Tag Archives: corruption

Comic moment Maina faints in Court over alleged fraud

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The former fugitive who is facing money laundering charge, collapsed before Justice Okon Abang of the Federal High Court in Abuja.

The former Chairman of the defunct Pension Reform Taskforce Team, Abdulrasheed Maina, mounted a new drama at the Federal High Court in Abuja Thursday.

He slumped after the court resumed proceedings in the 12-count charge filed against him and his company by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC.

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The court rose abruptly to enable officials of the Correctional Service and relations of the former pension boss to attend to him.

Maina on Wednesday after the EFCC closed its case with nine witnesses, secured permission of the court to enter a no-case-submission.

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#Newsworthy

Corruption: Fleeing Abdulrasheed Maina back in Court

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Maina, who is being tried for money laundering by the EFCC, along with his company, Common Input Ltd, was found by the court to have jumped bail when he suddenly stopped attending trial for over a month now.

Fleeing former Chairman of the Pension Reform Task Team (PRTT), Abdulrasheed Maina was brought before a Federal High Court in Abuja on Friday morning by a combined team of policemen and operatives of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

The court subsequently revoked the bail granted him, issued a bench warrant for his arrest and ordered his surety, Senator Mohammed Ali Ndume to forfeit the N500million bail bond he pledged.

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The police, at the weekend, announced that it arrested Maina in neighbouring Niger Republic, following which he was brought back to Nigeria on Thursday aboard a Nigeria Police Force’s aircraft.

Maina, dressed in kaftan and a cap to match, is currently seated in court, sandwiched between security men, awaiting the commencement of proceedings before Justice Okon Abang.

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#Newsworthy

Uproot corruption to rebuild Lebanon – By Sahar Atrache & Hardin Lang

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As the world gathers aid for the people of Lebanon, it must ensure that it gets to those who need it.


On August 4, one of the largest non-nuclear explosions in history wreaked havoc on Beirut. Nearly 200 lives were lost, and more than 6,000 people were injured.

An estimated 300,000 people were instantly left homeless. The blast obliterated homes, schools, medical facilities, and the port of Beirut, which supplies nearly 85 percent of the country’s food.

Humanitarian relief efforts are already under way, but the longer-term reconstruction will take years.

For Lebanon to truly recover, the country and its international partners will need to address something more insidious than the blast: corruption.

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Lebanon was already on the verge of a humanitarian crisis. In 2019, the country’s economic collapse threw hundreds of thousands into poverty and exacerbated an already spiking unemployment rate, especially among the youth.

The COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent lockdown further deepened the hardship, including for more than one million Syrian refugees.

Donors and international aid agencies have launched a humanitarian intervention to help the population cope.

But the effort faces a significant challenge: how to channel hundreds of millions, if not billions, of dollars in aid without it being siphoned off by corruption.

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For decades, Lebanon has suffered from systemic corruption that bankrupted the country.

Many Lebanese hold political leaders responsible for the country’s economic collapse and today, many consider the port explosion to be yet another example of neglect.

Several reports make clear that Lebanese officials knew about the presence of these lethal materials for years and failed to act.

Unlike in the past, Western donors appear wary of traditional assistance strategies that rely on the Lebanese government. “If reforms are not carried out, Lebanon will continue to sink,” said French President Emmanuel Macron.

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John Barsa of USAID said firmly: “Our aid is absolutely not going to the government. Our aid is going to the people of Lebanon.”

To limit the opportunities for corruption, many donors are largely betting on the UN to spearhead the emergency relief efforts. However, this route is not without challenges. Some Lebanon watchers have voiced concerns over the undue influence of the Assad regime on UN aid operations in Syria. In Lebanon, the UN and other aid agencies have partnered in the past with Lebanese entities now associated with corruption, like the Council for Development and Reconstruction (CDR), a “key partner of the UN in Lebanon,” or with NGOs founded by or tied to members of the political elite.

French troops help unload boxes of French Red Cross humanitarian aid near the site of the August 4 blast in Beirut [AP Photo/Hassan Ammar]

To address these fears, international aid organisations must reassert their independence from Lebanon’s political elite. For example, UN agencies should exercise greater scrutiny when partnering with governmental or non-governmental bodies. They should also strive to strengthen transparency around aid delivery. Such measures could include the timely and regular release of programme budgets and aid distribution data; a communications plan and formal dialogue with aid beneficiaries; and dedicated staff to monitor aid delivery. Indeed, some of these steps may already be under way.

Second, international aid agencies must empower Lebanese civil society in the relief effort. Fortunately, Lebanon already has a robust landscape of local activists and groups dedicated to the needs of the vulnerable. In addition, new grassroots networks emerged last year during the country’s economic implosion, and the blast sparked a groundswell of citizen mobilisation. Donors and the UN will need to prioritise the flow of resources to these groups and include them in decision-making. The UN’s Lebanon Response Fund allocated roughly a quarter of its money through local NGOs in 2019. While impressive, that local share will need to grow. Finally, Lebanese civil society should be given a greater role with respect to oversight and accountability.

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Third, donors and international financial institutions (IFIs) must address corruption as part of the wider reconstruction effort. The World Bank estimates that Lebanon will need up to $2bn for recovery. Fortunately, it appears to be taking the corruption issue seriously, calling for a series of anti-corruption measures as part of the rebuilding process. These include a new national anti-corruption commission and a call for Lebanon to join the Open Government Partnership. The Bank has also floated the idea of a new type of financing facility that could channel resources directly to NGOs engaged in recovery.

All of these would be steps in the right direction. However, bilateral and multilateral donors will still need a legitimate Lebanese governmental counterpart with whom to do business. This is particularly true for the International Monetary Fund (IMF) with whom talks have stalled over a bailout for Lebanon’s economy. Addressing this dilemma will certainly require some innovative thinking.

Any real reform agenda – one that uproots Lebanon’s entrenched corruption – will face great resistance by the elite. But as the world gathers support for the people of Lebanon, it cannot lose sight of this goal if aid is to get to those who need it.

The views expressed in this article are the authors’ own and do not necessarily reflect Noble Reporters Media’s editorial stance.


#Newsworthy…

Corruption: Magu will defend himself – Lawyer

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Nobody is entitled to condemn Mr Ibrahim Magu before he is afforded the opportunity to defend himself in the corruption allegations levelled against him.

Mr Wahab Shittu, who is the lawyer to the suspended Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), said this in a statement sent to on Sunday.

He insisted that his client was innocent of the corruption allegations against him, although he has yet to be given the chance to prove his innocence.

The legal practitioner explained that the statement was in reaction to an online publication that the panel led by Justice Ayo Salami investigating Magu had recommended his sack and prosecution to President Muhammadu Buhari.

He noted that following an earlier report of similar nature, the presidential panel advised them to ignore the story.

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According to Shittu, the suspended EFCC boss is yet to formally present his defence and proceedings are ongoing, and witnesses are still lined up for next week beginning from Monday.

He decried that despite repeated demands, his client has not been served with copies of allegations against him while the instrument embodying the Terms of Reference was not served on him until 35 days after proceedings had commenced.

The lawyer added that the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, whose memo triggered the proceedings, has yet to be summoned to testify to support the allegations against Magu.

Among other issues raised, Shittu said his client was unable to gain access to official documents and other information necessary for his defence due to his suspension from office.

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While the presidential panel was investigating the allegations of corruption against Magu, President Buhari affirmed his suspension from office on July 10.

A statement from the government explained that the presidential directive was to allow for an unhindered inquiry by the panel under the Tribunals of Inquiry Act and other relevant laws.

Read the full statement by Magu’s lawyer below:

23rd August 2020.

