Court Orders Temporary Forfeiture Of LEGICO Mall’s N449.7m

A Federal High Court sitting in Lagos, has ordered the temporary forfeiture of the sum of 449,750,000 Naira to the Federal Government, found in possession of one Mohammed Tauheed, of the LEGICO Shopping Plaza in Victoria Island.

Justice Rilwan Aikawa, who was sitting as the vacation judge, for the Easter holidays, ordered the forfeiture of the money after listening to an Ex-parte application filed and argued before his court by a counsel to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Mr Rotimi Oyedepo.

The EFCC in an affidavit sworn to by one of its operatives, Moses Awolusi, submitted that the commission received an intelligence report on April 7, 2017, that money in several Ghana must go bags were warehoused in one of the shops located at the LEGICO shopping Plaza.

The intelligence report according to the EFCC, was analysed and found worthy of investigation.

Upon inquires into the ownership of the shop (number LS64) where the exhibit was recovered, the EFCC said their investigations indicated that the shop had not been opened for close to two years.

Also, according to the commission, the Chairman and Vice Chairman of the plaza, Mr Sulaiman Mukthar Daba and Alhaji Ishaq Ayandiran, could also not trace the identity of the owner of the shop, but came to EFCC’s office with one Mohammed Tauheed, who claimed ownership of the money.

He then informed the EFCC that he received the money in cash from a serving Government official whose name he would not disclose for security reasons.

The EFCC further stated that thereafter, Mohammed Tauheed in the presence of his lawyer agreed to return the money back to Federal Government of Nigeria who is the rightful owner of the money.

The anti-graft agency then concluded that Mohammed Tauheed who has been arrested in connection with the money, criminally conspired with the owner of the shop (now at large) to launder the said funds.

After laying all its facts before the court, the EFCC told Justice Aikawa that it would be in the interest of Justice if the court could, in the interim, make an order of forfeiture of the money to the Federal Government of Nigeria.

The EFCC also requested that the court allows Tauheed or any other person to be put on notice and appear before the court within 14 days to state reasons why the money found in their possession should not be permanently forfeited to the Federal Government of Nigeria.

Justice Aikawa granted the request and also ordered the EFCC to advertise the order of the court within 14 days for any interested party to come forward and convince the court as to why the money should not be permanently forfeited to the Federal Government of Nigeria.

The matter was subsequently adjourned till May 19.

Alleged Diezani Bribe: INEC Director Pleads Guilty To Receipt

Alleged Diezani Bribe: INEC Director,Christian Nwosu Pleads Guilty To ReceiptA Director of Administration at the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Christian Nwosu, on Wednesday pleaded guilty to a charge of receiving 30 million Naira for the purpose of manipulating the outcome of the 2015 general elections.

He allegedly received the sum out of a total of 264.88 million Naira purportedly used by the former Minister of Petroleum, Diezani Allison-Madueke, to bribe some officers of the electoral body ahead of the conduct of the elections.

The EFCC Prosecutor, Rotimi Oyedepo, told the court that the money is a small fraction of a larger sum of $115 million, which the former Petroleum Minister allegedly diverted.

The INEC Director has given useful information to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

He also surrendered the title document of a landed property he acquired with the funds for 25 million Naira in Delta State, with another five million Naira already recovered from his account.

After reviewing the facts, Justice Mohammed Idris of the Federal High Court, Lagos, subsequently found him guilty of the offence and convicted him.

The judge, however, deferred his sentence till Friday, April 7.

Funds Diversion: An EFCC Detective’s Testimony Against Amosu

Adesola Amosu, Air Force, EFCC, NIMASA, Tosin OwoboA witness has told a court how a former Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Adesola Amosu, and two other Air Force chiefs, diverted the sum of three billion naira paid to the Nigerian Air Force by the Nigerian Maritime and Safety Agency (NIMASA).

Mr Tosin Owobo, an Assistant Detective Superintendent with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), said the money was paid in response to a request made to the Director General of NIMASA at the time, Mr Patrick Akpobolokemi, by Air Marshal Amosu for assistance on maritime security.

The EFCC detective, a third prosecution witness, made the testimony on Wednesday in continuation of the trial of the former Air Force chiefs at the Federal High Court in Lagos State, southwest Nigeria.

He informed the court that investigations revealed that there was a Memorandum of Understanding between NIMASA and the Nigerian Air Force.

In furtherance of the memo, NIMASA in 2013 paid the sum of one billion Naira and 480 million Naira to the Nigerian Air Force under the leadership of former Chief of Defence Staff, Air Chief Alex Badeh.

