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.

Senate Steps Down Bill On Establishment Of Maritime University

Senate-in-NigeriaA bill seeking the establishment of the Maritime University of Nigeria has been stepped down on the floor of the Senate.

The sponsor of the bill, Senator James Manager, had told his colleagues that the establishment of the institution would bridge the manpower gap experienced in the maritime sector for skilled personnel.

“The sector is dominate today by foreign interests. The very few professionals were trained abroad.

“The question is; why do we not have a university for that purpose?

“This bill provides the requisite opportunity and the enactment of this bill will help in transforming the educational fortunes in Nigeria and in producing the desire manpower and expertise now that Nigeria is yearning for local content in the industry following the passage of Local Content Development Act into law,” he stressed.

Another Senator, Paulker Emmanuel, supported the motion.

After debate on the motion with most of the senators asked for an upgrade of the Maritime Academy in Oron, Akwa Ibom State, rather than invest in another institution, Senator Manager asked for time to consult with his colleagues on the matter.

It is over a year since the ground breaking ceremony for the establishment of the Maritime University of Nigeria was performed by former President Goodluck Jonathan but that event was yet to get legislative backing.

It is the need to get the institution fully operational in the next few years that triggered discussions on the floor of the Senate.

Alleged N10 Billion Fraud: Court Grants Jonathan’s Cousin, Azibaola, Bail

Robert_AzibaolaA Federal High Court sitting in Abuja has granted bail to Mr Robert Azibaola and two others who were arraigned on Tuesday, June 6 for alleged fraudulent involvement in a civil national contract amounting to the tune of N10 billion.

Justice Nnamdi Dimgba admitted the accused persons bail in the sum of N500 naira each

Azibaola is a cousin to former President Goodluck Jonathan.

They are to provide two sureties in like sum and the sureties must be an owner of a landed property in Asokoro or Maitama Districts of Abuja

The court further added that the sureties must provide evidence of payment of income tax for the past three years and the registry of the court shall verify the fulfilment of the bail conditions and report to the court accordingly for approval

The ruling was delivered before the trial of Mr Abba Moro commenced.

The accused persons are to be remanded in prison pending the satisfaction of the bail conditions.

Mr Robert Azibaola, Mrs Stella Azibaola and One Plus Holdings Nig Ltd were yesterday arraigned for allegedly collecting N10 billion for a fraudulent contract.

Jonathan Suggests What Nigeria Must Do To Progress

JonathanNigeria’s former President Goodluck Jonathan on Monday stressed the need for peace, freedom and unity for Nigeria to further develop and progress.

In his first public address since leaving office on May 29, 2014, one that chronicles the current state of Nigeria and what must be done to move the nation forward, Dr. Jonathan said peace, freedom and unity need to be deeply, strongly and irreversibly entrenched in Nigeria for all time.

In a speech delivered at Bloomberg Studio, London on Monday, the former Nigerian leader stressed that for the needed progress to come to Nigeria, it was imperative that both the Executive and the Legislative arms of Government institute a Bill of Rights.

“A Bill of Rights that will end discrimination and tribalism, and promote equality, enabling everyone to work towards the common goal for the development of the nation.

“A Bill of Rights which like the British Magna Carta, some 800 years ago, enshrined the principle of habeas corpus so that no person is deprived of his liberty without a trial of his peers.

“A Bill of Rights, like that introduced by America’s Founding Fathers, which stated “the people shall not be deprived or abridged of their right to speak, to write, or to publish their sentiments; and the freedom of the press, as one of the great bulwarks of liberty, shall be inviolable,” he stressed.

“Judged On Your Own Merits”

Dr. Jonathan further questioned: “Wouldn’t it be good for us to aspire to a Nigeria where we too could apply that same principle “Civis Nigerianus sum”?

“Each of us could say, “I am a citizen of Nigeria!

“We would be able to look beyond where each of us comes from, and look past our tribal origins.

“We would be able to evaluate each other on our merits, rather than our religion, or region.

