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Court orders arrest of former Enugu governor Nnamani

Chimaroke Nnamani, former governor of Enugu state, has been serve with a bench arrest warrant for failure to appear before the court.

Chuka Obiozor, a justice of the Lagos federal high court, issued the arrest warrant against Nnamani on Monday, which was set for his re-arraignment.

Obiozor said Nnamani’s counsel did not present concrete explanation on his client’s absence from court.

Nnamani had in 2007 faced charges of alleged economic crime, money-laundering and financial impropriety estimated at N5 billion.

He was initially prosecuted along with his aide, Sunday Anyaogu, and six firms linked to them.

In July, four companies and assets belonging to Nnamani were confiscated following a court ruling by Mohammed Yinusa, who was then a justice of the federal high court.

However, the case — which has “stalled” — has sparked controversy, with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) expressing frustration at its delay.

Kelvin Uzozie, counsel to the EFCC, told a federal high court in November that he would file an application for Nnamani’s trial to hold separately.

Nnamani’s re-arraignment was set for December 4, following a written request for adjournment by both Uzozie and Nnamani’s lawyer.

I paid Evans N100m ransom for my brother’s release, witness tells  court

 

The trial of suspected kidnap Kingpin, Chukwudumeme Onwuamadike, alias Evans officially commenced on Friday as a prosecution witness regaled a Lagos High Court, Ikeja Judicial Division, how he paid the defendants the sum of N100m ransom to secure his brother’s release.

The witness, Anselem Dunu, the elder brother of Donatus Dunu, the Chairman of Maydon Pharmaceutical Limited, who was kidnapped on February 14, 2017, told Justice Hakeem Oshodi, the trial judge that Evans did not release his brother even after collecting 223,000 Euros.

Dunu,said his brother was in the kidnapper’s den for four months, adding that during this period, the kidnappers through phone calls threatened  him and demanded for 100 million Euros.

“On the 14th of February I received a phone call from my younger brother Innocent Dunu informing me about my brother has been kidnap.

“We rushed to the Ilupeju Police Station where we reported the case. We were referred to SCID Panti where the CSP in charge told me that the pattern of kidnapping was similar to that of the notorious kidnapper, Evans.

“The CSP further told me to be strong adding that Evans would contact me in two weeks as it was his pattern, and that I should be strong because the kind of money they would ask us to bring can make me faint.

“After two weeks a private number called me and I heard my brother’s voice at the other end begging me to close all his bank accounts and give the kidnappers all the money. My brother’s voice was anxious and filled with pain. I told him that there was no way I could access his accounts since I was not a signatory. The call ended abruptly.

“I was contacted again after four days and my brother sounded more desperate, begging me not to allow him die in captivity.

“The kidnappers grabbed the phone from my brother and demanded for 1 million Euros, to which I replied that we were only able to raise N20m. The voice on the other end started saying, ‘thunder fire you. Go and get us our money,’ and the call ended.

“I rallied round and managed to raise N60m which I informed the kidnappers when they called after three days. The kidnapper demanded for 1m Euros if I wanted to see my brother alive.

“The kidnapper threatened to kill me whenever I bring the money. He also insisted that I must be the one to bring the money. I could hear my brother’s voice in the background pleading for mercy and shouting, ‘please stop beating me.’

“We were finally able to raise N100m which we changed into 223,000 Euros. They contacted me and I told them what we were able to raise. They thereafter told me they would contact me.

“They contacted me and I arranged with my Cousin, Uche Okeagbu to take the money to them. They demanded I give the phone to Uche, and instructed him to bring the money to Oshodi.

“We packaged the money in cellophane bags and Uche took it to them in Oshodi. After they collected the 223,000 Euros, they stopped calling. Sometimes in May, I got a call from my younger brother who told me that my brother Donatus had escaped from the kidnappers den”.

When we were finally reunited with him, he was in a very critical condition. He was emaciated. His beard was so bushy and white. In short, he looked like an early man.

When he was asked if he knew the 4th defendant, Dunu answered in the affirmative

“I know Nwachukwu very well. He is my very good friend and I fondly call him Congo. He apologized profusely when he saw me and told me that it was the devil and greed that pushed him into kidnapping.

