Banks got a stern warning yesterday not to collude with politicians who are repatriating stolen funds for the general elections.
Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) Acting Chairman Ibrahim Magu said the Commission was aware that a top politician who sold a choice property abroad planned to repatriate the proceeds for electoral inducement.
Magu gave the warning in Lagos at a session with the Association of Compliance Officers.
In the text of his speech which was released to reporters in Abuja, he urged bankers to stop laundering funds for politicians.
He said: ”I deem this forum as very important to serve as a means to communicate to you the observations of the EFCC on the various activities of financial institutions and the deliberate connivance and collusion of most of the banks in laundering illicit funds for criminals as well as politicians.
“We are not ignorant of the prevailing electioneering activities going on in the country today and the efforts being made by many politicians who had stolen our commonwealth to repatriate to Nigeria these stolen funds for the purpose of influencing the elections through vote buying and compromise of electoral officers to do their bidding, as well as engage in various other illicit activities calculated to undermine the integrity of the elections.
“The impact of allowing these elements to compromise our elections will be grievous, and devastating, we must as such and as a matter of urgency team up together to ensure that these elections are not compromised in any form or manner.
“We are all under a civic duty to comply with our various responsibilities and ensure that we do the needful to obey the laws and regulations governing the elections.”
The EFCC chairman spoke on the “desperate” methods being employed by some politicians to repatriate illicit funds into the country.
He said the anti-graft commission had received an intelligence report on how a top politician sold a property abroad to finance elections at home.
He said: “Foreign properties bought with proceeds of crime are sold and the proceeds transferred to Nigeria through international banks as legitimate funds that can be used to finance several activities, including elections.
”Recently, we received intelligence report from a sister agency in another country informing us of a top Nigerian politician who has sold his property in that country and intends to repatriate the proceeds of the sale of the property to Nigeria. This same individual had earlier denied ownership of the said property.
“Goods bought with proceeds of crime abroad are sent to Nigeria to support empowerment programmes during elections. The goods are mostly cleared with deficient trade documents processed through the international banks.
“Moving proceeds of crime earlier taken across border to neighbouring countries back to Nigeria by depositing such funds in banks with corresponding banking relationship with local banks in Nigeria…These funds can be used to finance elections in the country by physical distribution of the funds for political inducement or financing empowerment schemes to solicit votes from citizens.
“Private bankers for international banks facilitate the movement of proceeds of crime i.e. physical movements of cash to the country via chartered airlines in the guise of the bank.”
Magu said that the inducement of voters attracts a 12-month imprisonment or a fine of N100, 000.
He remind his audience of the provisions of the Nigerian Electoral Act, 2010, Article 130, provide that:
”A person who corruptly by himself or by any other person at any time after the date of an election has been announced, directly or indirectly gives or provides or pays money to or for any person for the purpose of corruptly influencing that person or any other person to vote or refrain from voting at such election, or on account of such person or any other person having voted or refrained from voting at such election; or
“Being a voter, corruptly or takes money or any other inducement during any of the period stated in paragraphs (a) of this Section, commits an offence and is liable on conviction to a fine of N 100,000.00 or 12 months imprisonment or both.”
The EFCC chairman pleaded with compliance officers to serve as responsible gatekeepers by reporting suspicious transactions.
He said: “While vote buying is subject to punishment, the attainment of compliance to this legal obligation remains the challenge and it is our responsibility to prevent these crimes.
“We have come to realise that political inducement has now taken other forms and tagged in different names, i.e. stomach infrastructure, empowerment schemes, non-interest yielding loans, outright cash handouts etc.
“These inducements take place during or before the day of the elections, which makes it rather difficult for law enforcement agencies to track.
“Because you are the gate keepers, you must keep your eyes open to these inducement schemes. Your obligations are not different from your usual filing of suspicious transactions reports to the relevant authorities, and the prompt filing of currency transaction reports as well as foreign transaction reports.
“We have also observed the upsurge of illicit financial flows into the country through the borders and it is disheartening to see the role financial institutions play in either facilitating the flows of these funds into the country.”
THE Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) will tomorrow arraign former National Intelligence Agency (NIA) Director-General Ambassador Ayodele Oke and his wife Folasade, before a Federal High Court in Lagos.
Their arraignment is in connection with the $43, 449, 947, 000 intercepted in a flat.
The cash was founded in Flat 7B, No. 16 Osborne Road, Osborne Towers in Ikoyi Lagos.
A judge of the Federal High Court in Lagos, Justice Muslim Hassan, had on June 6, 2017 granted a final forfeiture order of the funds since no one appeared before the court to claim them.
Although Oke had denied the allegation of concealment, the EFCC is proceeding ahead with his trial alongside his wife.
The four-count charge against the couple was signed by prosecuting lawyers including Rotimi Oyedepo Iseoluwa; Nnaemeka Omewa and Idris Abubakar Mohammed.