“We would be free to think or do as we wished, as long as we observed the laws of the land, without fear that the land would withhold our rights under the law.

“What would it mean to be able to declare “I am a Nigerian citizen”?

“You would be judged on your own merits, not your tribe.

“You would have access to education that can help you succeed on whatever path you choose.

“You would be part of a proud culture, one that others want to invest in.

“You would be safe in knowing that society judges you by your successes and failures, rather than your place of origin.

“You would be equal before the law and your protection is enshrined in the laws of the country.

“You would be an asset and a valued member of your country; one who is worth investing in; who can return that investment tenfold within your lifetime,” he further said.

He further stated that since leaving office one year and one week ago, he had had the luxury of time to be able to reflect on the future of his great country, Nigeria.

“So today is not about my personal memories or a litany of ‘what ifs’. No! Today I would like to share with you what I believe is the key learning from my experiences for the future of democracy not only in Nigeria but also across the entire continent of Africa.

“I said before the last election that my political ambition was not worth the blood of one Nigerian.

“I was true to my word when on March 16th, 2015, just after the election, when the results were still being collated by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), I called my opponent, General Muhammadu Buhari (rtd) to concede, in order to avoid any conflict and ensure a peaceful transition of power.

“This was without precedent in my country and I am proud that it achieved my goal of no conflict arising from the result of the election.

“Some may think it is ironic that perhaps my proudest achievement was not winning the 2015 Presidential Election. By being the first elected Nigerian leader to willingly hand over power via the ballot box, to the opposition party, without contesting the election outcome, I proved to the ordinary man or woman in the country that I was his or her equal.

“That his or her vote was equal to mine, and that democracy is the ‘Government by the will of the people’, and Nigeria, and indeed Africa is ripe for democracy.
It is my sincerest wish that democracy continues to be consolidated in the continent of Africa and it will even get better.

“For it has always been my consistent desire to help consolidate peace and cultivate democracy in Nigeria and across the Continent.

“In fact, it was the key foreign policy objective of my Administration when we were able to help broker peace and restore democracy in Niger, Mali, Guinea Bissau and Cote d’Ivoire.

¬ In Niger – The first challenge that confronted ECOWAS when I was Chairman in 2010 was the military intervention there. We were able to resolve it through sheer determination and prudent consultations which paved the way for the country’s return to constitutional rule and democracy.

¬ In Mali – As the Co-mediator of the effort to return the nation to democracy after a surprising military take-over, I was the only sitting President to visit Mali and meet all the stakeholders in the early and difficult times of the crisis.
I ensured that Nigeria played the leading role in all the negotiations coordinated by ECOWAS. Our efforts produced a political timetable for the holding of democratic elections. I was happy that our work led to the historic Peace and Reconciliation Agreement signed in Bamako on 15th May, 2015, which I was privileged to witness.

In Guinea Bissau, a nation known for its long history of political crises. As leaders of ECOWAS then, we worked hard to bring about peace by building international consensus around a transition arrangement. This led to the full restoration of constitutional order in the country. After leading the negotiations that produced an interim government, Nigeria provided both financial and logistic support, making it possible for a successful election to hold. The process produced a democratic government that is currently running the country.

¬ In Cote d’Ivoire, in 2010, ECOWAS, under my leadership, demonstrated its commitment to enduring democracy, by standing firm behind the winner of the Presidential elections. The winner H.E. Alassane Ouattara, assumed his rightful place as President, and went ahead to provide quality leadership not only to his country, but also to ECOWAS as its Chairman.

“As the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and a key actor in ECOWAS, we were also able to encourage peaceful elections in Sierra Leone, Liberia and Togo.

“And today, the focus of my energies is to uphold democratic principles, promote peaceful political transitions and support citizen entrepreneurship and intra-Africa trade. These are precisely the objectives of the Goodluck Jonathan Foundation.

“We will achieve this by working with African Governments, the private sector, civil society and other friends of Africa to galvanize action towards improving our societies and making a change in the lives of the ordinary people in our various countries.

