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Daily Archives: February 9, 2018

$1m fraud case: Appeal Court dismisses Fred Ajudua’s application

The Court of Appeal, Lagos Division, has dismissed an application filed by a serial fraudster, Fred Ajudua, and affirmed the ruling of Justice J. E. Oyefeso of the Lagos High Court sitting in Ikeja, Lagos in a $1 million fraud case.

Mr. Ajudua and his accomplice, Joseph Ochunor, sometime in 1993, allegedly defrauded one Ziad Abu Zalaf of Technical International Limited, a Germany-based company, of the sum of $1million

The case had been struck out on February 16, 2009 by a former trial judge, M. O. Obadina, sitting at the Lagos State High Court, Ikeja, when the appellant refused to appear in court for his arraignment in 24 adjournments between April 24, 2005 and February 16, 2009.

Justice Obadina, while striking out the case, had ordered the Commission to apply for re-listing of the case whenever the appellant was available within the jurisdiction of the court.

In view of this, the commission had filed a motion dated January 25, 2017 for an order of the court re-listing the case.

Following the transfer of Justice Obadina from the Ikeja division to Lagos State High Court, the case file was returned to the Lagos State High Court’s archive in Ikeja.

However, when the appellant suddenly re-appeared before Justice J. O. K. Oyewole( now JCA) in charge No. ID/41c/2013- FRN vs. Fred Ajudua, the commission, in a letter dated December 18, 2013, had applied to the Chief Judge of Lagos State High Court for the case to be re-assigned to another court for trial.

The commission, however, did not receive reply to the letter.

As a result, the commission had to write another letter dated June 20, 2016 to the Chief Judge of Lagos State.

The case was, thereafter, assigned to Justice Oyefeso for trial.

It was listed in Justice Oyefeso’s court list for mention on December 14, 2016, while the commission subsequently brought a motion for re-listing the case on January 25, 2017.

However, the appellant had later filed a notice of preliminary objection challenging the competence of the commission’s motion to re-list the information.

In her ruling on April 27, 2017, Justice Oyefeso had dismissed Mr. Ajudua’s preliminary objection and granted the Commission’s application for re-listing of the information.

In a notice of appeal dated May 5, 2017, Mr. Ajudua had appealed to the appellate court to strike out the ruling of the court.

However, in a judgment delivered on Thursday, February 8, 2018, the appellate court dismissed the appeal in appeal No. CA/ 589C/17 and affirmed the decision of the trial court.

Four killed as truck rams into bus on Lagos-Ibadan Expressway

Four persons were confirmed dead while two others sustained injuries in an auto crash which occurred on the Kara bridge on the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway on Friday.

Babatunde Akinbiyi, the spokesman of the Traffic Compliance and Enforcement Corps (TRACE), confirmed the incident to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abeokuta.

Mr. Akinbiyi said the accident involved a Sino truck carrying a container and an Urvan commercial bus.

He said the truck with registration number KMC 47 ZB was travelling to Lagos and was said to have hit the commercial bus from behind, forcing it off the road and landing close to the river under the Kara bridge.

Mr. Akinbiyi blamed the driver of the truck for speeding resulting in his loss of control of the vehicle.

“The accident occurred around 10.50am on Kara bridge. A Sino truck hit an Urvan commercial bus from behind and it fell off the bridge, landing at a point close to the river under the bridge.

“Six passengers were inside the bus, two females and four males. Two females and two males died among the passengers, while the remaining two were injured,” he said.

He said the corpses of the victims had been deposited at the mortuary in Olabisi Onabanjo University Teaching Hospital, Sagamu, while the injured were rushed to the Lagos State Emergency Hospital.

The truck driver and his assistant were said to have been arrested and held in custody at the Ojodu-Abiodun Police Station.

(NAN)

Innocent Chukwuma reacts to arrest order issued by Lagos cour

Embattled businessman and chairman of Innoson Group, Innocent Chukwuma, has reacted to an order for his arrest issued by a Lagos High Court on Friday.

The court, presided by Justice Mojisola Dada, issued a bench warrant for the arrest of Mr. Chukwuma for him to be presented before the court on the adjourned date of March 14, 2018 for arraignment over alleged forgery.