PRESS RELEASE

SALAMI PANEL CAN’T SUBMIT INTERIM REPORT WITHOUT HEARING FROM MAGU- WAHAB SHITTU

Gentlemen of the Press,

Based on press inquiries on my clients’ response to the story on Media captioned “Exclusive, Salami panel asks Buhari to fire, prosecute Magu for corruption”, we wish to state as follows:

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We are unaware of the source of the story and we are actually shocked that such a false story is being orchestrated in the public space, contrary to the stage of ongoing proceedings before the panel. We wish to state with high sense of responsibility that our client is yet to formally present his defence. Proceedings are ongoing and witnesses are still lined up for next week beginning from Monday. Please note that the earlier report of similar import published by The Pilot was brought to the attention of the panel and we were advised by the chairman of the panel to ignore the story. Our attitude is also to ignore this latest story as falsehood not reflecting the realities on ground.
We all know that in spite of repeated demands, our client has not been served with copies of allegations against him.
The instrument embodying the Terms of Reference was not served on my client until August 8, 2020 (35 days after proceedings have commenced).
That the Honourable Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami (SAN), whose memo triggered the proceedings, is yet to be summoned to testify to support the allegations against our client. He who “asserts must prove”.
That our client was excluded from the initial stages of the proceedings with several witnesses testifying in his absence.
That counsel to our client was not allowed to cross-examine many of the witnesses who had testified until recently.
That our client is yet to be granted access to petitions/presentations, case files and exhibits admitted in the proceedings. Please note that we have written to the panel to that effect.
That our client was accosted on the street and compulsorily requested to appear “immediately” before the panel without opportunity to access documents to adequately prepare his defence.
That our client was subsequently detained for ten days after appearing before the panel in unpleasant circumstances. This detention is not covered by the Terms of Reference arising from the instrument constituting the judicial commission of inquiry.
That our client, owing to his suspension from office, is unable to have access to official documents and other information necessary for his defence.
That cases pending before superior courts of records such as Federal High Court, Court of Appeal and The Supreme Court are being reviewed in the proceedings. We believe that this development is subjudice and unhealthy for our jurisprudence.
That witnesses appearing before the panel were not sworn on oath before giving evidence as stipulated under the Tribunals of Inquiry Act, 2004 on whose authority the instrument setting up the Judicial Commission of Inquiry is derived.
It is curious and worrisome that an administrative panel of inquiry headed by His Lordship, Justice Ayo Isa Salami, having sat and taken evidence (both oral and documentary) in the past one month, has suddenly metamorphosed into a Judicial Commission of Inquiry. How this comes within contemplation of a commission of the Tribunal of Inquiry Act, 2004 is very questionable.
We also raise serious objection to piecemeal release of the so-called interim report in the social media, particularly the WHISTLER online medium which claimed to have seen the interim report.
It is instructive to state that the online medium went ahead to recklessly engaged in libelous publication where it listed individuals, and companies that being investigated for corruption by the EFCC allegedly paid bribes to my client.
We are shocked that such a libelous publication against my client without hearing from him.
This panel must address this weighty issue before the commencement of today’s proceedings.
The Salami panel also revealed the identities of eight suspects that allegedly paid the bribes to Magu through pastor Omale and Shanono. Shanono allegedly received NGN570,698,500 from China Zhonghao Nigeria limited through the Zenith Bank account 1018895662 of his company, Ahmed Ibrahim Shanono Investment Ltd. “The transfers were in about 43 tranches between 5th December 2014 and 23rd June, 2015. The china Zhonghao Coy is being investigated by the EFCC for abandoning a road contract awarded to the company by the Zamfara State Government between 2012 and 2019”, the panel noted. An aide to a formal managing Director of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Nathniel Uyo, was alleged to have paid the sum of N10 million into an Ecobank Account Number 3912014141 of the Divine Hand of God Prophetic Ministry on 09/06/2018. The report said the former NDDC MD “was then being investigated by the EFCC over an alleged attempt to bribe members of the Akwa-Ibom State APC Appeal Committee in Abuja”. Pastor Omale, according to the Salami panel, also received N10 million from a Bureau De Change operator, 7*7 BDC Limited, through his Church’s Ecobank account. The report said that the BDC was being investigated by the EFCC for, “receiving over N1.6 billion (N1,600,000,000), part of the N27 billion (N27,000,000,000) Insurance Premiums looted during the administration of President Goodluck Jonathan”. A former Chairman of the Niger State Pilgrims Agency, Liman Kantigi, who was being investigated by the EFCC for allegedly misappropriating funds during his tenure at the agency, also allegedly paid N200 million bribe to Magu through Shanono. Kantigi, through his company, Sadiq Air Travels, allegedly transferred N200 million into the Access Bank Account of Shanono’s company, the report said. Weeks before paying the alleged bribe, the EFCC was said to have traced N4 billion to two Guaranty Trust Bank accounts linked to Kantigi. A government contractor, A.G Ferrero & Co. had also allegedly paid N213 million to another company belonging to Shanono, Newttech Aluminium and Roofing Service Ltd. “A.G Ferrero & Co. was a contractor to Jigawa State Government during the tenure fo Sule Lamido between 2007 and 2013. Lamido was investigated by the EFCC during the period”. The report said. The Salami panel said Pastor Omale, through his Church, also received N1.3 million from the company being investigated for alleged link to EFCC’s N1.5 billion money laundering case against a former Plateau State Governor, Joshua Dariye. According to the panel, “Apartment Le Paradisi transferred One million three hundred and twenty thousand naira (N1,320,000.00) into Divine Hand of God Prophetic Ministry Eco Bank Account Number 3912014143, on 22/04/2014. The company had testified before the EFCC, in respect of a case involving the former Plateau State Governor, Joshua Dariye who was then being investigated for laundering about One billion five hundred million naira (N1,500,000,000.00). Former Plateau State Governor, Jonah Jang, was alleged to have paid N30,744,000 to Ahmed Ibrahim Shanono Investment Limited over his investigation for alleged looting of N6.3 billion while serving as governor of the state. Senator Jonah David Jang transferred the sum of thirty million seven hundred and forty-four thousand naira (N30,744,000.00) into the UBA account Number 1018895662 of Ahmed Ibrahim Shanono Investment Ltd, on 18th July 2016. Senator Jang, a former Governor of Plateau State is being investigated by the EFCC for alleged looting of Six Billion three hundred million naira (N6.3bn) belonging to Plateau State Government”, said the report”.
The entirety of the publication above is first-class falsehood from the pit of hell. None of the issues arose from the proceedings of the judicial commission of inquiry. I recall Pastor Omale appearing before the panel to confirm openly that none of the transfers into the church’s accounts emanated from Magu and that Magu never donated to his personal or church account. It is also instructive to note that no character by the name Shanono ever appeared before the judicial commission of inquiry. The purveyors of this fake news may assume they are destroying the sterling image of Magu, but I have news for them. Majority of Nigerians however cannot be fooled. I can only refer to the testimony of former SGF Babachir Lawal on Magu thus
“But now in the case of Magu, the narrative is that corruption is fighting back. These are the impressions and the consequences of such conducts. Initially, I had the feeling that the system would come after Magu, especially the press and social media. If you are very discerning, you will know they are with him. The preponderance of opinions is in support of Magu’s position. The views being laid out are as if it is a witch-hunt. There are better ways to end Magu’s reign because no matter what anybody tells you, Magu tried. I used to joke that if you are a thief and you are caught by Magu, nobody can release you unless you cut off his hands. – Culled from The Punch Newspapers.

Media front-page lead story of Sunday 23rd August 2020 in a banner headline reported “Magu May Face More Investigations, Criminal Prosecution”
I am at a loss of how the paper arrived at this conclusion when it is clear to all that the only thing going for Magu is his innocence. We will not join further issues on the publication with the paper at this stage.

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We wish to confirm that the proceedings are still ongoing, and my client is yet to present his defence. We are therefore shocked at the suggestion that an interim report has been submitted to President Muhammadu Buhari. We all know that this is a democracy anchored on respect for the rule of law. Central to the rule of law is the element of fair hearing.
Section 36(1) of 1999 Constitution (as amended) is explicit on this. It provides;

“In the determination of his civil rights and obligations, including any question or determination by or against any government or authority, a person shall be entitled to a fair hearing within a reasonable time by a court or other tribunal established by law and constituted in such manner as to secure its independence and impartiality.”

We urge those bent on prejudicing the proceedings of the panel by planting false stories in the public space to think of the interest of our country and not prejudge our client whose commitment all along is service to the country.
The only thing keeping our client going in spite of the desire of mischief-makers to pitch him unfairly against the authorities is his conviction of his innocence.
Please no one is entitled to condemn our innocent client before he is heard or before he is afforded the opportunity of defending himself on the merits.

