Friday, 22 September 2017
Items filtered by date: September 2016
Saturday, 17 September 2016 01:03

Wanted ex-Katsina governor reports to EFCC

Wanted former Governor of Katsina State, Ibrahim Shema, on Friday reported to the Abuja office of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC.

Investigations revealed that the former governor reported to the EFCC in the morning

Shema was on Wednesday declared wanted by the anti-graft agency for allegedly diverting the sum of N76bn into his private account when he was governor.

The ex-governor on Thursday condemned the anti-graft agency for declaring him wanted after honouring its invitation earlier.

The ex-governor in a letter addressed to the acting Chairman of the EFCC, Mr. Ibrahim Magu, explained that on getting to the Abuja office of the EFCC, he was informed by the anti-graft agency that the detective in charge of his case was not in town, adding that the commission failed to reschedule the meeting.

Published in Headliners
Friday, 16 September 2016 10:25

Patience Jonathan must forfeit $15m-EFCC

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission says it is heading to court to file an application seeking the total forfeiture of $15,591,700, belonging to former First Lady, Dame Patience Jonathan.

The money is currently lodged in the Skye Bank account of four companies: Pluto Property and Investment Company Limited; Seagate Property Development & Investment Company Limited; Trans Ocean Property and Investment Company Limited and Avalon Global Property Development Company Limited.

The EFCC had frozen the four accounts, which were linked to a former Special Adviser to the President on Domestic Affairs, Waripamowei Dudafa.

However, Jonathan’s wife had claimed in a sworn affidavit that the money in the four accounts belonged to her even though there is no paper evidence to establish a link between her and the companies.

She also urged the court to compel the EFCC to lift the restriction on the accounts.

The EFCC had arraigned the four companies on Thursday and the companies pleaded guilty to money laundering charges.

Punch quoted a senior EFCC official as saying that the commission would subsequently apply for the total forfeiture of the funds.

“The four companies, in whose accounts the monies were lodged, have pleaded guilty to money laundering. We are therefore filing an application, seeking the complete and total forfeiture of the money to the Federal Government.

“The $15,591,700 should go (be deposited in) into the Treasury Single Account of the Federal Government of Nigeria,” Punch quoted the EFCC source as saying.

On Thursday, the four accused companies pleaded guilty to conspiring with Dudafa; a lawyer, Amajuoyi Briggs; and a banker, Adedamola Bolodeoku, to launder the sum of $15, 591,700 on or about November 13, 2013.

The EFCC, while arraigning the seven accused persons before a Federal High Court in Lagos on Thursday, admitted to the court that the $15.6m were proceeds of theft.

Though Dudafa, Briggs and Bolodeoku pleaded not guilty to the amended 15 counts pressed against them by the EFCC, the four companies, charged along with them, owned up to committing the offence.

The guilty plea was entered on behalf of Pluto, Seagate, Trans Ocean and Avalon by one Friday Davies, Agbo Baro, Bioghowri Frederick and Taiwo Ebenezer, respectively.

The EFCC had since frozen the $15.6m found in the four companies’ accounts with Skye Bank Plc by placing a ‘No Debit Order’ on the four accounts.

But Patience had filed a fundamental rights enforcement suit against the EFCC and the bank, claiming that the money, which the EFCC said were proceeds of theft, belonged to her.

Patience is also seeking damages against Skye Bank in the sum of N200m for what she termed a violation of her right to own personal property under Section 44 of the 1999 Constitution.

But Patience’s suit against the EFCC and Skye Bank has yet to be heard by any judge.

However, the EFCC arraigned Dudafa, Briggs, Bolodeoku and the four companies before Justice Babs Kuewumi on Thursday for money laundering and conspiring to retain proceeds of theft.

The EFCC also alleged that the seven accused persons conspired to forge Skye Bank mandate cards, purporting that they were signed by Friday Davies, Kola Fredrick, Taiwo Ebenezer and Agbo Baro, to prejudice Skye Bank in their bid to launder the $15.6m.

They were also accused of forging a Wema Bank Corporate Account mandate card, purporting that it was signed by Taiwo Ebenezer and Chima John to prejudice Wema Bank.

