A Federal High Court Abuja has fixed February 6, 2023, for ruling on an application by a former governor of Imo State, Senator Rochas Okorocha, seeking to quash the 17-count criminal charge preferred against him by the Federal Government.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) is prosecuting the former governor over an alleged N3.
1 billion fraud.
The former governor was arraigned alongside Anyim Nyerere, Naphtali International Ltd, Perfect Finish Multi Projects Ltd, Consolid Projects Consulting Ltd, Pramif International Ltd and Legend World Concepts Ltd. Justice Inyang Ekwo fixed the date yesterday after counsel in the matter adopted their written addresses and other processes as their final arguments.
Ola Olanipekun (SAN), who announced their appearance for Okorocha, having adopted all his processes, urged the court to grant the application and quash the charge.
On his part, the EFCC lawyer, K.
Ugwu, prayed the trial judge to find and hold that the Motion on Notice filed by the first defendant (Okorocha), seeking to quash the charge, lacks merit and should be dismissed accordingly.
Similarly, Darlington Ozurumba, representing Consolid Projects Consulting Ltd (5th defendant), also adopted his Motion on Notice and urged Justice Ekwo to quash and dismiss the entire suit for being an abuse of the court process.
In opposition to the application, the prosecution counsel told the court that the fifth defendant could not benefit from a judgment it was not part of.
Recall that the EFCC is prosecuting the former governor and six others on a 17-count charge, bordering on conspiracy, stealing, conversion of public funds and money laundering to the tune of N3,147, 000, 000.
Okorocha is the current senator representing Imo West Senatorial District in the National Assembly.
He is currently under N500 million bail and a surety in like sum.
Before granting Okorocha bail, the court directed that the surety must be a responsible citizen of the country, resident in Abuja, and must have property worth the bail amount within the jurisdiction of the court.
According to Justice Ekwo, Okorocha must not travel out of the country without the permission of the court, must deposit his International Passport with the court and must make himself available in the court to face his trial and the second defendant, Nyerere Anyim (a.
k.a Anyim Chinenye) should continue to enjoy the administrative bail earlier granted him by the EFCC for exhibiting good conduct while on bail.
Some of the charges read: “That you, Rochas Okorocha, Anyim Nyerere and Naphtali International Ltd, on or about the 24th October 2014, at Abuja within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court converted the sum of N900,000,000 property of Imo State Government of Nigeria transferred from the Imo State Government House Account, which you all reasonably ought to have known formed part of the proceeds of an unlawful act, to wit: stealing and thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 15(2)(b) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act 2011, (as amended) and punishable under Section 15(3) of the Same Act. “That You, Rochas Okorocha, Anyim Nyerere and Perfect Finish Multi Projects Ltd, on or about 28th August 2014, at Abuja within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court converted the sum of N486,000,000 property of Imo State Government of Nigeria, transferred from the Imo State Joint State Local government Project Account, which you all reasonably ought to have known formed part of the proceeds of an unlawful act, to wit: stealing and thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 15(2)(b) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2011 (as amended) and punishable under Section 15(3) of the same Act”.
Osun State Election Petition Tribunal has issued a fresh order, directing the National Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to produce the certificates and other documents of the state Governor-elect, Ademola Adeleke, used in the 2018 governorship election.
The order followed the failure of the state Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) of the commission to produce the certificates in the previous sitting in compliance with the Subpoena issued by the commission.
Governor Adegboyega Oyetola is challenging the declaration of Adeleke as Governor-elect by the INEC.
At its resumed sitting on Friday, the tribunal chaired by Justice Tertsea Kume ruled that the mere appearance of the representative of REC has not answered the Subpoena on the commission to produce the documents.
In the ruling, the tribunal said an application for Subpoena is in Administrative Act and when it is granted, it becomes a Judicial Act and the party upon which the Subpoena is issued must comply, citing Sections 218 and 219 of the evidence act.
It ruled: “An order of the court is bound to be complied with by the party upon which it was made until it is set aside by the court.
In the instant case, the order has not been complied with.
