Four drivers, Abubakar Muhammed, 39; Aminu Inusa, 37; Yekini Isa, 27; and Rasheed Kuboka, 24; yesterday appeared in an Ikeja Magistrates’ Court, Lagos, for allegedly stealing chemical valued at N 7,061,000.
The defendants, who reside at Lawanson, Ijanikin, Ojo and Okokomaiko in Lagos respectively, were arraigned before a Magistrate, Mrs S. K. Matepo, on a two-count charge of conspiracy and stealing.
They, however, denied committing the offences, and were admitted to a bail of N1 million each with two sureties each in like sum.
Matepo said that all the sureties should be gainfully employed, and show evidence of two years’ tax payment to the Lagos State Government.
The Prosecutor, Sgt. Innocent Odugbo, told the court that the defendants committed the offences in December 2018, at Berger, Lagos.
He said that the defendants conspired to steal goods valued at N7,061,000, property of GMT Nigeria Ltd.
Odugbo said that the defendants were attached to a truck each, to deliver goods (chemical) worth N25.7 million to a customer in Edo.
“Four trucks were loaded with goods, for the defendants to deliver to a customer; and before proceeding to Edo, the defendants took their trucks to the company weight box office to weight the containers.
“The defendants, who were supposed to go with some escorts, intentionally left them behind.
“When the goods were of floaded, the complainant got a report that there was shortage of N7,061,000 on all the four containers.
“When the defendants were questioned, they could not give a reasonable account of the missing goods.
“They were handed over to the police,” the prosecutor said.
He said the offences contravened Sections 287(1a)and 411 of the Criminal Law of Lagos State, 2015.
The Tide reports that Section 287(1a) prescribes seven years jail term for stealing, while conspiracy, according to Section 411, attracts two years jail term.
Matepo adjourned further hearing in the case until May 15.
Judge Orders Release Of Ex-Minister’s Passport
A Federal High Court in Lagos last Monday granted a motion for the release of the International Passport of a former Minister of State for Finance, Nenandi Usman, facing N4.6 billion money laundering charges.
Usman is standing trial alongside a former Minister of Aviation, Femi Fani-Kayode, Yusuf Danjuma, a former Chairman of the Association of Local Governments of Nigeria (ALGON), and a Company Jointrust Dimension Ltd.
The defendants were arraigned by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), on 17-counts.
They had each pleaded not guilty to the charge, and were granted bail.
EFCC had earlier opened the case for the prosecution and was still leading witnesses in evidence.
When the case was called on Monday, Mr U.U. Buhari announced appearance for the prosecution, Chief Ferdinand Orbih (SAN) appeared for the first defendant while Mr Morrison Quakers (SAN) appeared for the second defendant.
Buhari then informed the court that the prosecution was ready to proceed with trial adding that prosecution witness was in court.
Orbih on his part, informed the court of a motion by defence, seeking variation of the bail terms earlier granted the first defendant for a release of her international passport for an overseas trip.
He told the court that he had spoken with the lead prosecutor for the motion to be taken.
Just then, the lead counsel, Mr Rotimi Oyedepo came into the court, announced his appearance, and told the court that the case was set for trial but that there appeared to be a mix up in the communication between counsel.
He, however, said in the interest of justice, he would concede to the motion being taken.
This application was not opposed.
Oyedepo, said that since the first defendant had been granted such indulgences in the past and had honoured same without any issue, he would not oppose the motion.
He however added: “I pray that God heals her so that she will not have to travel again,”
Justice Mohammed Aikawa consequently, granted the motion as prayed, and held that the passport be retuned back to court on or before January 15.
He adjourned the case until Jan. 23 and Jan. 24 for continuation of trial.
Meanwhile, the court noted that there was a letter by a surety to the third defendant, seeking to withdraw his title document and his suretiship for the third defendant (Danjuma)
In reaction, first defence counsel, Orbih, noted that such procedure was strange in law , especially as it was mid way into trial.
He, however, told the court that whatever issues there was, would be resolved one way or the other before the next adjourned date.
At a last adjourned date on Oct. 29, EFCC had led Mr Shehu Shuaibu, its third prosecution witness in evidence.
Shuaibu, an investigator with the commission, had narrated to the court, how the sum of N800 million was paid from the Ministry of External Affairs into the account of the fourth defendant, Jointrust Dimension Ltd.
The witness had told the court that investigations revealed that on Jan. 16, 2015, the sum of N800million was paid into the account of the company.
He had told the court that the money came from the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), adding that the signatories to the account were one Darbisu and Benjamin.
The witness had told the court that the said signatories were former staff of the MEA and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA), respectively, but were both currently working with the National Intelligence Agency.
Under cross examination by defence, the witness told the court that the author of the entries in exhibit Eight was the MEA.
When asked if any of the defendants had any input in the said entries, the witness had replied “No. they don’t”
When further asked to confirm if there existed in the said exhibit, words like Ministry of External Affairs and Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the witness had replied” No”.
They further explained that the words were abbreviated to read MEA and MFA.
The witness had also told the court that he had no knowledge if any of the defendants were employees of any investigation agency of Government.
In the charge, the defendants were alleged to have committed the offences between January and March 2015.
In counts one to seven, they were alleged to have unlawfully retained over N3.8 billion which they reasonably ought to have known formed part of the proceeds of an unlawful act of stealing and corruption.
In counts eight to 14, they were alleged to have unlawfully used over N970 million which they reasonably ought to have known formed part of an unlawful act of corruption.
