Osinbajo Meets With Heads Of Prosecuting Agencies

Yemi Osinbajo, OndoAll heads of prosecuting agencies of the Federal Government are in a crucial meeting with Nigeria’s Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, at the Presidential Villa.

The agencies include the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), Department of State Services (DSS), and the office of the National Security Adviser (NSA).

Although the reason for the meeting is unknown, feelers are that it may not be unconnected with the recent setbacks suffered in the government’s corruption cases.

Details coming shortly.

Court Strikes Out Fraud Charges Against Orubebe

Court Strikes Out Fraud Charges Against Orubebe An Abuja High Court has struck out the six-count charge preferred against a former Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Mr Godsday Orubebe, by the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC).

Mr Orubebe, who served under former President Goodluck Jonathan, and three other defendants were accused of alleged complicity in a 1.97 billion Naira contract fraud.

Justice Olukayode Adeniyi, however, discharged and acquitted them on Tuesday, following the withdrawal of the charge by the prosecution.

The court had earlier given the anti-graft agency till April 4, 2017, to produce its witnesses to establish that the defendants diverted the funds meant for the compensation of owners of properties of Eket Urban section of the East-West Road in Eket, Akwa Ibom State.

ICPC Recovers 40 Stolen Government Vehicles

ICPC Recovers 40 Stolen Government Vehicles The Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), is to arraign some government officials from whom dozens of stolen government vehicles were recovered.

The anti-graft agency said that this would serve as a deterrent to civil servants who misuse or steal government property.

The ICPC announced the recovery of the vehicles at a news conference in Abuja where the agency stated that the over 40 vehicles were recovered from the Water Resource Ministry.

The vehicles included: 14 Hilux pickup trucks, 14 luxury branded sports utility vehicles, 4 luxury branded saloon cars, and eight new edition Toyota saloon cars.

The Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Water Resources, Rabi Jimeta, revealed that those responsible for the theft were from a particular cadre of the civil service.

The agency then used the opportunity to task Nigerians and civil servants on the need to be vigilant and guide against misuse and theft of government property by public officers in the country.

Probe Missing Chibok Safe School Funds, SERAP Tells EFCC

SERAP Drags Senate To UN Over Magu's RejectionThe Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has asked Nigeria’s anti-graft body to investigate allegations that the  Safe School funds for Chibok girls is missing and cannot be accounted for.

The group’s request was contained in a petition SERAP sent to the acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Mr Ibrahim Magu, requesting him to urgently begin a thorough, transparent and effective investigation into the issue.

The said fund of 500 million Naira was commissioned by former Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, to rebuild the Government Girls School in Chibok community in Borno State, northeast Nigeria.

SERAP, in a statement on Wednesday, urged the EFCC to “invite for questioning, and name and shame anyone suspected to be involved in the alleged diversion, including the contractors allegedly handling the project”.

In the petition dated December 27, 2016 and signed by SERAP’s senior staff attorney, Timothy Adewale, the organisation said: “The allegation that 500 million Naira has been lost to corruption has resulted in denying the girls access to education, and shows the failure of the former President Goodluck Jonathan government to live up to Nigeria’s commitments under the global Safe School Declaration”.

Chibok Community Celebrates Homecoming For 21 Rescued Girls
Some of the rescued Chibok girls

Monitor Government’s Spending

It further read: “SERAP believes that the diversion of the funds will expose the school to attacks in the future. This is a fundamental breach of the country’s obligations including guarantees of non-repetition, which contributes to prevention and deterrence of future attacks.

“SERAP urges the EFCC to work with the Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) to set up a mechanism to monitor government’s spending of the safe school funds in order to ensure that the funds are spent exactly to prevent and deter future attacks, and to allow the girls to go back to school as soon as possible.

EFCC
Some EFCC officials

“SERAP is seriously concerned that the school has remained in a state of disrepair since the abduction of the girls, and students have remained at home.

“SERAP is concerned that the alleged diversion of 500 million naira meant for reconstruction of Government Girls School in Chibok has directly violated the right to education of the girls, as guaranteed under the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights to which Nigeria is a state party.

Breach Of Anti-corruption Legislation

“The diversion has undermined the obligation of the government to take step to the maximum of its available resources to achieve the right to education. The alleged diversion also shows a serious breach of anti-corruption legislation including the EFCC Act, and Nigeria’s international obligations under the UN Convention against Corruption, and the African Union Convention on Preventing and Combating Corruption both of which the country has ratified.

“The EFCC should ensure full accountability and bring to justice anyone found to be responsible for corruption and diversion of safe school funds. The EFCC should also ensure that all proceeds of corruption are recovered and returned back to the treasury.

