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‘Badeh bought Abuja houses for sons at N970m’

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  • As Saraki declares: I was extremely rich before becoming governor

A Federal High Court in Abuja heard yesterday that former Chief of General Staff, Alex Badeh bought choice houses in Abuja for his three sons at about N970 million.

This was contained in the testimony of a retired Air Commodore, Aliyu Yishau, who was the Director of Finance and Account of the Nigeria Air Force (NAF) while Badeh was the Chief of Air Staff (between September 2012 and December 2013).

Yishau, who concluded his evidence yesterday as the first prosecution witness in the trial of Badeh and Iyalikam Nigeria Limited, said he assisted Badeh to buy “a semi-detached bungalow” for one of his sons at No.8A Embu street, by Sigma Apartments, Wuse 2, Abuja.

The witness had earlier told the court that Badeh bought a house at 19 Kumasi Crescent, Wuse II for his first son, Alex Badeh (Jnr) at N260 million, with N60 million spent to renovate it, while N90 million was expended in furnishing the property.

While testifying on April 27, the witness also said Badeh bought another N320 million house in Abuja for his last son, 28-year-old Kam.

“In my statement to the EFCC, I said the first defendant has two property in Wuse 2 that cost N260m and N320m. The house that cost N320m is adjacent to No 19 Kumasi Crescent, which was purchased from Honourable Bature. That was the one purchased for his last son, Kam. I cannot remember the address, but I can identify it,” Yishau said.

Badeh and Iyalikam Nigeria Limited were arraigned on March 7 on a 10-count charge of breach of trust and corruption for allegedly diverting about N3.97 billion from NAF’s account.

Yesterday, Yishau, who was cross-examined by Badeh’s lawyer, Akin Olujinmi (SAN) insisted that he paid for the property on behalf of the first defendant, who was his boss.

Olujinmi concluded his cross-examination of the witness yesterday and Justice Okon Abang adjourned till today for continuation of trial.

In the meantime, Senate President Bukola Saraki said yesterday that he was “extremely rich” before he became Kwara State governor in 2003.

He said he had $22million, about £12million, 2.6m Euro and about N4billion in cash in his various accounts.

Aside the liquid asset, Saraki said he also possessed landed property estimated at N2billion and 15 vehicles valued at about N263.4m.

He gave details of the vehicles he acquired as at 2003 to include: Mercedes X320, valued at N16m; Mercedes X500 worth N20m; Mercedes G500, valued at N6m; Mercedes V220 worth 2m and Ferrari456GT, valued at N25m.

Others are: Navigator, N15m, MN240 worth N8.5m; Peugeot 406, valued at N2.9m; Mercedes CLK 320 worth N9m; Mercedes E320 valued at N11m; Mercedes G500 bullet proof worth N45m; Mercedes X500 worth N300m; Lexus jeep bullet proof valued at N30m and Lincoln Navigator bullet proof worth N25m.

Saraki’s lawyer, Paul Erokoro (SAN), made these public yesterday at the resumption of the Senate President’s trial for alleged false asset declaration before the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) in Abuja.

Erokoro, who was cross-examining the first prosecution witness, Michael Wetkas, identified the assets as claimed by Saraki in the asset declaration form he submitted to the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) in 2003.

Erokoro said he needed to point out that his client was very rich before he became Kwara State governor to erase the wrong impression created by the prosecution that he could not have acquired the property he claimed to have without obtaining loans from banks

The lawyer was, however, silent on the source of his client’s wealth and how he came about all the property and cash he claimed to have possessed before he became governor in 2003.

Saraki’s profile, in “Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia,” indicated that he was born on December, 19 1962 and  studied at the London Hospital Medical College of the University of London from 1982 to 1987, when he obtained his M.B.B.S (London).

He worked as a medical officer at Rush Green Hospital, Essex, from 1988 to 1989 and was a director of Société Générale Bank (Nig) Ltd from 1990 to 2000. The bank founded by his now late father, Dr. Olusola Saraki, had its operating licence withdrawn in January 2006 by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

In 2000, President Olusegun Obasanjo appointed Saraki as Special Assistant, a position he held until he became governor.

When asked if it was possible for Saraki to have made anticipatory declaration of asset, Wetkas insisted it was not about whether or not such practice was possible, but that investigation and evidence showed that the Senate President actually engaged in anticipatory asset declaration.

The witness pointed out that, in the asset declaration form submitted to the CCB by Saraki in 2003, he claimed to have acquired houses Nos 15A and 15B Macdonald Street, Ikoyi, Lagos when, in actual fact, such property did not exist.

Wetkas, a detective with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), said the only property with a similar description was No15 and Block 15 Flat 1 to 4 Mcdonald Street, Ikoyi, Lagos.

“In the course of our investigation, when we came across this No.15 A and B, Ikoyi, Lagos, we wrote to the Presidential Implementation Committee on the disposal of Federal Government Landed Property. We also wrote to the Lagos Land Registry.