For the first time, the EFCC in the Proof of Evidence revealed how Flat 7B was bought for $1, 658,000 (N596, 880,000)
It said one Alhaji Shehu Usman Anka will give evidence of the receipt of the sum of $1, 658,000 from the wife of the ex-NIA boss.
The anti-graft agency also said that the agency got about $289, 202, 382.00 from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
It added that one Benjamin Kiksenenso will give evidence of how he was instructed to go to the CBN to collect the $289, 202, 382.00.
The charges against the ex-NIA boss are:
That you, Amb. Ayodele Oke, Mrs. Folasade Ayodele Oke on or about the 12th day of April 2017 in Lagos concealed the sum of $43, 449, 947, 000 property of the Federal Government of Nigeria in Flat 7B, No. 16 Osborne Road, Osborne Towers, Ikoyi Lagos which sum you reasonably ought to have known formed part of proceeds of an unlawful act to wit: criminal breach of trust and you thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 15 (2) (a) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) (Amendment) Act 2012 and punishable under Section 15(3) of the same Act.
That you Amb. Ayodele Oke and Mrs. Folasade Ayodele Oke between 25th day of August 2015 and 2nd day of September 2015 in Lagos, within the jurisdiction of this court indirectly used the sum of $1, 658, 000 property of the Federal Government of Nigeria to acquire Flat 7B, No. 16 Osborne Road, Osborne Towers, Ikoyi Lagos which sum you reasonably ought to have known formed part of proceeds of an unlawful act to wit: criminal breach of trust and you thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 15 (2) (d) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) (Amendment) Act 2012 and punishable under Section 15(3) of the same Act.
That you Amb. Ayodele Oke and Mrs. Folasade Ayodele Oke between 25th day of August 2015 and 2nd day of September 2015 in Lagos, within the jurisdiction of this court directly retained $160, 777, 136. 85 property of the Federal Government of Nigeria which sum you reasonably ought to have known formed part of proceeds of an unlawful act to wit: criminal breach of trust and you thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 15 (2) (d) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) (Amendment) Act 2012 and punishable under Section 15(3) of the same Act.
That you Amb. Ayodele Oke and Mrs. Folasade Ayodele Oke between 25th day of August 2015 and 2nd day of September 2015 in Lagos, within the jurisdiction of this court directly converted $160, 777, 136. 85 property of the Federal Government of Nigeria to your own use which sum you reasonably ought to have known formed part of proceeds of an unlawful act to wit: criminal breach of trust and you thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 15 (2) (d) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) (Amendment) Act 2012 and punishable under Section 15(3) of the same Act.
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidate in the February 16 presidential election, Atiku Abubakar, yesterday reiterated his warning that there will be no room for rigging in the coming poll.
He spoke in a statement issued in Abuja by his Special Assistant on Public Communication, Phrank Shaibu, in response to the Federal Government’s warning to United States (U.S.), United Kingdom (UK) and European Union (EU) on the suspension of the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN).
The former vice president warned that anyone planning to rig the election may as well be toying with the very foundation of the nation’s democracy.
The statement reads: “Buhari’s cabal is unhappy with the statements from the U.S., the British and the E.U. because they know that these world powers have agreed to re-route their latest and most technologically sophisticated spy satellite, including the NAOL-47 satellite, to provide comprehensive coverage over Nigeria on February 16. The photographs these satellites will deliver can not only show someone reading a newspaper but also which newspaper they are reading.”
Recall that the Federal Government, had in statement through Garba Shehu, stated: “The nation’s security forces will confront any attempt to interfere with the process by elements from outside the country”.
The PDP candidate expressed concerns over the desperation of the All Progressives Congress (APC) to rig the forthcoming elections. He advised the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), the military and the police not to allow themselves to be used by those interested in turning Nigeria’s democracy on its head.
“The truth is that there is no country in the world where a president with this appalling record could ever be re-elected. Over 100 million Nigerians cannot afford even one decent meal a day, yet their president is seeking re-election.
“The world powers as well as Nigerians also have intelligence that Buhari will decisively lose the elections since the people are angry because they are hungry and have no jobs.
“There is no level of rigging that this vile government could ever do to overturn the millions of Nigerians who will turn up at the polls to vote him out. We ask our dearest young population who got a job under Buhari in the last four years to vote for Buhari.
“But all those who lost their jobs and whose relations lost their jobs and businesses to his maladministration to please come out in large numbers to elect Atiku Abubabar who is a harbinger of job creation!”
President Muhammadu Buhari on Friday sworn-in Acting Chief Justice of Nigeria, CJN, Justice Ibrahim Tanko Mohammed at the State House, Abuja.
Below are the photos:
TWO former Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) employees Christian Nwosu and Tijani Bashir have been convicted by a Federal High Court sitting in Lagos.
Nwosu, who was an INEC Administrative Secretary in Kwara State and Bashir, an official of the commission, were charged with N264.8 million gratification and money laundering.