Meanwhile in counts 15 to17 Fani-Kayode and one Olubode Oke who is said to be at large, were alleged to have made cash payments of about N30 million, in excess of the amount allowed by law, without going through a financial institution.
Besides, Fani-Kayode was alleged to have made payments to one Paste Poster Co (PPC) of No 125 Lewis St., Lagos, in excess of amounts allowed by law.
All offences contravened the provisions of sections 15 (3) (4), 16 (2) (b), and 16 (5) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) (Amendment) Act, 2012.
Money Laundering Suit: Court Suspends Proceedings Till Feb 6
A Federal High Court in Lagos last Monday suspended proceedings until February 6, 2020, in the Money Laundering trial of a former Judge of the Federal High Court, Rita Ofili-Ajumogobia.
Justice Mohammed Aikawa said that proceedings would be suspended to await the outcome of a letter to the chief judge of the court, seeking re-assignment of the case.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) charged Ofili-Ajumogobia and a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Godwin Obla, on 18 counts bordering on conspiracy, unlawful enrichment, retention of crime proceeds and money laundering.
The defendants were re-arraigned on May 15, but pleaded not guilty to all the counts.
The court granted them bail in the sum of N10 million each, with two sureties in like sum.
Chief Robert Clarke (SAN) appeared for the former judge at all times, while Chief Ferdinand Orbih (SAN) appeared for the second defendant – Obla.
When the case was called on Monday, Mr U.U. Buhari appeared for the prosecution while Messrs Mobolaji Kuti and Ferdinard Orbih (SAN) appeared for the first and second defendants, respectively.
Buhari informed the court that the prosecution was ready to proceed with trial, but Orbih said that defence wrote a letter to the chief judge of the court on Nov 14, seeking re-assignment of the case.
He added that defence notified the trial court of the development, on Nov. 26, through a letter.
Orbih then urged the court to grant a time frame to enable the chief judge to respond.
In response, Buhari told the court that he had not seen the letter and was also not aware if the EFCC was served.
He urged that such a such letter should not operate as a stay of proceedings in the case.
Aikawa consequently adjourned the case.
“I hereby stay proceedings till Feb. 6, pending the decision of the CJ – chief judge – on the issue,” he said.
The EFCC accused the defendants of conspiracy on May 21, 2014, to indirectly conceal different sums of money in a bank account of Nigel & Colive Ltd., a company alleged to be operated by Ajumogobia.
The commission also alleged that they conspired to retain in the account, the sum of N500 million, which formed part of proceeds of unlawful acts.
It said that Ajumogobia, on different dates in 2014, retained sums such as N5 million, 150,000 dollars, 20,000 dollars, 30,000 dollars, 50,000 dollars and 55,000 dollars in the account.
The EFCC also accused Ajumogobia of indirectly concealing N12 million in the same account, and making false statement to the EFCC that the money was from sale of a landed property.
The alleged offences contravene the provisions of Sections 15 (2) (a) and 18 (a) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2011.(NAN)
Lawyers With Disabilities Want Enforcement Of Discrimination Prohibition Act
President, the Association of Lawyers with Disabilities in Nigeria (ALDIN), Mr Daniel Onwe yesterday called for full enforcement of the Discrimination against Persons with Disabilities (Prohibition) Act, 2019.
Onwe made the call during the commemoration of the International Day for Persons with Disabilities.
The Tide reports that Dec. 3 every year has been set aside by the UN as the International Day for Persons with Disabilities.
The celebration is indicative of a commitment of the global community to put persons with disabilities at par with others in terms of exercise of fundamental human rights.
In a statement jointly signed by its President and Secretary, Messrs Daniel Onwe and Gaius Ogah, respectively, ALDIN reiterated its call for enforcement of the recent disability legislation to improve the lives of Person With Disabilities (PWDs).
The Tide reports that the National Assembly, in January, enacted the Discrimination against Person with Disability (Prohibition) Act, 2019.
Onwe said: “Persons with disabilities have, in diverse forms, been deprived of rights fundamental to the existence of every human, and have been characterised by poverty, low self esteem and low life expectancy, in spite of their enormous potential.
“Legislation has become the most veritable instrument for correcting the disadvantaged stead of persons with disabilities and equalising their opportunities.
“Other countries of the world have, through the relevant pieces of legislation, bettered the lives of persons with disabilities and, by so doing, made their societies better places for everyone.
“It was indeed a long walk to the eventual enactment of a National Disability Legislation in Nigeria; that is, the Discrimination against Persons with Disabilities (Prohibition) Act.’’
According to him, President Mohammadu Buhari, made history on Jan. 23, 2019, by signing into law the Discrimination against Persons with Disabilities (Prohibition) Act.
“Having signed into existence the said law, it remains for it to be demonstrated to positively change the destinies of persons with disabilities in Nigeria forever.
“Therefore, it is expected that the president takes the necessary steps toward enforcement of the Act, such as the immediate constitution of a National Commission for Persons with Disabilities (NCPWD).
“This commission will spearhead the implementation of the Act.
“Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) of government have the immediate duty of reserving five per cent of their labour force for qualified persons with disabilities in line with the Act,’’ he said.
He said that this would enrich the country’s labour force with the peculiar giftings of persons with disabilities.
Onwe said that private bodies as well as individuals had responsibilities to stop discrimination and make the society conducive for the development and contributions of all persons.
“The Act has come to stay and should be implemented to the letter for the good of Nigerians.
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