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



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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.”

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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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Robbers Loot N30m Goods At Ikota Shopping Complex



. Owners Report Security Firm To Police

For about two decades, Dr. Helen O. Eto, CEO, Superior Mobile Investment Ltd and iClick Gadgets, has been doing business peacefully at Ikota Shopping Complex which borders Victoria Garden City (VGC), Lekki Peninsula, Lagos. The shopping facility is run by HFP Engineering Ltd.

However, robbers struck at the complex that has about 1,850 shops in the early hours of March 7th, 2023. Finesse Security Ltd guards claimed that they forgot to lock the gate of the facility, allowing the hoodlums to cart away about N30 million phones and other goods from Mrs. Eto’s freshly restocked shop.

Lamentingher ordeal to the police in Ajah and Panti, Yaba, Mrs. Eto said : “We took bank loans for the business plus our life savings all of which are gone. This is a wicked plan against us in our old age with children still in school, other dependants and various bills.

“We plead that the police should help us to get to the bottom of the looting to save us from early deaths as our BPs have shot up sharply because this is our main source of livelihood. A list of the goods looted from the shop was/is attached to my statements at Ajah Police Station and SIB, Yaba.”

Omokioja Julius Eto, Chairman, Editorial Board of The Daily Times and a media consultant, corroborated his wife’s account. Eto, a former Associate Editor of The Guardian and Editor-in-Chief of The Trumpet, said: “The robbery is shocking because the security gate is inaccessible even to shop owners at night, our shop is just a stone’s throw from the gate and it would have taken about at least two hours to cut through the shop’s security system.

“This makes us to strongly see the guards as the main suspects. We were not immediately notified by the security firm or the facility managers (HFP) of the robbery which we only got to be aware of at about 8.20am through one of our employees.”

A former Editor of The Daily Times, Eto who has also worked as a senior editor at the Punch and Thisday, added: “Since the break-in on March 7 till today March 30, Finesse Security Ltd has not called to sympathize with us but has been evading our calls and texts to its MD whom we learnt travelled abroad after the robbery.

“We have been doing everything to support the police investigation despite our predicament and hope they will bring the culprits to justice.”

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Arrest Interim Govt Plotters Now – Governors



Tambuwal Emerges Chairman Of Governors' Forum
Governor Tambuwal

Governors of the 36 states have asked the Department of State Services (DSS) to arrest and prosecute those involved in a plot to put in place an interim government as part of moves to truncate the nation’s democracy.

Condemning the move, the governors under the auspices of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum assured of their commitment to continue in the defence of Nigeria’s democracy as elected leaders.

In a statement on Friday by NGF Chairman and Governor of Sokoto State, Aminu Tambuwal at the end of the 4th meeting of the Governors, he warned the DSS against issuing statements without arrest as that amounts to heating the polity.

Tambuwal said, “The Forum deliberated extensively on the alleged plot by some unscrupulous elements to install an interim government, as contained in the recent statement issued by the Department for State Services (DSS). Governors condemned in the strongest terms, any unconstitutional means of regime change and pledged its commitment to continue to defend Nigeria’s democracy as elected leaders.

“In addition, the Forum believes that issuing statements without arrests is akin to heating up the polity and causing unwarranted tension in the country. It called on the DSS to do its job by immediately arresting and prosecuting all those involved in the plot as a matter of urgency.”

Recall that the DSS had on Wednesday confirmed rumours that a section of the political class was planning for an interim government in order to truncate the result of the recently-concluded general elections.

The Spokesman for the DSS, Dr. Peter Afunanya in a statement said that the agency had identified some key players in the plot for an Interim Government in Nigeria but did not give the names of the masterminds.

The agency had said that the planners of the interim government had already held several meetings, during which they weighed many options to actualize their plot including sponsoring endless mass protests across Nigerian cities, securing a warrant to declare a state of emergency or a court injunction to stop the inauguration of the executive and the legislature at the federal and state levels.

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BREAKING:Lagos Govt Arraigns Chrisland School, Principal, Others Over Death Of Pupil Whitney Adeniran



Chrisland pupil Whitney

The Lagos State government has arraigned Chrisland School, Opebi, its principal, vice principal and two other employees over the death of one of the school’s pupils, 12-year-old Whitney Adeniran.

On Wednesday, the government of Lagos State had filed charges against Chrisland School and four others over the death of the 12-year-old pupil, Whitney Adeniran.

The school and its workers were accused of involuntary manslaughter and reckless and negligent acts.

The workers who were arraigned before Justice Oyindamola Ogala of the Lagos State High Court in Ikeja include Ademoye Adewale, Kuku Fatai, Mrs Belinda Amao, Nwatu Ugochi Victoria and Chrisland School Limited.

The school principal, Mrs Belinda Amao, broke down in tears while in the dock as the court and counsel tried to agree on a date for the commencement of the trial.

Whitney died during the school’s inter-house sports competition at Agege Stadium in Lagos on February 9.

Blessing Adeniran, her mother, had accused Chrisland of negligence over her daughter’s death.

The school’s management, however, dismissed insinuations that there was foul play in the death, saying she slumped in public.

Chrisland also argued that Whitney complained about “not-too-buoyant health” a few days before she died.

However, an autopsy conducted at the Lagos State University Hospital (LASUTH) confirmed that the deceased died from “asphyxia and electrocution”.

In the charges filed on behalf of the state government by the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP), Babajide Martins, who disclosed that their negligence killed Whitney because they failed to ensure her safety.

The charge also disclosed that they all acted in a reckless and negligent manner that endangered human life.

The offences are contrary to Sections 224 & 251 of the Criminal Law, C17, Vol.3, Laws of Lagos State, 2015

If found guilty, the offences carry a penalty of life imprisonment and two-year jail terms respectively.

On Tuesday, the state government granted access to Chrisland High School, Opebi branch, to open for physical learning ahead of the school’s forthcoming examination after parents’ appeal.

The state governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu had ordered that the school be shut down on March 3, 2023, following the investigation into Whitney’s death.

Sanwo-Olu through the state Ministry of Education said the closure of the school would pave the way for unhindered investigation and afford all stakeholders, including parents, students, staff and friends of the deceased, time to grieve.

The reopening followed an appeal by the Parents of all Chrisland School Units who visited the Ministry of Education on Monday to seek the government’s understanding for “the sake of 500 plus students some of whom also have terminal examinations.”

The management of the school had tendered an apology over Whitney’s death.

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