“The Lagos Land Registry said they do not have records of No.15A and B, McDonald. The Presidential Committee said the record they have on their system is No.15 Mcdonald, which was sold to the company, TinyTee Ltd, and Block 15, Flat 1 to 4 Mcdonald Ikoyi, which was sold to another company, Bitti Oil Ltd.

“The evidence I gave was that No: 15 Mcdonald was sold to TinyTee Ltd, belonging to the defendant, which we did not see declared as part of his assets in all the declaration forms, about six in all.

“In my testimony on 5th April 2016, I had said the defendant declared in his asset declaration form – Exhibit 1, in appendix 3, that he bought No: 15A and B, McDonald, Ikoyi, Lagos sometime in 2000 through his company called Calile Properties Ltd, whereas our findings revealed that No:15 was actually purchased by his company, TinyTee, not Calile, sometime in 2006.

“We also found that the second property: Block 15 Flat 1 -4 was sold to Bitti Oil Ltd. Investigation is yet to link the defendant with that company,” Wetkas said.

As Wetkas testified, Saraki, who wore a white agbada and a cap, sat quietly in the “accused box”.

At a point, Erokoro attempted to discredit the form submitted by Saraki in 2003, which he signed on September 16, 2003, by claiming that it must have been tampered with.

Erokoro hinged his suspicion on his belief that it was impossible for Saraki to have contemplated as at 2003 buying the Ikoyi property in 2006 and thereby include it in his 2003 asset declaration form.

Reacting to Erokoro’s position, Wetkas said only Saraki, who signed the document, admitting his claims on it, could explain the reason for what Erokoro thought to be impossible.

“The Exhibit 1 (the 2003 form) was signed and dated by Saraki on September 16, 2003. As far as I am concerned, Exhibit 1 was duly signed and dated by the defendant on September 16, 2003.

“I did not insert the properties in the form. Asset declaration form is not just any document. The person declaring his assets is expected to go before a high court judge to swear an oath. They swear to affidavit, so it is believed that all he swore to, and appended his signature to is the truth.  I do not need to see him in person or confront him to believe that his declaration in the form is true,” Wetkas said.

Earlier, the witness, who was handed an electric calculator by Erokoro to calculate the value of Saraki’s asset, as stated in the 2003 form, said an inquiry into some of his bank accounts and those of some members of his immediate family revealed that Saraki was worth more than N1.5billion as at 2003.

“By Appendix 7A of Exhibit 1, the defendant’s wife’s account in Ecobank, showed N1,500,000 as cash balance.

“At page 6 of Exhibit 1: Cash at bank in Nigeria added up to N1,100,000 in Société General Bank, in the name of Tosin and Seni Saraki (his children below 18 years as at 2003).

At 3.30 pm, lead defence lawyer Kanu Agabi (SAN) sought an adjournment, which the tribunal Chairman, Justice Danladi Umar, reluctantly agreed to.

Justice Umar reminded Agabi that parties had agreed at the commencement of proceedings, that the tribunal will only rise at 4pm.

The tribunal chairman, however, changed his mind when other defence lawyers, including Paul Usoro (SAN), supported Agabi’s request.

Only about three senators were identified at yesterday’s proceedings as against the practice in the past when up to 20 were always attending every sitting.

The regulars: Dino Melaye (who occasionally served food and drinks to other senators when they attend proceedings), Samuel Anyawu and Tayo Alasoadura were absent at yesterday’s proceedings.

Ajibola Oluyede, the lawyer, who suddenly appeared in the defence team at the previous proceedings to move a motion seeking Umar’s disqualification, was also absent yesterday.

Further hearing resumes today.

Upshot with additional report from Nation

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WAIVER CESSATION: Igbokwe urges NIMASA to evolve stronger collaboration with Ships owners

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…Stresses the need for timely disbursement of N44.6billion CVFF***

Highly revered Nigerian Maritime Lawyer, and Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Mike Igbokwe has urged the Nigeria Maritime Administration and safety Agency (NIMASA) to partner with ship owners and relevant association in the industry to evolving a more vibrant merchant shipping and cabotage trade regime.

Igbokwe gave the counsel during his paper presentation at the just concluded two-day stakeholders’ meeting on Cabotage waiver restrictions, organized by NIMASA.

“NIMASA and shipowners should develop merchant shipping including cabotage trade. A good start is to partner with the relevant associations in this field, such as the Nigeria Indigenous Shipowners Association (NISA), Shipowners Association of Nigeria (SOAN), Oil Trade Group & Maritime Trade Group of the Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (NACCIMA).

“A cursory look at their vision, mission and objectives, show that they are willing to improve the maritime sector, not just for their members but for stakeholders in the maritime economy and the country”.

Adding that it is of utmost importance for NIMASA to have a through briefing and regular consultation with ships owners, in other to have insight on the challenges facing the ship owners.

“It is of utmost importance for NIMASA to have a thorough briefing and regular consultations with shipowners, to receive insight on the challenges they face, and how the Agency can assist in solving them and encouraging them to invest and participate in the maritime sector, for its development. 