In continuation of the agreement in 2014, the EFCC official testified that Mr Amosu wrote to Mr Akpobolokemi, requesting four billion Naira, as the cash amount needed for maritime security.

Mr Akpobolokemi was said to have instead approved the payment of three billion Naira, a sum which was reportedly released in three tranches of one billion Naira each between August and September 2014, and paid into a Nigerian Air Force Special Emergency Operations Account.

The witness added that authorisation for the three billion Naira to be paid into the special account was given by the Director of Accounts, Air Vice Marshal Jacob Bola Adigun, the second defendant in this case.

He, however, said that the monies were purportedly transferred from the special account to various oil and gas companies, all of whom have now been listed in the charge alongside the three Air Force chiefs.

The court admitted in evidence, the statements of accounts of the oil companies allegedly involved.

However, a move by the EFCC Counsel, Rotimi Oyedepo, to get the witness to delve into some of the content of the documents was rebuffed by the defence team.

The defence counsels objected the move on the grounds that the witness was not the maker of the documents neither was there an authentication obtained.

Justice Mohammed Idris consequently adjourned till Thursday, February 26 to rule on whether the witness can answer questions based on the documents and for continuation of the trial.

Dudafa Says EFCC Forced Him To Write Statement

Dudafa Says Statements Made To EFCC Were ForcedThe Federal High Court has adjourned till February 13, it’s ruling on the admissibility of a court order on which authority the EFCC remanded a former Senior Special Assistant on Domestic Affairs to ex-President Goodluck Jonathan, Waripamo-Owei Dudafa.

The defendant had contended that the EFCC remanded him in custody without access to his lawyers.

He had also denied statements made in custody insisting that the statements were dictated and he was mentally tortured to sign them in order to regain his freedom.

Under cross-examination on Tuesday from Mr Rotimi Oyedepo, the Counsel to the EFCC, Mr Dudafa denied being offered administrative bail by the commission.

He, however, admitted that one Barrister Sylvanus Habila who is his Uncle came to his rescue and acted as his lawyer.

The EFCC says the administrative bail was not completed because the lawyer recommended on behalf of the defendant’s sureties produced forged documents before the commission.

The EFCC told the court that this lawyer was also present in court when the remand order from a magistrate court was obtained.

Mr Dudafa, however, insisted that the lawyer was seen and not heard as the remand proceedings was an exparte one.

A move to tender the remand order in court to show that the lawyer made an argument for Mr Dudafas bail in the Magistrate court was rebuffed by the Defence Counsel, Mr Gboyega Oyewole who insisted that the document was not certified neither was it properly produced before the court.

The EFCC insisted that the document was produced in its primary form and did not require certification.

Following arguments and counter arguments on the issue, Justice Mohammed Idris adjourned till Feb 13 to consider his ruling on the admissibility of the document.

Mr Dudafa is testifying in a trial-within-trial to determine the voluntariness of some statements he made while in the custody of the EFCC after his arrest on charges of illegally concealing about 1.6billion Naira which were alleged to be proceeds of crime.

EFCC Vs Fmr NIMASA DG: Court Fixes Feb 21 To Rule On ‘No Case Submission’

EFCC Vs Fmr NIMASA DG: Court Fixes Feb 21 To Rule On 'No Case Submission'A Federal High Court in Lagos has reserved February 21 for judgment in a “no case submission” filed by Calistus Obi, a former acting Director General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA, who is charged with a 136 million Naira fraud.

Justice Mojisola Olatoregun, fixed the date for judgment after hearing arguments from both defense and prosecuting counsels on the application.

Counsel to the former NIMASA boss, Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Wale Akoni, told the court that the EFCC had not made out a prima facie case to secure the conviction of the defendants.

He also told the court that what the prosecuting agency merely did was to ‘bring out all manners of evidence before the court without doing more’.

Another Senior Advocate, Joseph Nwobike who appeared for the second defendant, one Ali Dimas, also urged the court to uphold the same application made by his client.

The EFCC Counsel, Rotimi Oyedepo, however, opposed these arguments and submitted that the prosecution had shown how funds were transferred and diverted by both defendants.

He urged the court to discountenance the application and instead ask the defendants to open their defense.

Justice Olatoregun then adjourned till February 21 for judgment.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, had preferred an eight count charge against Mr. Callistus Obi and the second defendant, Alu Dismas, a former personal assistant to former DG of NIMASA, Patrick Akpobolokemi.

