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.
EFCC araigns Ecobank
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, Lagos Zonal office, on Tuesday, March 12, 2019, arraigned Ecobank Plc before Justice Saliu Seidu of the Federal High Court sitting in Ikoyi, Lagos on a five-count charge bordering on conversion of funds to the tune of $50,000 and N9.2million.
One of the counts reads: “That you, Ecobank Plc and one Anieka Udoh, whilst being an employee of Eco Bank Plc sometime in 2009, at Lagos within the jurisdiction of the Honourable court, negligently failed to exercise due diligence in relation to conduct of financial transactions with Major General Umaru Mohammed and fraudulently converted Major General Umaru Mohammed’s Ecobank MasterCard Account No. 0015052989 from debit card to credit card and consequently debited Major General Umaru Mohammed’s account in the sum of over USD 50,000 (Fifty Thousand United States Dollars) without the knowledge and authority of Major General Umaru Mohammed.”
At the scheduled arraignment on March 7, 2019, the first defendant, Ecobank, had no legal representative.
However, at today’s sitting, the first defendant, Ecobank Plc represented by E. Majemite, pleaded not guilty to the charge preferred against it.
Counsel to the second defendant, Udoh O.J. Owoh, informed the court about a pending application for bail on behalf of his client, who pleaded not guilty to the charge when he was arraigned.
In her response, counsel to the prosecution, Bilkisu Buhari, objected to the bail application, stating that “the defendant is a flight risk if granted bail.”
Justice Seidu, after listening to both parties, admitted the second defendant to bail in the sum of N20million and two sureties in like sum.
One of the sureties must be a relation to the second defendant, resident in Lagos and have landed property in Lagos, whose title documents must be verified by the court.
The second surety must be a civil servant on grade level 16 in Lagos.
EFCC detains finance commissioner
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has detained the Kwara state Commissioner of Finance and the Accountant General of the State, over investigations into alleged slush funds for 2019 elections.
A top EFCC source told Daily Trust that the duo are being held at the Ilorin, Kwara state Zonal head office of the anti-graft agency to explain the utilization of over N1 billion fund received from a commercial bank a few days to the election.
It was learnt that the Commissioner of Finance, Nurudeen Banu and the Accountant General of the state, Sulaiman Ishola, are being held to explain why the money was received and how it was disbursed.
The EFCC had been asked by the Kwara Coalition for Good Governance and Accountability (KWARA-CGGA) to probe the over N1billion loan the State Government secured from a bank a few days before the general elections.
The secretary general of the group, Hassan Omoiya said it had intelligence that the state government obtained the loan on 13th February from a first generation bank using the remittance of Kwara State VAT allocation due in February and March 2019 as collateral.
He said, “We urge the EFCC and indeed the Federal Ministry of Finance to determine the appropriateness of utilization of credit facility of N1 billion by Kwara State Government at the twilight of general election.”
Also, “The status of VAT Account as collateral for the credit facility in the absence of prior approval and authorization from Debt Management Office and Federal Ministry of Finance in tandem with extant laws and regulation on granting of loan to State Governments.
“It is our expectation that your investigation will extend to individuals and corporate institutions that participated in the unwholesome act with a view of prosecuting the affected individuals and institutions with attendant cost and penalty.”
Atiku’s associate in EFCC custody
Detectives are holding a businessman who is said to be an associate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) presidential candidate Atiku Abubakar.
Mr. Uyi Giwa-Osagie is being suspected of allegedly laundering about $4million, which the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) believes to be “suspicious election cash”.
Uyi’s detention followed an intelligence report on a suspicious transaction by a Bureau De Change operator.
An EFCC source said: “A BDC operator was intercepted for shipping $2million from Abuja to Lagos for suspected money laundering.
“Upon interception by our detectives, the BDC operator admitted that Uyi Giwa-Osagie actually paid the Naira equivalent of $4million into his account in exchange for hard currency.
“We invited Uyi for interrogation on Monday and Tuesday. Our detectives have also conducted a search of his home. Some useful documents were retrieved. The investigation is, however, still in progress.”
“Apart from documents relating to posh properties at home and abroad, a copy of the EFCC Investigation Report on Atiku’s relationship with a jailed U.S. lawmaker, Williams Jefferson, was retrieved from Uyi.
“ An analysis of the account indicated that it yielded over $30million deposits mostly from a firm with a link with the PDP candidate,” the source said, pleading not to be named because of the “sensitivity” of the matter.
He added: “Obviously, there were remittances from the account of a multi-national company linked with the PDP candidate.”
Responding to a question, the source said: “We closed in on Uyi on Monday. We have decided to detain him pending the conclusion of an investigation. “
EFCC detains Babachir Lawal
Former Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) Babachir Lawal was yesterday detained by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC). Lawal will be arraigned today.
The commission had filed a 10-count charge against the former SGF and five others.
Others are Hamidu David Lawal; Sulaiman Abubakar; Apeh John Monday; Rholavision Engineering Limited and Josmon Technologies Limited.
All the suspects will face trial in the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja, for alleged N544, 119, 925.36 for the removal of Invasive plant species and simplified irrigation.
But ahead of the arraignment, the former SGF was taken into custody yesterday day.
A source said: “We have detained the former SGF and some suspects in preparation of their arraignment in court on Tuesday.
“They have been served charges and their trial will commence. The EFCC team is ready for the prosecution of the suspects with its witnesses ready accordingly.”
On the charge sheet dated January 30, and filed by Offem Uket, M. S. Abubakar and Abba Muhammed, the EFCC accused Lawal of holding “indirectly a private interest in the contract awarded to Rholavision Engineering Limited and Josmon Technologies Ltd by the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (OSGF) through the Presidential Initiative for North East (PINE).
The contracts are:
Consultancy contract awarded to Rholavision Engineering Ltd for the removal of invasive plant species and simplified irrigation to the tune of N7,009,515.96
Consultancy contract awarded to Rholavision Engineering Ltd for the removal of invasive plant species and simplified irrigation to the tune of N6,453,318.38.
Contract awarded to Josmon Technologies Ltd but executed by Rholavision Engineering Ltd for the removal of invasive plant species and simplified irrigation to the tune of N272,524,356.02.
Contract awarded to Josmon Technologies Ltd but executed by Rholavision Engineering Ltd for the removal of invasive plant species and simplified irrigation to the tune of N258,132,735.00.
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