Wahab Shittu (Esq)

W.K. Shittu & Co.


#Newsworthy…

Corruption: Report airport officials requesting money – FAAN to passengers

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The Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) has called on air passengers to report any official from any agency that requests money under any guise.

It made the call in a statement on Sunday by its General Manager in charge of Corporate Affairs, Mrs Henrietta Yakubu.

As the nation’s airports begin to reopen gradually for flight operations, Yakubu urged passengers to desist from giving money to officials.

She informed passengers and other airport users that there was no aspect of FAAN services at the airports that was being paid for by cash.

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“Arriving passengers are expected to have gone through the COVID-19 test before boarding their flights from ports of departure, therefore, they should not pay any money whatsoever to any airport official for the purpose.

“All COVID-19 measures put in place at the airports are free for passengers and does not attract any charges,” the statement said.

The FAAN spokesperson noted that the authority was aware of the allegation that some airport officials in Abuja were collecting money from returning passengers on evacuation flights.

She stated that the claim was already being investigated by all agencies at the airport and appealed to passengers to always ensure adherence to all safety and security measures at the airports.

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According to Yakubu, FAAN remains committed to its core values of safety, security and comfort of air passengers at the airports.

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic which left many Nigerians trapped in various parts of the world, the Nigerian Government has evacuated thousands of its citizens.

The evacuees were brought back from the United States, United Kingdom, United Arab Emirates, France, Egypt, and Lebanon, among other countries.

The latest of the evacuation was the return of 68 Nigerian girls and others who arrived at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport in Abuja on Sunday afternoon.


#Newsworthy…

Corruption: AGF Malami pens to Buhari, denies allegations.

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The Minister of Justice and Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, has written to President Muhammadu Buhari, denying the allegations of corruption levelled against him.

This follows a call from a coalition of Civil Society Organisations asking President Buhari to probe the AGF over 14 high-profile corruption cases and calling for his resignation.

The allegations levelled against Malami, by the CSOs include “financial fraud” and “influence peddling”, as well as “illegally” auctioning sea vessels holding crude oil seized by the Federal Government.

But the minister wrote to the presidency, insisting that he had declared all his assets and statements of accounts upon his assumption of office.

He writes, “Since my appointment as a Minister in your cabinet, I have conducted myself strictly within the confines of the Code of Conduct for public officers contained in part 1 of the fifth schedule of the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria, as amended.”

“It is to be noted that apart from my successful legal practice of more than 20 years, seven of which were as a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), before my appointment, I have as allowed by law had interests in business ventures, all of which I had resigned from active participation upon my appointment,” he added.

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Also in the letter, the Minister said he has also decided to seek redress in court.

The Minister has been accused of being behind the ordeals of the former Acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Ibrahim Magu, after criticising some of his actions.

Magu, who was quizzed by the Department of State Services (DSS) on July 6, was made to appear before a panel of the Federal Government set up to investigate the allegations of corruption levelled against him.

The panel led by the retired President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Ayo Salami grilled Magu for about 10 days before granting him bail on July 15.

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Following Magu’s reported arrest, many Nigerians and groups reacted to the development, with some commending the Federal Government’s approach to the war against corruption.

Although Magu denied any wrongdoing, a member of the Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption (PACAC), Professor Femi Odekunle said the DSS invitation is a power play by blocs in the corridor of power.

According to the PACAC member, Magu was only invited for questioning regarding some purported memo by the Minister of Justice.

He explained that the Presidential Advisory Committee perceives Malami as the arrowhead of the bloc that is not really interested in President Buhari’s anti-corruption fight.


#Newsworthy…

Shun corruption – Wike tells Judges

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Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, has asked serving judges in the state to rededicate themselves to their duties and shun acts of corruption.

He gave the advice in his remarks at the presentation of cars to judges on Monday in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital.

Governor Wike faulted the activities of some judges whom he accused of insubordination and dereliction of duty.

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He said, “There should be no more excuses for corruption and indolence in job performance among our judges with the level of incentives and entitlements we are providing.

“The point cannot be over-emphasised that the most important consideration of their calling is to ensure that justice gets to everyone that comes before you within the rule of law.”

According to the governor, procedure and practice, and even the most politically charged dispute should be resolved in a transparent manner that serves justice and no other interest.

He decried the situation where judges recuse themselves from matters brought before them and return the case files to the heads of the court.

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Governor Wike believes the decisions of such judges are not far from intimidation and pressure from litigants who try to induce them.

“Clearly, judges become insubordinate, complicit and derelict of duty whenever they come to pressure and intimidation in the course of their duties, or shy away from handling sensitive cases by inducive politicians or litigants as bases for returning the case files to the chief judge for reassignment and indulging in various dodgy acts of self-exaltation at the expense of doing justice,” he said.

The governor added, “I do not think any judge has the power or pleasure to unilaterally return a case file to the chief judge for any reason, more so for every flimsy excuse as it is becoming the common practice these days among judges.”

He assured judges in Rivers that the state government was working to improve their welfare and ensure they perform their duties without fear or worry.


#Newsworthy…

Corruption: ‘Dogara, Fabricator of lies’ – Gov Bala accuses

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Bauchi State Governor Bala Mohammed has debunked all allegations leveled against him by the former Speaker House of Representatives, Mr. Yakubu Dogara, describing them as fabricated lies.

The Governor made his remarks on Tuesday while receiving members of Dass/Tafawa Balewa/Bogoro Constituency on a solidarity visit to him in Bauchi.

Dogara represents the constituency at the Federal House of Representatives.

The former Speaker had accused Governor Mohammed of diverting a N4.6billion loan, inflating contracts sums, and mismanagement of local government funds, among other claims, as grounds for his defection to the APC from the PDP.

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“It is a very regrettable development, it is unfortunate, because he is a young man that we so much love and appreciate, including me. Even now I don’t harbour any malice against him,” Mohammed said.

“But he came to show his true colours as a pretender, as a fabricator of lies against my person, who has helped him to reconnect and recapture his mandate as a member of the House of Reps. after being expelled by my adversary, the former Governor.”

The Governor also assured leaders of the PDP in Nigeria that Bauchi remains “intact” for the party.


#Newsworthy…

News+: FG convicts 1,400; recover N800bn looted funds

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The Federal Government says it has recovered looted funds in excess of N800 billion with over 1,400 convictions secured.

The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, disclosed this on Tuesday at a press conference in the nation’s capital, Abuja.

He said the current government’s fight against corruption is as strong as ever, and that the government has records to back up the claims.

Mohammed added that the government also forfeited several properties suspected to have been acquired through corrupt means.

Details later.


#Newsworthy…

Just in: AfDB chief ‘cleared’ of corruption charge

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An independent panel of experts, headed by former Irish president Mary Robinson, has cleared the beleaguered leader of the African Bank of Development (AfDB) of corruption, according to a report obtained by AFP.

Akinwumi Adesina, 60, a charismatic speaker known for his elegant suits and bow ties, became the first Nigerian to helm the AfDB in 2015 — but a 15-page report earlier this year claimed that under his watch the bank had been tarred by poor governance, impunity, personal enrichment and favouritism.

The panel of three experts, led by Robinson alongside Gambia’s Chief Justice Hassan Jallow and the World Bank’s integrity vice president Leonard McCarthy, cleared Adesina of all charges alleged by whistleblowers.

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“The Panel concurs with the Committee in its findings in respect of all the allegations against the President and finds that they were properly considered and dismissed by the Committee,” Monday’s report concluded.

The African banking institution and Adesina — who is the sole candidate for the bank’s August’s presidential elections — has been battered by the rollercoaster of allegations after the whistleblowers’ complaints were leaked to the media in April.

The former Finance Minister had always stated he was “innocent” of the charges.

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Robinson — who led Ireland from 1990 to 1997 before serving as the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights until 2002 — dismissed the 16 whistleblower allegations against Adesina.

The panel did not investigate the charges themselves, as that was not within their mandate.

The AfDB plays an important if the largely behind-the-scenes role in African economies, financing projects in agriculture, health, energy, education, transport and other development sectors.


