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Judiciary

Court orders housewife to pay ex husband N20,000 as divorce settlement

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A Gudu Grade I Area Court in Abuja has ordered a divorce seeking housewife, Amina Abdulsalam to pay her estranged husband Sani Abdulraman, N20,000 as a condition for divorce.

The petitioner, who filed a case against Abdulrahman, told the court that she could no longer tolerate her husband of 13 years and wished to divorce him.

The Judge, Ado Muktar, said that as stipulated by Islamic law, when the divorce is at the insistence of the one of the couple, which in this case is the wife,  the court has a duty to grant them what they ask for.

“I hereby, pronounce the dissolution of the marriage between Sani and Amina as stipulated by the Islamic law.

“However, your husband cannot take you back until after a new marriage has taken place between you and someone else” he said.

NAN reports that the petitioner told the court that her husband ran away with her children when she separated from him.

She also informed the court that the respondent restricted her from seeing them when he took them back to school.

The respondent told the court that he would not contest her request for divorce.

He told the court he was not interested in the money but requested that the court should order her to return the household items she took from his home when she left.

The couple who got married in 2016 have two children.

edited by Sadiya Hamza

Judiciary

Court jails 2 internet fraudsters in Ilorin

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A Kwara High Court, sitting in Ilorin, on Wednesday, sentenced two persons, Emezue Joseph and Ibrahim Omotowo, to six months imprisonment for internet fraud and other related offences.

Justice Mahmood Abdulgafar passed the sentence on the plea of the Prosecuting Counsel, Sesan Ola, that the court should convict and sentence the defendants in accordance with their plea bargain agreements.

Counsel to the accused persons, Oluwadamilola Obadimeji, had, however, pleaded with the court to be merciful to her clients and reduce the sentence.

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“That you fraudulently deceived one Bernard Shannon, an American citizen, to send $150 to you, through gift card and also made him believe that you were a girl in love with him.”

“That you fraudulently deceived one Sampson, an American citizen, with phone number +1424001470, to send $170 to you through gift card after you made him believe you were in love with him.”

The judge, in passing the judgment, said that the evidence of prosecution witnesses were unchallenged and un-contradicted by the defendants.

“I hereby find you guilty of the offence that has to do with internet fraud, and sentence you to six months imprisonment.”

“The sentence of this honourable court is to commence from Oct. 25, the day the accused persons were arrested by the operatives of the EFCC,” he said.

The prosecution counsel said that the offence contravened Section 321 of the Penal Code and was punishable under Section 324 of the same law.

Edited by Ejike Obeta and (NAN)‘Wale Sadeeq

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Judiciary

Alleged P&ID scam: Court to rule on Briton’s plea for bail variation on Friday

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The Federal High Court, will, on Friday, Nov. 22, ruled on the application for bail variation of James Nolan, a Briton, in Abuja.

Justice Okon Abang, who made this known, on Wednesday, also adjournment the continuation of trial in the suit filed by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) against Nolan until Nov. 21.

Nigeria News Agency reports that EFCC had, on Oct. 21, arraigned Nolan and Adam Quinn (at large), both British nationals, over their alleged complicity in the 9.6 billion dollars judgment against Nigeria.

Process and Industrial Development (P&ID), an Irish engineering company, had secured the award against Nigeria following the non-execution of a 20-year gas and supply processing agreement (GSPA) the company had with the federal government.

The arraignment of the two British nationals is coming weeks after two P&ID directors were convicted over the deal.

The defendants, both directors of Goidel Resources Limited, a Designated Non-Financial Institution (DNFI) and ICIL Limited, were arraigned on a 16-count charge bordering on money laundering.

Justice Abang had, on Nov. 7, admitted Nolan to a bail in the sum of N500 million.

The judge, who granted the bail in an application filed by Nolan, ordered that the applicant must produce “a surety in like sum, who must be a Nigerian and a serving senator not standing any criminal trial in any court in Nigeria.