They had however pleaded not guilty to the charges and were admitted to bail in the sum of five million naira each.

Alleged Money Laundering: Court Freezes Patience Jonathan’s Accounts In Five Banks

Alleged Money Laundering: Court Freezes Patience Jonathan's Accounts In Five BanksA Federal High Court in Lagos has frozen multiple accounts in five Nigerian banks allegedly belonging to former first lady, Patience Jonathan over allegations of money laundering.

Justice Mojisola Olatoregun made the order freezing the accounts after listening to an exparte application filed by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), sometime in November.

The order, according to the Commission, covers Mrs. Jonathan’s accounts in Ecobank Plc, Skye Bank Plc, Stanbic IBTC Bank, Diamond Bank Plc and Fidelity Bank Plc.

The anti-graft agency said that the move to request the freezing of the accounts became necessary after it received intelligence report, which showed that the accounts ought to be investigated.

The ex-parte application to freeze the accounts was supported by an originating summons sworn to by one Abdulahi Tukur, an operative of EFCC, and filed before the court by the EFCC prosecutor, Rotimi Oyedepo.

It requested the court to urgently direct the managers of the bank accounts to, in the interim, forfeit the money in the accounts, to prevent further tampering with same.

After issuing the order, Justice Olatoregun directed the anti-graft agency to enter into an undertaking to pay damages to the former first lady if it turns out that the order should not have been made.

One of the account, domiciled with Skye Bank plc, is said to have a balance of $5,316.66.

Also affected by the order are five companies namely; Finchley Top Homes Limited, Aribawa Aruera, Magel Resort Limited, AM-PM Global Network Limited and Pansy Oil and Gas Limited.

Also affected is one Esther Oba who is said to have a balance of $429,381.87 in her Diamond Bank account while the companies collectively have a balance totaling N7,418,829,290.94 (Seven billion four hundred and eighteen million eight hundred and twenty nine thousand two hundred and ninety naira ninety four kobo).

Patience Jonathan’s Loyalists Storm Court Again

patience jonathanA crowd of women gathered again on Tuesday at the Federal High Court in Lagos to show their loyalty to the former first lady, Mrs Patience Jonathan.

Mrs Jonathan through her lawyer had made an oral application before Justice Mohammed Idris, seeking the restrain of another judge of the court, Justice Babs Kuewunmi, from taking any steps on a disputed sum of $15.5 million which she claims belongs to her.

Her lawyer, Ifedayo Adedipe, who moved the oral application, urged Justice Idris to stop Justice Kuewumi from making any order forfeiting the $15.5 million, which was frozen by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), to the Federal Government until the determination of an interlocutory application filed by the former first lady.

At the resumed hearing of the matter on Tuesday, Justice Idris acknowledged a letter from the counsel representing Skye Bank, Lanre Ogunlesi, stating that he was indisposed and would not be available in court.

The judge said since Mr Ogunlesi requested for a new date to enable him appear in court, the hearing of Mrs Jonathan’s application could not go on.

But before the court could adjourn the case, the former first lady’s counsel urged the court to direct the EFCC not to tamper with the money, which is the subject matter of the case, pending the hearing and determination of the interlocutory application.

However, counsel to the EFCC, Rotimi Oyedepo, urged the court to dismiss the application, submitting that the accounts in which the money was kept had long been frozen by the commission while the identified directors to the companies had pleaded guilty to an offence of conspiracy and money laundering in an ongoing criminal trial before Justice Kuewumi.

The lawyer further argued that it would be “extremely” prejudicial to the orders made by Justice Kuewumi if the court goes ahead to hear Mrs Jonathan’s application.

Justice Idris, in a short ruling, held that he would not go into the merits or demerits of the interlocutory application until it is moved and argued. He, however, ordered an accelerated hearing of the case.

The judge then adjourned the case till the December 7, for the hearing of the main application.

Mrs Jonathan is claiming the sum of $200 million against the EFCC, Skye Bank Plc, a former special assistant to former President Jonathan, Waripama-Owei Dudafa and four others for what she described as “the inconvenience and embarrassment she suffered as a result of the freezing of her accounts”.

The former first lady also wants the court to issue an order discharging the freezing order it placed on the $15.5 million. She also wants an order restraining the EFCC and its agent from further placing a freezing order on the said accounts warehousing the sum.

