Alleged Fraud: Trial Of Kalu, Two Others Stalled

Alleged Fraud: Court Stalls Trial Of Kalu, Two OthersThe trial of a former Governor of Abia State, Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu, and two others on allegations of fraud was stalled at the Federal High Court in Lagos amid a heavy downpour.

The failure of the prosecution to serve the statement of one of its witnesses on the defence team halted the proceedings before Justice Mohammed Idris.

When the case came up on Monday, the court directed the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to call its first witness in the case.

The witness, Onovah Ovenevoh, was about to begin his testimony when lawyer to the second and third defendants, Solo Akuma, drew the court’s attention to the fact that his statement was not part of the proof of evidence given to him by the prosecution.

He said service of witness statement on the defence was a constitutional right and a facility that should be provided for an accused person as enshrined in Section 36(6)(b) of the 1999 Constitution.

Aligning himself fully with Mr Akuma’s submissions, lawyer to the former governor, Mike Ozhekome, urged the court to hold that since the prosecution has not provided the statement, the witness cannot testify.

Counsel to the EFCC, Rotimi Jacobs, however, urged the court to discountenance the submissions of the two defence lawyers.

He insisted that the witness was in court by virtue of a court’s order which summoned him to appear and as such, the Commission should not be concerned about providing his statement.

The court then fixed Tuesday, March 7 for ruling on the matter.

The defendants, Dr. Kalu, Udeh Jones Udeogu and Slok Nigeria Limited were arraigned on October 31, 2016 before the court by the EFCC on a 34-count charge of alleged 3.2 billion Naira fraud.

Funds Diversion: An EFCC Detective’s Testimony Against Amosu

Adesola Amosu, Air Force, EFCC, NIMASA, Tosin OwoboA witness has told a court how a former Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Adesola Amosu, and two other Air Force chiefs, diverted the sum of three billion naira paid to the Nigerian Air Force by the Nigerian Maritime and Safety Agency (NIMASA).

Mr Tosin Owobo, an Assistant Detective Superintendent with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), said the money was paid in response to a request made to the Director General of NIMASA at the time, Mr Patrick Akpobolokemi, by Air Marshal Amosu for assistance on maritime security.

The EFCC detective, a third prosecution witness, made the testimony on Wednesday in continuation of the trial of the former Air Force chiefs at the Federal High Court in Lagos State, southwest Nigeria.

He informed the court that investigations revealed that there was a Memorandum of Understanding between NIMASA and the Nigerian Air Force.

In furtherance of the memo, NIMASA in 2013 paid the sum of one billion Naira and 480 million Naira to the Nigerian Air Force under the leadership of former Chief of Defence Staff, Air Chief Alex Badeh.

In continuation of the agreement in 2014, the EFCC official testified that Mr Amosu wrote to Mr Akpobolokemi, requesting four billion Naira, as the cash amount needed for maritime security.

Mr Akpobolokemi was said to have instead approved the payment of three billion Naira, a sum which was reportedly released in three tranches of one billion Naira each between August and September 2014, and paid into a Nigerian Air Force Special Emergency Operations Account.

The witness added that authorisation for the three billion Naira to be paid into the special account was given by the Director of Accounts, Air Vice Marshal Jacob Bola Adigun, the second defendant in this case.

He, however, said that the monies were purportedly transferred from the special account to various oil and gas companies, all of whom have now been listed in the charge alongside the three Air Force chiefs.

The court admitted in evidence, the statements of accounts of the oil companies allegedly involved.

However, a move by the EFCC Counsel, Rotimi Oyedepo, to get the witness to delve into some of the content of the documents was rebuffed by the defence team.

The defence counsels objected the move on the grounds that the witness was not the maker of the documents neither was there an authentication obtained.

Justice Mohammed Idris consequently adjourned till Thursday, February 26 to rule on whether the witness can answer questions based on the documents and for continuation of the trial.

Court To Hear Suit Against Patience Jonathan On February 13

Patience Jonathan, Court, EFCCA Federal High Court in Lagos has adjourned hearing of the suit filed by wife of Nigeria’s former president, Mrs Patience Jonathan, against the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and six others till February 13.

