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Court Strikes Out FG’s Appeal Against Retired Justice Ademola, Others |RN

Justice Ademola
                                                  Justice Adeniyi Ademola (retd)

The Court of Appeal on Monday in Abuja struck out an appeal filed by the Federal Government challenging the discharge of Justice Adeniyi Ademola, his wife Olubowale, and Joe Agi (SAN), from answering fraud charges.

The News Agency of Nigeria recalls that an FCT High Court had, on April 5, dismissed all 18 counts, including gratification charges, preferred against them following ruling on a no-case-submission application.

Delivering judgment, Justice Olabisi Ige held that all the objections raised in the Notice of Appeal filed by the appellant were un-meritorious.

The judge said it was not in the place of law and practice direction of the court to interfere with a decision of the trial court without substantial reasons.

According to him, the grounds upon which the appellant is seeking the setting aside of the ruling of the trial court are not properly laid.

He said the appellant had not been able to discountenance the reasons that warranted the discharge of the three respondents.

Justice Ige held that some of the prosecution witnesses in the matter at the trial court had completely acted in ignorance of the situation they investigated.

On the voiding of Sections 53 and 60 of the Independent and Corrupt Practices Commission Act, which the trial held was in conflict with Section 36 (5) of the Constitution, the judge said the decision subsisted.

NAN reports that sections 53 and 60 hinge on the burden of proof of allegations of gratification.

Justice Ige however said that sections of an Act could only be voided to the extent of their inconsistency with the Constitution.

“From the notice of appeal, no mention was made on this aspect which means that the appellant is satisfied with the striking down of sections 53 and 60 of the ICPC Act.

“Having not appealed against the striking down of sections 53 and 60 of the ICPC Act, the decision of the trial court subsists.

“All the three issues brought for the court to decide are hereby ruled against the appellant and the appeal is struck out for lacking in merit.

“The ruling of justice Jude Okeke of the FCT High Court delivered on April 5 is hereby affirmed’’, the judge held.

The charges were filed by the Office of the Attorney-General of the Federation following the raid by Department of State Service’s operatives on the judge’s house on October 7, 2016.

The trial court had ruled that the prosecution was unable to make out a prima facie case with respect to any of the 18 counts on concluding its case with 19 witnesses

The court held that it would amount to asking the defendants to prove their innocence contrary to the provision of ‎the Constitution which required the prosecution to prove their guilt.

Ademola, a retired justice of the Federal High Court, Abuja, his wife and Agi had stood the trial on allegations of gratification to influence the decisions of cases before the former.

(NAN)

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Magu: I’m Glad Senate Didn’t Confirm My Appointment |The Republican News

EFCC Boss, Ibrahim Magu

Oluwatosin Omojuyigbe

 

The acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Ibrahim Magu, said on Thursday that he was glad the Senate refused to confirm him as the substantive chairman of the anti-graft agency.

Magu said if the Senate had confirmed him, perhaps he would not have been able to perform as much as he had done.

The acting chairman said this before the Lagos State High Court in Ikeja where he was testifying in a libel suit he filed against The Sun Newspaper.

Magu had sued publishers of the Sun Newspaper for a series of publications which he described as libellous and injurious to his character.

The EFCC boss who sued the publishers before Justice Doris Okuwobi claimed N5bn damages and also demanded that The Sun Newspapers should publish an apology and retract the alleged libellous publications.

Magu, under cross-examination by the respondent’s counsel, Charles Enwelunta, said he was not worried that he had been rejected by the Senate twice.

He said, “I have been rejected by the Senate twice and it does not worry me that I’m not confirmed; I’m not bothered. It’s good that they did not confirm me, I may not be able to work very well as we have been able to get over 700 convictions.”

He claimed before the court that he had only one house in the Karo area of Abuja as against the publication of The Sun Newspaper alleging that two houses were traced to his wife by the Department of State Services.

Magu dismissed as false The Sun Newspaper’s publication of March 25, 2017, titled ‘Magu under fresh probe,’ which claimed that two houses located in a highbrow area in Maitama, Abuja were traced to his wife and that he was under discreet investigation by the DSS.

He said, “Since I came to the EFCC, nobody has investigated me. I am not under any probe, the publication is totally false. Even if I have the money, I wouldn’t buy houses in Maitama.

“My wife is a civil servant. We only have one house sold to us in Karo, Abuja. The publication is completely untrue.

