Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) President Paul Usoro has said he would not resign his position despite the pending fraud case against him. The EFCC, last week, filed an alleged N1.4 billion fraud charge against Usoro before the Federal High Court in Lagos.
It was announced that Usoro will be arraigned today. But, addressing reporters in Abuja at the weekend, the NBA president said he would remain in office despite an attempt to force him to quit.
Usoro, who said he was presenting the communique of the just held NBA National Executive Committee (NBA) meeting, assured that he would attend court today when the case against him is fixed for the hearing.
Saying he has not been served with the charge, the NBA President added that he was not comfortable about the leakage of the charge against him to the media.
Usoro, who addressed the news conference alone, did not dispute the existence of the charge against him. He said he is innocent and that the case is intended to force him out of office.
The NBA president, in a reaction to the question whether he will resign in view of the charge against him, said: “I will not resign. No, I am not in doubt that a charge has been filed against me. I only said, in my earlier statement, that I have not been served with the charge. I do not doubt the existence of the charge.
“This matter was presented before the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the NBA and we had a very successful meeting. And nobody raised the issue as regards whether I should leave.
“I have already made it quite clear if you have read my statement on what my position is as far as this matter is concerned. The National Executive Committee adopted that my address, as far as that matter is concerned, and they believed that that matter is rested.
“You see, I have seen it happened a number of times, and I believe all of you have also seen it happened, that some of these incidents are hyped up simply to drive people out of office. You are aware of that. And this has happened, not once, not twice.
“We have seen it happened in the case of the Senate President (Bukola Saraki). Ultimately, what happened? The Senate President was absolved of any criminality. What would have happened assuming the Senate President had resigned?
“We have also seen it happened and somebody was hounded that way, and he resigned. And at the end, he was found not to have done it. It is also very possible that in this particular instance, that was what the people wanted and that was why that was that hype. All of you are aware of it that there were plenty of leakages in regard to this matter, just before the NEC meeting.
“I am personally convinced that the reason why there was so much of the leakage was to instigate NEC possibly to get me out of office. Well, that did not succeed. So, we went to NEC and I presented the things that we want to do as the national officers are concerned.
Obanikoro testifies against Fayose
A former Minister of State for Defence, Sen. Musiliu Obanikoro, on Monday, told a federal high court that money was given to former Gov. Ayo Fayose of Ekiti from the impress account of a former National Security Adviser, in June 2014.
Obanikoro gave evidence in the trial of Fayose before Justice Mojisola Olaterogun in Lagos.
Fayose is facing charges of N6.9 billion fraud.
He was arraigned by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on Oct. 22, 2018, alongside a company Spotless Investment Ltd., on 11 counts.
He pleaded not guilty to the charges and was granted bail in the sum of N50 million with one surety in like sum.
The substantive trial began on Nov. 19, 2018, with the EFCC calling four witnesses.
On Monday, Mr Rotimi Jacobs (SAN) appeared for the EFCC, while Messrs Kanu Agabi (SAN) and Olalekan Ojo (SAN) represented the first and second accused respectively.
Jacobs then called on Obanikoro, the fifth prosecution witness, to give evidence.
The counsel led the former minister in evidence.
Jacobs asked him where he was in 2014 and he told the court that he was the Minister of State for Defence.
The counsel asked him to tell the court what he knew about the case.
The witness testified that in June 2014, when Ekiti State governorship election was near, he received a call from the accused, enquiring from him if there was any ‘message’ for him from the then National Security Adviser (NSA), Col. Sambo Dasuki.
The witness said that he told Fayose that there was none but promised to check with the NSA and give Fayose feedback.
He told the court that eventually, the NSA confirmed to him that he had a “message” for the accused and that the funds would be made available.
The prosecutor then showed the witness exhibit E to confirm if it was the account to which the funds were transferred, and the witness replied: “Yes”.
The witness told the court that on June 13, 2014, and June 16, 2014, funds were posted into the account, adding that the funds were from the impress account of the NSA.
He said that he asked the accused how he wanted the money, and he told him that some amounts should be paid in Naira and others in dollars.
According to him, the money was eventually brought in a bullion van to the private wing of the Ikeja Airport, where one Agbele, sent by the accused, was on standby.
He testified that after confirmation from the accused, the money was taken to Ekiti.
The witness told the court that afterwards, he went to Ado-Ekiti to meet the accused in his hotel, known as Spotless, and gave him the dollar component which was five million dollars.
The prosecution counsel asked Obanikoro how many days it was to the Ekiti governorship election when he gave Fayose the money.
“About three days to the election,” the witness replied.
The prosecution also asked the former minister the source of the money.
“The NSA is the only person that can ascertain the source of the money; it is from the impress account of the NSA,” he said.
The counsel asked how the money was debited and the witness told the court that he gave instructions to the managing director of the Diamond bank, but was not available when the deductions were made.