Besides, he held that the proposed surety must submit a three years tax clearance certificate and sign an undertaking to always be present in court with the defendant throughout the duration of the trial.

“The senator must have a landed property fully developed in Maitama District of Abuja and fully certified by the FCDA.

”The surety must submit two passport photographs,” Abang had ruled.

Likewise, the court ordered the defendant to surrender all his international passports, even as it mandated the Nigerian Immigration Service to confirm how many passports that were issued to him within the past 20 years.

Earlier at the resumed trial on Wednesday, the EFCC’s Counsel, Ekele Iheanacho, had told Justice Abang that since the matter was slated for trial, the anti-graft agency was ready to commence the trial.

The lawyer told the court that he was in the court with two witnesses.

However, Counsel to the defendant, Paul Erokoro, SAN, told the court that he was not prepare for the commencement of trial due to inability to have adequate access to his client.

Erokoro told the court that he had already briefed the prosecution about the difficulty he faced in preparing for the trial.

He explained that Nolan was being held at Kuje Correctional Centre where they were allowed access to him twice a week.

According to him, and on each visit, we are allowed only 15 minutes.

The lawyer attributed this to the fact that there were lots of persons awaiting trial at the correctional center who all need to be visited by their counsel and families.

He said it was disheartening that all these persons received their visitors at once without any privacy, besides the time constraint.

“Again, the visitors are supervised by prison officers. So the time for proper communication is not there,” Erokoro said.

He lamented that the development had made it difficult for him to prepare for the trial.

The lawyer, who reminded the court about the application for bail variation before it, prayed the court to favourably grant the request to allow the defendant counsel have adequate time and facility for their defence.

“We therefore appeal for adjournment until your Lordship fix a date for hearing in the variation of bail application,” he said.

Opposing the request, the EFCC lawyer argued that though “the law provides facilities and time for a defendant, such facilities do not include that the defendant must be released on bail before he can brief his counsel.”

Iheanacho stressed that the law does not include confidentiality between a defendant and his counsel on the briefing they must have at a correctional centre.

“We have served the defendant the prove of evidence in this case since September and today is Nov. 20.

‘So the defendant has sufficient time to have briefed his counsel even if it is 15 minutes per a visit and two times visit per week.

“We have two witnesses in court today and we are ready to proceed,” he said.

Responding, Erokoro said that the prove of evidence was served on the defendant while he was at EFCC’s custody and that through the period, “we had no access to him.

“It was only when this court kindly ordered that the 3rd defendant be remanded at Kuje Correctional Centre that we are able to have access to him.

“We thank your Lordship for that kindness,” he said.

The lawyer argued further that if the prosecution counsel called his witnesses, it would be difficult for him to cross-examine them and that this might amount to wasting the precious time of the court.

Erokoro, who commended Justice Abang on the way he had handled the case so far, said: “My Lord, you have handled the case in a way that Nigerian judiciary looks good before international community because the whole world is watching this case.”

Justice Abang, however, said that his decision on the matter would be based on the fact of the case and the law.

“I hope you will be able to say this when the case does not favour you because justice will definitely be done,” Abang told Erokoro.

Delivering his ruling on application for adjournment, the judge noted that though the defendant should be given adequate time and facilities for his defence, this does not mean that the defendant must be released to have adequate preparation.

According to him, it is my view that the commencement of the trial can not be depended on the granting of the variation of bail.

The judge, who said that he could not make a decision on the issue that the prison officers did not allow him adequate time.

He said to take a decision on the issue without hearing from the officers, even though they are not party in the case, would mean denying them of fair hearing.

Justice Abang, who overruled Erokoro on application for adjournment, therefore, ordered the prosecution to call the witnesses.

The first prosecution witness, Mr Agunbiade Adewale Akinseye, told the court that he is an account officer with the Guarantee Trust Bank (GTB).

“I have worked with the bank for 15 years,” he said.

Akinseye, who enumerated his duty in the bank, said he knows Mr James Nolan and the two companies; Goidel Resources Limited and ICIL Limited.

