Connect with us

Judiciary

Unavailability of CAC documents stalls forgery trial of Obasanjo’s in-law

Published

on

The unavailability of documents from the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) has stalled the forgery trial of John Abebe, the younger brother of former first lady, late Mrs Stella Obasanjo on Friday in an Ikeja Special Offences Court.

Abebe is alleged by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC)  to have on June 22, 2010 knowingly forged portions of a letter belonging to BP Exploration Nigeria Ltd dated Nov. 30,1995.

The News Agency of Nigeria reports that Mr Christopher Ikem, a staff of CAC and the second defence witness (DW2), informed the court that the CAC was still in the process of collating the documents necessary for Abebe’s defence.

He noted that some of the documents date as far back as 1992.

Mr Uche Nwokedi, SAN, the defence counsel, requested for an adjournment of the suit to enable the subpoenaed CAC official bring the necessary documents to court.

Reacting, Mr Rotimi Oyedepo, the lead prosecuting counsel for the EFCC, however, expressed displeasure over the defence counsel’s request for an adjournment.

“My lord the learned SAN can tender the documents himself we should not use DW2 as a skyscraper of adjournments. The documents about to be tendered has no relation to the charge.

“It is alleged that the defendant forged a document that was presented during proceedings at the Federal High Court.

“I humbly and passionately pray my lord that proceedings should not be stalled as justice is not for the defendant alone,” Oyedepo said.

Responding Nwokedi said “We issued these subpoenas to the witnesses in May and this case is under constant review and we owe it to provide the best defence.

“If my learned friend can state here that he has not sought an adjournment in this case, I will let it be. We were meant to take two witnesses today but unfortunately, the second witness is not well,”

Obliging Nwokedi’s request, Justice Mojisola Dada adjourned the case until July 10 and 11 for continuation of trial.

NAN reports that in a no-case submission which relied on Section 239(1) of the Administration of Criminal Justice Law 2011 Nwokedi (SAN) had urged the court to dismiss the EFCC’s case against Abebe.

In the no-case submission which was dismissed by Justice Dada on March, 24 Nwokedi noted that the procurement of the allegedly forged letter by the prosecution was illegal.

He said it contravenes the provisions of Sections 37 and 38 of the National Archives Act and as a result, the document (letter) was legally inadmissible to prove the charge against Abebe.

He noted that the document, which was prepared by BP Exploration Nigeria Ltd and Inducon Nigeria Ltd (both Nigerian companies) were produced from a privately managed archive in London known as Iron Mountain.

Abebe opened his defence on July 13 with Mrs Roseline Ovesuor, Deputy Director of the National Archives giving evidence and the first defence witness (DW1).

Reiterating the claim of the defence, Ovesuor stated in her evidence that by virtue provisions of Sections 37 and 38 of the National Archives Act, it was an offence for a Nigerian company to take its records outside Nigeria.

NAN reports that Abebe had on July 26, 2018 plead not guilty to a four-count charge of forgery, fabricating evidence, using fabricated evidence and attempt to pervert the cause of justice.

According to the EFCC, the defendant committed the offence on June 22, 2010 in Lagos.

“Abebe knowingly forged BP Exploration Nigeria Ltd’s letter dated Nov. 30,1995 to Inducon (Nigeria) Ltd.

“He committed the forgery by inserting in page two of the said letter the following words: “Also note that the ‘Buy-Out Option’ only applies to the pre-production stage of the Net Profit Interest Agreement

(NPIA).

”The four million dollars buy-out is thus irrelevant from production of oil in any of our fields.

“He purported same to have been issued by BP Exploration Nigeria Limited,” Oyedepo said.

The evidence was admitted and marked exhibit BB in the suit.

According to the EFCC, the defendant had through his actions, attempted to pervert the course of justice.

The offence, the anti graft agency said, contravened the provisions of sections 120(1), 120(2), 126(2) of the Criminal Code Law of 2003.

edited by Sadiya Hamza

Judiciary

I was shocked when my name was not on Buhari’s ministerial list–Shittu

Published

on

Mr Adebayo Shittu, the immediate-past Minister of Communication, said that he was shocked when his name was not included on President Muhammadu Buhari’s ministerial list.

Shittu, who made the disclosure in an interview with the Nigeria News Agency in Abuja, said although he did not expect that he would not be reappointed, as a Muslim, he took it as his fate.

