Bayelsa Governorship: Dickson Files Suit To Disqualify Sylva From Contesting Again

dicksonThe Governor of Bayelsa State, Mr Seriake Dickson, has started a legal action to disqualify Mr Timipre Sylva from contesting a governorship election again in the state.

Sylva, who governed the state between May 2007 and February 2012 had gone to the Bayelsa State Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Abuja, after losing the gubernatorial election seeking to be declared winner but lost. `

However, Sylva and his party, the APC had in separate appeals appealed the July 26, 2016 judgment of the election tribunal, which upheld Dickson as winner of the last governorship election in the state.

In the appeal filed before the Court of Appeal, Abuja on August 14, 2016 by their lawyer, Sebastine Hon (SAN), they asked the appellate court to set aside the judgment of the tribunal.

Governor Dickson, however, expressed dissatisfaction with the tribunal for refusing to bar Sylva from contesting governorship election having taken governorship oath of office twice.

He has cross-appealed the judgment of the tribunal in which he won.

In a cross appeal filed on Monday, August 15, Dickson’s lead counsel, Tayo Oyetibo (SAN) contended that by virtue of Section 182(1)b of the 1999 Constitution, Sylva having been elected governor of Bayelsa State on two occasions is neither qualified to contest an election into that office again or present any petition challenging Dickson’s victory at the polls.

Illegal Property Dealing: Prosecution Witnesses In Adegboruwa’s Case Take Stand

Ebun-Olu-Adegboruwa
Legal Practitioner, Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa.

The trial of Lagos Lawyer, Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa continued on Wednesday at the Federal High Court sitting in Lagos with prosecution witnesses taking the stand.

The first prosecution witness, Godwin Adams, who continued his testimony under cross examination from counsel to the defendant, Tayo Oyetibo (SAN), insisted that there was no way he or his client could have known that there was any forfeiture order on the property as the wife of the owner of the property, Mrs Udeagbala and her family were living in the property at the time of negotiation.

He also confirmed there was no sign or notice fixed on any part of the property by the EFCC to inform the public of this encumbrance.

The witness also told the court that Mr Adegboruwa went with him to the EFCC office, where they were both told about the interim order of attachment after the commission had sealed the property.

Rents on the property in question is now being paid to the EFCC which has in turn increased the rent from N10 million to N12 million per annum.

After his testimony, a second prosecution witness, Mr. Teslim Adekunle Ajuwon, a Compliance Officer with Zenith Bank Plc, also took the witness box.

Through him, counsel to the EFCC, Rotimi Oyedepo, tendered documents and statement of account of Mr Adegboruwa.

The case has been adjourned to Wednesday the 15th of June for the witness to continue his testimony.

Legal Practitioner, Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa, is standing trial on a one count charge of allegedly dealing in property forfeited to the Federal Government through an interim order of court, a charge to which he has pleaded not guilty.

The offence is said to have contravened the provisions of Section 32(1) of the EFCC Act, 2004.

Mr Adegboruwa, however, insists that he is being persecuted by the EFCC on account of his human rights cases against the Buhari administration and in particular, his representation of Government Ekpemupolo alias Tompolo and Mr Azibaola Robert, a cousin to the former president, Goodluck Jonathan.

Bayelsa Election Tribunal: Wrong Pagination Stalls Sylva’s Petition

dicksonHearing in a petition filed by the governorship candidate of the Bayelsa State All Progressive Congress (APC), Mr Timipre Sylva, challenging the election of Governor Seriake Dickson has been stalled due to wrong pagination of the petition.

Lawyer to the petitioner, Sebastian Hon (SAN), requested for an adjournment of one day to enable him reconcile the numbering of the pages and open his case.

Shortly after proceedings commenced it stopped abruptly when parties in the case and even the judges realized that the court process was not properly numbered and that the first witness was not properly identified.

This made counsel to Mr Sylva, Tayo Oyetibo (SAN) apply for a short adjournment to enable him correct the errors.

His application was not opposed by the respondents and it was granted by the Tribunal.

The Tribunal, however, turned down his application asking that the day’s sitting not be counted as part of the days granted his client to prove his case.

The Chairman of the Tribunal agreed with the respondents that his inability to go on with his case, does not cancel the fact that the day had been fixed for hearing, but noted that should in case his application is premature and speculative, if he requires more days, it will be considered at a later date.

The APC its governorship candidate are challenging the election of Governor Seriake Dickson as Governor of Bayelsa State in the December 5, 2015 and January 9, 2016 governorship election in the state.

