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Ohanaeze Denounces EFCC’s Charges Against Innoson Motors Boss, Chukwuma |RN

Nnia-Nwodo-Ohanaeze

Christopher Isiguzo in Enugu
The apex Igbo socio-cultural organisation, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, on Tuesday in Enugu expressed dismay at the court action instituted against the Chairman of Innoson Vehicle Manufacturing (IVM), Chief Innocent Chukwuma by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

The organisation said the court action in which Chukwuma is being charged, for obtaining customs documents through fraudulent means was diversionary and intended to persecute the automobile manufacturer.

In a statement by the Special Adviser to the President-General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Chief Emeka Attamah, the apex Igbo organisation insisted that the action was yet another attempt at hounding another son of Igboland.

Related: Court Issues Bench Warrant Against Innoson Motors Boss, Chief Chukwuma |RN

“Cognisant of the matter in court and without any pretense to the veracity of the case or otherwise, Ohanaeze Ndigbo views the current travails of Chukwuma as yet another attempt at hounding another son of Igboland who, out of personal enterprise and dint of hard work, has helped in shaping the economic and industrial fortunes of Nigeria.

“Ohanaeze frowns at this recent attempt to obfuscate the clear court victory won by Innoson’s Group in a crucial suit against a leading bank in the country,” Attamah noted.

The organisation said the current twist in the whole affair was a deliberate attempt to put Chukwuma on the defensive in a matter that clearly vindicates him and confers a lot of financial advantage on him and taint his reputation by introducing a criminal angle to an already settled civil proceeding.

Related: The Innoson Affair, The Igbo And The Orphans Of The Corporate World – Fani-Kayode |RN

“Ohanaeze is carefully studying this discriminatory treatment of his adversaries and the law enforcement agents with a view to reviewing the patronage of our people to any economic establishment found to be associated in this new criminal assault of Chukwuma.

“We will no longer be prepared to do business with any organization that denigrates the best of our people,” the organisation stated. (ThisDay)

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Malabu Deal: AGF, Salami Slammed Over Letter To Buhari |The Republican News

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Attorney General Of The Federation,  Abubakar Salami

 

*Wants President to drop the case against Adoke, others for lack of evidence.

*Lawyers express the divergent views

*!AGF queries Magu, Keyamo overcharge against CCT chair

Doosuur Iwambe, and Myke Uzendu, Abuja

In what appears to be a confusion and lack of direction in the fight against corruption, a letter written by the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami (SAN), to President Muhammadu Buhari, urging him to back off on his administration’s legal battles against the principal actors in the controversial Malabu Oil deal has sparked a row in the country.

While some lawyers backed Malami for exercising the power of nolle prosequi, (power to continue and terminate any case in court), some other lawyers described what the AGF did as contrary to the mantra of Buhari’s war against corruption and politicising the system.

Speaking during separate interviews with The Daily Times on Monday, the lawyers said that the development will far-reaching effect on the war against graft. The lawyers are Chief Mike Ahamba (SAN), Mallam Yusuf Ali (SAN), Mr Femi Falana (SAN), Prof. Koyinsola Ajayi (SAN), Chief Mike Ozekhome (SAN), Mr Anthony Agbonlahor, Manny Ikpebe, Terhemen Ibeh and Hameed Jimoh. Speaking in a telephone interview, Ahamba (SAN), said: “I cannot comment on the propriety or otherwise of the action taken by the AGF. It is a professional matter and I don’t comment on issues that the facts are not before me.

“I don’t have details on Malabu oil except what I read in the newspapers. Those who ate the money are there and I don’t know why Malami has written to the president seeking to discontinue some of the cases. So whether he is wrong or right I cannot say for now.”

In his comment, Yusuf Ali (SAN), said: “As the Chief Law officer of the country, he is the only minister recognised by the 1999 Constitution (as amended) and empowered to enter any matter and to either continue or terminate it.

“Malami should be commended for doing his job diligently. As the chief law officer of the land, the EFCC, ICPC, Police and any other prosecuting agencies are under him.

“The ideal thing is that all these prosecuting agencies when they have carried out their investigation ought to get necessary input from the office of the AGF.

