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Judge Lashes Out At EFCC, Suspends Trial Of Oyo-Ita

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BREAKING: Court Orders Govt To Remove Section 84(12) From Electoral Act

After decrying the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC)’s shoddy prosecution of the immediate past Head of the Civil Service of the Federation, Winifred Oyo-Ita, the Abuja Division of the Federal High Court today suspended further proceedings in the case.

Oyo-Ita is answering to an 18-count corruption charge the EFCC preferred against her and eight others.

Justice Taiwo Taiwo stayed further hearing on the matter after he found that the EFCC went before another court and obtained an exparte order that permitted it to freeze the bank accounts of the 4th, 5th and 6th defendants in the case.

Justice Taiwo described the conduct of the anti-graft agency as “gross abuse of the court process.”

He held that the prosecution engaged in forum- shopping, stressing that proceedings would not resume in the criminal case until the EFCC “do the needful.”

Justice Taiwo who was irked by EFCC’s conduct, said: “It is on record that the defendants, in this case, were formally arraigned on March 23, 2020, and they all pleaded not guilty. This court was informed and became aware of the freezing order on December 1, 2020, by counsel to the 4th, 5th and 6th Defendants.

“There is no doubt that this matter had commenced, charges read were reacted to and applications made were granted, before the prosecutor went ahead to secure the freezing order.

“The learned prosecutor went and filed a fresh application which was assigned to another court.

“Is this not an abuse of the court process? It is the law that once a court is seized of a matter, any application relating to that matter must be filed before the court. The ex parte application assigned to another court in October 2020, months after the defendants, including the 4th, 5th and 6th defendants had appeared in this court, was made in bad-faith.”

READ ALSO: Police Deploy Officers For Delta Council Polls

He held that the action of the EFCC was a slap in the face of the court. “For the prosecution to have even brazingly referred to the actions of this court in his originating summons made ex parte, dated September 18 2020. I am not unaware of the plans of the EFCC to apply for seizing warrant during investigations and even where defendants are formally before the court.

“If the prosecution feels so strongly about the need to secure an order freezing the accounts of any of the defendants, they ought to have brought the application before this court and not before another court. “What the prosecution wants by its originating summons ex parte can also be achieved in this court.

“There would not have been any problem if the ex parte application preceded the charge before this court. The courts have been enjoined to deal with situations of this nature where its process is abused. In the circumstance, I do not see how I can continue with the trial in this manner.

“The only thing I hereby do is to stay further proceedings in this matter until the prosecutor does the needful.

“What he chooses to do in line with the law, is his choice”, Justice Taiwo held.

Oyo-Ita was listed as the first defendant in the charge before Justice Taiwo, marked FHC/ABJ/CR/60/2020, while a civil servant, Garba Umar and his two companies, Slopes International Ltd and Good deal Investment Ltd, are the 4th, 5th and 6th defendants respectively.

Other defendants include Oyo-Ita’s Personal Assistant, Ubong Okon Effiok and four companies; Frontline Ace Global Services Ltd, Asanaya Projects Limited, U & U Global Services Limited and Prince Mega Logistics Limited.

EFCC accused the defendants of complicity in a fraud totalling about N500million. It specifically accused the ex-HoS of collecting kick-backs on contracts while she was in service.

It alleged that aside from collecting esta codes and ticket fees for journeys not embarked on, the erstwhile HoS, collaborated with her co-defendants to disguise the genuine ownership of funds they diverted into accounts of various private companies.

The defendants had through their respective lawyers, urged the court to adjourn their trial sine-die (indefinitely) over EFCC’s conduct.

EFCC’s lawyer, Mohammed Abubakar had opposed their request, though he admitted that it indeed secured an interim forfeiture order against some of the defendants.

Abubakar told the court that there are two separate charges marked FHC/ABJ/CR/60/20 and FHC/ABJ/CR/61/20, relating to alleged offences the defendants committed.

He said some bank accounts listed in the interim forfeiture application were mentioned in both charges pending before Justice Taiwo Taiwo and Justice Inyang Ekwo of the same High Court.

“The two cases emanated from the same case-file. But because of the number of the defendants involved, the prosecution decided to split the charges for ease of prosecution”, he added. He said after the EFCC filed the application to freeze the bank accounts, the chief judge of the court, assigned the matter to another judge, Justice Folashade Giwa-Ogubanjo to handle.

“It was the CJ that decided where to assign the application we filed at the registry. “We had no hand on the assignment of the case file. We also Indicated and exhibited the charge before this court and the one before Justice Ekwo, in our application.

“We submit that we did not engage in abuse of court process. We also did not file that application as a result of disrespect or lack of confidence in any judge of this court. We only did it in pursuance of our statutory duty and with utmost transparency. “We sincerely and unreservedly apologize to this court in the event that our action displeased this court.

