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Ex-SGF Babachir Lawal: What happened in court on Tuesday

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Babachir Lawal, former Secretary to the Government of the Federation was on Tuesday arraigned in an FCT High Court Maitama on allegation of N544 million grass cutting fraud.

He was arraigned alongside Hamidu Lawal, a director of Rholaviosion Engineering Ltd., Babachir’s company, Sulaiman Abubakar, a staff of the same company and Apeh Monday, a staff in Josmon Technologies Ltd.

Joined in the suit are the two companies, Rholaviosion Engineering Ltd. and Josmon technologies Ltd.

The judge, Justice Jude Okeke ordered that they be remanded in EFCC custody pending the outcome of the ruling on their bail applications on Feb. 13.

Okeke gave the order after listening to the bail applications of all the counsel to the defendants.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) dragged them to court on a-10 count charge bordering on conspiracy and unlawful award of contract.

Lawal was accused of benefiting illegally from the approval of N544,119,925.36 for the removal of invasive plant species and simplified irrigation.

The EFCC alleged that Babachir Lawal, the former SGF and Hamidu Lawal, Director of Rholavision Engneering Ltd. and Abubakar, a staff of the same company, on March 7, 2016, within the Abuja jurisdiction conspired to commit the offence.

EFCC said that the defendants fraudulently acquired a property, which was contrary to section 26 (1) (c) of the Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act, 2000.

It also alleged that the first defendant, Lawal knowingly held indirectly a private interest in the consultancy contract awarded to Rholavision Engineering Ltd. for the removal of invasive plant species and simplified irrigation to the tune of N7 million and N6.4 million.

EFCC claimed that it was done through the Presidential Initiative for North East (PINE).

It further alleged that on March 4, and Aug. 22, 2016, the defendant was also involved in contract for removing evasive grass worth N272.5 million and N258.1, respectively, which were awarded to Josmon technologies but executed by Rholavision.

EFCC said that these offences are contrary to Section 12 of the Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act, 2000.

All the defendants pleaded not guilty to the allegations levelled against them.

Prosecuting counsel, Mr Mohammed Abubakar prayed the court to give him date to open his case.

Chief Akin Olujimi (SAN), counsel to Babachir applied for his bail.

Olujimi informed the court that Babachir had abided by the terms and conditions of the administrative bail granted to him by EFCC since April 13, 2018.

Counsel to others defendants, Mr Sunday Ameh (SAN), Mr Napoleon Idenala, and Mr Ocholi Okutupa applied for their bail.

The prosecuting counsel, Abubakar, however, opposed the bail applications by the defendants’ counsels.

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Ekweremadu speaks on attack on him by IPOB members in Germany

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Ike Ekweremadu, the immediate past Deputy President of the Senate has confirmed a physical assault on him by some members of the Indigenous Peoples of Biafra, IPOB, in Nuremberg, Germany, on Saturday.

Ekweremadu confirmed the attack in a statement released by his Media Assistant, Uche Anichukwu in Abuja.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that a 64-second video about the attack had gone viral on the social media earlier on Saturday.

NAN further reports that there were initial speculations on the veracity of the video where the senator was attacked with eggs by the irate IPOB members.

The Senator who also gave an account of the event on his social media handle, @iamekweremdu, however, assured that he was safe.

He condemned the attack and said he had immediately reported it to the Nigerian Ambassador to Germany, Mr. Yusuf Tuggar.

He said: “I attended the Second Annual Cultural Festival and Convention organized by Ndi-Igbo Germany in Nurnberg today where I was billed to give a keynote address along with the President-General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Chief Nnia Nwodo, who, however, could not make it eventually.

“I was given a resounding welcome by Ndigbo in Germany and everything went smoothly until some men, who identified themselves as IPOB members stormed the venue and began to complain about the killings in the South East, stressing that there would be no Igbo event at the venue.

“I tried to engage them, but when they became unruly, I had to leave the venue. The organizers also invited the police and I was accompanied out of the venue.

“Much as I am disappointed in their conduct, especially as I am one of the persons, who have spoken up on justice for Ndigbo, the Python Dance, judicial killings in Igbo land and elsewhere both on the floor of the Senate and in my written and personal engagements with the Presidency and the media as well as rallied the southeast Senate Caucus to secure Mazi Nnamdi Kanu’s release with Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe taking him on bail to douse tension in the South East, I nevertheless do not hold this to the heart against them, for they know not what they do.

“I have received thousands of solidarity calls and messages from well-meaning Ndigbo. I want to assure them that I am hail and hearty. I have also spoken with the Nigerian Ambassador to Germany, Ambassador Yusuf Tuggar.”

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Crime

Army vs Police: Military issues strong warning to Nigerians

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The Defence Headquarters (DHQ) has warned Nigerians against comments and actions that could pit the Nigerian Police Force against the Nigeria Army.

The warning became necessary following the controversies and public criticism that greeted the killing of three policemen and a civilian last week by soldiers on the Ibi-Wukari Road in Taraba State.

Col. Onyema Nwachukwu, the Acting spokesman for the DHQ, Colonel gave the warning while reminding Nigerians that the police and the army are two very important services in the country.

He said that concern should be geared at ensuring the joint panel constituted undertakes an exhaustive investigation.

When asked by The Nation about the captain alleged to have been responsible for the unauthorised shootings and release of the suspected kidnapper, Nwachukwu said, “That information did not come from me. Our concern is to allow the panel do a thorough job and avoid comments that heat up the situation. We are trying to apply some restraint on this issue to avoid pitching the police against the army.

“These are two very important institutions in Nigeria and it will be most unfair to this nation to pit them against each other or the personnel of each service against the other.

“What is important is that lives have been lost and this is a difficult time for the families of the victims. We should be more concerned at looking into the human angles, the psychological traumas these families are going through.

“Our concern should be that the panel does exhaustive investigation and gets to the bottom of the matter. So, I would not like to begin to make comments that would pre-empt the investigation or its outcome.”

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FBI Arrest Nigerian Billionaire Over $11m Fraud

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The Federal Bureau of Investigation have arrested the Chief Executive Officer of Invictus Group, Obinwanne Okeke, for conspiracy to commit computer fraud.

Okeke, who made it into Forbes ‘Africa’s 30 Under 30 List in 2016’, was arrested by the FBI over $11m wire fraud after an account belonging to the CEO of Unatrac Holding Limited, a steel company, was hacked.

The suspect was alleged to have conspired with some other individuals to access the CEO’s computers without authorisation, PMNews reports.

According to an affidavit signed by Marshall Ward, a Special Agent of FBI, representatives of Unatrac Holding Limited, contacted the agency after experiencing a fraudulent transfer of $11m from the firms account through a compromised email.

The affidavit reads, “Unatrac’s Chief Financial Officer received a phishing email containing a web link purportedly to the login page of the CFO’s online email account hosted by Microsoft Office365.

“When the CFO opened the link, it instead led him to a phishing website crafted to imitate the legitimate Office365 login page.

“Believing the page to be real, he entered his login credentials, which were captured by an unknown intruder who controlled the spoofed web page.

“Between April 6 and April 20, 2018, the intruder accessed the CFO’s account at least 464 times, mostly from Internet Protocol (IP) addresses in Nigeria.”

The report led to an investigation, which began in July 2018 after the FBI reviewed the submitted documents and eventually led to the arrest of Okeke.

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