A Federal High Court in Lagos has fixed February 8, 2017, to hear all applications challenging its jurisdiction in the case of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) against two former ministers.
The defendants in the matter include a former Minister of Aviation, Mr Femi Fani-Kayode, a former Finance Minister, Mrs Nenadi Usman, one Danjuma Yusuf and a company, Joint Trust Dimensions Nigeria Limited.
They are standing trial before the court on a 17-count charge of alleged 4.9 billion Naira fraud.
The respondents have pleaded not guilty to the charges and after being granted bail by the court, the EFCC opened its case against them with the testimony of its first prosecution witness.
However, they have filed various applications before the court challenging its powers to hear the case.
A Federal High Court in Lagos is set to rule on the challenge of its jurisdiction in the case of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) against two former ministers and two others.
The court fixed Wednesday, January 18 for ruling after listening to arguments on the issue from lawyers in the matter.
The EFCC had arraigned a former Minister of Aviation, Mr Femi Fani-Kayode, a former Minister of Finance, Senator Nenadi Usman, and two others on a 17-count charge of laundering about 4.9 billion Naira.
They all pleaded not guilty.
At the resumed hearing of the case on Tuesday, the prosecutor, Mr Rotimi Oyedepo, concluded his examination of the first prosecution witness, one Mr Idowu Olusegun, a media consultant with Paste Posters Company Limited.
In his testimony which started in October 2016, Mr Olusegun told the court how he purportedly received about 24 million Naira cash in several tranches from the office of the Mr Fani-Kayode, who was the Director of Campaign Organisation of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
He explained that the money was meant for the printing of posters and flyers for former President Goodluck Jonathan’s re-election.
The defence lawyers, however, declined to cross-examine the witness.
Call For Separate Trial
Counsel to Mrs Usman, Mr Abiodun Owonikoko, told Justice Muslim Hassan that in the light of pending applications before the court, the stage was ripe to request for the hearing of an application he filed since November 2016, seeking a separate trial for his client.
He stressed that he was concerned that his client would not get a fair hearing with the present joint trial.
Mr Owonikoko also expressed displeasure with the choice of Lagos State as the venue in a matter which he said had nothing to do with the state.
He told the court that it had become very tedious for his client to come from Abuja on every adjourned date and spend at least three days in Lagos, especially with all her accounts frozen.
On his part, Counsel to Mr Fani-Kayode, Mr Norrison Quakers, aligned with these submissions and urged the court to first hear applications touching on its jurisdiction.
He informed the court that he had recently filed an application challenging its jurisdiction.
Mr Quakers stated that to cross examine the witness would mean submitting to the jurisdiction of the court.
The EFCC prosecutor, however, objected to the arguments and insisted that the defendants had already submitted to the jurisdiction of the court after taking their plea.
He argued that all the pending applications could be taken together while the court proceeds with its ruling.
After listening to all the lawyers, Justice Muslim Hassan adjourned the case to Wednesday for ruling.
Tax remittances worth over 150 billion Naira has accrued to Nigeria’s Federation Account for the year 2014, a government official said on Tuesday.
The Minister of State for Finance, Ambassador Bashir Yuguda, gave the figure at a meeting with the Accountant-General of the Federation in Abuja.
Ambassador Yuguda said that the tax revenues far exceeded the 75 billion Naira target of the the year.
The Accountant-General of the Federation, Mr Jonah Otunla, stressed the need to grow the nation’s non-oil sectors in order to obtain a full diversification of the economy away from oil sector.
He also advised the government to cut down spending as part of austerity measure amidst dwindling oil price.
Nigeria is making efforts to diversify the economy, shifting it away from dependence on crude oil sales to agriculture.
Prior to the discovery of crude in the nation’s south-south region, agriculture was the mainstay of the economy and the government says transformation in the agriculture is an agenda that it must achieve.
Reports from Nigeria’s Federal Capital Territory says the Minister for Police Affairs, Navy Captain Caleb Olubolade, the Minister of the Niger Delta, Godsday Orubebe, the Minister of State for Finance, Dr.Yerima Ngama and the Aviation Minister, Stella Oduah have been sacked.
The sacking of the ministers came on a day when the Senate screened 12 ministerial nominees sent to it by President Goodluck Jonathan.
Senator Musiliu Obanikoro and Mohammed Wakil both made their presentations and were asked to take their leave without question; while Ambassador Bashiru Ali was not allowed to leave until he answered questions about his job as Nigeria’s Ambassador to China.
In Central African Republic, it appears the international peacekeepers are having a hard time in preventing the ethnic cleansing of Muslims in the country. Militia attacks have resulted in a series of Muslim exodus and aid groups have warned of a potential food crisis. This is because many of the shops and wholesalers are run by Muslims.
As a result, the UN’s World Food Programme has started a month-long aid airlift. The first flight which was carrying 82 tonnes of rice arrived on Wednesday, February 12; while a further 1,800 tonnes of cereal are expected to follow in the coming weeks.
