Alleged Money Laundering: Gov Udom Fails To Stop Trial Of NBA’s Paul Usoro

 

The trial of the President of the Nigerian Bar Association, Paul Usoro (SAN) has started with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), calling its first prosecution witness.

Before this, Justice Rilwan Aikawa had struck out an application filed by the Governor of Akwa Ibom State, Udom Emmanuel seeking to stay the proceedings and adjourn indefinitely pending the verdict of the Appeal Court on his challenge to a decision delivered on May 30.

On that day, Justice Aikawa had dismissed the governor’s application challenging the court’s jurisdiction to hear the money laundering charge filed against the NBA President.

Justice Aikawa held that Governor Udom’s application lacked merit because he was not a party to the suit.

After resisting the move to adjourn the proceedings, the court ordered the EFCC to call its first prosecution witness.

The First Prosecution Witness, Udom Idongesit, a Relationship Manager with Zenith Bank, Uyo, Akwa Ibom State told the court how she came to open an account for the defendant, Mr Paul Usoro.

She testified that in March 2016, her bank was given withdrawal instruments of N700m from the impress account of the state government.

According to her, N300m out of the money was signed for and collected by Margaret Thompson Ukpe, an employee of the state government.

The court admitted in evidence the Zenith Bank withdrawal instruction documents and the account opening documents.

A move by the prosecution to get the witness to read out certain portions of the document was resisted by the defense team who insisted that the document speaks for itself.

Meanwhile, Counsel to the NBA President, Offiong Offiong (SAN), told the court that he had not been served some documents he requested for from the prosecution to enable him to prepare adequately for the defence.

Subsequently, the court adjourned till October 21 for the continuation of the trial.

Lagos, Ondo Commissioners, 29 Others Bag SAN Title

Lagos, Ondo Commissioners, 29 Others Bag SAN Title
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The Legal Practitioners Privileges Committee has named the Commissioners of Justice and Attorney-Generals in Lagos and Ondo states, Mosediq Kazeem and Adekola Olawoye, as Senior Advocates of Nigeria (SAN).

The committee also announced the Vice Chancellor of Lagos State University (LASU), Professor Olarenwaju Fagbohun, and that of the University of Ilorin, Professor Mohammed Akanbi, as well as 27 others as those who were conferred with the title.

Secretary of the committee and Chief Registrar of the Supreme Court, Mrs Hadizatu Mustapha, disclosed this to reporters on Thursday in Abuja.

She added that the new SANs include Professor Oluyemisi Bamgbose – the only female on the list, Professor Isah Chiroma, Professor Wahab Egbewole, and Professor Oforinze Amucheazi.

Others are Oba Maduabuchi, Essien Udom, Metong Urombo, George Igbokwe, Olubowale Taiwo, Oluwole Iyamu, Stephen Adehi, and Olusegun Akinbiyi.

Also on the list are Emmanuel Achukwu, Kenneth Ahia, Louis Alozie, Adeyinla Olumide-Fusika, Johnson Ojo, Wole Agunbiade, Olayode Delano, and Tanimu Inuwa.

The rest are Sonny Wogu, Adewale Atake, Ikhide Ehighelua, Edmund Obiagwu, Cosmas Enweluzo, Ishiaka Mudi, and Olabode Olanipekun – the son of the legal luminary, Wole Olanipekun (SAN).

The LPPC secretary revealed that a total of 106 lawyers with 83 under advocacy and 23 under academic applied for the new rank.

She said at the end of the 135th plenary session of the committee, only 31 applicants were found worthy to be conferred with the privileged rank.

Festus Keyamo, 29 Others Approved As SANs

Thirty candidates have been approved as Senior Advocates of Nigeria.

Prominent on the list is Lagos lawyer, Festus Keyamo, the Director-General of the Nigerian Institute of Advanced Legal Studies, four academics, one female, Mrs Oluwatoyin Ajoke Bahorun and other practising lawyers.

Also approved were the Attorney-General of Kwara State, Mr Lamaldeen Adeyemi Ajibade and a former DG of the National Copyrights Commission, Professor Adebambo Adewopo.

