Alleged Fraud: Trial Of Kalu, Two Others Stalled

Alleged Fraud: Court Stalls Trial Of Kalu, Two OthersThe trial of a former Governor of Abia State, Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu, and two others on allegations of fraud was stalled at the Federal High Court in Lagos amid a heavy downpour.

The failure of the prosecution to serve the statement of one of its witnesses on the defence team halted the proceedings before Justice Mohammed Idris.

When the case came up on Monday, the court directed the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to call its first witness in the case.

The witness, Onovah Ovenevoh, was about to begin his testimony when lawyer to the second and third defendants, Solo Akuma, drew the court’s attention to the fact that his statement was not part of the proof of evidence given to him by the prosecution.

He said service of witness statement on the defence was a constitutional right and a facility that should be provided for an accused person as enshrined in Section 36(6)(b) of the 1999 Constitution.

Aligning himself fully with Mr Akuma’s submissions, lawyer to the former governor, Mike Ozhekome, urged the court to hold that since the prosecution has not provided the statement, the witness cannot testify.

Counsel to the EFCC, Rotimi Jacobs, however, urged the court to discountenance the submissions of the two defence lawyers.

He insisted that the witness was in court by virtue of a court’s order which summoned him to appear and as such, the Commission should not be concerned about providing his statement.

The court then fixed Tuesday, March 7 for ruling on the matter.

The defendants, Dr. Kalu, Udeh Jones Udeogu and Slok Nigeria Limited were arraigned on October 31, 2016 before the court by the EFCC on a 34-count charge of alleged 3.2 billion Naira fraud.

Lagos CP Ordered To Place Convicted Ontario Oil MD Under Watch

Lagos CP Ordered To Place Convicted Ontario Oil MD Under Watch The Lagos High Court sitting in Ikeja has ordered the Lagos State Commissioner of Police, Fatai Owoseni to keep a close watch on the Managing Director of Ontario Oil and Gas, Adaoha Ugo-Nadagi, who collapsed on Friday after she was convicted of a 744 million naira fuel subsidy scam.

Presiding judge, Justice Lateefa Okunnu of a Lagos High Court, on Monday, ordered the medical directors of Havana Hospital, Surulere and the Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH), to both swear to an affidavit of means, clearly stating the status of her health.

At Monday’s proceedings, counsel to Ndagi, told the court that after she collapsed on Friday she was rushed to Havana Hospital where she was placed on life support and oxygen.

She was then transferred to LUTH where she has been receiving treatment.

EFCC counsel, Rotimi Jacobs, however asked the court to pronounce the sentence in the absence of the convicts.

In her ruling, Justice Okunnu noted that there seems to be a lacuna in the law as to the sentencing of the convicts in absentia. She however reserved the sentencing till Wednesday, January 18 2017.

Ndagi, oil mogul, Walter Wagbasoma and their company, Ontario Oil and Gas were convicted by the court for their roles in a N744m subsidy fraud brought against them by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.

CCT Fixes July 13 To Rule Saraki’s Motion Asking Chairman To Disqualify Himself

CCT, Saraki, Senate President, Bukola SarakiThe Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) on Tuesday heard the motion filed by the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, asking the Chairman of the tribunal to disqualify himself from presiding over his trial for alleged false declaration of assets.

Arguing the motion, Paul Erukoro, who is counsel to the Senate President said that it would no longer be possible for the Chairman to be fair to both parties in the suit.

Chairman of the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT), Mr Danladi Yakubu Umar, had on June 7 accused the Senate President of trying to delay his trial.

The tribunal Chairman, who was reacting to the allegation of delay tactics by the prosecution counsel, Mr Rotimi Jacobs against Saraki’s lawyers said that the consequences of the trial and the charges will in no way be reduced on the accused person by his tribunal.

Mr Paul Erukoro said that the prosecution did not object to the facts of the statement and proceeded to read the statement but the prosecutor objected to reading the statement and his objections was upheld.

