Justice Mohammed Talba of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory, sitting in Gudu, Abuja, yesterday ordered that six suspects who were arraigned by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission for allegedly defrauding police pensioners to the tune of N32.8 billion be remanded in prison custody.
The six suspects who were arraigned on a 16 criminal charges bordering on conspiracy and criminal breach of trust were Esai Dangabar, Atiku Abubakar Kigo, Ahmed Inuwa Wada, John Yakubu Yusufu, Mrs. Veronica Ulonma Onyegbula and Sani Habila Zira.
Kigo was the Director of the Police Pension Office before he was made Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Niger Delta.
There was, however, a mild drama when the accused were docked and their counsels announced appearances before the charges were read.
Barrister J.N. Egwuonwu had announced appearance for all the six accused persons when Adegboyega Awomolo, SAN, stood up and told the court that Egwuonwu’s appearance was a misnomer as two Senior Advocates were in the court to represent some of the accused persons.
Another SAN who was in court for the case was Dr. Awa Kalu.
It was at this point that the judge asked the accused persons one after the other who their counsel was.
Dangabar, the first accused person, told the court that the two SANs were his counsels, while the other five said they contacted the chambers of J.K. Gadzama, SAN, for representation.
The Judge again asked Egwuonwu if he was from Gadzama’s chambers and he answered in the affirmative.
The six accused persons pleaded not guilty to all the charges, prompting prosecution counsel, Rotimi Jacobs, to ask the court for an adjournment to enable the counsels argue the bail application.
But Awomolo interjected and said the application for bail has been filed and served.
He said: “Your Lordship, having regards to the facts that the suspects are still presumed innocent until pronounced guilty, I will urge the accused to be detained in EFCC custody from where they came to the court this morning.
“I urge my Lordship to adjourn till tomorrow so that the bail application can be argued.”
But Jacobs said that while he is not opposed to the bail application, Friday was not convenient for the argument of the bail application.
While adjourning the case till April 3, 2012 for argument on the bail application and May 28 and June 4 for commencement of trial, the judge ordered that all the accused persons be remanded in prison custody.
Count one of the 16 count charge reads that: “That you Esai Abubakar, Ahmed Inuwa Wada, John Yakubu Yusufu, Atiku Abubakr Kigo, Mrs Veronica Ulonma Onyegbula and Sani Habila Zira between January 2009 and June 2011 at Abuja Division of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory agreed to do an illegal act, to wit: criminal breach of trust by public officers in respect of the sum of N14,518,567,724.36 (Fourteen Billion, Five Hundred and Eighteen Million, Five Hundred and Sixty Seven Thousand, Seven Hundred and Twenty Four Naira and Thirty Six Kobo) and that the same act was done in pursuance of the agreement among you and you thereby committed an offence punishable under section 97 of the Penal Code Cap. 532, Laws of the Federal Capital Territory , Abuja , Nigeria 2007.”
Count three reads: “That you Esai Dangabar, John Yakubu Yusufu, Mrs. Veronica Ulonma Onyegbula And Sani Habila ZIRA between January and December 2009 at Abuja in the Abuja Division of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory, being public officers in the service of the government of the Federation and in such capacity entrusted with certain property, to wit: the sum of N8,920,371,822.24 (Eight Billion, Nine Hundred and Twenty Million, Three Hundred and Seventy One Thousand, Eight Hundred and Twenty Two Naira and Twenty Four Kobo) which sum formed part of Nigeria Police Pension funds in the account domiciled at the First Bank of Nigeria Plc, committed criminal breach of trust in respect of the said property, and you thereby committed an offence punishable under section 315 of the Penal Code Act, Cap. 532, Laws of the Federal Capital Territory , Abuja , Nigeria 2007.”
Count four reads: “That you Atiku Abubakar Kigo, John Yakubu Yusufu, Mrs. Veronica Uloma Onyegbula and Sani Habila Zira between January 2010 and February 2011 at Abuja in the Abuja Division of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory, being public officers in the service of the Government of the Federal Government and in such capacity entrusted with certain property, to wit: the sum of N4, 739,894.896.06 ( Four Billion, Seven Hundred and Thirty Nine Million, Eight Hundred and Ninety Four Thousand, Eight Hundred and Ninety Six Naira and Six Kobo) which sum formed part of the Nigerian Police Pension funds in the account domiciled at the First Bank of Nigeria Plc, committed criminal breach of trust in respect of the said property, and you thereby committed an offence punishable under section 315 of the Penal Code Act. Cap. 532, Laws of the Federal Capital Territory , Abuja , Nigeria 2007.”
90% Of Money Laundered Via Real Estate, EFCC Reveals
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) says about 90 per cent of money laundering is done through the real estate sector.
The commission’s Chairman, Abdulrasheed Bawa, stated this while featuring on Channels TV’s Sunrise Daily, yesterday,
According to him, although the sector is monitored via the special control unit, more needed to be done.
According to Bawa, “One of the problems we have now is the real estate. 90 to 100 per cent of the resources are being laundered through the real estate.”
He said there are so many issues involved, but that they were working with the National Assembly to stop what he called “the gate keepers” as there would be reduction in looting if there is no one to launder the money.
Bawa, the EFCC boss, gave an example of a minister who expressed interest in a $37.5million property a bank manager put up for sale.
He said, “The bank sent a vehicle to her house and in the first instance $20million was evacuated from her house.
“They paid a developer and a lawyer set up a special purpose vehicle, where the title documents were transferred into.
“And he (the lawyer) is posing as the owner of the property. You see the problem. This is just one of many; it is happening daily.”
The EFCC chairman also revealed that he receives death threats often.