In the suit, the former first lady claimed ownership of the sum of $15.5 million which was frozen by the EFCC after it obtained an order from the court.

Justice Mohammed Idris adjourned the proceedings after Mrs Jonathan’s lawyer, Mr Ifedayo Adedipe, made a case for more time to enable him serve his amended claims on the respondents.

There was no opposition to his request.

The other respondents in the case are Skye Bank Plc, a former aide to Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, Waripamo-Owei Dudafa and four other companies.

In a separate case before Justice Babs Kuewunmi, the companies pleaded guilty to the offence of laundering the said amount of money.

Mrs Jonathan, however, claimed that the money belonged to her, saying she was the sole signatory to the accounts of the companies.

She, however, denied ownership of the companies.

EFCC To Re-Arraign Former Oyo Governor Ladoja On Dec 14

EFCC To Re-Arraign Former Oyo Governor Ladoja On Dec 14A Federal High Court Sitting in Lagos has fixed December 14, for the re-arraignment of a former Governor of Oyo State, Rashidi Ladoja and one of his aides, Waheed Akanbi over an alleged 4.7 billion Naira fraud.

Justice Mohammed Idris fixed the date after ruling on an application by the EFCC seeking the issuance of a bench warrant on the two defendants for not making themselves available to answer to the charges against them.

Justice Idris turned down the application for the arrest of the defendants owing to the appearance of both men in court on Friday.

The court, however, refused the request of the defendants for a stay of proceedings in the matter pending the outcome of an appeal lodged at the Supreme Court against the ruling of the Lagos Division of the Appeal Court which ordered their trial.

The Appeal Court had held that the anti-graft agency has powers to prosecute them under the Money Laundering Prohibition Act of 2004.

Justice Idris therefore held that the request for a stay of proceedings was against the provisions of Section 306 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act of 2015.

In 2008, the EFCC had arraigned both men on a 10-count charge of laundering the 4.7 billion naira.

In the charge, the EFCC alleged that the duo conspired to convert properties and resources derived from an illegal act, with the intention of concealing their illicit origin.

The anti-graft agency also alleged that ex-Governor Ladoja used 42 million naira out of the proceeds to purchase an Armoured Land Cruiser SUV, and remitted about £600,000 to one, Bimpe Ladoja in London.

They had at the time challenged the charges and the powers of the EFCC to prosecute them but six years after, the Court of Appeal has paved the way for their re-arraignment.

Absence of EFCC Counsel Stalls Trial Of Jonathan’s Aide

Judges, Court, Judges, Court, Absence of EFCC Counsel Stalls Trial Of Jonathan's AideThe trial of Waripamo-Owei Emmanuel Dudafa, the former Special Assistant on Domestic Affairs to ex-President Goodluck Jonathan, could not go on Tuesday at the Federal High Court in Lagos, owing to the absence of the EFCC’s counsel, Mr Rotimi Oyedepo.

Presiding judge, Justice Muhammad Idris, told the court that he received a letter from the EFCC counsel seeking for an adjournment.

In the letter, Mr Oyedepo asked the court to grant the adjournment to enable him attend to an appeal filed by Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Mr Ricky Tarfa against the commission

Counsel to Mr Dudafa, Gboyega Oyewole, did not object to the request for an adjournment. He however informed the court that he was surprised that his client was not present in court.

Upon enquiry from the prison’s officials, Mr Oyewole said he was told that Dudafa is seriously sick.

He complained about the EFCC treatment of his client.

Justice Mohammed Idris has granted the prosecutor’s application and adjourned the matter till Thursday November 10, for the continuation of the defendants’ trial.

Dudafa and one Iwejuo Joseph Nna, are standing trial before Justice Mohammed Idris on alleged 5.1 billion naira fraud.

In the first count, the defendants on or about June 11, 2013 in Lagos allegedly conspired amongst themselves to conceal the sum of 1.667 billion Naira said to be the proceeds of crime.

The Offence was said to be contrary to Section 18(a) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) (Amendment) Act, 2012 and punishable under Section 17(a) of the same Act.