” The tribunal further held that the request by the respondents that the petitioners should continue with the calling of the witness whose testimony is hung on Adeleke’s credentials was baseless, as the petitioners have the absolute prerogative on how to conduct their case.
The panel said the application was consequent to the failures of the state REC of the commission to produce the documents requested in the Subpoena.
According to the ruling, the petitioners have shown sufficient reasons for the tribunal to compel the National Chairman of INEC to produce the documents in question.
It then dismissed all the objections raised by the counsel for INEC, Adeleke and PDP, compelling the Chairman of the commission to produce the documents in the next sitting of the panel on Thursday, December 1.
Counsel for the petitioners, Chief Akin Olujinmi, SAN, described the ruling as a well-researched one, saying it would go a long way in serving the course of justice in the hearing of the petition.
Addressing journalists shortly after the proceedings, Chief Olujinmi, said the court has done the right thing for reordering INEC to produce the requested documents containing Adeleke’s certificates.
He added: “The respondents, as we said during the last sitting, didn’t want to produce that document and that was why we had to argue at length to persuade the tribunal to reorder, which they eventually made today.
“The effect of this is that the INEC is now under a binding obligation to produce these documents at the next appearance in court on Thursday, December 1st, 2022,” he added.
Counsel for INEC, Prof. Paul Ananaba, SAN, also conceded that they were ready now to follow the order of the court by producing the requested documents.
Meanwhile, a Federal High Court in Osun, on Friday, nullified the State Local Governments Election conducted by Osun Independent Electoral Commission (OSIEC).
The presiding judge, Justice Ayo-Nathaniel Emmanuel, held that the election conducted by OSIEC on October 15, was illegal, null and void, having not been conducted in consonance with the Electoral Act of 2022.
Emmanuel ordered the Local Government Chairmen and Councilors across the state to vacate all Local Government Secretariats and offices with immediate effect.
He said the notice given by OSIEC for the election was not in compliance with Section 28 of the OSEIC Act 2022.
“Section 24 of the OSIEC law gives 360 days notice and also Section 25 and Section 26 of the OSEIC law are also insistence with the Electoral Act in terms of submission and publication of names.
The PDP approached the court asking to stop OSIEC from going ahead with the election.
Other respondents in the matter include INEC, All Progressives Congress (APC) and its former party chairman, Oba Adeboyega Famoodun, the Owa of Igbajo.
A federal High Court sitting in Abuja has adjourned till Friday, November 25 to hear the preliminary objection of the former governor of Imo State, Rochas Okorocha, on the N3.
1 billion fraud charges preferred against him by the Federal Government.
When the matter came up, yesterday, Okorocha’s counsel, Ola Olanipekun (SAN), informed the court that the business of the day was to hear the first defendant’s (Okorocha) motion on notice seeking the quashing of the 17-count charge slammed against him.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) is prosecuting the former governor and six others on a 17-count charge bordering on conspiracy, stealing, conversion of public funds and money laundering to the tune of N3,147,000,000.
The former governor, who is the senator representing Imo West District in the National Assembly is currently enjoying an N500 million bail and a surety in like sum.
The surety, who must be a responsible citizen of the country, resident in Abuja, must have property worth the bail amount within the jurisdiction of the court.
According to Ekwo, Okorocha must not travel out of the country without the permission of the court, must deposit his international passport with the court and must make himself available in the court to face his trial.
Also, the second defendant, Nyerere Anyim (aka Anyim Chinenye), should continue to enjoy the administrative bail earlier granted him by the EFCC for exhibiting good conduct while on bail.
Delta State Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) chief, Aghwarianovwe Ikie, has filed a fresh suit seeking the nullification of the Speaker of the Delta State House of Assembly Sheriff Oborevwori as the governorship candidate of the party in the state.
In a writ of summons, marked FHC/ABJ/CS/1857/2022, dated October 13 and filed by his counsel, Dr. Alex Izinyon, SAN, Ikie, who listed the PDP, Oborevwori and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) as 1st, 2nd and 3rd defendants respectively, is asking the court to, among other things, declare that some portions of the information filed by Oborevwori for the PDP primary election were false.
