Justice Ofili-Ajumogobia, Obla’s Trial Stalled

Justice Rite Ofili-Ajumogobia, Obla's Trial StalledThe absence of the EFCC Prosecutor, Mr Rotimi Oyedepo, on Thursday stalled the trial of a suspended Federal High Court Judge, Justice Rita Ofili-Ajumogobia, and a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Godwin Obla.

Justice Hakeem Oshodi of the Lagos State High Court sitting in Ikeja, had to adjourn until April 10 for hearing of the pending applications.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) had arraigned Justice Ofili-Ajumogobia and Mr Obla on a 30-count charge of conspiracy to pervert justice by allegedly giving and receiving a bribe of five million Naira.

The anti-graft agency had also alleged that about $793,800 passed through the judge’s domiciliary accounts between 2012 and 2015, and that she allegedly used the money to buy a house in London.

Five of the charges were centred on an alleged five million Naira bribe given to Justice Ofili-Ajumogobia by the senior advocate, while the remaining 26 charges were on the huge amounts that passed through her accounts and her alleged inability to explain her source of wealth.

The other charges filed against the judge border on forgery, lying, unlawful enrichment and other related offences.

Both have pleaded not guilty to the charge.

Court Admits More Documents In Proof Of Case Against Amosu, Others

Adesola Amosu, Air Force, EFCC, CourtThe Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has presented more documents in proof of its case against a former Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Adesola Amosu (rtd), and 10 others.

The EFCC is prosecuting Air Marshal Amosu and his co-defendants for an alleged fraud totalling about 22.8 billion naira.

The documents were presented on Thursday before a Federal High Court in Lagos, through an investigator with the EFCC, Mr Tosin Owobo, who continued his testimony from Wednesday.

Led in evidence by the prosecutor, Mr Rotimi Oyedepo, Mr Owobo claimed that his team of investigators uncovered how funds were moved from the Nigerian Air Force Special Emergency Operation account into the accounts of three companies.

According to the witness, the investigators later discovered that one of the three companies, Timsegg Investment Limited, was operated by one of the defendants who is a former Director of Finance and Budget, Air Commodore Olugbenga Gbadebo.

Justice Mohammed Idris admitted in evidence, the statements of accounts of the company, and also admitted the account documents of one Hebron Housing and Properties Company, which was also allegedly used to divert the Air Force funds.

An Attempt to tender the bank documents of another company, Gbemisola Ventures, said to also be owned by Air Commodore Gbadebo, was however resisted by the defence team.

Justice Idris has adjourned till February 22 for ruling on the admissibility of the documents and for continuation of trial.

EFCC Urges Final Forfeiture Of Funds Allegedly Diverted By Allison-Madueke

Diezani Allison-Madueke, EFCC, Court, Diverted Funds, Dauda LawalThe Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has told a Federal High Court in Lagos State that an Executive Director of First Bank Plc, Mr Dauda Lawal, allegedly laundered funds on behalf of former Minister of Petroleum, Mrs Diezani Allison-Madueke.

The counsel representing the EFCC, Mr Rotimi Oyedepo, made the revelation on Tuesday while responding to a counter affidavit by the bank official.

Mr Lawal is seeking to discharge an interim forfeiture order of the sum of 9.08 billion naira.

About three weeks ago, Justice Muslim Hassan issued an interim order of forfeiture of the sum of $153 million to the Federal Government, following an ‘exparte application’ filed by the EFCC.

The EFCC linked the funds to Mrs Allison-Madueke.

The court had also issued 14 days to any interested party to appear and prove the legitimacy of the monies, failing which the funds would be permanently forfeited to the government.

At the resumed hearing of the case on Tuesday, Mr Charles Adeogun-Phillips announced appearance for Mr Lawal who is joined as respondent in the suit.

In his arguments before the court, Mr Adeogun-Phillips challenged the forfeiture order and urged the court to issue an order, directing a refund of the sum of 9.08 billion naira to his client, on the grounds that same was obtained by coercion.

He argued that his client admitted having received the sum of $25 million in clear dispensation of his duties, but was purportedly coerced by the commission to further admit receiving a total of $65 million.

The 9.08 billion naira represents the naira equivalent of the difference of $40 million which Mr Lawal said he was also made to give up after being coerced.

EFCC Counsel, Mr Oyedepo, however, challenged the claims and insisted that the First Bank boss allegedly conspired with some other persons to launder funds on behalf of Mrs Allison-Madueke.

He urged the court to order a final forfeiture of the $153 million and the 9.08 billion naira already surrendered by the respondent, to the government.

After listening to all the lawyers, Justice Hassan fixed the February 16 for judgment.

Ruling On Suit Against Fani-Kayode, Others Deferred Till February 8

Nenadi Usman, Femi Fani-Kayode, EFCC, CourtA 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.

At Tuesday’s proceeding, the defence lawyers refused to cross examine the witness, asking the court to hear and determine their various applications.

The judge in charge of the case, Justice Muslim Hassan, consequently fixed Wednesday to rule on their requests.

The defendants also challenged the choice of Lagos State, as the venue in a matter which they said had nothing to do with the state.

