Alleged Corruption: EFCC Says Defecting To APC Won’t Stop Orji Kalu’s Case

Alleged Corruption: EFCC Says Defecting To APC Won’t Stop Orji Kalu’s Case
File photo: Mr Orji Kalu

 

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has insisted that the fact that a former governor of Abia State, Mr Orji Kalu, changed his political party won’t stop the alleged corruption case involving him.

Spokesperson for the commission, Mr Wilson Uwujaren, said on Tuesday during his appearance on Channels Forum, a Channels Television programme which brings opinion leaders and policymakers together to discuss and find solutions to Nigeria’s problems.

N3.2bn Corruption Trial: Witness Refuses To Testify Against Orji Kalu

The EFCC had charged Mr Kalu with fraud allegations running into billions of naira when he served as governor of Abia State.

In January, A legal practitioner, Kingsley Ekwem, declined to testify as a prosecution witness in the trial of the former governor and two others over an alleged N3.2billion fraud.

Kalu has defected from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to the All Progressives Congress (APC), while members of the opposition party have continued to accuse the APC government of a one-sided anti-corruption war.

Uwujaren, however, maintained that the alleged corruption case against the former governor is ongoing, stressing that joining the APC folk has no effect on the matter.

He said, “Yes, Orji Kalu has left the PDP to APC; but that does not mean that his case under prosecution has stopped. I can recall that on May 11, the prosecution closed its case in that matter.

Mr Wilson Uwujaren

“That case is going on and I don’t see how political association can affect the matter that is being prosecuted in court. It has nothing to do with the corruption allegations against him.”

The EFCC spokesman further responded to the allegations of a one-sided anti-corruption fight and asked Nigerians to be wary of the credibility of such accusation.

He explained that the anti-graft agency goes through a process before a case can be prosecuted and such is based on the strength of the evidence it has.

Uwujaren noted that those who are being prosecuted by the EFCC are used to crying foul, insisting that nobody is being prosecuted because he or she belongs to a particular political party.

He said, “If you are alleged to be corrupt, the question we should ask is ‘does the EFCC has the evidence to prosecute you?’ We should not be concerned about whether somebody is in APC or is in PDP.”

“The issue is ‘did you violate the law; did you commit an offence?’ if you commit an offence then the agency should have the liberty to take you to court. It will not be a matter of vindictiveness, it should be a matter that is based purely on evidence and that is what we are doing,” the EFCC spokesman added.

He further disclosed that the EFCC has identified some cases which it believes it has enough evidence to prove in court and it has begun to prosecute them.

Uwujaren reiterated that belonging to a political party does not mean corrupt individuals are immune from prosecution, pointing out that the immunity applies to only the four categories of officials provided by the constitution.

We Will Prosecute Ex-SGF Lawal ‘If We Have Credible Evidence’, Says EFCC

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) says it is still investigating the former Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Mr Babachir Lawal, and will act based on the outcome of the probe.

Spokesperson of the agency, Mr Wilson Uwujaren, said this on Tuesday during the Channels Forum which brought together experts and policymakers to discuss key issues in the country.

This comes amid questions about the fate of the former SGF who was fired after being indicted for corruption and investigated for the same.

Critics of President Muhammadu Buhari have argued that the failure to prosecute Mr Lawal and other people close to his administration or in his party, the APC, hurts his much-talked-about anti-corruption war.

At the forum, a former Chairman of the National Human Rights Commission, Mr Chidi Odinkalu, brought up the issue, while explaining why he believes the fight against corruption has been discredited.

“If the [now former] Secretary to the Government of the Federation has been investigated by the vice president, the national security adviser and the attorney-general of the federation on the basis of which the President has fired him and you are telling me that that is not authoritative enough to send him to court, there is a problem.”

The EFCC spokesperson who confirmed that “the case involving the former secretary to the government of the federation has been investigated by at least two panels before now”, explained that it had not been forgotten.

“The matter is on the table of the EFCC,” he said. “We are currently doing our investigation and at the end of our investigation, if we have credible evidence to take him to court, we will take him to court.”

EFCC Uncovers Four Billion Naira Through Whistle-blower

EFCC Uncovers Four Billion Naira Through Whistle-BlowerThe Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) says a tip-off by a whistle-blower on Tuesday, led to another discovery of a huge sum of four billion Naira suspected to be proceeds of crime.

According to a statement by the EFCC spokesman, Wilson Uwujaren, investigations as to the owner of the funds revealed that the money belongs to a former deputy governorship candidate in Niger State, whose the name was not disclosed.