The fresh suit is coming despite the judgment of the Supreme Court that affirmed Oborevwori as the governorship candidate of the party in the state.
The plaintiff’s claims include: “A declaration that the information, particulars and documents contained in the 3rd defendant’s INEC form EC9 given by the 2nd defendant duly sworn to by him on June 30, 2022 submitted by the 1st defendant and published by the 3rd defendant on October 4, 2022 for the 2023 general election to the office of the governor of Delta State contain false information as they relate to the 2nd defendant’s constitutional requirement for the said office, contrary to Section 29(5)&(6) of the Electoral Act 2022.
“An order disqualifying the 2nd defendant sponsored by the 1st defendant from contesting the election to the office of governor of Delta State in the 2023 general elections.
An order disqualifying the 1st defendant from sponsoring the 2nd defendant or any other candidate for the office of governor of Delta State in the 2023 general election pursuant to Section 29(6)of the Electoral Act, 2022.
” The Supreme Court had, in a unanimous decision by a five-member panel led by Justice Amina Augie, dismissed an appeal that was filed against Oborevwori by an aggrieved governorship aspirant of the PDP in the state, Olorogun David Edevbie.
Edevbie had, in his appeal, alleged that Oborevwori submitted false and forged documents to the PDP, in aid of his qualification to contest the election billed for March 11, 2023.
He told the court that whereas Oborevwori had, in an affidavit he deposed to, claimed he was born in 1963, he, however, tendered a West African Examination Council (WAEC) certificate that was issued to someone that was born in 1979.
In its judgment, the apex court held that allegations the appellant raised before it was rooted in criminality and therefore ought to be proved beyond reasonable doubt.
The apex court held that Edevbie allegations against Oborevwori could not be resolved through affidavit evidence or Originating Summons.
However, in a fresh suit, the plaintiff in his statement of claim, stated that pursuant to the declaration of victory of the 2nd defendant, he had filled the 3rd defendant’s INEC Form EC9, containing his personal information and documents and submitted same to the 1st defendant to be submitted subsequently to the 3rd defendant within the period allowed for submission.
Meanwhile, Justice Inyang Ekwo has fixed December 15 and 16 for commencement of hearing.
This was after the case was mentioned on Wednesday before the court.
Counsel to the 1st and 2nd defendants, Ekeme Ohwovoriole, SAN, and Damien Dodo, SAN, were present in court while the 3rd defendant (INEC) was not in court and was not represented by counsel.
Although the PDP has filed its statement of defence, Oborevwori is yet to file any process in court.
A Lagos-based lawyer, Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa (SAN), has urged the Lagos State government to deploy technology to ease the process of land registration and land management in the state.
He said that it would open the state to more economic growth and attract several investors.
Adegboruwa, who stated this in Lagos, yesterday, during the first stakeholders’ forum by the office of the Lagos State Surveyor-General, said that embracing ease and convenience in processing title documents for landed property and the improved land administration would accrue huge economic benefits for the state.
He noted that the summit, with the theme, “Emerging Technologies for Optimised Geospatial Application and Service Delivery in the 21st Century,” is apt and in consonance with the present reality in the country.
Adegboruwa said: ‘’The process of bearing files from one stage to the other in the process of approval, the process of rendering advice is cumbersome not only to the judiciary, even in survey departments for us to do certain things.
“The people we are following, western countries have moved ahead.
The problem we have with the judiciary is our conservative approach of governance to things and ways of doing things, the case I cited earlier lingered from 1997 to 2020, almost thirty years and yet the person is still in possession of the property wrongly acquired.
“It cuts across all areas of our life and the only solution to it is to deploy technology in tackling office management thereby removing human intervention in governance to a considerable level.
” He also urged the federal government to devolve powers to the state, local government and grassroots level, as part of measures to check corruption among the Nigerian elite.
“Powers belonging to the federal government are too enormous.
You cannot sit in Abuja and begin to roll out money to several departments.
This is what is brewing corruption in our land.
If the state and local government are being empowered, they will use their resources to better the lives of their people.