“The accounts of the two companies are assigned to my team to manage,” he said.

He explained that his team was charged with attending to customers’ requests and resolving their issues.

Akinseye said on September 16, 2019, his team received a request from the EFCC to provide accounts opening documents and statements of accounts of the companies and that they were forwarded to the commission.

He said the account documents were jointly signed by his colleagues; Idris Giwa and Beckley Ojo, members of the compliance team in the bank.

The witness, who confirmed that Nolan and Isaac Ebubeogu were signatory to accounts numbers: 0154696732 and 0151728629, said $125, 000 was credited into the account number: 0154696732 of Goidel Resources Limited on February 1, 2016 by Nolan.

“On May 2, 2019, $47, 975 was transferred from Industrial Consultant International to Goidel Resources Limited.

“On February 13, 2018, a transfer of $120, 000 from LIR Resources Nigeria Ltd to Goidel Resources Limited,” he said.

Akinseye added that on account number: 0151728629, N50 million was transferred from Box Design Ltd to Goidel Resources Limited on February 15, 2015.

“On November 6, 2015, there was a transfer of N10 million from Box Design Ltd to Goidel Resources Limited.

“On May 5, 2016, there was a transfer of N11 million from Lurgi Consults Ltd to Goidel Resources Limited.

“On 1st February, 2018, there was a transfer if N10 million from Eclate Plathora Ltd to Goidel Resources Limited,” he testified.

The witness, who said Nolan was also signatory to ICIL Limited’s account, said on the account number: 0024024414, there was a transfer of $350, 000 from Pasali Enterprises to ICIL Limited on September 1, 2014.

“On 3red September, 2014, there was a transfer via cheque of $80, 000 from ICIL Committed to Ahmed Usman.

“On September 4, 2014, there was a transfer of $40, 000 from ICIL Limited to Neil and Elizabeth for salary payment.

“On September 8, 2014, there was a transfer of $700, 000 from ICIL Limited to Ahmed Usman,” he stated.

Akinseye, who responded to Erokoro’s question during cross-examination, said the account of ICIL Limited started operating in May 2014.

He gave criteria for opening corporate account in the bank and conditions with which such account could be placed on restriction.

Akinseye, who said that Goidel Resources Limited is into oil and gas business, as well as other activities in their memorandum of association of the company, stated that ICIL Limited is an engineering firm that engages in contract, consultancy, etc.

He said he came to testify because the accounts were assigned to his team to manage.

“So I was contacted during investigation and I was invited to give evidence.

“I have written statement about what I know about the existence of these accounts and I made the statement nit as a suspect but as an account officer,” he said.

When the defendant counsel demanded for the original of the witness’ statement, the EFCC lawyer, though said he was not with it in the court, he promised to make it available after the sitting.

In his ruling, Justice Abang, therefore, granted Erokoro access to Nolan within the regulation time of the correctional service centre, pending the hearing and the termination of the defendant’s application for the variation of the bail conditions.

The judhe, who adjourned the matter till Nov. 21 for continuation of cross-examination of the first prosecution witness, fixed Nov. 22 for hearing of the application for bail variation.

edited by Sadiya Hamza

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Judiciary

FEC approves policy for easy access to justice

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Justice

Abuja, Nov. 20, 2019 The Federal Executive Council (FEC) on Wednesday approved a Justice Sector Policy as part of deliberate efforts to reform the nation judicial sector for easy access to justice in the country.

The Attorney-General of the Federation and the Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami disclosed this when he briefed State House correspondents at the end of the Council meeting, presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari at the Council Chamber of the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

According to the minister, the policy will ensure speedy determination of justice, enhance quality of justice as well as access to justice.

“From the office of the Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, two memos were presented for consideration of the Council. The first memo that was taken was a memorandum relating to administration of justice which was about having in place a justice sector reform policy.

“It is a blueprint that sets out a clear vision, objective and interventions for the reform of the justice sector to engender fair, efficient and transparent administration of justice.

