EFCC Arraigns Dele Belgore, Another Suspect For Money Laundering

EFCC Tasks Women On Anti-Corruption WarThe Economic and Financial Crimes Commission has arraigned a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Dele Belgore at the Federal High Court, sitting in Lagos.

Mr Belgore, a PDP Chieftain who vied for the party’s governorship ticket in the last Kwara State Election, was arraigned on a 5 count charge alongside the immediate past Minister of National Planning, Prof. Abubakar Sulaiman.

They were both arraigned before Justice Rilwan Aikawa. The two defendants pleaded not guilty to the charges and their lawyers made a request for bail.

The two defendants were granted bail on self recognizance, but the judge asked them to deposit their passports with the Deputy Chief Registrar of the court.

Justice Aikawa has adjourned till Feb 23, 2017 for trial.

In the charge sheet obtained by Channels Television’s Judiciary Correspondent, Shola Soyele, the two defendants are said to have conspired on March 27, 2015 to directly take possession of 450 million Naira, a sum which they reasonably ought to have known forms part of the proceeds of an unlawful act.

They are also charged with being in possession of the sum and making a cash payment of 50 million Naira to one Sheriff Shagaya without going through a financial institution.

The EFCC says the charges are contrary to and punishable under certain sections of the Money Laundering Prohibition Amendment Act, 2012.

EFCC To Arraign Dele Belgore

EFCC To Arraign Dele BelgoreThe Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) is set to arraign a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Dele Belgore at the Federal High Court, Lagos on Wednesday.

Mr Belgore, a PDP Chieftain who vied for the party’s governorship ticket in the last Kwara state election is to be arraigned on a five-count charge alongside the immediate past minister of national planning, Prof Abubakar Sulaiman.

In the charge sheet obtained by Channels TV’s judiciary correspondent, Shola Soyele, the two defendants are said to have conspired on March 27, 2015, to directly take possession of the sum of 450million Naira, a sum which they reasonably ought to have known forms part of the proceeds of an unlawful act.

They are also charged with being in possession of the sum and making a cash payment of 50million Naira to one Sheriff Shagaya without going through a financial institution.

The EFCC said that the charges are contrary to and punishable under certain sections of the Money Laundering Prohibition Amendment Act, 2012.

Mr Dele Belgore and Prof Abubakar Sulaiman are to be arraigned before Justice Rilwan Aikawa.

Alleged 5m Naira Bribe: EFCC Arraigns Judge, Senior Lawyer

Judges, Court, Judges, Court, Absence of EFCC Counsel Stalls Trial Of Jonathan's AideThe Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has charged a Judge of the Federal High Court, Justice Rita Ofili-Ajumogobia and a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Godwin Obla, with alleged bribery.

They were charged at a Lagos High Court in Ikeja, the city’s capital, on a 30-count, five of which border on an alleged five million bribe given to the judge by the SAN.

According to the anti-graft agency, the alleged bribe was offered when the judge was presiding over one of Mr Obla’s cases.

The remaining 25 charges are on the huge sums of money which passed through the accounts of the judge and her alleged inability to explain the source of the money which is more than her lawful income as a public official.

The defendants pleaded not guilty to all the charges and the defence team applied for their bail on self-recognisance or on liberal terms.

The EFCC has, however, contended that the defendants had tried to interfere with investigation and witnesses, urging the court to consider that in exercising its discretion on whether or not to grant bail

Channels Television’s judiciary correspondent, Shola Soyele, who is covering the proceedings, reports that Justice Hakeem Oshodi has stepped down the case for now to consider his ruling on the bail applications.

The defendants are to deposit their travel passports with the Chief Registrar of the Lagos High Court within seven days otherwise the bail will be revoked. 

They are also to deposit 20 million Naira with the Chief Registrar of the Lagos High Court within seven days failing which the bail will be revoked.

LEDAP Condemns Senate’s Decision To Summon Judges

LEDAP, Senate, JudgesThe Legal Defence and Assistance Project (LEDAP) has condemned the plan by the Senate Committee on Judiciary to summon the judges who were recently arrested by the DSS.