“This request is based on allegation by Governor Kashim Shettima that 500 million Naira set aside by the government of former President Goodluck Jonathan, is missing and cannot be accounted for.

Kashim Shettima, Sambisa, Borno, Military
Borno State Governor, Kashim Shettima

“The funds were released for rebuilding of the Government Girls School in Chibok under the Safe School Initiative programme, which was commissioned former Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala”.

Court Grants Orubebe Bail In Alleged 2.3b Naira Fraud Case

OrubebeAn Abuja‎ High Court on Wednesday granted a former Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Mr Godsday Orubebe, bail in the sum of 10 million Naira, having pleaded not guilty to the charge of criminal diversion of funds.

Mr Orubebe was charged by the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission (ICPC).

He is standing trial along two others over alleged diversion of 2.3 billion Naira.

The court also granted bail in the sum of 20 million Naira each to Oludare Alaba and Ephraim Zeri, directors of contract in the Ministry of Niger Delta.

Justice Olukayode Adeniyi, in his ruling, ordered Mr Orubebe to produce one surety in like sum, stressing that the surety must be a responsible Nigerian with evidence of three years tax payment and landed property within the Federal Capital Territory.

The court, however, ordered Alaba and Zeri to also produce one surety each in like sum. It said the surety must be an assistant director in the civil service and a land-owner within the court jurisdiction.

Justice Adeniyi also asked the ICPC to hold the defendants until they perfect their bail conditions.

The Trial of the accused persons has been fixed for November 10.

ICPC Explains Facts Behind ‘Bailout Funds Usage Report’

Ekpo Eta, Chairman of ICPC on bailout funds usage report The Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) in Nigeria on Thursday said it never reported that some States diverted bailout funds.

Giving facts behind the first report of the anti-graft agency on how the bailout funds were used, the Chairman of the ICPC, Mr Ekpo Eta, told Channels Television that the report was given different interpretations by different media houses and individuals.

“Those original publications we released were interpreted in various ways by different media houses and I must say that quite a number did not state clearly what we had spelt out. Most of them added what they thought was what should have happened.

“We had never at any time said that bailout funds were diverted, as it was widely published.

“If you go through the main report, we stated as it was. In some state, the funds were requested for and allotted but they were not used for the purpose.

“The state involved went to the House of Assembly and asked that the funds should be used for other issues since they had paid salaries,” he explained.

Intention Of Bailout Monitoring

Mr Eta stated that the intention of the bailout monitoring was not to run down states, but “it was a governance tool to help them in terms of placement of funds that they have collected”.

“Like I have heard now, some have seen it as something to help bridge the budget but you must explain at every steps what you are doing.

“We saw some payments that were made into some bank accounts. When we requested for details of the transaction, we were told it was used in paying footballers salaries that we had owed for two months,” he explained.


On the outcome of the monitoring process, he said that state’s government officials were much more aware that if they take these bail out funds, they would have to explain to the people how the funds were used.

“Some States have adopted a strategy that had enabled them check the payment of salaries to workers that do not exist [ghost workers],” he further said.

The ICPC boss further stated that the agency would come out with the part two of our report.

Akwa Ibom Govt. Accounts Investigation: Court Vacates Restraining Injunction Against EFCC

EFCC on Akwa Ibom government account investigationThe Akwa- Ibom State High Court, sitting in Ikot Ekpene, on Friday vacated an order of interim injunction restraining the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) from investigating the accounts of Akwa Ibom State Government.

Justice Ntong F.N. Ntong gave the ruling at the resumption of hearing on a motion filed by the anti-graft agency to counter an earlier injunction of the court.

Channels Television’s judiciary correspondent Shola Soyele, said that the court had on 13 July ruled in favour of an ex-parte motion filed before it by the Akwa Ibom State’s Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr Uwemedimo Nwoko.

Mr Nwoko had sought an order of interim injunction restraining the Federal Government or any of its agencies, including the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) from arresting, detaining or investigating any official of the state government.

The motion also sought the restraining of the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) and the Inspector General of Police from arresting, detaining or investigating any official of the state government, past or present, without any report of indictment by the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly.

However, the EFCC, through a motion on notice, filed on August 2, approached the court to quash the injunction.

At the resumption of the matter on Friday, counsel to the EFCC, Dr. Ben Ubi, told the court of an application dated 29 July and filed on the August 2, asking the court to vacate the restraining order.

In response, the Attorney General of Akwa Ibom State, Mr Nwoko argued that his seven days to respond to the EFCC’s application had not elapsed.

