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Court to hear evidence on final forfeiture suit against Patience Jonathan on April 12

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Adjournment

Lagos, March 13, 2019 A Federal High Court Lagos, Wednesday, fixed April 12,  to hear oral evidence in a suit by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), seeking final forfeiture of about 8.4 million dollars, and N7.4 billion linked to former first Lady, Patience Jonathan.

Justice Mojisola Olatoregun had in a ruling delivered on Feb.28, on the motion for final forfeiture, held that there were conflicting affidavit evidences, which could be best resolved if respective parties were called upon to give oral evidence.

The case was consequently, adjourned until March 13 (today) for oral evidences.

On Wednesday, the case could not proceed as earlier scheduled , while April 12 has been fixed as return date

The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the EFCC had secured an interim order for forfeiture of the sums on April 20, 2018, before Olatoregun, following a motion exparte.

It joined as respondents: Patience Jonathan, Globus Integrated Services Ltd, Finchley Top Homes Ltd., Am-Pm Global Network Ltd, Pagmat Oil and Gas Ltd and Magel Resort Ltd and Esther Oba.

NNN reports that on Oct. 29, 2018, EFCC counsel, Mr Rotimi Oyedepo, had moved his motion for final forfeiture of the sums, urging that same be finally forfeited to the Federal Government.

Meanwhile, defence counsel, Messrs Ifedayo Adedipe (SAN), Chief Mike Ozekhome (SAN), and Mr Ige Asemudara had respectively moved their processes in opposition to the motion for final forfeiture.

On Jan. 15, the court had admitted electronic evidences presented by respondent counsel, which depicted video exhibits showing various business outfits of the third and sixth respondents

The court had then adjourned for judgment.

In a ruling on Feb.28, the judge had first dismissed an application by counsel to the respondents, seeking to set aside the interim forfeiture orders made on April 20, 2018.

The court had held that it was satisfied that the requirement for the grant of the interim orders was met by the EFCC, adding that it was clear that at the time the interim order was made, there was no pending suit elsewhere.

Meanwhile, giving its ratio on the motion for final forfeiture, the court held that it finds the affidavit evidences conflicting, adding that same can only be resolved, if the parties concerned were called upon to give oral evidences.

The court had held :

“The applicant relied on two grounds (1) That the court has the statutory power under section 17, to grant the reliefs sought and (2) That the monies are suspected to be proceeds of an unlawful activity or unlawful activities, diverted from the Federal Government of Nigeria,”

The court had asked if having regards to the provisions of sections 17 of the Advance Fee Fraud and Other Fraud Related Offences Act, as well as the available facts before the court, the applicant has made out a case for final forfeiture of the sums.

The judge noted the various processes filed by parties to the suit which includes, affidavits, counter affidavits, further affidavits, reply affidavits written addresses, as well as exhibits .

The court had then held :

“I have examined the issues raised on both sides and i came to the conclusion after exhaustively going through the affidavits filed by parties, and i found the affidavits conflicting on material facts.

“I believe in the circumstance, that the court cannot rely on its own opinion alone; the conflict must only be determined or resolved by the evidences of parties themselves, particularly as it relates to the source of the funds.

“I believe parties should be heard and cross examined on this issue.

“Parties are accordingly called upon to give oral testimonies in support of the case presented, ” The court had held.

edited by Sadiya Hamza

Judiciary

Alleged N28.9m Fraud: Mild drama in court as fake cleric‘s counsel withdraws service

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There was a mild drama in a Plateau High Court on Friday when a counsel, Mr J.O. Ogieva, withdrew his legal representation to a fake cleric, charged with alleged N28.9 million fraud case,.

The EFCC charged Anu Ojo-Olakunori, is charged alongside a couple, Kunle Farinuola and his wife, Josephine and defrauded a housewife,  Mrs Ladi Deborah-Alabi, of N28.9m between December 2016 and February 2018.

Ogieva, counsel to the first defendant, objected to the continuation of trial and told Justice Christine Dabup of High Court IV, that the case can not continue.

“My Lord, l am sorry to announce to this honorable Court that I am withdrawing my service and representation to the 1st defendant in this case.