LEDAP’s National Coordinator, Mr Chino Obiagwu, in a statement on Sunday, notes that the legislature has no oversight power over judicial officers under the constitutional principle of separation of powers in sections 4, 5 and 6 of the 1999 Constitution.

Mr Obiagwu explained that it is only the National Judicial Council (NJC) that has the power of control and discipline of judges and justices of superior courts in Nigeria.

“Any interference by the legislature or the executive into the conduct of judges in carrying out their judicial functions will amount to unlawful interference with the independence of the judiciary.

“The 1999 Constitution, unlike the legal framework of past military regimes, has consolidated the independence of the judiciary and established the NJC as the only body responsible for management of the judiciary,” he stated.

The statement further reads in part: “LEDAP is concerned that the recent raid and arrest of judges and justices by the DSS, and continued assault and raid on judges by other agencies of the executive, have the effect of opening up the judiciary to unlawful and unconstitutional interference and intimidation by other arms of government, the reason for which the Senate has the temerity to speak about inviting judicial officers for questioning.

“LEDAP will shortly approach the courts to seek orders restraining any such invitation or summon of the arrested judicial officers as it amounts to attempt to brow-beat and intimidate the judiciary.

“There are a lot of corruption issues and corrupt politicians in the legislature and executive which should preoccupy the Senators.

“The scandal arising from the padding of the budget, which has been going on for many years in the legislature with connivance of the executive, as well as bogus and secretive huge allowances and emoluments claimed by legislators are more damaging economic crimes against the Nigerian people that the Senate should address rather than intimidating few judges alleged to be corrupt.

“There are several court orders directing the National Assembly to disclose salaries and emoluments of its members, and details of constituency allowances claimed yearly by legislators. It has refused to obey these judgements of the courts.

“Nigerian legislators, adjudged as the most corrupt and most expensive in the world, has no legal or moral right to superintendent over alleged corruption in the judiciary.”

LEDAP called on the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) to resist attempts by the executive and legislature “to control and manage the judiciary” as such situation will on the long run denigrate the judiciary and legal profession and threaten the rule of law.

Senior Nigerian Lawyers Back NBA’s Leave Suggestion For Arrested Judges

Abubakar-Mahmoud-NBA-President on arrested judges
President of the Nigerian Bar Association, Abubakar Mahmoud, had condemned the arrest of the judges

The body of Senior Advocates of Nigeria has endorsed the recent call by the President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Abubakar Mahmoud, for the arrested judges to proceed on a leave of absence pending when they are cleared of all the allegations made against them.

The body met in Lagos on Saturday to review and endorse all actions taken by the NBA’s president so far on the incident.

Mr Mahmoud had said that the request was in order to protect the sanctity and integrity of judicial processes that may involve the judges concerned and to safeguard the public image of the institution.

He said that the recommendation was without prejudice to the innocence or otherwise of the judges involved in the ongoing investigations.

The National Judicial Council (NJC) had said on Saturday that it had opened investigation on complaints against the arrested judges, but that it had not received any complaint from the Department of State Services that arrested them.

“They should be required to recuse themselves from further judicial functions or required to proceed on compulsory leave until their innocence is fully and completely established or until the conclusion of all judicial or disciplinary proceedings,” Mr Mahmoud had insisted.

Channels Television’s judiciary correspondent, Shola Soyele, reports that even though the meeting of the body of senior advocates was not open to journalists, those in attendance included the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, former presidents of the Nigerian Bar Association and other senior advocates.

Also in attendance was President Mahmoud’s main challenger in the July 2016 NBA presidential elections, Joe-Kyari Gadzama.

It is the first time the candidate is meeting with Abubakar Mahmoud after he assumed office as the 28th president of the NBA, giving an indication that despite the differences, the senior advocates are united in their stance on the efforts to fight corruption in the judiciary.

The body also reaffirmed its support for the NBA in its efforts to fight corruption in the bar and on the bench.

The NBA recently set up a task force to urgently review the current developments in the country and come up with clear specific recommendations on how best to clean up the nation’s judiciary and rebuild confidence of Nigerians in our law courts.