The ex-minister said: “I took it the way it came.”

reports that Senate President, Dr. Ahmad Lawan, had, on July 23, read out the names of 43 ministerial nominees sent by President Buhari to the lawmakers for confirmation at the upper house.

While the list contained 14 former ministers, 29 new names and seven females, 18 ex-ministers did not make the list, including Mr Shittu.

“Of course, I expected that I will be reappointed (as minister) but when it didn’t happen, as a Muslim, it didn’t take me five minutes before I accepted that what has come, it’s the will of God.

“And I have also found comfort in a Quranic verse when God promised that what is to come later is better than what is with you now.

“So for me, it says we must accept that there is always something better with God which he gives to his beloved.

“I see myself as a beloved of God.

“I have come a long way and I have served at the state and national levels and the experience that I have garnered over the last three and half years cannot be purchased from the stores or from the market,” he said.

He said as public officer, one must always have it in one’s mind that “whatever has a beginning will necessarily have an end.”

“And it is not how long one stays in public office but how well you are able to distinguished yourself,” he said.

The ex-minister, who is a legal practitioner, said he had decided to fallback to his profession.

“I want to thank God that I am one politician who has a second address in the sense that, if I am not a minister, I will be doing some other productive things which will also contribute to national development.

“Of course, I would have wished that I have other opportunities to serve. I believe the chapter of my public service is not closed.

“By the grace of God, I will continue to be relevant in national development.

“As a lawyer of about 40 years, I now have my chambers opened in Abuja. So now, I am back in practice,” he said.

Shittu, who thanked God for the opportunity to serve as minister, also thanked the president for the appointment.

“I have been a local politicians for almost 40 years before the opportunity to serve at the national level.

“I really appreciate it and I want to say that I am eternally grateful to Mr President.

“So for me to have been in office for three and half years, I think it is a rear privilege for which I will continue to thank God and to continue to thank Mr President,” he said.

reports that Mr Shittu was the youngest lawmaker at the age of 26 to be elected a member of the Oyo State House of Assembly in 1979.

The former minister, who skipped the mandatory National Youth Service Corps (NYSC), had aspired for the governorship seat of Oyo State in the last election but was disqualified by his party, the All Progressives Congress (APC).

edited by Sadiya Hamza

Continue Reading

Judiciary

Developer urges FG to address housing deficit 

Published

on

The Federal Government has been urged to address the lingering housing deficit in the country by ensuring enabling laws and environment for the private estate firms to thrive.

Osilama, an estate developer, said Mr Babatunde Fashola, the new Minister of Works and Housing must develop a workable template that would crash the present high cost of houses.

He explained that the government could realistically achieve the provision of affordable houses for all, if it worked in collaboration with the National Association of Real Estate Developers.

He said that no country had succeeded in housing its population without collaborative efforts with housing professionals and the banking sector.

According to him, shelter being a necessity of life like food and clothing must be addressed as quickly as possible for the citizens to have life.

Osilama said the first approach to liberalizing the sector was to review the Land Use Act 1978, which its operations had inhibited housing business in the country.

He said the Act had for many years made it difficult for private developers to easily access land from the overseeing authorities in states and the federal level.

Osilama was of the view that the Act placed so much powers on original owners of land, adding that these owners were at all time prepared to torment developers with astronomic compensation, which invariably would be transferred to unit cost of houses.

“If the law could be amended to make developers easily access estate land direct from the authorities instead of through land speculators as with present experience, the cost of building houses will crash significantly.

“If the cost of constructing houses crashes, you can be sure that the cost per housing unit will equally crash, thereby leading to more opportunities for people to have decent homes.

“Land Speculators are the major challenge of the sector because they are presently responsible for high cost of land. They have always insisted to make 1,000 per cent profit from land they may have bought cheaply from the government.

“Those of us operating in Abuja are suffering the most. In the FCT, the land you bought for N10 million could attract N20 million as payment for compensation.

“The inhibition of the Land Use Act is the power state governors weld. They have often used this power to destroy the sector as they appropriate land to their cronies and leaving out genuine developers.

“By doing this, the government must have set in motion the process of ensuring that the housing delivery chain was made easy and lucrative for citizens to acquire houses.

“As it stands at the moment, the country is outside of the pecking order of nations with coherent plans for their citizens to acquire houses either in mortgage or direct purchases.

“The Federal Government should also review that National Housing Scheme for workers. It could be made to work better. In fact, less than 15 per cent of the workforce has acquired house through the scheme and this is not encouraging.

