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Posts tagged ‘Lagos State Criminal Code’

Press Bulletin: Wonder Bank Operator Bags 14Yr Jail Term Over N9.8B Fraud.


A Federal High Court in Lagos on Wednesday sentenced a Wonder Bank operator, Godwin Nwaichie to 14 years imprisonment for defrauding several unsuspecting people at the Alaba International Market in Lagos to the tune of N9.8Billion.
The convict (Nwaichie) was charged before Justice Ibrahim Buba by the Special Fraud Unit (SFU) of the Nigerian Police alongside another accused, Fortune Etaba and their company, Establishment House Ltd, for fraudulently obtaining the said sum from several individuals. The judge sentenced Nwaichie, after he pleaded guilty to an amended three-count charge bordering on the offence.

“The convict, a 23-year-old man at the time of arrest, who ought to be vibrant and hardworking, decided to utilise his intelligence for fraud. “For such offence, the law provides a maximum of 20 years imprisonment and minimum of seven years.

“The convict is hereby sentenced to 14 years imprisonment beginning from January 9, 2010 when he was first arrested” Buba ruled.

The accused were first re-arraigned on January 21 on the amended charge.  Nwaichie had pleaded guilty to the charge, while the second accused (Etaba) pleaded not guilty.

Justice Buba had, however, refused to convict Nwaichie, after a review of the facts of the case, due to a conflict in his plea.

The accused had pleaded guilty to charge, but maintained that the amount of money he fraudulently obtained, was less than the sum reflected in the charge.

He said that the amount he obtained was N14,743,000.

The judge had therefore refused to convict him based on his plea.

At the resumed hearing of the case on Wednesday, the prosecutor Mr. Effiong Asuquo informed the court of an amended charge, having regularized it.  He therefore, prayed the court to re-arraign the accused. After re-arraignment, Nwaichie still maintained his guilty plea, and was thereafter sentenced by the judge.  Meanwhile, the judge admitted the other accused (Etaba) to bail in the sum of N500 million with two sureties in like sum. Buba also ordered the accused to submit his traveling documents to the courts, with an undertaking not to travel outside Lagos during the pendency of the case.

He adjourned the case to Feb. 21 for trial of Etaba. The accused were said to have committed the offence between June 2009 and December 2009. The prosecutor had told the court that the accused obtained various sums of money totaling N9.8 billion, from a number of people, especially businessmen at the Alaba International Market, Ojo, Lagos.

He said the accused misrepresented to the individuals that they will get back 50 per cent of their deposits after 21 days.

According to the prosecutor, the accused could not repay either the deposited sum, or the “multiplied sum” as represented.

He said the offence contravened the provisions of sections 1 (1) (a), 8, and 2 of the Advanced Fee Fraud and other Fraud Related Offences Act, 2004.

DSP NGOZI ISINTUME-AGU
Police Public Relations Officer
For: Commissioner of Police
Special Fraud Unit
Ikoyi – Lagos.

Source: SAHARA REPORTERS.

Ejigbo Pepper Sodomy And Murder Case : Lagos Gov’t Moves Rest Of Victims And Family Into “Witness Protection”, Rewards Whistleblowers.


 

By SaharaReporters, New York

The Lagos State Assembly handed over the family of Mr. Freeman Agomah to the Office of the Public Defender today in the latest development in the Ejigbo pepper sodomy, torture and murder case.

The Lagos State Assembly told the family they would no longer live at their residence but live far away from the area to help them overcome the trauma. Mr. Agomah and his wife were given N500,000.

Mr. Agomah’s wife and two daughters were tortured and sodomized by a gang of men in Ejigbo, allegedly last February.  One of the daughter’s Juliana died as a result of her injuries two months later.

A video of the horrific incident went viral on the internet leading to public outrage and a demand for a full investigation.  The Lagos State Assembly held a public hearing this month.  A criminal gang has since been arrested accused of the torture, extorting money from Mr. Agomah, and banishing the family from their residence in Ejigbo. The Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Abubakar had earlier directed federal detectives in Lagos to take over the case from the Lagos command.