They were found guilty of the charges filed against them by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
The former INEC officials were arraigned by the anti-graft agency for accepting bribe from former Petroleum Resources Minister Mrs Diezani Alison-Madueke.
EFCC said the former minister received gratification from oil marketers such as Auctus Integrated Services Ltd, Northern Belt Oil, Gas Ltd and Midwestern Oil and Gas Ltd and Leno Adesanya.
The money was part of slush funds distributed with a view to influencing the 2015 general elections, which former President Goodluck Jonathan lost.
According to the EFCC, the defendants conspired to directly take possession of N264,880,000, which they reasonably ought to have known forms part of an unlawful act – gratification.
The convicts were charged with another INEC official Yisa Adedoyin, who pleaded guilty to the offence and was convicted following a plea bargain.
Nwosu, who had initially pleaded guilty to receiving N30 million bribe from Mrs. Alison-Madueke to rig the 2015 general election results at his arraignment on April 5, 2017, changed his plea to not guilty when he was re-arraigned.
EFCC said the convicts made cash payment of N70, 050,000 to Adedoyin, which exceeds the amount authorised by law without going through a financial institution.
Bashir was accused of indirectly taking possession of and retaining N164,880,000, which he reasonably ought to have known forms part of gratification, and concealing N30million, being part of the proceeds of an unlawful act: “criminal misappropriation”.
The alleged offences were committed on March 27 and April 7, 2015 and violated provisions of the Money Laundering Prohibition Act.
In his verdict, Justice Mohammed Idris held that the prosecution proved the case beyond reasonable doubt.
The Judge said: “I find that the prosecution has proved this case beyond reasonable doubt in a manner required by law.
“I, therefore, find the first and second defendants guilty as charged.”
He, however, could not pass a sentence on the defendants due to Nwosu’s absence.
The convict’s lawyer, Obinna Okeke, said Nwosu, based in the Southeast, embarked on a journey to Lagos on Wednesday morning on learning that judgment would be delivered yesterday.
The lawyer told the court that his client arrived in Lagos late Wednesday.
He said: “I got a call that he collapsed at the park. He’s on admission in a hospital in Ajangbadi.
“The doctor had to start administering injections on him. His blood pressure was 200/100. He has been very hypertensive and has not been sleeping.”
Besides, Okeke said there was a pending appeal on a constitutional issue which the defendants filed at the Court of Appeal.
”We’re urging your Lordship to grant an adjournment to enable the Court of Appeal dispose of this constitutional issue, by which time the first defendant would have recovered,” he pleaded.
But, prosecuting counsel, Rotimi Oyedepo, urged the court to disregard the hospital report which he described as “worthless” and contradictory.
He said the doctor’s report stated that Nwosu was “conscious and alert”.
Refusing the prayer for adjournment, Justice Idris held: “The first defendant is absent without any valid reason in my respectful view.”
On the pending appeal, Justice Idris held that the issue of law raised and any appeal from the judgment would both be determined by the Court of Appeal.
He added that he was bound by the Constitution to deliver the judgment within 90 days.
In his verdict, Justice Idris held that the defendants went to a Fidelity Bank Plc branch to “conduct an unusual transaction” that was outside the scope of their functions.
Contrary to Nwosu’s claim that the money was for logistics purposes, Justice Idris held that the convict had no account in Fidelity Bank where he went to receive the money, nor did he receive any instructions to disburse the cash.
The judge said the fact that he collected huge sums of cash without going through a financial institution meant that an offence was committed.
Justice Idris noted that the defendants did not tender any instructions with respect to the transaction, adding the prosecution witnesses’ evidence was not contradicted.
He said: “The money did not come from any political party. The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) did not issue any cheque in the name of the defendants to legitimise the transaction, neither did INEC.
“The defendants admitted that they did not receive cheques from anyone, including the PDP or INEC before going to Fidelity Bank. Why did they have to collect such huge amount of money in cash? INEC is not a customer of Fidelity Bank.
“There was no instruction directing the bank to disburse the said N264, 880,000 to the intending beneficiaries. The defendants admitted receiving the money.
“The evidence on record shows that this money did not come from any political party or any other known legitimate source other than the source revealed by the prosecution.
“The defendants were not customers of Fidelity Bank and were clearly not issued any financial instruments to carry out the transactions.
“I agree with the prosecution that the manner in which the transaction leading to this charge was consummated shows clearly that the defendants and Fidelity Bank, acting on behalf of Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke, agreed to carry out unlawful act.
“The defendants though may not know reasonably ought to have known in view of the circumstances that the funds were proceeds of unlawful activity.”
After finding the defendants guilty, Justice Idris adjourned until 12 noon today for sentencing.
He ordered that Nwosu be produced in court while Bashir should be kept in EFCC’s custody.
The Governor, Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr Godwin Emefiele, on Tuesday said the bank’s policy to restrict importers of some 42 items from accessing foreign exchange was the right call of action.
