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Niger Delta

Ibori vs EFCC: Court Adjourns Ruling to Dec 17

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Justice Marcel Awokulehin of the Federal High Court sitting in Asaba deferred giving his ruling a second time, on the application brought by Chief James Ibori’s counsel to quash the case the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has against him and others.

Justice Awokulehin was first billed to deliver the ruling early November, but he said he was deferring it because he “wanted to err on the side of caution”.

He said that he had deferred delivering the ruling on the “6th of November, because of certain circumstances. But those circumstances that led to that adjournment still persist” and ruled that he was adjourning till the 17th of December.

Mr. Austine Alegeh (SAN), leader of Ibori’s legal team addressing the Judge said: “My Lord, we are not aware of the said circumstances you referred to. But if it is what has been written in the pages of the newspapers, none of the sides in this case, neither the defence nor the prosecution, has said anything in the newspapers”.

Reacting, Justice Awokulehin said “But the circumstances have not shifted. I will still like to err on the side of law. As far as the ruling is concerned, trials are not done in the pages of the newspapers. To even discuss such matters in the pages of the newspapers is subjudice. My not delivering the ruling today is not out of intimidation.”

Speaking to journalists after the adjournment, Alegeh said the defence still has absolute and unflinching trust in the judicial system and the judiciary and we believe that whatever occasioned the adjournment would be to the ends of justice.

When asked if he was not worried that the adjournment could be a means to pervert justice, he said ,“No, we are in court to do justice and not to pervert justice.”

“The Judge has explained that he prefers to err on the side of caution, and we must give him understanding, as he is in full control of his court, and he must know why he is taking the step he is taking. It may look like it is a delay, but we are used to such matters as is beginning to happen in court.”

“So we prefer to trust the Judge, have faith in the judiciary and believe that whatever he is doing is to actualise the ends of justice and not to pervert the cause of justice.”

Adding, Alegeh said; “the facts are clear and everybody should know that there is no complaint on the side of the defence or the prosecution. It is said that if you prefer to do your case on the pages of the newspapers, you should be ready to get your judgement from the Editor. But the law is sacrosanct, and the law is always there. So it is the law that matters”.

Alegeh led Ken Mozia and 11 other lawyers for Ibori while Mr. Kayode Oni led the EFCC legal team.

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Niger Delta

Eno Sacks Commissioner For Special Duties

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Akwa Ibom State Governor, Umo Eno has relieved the Commissioner for Special Duties, Dr Bassey Okon, of his appointment with immediate effect.
Secretary to the State Government, Mr Enobong Uwah, disclosed this in a statement in Uyo on Monday.
Uwah, who did not give reasons for the commissioner’s sack, directed him to hand over all state government properties in his possession to the Permanent Secretary.
He thanked the former commissioner for the period he served the state, and wished him well in his future endeavours.

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Niger Delta

Check Oil Pollution In N’Delta, Stakeholders Urge Oil Firms

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Stakeholders in host communities have demanded that oil companies be compelled to address adverse health impact of oil exploration in the Niger-Delta.
They made their position known on Monday during a public presentation of the research report on the impact of oil extraction on women’s health in Otuabagi community in Bayelsa.
The Tide’s source reports that Dr Emem Okon, Director, Kebetkache Women Development and Resource Centre, an NGO, championed the event.
The source also reports that Otuabagi Community within the Oloibiri District in present Ogbia Local Government Area is where crude oil was discovered in commercial quantity in Nigeria in 1956.
Okon said the report highlighted the adverse consequences of oil extraction which had profound negative impact on health and livelihood of women in Otuabagi community.
She said research revealed that several of the participants had hydrocarbons in their blood sample more than World Health Organisation (WHO) threshold and therefore demanded for compensation from oil companies and government.
“There is, therefore, a need to demand for compensation and restoration of polluted sites as well as health actions to keep us alive and to resist death, poverty and injustice”, she said.
She stated that the findings and data would serve as a tool for policy makers, community leaders and all those who strove for a more equitable and sustainable future.
Meanwhile, Dr Bieye Briggs, a public health physician and head of the research team, said from the findings of the report, it was revealed that there was very high and unacceptable level of exposure of the people to hydrocarbons.
Briggs advocated for the Federal Government to carry out health audit in Otuabagi community and other oil producing areas in the Niger-Delta region.
He explained that such audit was with a view to instituting intervention program to halt and reverse the impact of oil exploration.
Similarly, Chief Daniel Amangi, the traditional ruler of Otuabagi community, commended Kebetkache Women Development and Resource Centre for undertaking the project and urged the Federal Government to focus on developing the community.
Amangi also called for the immediate implementation of the recommendations of the research findings for the overall benefit of the people.
In the same vein, Alagoa Morris, a stakeholder, lamented that life expectancy was lower in the Niger-Delta region than in other parts of the country due to the hazards caused by oil exploration.
He called for compensation to be paid to host communities to ameliorate the health impact of oil extraction in the region.
The ceremony also featured a drama presentation by Otuabagi women and panel discussion on the findings of the report.

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Niger Delta

Court Orders AAU Graduate’s Car, iPhone’s Forfeiture To FG

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A Benin High Court on Monday ordered the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to sell a Toyota Venza 2012 model, recovered from a graduate of Biochemistry from Ambrose Ali University, Ekpoma, Osadolor Edomwonyi.
The EFCC charged Edomwonyi with internet fraud.
Delivering judgment, Justice Efe Ikponmwonba, sentenced Edomwonyi to three years imprisonment.
The judge also ordered the forfeiture of an iPhone 13 Promax, recovered from the convict .
He also ordered that balances in his Opay account, Kids Bank account and Access Bank with which he was charged and convicted to the Federal Government through EFCC and the accounts be parmanently closed.
The convict prayed the court for a plea bargain agreement.
Ikponmwonba, however, gave him an option of fine in the sum of N100,000.
Earlier, the EFCC counsel, Mr I K Agwaisaid, said the convict committed an offence contrary to the provisions of Sections 6 and 8 (b) of the advance free fraud and other fraud-related offences Act 2006 and punishable under Section 1(3) of the same Act.
The prosecutor said in a plea bargain agreement, Edomwonyi pleaded guilty to the one-count charge of possession of fraudulent documents.

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