EFCC Separates Tompolo From Charges

EFCC Separates Tompolo From ChargesThe EFCC has separated former Niger Delta Militant, Government Ekpemupolo, popularly known as Tompolo from a 40-count charge of alleged fraud and money laundering.

The anti-graft agency was forced to separate Tompolo from the charges it filed at the Federal High Court in Lagos after it declared that the former Niger Delta Militant was still on the run.

Tompolo was listed as the first accused person in the said charge which the EFCC filed in January before Justice Ibrahim Buba.

The former Director General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, Patrick Akpobolokemi and four other persons were also listed in the charge as co-accused persons.

The five were charged alongside four companies – Global West Vessel Specialist Limited, Odimiri Electrical Limited, Boloboere Property and Estate Limited and Destre Consult Limited.

However, efforts to arraign them had failed since January owing to the refusal of Tompolo to honour the court summons issued on him to appear in court.

At Tuesday’s proceedings, Tompolo was again absent in court as his lawyers, Mr Tayo Oyetibo and Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa were also absent.

The EFCC prosecutor, Mr Festus Keyamo, told the presiding judge that the charge against the accused persons had been amended with Tompolo’s name removed.

He said Tompolo would be arraigned and tried separately from the others as soon as he was apprehended by the security agencies.

With the permission of the court, the other accused persons took their plea on the 40 counts levelled against them by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

The charges bordered on conspiracy, fraudulent conversion and laundering of various sums of money belonging to NIMASA.

They all pleaded not guilty.

Justice Buba later admitted them to bail before adjourning the commencement of their trial till May 23.

Meanwhile, the judge also adjourned till April 18, for the EFCC to arraign Mr Akpobolokemi and others on another 22-count charge.

Tompolo had also been listed as the first accused person in the charge, but his name was removed following his failure to show up to answer to the charges.

The EFCC said he would also be arranged separately on the 22 counts whenever he is produced before the court.

Earlier, Justice Buba had on January 14, issued a warrant for his arrest and the said warrant was renewed on February 8.

The EFCC had also declared Tompolo wanted through a newspaper advertorial and it had also obtained a court order to seize Tompolo’s assets pending when he would submit himself for trial.

Akwa Ibom Tribunal Refuses To Disqualify APC Witnesses

AKWA IBOMThe Akwa Ibom State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal, sitting in Abuja, has turned down the request to disqualify the witnesses of All Progressives Congress (APC), who gave testimonies in the last governorship election in the state.

The Tribunal rejected the second objection raised by a counsel to Governor Emmanuel Udom and his party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), against the witnesses of the APC governorship candidate, Mr Umana Umana.

It further requested that the witnesses be disallowed from testifying with their statements on oath because the statements carried no names or any identity .

However, the tribunal again, ruled in the favour of the APC saying, the objections would  not be disallowed where it qualifies.

The tribunal said that the Governor and his party did not raise any new point, as such, its previous ruling stands.

At the resumed hearing, the APC called its witnesses, but the lawyer to the Governor of Akwa Ibom State and the PDP, Tayo Oyetibo, objected the move to adopt their written statements on the ground that there was no evidence to confer ownership of the statements to the seven witnesses whose names do not appear on the said statements on oath.

In his response, the lawyer to the APC, Paul Usoro, asked the tribunal to dismiss the objection of the Governor on the ground that the issue was raised at the previous proceedings and a comprehensive ruling was given by the Tribunal to settle the matter.

He, however, argued that it would amount to abuse of court process for the tribunal to allow a settled matter to be revived on the same issue and on the same subject matter.

In a short ruling, the Chairman of the tribunal, Justice Sadiq Umar, upheld the argument of the APC and rejected the move to disqualify its witnesses and their statement on oath.

Justice Umar said that the objection was overruled on the grounds that the same subject matter was canvassed at the previous proceedings and since there were no new issues raised by the Governor and his party, the objection failed.

According to the judge, the decision does not mean that where an object is right in law, it would  not be considered or allowed.

N27.5 Bn Fraud: Court Stops Atuche’s Bid to Stall Trial

 Francis_AtucheJustice Lateefa Okunnu of a Lagos High Court sitting in Ikeja, today stopped further attempts by a former Managing Director of  Bank PHB, Mr. Francis Atuche to delay trial in a N27.5Billion suit instituted against him and two other defendants by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

At the resumed trial of the case on Wednesday,  EFCC counsel, Kemi Pinheiro (SAN) insisted that the defence team,  led by Tayo Oyetibo (SAN) call Atuche or his wife Elizabeth, to the witness box, following their failure to produce a witness  who, according to them, was meant to come in from Abuja, but could not make it due to bad weather.

