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Court orders EFCC, two banks to pay Benue Govt N100m

A Federal High Court sitting in Makurdi, Tuesday ordered the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, United Bank of Africa, UBA and Fidelity Bank to jointly pay the sum of N100 million to the Benue State government for freezing its accounts last year.

Delivering judgement in the suit number FHC/MKD/CS/46/2018
filed by the Benue State Government challenging the legality of the EFCC freezing its accounts, Justice Mobolaji Olajuwon, ordered the anti-graft commission to pay the Benue State Government the sum of N50 million as damages, while UBA and Fidelity are to each pay the sum of N25 million.

Justice Olajuwon stated that the Benue State government accounts that were frozen do not fall within the classes or categories of accounts liable to be frozen by the EFCC.

She declared the action of the EFCC as illegal, null and void, saying that the order issued by EFCC to the affected Banks to freeze Benue State accounts was not obtained from a Federal High Court before.

The Judge, thereafter, granted an order of perpetual injunction restraining EFCC from further freezing Benue State Government accounts domiciled in financial institutions.

In a reaction, the Benue State Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr. Michael Gusa described the judgement as sound, adding that the the Ortom administration believes in the rule of law and due process, and would not fail to challenge any act of illegality on the State.

It will be recalled that a few days after Governor Samuel Ortom defected from the All Progressives Congress, APC to the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, EFCC ordered the freezing of the accounts of Benue State Government in UBA and Fidelity Bank on the premise that the Governor’s security vote was being investigated.

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Law

CCT trial: CJN’s arraignment a sad day for Nigeria judiciary – Onnoghen’s lawyer

The counsel of the Chief Justice of Nigeria CJN, Walter Onnoghen, Chris Uche SAN, Friday stated that the eventual arraignment of his client before the Code of Conduct Tribunal CCT, was a sad day for the country’s judiciary.

A battery of newsmen had approached Onnoghen’s lawyer for his reaction after the adjournment of the matter inside the CCT premises.

When grilled, he said, “It is a sad day for the judiciary for the indignity meted to the hallowed arm of government. The judiciary has experienced a setback for democracy and also for the people of the law when due process was not followed.

“Someone will just come from the blues and accuse a person of stealing and you expect him to be brought to the defendant box, and you also expect that person to bend his head to be slaughtered? NO.”

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Justice Onnoghen: CCT grants suspended CJN bail as he pleads not guilty to charges

The Code of Conduct Tribunal, Friday granted the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Walter Onnoghen, bail on self-recognition and, adjourned to March 11, for hearing of all pending applications.

This development followed an oral bail application made by the defence counsel, Chris Uche, SAN, after Onnoghen pleaded not guilty to the six count-charge preferred against him by the complainant – the Federal Government of Nigeria.

The six count-charge were subsumed that aside allegation that he failed to disclose his assets as prescribed by law, FG, in the charge that was filed by the Code of Conduct Bureau, CCB, equally accused the CJN of operating foreign bank accounts.

It also alleged that contrary to relevant laws regulating the conduct of public office holders, the CJN, maintained a domiciliary foreign currencies account that comprised use of Dollars Account, Pound Sterling Account and Euro Account.

However, before the tribunal proceeded with the matter, Uche pleaded that the order or warrant of arrest slammed against his client be vacated.

In his words, “We are here for the arraignment but before the tribunal proceeds, it will be recalled that there are applications pending.

“It was the view by way of the majority decision of this tribunal that the defendant must appear.

“And here is the defendant. But may I plead that the order of the bench warrant be discharged before proceedings “.

In reaction, the tribunal chairman, Danladi Umar conveyed approval but said it would be on the condition that the CJN makes himself available whenever needed.

Also, after the vacation of the order of warrant of arrest and Onnoghen pleaded not guilty to the aforesaid charges, Uche, again rose to apply for an adjournment over which the prosecuting counsel, Musa Ibrahim did not object.

On this premise, the tribunal chairman acceded to the application and adjourned the case to March 11, for hearing of all pending applications.

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Nigeria Decides: Acting CJN, Mohammad counsels Tribunal members against sentiments

The Acting Chief Justice of Nigeria, CJN, Justice Ibrahim Tanko Mohammad, has urged chairmen and members of the election petition tribunals to eschew sentiments in the delivery of judgements.

He counselled them to deliver judgements based on merits of cases before them and set aside sentiments.

Speaking during the swearing-in ceremony of additional 17 members of the election petition tribunal yesterday in Abuja, Mohammad said that cases arising from the 2019 general elections must be guided by the rule of law.

Muhammad stated that the fairness of members at the tribunal will go a long way in determining the peace in Nigeria.

According to the acting CJN: “It is the general belief that elections held when the rule of law is too fragile, seldom lead to lasting democratic governance. You are enjoined to always strike a balance between justice and rule of law as you embark on this critical national assignment.

“As you all know, the rule of law delayed, is lasting peace denied because justice is a handmaiden of true peace. We need this in Nigeria more than ever before. The trumpet must first sound from the temple of justice; hence we put you forward as champions of this noble cause.

“By virtue of this oath, you are now armed with the power to adjudicate on electoral disputes and take decisions in accordance with your convictions which must be deeply rooted in law and not sentiments or public opinion.

“My candid advice is that, in whatever circumstance, you should always be mindful of this oath you have just taken because it now stands as an uncompromising witness between you and your Creator”.

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