In the other charges, Mr Waripamo-Owei also allegedly used six companies – Seagate Property Development and Investment Limited, Avalon Global Property Development Company Limited, Ebiwise Resources, Pluto Property and Investment Company, Rotato Interlink Services and De Jakes Fast Food and Restaurant Nigeria Limited  – to conceal varying sums of money between June 2013 and April 2016.

The EFCC’s Prosecuting Counsel, Rotimi Oyedepo, had listed 21 witnesses to testify against the defendants, including Representatives of some banks.

Electricity Tariff: NERC Appeals Judgment of Lagos Court

NERCThe Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) has appealed against the judgement of a Federal High Court sitting in Lagos which declared as illegal the electricity tariff currently used in Nigeria by the 11 electricity distribution companies.

Acting Executive Secretary of the commission, Anthony Akan, described the ruling as a major setback on the progress made in the country’s electricity sector.

He added that while the commission respects the decision of the court, it would appeal the judgement because it represents a reversal of the commercial foundation on which power supply contracts in the sector were built.

Mr Akah said that the commission was dissatisfied with the judgement because it impinges on the ultimate destination of the power sector as a commercialized electricity market.

He explained, “The ultimate destination of a commercialized electricity market is to achieve stability and adequacy in the supply of electricity to satisfy the yearning of Nigerians for adequate, safe and reliable electricity supply.”

According to him, the multi-year tariff order which the judgement effected provides a long term path of determining in advance, what the tariff will look like and based on that a lot of improvement in the sector were recorded and are in progress.

The Judgment

Justice Mohammed Idris, who delivered judgment in a suit filed by a Lagos based lawyer, Mr. Toluwani Adebiyi, challenging the increment, described NERC’s action as irrational, irregular and illegal.

The court, while relying on Sections 31, 32 and 76 of the Electricity Power Sector Reform Act (EPSRA) 2005, in deciding the substantive suit, held that, “NERC acted outside the powers conferred on it by the Act and failed to follow the prescribed procedure.

The court was also of the view that “NERC has not shown that it acted in due obedience to the prescribed procedures and that there is no evidence that NERC complied with Section 76(6)(7) and (9) of the EPSRA Act.

The court further held that “of all the legal requirements, it appeared the only one complied with by NERC was that it announced the new tariff in the newspapers.

The court said that, “it is clear from the affidavit evidence that the increase in tarriff was done by NERC in defiance of the order of the court made on May 28, 2015 which directed parties in the case to maintain the status quo”.

On this issue, the court said, “the law is that every person upon whom an order is made by a court of competent jurisdiction must obey it, unless and until the order is discharged and set aside at the Appeal.

Consequently, the court held that,” the tariff increase from July 1, 2015 was done in breach of the ‘status quo’ order”, adding that “NERC’s action, was therefore, clearly hasty, reckless and irresponsible”.

Speaking further, Justice Idris said, “this country is in a democracy where the rule of law shall prevail over impunity or whimsical desires. Anything to the contrary will be an invitation to anarchy.

“It is the law that what is done officially must be done in accordance with the law. Investors are free to do business in Nigeria but they shall abide by the law of this country. Nigeria is not a kangaroo State. Nigeria is not a banana Republic.

“It is intolerance and extremely dangerous for any branch of the Executive to create a posture it may not obey certain orders of the court. That is tantamount to Executive recklessness which will lead to lawlessness”, he said.

In view of these, the court while invoking its disciplinary jurisdiction, ordered that “the increment in electricity tariff which took effect after the institution of this action and while a restraining order is subsisting is hereby declared illegal and same is hereby set aside.

“NERC is hereby directed to reverse to the status quo and the commission is hereby restrained from further increasing electricity tariff except it complies strictly with the relevant provisions of the EPSRA”, the court said.

The sum of 50,000 Naira was awarded in favour of the plaintiff.

Court Orders NERC To Reverse Increase In Electricity Tariff

Jimoh Ibrahim, NICON, Global FleetThe Federal High Court sitting in Lagos has annulled the increment in electricity tariff recently announced by the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC).

Justice Mohammed Idris, who delivered judgment in a suit filed by a Lagos based lawyer, Mr. Toluwani Adebiyi, challenging the increment, described NERC’s action as irrational, irregular and illegal.

