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After weeks of intrigues between the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the embattled Chairman of Bi-Courtney Limited, Dr. Wale Babalakin, the agency finally arrested him yesterday in Lagos, ending attempts by Babalakin to evade prosecution.

According to the EFCC’s spokesman, Mr. Wilson Uwujaren, Babalakin was arrested by EFCC men at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH). He was accosted by the operatives a few minutes after he was discharged by the hospital and was immediately whisked away to the Ikoyi office of the commission.

“I can authoritatively confirm to you that we have arrested Wale Babalakin. He was arrested immediately after his discharge from LUTH”, he said. However, Babalakin, hours later, fulfilled the stringent administrative bail conditions of the anti-graft agency. Asked if stringent measures had been taken by the EFCC to prevent the embattled businessman from leaving the country before the next date of his arraignment in January, the commission’s spokesman revealed that the administrative bail conditions had done that. “The administrative bail conditions set by the commission have taken care of that.

The case of Babalakin running away from the country to avoid prosecution by the EFCC might not arise,” With his arrest, the coast is now clear for the EFCC to finally arraign the Bi-Courtney boss in a Federal High Court, Lagos on January 17, 2013. Recall that the EFCC had filed a 27-count charge against Babalakin over alleged money laundering on behalf of former governor of Delta State James Ibori in 2006. Ibori was convicted this year by a British court.

Babalakin also lost his bid last week Friday to prevent the EFCC from prosecuting him after several court injunctions, when a Federal High Court headed by Justice Ibrahim Buba told him to answer to the corruption charges.

Babalakin and the EFCC had been engaged in the cat and mouse game when his planned arraignment was stalled on account of ill –health which forced him to seek cure at LUTH. On two occasions, he had sought unsuccessful judicial support to stop his prosecution. He first approached the Federal High Court presided over by Justice Mohammed Idris and later Justice Ibrahim Buba seeking to enforce his fundamental human rights against the commission.

Last Friday, Justice Buba in what appears like a final seal on Babalakin’s fate ruled that the Federal High Court is not the proper place to plead his ill-health and that the Lagos High Court where the charge is preffered against him should be. The judge urged him not to be afraid to appear before the Lagos High Court. He dismissed the application.

Posted On Tuesday, 25 December 2012 16:18 Written by

The arbitrary port charges emanating from  bureaucracy, terminal operators and the multinational shipping companies have been a source of concern to shippers (importers and exporters), investigations have showed.

