The Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) yesterday adjourned till February 13, the trial of the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Walter Onnoghen, insisting that the embattled CJN must appear for trial on the new date.
This is coming as the Senate yesterday ordered the discontinuation of its case before the Supreme Court, seeking the judicial interpretation of the suspension of the CJN by President Muhammadu Buhari, predicating its action on the intervention by the National Judicial Council (NJC).
The adjournment of CCT was a sequel to an oral application by counsel to the embattled CJN, Chief Adegboyega Awomolo (SAN).
Onnoghen is yet to be arraigned on a six-count charge bordering on non-disclosure of his assets preferred against him by the federal government.
The tribunal had last Friday fixed yesterday, February 4, for the arraignment of the chief justice as well as the hearing of all pending applications, shortly after the Court of Appeal in Abuja, dismissed Onnoghen’s motion on notice, seeking a temporary stoppage of his trial at the tribunal, pending the determination of his suit challenging the jurisdiction of the tribunal.
When the matter was called yesterday, the prosecution counsel, Mr. Aliyu Umar (SAN), informed the court that the matter was adjourned till yesterday for arraignment and hearing of two motions, one on preliminary objection to jurisdiction of the CCT and another one filed by the prosecution, asking for an order for the CJN to step aside.
However, defence team, led by Awomolo, drew the tribunal’s attention to the fact that the same petition forwarded to the Code of Conduct Bureau by the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) has been forwarded to the National Judicial Council (NJC).
Awomolo said since the NJC has sent the same petitions to the defendant to reply within seven days, which will lapse on Wednesday (tomorrow), February 6, it is in the interest of justice to allow NJC take a decision before continuing with the proceedings at the tribunal.
Prosecution counsel, however, said he was not opposed to the application for adjournment.
In a short ruling, tribunal Chairman, Mr. Danladi Umar, adjourned the matter till February 13 for the arraignment of Onnoghen and the hearing of all pending applications.
He, however, urged the defence team to ensure that the defendant physically appear in court at the next adjourned date, adding that “plea must be taken before the defendant can raise any objection regarding the case.”
Goje denies N25 billion corruption charge
Sen. Danjuma Goje, the senator representing Gombe Central at the National Assembly has said that at no time did he faced corruption charge totaling N25 billion. Goje disclosed this in Abuja on Thursday in a statement made available to newsmen.
The statement signed by Mr. Paul Erokoro, lawyer to the senator said the claim was “inaccurate and untrue.”
Erokoro was reacting to recent reports in the media that corruption charge being faced by the senator were withdrawn following his decision to step down from the Senate president race in June.
He insisted that the actual amount mentioned in the charge was N9 billion.
“The so-called “N25b fraud” that has been bandied about in the media, never featured in the case.
“The sum total of all the monies mentioned in the charge was about N8b.
“Of that total, N5billion was a loan taken from Access Bank for completion of infrastructural projects such as the Gombe airport, waterworks, numerous roads, Gombe Jewel Hotels, schools, hospitals, and rural electrification.
“The bank testified in Court that the money was properly utilized for the projects. The EFCC investigators also confirmed to the Court that the projects were all completed.”
On the N1 billion agricultural loan, he said that the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) had testified in court that the loan was utilized in full compliance with the bank’s loan conditions.
“Other witnesses told the court that the governor never awarded any contract for the supply of food to Government House and Government Guest Houses during his tenure for the N1 billion alleged in the charge or for any other sum.
“On the N1.6 billion for the supply of English Dictionaries for primary and secondary schools, the Court was told that Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC) gave its approval and that the contract was advertised in two newspapers and that reputable book publishers and suppliers tendered and that State Universal Basic Education Board awarded the contract to the lowest bidder.”
He said all the 19 counts of the charge around the above monetary issues collapsed during the trial.
He said because the prosecution witnesses completely exonerated the defendants was why the 19 counts were all dismissed by the court, on the ground of No Case submission.
Lai Mohammed to appear in court in fraud case
The immediate past Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, has been scheduled to appear before a Federal High Court, Abuja, to explain his role in the alleged misapplication of N2.5 billion Federal Government Digital Switch-Over (DSO) program.
The planned appearance of Mohammed was revealed by the Independent Corrupt Practice and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), who is prosecuting the Director General of the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC), Ishaq Modibbo Kawu, over alleged abuse of office and money laundering.
ICPC had filed a 12-count charge before Justice Folashade Ogunbanjo-Giwa, against Kawu, Lucky Omoluwa and Dipo Onifade and other, saying that the NBC director general misled the former Minister into approving government funds to a private company.
“The former minister’s involvement had come under questioning following the discovery by ICPC during investigations, that a government White Paper that governs the execution of the DSO program was allegedly flouted by the head of NBC”, ICPC states in a statement Wednesday.