#Newsworthy…

SERAP seeks bill – asks Lawan, Gbajabiamila to publish corruption probes report

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Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has sent Freedom of Information (FoI) requests to the Senate President, Dr Ahmad Lawan; and Speaker of House of Representatives, Mr Femi Gbajabiamila, urging them to use their “good offices and leadership positions to urgently publish all reports of completed public hearings and corruption probes by the National Assembly since the return of democracy in 1999.”

The organization also urged them to “disclose the number and details of public hearings and corruption probes by the National Assembly that have resulted in any indictment of suspects, and to name such suspects. The reports should be sent to appropriate anti-corruption agencies to consider if there is sufficient admissible evidence to pursue prosecution.”

In the FoI requests dated 25 July, 2020 and signed by SERAP deputy director Kolawole Oluwadare, the organization said: “Publishing the reports of hearings and probes would bolster public trust and confidence in the oversight functions, and dispel the perception that many of these hearings and probes are politically motivated and serve personal interest, rather than the general public interests.”

SERAP said: “The most effective way to deter corruption is to make the cost of engaging in these types of acts higher than the rewards. This end can only be accomplished by making public the reports and pursuing public accountability for corrupt acts. Doing so would also give Nigerians greater confidence that their lawmakers can use their constitutional oversight functions to address corruption in Nigeria.”

The FoI requests, read in part: “We urge you to sponsor a resolution to stop lawmakers from directly getting involved in the execution of projects by ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) to ensure the proper and effective exercise of oversight functions, including investigations of corruption allegations, such as those involving the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) and Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF).”

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“We also urge you to urgently use the opportunity of the ongoing public hearings and corruption probes to influence Nigeria’s anti-corruption agenda, including by immediately amending section 52 of the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act on independent counsel for corruption.”

“Section 52 requires the Chief Justice of Nigeria to authorise an independent counsel to investigate any allegation of corruption against high level public officials, and to report his/her findings to the National Assembly or appropriate house of assembly.”

“The proposed amendment should include additional requirements beyond merely reporting to lawmakers, that would allow the independent counsel to use the findings of any investigation as a basis to pursue effective prosecution of corruption cases without any authorisation by the executive or the National Assembly.”

“SERAP notes that both the Senate and House of Representatives have over the years conducted several public hearings and corruption probes to expose pervasive problem of corruption in MDAs.”

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“SERAP is concerned about the systemic and widespread corruption allegations in MDAs and among high-ranking public officials, and the negative impacts on socio-economic development, as well as access of Nigerians to public goods and services, including quality education, adequate healthcare, clean water and regular electricity supply.”

“We would be grateful if the requested information is provided to us within 7 days of the receipt and/or publication of the FoI requests. If we have not heard from you by then, the Registered Trustees of SERAP shall take all appropriate legal actions under the Freedom of Information Act and the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights to compel you to comply with our requests.”

“The exercise of oversight functions and powers by the National Assembly to conduct public hearings and corruption probes in MDAs should be regarded as a public trust.”

“The National Assembly has a unique opportunity to enhance transparency and accountability, as well as the integrity of its oversight functions on corruption matters in particular, and other constitutional roles, in general, including by publishing widely the reports of all corruption-related public hearings since 1999.”

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“There is legitimate public interest in the publication of the reports of these public hearings and probes. The public hearings and probes can only serve as effective mechanisms to prevent and combat corruption if their reports are widely published.”

“By Section 1 (1) of the Freedom of Information (FoI) Act 2011, SERAP is entitled as of right to request for or gain access to information, including information on reports of all public hearings and corruption probes by the National Assembly since 1999.”

“By Section 4 (a) of the FoI Act, when a person makes a request for information from a public official, institution or agency, the public official, institution or urgency to whom the application is directed is under a binding legal obligation to provide the applicant with the information requested for, except as otherwise provided by the Act, within 7 days after the application is received.”


#Newsworthy…

Umar, EFCC’s acting chairman react to corruption cases in Nigeria

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The acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Mohammad Umar has reacted to cases of corruption in the country.

Speaking on Media (known to Noble Reporters Media) Today via telephone, Umar said the commission is committed to championing the anti-corruption crusade of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration.

Although he admitted that the whole world is closely monitoring the agency following the probe of its former boss, Ibrahim Magu over corruption allegations.

“The commission is poised more than ever before to continue to champion the anti-corruption crusade of the current administration.

“Like any other agency of government, they will of course scale down our activities long before the ongoing probe because of the COVID-19.

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“We are forging ahead to champion the anti-corruption crusade of the current administration. Investigations are going on now in earnest. All our formations are moving on with their investigations,” he said.

Umar’s remarks come shortly after the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) asked President Muhammadu Buhari to resign, accusing his administration of failing to tackle insecurity and attempting to sweep allegations of corruption under the carpet.

The National Chairman of the Party, Mr. Uche Secondus, made the call at a news briefing in the nation’s capital Abuja on Friday.

At the briefing, titled Nigeria on a free fall as corruption, insecurity engulfs our nation,’ Mr Secondus said the rising insecurity in the country has exposed the poor leadership in the military and the ruling class.


#Newsworthy…

Corruption: Buhari writes to Ramaphosa; lament

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President Muhammadu Buhari has urged African leaders to ensure the immediate actualization of the Common African Position on Assets Recovery (CAPAR), as the continent celebrates Anti-Corruption Day, July 11, 2020.

In a letter to South Africa’s President, Cyril Ramaphosa, Chairman of African Union, the Nigerian leader asked for a re-commitment to the anti-corruption war by leaders on the continent to engender an “integrated, prosperous and peaceful Africa, driven by its own citizens, representing a dynamic force in the international arena.”

The President laments that “the massive corruption being perpetrated across Africa’s national governments has created a huge governance deficit that has in turn created negative consequences that worsen the socioeconomic and political situation in Africa.”

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The letter by President Buhari reads in part:

“As Your Excellency is aware, the continental fight against corruption has been premised on an irreducible minimum that can pave the way for Africa’s transformation. In this effort, the emphasis has been on the continent’s collective determination to forge resilient partnerships among our national governments, civil society organizations and other interest groups, such as women, youth and the physically challenged, to ensure improved socio-economic, political and security development and ultimately, the improvement of our continent.

“The concern of the African Union is that the massive corruption being perpetuated across our national governments has created a huge governance deficit that has in turn created negative consequences that have worsened the socio-economic and political situation in Africa.

President Muhammadu Buhari

“Your Excellency may recall that these continental concerns led our colleagues at the African Union, to appoint my humble self as the African Union Anti-Corruption Champion. I believe that the efforts and focus of the Nigerian Government at home, partly informed this decision as well as the need for Africa, as a continent, to recommit herself to the fight against corruption and the imperative to free resources for meaningful development.

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“I am, therefore, in full support of the call for the issuance of a continental message to commemorate this day, on July 11, 2020, to re-commit the African Union to the continental fight against corruption, including through a robust approach to assets recovery, hence the need for a strategic framework on a Common African Position on Assets Recovery (CAPAR).

“Happily, in February 2020, at the 33rd Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the African Union in Addis Ababa, CAPAR was adopted. In my view, the African Union must go beyond the mere annual celebration of the Africa Anti-Corruption Day by moving swiftly to operationalize the African Common Position on Assets Recovery by all member states. This is an excellent way to drive Africa’s Agenda 2063, for an ‘integrated, prosperous and peaceful Africa, driven by its own citizens, representing a dynamic force in the international arena.’

“As current Chair of our Union, I sincerely commend to you, this suggestion that seeks to call our leaders in Africa to recommit ourselves to this very important task of reclaiming our continent from the vice of systemic corruption.

“Please accept, Your Excellency and Dear Brother, the assurances of my highest consideration.”]


#Newsworthy…

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Buhari’s govt, best in fight against corruption

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A member of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Segun Osinaga has reacted to the probe of the embattled boss of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) over allegations of corrupt practices.

Osinaga, who was a guest on Channels Television’s Politics Today, said President Muhammadu Buhari’s government is the best administration in fighting corruption in Nigeria’s history.

“This government has done tremendously well in fighting corruption; the pieces of evidence are there. We have seen how much money (has been recovered).

“No government in the history of Nigeria has done more in fighting corruption than this government. Don’t forget that. And of course, things can be done better.