The court, while relying on Sections 31, 32 and 76 of the Electricity Power Sector Reform Act (EPSRA) 2005, in deciding the substantive suit, held that, “NERC acted outside the powers conferred on it by the Act and failed to follow the prescribed procedure.

The court was also of the view that “NERC has not shown that it acted in due obedience to the prescribed procedures and that there is no evidence that NERC complied with Section 76(6)(7) and (9) of the EPSRA Act.

The court further held that “of all the legal requirements, it appeared the only one complied with by NERC was that it announced the new tariff in the newspapers.

The court said that, “it is clear from the affidavit evidence that the increase in tarriff was done by NERC in defiance of the order of the court made on May 28, 2015 which directed parties in the case to maintain the status quo”.

On this issue, the court said, “the law is that every person upon whom an order is made by a court of competent jurisdiction must obey it, unless and until the order is discharged and set aside at the Appeal.

Consequently, the court held that,” the tariff increase from July 1, 2015 was done in breach of the ‘status quo’ order”, adding that “NERC’s action, was therefore, clearly hasty, reckless and irresponsible”.

Speaking further, Justice Idris said, “this country is in a democracy where the rule of law shall prevail over impunity or whimsical desires. Anything to the contrary will be an invitation to anarchy.

“It is the law that what is done officially must be done in accordance with the law. Investors are free to do business in Nigeria but they shall abide by the law of this country. Nigeria is not a kangaroo State. Nigeria is not a banana Republic.

“It is intolerance and extremely dangerous for any branch of the Executive to create a posture it may not obey certain orders of the court. That is tantamount to Executive recklessness which will lead to lawlessness”, he said.

In view of these, the court while invoking its disciplinary jurisdiction, ordered that “the increment in electricity tariff which took effect after the institution of this action and while a restraining order is subsisting is hereby declared illegal and same is hereby set aside.

“NERC is hereby directed to reverse to the status quo and the commission is hereby restrained from further increasing electricity tariff except it complies strictly with the relevant provisions of the EPSRA”, the court said.

The sum of N50,000 was awarded in favour of the plaintiff.

The court had earlier held that it indeed has the jurisdiction to entertain the matter.

In deciding on the issue of jurisdiction, the court made explanations on four issues: These are: whether or not the suit was properly commenced; whether or not the plaintiff has ‘locus standi’ to file the action; whether or not the suit was statute barred and whether or not the suit disclosed a reasonable cause of action.

On the first issue, the court held that the suit was properly commenced by originating summons.

“Having looked at the affidavit evidence, it is my view that there are no substantial disputes of facts on the materials needed for the determination of this suit. I therefore hold that this suit is properly commenced by an originating summons. The originating summons filed by the plaintiff contains the questions for determination and the reliefs sought from the court in compliance with the rules of the court”.

EFCC Arraigns Former Air Force Boss, Amosu, 10 Others

EFCC
Former Chief of Air staff, Air Marshal Adesola Amosu (Rtd)

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has arraigned a former Chief of Air staff, Air Marshal Adesola  Amosu (Rtd) and 10 others before a Federal High Court sitting in Lagos.

The former Chief of Air Staff was arraigned alongside Air Vice Marshal Jacob Adigun, Air Commodore Gbadebo Olugbenga and 7 companies.

The Companies are Delfina Oil and Gas Ltd, Mcallan Oil And Gas Ltd, Hebron Housing and Properties Company Ltd, Trapezites BDC, Fonds and Pricey Ltd, Deegee Oil and Gas Ltd, Timsegg Investment Ltd and Solomon Health Care Ltd.

The EFCC formally accused them of converting about N22.8bn from the Nigeria Air Force around March 5, 2014 in Lagos.

They were also accused of concealing “proceeds of crime” and thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 18(a) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) (Amendment) Act, 2012 and punishable under Section 17(a).

The defendants allegedly used the companies to convert and conceal the money.

When the 26 count charge was read to them, they all pleaded not guilty and their lawyers made a case for them to be admitted to bail either on self-recognizance or in the most liberal terms.