Emefiele made this known in Abuja while fielding questions from journalists at the end of the first Monetary Policy Committee meeting for the year.
He said that the CBN took the measure to ban 42 items from accessing foreign exchange through official routes, to encourage local production of the items and simultaneously conserve the nation’s depleting foreign reserves.
Some of the 42 items not valid for foreign exchange at the Nigerian window include rice, cement, fertiliser, margarine, palm produce, beef, vegetables, poultry and eggs, wooden doors and Iron rods.
“Available data has shown that in 2014, Nigeria imported 1.2 million metric tonnes of rice, in 2015 it had dropped to 644,000 metric tonnes and 2016, to 58,000 metric tonnes, 23,000 metric tonnes in 2017 and 6,000 metric tonnes in 2018.
“In terms of foreign exchange allocation, for wheat importation, we spent 1.2 billion dollars in 2016; by 2017 it went down to 628,000 dollars.
“Sugar had gone down from 462 million dollars in 2014 to 255 million dollars in 2017. Fish dropped from over one billion dollars in 2014 to 18 .96 million dollars in 2017.
“Importation of tomatoes has dropped from 7 million dollars to less than a million dollars in 2017.
“These results are because of the actions of the government supporting the monetary policy of Nigeria today and we will be aggressive in supporting small holder farmers that cultivates these items,” he said.
Emefiele said that the CBN would continue to take an aggressive stance to ensure that any food item currently being imported that can be produced in the country is banned.
He said CBN was currently reviewing a list of other items and that once they were convinced that there were companies in the country that could sufficiently produce the said items; they would also be placed on the foreign exchange restriction list.
“We think that the initiatives that the CBN has put in place in the past to cut import and diversify the structure of the Nigerian economy is yielding result and we will continue to be that aggressive.
“The CBN together with EFCC would investigate any company, any individual suspected of bringing this item either through any border or through smuggling of any means for money laundering and economic sabotage.
“If we discover that these companies or individuals are involved in any economic sabotage, we will write to all the banks, we will blacklist those companies and individuals running those companies.
“The companies can no longer operate any bank account in any Nigerian bank and there will be no need to talk about prosecuting you but we will not allow you do business again in Nigeria,” he said.
Emefiele said that CBN intervention in the foreign exchange market to keep it stable was the right call.
He recalled that in 2016, the Naira had depreciated to more over N500 to a dollar and could have reached N1000 without the intervention of the CBN.
He reiterated the bank’s commitment to continue to intervene in the interbank foreign exchange market to ensure liquidity in the foreign exchange market and maintain stability.
Emefiele announced that the CBN had successfully resolved the issue with MTN on allegation of illegal repatriation of 8.1 billion dollars.
“I am glad to tell you in November we held a round of meetings with MTN officials even from South-Africa and by December we concluded those engagements and the matters were resolved.
“It resulted in a notional reversal. Let me make it clear that it is not a fine or a penalty. It was a notional reversal of 53 million dollars amounting to about N19.5 billion.
“This amount has since been paid by the MTN and terms of settlement of this matter has already been lodged at the Nigerian court,” he said.
The National Leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, on Monday called on Nigeria to reject Former President Olusegun Obasanjo describing him as an expired politician.
Tinubu who spoke at the All Progressive Congress(APC), rally Maiduguri told the teaming APC supporters that, “I can hear the other expired leaders like Obasanjo, ranting and lying; “Don’t believe, don’t trust him, he is expired,” said Tinubu.
Asiwaju regretted the frequent attacks on the Buhari-led administration by former President Olusegun Obasanjo, stressing that the APC administration was cleaning up the mess and rot of the past PDP administrations.
“When we came on board in 2015, we made promises to all Nigerians that as the sheep of this country, we are going to turn it to the right direction and we have done that.
“We are sweeping all the cobwebs of the collateral corruption, we are sweeping it away to give Nigerians a new life, new home and a solid foundation; that is what President Buhari is doing and we are 100 per cent with him.
“President Muhammadu Buhari has been upright, firm and has been steady, focused with a great vision for the betterment and progress of this country.
“We can recall the rigging in 2003 under Obasanjo, we also knew what happened in 2007 under President Obasanjo.
“95 percent of you must come out and vote en mass for Buhari because no other president had upheld democratic principles like president Buhari.
“In 1985, we gave it to him but he cannot remembers even one day to recognised MKO’s mandate of June 12. Again, when he came back into power, we ask him for the recognition he failed. Who did it; President Buhari. declared June 12 as Democracy day to honour MKO Abiola,” Tinubu said.
He informed that the attacks of Obasanjo were in bad faith, adding that, “ he could not stop Nigerians from re-electing the president”.
The APC National Chairman, Adams Oshomole scored Buhari’s government very high in security, saying, “under the past administration, the 24 local government was under the control of Boko Haram noting the current administration under Buhari, all the LGAs were liberated.
“No LGA is under the control of the insurgents. You have gain control of the 777 councils.
