Man jailed 15 years for defrauding former Pension Director of N60 million

Justice M. L. Shuaibu of Federal High Court, sitting in Kaduna on Thursday sentenced Muhammad El Ameen Al Haleel, who was prosecuted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), to three years imprisonment each on five of the seven counts of fraudulent dealings and obtaining the sum of N60million under false pretence.

Muhammad El Ameen Al Haleel sentenced to 15 years for fraud

Mr Al Haleel was arraigned on November 16, 2011 for defrauding Shuaibu Sani Teidi, a governorship aspirant in Kogi state of the sum of N60 million with a promise to facilitate a meeting between him and the Vice President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Muhammad Namadi Sambo, to ensure that he (Mr Teidi) got nominated as the governorship candidate of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in Kogi state.

Mr Al-Haleel also promised to use part of the money to get clearance for Mr Teidi from the EFCC to enable him stand for the 2011 election.

Mr Teidi is a former Director, Pension Administration in the Office of the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation who is also being prosecuted by the EFCC alongside 39 others accused persons over a N4.56 billion Pension scam.

In his judgment, Justice Shuaibu said he was lenient on the accused because he was a first time offender.

Mr Teidi, on February 8, 2012, testified before the court that Mr Al Haleel, collected the sum of N60 million from him to facilitate a meeting between him and the Vice President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to ensure that he got nominated as the governorship flag bearer of the PDP in Kogi state.

The ex-pension boss said sometimes in 2011, he visited the accused and discussed his political issues with him. “I told him I needed ticket i.e. support for the governorship race in Kogi state most especially from the office of the Vice President and also clearance from former EFCC chairman, Farida Waziri, whom he claimed he had contacted”.

He further told the court that to facilitate his ticket from the Vice President, Mr Al-Haleel told him that the vice president would need N10 million for his clearance and N50 million for former EFCC boss, Mrs Waziri.

Shuaibu said he gave the N10 million to the accused personally at his house while $320,000 was delivered to him at home by his driver.

“He then called me to say that I should change the $320,000 to naira equivalent as he claimed that Mrs Waziri said she needed it in naira equivalent”.

According to Mr Teidi, he had to change the dollar to naira which amounted to N50 million, which he handed to his driver to deliver to Mr Al-Haleel.
Immediately he collected the N60 million from his driver, Mr Al-Haleel stopped picking his calls, a development that prompted Mr Teidi to call one Mr. Smith who acted as the link between them and reported Al-Haleel to him.

“After he collected the money, he stopped picking my calls which prompted my calling Mr. Smith and he told me to try him again of which I did. He (Al Ameen) then sent me a text message saying he will not take it likely with Mrs. Farida Waziri. He said he was going to hold her responsible for that money and that he will not take it easy with her at all”.

When asked by the prosecution counsel, Austin Emumejakpor what the money was meant for, Mr Teidi said the N60 million given to Al-Haleel was purportedly for the duo of the Vice President, Mr Sambo and former EFCC chairman, Mrs Waziri but was never delivered.

In response to a question as to how he knew that the money was not delivered, Mr Teidi said he knew because he never got a clearance from Mrs Waziri and nothing also came from the Vice President too.

Lagos Speaker fails to stop money laundering trial against him

The Federal High Court Sitting in Lagos on Thursday dismissed the application brought by the Speaker of the Lagos State House of Assembly, Adeyemi Ikuforiji to quash the money laundering charge filed against him by the Economic and Financial crimes Commission (EFCC).

The presiding judge, Justice Okechukwu Okeke in a ruling delivered in a packed courtroom filled with Mr Ikuforiji’s supporters and some lawmakers, held that the reasons canvassed in support of the application to quash the charges were not tenable.

The court also dismissed a counter motion filed by the EFCC challenging the propriety of the Speaker’s application; the judge held that the objection raised by the commission was misconceived, and lacking in merit.

Justice Okeke in his ruling also faulted the Speaker’s argument that since the alleged acts were done in his capacity as the Speaker he was not liable as that would amount to suing Lagos State government.

According to the court such reasoning cannot stand because the Speaker and his aide were charged to court in their own capacity.

The judge maintained that “If the prosecution had wanted to, it could have filed the action against the Lagos State Government or the Attorney-General, but this action is filed against the accused persons.

The motion to quash the charge was therefore dismissed while the court ordered an accelerated hearing of the matter.

It will be recalled that the EFCC had on March 1, 2012 arraigned Mr Ikuforiji and his Personal Assistant, Oyebode Atoyebi, on an amended 20-count of money laundering.

The commission is accusing the Speaker of the Lagos State House of Assembly and his aide of accepting cash payment from the Assembly to the tune of N501 million without going through a financial institution.

Justice Okeke adjourned the case till the 24 October for commencement of trial.

EFCC to prosecute Ibori’s accomplices

About twenty four hours after former Delta state governor James Ibori pleaded guilty in the United Kingdom, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) here in Nigeria has vowed to ensure that all his accomplices to book no matter how long it takes.

A statement issued by the EFCC says that as recent as two weeks ago, some persons who allegedly assisted Chief Ibori to launder stolen funds were questioned by the commission

The commission adds that the interesting aspect of the development in London is the fact that the former governor avoided a full blown fraud and money laundering trial by changing his plea.

Part of the statement says ” This was purely a gambit to run away with a lighter sentence, rather than the product of a plea bargain as erroneously reported earlier….. For the avoidance doubt, plea bargain is not recognized in UK criminal justice system”.

The anti-graft body also reminds Nigerians that the bulk of the criminal charges against the former governor are still before courts in Nigeria and there are no plans to vacate those charges.

The former Delta State Governor; James Onanefe Ibori on Monday entered a guilty plea before a Southwark Crown Court in London where he was undergoing trial on fraud and money laundering charges.

Mr Ibori pleaded guilty to 10 counts of fraud, money laundering and corruption charges before judge Anthony Pitts.

Among the charges against the former governor are conspiracy to defraud, conspiracy to make false instruments, and one count of money laundering linked to a $37 million share fraud surrounding the sale of shares in telecoms company, V Mobile.

Prosecutor Sasha Wass told the court that the former governor had accepted he was involved in “wide-scale theft, fraud and corruption” when he was governor of Delta state.

Mr Wass further alleged that Mr Ibori used a false date of birth when he ran for the governorship of Delta state to conceal previous convictions as a criminal record would have excluded him from taking part in the election.

The guilty plea brings to a close the long drawn legal tussle initiated by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) which was meant to compel the former governor to answer to the corrupt deals he carried out during the eight years he governed the state.

His accomplices – including his sister, Christine Ibie-Ibori, his associate, Udoamaka Okonkwo and his wife, Theresa Nkoyo Ibori – have already received sentences between five and eight years for aiding the former governor’s illicit activities during his two-term tenure.

His UK-based lawyer, Bhadresh Gohil, was also handed down a 10-year sentence in April. He had earlier been sentenced to a 7 year sentence that runs concurrently with his more recent conviction.

In December 2009, a Federal High Court in Asaba, Delta State, discharged and acquitted Mr Ibori of all 170 charges of corruption brought against him by the EFCC.

Mr Ibori was however apprehended by Interpol in Dubai and extradited to London in 2011, where he has remained in police custody.