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Posts tagged ‘High Court of Lagos State’

EFCC Press Release: N8.9m Scam: Court Jails Ex-Banker 115 Years.


 

By Wilson Uwujaren

A Lagos High court sitting in Igbosere, presided over by Justice Adebisi Akinlade on Monday February 17, 2014 sentenced Jamiu Seun Odunayo, a former banker, to One Hundred and Fifteen Years (115) imprisonment with no option of fine over an offence which borders on fraud. Stealing, and obtaining money by false pretence.

The convict was arraigned by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC on 39-count amended charge for fraudulently obtaining money by false pretences, stealing and suppression of funds to the tune of Eight Million Eight Hundred and Twenty Nine Thousand, Six Hundred and Fifty Naira, (N8, 829,650) belonging to a customer and diverted it for personal use.

One of the counts reads: “Seun Jamiu Odunayo sometime on the 7th day of March 2011 in Lagos within the Ikeja Judicial Division whilst being a staff of Skye Bank Plc stole N848,690.00 (Eight Hundred and Forty Eight Thousand, Six Hundred and Ninety Naira) property of Skye Bank Plc”.

The convict had earlier pleaded not guilty to the 39-count charge that was preferred against him but later changed his plea following a plea bargain.
However Justice Akinlade, in her ruling on Monday, sentenced the defendant to one Hundred and Fifteen Years imprisonment, (115) – three years on each of the 39 -count charge. They are to run concurrently. The sentence is to start from the date of his arrest.

The journey to prison began on May 19, 2011, when the commission received a petition from a bank, alleging that one of its staff who was a Cash Pick up Officer to one of its customers, did not credit the customer’s account. The customer alerted the bank, when she discovered that the sum of Eight Million Eight Hundred and Twenty Nine Thousand Six Hundred and Fifty Naira, N8, 829,650 was not credited into her account. The convict consequently absconded from his duty post to evade arrest.

However, Odunayo in his statement stated that, he started stealing from the customer’s account in November 2010, due to delay in payment of his salary. He started with N50, 000 (Fifty Thousand Naira) and later increased it till it reached the sum of N848, 690.00.

The convicts confessed that he used part of the money for his wedding; built a 4-bedroom bungalow in Mowe, Ogun state; bought a car, and used the rest for clubbing.

Wilson Uwujaren
Head, Media & Publicity
17th February, 2014

Source: SAHARA REPORTERS.

‘New PDP’ Sues Old: Rival NECs To Stay In Place Until Court Decision.


By SaharaReporters, New York

The breakaway faction of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), led by Alhaji Abdullahi Kawu Baraje, today asked the High Court of Lagos State to restrain Alhaji Bamanga Tukur, Prince Uche Secondus, Mrs. Kema Chikwe, Olisah Metuh and others from parading themselves as the members of the National Executive of the party.

According to a statement by the faction, the plaintiffs, Alhaji Abdullahi Kawu Baraje, Dr. Sam Jaja and Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola also asked the court for leave to serve the defendants outside the Ikeja Division, where the case was filed.

In its ruling, the court granted the plaintiffs leave to serve the defendants in their various locations, but with regard to the matter of their illegality as members of the National Executive Committee of the party, it said that there was no urgency as to the fact of who should hold what office and directed that the status quo be maintained.  Parties were asked to return on September 9, to argue the motion on notice.

This means that both executive committees are to remain until the court resolves the matter.

Al Mustapha’s Acquital: Is This The Face Of Justice In Nigeria? Kudirat Initiative for Democracy (KIND) Reacts.


Hafsat Abiola-Costello
By Amy Oyekunle

The Kudirat Initiative for Democracy (KIND) hereby expresses its shock and disappointment at the judgment of the Court of Appeal, Lagos Division, today, July 12, 2013, which overturned the Judgment of the High Court of Lagos State, which had found Major Hamza Al Mustapha, one time Chief Security Officer to General Sani Abacha (1994-1998), and Alhaji Lateef Shofolahan guilty of the June 4, 1996 murder of Alhaja Kudirat Abiola in Lagos, during the reign of terror of General Sani Abacha, the late military Head of State of Nigeria.

It will be recalled that Hon. Justice Mojisola Dada of the High Court of Lagos State, Igbosere Lagos, had on January 30, 2012, found both Major Hamza Al Mustapha and Alhaji Lateef Shofolahan guilty of the offences of conspiracy to murder and murder of Alhaja Kudirat Abiola, contrary to 324 and 319 of the Criminal Code of Lagos State and accordingly had sentenced them to death by hanging. On that occasion, KIND issued a statement. The statement recalled the gruesome murder of Alhaja Kudirat Abiola in 1996 and the supreme sacrifice made by many other Nigerians, including Chief M.K.O Abiola and Pa Alfred Ogbeyiwa Rewane, to restore democracy to Nigeria. The statement then acknowledged the fact that the verdict issued by Mojisola Dada would bring closure to the children of Kudirat Abiola, the  M.K.O Abiola Family and Nigerians committed to justice.