One hundred and fifty-six lawyers applied, 72 were shortlisted and only 30 were approved by the NJC.

Ondo Govt Commends Court Of Appeal Judgment On Olanusi’s Impeachment

Man Arraigned For Alleged Assault And Public FightThe Ondo State governor, Mr Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, has hailed Friday’s victory of the former Deputy Governor of the state, Ali Olanusi, at the Court of Appeal in Akure.

In a statement by the Chief Press Secretary to the Governor, Mr. Segun Ajiboye, the 79-page judgement delivered by Justice Muhammed Danjuma was well deserved.

According to him, the judgement is a triumph of democracy and triumph of light over darkness.

The governor added that the judgement would discourage political leaders from arbitrary actions and decisions.

He therefore commended the judiciary for its resolute to ensure that tenets of democracy are promoted.

He said the judgement confirmed that Olanusi was maltreated, abused and humiliated by the crop of the lawmakers who planned and executed the illegal impeachment.

In his judgement, Justice Danjuma said Olanusi’s impeachment did not follow due process of law and cannot stand because the former Deputy Governor was not personally served the originating summon, adding that he was denied to make his presentation before a panel set up to investigate the alleged gross misconduct levelled against him.

The Judge maintained that Mr Olanusi remained the Ondo State Deputy Governor from April 27, 2015, the date he was wrongly impeached by the State House of Assembly till February 24, 2017 when the tenure of the then governor, Olusegun Mimiko expired.

Ozekhome Asks Court To Unfreeze His Account

Mike OzekhomeA senior lawyer, Mr Mike Ozekhome (SAN), has asked the Federal High Court in Lagos to vacate the order freezing his account with the Guarantee Trust Bank (GTB).

Mr Ozekhome’s application to set aside the freezing order would be heard on February 23.

Justice Abdulazeez Anka had on February 7, 2017 ordered a temporary forfeiture of 75 million naira found in the account.

The order followed an application by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), which prayed the court to freeze the senior lawyer’s account temporarily on grounds that the said sum was suspected to be proceeds of crime.

In his application on Thursday, the Senior Advocate of Nigeria requested for an order discharging and/or vacating forthwith, the interim order made ex-parte, which directed an interim order of forfeiture to freeze or attach the money for 120 days.

He also sought for an order restraining the Federal Government and the EFCC from dealing in anyway and manner, as to the operation or the proprietary rights of the ownership of the account.

Mr Ozekhome claimed that the application for an order for interim forfeiture of his account was done in bad faith by the anti-graft agency, stating that it did not comply with the statutory and judicial authorities in obtaining an interim order.

He said the EFCC allegedly suppressed material facts in obtaining the order, maintaining that the action was unconstitutional.

He added that the same offended sections 36, 37 and 41 of the 1999 Constitution, saying there was no legal justification for the EFCC’s action.

He explained that the 75 million naira was a part-payment of legal fees from Governor Ayodele Fayose of Ekiti State.

On the issue of whether or not the funds in Governor Fayose’s account from which the said sum is posted to Mike Ozekhome’s Chambers’ GTB account is suspected proceed of crime, the SAN noted that it is currently on appeal as filed and entered by the selfsame counsel to the EFFC, Mr Rotimi Oyedepo.

He asked that the matter be heard urgently, as the continued freezing of Mike Ozekhome’s Chambers’ account has rendered the chambers impecunious and unable to carry out its day-to-day activities.

Wrong Impression

The lawyer also said that the temporary freezing of his account has caused him untold embarrassment, public odium, obloquy and mental agony.

He alleged that the EFCC gave a very wide publicity to the said freezing or attachment in print, electronic and social media, thus giving the wrong impression that he has committed a criminal offence against the laws of the land.

On the material facts that EFCC purportedly suppressed, Ozekhome said the anti-graft agency did not disclose to Justice Anka, the fact that Justice Taiwo Taiwo of the Federal High Court in Ado Ekiti had unfrozen Mr Fayose’s accounts forthwith, thereby allowing the governor to operate them before he transferred 75 million naira to Mike Ozekhome’s Chambers’ account.

