Court Issues New Date For Hearing Of Alleged Sabotage Of Cabotage Law

A Federal High Court in Lagos on Wednesday issued fresh hearing notice in the case filed by the former Director-General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Temisan Omatseye challenging alleged deliberate sabotage of the Cabotage Act.
The development, Omatseye claimed, had resulted in foreign vessel owners operating on Nigeria’s coastal waters fraudulently.
Omatseye, who instituted the suit through his company, Polmaz Nigeria Limited against the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), the Pipelines and Product Marketing Company (PPMC) and other foreign shipping companies, alleged that government agencies had been undermining the provisions of the Cabotage Act to the detriment of Nigerian ship owners.
The ex-NIMASA DG is alleging that foreign shipping companies had been operating on Nigeria’s coastal waters without obtaining licence or waivers from the Minister of Transport as required by the Cabotage Law.
The Coastal and Inland Shipping Act 2003, otherwise known as the Cabotage Act was enacted to make trading on the Nigeria’s territorial waters the exclusive preserve of Nigerian-flagged vessels.
The law, however, provided windows for waivers in order to engage foreign vessels when there are no indigenous vessels to do the jobs.
But for a decade of the existence of the law, indigenous ship owners have not benefited from the law, as government agencies in oil and gas industries have continued to engage foreign companies in Nigerian waters under the disguise of the waivers.
When the matter came up on Wednesday before Justice Ibrahim Buba, the defendants were not represented in court, while Omatseye, who is also a lawyer represented his company.
The judge thereafter issued fresh hearing notice and ordered that all the parties in the matter be served with the fresh notice.
The matter was consequently adjourned till February 18 for hearing.

Ikuforiji Made Cash Withdrawals 57 Times, Witness Tells Court

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has commenced the trial of the Speaker of the Lagos State House of Assembly, Hon. Adeyemi Ikuforiji and his Personal Assistant, one Oyebode Atoyebi.
Both men were arraigned before the Federal High Court, Lagos on a 54-count charge of money laundering.

The EFCC had alleged that the duo conspired between April 2010 and July 2011, to commit an illegal act of accepting cash payments amounting to N273.3 million from the Lagos State House of Assembly (LAHA) without going through a financial institution.

The anti graft commission called its first prosecution witness, Mr Adebayo Adedeji, an investigating police officer to give evidence today (Thursday).

The witness told the court, presided by Justice Ibrahim Buba, that the commission’s investigations revealed that Hon. Ikuforiji received cash payments from the accounts section of the Lagos State House of Assembly about 57 times.

Four cash release registers recovered from the state house of assembly, according to the investigation showed that the cash was released in favour of the Lagos speaker, and the second accused person, his personal assistant.

The cash sums were above the threshold stipulated by the Money Laundering Act.

The witness also testified that apart from obtaining the four cash release registers, some members of the State House of Assembly had also made statements which confirmed the payments.

The members who made statements include, Mr Adewale Olatunji a former Clerk of the house, Mrs Toyin Atekoja the Accountant, Mr Rotimi Abirua the Director of Finance, and Mr Kolawole Taiwo the Deputy Speaker of the house.

The Second accused person also made a statement to the EFCC where he admitted to collecting the money on behalf of the Lagos Speaker.

Counsel to the EFCC, Mr Godwin Obla (SAN) then tendered all the statements in court as well as the cash registers.

Also tendered was a statement made by Speaker Ikuforiji admitting that most of the monies  received by the second accused, had been in cash since he assumed office as his personal assistant.

The Speaker had also disclosed in the statements that cash payments had been the tradition of the Lagos State House of Assembly since his assumption into office as Speaker.

The court admitted all the documents as exhibits before adjourning till the 2nd of December for continuation of trial.

The EFCC had on June 24, re-arraigned the two accused persons before Justice Ibrahim Buba, on an amended 54-count charge of money laundering.

The accused had however, pleaded not guilty to the charge, and were granted bail in the sum of N1 billion each with two sureties each in the sum of N500 million.

The prosecution had alleged that the duo conspired between April 2010 and July 2011, to commit an illegal act of accepting cash payments amounting to N273.3 million from the LAHA without going through a financial institution.

The EFCC  had also alleged that Hon Ikuforiji used his position to misappropriate about N500 million of the LAHA’s funds.

He told the court that the offences contravened Section 18(a) of the Money Laundering (prohibition) Act 2011.

EFCC Re-arraigns Lagos Assembly Speaker, Gets N1billion Bail

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has re-arraigned the Speaker of the Lagos State House of Assembly, Adeyemi Ikuforiji, and his personal assistant, Oyebode Atoyebi for their alleged involvement in laundering over N273million belonging to the Lagos State House of Assembly.

Both men were on Monday, re-arraigned at the Federal High Court, Lagos before Justice Ibrahim Buba.

The offence is said to be contrary to Sections 18(A) of the Money laundering (Prohibition) Act 2011 and punishable under Section 16(2)(B) of the same Act.

They both pleaded not guilty to an amended 54-count charge and have been granted bail in the sum of N1billion each.

The court also made a bail condition for two sureties each in the sum of N5million each.

The sureties are to swear to an affidavit of means, while the two accused persons must give an undertaking that they would always be present in court for their trial.

“They would not be remanded in prison custody if they are able to perfect the bail conditions within 48 hours. But if they fail, a bench warrant will be issued against them” the Judge ruled.

The duo had earlier been arraigned on March 1, 2012 on a 20-count charge.

The trial is however to commence afresh following the retirement of the previous judge, Justice Okechukwu Okeke.

The fresh date for the trial is the 25th of September.