“We will work for good governance by promoting credible and transparent elections, as well as peaceful power transfers. I have no doubt that this is the basic requirement we need for strengthening our institutions and enthroning stability.

“Our interest in youth and women entrepreneurship is driven by the urgent need to create jobs for Africa’s teeming young population. To this end my Administration championed various initiatives and programmes, including the “Youth Enterprises with Innovation (YouWin), which encouraged young people to go into business, and the “Nagropreneur” programme, which encouraged them to go into mechanized agriculture.

“Beyond job creation, Nigeria like other developing countries, faced the challenges of corruption, which is a stumbling block to the development of nations.

“I think it is important to let you know my administration took many steps to curtail this scourge, in the areas of Finance, agriculture and petroleum.
To take just one example, we drastically reduced corruption in the agricultural sector with the help of a simple mobile phone.

“We achieved this by providing an e-wallet to farmers which grew the percentage of registered farmers receiving subsidy from 11% to 94%. And in the process we were also able to save billions of naira in fertiliser subsidies.

“Through our Agricultural Transformation Agenda, we greatly boosted food production and saved almost a trillion naira on food imports.

“This one initiative had the benefits of improving food security, creating more jobs and reducing inflation to its lowest levels in over 5 years.

“Our ambition was to sanitize the corruption in petroleum subsidies by completely deregulating the sector. However, our efforts were frustrated by unhealthy political resistance.

“Consolidating democracy and the effective war against graft should be the collective responsibility of all citizens. I would like to emphasize my ongoing commitment to good governance, effective stewardship and transparency,” the former President said.

“It is my belief”

Dr. Jonathan further described Nigeria as a home to great civilizations, such as the NOK and Igbo Uku, which date back over 4,000 years, we are one of the oldest cultures in the world.

“We are a civilization that had faced challenges, fought wars, and reformed our systems; we have always prevailed through difficult times.

“We are a civilization that now stands at a crossroads a key time when we must make a decision to move forward or go back.

“It is my belief, that

“No matter what location.

“No matter what faction.

“No matter what tribe.

“Each one of us can come together as citizens of the future Nigeria.
It was the American Green Party politician Ralph Nader who said, “There can be no daily democracy, without daily citizenship”.
“The first transformation… must be … a shift in our mindset.

“We have to make the decision to make the rights of our people our priority when making government and investment decisions.

“Rather than spending money on resources that will run out, we should be investing it in people who are the key constant elements in the socio-economic transformation of society.

“Nigeria is projected to have a population that will surpass that of the United States of America by the year 2050. But if we have not invested in our people, then we will not be ready to manage.

“Our money must go towards providing education for all, because we know that once our citizens are educated, they have futures.

“Those futures lead to safer cities, stable economies, and more businesses. When a young person does not have access to education, their future is jeopardized and statistics show that they may be prone to antisocial and criminal activities.

“I am proud of the fact that my Administration established a Federal University in every one of the 12 States that did not previously have them. Now, for the first time in our country’s history, every state has a university established by the Federal Government.

“Despite it not being the responsibility of the Federal Government to develop primary and secondary schools, we built hundreds of these schools across Nigeria.

“Yet we need to build on these achievements by changing our mindset to investing in the resources above the ground, rather than below the ground.
Once we invest in our citizens, it will be our time to confidently enter the international stage. Each one of us will be able to go to any nation and proudly proclaim: I am a citizen of Nigeria.

“When we have a good mindset, we must also strive for equality.
No investment in our people is going to pay off if we are unequal.
One area some of the international community disagreed with me, was that while I was in office, I signed into law a bill that discriminates against a segment of our population.

“This private member bill was put forward in the context of polls that showed 98% of Nigerians did not think same sex marriage should be accepted by our society. This was the highest percentage of any country surveyed.

“The bill was passed by 100% of my country’s National Assembly. Therefore, as a democratic leader with deep respect for the Rule of Law, I had to put my seal of approval on it.

