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Four stockbrokers are currently facing trial before Justice Josephine Oyefeso of a Lagos State High Court, Ikeja, for their involvement in an alleged N13 billion fraud. The defendants, Adeyemi Oluwaseun, Suleiman Yusuf Obhakume, Yusuf Imran Adekunle and Haruna Issah , are being prosecuted by the Economics and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for stealing the sum of N13 billion naira, property of First Marina Trust Limited. The defendants, who were arraigned on November 16, 2017, on seven count amended charges pleaded not guilty to the charges. They were alleged to have committed the offence while they were in the employment of the organization. Part of the amended charges before the court stated that ” Adeyemi Oluwaseun, Suleiman Yusuf Obhakume , Yusuf Imran Adekunle and Haruna Issah on or about 17th day of May, 2016 in Lagos within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court stole the sum of (N237,250, 000) two hundred and thirty seven thousand, two hundred and fifty thousand naira only, property of First Marina Trust Limited. ” Adeyemi Oluwaseun, Suleiman Yusuf Obhakume, Yusuf Imran Adekunle and Haruna Issah, on or about 27th day of May, 2016 in Lagos within the jurisdiction of this Honourable court stole the sum of N500,200,000, property of First Marina Trust Limited.” They were also accused of ‘stealing the sum of N183, 500,000, N180, 000,000, N186, 000,000 and N14, 749,000 respectively,’ all property of First Marina Trust Limited. The prosecution counsel, Mr. Anselm Ozioko, had held that the offense is contrary to Section 285(1) and (8) of the Criminal Law of Lagos State, 2011. During examination by the prosecution counsel on January 17, 2018, the prosecution witness who is the Chief Risk Officer of the company, Anthony Onyeoghane, told the court that the report of an internal investigation conducted by the company indicted the defendants of the offence. “I was a member of the investigation committee set up by the company. A report was delivered to the management after investigation. I signed the report and every member of the committee signed the report. It was during investigation that this fraud was discovered,” he told the court. The matter was adjourned till April 16 for continuation of trial.

Innoson motors, Chief Innocent Chukwuma has been arrested by officials of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for jumping bail. It took a reinforcement from the Enugu office of the EFCC to effect the arrest of Chief Chukwuma who mobilised thugs to prevent his arrest. Confirming the arrest of the industrialist, EFCC’s Head of Media and Publicity, Wilson Uwujaren said Chukwuma was arrested at about 11am at his Savage Crescent, GRA Enugu residence today. “Chukwuma, rather than honoring invitation by the EFCC, mobilized six truck loads of thugs pretending to be staff of his company to his residence, where they manhandled EFCC operatives. “It took reinforcement from the Enugu office of the EFCC to effect the arrest of the industrialist who is currently being grilled by a team of investigators,” Uwujaren said. The EFFC added that Chukwuma’s arrest followed his refusal to honour invitation by the Commission having earlier jumped an administrative bail granted him in a case being investigated by the Capital Market and Insurance Fraud Unit of the Commission’s office in Lagos. Chief Chukwuma is a Nigerian business magnate and investor. He is the founder and CEO of Innoson Vehicle Manufacturing, Nigeria’s first indigenous automobile manufacturing company. He is also the Head of Ford Foundation in West Africa.