Erukoro then referred the tribunal to the written address of the prosecution where they, according to him admitted that the Chairman of the tribunal made the statement.

He also told the tribunal that the Chairman of the tribunal was personally served as required by law so that he can refute any part of the motion if he so wishes but the Chairman did not do so.

He said that it is therefore in order to agree that all sides agree that the Chairman made the statement.

He added that the position of the prosecutor that the chairman spoke out of anger and that meanings should not be read into his statement is not admissible.

He also told the Tribunal to reject the proposition of the prosecution that the judgment should be left to the end of the trial because the motion is asking him to disqualify himself from the trial.

Should he go ahead, it will be assumed that he has taken his decision again, citing the decision of the tribunal on April 27, 2016.

Abuse of Court Processes

Responding, the prosecution counsel said he had filed a counter affidavit showing that the prayer being sought is the same trial they have been seeking since the start of the trial.

He added that considering the motion would mean the Chairman taking over the duties of the Appeal Court.

Mr Jacobs also said that the affidavit of concern submitted to the tribunal is not known to law as the law says only a reasonable person who was in trial can speak on an issue.

According to him, the persons listed in the affidavit of concern are political supporters.

He also argued that the Chairman of the tribunal did not state the consequences of offences but the consequences of a trial which can mean an acquittal.

He said that the Chairman did not say “I will convict you” instead he said the consequences of trial, which can be anything; either acquittal or conviction.

He told the tribunal that what the Chairman meant by his statement is that he must conclude the case.

He concluded by saying that the application is frivolous and an abuse of court processes intended to delay the matter.

Tribunal Disbandment

The other member of the tribunal then asked the defence to speak on the issue raised by the prosecution that they want the tribunal to be disbanded.

Mr Erukoro explained that the circumstances will bring to the attention of the executive, the need to properly constitute the tribunal, if the Chairman of the tribunal agrees to disqualify himself.

He added that the law makes provision for appointing persons to hear the case.

Having heard both parties the tribunal initially adjourned to Wednesday, June 22 for ruling but the Chairman quickly changed his mind, saying he would be travelling for two weeks

So he would be adjourning the matter for ruling after his return. He suggested Thursday, July 7 and again suggested July 13 which all the parties agreed with.

Saraki’s Trial Adjourned After Motion Seeking CCT Chairman’s Disqualification

sarakiThe trial of Nigeria’s Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki, for false asset declaration has been adjourned after he again asked the Chairman of the Code of Conduct Tribunal to disqualify himself from hearing the case.

He is calling for the disqualification of Mr Danladi Umar, citing what he called an ‘unguarded statement’ which he claimed was made by the chairman on the sitting of June 7.

The Senate President quoted the chairman as saying: “I am not happy at the delay tactics by the defence counsel and I must say this thing out that this delay tactics will not reduce the consequences the defendant will met from the Tribunal at the end of the trial”.

‘Now Lives In Fear’

Dr Saraki in his motion filed by his counsel also said that the threat of consequences issued by the Chairman of the Tribunal had caused him to lose confidence in the impartiality of the chairman and that he was not confident that he could get justice from the Tribunal if the Chairman continued to preside and ultimately decide the case.

He also claimed that he ‘now lives in fear’ and is deeply worried that the Mr Umar had already decided his fate.

“It is therefore imperative for him to step aside from the case,” a counsel to Dr Saraki told the Tribunal on Wednesday.

However, a prosecuting counsel, who told the Tribunal that the principal prosecutor, Mr Rotimi Jacobs, was at another proceedings at the appeal court, informed the Tribunal that they have received the motion.

He went further to tell the Tribunal to discountenance the motion at the Wednesday sitting since what was before the Tribunal was the continuation of cross-examination and that the Tribunal should proceed with that.

At this point the Chairman of the Tribunal asked him if he had replied to the motion and Mr Pious Ukeyima said he had just received a further affidavit at the premises of the Tribunal and would be needing time to respond to it.

“The prosecution intends to oppose the motion,” he said and insisted that the cross-examination should continue.

