Friday, 19 January 2018
Headliners

Headliners (1836)

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has traced 38 choice houses to a former Chairman of the Nigerian Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF), Dr. Ngozi Olojeme.

Mrs Olojeme, Deputy Chairman of the Finance Committee of the Goodluck Campaign Organisation in 2015, is being investigated by the EFCC for alleged diversion of $48,485,127 from the accounts of the NSITF.

Of N62.3billion fraud discovered in NSITF, $48,485,127 is allegedly credited to Mrs. Olojeme.

The anti- graft agency has secured a court order to place the assets under interim forfeiture, pending Mrs. Olojeme’s trial.

Besides, EFCC has obtained a warrant from the court to detain the suspect for two weeks to complete the first round of the investigation and her arraignment.

Mrs. Olojeme, who is said to have taken ill, is at a private hospital in Abuja where EFCC detectives are keeping an eye on her.

EFCC detectives uncovered 40 houses, 38 of which are believed to be Mrs Olojeme’s.

Of the 38 houses, detectives rated the mansion at No. 51, Kainji Crescent in Maitama, as a “multi-billion naira piece with some foreign leaders occasionally staying there when they come visiting”.

The golden mansion was at the weekend sealed off by the EFCC.

A source, who spoke in confidence, said: “EFCC  recovered over 40 properties out of which 38 belong to the ex-NSITF chairman, including the property at No. 51, Kainji Crescent, off Lake Chad Crescent in Maitama District.

“The Kainji Crescent property is said to have housed some foreign leaders when they came visiting. It is a multi-billion naira mansion.

“We have invoked sections 28 and 34 of the EFCC (Establishment Act) 2004 and Section 13(1) of the Federal High Court Act, 2004, which empower the agency to apply the Interim Assets Forfeiture Clause.”

Section 28 of the EFCC Act reads: “Where a person is arrested for an offence under this Act, the Commission shall immediately trace and attach all the assets and properties of the person acquired as a result of such economic or financial crime and shall thereafter cause to be obtained an interim attachment order from the Court.”

The EFCC source went on: “As I am talking to you, we have placed all the over 40 assets under interim forfeiture based on the approval of our application by the court. The assets will be temporarily forfeited until the end of the trial of all the affected suspects.”

“We have also secured a court order to detain her for two weeks in preparation for Dr. Ngozi Olojeme’s arraignment in connection with the alleged diversion of $48,485,127 from NSITF’s account. We have charges already prepared and we will be arraigning her soon.

“But she sought for medical attention in a private hospital for an undisclosed illness. We accorded her the right to seek medical aid and deployed in detectives and sentry guards to the hospital.”

The EFCC has already arraigned a former Managing Director of NSITF, Umar Munir Abubakar, and four others for alleged diversion of N18billion.

The others are Henry Ekhasomi Sambo, Adebayo Adebowale Aderibigbe, Chief Richard U. Uche and Aderemi Adegboyega.

The cash was said to be the Federal Government’s contribution to the take-off grants and Employees Compensation Scheme (ECS) for Ministries Departments and Agencies (MDAs).

EFCC’s report on preliminary investigation said in part: “That through this process, Dr. Ngozi Olojeme, the then NSITF board chairman, has collected a total sum of $48,485,127 from Mr. Chuka Eze (her account officer at FBN), which cash he collected on her behalf being the dollar equivalent of monies paid to BDCs by NSITF contractors.

“She and others also diverted huge cash allocated for allowances of its staff and compensation to contributors. Detectives actually traced some of the NSITF funds in the personal accounts of Olojeme and the former MD, Umar Abubakar.

“For instance, Abubakar and others dishonestly converted to N18billion, being contribution from the Federal Government of Nigeria as take-off grants and Employees Compensation Scheme (ECS) for MDAs.

“The said sum was diverted into personal accounts by an e-payment mandate jointly signed by Umar Munir Abubakar and Henry Ekhasomi Sambo.”

The report added: “It was discovered that the NSITF accounts in First Bank of Nigeria and other banks have witnessed a total turnover of over N62, 358,401,927 between 2012 and 2015 from the Employee Compensation Scheme contributions.

“That out of the N62bn, the Federal Government contributed N13,600,000,000 while the sum of N48,758,401,927.80 was contributed by the private sector. That there were several payments to individuals and companies from the NSITF bank accounts for purported contracts or consultancy services.

“That some individuals and companies that received these payments, in turn, transferred part of the monies directly to the NSITF officials while others transferred huge sums to bureau de change operators who changed them to dollars.”

 
Posted On Monday, 25 December 2017 13:21 Written by

Zimbabwe’s new President Emmerson Mnangagwa on Saturday named the former army chief who led a coup that ended Robert Mugabe’s 37-year rule, as one of his two deputies in the ruling party, the presidency said.

Presidential press secretary George Charamba said in a statement, retired general Constantino Chiwenga and long-serving state security minister Kembo Mohadi were appointed as Mnangagwa’s deputies in the ZANU-PF party “with immediate effect.”

The party appointment is a first step in their elevation to state vice presidents. Two other top military officials were earlier this month awarded ministerial posts.

Chiwenga retired this week, slightly over a month after the military temporarily took control of the country on November 15 as internal feuding escalated in ZANU-PF over then president Mugabe’s succession.

The takeover which the army said was targeting Mugabe’s corrupt allies came days after the 93-year-old leader had fired then deputy Mnangagwa who has strong military ties and was widely tipped as the likely successor.