Mr. Chukwuma was in December dragged to the Lagos High Court by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, on allegations of fraud and forgery.

But a statement issued by Head of Corporate Communications of the Innoson Group, Cornel Osigwe, quoted the businessman citing irregularities in the process of his planned arraignment as the reason for his absconding the session.

The statement contends that Mr. Chukwuma “is not afraid of arraignment in the court but he must be arraigned through the due process of law.”

Mr. Osigwe argued that “the decision of Justice Mojisola Dada was done in bad faith because the judge did not grant the counsel to Innoson, Prof J.N Mbadugha a fair hearing”.

Read the full statement below:

I AM NOT AFRAID OF ARRAIGNMENT BEFORE THE COURT – INNOSON

The Chairman of Innoson Group, Innocent Chukwuma, popularly known as Innoson has stated that as a law abiding citizen, he is not afraid of arraignment in the court but he must be arraigned through the due process of law. Innoson stated this today why receiving the news of issuance of bench warrant against him today by State High Court Ikeja.

In a ruling by Justice Mojisola Dada, the court ordered that Innoson should be arrested and kept in custody a day before the next adjournment and be produced on the adjourned date, March 14, 2018 for probable arraignment over alleged forgery.

In a related development, the spokesperson of Innoson Group, Cornel Osigwe reacting to the issuance of bench warrant against Innoson stated that the decision of Justice Mojisola Dada was done in bad faith because the judge did not grant the counsel to Innoson, Prof J.N Mbadugha Esg a fair hearing.

During the court proceedings of today Prof. Mbadugha invited the attention of the court to the motions pending in the matter, viz:

· that the charge is an abuse of process because a similar charge on the same subject matter is pending at the federal high court Lagos division between the same parties in charge no FHC/l/565c/2015;

· a motion pending at the court of appeal to stay commencement of proceedings and execution of the court’s order of 17th January 2018;

· a motion that the court recuse or disqualify itself from further conduct of the proceedings; and a motion that EFCC cannot be heard in any application until it withdraws the charge given a pending motion against it praying that it be restrained from filing any charge in respect of the same subject matter of the charge that was struck out until the determination of the appeal against the court’s order striking out the previous charge- Charge No. ID/197c/2013.

Mr. Mbadugha also informed the court that the 3rd defendant has not been served and as such the court lacked the jurisdiction to entertain the matter.

All the submissions of Mr. Mbadugha to the judge were not granted, however the judge granted the plea of the counsel to EFCC who prayed the court to issue a bench warrant against Innoson. The issuance of bench warrant led to a wild jubilation by some staff of GTB and their lawyers who were fully seated in the court.

It must be stated that based on the submission of Mr. Mbadugha, counsel to Innoson, the judge erred in law by making an order to issue a bench warrant against Innoson. The court is bound by law to listen and decide the applications submitted rather than making an order to arraign Innoson in a charge that is an abuse of process.

Mr. Osigwe has previously maintained that the EFCC charge which is being instigated by GTB is a gross abuse of process. First, an earlier charge which GTB induced the EFCC to file against Innoson was struck out. Innoson appealed against the order striking the charge out on the ground that it ought to be a dismissal and not striking out. The appeal, with Appeal No: CA/L/1328CM/2017 is, till date, still pending when EFCC filed or re-filed, in December 2017, the same charge that was struck out. Secondly, the charge is on the same subject matter and the same party as Charge No: FHC/L/565C/2015 that is pending at the Court of Appeal, Lagos Division, in Appeal No: CA/E/249C/2016.

Both charges are smear campaign by GTB and EFCC to destroy Innoson.

Cornel Osigwe

Head of Corporate Communications

Innoson Group

My life is under threat – IBB’s spokesman

Kassim Afegbua, spokesman of former military President Ibrahim Babangida, says his life is under threat.

Afegbua, who has been in and out of the offices of the police and the Department of State Services (DSS) since Sunday when he issued a statement on behalf of his principal, said the last six days have been traumatic.

He said on Wednesday, after spending seven hours without being told why he was summoned to the DSS headquarters, he was asked to return on Friday, and that an operative interrogated him over the statement after he had spent two hours.

He said at the end of the interrogation, his personal details were taken.

Afegbua added that he had been receiving strange calls since the controversy began.

