Nigerian Bags 22-Year Jail Term Over Human Trafficking

Franca AsemotaA female trafficking boss was sentenced to 22 years in prison on Thursday for using the threat of witchcraft to exert control over almost 40 women brought from Nigeria to Europe for sex work, a British court prosecutor said.

Franca Asemota was found guilty of conspiracy to traffic persons for sexual exploitation, trafficking persons outside of the UK for sexual exploitation and assisting unlawful migration.

Isleworth Crown Court in West London heard that Asemota was part of a criminal network that trafficked girls, boys and women to Europe, using the threat of “juju magic” and rituals with curses to exert control over her victims.

Prosecutor David Davies said Asemota targeted girls from poor, rural backgrounds with little knowledge of the world, promising them legitimate jobs in Europe between August 2011 and May 2012.

“Only when they were far away from their homes were they told the truth – that they would have to work as prostitutes,” Davies said in a statement.

“The girls were told that if they disobeyed their captors or tried to escape, the curse would cause them injury, infertility or even death.”

Asemota was extradited by Justice Abdul Kafarati of the Federal High Court, Abuja in January.

The court gave the consent to her extradition through the office of the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF).

She was accused of allegedly organising a network that trafficked young women, mostly teenagers, from remote Nigerian villages into Europe using Heathrow Airport as a transit hub.

The girls were promised education or jobs, such as hairdressing in countries including France and Spain, but were forced into prostitution.

Court Says Saraki Must Face Corruption Trial, Dismisses Application

Bukola SarakiA Federal High Court sitting in Abuja, Nigeria’s Federal Capital Territory, has dismissed an application by Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, seeking nullification of his ongoing trial at the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT).

The trial judge, Justice Abdul Kafarati, held that the CCT was a constitutional body, in the discharge of its legal obligation which should not be interfered with by a court of law.

Justice Kafarati said that he found that none of the claims fell within Chapter Four of the Nigerian Constitution and that the court could not interfere with the proceedings before the Tribunal.

The judge added that the court could not also interfere with the duties of the respondents which have been imposed on them by law

Senator Saraki is standing trial at the CCT for alleged false asset declaration and fraud. The trial began in September last year.

The Senate President had approached the court, asking it to put an end to his trial at the Tribunal, describing the trial as a breach of his fundamental human rights enshrined in Section Four of the Constitution and an obstruction to his duties at the National Assembly.

CCT Trial: Judge Accedes To Saraki’s Request, Orders Kafarati To Deliver Judgment

kidnappingThe Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, Justice Ibrahim Auta has acceded to the request by Senate President, Bukola Saraki to direct one of the judges serving under him, Justice Abdul Kafarati to deliver judgment in his (Saraki’s) case.

Saraki, who is standing trial for alleged false assets declaration before the Code of Conduct Tribunal had sued the Chairman, Danladi Umar and others involved in his trial before the Federal High Court.

Saraki in the suit is contending that his trial before the code of conduct tribunal, as currently constituted is a violation of his right, insisting there was no way he could get justice.

It is also Saraki’s contention that while the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) is currently investigating Umar for alleged bribery and at the same time prosecuting him before the tribunal, it will be impossible for the Chairman to do justice and act independently in his (Saraki’s) case.

Having taken arguments from parties in the case, Justice Kafarati had scheduled judgment for March 22, but when parties arrived court, he changed his mind at the last minute and informed parties that he was withdrawing from the case and returning the case file to Justice Auta for reassignment to another judge.

Justice Kafarati hinged his decision on publications by some on-line media, which he said had cast him in bad light and portrayed him as been biased.

With the case file returned to Justice Kafarati, judgment has been fixed for Friday, April 15.

Human Trafficking: Court Extradites Nigerian Fugitive, Asemota

Franca AsemotaJustice Abdul Kafarati of the Federal High Court sitting in Abuja has ordered the extradition of Franca Asemota, a Nigerian fugitive to the United Kingdom for offences bordering on trafficking of minors.