“In other words, the office of the AGF ought to scrutinise the level of investigation by the agencies in order to ensure that they have a prima facie case that could be sustained in the courts because investigations are very crucial and germane in any case that is referred to court for adjudication.

“It is because this procedure is not usually followed, that is why you have cases thrown out. Once you do not have a good evidence to build up your case, it will be thrown out.

“Regarding the case of Malabu, Malami should be commended because he has done a good job. There is no point in engaging in endless litigations as it is obvious in the view of the AGF that there is no prima facie case on Malabu matter”.

Falana said, “ Instead of writing to the president or issuing queries, the AGF should exercise his powers under section 174 of the Constitution by filing nolle prosequi to terminate the criminal proceedings if he is sure that the EFCC has abused the prosecutorial powers of the state.”

Prof. Konyinsola Ajayi, in his reaction, said: ” From what we know from the facts of the case as presented to the public, this will be one of few that will not bring the voices on the government to congruence at the confluence of our large rivers (of justice).

“I expect water ran against its course with PDP perhaps hailing it, and Puritans bemoaning it. I am constrained on this occasion to side with the AGF. I could see no probable cause other than impugning acts of state; undermining the office of the President and treating the kicks of the slaughtered cow as tremors of a quake.

“Pressing on would have meant no international or domestic government, business, or person should trust the executive acts of the President, supported by various ministers and agencies of the state. It is a sad narrative that EFFC is unable to see the wood for the trees, and in what appears to be a quest for enemy’s fall rather than blind cause of justice, EFFC was blinded in the glare of the sun of justice as it came out of the darkroom unprepared as a true independent non-partisan Puritan warrior. If only EFFC has seen the signals.”

For Ozekhome (SAN), “That is how it should be. The AGF is the chief law officer for the whole country. He is supposed to be a prosecutor and not persecutor under section 174 of the 1999 Constitution. Once he finds that a case lacks certain ingredients to sustain its prosecutor, he should do the needful by discontinuing it, rather than get humiliated in open court.”

Anthony Agbonlahor in his contribution called on the AGF to use his powers appropriately. He said even though the constitution has empowered the AGF to enter the power of nolle prosequi, the powers should not be abused most especially by a government that came on board with the mantra of fighting corruption.

But Manny Ikpebe wondered why the AGF did not write directly to the court of whatever his intention was.

He said, “If the AGF had intended to enter a nolle prosequi, the letter would have been sent to the court directly and not the president.

“If the said letter was directed to the court, it won’t have raised any question because that way; Nigerians will know that he is only exercising his power of nolle prosequi which requires no explanation but writing a letter to the president now brings him to the political terrain and politics and law at this stage do not go hand on hand.

“What he did is not good for the people and the image of the country at all because Nigerians want to see people presumed to be corrupt go through the process and sentenced accordingly but when you do not allow the process of law to go through completely, it will dampen the spirit of the people”.

For Terhemen Ibeh, nothing is wrong with what the AGF did.

He said: “Since the constitution has empowered him, he has no explanation for his action. The AGF is answerable to the president and is not out of context for him to inform him of his decision, hence the president is the Chief Executive Officer”.

In his view, Hameed Jimoh said that by virtue Section 174 of the 1999 Constitution and other judicial pronouncements, the AGF is empowered to exercise discretion to decide whether to send a letter for Presidential approval or to act without recourse to him on any matter before the court.

He said, “So, sending the letter the President is a discretionary act which no court can query or compel him to act in one way or the other.

“Only that it might be viewed that seeking President’s approval might just be to prove the degree of his loyalty to the President and might be political tactics.”

The Daily Times recalls that Malami had in the letter dated September 27, 2017, urged Buhari to back off on his administration’s legal battles against the principal actors in the controversial Malabu Oil deal.

The raging scandal over the OPL 245 oil block began in 2011 when the former President Goodluck Jonathan administration approved its purchase by Shell and Agip-Eni from Malabu Oil and Gas Ltd., a suspected briefcase firm with ties to Dan Etete, a convicted criminal who was Nigeria’s petroleum minister from 1995 to 1998.