“In the last six days, I have gone through traumatic experience when I was declared wanted by the Nigeria Police. By the strength of that unprofessional declaration, I was treated like a common criminal and fugitive until I showed up at the police headquarters Abuja to physically present myself,” he said.

“After what the police termed a no case issue, they were apologetic and I took my leave. In the evening of that day, Wednesday 7th February, 2018 I got a phone call inviting me to the headquarters of the Directorate of State Security (DSS).

“I honoured the invitation on Thursday and spent 7 hours waiting for attention. I left the office at 6.50pm when it became clear nobody was ready to tell me what the invitation was meant for. I was informed to report back on Friday 9th February, 2018 at 11am. On arrival on Friday, having spent 2 hours, I was attended to by the Director of Operations and two others who interrogated me on the said statement I issued. My interrogation was recorded electronically and was made to write a statement affirming the issued statement, having collected all my personal details; house address, account number, international passport number and other information.

“I find this whole episode quite nauseating and utterly condemnable. I cannot rationalise why just a statement would amount to subjecting me to rigorous interrogation especially when there was no complainant. The action of the Nigeria Police coupled with that of the State Security Service is at best that of a meddlesome interloper and sheer bullying, leaving serious developmental issues to chasing shadows with a view to intimidate, harass and embarrass me.

“Let me state at this point that my life is in danger as we speak. I have been receiving series of unknown phone calls from people threatening me and my family. But I am resolute in the true spirit of a free-born, that threats, intimidation, harassment and psychological torturing has never and will not stop me from exercising my right of free speech as enshrined in the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria; as well as carrying out my professional responsibility. I will not submit to intimidation, harassment and threats. Certainly not. I have just a life to live and no one under God will live forever.”

Afegbua expressed appreciation to his principal for “standing by him” since the controversy began.

He also thanked his wife, Kayode Ajulo, his lawyer, and vowed not to succumb to “intimidation”.

Ozubulu killings: Witness opens up in court in Anambra

…says I was drafted to kill Bishop 

One of the four suspects alleged to have participated in the August 6th, 2017 mayhem in Ozubulu,  Ekwusigo local government area of Anambra State,  Mr Chukwujekwu Eze,  yesterday to the court in Nnewi that he was drafted to kill Chief Aloysius Ikegwuonu.

The confession of the suspect  heightened tension yesterday at the court premises in Nnewi which was filled to the brim.

Following the shooting and killing of 13 persons and injuring 29 at Saint Phillips Catholic Church at Ozubulu,  police arrested four suspects allegedly involved in the massacre.

The suspects were Great Chinedu Akpunonu, 44; Vincent Ike, 57; Chukwudi Ugwu, 30, and Onyebuchi Mbanefo, 46.

They were arraigned on a 24-count charge in Suit No: HN/36C/2017 bordering on conspiracy and murder, while  Others allegedly involved in the shooting were still at large.

The commotion in the court yesterday,  made the presiding judge,  justice FI Aniukwu ordered that no pictures would be taken in the next adjourned date,  while nobody would also allow to stand in court.

Meanwhile,  justice Aniukwu would on 23rd February,  2018 rule on the bail application of the suspects,  while the next adjourned date was fixed for March 3rd, 2018for further hearing

Eze, the second witness, who hailed from Ugbawka in Enugu State, told the court that he lived in South Africa for 11 years before he was deported, adding that he had remained unemployed since his deportation.

He was Led in evidence by the prosecution counsel, Mr. Jay Jay Ezeuko, SAN.

According to the witness, “There is a boy named Okpanda who told me that they were going to the Bishop’s place at Ozubulu to execute a job. I asked him the nature of the job and he told me that they were going because Bishop was owing some people some money in South Africa”

“He said they wanted to go and destroy everything in Bishop’s house and shoot at every living thing”

“I asked him who was sponsoring the job and he told me it was Obrocho”

” When I mentioned it Okpanda, he said he would assist me if I would agree to follow in the hit job at Bishop’s place”

” I told him I would be involved because I won’t want to shed any blood”

“Okpanda invited me so he could explain the whole thing to me and when I went the following day, he told me it was only if I took part in the job that he would help me to go back to South Africa”

