue of its order made in December 2009 between the Chairman of the EFCC and himself, the properties referred to in the order are not forfeited to the Federal government.

In the suit, which had Mr Etudo as a co-respondent, Mr Akingbola also asked the court to declare that the EFCC lacks the power and right to appoint an agent to manage the properties referred to in the said order as properties forfeited to the federal Government.

However, the EFCC in its counter affidavit asked the court to reject the Mr Akingbola’s application on the grounds that it lacks merit, is frivolous, vexatious and meant to distract the court.

The agency said that Mr Etudo was appointed to manage the attached property in escrow account pending the determination of the criminal trial of the former bank boss.

EFCC also said that though Mr Akingbola was restrained from dealing with the property known as Amazing Grace Plaza, he had through a company known as Amazing Inspiration Media Limited collected the sum of ten Million, Eight Hundred and sixty Thousand naira (N10, 860,000) as 2 years rent from Samsung Nigeria Limited, one of the tenants of the attached property at the Amazing Grace Plaza.

Hearing on the applications was adjourned till 13 April by Justice Binta Nyako who also directed that the applications and counter applications should be proper served to the parties in the suit.

Atiku, 5 others in prison over N32.8b police pension scam

An Abuja High Court at Gudu on Thursday remanded the Permanent Secretary in the Office of the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation, Atiku Abubakar Kigo and five others in Kuje Prison, following allegation that they conspired and diverted the sum of N32.8 Billion from the Police Pension Fund.

One of the accused person hiding his face from the Camera. Other accused persons were also too ashamed to show their faces in camera.

The other accused persons who were arraigned by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commissions (EFCC) alongside Mr Kigo were Esai Dangabar, Ahmed Inuwa Wada, John Yakubu Yusufu, Veronica Ulonma Onyegbula and Sani Habila Zira.

There was a mild drama in the court as the trial began. Two lawyers, Adeniyi Awomolo and John Egwuonu separately announced that they will be representing the accused persons.

Presiding Judge, Justice Mohammed Abubakar Talba however asked each accused person to identify their counsel, clearing the air for the case to commence.

Each of the accused persons pleaded not guilty to the 16 count read to them.

Mr Awomolo, the counsel to the first defendant, made an application for bail, which was supported by the counsel to the other five accused persons, Mr Egwuonu based on the fact that the accused persons are presumed innocent until proven guilty by the court of the law, therefore the accused persons can be admitted to bail.

The counsel to the EFCC, Rotimi Jacob who did not object to the applications of the defence counsels, asked the court to set another date for the bail to be formally argued.

Though the accused persons begged the court to allow them to remain in the Custody of the EFCC pending the determination of their bail applications, the judge declined their request, saying that: “there is no law permitting the remand of an accused person in any other place apart from prison custody.”

He thereafter ordered the six accused persons to be remanded in prison till next Tuesday when their bail application will be argued.
Consequently, the accused persons were moved to the Kuje prison.

N503 million Fraud: Speaker of Lagos state House of Assembly asks court to quash case

The Speaker of the Lagos State House of Assembly, Adeyemi Ikuforiji and his Personal Assistant, Oyebode Atoyebi, on Monday asked a Federal High Court sitting in Lagos, to quash the 20-count of fraud and money laundering brought against them by Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

The Speaker of the Lagos State House of Assembly, Adeyemi Ikuforiji who is standing trial for conspiring and accepting various cash payments amounting to N503 million from the House without going through a financial institution.

The EFCC alleged that the defendants had sometime between April 2010 and July 2011 conspired and accepted various cash payments amounting to N503 million from the House without going through a financial institution.

Misters Ikuforiji and Atoyebi were first arraigned before Justice John Tsoho on March 1, 2012. Justice Tsoho had unceremoniously withdrawn from the case, allegedly due to the attitude of counsel in the matter for his action.

The accused were later re-arraigned before Justice Okechukwu Okeke, following the re-assignment of the case to him by the Chief Judge of the Court, Justice Ibrahim Auta.

At the resumed hearing in the matter, the EFCC’s lawyer, Godwin Obla had told the court of the pendency of the charge and prayed the court for same to be read to the accused persons for their plea to be taken.