“The best bet is for the government to shift attention from construction of houses to pure supervision and regulation. The private sector must be brought in to handle the process,’’ Osilama said.

“I am aware of the high cost of building materials, but these materials can be sourced locally. We have cement, wood, water, stones and iron, so what is the problem?

“The government needs to create the enabling environment for the business as it is mandatory for citizens to be housed.

“It should not be viewed as a luxury to own a decent home, to achieve this; the government must remain on the driver’s seat to navigate the private developers through the vagaries of the industry,’’ Osilama said.

Osilama, however, said that his company was more than ever before prepared to crashing prices of house in the country.

“As a company, we are doing a lot to construct affordable houses for the ordinary Nigerians. We are working on a project called “Operation Affordable Houses’’.

“We are combining two technologies to reduce the values of houses in the country by 50 per cent.

“Apart from this, we have the one exclusively designed for federal legislators, especially those making their first appearance in the National Assembly.

“We are partnering with our bank to allow them access beautiful facility in Guzape area of the FCT without collateral and without equity contribution.

“They are only expected to domicile their salary accounts with the bank for installment deductions.

“In this package, we are offering one year free accommodation and those who may not need the accommodation would be offered money in its place,’’ Osilama said.

OMO/AFA

Edited by Felix Ajide

 

 

 

Continue Reading

Judiciary

Breach of fundamental right:s: Court admits applicant to N10m bail

Published

on

An FCT High Court Maitama, Abuja, on Friday admitted one Hamidu Abuh, to N10 million bail.

Abuh has been in detention for one year over an unknown offence.

The vacation judge, Peter Affen, in his ruling granted Abuh bail under section 32(1),(2) and section 159 (2) (3) of the Administration of Criminal Justices Act, 2015.

Affen said that the law does not allow the detention of any person more than 24 hours without being brought to court for arraignment.

He held that the court served the police an order to produce the suspect to court on Aug. 23 or show cause why they cannot bring him, but they failed to comply with that order.

However, Affen, ordered Abuh to produce a reasonable surety in like sum

The judge also ordered that the surety must be a civil servant not below GL10 and must reside within the jurisdiction of the court.

Abuh of Kogi State, who resides in  Kubwa, Abuja, filed a suit of Breach of fundamental rights against the police for arresting and detaining him since July 17, 2018 till date for an undisclosed allegation.

Earlier, Mr Owobi Alexander, Counsel to Abuh, made an oral application for the bail of the applicant, citing Section 32(1)(2) and section 159 (2) (3)  of the Administration of the Criminal Justice Act.

Amufu prayed the court to use its discretion to admit the applicant bail in libera terms.

edited by Sadiya Hamza

 

Continue Reading

Judiciary

Impeachment : CJ constitutes panel to investigate Kogi Deputy Governor

Published

on

The Chief Judge of Kogi, Justice Nasir Ajanah has constituted a seven-man panel to investigate the allegations of gross misconduct levelled against Deputy – Governor Simon Achuba by the state House of Assembly.

Ajanah disclosed this in a statement on Friday in Lokoja.

He said the constitution of the panel was in line with the provisions of section 188 of the constitution of Federal Republic of Nigeria , 1999 (as amended).

” By virtue of section 188 (7) (b) of the 1999 constitution, the panel has three (3) months within which to submit its report to the assembly,” he said.

The Chairman of the panel is Mr John Baiyeshea , (SAN), while Hajiya Bilikisu Abdulmalik Basher, Mr William A. Aliwo, Canon Z. A. Asun, Alhaji Isa Adeboye, Muhammed A. Aikoye and Mr Ada Shaibu are members.

Mr Bamidele Aina, Depuy Chief Registrar, Special Duties, at the state high Court will serve as Secretary of the panel.

Ajanah said that the panel would be inaugurated on Monday, Sept. 26 at the Conference Hall of the state High Court complex, Lokoja.

The Nigeria News Agency reports that state House had during its plenary on Aug. 20 called on the Chief Judge, to constitute a panel of Inquiry to investigate allegations of gross misconduct against Achuba.

The House made the request following adoption of a motion by Majority Leader, Abdullahi Bello-Balogun (APC-Ajaokuta), calling for investigation into the allegations towards impeachment of the deputy governor.

NAN reports that the House request came simultaneously with an interim restrainig order from a state high court, asking the Chief Judge not to act on the request for the constitution of the panel.