He stated that as at the time Governor Fayose transferred 75 million naira to his chambers’ account, there was no court processes filed or served on the applicant, indicating that the EFCC was on appeal or asking the court to stay the execution of the order defreezing the governor’s account.

“Fayose, had himself withdrawn the sum of 5,000,000 naira in cash before transferring the sum of 75,000,000 naira to the account of Mike Ozekhome’s Chambers,” the lawyer said.

Supreme Court Justices: NBA Shortlists Agbakoba, Eight Others

Supreme Court Justices: NBA Shortlists Agbakoba, Eight OthersThe Nigerian Bar Association, NBA, has forwarded the names of nine eligible applicants to the Acting Chief Justice of Nigeria and Chairman, Judicial Service Commission, Walter Samuel Onnoghen, for appointment as Justices of the Supreme Court of Nigeria.

This followed a rigorous process of shortlisting done by a select committee chaired by the President of the Nigerian Bar Association, Abubakar Mahmoud, with eight other eminent lawyers as members.

Applicants shortlisted by the NBA for appointment as Justices of the Supreme Court are the following:

(1) Dr. Olisa Agbakoba, SAN
Year of Call: 1978
State:  Anambra

(2) Anthony Ikemefuna Idigbe, SAN
Year of Call:   1983
State: Delta

(3) Yunus Ustas Usman, SAN
Year of Call: 1983
State:  Kogi

(4) Babatunde Fagbohunlu, SAN
Year of Call: 1988
State:  Ondo

(5) Miannayaaja Essien, SAN
Year of Call: 1985
State:  Rivers

(6) Awa Uma Kalu, SAN
Year of Call: 1978
State: Abia

(7)  Professor Awalu Hamish Yadudu
Year of Call: 1979
State:  Kano

(8) Tajudeen Oladoja
Year of Call: 1985
State: Kwara

(9) Ayuba Giwa
Year of Call: 1983
State: Edo

The above mentioned applicants were shortlisted from a total of 89 Expressions of Interest that were scrutinized.

It would be recalled that the Acting Chief Justice of Nigeria, Walter Onnoghen, had earlier forwarded a request to the President of NBA, Abubakar Mahmoud, SAN  “to nominate suitable candidate for consideration as Justices of the Supreme Court of Nigeria.”

Witness Tells Court He Moved Cash For Justice Ofili-Ajumogobia

AjumogobiaThe trial of Justice Rita Ofili Ajumogobia continued on Monday at the Lagos High Court sitting in the Ikeja area.

The first prosecution witness, Ademola Oshodi detailed in court how monies were paid and moved between the judge’s domiciliary account and her other accounts.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), had accused Justice Rita Ofili Ajumogobia of unlawful enrichment, corruption by a public officer, forgery and giving of false information to an official of the EFCC.

She is standing trial alongside a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Godwin Obla, who was charged with offering gratification in the sum of five million Naira to Justice Ofili-Ajumogobia, a public official while carrying out her duties as a judge.

The accused persons had pleaded not guilty to the charges.

At Monday’s proceedings, the court proceeded with trial despite efforts by the judge’s lawyer, Mr. Wale Akoni (SAN), to halt the trial.

The SAN asked for an adjournment, on the grounds that he had a pending application asking the EFCC to provide him with some documents in relation to the case.

The prosecution witness told the court how Justice Ofili-Ajumogobia, approached his bank, Diamond Bank to open a corporate account for her company.

Upon verification, the bank found out that address she gave for the company, Nigel and Colive was an uncompleted building.

The witness, however, said the bank went ahead and opened the corporate account for the company in good faith because of the defendant’s position as a Federal High Court judge, and also because the property belongs to her.

The witness further detailed in court how he helped the judge move large sums of foreign currencies between her three accounts domiciled with Diamond Bank.

The defense counsel declined to comment on the day’s proceedings but the prosecuting counsel Rotimi Oyedepo did.

Presiding Judge, Justice Hakeem Oshodi has adjourned the matter till January 30, for continuation of trial and possibly the hearing of the first defendants pending application.

EFCC Storms Justice Ofili-Ajumogobia’s Home

EFCC Storms Justice Ofili-Ajumogobia's Home Operatives of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, (EFCC), have visited the home of Justice Rita Ofili-Ajumogobia, at Park View Estate in Ikoyi, Lagos.