“We have indeed affirmed our confidence in your lordship to do justice in this matter. “We vehemently oppose the application from counsel to the 1st defendant, Oyo-Ita, for adjournment sine-die.

“The application amounts to an application for stay of proceedings, which is against the letter and spirit of section 306 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, ACJA, 2015.

“Such an application will run contrary to section 19(2)(C) of the EFCC Act, 2004, which aligns with section 20(3) of the Money Laundering Prohibition 2011 as amended in 2012”, the prosecution counsel submitted.

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Tinubu Urges Obi To Caution Supporters Against Spreading Lies

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Tinubu Urges Obi To Caution Supporters Against Spreading Lies

The All Progressives Congress (APC) presidential candidate Bola Tinubu has urged his Labour Party (LP) counterpart Peter Obi to caution his supporters against spreading lies, denigrating him and other candidates.

In a statement by Bayo Onanuga, the Director of Media and Communications, in the Tinubu Campaign Organisation, the politician warned that “falsehood and disinformation will not win elections.”

“The Tinubu Campaign Organisation has appealed to the presidential candidate of the Labour Party, Mr. Peter Obi to call his supporters to order and to allow this election circle to be about issues that will advance the growth, progress and stability of Nigeria,” the statement said.

Onanuga’s comments follow a false report purporting that Ghana’s President Nana Akufo-Addo wrote a letter to Tinubu, asking him to support Peter Obi and focus on his health.

Akufo-Addo denounced the development via his official Twitter account, saying it was a product of deliberate mischief with the intent to deceive the public.

“I have written no such letter to the APC leader, and it will not occur to me to do so. Ghana and Nigeria boast of decades of cordial, strong and brotherly relations, and I am not going to be the one to interfere in the internal affairs and politics of Nigeria,”  Akufo-Addo tweeted on Tuesday.

READ ALSO: Peter Obi’s Supporters Write INEC, Seek Extension Of PVC’s Registration Deadline

“We have found that the fake news about Akufo-Addo’s letter was first published on June 22 by a rogue platform, whose URL reads as worlsnews.space (sic) and site identity as World of News,” the statement said.

“A content analysis of the site clearly showed that it is a Biafra news platform. The fake news was reposted on Facebook by Peter Obi Support Group, same day – a clear proof that Biafra campaigners and Peter Obi supporters are the same.”

The Nigerian general election is billed for February 2023 but political shenanigans are set to ramp up as campaigns officially commence in September, according to INEC timetable.

Messrs Tinubu, Obi and former vice president Atiku Abubakar of the PDP are seen as the main contenders in the poll.

 

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Why Nigerians Should Return To Study Of History – Falola

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Why Nigerians Should Return To Study Of History - Falola
Prof. Toyin Falola

A renowned historian Prof. Toyin Falola has urged Nigerians to return to an active study of history in order to overcome their myriad individual and national crises.

Falola made the call as he decried the relegation of history while giving the Second Distinguished Lecture of the Department of History of the Lagos State University today Wednesday.

He said: “While history was material in the predominance of Nigerian nationalism during the colonial era, it is rather lacking in contemporary society. Until recently, the Nigerian government stopped the compulsory teaching of history in primary and secondary schools, making the subject optional for students. Few university students now study history because they choose to or find themselves in that situation. If Nigeria would rebuild its nationalism values to keep a tab on its developmental course, there would be a need for more investment in historical research and studying the subject from primary to tertiary education level as a necessity and not an option. If history has been important in inciting nationalists and nationalism has been material in the development of the country across all sectors, it is, therefore, important to go back to the drawing board and reintroduce history to Nigeria’s educational system from the beginning of every Nigerian educational journey to the end.”

In the lecture titled “History and the Nation”, Falola declared that a “nation is the reflection of its history. History connects the past, the present, and the future in one streak of the line through problems, solutions, changes, continuity, legenderies, and normalcy; therefore, it is core to the existence of a nation and important for its future.”

According to the famous Nigerian scholar based in the United States, history is the memory of the nation by which all sectors, through their specific past, navigate current processes and prepare for other impacts.

“As the memory of the nation, history is built from singular lines of memories and records of the activities of individuals and the collective memories of everyone, institutions, and processes that have occurred through time. These memories cut across the nation’s social, cultural, and systematised past, as well as the foundation for co-existence within a society and interaction with other societies”, he said.

READ ALSO: Falola Delivers Lagos Technical Education College’s Lecture, Gets First Technical University’s D.Sc

He noted that what “makes a nation is not only territorial distribution or the occupation of the spaces but also the historical properties and ties that bind the people together. Generational identification is passed down, which binds the social structures that constitute the nation.”

Thus, for Falola, if Nigeria will be involved in nation-building, “the people must understand their cultural activities in order to reclaim their African pride and strive according to their pace and orientation. The nation can only achieve this by circulating historical knowledge in its objective and authentic form. Even if the world cannot change from those periods, exposing contemporary Nigerian citizens to the past would help develop their minds and make them see the wisdom in the cultural attributes of the past. It would allow a sense of belonging to an origin and ways of life distinct from contemporary ones.”