He said that he had filed a motion on notice for the enlargement of the lifespan of the interim injunction.

The judge, having listened to arguments on both sides, vacated the interim order of injunction and then adjourned the matter to October 19, 2016 for hearing of the preliminary objection of the EFCC alongside other applications.

The legal fireworks initiated by the Akwa Ibom State’s Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, against the EFCC and other agencies were sparked by a petition received by the EFCC against some governors and officials of the past regime in Akwa Ibom State.

The vacation of the restraining order on the EFCC has now paved ways for the Commission to continue its works in that regard.

It has also voided an earlier order restraining the Speaker of Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly; Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly; Clerk of Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly; Auditor General of Akwa Ibom State and the Accountant General of Akwa Ibom State from surrendering themselves or any document or financial records to the EFCC, ICPC or any other person.

Benue Deputy Governor Absolved Of Alleged Diversion Of 74m Naira

Benson Abounu Benue Deputy GovernorThe Benue State government has absolved the Deputy Governor, Mr Benson Abounu, of complicity and alleged diversion of 74 million Naira from from the bailout fund granted to Benue State in 2015.

The denial, followed the report published on April 23 by the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission (ICPC) on the disbursement of the bailout funds wherein, it alleged that 1.6 billion Naira was diverted in Benue State.

While the state accessed over 12. 5 billion Naira to pay civil servants their five months’ salary arrears, the ICPC said the office of the Deputy Governor received double payment of 37 million Naira each from the allegedly diverted 1.6 billion Naira from the bailout fund.

But the Commissioner for Information, Odeh Ageh, said the payments were made to settle outstanding salary arrears of the management and players of Lobi Football Club, nothing that that ICPC report was wrong.

Court Dismisses Oduah’s Rights Enforcement Suit

Stella-Oduah-SenatorA Federal High Court sitting in Lagos has dismissed a fundamental rights enforcement suit filed by a former Minister of Aviation, Stella Oduah, against the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and three others.

The suit was dismissed for want of jurisdiction on Wednesday after the court had postponed its judgment twice.

Justice Okon Abang, who has since been transferred to the Abuja division of the court returned to Lagos to deliver the judgment in line with the new provisions of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act.

The judge ordered the former Minister to pay a cost of 15,000 Naira to the AGF.

Mrs Oduah had filed the suit in August last year, urging the court to restrain agencies of the Federal Government from questioning or prosecuting her over the purchase of two armoured BMW vehicles at a cost of 255 million Naira by the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority under her watch as the Aviation Minister in 2013.

In her suit, Oduah claimed to have already been probed and exonerated by the House of Representatives Committee on Aviation and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission and urged Justice Abang to declare that any further probe would amount to violating her fundamental rights.

The respondents in the suit were the AGF, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission and the Inspector General of Police.

Oduah alleged that the ruling All Progressives Congress intended to use the respondents to persecute her, being a prominent member of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party.

She claimed that the Federal Government had perfected plans to try prominent members of the PDP on trumped up charges in a special Lagos State High Court, so as to turn the country into a one-party state.

She begged the court to restrain the respondents from unleashing repression against her.

But the EFCC denied doing the bidding of the APC, claiming that it was independent.

It furnished the court with a petition dated October 18, 2013 written by a lawyer from the chambers of Mr Femi Falana, calling for Oduah’s investigation.

According to the EFCC, the said petition was captioned: “Request for Investigation of Economic and Financial Crimes of the sum of 255 million Naira by Aviation Minister, Ms Stella Oduah”.

The EFCC urged the court to dismiss Oduah’s suit.

But in his judgment, Justice Abang dismissed the EFCC’s objection for not complying with ‘Order Eight Rule One’ of the Fundamental Rights Enforcement Procedure.

“The EFCC did not file any opposition in line with the law,” Justice Abang held.

The judge, however, upheld the preliminary objection filed by the AGF, who challenged the jurisdiction of the Federal High Court in Lagos to entertain Oduah’s suit.

Counsel for the AGF, T.A. Gazali, had contended that since the rights violation that Oduah alleged did not happen in Lagos, it would be a violation of Section 46 (1) of the constitution and Order Two Rule One of the Fundamental Rights Enforcement Procedure to entertain the case in Lagos.

“From the whole of the applicant’s averments, there is nowhere she mentioned that her right was or is being breached by the respondents within the territorial space called Lagos.

“There is nothing to show that the applicant was invited, arrested or detained in Lagos by any of the respondents in the suit.

