A Federal High Court in Lagos on Tuesday expunged proceedings in the trial of a former Governor of Enugu State, Chimaroke Nnamani, who is charged with N5.3 billion fraud. Justice Chuka Obiozor expunged the proceedings at the instance of the prosecution, who informed the court of the intention of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to file a new charge against Nnamani and his former aide, Sunday Anyaogu. After the counsel had announced their appearances, the prosecutor, Mr Kelvin Uzozie, told the court that the EFCC had re-appraised the case and came to the conclusion that rather than continue with the old charge marked FHC/L/09c/2007, “it would be best to bring a fresh charge sheet.’’ Counsel to the first and second accused, Mr Rickey Tafa and Mr Victor Obaro, did not opposed the prosecution’s application. However, Nnamani’s lawyer informed the court that at the last proceedings, the defence had filed an affidavit for termination of the charge FHC/L/09C/07 which, he said, had been conceded to by the prosecution. He argued that at the time the case was reassigned, there was no charge, having filed an application to strike out same.t In response, the prosecutor said his request to court was that the entire proceedings before the court be set aside with liberty to the prosecution to file a new charge. Asked by the judge if the existing charge should be struck out, Uzozie urged the judge to take it that there was no charge before him and expunge all the proceedings observed so far before him. Ruling on the submissions of the parties, Justice Obiozor expunged and struck out the entire proceedings as sought by prosecution. Nnamani and Anyaogu are being prosecuted by the EFCC for N5.3 billion fraud. They were first arraigned in 2007 alongside six companies for allegedly conspiring to divert about N5.3 billion from the coffers of Enugu State. The case which had been handled by at least three judges was assigned to Justice Obiozor in December 2017.
Operatives of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on Wednesday arrested four directors of the National Theatre in Lagos for alleged embezzlement of government funds. The four directors, including a woman, were picked up at their Iganmu office for allegedly diverting “huge sums” of revenue and statutory allocation into private use. It was learnt that the directors allegedly failed to remit revenues realised from the use of facilities at the National Theatre into the Federal Government Treasury Single Account (TSA). According to sources, among government revenue allegedly embezzled were N24 million annual rent paid by Nigerian Breweries for its 20 branded kiosks and N9 million paid for the use of National Theatre during the “Lagos @ 50” celebrations. The affected directors were whisked out of the promises after they refused to honour EFCC invitation for questioning in the office of the Artistic Director and Chief Executive of National Theatre, Mr Tar Ukoh. The intervention of Mrs Grace Gekpe, Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Information and Culture, on telephone could not save the officials from being whisked away by the EFCC operatives. Addressing an Anti – Corruption Rally earlier in the premises, the National Theatre boss vowed to stamp out graft in the Agency. “Culture must kill corruption before corruption kills culture “ said Ukoh who also oversees the National Troupe of Nigeria. Reacting to the development, Henry Udubuisi, Vice President, National Theatre Chapter of AUPCTRE, said that the union was behind the management decision to get rid the Agency of corruption. AUPCTRE is the Amalgamated Union of Public Corporationns, Civil Service, Technical and Recreational Services. Udubuisi said that the union would give its support to the new management to cleanse the Agency of graft. “The position of the union is that we are solidly behind the management to fight corruption in National Theatre. We are also proud to be associated with it. “We are using this medium to appreciate the management on its “Change must begin with me project. “The Artistic Director means well; he wants to address some administrative impunity here. “He is not victimising anybody, he is just asking them to be accountable for what has happened for those who has questions to answer. We need someone like him here to stamp out corruption. “The union will never condone corruption; infact the union stands against corruption and we are happy that the management key into our vision,” he said. Udubuisi said that the union had been in the fight against corruption before the new management came in, adding that it was a step in the right direction. “The union has been fighting corruption even before the new management came in, especially when there was a proposal on the sale of the theatre. “We fought against what we regarded to as administrative impunity under the then Chief Executive but all what we got was dismissal. “Most of the executive members of the union were dismissed for standing against corruption and the sale of the only cultural iconic building in Nigeria,” he said. Contacted, EFCC spokesman in Lagos, Mr Sam Amadin, said that he was yet to be briefed on the arrest.