At the Assembly public hearing a reward of N1.25million  was offered for any information leading to an arrest of the perpetrators, and information about the family.  A woman who contacted Dr. Joe Okei-Odumakin, President of Women Arise through her Facebook page told her of the whereabouts of the family, was rewarded N500, 000. An elderly Ejigbo man whom gave information that led to the arrest of the gang was rewarded with N250,000.

Mr. Agomah’s daughter, a teenager also sodomized by the vigilante gang gave testimony today.   She was 12 years old when the incident happened.   The family had moved her to Ilorin, Kwara State to help her forget the incident, and continue her schooling.

During her testimony, she said she was sodomized with pepper after the gang had finished with her stepsister, Juliana.  She gave names of the gang members saying she knew them all, and that one of them had asked her out before but she had turned him down.

She said he made mockery and fun of her exposed parts during the torture, quoting him saying, “You rejected my love advances and now I hope you can see that I have it by other chance.”

Dr. Joe Okei-Odumakin, President of Women Arise told Saharareproters, only now could she relax since seeing the horrible video, “I could not sleep, I could not feed well and I did not actually feel we were in a festive period because I was totally devastated looking at how a fellow woman was being dehumanized.”

“But now that the perpetrators have been apprehended and the family rehabilitated, although it’s sad that one of them is dead, if someone greets me my own Christmas and New Year greeting, I will answer. I could not answer it at the time when I saw the clip,” she said.

She called on the government to enact a law that criminalizes jungle justice. She added that fellow citizens could relate similar injustices to her through her Facebook page, facebook.com/jokeiodumakin so that collective actions could be taken on issues of human dignity and violation of rights.

Bode George’s Acquittal: Supreme Court Erred In Judgment, Says Falana.


…Describes Judgment As “Expression of Class Solidarity”

Ayo Balogun, Lagos

Activist and Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Femi Falana has faulted the Supreme Court’s acquittal of Chief Bode George and others, quashing their ex-convict status, saying that the apex court wrongfully carried out the action.

Lagos Lawyer Femi Falana (SAN)

Lagos Lawyer Femi Falana (SAN)

Falana, in a statement said the verdict of the Supreme Court had serious implications for the nation’s criminal law jurisprudence, more so, that the finding of the apex court that the appellants were tried and convicted for contract splitting was not borne out of the records of both the trial court and the Court of Appeal.

“In other words, the Lagos High Court had convicted them of the offences of abuse of powers and disobedience to lawful order contrary to sections 104 and 203 of the Lagos State Criminal Code. However, while congratulating the appellants for removing the stigma of infamy from their names, it cannot be denied that the outcome of the case is a major setback for the anti-corruption crusade.

“In the case of Bode George & co. the appellants were tried, convicted and sentenced to various prison terms by the Lagos High Court on October 26, 2009 for abuse of powers and disobedience of lawful orders. Completely displeased with the verdict, the appellants challenged it on appeal. In its considered judgment delivered on January 21, 2011 the Court of Appeal affirmed the judgment of the learned trial judge, Olubunmi Oyewole. Still dissatisfied the appellants further appealed to the Supreme Court. In its judgment handed down a fortnight ago, the Supreme Court set aside the concurrent findings of both the Lagos High Court and the Court of Appeal with respect to the conviction of the appellants,” he said.

He stated that in discharging and acquitting them, the apex court held that the offence of contract splitting was unknown to law at the time the appellants were tried and convicted by the Lagos High Court, saying that in his leading judgment, the judge, John Fabiyi, held inter alia, “It occurred to me that section 203 of the Criminal Code is not in tune with the dictate of section 36(12) of the 1999 Constitution.

“That being the position, the charges filed under section 203 of the said Code ostensibly for splitting contract in disobedience of lawful order by constituted authority cannot stand. I say it with utmost confidence that the same position applies to the provision of section 104 of the said Criminal Code. Acts said to have constituted arbitrary acts resulting in abuse of office are splitting of contracts which were not offences known to law at the material time.”