As a result of the arbitrary port charges, Nigerian ports were tagged the most expensive in the world.
Available records show that Nigerian shippers are losing N65.4 billion annually to arbitrary port charges, thereby causing Nigeria to lose the bulk of its shipping businesses to neighbouring countries.
It would be recalled that in 2010, the Nigerian Shippers Council (NSC) took up the fight to stem the tide of arbitrary charges by publishing a list of 40 unapproved port charges.
These include terminal handling charges, container deposit, container clearing, shipping company charges, demurrage charges, and cost-on-turnover.
Others are: transfer documentation charges, transfer charges, rent charges, equipment charges, manifest amendment charges and tally clerk charges.
The discovery prompted the former Minister of Transport, Alhaji Yusuf Suleiman to issue an order for the cancellation of about 12 of the unofficial charges. The Senate Committee on Marine Transport recently visited the headquarters of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) in Lagos on an oversight function and it also made the same complaint.
Mrs Zainab Kure, the Chairman, Senate Committee on Marine Transport said during the visit that the committee had been inundated with complaints of arbitrary charges in Nigerian ports.
She said that the reports the committee got were disturbing, adding that ``there is no doubt that a commercial regulator is needed in the Maritime industry’’.
However, Mr Zebulon Ikokide, the President, Institute of Freight Forwarders of Nigeria (IFFN) said the private terminal operators were not imposing arbitrary charges. He told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) that allegations of arbitrary charges being made by some port operators were not true.``There is nothing like arbitrary port charges as the terminal operators are not charging beyond what has been approved by government,” he said.
Ikokide said that the NPA had reduced all port charges by over 30 per cent at the start of the concession agenda. The maritime expert said that concessionaires were, however, allowed to increase the charges after two years with the permission of the Federal government.
``The concessionaires wrote to the Federal Government which approved 20 per cent increase in port charges. ``This is not arbitrary or exorbitant, but within the provisions of the concession agreement with the government,’’ the IFFN president said. Ikokide said that there was need for a commercial regulator in the industry to handle complaints in respect of the port charges.
Mr John Ofobike, Chairman, Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agent (ANLCA), Apapa Chapter, however, insisted that the concessionaires were imposing arbitrary charges.
Ofobike alleged that the operators were not offering quality services, but wanted to recoup their investments in two to three years without waiting for the 15 to 20 years given them by government.
``The concession agreement says that on no account should you unilaterally jerk up your rates without due process and notifying all stakeholders. ``I have been the Chairman of ANLCA since 2003, long before the private operators came and I am talking authoritatively, we need a commercial regulator,’’ Ofobike said. ``Before the concessionaires came, the Nigerian Ports Authority was charging N750 for a 20 ft. container to stay at the ports and N1, 500 for a 40 ft. container.
``The concessionaires started by charging the same rate as the NPA for the initial period, but later started charging N2,500 per 20 ft. container in a day and N6,000 for a 40 ft. container.
``They came again and charged N6, 000 for a 20 ft. container and N10, 000 for a 40 ft. container per day, now they have jerked it up again. ``As we speak, a 20 ft. container attracts a charge of N8,000 and a 40 ft. container attracts N12,000 per day as demurrage with other port charges inclusive. ``Is that not exorbitant port charges? ‘’Ofobike asked.
At a one-day forum organised by Emeka Akabogu and Associates, in collaboration with the NSC in Lagos during the year, maritime stakeholders expressed their anger over the arbitrary charges levied by port concessionaires and shipping companies.
The stakeholders explained that port concession had not reduced the cost of doing business in Nigerian ports.
A maritime lawyer, Emeka Akabogu, said that due to the high charges incurred by importer and exporters, most of them preferred taking their cargoes through the neighbouring ports to reduce cost.
Mr Olayiwola Shittu, the President of the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) suggested that the e-payment mode should be adopted as another way of eradicating illegal and duplicated charges.
Industry experts explained that the situation was aggravated by the absence of a commercial regulator; the failure to pass the Port and Harbour bill; and the inability to pass the National Transport Commission Bill.
Industry observers suggested that there should be a legal backing for the port reform programme and the appointment of a commercial regulator to regulate port charges.

 

Posted On Tuesday, 25 December 2012 01:47 Written by

Few things excite corrupt Nigerians more than appointments to public positions. Their very first reaction upon securing a government appointment is a quick check to establish if there is much to skim there. If there is, the appointment is described as "lucrative". If there is not much to skim, the position is termed as "dry".

A person is known as "creative" or "resourceful" in corrupt circles in Nigeria if he can turn an otherwise dry posting into a lucrative one and more importantly if he does not forget to parcel out choice proceeds from his thievery, upwards to his superiors or benefactors. In Nigerian terminology this is known as 'making returns'.

A resourceful underling who conscientiously renders returns to his corrupt bosses becomes "our man", a favorite protégé of his bosses and benefactors who make sure that he is rewarded with more lucrative postings. In the eyes of his bosses, if he can be so "trustworthy" in minor postings, he would most certainly do wonders in major ones.

Now the most common way in which rotten public servants and civil servants turn dry postings into lucrative ones is by creating unnecessary obstacles or checkpoints in the way of bona fide users of the service which their office provides. These obstacles of course can only be cleared by making ad hoc illegal payments known as "settlement". The logic is simple. If you want to cross the check-point you must make the payment. If you don't, it is a no go situation and the status quo ante subsists. The choice is yours. Faced with a contrived obstacle or artificial check-point, most users of government services and service providers such as contractors make a quick cost–benefit analysis of the situation and act accordingly as profit dictates.

Of course what we have just described is the base of the elaborate yet decentralized infrastructure of corruption in Nigeria. The corruption industry is by far the largest employer of labor in Nigeria. It is almost a given that anybody who wants to be somebody in Nigeria must have a foothold in this industry.

There are some Nigerians who are gainfully employed in the corruption industry because as the saying goes and I claim no knowledge of its provenance, if you cannot beat them, you should join them. For such Nigerians they cannot afford to be the only sane persons in a sea of insanity. For them, it is prudent to align with the majority even in their insanity.  For some other Nigerians, the corrupt route is the only way they can make ends meet. Such people would reel out to you the humongous responsibilities they bear. Their salaries are too small to meet the demands that fate has thrust upon their shoulders they lament.