The delay in deciding the fate of the suspended Secretary to the Federal Government, Mr Babachir Lawal, and Director-General of the National Intelligence Agency, has continued to generate debate and attract criticism for the President Muhammadu Buhari Administration. On Sunday, it was one of the President’s advisers that faulted the delay. The Chairman of the Presidential Advisory Committee on Anti-Corruption (PACAC), Professor Itse Sagay, said in an interview on Channels Television that action has been “much too slow” and called for definitive action. Despite faulting the pace of the probe, Professor Sagay has no doubt about the commitment of the government in fighting corruption. “I have no doubt in my mind that the present government is actually fighting corruption in accordance with its mandate and promises. There is no question about that,” he said during an appearance on Sunday Politics with Seun Okinbaloye. “But on the specific issue of the suspended Secretary to the Federal Government and the Director of the NIA, I would agree that action has been much too slow and there should be immediate decision on this matter so that we can put it to rest and move on. I agree with that.” This comes more than five months after the President suspended SGF and NIA DG, pending the conclusion of investigation into separate allegations of corruption against them. In suspending both men on April 20, 2017, President Buhari constituted a three-man committee comprising the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, and the National Security Adviser, headed by the Vice President, to probe them and submit their report in 14 days. It, however, wasn’t until August 23 that the report was submitted as the President travelled to London on May 7 and spent more than three months there on medical vacation. More than one month after receiving the report, however, Nigerian have no idea what the findings of the committee are or when the President would take a decision on the report. Beyond the criticism that has trailed the delay in deciding the fate of both the SGF and NIA DG, the Buhari administration’s anti-corruption war has been labelled selective with many people arguing that it is targeted at members of the opposition. For Sagay, who believes the government is fighting corruption with “all its might and resources”, there is no justification for such a view. “I think there is an even-handed approach to the issue of fighting corruption. Everybody who is suspected of corruption or the commission of economic and financial crimes will be investigated and the EFCC and the ICPC who are the bodies who are invested with the authority to act in such matters will act in accordance with their own priority,” he said. “I think we should make it clear. We cannot handle all cases of corruption at the same time. As you know, in this country, cases of corruption go right from the top and permeate to the lowest level. So, there are hundreds of thousands of corruption cases. It makes sense for the agencies to choose what to pick an
It was revealed yesterday by the Nigerian Immigration service (NIS) on Friday at the Federal High Court, Abuja, that Sylvester Ngwuta, a suspended justice of the Supreme Court used two similar standard international passports interchangeably. Mr Tanko kutana, a Senior Staff of the service made the claim while being crossed examined by counsel for the defendant, Chief Kanu Agabi (SAN). Ngwuta was among seven superior court judges that were arrested between Oct. 7 and Oct. 8, 2016 after the DSS raided their homes in what it termed a “sting operation.” The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) recalls that the defendant is alleged to have been in possession of multiple standard travel passports and stashed foreign currencies in his Abuja home. The witness said the service was not in the position to doubt the defendant when he showed proof of his missing international passport. According to him, the service subsequently issued him a new one, based on the strength of the affidavit declaring his old passport missing. Kutana, however, said the service was taken aback to discover that the defendant was using the two passports stamped with visas simultaneously. When asked if the action could have been a mistake from the defendant, the witness said the action violated immigration law. He said it was outright illegality to have and use two standard passports with similar registration number interchangeably. “My Lord, the new passport was issued to Justice Ngwuta by the Immigration Service, having been convinced that he actually lost the first one. “The service replaced the lost passport because it had no cause to doubt the affidavit evidence deposed to by the defendant when he reported the loss of the document,’’ Kutana said. He said the defendant failed to report back to the service when he eventually found the missing passport. “The forensic report shows that the defendant, Ngwuta using the two standard passports interchangeable, at the time of his arrest on Oct. 7, 2016 by the operatives of the Department of State Service. “We would not have been here if the defendant had returned the recovered passport to the service when he found it,’’ he said. The witness who confirmed that four diplomatic passports and two standard passports were found in the possession of the defendant, however, said the forensic analysis on the six passports did not show evidence of forgery “I did the analysis on the six passports to determine whether there was forgery and by the time I concluded my analysis of the passports I found no evidence of forgery in any of them,’’ the witness said. He said there were circumstances under which a citizen could have more than one passport, adding that it did not include having two similar ones. Justice John Tsoho adjourned the trial until Oct. 2