A Federal High Court in Lagos on Monday granted a motion for the release of the International Passport of a former Minister of State for Finance, Nenandi Usman, facing N4.6 billion money laundering charges.
Usman is standing trial alongside a former Minister of Aviation, Femi Fani-Kayode, Yusuf Danjuma, a former Chairman of the Association of Local Governments of Nigeria (ALGON), and a Company Jointrust Dimension Ltd.
The defendants were arraigned by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), on 17-counts.
They had each pleaded not guilty to the charge, and were granted bail.
EFCC had earlier opened the case for the prosecution and was still leading witnesses in evidence.
When the case was called on Monday, Mr U.U. Buhari announced appearance for the prosecution, Chief Ferdinand Orbih (SAN) appeared for the first defendant while Mr Morrison Quakers (SAN) appeared for the second defendant.
Buhari then informed the court that the prosecution was ready to proceed with trial adding that prosecution witness was in court.
Orbih on his part, informed the court of a motion by defence, seeking variation of the bail terms earlier granted the first defendant for a release of her international passport for an overseas trip.
He told the court that he had spoken with the lead prosecutor for the motion to be taken.
Just then, the lead counsel, Mr Rotimi Oyedepo came into the court, announced his appearance, and told the court that the case was set for trial but that there appeared to be a mix up in the communication between counsel.
He, however, said in the interest of justice, he would concede to the motion being taken.
This application was not opposed.
Oyedepo, said that since the first defendant had been granted such indulgences in the past and had honoured same without any issue, he would not oppose the motion.
He however added: “I pray that God heals her so that she will not have to travel again,”
Justice Mohammed Aikawa consequently, granted the motion as prayed, and held that the passport be retuned back to court on or before Jan 15.
He adjourned the case until Jan. 23 and Jan. 24 for continuation of trial.
Meanwhile, the court noted that there was a letter by a surety to the third defendant, seeking to withdraw his title document and his suretiship for the third defendant (Danjuma)
In reaction, first defence counsel, Orbih, noted that such procedure was strange in law , especially as it was mid way into trial.
He, however, told the court that whatever issues there was, would be resolved one way or the other before the next adjourned date.
At a last adjourned date on Oct. 29, EFCC had led Mr Shehu Shuaibu, its third prosecution witness in evidence.
Shuaibu, an investigator with the commission, had narrated to the court, how the sum of N800 million was paid from the Ministry of External Affairs into the account of the fourth defendant, Jointrust Dimension Ltd.
The witness had told the court that investigations revealed that on Jan. 16, 2015, the sum of N800million was paid into the account of the company.
He had told the court that the money came from the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), adding that the signatories to the account were one Darbisu and Benjamin.
The witness had told the court that the said signatories were former staff of the MEA and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA), respectively, but were both currently working with the National Intelligence Agency.
Under cross examination by defence, the witness told the court that the author of the entries in exhibit Eight was the MEA.
When asked if any of the defendants had any input in the said entries, the witness had replied “No. they don’t”
When further asked to confirm if there existed in the said exhibit, words like Ministry of External Affairs and Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the witness had replied” No”.
They further explained that the words were abbreviated to read MEA and MFA.
The witness had also told the court that he had no knowledge if any of the defendants were employees of any investigation agency of Government.
In the charge, the defendants were alleged to have committed the offences between January and March 2015.
In counts one to seven, they were alleged to have unlawfully retained over N3.8 billion which they reasonably ought to have known formed part of the proceeds of an unlawful act of stealing and corruption.
In counts eight to 14, they were alleged to have unlawfully used over N970 million which they reasonably ought to have known formed part of an unlawful act of corruption.
Meanwhile in counts 15 to17 Fani-Kayode and one Olubode Oke who is said to be at large, were alleged to have made cash payments of about N30 million, in excess of the amount allowed by law, without going through a financial institution.
Besides, Fani-Kayode was alleged to have made payments to one Paste Poster Co (PPC) of No 125 Lewis St., Lagos, in excess of amounts allowed by law.