Mugabe’s wife Grace had indicated interest in succeeding her husband.

The army’s intervention was followed by mass street protests against Mugabe and a motion to impeach the veteran ruler who resigned in a letter to parliament as proceedings to recall him began.

The ruling ZANU PF party then appointed Mnangagwa as Mugabe’s replacement, leading to his inauguration as the country’s president on November 24.

Posted On Saturday, 23 December 2017 14:26 Written by

The Lagos State Police Command has declared a popular independent oil marketer and prime suspect of the Badoo cult killings in Ikorodu and Epe axis of the State, Alhaji Alaka Abayomi Kamal, wanted.

In a statement, signed by the Police Public Relations officer, SP Chike Oti, the 51-year-old suspect, who is the owner of Alaka Petroleum, is wanted in connection with series of well-orchestrated killings of the Badoo cult group. The statement reads;

”The 51-year-old suspect, who is the owner of Alaka Petroleum, is wanted in connection with series of well-orchestrated killings and nefarious activities of the Badoo cult group.

The notorious activities of the dreaded cult group had sent many to their early graves with cruel killings through the smashing of mortar and pestle on victims’ heads.

In a Special Police Gazette Bulletin issued under the authority of the Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, with reference number CR 07/2017, Alaka who had earlier been arrested and released on bail by the police, was said to have frustrated attempts to rearrest him.

His declaration as a wanted man followed a warrant of arrest duly obtained from a Lagos State Magistrate Court.

According to the bulletin, “The above-named person (Alhaji Alaka Abayomi Kamal “M”) is hereby declared wanted by the Nigeria Police Force on CRO Form “5” issued by the Office of the Deputy Commissioner of Police, Criminal Intelligence and Intelligence Department, Musiliu Smith Street, Yaba, Lagos.

“He (Alaka) is wanted for the offence of Badoo Cult Killings in Ikorodu and Epe areas of Lagos State. He was once arrested, and released on bail; since then it has been impossible to rearrest him.

“He is 5ft 8ft tall, dark in complexion, stout in stature, no tribal marks, speaks Yoruba and English. A Yoruba by tribe, 51 years of age. Home Address – No 22, PSSDC Magodo Estate, Shangisha, Lagos State. A business man with good set of teeth, brown eyes, oval face, small head, low forehead and always on white kaftan.

“If seen should be arrested and handed over to the office of the Deputy Commissioner of Police, Musiliu Street, Yaba, Lagos or any nearest Police Station or call 08068169076 and 08125151772.”

The State Government and the State Police Command had earlier uncovered and demolished the alleged Badoo shrine belonging to Alaka in Agbowa area of Ikorodu on September 20, 2017 in an operation led by the Commissioner of Police, Mr Imohimi Edgal.

SIGNED

SP CHIKE OTI

POLICE PUBLIC RELATIONS OFFICER,

LAGOS STATE POLICE COMMAND

DECEMBER 22, 2017”

Posted On Friday, 22 December 2017 16:35 Written by

The Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation (AGF), Abubakar Malami (SAN) and the Chairman, Special Presidential Investigation Panel for Recovery of Public Property (SPIPRPP), Okoi Obono-Obla have explained why the panel was probing the purchase of the official residence of the Senate President by David Mark.

They said the investigation was informed by information to the effect that Mark, a former Senate President, unlawfully acquired the property in 2011, without being reflected in the Federal Government’s gazette as required.

They argued that the house said to be built on 1.6 hectares of land, located in Gudu, Apo, Abuja, is a national monument that was not meant to be acquired by an individual.

Malami and Obono-Obla’s explanation is contained in the court papers they filed before the Federal High Court in Abuja Thursday in reaction to a suit by Mark, challenging the notice of investigation served on him by the SPIPRPP.

The documents include a notice of preliminary objection, a counter-affidavit to Mark’s motion for interlocutory injunction and a defence to the substantive suit.

An official in the office of the Chairman of SPIPRPP, Aribatise Olanrewaju, who deposed to the counter- affidavit for Malami and Obono-Obla stated that the panel was empowered to probe the circumstances in which Mark took over the property.

He said although former President Goodluck approved the sale of the property to Mark; the purchase was not gazetted as required by law.

He said: “The request of Senator Bala Muhammad (the then Minister of Federal Capital Territory) was approved by former President Jonathan, but on the condition that the sale should be gazetted.

“However, the sales of the houses were never gazette. Notwithstanding the directive of former President Jonathan that the said house should be sold to the plaintiff upon enactment of a Federal Government gazette, the said property was illegally sold to the plaintiff;

“The sales of these houses were never reflected in the Federal Government official gazette contrary to directive/ minute in the memo of Senator Bala Muhammad by former President Jonathan;

“I know as a fact that the sale of the said house to the plaintiff was never conducted in a competitive bidding and transparent process; this is contrary to the provisions of Section 15 (1) of the Procurement Act, 2007;

“I know as a fact that the sale was contrary to the provisions of the Federal Government of Nigeria official gazette No. 82, Vol. 92 of 15 August 2005;

“The said house is a national monument, which should have never been sold;

“I know as a fact that the provisions of Part 11 (b) of the Certain Political, Public and Judicial Office Holders (Salaries and Allowances, Etc.) (Amendment) Act, 2008 otherwise known as the Remuneration Act, 2008 provides that Senate President is provided with accommodation by the Federal Government of Nigeria.

“I know as a fact that the sale to the said house was contrary to the provisions of Paragraphs 1  & 6 (1) of Part 1 of the 5th Schedule to the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended) since the purchaser (the Plaintiff) was a the Senate President  he purchased the house.”