Absence of EFCC Counsel Stalls Trial Of Jonathan’s Aide

Judges, Court, Judges, Court, Absence of EFCC Counsel Stalls Trial Of Jonathan's AideThe trial of Waripamo-Owei Emmanuel Dudafa, the former Special Assistant on Domestic Affairs to ex-President Goodluck Jonathan, could not go on Tuesday at the Federal High Court in Lagos, owing to the absence of the EFCC’s counsel, Mr Rotimi Oyedepo.

Presiding judge, Justice Muhammad Idris, told the court that he received a letter from the EFCC counsel seeking for an adjournment.

In the letter, Mr Oyedepo asked the court to grant the adjournment to enable him attend to an appeal filed by Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Mr Ricky Tarfa against the commission

Counsel to Mr Dudafa, Gboyega Oyewole, did not object to the request for an adjournment. He however informed the court that he was surprised that his client was not present in court.

Upon enquiry from the prison’s officials, Mr Oyewole said he was told that Dudafa is seriously sick.

He complained about the EFCC treatment of his client.

Justice Mohammed Idris has granted the prosecutor’s application and adjourned the matter till Thursday November 10, for the continuation of the defendants’ trial.

Dudafa and one Iwejuo Joseph Nna, are standing trial before Justice Mohammed Idris on alleged 5.1 billion naira fraud.

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.

EFFC Begins Trial Of Patrick Akpobolokemi, Three Others

EFCC, Patrick AkpobolokemiThe trial involving former NIMASA DG, Patrick Akpobolokemi, retired Major-General Emmanuel Atewe, and two others has begun at the Federal High Court Ikoyi Lagos.

Prosecution witness for the Economic And Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Teslim Ajuwon, has revealed evidence to the court.

While answering questions from the counsel to the EFCC, Rotimi Oyedepo, Mr Teslim said that over eight billion Naira was transferred from the Nigerian Maritime Administration And Safety Agency (NIMASA) to the joint task force, Operation Pulo shield.

He also revealed that within a number of days, the monies were distributed to six different companies, during the tenure of Patrick Akpobolokemi.

Mr Teslim further stated that the transaction instrument which transferred the part of the monies to Jaggan limited, was signed by the two signatories of the JTF which included Major General Emmauel Atewe.

Justice Saidu Salu, however, adjourned the case till November 22, while cross examination will begin on December 5, 2016.

The trial is coming months after a High Court in Igbosere dismissed an application by Mr Akpobolokemi, challenging its jurisdiction to entertain his trial.

 

At the hearing held on March 21, Justice R.I.B. Adebiyi threw out Akpobolokemi’s suit, stressing that the application lacked merit.

“This court finds preliminary objections raised by 1st and 4th defendants/ applicants to lack merit. both preliminary objections are accordingly dismissed,” he said.

Alleged $15.5m Scam: Jonathan’s Aide, Dudafa Loses Bid To Change Companies’ Plea

Court-dockTwo applications brought before a Federal High Court in Lagos by a former Special Assistant on Domestic Matters to Goodluck Jonathan, Emmanuel Dudafa and his co-defendant, Azubuike Briggs, have been dismissed.

Justice Babs Kuewumi dismissed the applications on Friday on the ground that the they constituted an abuse of court process.

At the last adjourned date, the 1st and 2nd defendants (Dudafa and Briggs) brought separate applications through their counsels, Gboyega Oyewale and Tochukwu Onyuike, asking the court to set aside the “guilty plea” earlier entered by the 4th, 5th, 6th and 7th defendants.

Dudafa’s counsel, Oyewale, fears that, the “guilty plea” entered by the four companies would adversely affect them since the proceedings were joint proceedings and the first count bordered on conspiracy.

He also claimed that the purported directors of the companies stated in their statement to Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) that they had nothing to do with the companies.

An Abuse Of Court Process

A spokesman for the EFCC, Wilson Uwujaren, said that Mr Onyiuke, on his part, challenged the jurisdiction and competence of Justice Kuewumi to even entertain the arraignment of the four companies, in the first place.

“The condition precedent to this Honourable Court assuming jurisdiction, to wit: authority to represent the 4th to 7th defendants by their purported representatives further to Section 477(3) of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015, is completely lacking”, Onyiuke argued.

He said accepting the “guilty plea” of the companies who admitted that they conspired with his client to launder the money would occasion a miscarriage of justice against his client.

Responding, counsel to the EFCC, Rotimi Oyedepo, urged the court to dismiss both applications as it was an abuse of court process at this stage after the court had already assumed jurisdiction and the plea of the defendants had been taken.

According to him, it was too late for the 2nd defendant to challenge the jurisdiction of the court.