The Chairman of the Tribunal then told the defence counsel that he would hear the motion on Tuesday June 21 and then proceeded with the trial.

He reminded the counsel to Dr. Saraki that it was not the first time, he had been asked to disqualify himself from the trial.

At this point counsel to Dr. Saraki, Mr Kana Agabi, told Mr Umar that his statement had prejudiced the hearing of the motion, insisting that the statement of the Chairman of the Tribunal showed he had made his design already.

But the chairman of the Tribunal told him that he, Mr Agabi, had misconstrued his statements.

“Saying I will continue with the proceedings doesn’t mean I have decided not to disqualify myself,” he told Dr. Saraki’s counsel urging him to be patient until the hearing.

Having heard both parties in the suit, the chairman of the Tribunal then adjourned the proceedings to June 21 for continuation of hearing.

CCT Chairman Accuses Saraki Of Delaying Trial

CCT Chairman
Chairman of the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT), Mr Danladi Yakubu Umar.

Chairman of the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT), Mr Danladi Yakubu Umar, has accused the Senate President of trying to delay his trial.

The tribunal chairman, who was reacting to the allegation of delay tactics by the prosecution counsel, Mr Rotimi Jacobs against Saraki’s lawyers said that the consequences of the trial and the charges will in no way be reduced on the accused person by his tribunal.

However, the lead counsel to Saraki, Mr Kanu Agabi, expressed worry over alleged assumed prejudices by the tribunal. He was taken aback by the remark of the CCT Chairman, got up and asked the Chairman on what he meant by the consequences of the tribunal and cautioned the tribunal against influence from opposition and enemies of the rule of law.

Done with that, the cross examination of the chief prosecution witness continued as Mr Micheal Wetkas told the tribunal that Saraki was never invited with regard to the ownership of two properties, No. 1 and 3 Targus Street, Maitama, Abuja.

According to him, the investigative team of the anti-graft agency was more interested in the ownership of the properties which it established to belong to the Senate President, because he purchased it using his company Carlisle Properties and Investment Limited.

Further cross examination of the witness has been adjourned to June 15.

The trial of Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, for alleged false declaration of assets at the Code of Conduct Tribunal, Abuja, was adjourned till Wednesday, June 15, 2016.

The tribunal adjourned hearing to give Dr. Saraki’s lead counsel, Mr Agabi, time to see his physician for routine medical examination.

The prosecution had objected Mr Kanu Agabi’s request for an adjournment to allow him see his doctor.

Lead Prosecution Counsel, Mr Rotimi Jacobs, said that the court should finish with the cross-examination of its witness Mr. Wetkas this week as planned but the court resolved to give Mr Agabi one week to attend to his health.

CCT Adjourns Trial Of Senate President Saraki Again

Bukola Saraki, Senate President, CCTThe trial of Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, for alleged false declaration of assets at the Code of Conduct Tribunal, Abuja, has been adjourned till Wednesday, June 15, 2016.

The tribunal adjourned hearing to give Dr. Saraki’s lead counsel, Kanu Agabi, time to see his physician for routine medical examination.

The prosecution had objected Mr Kanu Agabi’s request for an adjournment to allow him see his doctor.

Lead Prosecution Counsel, Mr Rotimi Jacobs, said that the court should finish with the cross-examination of its witness Mr. Wetkas this week as planned but the court resolved to give Mr Agabi one week to attend to his health.

“This matter had to be adjourned because of the prevailing exigencies.

“I will let the counsel see his doctors, take his medication and have some rest,” the CCT Chairman, Danladi Umar said.

Prior to the adjournment, hearing had resumed with the prosecution witness, Mr Micheal Wetkas still under cross-examination.

The focus of the trial was on count 6, which relates to the ownership of a property which is in the Maitama area of Abuja.

During cross-examination on May 25, Mr Wetkas agreed that the property was acquired in 1993 and was transferred to Carlisle Properties and Investment Limited in 2003 but later retracted his statement, saying he did not know when the property was transferred.