” Earlier, the Permanent Secretary/Surveyor-General of Lagos State PS/SG (OSSG), Olutomi Ajose Sangowawa, in his welcome address, said the maiden edition of the stakeholder’s forum convened by the Office of the State Surveyor-General, was to forge a partnership that will strengthen the ties between government, property owners and stakeholders in the built environment.
According to Sangowawa: “This initiative will foster a more cordial relationship among stakeholders, investors and regulators, just as it defines, in clear terms, the requirements for adopting 21st Century techniques for optimised geospatial applications and service delivery.
”He said that the Office of the State Surveyor-General decided to engage stakeholders to discuss issues resulting from the rapid growth of the urban population in Lagos State and how the development of geospatial information could address the identified problems.
The state Surveyor General assured that “The professional team of the Office of the Surveyor-General of Lagos State will continually leverage geospatial information to deliver prompt, professional, timely and excellent services to all stakeholders in accordance with our mandate on the issuance of land information certificates, charting information, certified survey plans and preparation of composite plans.
” He urged all stakeholders to sustain the tradition and ensure that the forum would, “Design the roadmap for continuous development of the built sector, especially in Lagos State and, by extension in Nigeria.
A senior advocate for Nigeria (SAN), Mr. Ahmed Raji, has advocated for a tax-driven economy to increase countries' revenues.
Raji, in a statement shortly after graduating from the University of Oxford, UK where he earned a Master of Science (Msc) in Taxation, also called for the introduction of wealth tax to alleviate the poverty and suffering of Nigerians.
The lead counsel said that “most countries are now focusing on taxes in the face of the diminishing relevance of crude oil.
“I took time to specialize in the complex and technical field of study of Taxation at the University of Oxford, one of the three leading universities in the world.”
He said that the introduction of the Wealth Tax Policy would make super-rich Nigerians pay deserved taxes that would be used to cater to the downtrodden citizens of the country.
He argued that in the face of the tough economic situation faced by poor Nigerians, the poor should receive subsidies and not pay taxes under any guise to balance their anger against the rich.
"It is a fact that the downturn in the Nigerian economy is having severe and devastating effects on poor Nigerians. The vast gap between rich and poor should be a great concern to patriotic Nigerians and a way out must be found," he said. said.
The Nigerian News Agency reports that, in 2015, Raji obtained an LLM from Kings College, London, with an emphasis in Telecommunications Law, Commercial Banking, International Fice and International and Comparative Arbitration.
Source Credit: NAN
Mr. Tony Ojukwu, SAN, Executive Secretary of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) said on Wednesday that unity and tolerance are key to national security and development.
Ojukwu said this in Abuja at the International Day for Tolerance commemoration held in partnership with the International Federation on Aging Nigeria (IFAN).
”Nations Day is reserved to promote tolerance among people of all origins and beliefs.
“It is a day in which we are urged to raise awareness about diversity and cultural cohesion in an attempt to eradicate intolerance throughout the world,” he said.
The timing, he said, is right considering the fact that Nigeria was gearing up for the 2023 general election and campaigns, and the discussions may be rife with misinformation and hate speech.
Ojukwu called for actions that support reconciliation, peace, security and sustainable development.
”As a consequence, we must make bold statements to encourage tolerance and raise awareness of the intersection between reconciliation.
“Also social cohesion, interpersonal and cultural dialogue, justice and the protection of human rights in Nigeria.
“These are intrinsically interrelated and are fundamental to strengthening democracy, national security and development,” he said.
Ojukwu said all of this could be achieved when stakeholders come together to ensure that the government lives up to its obligation.
Similarly, Mr. Ike Nwobu, National Coordinator, IFAN said: “in a world that is changing rapidly and in a society of diversity, we need tolerance.
“Tolerance is not indifference towards others; nor does it imply full acceptance of all beliefs and behaviors.
”Tolerance does not mean less commitment to one's own convictions or weakening of determination.
"Tolerance is an act of humanity, take it, it's everything from universal human rights and fundamental freedoms," he said.
He said that fostering tolerance and understanding is essential for the 21st century in an increasingly globalized world.