At last, the trial of the trio of Mahmud Tukur, Abdullahi Alao and Ochonoghor Alex and their companies Eternal Plc and Axenergy has commenced, with a prosecution witness, Abdul-rasheed Bawa, an investigator with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, telling Justice Hakeem Oshodi of the Lagos State High Court sitting in Ikeja, Lagos how the defendants defrauded the Federal Government of the sum of N3,121,393,098 ( Three Billion, One Hundred and Twenty- one Million, Three Hundred and Ninety- three Thousand, Ninety- eight Naira). The defendants had previously been arraigned before Justice Lawal Akapo on December 10, 2015 for allegedly diverting the money obtained from the Federal Government for the purpose of importing Premium Motor Spirit, PMS. Counsels to the accused had subsequently filed a joint application seeking to quash the charge preferred against their clients by the Commission. The defence counsel had argued that the State High Court lacked jurisdiction to entertain the matter on the grounds that the allegations against them were oil and gas related, which could only be heard by a Federal High Court. The accused, through their counsel, had also argued that the prosecution could not establish a prima facie case against them. In his ruling, Justice Oshodi had dismissed the application and upheld the argument of the prosecution. Justice Oshodi also held that the prosecution had successfully established a prima facie case against the accused persons and described the application as “premature”. At the resumed hearing before Justice Oshodi on Friday, November 24, 2017, the defence, again, argued that the prosecution did not have the fiat of the Attorney General of the Federation, AGF, and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, SAN, to prosecute the case. In his response, the prosecution counsel, Rotimi Jacobs, SAN, however, submitted that he did not have to show the defence if he had the fiat of the AGF to prosecute them. Jacobs further submitted that he could only show his client, the EFCC and the court the fiat rather than the defence counsel. Justice Oshodi upheld the argument of the prosecution counsel, thereby setting the stage for the prosecution witness, Bawa, to give his evidence against the accused. The accused, among others, claimed that they had imported and discharged PMS sometime in September, 2011 at a tank farm in Lagos, First Deep Water Discovery Limited, for which they were paid the sum of N626m subsidy. Also, the accused was said to have received the sum of N595m from the government after claiming to have imported and discharged PMS at the same tank farm in Lagos sometime in October, 2011. However, the witness, in his testimony, told court how the accused had forged over 30 documents and submitted same to the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency, PPPRA, to fraudulently obtain the subsidy for importation of PMS in 2011. Led in evidence by the prosecution counsel, the witness said: “The owner of the vessel, MT Deepwater EX MT Valle Di Castiglia, and the claimed tank farm of discharge, First Deep Water Discovery Limited, denied the usage of their vessel for the transaction and, also confirmed forgery of documents submitted by Eternal to PPPRA. “The EFCC had access to Lloyds List Intelligence and search conducted for the movement of MT Valle Di Castiglia revealed that the vessel was at the Republic of Turkey all through the period that Eternal claimed to have taken PMS from it with MT Deepwater. So, how can a vessel that was in Turkey give products to another vessel in offshore Cotonou?” Giving further evidence on MT Fulmar, Ex MT Emirates Star and MT Panther EX MT Emirates Star, the witness said the modus operandiemployed by the defendants to defraud the government was alteration of bills of lading dates resulting in higher costs of importation. He said: “The claimed MT Emirates has a bill of lading dated 28 April, 2011 which gave Eternal a loading cost of about N151. “However, investigation revealed that the actual mother vessel for the transaction is MT GonHild Kirk, which had a bill of lading date of April 3, 2011, with landing cost of about N141. “The government, acting on forged importation documents indicating MT Emirates Star, paid Eternal about N3.3bn instead of N2.9bn. Thus Eternal was overpaid about N300, 000,000.” He added that search on LLyods Intelligence on Emirates Star indicated that the vessel sailed out of Doven Strait, United Kingdom and arrived New York, USA within the period that the Eternal documents claimed that the vessel was discharging its products into MT Fuliman and MT Panthern. The case was adjourned to February 26, 2018 for continuation of trial.

Former Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Anyim Pius Anyim, has been arrested by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) in Abuja over fraud he allegedly committed involving Centenary City in Abuja. Our source learned that Mr. Anyim is in detention and is being interrogated by EFCC officials.

Controversy surrounding the reinstatement of Abdulrasheed Maina into the country’s civil service is getting messier by the day as the Head of Service of the Federation, Mrs. Winifred Oyo-Ita, has denied reports that she approved the reinstatement of the wanted former chairman of the Presidential Task Force on Pension Reforms. In her reply to a query issued her by the presidency over the reinstatement of Maina, Oyo-Ita on Monday dismissed reports that she approved the reinstatement and subsequent posting of Maina to the Ministry of Interior. Oyo-Ita’s refutal was contained in a statement by her Assistant Director, Media Relations, Mohammed Manga. The Head of Service maintained that Maina’s restatement and posting did not emanate from her office. The Minister of Interior, retired Lt.-Gen. Abdulrahman Dambazau who had earlier exonerated himself from complicity in the matter, said Maina was posted to his ministry by the Head of Service. The Minister, on October 22, had confirmed the resumption of duty by Abdulrasheed Maina, as an Acting Director in his ministry. The confirmation came in a statement issued by the Press Secretary to the minister, Mr Ehisienmen Osaigbovo. Maina was appointed by former President Goodluck Jonathan as Chairman of the task force in 2010 to check the corruption in the country’s pension system. In 2012, the Nigeria Police accused him of misappropriating N100 billion pension funds in connivance with others. The Civil Service Commission reportedly dismissed him for “absconding from duty’’. Maina was arraigned in absentia by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), which declared him wanted in 2015. Mr Wilson Uwujaren, the spokesman of the anti-graft agency in a statement on Saturday, said Maina remained on the commission’s wanted list. A presidential spokesman, Femi Adesina, on Monday confirmed that the report of the circumstances of Maina’s recall and posting to the Ministry of Interior had been submitted to the President’s Chief of Staff, Abba Kyari. President Muhammadu Buhari, on Monday, in a memo to Oyo-Ita, directed the immediate disengagement from service of Maina. The President equally demanded a full report of the circumstances of Maina’s recall and posting to the Ministry of Interior, saying the report must be submitted to the office of the Chief of Staff to the President, before the end of work today. Adesina, in a television interview on Monday night, confirmed that Oyo-Ita had submitted the report to the office of the Chief of Staff as demanded by the President.

Kebbi State Accountant-General Mohammed Dakingari has been sentenced to 70 years imprisonment for fraud. The Court of Appeal sitting in Kebbi found him guilty of N1.6 billion fraud. The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) stated that the Kebbi State High Court had earlier discharged and acquitted Dakingari, but the Court of Appeal today overruled it and upheld the EFCC appeal. Dakingari was initially arrested and detained by the EFCC in Abuja back in 2013 for allegedly using a company that is wholly owned by him, Beal Construction Nigeria Limited, to award various contracts to himself.

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

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