The court presided over by a Vacation Judge, Justice Abdul Nicodemus Awulu issued the interim restrainig order on Aug. 20, while ruling on a suit filed before it by the embattled deputy governor.

Achuba also sought to restrain the defendants from taking further steps in investigating the said allegations pending the final determination of the case.

The House asked that the ruling be set aside because the court lacked the jurisdiction to disallow it from performing its constitutional duties and that the claimant misrepresented facts.

NAN further reports that the Chief Judge vacated the order before constituting the panel.

Continue Reading

Judiciary

OML 11 controversy: Court orders FG to renew Shell licence

Published

on

The Federal High Court, Abuja, on Friday, ordered the Federal Government to renew the operating licence of the Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC).

Justice Taiwo Taiwo, who delivered the judgment, said that though the company had applied for a term of 30-year period for the Oil Mining Lease (OML) 11, he could only grant a 20-year period in accordance with the Petroleum Act.

The Minister of Petroleum Resources, who is also President Muhammadu Buhari, is the 1st defendant while the 2nd defendant is the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Timipre Sylva.

SDPC had sought to compel the two ministers to renew OML 11, in addition to 14 other oil mining leases approved for it in June 30.

President Buhari had ordered the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation to take over the operatorship of the entire OML 11 from SPDC.

NAN reports that the FG had, on Aug. 15, told the court that its decision not to renew the operating license of the company was in the interest of the nation’s security.

Counsel to FG, Mohammed Diri, while objecting to the SPDC’s suit, said that the primary objective of any responsible government was to guaranty the safety of lives and property.

He said that the refusal to renew OML 11 was a pre-emptive measures to prevent the occurrence or escalation of security breach in Ogoni area.

He argued that the OML 11 covered an area of 3,095.25 square kilometers that stretched between Rivers and Imo with 14 oilfields , 10 out of which are located in Ogoni area of Rivers.

He said that besides the security challenges, SPDC tried to compel the government to commit an illegality because an approval by the Minister of State for Petroleum of “a single oil block size of 3, 095.25 is tantamount to facilitating illegality in contravention of the (Drilling and Production ) Regulation which limits the size of OML block to 1.295 square kilometers.(500 miles).”

The lawyer therefore urged the judge to hold that SPDC suit was destitute of merit and suffered incurable legal deficiency and should be dismissed.

However, the judge adjourned till Aug. 23 to enable the government respond to issues of facts raised by the plaintiff in its further and better affidavit.

Diri had told the court that he had not seen the further affidavit and reply which SPDC Counsel, Funke Adekoya, SAN, told the court was served on the respondents.

Delivering judgment on Friday, Justice Taiwo said he had gone through all the processes before him.

He said it was the duty of the court to ensure that it was bounded by the law.

Justice Taiwo noted that the provision of the law makes it mandatory for the Minister of Petroleum to grant a renewal of license if an applicant met all the conditions.

“My understanding of paragraph 13 (1) of the first schedule to the Petroleum Act states that it is mandatory for the minister to grant a renewal if all the conditions have been met,” he said.

The judge held that there was no evidence before him to prove that the plaintiff had not met with the conditions stated in the provision.

On the number of years sought for by the plaintiff, he said he could not go outside the provision of the law.

According to him, Paragraph 10 of the first schedule of the Petroleum Act is very clear.

“I see no conflict in these two paragraphs. I am of the view that what these paragraphs say is that a term of mining lease shall not exceed 20 years.

“This to me, is mandatory,” he said.

He also said that the” Drilling and Production Regulation cannot be upgraded to the position of the Petroleum Act and the issue that the defendant cannot grant more than 1, 295 square metres as the case with the total area covered by the OML 11 which had been in existence before the regulation came into being.”

“I therefore find that having fulfil all obligations require for the renewal of Oil Mining Lease 11, including the payment of rent and royalties and having applied for the renewal of the lease in line with the law, the plaintiff should be granted the renewal.

“I hereby order that the defendants are hereby compel to grant the application for the OML 11 but it shall be in accordance with Paragraph 10 of the first schedule to the Petroleum Act as regard the number of years stated therein and that there shall be no reduction in size of OML 11 as being contemplated by the defendants,” Justice Taiwo ruled.

edited by Sadiya Hamza

Continue Reading

© 2019 NNN NEWS NIGERIA. All Rights Reserved.