All offences contravened the provisions of sections 15 (3) (4), 16 (2) (b), and 16 (5) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) (Amendment) Act, 2012.
Edited & Vetted By: Josephine Obute/Ijeoma Popoola
Alleged Rape: Coalition commends Police over case against Fatoyinbo
The Coalition of Public Interest Lawyers and Advocates (COPA) has commended the Nigerian Police for exhibiting high sense of intelligence in various investigation of rape allegations in the country.
Olajengbesi said the commendation became necessary following the conclusion of investigation on the allegation of rape levelled against Pastor Biodun Fatoyinbo of the Commonwealth of Zion Assembly (COZA).
The Criminal Intelligence and Investigative Department, Force Headquarters, Abuja, had in a letter in March confirmed it had concluded investigation and had forwarded the case file to the Director of Public Prosecution of the Federation (DPPF).
Olajengbesi said credit should be given to the Police for the thorough investigation, given the time it took them to conclude the work and forward to DPPF for prosecution.
“Yes, we’ve received communication on the progress of the investigation and the transfer of the Police’s findings to the DPP.
“We are excited and hopeful by this development, even as we believe that justice delayed cannot be denied.
“The crime of rape is heinous and must never be tolerated as that will give impetus to the culprit to victimise others.
“Fatoyinbo’s conviction, if found guilty, will prove to the world, Nigeria’s stern and zero tolerance for criminality, regardless of who is involved.
“This is necessary in positioning our country as where the rule of law reigns supreme.
“The ball is now in the court of the ministry of justice through the DPP.
“We express the hope and faith that justice will finally be served in this matter,’’ Olajengbesi said.
Man, 27, arraigned over alleged assault
A 27-year-old man, Gbenga Ajayi, was, on Friday, arraigned before an Ado-Ekiti Magistrates’ Court for allegedly assaulting a woman.
The defendant, of no fixed address, is standing trial on a charge of assault.
The Prosecutor, Sgt. Olubu Apata, told the court that the defendant assaulted one Bose Salami.
He said that the defendant committed the offence on May 26, at Araromi-Ekute in Ado-Ekiti.
Apata said that the woman usually begged for money from the defendant, while the defendant said he had warned her severally not to beg him for money again but that she never listened.
He said that the woman later came to beg for money, while the defendant was angry and beat her up.
According to him, the offence contravenes Section 246(d) of the Criminal Code, Laws of Ekiti State, 2012.
The prosecutor asked the court for adjournment to enable him study the case file and assemble his witnesses.
The defendant pleaded not guilty, while his counsel, Mr Gbenga Ariyibi, urged the court to grant him bail, with a promise that he would not jump bail.
The Magistrate, Mrs Kehinde Awosika, granted bail to the defendant in the sum of N50,000, with one surety in like sum.
She adjourned the case till June 15, for mention.
2 drivers docked for alleged assault, theft of phones
The Police charged Desmond Momoh, 39, and Jaiyesimi Oloruntoba, 30, of Asokoro Extension and Dape Village, Abuja, respectively, with five-count charge of joint act, assault, causing hurt, mischief and theft.
Ejike alleged that on the said date, at about 12.15 p.m, while the complainant was driving to Life Camp, he was stopped at Setraco police check point by security officers to present his pass document.
He alleged that while the complainant drove off from the police check point, the two defendants drove after him and blocked his vehicle from moving.
The prosecutor further alleged that the defendants dragged the complainant out of his car, beat him up and stole his Techno phone and Samsung galaxy tab both valued at N15,000 and N80,000, respectively.
He said the police at the check point heard the complainant screaming and immediately swung into action, arresting both defendants.
Momoh and Jaiyesimi, however, pleaded not guilty to the charges.
The Chief Magistrate, Celestine Odo, admitted the defendants to bail in the sum of N200,000 each, with a surety each in like sum.
Odo ordered that the sureties must be reliable with a fixed address and must reside within the jurisdiction of the court.