The EFCC Counsel, Rotimi Oyedepo, had no objections to the court granting them bail but he urged the court to impose conditions that will secure their attendance in court for their trial.

After listening to their submissions, Justice Mohammed Idris, granted the defendants bail in the sum of N500m each with two sureties in like sum.

The sureties shall be landed property owners within the jurisdiction of the court.

The documents of the properties must be deposited in court and verifiable by the registrar. The court also asked the defendants to deposit their international passport with the registrar of the court.

Before the bail conditions are met however, the first and third defendants are to be remanded in prison while the second defendant, who had written a letter to the EFCC on his poor state of health, will be remanded in the Commission’s custody.

Further proceedings were then fixed for July 8.

Court Fixes June 20 To Rule On Bail Application Of Jonathan’s Aide

Synagogue, CourtA Federal High Court sitting in Lagos will decide on Monday June 20 whether or not to grant bail to a former Special Assistant on Domestic Affairs to former president, Goodluck Jonathan, Dudafa Waripamo-Owei.

Dudafa and one Iwejuo Joseph Nna are facing a 23 count charge bordering on fraud totaling about N5billion.

Yesterday, they were arraigned before Justice Mohammed Idris, who subsequently fixed Thursday, June 16 for the hearing of their bail applications.

When the case was called, counsel to the former President’s aide, Mr Gbenga Oyewole, cited certain provisions of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act and the 1999 Constitution as amended to make a case for his client to be admitted to bail.

He insisted that his client is a person of integrity who has held public office since 2003 and as such would not jump bail.

He also told the court that the former presidential aide suffered from a spinal cord injury and was actually on his way abroad for treatment when he was arrested.

He urged the court to exercise its discretion in favour of the defendant and grant him bail in the most liberal terms.

Counsel to the second accused, Mr Sunday Abumere aligned himself with Mr Oyewole’s submission.

The EFCC prosecutor, Mr Rotimi Oyedepo, however vehemently opposed the application.

He told the court that the former presidential aide is a flight risk as the defense of ill-health was an after thought, with no document from an expert to back it up.

The counsel also told the court that the defendant had procured a fake surety, who submitted forged documents when he was earlier granted administrative bail by the EFCC.

The possibility of the first defendant tampering with other suspects said to be at large was another basis for which the prosecution urged the court to refuse bail.

Justice Idris was told that the EFCC had intelligence report indicating that it would not be in the interest of justice to grant the former presidential aide bail.

For the second accused person, the prosecution told the court that he was also a flight risk, having being suspended from his job as a Branch Manager at Heritage Bank.

After listening to all the submissions, Justice Idris fixed June 20 for ruling and ordered the defendants to be remanded in prison custody pending the ruling on their bail applications.

EFCC Charges Jonathan’s Aide, Waripamo-Owei

EFCC, Dudafa Waripamo-Owei, Goodluck JonathanThe Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has filed a 23-count charge against the Senior Special Assistant on Domestic Affairs to former President Goodluck Jonathan, Dudafa Waripamo-Owei.

Channels Television’s judiciary correspondent, Shola Soyele, who obtained a copy of the charge, said that Mr Waripamo-Owei was charged alongside one Iwejuo Joseph Nna, also known at various times as Taiwo Ebenezer and Olugbenga Isaiah.

In the first count, the defendants on or about June 11, 2013 in Lagos allegedly conspired amongst themselves to conceal the sum of 1.667 billion Naira said to be the proceeds of crime.

The Offence was said to be contrary to Section 18(a) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) (Amendment) Act, 2012 and punishable under Section 17(a) of the same Act.

In the other charges, Mr Waripamo-Owei also allegedly used six companies – Seagate Property Development and Investment Limited, Avalon Global Property Development Company Limited, Ebiwise Resources, Pluto Property and Investment Company, Rotato Interlink Services and De Jakes Fast Food and Restaurant Nigeria Limited  – to conceal varying sums of money between June 2013 and April 2016.

The EFCC’s Prosecuting Counsel, Rotimi Oyedepo, had listed 21 witnesses to testify against the defendants, including Representatives of some banks.

The accused have been scheduled for arraignment on Wednesday before Justice Mohammed Idris of the Federal High Court in Lagos, Nigeria’s commercial capital.