Olanrewaju referred the law that empowered the  panel to investigate Mark’s acquisition of the property.

He said: “I know as a fact that the notice alluded to in paragraph 17 of the affidavit is therefore not a notice of eviction as claimed by the plaintiff/applicant.

“I know as a fact that the 2nd defendant never declared the plaintiff/applicant acquisition of the said property illegal, but a notice to inform him that the acquisition of the said property was under investigation by the Special Investigation Panel.

“I know as a fact that the Special Presidential Investigation Panel for Recovery of Public Property was set up by the Federal Government of Nigeria pursuant to the provisions of Recovery of Public Property (Special Provisions) Act, Cap. R4, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004,” he said.

In their objection, Malami and Obono-Obla faulted the suit by Marked and described it as a ploy to stall his ongoing investigation.

Obono-Obla, who endorsed the processes filed by the respondents in the suit – the AGF and Obono-Obla – described the suit as speculative and hypothetical.

He contended, in the objection that the Federal High Court was without the jurisdiction to hear the suit.

He grounds on which he hinged his argument include that the court has no jurisdiction to grant the relief sought by the plaintiffs in view of the fact that, by virtue of Section 251 (1) (p) of the Constitution, the subject matter of the case has nothing to do with the administration or the management and control of the Federal Government or any of its agencies.

He said the suit was a disguise to scuttle criminal investigation of the plaintiff  (a public officer) using the court.

Obono-Obla added tha: “This court has no jurisdiction to stop the Special Investigation Panel for Recovery of Public Property established pursuant to Section 1 (1) of the Recovery of Public Property (Special Provisions) Act, Cap. R4, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004 from carrying out its statutory functions.

“The 2nd defendant (Obono-Obla) is an agent of a disclosed principal and as such the plaintiff is wrong to sue the 2nd defendant in his official capacity with his personal name.

“This suit has disclosed no reasonable cause of action; it is speculative and hypothetical,” he said.

The SPIPRPP, in September this year, issued a 21-day notice to Mark to quit the property or “show cause” why the Federal Government should not “enforce the recovery of the property for public good”.

Rather than “show cause” as requested by SPIPRPP, Mark head before the Federal High Court where he lodged the suit and prayed the court to among others, quash all steps taken by the panel to evict him and recover the house from him.

The case will come up for hearing on January 22 next year before Justice Gabriel Kolawole.

 
Posted On Thursday, 21 December 2017 23:26 Written by

The Federal Government has accused a former Senate President, David Mark, of illegally acquiring his then official residence as his private property.

In September this year, the government, through the Special Presidential Investigation Panel for the Recovery of Public Property, which is chaired by Chief Okoi Obono-Obla, gave the former Senate President a 21-day notice to quit the mansion.

The notice to quit, however, asked Mark to “show cause” why the Federal Government should not “enforce the recovery of the property for public good.”

But Mark had quickly filed a suit before the Federal High Court in Abuja to quash all steps taken by the panel to evict him and recover the house from him.

The case has not been heard.

The PUNCH, on Monday, obtained from court sources, copies of documents, including exhibits, filed by the former Senate President in his suit challenging the recovery process.

The Senate President’s official residence is sited on 1.6 hectares of land at 1 Musa Usman Street, (also known as No. 1 Chuba Okadigbo Street), Apo Legislative Quarters, Gudu, Abuja.

According to title documents, the property comprises eight structures, made up of the main house, ADC/chief security detail’s house, guest chalet, security/generator house, boys quarters, security post, driver/servants’ quarters and chapel.

The eight structures are said to be properly spaced and linked with well-paved drive and walkways and further done with lawns.

Mark, the senator, currently representing Benue South in the National Assembly, is accused of illegally acquiring the property with the approval of former President Goodluck Jonathan despite that such property was excluded from the monetisation policy of the Federal Government.

Copies of correspondences and other documents, leading to the purchase and eventual handover of the property to Mark in April, 2011, showed that the serving senator purchased the property at a “reserved price” of N673,200,000.

Meanwhile, in his letter, dated October 28, 2010, seeking the then President Jonathan’s approval for the sale of the property, the then Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Mr. Bala Mohammed, had indicated that the open market value of the property was N748,000,000.

In addition, the then minister specifically stated that the Federal Executive Council had, in 2004, mandated the Federal Capital Territory Administration to sell all Federal Government’s “non-essential housing units in Abuja under specific rules and guidelines.”

Exempted from this arrangement are the official residences of the Senate President, the Deputy Senate President, the Speaker of the House of Representatives and the Deputy Speaker.

He stated that the exemption was “expressly contained in the Federal Government of Nigeria’s Official Gazette No. 82, Vol. 92 of August 15, 2005.”

In justifying the request for the then President’s approval for the sale, the former minister noted that all the houses in Apo Legislative Quarters, with the exception of the official residences of the four principal officers of the National Assembly, had been sold to the legislators occupying them at the time or the general public, under the Federal Government’s monetisation arrangement.

The former minister however stated that sale of other houses in the Apo Legislative Quarters had “altered the general security provision for the area and extension, the security of the leading principal officers of the National Assembly.”

The letter added, “This lapse in the general security provision of the area led the National Assembly to unofficially rent residential accommodation for its leading principal officers in more secure areas within the city.”