Nwobu added that true tolerance requires the free flow of ideas, quality education for all, respect for human rights.
The day is an annual observance day declared in 1995 to raise public awareness of the dangers of intolerance.
It is observed on November 16 of each year. (www.)
Source Credit: NAN
The Ikeja Magistrate Court dealing with the inquisition into the death of Sylvester Oromoni, a student at Dowen College, Lekki in Lagos, resumed its session on Monday.
However, the session was held behind closed doors and only a few family members were allowed inside.
Oromoni, 12, a student at Dowen College, Lekki, Lagos, died on 30 November 2021, allegedly from injuries sustained in an attack.
The Oromoni family is represented in the inquiry (SAN), while Bernard Onigah represents the Nigerian Bar Association.
The defendants and the Lagos government are equally represented.
Meanwhile, some groups have called for a speedy investigation "in the interest of justice."
The groups spoke to the Nigerian News Agency in Lagos after the session.
Among the groups was Justice For Oromoni, whose coordinator, Mr Regent Youmor, called on the Judiciary to ensure that the late student's case is concluded quickly.
He pleaded that the case be heard quickly to ensure a prompt administration of justice.
“To the layman, it will appear that justice is delayed if the case drags on.
“This is a national issue; it is not ethnic and not solely legal. It is more traditional and moral,” she opined.
Mr. Ebitimi Dio-Posibi, president of the Ijaw National Congress (INC), Lagos chapter, who also spoke on the matter, said his group would appreciate a ruling "as quickly as possible."
He said an expedited hearing was important because "the late Omoroni has not been buried."
“For Oromoni not to have been buried a year after his passing goes against the customs and traditions of the Ijaw people, particularly since he was just a child,” he said.
Miss Winifred Ibitaka, vice president of the Ijaw Youth Council (IYC), said she was not happy that the case was "taking time".
Ibitaka stressed the need for justice to be delivered in time "so that the child can be buried."
Source Credit: NAN
The federal government has urged the Nigerian Institute of Town Planners (NITP) to shoulder its professional responsibility and engage state governments to correct construction irregularities to improve urban safety.
Minister for Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, SAN, made the call at the 53rd National Conference and Annual General Meeting of the Nigerian Institute of Town Planners in Abuja on Tuesday.
The Nigerian News Agency reports that the theme of the conference is: “Physical Planning and Urban Security in Nigeria: Issues, Challenges and Prospects”.
Fashola said that no individual or organization should be allowed to act in contravention of planning regulations, adding that the state cannot bypass its own planning rules and regulations, otherwise it would be sowing the seeds of urban insecurity.
He said: “Nothing more than absolute professionalism should be demanded and accepted from the planner. Although the ownership of the land is a matter of the State and the owner.
“However, what you put on the land and how you use it is the ultimate responsibility of the developer. In discharging that responsibility, even the State must comply with urban planning regulations.”
Fashola said nothing should be considered too much within the law for developers to insist on compliance, saying "this should be the provision of the professional developer, to improve urban safety."
For his part, Governor Aminu Masari of Katsina State, who said the role of urban planners in the development of any country cannot be overstated, praised the institute for organizing the conference.
Earlier, the national president of the institute, Mr. Olutoyin Ayinde, expressed his hope that the conference will expose urban planners to new information that will guide future decisions in favor of urban safety.
Ayinde described the theme of the conference as very relevant to contemporary reality and very vital for the collective survival and security of the country.
“Security issues are the crux of the matter. That is why we are looking for authorities on the matter to address the issue, ”she said.
For his part, the president of the institute's FCT chapter, Mr. Mustapha Mubdiyu, said that the conference brings together urban planners, allied professionals, academics and policy makers.
He said that they would discuss new concepts, emerging trends and a global agenda to find solutions to environmental and development challenges in the country.
Mubdiyu said that cities in Nigeria have become increasingly exposed to the direct or indirect effects of security threats and challenges.
According to him, they range from crime, social crime and forced urban migration that led to the proliferation of slums and illegal settlements, urban violence and child abuse.