“The intention and desire was to have a justice sector reform package that would turn things around for the better as far as the administration of justice is concerned.

“Turn things around relating to access to justice; turn things around relating to speedy administration of justice and turn things around for the purpose of ensuring at the end of the day that we have a consensus approach to the administration of justice.

“So, what was presented in that respect by the Office of the Attorney-General was a policy package that has been worked upon by the executive, judiciary, legislature and multi-dimensional institutions and stakeholders coming about with a roadmap as it relates to speedy administration of justice,’’ he said.

According to him, the three arms of government as well as the Ministries, Departments and Agencies have been over time working on roadmap that was a product of this policy.

He said: “So, what we have in place by way of administration of criminal justice act at a time, which was intended to ensure that we have speedy determination of cases before the court, was indeed a product of that understanding.

“What we had by way of a legislation relating to the Correctional Service Act was indeed a product of that understanding and the same thing with the executive orders that were put in place. So the intention is to work together for the purpose of assisting the justice sector.’’

Malami also revealed that Council approved a memo seeking to repeal the Geneva Convention and re-enact it to “accord greater access to justice by prisoners of war.”

According to the minister, it appears that Nigeria was behind the rest of the world in terms of according prisoners of war certain rights and privileges.

“Geneva Convention, which is accommodated in our laws as `Geneva Convention Act, G3, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004’ is a convention that was designed to provide protection to prisoners of wars; to people involve in arm conflicts and associated infractions, for example,’’ he added.

Edited by Ekemini Ladejobi/Sadiya Hamza (NAN)

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Judiciary

P&ID: FG adopts strategies to get Contract Quashed – Malami

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the Federal Government has started implementing enhanced strategies geared towards setting aside the entire P&ID liability and possible nullification of the contract.

by Dr Umar Gwandu, his Special Assistant on Media and Public Relations Office of the Minister.

According to the Minister, under the new strategy, “no lawyers were replaced, but more lawyers with specialised skills are locally and internationally engaged to support the existing capacity and initiate fresh suits with a view to achieving the desired result.

“This time around it is not limited to a challenge on enforcement proceedings, but extended to setting aside the entire liability and probably the nullification of the contract on which the award was hinged”.

While repudiating the allegation on replacement of the Nigerian Legal team on P&ID Malami said “Our lawyers originally engaged have proven to be versatile, competent and effective and constitute our winning team.

“They have such capacity that we do not doubt in their ability to deliver.

“There was no change of counsel, but enhanced strategy commonly agreed upon which was targeted at getting overall success”, the Minister added.

NAN reports that Malami described the so-called P&ID contract as a well-organised scam “consciously, deliberately and intentionally orchestrated by some dubious – and well-placed Nigerian government officials at the time with some shrewd foreign collaborators to defraud Nigeria and inflict heavy economic and financial loss on Nigeria and its people.

He vowed that the Nigerian Government will not sell out the interest of the country and the Nigerian people in order to satisfy some elements who are consciously out to extort the Nigerian people for their selfish aggrandizement.

“We will not allow fraudulent local and foreign collaborators to rip off the resources of Nigeria for no just cause but merely to be seen as being nice or ‘investor-friendly’”  he reaffirmed.

edited by Sadiya Hamza

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Domestic violence: British Council trains magistrates, judges in Lagos

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In an effort to reduce domestic violence in Lagos State, the British Council has trained about 100 magistrates and judges on Protection Against Domestic Violence Law.

The British Council organised the training through its Rule of Law and Anti-corruption (RoLAC) programme,  funded by the European Union.

The Lead Consultant for the training, Prof. Ayo Atsuwa, Dean, Faculty of Law, University of Lagos, said that the training focused on the safety of vulnerable persons such as domestic servants, spouse, physically challenged and persons.

She said that the law had been there but had little or no effects on victims, as its provisions had yet to be explored for the safety of victims.

Atsuwa said that the involvement of many non-governmental organisations, human rights groups and civil societies in creating awareness against domestic violence showed that the menace was in the increase.

