Osinbajo Presides, FEC Observe One Minute Silence For Late Minister

 

The Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo on Wednesday presided over the 41st virtual meeting of the Federal Executive Council at the State House.

The Chief of staff to the president, Professor Ibrahim Gambari as well as the National security adviser, Major General Babagana Munguno (Rtd) physically attended the meeting.

Four Ministers including those of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, Finance, Zainab Ahmed, Justice, Abubakar Malami, and the Minister of State for Education, Chukwuemeka Nwajuiba were also physically present.

The Head of Civil Service of the Federation, Dr. Folasade Yemi-Esan, and other Ministers participated in the weekly cabinet meeting from their various offices in Abuja.

Before commencement of the day’s proceedings, the council observed a minute silence for a former member of the cabinet, Mahmud Tukur who died in April 2021 at the age of 82.

Tukur who served as Minister of Commerce and Industries during the military regime of President Muhammadu Buhari was also the first Vice-Chancellor of the Bayero University, Kano, and sat on the boards of many organizations and businesses.

The Vice President after the FEC meeting spoke with State House correspondents.

He asked for a rededication of attitude by Nigerians to reflect higher virtues of kindness, love, and generosity devoid of faith or ethnicity, especially during the Ramadan period.

He stressed that a recommitment to peace and reconciliation across the board is fundamental at this time.

EFCC Charges: Court Dismisses Tukur’s Application To Quash Charges

high court lagosJustice Lawal Akapo of a Lagos High Court sitting in Ikeja, on Friday dismissed an application filed by Mahmud Tukur and Ochonogor Alex, seeking to quash charges preferred against them by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC.

The judge dismissed the application for lack of merit and abuse of court processes.

In his ruling, Justice Akapo upheld the prosecution’s argument that “the issue of sufficiency of proof of evidence cannot be raised until the prosecution had closed its case”. According to the judge, “this argument is vital and renders the application premature”.

Earlier, the EFCC counsel, Rotimi Jacobs, had argued that the application to quash the charges against Tukur and Ochonogor was premature since the substantive suit was yet to be considered.

A statement signed by the Head Media and Publicity (EFCC), Wilson Uwujaren, said Tukur, Tayo Oyetibo, had argued that the charges preferred against the accused persons should not be entertained by the court because it was their company, Eterna Plc that committed the crime imputed to them.

However, Jacobs pointed out that the position of the law, on the issue, is that “a company on its own cannot commit a crime but must use human agents”.

He further submitted that, the company, without the human agents, could  not answer to the alleged crime and the roles played by the accused persons were clearly stated in their statements.

He asked the court to “look at the statement of the first accused (Mahmud Tukur) who gave a vivid account of the transaction and how he signed for the monies paid into the account of the 4th defendant (Eterna Plc)”.

Jacobs further submitted that Tukur’s statement showed his involvement in the transaction that led to the charge. He added that the accused was involved in the day-to-day-running of the affairs of the company and that Ochonogor, as Director of Finance during this period, played major role in the importation and transfer of licence. “So, Tukur and Ochonogor are qualified to be charged together with Eterna Plc, as defined under the Criminal Code Law of Lagos State,” he stated.

Justice Akapo ruled that: “The court cannot delve into the substantive suit at an interlocutory stage. I therefore find no merit in the application and it is accordingly dismissed”.

He subsequently adjourned the matter to September 15, 22 and 25 for trial.

Mahmud Tukur, Alex Ochonogor, Abdullahi Alao and Eterna Plc were arraigned on a nine-count charge over an alleged 1.8 billion Naira subsidy scam.

Subsidy Scam:Tukur, Ochonogor Ask Court To Quash N1.8 Billion Charge

EFCC operatives at workTwo oil marketers, Mahmud Tukur and Alex Ochonogor, have asked a Lagos High Court sitting in Ikeja to quash the N1.8 billion fuel subsidy fraud charge preferred against them by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

They made the request in a preliminary notice of objection filed before Justice Lateef Lawal-Akapo.

The marketers were arraigned alongside their company— Eterna Plc and another marketer, Abdullahi Alao on a nine-count charge of conspiracy, obtaining money by false pretences, forgery and use of false documents.

While the first defendant, Mahmud Tukur is the son of the Fmr PDP Chairman, Bamangar Tukur, the Third defendant, Abdullahi Alao is the son of Ibadan based business man, Arisekola Alao.

The defendants are accused of obtaining N1.8 billion from the Federal Government for a purported importation of 80.3 million litres of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS).