“However, in the light of deepening debates for all Nigerians and other citizens of the world to be treated equally and without discrimination, and with the clear knowledge that the issue of sexual orientation is still evolving, the nation may, at the appropriate time, revisit the law.

“When it comes to equality, we must all have the same rights as Nigerian citizens.
Former US Congressman Charles Rangel noticed the same thing when talking about America, he said “Full participation in government and society has been a basic right of the country symbolizing the full citizenship and equal protection of all”.

“Equality will promote meritocracy, growth and security. Tribalism, regionalism and religious intolerance should never be acceptable in Nigeria.

“Within the Nigerian Federation, anyone, regardless of their home state should be treated equally and have full protection under Federal Law.

“That is the only way that all Nigerians can be at home in any part of the country and proudly say “I am a Nigerian Citizen”.

“That is the only way we can eradicate tribalism, regionalism and religious intolerance before they destroy our beloved Nigeria.

“The constitution recognizes anyone born in Nigeria by Nigerian parents as a citizen. We must go the next step and accept all Nigerians residing in any part of the country as equal citizens.

“Our new Bill of Rights must therefore amend our constitution to criminalise discrimination of Nigerian citizens residing in any part of the country based on their place of origin.

“Indigenes and residents must pay the same amount for school fees and social services all over the county.

“I ask the same question that Eric P. Liu asks, “The next time someone uses denial of citizenship as a weapon or brandishes the special status conferred upon him by the accident of birth, ask him this: What have you done lately to earn it?

“Every Nigerian must feel at home in any part of Nigeria. It is the only way that each of us will be able to say, “Civis Nigerianus Sum”.

“As our country increases its equality, its cultural value will increase too.
When we increase the cultural value of Nigeria and show it to the world, not only will people spend their business dollars in our country, but their vacation dollars too.

“You have to buy into the culture of a country before you decide to visit or invest.

“It will become a self-fulfilling prophecy for our beloved nation.

“As we invest in the equality of our people and strive to make ourselves more equal, the world will take notice.

Judged On Merits Not Origins

“As our image rises in the eyes of others, we will become even prouder of our national culture. This will repeat and repeat in a positive feedback loop where both parts feed each other and grow as a result.
“Before I conclude, let me ask you this:
Which Nigeria do we as citizens want?
“An equal or unequal Nigeria?
“An educated or uneducated Nigeria?
“One Nigeria or many Nigerias?
“We all know the answers to these questions hence my call for a Bill of Rights, based on our shared vision for a future Nigeria which is…
“A Nigeria where you are judged on your merits and not your origins;
“A Nigeria where you can get the education you want and the future you choose;
“A Nigeria whose government serves the people and is not above the law;
“A Nigeria whose government invests in its resources above the ground and not just the resources below;
“A place where we all work together, rather than allow ourselves to be divided by tribalism or prejudice;
Nothing better sums up this vision for Nigeria than our national anthem, which sounds as good in prose as it does in song:
“Arise, O compatriots
Nigeria’s call obey
To serve our fatherland
With love and strength and faith
The labour of our heroes past
Shall never be in vain
To serve with heart and might
One nation bound in freedom
Peace and unity.”
“I will leave you with this: I am a patriot.
I am so very proud of my country.
“And I believe it is only right and proper for me, and every Nigerian to be able to proudly proclaim, in our villages, in our towns, in our cities, in our country and anywhere in the world:
“Civis Nigerianus Sum”
I AM A CITIZEN OF NIGERIA

Ivory Coast Ex-first Lady Goes On Trial For War Crimes

ivory coastIvory Coast’s former first lady, Simone Gbagbo, went on trial on Tuesday, accused of crimes against humanity and war crimes for her alleged role in a civil war that followed a 2010 presidential election and left around 3,000 people dead.

The trial, the West African nation’s first for crimes against humanity, is being held in a domestic court after the government rejected her extradition to the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague.

It has already drawn criticism from Gbagbo’s supporters, who claim it is politically motivated, as well as from rights groups, who accuse the prosecution of rushing the investigation.