The court gave the consent to her extradition through the office of the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) on Wednesday.

Asemota, 36, was wanted by the UK government for trafficking of minors to Europe through London.

Forced Into Prostitution

She was accused of allegedly organising a network that trafficked young women, mostly teenagers, from remote Nigerian villages into Europe using Heathrow Airport as a transit hub.

The girls were promised education or jobs, such as hairdressing in countries including France and Spain, but were forced into prostitution.

However, the long arm of the law caught up with Asemota when she was arrested by the operatives of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, on Wednesday, March 24, 2015 in Benin , Edo State capital on suspicion of money laundering offences.

On arrest, checks on her profile revealed that, she had been on the wanted list of the National Crime Agency, NCA.

When the case came up on Monday, January 11, 2016, Asemota’s counsel, Ugochukwu Ezekiel, prayed the court to grant his client bail to enable her seek medical attention as she had spent almost a year in custody.

Akuta Ukeyima from the office of the AGF, however, opposed the application saying that, it would be better to ask for a short date for ruling on the substantive matter.

Consequently, Justice Kafarati adjourned to Wednesday, January 13 for ruling.

At the resumed sitting, Justice Kafarati granted the extradition request and ordered that the accused be extradited to the United Kingdom to face trial for the charges filed against her.

Court Strikes Out Suit Challenging Same Sex Law In Nigeria

High_courtA Federal High Court in Abuja has struck out a suit brought before it by a United Kingdom based Nigerian, Mr Teriah Ebah, contending that the newly enacted same sex marriage law, is inconsistent with the provisions of sections 34 and 37 of the Nigerian Constitution, as amended.

In his ruling, Justice Abdul  Kafarati said, Mr Ebah had no right to file a case of fundamental human rights for Nigerians, since the suit did not say his personal rights were deprived of him.

He also emphasised that there was no group in Nigeria known as the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender and that as such the case was lacking in merit and is thereby struck out.

In the suit, the applicant is seeking an order of perpetual injunction, restraining the Nigerian government, from enforcing the provisions of same sex marriage (prohibition) Act of 2013.

He urged the High Court to declare the law as unconstitutional, null and void. Mr Ebah also held that the provisions of the the Act against same sex marriages was an “impediment constituting disabilities to Nigeria citizens’ fundamental rights enshrined and protected in section 40 and 37 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria”,

APGA Faction Appoints Bianca Ojukwu As Leader

Bianca Ojukwu with her late husband Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu

The Maxi Okwu-led faction of the All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA, has appointed the wife of the late Chukwuemeka Ojukwu, Bianca Ojukwu as the new leader of the party

This is in line with an earlier resolution taken on March 22, 2013.

Addressing a news conference in Abuja at the end of the party’s National Executive Committee meeting, Acting National Publicity Secretary of the party, Stanley Chira, said that the new appointment takes immediate effect.

The party, however, frowned at the election time table released by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, saying that the electoral umpire never consulted any of the political parties before announcing the dates for the 2015 general elections.

Another faction of the All Progressives Grand Alliance, led by Victor Umeh, had in January appointed the Anambra State Governor, Peter Obi, as its National Leader and Chairman, Board of Trustees (BOT).

Umeh, stated that the choice of Obi was due to his contributions towards keeping the party alive in the past 11 years, and for particularly ensuring that an APGA member succeeds him on March 17, 2014 when his tenure ends.

A Federal High Court sitting in Abuja had sacked the National Executive of the APGA led by Mr Victor Umeh as National Chairman and Sani Shinkafi as National Secretary.

The court declared that Messrs Victor Umeh and Sani Shinkafi cannot continue to hold office as National Chairman and National Secretary in violation of the constitution of the party, which stipulates a maximum tenure of eight years.

The court also ruled that the valid national officers of the party were those led by Mr Maxi Okwu.