“I want to tell you the damage it has done to me. It was not done to me alone, it has gone down my lineage, the entire family, and it has done so much wrong. It has done so much damage.”

Justice Okuwobi adjourned the matter till February 28, 2019 for further proceedings. (Punch)

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We Will Get Diezani, Says Magu |The Republican News

Says $300m loot stuck in UK

The EFCC needs less than 72 hours to comply with Tuesday’s court order mandating it and other security agencies to produce Diezani.

Iheanacho Nwosu, Abuja

 

Acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Ibrahim Magu, has vowed that the anti crime agency will get former minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs Diezani Alison-Madueke, to answer to allegations of graft leveled against her.

Magu, who made the disclosure in Abuja, yesterday, said the EFCC needs less than 72 hours to comply with Tuesday’s court order mandating it and other security agencies to produce Diezani.

In the event that the EFCC cannot, Magus said he would inform the court of their constraint as the former minister does not live in Nigeria, presently.

Magu, however, said the EFCC has already commenced legal process towards bringing her back, to face corruption trial.

He disclosed these at a session with newsmen and social media influencers at the Commission’s headquarters in Jabi, Abuja, yesterday.

Justice Valentine Ashi of the Federal Capital Territory High Court, sitting in Apo, Abuja, had, on Tuesday, ordered EFCC, the Nigeria Police Force, the Department of State Service and other security agencies to arrest and produce the former minister within 72 hours.

The order followed a motion ex parte filed by EFCC’s counsel, Msuur Denga, praying for a warrant of arrest against Alison-Madueke to enable the Commission arraign her for alleged financial crimes in Nigeria.

The former minister has been residing in London since 2015.

Magu also said Nigeria’s looted $300 million remains stuck in the United Kingdom.

He also revealed the commission is collaborating with the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), security agencies and others, to stop vote buying in 2019.

The EFCC boss also lamented that a lot of Nigeria’s monies stashed abroad by some Nigerians are yet to be released, despite several promises by authorities of the countries where the funds are.

He added that the looted funds outside Nigeria were massive.

In a statement by the acting EFCC spokesman, Tony Orilade, yesterday, Magus said: “We will comply with the court order. In fact, it is in our character to do so. If we won’t comply with the court order, that means we have reasons to appeal against the court decision.

“We need less than 72 hours to produce Diezani. But she is being prosecuted by other law enforcement agencies outside this country. This is our predicament.”

Talking about the challenge in getting her, he said, “Another law enforcement agency is in the matter. You know she is in the United Kingdom. And we are making preparations to get her. We have already gone to the court, in fact that was our request for extradition that compelled the court to issue a warrant of arrest against her. I need just less than an hour. If she is here, I will get her immediately and take her before the court. Our problem is that she is another man’s country.”

On looted funds still hanging outside the country, Magu said: “More than 80 percent of the loot recovery outside this country is still hanging. Ask them why is it hanging? Why is it so difficult to repatriate this money, when you have established that this only came from Nigeria and you know that this person does not own this money? There is no justification. It’s not small money. We have over $300 million hanging in the United Kingdom.”

On the commission’s plans for next year’s elections, Magu disclosed EFCC is on the trail of politicians to ensure that they do not have the opportunity to sell ill-gotten properties to finance campaigns.   (The Sun)

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EFCC Officials Escape Death As Fire Guts Office |The Republican News

Eniola Akinkuotu, Abuja

At least two persons escaped death while equipment worth millions of naira was damaged after a fire incident at the  old head office of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission in the Wuse 2 area of Abuja on Monday.

Although the cause of the fire could not be ascertained as of press time, it was learnt that the fire started from the ICT department which formerly served as the newsroom.

The EFCC said in a statement by its acting spokesman, Mr. Tony Orilade, that the damage would have been worse if not for the timely arrival of men of the Federal Fire Service.

The firefighters led by the Sector Commander, Melone Onyekachi, arrived at the scene when the service was alerted to  the fire by the Incident Duty Officer of the commission, Kayode Oyetunde,  at 7pm .

The statement read in part, “The fire started at the former newsroom, which now serves as storage for ICT equipment that were retrieved from the commission’s former offices scattered across Abuja.

“The former newsroom is  in the Costa Hall,  which was inaugurated by Dr. Antonio Costa in 2007. The building currently houses the Data Centre and the Combined Inter Agency Task Force.”

When asked what could have caused  the fire, Onyekachi said, “Our duty is to put out  fire; that we have successfully done. There is another department that will come and ascertain the cause of the fire.”