Asked to respond to President Muhammadu Buhari’s frequent “Corruption is fighting back” expression, Bawa said he was in New York, USA, last week, when someone called to threaten him.
“Last week, I was in New York when a senior citizen received a phone call from somebody that is not even under investigation.
“The young man said, ‘I am going to kill him (Bawa), I am going to kill him’.
“I get death threats. So, it is real. Corruption can fight back,” he said.
On corruption in the civil service, he said there were a lot of gaps, especially in contracts processing, naming “emergency contracts” as one.
Bawa said, “A particular agency is notorious for that. They have turned all their contracts to emergency contracts.”
However, he said, EFCC has strategies in place to check corruptions, one of which is “corruption risk assessments of MDAs”.
According to him, “I have written to the minister and would soon commence the process of corruption risk assessments of all the parastatals and agencies under the Ministry of Petroleum Resources to look at their vulnerability to fraud and advise them accordingly.”
Asked if the scope of corruption in the country overwhelms him, Bawa, the EFCC boss said, “Yes, and no.”
We’ve Spent N9bn To Upgrade RSUTH, Wike Confirms
The Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, says his administration has spent N9billion in upgrading structures and installation of new equipment at the Rivers State University Teaching Hospital (RSUTH).
He said the fact that 40 per cent of the 2021 budget of the state is dedicated to provision of quality healthcare delivery was a further demonstration of the priority placed on the sector.
Wike made the explanation at the foundation laying ceremony for the construction of a Renal Centre at RSUTH, last Friday.
The governor said he made promise to Rivers people that the best would be provided to them in all sectors of the society within his capability because of the mandate they gave to him.
“As we came on here, I just looked around and I see the changes in this teaching hospital. I can say that we have put not less than N9billion in this teaching hospital.
“If you look at the budget, the health sector alone, what it’s taking from the Rivers State Government is not less than 40 percent of the 2021 budget.”
Speaking further, Wike said the state government cannot afford to implement free medical service programme in the present economic circumstance.
While dismissing the request for a subvention for RSUTH, Wike, however, commended the chief medical director and his team for their commitment to turnaround the fortunes of RSUTH.
“I have never seen anywhere that health services can be totally free. They’re telling me that people who come here can’t pay. I have never declared that this state is going to take over the health fees of anybody.”
Also speaking, the former Minister of Transport, Dr. Abiye Sekibo, who performed the flag-off, noted that Wike’s achievements in the health sector in particular, surpass what former governors of the state had done.
Sekibo said that the governor has given equal attention to every section of the health sector by providing complete health infrastructure that was positioning the state as a medical tourism destination in Nigeria.
Earlier, the Rivers State Commissioner for Health, Prof Princewill Chike, lauded Governor Nyesom Wike for his interest in the health of Rivers people.
He noted that the renal centre, when completed, would become another landmark development project in the health sector that would handle and manage all kidney-related ailments.
In his remarks, the Chief Medical Director of the Rivers State University Teaching Hospital, Dr. Friday Aaron, commended Wike for approving the renal centre.
Aaron explained that chronic kidney disease was a major burden globally with estimated 14 million cases in Nigeria.
According to him, over 240,000 of these cases require renal replacement therapy in the form of dialysis and renal transplant.
The CMD said the building that would house the centre was expected to be completed in six months and consists of two floors.
The ground floor, according to him, would house the haemodialysis unit with eight haemodialysis machines.
He further explained that the first floor of the centre would house the surgical component where most of the sophisticated equipment for kidney transplant would be installed.
Aaron said Wike has released the funds required to build, equip the centre as well as for the training of personnel locally and internationally.
Power Generation Falls 23% To 3,172MW
Power supply in Nigeria has failed to improve on last week’s performance, as it fell by 22.9 per cent from peak generation of 4,115Megawatts on Saturday to 3,172.20MW as at 5pm, yesterday, latest data from the System Operator has shown.
According to the data, most power plants were operating far below capacity due to gas shortage with Olorunsogo Power Plant 335MW capacity; and Sapele Power Plant, 450MW capacity; completely out.
Egbin was generating at 746MW; Omoku 37.20; Omotosho (NIPP) at 105MW; while Afam was generating at 80MW.
The data showed that on the average power generation in the past seven days were 4,120.9MW on Sunday, June 6; 4,249.4 on Monday, June 7; 4,000.9MW on Tuesday, June 8; 3,720.7 on Wednesday, June 9; 3,517 on Thursday, June 10; 3,765MW on Friday, June 11; and 4,115MW on Saturday, June 12.
The International Oil Companies (IOCs), had last warned that despite Nigeria’s huge gas reserves a lot needs to be done to attract investment to the sector to develop gas reserves to boost power generation in the country.
Speaking at the just concluded Nigeria International Petroleum Summit, the Chair, Shell Companies in Nigeria/MD SPDC, Osagie Okunbor, said with 203trillion Cubic Feet of gas reserves, what was needed in the country is to deliver projects that would produce the gas.
“The challenge is not just growing the reserves but in producing these reserves for the benefits of our country. Essentially growing the reserves and delivering on the production is a function of two or three elements.
“I like to see infrastructure that is required for the development of these resources at two levels. Soft infrastructure is often the one that is more important than and that is the one that is actually drives most of what you see at site.”
“Soft infrastructure refers to the enabling environment and nothing pleases me as much seeing both the Senate President and the speaker of the house give very firm commitments about trying to pass the PIB this month.
“That is probably the big one of the enabling environment to provide the kind of stability we also need all sorts of other issues we need to that we have discussed severally in terms of sanctity of contract, stable policies and collaboration and I think we are well on our way there”, he added.
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