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Court orders Sowore’s immediate release

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Justice Taiwo Taiwo of the Federal High Court, Abuja has ordered the immediate release of the Convener of #RevolutionNow protest, Omoyele Sowore, who has been in custody of the federal government since August 3, 2019. Justice Taiwo said the release was contingent on the grounds that the order of detention made on August 8 has elapsed.


The judge had on August 8 while delivering a ruling in an exparte application brought by the federal government ordered the detention of Sowore for a period of 45 days to enable officers of the Department of State Services (DSS) conclude investigation of alleged treasonable felony and other charges against Sowore.

The court however ordered that Sowore would not be kept longer than the 45 days granted by it without a fresh application for his further detention.

The 45 days elapsed on September 21.

When the matter came up Monday, the court held that following the expiration of the detention order for 45 days and the absence of any application for Sowore’s further detention, the court is inclined to order for his release.

The prosecution had applied for the extension of the order for 20 days, however, the prosecution counsel, Godwin Agbadua, announced the withdrawal of the application of the motion, adding that the defendant had already been charged with treasonable felony, money laundering as well as insulting the president.

Justice Taiwo, in a short ruling, held that there is no application before him for extension of the detention order and there is evidence that the prosecution has concluded its investigation of the defendant, accordingly ordered for the immediate release of Sowore.

He, however, ordered that Sowore submits his international passport with the court.

Sowore was arrested in the early hours of Saturday, August 3, in a hotel in Lagos by men of the DSS on account of the #RevolutionNow protest which he had spearheaded.

He was then moved to Abuja the following day and kept in custody of the DSS where he has been till date following order of the court.

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EFCC

EFCC seeks forfeiture of properties linked to Diezani

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The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has traced assets worth $73million and N350 million to Mr. Kola Aluko, an associate of a former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke.

The commission has asked two separate courts in Abuja and Lagos to give an order for the permanent forfeiture of the exotic mansions to the Federal Government.
The properties are Plot 3389 and Plot 3390, House 2, Margaret Thatcher Close, Asokoro Cadastral Zone, Abuja; as well as Avenue Towers, Plot 1391, Tiamiyu Savage Street, Victoria Island, Lagos.

The EFCC said Plot 3389 and Plot 3390 in Abuja were purchased for N350 million and $18 million, respectively, while the Lagos property was bought for $55million.

The commission is also seeking the final forfeiture of an $18 million mansion it has traced to Aluko before a Federal High Court, Abuja

The EFCC said the Abuja choice property, “very close to the seat of power at the Presidential Villa, is made up of a Guest House, Boys Quarters, Security Outpost, Swimming Pool and Underground Control Room for the remote control of electrical appliances in the property.

“The property is said to be furnished with luxury and very expensive items.”

Following a court order by Justice Okon Abang, the choice property and five others were temporarily forfeited to the Federal Government in 2016.

The court has given Aluko and others linked with the property till December 11 to prove their innocence that the assets were not bought with illicit funds.

Aluko has an opportunity to prove to the Federal High Court in Abuja that the $18 million choice property and other highbrow properties were not acquired through the proceeds of crime.

The other five-choice properties that are temporarily forfeited to the Federal Government include Plot 1390 Tiamiyu Savage, Victoria Island, Lagos and Plot 1391, Tiamiyu Savage, Victoria Island, popularly called Avenue Towers.

After granting the application, Justice Liman directed the EFCC to publish the order in a national newspaper.

He adjourned till November 12 for anyone interested in the properties to appear before him to show cause why they should not be permanently forfeited to the Federal Government.

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Court orders forfeiture of Saraki houses in Lagos

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A Federal High Court in Lagos has ordered the interim forfeiture of two properties in Ikoyi, Lagos, belonging to former Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki. Justice Mohammed Liman made the order following an ex parte application by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission ( EFCC).

Bukola Saraki

The EFCC, through its counsel Nnaemeka Omewa, said it was seeking an order of interim forfeiture because the properties located at 17A McDonald Road, Ikoyi, Eti Osa Local Government Area, were allegedly acquired through “proceeds of unlawful activities”.
Part of the reliefs sought by the EFCC included “An order of this honorable court forfeiting to the Federal Government of Nigeria landed property with appurtenances situate, lying and known as No. 17A McDonald Road, Ikoyi, Eti Osa Local Government Area of Lagos State found and recovered from the respondent which property is reasonably suspected to have been acquired with proceeds of unlawful activity”.
The commission alleged that while serving as Kwara State Governor, Saraki withdrew over N12 billion cash from the state’s account and paid the same into his accounts domiciled in Access and Zenith Banks through one of his personal assistant, Abdul Adama.

