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N2.9bn fraud: Witness exposes ex-NBC boss in court

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A principal witness, Abubakar Aliyu Madaki, in the ongoing trial of the former Director-General of National Broadcasting Commission, Emeka Mba and four others, on Friday, told the court before Justice Mojisola Giwa-Ogunbanjo of the Federal High Court, Abuja, how the former DG and the four other defendants, allegedly diverted the sum of N2.9 billion.

Mba is facing trial alongside Patrick Areh, Basil Udotai, Babatunji Amure and a company, Technology Advisors allegedly belonging to Udotai, before the Federal High Court, Abuja for illegally diverting the sum of N2.9bn from the funds meant for purchase of set-up boxes for digital switch-over from analogue system.

Madaki, the 13th prosecution witness while giving his evidence-in-chief, said the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, received copy of a petition, dated December 31, 2015, which was addressed to the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and copied to the acting executive Chairman of the EFCC and was sent to him for investigation.

The witness said the petition has the signature of the Executive Chairman, EFCC and that it was sent in by one Oke Nwafor.

According to him, after studying the petition and mapping out strategies on how to carry out the investigation, he moved into action but was marveled at the series of revelation he got from the several fraudulent transfers that were done from the account while the 1st defendant was still the Director-General of the NBC.

The prosecution counsel, Chile Okoroma, sought to tender the Certified True Copy, (CTC) of the petition in evidence to the court but Counsel to the third defendant opposed to the admissibility of the copy of the petition, arguing that the required fee was not paid to the office of the Head of Service of the Federation.

But Prosecuting Counsel urged the court to discountenance the objection of the defence counsel and cited Section 104 (1) of the Evidence Act, 2011, to support his argument that a document can be tendered by a public officer of a government agency on official duty adding that there was no need to pay any legal fee for such documents.

Justice Ogunbanjo, however, discountenanced the argument of the third defendant’s counsel, stating that whoever is tendering a document that the required fees was not paid can go back to pay the fees while the evidence can be admitted.

“The documents are relevant to this court and on basis of this relevance, I hereby admit them in evidence 52”, she said.

After the prosecution witness identified the account statement of the NBC, he went ahead to describe how the funds were moved out in spurious manner.

According to him, the sum of N34 billion was paid by MTN into an account of the NBC but that he was surprised that the first and second defendants made transfers to the account of Technology Advisors, despite the directive of the Federal Government that all accounts of MDAs are to be domiciled in the Central Bank of Nigeria.

Meanwhile, the counsel to third defendant, Paul Erokoro, SAN, moved motion for release of his client’s international passport to enable him travel to the United States for a follow- up treatment on his heart related ill-health.

Justice Ogunbanjo granted the third defendant leave to travel out of the country within a period of two months and must return on or before 30th of August, 2019 and ordered that his passport be returned to the Deputy Registrar of the court. She also ordered that his surety must depose to an affidavit in that regard.

Justice Ogunbanjo admitted the statement of the account as Exhibit 53 and adjourned the hearing to 24 and 25 September, 2019, for continuation of trial.

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Nyako vs EFCC: What happened in court on Wednesday

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Yakubu Maikyau, SAN, Counsel to the 3rd defendant in a suit filed by EFCC against Murtala Nyako, former Adamawa State Governor, and others; has appealed to the Federal High Court, Abuja, to order the EFCC to produce three of its witnesses for cross-examination.

Maikyau made the oral application, on Wednesday, before Justice Okon Abang.

Nyako is the 1st defendant, his son, Sen. Abdulaziz Nyako, is the 2nd defendant while Zulkifik Abba is the 3rd defendant in the case.

The EFCC had charged the former governor, along with others, with N40 billion fraud.

They were arraigned on a 37-count charge bordering on money laundering allegedly perpetrated while Nyako was Adamawa governor.

Also arraigned along with them was Abubakar Aliyu and firms allegedly used to perpetrate the fraud which were joined as the 5th to the 9th defendants were Blue Opal Ltd, Pagoda Fortunes Ltd, Tower Assets Management Ltd and Crust Energy Ltd.

At the resumed hearing on Wednesday, Counsel to the EFCC, Rotimi Jacobs, SAN, had indicated his interest to close his case, having taken the evidence of Kobis Arithimni, who was Secretary to Adamawa State Government during Nyako’s administration, via video link in the last sitting.

DAILY POST reports that Justice Abang had, on Oct. 30, granted EFCC’s prayer to take Arithimni via video link.

Arithimni, who presently resides in the United Kingdom (UK), gave his testimony on Nov. 5.