Those who belong to either of these two categories work in the corruption industry so as to as it were make ends meet, keep up with the Joneses, impress their impressionable wives, children, kinsmen, friends and acquaintances that they are 'making it' and crucially, in order not to be left too far behind in the rat race for 'progress'. If Pareto's principle, the famed 80-20 rule applies universally, these two categories combined represent the base that accounts for 80% of the volume of corrupt practices in Nigeria but for only 20% of the corruption in Nigeria in value terms.

For this 80% base, the proceeds of corruption are applied at best into buying a couple of brand new cars, building a couple of new houses in select Nigerian cities, erecting a country home or villa in their native village, flying to London, Dubai, Paris, Rome or New York for shopping once or twice a year and sending their children to Ghana, Republic of Benin, Togo and maybe South Africa for their education.

At the top of the corruption food chain in Nigeria are the heavy hitters, the knights, dukes, barons and godfathers of corruption. The membership of this select category comprises ranking politicians and top drawer public servants, influential civil servants, flamboyant preacher-men, business moguls, the ex-this and ex- that of Nigeria's ruling elite and the rotten elements of the Nigerian intelligentsia.

These knights of corruption are the people who determine who gets what in Nigeria. They may be directly responsible for only 20% of the corrupt acts in Nigeria in volume terms, but they account for 80% of the corruption in Nigeria in value terms. They are the sharp point or tip of corruption in Nigeria.

Nigerians should believe this. We have lost our hard won independence. We are effectively no more an independent nation. We are no more a country of free men and free women. We are now a colonized nation. The future of the country has been mortgaged and Nigerians have been sold down the river like slaves. Nigerians are now staring down the abyss of perdition with no hope in sight.

52 years on from independence, Nigeria the most populous black nation on earth should ordinarily by now have become one of the world's newly emerged economic and scientific powers on a par with countries like India, South Korea, Brazil and China. Yet the thieving tip of corruption in Nigeria working in cahoots with their conniving base has conspired to reduce the country into a caricature of nationhood.

Our new colonizers are black like us. They look like us. They speak like us. They attend the same schools like us. They work alongside us. They worship alongside us. Some of them even pastor to us.  They speak our common languages. But they are different from us. There is another deeper esoteric language they speak, known only to them neo-colonialists as well as their cohorts and replete with hidden signs and symbols.

You have to be self - initiated into and steeped in corruption to speak this language.  That esoteric language is the language of thievery. You either understand that language or you don't.  You either belong to them or you don't. Some of them, born thieves, started speaking that language right from their mothers' wombs. Some learnt the language out of greed. Others learnt the language out of sheer laziness – wanting to reap where they have not sown.

These internal colonialists have partitioned Nigeria into thieving spheres of influence just as the white colonialists partitioned Africa. If you speak their language, they parcel out an aspect of our national life to you to steal and plunder. The internal colonialists stem from and cut across all tribes, age groups, creeds and gender in Nigeria. When they speak the language of corruption to you, they expect you to understand. If you don't, they frustrate, oppress and repress you.

But those who stand for what is right, those who stand for what is just, those who stand for a great Nigeria taking its rightful place with dignity among the comity of great nations should not be frustrated. Just as our forefathers won the original war of independence from external white colonial rule, so too we must fight until we win back our own country from internal black corrupt misrule. We must continue to fight using all legitimate means and methods to overthrow rogues and common thieves lurking in high and low places, mortgaging the future of coming generations in order to satisfy their selfish interests and warped egos.

TO BE CONTINUED ...

Engr. A. C. Konwea, P.E.

Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.; Managing Consultant, Strategic Research Consortium Limited, Asaba, Nigeria.

Posted On Wednesday, 19 December 2012 15:01 Written by

OPERATIVES from the London Metropolitan Police are to give evidence when the trial of the Chairman, Bi-Courtney Highway Services, Dr. Wale Babalakin, finally begins at a Lagos High Court, Ikeja.

A senior lawyer privy to the goings-on in the case told our correspondent on Sunday that the Met police investigated the involvement of Babalakin and others in the alleged laundering of N4.7bn on behalf of the convicted former governor of the state, James Ibori.