The finding and the reasoning of  Hon. Justice Mojisola Dada in her judgment was that the evidence of Barnabas Jabila ( a.k.a Sgt. Rogers) and that of Muhammed Abdul (a.k.a Katako), the two prosecution witnesses was credible, reliable, sufficient  and believable, and that the Court could safely convict  Major Hamza Al Mustpaha and Alhaji Lateef Shofolahan  on that evidence, regardless of the fact that during cross examination and re-examination, the two witnesses retracted their earlier given testimony and recanted. The Court found that retraction as an after-thought.

Barnabas Jabila ( a.k.a Sgt. Rogers) and Muhammed Abdul (a.k.a Katako)  had, at the early stage of the trial testified that they were directed to murder Alhaja Kudirat Abiola, by Major Hamza Al Mustapha;  that they were given information on her movements by Alhaji Lateef Sofolahan; and that they, respectively, shot and killed Alhaji Kudirat Abiola and drove the Peugeot 504 Car, which they used in trailing her car and bolting away, after killing her at the  Cargo Vision Area of the Lagos end of the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, by the Toll Gate.

The Court found that it was cogently, compellingly and irresistibly proved beyond reasonable doubt by the Prosecution that Major Hamza Al Mustapha was the person who procured Barnabas Jabila, the ‘Force striker’, to eliminate Alhaja Kudirat Abiola by direct instruction, handing over of the murder weapon, the UZI SMG with 9mm rounds with which she was assassinated in broad daylight on the streets of Lagos and who provided ‘the logistics’ for their movement from Abuja to Lagos by flight, their accommodation at his Lagos official residence at Dodan Barracks and linked them up with their contact person and facilitator, Alhaji Lateef Shofolahan.

Today’s judgment of Hon Justice Amina A. Augie ( presiding justice of the Court of Appeal’s Panel), Hon. Justice Rita N. Pemu, and Hon. Justice Fatima O. Akinbami, reversing the judgment of Hon. Justice Mojisola Dada, has now discarded that Court’s findings and rejected the Court’s reasoning.

KIND is informed that the grounds of the Court of Appeal’s decision included the “contradiction in the testimony of the Prosecution Witnesses”, the non-corroboration of their testimony, being co-accomplices; the non-adducing of medical evidence (including non-tendering of autopsy and ballistician report), the non-investigation of the crime by the Nigeria Police Force, which it is argued has the sole power to investigate the crime, instead of the hybrid Special Investigation Panel (SIP) and the non-calling of the Police to give evidence.

While KIND will obtain this Judgment and commission a team of legal experts to study it in detail, with a view to determining whether a civil action is advisable at this point, KIND respectfully acknowledges but vehemently disagrees with the Judgment of the Court of Appeal.

True, the Prosecution Witnesses recanted and alleged that they were tutored to frame up the accused person. The question is, why was their recantation more believable than their initial and original testimony?  Could Sgt Rogers, who was not put on trial, have killed Alhaja Kudirat Abiola on his own, without having been directed to do so; or was his confession a lie also?

With this reversal, the Nigerian Judiciary has now exonerated ALL persons that were brought to trial for the gruesome acts of murders and attempted murders that took place during the Abacha regime (before now, the persons tried for the attempted assassinations of Alex Ibru and Pa Abraham Adesanya had been set free, Muhammed Abacha, General Ishaya Bamaiyi,  and the Police Officers, Alhaji Danbaba, and Rabo Lawal). Also, the men who were herded into Court for the assassination of Pa Alfred Rewane were released, for want of evidence.

KIND notes that the Nigerian Judiciary was also unable to resolve the issue of who murdered, in December 2002, Chief Bola Ige, a sitting Attorney General of the Federation. and, indeed the husband of a then serving Justice of the Court of Appeal, Late Justice Atinuke Omobonike Ige. Is it that the Nigerian Judiciary is incapable of resolving cases of political murders and assassinations, or that the Nigerian State lacks the competence, capability or will to prosecute cases of political murders?

KIND is of the view that justice has not been served by the Judgment of the Court of Appeal. KIND therefore calls on the Attorney-General of Lagos State to exercise his power over all public prosecution in Lagos State to appeal this verdict in the interest of the dead and the living.