The Jonathan administration officials who participated in the negotiation preceding the controversial sale of the massive oil block included former AGF, Mohammed Adoke (SAN) and Mrs Diezani Alison-Madueke, who was the former Minister of Petroleum.

Jonathan himself was named by investigators as being involved in the alleged fraud, but the former president strongly denies the charges.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission has been pursuing fraud and criminal conspiracy charges against Adoke, Mr Etete and their alleged accomplices since 2016. Adoke and Etete are at large while the anti-graft agency had repeatedly sought to fish them out.

In his letter to President Buhari, the AGF Malami said following due examination of the case files, he was able to determine that the EFCC has no significant evidence to prove its allegations of sharp practices against prominent players like Adoke, Diezani and others.

Meanwhile, the Al-Mushahid Initiative for Transparency and Accountability (AITA) has urged President Buhari to ignore the letter written to him by the AGF Malami, urging him to stop the legal battles against the principal actors in the controversial Malabu Oil deal.

President of AITA, Ambassador Aminu Abubakar Majidadi, who was reacting to a letter asking President Buhari to stop the prosecution of Diezani and Adoke over their roles in the controversial Malabu oil deal, said that everybody close to the president should encourage him to bring the prosecution to its logical end. Majidadi said it is untenable for anyone to ask the President to hands off this international case when everyone especially those working with this administration should be seen at the forefront of helping the President to achieve his anti-corruption war.

He said, “We urge President Muhammadu Buhari to ignore this letter but should rather redouble the efforts at seeing this case to its logical conclusion in the interest of national development and honour. This should even be a yard-stick to tackle other dragging corruption cases.”

He also called for special anti-corruption tribunals to fast-track stolen fund recovery and successful prosecution of corruption cases.

In a related development, the strained relationship between the AGF Malami and the Acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission EFCC), Mr Ibrahim Magu, deepened on Monday as Malami queried Magu over the criminal charge filed against the Chairman of Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT), Danladi Yakubu Umar.

The AGF also asked Mr Festus Keyamo (SAN) to explain his role over the two-count corruption charge filed before an Abuja High Court against the CCT Chairman.

In the query dated February 16, 2018, and with Reference No DPP/ADV: 368/15 signed by Mr Dayo Apata, the Solicitor General of the Federation and Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Justice, Magu has been asked to make his response available to the AGF on or before Tuesday (today).

Magu is asked to explain what informed the filing of corruption charges against the tribunal chairman after the EFCC had twice cleared Umar of the corruption allegation.

The query titled “FRN VS Danladi Umar (CR/109/18) request for Briefing” read thus: “The attention of the Honourable Attorney General of the Federation was drawn to the news report that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission has filed charges of corruption against the Chairman of the Code of Conduct Tribunal, Hon. Justice Danladi Umar, before the FCT High Court.

“I am directed by the Honourable Attorney General of the Federation to seek clarification from you as to whether the charges were filed on your instruction or directive and if in the affirmative, what is the compelling basis for doing so. This clarification becomes imperative in view of the following background facts.

“The Commission’s investigation report dated 5th March 2015 addressed to the Secretary to the Government of the Federation stated as follows: “The facts as they are now against Justice Umar raised a mere suspicion and will therefore not be sufficient to successfully prosecute for the defence.

“The Commission’s position in paragraph 2(a) above was also maintained and sustained by the Honourable Attorney General of the Federation while appearing before the House of Representatives’ Investigative Committee sometimes in 2015 to the effect that report of investigations showed that the allegations against Hon. Justice Danladi Umar were based on mere suspicions.

“In view of the foregoing, the Honourable Attorney General of the Federation requests for your prompt briefing as to the existence of new facts which are contrary to the position in your attached investigation report, sufficient evidence or other developments upon which the prosecution of Hon. Justice Danladi can be successfully based.

“Kindly accord this letter top priority while your prompt response within 48 hours from the receipt of same is required in the circumstances.”

Also, in a separate letter to Keyamo (SAN), the AGF asked the lawyer who was purportedly engaged by Magu to prosecute the CCT boss to confirm who authorised him to file the corruption charge against Umar.