He further stated that he was shocked to see him at the police headquarters

“At the Bourdillon Police Headquaters the 4th defendant, Okuchukwu Nwachukwu was paraded as the one that tipped off Evans about my brother.

Speaking further Dunu said “Evans was also paraded as the mastermind behind the kidnap. When Evans was asked why he chose my brother he said it was a random act, adding that one of his boys was not feeling fine and had bought a drug manufactured by Maydon Pharmaceutical Limited. He also said when he checked the manufacturer’s address, he contacted Nwachukwu who gave him details of my brother’s movements,” Anselem Dunu told the court.

Justice Oshodi thereafter adjourned the matter till November 17 for continuation of trial

Earlier during the proceedings, Justice Oshodi dismissed an application seeking to quash the kidnapping and conspiracy charges against Evans and the other defendants. Justice Oshodi in his ruling said the court found no merit in the application.

Evan’s Counsel, Olukoya Ogungbeje, informed the court that he had two applications pending before the court; one seeking to entirely quash the two count charge against his client while the other application is asking the court to grant his client bail.

Ogungbeje further argued that filing two separate suits against his client in two different courts, is a gross abuse if court processes.

He also argued that there is no prima facie case against his client, adding that his client’s name was not mentioned by any of his alleged ‘victims.’

“There is no ground for Prosecution. The same witnesses the prosecution listed in the suit filed before the Igbosere High Court are the same ones listed in the suit before the Ikeja High Court.

“The new amended charge has no proof of evidence. The proof of evidence presently before this court is the one attached to the former charge, therefore there is ground for the proceedings,” Ogungbeje argued.

“The law is against filing multiplicity of suits against the same person. The Supreme Court also affirmed that instituting different charges before the same party simultaneously is an abuse of court process

In her response, the Lagos State Director of Public Prosecution, Ms. T.K Shitta Bey, told the court that the matter was earlier adjourned for prosecution to open trial.

“On behalf of the 1st defendant we were served with application asking the court to quash information before the court. We have responded by filing a counter affidavit. In another application, they are asking the 1st and 2nd defendants to be admitted on bail and acceleration of the trial

“It is in my humble observation the application are conflicting one another. One is asking to quash the charges, the other is asking for accelerated hearing. The application is frivolous and an abuse of court   and an attempt to delay court process,” Shitta Bey said.

Catalan secessionist leaders to appear in court, without Puigdemont

 

 

Catalonia’s secessionist leaders will appear before a court in Madrid on Thursday to answer charges of rebellion and sedition, though the region’s former president Carles Puigdemont said he would not turn up.

Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy sacked Puigdemont and his government on Friday, hours after the Catalan parliament made a unilateral declaration of independence – a vote boycotted by the opposition and declared illegal by Spanish courts.

Puigdemont said on Wednesday he would ignore the court order to answer charges over the region’s push for independence, but he was ready to testify from Belgium, where he had traveled with four other members of his sacked cabinet.

The other 15 due to testify from 9 a.m. (0800 GMT) are Puigdemont’s former vice-president Oriol Junqueras, eight other members of his sacked cabinet and six senior regional lawmakers, including the speaker of the Catalan parliament, Carme Forcadell.

Puigdemont and his former team were summoned by the High Court while Forcadell and the other lawmakers were summoned by the Supreme Court.

The judges will decide at this first hearing whether they start a comprehensive investigation that could take several years and potentially lead to a trial.

They will also determine whether those called to testify should go to jail pending the investigation. They might also grant them conditional bail or order them to surrender their passports.

The courts have already told the Catalan secessionist leaders to deposit 6.2 million euros ($7.2 million) by Friday to cover potential liabilities.

Puigdemont said on Tuesday he would only go back to Spain when given unspecified “guarantees” by the Spanish government.

If Puigdemont did fail to turn up, an arrest warrant could be issued that would make it virtually impossible for him to stand in a snap regional election called by the Spanish government for Dec. 21.

Following a tumultuous month, attention is gradually turning to the December vote.

