Chairman, South-East Senate Caucus, Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe, PDP, Abia South said yesterday that they have already filed a motion asking to be discharged from the case involving the leader of the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, Nnamdi Kanu.
Responding to the ruling by the Federal High Court in Abuja, ordering Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe, a Jewish High Priest, Emmanu El-Shalom Oka Ben Madu, and an accountant, Tochukwu Uchendu, to appear before it on November 20 to explain the whereabouts of Nnamdi Kanu, Senator Abaribe told newsmen that he does not know the where- abouts of Kanu since the invasion of his house by the military.
In his reaction, Abaribe said, “the court gave three options, produce Kanu, forfeit the bail bond and take more time to produce him. The lawyer took option three, that is to take more time to produce him to be able to confer with me since none of us sureties were in court.
The Senator representing Abia South Senatorial District, Enyinnaya Abaribe, has applied to the court to be discharged from the suretyship bond and cognizance of the bail of the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Nnamdi Kanu.
In an application filed against the Federal Government, Nnamdi Kanu, and his co-defendants, Abaribe is asking the court to make an order discharging him as surety.
He is also asking for a discharge of the bond used for Kanu’s bail and a refund of N100million or any other bond paid to the court sequel to the bail.
The grounds upon which Abaribe sought the reliefs include that the Nigerian Army during a raid at the residence of the IPOB leader, engaged in a fracas with members of the group which has been proscribed by the Federal Government.
Abaribe said since the raid by the Nigerian Army, the first defendant has not been seen or reached.
He also said Kanu is yet to make any public appearance or any statement since the raid.
The senator said: “Since the afore stated visit of the Nigerian Army to the residence of the first defendant on September 11, 2017, the second respondent in this suit has not been seen again nor reached on phone the applicant neither is he reported in any news media as seen by any person nor made any statement on any issue.”
Abaribe said since September 20, the report in the media is that the first respondent (Federal Government) has proscribed IPOB; an organisation led by Kanu and declared the organisation a terrorist organisation.
He said security agencies of the Federal Government are interested in the second respondent.
“The activities of the Nigerian Army as affecting the first respondent are matters of state secret incapable of being unravelled by the applicant which activities has put the second respondent out of the reach of the applicant such that the applicant cannot reasonably be expected to produce the second respondent before this court at any subsequent date.
The applicant lacks capacity to produce a person stated by the first respondent to be a member of a terrorist organization or any person who the first respondent is reported to be interested in his whereabouts in the aftermath of the military operation in Abia State,” Abaribe said in his application.
Abaribe, a Jewish Rabbi and traditional ruler stood as surety for the IPOB leader in August when he was granted bail by Justice Binta Nyako of the Federal High Court.
The surety and bond of N100million each which was made available by Abaribe and the two others helped in the release of Kanu from the Kuje Prison in Abuja where he was being held for over a year.
Kanu and his co-defendants, Benjamin Madubugwu, David Nwawuisi and Chidiebere Onwudiwe are facing criminal trial of treasonable felony, conspiracy, and concealing of good imported into the country.
While defending his application, Abaribe, yesterday, pleaded with the Federal High Court in Abuja to give him more time to produce the IPOB leader.
Abaribe, who told Justice Binta Nyako, that he had no information about Kanu’s whereabouts, was forced to request for time to produce the defendant in court.
Abaribe’s lawyer, Ogechi Ogunna, who appeared for the senator, yesterday, initially informed the judge that the senator had filed a motion seeking to be discharged as a surety for the defendant.
But the judge in response said the senator had three options.
One of the options was for Abaribe to produce the defendant in court, and then apply to be discharged as a surety.
The other option the judge gave was for Abaribe to be ready to forfeit his N100million bail bond.
The third option †was to ask to be given time to produce the defendant.
But Ogunna replied saying, “He (Abaribe) is not in a position to do any of these.”
However, the judge insisted that Abaribe must opt for one of the three options.
With the judge’s insistence, Ogunna opted to be given time to produce Kanu.
NDIC Amendment Act: Senate Promises Accelerated Hearing
The National Assembly will give an ‘accelerated hearing’ to the Nigeria Deposit Insurance Corporation (NDIC) Amendment Act, Senate President Ahmed Lawan, has said.
He said the National Assembly will expedite action when plenary resumes.
“When we resume plenary, the NDIC Act Amendment Bill will be a top priority,” Mr Lawan noted.
Mr Lawan disclosed this on Monday during the 30th-anniversary ceremony of the NDIC.
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo; Ministers Festus Keyamo and Raji Fashola and the Ooni of Ife, Adeyeye Ogunwusi attended the event.
The anniversary celebration was held at the Transcorp Hilton in Abuja.
The Senate president’s comment was in response to a call by the Ooni for the National Assembly to repeal the existing act of the NDIC.
“You will all agree to the need for an amendment of the NDIC Act. I call on the Senate President and Speaker of the House of Representatives to correct the NDIC law,” the traditional ruler had said.
In response, Mr Lawan said, “The Ooni of Ife moved a royal motion; when there is such motion, we don’t need to put it to question.
“Kabiyesi, your motion has received a yes, the ayes have it,” Mr Lawan said to thunderous applause from the crowd.
“We’ll work closely with NDIC to provide that amendment that will make you stabilise the banking system,” he noted.
NDIC Act Conundrum last year reported how the NDIC Managing Director, Umaru Ibrahim, blamed the delay in the amendment of the NDIC Act (2006) for the non-payment of entitlements to depositors of funds trapped in liquidated banks in the country.