Beneficial Ownership

As the cross-examination continued on Tuesday, he was asked if he ascertained the owner of number 1 Targus Street, Maitama, he said that what he was interested in was the ownership of the property which turned out to belong to Carlisle Properties and Investment Limited and that the beneficiary of the property was the Senate President.

He was asked to explain what he meant by beneficial ownership and Wetkas said that he was not a lawyer but that what he knew was that it is the person who benefits from the financial activities of a corporation.

Asked if Government is a beneficiary, Mr Wetkas initially said no and later said yes.

He was then told to read the content of page 129 of exhibit 21 and he read that it was an acknowledgement receipt of ground levy paid by Carlisle Properties and Investment Limited.

He was then told to define his job as an EFCC operative, and he said it is to investigate and establish financial crimes committed.

Explaining his role in the Senate President’s case, he said he had earlier stated that his investigation started with financial misconduct and then dovetailed into non-declaration of assets.

When asked if he looked out for any financial crimes in this situation, his counsel interjected that this was not a relevant question.

However, defence counsel, Paul Usoro, said that Section 7 and 8 of Evidence Act says that when an issue is stated as fact in the case it has to be established if there is an economic crime the company has committed.

The prosecutor insisted that the questions were irrelevant and that they have been so for the past 12 days of sitting.

The defence counsel Mr Usoro took exception but Mr Rotimi Jacobs said the questioning was going in a manner that suggests Carlisle was being charged.

Nevertheless, cross-examination continued and the witness was again asked if they investigated Carlisle for fraud.

He said Carlisle was used to find the ownership of the property but that his investigation was basically on the ownership of the property and not whether there was fraud.

Count 7

Next he was taken to count 7 and was asked to read but the Chairman refused him reading it.

Mr Usoro read it instead, “By your failure to declare number 3 Targus Street which you acquired through your company Carlisle properties and investment you have committed a crimes against the Code of Conduct Act.”

Wetkas was asked if the defendant acquired the said property, the witness said yes but through his company Carlisle Properties and Investment Limited.

He was also asked if the charge said he failed to declare it in 2003, the witness said yes.

When also asked if count 8 is identical with count 7, he said yes but that the date of declaration was different because count 8 talks about 2007 while count 9 is also similar but talks about the non-declaration of the property in 2011.

Loans

Mr Wetkas was then asked to go to exhibit 21 which is the letter from FCDA to EFCC on the properties in 1 and 3 Targus Street. He was also asked to identify the power of attorney.

He said it was made ten years before the defendant became Governor of Kwara and ten years before he made exhibit 1 which was his asset in 2003.

Mr Wetkas maintained his position that Carlisle was used to purchase the property and the defendant is the owner of Carlisle.

When asked if all the answers he gave on count 6 with regards to Carlisle Properties and Investment Limited applies to count 7, 8 and 9 the witness said yes.

He, however, said that the two properties are residential properties that is number 1 and 3 Targus Street and that loans were taken by Skyview from a commercial bank to guarantee the properties – one was 1.8 billion Naira and the other was over 700 million Naira.

“When we interviewed the MD of Skyview company, he said that the transactions were at the instance of the defendant, and that is what formed our position on the ownership of the property,” Wetkas said.

Usoro asked the witness if he was there when the defendant purportedly gave the directive, he said no.

When asked if he contacted the defendant on count 7, 8, and 9, the witness said no.

Alleged False Asset Declaration: Absence Of Witness Stalls Continuation Of Saraki’s Trial

Bukola-Saraki-President-National-Assembly-NigeriaThe trial of the Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki, at the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) over alleged false assets declaration was on Wednesday stalled due to the absence of prosecution witness, Michael Wetkas.

The trial, which was supposed to continue did not hold following a letter by the prosecutor, Mr Rotimi Jacobs indicating that the chief witness, Mr Micheal Wetkas, will be testifying at another case.

No date has been set for the continuation of the trial.

The Senate President is standing trial for alleged falsification of asset.