“The suspect uses the names of two companies – Katah Property & Investment Limited and Sadiq Air Travel Agency – in laundering the funds.

“Each of the company has two billion Naira fixed in its deposit account domiciled in Guaranty Trust Bank.

“The suspected owner of the account and the account officer are currently on the run,” the statement said.

Obanikoro Returns 100 Million Naira To F.G

Musiliu Obanikoro, EFCC, Ekiti election, ObanikoroThe Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has said a former Minister of State for Defence, Musiliu Obanikoro, has returned the sum of 100 million Naira to the Nigerian Government.

Spokesperson of the anti-graft agency, Wilson Uwujaren, on Thursday confirmed the payment to Channels Television.

He said the EFCC chairman, Ibrahim Magu, rejected the initial offer and demanded that the former Minister signed an undertaking to pay back the sum of 600 million Naira within a stipulated time.

But the former Minister rejected, claiming he had no means of raising such amount.

In the meantime, the EFCC has begun the verification of  payments as interrogations continue.

Obanikoro Reports To EFCC

Three months after his invitation by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), a former Minister of State for Defence, Musiliu Obanikoro, has reported to the anti-graft agency.

Senator Obanikoro returned to the country on Monday from the U.S. and later proceeded to an EFCC facility.

The former minister who also represented Lagos state in the Senate, had been a subject of interest to the commission in connection with alleged diversion of arms funds.

He has been accused of involvement in corrupt practices, as the anti-corruption campaign of the Muhammadu Buhari-led administration intensified with a clampdown on some public officials from the previous administration.

The EFCC has said that it has proof that Obanikoro received a total of 4.745 billion Naira from the office of the former National Security Adviser between April 4, 2014, and December 15, 2014 through companies belonging to his sons.

Mr Obanikoro has been in the United States since 2015 after the general elections, where he said he was pursuing leadership and language courses at an American university.

The 2015 election saw his party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), unseated at the centre.

Court Dismisses Ohakim’s No-Case Submission Against EFCC

Ikedi Ohakim, Court, EFCCThe Federal High Court in Abuja has dismissed a no-case submission filed by a former Imo State Governor, Ikedi Ohakim.

Justice Adeniyi Ademola struck out Ohakim’s suit which was filed through his counsel, Awa Kalu, against the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

The anti-graft agency made the ruling public on Thursday in a statement by its Head of Media and Publicity, Wilson Uwujaren.

Mr Ohakim is facing trial for allegedly making a cash payment to the tune of $2,290,000.00 (about 270,000,000 Naira) for the purchase of a property in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital.

One of the counts reads: “That you, Ikedi Ohakim, on or about the January 26, 2013 in Abuja within the jurisdiction of the Federal High Court, while under arrest for an offence under the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission Establishment Act, 2004 knowingly failed to make a full disclosure of your assets by not declaring your ownership of the property known and described as Plot No. 1098 Cadastral Zone A04, Asokoro District- it is also known as No.60, Kwame Nkurumah Street, Asokoro, Abuja and thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 27(3)(c) of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission Establishment Act, 2004 and punishable under the same section”.

The former governor had pleaded not guilty to the three-count charge when it was read to him.

Consequently, the prosecution presented a number of witnesses and tendered several documents, which were admitted in evidence to prove its case against the defendant before it closed its case.

At the last hearing on June 6, the defence filed a no-case submission against the prosecution.

In his ruling on Thursday, Justice Ademola stated that the prosecution had been able to establish its case against the defendant.

The case has been adjourned till October 10 and 13 for the commencement of the defence.

Freezing Accounts Is Backed By Law – EFCC

EFCCThe Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) says freezing of accounts suspected of being used for financial crimes is a mandatory investigative step backed by law.

The anti-graft agency was responding to reactions that trailed the freezing of accounts of suspects that were investigated or currently being investigated.

A statement by the Head, Media and Publicity of the EFCC, Wilson Uwujaren, on Monday stressed the need to explain the reason behind the actions in order to prevent misinformation.

“Indeed, Section 34 (1) of the EFCC Act 2004 empowers the Commission to freeze any account suspected of being used for financial crimes.

“The section stipulates that, the Chairman of the Commission or any officer authorised by him may, if satisfied that the money in the account of a person is made through the commission of an offence under this Act, or any enactment specified under Section 6(2) (a)-(f) of this Act, apply to the Court ex-parte for power to issue or instruct a bank examiner or such other appropriate authority to freeze the account,” the statement read.

Incidental To Investigation

The agency also noted that similar provision in the Money Laundering Prohibition Act also allowed the EFCC Chairman or his representatives to place a stop order on any account or transaction suspected to be involved in any crime.