“I have a motion on notice to that effect applying for my withdrawal in the case. If my fellow counsels in this matter wouldn’t mind I wish to move the motion right away, “ Ogieva pleaded.

Responding, Mr Joshua Saidi, EFCC prosecution counsel opposed to the application which he described it as strange “more so that we are in the midst of taking testimony of the second prosecution witness, who is the direct victim of the scam.”

“She (victim) started giving us her testimony yesterday, Thursday, Nov. 14, and hope to conclude it today so that we can make progress but this application to us is very unnecessary at the material time.

“He can not withdraw from the case at this stage. We believe this application is just a ploy to delay the case.

”After all, we are entitled to time within which to reply his application served to us just now in court, “ Saidi lamented.

The judge, Justice Dabup, then asked the defendant if the defence counsel told had briefed him and he answered, “ yes my Lord, he earlier discussed it with me.”

At that stage, the court allowed Ogieva to move his application and the judge expressly granted.

She the asked the pastor, “now that your counsel has withdrawn his service and representation to you, what do you want the court to for you?”

In reply the pastor pleaded, “I want the court to give me more time to enable me get another lawyer that will represent me in this matter.”

Justice Dabup then adjourned the case until March 4 and March 5, 2020 for continuation of hearing.

The EFCC filed 16 count charge of conspiracy to commit felony to wit;obtaining money under false pretences and therefore committed offenses contrary to sections 8(a), 1(1)(a) of the Advance Fee Fraud and other related offenses Act, 2006  and punishable under section 1(3) of the same Act.

edited by Sadiya Hamza

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Judiciary

Agent docked for allegedly scamming prospective property owner N2.5m

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An estate agent, Ismaila Opeyemi, 37, who allegedly obtained N2.5million under false pretences over the sale of a house, on Friday, appeared before an Ikeja Chief Magistrates’ Court.

Opeyemi, whose address was not provided, was standing trial for conspiracy, obtaining by false pretences, fraud and threatening violence.

The prosecutor, ASP Benson Emuerhi, told the court that the defendant committed the offences sometimes between Sept. and Oct. 2019, at Oshodi, Lagos.

Emuerhi said that Opeyemi and some others at large, collected the amount from Mr Ndubuisi Ezeah as part-payment for the sale of a house located at No. 4, McCarthy Lane, Anthony Village, Oshodi.

The prosecutor said that the defendant collected the money knowing full well that the house was not his and that the owner had not given him authority to sell.

He also said that the defendant deceived and cheated one Mr Joseph Onuorah and Mr Amos Orakposimi by negotiating with them that the said house, which belonged to Mr Raimi Eyiowuawi, was for sale.

“The defendant also threatened the life of the complainant, Mr Ndubuisi Ezeah, for daring to ask for a refund of his money, when the bottom fell out in the agreement.

“The case was reported at a police station, and efforts by the police to locate his whereabouts failed, until information was received on his hideout,” he told the court.

The offences, according to the prosecutor, contravene Sections 56(1), 314, 323 and 411 of the Criminal Laws of Lagos State, 2015.

However, the defendant pleaded not guilty to the four-count charge.

The Chief Magistrate, Mrs O. Sule-Amzat granted him N200, 000 bail, with two sureties in like sum.

Amzat adjourned the case until Feb. 2020, for mention.

Edited by Bayo Sekoni and ‘Wale Sadeeq

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Judiciary

I’m ready to defend alleged double registration accusation – Gov. Bello tells court

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Kogi Governor, Yahaya Bello, on Friday, told the Federal High Court, Abuja, that he was ready to defend himself in the allegation of double registration framed against him by Natasha Akpoti.

Nigeria News Agency reports that Akpoti is the Social Democratic Party (SDP)’s candidate for the Nov. 16 governorship election in Kogi.

While Akpoti is the plaintiff, the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) are 1st and 2nd defendants respectively.

NAN reports that the suit, dated Oct. 10 and marked: /1221/2019, filed by Chief Mike Ozekhome, SAN, on Akpoti’s behalf, sought the court’s determination on the eligibility of Governor Bello in the Saturday’s election, having allegedly involved in double registration as a voter.

