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

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BREAKING: Court Sacks Zamfara PDP Governorship Candidate

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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Aisha Buhari Withdraws Defamation Case Against University Student Aminu Mohammed

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Aisha Buhari Withdraws Defamation Case Against University Student Aminu Mohammed

First Lady Aisha Buhari on Friday withdrew a defamation case against a student of the Federal University, Dutse, Aminu Mohammed.

The prosecution counsel, Fidelis Ogbobe, told the court in Abuja on Friday that the president’s wife withdrew the case due to the intervention of well-meaning Nigerians.

The first lady has been under pressure since news of Mohammed’s arrest broke last week.

Celebrities, social media influencers, students, politicians, media analysts have been commenting on the plight of Mohammed, who landed in trouble over a comment that the wife of Nigeria’s number one citizen found offensive.

Back in June, Mohammed had tweeted that the First Lady was feeding ‘fat’ on poor people’s money.

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The tweet, which was posted in Hausa, read: “Su mama anchi kudin talkawa ankoshi.” It loosely translates as “Mama has fed fat on poor people’s money.”

A picture of Aisha Buhari was posted with the tweet to match the post.

 

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Labour Party Rejects Suspension Of Okupe As Campaign DG

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Labour Party Rejects Suspension Of Okupe As Campaign DG

The Labour Party has rejected the purported suspension of its presidential campaign council (PCC) director-general, Doyin Okupe.

Umar-Farouk Ibrahim, the national secretary of the party said this when he addressed reporters in Abuja on Friday.

Ibrahim said that the national leadership of the party was surprised at the suspension by the Ogun chapter which was without due process.

“The Ogun State Chapter has acted outside its constitutional jurisdiction; the party has an internal conflict resolution mechanism of handling cases against members as enshrined in the party’s constitution.

“There are also disciplinary measures to be taken, for example, before you discipline any member, there are certain procedures that you have to follow, you have to issue a query among other procedures, and that has not been followed.

“No complaint was written by the state chapter, his ward and his local government, so we are saying the national headquarters is not aware of what they are doing, they are doing it on their own.

“The National Working Committee(NWC) is going to set up a committee and appropriate disciplinary action would be taken against the perpetrators in the state exco and we are going to fish them out and take appropriate action,” he said.

READ  ALSO: Okupe Sacked From Labour Party

Ibrahim said the suspension was void as Okupe remained a card- carrying member LP and the DG PCC.

He said that the party was not unaware of attempts by opposition parties to infiltrate its structures at all levels.

Ibrahim said that the party’s leadership would do everything within its powers to ensure that its cohesion was not tampered with and would not be distracted by the antics of the opposition candidates until all its candidates were victorious in the 2023 general election.

He expressed worry over recent attacks on party members, candidates and officials in some states, particularly Edo, Ebonyi states and Kaduna where the state women leader was gruesomely murdered.
(NAN)

 

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BREAKING: Wike Dares Buhari To Name Governors Diverting Council Funds

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BREAKING: Wike Dares Buhari To Name Governors Diverting Council Funds

President Muhammadu Buhari was on Friday challenged to name the state governors who diverted local government allocations.

The challenge came from Rivers State Governor Nyesome.

The president had at an event on Thursday alleged that some state governors divert allocations to local governments councils sent from the federation account.

He also accused the governors of making the council bosses sign undertakings for money not received and agreeing to have received the full allocation.

But on Friday, at the commissioning of a project in Port Harcourt, Gov. Wike claimed that he has never touched monies meant for the local government since he came on board in 2015.

READ ALSO: How Buhari Govt Is Shielding Amaechi From Prosecution For Corruption – Wike

The governor also claimed that none of the G5 governors in the Peoples Democratic Party has ever touched local government allocations.

He then challenged the President to name the governors who tamper with local government allocations.

Wike said ” I challenge Mr. President, you must come out and tell Nigerians those committing this offence.

“You said the Governors are taking local government funds. I want to say, in the name of Almighty God, I’ve never touched local government funds one day. I have never and I have no reason to do that.

“So Mr President, tell us who are those people? You know them, tell us.

“I’m not one of those governors. Mr President tells Nigerians that the Integrity Governors are not part of them.

“Do us a favour to announce all those states that are taking local government funds”.

 

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