Keyamo was also given till Tuesday (today) to furnish the Office of the AGF in writing the detail of who engaged or issued him with authority to file the corruption charges.

The letter to Keyamo with reference No DPP/ADV: 369/15 dated February 16, 2018, which was also signed by the Solicitor General of the Federation and Permanent Secretary, reads in part:

“The attention of the Honourable Attorney General of the Federation was drawn to the news report that you have filed charges of corruption against the Chairman of the Code of Conduct Tribunal, Hon. Justice Danladi Umar, before the FCT High Court.

“The Honourable Attorney General of the Federation hereby requests that you kindly furnish this office with the details of the instruction or authorisation upon which you instituted the case under reference. Kindly accord this letter top priority while your prompt response on or before Tuesday, February 20, 2018, is solicited in this regard.”

Although the EFCC had in two separate letters it sent to the Federal Government through the Secretary to the Government of the Federation in 2015 and 2016 cleared Umar of any wrongdoing in an alleged N10 million bribery allegation by Rasheed Taiwo Owolabi who is standing trial at the tribunal over false asset declaration, the Commission went ahead and charged the tribunal chairman.

It is instructive to note that Umar’s clearance was done by the former Executive Chairman of the EFCC, Mr Ibrahim Lamorde in a letter reference No EFCC/EC/SGF/03/56 dated March 5, 2015, which exonerated the CCT boss.

The letter stated that “the facts as they are against Justice Umar raised a mere suspicion and will therefore not be sufficient to successfully prosecute for the offence.”

While the other EFCC’s letter stated that a further investigation in 2016 on the N10m bribery revealed that it remained a mere suspicion.

The EFCC report received by the office of SGF on March 6, 2015, was categorical that “the facts as they are against Justice Umar raised a mere suspicion and will therefore not be sufficient to successfully prosecute for the offence.”

The EFCC’s second report with reference EFCC/P/HRU/688/V30/99 dated April 20, 2016, and submitted to the SGF and signed by the Secretary to the Commission, Emmanuel Adegboyega Aremo, read in part: “Kindly recall our correspondence of March 5 2015 with Reference EFCC/EC/SGF/03/56 with above subject caption. We will like to reiterate the Commission’s position in regard to this matter as earlier communicated to you and state that the allegation levelled against Justice Umar were merely suspicions and consequently insufficient to prosecute the offence.”

The EFCC had on February 2, 2018, brought a two-count charge against the CCT Chairman, Danladi Yakubu Umar, bordering on alleged receipt of N10m bribe from one Rasheed Owolabi Taiwo in the charge signed by Festus Keyamo as a private prosecuting counsel and one Offem Uket, an official of EFCC.

Umar was accused of receiving N1.8m through his Personal Assistant, Gambo Abdullahi, for a favour to be afterwards shown to the petitioner who was standing trial for a criminal offence before the tribunal.

Meanwhile, March 15 has been fixed for the arraignment of the CCT boss at the High Court of FCT, Abuja.     (Daily Times)

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We’ll Sell Every Recovered Stolen National Assets – Buhari |The Republican News

By Anule Emmanuel

President Muhammadu Buhari has assured that the Federal Government under his leadership will sell all recovered looted national assets. Buhari said proceeds of the recovered assets will be paid to the nation’s treasury and utilized for developmental purposes.

Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, in a statement yesterday, said Buhari disclosed this when he received representatives of social groups in Daura Emirate.

The President assured that his administration will continue to pursue a robust, effective and legitimate anti-corruption campaign that safeguards the treasury and commonwealth of all Nigerians.

Buhari noted that many suspected looters of government’s resources had been denying ownership of their ill-gotten properties and assets across the country. He explained that he was not surprised by the increasing number of those denying ownership or disclaiming the properties traced to them by the various anti-corruption agencies.

The President also said that his government would not allow a repeat of what happened in the 1980s when buildings and other ill-gotten property seized by his military administration were returned to corrupt officials following his ouster as Head of State.

“Some years back, one of my schoolmates in the primary school who worked at a cottage company before his demise predicted that we will come to a situation when looters will deny their loots in Nigeria.