Their counsel, Mr Tayo Oyetibo (SAN), while moving the application, said the proof of evidence did not support the allegations against them.

Mr Oyetibo therefore argued that the criminal charge preferred against them was an abuse of court process which should be struck out in the interest of justice.

Tracing the genesis of the charge, he said it arose from a joint venture agreement between Eterna Plc,  Axenergy Ltd., Sahara Energy Resources and Ontario Oil for the importation of fuel into the country.

He also faulted Section 10 of the Advance Fee Fraud Act which the EFCC claimed gave them power to charge the defendants to court.

He said his clients were being charged in their personal capacity to embarrass and harass them because there was no vicarious liability under the Nigerian criminal law.

In his response, the EFCC counsel, Mr Rotimi Jacobs (SAN), said Section 260 (2) of the Administration of Criminal Justice Law of Lagos State prohibited the court from entertaining such applications.

He stressed that the argument that the principal officers of the company are not liable for the acts of the company is baseless.

He urged the court to dismiss the application for being premature and lacking in merit.

Justice Lawal-Akapo has adjourned the matter till June 27 for ruling.

Flight Risk: Court Denies Akingbola Request For Medical Trip Abroad

The Lagos High Court in Ikeja has rejected an application brought by former Managing Director of the defunct Intercontinental Bank, Mr Erastus Akingbola seeking permission to travel abroad for medical treatment because he might run away.

Justice Adeniyi Onigbajo in a short ruling on Thursday, held that the possibility of Mr Akingbola running from his trial is very high since he now knows the weight of evidence against him following his aborted trial before Justice Habeeb Abiru, who was elevated to the Court of Appeal before he could deliver judgment in the case.

The Judge also held that Mr Akingbola did not bring any evidence before the court to show that no medical institution in the country could treat him and there was no evidence to also show that he had made any effort to contact any of the hospital in Nigeria for his treatment.

Justice Onigbanjo however, granted the applications of Mr Akingbola and his co-defendant, Bayo Dada, the General Manager of Tropics Finance Limited for the variation of their bail conditions.

Part of the bail conditions imposed on the men was that they must report at the office of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on the first working day of every week.

But the judge said that that particular condition had outlived its usefulness since the EFCC had concluded its investigation of their alleged crime.

He agreed with the submission of the defence counsels that the men needed time to attend to their businesses and prepare for their defence.

He therefore ordered that they only report at the office of the EFCC on the first and third Fridays of every month not later than one hour before closing time in the office of the anti-graft Commission.

The case was then adjourned till the 10th of July for continuation of trial.

Mr Akingbola and Dada are standing trial for allegedly stealing N47.1 billion belonging to the defunct Intercontinental Bank. The charge was instituted against them by the EFCC in 2011.

Akingbola had in his application dated March 19, which was filed by one of his counsel; Mr. Mike Igbokwe (SAN) informed the court that he needed to keep a medical appointment fixed for April 15 at a Harley Street Hospital in London, United Kingdom.

Another of Mr Akingbola’s counsel,  Wole Olanipekun(SAN) while arguing the application on Wednesday referred the judge to some of his recent rulings including that of Abdulahi Alao, Mahmud Tukur and Wale Babalakin (SAN), whose applications on similar grounds were recently granted.

He said that there was no reason why a similar application by Akingbola should not be granted.

Justice Onigbanjo however concluded that the authorities being cited by the former bank boss were not binding since the circumstances in those cases were different from the present one.

 

Fuel Subsidy Scam: Trial of Bamanga Tukur’s Son, Others To Commence In May

Trial of the fuel subsidy fraud case filed by the Economic & Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) against Mahmud Tukur, son of the National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Bamanga Tukur and others, is to begin in May, after a failed attempt to settle out of court.

Mahmud Tukur, Alex Ochongor, their firm, Eterna Oil and Gas, and Abdullahi Alao, son of Ibadan-based businessman, Abdulazeez Arisekola-Alao, are facing nine counts of fuel subsidy fraud amounting to about N1.2 billion before a Lagos High Court sitting in Ikeja.

Counsel for the EFCC, Mr. Tayo Olukotun, told the presiding judge, Justice Adeniyi Onigbanjo, at the resumed hearing of the matter on Wednesday that the settlement talks had “hit brick wall” and the lead prosecution counsel, Mr Rotimi Jacobs had asked him to pick a date for trial.

His position is, however, different from that of the counsel for Mahmud  Tukur, Mr. Tayo Oyetibo (SAN), who told the court that the talks were awaiting the input of Mr. Ibrahim Lamorde, the chairman of the  EFCC.