It also stated that due to the security concerns, the four houses of the leading principal officers “will no longer have the status of ‘essential properties’,” hence the FCTA “has made provision in the budget to construct residential accommodation for the leading principal officers of the National Assembly where the general security is befitting the status of the officers.”

The then minister had stated that the Senate President’s residence had an open market value of N748,000,000; the Speaker’s N670,000,000; the Deputy Senate President’s N458,000,000; and the Deputy Speaker’s N348,500,000.

What appeared on the then minister’s letter as Jonathan’s hand-written approval of the request dated November 15, 2010, read, “Para 6 and 8 approved. Also see if this could be gazetted.

“N/B: Ensure that the new residences are ready early next year.”

By a letter, with reference number PRES/83/FCTA/18 and dated November 18, 2010, Jonathan conveyed his approval to the then minister’s request for the sale of the Senate President’s official residence.

The letter, addressed to the FCT minister and titled, ‘Re: Sale of Residential Houses Occupied by Leading Principal Officers of the National Assembly’, was signed by the then President’s Senior Special Assistant (Admin), Matt Aikhionbare.

The letter read in part, “I am directed to forward Reference A to you and to convey to you, Mr. President’s approval of paragraphs 6 and 8 and further directive on page 2 in line with the earlier approval of 27/06/2010.”

But by a letter with reference number SPIP/INV/2017/VOL.1/17 and dated September 5, 2017, the Obono-Obla-led Special Presidential Investigation Panel for the Recovery of Public Property insisted that Mark acquired the “national monument” in clear breach of the monetisation policy of the Federal Government.

The letter, signed by Obono-Obla and titled ‘Investigation activities: Notice to recover public property in your care’, and addressed to Mark, stated in part, “The extant Monetisation Policy of the Federal Government, as enunciated and still being implemented, excludes all Principal Officers of the National Assembly and hence places the responsibility on the Federal Government to provide accommodation for them, same which you allegedly illegally appropriated.”

The letter asked Mark “to take steps within the next 21 days to vacate the said property or show cause why the government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria should not enforce the recovery of the said property for public good.”

It added, “You are further being notified pursuant to the Recovery Property (Special Provisions) Act, 1983, to complete and return within 30 days the attached Form B (Declaration of Assets Form) to the office of the undersigned.”

But Mark, through his lawyer, Ken Ikonne, filed the suit marked FHC/ABJ/CS/1037/2017 before the Federal High Court in Abuja, insisting that he legally acquired the property through a “walk-in bid” at the behest of the FCTA.

He also contended that the recovery process initiated by the Federal Government was unconstitutional.

The Attorney General of the Federation and Obono-Obla are joined as respondents to the suit.

Among his prayers, Mark sought “a declaration that the unilateral declaration by the defendants that the plaintiff’s acquisition” of the property “is illegal and the order compelling the plaintiff to vacate the aforesaid property” without affording him “a hearing,” amounted to a denial of his “fundamental rights to fair hearing and property, and are therefore unconstitutional and void.”

He also sought a declaration that “the service by the defendants on the plaintiff of the Notice to Declare His Assets (Form A) and the Assets Declaration Form B is unconstitutional and thus void.”

He sought “an order quashing” the defendants’ declaration of his acquisition of the aforesaid property as illegal, and another order “quashing the order of the defendants” compelling him to vacate the aforesaid property.”

He also applied for an order of the court “quashing the Notice to Declare Assets Form A and the Assets Declaration Form B” served on him and “a perpetual injunction restraining the defendants, jointly and severally” or through any agent “from evicting the plaintiff from the said property, or recovering same from him.”

Mark said he was occupying the said property in 2010 when the FCTA, “citing security concerns”, decided to construct new official residences for the leadership of the National Assembly, including the President of the Senate, in a more secure and conducive environment.”

According to the former Senate President, the FCTA had insisted that the reserve price of N673,200,000.00 reflected the open market value of the property.

He added that the valuers of the FCT that inspected and carried out a valuation of the property had put the “replacement cost” of the property at N492,700,000.

He said he duly accepted the offer on April 21, 2011 and paid the “agreed purchase price to the Ad hoc Committee on Sale of FGN Houses” on April 27, 2011.

He said the house now served as his family home in Abuja.

But he said surprisingly he was on October 9, 2017 served a letter of investigation activities dated September 5, 2017, by the Okono-Obla-led panel.

He stated in his suit that, “the defendants (AGF and Obono-Obla)  unilaterally, and without affording me any hearing at all, and without any order of any court, declared my acquisition of the said property illegal, and ordered me to vacate the said property failing which the defendants would enforce the recovery of the property against me.”

EFCC grills Benue senator for seven hours, seizes passport

Meanwhile, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, on Monday, interrogated the immediate past Senate President, David Mark, for seven hours, The PUNCH has learnt.

Impeccable sources within the EFCC told one of our correspondents that Mark’s passport was also seized before he was allowed to go on an administrative bail.

The PUNCH learnt that Mark, who served as Senate President from 2007 to 2015, arrived at the Abuja office of the EFCC around 12noon and was released at 7pm.

The source added, “The former Senate President arrived around 12pm and spent seven hours responding to several questions from detectives.

“He was released at 7pm on the condition that he must submit his passport to the commission which he did.

“Senator Mark is expected to return soon to answer more questions”

The former Senate President is expected to account for over N5.4bn slush cash and campaign funds allegedly traced to him.

He was alleged to have received over N500m from the government of former President Goodluck Jonathan during the build-up to the 2015 presidential election.

The money is alleged to have been part of the $2.1bn meant for arms procurement.

