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Alleged N6.3bn fraud: Our evidence against Jang based on hearsay – EFCC tells court

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The trial of a former Governor of Plateau State and the immediate past Senator, who represented Plateau North, Jonah Jang continued in Jos with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC Prosecution witness, Taiwo Olorunyomi, informing the court that all the evidence he tabled before it against the former governor was based on what some people told him.

It would be recalled that Senator Jang and Yusuf Pam, a former cashier in the Plateau State Government House during Jang’s administration, were arraigned by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), on a 12-count charge, bothering on conspiracy and money laundering to the tune of N6.3 billion, an act contrary to, and punishable under Sections 15, 16, 17, 18 and 19 of the Money Laundering (Prohibition Act) 2011, as amended.

Both Jang and Pam have since pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Olorunyomi, an investigator with the ICPC informed the court in response to Counsel to Senator Jang, Mike Ozekhome, (SAN) who was cross-examining him; that, “My lord, throughout our investigation, I did not find any money in Jang’s personal account neither did I witness any money being handed over to him. But I was told that the money was withdrawn and taken to the Governor in his office.”

The prosecution witness had earlier told the court that the former governor contravened the ICPC act when he allegedly spent the sum of N2 billion of the state fund he received from the CBN on other projects other than its original purpose meant for the disbursement to Medium and Small Scale Enterprise Agency of the state.

The EFCC witness also claimed that Jang breached the law establishing ICPC, when he borrowed money from the State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB) without approval by the state House of Assembly.

When asked if the law establishing the ICPC also empowers it to dictate to states which project to embark or how the money was to be used, the ICPC witness answered “No”.

When he was further asked if he was aware of the existence of a law in Plateau State which permits internal and external borrowing by government, the ICPC witness said he was aware.

After the cross examination, Counsel to the EFCC, Rotimi Jacobs called another witness, Jonah Kabong, a civil servant from the office of the Secretary to the State Government to testify in the case.

Jacobs sought to tender before the court two classified documents containing the minutes of the State Security Council meeting and that of the State Executive Council, but the move was objected to by the Defense Counsel, Mike Ozekhome who argued that the Prosecution Counsel failed to meet the criteria necessary before tendering the documents.

According to him, “the official secret act does not permit the disclosure of classified government document to members of the public without authorization by heads of such government agency, ministries or parastatal who must personally give approval for their release.

Ozekhome, who cited several authorities to buttress his argument, pointed out that even if the approval is given, the law allows only the judge to have access to the information which isn’t to be delivered to him in his chambers because of the sensitive nature of the material.

His argument was supported by Counsel to the 2nd Defendant, Sunday Odey who added that it is in the interest of the EFCC counsel not to violate the official secret act as the law also prescribed punishment for offenders.

However, the EFCC Prosecution Counsel, Jacobs rejected their submission and insisted that the legal authorities, which they cited regarding the official secret act only applies to the federal government and not the state government.

He urged the court to accept the documents as exhibits because of their relevance to the case.

Meantime, after listening to arguments by both Counsels, which bordered on the admissibility or otherwise of the two documents, Justice Daniel Longji adjourned the case to 27th June, 2019, for ruling and continuation of the matter.

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N4.6 Billion Fraud: Fani-Kayode Begs Court To Ignore Statement To EFCC But Judge Rules Against Him

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The federal high court Ikoyi, Lagos has ruled against the ea of Femi Fani-Kayode, a former minister of aviation, asking the court to ignore the statement he offered to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

Justice Ridean Aikawa ruled against Fani-Kayode on Monday during the hearing of the N4.6 billion money laundering case preferred against him by the anti-graft agency.

Fani-Kayode had distanced himself from the statements and urged the court not to admit them in evidence.

Fani-Kayode, who was the director of publicity to the Goodluck Jonathan Presidential Campaign Organisation in 2015, is being tried alongside Nenadi Usman, former Minister of State for Finance, Yusuf Danjuma, a former council chairman, and Jointrust Dimentions Nigeria Limited.

The other defendants alongside Fai-Kayode also disowned their statements.

In their argument before Justice Aikawa, lawyers to the defence, Ferdinand Orbih (SAN), Norrison Quakers (SAN) and Clement Onwuenwuenor, prayed the court to issue an order for a trial-within-trial, to test the voluntariness of the statements.

Opposing this plea, Rotimi Oyedepo, lawyer to the EFCC, insisted that the statements were voluntarily made, adding that there was no need for a trial-within-trial.

Justice Aikawa agreed with Oyedepo. He held that a trial-within-trial is only necessary where a statement sought to be admitted “is manifestly confessional”.

“In the present case, none of the statements is confessional. A trial-within-trial is therefore unnecessary,” Justice Aikawa said.

The judge also insisted that the statements complied with the provisions of Section 17 (1) and (2) of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA), which provides that someone must be present to witness a statement.

The anti-graft agency had accused Fani-Kayode and others of violating the Money Laundering Act by indirectly retaining N300 million, N400 million, and N800 million, all proceeds of corruption.

Count one of the charge read: “That you, Nenadi Esther Usman, Femi Fani-Kayode, Danjuman Yusuf and Jointrust Dimentions Nigeria Ltd on or about the 8th day of January, 2015, within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court conspired amongst yourselves to indirectly retain the sum of N1,500,000,000.00 which sum you reasonably ought to have known forms part of the proceeds of an unlawful act to wit: stealing.”