Her husband, ex-president Laurent Gbagbo, is already before the ICC on charges linked to the brief conflict, which was sparked by his refusal to accept defeat to Alassane Ouattara in an election run-off.

Flanked by policemen, Simone Gbagbo, a key figure in her husband’s regime, greeted several dozen cheering supporters gathered at the entrance of the court in the commercial capital Abidjan with waves and smiles.

The prosecution alleges she was part of a small group of party officials from Gbagbo’s Ivorian Popular Front (FPI) that planned violence against Ouattara’s supporters to keep him out of power.

“The FPI put in place a crisis cell in January 2011 that met at the presidential residence and constituted the organ charged with planning and organising the repression,” an indictment read in court stated.

Simone Gbagbo did not immediately enter a plea on Tuesday. However, the indictment said she rejected the charges and denied the existence of a crisis cell at the presidency.

As each witness’s name was read in court, she turned in her seat, scanning the gallery.

I Will Work With Judiciary, To Recover Stolen Funds – Buhari

Muhammadu-Buhari-meet-State-House-correspondentsPresident Muhammadu Buhari says he will carefully work with the judiciary and the international community in the recovery of looted funds to ensure that all monies stolen by the past administration are fully recovered.

The President spoke on Monday at a lunch time with State House correspondents to mark his one year in office.

President Buhari described his experience in the villa during the hand over, as different from what he envisaged, maintaining that his administration did not meet any money on ground.

He was, however, optimistic that the promises on security, fight against corruption and revamping the economy would be fulfilled.

It is the second time that President Buhari will be meeting with State House correspondents in Aso Rock.

At the meeting, he shared his experience before he was announced winner of the 2015 Presidential election, saying he will not forget that phone call from former President Goodluck Jonathan in a hurry.

The former President had called Mr Buhari to congratulate him on his victory in the election before the final result was announced by the electoral body.

He, however, said that his experience in the last one year was different from what he thought.

It is an experience that nearly affected the change mantra that dominated his campaigns.

On the $2.1 billion meant for security but was allegedly looted and efforts to recover looted funds, the President said security, fight against corruption and revamping the economy still remained the tripod on which his administration stood and the main focus that could not be derailed.

Missing N30trn: Okonjo-Iweala Takes Legal Action

Okonjo-IwealaThe former Finance Minister, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, says that she was never served any court processes in relation to the allegation by former CBN Governor, Professor Charles Soludo that 30 trillion Naira was missing during the past administration.

The suit was instituted by the Socio-Economic Rights Accountability Project (SERAP) pursuant to the Freedom of Information Act.

A statement signed by the former minister’s Media Adviser, Mr. Paul Nwabuikwu, says that she has instructed her lawyers to take steps to set aside the judgment as it affects her.

The statement adds that the decision of SERAP to anchor its case on an allegedly baseless and unsubstantiated allegation by former CBN Governor, Professor Charles Soludo that 30 trillion Naira is missing confirms SERAP’s alleged dubious motives and its role as a tool for politically motivated actors.

The Federal High Court sitting in Lagos had ordered Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and the Federal Government to provide information on the spending of the alleged missing N30 trillion.

The fund, according to the court, represents some accruable income to the Federal Government during the last four years of the administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan.

The judgment was delivered by Justice Ibrahim Buba following a Freedom of Information suit brought by SERAP.

SERAP’s suit followed revelations by the former Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Charles Soludo, that at least N30 trillion “has either been stolen or unaccounted for, or grossly mismanaged over the last few years under the Coordinating Minister of the Economy and Minister of Finance, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala’s watch.”

You Must Account For Alleged Missing N30tn, Court Tells Okonjo-Iweala, FG

Dr-Ngozi-Okonjo-Iweala-2The Federal High Court sitting in Lagos has ordered former Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and the Federal Government to provide information on the spending of the alleged missing N30 trillion.

The fund according to the court represents some accruable income to the Federal Government during the last four years of the Administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan.