It was gathered that the EFCC officials who stormed the house at about 7am on Wednesday, were there to conduct a search but eventually left after being denied access into the house.

Justice Ofili-Ajumogobia and Godwin Obla, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), are being prosecuted for allegedly perverting the course of justice by the anti-graft agency.

While Ofili-Ajumogobia faces a 26-count charge of unlawful enrichment, forgery and giving false information to an official of the EFCC, among others, Obla is charged with offering gratification in the sum of five million Naira, to Ofili-Ajumogobia during her service as a judge.

Both have however pleaded not guilty to the charges.

I Won’t Probe Past Government In Ondo, Akeredolu Says

I Won't Probe Past Ondo Government, Rotimi Akeredolu SaysOndo state governor-elect, Rotimi Akeredolu says his Ondo election victory was a manifestation of God’s power and he would like to focus on this mandate rather than probe the past government.

Reacting to the conduct and outcome of the election in Akure on Monday, the APC candidate said that he was surprised by the margin of votes between him and his closest rivals.

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), on Sunday, declared the APC candidate, winner of the 2016 Ondo state governorship election.

He polled 244, 842 votes to beat his closest rival, Eyitayo Jegede of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), who polled 150, 380 votes, while Mr Olusola Oke of the Alliance for Democracy (AD) followed with 126, 889 votes.

“What has happened in this election is quite beyond my personal expectations but then it is a case of saying we cannot limit God – I want to believe it is God-given victory to the people of Ondo state.

“What was beyond my imagination was the magnitude – the number of votes we scored vis-a-vis what two other contestants scored. I never believed that the margin would be that wide,” Akeredolu said.

Therefore, on the issue of probing the state’s accounts, the Governor-elect said that this is a venture he would not embark upon.

“I don’t believe in probes. What I believe in is that I’ve been given a mandate to govern the state and when I come into office I will face the task.

“The past is the past and I am one person who believes that government is a continuum,” he said.

Party Support

Mr Akeredolu went into the election without the support of some key members of the his party and this further made his victory a surprise for many.

He, however, maintained that the support of the party is more important than individuals’ in an election.

“I believe that the party included everybody. So, the party gave us support and whether we like it or not, that will be larger than what an individual can give.

“If you have a national party behind you, it is larger than what any individual can give. So I believe that whatever individuals have done, they must have done through the party.”

Industrialization

Mr Rotimi Akeredolu promised during his campaign to bring back the industries in the states and he provided an explanation of how he intends to achieve this.

“I used the word revamp when I was talking about the educational infrastructures and co, but when it comes to the issue of industries, I have argued during my campaign that people use the word wrongly.

“They say to us some industries are moribund (but) most of these industries are dead. So, its not easy to wake up a dead person and just like an industry, you cannot wake them up.

“The important thing is that industrialization is important to us and we are going to have to get as many people as are interested.

“We have the sand for glass industry in the south. It is not necessary we have to go back to Oluwa Industry, the furnace there is already old and the technology there is no longer in use.

“So all we need is to have people come. We will provide the enabling environment for them and they can start another one. It might be in the same premises.

“We have industry on ceramics in Ifon. We are thinking about what we have on cement and I know that in the next few weeks, many more will come.”

He said that foreign investors have been approaching him to invest in the state even before the election and he was sure that with an enabling environment a lot of development would be achieved in Ondo state.

Ondo Could Not Have Made A Better Choice – Saraki

Ondo Could Not Have Made a Better Choice - SarakiSenate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, has congratulated the Governor-Elect of Ondo State, Mr Rotimi Akeredolu, over his victory in the governorship election in the state, describing him as the best choice for the state.

Saraki, in a statement by his media aide, said Akeredolu’s victory did not come to him as surprise going by his excellent credentials and years of preparedness for the business of governance.

He urged the Governor-elect to be magnanimous in victory by ensuring that he works with all relevant stakeholders in the arduous task of moving the Sunshine State to the next level.

He specifically urged Akeredolu to fully deploy his wealth of experience in private legal practice in running the affairs of the state.