“The United Kingdom metropolitan police investigated the case. They just finished their investigation. That is why they are going to give evidence in the case, because it is their case,” the source, who is a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, said.

He added that the bulk of the evidence the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission would use against Babalakin would be supplied by the Met. police

The EFCC had charged Babalakin along with Alex Okon with 27 counts of helping Ibori to siphon the sum in 2006.

The arraignment, initially scheduled for November 29, 2012, could not hold due to Babalakin’s absence in court. He was said to be on admission at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital.

The source told our correspondent that the money looted by Ibori was discovered to be part of Delta State fund used by the former governor to buy a jet in Canada.

He said the EFCC was right to charge Babalakin in a court within the country which is where the money originated from.

“The issue of charging him in Nigeria when it was the UK police that investigated the matter cannot raise any jurisdictional issue because the money originated from here,” he said.

The EFCC, in the charge sheet, claimed that Babalakin used different companies as conduits to carry out the alleged shady deal.

The companies scheduled to be arraigned with Babalakin and Okon are Stabilini Visioni Ltd., Bi-Courtney Ltd., and Renix Nigeria Ltd.

The EFCC alleged that the accused had fraudulently assisted Ibori to transfer various sums to Erin Aviation account in Mauritius for the purchase of a Challenger Jet.

The anti-graft agency said the transactions took place between May and September 2006.

EFCC counsel, Mr Rotimi Jacobs (SAN), had expressed shock at the excuse given by Babalakin’s counsel, Mr. Ebun Sofunde (SAN), for his client’s absence in court on the scheduled date for the arraignment.

Jacobs had alleged that Babalakin wanted to frustrate his arraignment.

He had told the court that he did not believe the medical report tendered by Sofunde because it was issued on November 26, 2012, the same day Babalakin met with the EFCC in Abuja.

He said, “It took the EFCC close to a week to get him. He was served with all the processes and released because he took an undertaking that he would appear in court for his arraignment.

“We believe if there is a medical issue that he should have contacted us a day earlier (November 28) rather than to confront us with this application this (November 29) morning.

“We are disappointed by the tactics of the first defendant (Babalakin) but Your Lordship can bend backwards and allow us to come back next week.”

Justice Onigbanjo had re-scheduled the arraignment for December 13, the same day a Federal High Court, Lagos, fixed for the hearing of a suit in which Babalakin is seeking to stop his arraignment.

Posted On Sunday, 02 December 2012 23:22 Written by

Mr James Ineh, an Assistant Director with the State Security Services (SSS), told the Federal High Court yesterday that Senator Ali Mohammed Ndume gave Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice Mohammed Adoke’s telephone number to the Boko Haram.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Senator Ndume, from Borno is standing trial for allegedly having links with Boko Haram.

The accused has, however, said that he established the link to facilitate peace as a member of the Presidential Committee on Security in the Northeast Zone.

Ineh, who was the Chairman of the Special Investigation Panel (SIP) set up to investigate Ndume, said a former spokesman of Boko Haram, Ali Konduga, revealed the information to the panel.

Ineh said Konduga informed the panel that Ndume obliged him with the GSM telephone number of the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation.

The witness said the number was used to bargain a governorship petition filed by the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in Borno state.

Ineh said Konduga had testified that the calls to the AGF were threats to spur him to influence the governorship Election Tribunal members to cede the election victory to PDP or risk mayhem in the state.

He explained that the name of the AGF was dragged into the panel report submitted on Nov. 25, 2011 on the grounds that his GSM number was found in Konduga’s telephone set.

Ineh said Konduga’s transaction with the AGF was a threat to the Minister’s life, adding that the accused facilitated it by giving out Adoke’s telephone number to a senior official of Boko Haram.

Ineh, in his testimony, further said that the items found in the accused’s telephone were indicative of his close connection with the dreaded group.

“The fact that Konduga was tried and convicted of terrorism acts is enough to show that the accused is also liable,’’ he said.

Justice Gabriel Kolawole adjourned the matter to Nov. 1, Nov. 5 and Dec. 11 for continuation.