Cracks have appeared within the pro-independence coalition of centre-right and far-left parties as well as inside Puigdemont’s own PdeCat (Democratic Catalan Party) where some of his allies are now pushing for a negotiated solution with the central government.

The struggle has also divided Catalonia itself and caused deep resentment across the rest of Spain, although separatist sentiment persists in the Basque Country and some other areas.

Two recent opinion polls showed support for independence may have started to wane.

But an official regional survey published on Tuesday showed some 48.7 percent of Catalans believe the region should be independent, up from 41.1 pct in June and the highest since December 2014.

ECOWAS court orders FG to pay N88bn civil war damages

The ECOWAS Community Court of Justice has granted an out-of-court settlement application for a case involving the federal government and nine victims of the Nigerian civil war.

In 2012, hundreds of mine victims of the war approached the ECOWAS court, asking for an order for the removal of remnants of war instruments stockpiled in 11 states of the south-east, south-south and part of the north-central.

The instruments were said to include live bombs, abandoned unexploded ordnances (AXO), unexploded ordnances (UXO) and the explosive remnant of war (ERW).

The victims also asked the court to compel the government to rehabilitate the areas and compensate them for the damages.

On October 24, counsel to both parties filed an application for out-of-court settlement, on the ground that they had reached agreeable terms.

At its sitting on Monday, the court granted the application, ordering the parties to abide by the terms of the settlement.

Part of the terms of the settlement obtained by TheCable stipulates that the federal government “undertakes to pay, without delay, compensation in the summer of N50 billion in full and final sum to the victims, their families and communities as contained in Schedule 4(1) to this terms of settlement”.

“That FG undetakes to the pay of undertakes to lay a total sum of N38 billion as contained in schedule 4(2) to this terms of settlement for the purposes of carrying out total demining and destruction, rebuilding of public buildings, mine centre activities, construction of class rooms, provision of prosthetics and all other activities enumerated thereunder,” the court ruled.

“That the federal government undertakes to complete the demining and deconstruction of landmines and bombs in the Nigeria civil war affected states of south-east, south-south and part of the north-central of Nigeria covering eleven states as contained in schedule 1 to this terms of settlement.

“That the federal government undertakes to mobilise the 4th and 5th respondents back to work to complete the final phase of the ongoing removal and destruction of post-war lethal materials, the 4th and 5th respondents having satisfactorily carried out the first phase of the contract.”

The terms of settlement, which was signed on behalf of applicants, by Noel Chukwukadibia, gave the federal government “a reasonable time not exceeding 45 days from the day of his judgement.”

Earlier while granting the application, Nwoke Chijioke, the presiding judge, commended the parties for reaching an out-of-court settlement, saying such means usually “saves time provided all interest are represented”.

“The report of settlement was filed on October 24th, 2017 and signed by counsel to all the parties. The applicant’s counsel applied that the said terms of settlement be adopted by the court in its judgement. The application was supported by counsel to the defendants,” he said.

“The terms of settlement filed on 24th October, 2017 is hereby adopted as the judgement of this court in terms and conditions set out in the terms of settlement.”

Court documents obtained by TheCable show there are 302 affected locations across 10 states where the instruments are buried.

The states are Benue, Enugu, Abia, Cross River, Ebonyi and Delta, Akwa Ibom, Rivers, Anambra and Imo states.

Contempt: Atiku’s son released from detention

 

A magistrate court sitting at the Tinubu area of Lagos Island has ordered the release of Aminu, son of former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar.

The judge had earlier ruled that Aminu should be remanded in a cell for disobeying an order of the court.

On October 11, the court asked Aminu produce the boy pending the hearing of the case.

When the matter came up on Wednesday, Aminu’s lawyer informed the magistrate that the parties were making plans to settle the matter out of court.

But Ethel Okoh, counsel to the estranged wife, denied knowledge of any out of court settlement.

After this, Kikelomo Ayeye, the magistrate, directed that the son of the top politician be detained pending the production of his six-year-old son who he allegedly kept away from his estranged wife, Fatimo Bolori.

The court, however, released him after the boy was produced while Fatimo was granted custody of the minor for 10 days.