Also, Fani-Kayode was accused of making a cash transaction of N24million with one Olubode Oke, said to still be at large, on February 12, 2015 “to Paste Poster Company of 125, Lewis Street, Lagos Island,” contrary to the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act.

But the defendants argued before Justice Aikawa that they are not guilty.

The matter was adjourned until July 4.

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Supreme Court to get six new Justices – Acting CJN

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The Acting Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Tanko Muhammad, has called on his colleagues on the bench of the Supreme Court to nominate suitable candidates for appointment as justices of the apex court.

The move, which was sequel to an earlier request by President Muhammadu Buhari, is aimed at meeting the constitutional requirements of 21 justices on the bench of the Supreme Court.

DAILY POST reports that the Nigerian Supreme Court has 15 justices on the bench, after the voluntary retirement of former CJN, Justice Walter Onnoghen earlier in June 2019.

However, a memo signed by the Acting CJN, stated that those to be nominated by the justices of the apex court must have proven competence to occupy the bench of the apex court.

The memo, a copy of which was sighted by journalists in Abuja yesterday, was titled ‘Appointment of Six Justices to the Supreme Court of Nigeria’.

It read: “By the provisions of section 230(1) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 as amended, the Supreme Court of Nigeria shall consist of the CJN and such number of justices of the Supreme Court, not exceeding twenty-one, as maybe prescribed by an Act of the National Assembly.

“As there are 15 justices on the bench at present, it is necessary to take steps to fill the remaining six vacancies to make 21 justices.

“I shall be grateful if you could nominate suitable candidates for consideration for appointment as justices of the Supreme Court of Nigeria”.

The Acting CJN added in the memo that nominations should be accompanied with 10 judgments delivered by nominee in contested cases in the last two years preceding the date of nomination in the case of judicial officers and 10 Judgments obtained in contested cases five years preceding the date of nomination in the case of legal practitioners in private practice and certified by competent authorities.

The justices in addition are requested to comment on the suitability of the candidates nominated by them.

The justices have up till Tuesday (today) to send in their nominees.

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EFCC arraigns Senator Bassey, makes damning revelations

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The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, on Monday, arraigned Senator, Albert Bassey, popularly known as OBA, before Justice A. A. Okeke of the Federal High Court, sitting in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State, on a six-count charge bordering on money laundering.

The Senator appeared in court following a bench warrant issued on him by the same court on June 17, 2019, for breaching the terms of bail granted him by the Commission.

The case against the Senator is hinged on the allegation that he took possession of six vehicles worth N204million, at the instance of one Olajide Omokore, whose companies had contracts with the State Government, at the time.

EFCC said its investigations revealed that the said vehicles were proceeds of crime and that he committed the offence while he doubled as the Commissioner for Finance, Akwa Ibom State and Chairman of Akwa Ibom State Inter-Ministerial Direct Labour Coordinating Committee, in December 2012. It is an offence which contravenes Section 15 (2) (d) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2011 (as amended) and punishable under Section 15 (3) of the same Act.

The vehicles are, Infinity QX 56 BP, valued at N45million; Toyota Land Cruiser V8 BP, valued at N40million; Range Rover, valued at N40million; Toyota Hiace, High Roof, valued at N27million; Toyota Hiace High Roof, valued at N16million and Toyota Hilux 4×4, valued at N36million.

One of the counts against him reads: “That you, Albert Bassey, whilst being the Commissioner for Finance, Akwa Ibom State and Chairman of Akwa Ibom State Inter-Ministerial Direct Labour Coordinating Committee, IMDLCC sometime in December 2012, within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court, indirectly took possession of a vehicle (Infinity QX 56 BP) valued at N45,000,000.00 at the instance of one Olajide Jones Omokore (whose companies had contracts with Akwa Ibom State Government at that material time), when you reasonably ought to have known that the said vehicle formed part of proceed of unlawful activity (to wit: corruption) and you thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 15 (2) (d) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2011 (as amended) and punishable under Section 15 (3) of the same Act.”

He pleaded “not guilty” to the counts.

In view of his plea, prosecuting counsel, Mohammed Abubakar, prayed the court for a trial date, to enable the prosecution prove its case against him.

Defence counsel, Solomon Umoh, SAN, informed the court of his client’s bail application and moved same, praying the court to grant the defendant bail.

Umoh said: “The applicant in his application regretted the issuance of the bench warrant and explained his absence. The respondent has not disputed the fact that the applicant is on bail, granted him by the EFCC even as we speak.”

Responding, Abubakar strongly objected to the application on the ground that the terms of the bail application earlier granted the defendant by the Commission, were breached, hence the issuance of the bench warrant.

He further urged the court to discountenance the submissions of Umoh and refuse the application.

But after listening to the arguments canvassed by both counsels, the court discharged the bench warrant issued against the Senator and granted him bail.

While adjourning to July 2 and 3, 2019 for trial, Justice Okeke held that: “The defendant is hereby granted bail in the sum of N20million and one surety in like sum. The surety must have a landed property within the jurisdiction of this Court which will be verified by the court registrar, and the court registrar shall file the report of verification.”

The trial judge further ordered that the Senator should be held in EFCC custody, pending the fulfilment of the bail conditions.

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