Alleged Fraud: Dokpesi’s Trial Stalled

dokpesiThe trial of the former Chairman of DAAR Communications PLC, Raymond Dokpesi, stalled on Wednesday after defence counsel made a complaint.

At the resumed trial at the Federal High Court in Abuja on Wednesday, the defence team led by Mr Wole Olanipekun, argued against the commencement of the trial on the ground that the proof of evidence supplied by the prosecutor was not readable.

The prosecutor, Mr Rotimi Jacobs, countered the argument of Mr Olanipekun saying that since he came into the case, he had not provided the address of his chambers for the service of documents.

He, however, informed the court that he would make a clean and clear copy of the proof of evidence available to the defence team before the next adjourned date.

Justice John Tsoho subsequently adjourned the case to March 28 and 29.

Mr Dokpesi is standing trial on a six-count charge of money laundering and other charges relating to procurement fraud.

Buhari Behind My Continued Detention, Dasuki Tells Court

dasukiFormer National Security Adviser (NSA), Colonel Sambo Dasuki, has accused President Muhammadu Buhari of being behind his arrest and detention without trial since December 29, 2015.

Dasuki, who spoke through his counsel, Mr Joseph Daudu, claimed that President Buhari unjustly instigated his arrest and detention by the Department of State Security (DSS) against the bail granted him by three different courts in various criminal charges brought against him by the federal government.

He claimed that the President, through his comments on the presidential media chat in January 2016, confirmed that he was behind his ordeal.

In a further and better affidavit filed in support of his application at the FCT high court, the ex-NSA claimed that the President betrayed his emotion during the presidential media chat when he openly told Nigerians that he and Nnamdi Kanu would not be allowed on bail because they would jump bail.

Dasuki claimed he had been held incommunicado since his re-arrest on December 29 when he perfected the third bail granted him by Justice Peter Affen.

He, therefore, asked Justice Affen to prohibit his further trial until the federal government allows him on bail so as to prepare effectively for defence in the various criminal charges brought against him by government.

The former NSA who has been in detention since December 29, 2015, claimed that the detention has prevented him from filing effective defence because he has no access to his lawyers.

Daudu also stated that the claim that Dasuki was being held by the DSS and not the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) cannot hold water because the federal government is the complainant in the charge against Dasuki and that both the DSS and EFCC are agents of the federal government.

In opposing the application, counsel to the federal government, Mr Rotimi Jacob informed Justice Affen that the charge against Dasuki was at the instance of the EFCC and not the DSS.

He denied that the federal government disobeyed the court on the ground that on December 29, 2015 when the bail conditions were perfected, Dasuki was released by the prison authority at Kuje but was however rearrested by another government agency.

Jacobs asked the court not to grant Dasuki’s application because DSS that rearrested him was not a party to the charges against him before Justice Affen who granted him the bail.

After listening to the parties, Justice Affen fixed March 4, 2016 to give ruling on the application.

Dasukigate: Ex-PDP Chairman’s Son Collected 300mln Naira – Witness

Haliru MohammedA witness and an official of Nigeria’s anti-graft agency told a court on Wednesday that 300 million Naira out of the arms deal money was paid into the account of the son of a former Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, Bello Abba Mohammed.

Mr Abba Mohammed is being prosecuted alongside his father, Dr. Bello Haliru Mohammed, before Justice A.R. Mohammed of the Federal High Court, Abuja on a 4-count charge bordering on criminal breach of trust and money laundering by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

The EFCC’s first witness, Mrs Rouqayya Ibrahim, who is an operative of the anti-graft agency, being led in evidence by the prosecuting counsel, Rotimi Jacobs, said that the payment of 300 million Naira was made in two tranches to the accused person’s company account – BAM Projects and Properties Limited.

She said that the funds were meant for the procurement of arms through the office of the former National Security Adviser (NSA), Colonel Sambo Dasuki (Rtd).

A statement by the spokesperson for the EFCC on Wednesday said Mrs Ibrahim stated that the accused persons, through the firm, withdrew the money from an account of the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA) operated with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

“Discoveries We Made”

The fund was said to have been transferred to the accused persons by the embattled former National Security Adviser, 11 days to the 2015 presidential election.