The judgment was delivered last week by Justice Ibrahim Buba following a Freedom of Information suit brought by a Non Governmental Organisation (NGO), Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP).

SERAP’s suit followed revelations by the former Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Charles Soludo, that at least N30 trillion “has either been stolen or unaccounted for, or grossly mismanaged over the last few years under the Coordinating Minister of the Economy and Minister of Finance, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala’s watch.”

Justice Buba said, “Mrs Okonjo-Iweala and the Federal Government have no legally justifiable reason for refusing to provide SERAP with the information requested for. The Court has gone through the application and agrees that SERAP’s application has merits and the argument is not opposed. SERAP’s application is granted as prayed.”

The Court agreed with the arguments by SERAP Deputy Director, Olukayode Majekodunmi that Mrs Okonjo-Iweala and the Federal Government “should have either supplied the information requested by SERAP or communicate her denial within 7 days of receipt of the letter from SERAP if she considers that the request should be denied.”

The judgment by Justice Buba reads in part: “Preliminary objection by Mrs Okonjo-Iweala and the Federal Government is misconceived, the court upholds the arguments by SERAP for the reasons stated herein.”

“SERAP commenced this proceeding by way of Originating Summons dated 23 February 2015 and filed 25 February 2015. Mrs Okonjo-Iweala and the Federal Government filed a Memorandum of Conditional Appearance, a Notice of Preliminary Objection and written address, all undated but filed on 29 September 2015.”

“The preliminary objection is on the following grounds: that SERAP did not obtain the mandatory leave of the Federal High Court to issue and serve the Originating Summons and other processes outside Lagos State; that there is no mandatory endorsement on the Originating Summons that it is to be served on Mrs Okonjo-Iweala and the Federal Government in Abuja and outside jurisdiction of this Court.”

“The only issue for determination is whether Mrs Okonjo-Iweala and the Federal Government should be heard on their preliminary objection considering the totality of the circumstances of this case.”

“He who wants equity must do equity. This suit was filed on 25 February 2015 and from the record of the court was served on Mrs Okonjo-Iweala and the Federal Government on 3rd July, 2015. It took about 3 months for them to come up with technical response to the simple request for information under the Freedom of Information Act 2011.”

“Mrs Okonjo-Iweala and the Federal Government have therefore been caught by Order 29 of the Rules of this Court, which requires that an application shall be made within 21 days after service on the Defendants of the originating summons.”

“If Mrs Okonjo-Iweala and the Federal Government want to raise issues about service, the law does not permit of demurer. The proper route for them should have been to join issues with the originating summons and also file their objections. In the present case by SERAP, the Notice of Preliminary Objection by Mrs Okonjo-Iweala and the Federal Government is incurably defective for not conforming to order 29 of the Rules of this Court.”

“The process adopted by Mrs Okonjo-Iweala and the Federal Government in this suit is to come by way of demurer. This process has long been abolished by the Rules of this Court. By Order 16 Rule 1 of the Rules of this Court, no demurer shall be allowed and rule 2 provides that a party shall be entitled to pursue by his pleadings any point of law and any point of law so raised shall be disposed by the judge who tries the cause at or after trial.”

“The implication of this clear provision of the rule of court is that Mrs Okonjo-Iweala and the Federal Government must join issues with SERAP on the originating summons no matter how flimsy, instead of looking for a technical way out. This technical way out has failed.”

“The concept of demurer as presently raised by Mrs Okonjo-Iweala and the Federal Government is no longer known to law especially the Federal High Court of Nigeria. It is the position of the law that the application of Mrs Okonjo-Iweala and the Federal Government should fail. Mrs Okonjo-Iweala and the Federal Government, having failed to file Counter Affidavit to SERAP’s suit, are deemed to have forfeited that option of filing anything again.”

“Having shown why the Application by Mrs Okonjo-Iweala and the Federal Government should be dismissed for failing to join issues with SERAP, the originating process must be moved on the merits.”