According to the statement, two officers attached to the Combined Inter-Agency Task Force who were trapped on the second floor of the building were  rescued before the fire was eventually subdued. The extent of the damage would be ascertained after stock-taking.

The Commission’s Chief Security Officer, Nasir Abdullahi, immediately after the fire was stopped, went to the Maitama Police Station to report.   (Punch)

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Executive Order Will Lead To Abuse Of Law, Order, Ohanaeze Ndigbo Warns|RN

The President General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo said executive orders are an attempt to subvert the fundamental rights of the citizenry.

Raphael Ede, Enugu

 

President General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Chief Nnia Nwodo, has warned the Federal Government against the use of executive orders, which, he said, could lead to excessive abuse of law and order, thus, “unacceptable in a democratic dispensation.”

Nwodo, who stated this in a statement he issued through his Media Adviser, Chief Emeka Attamah, said in exercising the orders, President Buhari must subject it to the provision of Chapter 4 of the constitution, which enshrines fundamental rights of individuals.

The President General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo said executive orders, in a situation where a state of emergency does not exist or has not been proclaimed, are an attempt to subvert the fundamental rights of the citizenry.

He opined that a man cannot be subjected to any disability except as provided by the nation’s constitution and judiciary, adding that it was not proper for the president to stay in his office and decide the fate of any citizen outside the provisions of Section 6: 33 to 45 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999.

“Ohanaeze Ndigbo affirmed that fundamental rights cannot be derogated from without judicial pronouncements,” he said.  (The Sun)

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Executive Order 6 Imperative For Fight Against Corruption – British Envoy |RN

British-envoy-Paul-Arkwright
         British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Mr. Paul Arkwright

Adelani Adepegba, Abuja

 

The British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Paul Arkwright, has endorsed the Executive Order 6 signed by President Muhammadu Buhari, noting that it is important for rooting out corruption in the country.

The envoy in an interview with Channels TV on Monday noted that the order would assist in the fight against graft in the country.

He said, “I’ve heard that this is an anti-corruption measure, it’s not for me to say who should or should not be on the list. But what I would say is that it’s very important in continuing this fight against corruption and rooting out corruption where it is happening”.

Arkwright, however, refrained from commenting on the travel ban on 50 Nigerians by the Federal Government.

He stressed the need for peaceful and credible elections in 2019, adding that free, fair and credible election was important for political stability in the country.

The high commissioner said that meeting with political candidates was necessary to discuss expectations for the 2019 polls.  (Punch)

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Travel Ban Will Cause Capital Flight, Push Economy Into Recession, Says Atiku |RN

  Former Vice-President Atiku abubakar, President Muhammadu Buhari

Niyi  Odebode, Olusola Fabiyi, Eniola Akinkuotu, Ade Adesomoju and Oladimeji Ramon

 

President Muhammadu Buhari’s travel ban on 50 Nigerians over the Executive Order 6, on Sunday attracted more condemnations.

The Peoples Democratic Party and the Coalition of United Political Parties had on Sunday slammed Buhari for the executive order, saying it was meant to cow opposition members.

But more Nigerians and groups including the PDP presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, a human rights lawyer, Mr. Femi Falana (SAN), the Coalition for Nigeria Movement led by former President Olusegun Obasanjo and a civil society group, Access to Justice, on Sunday lambasted the President, describing his action as draconian, clearly arbitrary, repressive and illegal.

Executive order’ll lead to capital flight, recession  – Atiku

Atiku, in a statement by his media office in Abuja, warned that the Executive Order which was recently signed by Buhari would lead to capital flight and another recession.

He also said that the statement by the Presidency banning 50 unnamed Nigerians from travelling out of the country, purportedly on the strength of Executive Order 6, was undemocratic.

He described the travel ban as another form of intimidation ahead of the 2019 elections. Atiku said he abhorred  any act of criminality, either financially or otherwise.

The presidential candidate, however,  warned that the rule of law must be the guide at all times or society would descend into anarchy.

He said it was wrong for the President to act under a mere suspicion that the suspects were  believed to have property overseas and were involved in tax dodging or other alleged financial infractions.

The statement partly read, “We must be unequivocal in saying that we abhor any act of criminality, financially or otherwise, but the rule of law must be our guide at all times or society will descend into anarchy.

“Thus, we find it most undemocratic that in a nation governed by the rule of law, a President who swore an oath to abide by the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, does this.