He also said both sureties must deposit a recent passport photograph to the court registrar, and their addresses verified by the court officer.
Odo adjourned the matter to June 25 for hearing.
Man in court for allegedly swindling businesswoman of N5m
The police charged Samson, 31, with criminal conspiracy and cheating.
The Prosecution Counsel, Mr G.J. Ayanna told the court that the defendant was arrested and taken to the Intelligence Response Team (IRT) in the Office of the Inspector-General of Police.
He alleged that sometime in 2019, the defendant pretended to be the Managing director of Iconic Rime international Ltd where he approached Mrs Esosa Aroki of B25, Lokogoma Globe Estate, Abuja on a business proposal.
He said after the defendant collected the money, he absconded and when the complainant tried to call, he refused to take his calls.
The offence, he said, contravened the provisions of sections 97 and 322 of the Penal Code.
The defendant, however, pleaded not guilty to the charge.
He adjourned the case until July 3 for hearing.
Man docked for alleged theft of cell phone
Ayoola, of no fixed address, is facing a two-count charge of stealing and burglary.
Mustapha said that the defendant unlawfully entered the house of the complainant, Raphael Saibu, at No. 36 Ifelodun St., Oju-Ore, Sango-Ota, and allegedly stole the cell phone.
He said the defendant was apprehended by the complainant’s neighbours and handed over to the police.
The defendant, however, pleaded not guilty to the charge.
The Chief Magistrate, Mr S. O. Banwo, granted the defendant bail in the sum of N50,000 with two sureties in like sum.
Banwo ordered that the sureties must reside within the court’s jurisdiction and be gainfully employed with evidence of tax payment to Ogun Government.
The magistrate adjourned the case until June 15, for trial.
3 brothers in Police net over alleged murder of woman in Abuja
Three brothers have been arrested in connection with the murder of a woman in Abuja,
according to Mr Frank Mba, Public Relations of the Police Force.
Mba, in a statement on Thursday in Abuja, said that the suspects, from Isiekenesi, Ideato Local Government in Imo, are helping Police investigation into the May 14 murder of Mrs Janet Ogbonnaya, a mother of five children.
He said that the suspects were arrested by the Police in their home town where they had allegedly taken refuge after committing the crime in Abuja, to evade arrest.
Mba said that investigation that led to their arrest followed complaints by one Chinedu Ogbonnaya, who alleged that his mother, Janet, 55, a native of Ozuitem in Bende Local Government Area of Abia, had been kidnapped.
Ogbonnaya told the Police that N5 million ransom was being demanded by the kidnappers to secure the mother’s release.
“A comprehensive and painstaking investigation by Police operatives resulted in the arrest of the three suspects, who, in the course of interrogation, revealed that the victim had long been murdered and buried.
“The suspect took advantage of the visit, served her milk laced with drugs, and subsequently murdered her,” he said.
According to him, the victim was buried in a septic tank afterwhich the suspects went ahead to reach out to the family, using her phone, to demand N5 million ransom to secure her release.
Mba said that the suspects, on Thursday, led a team of investigators alongside pathologists to a residence at Wumba District, Lokogoma area of Abuja, where the victim’s decomposing body was exhumed from a septic tank.
The spokesman said that the exhumed body had been taken to the University of Abuja Teaching Hospital for forensic examination, while a Toyota Highlander Jeep belonging to the deceased had also been recovered at a mechanic workshop in Apo, where it had been repainted into a different colour.
Mba said that the vehicle documents had been fraudulently changed with ownership of the stolen vehicle criminally transferred to one of the masterminds of the crime.
According to him, investigation also revealed that the house where the deceased was killed and buried originally belonged to one of the suspects but was hurriedly sold to a third party to obliterate evidence.
“Already, the Inspector General of Police, Mr Mohammed Adamu, has commended the team of Police operatives for a job well done. He has also pledged that perpetrators of crimes will not go undetected and unpunished.
