The confiscation hearing
against former Delta State Governor, James Onanefe Ibori, reopened on Wednesday at a London Crown Court with the British Crown Prosecution lead counsel, Sasha Wass, calling for a full retrial of the entire case.
Wass informed the court that the Crown Prosecution would be seeking a total retrial of the entire case which ended in December when Judge Anthony Pitts asked for more evidence to enable him make an appropriate decision.
Ibori’s lead counsel, Ivan Krolic QC, strongly objected to the Crown Prosecution’s request to start the case afresh.
“That is the position of the Crown Prosecution which we don’t accept. The function of the court in confiscation hearing is to consider which individual has benefited from proceeds of crime and to what amount,” he said.
On the points of law, Krolic spoke directly to the judge: “Your Honour has no jurisdiction to abort the earlier proceeding; we say the court should not continue to act where it has no jurisdiction”.
He maintained that the dictates of the law is that a case that is due for ruling should be allowed to be concluded whether or not a party in the case has done their duties well or not and that it is not the duty of the court to aid any party in a suit or restart a case when convinced that one side in a suit has not adduced enough evidence to prove its point.
The Crown Prosecution confessed in court that Ibori’s lawyers had confused them by changing their submissions and this “surprised and confused the prosecution”, thereby preventing the prosecution from knowing where the case was leading.
This made the prosecution to pray the court to adjourn in December for it to present more evidence to help the court in reaching a decision.
Krolic replied that “the suggestion by the Crown that they were taken by surprise in my respectful submission is nonsense” because “the Crown could not have been surprised… I can’t cross-examine the court, but if the court was surprised, it should not have been”.
Krolic then recounted the rigorous process the entire proceedings had gone through, including the cross examination of prosecution witness, noting that the court was ready for judgement before the case was suddenly and surprisingly adjourned in December – just to prove his case that the Crown prosecution was fully aware of where the case was going as well as the stance of the defence.
Krolic then said: “We are being accused of changing our case, the prosecution say they don’t know what our case was, your Honour the Crown knows what the case was, the Crown has failed to provide the court the evidence upon which they rely.
“What we say is this, your Honour quite clearly indicated on October 7 last year that the Crown has in your Honour’s view not done enough because they simply relied on Ibori’s guilty plea and statements and had not provided you with any evidence to prove their case”.
Faulting further the Crown’s application for a fresh confiscation proceeding, Krolic said “the Crown then applied to have the proceedings adjourned as to enable them put more witnesses before the court from Africa and possibly other pieces of evidence that were never mentioned before in court or in any papers and the court granted that application.
Ibori’s lead counsel then submitted his main position “we say that the prosecution having closed their case, they should not be entitled to restart the same case.
The court has no powers to say in relation to one party that had closed its case – “you have not produced enough evidence, what I am going to do is to allow you restart the case”.
Udoamaka Okoronkwo was on Wednesday joined in the confiscation case with Ibori.
Judge Anthony Pitts adjourned the hearing till Friday to allow prosecution lead counsel, Sasha Wass, attend to some other cases.
Group Takes Disease Control Campaign To C’ River LG
In its determined efforts to take a stand and demand more committed action in the fight against pneumonia, Society for Health Enlightenment Initiative (SO-HEALTHI), a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO), took its enlightenment and advocacy campaign to IkotOffiongAmbai in Akpabuyo Local Government Area.
The event which held at Saint Peter’s Primary School, Ikot Offiong Ambai, to mark the World Pneumonia Day, saw a contingent of six selected primary schools take part in lecture sessions on pneumonia awareness by experts from the SOHEALTHI Team, climaxing with a spelling competition where winners were given pneumonia-crested exercise books and cash prizes.
At the end of the spelling competition, Amicable Ebrigor Offu and Martha Joseph Aya, both of St. Peter’s Primary School, Ikot Offiong Ambai, emerged joint best performing students, scoring 100 percent, Godsfavour Okon Eyo and Abigail Godwin Anthony, also of St. Peter’s Primary School, came second, scoring 90% apiece, while Victoria Asuquo Okon of St. Peter’s Primary School and Wendy Edet Ekpo of Jehovah Shalom Primary School, clinched third position, scoring 80percent respectively.
In her remarks, the Founder and Team Lead of the NGO, Mrs Rosemary Archibong, stated that SOHEALTHI, founded in 2006, was saddled with the responsibility of creating awareness and advocating for a pneumonia-free world in accordance with this year’s Theme: ‘Keep the Promise; Stop Pneumonia Now.’
Mrs Archibong noted that, according to global indices, the disease sickens 155 million children under five years and kills 1.6 million each year, it has become pertinent to bring this health crisis to public’s attention, encourage policy makers and grassroot organizers alike to combat the disease.
SUBEB Boss Urges Staff To Support Ayade
The Executive Chairman, Cross River State Universal Basic Education Board, Dr Stephen Odey has enjoined staff of the board to complement Governor Ben Ayade’s efforts in the basic education sub-sector by supporting him to realise his lofty programmes for the State.
He made this known in a meeting to mark his three years in office as Executive Chairman of SUBEB. Dr Odey said in spite of the financial status of the State, Governor Ayade had made remarkable impact across sectors in the State, especially in the Basic Education sub-sector.
According to Dr Odey, “he is a young man that has a lot of energy, and with ambitious plans for the state, but he is being frustrated by lack of funds”.
Speaking on the achievements recorded in the basic education sub-sector, he thanked Governor Ayade and staff of SUBEB for their support, adding that these feats could not have been achieved without the support of the Governor and hard work of Staff.
He urged staff to remain committed to their responsibilities, stating that “hard work, dedication and loyalty pays in the long run.”
Speaking earlier, the Director of Administration, Emmanuel Ojong, commended Dr Odey for the giant strides recorded in the board within this short time in Office.
He recalled the massive infrastructural developments in schools across the State, and the sanitisation of SUBEB work force to eliminate ghost workers and track down staff without requisite teaching qualifications. Ojong also poured encomiums on the Board Chairman for placing staff welfare at the forefront of his administration.
By: Friday Nwagbara, Calabar.
INEC Discovers 22 Polling Booths In Politicians’ Homes In Akwa Ibom
Ahead of the 2019 general election, the Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) in Akwa Ibom State, Mr Mike Igini has disclosed that no fewer than 22 polling booths have been discovered in the homes of politicians and other private residences in the state.
Speaking in an interview in Uyo, the state capital, Igini explained that “the polling booths are not illegal, but are located at improper places”, adding that such polling booths had been relocated to public places where voters can easily access.
“We have relocated such polling booths to proper places where the people can have access to them. Elections will hold in Akwa Ibom State and votes will count,” Igini assured, even as he warned desperate politicians against hate speeches that could inflame the polity.
He said he was on a mission to Akwa Ibom to conduct free, fair, credible and transparent exercise in line with the relevant sections of the Electoral Act and enjoined eligible voters, party agents and other stakeholders to join hands with INEC to deliver hitch-free polls which outcome would not be disputed.
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