“NIMASA should see them as partners in progress because, if they do not invest in buying ships and registering them in Nigeria, there would be no Nigerian-owned ships in its Register and NIMASA would be unable to discharge its main objective.

The Maritime lawyer also urged NIMASA  to disburse the Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund (CVFF)that currently stands at about N44.6 billion.

“Lest it be forgotten, what is on the lips of almost every shipowner, is the need to disburse the Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund (the CVFF’), which was established by the Coastal and Inland Shipping Act, 2003. It was established to promote the development of indigenous ship acquisition capacity, by providing financial assistance to Nigerian citizens and shipping companies wholly owned by Nigerian operating in the domestic coastal shipping, to purchase and maintain vessels and build shipping capacity. 

“Research shows that this fund has grown to about N44.6billion; and that due to its non-disbursement, financial institutions have repossessed some vessels, resulting in a 43% reduction of the number of operational indigenous shipping companies in Nigeria, in the past few years. 

“Without beating around the bush, to promote indigenous maritime development, prompt action must be taken by NIMASA to commence the disbursement of this Fund to qualified shipowners pursuant to the extant Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund (“CVFF”) Regulations.

Mike Igbokwe (SAN)

“Indeed, as part of its statutory functions, NIMASA is to enforce and administer the provisions of the Cabotage Act 2003 and develop and implement policies and programmes which will facilitate the growth of local capacity in ownership, manning and construction of ships and other maritime infrastructure. Disbursing the CVFF is one of the ways NIMASA can fulfill this mandate.

“To assist in this task, there must be collaboration between NIMASA, financial institutions, the Minister of Transportation, as contained in the CVFF Regulations that are yet to be implemented”, the legal guru highlighted further. 

He urged the agency to create the right environment for its stakeholders to build on and engender the needed capacities to fill the gaps; and ensure that steps are being taken to solve the challenges being faced by stakeholders.

“Lastly, which is the main reason why we are all here, cessation of ministerial waivers on some cabotage requirements, which I believe is worth applause in favour of NIMASA. 

“This is because it appears that the readiness to obtain/grant waivers had made some of the vessels and their owners engaged in cabotage trade, to become complacent and indifferent in quickly ensuring that they updated their capacities, so as not to require the waivers. 

“The cessation of waivers is a way of forcing the relevant stakeholders of the maritime sector, to find workable solutions within, for maritime development and fill the gaps in the local capacities in 100% Nigerian crewing, ship ownership, and ship building, that had necessitated the existence of the waivers since about 15 years ago, when the Cabotage Act came into being. 

“However, NIMASA must ensure that the right environment is provided for its stakeholders to build and possess the needed capacities to fill the gaps; and ensure that steps are being taken to solve the challenges being faced by stakeholders. Or better still, that they are solved within the next 5 years of its intention to stop granting waivers”, he further explained. 

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Breaking News: The Funeral Rites of Matriarch C. Ogbeifun is Live

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The Burial Ceremony of Engr. Greg Ogbeifun’s mother is live. Watch on the website: www.maritimefirstnewspaper.com and on Youtube: Maritimefirst Newspaper.

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Wind Farm Vessel Collision Leaves 15 Injured

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…As Valles Steamship Orders 112,000 dwt Tanker from South Korea***

A wind farm supply vessel and a cargo ship collided in the Baltic Sea on Tuesday leaving 15 injured.

The Cyprus-flagged 80-meter general cargo ship Raba collided with Denmark-flagged 31-meter wind farm supply vessel World Bora near Rügen Island, about three nautical miles off the coast of Hamburg. 

Many of those injured were service engineers on the wind farm vessel, and 10 were seriously hurt. 

They were headed to Iberdrola’s 350MW Wikinger wind farm. Nine of the people on board the World Bora were employees of Siemens Gamesa, two were employees of Iberdrola and four were crew.

The cause of the incident is not yet known, and no pollution has been reported.

After the collision, the two ships were able to proceed to Rügen under their own power, and the injured were then taken to hospital. 

Lifeboat crews from the German Maritime Search and Rescue Service tended to them prior to their transport to hospital via ambulance and helicopter.

“Iberdrola wishes to thank the rescue services for their diligence and professionalism,” the company said in a statement.

In the meantime, the Hong Kong-based shipowner Valles Steamship has ordered a new 112,000 dwt crude oil tanker from South Korea’s Sumitomo Heavy Industries Marine & Engineering.

Sumitomo is to deliver the Aframax to Valles Steamship by the end of 2020, according to data provided by Asiasis.

The newbuild Aframax will join seven other Aframaxes in Valles Steamship’s fleet. Other ships operated by the company include Panamax bulkers and medium and long range product tankers.

The company’s most-recently delivered unit is the 114,426 dwt Aframax tanker Seagalaxy. The naming and delivery of the tanker took place in February 2019, at Namura Shipbuilding’s yard in Japan.

Maritime Executive with additional report from World Maritime News

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