Enugu lawmaker decries alleged invasion of constituency by Ebonyi communities
Chinedu Okwu, Member representing Aninri Constituency, in Enugu State House of Assembly has called on the state government to urgently intervene in the alleged invasion and destruction of houses and farmlands by some communities in Ebonyi.
He said that land grabbers from the three communities were claiming part of Aninri land, in spite of the obvious boundary features, adding that “they could not render any sustainable account of such claim.
“We complain in tears, about the unwarranted invasion, killing and maiming of our people by the three communities in Ebonyi, Uburu, Akaeze in Ohaozara and Ishiagu in Ivo Local Government Areas respectively, that share common boundary with us.
“Shortly after their kinsman, His Excellency Mr David Umahi, became the governor of Ebonyi, they returned to our land with much more force and a new turn of claim.
“Initially, they were making individual claims of ownership of different parts of our land but now, they claim and act for and on behalf of Ebonyi government.
“They forcefully re-enter with tractors bearing the inscription, Ebonyi Government and destroyed our cassava, yam and rice farms respectively, spanning about 100 hectares and deforested our popular Egu-Nkwo, which over the years used to be the major source of our timber business,” he said.
“The company just started getting the revenue and other benefits accruable from the mining, which is supposed to be for Enugu State, and now is being enjoyed by the Ebonyi government.
“Our people are dying in pains, the thought of watching helplessly another state driving us out of our land and taking over by force our source of livelihood, when we also have a state government, is quite unbearable”, Okwu lamented.
Reacting, the Speaker, Ubosi urged the Deputy Governor, Mrs Cecilia Ezeilo, to dialogue with her counterpart in Ebonyi, to resolve the land encroachment issue amicably.
Police arrests man over alleged rape of 85-year-old woman in Niger
The Police Command in Niger has arrested one Peter Ayemoba, of Rafin Sanyi area in Suleja Local Government Area, for allegedly having carnal knowledge of his two daughters.
The police also announced the arrest of another suspect who allegedly raped an 85-year-old woman.
ASP Wasiu Abiodun, Command Public Relation Officer (PPRO), disclosed this while addressing newsmen in Minna on Thursday.
Abiodun said that Ayemoba had sexually assaulted his daughters, now aged 20 and 23, between 2013 and 2019.
“Investigation revealed that the suspect usually threatened to kill them and commit suicide if they denied him carnal knowledge,” the PPRO said.
“The suspect forcefully had canal knowledge of the 85-year-old before she was rescued by her grandson.”
Abiodun said that the two suspects had confessed to the crime and would be charged to court.
He appealed to residents to volunteer information about suspected criminal elements in their midst.
Edited By: Maharazu Ahmed (NAN)
Alleged intimidation: Court fixes June 11 to rule over Pilot’s claim
Maigida, who resides at No 13, Moses Majekodunmi Crescent, Utako, Abuja filed an application for direct criminal complain in compliance with Section 89 (5) of Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA), 2015.
He instituted the suit against his neighbour, Uche Okolie, on May 15.
The Judge, Inuwa Maiwada, who fixed the date, ordered that a letter of reminder be sent to the police to send a copy report of the investigation in order for the court to deliver its ruling.
He adjourned the matter until June 11, for ruling.
Earlier, the defendant’s counsel, Onyeka Osigwe, informed the court that the police has concluded investigation and will forward a report to the court.
NAN reports that Maigida alleged that Okolie who resides in an apartment directly above his own within the same address, constitutes nuisance.
Maigida said every attempt to get her to stop pounding on his ceiling failed.
In addition, Maigida alleged that the defendant threatened him with a knife, when he tried to talk to her to stop hitting objects on his ceiling.
The pilot is praying for the court to invoke the provisions of sections 183 and 397 of the Penal Code Law, which is an offence for inciting public disturbance and criminal intimidation.
The defendant, however, denied the allegation and the court ordered police investigation into the matter.
The court directed that a report be presented at the end of the investigation.(NAN)
edited by Sadiya Hamza
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