An associate of a former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Diezani Alison-Madueke, Kolawole Aluko, has lost his bid to reclaim some of his assets forfeited to the Federal Government.
One of the assets is a mansion in Abuja, which the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) says is valued at about $18 million.
Justice Elfrieda Williams-Dawodu, who read the lead judgement in a three- man panel of the Court of Appeal, Abuja Division, described the appeal filed by Aluko as unmeritorious and dismissed it.
She further upheld the argument by counsel to the EFCC, Victor Ukagwu, that the January 14, 2020, judgement by Justice Okon Abang of the Federal High Court be affirmed.
Justice Williams-Dawodu, in affirming the Federal High Court judgement, held that the Court of Appeal found no reason to disturb the finding of the trial court.
In his appeal, Aluko challenged the January 14, 2020, judgement by Justice Abang. In the said judgement, Justice Abang granted the EFCC’s application for final forfeiture of the assets traced to Aluko.
In the application argued by Ukagwu, the EFCC had said the $18m Abuja mansion which is “very close to the seat of power at the Presidential Villa, is made up of a guest house, boys quarters, security outpost, swimming pool and underground control room for the remote control of electrical appliances in the property.
“The property is furnished with luxury and very expensive items.”
Justice Abang had, in an earlier ruling in 2016, ordered the temporary forfeiture of the Abuja mansion and five other properties.
The five other properties include Plot 1390 Tiamiyu Savage, Victoria Island, Lagos and Plot 1391, Tiamiyu Savage, Victoria Island, popularly called Avenue Towers.
The trial of a former chairman of the defunct Pension Reform Task Team, Abdulrasheed Maina continued in Abuja on Monday.
At the resumed trial, the judge, Justice Okon Abang ordered the embattled former pension boss to open his defence on January 26, 2021.
Maina’s lawyer, Anayo Adibe had earlier asked for an adjournment on the ground that he is unable to proceed with his no-case submission due to his inability to access the certified true copy of the court’s record of proceedings.
The application for adjournment was opposed by the prosecutor who insists that it is only a ploy to stall the trial.
Justice Abang after listening to both parties foreclosed the right of Maina’s counsel to present a no-case submission as he orders the defendant to open his defence on the next adjourned of January 26 and 27, 2021.
Speaking after the court ruling, Adibe told Channels Television that the legal team is very ready to open defence.
“We are very ready to open our defence but it’s just that we have made an application for the opening of no-case submission to be made which has been refused and foreclosed. We are going to appeal that.
“However, we intend to continue our representation for the first defendant. Therefore, we are very ready to open our defence.”
The Federal Government is prosecuting Mr Maina on a 12-count charge of fraud and money laundering.
The Court of Appeal sitting in Abuja has nullified the conviction and seven years jail term imposed on a former spokesperson of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Olisa Metuh, by Justice Okon Abang of the Federal High Court, Abuja.
A three-man panel of the court led by Justice Stephen Adah in a unanimous judgment held that the proceedings of the Federal High Court leading to the conviction of Metuh and his company, Destra Investment Limited, were tainted with bias and therefore must not be allowed to stand.
Justice Adah who delivered the lead judgment on Wednesday held that the utterances of the trial judge, Justice Okon Abang, in the course of the trial, established that he was biased against the convicts.
The Appellate Court, therefore, ordered that trial be conducted afresh.
He directed that the case file be sent back to the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court for reassignment to another judge other than Justice Abang.
Justice Abang had in his judgment delivered on February 25, sentenced Metuh to seven years imprisonment for fraudulently receiving N400 million from the office of the then National Security Adviser, Colonel Sambo Dasuki (retired).
The trial of Faisal Maina before Justice Okon Abang of the Federal High Court, Abuja continued on Wednesday, November 25, 2020, with the testimony of the third prosecution witness, Rouqayya Ibrahim, a Principal Detective Superintendent (PDS) with the EFCC.
Faisal Maina, son of Abdulrasheed Maina, former chairman, Pension Reform Task Team, is being prosecuted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on a three-count of money laundering and false declaration of assets.
This was disclosed in a statement signed on Wednesday by EFCC spokesperson, Wilson Uwujaren.