Bello, reacting in a counter-affidavit filed by his lawyer, M.Y. Abdullahi, stressed that he did not engage in double registration as alleged by the plaintiff.

The affidavit was deposed to by Khaliat Bello, a lawyer in Abdullahi’s law firm.

It reads: “That on the 23rd day of May, 2017, the alleged date of double registration, he was outside the shores of Nigerian and couldn’t have been anywhere in Nigeria to do voter registration.

“That as of fact, he travelled out of Nigeria on the 18th day of May, 2017 and never entered the country on May 28, 2017.

“The copies of his travel documents which show the immigration exit and entry stamps are attached jointly as ‘Exhibi A.’

“That he is ready and prepared to defendant the allegation of double registration framed against him by the plaintiff.

“That he wants to join and defend the plaintiff’s suit no: /1221/2019 as a defendant.

“That the proposed counter-affidavit and written address of the applicant are attached and marked ‘Exhibit B.’”

The governor argued that since the reliefs sought by Akpoti were against his nomination, qualification and candidacy, he urged the court to join him as 3rd defendant in the suit prior to the hearing of the originating processes.

Bello, who was represented at the court by Mike Enahoro, also sought an order of the court directing the plaintiff and the original defendants to serve him all the processes filed by them in the suit in the interest of justice.

He said the application was filed on Friday because he got wind of the suit the previous day.

Counsel to Akpoti, Chief Mike Ozekhome, SAN, who acknowledged receipt of the motion this morning, hinted that the motion sought to stop court’s proceeding on the matter.

He urged Justice Inyang Ekwo not to grant the request since the election was Saturday.

On his part, Counsel to the APC, Abdulwahab Mohammed, said he would need more time to study the motion.

However, Counsel to INEC, Alhassan Umar, SAN, said he had no objection to the motion.

Justice Ekwo, who adjourned the matter till Nov. 21, said the decision was to afford Governor Bello, who sought to be joined in the matter, a fair hearing.

He said though the election would be Saturday, that would not stop the court from doing its business.

The presiding judge, who gave the plaintiff two days to amend their processes to accommodate Gov. Yahaya Bello as a defendant, also granted all the defendants, including Bello, two days to reply upon being served by the plaintiff.

The judge held that all preliminary objections in the suit would be taken in the adjourned date and any party absent on the day would be deemed to have adopted them.

In an interview shortly after the court sitting, Ozekhome described Governor Bello’s application as a ploy to delay justice.

“We are ready to go on with the case but through deployment of delay tactics, Governor Yahaya Bello, through a counsel today, suddenly brought in a motion to be joined in the suit.

“We did not sue him, being aware of Section 308 of the 1999 Constitution that confers absolute immunity on the governors.

“So we sue APC and INEC and APC is a party fielding him under Section 177 of the constitution. So he doesn’t need to be in the matter,” he said.

Ozekhome stressed that the application would be opposed in the adjourned date.

Also speaking with newsmen, Enahoro wondered why the governor was not made a party in the suit, yet his name was mentioned in all the plaintiff’s three questions for determination by the court.

“There has been so much hurry to have this case determined before the election.

“You will recall that the law permits pre-election matters to be determined within 180 days. This suit is barely 30 days and yet there is a hurry

“You cannot shaves someone’s head in his absence ” he said.

Enahoro described the act as “a joke and an abuse of court process.

“We have furnished the court with sufficient materials. Nigerians will see it that this case is a joke.”

edited by Sadiya Hamza

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Judiciary

Man faces trial for alleged N125,000 fraud

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Adeolu Micheal, 34, on Friday, appeared before an Ile-Ife Magistrates’ Court for alleged N125,000 fraud.

The defendant, however, pleaded not guilty to the two-count charge of fraud and unlawful conversion.

The prosecutor, Insp Sunday Osanyintuyi, told the court that the defendant converted the sum of N125,000 given to him to make aluminum windows into his personal use.