Lawyer to Messrs Umeh and Shinkafi, Mr Patrick Ikwueto, has filed a notice of appeal, challenging the verdict of the court on the grounds that the court lacked jurisdiction to entertain the suit.

Court Sacks Victor Umeh As APGA National Chairman

Victor Umeh, National Chairman Of All Progressives Grand Alliance.A Federal High Court sitting in Abuja has sacked the National Executive of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) led by Mr Victor Umeh as National Chairman and Sani Shinkafi as National Secretary.

In a judgement that lasted barely one hour, Justice Abdul Kafarati declares that Messrs Victor Umeh and Sani Shinkafi cannot continue to hold office as National Chairman and National Secretary in violation of the constitution of the party which stipulates a maximum tenure of eight years.

In a swift reaction, lawyer to Messrs Umeh and Shinkafi, Mr Patrick Ikwueto, filed a notice of appeal challenging the verdict of the court on the grounds that the court lacks jurisdiction to entertain the suit.

Delivering judgment in a suit filed by Mr Maxi Okwu and four others, Justice Abdul Kafarati held that the sacked officers have been in office for more than eight years in gross violation of article 18 sub section two of the party’s constitution.

Justice Kafarati added that the valid national officers of the party were those led by Mr Okwu.

While the lawyer to Mr Umeh declined commenting on the judgement, lawyer to Mr Okwu expressed satisfaction with the verdict of the court, adding that his principal has applauded the verdict.

The sacked National Secretary of APGA, however, presented a notice of appeal the party filed saying the court erred in giving judgement against the party.

The court also directed the Independent National Electoral Commission to deal with Mr Maxi Okwu and his executive as the duly elected national officers of the APGA.

Okwu, who was elected on April 8, 2013 during an APGA Congress held at the Women Development Centre in Awka, the Anambra State capital, insists that Sir Umeh’s tenure has expired.

 

Court Sacks Oyinlola As PDP Secretary

A Federal High Court in Abuja has sacked the National Secretary of the ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Olagunsoye Oyinlola.

Presiding judge, Justice Coram AbdulKafarati ruled that he could not have emerged as the nominee of the PDP in view of the two court judgement which nullified the congress.

The Judge held that the action of PDP and Mr Oyinlola amounted to criminal conduct and liable to be condemned to prison, being a flagrant disobedience to two court orders.

He further noted that Mr Oyinlola is not worthy to be recognized as the national secretary of the party and should vacate the office.

He therefore dismissed the preliminary objection brought by the defendants and granted all the reliefs sought by the plaintiffs.

The Ogun state chapter of the party had through its chairman, Adebayo Dayo instituted a suit challenging the nomination of Oyinlola by the South West Caucus on ground that two court judgments had nullified the South-West zonal congress through which he was nominated.

Court Orders AMCON To Reopen Capital Oil

A Federal High Court in Abuja has set aside an order which allowed the Asset Management Company of Nigeria (AMCON) to shut down the facilities of Capital Oil on November 13, 2012.

In setting aside the order, Justice Abdul Kafarati ruled that the court has the powers to set aside its orders especially when justice demands it does so.

He added that Capital Oil was an on-going concern when it was shut down and the business of AMCON is not to stifle businesses.

Justice Kafarati ordered AMCON to reopen the facilities while it retains the title deeds of the facilities and also enter into negotiation with the company on how to pay the debt.

The Judge had on November 13, ordered AMCON to take immediate possession of properties and assets of Capital Oil and Gas Industries Limited, following allegation that the oil firm is indebted to AMCON to the tune of N48.014 billion.

Capital Oil re-approached the High Court on November 22, and asked it to vacate the interim order.

Meanwhile an attempt by AMCON to get the court’s order to sell off proceeds stored in the company’s facility and an order as to where the money will be retained hit a brick wall.