The former Finance Minister had also asked the court to separate her trial from that of the former Aviation Minister.

In a second application, Mrs Usman asked for the release of her passport to enable her travel abroad for medical treatment.

Mr Fani-Kayode’s lawyer also asked the trial judge to hands off the case on the basis that he once prosecuted for the EFCC.

Court Fixes Wednesday To Decide Jurisdiction On Suit Against Fani-Kayode, Others

Court, EFCC, Femi Fani-Kayode, Nenadi Usman, EFCCA 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.

Court Orders Immediate De-freezing of Governor Fayose’s Accounts

Court Orders Immediate De-freezing of Governor Fayose's AccountsA Federal High court sitting in Ado Ekiti on Tuesday ordered the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to lift the restriction placed on some accounts belonging to Governor Ayodele Fayose in Zenith Bank.

The court also set aside an earlier order of a Federal High court, Lagos empowering the EFCC to freeze two accounts domiciled in the new generation bank.

The court has consequently ordered the EFCC to immediately defreeze the two accounts belonging to the governor without further delay, on the account that the anti-graft agency did not follow due process in confiscating them.

Delivering his judgement, the presiding Judge, Justice Taiwo Taiwo, said the rights of the governor had been unconstitutionally infringed upon, considering the circumstance of his office.

Justice Taiwo declared that apart from the immunity which Mr Fayose currently enjoyed as a sitting governor under section 308 of the constitution, it was wrong for the EFCC to have gone ahead to seize his two accounts in apparent perpetuity without first investigating him or making him a party.

He averred that rather than the EFCC freezing the governor’s accounts directly through the third party who did not enjoy any mandate from him, the governor himself ought to have been first investigated and brought into the picture.

The judge described Fayose as “a genuinely deprived person who rushed to the court to seek constitutional protection”.

The judge thereby gave a mandatory order the de-freezing, unblocking and making operational the two accounts by the respondents.

He said it was also the duty of any presiding judge to protect the said constitution and its interpretations whenever the need arises.

“The Plaintiff is entitled to be heard before his property or money can be seized, doing otherwise will amount to denying him fair hearing and constitutional rights”, he said.

The judge however refused to grant other relief sought by the governor, including a perpetual injunction restraining EFCC or its agents from further tampering with his property, and another one asking for payment of N5billion as exemplary damages.

“This court will not shield any person from due investigation and since Police cannot be stopped from investigating a crime, same goes for the First Respondent so as not to whittle down its functions”, the judge said.

EFCC lead counsel, Mr Rotimi Oyedepo was absent at the court but Fayose’s lead counsel, Ozekhome, in his reaction described the judgment as the best to be so made the EFCC in history, saying it would checkmate the agency against years of brazen arbitrariness and excesses.

The EFCC had on June 21, 2016 confiscated the two accounts having allegedly contained a sum of N2.99billion out of the N2.3 billion arms money allegedly drawn by the governor from the office of the former National Security Adviser, Col Sambo Dasuki to prosecute his governorship election in 2014.

Fayose through his lawyer, Mr Mike Ozekhome approached the court and sought for the enforcement of his fundamental rights, which involved the de-freezing of the two accounts.

Alleged Fraud: Court Defers Trial Of NAMA Boss, Others

Court-NAMAA Federal High Court in Lagos has adjourned hearing on the trial of the Managing Director of Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) and six other persons till May 12.

Mr Ibrahim Abdulsalam and the other accused persons appeared before Justice Babs Kuewumi on Wednesday over an alleged fraud of 6850 billion Naira.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) arraigned Abdulsalam alongside Adegorite Olumuyiwa, and his wife who is the Managing Director of Multeng Travels and Tours Limited, Joy Ayodele Adegorite on a 24-count charge bordering on alleged fraud.

Other accused persons are Agbolade Segun, Clara Aliche, and two limited liability companies, Multeng Travels and Tours Limited, as well as Randville Investment Limited.

At the resumed trial of the accused persons, their lawyers led by Mr Wale Akoni, urged the court to grant a very short adjournment to enable them study the ‘bulky’ proof of evidence served on them by the prosecution.

Lawyers to the other accused persons, Dunkwa A, Lanre Olayinka, and Abiodun Julius, informed the court that it had been extremely difficult to gain access to their clients at the prisons’ facilities where they were being remanded.

According to them, the situation has made it impossible for them to perfect the bail terms.

The lawyers lamented that their clients’ detention had also compounded their inability to understand the proof of evidence, urging the court to grant their application for adjournment.

In a swift reaction, the EFCC prosecutor, Mr Rotimi Oyedepo, vehemently opposed the application for adjournment while urging the court to dismiss same.

“We are opposing the application for adjournment. We found out that the applications lack merit and should be dismissed,” Oyedepo said.

The EFCC prosecutor further informed the court that the ground on which the applications for adjournment was made was overstretched.

He urged the court to dismiss the application for adjournment, and allow the trial to commence.

In his ruling, Justice Kuewumi conceded to the accused persons’ application for adjournment and deferred the trial till May 12.

The accused persons were also alleged to have converted various sums of money amounting to 4,003 billion Naira belonging to NAMA to their personal use.