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.
Court Remands Two In SCIID Custody Over Murder Of Policeman
An Iyaganku Chief Magistrates’ Court sitting in Ibadan yesterday ordered that two men be remanded in the State Criminal Investigation and Intelligence Department (SCIID) custody over alleged murder of a policeman.
The police charged Rasheed Salaudeen, 35, and Yusuf Alimi, 37, with five counts bordering on conspiracy, murder and assault.
Chief Magistrate, Olaide Hamzat, did not take their plea, over want in jurisdiction.
Hamzat ordered the police to return the case file to the Oyo State Director of Public Prosecutions for legal advice.
He adjourned the matter until October 10, for mention.
Earlier, the prosecution counsel, Insp. Opeyemi Olagunju told the court that Salaudeen and Alimi, with others at large, on August 26, caused the death of Sgt. Bukoye Oyewole with staff number: No 429733 in the cause of discharging his lawful duty
He alleged that Salaudeen and Alimi, attacked the victim at a checkpoint with sticks and machete.
Olagunju also alleged that Salaudeen and Alimi assaulted Insp. Imeh Samson, causing him bodily harm
He alleged that they also assaulted Sgt. Morufu Asimiyu, who was on duty with others at the check point.
Olagunju said the incident took place when the policemen were on duty at a stop-and-search checkpoint at Orita Ohori/ Budo Musa via Itasa, Iwere – Ile, Oyo State.
The offence, he said, contravened the provisions of sections 252 and 316 and punishable under sections 319, 324, 356 and 516 of the Criminal Code of Oyo State 2000.
Navy Deploys Six Warships In Four States
The Nigerian Navy yesterday deployed troops on board six warships, including 60 gunboats, in a special military exercise to tackle pirates, oil smugglers and other criminalities in the nation’s waters.
Rear Adm. David Adeniran, Flag Officer Commanding Eastern Naval Command (ENC), Calabar, announced the deployment at the flag-off of the exercise in Onne, Rivers State.
It was gathered that the operation was code-named, ‘Exercise Sanga Sung,’ meaning ‘Safe Transit’ in Ibibio dialect.
Adeniran said that the two-day exercise, aimed at consolidating on similar Exercises Bekan Mmon I and II, would hold on the territorial waters of Akwa Ibom, Cross River, Ebonyi and Rivers States, under the ENC.
“Exercise Sanga Sung is one of the numerous operational engagements that the Eastern Naval Command (ENC) is currently undertaking to safeguard the nation’s maritime environment.
“The purpose of the exercise is to check the state of preparedness of our fleets and training of our personnel,” said the naval chief.
He said that personnel of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Nigerian Immigration Service and the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) would also participate in the exercise.
Others are the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) and the Nigerian Customs Service.
“The other security agencies are participating in the exercise knowing that safety and security of our maritime environment cannot be provided by a single security agency.
“Also, there are so many personnel involved in this exercise from our naval headquarters, Defence headquarters, Western Naval Command and Central Naval Command, among others.
Gunmen Kill One, Kidnap Pregnant Woman, Nine Others In Nasarawa
Gunmen suspected to be kidnappers have killed one person, abducted a heavily pregnant woman, and nine other persons, even as they injured several others in Nasarawa Local Government Area of Nasarawa state.
It was gathered that the armed men came from the Kana hill in Kana community, at midnight of Monday, killed, kidnapped and injured persons, and retreated.
The Kana hill expands to Maraba Udege, Onda, Agwada, Nasarawa Eggon, and to Wamba towns of the LGA.
Kana community is where personnel of the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) were recently killed and kidnapped while on their way for training in Enugu State.
The Chairman of Nasarawa LGA, Mohammed Sani Ottos, who narrated the incident to newsmen, yesterday, said the assailants numbering more than 20, stormed the place when residents were deeply asleep.
He further disclosed that the gunmen shot sporadically to scare the Kana inhabitants before they started invading homes forcefully.
According to him, properties worth millions of Naira were damaged.
Ottos, who said he had visited the attacked place to sympathise with the people, revealed that men of the Guards Brigade, 177 Battalion, Keffi, were already on ground to avert further attacks.
“It is confirmed that some gunmen have stormed the town of kana town on Monday night, they were well armed, scared the people after they fired several gun shots.
“At the end of their operation, we discovered that one person was killed, 10 were kidnapped while several people sustained various degrees of injuries.
“I was there myself to ascertain the level of damage cause by the gunmen and I condemned the act, I visited the town to sympathise with the families of the slain, abducted and injured victims.
“I commend the Guards Brigade, 177 Battalion, Keffi, who accompanied me to further build the villager’s confidence, and pledged to do all within their reach for safe return of the captives,” Ottos stated.
The relevant security agencies in the state were yet to officially confirm the number of persons killed, abducted and injured, as at the time of this report.
When contacted, the Nasarawa State Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), ASP Ramham Nansel, said that the command was on top of the matter to verify the attack.
“I can’t confirm the story now because I am yet to be briefed on the incident, I will get back to you,” he stated.
Similarly, a traditional ruler in Barkin Ladi Local Government Area of Plateau State, Bulus Chuwang Jang, has been killed by gunmen.
The Chairman of Berom Youth Moulders in the neighbouring Heipang district in the LGA, Rwang Tengwong, confirmed the incident to newsmen in Jos, yesterday.
Tengwong said that the diseased paramount ruler, who is the district head of Foron, was killed by some gunmen, who attacked the community on Monday evening.
Tengwong said, “We just lost one of our paramount rulers in Barkin Ladi Local Government Area through an attack by gunmen. He is the Acting district head of Foron, Da Bulus Chuwang Jang. He was shot dead in the evening yesterday (Monday) by some gunmen around Shen community.”
The Deputy Leader of Barkin Ladi Legislative Council, Hon Pam Chollom, who also confirmed the killing of the traditional ruler, said that the council had summoned an emergency meeting over the incident.
He said, “Yes, it is true that one of our traditional rulers has been killed in an attack by gunmen. It is very unfortunate and we condemn the incident. Right now, we are currently meeting over the incident as legislators. I will let you know our stand after the meeting.”
The Spokesman for the State Police Command, Ubah Ogaba, said that the incident had been reported to the command.
According to him, the state commissioner of police had deployed detectives in the council area to unravel the circumstances surrounding the killing of the monarch and apprehend those behind the act.
Ogaba said, “We are aware of the killing of the traditional ruler by unknown gunmen, and investigation into the incident has commenced.
“Already, the CP has deployed some officers in the area to investigate the matter and we are hopeful that those who perpetrated the acts would be fished out and punished accordingly”, he added.
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