We still have security challenges but the arrogance, impunity that Nigeria is wallowing in had become a thing of the past,” he declared.
He explained that “Everything that we are in today started in Obasanjo’s regime. Do or die politics was Obasanjo’s legacies. Today, the era of impeaching state governors is over.
“The era of quarrelling with Vice President and fighting in the market place is.
The era of withdrawal of Lagos state monthly allocations was the legacy of Obasanjo,” Oshomole disclosed.
The Federal Government has disclosed a new regulation is on the way to flush out foreigners operating private security outfits in Nigeria, accusing them of aiding insurgency and criminalities in the system.
The Commandant General of Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), Abdullahi Gana Muhammadu disclosed this in Kaduna at the weekend.
He spoke during the Managing Directors/Chief Executive Officers Parley organised by the Kaduna chapter of Association of Licensed Private Security Practitioners of Nigeria (ALPSPN).
Represented by the Assistant Commandant General PGC, Helen Amakiri, the NSCDC boss saidt thenew regulation’s document is being designed to address the lacuna in the 1986 Private Guard Companies (PGC) Act, which he said has become so absolete and can no longer be used in the regulation of the PGCs in Nigeria of today.
According to him, “Luckily section 35 of that Act empowers the Minister of Interior to make regulations. So, as the regulator of the industry, we asked the permission of the Minister, which is the Chief regulator to formulate regulations that will address all the lacuna in the Act, and that we have done.
“So, we have an up to date document called ‘Private Security Regulations 2018’ that can be used to regulate the industry, and upgrade it to where we want it to be. It has been gazzated by the Federal Government press.
“The regulation is going to stamp illegal operators and even foreign operators. The PGC Act says, no foriegner should own Private Security Company in Nigeria, but the regulation has gone further to say that, no foriegner should own, be a Director or operative of private security company in Nigeria.
“So, we don’t want foriegners in private security industry in Nigeria. The reason is that, we have been receiving intelligence reports that, these foreign operators and Directors aid and abet terrorism and insurgency, as well as militancy, especially in the Niger Delta and North-East of Nigeria,” he said.
The Commandant General however asked the private security operators to be ready to upgrade their practices and follow the guidelines.
National President ALPSPN, Dr. Davidson Akhimien asked the Federal Government to employ their service in intelligence gathering to address the various security challenges confronting the country.
Represented by the Vice President of the association, Emilia Chasa, the President while noting that, security in Nigeria has become a burning issue, the private security operators can assist in the area of intelligence gathering, as they have their men in every nook and cranny of Nigeria.
On his part, the Kaduna State Chapter Chairman, Hon. Dauda Zuye-Nda Ageni called on the relevant regulators of the ALPSPN to help in adequately addressing challenges of multiple taxation and quarcks in the system who are giving the association bad images.
“The use of internal security by some public organizations is still going on in so many organizations.
“This has caused low patronage to private security by such organizations.
“Such agencies will prefer to use their internal security operatives despite being not registered or trained,” he stressed.
THE Federal Government is set to quiz the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP),Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, over an alleged N156million payment from the defunct Bank PHB. Atiku, according to Information and Culture Minister Lai Mohammed, allegedly benefitted from the payment that led to the demise of the bank.
The former vice president is currently on a visit to the USA. But Mohammed said yesterday that “any time Abubakar returns home, he has questions to answer following the fresh evidence that we have that he benefitted from ‘slush funds’ that led to the collapse of the former Bank PHB.” Atiku’s party, the PDP dared the Federal Government to go ahead with its threat to arrest him on the allegation,while the presidential candidate’s spokesman dismissed the N156million claim as a cock and bull story Mohammed said: “The document we have shows that he benefitted to the tune of N156 million from that fund. “The paper which we have here started from an internal memo on the Jan. 13, 2009.” “These are pieces of fresh evidence as to his involvement in the collapse of Bank PHB.
So we want him to stay as long he wants in the US but as soon he comes back, he has to explain to the electorate and to Nigerians what is his role in the collapse in the former Bank PHB.” The minister said the Federal Government was not losing sleep over Atiku’s US trip,saying: “You can recall that a few weeks ago, I did issue a statement advising the US government not to issue visa to Atiku. “Remember also that in that same press conference, I also stated that it remains the prerogative of the US government to issue visa to anyone it deems fit. “Let me say right away that we are not perturbed one bit that Alhaji Atiku Abukakar was able to secure visa to the US. As a matter of fact, he can go ahead and get the US Green card.That will not save him from imminent defeat in the forthcoming election.
“I want to remind Abubakar that the elections will be right here in Nigeria and not in the US.” Asked why the fresh allegation against Atiku was coming now, Mohammed said: “Because even though this happened in 2009, and the case on the collapse of BANK PHB has been on, this evidence is fresh. “In any case, there is no statute of limitation on this case. “Like I told you, this is a freshly-uncovered evidence. Whether or not he travelled to the US, we would still have disclosed this evidence.” PDP dares Buhari over threats to arrest Atiku Responding last night to the allegations against Atiku ,the PDP Presidential Campaign Organisation (PPCO) dared government to go ahead and arrest him.