“So, as a civil servant, you have 10 houses in Abuja and even in Kaduna and abroad, the more you show them the properties, the more they will swear that it does not belong to them. “And we are still following the process, you know in a democracy, you have to follow due process and respect the rule of law.

“If you are following, you will hear that some of these looters were arrested, and for those who deny their loots, then instead of what happened before, this time around, we will sell those stolen properties and the proceeds will be deposited in the government treasury. “If the money is in the government treasury, I will see who will come back after we left and reclaim them,” he said.

The president pledged that government would ensure availability of fertilizer and other farm inputs to farmers to sustain the successes recorded by the farmers in the previous farming seasons.

He said: “Please tell Nigerians that we are trying our best, and I thank God, the rainy season will blossom, we will try to add more money to farmers and ensure the availability of fertilizer and other farm inputs.

“We will also continue to reconstruct roads and railways and provide electricity and we promise we will continue to do so.” Buhari told the groups that the APC-led government will consolidate on the gains and monumental achievements in the development of infrastructure across the country. “For most ordinary Nigerians, if you give them good roads, railway and stable electric power, they will be happy to carry on with their lives.

“We are doing so much for our country and we will continue to do more out of the fear of God,” the President said. The groups represented at the meeting were the Daura Emirate Coalition of Associations; the Amalgamation of Daura Emirate Political Associations; the Buhari Group; the Daura Emirate Development Forum; Women in Politics in Daura Emirate and the Daura Emirate Consultative Forum. (New Telegraph)

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Court Issues Bench Warrant Against Innoson Motors Boss, Chief Chukwuma |RN

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                 CEO Innoson Motor Manufacturing IVM, Innocent Chukwuma

An Ikeja Special Offences Court has issued a bench warrant for the arrest of Mr Innocent Chukwuma, alias Innoson, the Chairman of Innoson Motors Nigeria Ltd.

The News Agency of Nigeria reports that Justice Mojisola Dada issued the bench warrant following the failure of the defendant to appear in court for the second time for arraignment on criminal charges filed by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.

READ ALSO: Herdsmen To Pay For Grazing Reserves, State, Community Police Will End Killings – VP Osibanjo

“A bench warrant is hereby served on Innocent Chukwuma, he will remain in custody till the next adjourned date.

“The case is adjourned till March 14 for possible arraignment,” Justice Dada said.

Earlier, during the proceedings, a mild drama ensued in the courtroom, with Justice Dada threatening to charge Prof. J. N Mbadugha, the defence counsel for Innoson and Innoson Motors Ltd, for contempt of court.

Charles Chukwuma, a third defendant who was not present in court, had no legal representation.

Related: The Innoson Affair, The Igbo And The Orphans Of The Corporate World – Fani-Kayode |RN

Justice Dada issued the threat against Mbadugha following his alleged disrespectful conduct and outburst against the court in his opening address.

Mbadugha in his address had shouted: “This proceeding is a clear abuse of court processes, the EFCC is a reckless arbiter.

“My Lord has refused to be bound by the rule of law and doesn’t want to be bound by the doctrine of Stare Decisis; my Lord wants to override the decision of the Supreme Court.”

Justice Dada, in response, said: “Your whole comportment, conduct, countenance smacks of disrespect to the court and rule of law, I will report you to the Nigerian Bar Association.

“You are insulting the court, this is clear contempt in the face of the court; you will go to prison from here, if you think the court is defenceless and powerless, you’d be surprised.”

Related: Why We Arrested Innoson Group Boss, Innocent Chukwuma – EFCC |RN

Mbadugha, who initially said he was ready to be charged for contempt, later tendered an apology to the court, saying: “I am sorry My Lord, I hope the court gives me a second opportunity.

“I want to urge the court to temper justice with mercy; to err is human, but to forgive is divine.”

The defence counsel apologised to the court saying he had withdrawn his earlier statements.