Ayeye adjourned till November 1 for the determination of the full custody of the two children.

Fatimo and Aminu were divorced in 2011. Their union produced two children, who were staying with their mother after the marriage crashed.

Aminu, however, during one of the school holidays in 2013 requested that they should be released to him for a vacation after which he refused to let the kids return to their mother.

FG will produce my client in court today, says Kanu’s lawyer

Ifeanyi Ejiofor, counsel of Nnamdi Kanu, leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), says he is convinced that the government will produce his client in court on Tuesday.

The IPOB leader, who is facing treason trial, is due to appear at a federal high court in Abuja on Tuesday.

He is being tried alongside three others: David Nwawuisi, Benjamin Madubugwu and Chidiebere Onwudiwe.

Since soldiers raided his Afara-ukwu residence in Umuahia, Abia state, on September 14, Kanu’s whereabouts have been a mystery.

There has been a rumour that the IPOB leader has left the country for the UK – a speculation to which Orji Kalu, former Abia state governor, gave credence.

Kanu’s lawyer had filed an application at a federal high court in Abuja, asking it to order the army to disclose his whereabouts.

But the army denied having him in custody.

Speaking with TheCable on Monday, Ejiofor said he believed the government, which is allegedly holding Kanu, would bring him to court to face his trial on Tuesday.

“We have filed a suit at the court asking the federal government to produce him in court,” he said.

“It is obvious they will bring him to court tomorrow. They are holding him. They know where he is. I am fully convinced they will bring him to court.”

Agbakoba asks court to sack Buhari as petroleum minister

Prominent activist and Senior advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Mr. Olisa Agbakoba, has asked a federal high court in Abuja to remove President Muhammadu Buhari as petroleum minister.

Buhari appointed Ibe Kachikwu as minister of state for petroleum resources, and made himself the senior minister.

In a suit which the attorney-general of the federation is listed as a respondent, Agbakoba asked the court to determine if Buhari could hold the position of minister without the confirmation of the National Assembly.

He said the chaos at the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) would not have happened if the president was not petroleum minister.

“I verily believe that the governance chaos in the NNPC could not have occurred if the president is not also the minister of petroleum resources,” he said.

“I am aware that the NNPC provides up to 90 percent of the revenue accruing to Nigeria.

“I am worried that the crisis in the NNPC will greatly reduce Nigeria’s revenue-generating capacity and will affect the revenue distributable to federal, state and local governments in Nigeria. This will gravely affect development nationwide and drastically impact one and all Nigerians including those in Anambra state (my state of origin) and Lagos state (my state of residence).

“I looked at section 138 of the 1999 constitution and I verily believe it disqualifies the president from holding executive office including that of the minister of petroleum, during his tenure of office as president.

“I also know that the president did not go through nomination process and confirmation by the senate, before holding the office of minister of petroleum resources

“I again looked at section 147(2) of the 1999 constitution and I verily believe it prohibits anybody from holding the office of a minister of the federation, without confirmation by the senate‎.”

The case has not been scheduled for hearing.

Agbakoba had also filed a suit against the government challenging the composition of the board of the NNPC at a federal high court in Abuja. He asked the court dissolve the board because it was illegal.

The court is yet to hear the suit as well.

Judge refuses to hear Evans’ N300m suit against police

Justice Abdulazeez Anka of the Federal High Court in Lagos yesterday refused to hear a fundamental rights suit filed by suspected kidnapper, Chukwudumeme Onwuamadike (alias Evans), seeking N300 million damages for illegal detention.

Instead, he returned the case file to the Acting Chief Judge Justice Adamu Kafarati for further directive.

Justice Anka had earlier heard the case during the court’s long vacation and adjourned till August 29 for judgment after parties argued it and adopted their addresses on August 16.

But, the police, through their counsel, Mr. David Igbodo, said another lawyer, Henry Obiazi, who represented the Inspector-General of Police (IGP) and the Police when the case was heard, did so without authorisation.

The police prayed the court to set aside all the “purported” arguments made by Obiazi and to set aside the ruling delivered by Justice Anka on August 16 in which he adjourned for judgment.