Published in Headliners

The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has asked Mr. Abubakar Malami (SAN), Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, to use his offices as a defender of public interest to urgently institute and undertake criminal proceedings against Mrs Patience Jonathan over $15m unexplained wealth frozen in four companies’ accounts.

The organization asked Mr Malami to “take this step within 7 days of the receipt and/or publication of this letter, failing which SERAP will institute legal proceedings to compel the discharge of constitutional duty in this matter.”

The letter dated 13 September, 2016 and signed by SERAP’S Executive Director, Adetokunbo Mumuni argued that, “Mrs Jonathan is a politically exposed person under anti-corruption standards. She is also covered under the definition of ‘public officials’ contained in the UN Convention against Corruption to which Nigeria is a state party. Under article 2 of the convention, public officials include Mrs Jonathan or any other family members of the former President Goodluck Jonathan who exercised official duties while he was president.”

The letter reads in part: “According to article 2 “for the purpose of some specific measures contained in chapter II of this Convention, “public official” may mean any person who performs a public function or provides a public service.”

“Thus, article 2 makes it very clear that any person, such as Mrs Jonathan performing a public function, entrusted with a public task or to whom public functions have been assigned are public officials, regardless of whether they have been elected or appointed, paid or unpaid.”

“In this context, it is the character of the duties performed by Mrs Jonathan while her husband was president that is the overriding consideration as she held a position of trust by virtue of performing public functions or services. In addition, such public duties or services by her are expected to be performed in good faith.”

“Under article 20 of the convention, this government has an obligation to prosecute intentional illicit enrichment, that is, a significant increase in the assets of a public official that he or she cannot reasonably explain in relation to his or her lawful income.”

“The fact that the $15m found in the four accounts belong to Mrs Jonathan raises serious suspicion or at the very least a prima-facie case of unexplained wealth/illicit enrichment, and imposes an obligation on Mrs Jonathan to explain and justify the source(s) of the $15m.”

“In the event that she is not able to justify, explain or put forth evidence demonstrating the legitimate origin of the $15m, SERAP urges you to take immediate steps to forfeit the asset under appropriate legal proceedings, and to institute criminal prosecution for unexplained wealth in the matter.”

“Similarly, section 44 of the Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Act criminalises unexplained or illicit wealth and allows criminal penalties and forfeiture if in the course of an investigation there are reasonable grounds to believe that a corruption offence has been committed, that is, the failure to explain the origin of the $15m given present or past emoluments, and other relevant circumstances.”

“SERAP notes that Mrs Jonathan has admitted that the four accounts belong to her and that she is the sole signatory to these accounts. The four accounts in which Mrs Jonathan’s $15m was lodged are said to belong to the following companies: Pluto Property and Investment Company Limited, Seagate Property Development and Investment Company Limited, Trans Ocean Property and Investment Company Limited and Globus Integrated Service Limited. Mrs Jonathan was given a platinum card and exclusive access to the accounts.”

“According to reports, a houseboy, a driver and other domestic workers of a former Special Adviser on Domestic Affairs to former President Goodluck Jonathan, Waripamowei Dudafa, were named as directors.”

“Pursuing prosecution in this case would help to provide adequate reparation, which may take the form of restitution, compensation, satisfaction or guarantees of non-repetition to victims of corruption who continue to be denied their right to an effective remedy. It would also send a clear message that cases of unexplained wealth or illicit enrichment involving politically exposed persons would not go unpunished.”

“The use of the offence of illicit enrichment is necessary to any anti-corruption movement, and accepted instrument in the global fight against corruption. It would also enhance the government’s powers to monitor wealth and improve transparency and accountability within the public sector. SERAP considers this as a proportionate and measured response to the pernicious problem of corruption in the country. By combating an official’s unexplained material gains, illicit enrichment offenses make it clear to public officials that if they engage in corrupt conduct they would forfeit illegally acquired wealth and go to prison.”

Published in Business and Economy


The four companies charged alongside a former Special Adviser on Domestic Affairs to ex-President Goodluck Jonathan, Waripamo Dudafa, and two others with money laundering have pleaded guilty to the offence. 