“A person like Mr Magu should have gone through periodic reviews, checks, and balances. In that way, you could check things. So those are missing,” he said.

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While describing Magu’s travails as a tragedy that has befallen Nigeria, he regretted that it is unfortunate the situation has come to this level.

He noted that President Buhari has put aside partisan politics by suspending and constituting a panel to quiz the EFCC boss, a development that has renewed his administration’s quest to fighting corruption.

APC Member, Segun Osinaga, says President Muhammadu Buhari’s government is the best administration to fight corruption in Nigeria’s history. He disclosed this during an interview on Channels Television’s Politics Today on July 10, 2020.

According to the APC member, the suspended boss of the anti-graft agency has wielded so much ‘enormous powers’ without ‘checks and balances’ over the past five years.

Going further, he described the situation as very tragic, noting that since he assumed office as EFCC acting Chairman, there have been so many complaints.


#Newsworthy…

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CACOL begin ICPC monitoring team amid corruption in Nigeria.


The Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership, CACOL, has given a pat on the back to the Chairman of Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission, ICPC, Professor Bolaji Owasanoye for giving extra bite and purpose to the fight against corruption and illicit acquisition of public wealth since he assumed office a couple of years back.

In a release, issued by CACOL on behalf of its Executive Chairman, Mr. Debo Adeniran and signed by its Coordinator, Media and Publications, Adegboyega Otunuga, he stated, “We would recollect that just last week, our anti-corruption and open leadership organization, CACOL, issued a release, assessing various interventions funds, in cash and in kinds, to different tiers of government and their agencies in assisting them to concretely combat the scourge of coronavirus (COVID-19) that continues to ravage individuals and societies with dire consequences to lives and economies of states all over the world.

In conceptualizing government’s response and different interventions both locally and internationally, we praised friendly and good-spirited nations and individuals who had since come to the aid of the nation by donating billions of Naira and provided all kinds of assistance in necessary equipment and expertise towards dealing with the global pandemic and assuaging the sufferings of victims and other individuals who may be affected or inconvenienced through measures adopted by the state like lockdown, etc.

“Consequently, we had demanded that appropriate measures be taken by the anti-corruption agencies towards monitoring of receipts and applications of such interventions, in a way that promotes transparency and accountability in the management of the funds.

It was, therefore, a great relief that the leadership of ICPC under this dispensation responded to the challenge by setting up a monitoring team in this regard.

This is despite the existence of Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, as this effort is in sync with Section 6 (b) – (d) of the Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act, 2000; and its in preventive mandate provided for under the same Section.

This should effectively prevent financial abuse in the management of the funds meant in battling the pandemic and assisting its victims. It would also hold defaulters accountable where they have been able to sneak through the ye of the anti-corruption needle”

The CACOL boss added, “It is quite germane and remarkable that the ICPC under this leadership has learnt from mistakes of the past where actions were only taken after the deeds were done.

Meanwhile, dealing with corruption after its committal has never been an easy assignment as ‘prevention is always better than cure’ as the saying goes.

We also use this opportunity to pledge our cooperation and useful assistance in the provisions of information and other means through which a judicious application and accountability of all these intervention funds could be converted while a few misguided elements with the corruption etched in their DNA would be collectively fished out and made to face the full wrath of the law to serve as a deterrent.”


#Newsworthy…

COVID-19: I Never Said Corruption Caused Coronavirus – Magu, EFCC


The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), is still insisting that the commission’s boss, Ibrahim Magu never said Coronavirus otherwise known as Covid19 is caused by corruption.


Magu was in the news last week after a video of him making the said comment at the commission’s passing out ceremony in Kaduna, surfaced online.

“Corruption is the biggest strategy to human kind. Your Excellency, corruption is worse than all the diseases now running about. And I strongly believe, Your Excellency, that even the coronavirus is caused by corruption.”


The commission initially denied the allegation. Today, the commission has issued a statement insisting that Magu never said Coronavirus was caused by correuption.

In the statement titled, ‘Covid 19: Understanding what Magu said’, the EFCC said Magu only claimed that corruption is worse than cancer and coronavirus.


See tweets below…

Magu Never Said Coronavirus Is Caused By Corruption — EFCC

Magu Never Said Coronavirus Is Caused By Corruption — EFCC

Magu Never Said Coronavirus Is Caused By Corruption — EFCC

Magu Never Said Coronavirus Is Caused By Corruption — EFCC


#Newsworthy…

Corruption in Nigeria is generational, death penalty can’t stop – Clarke (SAN)


A Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Chief Robert Clarke, shares with TUNDE AJAJA his worries about the nation’s judicial system, the rise in the requests for Supreme Court to review its judgement, indiscipline in the bar and other issues

Prior to the Supreme Court judgement on the Bayelsa election, the apex court’s ruling on the Imo State governorship election was greeted by series of drama. Is it normal for Supreme Court judgement to elicit such outrage?

Let me start from the drama. You know politics now permeate everything we do in our political life in Nigeria. When that decision was given, definitely it was a shock to the then governor (Emeka Ihedioha) who realised he was no longer a governor and the shock would have been so great that his supporters decided to shout foul play. To anyone outside, that was a normal reaction, but having had the privilege of looking into the matter from the legal point of view; I mean the fact of the case, I discovered that the court was in order. So, the Supreme Court has said it is not god and so it could make mistake but it has also said if it made mistake, you could come back. That is the norm all over the world. Under the Nigerian law, however, the court said it would only listen to you on certain grounds: if you find that it had no jurisdiction; if you think there was fraud or if you think the judgement was mistakenly given. However, the court said if it did not fall within those parameters, it would not look into it because it could not open floodgates for judgements to be reviewed as if you are appealing against its own judgement. Else, that would destroy the judicial system. And that is why in the history of Nigerian jurisprudence, only three instances have come before the Supreme Court. Fortunately, I have been instrumental in two of the three.

When was that?

Thirteen years ago, I took one to them, which I lost. There were five sitting members of the Supreme Court and in all judgements of the Supreme Court, all judges must sign. In this particular case, in the Certified True Copies, only three judges signed, so I challenged the Supreme Court that their judgement was a nullity because three of them could not sign when the law stated five. However, they were able to convince me that how they sign in their inner chamber wasn’t known to me. Now, I have challenged the court’s ruling on Zamfara case (where the court sacked all the persons elected on the platform of the All Progressives Congress over irregularities in their primary). I said in my appeal that they have no jurisdiction. A constitutional court should be made of seven judges when dealing with constitutional matters, but in Zamfara case there were only five judges and it was not an appeal from the tribunal. It was a pre-election matter that had nothing to do with the election, so why should they declare the election a nullity? I believe I have a good case. So, in the case of Imo, the litigants also have a right.

In the past, cases on governorship elections used to terminate at the Court of Appeal, up till the time Justice Ayo Salami was the President of the Court of Appeal. Would you blame that on politicians’ desperation or you think it’s helpful?

I’m not blaming the politicians for that. That fault was solely by the Supreme Court then. The Chief Justice of Nigeria at that time (Late Justice Katsina Alu) was the brains behind that amendment because prior to that amendment, all governorship election matters terminated at the Court of Appeal and there was no problem. But then, Salami’s case came up. There was a governorship election in Sokoto and judgement was to be delivered and somebody wrote a petition to the CJN that money had changed hands. The CJN, thinking he had the power, ordered Salami not to give judgement, whereas he had no such power under the law. The CJN has no power under the law to give directive to the President of the Court of Appeal on any election matter, because it’s the prerogative of the President of the Court of Appeal to form election tribunals. So, Salami refused and history today knows what happened thereafter. As a result of that, Katsina Alu made the National Assembly to amend that provision. Now, Senatorial, House of Reps and governorship elections now get to the Supreme Court and that is why the Supreme Court judges are being overworked. I feel sorry for them for overworking themselves, but they are the architect of their own misfortune due to what their boss did and now they are faced with almost 300 cases from election petitions.

To create room for the judges to have time for civil and other matters before them, shouldn’t the National Assembly or the Supreme Court take steps to revert to the status quo ante?