The charge was read to the accused persons, who pleaded not guilty to each of the count.

Counsel to the accused persons, Tayo Oyetibo urged the court to admit them to bail, on self recognition as Mr Ikuforiji is the third citizen in Lagos State while Mr Atoyebi is an aide to Speaker.

The anti-graft agency did not oppose the bail application, but urged the court to impose stiffer bail condition for Mr Atoyebi.
The court in a short ruling, granted bail to the Speaker on self recognition, while the Clerk of the Lagos Assembly, Segun Habiru stood as surety for Mr Atoyebi.

Mr Ikuforiji, meanwhile praying the court to quash the charge, argued that the act of the Lagos State House of Assembly being an arm of the government of Lagos State cannot be subjected to the criminal jurisdiction of the Federal High Court.

He said that the Speaker of the state House of Assembly by virtue of Section 92(1) and 95(1) of the constitution is the presiding officer/principal officer of the House of Assembly.

Atuche used 18 companies to steal Bank PHP fund – EFCC

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on Monday accused the former Managing Director of Bank PHB, Francis Atuche, of buying the bank’s shares for 18 companies belonging to him and his wife, Elizabeth Atuche.

The EFCC had charged Mr Atuche, his wife, Elizabeth and a former Chief Financial Officer of the bank, Ugo Anyanwu to court for allegedly stealing over N25.7 billion belonging to Bank PHB (now KeyStone Bank) between November 2007 and April 2008

David Nkpe, a field investigator with the EFCC who made the allegation, before a Lagos High Court sitting in ikeja, also said that the shares, worth billions of naira, were fraudulently purchased using funds belonging to Bank PHB.

The EFCC had charged Mr Atuche, his wife, Elizabeth and a former Chief Financial Officer of the bank, Ugo Anyanwu to court for allegedly stealing over N25.7 billion belonging to Bank PHB (now KeyStone Bank) between November 2007 and April 2008, while Mr Atuche was the Chief Executive Officer of the bank.

Mr Nkpe who was led in evidence by the EFCC prosecutor, Kemi Pinheiro, said that the 18 companies belonging to the former bank chief executive officer purchased the shares during a public offer by Bank PHB in May 2007.

The companies are Claremount Investment Limited, Montrax Investico, Stanford Global Limited, Arabian Probity, Consolidated Business Support Limited, Commercial Trading Limited and Filemon Enterprise.

It also includes Oakwood Asset Limited, Ventures Resources, Caledonia Enterprise, Financial Company Limited, Claremount Asset Management Limited, Clairville Business Support.

Others are Gazali Yakubu Limited, Afco Associate Limited, Septron Trading Limited, Guess-Trade Services Limited and Nolly Investment Limited.

The EFCC witness said a thorough investigation and confirmation from the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) revealed that these companies were mainly owned by the Atuches.

According to him, these companies never repaid the money back to Bank PHB despite the fact that the transactions placed them on the top 1,000 list of the bank’s shareholders.

The Presiding Justice Lateefah Okunnu adjourned till Wednesday, 28 March for continuation of trial.

Witness tells court how El-Rufai allocated land to himself, family and companies

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on Wednesday told an Abuja High Court that a former Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Nasir El-Rufai and two of his officials unilaterally revoked some juicy plots of land and allocated same to themselves, their relatives and their companies.

Sunday Idowu, a former operative of the EFCC made the disclosure while being led in evidence by the commission’s lawyer, Adebayo Adelodun, in continuation of trial of the former minister who is facing an eight-count of abuse of office.

The two other accused persons are the Director General, Abuja Geographic Information System (AGIS), Atine Jubrin and former General Manager, AGIS Ismail Iro.

Mr Idowu, an Inspector of Police gave detailed steps taken by his investigative team in unravelling facts behind the accusations against the accused persons.

“We interacted with interested parties notably Abuja Geographical Information Services (AGIS), Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN), Nigeria Postal Service (NIPOST), Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC), Federal Capital Development Authority (FCDA) among others who gave us insight into what actually happened,” the police officer said.