The four companies pleaded guilty to conspiring with Dudafa and the two others to launder a sum of $15,591,700 before a Federal High Court in Lagos on Thursday.

The companies are Pluto Property and Investment Company Limited; Seagate Property Development & Investment Co. Limited; Trans Ocean Property and Investment Company Limited and Development Company Limited and Avalon Global Property Development Company Limited.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission had since frozen the $15.6m found in the four companies’ accounts in Skye Bank.

But wife of ex-President Jonathan, Patience, has sued the EFCC and Skye Bank, laying claim to the money. She said the money was for her medical treatment.

Published in News & Stories

Jailed former Nigerian state governor James Ibori’s convictions remain valid despite evidence a British police officer took bribes during the investigation of his case, Britain’s state prosecution agency said on Thursday.

Ibori, who as governor of oil-producing Delta State from 1999 to 2007 was one of Nigeria’s most powerful men, is serving a 13-year sentence in a British prison after pleading guilty in 2012 to 10 counts of fraud and money-laundering.

He is the most senior Nigerian politician to have been held to account for the corruption that has blighted Africa’s most populous nation for decades, and his jailing was hailed as a high point in the international fight against graft.

But the case has become an embarrassment for Britain since one of Ibori’s associates, convicted money-launderer Bhadresh Gohil, alleged that the judicial process was tainted because prosecutors had covered up evidence of police corruption.

Reuters reports that authorities initially denied everything and charged Gohil with perverting the course of justice, but that prosecution was abruptly dropped in January.

In May, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) said it had found “material to support the assertion that a police officer received payment in return for information”.

After an internal review of the case lasting months, the CPS said on Thursday that while the material “should have been disclosed to the defence”, that did not call into question the validity of the convictions of Ibori, Gohil and others.

Ibori’s lawyer did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Gohil’s lawyer said he could not comment for legal reasons.

Court proceedings on the confiscation of Ibori’s assets are still dragging through the courts, and lawyers for Ibori and Gohil could use the next court hearing to challenge the findings of the CPS review.

Ibori first came to the attention of British police in 1991, when he was working as a cashier at Wickes, a home improvements chainstore in London, and was caught stealing from the till.

After returning to Nigeria, he became involved in politics. As governor of Delta, he amassed a huge fortune and became a power-broker in the PDP party then ruling the country.

The charges to which Ibori pleaded guilty amounted to the theft of about $80 million. Prosecutors said that was only part of his total booty, which was kept hidden via a complex web of shell companies, offshore accounts and front men.

During his sentencing in 2012, the court heard that he had enjoyed a lavish lifestyle involving foreign properties and a fleet of luxury cars. At the time of his arrest, he had been trying to buy a $20 million private jet.

-Reuters

Published in Headliners
Thursday, 15 September 2016 00:17

$15m Saga: Patience Jonathan to sue EFCC

Nigeria’s anti-corruption agency has confirmed to the BBC that former first lady Patience Jonathan is taking the agency to court following an investigation into the four of her bank accounts.

But the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) refused to confirm whether it had blocked any of her funds.

A letter from her lawyers, published in several Nigerian newspapers on Wednesday alleged that $15m (£11.4m) was blocked in July – and that the money is for the former first lady to settle medical bills abroad.

Her lawyers, Granville Abibo (SAN) and Co, told the BBC the firm had written to the EFCC on her behalf but refused to give further information.

Muhammadu Buhari won elections last year, when he beat former President Goodluck Jonathan, promising to fight corruption.

Several top former military officers and politicians are currently being prosecuted for corruption.

Published in Business and Economy

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission has declared wanted the immediate past Governor of Katsina State, Mr. Ibrahim Shema, over an alleged N76bn fraud.

It was learnt that the EFCC declared him wanted sequel to allegations levelled against him by his successor, Governor Aminu Masari.

In a gazette signed by the spokesman for the EFCC, Mr. Wilson Uwujaren, the anti-graft agency said Shema had ignored all invitations by the EFCC.