The report of the task force is to be submitted in the next two weeks.

On Friday, however, the NJC disagreed with the NBA on the alleged corruption case against some judges.

The NJC dismissed the call by the NBA for the judges under investigation to proceed on compulsory leave until their innocence is fully and completely established or until the conclusion of all judicial or disciplinary proceedings.

It said that it would be unlawful for it to yield to the call by the NBA, as “that position breaches the 2014 revised judicial discipline regulations formulated by NJC pursuant to section 160 of the 1999 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, as amended”.

Several judges were few weeks ago arrested by security operatives of the Department of State Services and the Nigeria Police Force on allegations of corruption and misconduct.

They were released on recognition few days after their arrest.

 

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.

Former Chief of Air Staff, Amosu Returns 2.6bn Naira

Amosun, Air ForceA former Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Adesola Amosu, has returned 2.6 billion naira to the federal government through the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

The EFCC confirmed this fact to Channels TV judiciary correspondent, Shola Soyele, on Wednesday after the arraignment of Air Marshal Amosu before a federal high court sitting in Lagos State.

He was arraigned alongside Air Vice Marshal Jacob Adigun, Air Commodore Gbadebo Olugbenga and seven companies.

EFCC Set To Arraign Fani-Kayode On June 21

Femi Fani-Kayode, EFCCThe Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has set a new date to arraign former Aviation Minister on Spokesman of the Goodluck Jonathan Campaign Organisation, Chief Femi Fani-Kayode.

He will now be arraigned before Justice Sule Hassan of the Federal High Court sitting in Lagos on Tuesday, June 21.

It’s not clear why the arraignment was shifted from Friday this week to Tuesday next week but Channels Television’s judiciary correspondent, Shola Soyele, reports that it may not be unconnected with the busy schedule of the court and the prosecuting agency.

The EFCC has filed a 17 count charge against Chief Femi Fani-Kayode over an alleged N1.5 billion fraud.

A former Minister of Finance, Senator Nenadi Usman; a firm, Joint Trust Dimensions Limited; one Danjuma Yusuf and another Olubode Oke, (said to be at large) are charged alongside Chief Fani-Kayode.

In the first count of the charge, “Nnenadi Esther Usman, Femi Fani-Kayode, Danjuman Yusuf And Jointrust Dimentions Nigeria LTD on or about the 8th day of January, 2015, within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court conspired to indirectly retain the sum of N1.5 billion, a sum the EFCC says they reasonably ought to have known forms part of the proceeds of an unlawful act of stealing.

“They therefore committed an offence contrary to Section 18(a) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) (Amendment) Act, 2012. The Offence is punishable under Section 15(3) & 4 of the same Act”, the charge read.

The EFCC has listed 17 witnesses to testify against the defendants including representatives of Zenith, Wema, Skye, UBA, First Bank and GT Bank.

EFCC Arrests, Charges Lagos Lawyer, Ebun Olu-Adegboruwa

Ebun Olu-AdegboruwaThe Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), has charged a Lagos-based lawyer, Ebun Olu-Adegboruwa, with obtaining money under false pretence to the tune of 61.631 million Naira.

Court records show that the lawyer is to be arraigned on a one-count charge before Justice Oluremi Oguntoyinbo of the Federal High Court, Lagos on Thursday May 12.

In the charge sheet, the EFCC said Olu-Adegboruwa and one Jonathan Udeagbala in August 2013 allegedly conspired to lease a property situated at House 105, Nicon Town Estate, Lekki, Lagos to a company named Shelf Drilling Nigeria Limited for that amount.

The property is under an interim forfeiture order by Justice Christopher Balogun of the Lagos State High Court.

The money was credited to Mr Olu-Adegboruwa’s Zenith Bank account and the EFCC said it was an offense punishable under Section 32(1) of the EFCC Act 2004.

Channels Television’s judiciary correspondent, Shola Soyele, who spoke to some officials of the EFCC on Tuesday evening, reported that Mr Olu-Adegboruwa was in the custody of the Commission.