“On the issue of failure to obtain pre-requisite consent/leave of Court to issue and serve the originating summons on Mrs Okonjo-Iweala and the Federal Government outside of jurisdiction, Order 6 Rule 31 states that ‘in this Order out of jurisdiction means out of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.’”

“It is also necessary to refer to sections 97 and 99 of the Sheriff and Civil Process Act. The provisions apply to the validity of the service and have nothing to do with the validity of the originating process. On the strength of this clear provision, which Mrs Okonjo-Iweala and the Federal Government did not deny and incapable of denying at this point, their objection is dismissed as the validity of the process is not affected in any way.”

“The main issue in this Court’s view bothers on the legal binding obligation imposed on Mrs Okonjo-Iweala and the Federal Government by the provisions of the Freedom of Information Act access to a record of information requested for. In the case at hand, SERAP through its letter of 2 February 2015, Exhibit A, sought the information relating to the spending of the alleged missing N30 trillion, which represents some accruable income to the Federal Government during the last 4 years of the Administration of President Goodluck Jonathan. Exhibit A has been received by them, and Exhibit B is the acknowledgement of receipt of Exhibit A.”

“However Mrs Okonjo-Iweala and the Federal Government have since the receipt of the request letter failed, refused and or neglected to provide SERAP with the information it requested for within their custody. They should have either supplied the information requested by SERAP or communicate their denial within 7 days of receipt of the application from SERAP if it considers that the application should be denied.”

It would be recalled that SERAP in February 2015 dragged Mrs Okonjo-Iweala to court over “failure to provide information about spending of the alleged missing N30tn, which represents some accruable income to the Federal Government in the past four years.”

SERAP executive director Adetokunbo Mumuni said: “This judgment shows the important role that Nigerian courts can play in the efforts to promote transparency in government and combat corruption and the impunity of perpetrators. It also confirms that high-ranking government officials can no longer escape accountability for their action while in office. We urge Mrs Okonjo-Iweala to cooperate with the authorities in the efforts to ensure the full and effective enforcement of the judgment.”

Mr Soludo had earlier reportedly asked Mrs Okonjo-Iweala: “How many trillions of naira were paid for oil subsidy (unappropriated?) How many trillions (in actual fact) have been ‘lost’ through Customs duty waivers over the last four years? Can you tell Nigerians why the price of diesel has still not come down despite the crash in global crude oil prices, and how much is being appropriated by friends in the process?”

Niger Police Boss Wants ‘Fulani Youth Volunteers’ Established

Fulani, Niger Police The first stakeholders’ town hall meeting between the Police and Fulani leaders has taken place in Minna, with a resolution that the Fulanis should establish what is called ‘Fulani Youth Volunteers’.

The Fulani Youth Volunteers is to be established in each of the 25 Local Government Areas of the state and would work directly with Police command officials in each of the council area.

When the volunteers are established they should provide security agencies in the respective local government areas with information on the movement and activities of strange elements.

The town hall meeting was attended by over 2,500 Fulani leaders from the 25 local government areas of the state.

Addressing the gathering, the Commissioner of Police in the state, Abubakar Marafa, said that the meeting was to address the upsurge in cattle herdsmen and natives clashes across the country.

Though Marafa conceded to the fact that the state had not recorded any of such clashes, he nonetheless explained, “we have to be pro-active to forestall any of such incidents”.

The Police boss decried the activities of cattle rustling in the state which he blamed on some Fulanis as “some of the victims and suspects were discovered to be Fulanis”.

Speaking on behalf of the Fulanis, the Vice President of the Maiyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association, Alhaji Hussaini Bosso, blamed some of his kinsmen on the problem facing the country especially the herdsmen and natives.

He said that the town hall meeting would allow the association to properly monitor herdsmen and report their activities to the security agencies.

The Inspector-General of Police, Mr Solomon Arase, had during an on-the-spot assessment of communities attacked by suspected Fulani herdsmen in Enugu state, directed that all commissioners of police should hold regular town hall meetings with Fulanis with the sole objective of nipping in the bud, similar incidents in the future.