The spokesman for the organisation,Mr.Kola Ologbondiyan, told reporters that the planned arrest was both laughable and a heinous plot to frame Atiku borne out of fear of his victory in the February 16 presidential election. “It is reprehensible that Mr. President will descend abysmally low to fabricate outright lies and falsehood in a bid to discredit a more qualified and acceptable presidential candidate”, Ologbondiyan said. The PDP campaign spokesman added that Atiku has nothing to do with the alleged issues leading to the collapse of Bank PHB, stressing that the PDP presidential candidate is an honest and hard working Nigerian who has no skeleton of any sort in his cupboard.
“For emphasis, even the Chairman of President Buhari’s Advisory Committee Against Corruption, Prof. Itse Sagay, has since told the world that the Buhari Presidency has searched everywhere and could not find anything incriminating on Atiku Abubakar. “The world already knows that this attempt to mudsling our presidential candidate is coming out of President Buhari’s frustration over Atiku Abubakar’s successful outing in the United States, for which the Buhari Presidency has gone into full hallucination. .”The PPCO, however, counselled the APC to note that Nigerians can see through their lies, fabrications and frustration and that their scheme against Atiku Abubakar is already dead on arrival.
“If anything, the PPCO will want President Buhari to open the books and provide explanation for the N9 trillion stolen under his watch as Minister of Petroleum Resources as detailed in the leaked NNPC memo. “Finally, the PPCO states that the PDP presidential candidate, our great party and indeed all Nigerians, who have already reached a national consensus to vote-in Atiku Abubakar as the next President of our country, will not be distracted by this unfounded allegation by the rejected President Buhari and his handlers.” A similar response came from Atiku’s Special Assistant on Public Communication, Mr. Phrank Shaibu. Shaibu said the allegation against Atiku was a cock and bull story.
The allegation,he also said ,stemmed from what he called Atiku’s growing popularity, especially his current trip to the USA. He said the Federal Government having failed to stop Washington from granting visa to Atiku had to devise another strategy to embarrass him. He also said that with or without a trip to the US, the PDP will defeat the President Muhammadu Buhari-led All Progressives Congress in next month’s election.
Said Atiku: “It is disgusting to continue to spin allegations of corruption against me by people who have failed to come forward with a single shred of evidence of my misconduct while in office. “They just suddenly woke up to the reality that their lies about Atiku being corrupt can no longer hold? I challenge the Federal Government to come up with evidence that I benefitted from N156 million slush funds through Claremont Management Services Account on 13th January, 2009 as well as the collapse of Bank PHB as they have alleged. “It is instructive to note that the same Bank PHB is now Keystone Bank, which was said to have been acquired by Buhari’s cronies through AMCON last year.”
Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN) Walter Onnoghen’s five accounts have been frozen.
The Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, has requested the Director, Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU) to freeze the accounts.
The Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB), in the charge it filed against the CJN before the Code of Conduct tribunal (CCT) for which he was to be arraigned on January 14, accused Justice Onnoghen of failing to declare the accounts.
In a letter, written on the official letterhead of the AGF, but signed by Abiodun Aikomo, dated January 14, 2019, and received same date at the office of the Director of NFIU, the AGF directed that the accounts be frozen pending the conclusion of the charge before the CCT.
The letter has as its heading: “Re: Request for freezing of bank accounts subject to investigation and prosecution pursuant to Presidential Executive Order No: 6 of 5th July 2018 on the Preservation of Assets Connected with Corruption.”
It reads: “I am directed by Mr. Abubakar Malami (SAN), the Honourable Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice to request that you, pursuant to Executive Order 6 of 2018, forthwith restrict normal banking operations on certain accounts belonging to Hon. Justice Walter Onnoghen pending final determination of the case against him at the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT/ABJ/1/19 – Federal Republic of Nigeria v Hon. Justice Walter Onnoghen Nkanu Walter Samuel.
“These accounts are: Account number 5001062683 (euro) Standard Chartered Bank; 5001062683 (pounds); 0001062650 (dollar); 0010626667 (naira), and 5001062683 (naira).”
The row over the rescheduled arraignment of the CJN continued yesterday, with the chairman of the Presidential Committee Against Corruption (PACAC), Prof. Itse Sagay and a multilateral diplomat, Dr. Babafemi Badejo, giving reasons the CJN matter should not be referred to the National Judicial Council (NJC).
Prof. Sagay argued that Justice Onnoghen’s false asset declaration could not be first determined by the NJC, adding that those making such a suggestion got it wrong.
Dr. Badejo said the NJC ought to have stepped aside to clear his name due to the nature of the office he occupied.
He disagreed with those accusing the Presidency of attempting to install a Northerner as CJN who will be sympathetic to the ruling party.