Alleged Obstruction Of Justice: Tarfa’s Application To Quash Charges Fail

Rickey TarfaJustice Aishat Opesanwo on Tuesday dismissed the preliminary objections filed by Mr Rickey Tarfa (SAN), to the two-count charge of obstruction of justice and attempting to pervert the course of justice by bribing a judge.

The court, which resolved all the issues raised by the Senior Advocate against him, held that his application seeking to quash the charges lacked merit.

This is coming barely five days after one court asked him to defend the charges made against him by the Economic & Financial Crimes Commission, a second court where he is facing charges has reached a similar verdict.

Last week Friday, Justice Adedayo Akintoye of the Lagos State High Court sitting in the Igbosere area of Lagos Island dismissed the objections of Mr Tarfa to a 27-count charge filed against him by the EFCC.

The court assumed jurisdiction to hear the case and asked Mr Tarfa to defend the allegations of willful obstruction of justice, refusal to declare his assets, making false information and offering gratification to a public officer.

Like Justice Akintoye, Justice Opesanwo before whom he is facing a two-count charge has also dismissed his preliminary objections.

Mr Tarfa had argued that the charges bordering on obstruction of justice and attempting to pervert the cause of justice amounted to an abuse of court process.

He urged the court to quash the charges or dismiss them.

Justice Aishat Opesanwo has however held that his objections lack merit.

In a ruling that lasted for an hour and a half, Justice Opesanwo held that Mr Tarfa’s argument that the EFCC was both the accuser, investigator and the judge in the case could not be substantiated.

The court held that the issue of a lack of fair hearing as canvassed by the Senior Advocate simply did not arise as the proceedings before the court had given him an opportunity to explain his actions.

On whether the case against Mr Tarfa constituted economic & financial crimes as to fall within the jurisdiction of the anti-graft agency, the court agreed with the EFCC that Section 7 clothes the commission with the responsibility of dealing also with any form of corrupt practices.

Justice Opesanwo held that the allegation of communicating with a judge is suggestive that Mr Tarfa was trying to gain an unfair advantage, one which falls within the categorization of corrupt malpractice and he clearly had to explain the legitimacy of his actions.

The Judge also upheld the powers of the EFCC to institute an action on behalf of the government, whether federal or state.

Channels Television’s judiciary correspondent, Shola Soyele, reports that with this ruling out of the way, the stage is now set for the trial of Mr Tarfa.

Justice Opesanwo has fixed the June 22 and 23 for commencement of trial.

Court Orders Nigerian Leaders To Account For Recovered Stolen Funds

Nigerian-Leaders-from-1999A Federal High Court on Tuesday ordered the government of President Muhammadu Buhari to ensure that his government, the governments of former President Olusegun Obasanjo, former President Umaru Yar’adua and former President Goodluck Jonathan account fully for all recovered funds.

The Court sitting in Lagos declared that successive governments since the return of democracy in 1999 breached the fundamental Principles of Transparency and Accountability for failing to disclose details about the spending of recovered stolen public funds.

Justice Mohammed Idris made the order while delivering judgment in a Freedom of Information suit filed by a non-governmental organisation, Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP).

In an interview with Channels Television’s judiciary correspondent, Shola Soyele, SERAP’s Executive Director, Adetokunbo Mumuni, said the onus was now on the Accountant General of the Federation working closely with the Central Bank of Nigeria and other relevant organisations of the government to comply with the court’s order.

“The information we received was that certain recoveries were made from Abacha, some from Ibori and some other public servants.

“We are not able to see. For Abacha alone it was about six billion dollars.  If such monies were recovered, we should be able to see on ground where those monies went in terms of expenditures.

“In spite of such recoveries, there has been no serious improvement on the road networks in Nigeria, nothing like improvement in the health facilities in Nigeria, the electricity system is still very comatose.

“That is why we think that whatever happens, this is a democracy, you must let the people know what going on. It is as simple as that,” Mr Mumuni said.

One of such recovered loots that Nigerians will like to know how it was utilised is the loot of a former military leader, General Sanni Abacha.

The National Economic Council had in December last year said the loots recovered from late General Abacha was $26.4 million and £19 million as at November.