NAN

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Buhari Reinstates NHIS Boss,Usman Yusuf Under Probe For Alleged N919m Fraud

Prof-Usman-Yusuf

NHIS Boss, Prof. Usman Yusuf

President Muhammadu Buhari has recalled the Executive Secretary of the National Health Insurance Scheme, Prof. Usman Yusuf, who was suspended by the Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole, on July 6, 2017, has learnt.
In a letter with reference number, ‘SH/COS/10/6/A/29’, signed by the Chief of Staff to the President, Abba Kyari, the President informed the minister of Yusuf’s recall, adding that he (Yusuf) had been “admonished to work harmoniously with the minister.”
The letter, it was learnt, was sent to the minister on Tuesday evening. When our correspondent called the minister to confirm the new development, Adewole only said, “Yes, what you have heard is true.” He refused to answer any further inquiries about the issue.
Sources at the federal Ministry of Health also confirmed Yusuf’s reinstatement. They did not, however, disclose when the NHIS boss would resume.
The letter made no mention of the probe Yusuf was facing at the EFCC.
Incidentally, Yusuf was being grilled by the men of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission on Tuesday when his letter of reinstatement was sent to the Federal Ministry of Health.
Yusuf, who is being probed by the EFCC and the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission, was accused of perpetrating fraud to the tune of N919m.
A committee set up by the minister had submitted a probe report to the President last September accusing Yusuf of abuse of office.
In the report which was compiled by senior officials of the health ministry, the Department of State Services and the ICPC, the panel described Yusuf as a public servant who “portrayed a holier than thou attitude but at the background, milked the agency dry” by conniving with others to perpetrate fraud to the tune of over N919m.
According to the panel, the N919m was dubiously given as payment to consultants for staff training.
The committee said as the head of the agency, Yusuf was personally responsible for all administrative, procurement and financial lapses.
According to the report, “His (Yusuf’s) deceitful attitude coupled with ‘name dropping’ of Mr. President as having sent him to sanitise the NHIS but he caused more harm than good to the scheme.”
The committee, therefore, recommended that the EFCC probe the agency for diversion of funds and contravention of the Procurement Act of 2007.
The report stated that Yusuf contravened the Procurement Act of 2007 through nepotism and other irregular award of contracts and should be sanctioned in line with the provision of the Act.
Explaining how the alleged staff training scam took place, the committee said in some instances, the number of trainees was far more than the entire number of employees at the agency while in some other instances, some employees were registered for the same training in two different states at the same time.
Most of the consultants were said to have charged about N250, 000 per participant.
The PUNCH had exclusively reported in December that Yusuf, who is close to the cabal in the Presidency, had been making moves to return to his post.
When our correspondent reached out to him to respond to the allegations levelled against him last December, Yusuf had said, “Fck you, and fck the minister.”
Meanwhile, it was learnt that Yusuf was grilled for over 12 hours at the EFCC on Monday and Tuesday.
A source at the EFCC said, “The NHIS boss was with us all through Monday and returned on Tuesday for more questioning. His passport was also seized. He will return on another day for more questioning.” (Punch)

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Fayose Berates Justice Abang Over Olisa Metuh’s Court Appearance While On Hospital Bed

Governor Ayodele Fayose of Ekiti State has described the controversial Federal High Court Judge, Okon Abang, as a disgrace to the judiciary in Nigeria, saying that the judge was acting more like a persecutor in the case of former National Publicity Secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Chief Olisa Metuh, such that he ridiculed Nigeria by causing an accused to be brought to court on a stretcher.

The governor, who said it was clear that Justice Abang was out to satisfy the sinister aim of Metuh’s persecutors, said; “In saner climes, all that is needed as proof of inability to stand trial due to ill health is a doctor report from duly recognized health institution and one wonders whether medical report from federal government owned Nnamdi Azikiwe University Teaching Hospital, Nnewi, Anambra State should not have been enough to convince Justice Abang that Metuh was indeed sick.

According to a statement issued, on Tuesday, by his Special Assistant on Public Communications and New Media, Lere OIayinka, Governor Fayose said; “Shame on Abang, a judge who goes to court robing himself in garment of corruption. Why didn’t he (Abang) dock Metuh with the stretcher on which he was brought to court yesterday despite all his initial bragging?