Posted On Thursday, 25 October 2012 02:08 Written by

• Spends N1.30tr in seven years on executive jets

• Govt plans fresh intervention fund for airlines

WITH Nigeria holding the record of a country with the highest private jet ownership in Africa, the aviation sector has brought into sharp relief the paradox of a nation that is endowed with huge oil resources but where only a few are wealthy.

In a country where the average Nigerian lives on less than $1 a day, there is a super rich class of business moguls, bankers, preachers, politicians and oil magnates whose private ownership of jets is more than that of any other country.

While the rich can afford such luxuries, the economic crisis in the nation is seen in a situation where the aviation sector needs financial succour from the Federal Government.

Indeed, worried about the critical state of the nation’s aviation industry, the Federal Government is proposing a fresh round of intervention for airlines.

The new intervention fund would be different from the N100 billion given to airlines three years ago to help them boost their operations.

While some judiciously used the funds, others reportedly diverted them.

Also, government has ensured that access to the funds from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) would be on the basis of a single digit interest and it is for a long term.

A top official of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) told The Guardian that the ownership of the state-of-the-art jets in Nigeria had grown to over 200 in 2012 from 50 in 2008.

Governor Rotimi Amaechi of Rivers State had on October 7, 2012 acquired a brand new Bombardier Global 5000 (N565RS) for his exclusive use. He is said to glide all over Rivers State while holding the throttle levers himself.

The jet was primarily bought from Bombardier in Canada for $45.7 million through the Bank of Utah Trustee account.

Sources said Amaechi traded off the state’s current Embraer Legacy 600, saying it was too expensive to maintain. The sources said $5 million was added to the proceed of the traded plane that enabled the government to buy the latest airplane.

The oil-rich Rivers State already owns an AW139 helicopter, which it leased to a commercial airliner. The state then turned around to patronize the airline’s VIP Sikorsky S76C helicopter.

Last year, the state government sold its Dash 8-Q200 aircraft to Cross River State for $6 million. Cross River State then leased the plane to Aero Contractors to undertake commercial flights to and from Obudu airstrip in the state.

Amaechi is just one of many state chief executives that own airplanes.

Aircraft manufacturers like Bombardier, Gulf Stream, Embraer, Hawker Siddley and Challenger have made Nigeria their huge market because of the demand for these aircraft types by wealthy Nigerians.

The common brands of private jets in Nigeria are Hawker Siddley 125-800 and 900XP, Gulfstream 450, 550 and 650; Bombardier Challenger 604, 605; Global Express; Embraer Legacy and Falcons.

According to an official of Bombardier, the Canadian aircraft manufacturer, Nigeria ranks behind the United States, United Kingdom, and China among countries that top their orders for the supply of the aircraft type; just as there are indications that N1.30 trillion may have been expended in the last seven years. Nigeria is said to top the market for private jet ownership.

The Managing Director of Aero Airlines, Captain Akin George, had recently spoken on the increasing number of private jets being parked at most of the aprons of Nigerian airports.

He was particularly piqued that most of the private jets carry foreign registration credentials rather than Nigerian registration.

The decision to register the jets in foreign countries, particularly in South Africa, is said to be informed by the notion that in case the owners want to resell the jets, they would warrant a bigger value from buyers.

He had subsequently called on the authorities concerned in the country to make registration processes in Nigeria friendly and attractive.

The economic downturn in Europe and the United States had made Nigeria and China to become two of the fastest growing private jet markets in the world.

There are many factors that have encouraged the rise of acquisition of customized jets, which cost between N2.4 billion and N9 billion.

Chief among these is the fact that flight schedules in the aviation industry are no longer flexible.

Again, the dearth of aircraft and the huge passenger traffic that is not commensurate with the capacity of the airlines has made air travel difficult for those who wish to travel by air.

In a situation like this, wealthy Nigerians would opt to acquire their own private jets to save time that would have been wasted waiting for flights whose times of departure are not known.

According to Aviation and travel expert, Olumide Ohunayo, the flight schedules of most commercial airliners that are not flexible have made it attractive for those who can afford private jets to acquire them.

Recurring delays and an inherent socio-political and economic system that thrive more in spontaneity rather than rigorous planning, according to Ohunayo, are other contributory factors.

His words: “Worldwide, they are taxed and made to pay higher charges to fund the civil aviation system and to reduce congestion, but that is not the case here.”