“It was in Okpanda’s place that I met Dobby (Onyemaechi Mbanefo), the 4thaccused and two of them tried to convince me to join in the job. I refused to join”

“After the shooting in the church, I saw Okpanda again and he told me that they had done the job and when I asked if he could help me since they had made the money, he told me he couldn’t help me since I refused to join in the job”

“I then told him I was going to approach Bishop since I didn’t have any other person to help me. He told me not to go to Bishop because the Bishop would arrest me”

“I later decided to approach Bishop because of the level of massacre in the church in which the Bishop’s father was among those killed.”Eze said

While Cross examining the witness, counsel to the first accused person, Mr. Festus Keyamo, SAN put it to him that it was in his desire to return to South Africa that made him approach Bishop after the shooting

He further put it to him   that Bishop may have already concluded arrangement for him to travel to South Africa.

He however denied that Bishop had made arrangement for him to travel, adding that he didn’t even have  any international passport.

 

Obaseki bans night-grazing, armed herdsmen in Edo

The Edo State Governor, Godwin Obaseki, has banned night grazing and armed herdsmen in the state just as he set up a seven-man committee in each of the 18 local government areas to check herdsmen, farmers’ clashes.

The seven-man committee will include the chairmen or heads of the LGAs, the Divisional Police Officers, representatives of the Department of State Services and four representatives from the communities in the state.

Obaseki, who presided over a stakeholders’ meeting with the Seriki Hausa/Fulani leaders from the 18 LGAs in the state, on Thursday, charged the committee to “review all cases of herdsmen/farmers’ clashes in all the local government areas.”

The governor said, “A special team made up of the police, army, civil defence corps and other security agencies in the state will carry out random patrols and search operations. Any herdsman found in possession of firearms will be arrested and charged with illegal possession of firearms as cattle rearers do not need an AK47 to herd cattle.

“We will not accept anyone with firearms and anyone found with arms will face the law. We need information to succeed in this fight and information is vital to the police and other security agencies. We assure you of your safety.

“We have placed a ban on night herding; nobody should herd their cattle at night. We have also placed a ban on hunting activities by people from other states in the name of hunting.”

Obaseki added that another committee that he would head would have the state Commissioner of Police, the Director of the DSS in the state, the Commander of 4 Brigade and representatives of the communities across the three senatorial districts in the state as members.

He  noted, “Every three months we will meet with the representatives of the local government committees to review and examine the progress being made in resolving the herdsmen/farmers’ clashes in the state.”

The Chairman, Edo State Hausa Community, Alhaji Badamasi Saleh, advised that a mechanism should be put in place to protect informants as most members of the communities “find it difficult to volunteer information to the security agencies as they fear that their identities would not be protected.”

Buhari sends goodwill message to Team Nigeria at Winter Olympics

President Muhammadu Buhari has extended his best wishes to Team Nigeria as they begin their epoch-making representation of the country in the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea.

He commended the women’s bobsleigh team made up of Seun Adigun, Ngozi Onwumere and Akuoma Omeoga for making history by being the first African bobsleigh team to participate in the Winter Olympics in that category.

The President, in a statement by the Senior Special Assistant on Media and publicity, Garba Shehu, also saluted Nigerian Olympian, Simidele Adeagbo who has raised the bar as the first African female to compete in Skeleton at the Games.

He assured the athletes that Nigeria stands with them throughout the competition.

President Buhari believed that the patriotism, sacrifice, hard work and personal dedication of these Nigerian athletes, who chose to stand with the country and lift its flag high at the PyeongChang Olympic Stadium in South Korea, will continue to inspire Nigerians, especially our young people.

The President, who had earlier approved the appointment of Chef de Mission to take care of the team, assures the Olympians of the unflinching support of the Federal Government and thanks all who made their participation in the games possible, particularly Corporate Nigeria.

The President wished Team Nigeria, who clearly represents the resilient spirit of the Nigerian -ever ready to endure and prevail- a resounding success at the Winter Olympics

Looters angry because they can no longer pay tithe — Yahaya Bello

Governor of Kogi state, Yahaya Bello taunted the Catholic bishops who visited President Muhammadu Buhari at the presidential villa in Abuja on Thursday.

During the visit, the clerics told the president that his goodwill is being depleted by “glaring failures”.