Badejo, former Deputy Special Representative of the United Nations (UN) Secretary-General, faulted Senior Advocates of Nigeria (SANs) who stormed the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) where Onnoghen was to be arraigned for alleged non-declaration of assets on Monday.
To him, Nigerians must dispassionately examine the facts in the petition from the Anti-Corruption and Research Based Data Initiative on whether there is a prima facie case against the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN) rather than be swayed by legalistic reactions from many “so called Silk Wigs”.
Badejo said: “It should not matter that a Northerner could succeed Walter Onnoghen as CJN. The question at the Supreme Court is: Who is next? The Supreme Court should be viewed outside the nepotism associated with the current government.
“Furthermore, will a CJN foist his views on the entire Supreme Court? This sort of reasoning suggests that there is no faith in the judicial system.
“We can and should condemn the theatrics of the so called Silk Wigs in spite of the fact that they have the right to defend a rightly accused CJN before the CCB/CCT.
“Do we need more than one SAN to take on the Federal Government of Nigeria? So many SANs is a sign of weakness and not strength in numbers. All these exaggerations do not allow our country to be taken serious.”
On why he believes Chief Justice Onnoghen should step aside, Dr Badejo said: “The CJN is not an ordinary Nigerian. He is at the top of our Judiciary and once he faces a prima facie case of having committed a crime, the honourable answer is to step aside from trying to sit on top of any case in Nigeria.
“He should then defend his name or run away. If he is clean and freed, he should be financially compensated by way of a civil suit. The CJN as a post is very different from the Shenanigans of the politicians in our legislature and executive.
“If the over 100 Silk Wigs love the CJN and respect his office, they should persuade him to resign and run away like Ms. Kemi Adeosun who definitely has a crime that is ripe for trial hanging over her head.”
Badejo, who consults for the African Union (AU), said it should not be possible for any CJN to just be removed from office without due process, adding that the President or anyone for that matter must comply with extant law.
“A Judge that is cut with money laundering or stealing, murder etc, is subject to our laws on those crimes. It stands to reason that Judges are not above the law. The National Judicial Council (NJC) is to handle the protection that Judges deserve in the course of their duties.
“Many issues are yet to be handled with respect to Nigeria’s irreparably dishonoured CJN. For instance, if true that he has so many houses that were not declared as expected, has he been earning rental incomes on them? If he has, has he been paying taxes on such rental incomes or it has been amnesia all the way?
“The CJN depositing $10,000 five times in one day, etc., raises questions as to whether this unusual behavior is intent and act of avoidance of the money laundering law and regulations? What about Order No. 6 and the CJN’s assets that are now in the public space?
“The argument of politicisation to the effect that a petition was made and was speedily attended to should not lead to suggestions of politically induced timing. If a CJN were to drop dead 30 days before an election, would we as a nation not go ahead with our elections?
“Those making such arguments are either saying that the Head of the Judiciary is the Judiciary and all cannot function if he is not in office. These weak arguments are anti-institution building, hence against the democratisation of Nigeria,” said the former University of Lagos (UNILAG) don.
The Coalition of United Political Parties (CUPP) claimed it has uncovered an alleged plot by the Federal Government to “harm” the CJN.
Citing the AGF memo of the AGF to the NFIU, directing the freezing or Justice Onnoghen’s five accounts, CUPP spokesman Imo Ugochinyere alleged that the Federal Government was angry because the CJN “refused to compromise the composition of the post-2019 election Supreme Court Appeal Tribunal.”
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has arraigned Dr Doyin Okupe at the Federal High Court, Maitama.
Okupe, a former aide to former President Goodluck Jonathan, was arraigned before Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu on Monday in Abuja.
He was arraigned along with two companies, Value Trust Investment Ltd and Abrahams Telecoms Ltd, over allegations of fraud.
According to a statement from the anti-graft agency, Okupe was charged with 59 counts bordering on “money laundering and criminal diversion of funds” to the tune of N702 million.
One of the counts read: “That you, Dr Doyin Okupe, being the Senior Special Assistant to President Goodluck Jonathan from July 2012 to May 2015, and being the Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer, and a signatory to the bank account of Abrahams Telecoms Ltd, on or about the 3rd October, 2014 in Abuja within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court, directly took possession or control of the sum of N35 million, transferred to the account of Abrahams Telecoms Ltd from the account of the Office of the National Security Adviser with the Central Bank of Nigeria purporting to be for special services when you reasonably ought to have known that the said fund formed part of the proceeds of an unlawful activity”.
Okupe who is also a chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), however, pleaded “not guilty” to the charges.
Upon his plea, the prosecuting counsel, Ibrahim Audu, asked for a date for the commencement of the trial.
But Okupe’s counsel, Tolu Babaleiye, through a motion on notice dated December 17, 2018, prayed the court to admit the defendant to bail.