“It is submitted, without any fear of contradiction, that the appellants were not charged for contract splitting by the EFCC but for “abuse of powers” and “disobedience of lawful order” contrary to sections 104 and 203 of the Criminal Code of Lagos State respectively. In summarising the unassailable judgment of the learned trial judge, Clara Ogunbiyi JCA (as she then was) had, in her lead judgment, said that the appellants were arraigned “on 68 counts of offences bordering on inflation of contracts, conspiracy to disobey lawful orders and abuse of office.”

“Since both sections 104 and 203 have been part of the Criminal Code as far back as 1914, it is unbelievable that the Supreme Court held that the appellants were charged under an unknown law. The crime of disobedience to lawful order by splitting contracts was not unknown before the enactment of the Public Procurement Act, 2007. In the instant case, contract splitting was a particular of the offence and not the offence alleged against the appellants.

“But for some inexplicable reasons, the apex court substituted the particular for the offence and arrived at a wrong conclusion. Curiously, the Supreme Court conveniently ignored the finding of the Court of Appeal that the appellants violated sections 104 and 203 of the Criminal Code when they awarded contracts beyond their approval limits which were “borne out by evidence from all the witnesses on both sides,” he explained.

According to Falana, it has been established in a plethora of cases decided by the Supreme Court that an appellate court has no power to disturb the finding of a lower court which is not challenged on appeal, “however for reasons best known to the apex court, it decided to depart from the settled principle of law in discharging and acquitting the appellants. From the record of appeal, it is indisputable that the Court of Appeal had unanimously agreed with the prosecution that the intention to defraud the nation was proved beyond reasonable doubt by the conduct of the appellants who consistently approved contracts of several billions of naira beyond their approval limit.”

“There was not a single ground of appeal that attacked that particular crucial finding of the lower court. Yet the Supreme Court decided, albeit illegally, to tamper with the finding of the court below and proceeded to hold that the prosecution failed to prove the guilt of the appellants.

The most embarrassing aspect of the judgment was that the Supreme Court annulled two provisions of the Criminal Code of Lagos without hearing from the Attorney-General of Lagos State in line with established practice.

“With profound respect to their Lordships, there is no legal justification whatsoever for declaring sections 104 and 203 of the Criminal Code illegal and unconstitutional. No doubt, the attention of the apex court was not drawn to the undeniable fact that section 104 of the Criminal Code is in pari materia with section 9 of the Code of Conduct for Public Officers set out in Part 1 of the Fifth Schedule to the Constitution which has created the offence of abuse of power. Therefore, section 104 of the Criminal Code cannot be said to be unconstitutional since the same Constitution has created the offence of “abuse of powers.”

He added that as the verdict of the apex court was based on wrong legal foundation, its validity remained questionable, stressing that, although, the appellants had been exculpated, it is hoped that the Supreme Court would soon have another opportunity to reverse the highly erroneous judgment so as to restore sections 104 and 203 of the Lagos State Criminal Code which were struck down for no justifiable legal reasons.

“However, the case of Bode George & co. should not be treated in isolation as it is now the trend to strike out or dismiss charges filed against members of the bourgeoisie. To that extent, the decision of the Supreme Court should be seen as an audacious expression of class solidarity.

“Perhaps, majority of Nigerians are not aware of the fact that out of the over 400 convictions which the EFCC has secured in the 10 years of its existence, only four members of the political class have been successfully prosecuted through dubious plea bargain deals. In the circumstance, instead of wasting the meager resources allocated to the anti-graft agencies on securing convictions which are going to be set aside in favour of members of the ruling class, it is high time the Federal Government stopped charging politically exposed persons and other influential criminal suspects to court. In the atmosphere of impunity in the land, judges should equally stop the immoral practice of railroading petty criminals to jail,” he stated.

Source: African Examiner.

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