Mubdiyu said, "This year's theme is not only appropriate but necessary to dissect these effects and challenge with a view to offering practical recommendations for sustainable urban planning and development of our urban centers."
In addition, the main presenter, Dr. Kabir Adamu, Managing Director of Beacon Consulting Ltd, emphasized the need for more collaboration between security institutions and urban planners to improve urban security in the country.
Okwori's representative, security and crime management consultant, Adamu, said that for physical planning to be effective, security agencies must be involved.
He said: “Because we realized that there are challenges that come with physical planning, such as interference from political leaders, which often creates room for bridges in security.
"So the reason we're here is to talk to planners and other relevant professionals to comply with the rules and regulations and what it takes to plan a city."
The Director of the Department of Development Control of the FCT, Mukhtar Galadima, the Coordinator of the Abuja Metropolitan Management Council, Umar Shuaibu, representatives of the Governors of the states of Kaduna, Borno and Ondo, among others, attended.
Edited / Bashir Rabe Mani
Source Credit: NAN
Human rights lawyer Femi Falana (SAN) has advised President Muhammadu Buhari to direct public universities to pay members of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) their full salaries.Some members of the union which recently called off their eight-month strike had complained of getting half salaries for October 2022. The Federal Government had defended the move, insisting that the varsity teachers cannot be paid for not working.“They were paid in pro-rata to the number of days that they worked in October, counting from the day that they suspended their industrial action,” the Ministry of Labour and Employment said. “Pro-rata was done because you cannot pay them for work not done. Everybody’s hands are tied.”But in a statement on Sunday, Falana, said the ‘no work, no pay’ policy does not apply to ASUU members.“The position of the Federal Government is factually faulty and legally misleading. Since the industrial action was called off the public universities have adjusted their calendars to ensure that the 2021/2022 academic session is not cancelled. Consequently, students are currently taking lectures or writing examinations that were disrupted during the strike of the ASUU. Therefore, having regard to the facts and circumstances of the ASUU strike the doctrine of ‘no work, no pay’ is totally inapplicable as students who were not taught during the strike are currently attending lectures and writing examinations,” he said.“Furthermore, it is public knowledge that the members of the Nigerian Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) embarked on a strike that lasted two months last year. The Federal Government dragged the striking doctors to the National Industrial Court which ordered the NARD to call off the strike. As soon as the strike was called off, President Muhammadu Buhari jettisoned the “no work, no pay” principle and ordered the payment of the salaries for the two months that the strike lasted. On that occasion, the President overruled Dr. Ngige in the interest of industrial harmony in the health sector.“In the same vein, the ASUU recently called off its 8-month-old strike in compliance with the order of the National Industrial Court and the Court of Appeal. We are therefore compelled to call on President Buhari should ignore the advice of Dr. Ngige and direct the public universities to pay the full salary of each lecturer from February to October 2022. Otherwise, the Federal Government will be accused of engaging in the selective application of the “no work, no pay” principle which is discriminatory and illegal.“It is pertinent to draw the attention of the Federal Government to section 42 (1) of the Constitution which provides that citizens of Nigeria shall not be subjected either expressly or in the practical application of any law in force in Nigeria or any executive or administrative action of the government, to disabilities or restrictions to which other citizens are not made subject; or be accorded either expressly by, or in the practical application of, any law in force in Nigeria or any such executive or administrative action, any privilege or advantage that is not accorded to other citizens.“In view of the foregoing, since the Federal Government is mandatorily required to treat all workers equally the members of ASUU are entitled to be treated like members of the NARD after they had called off their strike. In other words, as members of ASUU and NARD are entitled to equality of rights, obligations and opportunities before the law the lecturers should be paid their salaries withheld during the period of the recently suspended 8-month industrial action.“However, in view of the undeniable fact that the members of the two newly registered unions in the universities were on strike like members of ASUU the plan of the Ministry of Labour and Employment to pay the Congress of University Academics their withheld salaries and rectify the ‘half salaries’ paid to all lecturers under the newly registered union should be shelved. Otherwise, the provocative agenda will cause a fresh industrial action in public universities.”