The Senator, who has been representing Benue-South Senatorial District since 1999, is also accused of sharing N2.9bn to his colleagues while presiding over the upper legislative chamber.

The former Senate President has, however, denied all the allegations levelled against him.

In a statement on Sunday, Mark said, “To set the records straight, Senator Mark was invited by the EFCC via a letter addressed to the National Assembly to answer questions on the 2015 presidential election campaign funds as it concerned Benue State.

“As a law-abiding citizen, Senator Mark honoured the invitation.

“Curiously, they also alleged that the PDP paid over N2bn into the National Assembly’s account which he, as then President of the Senate, allegedly shared among the 109 senators, including PDP, Action Congress of Nigeria and All Nigerian Peoples Party (members) in 2010.

“Again, to the best of his knowledge, Senator Mark is not aware of such transactions. This simply did not make sense to any right thinking member of society.

“Senator Mark wondered why anybody would think that PDP will pay money into National Assembly account. He, however, clarified all the issues raised before returning home.”

Posted On Tuesday, 19 December 2017 01:29 Written by

The Senator representing Niger East Senatorial District, Senator David Umaru has tackle the Niger state Governor, Alhaji Abubakar Sanitation Bello over his frequent trips abroad while the economy and security of the state is deteriorating.

He described the reasons given by the governor for his trips as unreasonable saying he is always in pursuit of ‘phantom agreements and MOUs’. 

In a press statement titled, “When Silence is No Longer Golden… A Must Read for All APC Wailers”, the Senator asked, ‘Why Should I Keep Quiet? ‘

He said that he have been told to shut up but he cannot keep quiet as the past and recent developments in the state do not seem pleasant enough to afford the luxury of such passive disposition.

He alledged that billions of naira accrue to the state monthly is being squandered with reckless profligacy stating that the leadership has demonstrated its incapacity to use the resources to bring relief to the suffering of the people.

Umaru also said that the APC administration in the state has virtually nothing tangible to show for the billions of bailout funds, budget support funds and Paris club refunds that had accrued to the stat stating there has not been any visible development projects in the state tied to the funds collected.

“Why should I keep quiet when the state of affairs in Niger State has in recent times become worrisome to the extent that some of us involved directly or indirectly in governance under the ruling APC can no longer pretend that all is well. My concern over the plummeting political and socio-economic condition in the state has become more desperate for the obvious fact that I had played a leading role in the campaign that gave power to our party in the 2015 election.

“How can I keep quiet when it is a known fact that I went to every nook and cranny, particularly in Niger East Senatorial District, soliciting for votes based on the conviction that if voted into office our government would bring succour to our suffering people in line with its slogan of change but unfortunately, two years after our victory, that conviction is fast fading and becoming a mirage as our people continue to wallow in hardship occasioned by lack of basic and essential amenities as a result of the administration’s failure to direct available huge financial resources to the benefit and development of the state.

“Why should I keep quiet when as much as one would have wanted to stay aloof and maintain “dignified” silence, past and recent developments in our beloved state do not seem pleasant enough to afford the luxury of such passive disposition. Available records have shown that billions of naira accrue to the state monthly but same is squandered with reckless profligacy. The Leadership has demonstrated its incapacity to use our resources to bring relief to our suffering people.

“The Leadership continues to exhibit serious inadequacy, lack of honesty, lack of accountability, lack of transparency and prudence in the management of the huge amounts coming from federal allocations and special interventions by the Presidency to the state over the years. In essence, this APC administration has virtually nothing tangible to show for the billions of bailout funds, budget support funds and Paris club refunds that had accrued to the state. I am also aware that Mr. Governor has within the year or so approached the state House of Assembly twice or thereabout for legislative approvals to access more funds running into billions of naira but there has not been any visible development project(s) in the state tied to these funds.

“I am told to shut up but I cannot keep quiet while under our watch billions of naira meant for payment of pensioners is alleged to be heartlessly diverted? Why should I not speak out when the government I campaigned to install has continued to be insensitive to the plight of our pensioners through dubious manipulation of pension reform matters thereby jeopardising the already impoverished state of our retirees.”

Senator Umaru further stated that that the inattention of the governor to security have led to the increase in crimes in local government areas across the state.

“Again, why should I keep quiet when the security situation in the state has degenerated to the level that several villages have been sacked by criminals and kidnappers while the government remains clueless and insensitive to the plight of the affected communities in complete abdication of it’s constitutional responsibility of protecting lives and property of its citizens.

“As I speak to you Tsohon Kabulu, Bakin Nyanyi, Rigogo, Fwapeyi among other Communities in Munya LGA have been dislodged by the criminals who have killed 4 persons and kidnapped 10 others. Why shouldn’t I speak out when the Governor is preoccupied with undertaking trips abroad in pursuit of phantom agreements, MOUs rather than being around to attend to the serious security challenges rocking the state.

“There are several other similar security issues on which the government inaction is evident and they include the Fulani herders/farmers clashes in many parts of the state where scores of people are being killed; The Ebota village incident in Mokwa LGA where over 23 villagers were mercilessly massacred by Fulani assailants and this is still fresh in our memories; the wanton and senseless murder of a woman in Pandogari, Rafi LGA; the Lambata/Izom cattle market clashes and serious kidnappings, armed robbery and rape incidents in Gurara LGA; the Kaffin-Koro communal clashes, and the Kidnappings, rape, armed robbery in Ishau, Paikoro LGA, the Suleja church attacks etc. All these are begging for government attention.