However, Maikyau, who opposed to the closure of the case, on Wednesday, told the court that since the prosecution was unable to call all its witnesses on its list, the prosecution is under obligation, upon request by the defendant, to present such witnesses for purpose of cross examination by the defence.

“I stand to make the application on behalf of the 3rd defendant that the prosecution be directed by this honourable court to make available witnesses number 12, 26 and 27,” NAN quoted him as saying.

The lawyer, who noted that these witnesses were yet to be called by the EFCC, said the call became necessary in the spirit of fair hearing.

He acknowledged that though the prosecution is not bound to call all the witnesses listed by it, Maikyau said the 3rd defendant wanted to take advantage of the principle of law that has been made available to the defence which is only consistent to the principle of fair hearing.

Counsel to the EFCC, Mr Jacobs, who opposed the oral application, sought for more time to respond to the prayer and the earlier request by the 2nd defendant, Abdulaziz Nyako, to travel abroad.

Justice Abang adjourned until Nov. 19 to hear the prosecution’s reply.

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AGF reveals implication of cancelling recruitment of 10,00 police constables

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Mr. Abubakar Malami, Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, on Wednesday, urged the Federal High Court, Abuja to consider the economic implication of nullifying the recruitment of 10,000 police constables as requested by the Police Service Commission (PSC).

Malami, in a counter-affidavit filed by the Solicitor-General of the Federation and Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Justice, Dayo Apata, SAN, opposed the suit instituted by the PSC to challenge the proprietary of the constables’ recruitment process by the Nigeria Police Force (NPF).

He told Justice Inyang Ekwo that cancelling the process which he said had gone through “significant stages,” as requested by the commission, would amount to an economic loss for the country.

Meanwhile, DAILY POST reports that the Federal High Court, Abuja, on Wednesday, adjourned till Nov. 20 for the Police Service Commission (PSC) to respond to the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF)’s counter-affidavit in a suit to stop the recruitment of 10, 000 police officers.

Justice Inyang Ekwo, who adjourned the case on the instance of the PSC, said the development was to allow its counsel, Chief Kanu Agabi, SAN, to respond to the counter-affidavit.

Justice Ekwo, therefore, adjourned till Nov. 20 for the continuation of the matter.

PSC had taken the Nigeria Police Force (NPF) to court over the recruitment of 10,000 constables.

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Appeal Court affirms Udom Emmanuel as Akwa Ibom governor, fines Nsima Ekere

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The Court of Appeal sitting in Calabar on Wednesday affirmed the victory of Governor Udom Emmanuel of the PDP in the March 9 gubernatorial elections in Akwa Ibom State. The Appeal was filed against the judgement of the tribunal delivered on September 5, 2019 at Uyo, which dismissed Mr Ekere’s petition for wanting in merit.

The tribunal had held that the petitioner could not lead credible evidence to prove his claims that the elections were not conducted in substantial compliance with the Electoral Act.

Delivering judgement in the Appeal filed by Mr Nsima Ekere, the Governorship Candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) challenging the re-election of His Excellency, Mr Udom Emmanuel in the March 9, 2019 Gubernatorial Elections, the five-man panel gave her judgement on all the issues set out by parties in the appeal.

The Appellate Court first affirmed the decision of the tribunal rejecting series of documents filed by the Petitioner at the tribunal and held that the reasoning of the tribunal were unassailable,vciting that the documents which were all public documents could not be admissible if they were not properly brought as Certified True Copies of the public documents sought to be tendered.

Furthermore, on whether the tribunal was right in holding that the Petitioner/Appellant did not lead credible evidence to prove their case, the Court of Appeal affirmed the tribunal’s judgement and upheld the tribunal’s findings on evidence.

The Appellate Court noted that out of the results of twenty one (21) Local Government Areas challenged, the Petitioner did not lead any evidence to prove their case in eight (8) and led very scanty evidence which on cross examination were rendered very impotent in the other Local Governments where they made any effort to prove their claims. The court again held that the decision of the tribunal was unassailable on that score and therefore affirmed same.

The court also agreed with the Lower Tribunal for not relying on documents dumped on the tribunal by the Petitioners/Appellants without being linked by them to any of the issues raised and canvassed by the petitioner. The court thereupon affirmed the victory of His Excellency, Mr Udom Emmanuel as the Governor of Akwa Ibom State from the Gubernatorial elections held on March 9, 2019, and awarded the cost of 500,000 naira in favour of the First Respondent to be paid by the Appellants. The lead judgement was affirmed by all the other justices of the Court of Appeal.

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