They can do that. In the interest of the Supreme Court itself, it can initiate, through the National Assembly, a bill to return to what obtained before; that all election matters, except the presidential election, should terminate at the Court of Appeal. Also, if there are concurrent findings of facts by a lower court and the Court of Appeal, then the appeal should terminate there and I believe that now the Supreme Court has a policy that where there are concurrent findings by two lower courts, they don’t set it aside. But why should it even go to them? The law should be amended to allow the Supreme Court deal with constitutional matters of very serious nature.

In the midst of the challenges in the judiciary, which of them worries you most?

Today, we have the best personnel all over Africa. Nigeria is still the best in Africa and we have the best brains. The only problem is politics. Let me be bold enough to say that since the 1999 Constitution came into effect, the politicians have corrupted virtually every aspect of the Nigerian life, including the judiciary. In political matters today, before judgement is delivered, you would be hearing so many rumours as to what would be the outcome and that is politics playing out itself. These are the things we should be able to remove and help our judiciary so as not to be influenced by politicians. They (politicians) are a dangerous specie of people. But I don’t blame the judiciary alone; I blame lawyers also, because most of the top lawyers in Nigeria today are also in this with politicians.

There are instances where some lawyers, your colleagues, go ahead in such instances to lead their clients on even when they know the rules don’t allow it, is that part of the dynamics of being a lawyer?

That was why I said politics has infiltrated everywhere. There are instances where lawyers would know there is no reason to appeal, but because they know the politicians have the money they have stolen and they are ready to spend part of it, they (lawyers) would encourage them to go ahead. You won’t find lawyers doing such in a case involving breach of contract or land matters. It’s in political matters that you would find it and that is the problem. Lawyers give politicians hope when there is none; they tell them to appeal when they know there is no case. All these have to be corrected and we have to look inwards and see that most of the rot today come from us. If your client has a good case, let them know and tell them that you would try your best. If they have a bad case, tell them the truth and let them know that they have a marginal case but that you would see what you could do, maybe you would be able to convince the judge.

In the case of Heineken Lokpobiri vs David Lyon over the APC primary in Bayelsa State, the Supreme Court dismissed the case because it was filed outside the 14 days allowed by law. Could it be that some lawyers don’t pay attention to some of these things?

In election matters, time is of the essence. If you are filing an interlocutory appeal in a pre-election matter, it is 14 days. If you don’t do it within 14 days and you go to court, it will be thrown out. I just won a case in the Supreme Court on a pre-election matter from Delta State, in which time element was of the essence. With that single point, I won the case. So, time is so important and I’m so sorry, many of our lawyers would see it and close their eyes to it. At the end of the day, they would look so stupid at the Supreme Court.

Situations like this waste the time of the court, and it is disturbing especially in a system where there are thousands of cases before the court. Should there not be a sanction for lawyers who deliberately do this?

I have stated it many times that we need a review of the judicial system involving election matters. I believe we don’t need the Supreme Court except for presidential elections. From elections into the Senate downwards, we should have an intermediary Supreme Court, which would be a Constitutional Court, where appeals from the tribunal would go directly and it would be the final court for election matters. The case won’t go to the Court of Appeal or the Supreme Court, it would have a status higher than the Court of Appeal but lower than the Supreme Court and that would solve most of our problems.

Would you say the Nigerian Bar Association has done its best to ensure discipline in the bar?

Again, it goes back to the advent of partisan politics in 1999. The NBA has always stood for probity and discipline within the bar association and we have been able to produce within that period top lawyers who had prestige and good character. But again, we have politicised the bar association. We have done it in a way that in order to remove schism, we did rotation with insistence on getting the best. But since democracy came in, government itself would go and pick a lawyer to contest and they back them up with money. You will not believe it; to be a president of the NBA today, you could spend nothing less than N1.5bn. Why? And that is how they now allow government into the process. So, most of what is happening in the bar today has the influence of government and that is my only fear for the bar association.

In some other climes, lawyers sometimes advise their clients to plead guilty to their offence, perhaps not to incur the wrath of the judge or not to waste the time of the court, but in our clime, the situation is different. Should we not imbibe such a culture to save our justice system?

In the United States of America, to become a lawyer, you must have a first degree, then you must go to the Law School for four years. So, it takes about seven years to become a lawyer, and they are in demand and so there is affluence among them. Here, there are ‘cash and bail’ lawyers who have not got a brief for some time. Such lawyers would cling to any brief, whether it is factual or not. So, the problem is poverty. A young lawyer who has not got a brief before now gets a brief and you think he or she would tell his client he has no case? He wouldn’t want to do that. But things would change. I can see a good future for Nigeria.

Politicians, who are the ones behind constitution amendments, have put timelines in election cases while other matters could last for as long as possible. Is that fair?

Many state judiciary procedures have made it easy so that you don’t waste much time on litigation. There is something called pre-trial conference, so that before a case is heard in the open court, you would have cleared all the pleadings within a short time. However, the problem we have is the election petitions and that is why I keep referring to it. Every four years, virtually all the normal courts in Nigeria are at a standstill because most of the judges from the 36 states are pushed to 36 tribunals and they would be there for 180 days. That means all the cases they have are kept at a standstill. By the time they come back, there is a backlog.

What would you suggest as the way out?

Once we decide not to use present acting judges as chairmen of tribunals, things would get better. Let them engage retired magistrates and judges – and there are many of them who are still agile – to go to these tribunals rather than take from the mainstream of the judiciary, because already the judges have so much to do. That is why I keep saying we have many pending cases because we have allowed political matters to take control of our courts. Look at the Federal High Courts, when election is coming and nominations or primaries have begun, 60 per cent of Federal High Court cases would be pre-election matters because the FHC is the only court that can deal with INEC matters. We find that all other matters will be pending because all other political matters would be given expeditious hearing. So, our problem is not because the courts are congested, our problem is that we have allowed political matters to overwhelm the courts. Anybody that is not properly nominated would go to court; and if they lose an election, they would go back to court. Until we create a separate court for politics outside the normal courts, we will not enjoy the normal courts. It is the disruption every four years that causes the issues. We hope they would agree to this doctrine of constitutional court.

There have been arguments that we need a system where the appointment of the CJN should have nothing to do with the executive to avoid undue influences. Do you agree with that?

I have always criticised the way and manner judges are appointed. I believe it still has political connotation, which should not be, even though the governor would tell you he’s acting on the advice of the Judicial Service Commission. But why can’t the NJC or the Judicial Service Commission itself as a body appoint who should be the Chief Judge of a state or who should be a judge? For me, that would be better. The governor can tell you I want three names out of which he would pick one. So, invariably, he is the one appointing. Those are the things we have been asking that a review should be done about so that the prerogative of appointment and removal should be with them. Let us have a proper judicial service commission that is not concentrated by judges again.

Who do you advise should be the members?

Top Nigerians who have made good name in different fields can form the majority of the membership of the NJC. When you put all lawyers there, it doesn’t make sense. Those are the things I would recommend.

A renowned professor of international law and jurisprudence, Akin Oyebode, said recently that instead of amending our current constitution, we should come up with a new one. What’s your view on that?

I have said it over 100 times that the 1999 Constitution is a rotten egg. You cannot build anything on it. Once an egg is rotten, it cannot bear any good result. We have to restructure Nigeria and get a new type of constitution. We cannot afford to have 36 states in Nigeria. We don’t have the money to maintain it and that is why, today, 80 per cent of our earnings go into maintaining governance. Only 20 per cent of it goes into capital project. Within the past 20 years of this democracy, except for Buhari, who among the former presidents built infrastructure? They frittered away Nigeria’s money with nothing to show for it. Today, people say we are borrowing but we are borrowing money that we are seeing what we are using the money for. We are borrowing from the Chinese to build the railway system. Dangote has gone into a massive venture and he’s going to revolutionise that sector. So, we have seen something better. Let us change the system of governance. Let us reduce the number of states to an appreciable number that we can manage. Why do we need to have 36 states’ chief judges; 36 Attorney Generals and commissioners and so on?

How many states do you think we should have?

Between eight and 12 would be ideal so that we can manage it under a system where each state would be autonomous. The 1963 Constitution is the best constitution we have ever had in Nigeria. If we can go back to that constitution, which had the regionalization of the states; all states were self-governing and they were developing at their own pace until the military coup came and we moved from 12 states to 19 states, to 21 states, until (late Gen Sani) Abacha had a brainwave because he wanted to be Head of State and he wanted to please everybody, so he created 36 states. It’s all nonsense. Let us reduce our cost of governance.