“The judge’s utterances during last month’s court appearance when he was told that Metuh was on admission and could not appear in court was a clear demonstration of malice and desperation to convict an accused person at all cost.

The governor said it was obvious that Justice Abang’s only aim was to satisfy the interest of those with evidence of his corrupt practices, adding that; “When they needed the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) Chairman, Danladi Umar to help them convict Senate President Bukola Saraki, they made the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to clear him of culpability in the N10 million bribery allegation levelled against him.

“In April 2016, the EFCC said via a letter signed by the Secretary of the Commission, Emmanuel Adegboyega Aremo that ‘after investigating the case for some time, it became clear that the whole allegation bordered in the realm of mere suspicion and would be difficult to charge the CCT judge to court based on the allegation.’

“Today, the same Umar that they cleared has been charged to court by the EFCC on the same allegation.

“Obviously, they intend to use the criminal charges filed against the CCT chairman to blackmail him into doing their sinister bidding of convicting Senator Saraki at all cost just as they are doing in the case of Metuh.

“On August 18, 2016, five Appeal Court justices in their judgment in the case of Abia State Governor, Okezie Ikpeazu Vs. Samson Ogah, said Justice Abang committed a rape on democracy!

“Also, a three-member panel of Appeal Court judges led by Justice Ibrahim Salauwa said the judgement delivered by Justice Abang on October 14, 2016 was as ‘fraudulent as it was violent’ and that the judge acted like Father Christmas.

“If not because of his ability to do hatchet jobs for those presently holding Nigeria at the jugular, how can a judge like Abang that has been adjudged severally as giving fraudulent judgments and acting like Father Christmas still sit in judgment over cases involving Nigerians?”

“We therefore call on the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice  Walter Onnoghen to do something on Abang to save the bench in the hand of judges like him.  (The Sun)

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N919m NHIS Fraud: EFCC, ICPC Begins Probe Of Suspended Boss |RN

Prof-Usman-Yusuf

Suspended Executive Secretary of NHIS, Prof. Usman Yusuf

Niyi Odebode, Olalekan Adetayo and Eniola Akinkuotu

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission has begun investigations into allegations of misappropriation of funds and abuse of office levelled against the suspended Executive Secretary of the National Health Insurance Scheme, Prof. Usman Yusuf.

The EFCC stated this in a letter dated December 21, 2017, which was addressed to the current acting Executive Secretary of the NHIS.

The investigations by the commission started five months after Yusuf was suspended by the Federal Ministry of Health.

The ministry, four months ago, submitted the report of a panel on the allegations against Yusuf to the Presidency. In its report, the panel accused the suspended NHIS boss of N919m fraud.

The EFCC’s letter was titled ‘Investigation into activities of Prof. Usman Yusuf –suspended Executive Secretary of the National Health Insurance Scheme’.

Besides the EFCC, the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related Offences Commission is investigating the suspended executive secretary and four other officials of the NHIS.

The ICPC, in its letter dated December 11, 2017, and addressed to the acting executive secretary of the NHIS, stated that the officers were being investigated for “alleged violation of the provisions of the Corrupt Practices and other related Offences Act 2000.”

The ICPC added, “Pursuant to Section 45(3) of the cited Act, you are hereby directed to recover the money advanced to the five officers (of the NHIS) and two staff from the Ministry of Health for the aborted trip to the Netherlands.

“You are further required to furnish the commission with the evidence of compliance by each of the beneficiaries.”

On its part, the EFCC stated that it was investigating suspected cases of fraud and misappropriation levelled against Yusuf during his tenure as the executive secretary of the NHIS between July, 2016 and July, 2017.

In its letter, with reference number CR: 3000/EFCC/ABJ/CTGI.2/VOL.15/ 237, and signed by its Director of Operations, Umar Abba, for the Acting Chairman, the EFCC is seeking information on, “All necessary documents relating to local and international training programmes sponsored by the scheme from July 2016 to July 2017.

“All documents relating to payment made to Katamaya First Call Hospital.

“All procurement documents relating to the e-library project of the NHIS. Documents relating to all NHIS-sponsored foreign trips embarked upon by the suspended executive secretary.