Mrs Ibrahim told the court that she was attached to the Forensic Accounting unit of the Commission as an analyst.

She stated that, her schedule of duties include general investigations, interview of suspects and complainants, analysis of documents, arrests where necessary, executing search warrants among others.

Mrs Ibrahim further told the court that a Special Task Force was created sometime in October/November 2014 to investigate defence arms contracts and alleged financial misappropriation of funds in the ONSA.

The witness stated that relevant government agencies including banks, staff of the Accountant-General’s Office and that of the ONSA and the CBN were contacted to furnish the Commission with necessary information about the case.

“One of the discoveries we made after receiving relevant documents from the Accountant-General’s Office was a letter written by the Ministry of Finance to the CBN requesting for 100 billion Naira on March 2, 2015. The sum was for several expenditures for several agencies but specifically, 30 billion Naira of the 100 billion Naira was for the ONSA for security issues.

“On March 6, 2015, the AGF wrote to the CBN authorising the release of 30 billion Naira which was paid into ONSA account with CBN on March 11, 2015.

“On March 17, 2015, 300 million Naira out of the 30 billion Naira paid into the ONSA account, was paid into BAM Projects and Properties Limited account in Sterling Bank with the narration on the mandate for the payment being Payment for safe houses,” the witness told the court.

Consequent upon that discovery, Mrs Ibrahim stated that her team requested for the statement of account of BAM Projects and Properties Limited from Sterling Bank.

The analysis, according to her, showed that a payment of 300 million Naira was made on February 27, 2015 in two tranches of 150 million Naira each to BAM Projects and Properties account with Sterling Bank from Jabbama Ada Global Services Limited.

The witness further told the court that the first defendant initially denied knowledge of the 300 million Naira paid into his account, but later admitted after he spoke with his father (the third defendant) who was away at the time.

“The first defendant was confronted with the disbursement of the funds from his account and he confessed that the disbursements were made on the instruction of his father for the purpose of elections,” Mrs Ibrahim stated.

Documents in support of the claim were tendered by Jacobs. Though objected to by the defence counsel, Umoh, his objection was overruled and the documents were admitted in evidence as exhibits.

Thereafter, Justice Mohammed adjourned the case to Tuesday, February 23, 2016 for continuation.

In the said suit, Mohammed’s son (Bello Abba Mohammed) was charged as the first accused person while the firm, BAM Projects and Properties Limited, which was used to perpetrate the fraud and the former PDP Chairman was cited as the second and third accused persons respectively.

Suswam’s Trial Continues In Abuja

SuswamThe trial of the former Governor of Benue State, Mr Gabriel Suswam and his former Commissioner of Finance, Omodachi Okolobia, continued in Abuja on Tuesday.

A witness presented by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commissions (EFCC), Mrs Bridgid Shietu, denied knowledge of the sales of about 47 million units of shares in three tranches in 2006 by the administration of Senator George Akume.

During cross examination by the defence counsel, Mr Joseph Daudu, the witness, who was the Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of Benue Investment and Property Company Limited, also denied knowledge of the sales of some shares belonging to the state government.

The witness denied the knowledge of another sales of about 2,764,800 units of Julius Berger shares in 2006 and another 12,358,650 units of AfriBank Nigeria PLC shares sold in the same month and the same year by Senator George Akume.

She, however, admitted receiving the sum of $2.2 million from the proceeds of the shares sold by Mr Suswam, as counterpart funding paid into the account of Samkalos Benue Farms Limited, which was a joint venture project between the Benue State Government and Samkalos Farms of Mexico.

The prosecutor, Rotimi Jacobs, declined commenting on the trial while Mr Daudu restated the innocence of his client.

The case has been adjourned to March 2, 2016.

Mr Suswam and his former Commissioner of Finance are standing trial for an alleged criminal diversion of 3.1 billion Naira brought against him by the EFCC.