Granting the application, Justice Liman, ordered interim forfeiture of the two properties.

He also instructed that the EFCC should publish the order in a national newspaper within 14 days, for anyone with interest in the properties to show cause, why they should not be permanently forfeited to the Federal Government.

The Federal Government had arraigned Saraki at the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) while he was the nation’s number three citizen.

He was accused of failing to declare his assets, an allegation he denied, alleging that he was being witch-hunted.
The Supreme Court subsequently dismissed the false assets declaration trial.

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$9.6b judgment: CCB gets petition against ex-CJN Belgore

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Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) has received a petition on former Chief of Justice of Nigeria Alfa Belgore. Belgore was accused of testifying against the country in favour of Process and Industrial Developments (P&ID), which secured a $9.6b arbitral award against Nigeria.


The petition was filed by Human and Environmental Development Agenda (HEDA), whose Chairman, Comrade Suraj Olanrewaju, was invited by the CCB to adopt the petition on oath.

The CCB demanded evidence of any alleged infraction that might have been committed by Justice Belgore from HEDA.

The group accused Belgore of alleged conflict of interest and violation of Section 5 of the Code of Conduct for Public Officers of the 1999 Constitution.

It added: “Based on the foregoing, it is succinct to point out the basis for this petition. From the above relayed, there is a clear case of conflict of interest which is backed up constitutionally by the Code of Conduct for Public Officers. Specifically, Section 1 of the Code of Conduct for Public Officers which states that a public officer shall not put himself in a position where his personal interest conflicts with his duties and responsibilities.

“Section 5 of the Code of Conduct for Public Officers of the 1999 Constitution goes further and directly prohibits former presidents, vice presidents, Chief Justices of Nigeria, governors and Deputy Governors from working for foreign companies or enterprises. The former CJN falls under this category and also is still the chairman of the National Merit Honour Award Committee, which confers him with a sense of patriotism and loyalty to the country.

“It can be concluded, without equivocation, that drafters of the Constitution understand the weight of the offices occupied by the prohibited officers and the potential implication of actions such as that taken by the former CJN.

“The act he allegedly committed is grave and amounts to a breach of the Code of Conduct for Public Officers, thereby violating the provisions of the Constitution.

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$9.6bn Judgment Debt:Nigeria heads for UK Appeal Court

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The battle between Nigeria and Process and Industrial Developments (P&ID) over the bid to stop the company from attaching the country’s assets to recoup the $9.6 billion arbitral claim it secured last month, is set to shift to the United Kingdom Appeal Court.

The Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami (SAN), Thursday signified the intention of the federal government to head to the UK Appeal Court shortly after the UK Commercial Court ordered a stay of execution of the $9.6 billion claim, arising from a failed gas deal between the two parties which led to arbitration.

Mr. Justice Butcher had last month affirmed the arbitral claim but fixed yesterday for hearing of an application by P&ID seeking the leave of the court to attach some assets of Nigeria for a seizure to recoup the $9.6 billion arbitral claim.

It was, however, learnt that the claim would have hit a double-digit mark as interest on the original $6.5 billion the arbitration panel granted P&ID, which ballooned to $9.6 billion in August when the UK court affirmed the arbitral award, is being calculated at the rate of $1.2 million daily, minus weekends.

In its ruling yesterday, the court, which, however, upheld the claim and refused Nigeria’s plea to set it aside, said the suspension of its decision to grant P&ID’s request to seize Nigerian assets would last till the determination of the appeal by the federal government.

It, however, asked the government to make a security payment of $200million to the court within 60 days.

But Malami said besides seeking to quash the company’s bid to make any claim, Nigeria would also consider the possibility of challenging the legality of the $200 million security deposit within the 60-day window.

P&ID secured the damages against Nigeria following a failed Gas Supply Project Agreement (GSPA) contract between it and the Federal Ministry of Petroleum Resources.

Malami, in a brief from London, sent to reporters in Abuja, said: “Leave to appeal has been granted. Stay of execution is also granted subject to payment of $200m security payment to court pending the determination of the appeal the leave for which has been granted by the commercial court.

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