“All payments relating to the fuelling of the suspended secretary’s official vehicles. Disbursement of NEED assessment funds between July 2016 and July 2017.”

The EFCC requested documents relating to the audit verification conducted during the tenure of the suspended executive secretary.

The commission also said the NHIS should confirm if four other persons it mentioned in the letter were members of staff of the scheme and their current status.

The persons are Nasir Shinkafi, Shuab Mohammed, Suleiman Ilu and Yusuf Abdullahi.

The anti-graft agency stated that it was making the requests “pursuant to Section 38 (1) and (2) of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (Establishment) Act, 2004.”

However, there were indications on Tuesday that the suspended executive had begun moves to return to his post.

It was gathered that Yusuf had contacted members of a cabal in the Presidency to reach out to the President.

A Presidency official, who confided in The PUNCH, said, “He has the sympathy of members of the cabal, who have assisted him in reaching out to the President. He feels that he is being victimised.”

The panel, set up by the Federal Ministry of Health to probe the suspended NHIS boss and other activities at the NHIS, had presented a damning report to the Minister, Prof. Isaac Adewole.

The report was submitted to the President in August.

The report was received by the Chief of Staff, Abba Kyari, on behalf of the President but the Presidency had remained silent on the report.

A top government official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, told one of our correspondents that the Presidency had so far not taken action on the report of the investigation initiated by the health minister because “a procedural error” was noticed.

The source claimed that contrary to the normal procedure, the Ministry of Health went ahead to prepare a White Paper on the report before forwarding it to the Presidency.

He said, “What I am aware of is that the ministry did not stop at investigating him, it prepared a White Paper on the report of the investigation. The Presidency has noticed this procedural error and has called the ministry’s attention to it.

“I don’t know if a fresh committee will be set up to investigate the matter all over again.”

The source added that the Presidency was also taking its time to ensure fairness in the case.

“You know that there are two legs to the issue. The suspended man has also made an allegation against the minister.

“He said he ran into trouble with the minister because he refused to provide a particular amount of money that he was asked to bring for the send-off of the ministry’s permanent secretary.”

When asked if the Presidency would investigate the minister before taking a stand on the matter, he said, “Like I told you earlier, I don’t know if a fresh committee has been set up yet.”

Presidential spokesmen, Femi Adesina and Garba Shehu, could not be reached on the telephone as of the time of filing this report.

In the report, which was compiled by senior officials of the health ministry, the Department of State Services and the ICPC, the suspended NHIS boss was accused of perpetrating fraud to the tune of N919m.

The panel described Yusuf as a public servant who “portrayed a holier than thou attitude but at the background, milked the agency dry” by conniving with others to perpetrate fraud to the tune of over N919m.

According to the panel, the N919m was dubiously given as payment to consultants for staff training.

The committee said as the head of the agency, Yusuf was personally responsible for all administrative, procurement and financial lapses.

The panel noted “his (Yusuf’s) deceitful attitude coupled with ‘name dropping’ of Mr. President as having sent him to sanitise the NHIS, but he caused more harm than good to the scheme.”

The committee, therefore, recommended that the EFCC probe the agency for diversion of funds and contravention of the Procurement Act of 2007.

The report states that Yusuf contravened the Procurement Act of 2007 through nepotism and other irregular award of contracts and should be sanctioned in line with the provision of the Act.

Explaining how the alleged staff training scam took place, the committee said in some instances, the number of trainees was far more than the entire number of employees at the agency.

It noted that in other instances, some employees were registered for the same training in two different states at the same time.

Most of the consultants were said to have charged about N250,000 per participant.

Yusuf insults minister, correspondent

When the suspended NHIS boss was contacted for comment on Tuesday, Yusuf decided to rain insults on one of our correspondents and the minister, asking the reporter to put his vulgar language in print.

The following conversation ensued between The PUNCH and the embattled professor:

The PUNCH Good evening sir, my name is Eniola Akinkuotu, a reporter with The PUNCH.  I’m calling in respect to your probe by the minister…

Prof. Yusuf: (Cuts in) Are you listening to me? You and the minister, f**ck you. Can you put that in print?  (Punch)

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