The don urged judges and magistrates to raise awareness on the law and ensure  safety.

She said that many people were facing challenges at home in the hands of those they would not want to expose, adding that the law allowed another person to bring  applications before the court on behalf of such victims.

Atsuwa said that counsellors, health service providers,  police, social workers, organisations or teachers could bring such applications in court provided they had the consent of the complainant.

She said that an application for the protection of a minor, mentally challenged and unconscious, who might be  unable to consent, would not need their consent.

The Coordinator of RoLAC in Lagos State, Mrs Ajibola Ajimakiwa, said that the two-day training was to build the capacity of justice stakeholders in the state to apply the provisions of the law.

Ajimakiwa said that the training was to build capacity toward increased application and utilisation of the provisions of the law, to resolve criminal cases and apply the newly signed practice direction.

She said that in spite of laudable achievements in implementing some provisions of the law, more would still need to be done.

“The reasons are largely due to public ignorance of the existence of the law and its protective nature and limited knowledge on the provisions of the law.

Lagos State Judiciary would be able to effectively understand the law itself and the guiding principles when presiding over cases of domestic violence in court, thereby advancing the implementation of the law,” she said.

Edited by Bayo Sekoni/Ijeoma Popoola (NAN)

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Court dismisses suit to stop relocation of council secretariat

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An Ekiti High Court on Wednesday dismissed an interlocutory injunction seeking to restrain the state government from moving the headquarters of Ilejemeje Local Government Council from Iye Ekiti to Eda-Oniyo Ekiti.

Nigeria News Agency reports that Oba Jonathan Adeleye Oni, Oniye of Iye Ekiti and Mr Elijah Kupolati, had in representative capacity for the community, filed the suit to stop the planned relocation of the council headquarters to Eda-Oniyo Ekiti.

Joined as respondents in the suit are: the governor of Ekiti State, Ekiti State Attorney-General and Oba Julius Awotola, the Eleda of Eda-Oniyo Ekiti.

At the hearing of the originating summons on Wednesday, Justice Adesodun Abiodun dismissed the application for interlocutory injunction.

“I have hesitations in holding that there is no merit whatsoever in this originating summons same is hereby dismissed with a sum of N250,000 as cost in the favour of the defendants.

He described the action as trying to obtain court judgment through the back door and re-litigating a matter already resolved by the Supreme Court.

The claimants were represented by Mr Taiwo Kupolati, while the first and second respondents were represented by Mr Olawale Fapohunda, Ekiti State Attorney-General.

Mr E.K Adetifa was counsel to the third respondent.

Nigeria News Agency recalls that the Supreme Court had on Friday Dec. 14, 2018 ended the 19-year legal dispute over the right location of the headquarters of Ilejemeje Local Government Area of Ekiti State.

A five-man bench of the apex court had unanimously ordered the Ekiti State Government to immediately restore the headquarters of the local government to Eda-Oniyo from where it was relocated to Iye-Ekiti shortly after the state was created on Oct. 1, 1996.

The case began in the Ekiti State High Court with the suit filed in 1999 by the Eda-Oniyo Monarch, Oba Julius Awolola, challenging the relocation of the headquarters from his town.

The Justice Olabode Rhodes-Vivour-led bench of the Supreme Court had held that the establishment of the headquarters of the local government in Eda-Oniyo was backed by statute and could not be relocated elsewhere without the promulgation of a new law.

Reading the judgment of the panel, Justice Paul Galinje held that the act of the Ekiti State Government, three months after its creation, relocating the headquarters of the local government from Eda-Oniyo to Iye Ekiti “has no legal basis’’.

Ganlinje upheld the 2001 judgment of the Ekiti State High Court which affirmed Eda-Oniyo as the council’s headquarters and set aside the 2016 judgment of the Ilorin Division of the Court of Appeal which had ruled otherwise.

Edited by Bayo Sekoni/Donald Ugwu (NAN)

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