Reacting after observing Ju’mat prayer at the presidential villa on Friday, Bello told state house correspondents that it is the corrupt politicians who are angry.

He said since the Buhari administration had blocked avenues through which funds were looted, the corrupt can no longer pay tithe.

“The question is who are those Nigerians who are angry?” he asked.

“The category of Nigerians that are angry are those who used a private jet to cart away Nigeria’s money, in dollars, out of the country to South Africa (in reference to the case of alleged money laundering involving a former president of Christian Association of Nigeria).

“I’m sure you are away that our money is still locked down there, such money if you bring it into the economy, a lot of youth who are unemployed will surely be employed.

“And of course those that have looted the country dry and normally go to the church and mosque to pay tithe are no longing doing so. Of course, this is the category of people who are angry.”

He added that there are many Nigerians who are impressed with the efforts of this government.

“Among those happy with the current administration are farmers and those with real jobs… because the economy is improving,” he said.

“Our foreign reserve is increasing. I think those that are benefiting from these crimes and criminality will be angry and they are Nigerians. So it is important to define the category of people who are angry.

“I want to urge Nigerians to continue to appreciate Mr President, pray for him so that the good work he has started he will complete it, so that Nigeria will be not of the woods.”

JUST IN: Buhari fires two high court judges

President Muhammadu Buhari has approved the compulsory retirement of A. F. A Ademola and O.O Tokode, two judges in Nigeria.

Ademola is a justice of the federal high court in Abuja, while Tokode is a justice of the federal high court, in Benin, Edo state.

Garba Shehu, presidential spokesman, disclosed this in a statement on Friday.

He said the development followed the recommendations from the National Judicial Council (NJC).

More to follow…

Bribery: Rickey Tarfa has case to answer, Court rules

Justice Adedayo Akintoye of an Igbosere High Court in Lagos on Friday dismissed a no-case submission by a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Rickey Tarfa.

The judge also refused to award the N520 million damages applied for by the defendant against the EFCC for “malicious prosecution”.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) had charged Mr. Tarfa with a 26-count offence bordering on bribery and attempt to pervert the course of justice.

However, at the end of the prosecution’s case, Mr. Tarfa through his lawyer, Jelili Owonikoko, made a no-case submission in thebbribery charge slammed on him by the EFCC.

He said they had reviewed the prosecution’s case and concluded that the defendant had no case to answer.

At the resumed hearing of the case on Friday, Justice Akintoye, while ruling on the application, said the prosecution had established the essential elements of the offences which the defendant was charged with.

“What is expected of this court at this stage of no-case submission is to look at the evidence adduced so far and determine whether a prima facie case has been disclosed against the defendant.

“At this stage also, the prosecution is not required to have established its case beyond reasonable doubt against the defendant as the guilt of the defendant is not in issue now.

“I have carefully evaluated the evidence so far with the totality of evidence adduced before this honourable court, it is my opinion that the prosecution has established the essential elements of the alleged offences with which the defendant is charged,” Mrs. Akintoye said.

She said the court would require some explanations in respect of the charge preferred against the defendant.

“The evidence of the prosecution witnesses has not been discredited by the cross-examination of the defence counsel to the extent that no reasonable tribunal will simply convict based on it.

“I, therefore, hold that a prima facie case of failing and refusing to declare his assets, making false information to an officer of the EFCC and offering gratification to a public official as stated in the amended information filed before this court has been made against the defendant.

“Therefore, the defendant is called upon to enter his defence and the no-case submission filed on his behalf is hereby dismissed,” Mrs. Akintoye ruled.

She added:“With regards to the defendant’s applicant claim for exemplary damages for malicious prosecution against the EFCC, I find no merit in this claim of N520 million damages and same is refused.”

Mrs. Akintoye adjourned the case until March 13 for the defence to open its case.

NAN recalls that Tarfa had on Jan. 17, asked the court to award N520 million damages against the EFCC after a no-case submission.

He urged the court to see the 26-count charge brought against him by the EFCC as “malicious”.

He also wants the court to “make an example of the anti-graft agency and slam the hammer” on it with a N520 million damages.

The lawyer has been standing trial since March 2016 and on Oct. 23, 2017, the EFCC closed its case. (NAN)