“If past events are to be the judge, these 50 individuals will conveniently be critics and opponents of the Buhari administration.

“This is nothing short of intimidation ahead of the 2019 elections. This is what the Buhari administration did in Osun where they froze the accounts of the Adeleke family and then illegally and clandestinely paid N16.7bn to the Osun State Government to facilitate the daylight electoral robbery.”

The former Vice-President said “the Nigerian constitution guarantees every Nigerian citizen freedom of movement and freedom of association.”

This constitutional right, he added, could not be taken away except by a court order.

Atiku said, “If the Buhari administration wants to curtail the rights of Nigerians, then it must go to court and obtain a court order. Anything short of this is unconstitutional and extrajudicial.

“This sudden dictatorial act brings to mind President Buhari’s comments for which he was condemned by the international community and by the generality of Nigerians.

“While delivering an address at the annual general conference of the Nigerian Bar Association on August 26, 2018, President Buhari has said ‘where national security and public interest are threatened or there is a likelihood of their being threatened, the individual rights of those allegedly responsible must take second place, in favour of the greater good of society.’

“That was not only a faulty interpretation of the constitution, the statement also betrays the dictatorial and authoritarian mindset of President Buhari because only he gets to decide who and what threatens national security.”

Atiku recalled Buhari’s Decree Number Two of 1984, which he said, criminalised truth telling if it did not please the President.

He said that the recent action of the President merely showed that “dictators can grow old, but they can’t grow into democrats.”

Atiku said, “Under the Buhari administration, Nigeria has witnessed an unprecedented capital flight out of the nation to the extent that we are not even listed amongst the top 10 recipients of Foreign Direct Investment in Africa in the latest ranking by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development.

“It is salient to note that we were number one under the last Peoples Democratic Party administration.

“Funnily enough, the Buhari administration was unable to stop Abdulrasheed Maina, their financier, from leaving the country after he was illegally brought back by them and reinstated to the federal service with double promotion.

“It is precisely this type of draconian orders that have chased investors away from Nigeria and it is precisely why Nigerians will chase this recession-friendly government away from power on February 16, 2019, so we can begin the job of Getting Nigeria Working Again.”

Executive order targeted at opposition – Obasanjo coalition

On its part, the Coalition for Nigeria Movement led by former President Olusegun Obasanjo lambasted the Buhari-led Federal Government for imposing a travel ban on 50 politically-exposed persons.

The CNM said this in a statement by its Director, Strategic communications, Akin Osuntokun, on Sunday.

According to the coalition, the ban, which was done in line with Executive Order 6, was a subversion of the rule of law, reminiscent of military decrees.

The CNM also described the new executive order as an attempt to muzzle the opposition.

The CNM said Buhari had been planning to use security agencies to achieve a hidden agenda hence his decision to compromise the nation’s security architecture.

The statement read in part, “Recall that journalists were jailed on account of a similar decree that criminalised any reporting that embarrassed his government. Against this background, what the Executive Order 6 portends is a significant step towards the creation of a police state.

“It is also against this background that the personalisation of the national security architecture makes sense. Otherwise, there would have been no need to continue to reinforce the lopsided and parochial subversion and subordination of the security agencies to a personality cult agenda, at every available opportunity.”

It’s counterproductive to FG’s anti-graft war – SERAP

Also, an anti-corruption advocacy group, Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project, also condemned the travel ban, warning that it would be counterproductive to the government’s anti-corruption campaign.

The group, in a statement by its Deputy Director, Timothy Adewale, contended that the ban was “clearly arbitrary, repressive and illegal,” demanding that the Federal Government should lift it immediately.

This was as a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Chief Mike Ozekhome, argued that the travel ban was a usurpation of the power of the judiciary by the executive.

Ozekhome, who argued that the ban was targeted at the members of opposition political parties and voices critical of the Federal Government, described it as “an extreme panicky measure of desperation” by President Buhari ahead of the next year’s general elections.

SERAP, in its statement, argued that the travel ban violated both domestic and international laws that protect citizens’ human rights.

SERAP said, “The order banning 50 alleged high-profile corrupt Nigerians from travelling abroad without any legal basis and a judicial authorisation is clearly arbitrary, repressive and illegal, as it breaches constitutional rights and the country’s international obligations, which protect the rights to freedom of movement, to leave one’s country, to privacy, and to due process of law.