Uwujaren in the statement explained that the witness in his testimony stated that Faisal Maina made contradictory statements concerning the registration of a company he allegedly used in siphoning funds to the tune of N58million.
According to Ibrahim, the defendant stated upon interrogation that Northrich Properties International Nigeria Limited was registered by one Barrister Oladosu F Ariyo; that the names of its directors are: Abdurrasheed Faisal, Muhammed Abore and Salisu Maina Maina Usman and that he received payments through bank transfer from one Alhaji Abdullahi of Faisal Farms.
“We asked him questions regarding his written statement of October 3, 2019, regarding the company because we noticed that he did not declare his assets. And also, regarding Faisal Farms’ bank account and the funding of the account, Faisal, stated that the company, Faisal Farms, has two signatories, his father, himself and that he was a signatory to the account,” the witness said, revealing in the contrary, that Faisal Farms does not have a farm, and that the defendant told the EFCC in his statement that the account was his personal account, funded by his parents.
According to the PW3, the defendant was shown the deed of assignment between one Mrs. Rose AF Molueke and Faisal Abdurrasheed Maina concerning a house bought for him by his father in 2003, and he denied knowing the buyers of the said house and plots of land.
“When he filed the asset declaration form, there is a space for the immovable asset in or outside Nigeria and he declared only one house as a gift from his father, but he did not declare the house that I just read out from his statement of October 4, 2019, and there is also a part in the asset declaration form, part ‘K’ where he is supposed to mention if there are properties where he has interest as a beneficiary, trustee or being filled on his behalf, all were filled as none,” the witness said.
The witness further pointed out that there were companies and properties the defendant failed to declare and was also operating an account which he is not the owner of the business name.
Faisal Maina has not been in court nor sent legal representation in the four consecutive adjournments of his trial since November 26, 2019, when he was released on bail, prompting Justice Abang to revoke his bail and issue a bench warrant against him.
He also ruled that his trial will continue in his absence on November 18, 2020.
Additionally, the judge ruled that his surety, Hon Sani Umar San Galadima, of the House of Representatives, representing Kaura Namoda Federal Constituency of Zamfara State should appear in court on Wednesday to show cause why he should not forfeit his N60million bail bond for his failure to produce the defendant in court.
The matter was adjourned till December 4, 2020, for a hearing on the application for forfeiture of the surety’s bail bond.
He said the heavy work load on the court has made it impossible to deliver the ruling today, adding that a new date for the ruling will be communicated to all the parties before the close of work on Thursday.
Arguments were later taken from both prosecution and defence counsel whether or not to proceed with the trial considering the ill health of the defendant.
Following a medical report presented by Maina, the Prosecutor asked the court for an adjournment to the 21st and 22nd of November to enable the Nigerian Correctional Service ascertain the true state of Mister Maina’s health and his fitness to stand trial.
The Prosecutor however says if the court is not prepared to grant the application for adjournment, he is ready to continue with the trial since his first witness is already in court.
Justice Abang therefore adjourned the trial to 21st and 22nd of November.
The former chairman of Pension Reform Task Team (PRTT) is being tried by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) over an alleged N2 billion fraud.
He was on October 25 arraigned alongside a firm, Common Input Property and Investment Limited before Justice Abang.
He is being prosecuted by the Federal Government on 12 counts bordering on alleged N2 billion pension fund fraud, money laundering, and operating fictitious bank accounts among other fraudulent activities.
A Federal High Court in Abuja presided over by Justice Okon Abang has dismissed a suit filed by Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore.
The suit is challenging and seeking to restrain the 2017 Open Grazing Prohibition and Establishment Law passed by the Benue State House of Assembly
The court, on Thursday, also awarded a cost of N100, 000 against the plaintiff to be paid to all the 14 defendants before any other step can be taken in the suit.
The Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore had earlier approached the court with a prayer seeking a mandatory injunction of the court restraining the Benue State government from implementing the law as passed by the Benue State House of Assembly
Justice Abang predicated his decision on the failure of the plaintiff to comply with an earlier order of the court delivered 19 months ago directing them to file an amended originating summons.
Benue Anti-Open Grazing Law
The Benue State government on November 1, 2017 officially effected its ban on open grazing throughout the state.