“In the light of the security challenges confronting us, I cannot keep quiet. I urge the State Government to deploy the huge security votes at its disposal to provide logistics and support to the security agencies in the state to enhance the performance of their duties.

“Finally, let it be known that I speak out because the resources accruing to our State is our commonwealth and does not belong to any one family and their friends. I will not keep quiet for the sake of our suffering jobless young people, women and children and our future generation. “

Posted On Wednesday, 13 December 2017 12:18 Written by

The Court of Appeal in Abuja has reversed Senate President Bukola Saraki’s acquittal of false assets declaration charges.

The appellate court, in a unanimous judgment by a three-man panel, led by Justice Tinuade Akomolafe Wilson, ordered Saraki to return to the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) for the continuation of his trial.

The court held that the prosecution led direct and credible evidence to establish a prima facie case against Saraki in three of the 18 counts contained in the charge for which he was tried.

The counts on which Saraki is to enter defence are 4, 5 and 6 in relation to his alleged failure to declare some houses he acquired in Ikoyi, Lagos.

In Count 4, Saraki is alleged to have falsified his Assets Declaration at the end of his tenure as Kwara State Governor in 2011 and on assumption of office as a senator in 2011 when he declared that he acquired No. 17A, McDonald, Ikoyi, Lagos.

The prosecution contended that the defendant falsely declared that he had acquired No 17A, McDonald, Ikoyi on 6th September 2006 from the proceeds of sale of rice and sugar.

In Count 5, he is also alleged to have falsified his Assets Declaration at the end of his tenure as Governor of Kwara State in 2011 and on assumption of office as a senator in 2011 when he declared that he acquired No. 17B, McDonald, Ikoyi Lagos.

The prosecution contended that the defendant falsely declared to have acquired No. 17A, McDonald, Ikoyi on 6th September 2006 from proceeds of sale of rice and sugar.

In Count 6, Saraki is accused of making a false declaration in the Assets Declaration Form at the end of tenure as governor in 2007 and on assumption of office as executive governor in 2007 when he failed to declare his outstanding loan liabilities of N315,054,355.92 out of the loan of N380,000,000 obtained from Guaranty Trust Bank Plc.

The CCT  on June 14, upheld Saraki’s no-case submission, discharged and acquitted him, a decision the Federal Government appealed.

The Appeal Court, in its judgment yesterday, resolved four out of the five issues identified for determination in favour of the appellant.

The court said the tribunal was wrong to have held that Saraki was not invited to make a statement in the course of investigating the allegations against him.

It said the Senate President made a statement in the course of investigation, which was tendered and admitted by the tribunal as Exhibit 46.

The appellate court also faulted the CCT’s decision that the joint investigation team constituted by the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to investigate the allegations against Saraki was unknown to law.

It said there was no law forbidding the CCB from collaborating with other investigating agencies of government to effectively discharge its mandate.

The court also faulted the tribunal for holding that the prosecution failed to prove its case by not tendering the original copies of Saraki’s assets declaration forms and his statement.

It said the certified true copies (CTC) of the forms and statement were sufficient under the law to be admitted as exhibits in favour of the prosecution.

On whether the tribunal was right to have upheld Saraki’s no-case submission, the appellate court resolved the issue against Saraki.

After a thorough analysis of the evidence led by the prosecution, the appellate court said the prosecution led credible and direct evidence in respect of three counts – 4, 5 and 6 – of the 18-count amended charge, to warrant his being called upon to enter his defence.

The court said the prosecution was unable to discharge the burden of proof placed on him by the law in relation to counts 1, 2, 3, 7, 8, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17 and 18.

It said some of the prosecution’s witnesses gave both oral and documentary hearsay evidence that are inadmissible in law. It also said the prosecution failed to call witnesses in relation to the 15 counts.

For instance, the court noted that the prosecution, though accused Saraki of earning double salaries from the Kwara State Government and as a senator, it failed to call witnesses from the Kwara State Government and the National Assembly in support of the allegation.

The court ordered that the case be remitted back to CCT for Saraki to enter his defence.

Other members of the panel – Justices Tenimu Y. Hassan and M. Mustapha – agreed with the lead judgment by Justice Akomlafe-Wilson.

A two-man panel of the CCT, headed by Danladi Umar, on June 14, 2017, upheld the no-case submission filed by Saraki after the prosecution, led by Rotimi Jacobs (SAN), closed its case after calling four witnesses and tendering 48 documentary exhibits.

In upholding the no-case submission, the tribunal dismissed the amended 18 counts preferred against Saraki on the grounds that the prosecution, was unable to establish any prima facie case against the Senate President.

Umar, in his lead ruling, exonerated Saraki, holding that failure of the prosecution to obtain his  statement and make it part of the proof of evidence was fatal to the case.

He adjudged as “absurd” that neither Saraki’s statement nor the report of the investigation said to have been carried out was produced before the tribunal.

He agreed with the defence team, led by Chief Kanu Agabi (SAN),  that the prosecution’s evidence had been manifestly discredited during cross-examination by the defence.

He added that the evidence adduced by the prosecution, led by Mr. Rotimi Jacobs (SAN), was “so unreliable that no reasonable tribunal could convict” based on it.

The tribunal chairman specifically noted that the third prosecution witness, Mr. Samuel Madojemu, who is Head, Intelligence Unit of the Code of Conduct Bureau, only gave hearsay evidence on the information the witness purportedly received from the EFCC.