“Rather than performing its declared objective of preventing dissipation of stolen assets, the travel ban would seriously undermine the government’s expressed commitment to combat grand corruption and violate the country’s international human rights obligations.

“The travel ban will play right into the hands of high-profile corrupt officials by feeding into the narrative that the fight against corruption is targeted only at political opponents.”

On his own part, Ozekhome said the ban was a violation of the principle of separation of powers.

Falana, AJ ask Buhari to lift travel ban on 50 VIPs

Also,  a human rights lawyer, Mr. Femi Falana (SAN), and a civil society group, Access to Justice, faulted the travel ban.

Falana in a statement asked the President to immediately withdraw the travel ban, but Access to Justice called for the total cancellation of the entire PEO6, which it argued “is unquestionably anti-democratic and a veiled snare for citizens’ rights.”

“The PEO is also a gratuitous piece of dangerous precedent that opens the door to an uncontrollable dictatorship; it can be used arbitrarily and vindictively to fight and muzzle political opposition, and promote wholly politically-partisan objectives,” the Director of Access to Justice, Mr. Joseph Otteh, added in a statement on Sunday.

In separate statements on Sunday, Falana and Access to Justice, said the executive order could not be the basis for preventing suspects from travelling.

Falana described the travel ban as “superfluous” because either the court or the various anti-corruption agencies had already seized the passports of the affected persons.

He added that it was an “ingenious design to expose the Buhari administration to ridicule.”

He said, “If the Federal Government had done some background check it would have discovered that the names of the 50 VIPs have long been placed on security watch list while their passports have been impounded by the anti-graft agencies or the courts as one of the conditions for admitting them to bail.

“It is public knowledge that whenever the defendants wish to travel abroad for medical treatment they usually apply for the interim release of their passports. Since the courts have taken judicial notice of the perilous state of medical facilities in the country such applications are usually granted.”

He called on President Buhari to immediately withdraw the ban.

He said, “For the umpteenth time, I am compelled to caution the Buhari administration to wage the war against the menace of corruption within the ambit of the rule of law.”

On its part, the Access to Justice, in rejecting the travel ban, called for the reversal of the PEO6 which it said could be vindictively used to fight and muzzle political opponents, and promote wholly politically-partisan objectives.

Otteh said in the statement that the judgment on which the Federal Government anchored the decision for the issuance of the travel ban, made it clear that the Attorney General of the Federation who is the coordinator of the implementation of the PEO6 could not deny owners access to their assets without a court order.

Its director said in a statement, “It is also legally warrantless; the government claims the judgment of Hon. Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu on the case involving PEO 6, gives it authority to bar the named persons.

“This is so very untrue: the judgment clearly required the government to implement PEO 6 in a way that is consistent with the rule of law; the court ruled that the government (Attorney General) could not block, freeze or confiscate any funds or assets without an order of court! If the government cannot take property without an order of court, how could it legitimately bar persons (presumed innocent by the law), from exercising their rights to liberty and movement without an order of court?

“Access to Justice requests the Federal Government to immediately rescind this obnoxious Executive Order.

“In its stead, we ask for Presidential Executive Orders that mandate all persons and authorities, in line with the constitution, to obey all orders and judgments of courts immediately, release all persons ordered by courts to be set free, as well as pay reasonable living (minimum) wages to all workers!”

Why I don’t care about my travel ban – Fani-Kayode

However, a former Minister of Aviation, Femi Fani-Kayode, says he is not moved by the decision of the  Buhari-led government to bar him from travelling.

Fani-Kayode said in a statement that his passport had been with the courts and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission since 2008 thereby making it impossible for him to travel.

The ex-minister, however, said he pitied those who needed medical attention but had also been placed on the list of 50 persons not allowed to travel.

He said, “I could not give a damn that my name is on the list of 50 members of the opposition and prominent Nigerians that have been placed on a travel ban because nothing that Buhari does surprises me.

“I have not left Nigeria since 2008 because my passport has been with the EFCC and the courts for the last 10 years and they have refused to give it to me and allow me to travel. Those on the travel-ban list that need to travel abroad for medical attention or to see their loved ones are the ones I feel sorry for.

“For me, travel ban or no travel ban, I have no intention of leaving Nigeria anytime soon because I am one of those that will be on the forefront in the struggle to liberate our country and  ensure that we get Buhari out of power in the next few months.”

Fani-Kayode said Buhari had shown repeatedly that he was a despot and would do anything to muzzle the opposition in order to retain power.    (Punch)

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