“The Federal High Court sitting in Lagos cannot assume jurisdiction to entertain alleged breach of fundamental rights that did not take place in Lagos State,” Gazali argued.

Justice Abang upheld Gazali’s argument and dismissed Oduah’s case.

The judge also held that if the Federal Government had any valid reason to arraign Oduah in a Lagos State High Court as she alleged, it would not amount a violation of her right.

Meanwhile, in another judgment, Justice Abang also refused a prayer to stop the EFCC and the Department of State Services from arresting and probing a former Special Adviser to former President Goodluck Jonathan on Niger Delta Affairs and the Chairman of the Presidential Amnesty Programme, Kingsley Kuku.

The judge dismissed Kuku’s suit for lacking in merit, but restrained the respondents from detaining him beyond 48 hours in contravention of Section 35(4) (5) of the Constitution.

Court To Deliver Judgement On Stella Oduah’s Suit

stella_oduahA Federal High Court in Lagos has fixed January 25, 2016 to deliver judgment in the fundamental rights enforcement suit filed by a former Minister of Aviation, Mrs Stella Oduah, seeking to stop an alleged plan to prosecute her over the two armoured BMW cars allegedly purchased for 255 million Naira.

The vehicles are alleged to have been bought by the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority in 2013 during her tenure.

Justice Okon Abang adjourned for judgment on Tuesday after entertaining arguments from the parties in the suit.

Fighting An Anti-graft War

Oduah had sued the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission; the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission, the Attorney General of the Federation and the Inspector General of Police.

She claimed that the ruling All Progressives Congress’ government had perfected plans to use the defendants to persecute and humiliate her under the guise of fighting an anti-graft war.

She also alleged that the APC government had perfected plans to prosecute prominent members of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party, including herself, on trumped-up charges in a Lagos State government-controlled court.

She urged the court to stop the defendants from being used against her by the Federal Government.

She had on August 26, 2015 obtained an order of interim injunction from Justice Mohammed Yunusa restraining the defendants from taking any action against her pending the final determination of the suit.

But the AGF and the Inspector General of Police filed a preliminary objection, contending that Oduah failed to establish any cause of action against them, having not proved that she had been invited, arrested or detained by the AGF and the IGP.

They also challenged the jurisdiction of the Lagos division of the Federal High Court to hear Oduah’s suit on the grounds that the alleged rights violation did not take place in Lagos.

They further contended that by virtue of Section 46(1) of the constitution and Order 2 Rule 1 of the Fundamental Rights Enforcement Procedure, only a court within the state where Oduah’s rights were allegedly violated could hear the case.

The EFCC, had also described Oduah’s suit as baseless and speculative.

ICPC Urged To Uphold Professional Ethics

Governor Emmanuel Urged ICPC To Uphold Professional EthicsThe Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), has been urged to uphold professional ethics in the discharge of its responsibilities to sustain the confidence of Nigerians.

Governor Udom Emmanuel of Akwa Ibom State made the statement on Monday at a meeting with the leadership of the Commission in the Government House, Uyo, the state’s capital.

Governor Emmanuel, however, expressed confidence in the integrity of members of the Commission.

He also stressed that the members were selected on merit, noting that it would be impossible to use the Commission for witch-hunting.

Governor Emmanuel then used the occasion to further stress his administration’s commitment to transparency and accountability, which he said was key to his industrialisation policy in the state.

The Governor, nonetheless, decried the attitude of some individuals, whom he said were involved in writing frivolous petitions rooted in mischief.

Leader of the team and Secretary, south-south zone of ICPC, Mr Elvis Oglafa, said that the Commission was at the Government House to intimate Governor Emmanuel of the sensitisation program in the state which he said was aimed at taking the anti corruption campaign to the grassroots.

The event was attended by members of the State Executive Council.

ICPC Returns 980mln Naira Looted Funds

Ekpo-NtaThe Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission (ICPC), on Tuesday, returned to the coffers of the Ministry of Environment, 924 million Naira fraudulently diverted to different company accounts under the Great Green Wall Desertification Intervention Program of the Federal Government.

The Chairman of the Commission, Mr Ekpo Nta, said the ICPC was alerted on the forged payment which was presented to the Ministry’s bank by its Permanent Secretary  in December 2014.

The ICPC also recovered 56.2 million Naira from a Federal Pay Officer in Ogun State, being part of 103 million Naira diverted from funds appropriated for capital projects and meal subsidies of students of three Federal Government Colleges in the state.

Mr Nta said that the successes so far in the recovery and return of the looted public funds were hinged on the prompt alarms raised.