CCT Chair Says Tribunal Was Under Influence To Convict Tinubu

CCT ChairmanThe Chairman of the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT), Mr Danladi Umar, made a stunning revelation on Tuesday, saying the Tribunal was under influence to convict a former Lagos State Governor and leader of the All  Progressive Congress, Senator Bola Tinubu, when he appeared before it some six years ago.

In comments made to emphasise the Tribunal’s commitment to ensuring justice in the trial of the Nigerian Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, Mr Umar tried to allay the fears of prejudice raised by counsel to the accused.

“During Bola Tinubu’s case we were under influence to convict him but we did the right thing,” he told the Tribunal.

Mr Umar did not say who influenced the Tribunal at that time.

Feared Prejudice

Senator Tinubu was charged before the CCT and discharged in 2011 during the administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan.

Raising an issue that had earlier been brought before the Tribunal, Mr Agabi said that he feared prejudice.

“I want to assure you that there is nothing that we have done here to distort the records of the court.

“Are you surprised that those who come before you are afraid?

“People come here and they are ruled by fear of prejudice. Prejudice ought not to have a place at this court but we are afraid,” he stressed.

Mr Agabi, however, pointed out that he had not accused the Tribunal of prejudice.

The Chairman of the Tribunal allaying the defence counsel’s fears, further pledged to be fair in the hearing and to ensure justice.

“I swear by the Almighty Allah to do justice.

“On our part, the insinuations that we are being influenced to see the conviction of the accused is false,” he further stated.

Responding to the Tribunal Chairman’s statement, Mr Agabi said he agreed that all the persons in the case would account to God and stressed that “they should all be worried by that fact”.

Before proceedings began, Mr Umar insisted that only the lead counsel of the defendant would cross-examine the witness, saying it would help ensure a tidy process.

EFCC Secures Remand Warrant To Keep Fani-Kayode While Investigation Continues

jafaru isaThe Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on Tuesday said it has secured a remand warrant to keep former Minister of Aviation, Mr Femi Fani-Kayode.

The Spokesman of the anti-graft agency, Mr Wilson Uwajuren, said the warrant will give the agency the constitutional right to detain Mr Fani-Kayode while he is being investigated

Mr Fani-Kayode honoured the invitation of the EFCC and arrived at the headquarters of the agency in Abuja on Monday morning in a police convoy.

The EFCC claims that Mr Fani-Kayode has a case to answer over the Peoples Democratic Party’s election funds.

Mr Fani-Kayode said he was surprised at the turn of events after he had promised to show up with his lawyer on Monday.

He was the Director of Publicity for former President Goodluck Jonathan and PDP’s Campaign Organisation before the general election of 2015.

Canadian Wildfire Edges South, Leaves Thousands Stranded

canadianThe 88,000 residents who fled a wildfire that has ravaged the Canadian oil town of Fort McMurray in Alberta will not be able to return home anytime soon, officials warned on Thursday, even as the inferno edged slowly south.

The out-of-control blaze has consumed entire neighborhoods of Fort McMurray in Canada’s energy heartland and officials warn its spread now threatens two oil sands sites south of the city.

The wildfire has already forced precautionary production cuts or shutdowns at about a dozen major facilities, eating into a global crude surplus and supporting oil prices this week.

“The damage to the community of Fort McMurray is extensive and the city is not safe for residents,” said Alberta Premier Rachel Notley in a press briefing late Thursday, as those stranded in camps and on the roadside to the north of the city clamored for answers.

“It is simply not possible, nor is it responsible to speculate on a time when citizens will be able to return. We do know that it will not be a matter of days,” she said.

Three days after the residents were ordered to leave Fort McMurray, firefighters were still battling to protect homes, businesses and other structures from the flames. More than 1,600 structures, including hundreds of homes, had been destroyed by Wednesday morning. Officials declined on Thursday to estimate how many more had been lost.

The communities of Anzac and Gregoire Lake Estates about 50 kilometers (31 miles) south of Fort McMurray were “under extreme threat,” late Thursday, as the flames spread to the southeast.