This was after Governor Samuel Ortom on May 22, signed the anti-open grazing and anti-kidnapping, abduction, cultism and terrorism bills into law.
According to the governor, the anti-grazing law would put to an end to incessant clashes between herdsmen and farmers in Benue State.
He lamented the destruction of lives and property in clashes involving farmers and herdsmen over the years, and promised to promote ranching since it had proved to be the best way of rearing livestock globally.
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has said that it will meet and do the needful, following the judgment of a Federal High Court in Abuja on the issuance of Certificate of Return to Rochas Okorocha.
Justice Okon Abang ordered INEC, to immediately issue the certificate to the immediate-past governor of Imo State, Rochas Okorocha, as the Senator-Elect for the Imo West Senatorial District.
According to a statement by INECs National Commissioner and Chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee, Festus Okoye, the electoral umpire had been served with an order of a High Court of Imo State, directing the Commission not to issue a Certificate of Return to any of the candidates that contested the Imo West Senatorial District election.
However, the statement stressed that the judgment of the Federal High Court is the latest, but the Commission is currently undertaking State level reviews of the 2019 general elections and all the National Commissioners are either in or heading to their States of Supervision to coordinate activities.
See the statement below:
“INDEPENDENT NATIONAL ELECTORAL COMMISSION
ON THE ISSUANCE OF CERTIFICATE OF RETURN FOR IMO WEST SENATORIAL DISTRICT
The attention of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has been drawn to the judgement of the Federal High Court, Abuja, presided over by the Hon. Justice Okon Abang, directing the Commission to issue a Certificate of Return to Rochas Okorocha as the Senator-elect for Imo West Senatorial District.
The Commission is also aware of and has been served with the Order of a High Court of Imo State, presided over by Hon. Justice Njemanze, directing the Commission not to issue a Certificate of Return to any of the candidates that contested the Imo West Senatorial District election. The Order from the High Court of Imo State was issued on 23rd May 2019 and the suit has been further adjourned to 26th June 2019.
The Commission is aware that the judgement delivered by the Federal High Court, Abuja is the latest in time and determined the rights of the parties in relation to the subject matter of the Certificate of Return, in respect of the Imo West Senatorial Election.
The Commission is currently undertaking State level reviews of the 2019 general elections and all the National Commissioners are either in or heading to their States of Supervision to coordinate activities relating to the said review.
In view of the import and directives of the said judgement, the Commission will meet as soon as practicable to do the needful.
As a law-abiding institution, the Commission will continue to obey judgements of all courts of competent jurisdiction.
However, the Commissions overriding consideration is the safety of its ad-hoc staff, Electoral Officers and Collation/Returning Officers and is worried that if electoral impunity is allowed to flourish, any individual can harass, intimidate and put the Commissions officers under duress, procure a favourable declaration and be rewarded with a Certificate of Return.
The Court of Appeal in Abuja has adjourned indefinitely the hearing into the leadership crisis rocking the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
A three-man panel of justices led by Justice Ibrahim Saulawa, suspended hearing on the matter to await the outcome of a related case pending before another court in Port Harcourt, the Rivers state capital.
The decision followed a motion filed by the Ali Modu sheriff faction of the party.
The group’s counsel, Akin Olujinmi, asked the court not to attend to the suit filed by the senator Ahmed Markafi-led faction.
The defense counsel’s argument was based on the fact that the Port Harcourt division of the court has already reserved judgement on the matter.
In that suit, the appellants are challenging a verdict that Justice Okon Abang of the Federal High Court in Abuja delivered on June 30, which recognized Sheriff as national chairman of the party.
The Court of Appeal in Abuja has adjourned indefinitely the hearing into the leadership crisis rocking the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
A three-man panel of justices led by Justice Ibrahim Saulawa suspended hearing on the matter to await the outcome of a related case pending before another court in Port Harcourt, the Rivers state capital.
The decision followed a motion filed by the Ali Modu Sheriff faction of the party.
The group’s counsel, Akin Olujinmi, asked the court not to attend to the suit filed by the Senator Ahmed Markafi-led faction.
The defence counsel’s argument was based on the fact that the Port Harcourt division of the court has already reserved judgement on the matter.