When the Judge sought clarification on the actual status of the talks, Mr Oyetibo said the lead prosecuting counsel, Mr Jacobs had told him that the chairman of the EFCC was not available last week and so the defence was looking at picking a date in early March to meet him and continue the talks.

Mr Oyetibo, however, expressed dissatisfaction over Mr Jacobs’ failure to communicate the latest development to the prosecuting team.

At the previous proceedings of December 13, 2012, the defendants, Mahmud Tukur and Alex Ochonogor had, through their counsel, sought for time to conclude the settlement talks with the EFCC.

Justice Onigbanjo has, however, fixed the 6th and 7th of May for the commencement of trial following the disagreement of the parties in the settlement talks.

The Judge also granted Abdullai Alao permission to travel to the United States of America for the treatment of his son.

The documents are to be returned to the custody of the EFCC on or before the 24th of February.

The other two defendants, Tukur and Ochonogor have also indicated to the court that they would be filing similar application to embark on a business trip to South Africa.

It will be recalled that Justice Onigbanjo had on December 13, 2012 granted similar application to the duo for business trips to the United Kingdom and France, asking them to return their passports to the EFCC on or before January 25.

Subsidy scam trial: You can’t travel abroad now, court tells Tukur and two others

The Lagos High Court sitting in Ikeja on Friday refused to grant an application brought by three directors of Oil Marketing and Trading Companies who requested the release of their passports to enable them travel abroad for Hajj and business.

The three directors are among several others standing trial for fraudulently collecting fuel subsidy money without importing the product.

The Vacation judge, Lateefat Folami, who presided over the case, in a ruling on the application brought by the trio of Mahmud Tukur, son of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) National Chairman, Bamanga Tukur; Abdullahi Alao, son of prominent businessman, Abdulazeez Arikesola-Alao; and Felix Ochonogor, said that she cannot overrule the earlier order granted by the trial courts.

Justice Folami held that she cannot grant their prayers to order the release of their passports especially as the trial judge, Justice Adeniyi Onigbanjo ordered the seizure of their travelling documents to ensure that they appear for their trial on the next adjourned dates.

According to her, allowing them to travel for Hajj rites which would begin October will clash with the November dates earlier fixed for trial by the trial Judge. She also stated that the dates allegedly meant for their business trips abroad had been overtaken by event.

The applicants had sought the court’s permission to travel abroad.

In their application dated the 14th of August 2012, the applicants through their counsel, Olaniran Obele said they needed to travel to Paris and London for separate business trips.

Specifically, Mr Tukur, the first applicant wants to travel abroad to attend a board and committee meeting of a company which he is a director and also intends to perform this year’s Hajj.

Mr Ochonogor, the second applicant also wants to travel to Paris to enable him attend a bond holder meeting which should have held last month but was rescheduled to the 27th of August. He said he intends to take the opportunity of the meeting to explain his present circumstance to the board.

Subsidy scam: Three suspects seek court’s permission to travel abroad

Some of the suspects arraigned by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) last month for alleged fraud in the Petroleum Support Fund for fuel subsidy have approached the Lagos High Court for permission to travel abroad.

Those who applied for the release of their international passports to enable them travel are Mahmud Tukur, son of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) National Chairman, Bamanga Tukur; Abdullahi Alao, son of prominent businessman, Abdulazeez Arikesola-Alao; and Felix Ochonogor.

The EFCC had in July arraigned Misters Tukur, Ochonogor and Alao before Justice Adeniyi Onigbanjo of the Lagos High Court, on charges of conspiracy, obtaining money under false pretence, forgery and use of false documents.

In an application, dated 14 August 2012, brought before the vacation Judge, Justice Lateefat Folami, the applicants through their counsel, Olaniran Obele said they needed to travel to Paris and London for a business trip.

Specifically, Mr Tukur, the first applicant wants to travel to attend a board meeting of which he is a director and also intends to use the opportunity to perform the hajj.

Mr Ochonogor, the second applicant also wants to travel to Paris to enable him attend what he says is a boardholder meeting which should have held last month but was rescheduled to 27 August to enable him attend and explain his present situation before the board.

The applicants tendered three exhibits comprising Notices of Meetings which they intend to attend both in London and Paris.

Their lawyer told the court that the applicants will not abscond if their application to travel is granted, adding that the first applicant’s father, Bamanga Tukur who is the PDP Chairman stood surety for him and he would not want to jeopardise that.