We spoke with Nadia Bandi of the International Committee of the Red Cross for an update on the humanitarian situation.
In Congo, the former Congolese warlord, Bosco Ntaganda, appeared before the International Criminal Court from February 10 and the judges are trying to decide if there is enough evidence for him to stand trial. The prosecution believes that he played a significant role in planning assaults against the civilian population.
One man who Bosco Ntaganda would certainly be praying to be like is the Rwandan ex-paramilitary Police chief who was initially found guilty of genocide by a UN-backed war crimes tribunal; but now, he’s been acquitted on appeal.
He was one of the most senior figures to be sentenced by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR).
The General has been living in an ICTR safe house in the Tanzanian town since his release nearly three years ago, after he was sentenced. He is unable to return to Rwanda and no other country will accept him.
In other news, fresh talks to resolve the crisis in South Sudan have opened in Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa, more than two weeks after a ceasefire was signed. Rebels agreed to continue the dialogue despite the government’s refusal to release four high-profile detainees.
South African Police Clash With ANC Supporters
Things got a tad ugly in South Africa, When Police clashed with stone throwing supporters of the ruling African National Congress (ANC) who tried to confront members of the opposition Democratic Alliance Party as they marched in central Johannesburg on Wednesday (February 12).
Algeria In Mourning
Algeria is mourning for 3 days after 77 people were killed in a military passenger plane crash in the North-East of the country. Just one person survived when the Hercules C-130 crashed into a mountain in Oum Al-Bou-A-Ghi province, en route to Constantine.
Most of the 78 passengers were military personnel and their family members. The lone survivor, a soldier, is reportedly being treated for head injuries at a military hospital in Constantine.
Our hearts go out to the families of the dead.
We also featured Wang, which is the very last polar bear in the whole of South Africa. It was brought to Africa 30 years ago, but based on the fact that the African environment is far from conducive, it will die soon and there will no longer be any polar bears in the whole continent.
Investors in the Nigerian capital market should expect a revitalized stock market free of disputes and civil distress. Minister of Finance, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala said this while swearing-in a new chairman of the Investments and Securities Tribunal (IST), Dr Ngozi Chianakwalam.
The Minister who inaugurated the 10-member Tribunal of the Investment and Securities Tribunal in Abuja, on Monday, declared that the capital market had nose-dived in recent times and needed an impetus to re-invigorate it.
The Investments and Securities Tribunal is empowered to hear civil disputes in capital markets, investments and pension administration, a task the new chairman says she is set to discharge diligently.
“We know that IST is very critical for the smooth running of the investment sector. The stock market has gone down and we will need to do a lot to give people courage and also the confidence to actually invest and the only way that can be done is to ensure that whenever there is any disagreement or dispute, there is a place they can run to and get justice”.
Also speaking the Minister of state for Finance, Dr Yerima Ngama said resuscitating the country’s stock market will renew investors’ interest in the capital market.
According him, “this Tribunal has been doing a lot and we have been encouraging them to do more. We are in the process of reviewing the Act.
“One particular issue is developing relationship with the National Judicial Council so that they will also have input in the new amendments we are trying to do.
“The amendment is actually to ensure that when we say you are the chairperson of the tribunal and you are equivalent to the Chief Judge of a Federal High Court then the NJC will also be pleased with it that it’s true so that when we say this year, you can also go to the Federal Court of Appeal and go to Supreme Court and be our own Chief Justice of Nigeria.
“Right now they are doing a good job. When you go to the Federal Court of Appeal, when you have cases involving investment and capital market operation, I doubt if you have any of their judges who had gone through IST so we can claim that we don’t have a single judge who has the relevant experience. And those judges who have relevant experience can they really go to the federal court of appeal?”
“So we want to do this so that every judge here has a future so that they will not only be recognised by the Ministry of Finance but by the judiciary to be truly equivalent to judges of the Federal High Court”.
The Federal, state and the local government areas in Nigeria will share the sum of N621 billion for the month of February, 2012.
This was disclosed by the Minister of state for finance, Yerima Ngama after the Federation Account Allocation Committee (FAAC) meeting in Abuja on Monday.
Mr Ngama said that the federal government got a total of N260 billion while the states and local government areas got a total of N131 billion and 111 billion respectively.
He said that the thirteen per cent mineral derivations accruing to oil producing states stood at over N60 billion for the month of February.
According to the Minister, the amount shared in February shows an increase of over N6 billion of the funds shared in January 2012.
There were fears that the three tiers of governments may not have enough money to share for the month of February because as at last week the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, Federal Inland Revenue Service and the Nigerian Customs Service had not remitted revenues for the month of last month into the Federation Account.
This according to sources was the reason why the FAAC meeting did not hold last Friday.
Last year, the monthly FAAC meeting was postponed several times because of NNPC’s N450 billion indebtedness to the Federation Account. The corporation later agreed to pay the debt in instalments.
Last month, the Federal, states and local governments shared N614 billion for the month of January as against N616.93 shared in December, 2011.