He said, “The defendant will in no way tamper with evidence since the proof of evidence is before the court that means investigation has been concluded,” he said.
After listening to both parties, Justice Ojukwu granted bail to the defendant in the sum of N100 million with one surety in like sum.
The Federal Government has asked the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter Onnoghen, to vacate his office over failure to declare his assets as required by the law.
The CJN would be arraigned on Criminal Charges over alleged sundry asset declaration issues, before the Justice Umar Danladi led- Code of Conduct Tribunal in Abuja,for failing to declare his assets as required by law.
He would also be charged for operating Bank Domiciliary Foreign Currency Accounts, which comprised of Dollars Account, Pound Sterling Account and Euro Account which are alleged to be contrary to relevant laws, especially for public office holders.
The charge against Justice Onnoghen has already being filed and served on him last Friday at his official residence in Abuja .
Justice Nnoghen whose appointment suffered unprecedented delay by President Muhammadu Buhari over undisclosed issues may be the first CJN in Nigeria to be arraigned for criminal charges by the Federal Government.
It is gathered that eminent lawyers have volunteered to put their services at the disposal of Justice Onnoghen in the bid to rescue him from the claws of the government.
It was under the leadership of Justice Onnoghen that the acquittal of Senate’s President Bukola Saraki’s false asset declaration case was upheld by the Supreme Court.
*Only Buhari showed concern on abandoned projects in Lagos – Ambode
Despite skirmish during its flag-off campaign in Lagos, huge crowd turned out at the Lagos All Progressives Congress, APC, campaign in Ikeja, Lagos, Southwest Nigeria on Tuesday.
The Sky Power Ground was thronged with party faithful and bigwigs in Lagos APC.
Speaking at the event, the State Governor, Mr Akinwunmi Ambode, urged voters in the State to massively support all the candidates of the party to ensure continuity of good governance.
Addressing thousands of party members and leaders at the rally held at Sky Power Ground in G.R.A, Ikeja, Ambode said it was on record that only President Muhammadu Buhari showed concern about abandoned infrastructure in Lagos and was working on their renewal in conjunction with the State Government, saying it was time for residents to support the candidates of the party across all levels to consolidate on the gains so far recorded.
The governor, who was at the rally with his wife, Bolanle, said the forthcoming elections would not be about religion or ethnicity, but basically about the need to return a government that had showed genuine care for the people, adding that it was clear that the President had walked the talk.
“At the national level, we have only one choice, the choice of continuity is what we want and we need continuity and consolidation. We need to vote for President Muhammadu Buhari and Professor Yemi Osinbajo.
“This election at the national level is not about religion neither is it about tribe. It is about those who have the poor at heart. You know at the national level, we are already doing TraderMoni, we are doing N-Power and we are already doing Employment Trust Fund, among other things.
“We know that we would be glad to have Muhammadu Buhari as the next President in this country; all the abandoned infrastructure that we have had in this State, it is only Muhammadu Buhari that has been propagating the renewal and so we are very conscious that we need to continue voting for the APC,” Ambode said.
At the State level, the Governor said from 1999 till date, Lagos had continued to witness progressive growth, and there was need to support the candidates put forward by the APC to consolidate and further take the State to higher levels.
According to him, “The first question to ask is why we have been experiencing progressive growth in the last 20 years in Lagos and the answer is very simple – that is because I have had predecessors that have actually delivered on their promises starting from Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu to Babatunde Raji Fashola and to myself.
“It has been 20 years of progressive growth and it has been under one single party, APC. We have had an uninterrupted continuity of governance in the last 20 years and that is why you can corroborate that with other things that are happening with the development and growth of Lagos State.
“Now, what I seek from all of you is the continuous growth and continuity in this State and for us to continue in that governance spirit, that is why we have no other choice than the choice of our party. In this context of this country, our party – APC is the party to trust and also the party that we can rely on.”
He particularly urged voters to support the gubernatorial candidate of the party, Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu and his deputy, Dr Obafemi Hamzat, saying they were more qualified than the candidates put forward by other political parties in the State.
“The qualities of Babajide Sanwo-Olu, a former banker, former cabinet member are very strong and he is also very strong in public sector management. When you compare his qualities to the qualities of other candidates, he is very competent and he is very reliable and I have no doubt that we will have him as the next Governor of Lagos State.
“So, come February 16, we will vote President Muhammadu Buhari and Professor Osinbajo and come March 2, we will vote Babajide Sanwo-Olu and Dr Obafemi Hamzat,” Ambode said.
Also speaking, Sanwo-Olu commended APC members for their commitment to the party, assuring that he would continue the policies of the present administration and also take Lagos to higher levels.
“I want to thank all of you for coming out today; we have a long way to go and God will bless all of us. We would continue with the continuity of my brother, Governor Akinwunmi Ambode and we would take Lagos to a higher level,” Sanwo-Olu said.
At the rally, 65 other parties in the State also pitched tent with the candidates of the APC.