“I recall the defence telling this court that they will close their case on Tuesday, and today (Wednesday),  a witness is absent again. My Lord, apart from the witness that is not present in court, the defence said the defendants will give evidence in this case and the defendants are in court and no reason has been given why the first and second  defendants cannot testify. I implore my Lord,  to order the defence to call the defendants to give their evidence in order not to waste the time of the court”. Oyetibo countered that saying  “the evidence of the witness need to go before those of the defendants.”

After listening to both arguments, Justice Okuunu  ruled that “a good reason must be given for adjournments and the court is bound to act judicially and judiciously. I have also seen that there has been rainfall but not a storm. I do not believe that any cogent and tenable reason has been given for the absence of the witness, so this court is being asked to wait at the leisure of the witness. I urge the defence to call the first or second defendant to the stand,  to give evidence. The court will therefore stand down this case to enable the defense confer with their client”.

At the resumed session, Oyetibo further argued that “I came into the case after Chief Idigbe (SAN) who was the defense counsel,  took ill and travelled abroad for treatment and I have not had access to the volumes of documents earlier tendered. I believe the first and second defendants should be accorded the opportunity to be led in evidence by Chief Idigbe, who was present when evidence was tendered against the first and second defendants. I pray the court to adjourn to the dates earlier fixed”.

Pinheiro immediately reminded the court that Oyetibo  came into the case more than a year ago, on February 11, 2013, which was enough time for him to be fully abreast of  the matter.
According to him, “the defense filed a colossal 475- page address on the no -case submission, and it was a full analysis of the case, attacking the prosecution’s evidences  and Oyetibo contributed in no small measure to that document. Against this background, I find his excuse untenable. But as a midway suggestion, let one of the defendants be called to the witness box and sworn-in before taking an adjournment”.

Justice Okuunu then ruled that, no tangible reason had been given for a second adjournment, so defence should call their witness and the court can call for an adjournment. Atuche was called into the witness box and was still giving an account of his biography when Justice Okuunu stopped him and adjourned the matter till July 7, 8 and 11, 2014.

Francis Atuche, Elizabeth Atuche and Ugo Anyanwu are standing trial on a 47-count charge for allegedly stealing N27.5 billion from Bank PHB while Atuche was the Managing Director of the bank.

Subsidy Scam:Tukur, Ochonogor Ask Court To Quash N1.8 Billion Charge

EFCC operatives at workTwo oil marketers, Mahmud Tukur and Alex Ochonogor, have asked a Lagos High Court sitting in Ikeja to quash the N1.8 billion fuel subsidy fraud charge preferred against them by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

They made the request in a preliminary notice of objection filed before Justice Lateef Lawal-Akapo.

The marketers were arraigned alongside their company— Eterna Plc and another marketer, Abdullahi Alao on a nine-count charge of conspiracy, obtaining money by false pretences, forgery and use of false documents.

While the first defendant, Mahmud Tukur is the son of the Fmr PDP Chairman, Bamangar Tukur, the Third defendant, Abdullahi Alao is the son of Ibadan based business man, Arisekola Alao.

The defendants are accused of obtaining N1.8 billion from the Federal Government for a purported importation of 80.3 million litres of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS).

Their counsel, Mr Tayo Oyetibo (SAN), while moving the application, said the proof of evidence did not support the allegations against them.

Mr Oyetibo therefore argued that the criminal charge preferred against them was an abuse of court process which should be struck out in the interest of justice.

Tracing the genesis of the charge, he said it arose from a joint venture agreement between Eterna Plc,  Axenergy Ltd., Sahara Energy Resources and Ontario Oil for the importation of fuel into the country.

He also faulted Section 10 of the Advance Fee Fraud Act which the EFCC claimed gave them power to charge the defendants to court.

He said his clients were being charged in their personal capacity to embarrass and harass them because there was no vicarious liability under the Nigerian criminal law.

In his response, the EFCC counsel, Mr Rotimi Jacobs (SAN), said Section 260 (2) of the Administration of Criminal Justice Law of Lagos State prohibited the court from entertaining such applications.

He stressed that the argument that the principal officers of the company are not liable for the acts of the company is baseless.

He urged the court to dismiss the application for being premature and lacking in merit.

Justice Lawal-Akapo has adjourned the matter till June 27 for ruling.