In making this call, KIND is not set on seeking vengeance or retribution. As an organization founded in honour of Kudirat Abiola, it, along with all well meaning Nigerians, seeks a final judicial resolution of the question, “who killed Kudirat Abiola?”

Amy Oyekunle
Executive Director
KIND
www.kind.org

Source: SAHARA REPORTERS.

PUNCH INTERVIEW: Let’s Tax Big Business Churches—Falana.


 

Femi Falana (SAN)- Photo: New York Times
By Leke Baiyewu

Human rights lawyer and Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Mr. Femi Falana, speaks on corruption in the public service and the temple of justice in this interview with LEKE BAIYEWU

You recently called for payment of tax by religious organisations. Why did you say that, since they are non-profit making organisations?

Religious bodies are not money-making ventures stricto sensu. The traditional churches, i.e. the Catholic Church and the Anglican Church, have remained largely conservative with respect to the commercialisation of religion. But some of the prosperity churches have to pay tax because they are smiling to the banks. For example, the Pope doubles as the Head of the Roman Catholic Church worldwide and a Head of State but he flies the Alitalia Airline, the Italian commercial airline. The same goes for the head of the Anglican Communion, the Archbishop of Canterbury.  But today, there is a craze among the leaders of the prosperity churches for private jets. At home and abroad, they pay prohibitive fees for parking the jets at local and international airports. Since they earn fat incomes, they should pay tax to the state for development. It is unjust and illegal to tax the poor congregants, while multi-billionaire pastors or bishops are not subjected to any form of taxation.  Many of us attended missionary schools and received treatment in hospitals founded by churches. The fees were largely cheap and affordable. But today, the secondary schools and universities established by prosperity churches charge tuition fees on commercial basis. There is nothing religious in those centres of commerce.  It is so bad that the children of poor members of the congregation, who are even exceptionally brilliant, are driven away from such institutions on ground of poverty. My wife was on the board of one of those universities. She pleaded that the children of the poor be given scholarship or made to pay substantially reduced fees. She was asked not to bring radicalism to the church. She had to withdraw from the board.

Happily, Bishop Hassan Kukah and some religious leaders have spoken against the primitive accumulation of wealth by their colleagues. If religious leaders make moneyfrom their business outfits, they should pay taxes.

If a church is so rich to the extent of presenting a jet as birthday gift to its pastor, it should be able to pay appropriate taxes commensurate with its status as a rich religious centre. It is clearly stated in several parts of the Holy Bible that tithes are for taking care of the poor and the priests, as well as Levites who minister unto the Lord. Tithes are not supposed to be diverted for the establishment of commercial farms, bakeries and other businesses.

Many have scored the Nigerian judiciary low in terms of justice dispensation, particularly on corruption. Can you say the nation’s temple of justice is still efficient?

No doubt, there are bad judges but we must never be tempted to dismiss the Nigerian judiciary because we have some good judges. In the last eight years, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission has concluded over 200 criminal cases. All the 37 ministries of justice in the country, put together, cannot boast of that figure. Even by global standard, that is a record which few institutions can beat. But because of the difficulty in the prosecution of cases involving politicians and other powerful people in the society, we dismiss the judiciary.

I know a judge in the High Court of Lagos State who has convicted powerful 419 kingpins and ‘queenpins,’ public officers and bank officials. Instead of encouraging the judge, it has been said that he cannot be elevated to the Court of Appeal because he is not from Lagos State. Even, the system is trying to frustrate him from transferring to his own state of origin.

Why is it difficult for successive governments to checkmate corruption, even when several hidden facts have been unearthed?

With respect to corruption, we have never had it so bad. In the First Republic, it was 10 per cent. In the Second Republic, it graduated to 20 per cent. Under the Gen. Ibrahim Babangida junta, corruption was institutionalised. President Olusegun Obasanjo’s administration consolidated corruption. For reasons best known to him, President Umaru Yar’adua allowed the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission and the EFCC to be taken over by very corrupt aides.

Some of the governors under investigation posted their police orderlies and relations to man departments in the EFCC.  While President Goodluck Jonathan has re-organised the EFCC, corruption is now carried out with impunity to the extent that the battle against corruption has been lost completely. It is as if no one is in control. Can you imagine that an ambassador of a foreign country has dragged a minister to the Presidency for corruption? Apart from the loss of over N2tn to the fuel subsidy scam last year, the Auditor-General of the Federation has just disclosed that N4.2tn collected by MDAs was not remitted to the Federation Account from 2006-2009. The Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative reported that oil companies have failed to pay into the Federation Account about $10bn from 1999 to 2008. The Nuhu Ribadu-led Petroleum Revenue & Special Task Force claimed that the nation has been short-charged to the tune of almost $100bn. All the people indicted in the cases of Siemens, Halliburton and other scandals are walking freely.