Counsel to AMCON, Mr Ricky Tarfa standing on Order 28 of the court rules, asked the court to order the sales of products held in the capital oil storage facilities, he further asked that proceeds of the sale be held in an account as ordered by the court pending the determination of the owners of the fund.

Rejecting the oral application, counsel to Capital Oil told the court that such an application must come formally and besides that, products in the Capital Oil facility belong to the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).

Justice Kafarati ordered AMCON to bring a formal application as a result of the many interests on the products and adjourned the suit to the 15th of January 2013 for definite hearing.

Court threatens to free Boko Haram suspects

A Federal High Court sitting in Abuja has threatened to strike out the charges filed against nine suspected members of the fundamentalist sect, Boko Haram, by the police.

The presiding judge, Justice Abdul Kafarati frowned at the in-ability of the prosecution to bring their witnesses to give evidence in the case against the suspects.

At the resumed hearing of the suit on Thursday, the prosecution counsel, Bernard Nnamdi applied for an adjournment on account of their in-ability to produce the witnesses in court.

The police authorities have failed to present any witness since the suspects were arraigned 13 months ago.

Counsels representing the accused person opposed the application for adjournment and asked the court to discharge the accused persons for lack of diligent prosecution.

They also held that Section 280 of the Criminal Procedure Act empowers the court to discharge the accused persons, especially where proof of evidence does not link the accused persons to the alleged offence.

Justice Kafarati who was visibly angry, adjourned the matter till September 18, 2012 for further hearing, warning that the matter will be struck out if the prosecution failed to bring their witness to court on the next adjourned date.

The judge, who granted the police a last adjournment for Sept. 18, said that the prosecution counsel had not showed diligence in prosecuting the case.

“I should have discharged the accused persons today but I am compelled by justice to restrain such action and allow the prosecution one last chance” the Judge said.

Lamenting that the case has being adjourned four times, Justice Kafarti stated that “the court had adjourned this matter four times at the instance of the prosecutor, who had always promised to bring his witnesses to court but failed each time.”

“I shall, therefore, discharge the accused persons should the prosecution fail to bring the witnesses to court on the next adjourned date.”

The judge also ordered the police to serve the accused persons with the proof of evidence.“It is against the court procedure not to do that a year after the accused persons were arraigned,’’ Kafarati said.

Nine out of 21 persons accused of belonging to the Boko Haram sect have been standing trial while the remaining 15 are at large.

The nine suspects standing trial are alleged to have attacked Gwange Police Station in Maiduguri and engaged the policemen in a gun battle.

They are also accused of attacking a bank in the state and carting away a substantial amount of money.

 

Court dismisses suit to stop the reinstatement of Justice Ayo Salami

 A Federal High Court sitting in Abuja has dismissed a suit challenging the reinstatement of suspended President of Court of Appeal Justice Ayo Isa Salami. 

Justice Abdul Kafarati in his ruling observed that the plaintiff, Noah Ajare lacks reasonable cause of action.

According to the judge, the plaintiff “has no work to do and has plenty time to waste.”

The court further held that the second defendant, the National Judicial Committee (NJC) is not a creation of the law and cannot be sued.

Mr. Ajare had asked the court to stop President Goodluck Jonathan from reinstating the suspended President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Isa Ayo Salami.

Ajare argued that the suit Salami filed challenging his suspension is still pending in court thus taking any step to reinstate him at this point will further undermine the rule of law.

The plaintiff was also seeking an order of perpetual injunction restraining the defendants  from implementing, discussing and or rectifying the recommendations of the NJC in respect of Justice Salami pending the hearing and determination of any suit, so as not to set a wrong precedent.

In an affidavit in support of the originating summon, it was averred that the plaintiff is not against Salami’s reinstatement but wants due process to be followed.

The NJC had recommended that President Goodluck Jonathan, reinstate the suspended President of Court of Appeal, who was suspended last year after he fell out with the former Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Kastina Alu.