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Governors urge CJN to ignore CCT summons

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Governors in five Southsouth states yesterday called on the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Walter Onnoghen, to ignore the summons by the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT).

Barring any last-minute change, the embattled CJN will be arraigned before the Code of Conduct Tribunal, CCT, on Monday, over failure to declare his assets after his appointment as CJN.

An Anti-Corruption and Research-Based Data Initiative had filed a petition against Onnoghen over the non declaration of his assets.

They rose from an emergency meeting in Abuja at the instance of Bayelsa State Governor Seriake Dickson,  describing the CCT summons against Justice Onnoghen as a grave and dangerous escalation of assault on institutions of the state, including the National Assembly.

In a communique issued after the meeting and read by  Dickson, the governors reminded President Muhammadu Buhari of his constitutional responsibility and huge moral obligation to defend the nation’s democracy.

The communique reads: “We consider this step, which is directly aimed at humiliating the nation’s highest judicial officer and a prominent son of the region, as totally unacceptable as it is reflective of the Southsouth story of endless marginalization and intimidation.

“We note that under Section 158(1) of the 1999 Constitution, the National Judicial Council has ample powers to deal exhaustively with matters pertaining to allegations of misconduct and discipline of judicial officers.

“Specifically, the NJC has the powers and clear procedures for investigating allegations, and recommending appropriate sanctions or disciplinary measures against judicial officials as a matter of the first instance before any further steps.”

Condemning the way the CJN was summoned by the CCT, the governors considered the action a setback to the gains recorded by the nation in its 20-year democratic journey.

According to them, the action against Justice Onnoghen further reinforced the perception that the Buhari administration has no regard for the sentiments of Nigerians, in particular, the people of Niger Delta, and the rule of law.

They recalled what they termed “unceremonious” removal of former Acting Director-General of the Department of State Services (DSS), Mathew Seiyefa and his replacement with an officer of northern extraction.

The governors flayed what they described as the administration’s penchant for flagrant disobedience of and disregard for legitimate and valid court orders.

The communique further states: “We expect President Buhari to know that democracy cannot survive without respect for the constitution, strict adherence to the rule of law, and separation of powers as enshrined in the constitution.

“We strongly believe that the regrettable development at the Supreme Court at this critical time, when preparations for the general elections are wobbling (with serious concern about INEC and security agencies) is capable of causing avoidable anxiety, tension and possible breakdown of law and order in the country.

“We note further that the action undermines confidence not only in the judiciary but also the electoral process that has already commenced, in view of the pivotal role that the judiciary plays in the process of electoral adjudication.

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Legal

Court refuses to release Sowore

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A Federal High Court in Lagos has declined to order the release of SaharaReporters publisher, Omoyele Sowore and other persons in connection with the August 5 Revolution Now protest.

Vacation judge, Justice Nicholas Oweibo, said he needed to first hear from the Federal Government, Department of State Services (DSS) and the Inspector-General of Police (IGP).
He ordered the DSS and IGP to appear before him on September 4 to show cause why Sowore and other protesters in detention should not be immediately released.

The judge also ordered Lagos-based lawyer, Mr. Olukoya Ogungbeje, who filed the ex-parte application seeking the detainees’ release, to put the IGP and DSS on notice.

Ogungbeje, who said he participated in the #RevolutionNow protest but was not arrested, filed the application on behalf of himself and other participants.

He prayed the court to declare as “unconstitutional and illegal police clampdown of the protesters and the arrest of Sowore by the DSS.”

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EFCC

Diezani drags EFCC to court over jewelries

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A former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs Diezani Alison-Madueke, has urged the court to order the return of her 2,149 pieces of jewellery and a customised gold iPhone, valued at $40million, which were seized by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

Diezani, who is currently in the United Kingdom, accused the EFCC of entering her apartment illegally and taking the items without any court order.
She said the anti-graft agency violated her fundamental “right to own property and to appropriate them at her discretion,” under sections 43 and 44 of the Constitution.

She urged the court to reject the prayer by the EFCC to permanently forfeit the jewellery and the gold iPhone to the federal government.

These were contained in an application filed on her behalf by Prof. Awa Kalu (SAN), before the Federal High Court in Lagos.

The EFCC had, on July 5, 2019, secured an order of the court temporarily forfeiting the jewellery and the gold iPhone to the Federal Government.

The anti-graft agency told the court that it found and recovered the jewellery and the customised gold iPhone “on the premises of the respondent;” adding that it reasonably suspected that the former minister acquired them with “proceeds of unlawful activities.”

According to the schedule attached to the application, the jewellery, categorised into 33 sets, include “419 expensive bangles; 315 expensive rings; 304 expensive earrings; 267 expensive necklaces; 189 expensive wristwatches; 174 expensive necklaces and earrings; 78 expensive bracelets; 77 expensive brooches; and 74 expensive pendants.”

The EFCC asserted “the respondent’s known and provable lawful income is far less than the property sought to be forfeited to the Federal Government of Nigeria.”

After granting the interim forfeiture order on July 5, the court adjourned till August 19 (yesterday) for Diezani or anyone interested in the jewellery and gold iPhone to appear before it to give reasons why the items should not be permanently forfeited to the Federal Government.

But in the application filed on her behalf by Kalu (SAN), Diezani contended that the court lacked jurisdiction to have granted the interim forfeiture order in the first place, as she had not been charged with any crime or served with any summons by the EFCC.

She stressed that the entry into her apartment by EFCC operatives was illegal as it was without a court order.

The lawyer added that the temporary forfeiture order was prejudicial to Diezani because she was denied fair hearing.

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Politics

BREAKING: EFCC raids Ambode’s residence

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The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) Tuesday morning raided the residence of former Lagos State Governor, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode, located at Oloja Estate, Papa, Epe, Lagos over alleged N9.92 billion fraud.

Lagos State Governor Akinwunmi-Ambode

tlt.ng checks revealed that the operatives of the anti-graft agency entered into Ambode’s residence at about 9:00 a.m. in connection with three accounts of the Lagos State Government the agency froze a fortnight ago.

The spokesman of the EFCC, Mr. Tony Orilade, confirmed that the anti-graft operatives were in Ambode’s residence this morning as part of the on-going investigation into his administration.

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EFCC

HOS Oyo-Ita forced to retire over corruption allegations

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Embattled Head of Service of the Federation (HoS), Mrs. Winifred Oyo-Ita, who is being investigated for alleged corrupt practices and might soon be put on trial, has sent in her notice of retirement, according to very authoritative presidential sources.


It was gathered that President Muhammadu Buhari was already set to approve her suspension to enable the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to file charges against her for alleged misconduct and corruption, having established a prima facie case against her.

She was last week interrogated by the EFCC over an alleged N3 billion traced to her account, which she could not convincingly explain how the money hit her bank account and the accounts of companies linked to her aides and cronies.

Some of the contractors identified were arrested and interrogated while others were still undergoing interrogation.
The agency had also swooped on some of the contractors handling some projects in different ministries and agencies, who had allegedly given her large sums of money as a bribe.
Following the discoveries, EFCC had frozen her bank accounts and the accounts of some of the contractors and cronies where the N3 billion was domiciled.

The agency was working towards applying for the interim forfeiture of the cash found in her account and the others since she could not offer a convincing explanation on the source of the funds.
Her investigation was called off when she took ill during interrogation. She has since been admitted to a private hospital in Abuja.
It was gathered that the anti-graft agency has already established a prima facie case against her and has concluded plans to file charges against her.

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