Mr Umaru said depositors of Savanah Bank, Fortis Micro-Finance Bank and Aso Savings & Union Homes are suffering because they have not been able to recover their monies trapped in the banks since they were liquidated.
He said the suffering of the depositors would continue unless the NDIC enabling Act was speedily amended by the National Assembly.
Citing the defunct Savanah Bank as an example, the MD said the NDIC Act, as presently enacted, inhibits the corporation from reimbursing depositors since their bank licences were yet to be revoked due to protracted litigation.
Court Orders Forfeiture Of Kola Aluko’s $73m, N350m Properties
The Federal High Court in Lagos, yesterday, ordered the forfeiture of three landed properties belonging to Kola Aluko, an ally of a former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Diezani Allison-Madueke.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) gave the value of the landed properties located in Abuja and Lagos as $73million and N350million.
The EFCC gave the names of the properties as 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 anti-graft agency said the Plot 3389 and Plot 3390 in Abuja were purchased for N350million and $18million, respectively.
It said the Lagos property was bought for $55million.
The EFCC said the funds used to procure the properties were reasonably suspected to be proceeds of unlawful activities.
Following an ex parte application, yesterday, Justice Mohammed Liman ordered the properties temporarily forfeited to the Federal Government.
EFCC lawyer, Rotimi Oyedepo, had told the judge that Section 17 of the Advance Fee Fraud and Other Fraud Related Offences Act No. 14 2016 empowered the court to make such a forfeiture order.
“The properties sought to be attached are reasonably suspected to be proceeds of an unlawful diversion from the Federal Government of Nigeria.
“That the respondent’s known and provable lawful income is far less than the properties sought to be forfeited to the Federal Government of Nigeria,” the lawyer said in the application.
An operative of the EFCC, Sambo Mayana, said the anti-graft agency investigated Aluko after receiving from Mr Debo Adeniran, the Executive Chairman of the Coalition Against Corrupt Leaders, “a damning intelligence report and a petition alleging fraud, lack of transparency and unethical conduct in the transfer of production rights in the oil mining leases against the respondent and his cronies.
“That there are suspicious financial transactions involving the 1st respondent, KAA and Atlantic Energy Holding Limited based in the British Virgin Island.
“That the company, in the course of three years, received large suspicious transfers from two sister companies, namely: Atlantic Energy Drilling Concept Limited and Atlantic Energy Brass Development Limited, based in Nigeria.”
After granting the forfeiture order, the judge directed the EFCC to publish it in a national newspaper.
He adjourned till November 12, 2019, for anyone interested in the properties to appear before him to show cause why they should not be permanently forfeited to the Federal Government.
2020: Akpabio Shuns Senate On Ministry’s Budget
The Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio has said that the ministry’s budget was not rejected by the Senate.
Reacting to the Senate’s purported rejection of the budget proposal; he called on the lawmakers to join him in appealing to the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning to increase the capital component of the ministry’s budget.
Akpabio told reporters, “The budget was not rejected. The senators feel that major projects that are already in the Niger Delta ought to be completed.
“I agree with them but unfortunately, we are working under a very tight envelope.
“The ministry was allocated about N23billion; 60 per cent of it will go to already existing projects in the region and 40 per cent will go to probably new projects.
“So, if you look at it very well, it is not possible for you to capture all projects with that amount and it is not even going to be possible to complete even 10 kilometres of road in the region.
“So, I think instead of saying that the budget was rejected, I think that the distinguished senators should collectively make an appeal to the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning to improve upon the envelope to expand it a little, so it can capture at least substantially most of the yearnings and aspirations of the good people of the Niger Delta.”
Earlier, the Senate Committee on Niger Delta had rejected the 2020 budget of the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs headed by a former Senate Minority Leader, Godswill Akpabio.
The Chairman of the Senate Committee on Niger Delta, Senator Peter Nwaoboshi, asked that the budget be re-represented, citing the omission of major ongoing projects in its capital appropriation.
Nwaoboshi (Delta North) pointed out that there were abandoned projects in the nine oil-producing states while other senators also noted that there was a need to increase the ministry’s capital budget.
According to Nwaoboshi, “There is no state, I dare to say, there is no local government where there are no abandoned projects in the Niger Delta.
“We cannot continue like that. With all the abandoned projects in the Niger Delta, we are talking about new projects; these new projects are designed to fail.
“Honourable Minister, we need to look at this budget again and we expect you to do your cleanup because the documents we needed were not supplied to us. The proliferation of abandoned projects cannot continue.”
The Delta-born lawmaker went on to note that President Muhammadu Buhari had not inaugurated any completed project executed by the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs in the last four years.
Also speaking, Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe noted that the ministry’s budget is an “uncommon budget.
“When a budget is designed to fail, it is uncommon,” Abaribe said.
“I will suggest that the budget should be taken back for reworking, taking into cognizance all the projects that were pointed out and we give them another day to come and defend the budget.”
For Senator Rochas Okorocha, the budget was not different from the ministry’s budget of two or three years ago.
“This type of budget doesn’t produce anything feasible,” Okorocha said, adding: “You have to do your projects and complete them so you don’t sound like the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).
“One of the worst establishments is NDDC known for funny activities because of the way it is set up.”
Senator Sandy Onor Ojang, representing Cross River Central, lamented a situation where capital components of yearly budgets would not be released to ministries.
He said: “We are faced again with the vanity of having a budget and almost through the budget year, there are no capital releases. It calls for concern and deep worry.”
Ojang decried a situation where the capital outlay is even lower than other costs.
“To speak of a situation where nothing is released for capital is a tragedy,” he said.
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