In that suit, the appellants are challenging a verdict that Justice Okon Abang of the Federal High Court in Abuja delivered on June 30, which recognised Sheriff as national chairman of the party.
A Federal High Court in Abuja, has heard how 752,00 dollars was paid into a special account belonging to former Chief of Defence Staff, Air Chief Marshal Alex Badeh.
According to a release from the EFCC, a prosecution witness, Fatima Daku told the court that the money she credited into Badeh’s “Visa Gold account” was brought to the bank by his ADC and orderly.
While being led in evidence by prosecuting counsel, Rotimi Jacobs (SAN), she told the court that Badeh’s ADC, Tom Gani, and his orderly, whose name she didn’t know, were the ones that usually bring the dollar cash to her at the bank for onward payment into Badeh’s account.
“I can’t remember the name of the orderly, but I always handed over the customer’s copy of the deposit slip to them, and kept that of the bank,” she said.
She further told the court that upon a request from the EFCC in May, indicating that Badeh was under investigation, the Internal Audit of the bank furnished the anti-graft agency with the requested documents relating to the account, including certificate of identification, vouchers, statement of account and other relevant documents. The document was subsequently admitted in evidence as G1 – G14.
Defence counsel, Akin Olujinmi (SAN), who took time to go through the various tellers in the exhibits, noted that the name of Badeh was not on the tellers, but instead, they had the name of Daku on them, with the exception of one or two, which “self” had written at the space for depositor’s name.
Taking her up on the tellers, Olujinmi alluded to the fact that “self” implied the person who was filling the teller, which in the instance was the banker. He argued that the said cash deposits could not be directly linked to Badeh.
Daku, under re-examination by Jacobs, was asked to make clarification on why she put her name on some of the tellers and “self” on others. The question was objected to by Olujinmi, who argued that “re-examination was not meant to be an opportunity for the prosecution to recoup.”
Quoting from Section 215 of the Evidence Act, Jacobs, however, insisted that the question was in order, as long as it is to enable the witness make clarifications to comments made during cross-examination.
Justice Abang, after listening to both arguments, overruled Olujinmi’s objection, ruling that a witness under re-examination, can be allowed to make clarification about statements made earlier, noting that the account name was Alex Badeh, though Daku’s name was on some of the tellers, and “self” was on others.
Daku, however, explained that “self” meant owner of the bank account, adding that: “As relationship manager, I filled in the teller of June 13, 2013 for the payment of the $50,000 in the account, and credited it with the money, but the two officers were the ones that brought the money.”
She explained further that though several of the tellers had her name, and Badeh never came personally to make the deposits, “the money did not belong to me, and they were brought to the bank by the two officers”.
Daku had on November 14, 2016 told the trial judge that she opened the account for Badeh between 2012 and 2013 was subsequently credited with about $752,000. The account, according to her, could not be operated over the counter except in case of cash deposits.
The former defence chief is being prosecuted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, along with his company, Iyalikam Nigeria Limited.
He is standing trial on charges of abusing his office by withdrawing 1.4 billion naira from the accounts of the Nigerian Air Force to purchase properties in choice areas of Abuja between January and December, 2013.
Trial judge, Justice Okon Abang, has adjourned to November 22, 2016 for continuation of hearing.
A special panel of the Court of Appeal has approved Mr Eyitayo Jegede’s request to appeal the judgement of a court that led to the substitution of his name with that of Mr Jimoh Ibrahim as the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party in the forthcoming Ondo State Governorship election.
The panel is handling appeals emanating from the primary election of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Ondo State for which an Abuja High Court had ruled in favour of Mr Jimoh Ibrahim.
After the judgement of the Abuja court the Independent National Electoral Commission inputted Mr Ibarhim’s name as the candidate of the party, a decision that had triggered protests in the state.
Gross Abuse Of Court Process
However, in a unanimous judgment delivered by Justice Ibrahim Saulawa on Thursday, the panel said Mr Jegede had shown sufficient proof that the judgment of Justice Okon Abang recognising Senator Ali Modu Sherrif as the National Chairman of the PDP had grossly affected his rights.
The panel also dismissed an application filed by the factional chairman of the party in Ondo State, Mr Biyi Poroye, who is asking the new panel to recuse, on the ground of gross abuse of court process.