He lauded the security agencies and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for the peaceful conduct of the elections and thanked the people of Ondo State for voting for the All Progressives Congress (APC) during the elections.

“The people of Ondo have made a clear choice by voting for the APC. I can only assure the good people of Ondo that the APC and its flagbearer have all it takes to wipe away your tears and provide you the dividends of democracy that have hitherto eluded you.

“With Akeredolu on the saddle of governance, I have no doubt that the state will soon witness unparalleled development both socially, economically and politically.

“Ondo could not have made a better choice than Akeredolu. Welcome on board,” he stated.

PDP: Sheriff Faction Seeks Reconciliation With Makarfi Faction

PDP, Markafi, Sheriff, PDP leadershipMembers of the Ali-Modu Sheriff-led faction of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) say it is time for reconciliation with the Ahmed Makarfi-led caretaker committee in order to move the party forward.

This statement comes in the aftermath of the Ondo state governorship election which the party’s candidate, Mr Eyitayo Jegede lost to Rotimi Akeredolu of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).

The Modu-Sheriff faction have blamed the PDP’s failure in the Edo and Ondo governorship elections on impunity of its leaders and their lack of respect for the party’s constitution.

The faction’s vice chairman, Mr Cairo Ojougbo, told journalists in Abuja that leaders of the PDP have refused to learn, even though the party has been paying the price of impunity since 2015.

Agents of Darkness

Meanwhile, the Makarfi faction of the PDP has described the Senator Ali Modu Sheriff-led faction of the party as agents of darkness, insisting that the former Governor of Borno State is not the Chairman of the party.

In a statement on Monday, the opposition party said its attention had been drawn to “another set of garbage and tissues of lies put together by the discredited loyalists of Senator Ali Modu-Sheriff in the name of a press statement”.

The party stated that the ‘group’, which it described as non-PDP members, had in the statement tried to sustain it’s illegal claim to the leadership of the Party, but insisted that it would not leave them to continue to deceive Nigerians.

The party’s division became obvious when the former chairman of the party Ali Modu Sheriff was removed at a convention in Port Harcourt.

After that convention, the embattled leader secured several court orders that further scuttled unity in the party.

The extent of the division was further seen when the party produced two different candidates for the Edo State and Ondo State governorship elections.

In the latest election in Ondo, the party lost to the All Progressives Congress, a defeat that had been largely attributed to the division in the party.

Mimiko Wishes Akeredolu Success Ahead Of Tenure

mimiko, akeredolu,Governor Olusegun Mimiko of Ondo State has sent his congratulatory message to the Governor-Elect, Mr Oluwarotimi Akeredolu (SAN).

Mimiko in a statement signed on Monday by his Chief Press Secretary, Eni Akinsola, said “it behoves of him as the Governor of Ondo State to congratulate the Governor-elect, Mr. Rotimi Akeredolu, (SAN), and wish him success in the challenging task of governing our dear State.”

The Ondo Governor said “it is incumbent upon me as governor, to facilitate a smooth transition between my government and the incoming one.

“I will, to this end, provide the ambience for a smooth and seamless transition process,” he said.

While promising to continue to provide leadership to the state till the takeover date, Mimiko expressed his appreciation to the people of the state.

He said “I use this medium to express my sincere appreciation to all our citizens for the very peaceful manner in which they conducted themselves throughout the election period.

“I will not waiver in providing needed leadership to our dear State till the last day of my term,” he promised.

He enjoined residents to strive to sustain the peace enjoyed in the state for the past seven years, promising to speak with them as occasion demands as his “eight year tenure inches to an end.”

Buhari Says Akeredolu's Ondo Election Victory Was 'A Huge Win'

Nigeria’s President, Mohammadu Buhari, in a congratulatory message, also described the victory of the All Progressives Congress (APC), candidate, Rotimi Akeredolu, as “a huge win“.

Akeredolu, emerged as winner of the Ondo state gubernatorial election, held on November 26, 2016.

In his acceptance speech, the governor-elect stated “there has been obvious neglect of people in the rural areas, and his government will focus more on grassroots development.

He then promised to go straight into work, to bring about improvement in all aspects of the state’s economy.