Many people have canvassed this idea for years, how do we get started with the process especially when people feel the current set of political leaders – executive and legislature – like others before them, may not have the political will to set it in motion?

The 1999 constitution is being managed by the National Assembly and the Executive. These two arms of government are enjoying so many privileges in terms of financial considerations and emoluments and they would not want to leave it. So, if you leave the change to these people, nothing would come out of it. But if Buhari wants to leave a legacy before he leaves in 2023, he should set up a national conference, where he will get a bill passed first, not like the way Jonathan did it that it had no legal basis. Buhari should send a bill to the National Assembly that he intends to set up such an assembly and that at the end of the deliberations he would send whatever they decide to a referendum and once the referendum approves it, you pass it into law.

Once he can get a commitment from them, then he puts it in motion. Get a correct representative of the people and let them go through the process like they did during Jonathan’s time and let them draw their resolutions. But, rather than sending it to the National Assembly, send it to a referendum. That is the voice of the people. We have never had a constitution except the 1963 Constitution that represented the voice of the people. Every other constitution in Nigeria has been military-inspired. Therefore, for once in our lifetime, let us send it to referendum. With that, the Senate President and Speaker of the House of Representatives would have no choice but to accept it because they would have expressed commitment that they would be bound by it.

Instead of 21 judges at the Supreme Court, as stated in the constitution, the number dropped to 13 about three weeks ago. Why have we never had a full complement of judges in the Supreme Court?

In all my years of practice I have never seen the full complement of judges in the Supreme Court. In Nigeria, ethnicity, tribalism and religion find their ways into everything. For some time now, we have grouped Nigeria into six geographical zones. When they want to appoint a judge now and there is a slot for Yoruba extraction, there are six states and so to pick from them, tribalism would creep in. But, I believe that at no time should the Supreme Court be less than 17 because there are about three or four panels in the Supreme Court and each panel is made up of five judges. When only 13 persons are handling all the cases in that court, why won’t they be overworked, even though it is a self-inflicted injury, as far as I’m concerned.

The Court of Appeal also doesn’t have its full complement and down the line to the High Courts it is the same story. Is it that there are no right persons to be elevated to the bench?

It’s all these rubbish political matters that have disrupted the judicial system in Nigeria; they are not allowing the courts to carry out their normal duties. Until a drastic situation creates a constitutional court and we deploy renowned judges from the Court of Appeal to serve there, things won’t change.

Given the level of stealing in our country, do you think it’s high time we considered capital punishment for corruption?

Whether it is capital punishment or not, a crook would always be a crook. Most of these things are in the blood. Somebody who wants to steal has it in the blood and some Nigerians have imbibed the custom of believing that when they are working for government, they are there to steal. If you are made a commissioner tomorrow, all your relations are looking forward to getting contracts from you. So, we believe it’s a money-spinning venture. Sentencing people to death will not stop people from stealing. it’s in the blood of Nigerians to steal.

Does it mean we can’t do anything about it?

Once there is good governance, the propensity to steal would reduce. When a mechanic has power supply to work in his workshop and a tyre repairer has electricity to do his job, when will he have the time to dupe others? Nigeria is so great, with about 200 million people. Can you imagine if we have one singlet and briefs factory in Nigeria? Do you know the market it would have? We import everything. Whereas if most of our politicians who are stealing money can set up singlet and pants factories in every geo-political zone, the market is there, but we all just believe in stealing.

In our current constitution, when someone is sentenced to death, the governor needs to sign and because of religious beliefs and political considerations, there are over 2,000 persons awaiting their execution since governors have refused to sign. Should we not at this time eliminate the provision of the governor signing?

My answer to this question is that we should abolish death sentence and make it a minimum of 20 years’ imprisonment. I believe somebody who killed at the age of 36 and is sentenced to 20 years and comes back at the age of 56 should have learnt a lesson, rather than keep them there. Some are afraid to sign a death warrant or they have religious phobia that you shouldn’t take life when you don’t make one. Then, let us agree to cancel death penalty in our books and make it 20 years’ imprisonment.

We hear judges are poorly paid, is that also a disincentive?

I’m aware that in Lagos State, judges are well paid, but I don’t know what happens in other states. However, I believe a judge must be well paid to enable them look away from temptation. But again, the lifestyle of some of the judges is questionable. I know of a young judge in the Federal High Court in Lagos that has over 26 children. How does he pay the school fees of his children? Some people just breed children, and corruption may not be far from such a judge. There are singular cases of corrupt judges that we know of. By their acts you would know they are corrupt.

Have you ever wished to be a judge?

Advocacy is an intrinsic act; you need to have it in your blood. I love advocacy; it’s in my blood and I do many cases pro bono. Many people would wonder why I still go to court. I love to be in court; I pray that the day I would die, maybe I would die in the courtroom, because that is my life.


#Newsworthy…

Man faces trial in Italy over $500m


An Italian judge has ordered a Nigerian businessman, Alhaji Aliyu Abubakar to stand trial for alleged international corruption relating to a Nigeria oil graft case involving Eni and Shell, a judicial source and his lawyer said on Wednesday.


Milan prosecutors allege that Abubakar, a reclusive billionaire and chairman of AA Oil, played a central role in one of the oil industry’s biggest scandals in years, handing out more than $500 million in cash to powerful Nigerian government officials.

The money is alleged to come out of the $1.3 billion licence fee paid by Eni and Shell for access to the OPL-245 offshore oilfield located in the southern Niger Delta.


Abubakar’s Italian lawyer, Davide Pozzi, said his client, who lives in Nigeria, denies any wrongdoing in the case.

“Mr Abubakar will clarify his position in the appropriate place,” he said.


The famous house of Aliyu Abubakar in Abuja. he once said he bought the land for N1billion in 2005

Italian prosecutors allege that Eni and Shell bought the oilfield in 2011 knowing that most of the purchase price would be siphoned off to middlemen and local politicians.


Both firms and the managers accused in the Milan court case, including Eni’s current chief executive Claudio Descalzi, have denied any wrongdoing.

Abubakar, an influential Nigerian businessman, was already under investigation but prosecutors were unable to locate him to serve the necessary deeds to put him on trial until he appeared in the case as a witness via a video linkup in February 2019.

The start of his trial has been scheduled for May 14 before a Milan court, Pozzi said. However it is unclear whether he will actually appear.

In the main part of the multi-strand case, prosecutors are due to begin summing up and setting out sentencing requests for Descalzi and other defendants beginning on March 25.


#Newsworthy…

COVID-19: Corruption, main cause – EFCC Boss says in Video


The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has denied that its acting chairman, Ibrahim Magu said that “Coronavirus is caused by corruption” while speaking at the passing out parade of 281 cadets of the EFCC Detective Inspector Course-5, at the Nigerian Defence Academy in Kaduna on Tuesday February 18.


In a statement shared on its official Twitter handle, the anti-graft agency alleged that the report is false and misleading. The agency claimed that Magu said;

“Tackling corruption is a clarion call, given that corruption is a huge burden to the nation. It is worse than Cancer, Ebola Virus, Coronavirus and all other deadly diseases put together.”


A video evidence however proved that Magu said he “he strongly believes coronavirus is caused by corruption.”

In a video which has long gone viral, the EFCC boss was heard saying;

“Corruption is the biggest strategy to human kind. Your excellency, corruption is worse than all the diseases now running about.

“And I strongly believe, Your Excellency, that even the coronavirus is caused by corruption.”

https://www.instagram.com/lindaikejiblogofficial/?utm_source=ig_embed&ig_mid=0A10067C-3257-422E-8296-922035811EC4


#Newsworthy…

Adamawa: SUBEB Chairperson Fadimatu Alfa in N16 million scandal


Acting Chairperson of Adamawa State Universal Basic Education Board, Fadimatu Alfa, has been found to have wrongly awarded N16,138,500 contract to herself, NobleReporters learnt.

Documents obtained from ADSUBEB revealed that Alfa used her position as chairperson to award the contract to her own company, F.A Catering Services, in contravention of procedure.