He said that his team identified an official memo written by a senior official of FCDA advising against the irregular conversion of the plots.

“At AGIS, investigation revealed that plots 1201 and 3352 which were originally allocated to PHCN and NIPOST were revoked and then re-allocated to 9 private individuals including two wives of the former minister, daughter of former President Obasanjo, Iyabo Obasanjo–Bello, a serving senator, Philip Aduda and the 2nd and 3rd accused persons,” Mr Idowu said.

The witness further told the court that his team discovered from the Corporate Affairs Commission that Misters El-Rufai, and Iro are directors in the three companies which benefited from the re-allocation, namely: System Property Development Company, SPDC, Express Procurement Ltd and Pure Environment Services.

“In the course of investigation, it was discovered that one of the irregularly converted plots, allocated to one of the wives of the 1st accused person ,with new plot number 337 was also used by him as one of the properties declared as his own in his Asset Declaration Form with the Code of Conduct Bureau,” the police investigator said.

A former Executive Secretary with the FCDA, Sani Alhassan, told the court that after a meeting with the management of PHCN it was discovered that the earlier revocation was no more necessary. He said a memo was written to the former minister advising him to revert to status quo.

The case was adjourned to 25 April for further hearing.

Mr El-Rufai and his co-accused persons were first arraigned on an amended eight-count on Thursday 7 April 2011. Their arraignment followed a petition to EFCC, detailing allegations of abuse of office against the former minister on how he misappropriated government land which he allocated to his friends and family members, in flagrant breach of the Abuja Master plan.

SEC denies offering Hembe N30 million Bribe

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) on Tuesday denied allegations that it offered bribe to the Chairman of the House of Representative Committee on Capital Market and other financial institution, Herman Hembe and the committee that was conducting an investigative public hearing on the capital market.

Mr Hembe while resigning as the Chairman of the House committee conducting an investigative public hearing on the capital market told his colleagues that it was SEC that tried to bribe him and members of his committee.

“I made no attempt to collect any bribe, rather I worked hard to avoid the offer of such by the SEC DG,” he said.

The Lawmaker was forced to resign after the Director General of SEC, Arunma Oteh publicly accused him of demanding N39 million bribe from the commission among other financial abuse of his office.

Mr Hembe while delivering his resignation speech claimed he had documents he alleged were internal memos from the commission which indicates that SEC offered N30 million to him and his committee.

The memo showed that the Director General of SEC, Arunma Oteh had asked the management to consider paying for two items in the budget of the Committee. These items, according to the memo, were the live coverage of the three weeks public hearing which was budgeted at about N26 million and the needs of the committee’s secretariat which would cost about N4 million.

Responding to Mr Hembe’s accusation, SEC on its official website published a statement which was signed by the commission’s spokesperson, Obi Adindu denying the claims of the lawmaker.

“We note the allegation made by Hon. Hembe on the floor of the House and on live television that it was Ms. Oteh who made financial overtures to him,” the statement reads.

“We wish to state unequivocally that at no time and in no place did the SEC, Ms. Oteh offer Hon. Hembe any financial inducement.

Despite Hon. Hembe’s claims even as he said he had copies of internal memos which he purportedly obtained from the SEC, however Ms. Oteh did not issue or cause to be issued any correspondence to Hon. Hembe which offered him financial gratification.

We confirm that the SEC received a document in respect of the public hearing with a list of items with cost implications totalling N39, 844,490.00,” the statement said.

The statement said that Ms Oteh sent only two letters to Mr Hembe before the public hearing.

Watch a comprehensive background report on the drama which led to the resignation of Mr Hembe and the accusations and counter accusation between the lawmaker and SEC boss.

In the first letter the DG “expressed her support for the Public Hearing in line with the SEC’s role as the apex regulator of the Nigerian capital markets,” while the second letter according to the statement was the cover letter for SEC’s submissions to the Public Hearing dated 12TH March 2012.
SEC said “we totally disagree with the claim that we tried to financially induce or influence Hon. Hembe or anyone else.”