“Mohammed had however admitted in a statement to the Commission that he was misled by Kawu, as opined in court by a witness from ICPC, Osanato Olugbemi.”
Olugbemi, led in evidence by counsel to ICPC, Henry Emore, also told the court that the payment of N2.5 billion from NBC to Pinnacle Communications Limited, as seed grant was suspicious because ICPC found out through its investigations that only government-owned company was approved to benefit from the grant according to the White Paper.
The court also heard that the processes that led to the final payment of the fund to the private company were shrouded in secrecy as revealed by the minute from an NBC emergency board management meeting where issues of carriage fees owed Pinnacle and not seed grant was discussed.
He told the court that 47 suspicious transactions were originated by the Chairman of Pinnacle Communications, Omoluwa, immediately after the receipt of the funds on June 2, 2017.
The transactions include payments of N363 million to one Idowu Olatunde, N274.4 million to one James Segun and N127 million to Dipo Onifade, the Chief Operating Officer of the company.
He informed the court that Omoluwa refused to explain the reasons for the payments to Olatunde and James when asked by ICPC, but Onifade explained that he received the N127 million as legal fees he rendered to Pinnacle Communications Limited.
EFCC intensifies war against fraudsters
The Ibadan zonal office of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) yesterday said it recovered N116,945,981 and 65 vehicles from various operations in the last six years. Other foreign currencies it also recovered within the period include US$39,125; £50 and 1,800 Euros.
The commission spoke through the Head of its Ibadan Zonal office, Mr. Friday Ebelo when he addressed reporters at the Iyaganku, Ibadan zonal office to update the public on the successes achieved by the anti-graft agency within the period.
Explaining how the recoveries were made, Ebelo said the money was partly forfeited to the Federal Government and partly to individuals who were defrauded.
He said: “This briefing is essentially organized to share with you the successes of the commission’s Ibadan zonal office in the last six months.
“With the unwavering support of our Acting Chairman and other stakeholders, the zone has recovered remarkable successes in the period under review.
“This year, the zone received 481 petitions out of which 117 were rejected. About 364 were approved for investigations and we were able to secure 83 convictions out of the 107 cases filed at different courts within the zone. That represents 83 percent of the total number of cases filed.
“From January to June 21, an aggregate sum of N116,945,981.68 was recovered. Others, which are foreign currencies, include $39,125, £1,800 and £50. Also recovered are 65 vehicles – 54 registered and 11 unregistered.”
Decrying the increase in the number of suspects brought to the commission’s office, Ebelo urged parents to monitor their children and wards.
He noted that those in higher institutions, especially, engaged in cybercrimes at an alarming rate.
“I want to say that in the last six months, going by the crime indices done by the commission, most of the suspects brought in are young Nigerians with potentials to be great in life.
“It is not enough to send kids to school; parents should pay unscheduled visits to their schools, especially higher institutions of learnings, and see what the children are doing. That will help to nip in the bud any criminal tendency they might be showing or engaging in.
“Also, we must be wary of using or giving our bank accounts to people around to use to receive funds. Many innocent people are falling victims and it is increasingly becoming difficult to prove, especially when they are the ones who also help them withdraw cash which could have been proceeds of crimes. Parents must monitor their wards and ensure that they do not keep bad company.”
Lagos state to arraign killer cop
The Lagos State Government on Monday took over the prosecution of dismissed Inspector Olalekan Ogunyemi, who is accused of killing a football enthusiast, Mr. Kolade Johnson on March 31. Ogunyemi will now be tried at the high court following the recommendation of Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP).
He has been in prison since April 5 following his remand by an Ebute-Meta Magistrates’ Court pending the DPP’s advice. The remand order was obtained by the police.
When the case was mentioned on Monday, Magistrate A.O. Salawu said the DPP advised that the case be transferred to the high court.
The DPP, she added, advised that Ogunyemi should be prosecuted in accordance with Section 223 of the Criminal Law of Lagos State, 2015.
But the DPP absolved the second suspect, Godwin Oji, of complicity in the case and asked that he should be released.
The magistrate adjourned till August 6 for the case to be filed at the high court.
Ogunyemi, of No. 17, Alhaji Ede Street, Igando, was brought before the court on April 6, on a temporary one-count charge of murder.
Prosecuting Inspector Kehinde Olatunde alleged that he committed the offense on March 31, at about 5:10 pm, at Onipetesi Estate, Idi-Mangoro, Lagos.
Olatunde alleged that Ogunyemi, who served in the Anti-Cultism Unit of the Lagos State Police Command, shot Johnson, a 36-year-old father of one, to death, with his AK47 rifle.
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