Rights Enforcement Suit: Court Allows Fresh Evidence Of Rickey Tarfa

Rickey-TarfaA Federal High Court sitting in Lagos has allowed a Senior Nigerian lawyer, Rickey Tarfa, to file additional evidence in support of his fundamental rights enforcement suit against the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

Justice Mohammed Idris on Wednesday, said that the EFCC would suffer no injury if Mr Tarfa’s “further and better affidavit” was allowed, stressing that it would better serve the interest of justice to allow the document.

Mr Tarfa had filed the additional evidence in opposition to an allegation by the EFCC that he offered a bribe of 225,000 Naira to Justice Mohammed Yunusa of the Federal High Court.

In the fresh evidence, a former member of  Tarfa’s law firm, one Mohammed Awal Yunusa, claimed to be the owner of an Access Bank account, which the EFCC had alleged belongs to Justice Yunusa.

The lawyer had earlier admitted that he and some friends donated the money to the judge for the burial of his father-in-law.

The EFCC’s counsel, Wahab Shittu, had opposed the fresh evidence, insisting it was an afterthought.

Justice Idris had ruled in Mr Tarfa’s favour on the grounds that a party should be allowed to bring any evidence or material that would aid his case.

Mr Tarfa had approached the court asking it to award him the sum of 2.5 billion Naira as damages against the EFCC over his unlawful arrest and detention.

Joined as defendants are: the Commission’s acting chairman, Ibrahim Magu, the EFCC operatives that arrested him, Moses Awolusi, and the Deputy Director Operations, EFCC, Lagos office, Iliyasu Kwarbai.

Apart from the monetary compensation, Tarfa also asked the court to compel the defendants to release his two mobile handsets allegedly collected from him on Friday, February, 5.

He stated that the EFCC intended to destroy all information, data and other retrievable materials stored in the two handsets.

Mr Tarfa also sought an order urging the court to direct the defendants to release his Mercedes Benz SUV with registration Number, KJA 700CG unlawfully seized from him.

The Senior Advocate of Nigeria also asked the court to order the EFCC, Magu and the other defendants to publicly apologise to him in at least two widely circulated national newspapers, on social media and the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) as well as Channels Television within 24 hours from the day of the judgment of the suit.

He asked for an order of perpetual injunction restraining all the defendants and their agents from further violating his rights.

Hearing of the application has been fixed for Thursday, March 3.

Court Orders Nigerian Leaders To Account For Recovered Stolen Funds

Nigerian-Leaders-from-1999A Federal High Court on Tuesday ordered the government of President Muhammadu Buhari to ensure that his government, the governments of former President Olusegun Obasanjo, former President Umaru Yar’adua and former President Goodluck Jonathan account fully for all recovered funds.

The Court sitting in Lagos declared that successive governments since the return of democracy in 1999 breached the fundamental Principles of Transparency and Accountability for failing to disclose details about the spending of recovered stolen public funds.

Justice Mohammed Idris made the order while delivering judgment in a Freedom of Information suit filed by a non-governmental organisation, Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP).

In an interview with Channels Television’s judiciary correspondent, Shola Soyele, SERAP’s Executive Director, Adetokunbo Mumuni, said the onus was now on the Accountant General of the Federation working closely with the Central Bank of Nigeria and other relevant organisations of the government to comply with the court’s order.

“The information we received was that certain recoveries were made from Abacha, some from Ibori and some other public servants.

“We are not able to see. For Abacha alone it was about six billion dollars.  If such monies were recovered, we should be able to see on ground where those monies went in terms of expenditures.

“In spite of such recoveries, there has been no serious improvement on the road networks in Nigeria, nothing like improvement in the health facilities in Nigeria, the electricity system is still very comatose.

“That is why we think that whatever happens, this is a democracy, you must let the people know what going on. It is as simple as that,” Mr Mumuni said.

One of such recovered loots that Nigerians will like to know how it was utilised is the loot of a former military leader, General Sanni Abacha.

The National Economic Council had in December last year said the loots recovered from late General Abacha was $26.4 million and £19 million as at November.