A reputable economist, Mr. Henry Boyo, said last week, that duty waivers running into several billions of Naira are granted to the rich by the Federal Government, while the poor people are burdened with all kinds of taxes and levies. The Central Bank Governor, Mr. Lamido Sanusi, has suggested 50 per cent reduction in the workforce as a stratagem to divert attention from the reckless looting of the economy by the parasitic bourgeoisie. That call came from the blues, as facts emerged that the CBN is involved in the illegal withholding of part of the N4.4tn diverted from the Federation Account. The statement was also made to cover up the role of the bank in the illegal release of N2.3tn for fuel subsidy in 2011, when N245bn was appropriated. It is a grave criminal offence to release any public funds without a legal warrant.

So, the heads of the federal ministries of petroleum resources and finance that recommended the illegal payment and the CBN, which released the funds, have questions to answer. But, these guys are displaying arrogance by making provocative statements.

As far as I am concerned, the Federal Government has, as a result of local and international pressure, provided an enabling environment for fighting the menace of corruption. We have a corpus of comprehensive legislations to tame the monster. But, Nigerians expect the government to fight corruption. No government does that.   In the case of Nigeria, the media and a few individuals called anti-corruption crusaders were fighting corruption and abuse of office to a reasonable extent. With respect, the media houses are largely owned by some of those who are being investigated or prosecuted. So, the battle is no longer fought by the media with the commitment of the past.

The bar has no serious programme on judicial corruption because some leaders of the legal profession are deeply involved in corrupt practices. They serve as couriers for corrupt judges. Worse still, senior lawyers manipulate the legal system to frustrate the prosecution of powerful people in the society by filing frivolous interlocutory applications. In other countries, lawyers are recommended for discipline for filing processes designed to waste the time of the court. No lawyer should be allowed to manipulate the legal system in favour of his or her client to the detriment of the society.

In essence, the battle against corruption has to be waged by Nigerians and not by the government. And the concept of the rule of law transcends obedience of a few court orders by the government. It is a way of life. It is about compliance with the law by all and sundry, the government and the governed. The exclusion of certain people from arrest or prosecution is antithetical to the rule of law. Whereas the law is higher than individuals, however powerful they may be in a civilized society, the contrary is the case in a neo-colonial society like ours.

What I am saying is that certain institutions and individuals are higher than the law in Nigeria. Hence, they are entitled to immunity for life.

Prof. Akin Oyebode recently argued that the problem was not corruption but impunity. Why has the menace become pervasive even in a democratic system?

Professor Akin Oyebode’s prognosis cannot be faulted. Corruption is a manifestation of impunity. The Appropriation Act contains the details of the budget. The diversion of money that has been appropriated or the refusal to remit funds earned by the MDAs is the height of impunity. The system is too weak to punish criminality. Hence, impunity has become the order of the day. The menace of corruption has become rampant because of the lack of political will on the part of the government to arrest the culture of impunity. No society can have political stability without the observance of the rule of law.

There are several calls by stakeholders to cut down the size of government. What is the best to way to go about the reduction?

There is no doubt that the size of government is bloated. But, the CBN governor was patently wrong when he asked for 50 per cent reduction of the workers in the civil service. The available record shows that there are about 100,000 civil servants, while there are about 970,000 public officers, including political office holders. Only a tiny segment of the 70 per cent of the recurrent expenditure, which goes for maintaining the bureaucracy, is allocated for the payment of salaries and allowances of civil servants.

In 2012, whereas the CBN allocated N300bn for itself, the National Assembly got N150 bn. It has been revealed that the CBN under Sanusi has increased its workforce by over 1,000 employees. Up till now, the report of the committee on the restructure of the public service has not been implemented by the government. The report has largely addressed the bloated bureaucracy.

If you believe the CBN governor that the National Assembly takes 25 per cent of the budget, then, the CBN takes 50 per cent because its budget is 100 per cent higher than that of the National Assembly. These figures do not take cognisance of ghost workers, pension fraud, and non-remittance of huge funds to the Federation Account.

However, I believe that the public service has to be re-organised and restructured for optimal performance. Those who were sacked or downsized or retrenched should be reposted to other areas of the economy, which may require their services. But if you send them to the unemployment market, armed robbery and kidnapping will be intensified.

Source: Sahara Reporters.

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