Rotimi also called the attention of the court to the statements of accounts from Skye Bank where the $15.5m was kept, showing that Davies, Baro, Fredrick and Ebenezer were the authorized persons with mandate to operate the accounts.

He said the accounts were opened pursuant to documents from the Corporate Affairs Commission, CAC, where Davies, Baro, Fredrick and Ebenezer were registered as directors in the companies.

“The prima facie evidence before Your Lordship is that those who appeared before Your Lordship are the directors of the 4th to 7th defendants,” Oyedepo submitted.

In his ruling, Justice Keuwumi agreed with the argument of the prosecution that the applications were indeed an abuse of court process and accordingly dismissed same.

The case has been adjourned to November 2, 2016 for trial.

Fani-Kayode Meets Bail Conditions, Released

Fani-KayodeFormer Minister of Aviation, Mr Femi Fani-Kayode, has been released from EFCC custody after meeting his bail conditions.

Mr Fani-Kayode was released at about 6:30pm in Lagos on Friday after over two months.

The former Aviation Minister, shortly after his release told Channels Television, “I give thanks to God that I am free after 67 days in detention.

“This was the worst experience of my life but God was with me all the way. I suffered immeasurably but I count it all as joy.

“I am innocent of all charges and I look forward to defending myself vigorously in court. These charges are politically motivated and I have been severely punished for my political views and criticisms of the government.”

Mr Fani-Kayode was arrested by the anti-graft agency over alleged 1.5 billion Naira fraud and has been charged alongside a former Minister of Finance, Nenadi Usman; a firm, Joint Trust Dimensions Limited; and one Jimoh Yusuf.

The Federal High Court had granted bail in the sum of 250 million Naira each, to Mr Fani-Kayode, Nenadi Usman and Danjuma Yusuf who are being tried by the EFCC for allegedly stealing and laundering about 4.9 billion Naira.

Delivering his ruling on their bail application, the trial judge, Justice Sule Hassan, held that there was no evidence that the defendants would interfere with trial if granted bail.

The judge also held that denying the defendants  bail, especially as the courts’ vacation was near, and would span throughout the expiration of August, would not serve the interest of justice.

Justice Sule Hassan granted the defendants bail with two sureties each in like sum. The sureties must own landed properties within the court’s jurisdiction and must present to the court, evidence of tax clearance.

The defendants were also ordered to deposit their international passports in the custody of the court pending the determination of the case.

Owing to the courts’ annual vacation which commences on Monday July 11, 2016 Justice Hassan adjourned commencement of trial to October 19, 2016.

Fani-Kayode and Usman were the directors of Media and Finance respectively of the Peoples Democratic Party Campaign Organisation in the 2015 general election.

Fani-Kayode, Nenadi Usman To Remain In Prison Till July 4

Fani-KayodeTwo former Nigerian ministers, Mr Femi Fani-Kayode and Nenadi Usman, are to remain in prison till Monday, July 4, as a Federal High Court sitting in Lagos has reserved ruling on their bail applications.

Fani-Kayode and Usman were the directors of Media and Finance respectively of the Peoples Democratic Party Campaign Organisation in the 2015 general election.

Both men alongside Danjuma Yusuf and Jointrust Dimensions Nigeria Limited were on June 28 arraigned by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission before Justice M. Hassan on a 17-count charge bordering on conspiracy, stealing, corruption and making cash payments exceeding the amount authorised by law.

The accused persons are alleged to have diverted about 4.9 billion Naira belonging to the Federal Government of Nigeria for political and personal uses.

They had pleaded not guilty.

Consequently, their counsel, Ferdinand Orbih, Ifedayo Adedipe and S. I. Ameh moved the motion for bail, having filed separate applications in which they asked the court to release their clients on bail.

But the prosecuting counsel, Rotimi Oyedepo, said he needed time to respond to the applications.

Justice Hassan consequently adjourned proceedings to July 1 for hearing of the bail applications.

According to Channels Television’s judiciary correspondent, Shola Soyele, at the resumed hearing on Friday, counsel to the defendants argued the applications.

Mr Orbih asked the court to admit the first accused person to bail based on self-recognition pending the hearing and determination of the charges preferred against her.

He also prayed the court to grant her bail on very liberal terms. Adedipe and Ndukwe aligned themselves with Orbih.

However, the prosecution counsel, Nkereuwem Mark Anana, opposed the applications.

However, he stated that “where the court decides to exercise its discretion in favour of the defendants, it should impose conditions that will compel them to attend trial”.

Justice Hassan consequently adjourned to July 4, 2016 for ruling.