The gazette read in part, “The public is hereby notified that Ibrahim Shema, a former Governor of Kastina State, is wanted by the EFCC in connection with a case of criminal conspiracy, inflation of contracts, abuse of office, diversion of funds and embezzlement, running into billions of naira.

“The former governor ignored several invitations by the commission since December 1, 2015, when he was first summoned by the agency. All efforts to locate him at his known addresses in Katsina and Abuja were futile.

“The 59-year-old ex-governor hails from the Dutsena-ma Local Government Area of Katsina State. He is tall, light in complexion and speaks Hausa and English fluently. Anybody, having useful information as to his whereabouts, should contact the commission.”

Masari had expressed dissatisfaction with the handover note presented to him by his predecessor, prompting him to set up a probe panel into the administration of Shema.

Masari had said he had “concrete evidence” to drag his predecessor before the anti-graft agency to recover all stolen funds.

According to Masari, there are some mistakes that can be forgiven, “but N70bn is a huge amount of money that we cannot overlook.”

The governor promised that all stolen public money would be retrieved to correct past mistakes and bring sanity into the public service.

He alleged that the former governor misappropriated over N76bn collected as excess crude oil allocation and diverted over N7.5bn into his private pocket.

Masari also alleged that Shema and other top government officials of the Ministry of Local Government Affairs diverted over N750m earmarked for the purchase of drugs for ther state’s local governments.

The Katsina State governor added that his administration was aware of a campaign of calumny sponsored by his predecessor in the media to frustrate him from going ahead with the probe and retrieving stolen funds.

He alleged that more than N1.8bn was paid by the former governor to proprietors of some newspapers for the job.

In his response, Shema said in a letter written by his lawyers, Wole Olanipekun (SAN) and Co, that there was an “unwarranted and unexpected campaign of calumny being waged against the ex-governor coupled with a deliberate attempt to blackmail, denigrate and vilify Shema and his aides.

He described as blatant lies, nauseating and malicious the claims that the “Ibrahim Shema-led administration incurred and left the state with a debt of N42bn upon the expiration of its term; that the administration incurred a foreign debt portfolio of $78m and that a sum of N13bn got missing between January and May 2015.”

The former governor also debunked allegations that a sum of N7bn was dubiously transferred to the account of the state chapter of the Association of Local Governments of Nigeria and same was recklessly used by the said association.

 

Published in Headliners

Dame Patience Jonathan, the wife of former President Goodluck Jonathan, said she was using her $15m, which was frozen in four companies’ accounts, to settle medical bills while she was out of the country.

She, therefore, urged the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission and Skye Bank to lift the restriction on the accounts.

Patience said this in a letter with reference number GA/Abibo/00226/2016, written by her lawyers, Granville Abibo (SAN) and Co, which was addressed to the Acting Chairman of the EFCC, Mr. Ibrahim Magu.

The PUNCH had reported that the four accounts belonged to the following companies: Pluto Property and Investment Company Limited, Seagate Property Development and Investment Company Limited, Trans Ocean Property and Investment Company Limited and Globus Integrated Service Limited.

A houseboy, a driver and other domestic workers of a former Special Adviser on Domestic Affairs to Jonathan, Waripamowei Dudafa, were named as directors, but Patience’s $15m was lodged in the accounts and she was given a platinum card and exclusive access to the accounts.

The letter read in part, “It is noteworthy to emphasise that the said accounts, which were in US dollar denomination, were card-based accounts and our client is the sole signatory to these accounts.

“However, our client has been operating the said accounts using the cards for her medical bill payments and purchases for her private purposes without any let or hindrance.

“Our client was therefore surprised when the said cards stop functioning on July 7, 2016, or thereabout. Our client immediately, thereupon, contacted Skye Bank Plc through our solicitors.

‘‘It was only then that the bank officials informed our client that the said accounts were placed on a ‘No Debit Order’ following investigations and instruction from your commission and this is without notice to our client by either the bank or the commission.

“It is in the light of the foregoing that we urge you to use your good offices to vacate the ‘No Debit/Freezing Order’ placed on the said accounts.”