When asked his connection with the accounts, Obanikoro said that it was used for security purposes, adding that he would not want to divulge further information on that.
After the evidence, the defence sought an adjournment to enable it to cross-examine the witness.
After several objections and counter objections, the judge granted an adjournment until Feb. 4, for cross-examination of Obanikoro.
FG freezes CJN’s bank account
Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN) Walter Onnoghen’s five accounts have been frozen. The Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, has requested the Director, Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU) to freeze the accounts.
The Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB), in the charge it filed against the CJN before the Code of Conduct tribunal (CCT) for which he was to be arraigned on January 14, accused Justice Onnoghen of failing to declare the accounts.
In a letter, written on the official letterhead of the AGF, but signed by Abiodun Aikomo, dated January 14, 2019, and received the same date at the office of the Director of NFIU, the AGF directed that the accounts be frozen pending the conclusion of the charge before the CCT.
The letter has as its heading: “Re: Request for the freezing of bank accounts subject to investigation and prosecution pursuant to Presidential Executive Order No: 6 of 5th July 2018 on the Preservation of Assets Connected with Corruption.”
It reads: “I am directed by Mr Abubakar Malami (SAN), the Honourable Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice to request that you, pursuant to Executive Order 6 of 2018, forthwith restrict normal banking operations on certain accounts belonging to Hon. Justice Walter Onnoghen pending final determination of the case against him at the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT/ABJ/1/19 – Federal Republic of Nigeria v Hon. Justice Walter Onnoghen Nkanu Walter Samuel.
“These accounts are: Account number 5001062683 (euro) Standard Chartered Bank; 5001062683 (pounds); 0001062650 (dollar); 0010626667 (naira), and 5001062683 (naira).”
2019 Elections: EFCC is set to monitor campaign funds
Ibrahim Magu, acting chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), says the agency will monitor campaign funds donated to political parties for the 2019 elections as well as donors’ identities.
Magu said this on Wednesday while presenting a paper at a one-day retreat for 36 state governors and key election stakeholders.
Represented by Olanipekun Olukoyede, his chief of staff, the EFCC chairman said the agency will not allow public funds to be diverted to fund political campaigns.
He said politicians are required to keep proper records of all donations received by them including the identities of the donors and be ready to show relevant security agencies at the end of the election.
“We shall keenly monitor the financial affairs of political parties to ensure that the use of public funds to finance political parties and prosecute campaigns at all levels of government is checked,” he said.
“To minimize corruption and the use of public funds to fund political parties and finance elections, there is the need for greater effectiveness in enforcing the provisions of the various electoral laws in Nigeria especially as it relates to penalties upon breach of their provisions.
“Political parties should be required to keep proper records of all incomes, contributions, and expenditure, and to open their books for inspection by relevant security agencies after every electioneering cycle.
“In addition, politicians prosecuting campaigns must be required to keep proper records of all donations received by them including the identities of the donors; and to turn their books over to relevant security agencies, and to INEC for inspection after every electioneering cycle, including the costs of litigations arising from the elections and the source of funding for the litigations.
“We do not have the manpower and other resources to confront this hydra-headed monster alone. I implore fellow Nigerians to share credible intelligence with the commission on the activities of criminal politicians so that our tasks can be made easier.”
Magu said anytime money is diverted by an administration to fund an election campaign, it is money being misappropriated for health, security, education, road construction, personnel costs and other amenities for the citizens.
Magu meets with UK authorities over Diezani
The acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Ibrahim Magu has met with the National Crime Agency (NCA), in the United Kingdom over the extradition of a former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison- Madueke and other Nigeria’s politically exposed persons (PEPs) living in the UK.
Besides, Magu at the meeting with UK officials discussed how the authorities could assist Nigeria in the repatriation of her stolen funds stashed in that region.
The EFCC said in a statement by its Acting Head of Media and Publicity, Tony Orilade that Magu “on Thursday, 22 November 2018 met with the NCA, in the United Kingdom to discuss the efforts of the Commission in recovering all ill-gotten assets domiciled in a foreign jurisdiction by Nigeria’s PEPs.” According to the statement, the acting EFCC Chair also explained to the UK authorities why the commission was seeking the extradition of all PEPs.
“Outside the recovery of assets, the EFCC boss in the course of the high powered meeting with officials of the NCA will also present the Commission’s position on ways to fast-track the extradition of all PEPs who have found safe havens in a foreign jurisdiction”, the statement added.
Orilade said that Magu had impressed upon the British authorities the essence of extraditing the former minister.
“The EFCC Chairman had explained why the anti-graft agency is bent on extraditing all PEPs. For instance, speaking on the former Minister Of Petroleum Resources, Mrs Deziani Alison-Madueke, whose process of extradition from the United Kingdom has commenced, Magu explained that having waited for three years, the Nigerian Government believes that it is time to initiate the extradition process”, the EFCC Spokesman added.
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