While dismissing the appeal, Justice Saulawa said that the application by Mr Poroye was borne out of mischief and deliberate calculation to frustrate the application for the leave of the court to appeal the Federal High Court’s judgment filed by Mr Jegede.
A lawyer to Mr Jegede, Mr Ifedayo Adedipe, applauded the judgment of the court, saying the coast has been cleared for his client to exercise his constitutional right.
“The Court of Appeal saw through the sill of deceit and cynical manipulation of the judicial process that the other side has engaged in.
“We have been granted leave now to appeal and we have filed our processes. We are hopeful that our appeal will be heard very shortly,” he said.
After the judgement, the lawyer representing Prince Poroye, Mr Benuolisa Nwofor, announced plan to challenge the judgment of the court at the Supreme Court.
“For the first to ninth respondents who are my clients, they have a constitutional right to appeal the ruling of the court and we are going to obtain a copy of the ruling and exercise our constitutional right of appeal to the Supreme Court of Nigeria because the weighty issues of law were raised and have not been resolved to our satisfaction.
“We are going to give the apex court the opportunity to have a look at the decision,” he told reporters.
The All Progressives Congress has reacted to a comment by the governor of Ondo State, Olusegun Mimiko, that the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) will not take part in the governorship election if Mr Eyitayo Jegede’s name is left out as the candidate of the political party.
Governor Mimiko had insisted that Mr Jegede was the right candidate of the PDP in the state and not Mr Jimoh Ibrahim, whose name was in the list Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) released as the candidate of the party.
The decision of the electoral had sparked protests within the state in an electoral process that shows the divide that is in the party.
The electoral body had said that its decision was based on an order from the Federal High Court in Abuja, presided over by Justice Okon Abang.
After several protests could not force the INEC to change its decision, Mr Mimiko said the PDP would not participate in the forthcoming election if the verdict of a panel set up to look at the issue does not reinstate Mr Jegede as the flagbearer of the PDP.
But the APC is not happy with the statement. The party says it will not fold its hands and allow any political party to play games with the future of Ondo people.
The Deputy Director General of Akure Central Senatorial District of the APC, Honourable Ifedayo Abegunde, told reporters in Akure, the capital of Ondo State, that they would put in all efforts to ensure that the November 26 governorship election is not rigged by any political party.
“I want to say that the governor is frustrated. He is frustrated because of what has happened to him, regarding his candidate Eyitayo. It is not an easy pill to swallow. If someone is in that state of mind, you have to excuse whatever he says. He is not INEC so who is he to say the election will not hold?” he questions.
“As far as we are concerned, this election will hold on the 26 November and by the grace of God. The APC and its flagbearer, Akeredolu, will surely win that election,” he boasted.
On the wrangling within the APC which led to the emergence of the AD in the state, he said: “The AD, is insignificant. To build the structure of a party is not a day’s job. The AD used to be in government in Ondo State as far back as the days of Adefarati, but as it is today, nobody knows AD. The people of Ondo State are ready for change and going by our Slogan, We Say “Otun, Otun” meaning “think anew and act anew”.
He expressed hopes that the administration of Mr Rotimi Akeredolu, if elected, would lead the people out of economic stress and rejuvenate the state’s economy.
“People of Ondo State are ready for him and we believe the victory will be ours.
“We are committed to doing the right things with this election. We will not allow anyone to rig nor cause chaos before, during or after the election. It will be a peaceful one,” he told reporters.
Also, the Senator representing Akure Central Senatorial District, Senator Tayo Alasoadura, said the APC had been in the opposition for the last eight years, stressing that it is time for the party to move to the mainstream in the state’s polity.
“Our people are responding very well and we are sure of victory. We are not deterred by the movement of some members out of the party to AD, but we are working hard to ensure that everything will be fine for our party.
“There are no wounds, when there is any contest. Some people will feel disgruntled, some will accept the result of the election. I contested and I accepted the result of the election and here I am today working with the candidate of the party.
“I am a party man and I will work for my party and not sabotage it in any way and I believe that by the grace of God, we will achieve the result we all pray for. APC will definitely get to the Government House,” he said expressing optimism on the outcome of the election that will hold on November 26.