But the Office of the Attorney-General of the Federation, through  Jacobs, on June 20, filed a 17-ground notice of appeal against the CCT’s judgment.

The Federal Government faulted all the grounds on which the CCT predicated Saraki’s acquittal, describing the entire judgment as unreasonable and unconstitutional.

Jacobs subsequently filed an appellant’s brief on July 28, formulating five issues for determination.

Saraki, through his lead counsel Agabi, also filed his respondent’s brief on August 22.

While adopting his appellant’s brief on November 22, Jacobs urged the court to grant the Federal Government’s appeal and hold that the judgment of the CCT was perverse. He also reiterated that the CCT erred by adjudging the oral evidence of the prosecution’s third witness, Madojemu, the Head, Intelligence Unit of the CCB, as hearsay.

I’ve been vindicated, says Senate President 

Senate President Bukola Saraki yesterday described the Court of Appeal verdict as a vindication for him.

In a statement by his media adviser Yusuph Olaniyonu, Saraki expressed the belief that upholding a no-case-submission with regards to 15 of the 18-count charge confirmed his innocence.

“At least, today’s judgment has confirmed the position of the Tribunal that the prosecution’s case was entirely based on hearsay, not on any concrete evidence.

“The verdict of the Court of Appeal, just like that of the Tribunal before it, aligned with our position that the preposterous claims made during trial by the prosecution concerning operation of foreign accounts, making anticipatory declarations, collecting double salaries, owning assets beyond his income and failure to declare assets owned by companies in which the Senate President owns interests, among others, have fallen like a pack of cards and lack any basis.

“On the remaining three counts, which really touch on two issues, referred back to the Tribunal for the Senate President’s defence, it should be noted that the Appellate Court only gave a summary of its decision today promising to provide the parties with Certified True Copies of the judgment soon. As soon as it makes the details of the judgment available, our lawyers will review the grounds of the decision and take appropriate action.

“We remain convinced about the innocence of the Senate President on the three ( or two) counts because we believe the decision of the Court of Appeal is not consistent with the submissions made by both parties at the Tribunal. Thus, it is our view that that aspect of the judgment will not stand”.

Saraki added that his confidence and faith in the nation’s judiciary and its ability to dispense justice to all manners of people remained unshaken.

Posted On Wednesday, 13 December 2017 03:30 Written by

PDP governors-backed Uche Secundus has emerged the new national chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, (PDP) following an overwhelming defeat of two other opponents at the Eagle Square venue of the party’s convention on Saturday.

The former deputy national chairman of the party garnered 2000 votes, with a former Minister of Education, Prof. Adeniran coming a distant second with 230, while media mogul Raymond Dokpesi brought up the rear, with a miserly 66 votes.

Secondus, in the early hours of Sunday, was declared the new chairman with an overwhelming defeat of Prof. Tunde Adeniran and Chief Raymond Dokpesi.

Intense scheming and horse trading characterized the weekend’s event, as nine aspirants earlier cleared for the election, withdrew before the commencement of voting. These include; Chief Olabode George, Otunba Gbenga Daniel, Jimi Agbaje and Senator Rashidi Ladoja.

Chairman of the Electoral Sub-Committee of the convention and former Governor of Benue, Gabriel Suswan, announced the results and said that the election for chairmanship position was keenly contested by four candidates.

“In this contest, nine gentlemen indicated their interests to contest, but here, four of them sent letters of withdrawal and so four were left.

“The other ones we were told have withdrawn but there was no letter to that effect.

“The four gentlemen that contested were Uche Secondus, Chief Raymond Dokpesi, Founder of Daar Communications; Prof. Tunde Adeniran, former Education Minister and Prof. Taoheed Adedoja, former Minister of Sports and Special Duties.

“Secondus scored 2,000 votes; Dokpesi, 66; Adeniran, 230 while Adedoja scored no vote,” Suswan said.

Other elected officers were Sen. Babayo Garmawa, Deputy National Chairman (North); Mr Yemi Akinwunmi, Deputy National Chairman (South); Sen. Umar Tsauri, National Secretary and Mr Agbo Emmanuel, Deputy National Secretary.

Retired Col. Austin Akinbundu is new National Organising Secretary, Yakubu Hassan, Deputy National Organizing Secretary; Mr Kola Ologbondiyan, National Publicity Secretary and Diran Odeyemi, Deputy National Publicity Secretary.

Mr Abdullahi Maibasira emerged National Financial Secretary, Irona Gerald, Deputy National Financial Secretary; Aribisala Adewale, National Treasurer; Wada Masu, Deputy National Treasurer; Adamu Mustapha, National Auditor and Arong Divine, Deputy National Auditor.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Mariya Umar was elected National Women Leader, Umoru Hadiza, Deputy National Women Leader, and Emmanuel Enoidem, National Youth Leader.

The Chairman of the Convention Planning Committee and Governor of Delta, Dr Ifeanyi Okowa, commended the Election Sub-Committee for “job well done”.

He also commended all the candidates and delegates who participated in elections and party leaders and members for cooperation that ensured the success of the convention.

Posted On Sunday, 10 December 2017 16:18 Written by
The 2019 Presidential election is only 423 days away, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) announced Friday.

According to the time table released by the commission, Nigerians are expected to elect the president on February 16, 2019.

Also scheduled for the same day is the election into the Senate and the House of Representatives.

News of the election dates was broken by INEC chairman, Professor Mahmood Yakubu, at an induction retreat for Resident Electoral Commissioners in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State.