According to Falola, Nigeria can look back at its past to find solutions to the contemporary problems plaguing it.

As he put it : “The essence of history transcends the study of the past alone; it includes the study of the past to understand the present and plan for the future. The nation’s memory helps to understand a present predicament while reflecting on past problems and working towards solutions. History helps to bring back past wisdom, understanding, techniques and methodology to help solve today’s puzzle and create hope for the future. It has always been said that there is almost no event that does not have a similitude to its past circumstances and that the past holds answers to many of the contemporary ponderings …History offers the nation an opportunity to look back at the beginning of the problems to understand the underlying reasons. History allows the nation to reapply past solutions to similar problems or develop them to fit into the contemporary nature of those problems. ”

 READ ALSO: Exposed: The Real Peter Obi

Falola added : “The history of every nation is in the details of every path it has taken and events that have occurred over the years. History holds the nation’s memory so that when time and generations make the citizens forget their origin and how far their nation has strived so hard, history brings back the toils of past generations. With the advent of globalisation and western civilisation that has caused aggressive cultural diffusion, history has remained the only factor that keeps the nation in check and the hope of allowing the people to find their identity once more.

“Nations cannot survive or stand without strong men, women, and institutions to chart the trajectories of their development and integrity. These individuals are those nationalists convinced to fight for a better situation in the country. To build motivations geared towards recreating committed individuals who would swear unflinching loyalty to their country despite the disappointments, history must be made an inciting force to realise this national ambition.

“One other important national process in national development is the duty of every nation and government to ensure that the country progresses and that national development is ensured in order to guarantee good quality of life and standard of living. Any country that cannot do this has undoubtedly failed its purpose. The current state of Nigeria has made us doubt the development of the country, and the future is unpredictable. However, knowledge of historical facts and events empowers individuals with the skills to make good decisions and build purposeful leadership.”

 

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Akpabio, Lawan Remain Disqualified From Senatorial Election – INEC

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The senatorial ambitions of former Minister of Niger Delta Godswill Akpabio and Senate President Ahmed Lawan in 2023 may have irrevocably failed.

This is because the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on Tuesday denied altering electoral documents in favour of Lawan and Akpabio.

Names of the duo were missing from the list of successfully nominated candidates submitted to INEC by the 18 political parties in June.

Having lost out in their quest for the 2023 presidential ticket of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), Messrs Lawan and Akpabio have been making efforts to claim the senatorial tickets of the party for the Yobe North and Akwa Ibom North West Senatorial Districts, respectively.

While Bashir Machina and Udom Ekpoudom had emerged as candidates in the primaries supervised by INEC officials in their respective senatorial zones, the names of Messrs Lawan and Akpabio, who did not participate in the elections were instead forwarded to the commission as candidates.

The acceptance of names was justified by the Akwa-Ibom INEC REC, Mike Igini, but the ultimate decision currently rests with the court.

“INEC has no powers to reject names sent by political parties. Primaries are the sole prerogatives of parties. INEC’s responsibility is merely to monitor the primaries and make sure they abide by their own regulations, the Electoral Act & the Constitution,” Mr Igini said in a report.

However, a media report on Tuesday said INEC had backdated Certified True Copies of reports of the All Progressives Congress (APC) primaries “to accommodate” Messrs Lawan and Akpabio..

Although Akpabio had won a rerun held in the zone, there is no report of a similar election held in Yobe where Machina in Yobe emerged the winner.

In a statement by its spokesperson, Festus Okoye, on Tuesday, INEC denied doctoring or certifying any document in favour of either of the two APC chieftains.

The commission said it had followed through its timetable and there was no point in its schedules where the names of the persons in question were published.

“The forms of the two personalities in question were not published by the commission. The decision of the commission triggered legal actions which are still ongoing. It therefore defies logic and common sense to go around and submit doctored documents purportedly recognising the duo as candidates when the matter is clearly sub-judice,” the statement said.

Okoye said the copy of the form uploaded on the online news platform as evidence, was not properly fact-checked and had thereby encouraged misinformation.

“As part of the ongoing case in court, a law firm requested the commission for a Certified True Copy (CTC) of the Form EC9 submitted by the All Progressives Congress (APC) as its candidate for Akwa Ibom North West Senatorial District which we are duty bound to oblige them under the law. The Form was certified on 15th July 2022. If minimum care had been exercised by the promoters of the story, they would have seen the two stamps of the commission bearing different dates on the form. It is this form that is now misconstrued as INEC’ s endorsement.

“For the record, the commission has not recognised either of the two personalities as a senatorial candidate,” Okoye further explained.

He called for responsible reporting of the development just as he described the story by the online platform as an unwarranted attack on the electoral body.

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