“The intendment of these provisions is to ensure that the Commission safeguards suspected proceeds of crime pending the completion of its investigation.

“It is without prejudice to the social standing of the holder of such accounts or whether they are individual, corporate or government accounts,” the statement added.

The anti-graft agency maintained that the freezing orders were incidental to investigation and doing otherwise would jeopardise the prospects of recovering stolen assets.

EFCC Denies Ekweremadu’s Decoration As Anti-Corruption Ambassador

EFCC-Ike-Ekweremadu-Senate-Deputy-presidentThe Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on Wednesday discredited reports that it has decorated the Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, as an ‘Anti-Corruption Ambassador’.

The anti-graft agency made the disclaimer in a statement by its Head, Media and Publicity, Wilson Uwujaren.

“According to a statement issued to the press by the Special Adviser to the Deputy Senate President, Uche Anichukwu, the purported decoration, was carried out by the EFCC National Assembly Liaison Officer, Suleiman Bakari,” the agency noted.

It quoted Mr Bakari to have said: “On behalf of my acting chairman, Mr Ibrahim Mustafa Magu, and the entire management and staff of the EFCC, decorate you as an Anti-Corruption Ambassador and formally present this frame, as a token of our appreciation to your person and office, and as a symbol of the institutional partnership between the EFCC and the National Assembly”.

The EFCC totally dissociated itself from the purported action of the liaison officer, insisting that he had acted entirely on his own.

“He clearly acted outside his brief as a liaison officer as the management of the Commission at no time, mandated him to decorate Ekweremadu or any officer of the National Assembly as Anti-Corruption Ambassador,” the statement read.

The agency maintained that its statutory mandate was the investigation and prosecution of all economic and financial crimes cases, which does not include the decoration of individuals as anti- corruption ambassadors.

The agency added that was not in the habit of awarding titles to individuals, stressing that “those enamoured of titles, know the quarters to approach for such honours, not the EFCC”.

They called on the members of the public and stakeholders in the fight against corruption to disregard the supposed decoration.

Court Affirms Jurisdiction To Try Former NIMASA Boss, Akpobolokemi

Patrick Akpobolokemi for NIMASA bossA Lagos High Court sitting in Igbosere has dismissed an application by a former Director -General of the Nigeria Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Mr Patrick Akpobolokemi, challenging its jurisdiction to entertain his trial.

Akpobolokemi, is standing trial, alongside five others, on a 13-count charge, bordering on conspiracy, stealing and fraudulent conversion of funds to the tune of 687.2 million Naira.

Other accused persons are; Captain Ezekiel Bala Agaba; Ekene Nwakuche; Governor Amechee Juan; Vincent Udoye, Captain Ade Sahib Olopoenia and Gama Marine Nigeria Limited.

At the resumed hearing of the matter on Monday, Justice R.I.B Adebiyi threw out Akpobolokemi’s suit challenging the jurisdiction of the court, 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.

Counsel to Akpobolokemi, Mr Joseph Nwobike, while arguing against the jurisdiction of the court to try his client, hinged his objection on the fact that, “only the Federal High Court has exclusive jurisdiction over matters and cases arising from, pertaining to, or connected with the revenue of the Federal Government of Nigeria and its agencies”.

A statement by the spokesman for the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Wilson Uwujaren, said that Mr Nwobike was also joined by the counsel to the fourth defendant, Ige Asemudara, who also brought an application for preliminary objection before the court.

All the applications have now been dismissed by the court.

Justice Adebiyi subsequently adjourned the matter till April 14, 20 and May 3, 4, 5, 6, 9, 10, 11 and 13 for trial.

Alleged Obstruction Of Justice: Rickey Tarfa Arraigned In Court  

Rickey TarfaSenior Advocate of Nigeria, Rickey Tarfa, has been arraigned at the Lagos High Court in Igbosere, Lagos Island.

Our judiciary correspondent, Shola Soyele reports that he was arraigned before the court by the EFCC on charges of obstruction of justice.

Mr Tarfa was arrested by the EFCC last week for allegedly hiding two Beninoise suspects – Nazaire Gnanhoue and Modeste Finagnon – in his Mercedes Benz Sports Utility Vehicle.

The suspects were alleged to have fraudulently converted some equipment belonging to a manufacturing firm, Rana Prestige Nigeria Limited, for their own use.

The anti-graft agency arrested the Senior Advocate of Nigeria at about 5:00 pm local time on Friday, February 5, outside the premises of the Lagos High Court in Igbosere area of Lagos Island.