Patience, who described herself as a law-abiding citizen, said despite all the explanations she offered to the Lagos Zonal Office of the EFCC, the detectives in charge refused to heed her request.

She, therefore, urged Magu to intervene immediately.

She added, “Despite the foregoing, our client, who is a law-abiding citizen, has watched with surprise how efforts are being made surreptitiously to indirectly harass or harangue her and short-change her of her personal funds in breach of her fundamental human rights.

“We urge you sir, to kindly intervene to stop the untoward and wrongful actions of your officials to embarrass, inconvenience and short-change our client.”

However, a detective in the EFCC said, “We got a relevant court order to freeze those accounts and we have evidence which we will present in court on Friday.

“We did not know that the accounts belonged to Patience Jonathan at the time we froze them. The accounts do not bear her name neither do they carry her BVN (Bank Verification Number). So, how can she accuse us of harassment?

“She has a separate account in Skye Bank with the title ‘Patience Jonathan’, which has a balance of $5m. If she claims she needs money for medical treatment, then the $5m should be alright.”

In a thanksgiving service held at the State House chapel in Abuja on February 18, 2013, Patience had said she underwent seven surgical operations within one month in Germany, adding that the doctors had given up hope on her survival.

She had stated, “I remember when Chief  Obasanjo was the President of the country, I was close to his late wife, Stella. We worshiped together in this chapel. It was a painful moment for me that time when she (Stella) died and her corpse was brought here.

“That was how my corpse would have been brought here.

‘‘It was not an easy experience for me. I actually died, I passed out for more than a week. My intestine and tummy were opened.

 “I am not Lazarus but my experience was similar to his. My doctors said all hope was lost.’’

Published in News & Stories
Wednesday, 14 September 2016 00:18

Jonathan meets IBB, Abdulsalami in Minna

FORMER President Goodluck Jonathan on Tuesday met separately with a former military dictator, Ibrahim Babangida, and a former military Head of State, Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar, at their Hilltop residences in Minna, the Niger State capital.

It was gathered that Jonathan arrived Babangida’s residence at about 11am and spent about one hour with his host before he left for Abubakar’s house situated right opposite IBB’s home.

Jonathan was accompanied to the two former Nigerian leaders by a former Minister of State for Finance, Bashir Yuguda, from Zamfara State and his former Chief of Staff, Chief Mike Oghiadome, from Edo State.

Babangida received Jonathan in his private living room as against the common visitors’ room located downstairs where he usually received ordinary visitors.The details of the discussions between the former Nigerian leaders were not made known to journalists.

But it was gathered that IBB and Jonathan held a closed-door meeting for about 50 minutes. While the meeting was going on, it was gathered that  Yuguda and Oghiadome were left at the living room downstairs.

Sources hinted that despite the fact that the details of the meeting with IBB was not disclosed,  the discussion might not be unconnected with the President Muhammadu Buhari’s anti-corruption war and how it had been affecting Jonathan’s relations, particularly his wife, Patience.

Unconfirmed sources added that the meeting might have discussed the postponed Edo State governorship election, the 2019 general election as well as the state of affairs in the People Democratic Party.

It was also learnt that the duo of IBB and Abdulsalami in the separate meetings with Jonathan raised concern over the spate of bombings going on in the Niger Delta by the Niger Delta Avengers and the need to stop the trend.

It was observed that while the meeting lasted at both residences of the two former leaders, visitors were not allowed into the houses.

Jonathan left Minna at about 1pm.

Published in Business and Economy

Passengers of Arik Airline are stranded across different airports in the country as a result of suspension of operations by the company.

An official at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport confirmed this to journalists saying none of the company’s flight had taken off as at 4:15pm on Tuesday.

“Passengers are stranded at the airport now. The situation is even better because today is a public holiday,” he said.

“We don’t know what will happen by tomorrow.”

The development comes barely a week after Joseph Arumemi-Ikhide, chairman of Arik Air, said surviving airlines were only doing national service.

Arumemi-Ikhide said the policies of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) do not favour local airlines.

Aero Contractors and FirstNation suspended operations two weeks ago.

Published in Headliners
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