When the case came up before another judge, Justice Chuka Obiozor, who took over from Justice Anka during the long vacation, he (Obizor) held that the case was no longer urgent since Evans had been arraigned.

Justice Obizor then returned the file to the chief judge for re-assignment to another judge, as only urgent matters are heard during long vacation.

The case was subsequently re-assigned to Justice Babs Kuewemi.

However, Evans’ lawyer, Olukoya Ogungbeje, wrote a letter to the chief judge, informing him that Justice Anka had already adjourned the case for judgment.

Based on the letter, the case file was again returned to Justice Anka.

When the case came up before Justice Anka yesterday, the judge expressed displeasure with fact that the case was returned to him when the issue of judgment had been overtaken by events.

The judge said since the police had filed other applications, the earlier adjournment for judgment had become void.

He said even if he had written the judgment earlier, it meant that a new one would be written.

Police counsel Mr. Chukwu Agwu accused Ogungbeje of “smuggling” the case file back to Justice Anka’s court.

“The case was re-assigned to Justice Kuewumi. How my learned colleague smuggled this case to this court is baffling. He did not avail us with a copy of his letter to the chief judge, otherwise we would have reacted,” he said.

But, Ogungbeje said his letter was on the premise that since a judgment had already been fixed, it could be delivered by Justice Anka after entertaining the late applications filed by the police.

“We felt that their application was stalling the judgment, and that if my lord dismisses their application, the way will be clear to deliver the judgment,” he said.

But, Justice Anka held that it was not factual to say that judgment had been reserved “when it’s not”, adding that the court was obliged to hear the fresh applications by the police.

He said the case was not adjourned for judgment but for further hearing, adding that Ogungbeje’s claim that the case was for judgment was not the true position.

Ruling, he said: “The case was made for hearing of the motion of the first and second respondents. The court shall, therefore, cause a letter to be written to the Administrative Judge to explain the true position of the case, which is for further hearing and not for judgment.

“Parties shall, therefore, await the decision of the Admin Judge, either to re-assign the case or for this court to maintain the case in its cause list.”

Evans is claiming N300 million as damages from the police for alleged illegal detention and rights violation.

He has since been arraigned before Justice Hakeem Oshodi of the Lagos State High Court.

The prosecution said Evans and his accomplices, between February 14 and April 12 on Obokun Street, Ilupeju, Lagos, armed with guns and other dangerous weapons, captured and detained one Mr. Duru Donatus.

They allegedly collected a ransom of 223,000 Euros to release Donatus.

Ogungbeje later issued a statement alleging that Evans was forced to plead guilty.

Court orders permanent forfeiture of 56 houses traced to Diezani

 

A Federal High Court in Lagos on Wednesday ordered the final forfeiture to the Federal Government of 56 houses situated in Lagos, Port Harcourt and Abuja linked to a former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Diezani Allison-Madueke.

The value of the properties was put at 22 million dollars (N7.9bn).

The forfeited properties include 21 mixed housing units of eight four-bedroom penthouse apartment, six three-bedroom apartments, two three-bedroom apartment and one four-bedroom apartment.

The properties located at 7, Thurnburn St., and 5, Raymond St., Yaba, are valued at N937 million and bought through Chapel Properties Ltd.

The 16 four-bedroom terrace located at Heritage Court Estate, Omerelu Street, Diobu GRA, Port Harcourt, River, valued at N928 million were bought through Blue Nile Estate Ltd.

Others are 13 units of 3-bedroom with one room maid’s quarter situated at Mabushi Gardens Estate, Plot 1205, Cadastral Zone B06, Mabushi, Abuja, valued at N650 million, were bought through Azinga Meadows Ltd.

Also, the block of six flats of three-bedroom and one boys quarter located at Plot 808 (135), Awolowo Road, Ikoyi, Lagos, valued at N805 million were bought for the ex-minister through Vistapoint property Development Ltd.

The forfeiture order followed a motion by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) seeking the permanent forfeiture of the properties.

The anti-graft agency while urging the court to grant the motion, argued that the properties sought to be attached “are reasonably suspected to be proceeds of unlawful activities”.