Osanyintuyi said that the offences were committed on April 13, 2018 at about 10 a.m., at the Onward Peal Modern College, Ile-Ife.

He said that the defendant unlawfully obtained the cash sum of N125,000 under the pretence of making aluminum glass window for Onward Peal Modern College, Ile-Ife.

The prosecutor said that the defendant unlawfully converted the money, which was paid to him into his personal use and failed to deliver the job.

According to him,  the offence contravenes Sections 383 (3), 390(9)  and 419 of the Criminal Code, Laws of Osun, 2002.

The magistrate, Bose Idowu, granted the defendant bail in the sum of 100,000 with one surety in like sum.

Idowu said that the surety must swear to an affidavit of means as well as provide three recent passport photographs.

The case was adjourned until Jan. 17 for hearing.

EDA /

Edited by Debo Oshundun/Yemi Idris-Aduloju

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Judiciary

Scavenger bags 6 months imprisonment for theft

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A Kuje Chief Magistrates’ Court, on Friday, sentenced a scavenger, Usman Haruna, to six months in a correctional centre for stealing a generator, five plastic chairs and a car battery all worth N45, 000.

The magistrate, Vera Tukurah, sentenced Haruna, 26, a resident of Tpper  Garage area in Kuje to six months imprisonment after he pleaded guilty to the charge.

Although, the convict begged the court for leniency, Tukurah, who did not give the convict any option of fine, said the punishment was to serve as a deterrent to others with similar intentions.

Earlier, the prosecutor, Samuel Ocheche, had told the court that one Luka Dogara, the complainant, who resides at Kayarda area in Kuje, reported the matter at the Kuje Police Station on Nov. 12.

Ocheche said the convict, entered the complainant’s house and stole a generator, five plastic chairs and a car battery all worth N45, 000.

The prosecutor said the convict was arrested while trying to escape and was brought to the police station.

She said the offence contravened the provisions of Sections 281 of the Penal Code.

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Judiciary

School proprietor defiled student with special needs – Witness alleges in court

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A policewoman, Insp Emem Okon, on Friday told an Ikeja Sexual Offences and Domestic Violence Court that a school proprietor, Timothy Onyiriuka, 45, allegedly defiled a 14-year-old student (name withheld) with special needs in his care.

Onyiriuka, 45, who resides at No. 8, Idowu Bale St., Oke-Ira, Kekere, Ajah, Lagos is charged with  defilement contrary to Section 137 of the Criminal Law of Lagos State 2011.

He is the proprietor of Apex Schools located at No. 12, Edomia St., Power Line, Oke-Ira, Kekere , Ajah, Lagos.

Okon, the Investigating Police Officer (IPO) in the case while being led in evidence by the prosecutor Mrs Arinola Momoh-Ayokanbi, informed the court that the mother of the minor came to the Langasa Police Station to lay a complaint about the school proprietor.

“On Oct. 21, 2013, the mother of the victim (name withheld) came to the police station in a lot of distress, we were all frightened by the way she rushed in.

“She said she wanted to speak to a woman and that her daughter was defiled by her school proprietor Mr Timothy Onyiriuka.

”My superior asked me to take her to one of the offices and report back to him.

“I reported back to him that the minor was defiled,” she said.

The policewoman said that shortly after the incident, she was sent to Kwara to undergo a course and that a surbordinate took over the case.

While being cross-examined by Mr A. C Abarah, the defence counsel, the policewoman revealed that she wrote the two statements on behalf of the mother and the complainant because they could not write.

She also insisted that Abarah, saw when she examined the child was suspected to be seminal fluid.

A second witness, Dr Oluwabusayo Alfred, a medical practitioner with the Ibeju-Lekki General Hospital, in her evidence told the court her findings when she examined the child.

NAN reports that the prosecution allege that the school proprietor who has been remanded in prison, defiled the student who has a speech impairment within the school premises on Oct. 21, 2013.

Section 137 of the Criminal Law of Lagos 2011 prescribes life imprisonment for anyone found guilty of defilement of a child.

Justice Abiola Soladoye adjourned the case until Jan. 15, 2020 for trial.

edited by Sadiya Hamza

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