Court insists ex-governor, Danjuma Goje has a case of fraud to answer

Danjuman Goje in the dockA Federal High Court in Gombe on Tuesday refused to quash charges of financial impropriety levelled against the former governor of Gombe state, Danjuma Goje by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

The court also fixed May 8, 2012 for the trial of the former governor who is currently a Senator in the National Assembly over an alleged fraud of N52 billion.

Mr Goje is facing an 18 count of conspiracy and money laundering along with Aliyu El-Nafarty (former Chairman, Gombe State Universal Basic Education Board), Sambo Mohammed Tumu (the ex- governor’s cousin and food supplier to Government House) and S.M. Dakoro, a businessman.

They were said to have conspired to defraud the state of about N25 billion which represented proceeds of illegal acts, contrary to and punishable under Sections 15, 16, 17, 18 and 19 of the Money Laundering (Prohibition Act) 2011 as amended.

At the last sitting last December 9, the lawyer to the defendants, Adeniyi Akintola had argued that his clients had no case to answer, adding that the former governor, for instance, was given executive powers by the constitution to act executively, by fiat, even in the award of contracts or appropriation of funds without reporting to anybody.

Mr Akintola further said that the charge was based on anonymous but fictitious petitions which he referred to as ‘’beer parlour gossip.’’

However, the prosecuting counsel and lawyer to the EFCC, Wahab Shittu, urged the court to disregard the submissions by the defence counsel contending that the prosecution had enough evidence to prove its case against the accused persons.

Lagos court jails three Indians for contempt

A Federal High Court sitting in Lagos has sentenced to one month imprisonment each, three Indians who are directors of a Lagos-based private company, Sacvin Nigeria Limited, for disobeying its order.

The Three business men are all brothers. One is the Managing Director of the company Chandru Ganglani, and the other two, Bharat Ganglani and Trishul Ganglani are directors.

The expatriates were jailed by Justice John Tsoho without an option of a fine meaning they cannot escape imprisonment except their conviction and sentence are overturned on appeal.

The court jailed the men on the grounds that they disobeyed an interim order made on the 9th of July, 2009 which restrained their company, Sacvin Nigeria Ltd, from engaging in the trade or business of manufacturing and selling or distributing the plastic products which infringed the trademark of another company called, Rike Industries Limited.

Rike Industries had filed the substantive matter before the court alleging the infringement through the act of “passing off” against Sacvin Nigeria Ltd.

The proceedings leading to the conviction of the expatriates for contempt was initiated by a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Kemi Pinheiro, who filed the proceedings with a supporting affidavit deposed to by another lawyer, Oludayo Ilori.

It was alleged in the affidavit that the Plaintiff in the substantive matter pending, (Rike Industries Limited,) is the sole authorised Nigerian manufacturer of plastic products produced in the design of VIK Singera Basin Mould, VIK road, Neck Mould and VIK Mug Mould which the defendant Sacvin Nigeria Limited imitated, manufactured and sold to Nigerians.

The plaintiff averred that Sometime in June 2009, it discovered that the defendant company was actively selling plastic products which are identical in design to its products as to be mistaken for it.

Rike industries further alleged that it began to experience difficulties in sales as a result of the defendants’ company’s infringement of its rights and later instituted the substantive suit to stop the defendant’s illegal action after which the court granted the interim order of July 9, 2009 restraining Sacvin from any act of engaging in the trade or business of manufacturing and selling or distributing the plastic products which infringed the trademark of the plaintiff.

The directors of the defendant company however allegedly disobeyed the court order and continued to engage in manufacturing, importing, supplying, selling and distributing the said infringing plastic products which are identical to the plaintiff’s product.

Although the lawyer to the three Indian directors, Dan Olowojaiye, had argued that the directors were not personally served and that the contempt was carried out by the company and not the directors, the judge was not impressed and slammed the imprisonment term on the expatriates before adjourning further proceedings till the 20th of April, 2012.

Ivie Richard speaks on Police Pension Probe

The Pension Fund reforms is presently going on as the joint Senate committee on the recent pensions probe which held at Abuja last week.

The Probe panel summoned the chairman of the pension scheme taskforce to come and answer questions relating to issues that remained unclear to Nigerians and the probe panel as lots of illegal transactions were revealed.