After listening to the submissions of EFCC’s lawyer, Mr Anselem Ozioko, Justice Abdulazeez Anka, granted the motion.

The judge noted that there was no response to the applicant’s motion on notice for final forfeiture by any of the respondents in spite of the fact that they were served with the hearing notice.

“I have gone through the affidavit attached to motion for final forfeiture as well as the submissions of the EFCC’s counsel, Mr Ozioko.

“The court has no option considering the incontrovertible evidence led by the EFCC than to grant the application.

“The motion for final forfeiture is accordingly granted as prayed. All parties have a right of appeal,” the judge ruled.

Joined as respondents in the suit are Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke, Donald Chidi Amamgbo, Chapel Properties Ltd, Blue Nile Estate Ltd, Azinga Meadows Ltd and Vistapoint Property Development Ltd.
(NAN)

EFCC re-arrests Perm Sec for alleged N10bn SURE-P fraud

 

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) Wednesday re-arrested a Permanent Secretary in the Federal Ministry of Labour and Productivity, Dr Clement Illoh Onubuogo, for alleged N10b SURE-P fraud.

The agency’s operatives picked him up at the premises of the Federal High Court in Lagos.

He was alleged to have shunned an invitation to clear the air over an alleged diversion of N606million SURE-P fund under his watch.

EFCC said Onubuogo converted the funds from the N10billion released by the Federal Government during his supervision of the Subsidy Reinvestment (SURE-P) programme.

Onubogo was in court for his trial in a separate charge filed against him by the commission.

He was earlier arraigned for allegedly not declaring some of his hidden cash assets.

EFCC said he failed to declare N97, 300,613.44, $139,575.50 and £10,121.52 found in three of his bank accounts.

Onubuogo pleaded not guilty when he was arraigned before Justice Babs Kuewumi.

When the case was called yesterday, no EFCC counsel was present.

Onubuogo’s lawyers A. Dada and T. S. Awhana said the defendant was very ill and asked for an adjournment to enable him get treatment.

The defendant also appeared restless while in the dock. He laid his head by the side of the dock in apparent discomfort.

The judge noted that he adjourned several cases so that more time could be spent on the trial.

He agreed to adjourn the case as no prosecution was present and in view of the defendant’s health condition.

As the case was being adjourned, EFCC’s lawyer Rotimi Oyedepo walked in.

The defence counsel who were already on their way out also returned to the courtroom to complain to the judge that Onubuogo had just been arrested.

Dada faulted EFCC for arresting his client, who he said was already on bail, and denied that his client shunned invitation.

But, Oyedepo said no law stops anyone undergoing trial from being re-arrested for another criminal matter.

“The money belongs to all of us and we should all support efforts towards recovering it,” Oyedepo said.

The judge said having already adjourned the case, there was nothing he could do about the Permanent Secretary being re-arrested in court.

Onubuogo had on September 8 objected to EFCC’s application seeking the final forfeiture of N664, 475,246.6 and $137,680.11 allegedly recovered from him.

The court had earlier ordered the interim forfeiture of the money following an August 15 motion ex-parte application by the EFCC.

Justice Abdulazeez Anka, who ordered the interim forfeiture, also authorised the EFCC to seize a property described as “Clement Illoh’s Mansion” at Ikom Quarters, Issala-Azegba in Delta State and a hotel on 19, Madue Nwafor Street, off Achala Ibuzo Road, Asaba, Delta State.

Awhana, while acknowledging the receipt of the motion for final forfeiture, said he had already filed a counter-affidavit against it.

The lawyer added that he filed a notice of preliminary objection challenging the court’s jurisdiction to make the interim order.

The court had directed the EFCC to notify the Permanent Secretary, in whose possession the properties were found, to appear before the court and show cause within 14 days why the properties should not be permanently forfeited to the Federal Government.

The judge also directed the publication of the interim orders in any national newspaper for any interested person to appear before the judge to show cause within 14 days why the order should not be made permanent.

Justice Kuewumi adjourned until November 30 for trial.

A date is yet to be fixed for the forfeiture hearing.