The documents categorically revealed that the N16,138,500 was part of Federal Government’s counterpart funds for Teachers Professional Development.


The said TPD money was syphoned through her company when she provided lunch for teachers attending a workshop in Yola, the state capital.

Documents from Corporate Affairs Commission seen by SaharaReporters including a certificate of registration of business name, contains Alfa’s name and is embossed with her passport photograph.


As discovered, on November, 28, 2019, Alfa’s first child, Sadam Idris, signed an application letter to ADSUBEB proposing to provide lunch for teachers during a training on behalf of F.A Catering Services.

Furthermore, the chairperson was alleged to have without recourse to the procurement law, which requires tenders board to consider and approve contracts; unilaterally approved and awarded the contract to F.A Catering Services.


One week later, precisely on December 5, 2019, she signed the contract document and forwarded same to F.A Catering Services headed by her son.

In a rapid turn of events, on December 10, 2019, Alfa approved the release of N16,695 000 to service a Local Purchase Order No.0153 raised on December 12, 2019 in favour of F.A Catering Services.


Alfa is also accused of highhandedness, running the board as her personal enterprise.

The Adamawa State procurement law prohibits government officials or procurement entities from bidding for project or services either personally or through companies in which they have vested interests.


The law equally rejects the practice of single shopping without prior approval or obtaining a waiver to that effect from the Bureau of Public Procurement.

It also prescribes a jail term of five years in case of breach of the law.


When contacted, Alfa accepted ownership of F.A Catering Services but denied any wrong doing.

She said, “Yes, it is my restaurant, I have been operating F.A Catering Services for over six years with experience of providing services for organisations like the UNICEF.”


#Newsworthy…

Corruption: Women, Children most vulnerable – Ibrahim Magu

take away this evil


Acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Ibrahim Magu, has said that women and children are the “most vulnerable when it comes to corruption”.

He said this in Abuja on Friday during a nationwide rally held by the anti-corruption agency.


He also warned civil servants that coming late to government offices was corruption and a practice that must be stopped.

Magu noted that Nigerian women and children were the most vulnerable to the evils of corruption, adding that the Federal Government would continue to guard against “illicit financial flows”.


The EFCC boss spoke in Abuja during a nationwide rally held by the anti-corruption agency, the National Youth Service Corps, the Ministry of Women Affairs and the Ministry of Youths and Sports Development.

Minister of Youths and Sports Development, Mr Sunday Dare, his colleague in the Ministry of Women Affairs, Mrs Paulen Tallen, and President of the Nigeria Labour Congress, Ayuba Wabba, were among dignitaries, who participated in the rally in Abuja.


Magu said, “Women and children own the future of this country. They are the most vulnerable when it comes to corruption. That is why we call on you to stand tall in the fight against corruption and illicit financial flow. You must learn to protect your future.

“It is our responsibility to take away this evil.

Acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Ibrahim Magu

“The Nigerian Government and the President have approved and we have taken a common position on assets’ recovery and returns.

“This is what we are doing in the fight against corruption and financial flows. We must not allow corruption to ruin this country.”


#Newsworthy…

(Photos) Mother and son jailed over internet fraud in Lagos ..


A suspected internet fraudster, Damilola Ahmed Adeyeri and his mother, Alaba Kareem Adeyeri, have been convicted on a four-count charge of conspiracy and obtaining money under false pretence to the tune of $82, 570, about N29.9million.

PM news reports that Justice Chukwujekwu Aneke of the Federal High Court, Ikoyi, Lagos, convicted the woman and her son and sentenced them to three years each in a correctional centre.


The judge found them guilty on all counts. But the sentences for each count would run concurrently. Justice Aneke further ordered that all the properties and monies recovered from the convicts be forfeited to the Federal Government and upon applications by the victims, restitution be made to them.

The convicts were arrested following a petition from the US Federal Bureau of Investigation(FBI) against Damilola Adeyeri and others now at large on an alleged case of conspiracy, obtaining under false pretence, money laundering and computer-related fraud.

Armed with the petition, the operatives of the Commission immediately swung into action and upon investigations found out that his mother was an accomplice in the crime.

Idi Musa, an investigator with the EFCC, while being led in evidence narrated to the court that sometime in April 2019, that the Commission received a petition from the FBI, alleging that the official email address of American Cranes Manufacturing company was hacked and as a result the sum of $82, 570. 00 was stolen by the fraudsters. He told the court that the petitioner reported that there was a syndicate of fraudsters who defrauded many companies through business email compromise and obtained millions of dollars from American citizens.


Idi further revealed that Damilola was arrested on September 6, 2019, after which his mother was apprehended when she went to withdraw money from the bank upon hearing that EFCC was investigating her son. He said Damilola’s mother bought properties in the name of her son with the money made from the fraud.

He also told the court that the sums stolen by the convicts were used to acquire properties in choice areas of Lagos, and some cash were found in their accounts.


One of the count reads:

“that you, Damilola Ahmed Adeyeri, Alaba Kareem Adeyeri and Karen Russell (still at large) sometime on the 21st day of June 2017, in Lagos within the jurisdiction of the court conspired to fraudulently impersonate the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of American Cranes Manufacturing Company with intent to gain monetary advantage in the sum of $82, 570. 00 (Eighty Two Thousand Five Hundred and Seventy US Dollars) and thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 27 (1) (b) and 22 (3) of the Cyber Crime (Prohibition Prevention etc) ACT, 2015 and punishable under Section 22 (1) of the same Act.”

Another count reads:

“That you Damilola Ahmed Adeyeri, Alaba Kareem Adeyeri and Karen Russell (still at large), sometime on the 19th day of July 2017, in Lagos, within the jurisdiction of this court dishonestly represented yourself as the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of American Cranes Manufacturing Company thereafter you sent an email from personal@managements-securemail-office-portal.online with intent to gain advantage to yourselves and you thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 27 (1) (a) and 22 (3) of the Cyber Crime (Prohibition Prevention etc) ACT, 2015 and punishable under Section 22 (1) of the same Act”.

After the charges were read to the convicts, they pleaded guilty to the four-count charge of conspiracy and obtaining money under false pretences.


#Newsworthy…

Nigeria, 2nd corruption imbedded country: We are not distracted – FG tells T.I


The Federal Government says it will not be distracted by the “baseless” rating of the Transparency International which ranked Nigeria low in its latest international Corruption Perception index.

The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed gave the government position on Wednesday in London when he featured on respective interview session by some international media organisations.


NobleReporters reports the minister had so far engaged with international media outfits including. Reuters News Agency, BBC, Financial Times and The Guardian since he arrived in London on Monday.

Reacting to the TI rating, the minister said that the position by the organisation that Nigeria is doing worse in fighting corruption is incorrect and the government is unhappy about the development.


“In any event, we are not fighting corruption because we want to impress any organisation.

“We are fighting corruption because we believed that without fighting the menace, the much-sought development will not happen and we have results to show for fighting corruption.


“We have put in place policies and legislations that have tamed the monster called corruption.

“For instance, apart from the TSA which has saved us billions of Naira, we put in place transparency portal which enables every Nigerians to see how much is being spent by the government every day.


“Under the transparency portal regulation, any expenditure above N5 billion must be reported and that gives every Nigerian the opportunity to know exactly what is going on.

“We will continue to fight corruption and we know that we are winning the war,” he said.


The minister stressed that for the first time in the history of the country, high profile people have been convicted of corruption charges.

“For those who say that the anti-corruption fight is selective, how do you say that when serving Senator’s past governors who were members of the ruling party are now serving jail terms’” he said


Mohammed recalled that President Muhammadu Buhari in 2015, won election based on his promise to fight corruption and he was re-elected overwhelmingly in 2019 because of his achievements in that regard among others.

He, therefore, called on Nigerians to continue to support and encourage the government in the fight against corruption and disregard the baseless rating of the TI.

N.Rs reports that in the latest TI rating, Nigeria was ranked 146 out of the 180 countries that were surveyed worldwide

By the rating, Nigeria slipped from 144th to 146th position in the corruption perception index, falling by 26 points, a minus of one when compared to its score in 2018.


#Newsworthy…