The new intervention fund of the Federal Government for the aviation sector is about a 16-year facility, which is expected to boost domestic aircraft operations.

This time around, the fund whose exact amount is yet to be disclosed would be paid to aircraft manufacturers or lessors for airlines to acquire newer fleet.

Aviation Minister, Stella Oduah-Ogiewonyi made the disclosure in Abuja at the weekend in an exclusive interview with The Guardian.

She said the intervention fund given to the carriers did not grow aviation, adding that, “we wanted a direct growth for a better impact than what we currently have in place and our strategy to utilising it is to have a tripartite, triangular if you like, system where the CBN with the approval of the Ministry of Finance pays directly to aircraft manufacturers of the leasing company.

“The leasing company would in turn bring the aircraft to our airline operators. The airline operators would now have access to brand new aircraft. If not brand new, but relatively brand new aircraft. You and the passengers will have access to functional airline that can take you to where you want to go safely and aviation remains the preferred mode of transportation,” she added.

She explained that a thorough audit of the airlines was carried out when she assumed office, stressing that there were airlines which were half-dead, financially weak, ineffective, inefficient and predicted that they (airlines) would collapse in six months because of their poor standards.

Airlines in Nigeria have shown signs of ailment, as all of them are heavily indebted to banks, aviation agencies, fuel marketers to the tune of over N250 billion.

Piqued by the development, the apex bank in September sent a circular banning financial institutions from extending further credit to Nigerian airlines.

According to the CBN, this will prevent the airlines from further escalating their huge debt profiles by borrowing more money.

Unlike in Nigeria, the United States gives bankruptcy protection like the chapter 11 protection, just as stakeholders call for more support for the carriers.

They noted that the domino effect of a crisis-ridden sector would lead to pain for operators and passengers

Oduah-Ogiemonyi regretted that Nigeria- airlines were yet to benefit from the Bilateral Air Services Agreement (BASA) with other nations.

The minister stated that for the country to tap into the air pact, the government would go into Joint Venture (JV) with airlines it has BASA pact with.

Nigeria has 85 BASA agreements that are completely unutilised and could not be utilised because none of the nation’s carriers has the capacity to reciprocate or operate into destinations as provided for in the air agreement, as they are very small and fragmented.

Her words: “We are not getting the commercial benefits. We have not been benefiting commercially from the relationships and we say we can do that. Now is the time to look at them so that we can empower them. We have viable routes that we cannot utilise because we lack the capacity.

“We proposed to have a marriage, a joint venture between the bigger airlines and us. In doing so, airline operators were given the opportunity to work with the big ones and the big ones will domesticate their activities as it applies to Nigeria; meaning they will do the Nigerian route and still have access to our international route.

“You can see the opportunity we are giving them access to, which ordinarily on their own, they would not have direct access to. For instance, they can do Nigeria-London; they can do Nigeria-New York and Nigeria-Dubai.”

Posted On Monday, 29 October 2012 17:31 Written by

The first son of late Biafran leader Emeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu, has alleged that the will presented by Barrister Onyekwelu on Friday is fraudulent, saying the lawyer is a private counsel to Ambassador Bianca Ojukwu and not that of his late father, Thisday has reported.

According to the report, Ojukwu’s first son, also called Emeka, like his father,

The late Ojukwu: Will read dubbed fraudulent

claimed he has a copy of the original will written by his father and not what he called the “fraud” presented to them as Ojukwu’s will.

Speaking at his country home in Nnewi, Anambra State, the late Igbo leader’s son maintained that his late father’s will was altered in favour of his step mother.

His words: “There have been rumours up to yesterday that there is an attempt to read the will and that they intend to make changes in the original will. Well, I have not seen the will that they read.

“Now there are issues that come to mind. Why were there no members of Ojukwu family when the will was read? They were not invited and they were not told.

“She was here last Sunday when we removed the mourning cloth and since she knows that the will would be read she would have invited us or even put us on notice.

“Now the lawyer that is supposedly doing all this things is not our father’s lawyer. Mr Onyekwelu is not a lawyer that is known to the family as Ezeigbo’s lawyer. Remember when Ezeigbo was sick the same lawyer went to the press to claim that Ezeigbo was recuperating and that was not true.

