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Court grants former INEC chair, N1bn bail

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A former chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, Prof Maurice Iwu, who was charged with an alleged fraud of N1.23bn, has been admitted to bail in the sum of N1bn with two sureties in like sum.

Justice Chuka Obiozor said, in his ruling on Friday, that one the sureties must own a landed property in Lagos while the other must be a professor or a civil servant not below Grade Level 16.

The judge said both sureties must furnish the court with the statement of their bank accounts, showing a minimum balance of N1bn.

The sureties are also to submit their recent passport photographs. In addition, Iwu was ordered to deposit his passport with the Deputy Chief Registrar of the court.

The judge ordered that he should be remanded in the prison custody pending the fulfillment of the bail conditions.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission had on Thursday arraigned the ex-INEC chairman on four counts bordering on fraud before the Federal High Court in Lagos.

The anti-graft agency alleged that Iwu committed the offence in the build-up to the 2015 general elections in which President Muhammadu Buhari defeated then-incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan.

According to the EFCC, Iwu, between December 2014 and March 27, 2015, “aided the concealment of N1.23bn in the account of Bioresources Institute of Nigeria Limited with number 1018603119, domiciled in the United Bank for Africa.”

The EFCC said Iwu “ought to have reasonably known that the N1.23bn formed part of proceeds of an unlawful act, to wit: fraud.”

The prosecuting counsel for the EFCC, Mr Rotimi Oyedepo, told the court that the ex-INEC chairman acted contrary to sections 18(a) and 15 (2) (a) of the Money Laundering ((Prohibition) Act 2011 and was liable to be punished under Section 15(3) of the same Act.

But when the charges were read to him, Iwu pleaded not guilty.

While moving Iwu’s bail application on Friday, his lawyer, Mr Ahmed Raji (SAN), urged the judge to admit his client to bail in liberal terms but the EFCC vehemently opposed the bail application.

The EFCC counsel, Oyedepo, told the judge that Iwu might likely interfere with the witnesses assembled to testify in the case as they were INEC officials with whom he had worked closely

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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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