The Governorship, State Assembly and Area Council elections in the Federal Capital Territory will follow on 2nd March 2019,” Yakubu said.

The implementation of the 2019 Election Project Plan is to begin on   January 1, 2018.

He said an additional 3,630,529 voters were registered in the recent continuous registration.

“This is an important development in our efforts to ensure that electoral services offered to Nigerians are better, more frequent and easier to access than ever before,” he said.

This exercise will continue until 60 days to the 2019 General Elections, as a provided by the Electoral act.

The INEC Chairman said the commission was “working assiduously to ensure 100% performance of the Card Readers. That is why there is an ongoing pilot to upgrade it by enhancing its features including new superior processors.”

He added: “At the same time, the Commission is exploring ways of improving the integrity of the collation and results transmission processes and has begun to deploy the electronic result collation and transmission platform on a pilot basis.

“Our ultimate aim, learning from the pilot and consequential improvement of the supporting infrastructure, is to deploy the system for all forthcoming off-season elections and, ultimately, the 2019 General Elections. The Commission is working to ensure that this goal is achieved.”

The commission said it has conducted 175 elections across the country in the last two years.

These include 79 Court-ordered re-run elections, 73 end of tenure elections and 23 bye-elections.

Yakubu said that even where electoral tribunals overturned two of the elections conducted, the commission was never asked to do a fresh election.

He also noted that to the credit of the commission, outcomes of most recent elections were not challenged in court.

Posted On Saturday, 09 December 2017 00:47 Written by
THE National Judicial Council (NJC) yesterday announced the compulsory retirement of two judges of the Federal High Court – Justices Ademola F. A. Ademola and O. O. Tokode.

Justice Ademola last sat at the court’s Abuja Division and Justice Tokode was with the Benin division of the court before their compulsory retirement.

The NJC took the decision at its 84th meeting held on December 6, 2017, during which it also issued strong warning to four judges and dismissed petitions against some judges.

The decision by the NJC was contained in a statement issued late yesterday by its Director of Information, Soji Oye.

The NJC’s decision is coming a day after Justice Ademola submitted a letter of voluntary retirement to the NJC through the office of the Acting Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, Justice Adamu Kafarati.

Part of the statement issued yesterday by Oye reads: “Hon. Mr. Justice A. F. A. Ademola, who had forwarded his notice of retirement on 10th October, 2017 to the council against 9th April, 2018, when he will attain the mandatory retirement age of 65 years, was recommended for compulsory retirement from office to President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR, pursuant to the findings by the council on the allegation contained in the petition written against His Lordship by a group of 8 persons under the name of Committee of Anambra State PDP House of Representatives members-elect…

“The public is hereby informed to disregard news circulating on some news media that Hon. Mr. Justice Ademola has voluntarily retired. The purported voluntary retirement is clearly an afterthought as council had taken action before his decision to forward any voluntary retirement letter.”

As it relates to Justice Tokode, the statement said: “Justice O. O. Tokode of the same Federal High Court was also recommended to President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR, for compulsory retirement from office with immediate effect sequel to the findings of council on the allegation contained in petitions forwarded by Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) and Miss Abimbola Awogboro.

“The petitioners accused the Hon. Judge of misleading the Federal Judicial Service Commission and the National Judicial Council, by submitting six judgments he claimed to have personally conducted while practising as a lawyer; a pre-requisite for his application for appointment as a judicial officer, and was so appointed.

“The Investigation Committee of Council, however, found that the Hon. Judge personally conducted only one of the six cases submitted. Therefore, council decided to recommend his compulsory retirement and the refund of all salaries and allowances he earned since his purported appointment to the position of a judge to the coffers of the judiciary.”

The NJC stated that, in the interim and in exercise of its power under paragraph 21 sub-paragraph (d) of the Third Schedule of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999, as amended, it suspended Justices Ademola and Tokode from office with immediate effect.

It added: “The council also issued serious warning to Hon. Mr. Justice A. N. Ubaka of the National Industrial Court of Nigeria for failure to deliver ruling in suit No. NICN/BEN/51/2014 within the time specified by law.

“The Council did not accept the reasons given for failure to deliver the ruling within time.

“The Hon. Judge has also been placed on watch-list of the Council for the next one year.

“Council also gave a warning letter to Hon. Mr. Justice Zainab Aliyu Sadat of the High Court of Niger State and placed her on the watch-list for three years for claiming that the defendant in suit No: NHSC/MN/46/2016 failed to make available authority cited by them after submission of the argument to her.

“Council at the meeting also decided to dismiss the petition written by Senator Alimodu Sheriff alleging Hon. Mr. Justice A. Liman of the Federal High Court of corruption for his failure to honour the invitation of the Investigation committee on the three occasions that he sat to investigate the matter.

“Council exonerated Hon. Mr. Justice Simon Akpah Amogeda of the Federal High Court from corruption allegation by Ernest J. Henry, who could not substantiate his allegation.

“The Council decided to write the petitioner a warning letter for maligning the name of the Hon. Judge.

“In addition, Council exonerated Hon. Mr. Justice F. I. Kola-Olalere of the National Industrial Court of Nigeria from any misconduct in the petition written against him by Samuel Atotuomah. Hon. Mr. Justice B. B. Kanyip of the same court was also exonerated of allegation of corruption written against him by Adebayo Jegede, Esq, who did not attend the Investigation Committee Panel to defend his allegation.”

Posted On Friday, 08 December 2017 03:08 Written by
Page 2 of 132

Newsletter