“It is still the same lawyer that claimed to have custody of the will. And I told everybody that it was not true and that since my father was flown to England he never lifted an arm or spoken a word until his death finally.

“How can the lawyer claim that he is Ezeigbo’s lawyer when he had already taken sides with Bianca and doing the woman’s biddings and why would the will be read in Enugu instead of in Anambra State? You can see all elements of suspicion in the matter.”

Ojukwu insisted that the family members have the original copy of Ojukwu’s will and know that what was read was a contradiction.

“We have the original copy of the will and we know where it is, even if you want to make some changes in the will it should be done before the beneficiaries and seeking their consent. Furthermore, when a will is amended without the presence of the people involved but only the presence of the person who would ultimately benefit from the changes, then it is a fraud and a charade.”

Reacting to the willing of Ojukwu Transport Limited, Emeka explained that Bianca is currently in court with OTL where she used the names of her two sons to drag the company to court.

“The claim that my father transferred his trustee membership to Bianca is false. First of all, my father Ojukwu was not a trustee. His position in OTL is that of a director not trustee. The position of director cannot be transferred to anybody. Even if it is transferred to me it would not hold. There is a laid down law or procedure for one to become a director in the transport company.

“For you to be director in Ojukwu Transport you must have Ojukwu blood and not through marriage into Ojukwu family. You have to have at least 10 shares. And you have to be voted into directorship by the board of trustees and a woman cannot be a director. Also if you are a public servant you cannot be a director and even if Bianca is a director she has to resign because she is now a public servant by virtue of the fact that she is now an ambassador.

“There was a time my father has to resign as director and later he was reinstated as one when he stopped being a public servant .So there are many reasons why this claim is spurious.

“The person that is claiming that the directorship was bestowed on her is right now in court suing Ojukwu Transport in the name of her two sons. There is a lawsuit right now, and it is in the public domain, where she is using the names of her two sons to sue the company.”

Emeka also confirmed that the mysterious girl that benefited from the will is his father’s daughter, adding that his father Ojukwu had told him about the girl before now.

“My father had earlier told me about the girl in question and told me all that had happened before he died. So she is not a stranger and in the original will she was mentioned by my father.”

A night before the will was read, Ojukwu recalled that he was away to attend a funeral ceremony when his security guards at the gate phoned to report that the Anambra Commissioner for Commerce and Industry, Mr Robert Okonkwo had driven into the compound and carted away Bianca’s property from Ojukwu’s main house. This, he noted, was a confirmation that Bianca had a premonition that the will would be read the following day and that Ojukwu’s main house would be willed to him as the first son.

Posted On Sunday, 02 December 2012 16:43 Written by

Ikeja branch of the Nigerian Bar Association says the ongoing trial of  alleged killers of four students of the University of Port Harcourt should not  stop “a responsible government” from compensating the families of the victims.

Acting Chairman of the branch, Mr. Adesina Ogunlana, said this  at a press conference in Lagos on Tuesday.

He  said governments  at all levels owed the families of the victims  the duty of reducing the attendant pain of the brutal loss of their loved ones by compensating them.

He said, “Some lives have been lost. The manner of the death of the victims is clear. They were not killed by the act of God. They did not die in their sleep.

“The case that is in the court should not stop any serious and responsible government to do anything to assuage the pains of the families.

“If you ask me, I will say both the federal and the state government and even the Local Government where the students were killed should compensate the families.”

In his address on the state of nation entitled, ‘Nigerian’s Hobbesian state of nature, a portent of a coming tragedy’, Ogunlana described the killing  on October 5 as “outrageous”.

He said the Ikeja branch, the national leadership of the NBA and the branch of the association closest to where the incident occurred would work out how to be involved in the prosecution of the  perpetrators.

Those who have so far been charged in connection with the killing of the four undergraduates were allegedly part of a mob that tortured them  in Omuokiri-Aluu in Ikwerre Local Government Area of Rivers State.

The students killed  are Tekena Elkanah, Chiadaka Odinga, Ugunna Obuzor, and Lloyd Toku.

Also referring to a similar incident on October 1,  when gunmen attacked a students’ hotel in Mubi, Adamawa State and killed 24 students,  Ogunlana said such recurring incidents had  made life “so cheap and valueless” in the country.

 

Posted On Tuesday, 23 October 2012 15:34 Written by

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