The second applicant the lawyer said was abroad in Ukraine when they were charged and was called by the first applicant and he came back voluntarily to the country for his arraignment.

Opposing the application, counsel to the EFCC, Rotimi Oyedepo told the court that Justice Onigbanjo’s order asking the applicants to deposit their International Passports with the EFCC has not been reviewed.

He said there was nothing in the exhibits tendered by the applicants that showed or suggested that the meeting to be attended by the second applicant has been rescheduled.

To him, granting the applicants permission to travel could open an escape route as was experienced in former Delta state governor, James Ibori’s case.

He therefore urged the court not to grant them permission to travel.

Subsidy scam: Court grants bail to suspects

A  Lagos High court sitting in Ikeja on Thursday granted bail to the sons of the former and serving national chairman of the People’s Democratic Party(PDP), Ahmadu Ali and Bamaga Tukur, and some other suspects indicted in the oil subsidy scam.

Mamman Nasir Ali, Mahmud Tukur, and two others were granted bail by Justice Adeniyi Onigbanjo in the sum of N20 million each with two sureties in like sum, one of the sureties according to the court must be a blood relation and another a level sixteen officer in the Federal or State civil service.

The court also held that one of the sureties must own a property worth N100 million in Lagos and that the title of the said property must be registered with the state land registry and the sureties must present to the court’s registrar a three years tax clearance.

Justice Onigbanjo also ordered the defendants who also included Ochonogor Alex and Christian Taylor to deposit their travel passports with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), which can only be released to them on the orders of the court.

Alao to remain in custody

Though all the accused persons are free to go home upon fulfilling the terms of the bail, Abdulahi Alao, the son of Ibadan businessman and politician, Arisekola Alao would, however, remain in the custody of the EFCC until the 1 August when another judge, Justice Habeeb Abiru, handling the second charge filed against him by the anti-graft agency will determine whether to grant him bail or not.

His bail application for the trial which he and his company, Axenergy Limited are being arraigned, could not be heard because the EFCC pleaded for more time to respond to the application. He is facing a seven count of obtaining N1. 8 billion under false pretence

Mr Alao in the charge was specifically accused of conspiring to obtain N1. 8 billion from the Federal Government by falsely representing that the sum represented subsidy paid to him under the Petroleum Support Fund for the importation of 20, 014, 627 liters of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) which he falsely claimed was purchased and imported to Nigeria from Mercuria Trading N.V, vide MT Gavros ExMT Nippon Princess.

In the second case before Justice Onigbanjo, Mahmud Tukur, Ochonogor Alex, Abdulahi Alao and Eterna Oil and gas are facing a nine count of obtaining a sum of over N5 billion under false pretence.

They were said to have conspired to obtain the sum from the Federal Government by falsely representing that the sum represented subsidy paid to Eterna Oil and gas under the Petroleum Support Fund when they claimed to have purchased 33, 288, 338 litres PMS from Mercuria Trading SA and imported to Nigeria through MT Fulmer EX MT Emirate Star and MT Panther EX Emirate Star.

More false pretense

In yet another case, Mamman Nasir Ali, Christian Taylor and Nasaman Oil Service Limited were also arraigned before Justice Onigbanjo on a three count charge of obtaining N4. 8billion under false pretense.

Nasir Ali is the son of Ahmadu Ali, former chairman of PDP, and former chairman of the board of the Petroleum Products Pricing and Regulatory Agency (PPPRA).

However, the arraignment of Walter Wagbatsoma, Adaoha-Ugo-Ngadi, Fakuade Babafemi Ebenezer, Ezekiel Olajide Ejidele and Ontario Oil & Gas Nig. Ltd could not go ahead as Wagbatsoma failed to appear before the court.

His counsel Babajide Koku (SAN) informed the court that his client was not in court because he’s presently out of the country but would return to the country on Monday to enable him appear before the court.

But counsel for Ugo-Ngadi, Ebenezer and Ejidele, the second, third and fourth defendants respectively, Mr. Wale Akoni, (SAN), Abimbola Odeyemi and James Ogunyemi urged the court to separate the case of their clients from Wagbatsoma’s to enable their clients to be properly arraigned and also enable the court take their bail applications.

But Justice Abiru in his short ruling refused the request of the counsel on the basis that the request is premature at this stage as they are not yet properly before the court, he held that until their plea is taken the court cannot assume jurisdiction or make orders over the case.

The judge then adjourned the case till the 1st of August while the accused persons would remain in the custody of the EFCC.