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Court fixes Sept. 29 for judgment in Kalu’s Coy suit seeking to stop retrial

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2023: Orji Kalu urges INEC to conduct all elections same dayl

… As CLO decries multiple litigation trailing primary elections in Anambra***

Justice Inyang Ekwo of a Federal High Court, Abuja, on Monday fixed Sept. 29 for judgment in a suit filed by Slok Nigeria Limited against the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

Slok, which is owned by former Governor of Abia, Orji Uzor Kalu, is seeking the court order restraining the EFCC from retrying the firm and its chairman (Kalu) in the the alleged  N7.1 billion fraud case.

Justice Ekwo fixed the date after counsel to the parties adopted their processes.

The newsmen report that while the EFCC is the 1st respondent in the case filed by the company, Kalu and his former Director of Finance in Abia, Jones Udeogu, are the 2nd and 3rd respondents respectively.

When the came up, Counsel to the applicant (Slok), Chief Chris Uche, SAN, told the court that the matter was slated for the adoption of his process.

But the EFCC’s Lawyer, Rotimi Jacobs, SAN, informed that he had just filed a motion for extension of time to enable him filed the agency’s counter affidavit.

“I learnt it was an issue on the last adjourned date,” he said.

The court adopted the motion after counsel to other parties did not oppose it and the the senior lawyer moved the motion.

Also read: Alleged N3bn loan diversion: Court adjourns trial of ‘whistle blower’

Moving his motion, Uche said the motion on notice for order of prohibition dated June 25 was filed June 26.

The lawyer argued that the suit was anchored on Section 36(9) of the 1999 Constitution as amended which creates an exception to the creation of double jeopardy and says except an order of a superior court of law.

He said that the EFCC had been unable to produce any exhibit or make a reference to any order of any court of law directing that Slok Nigeria Ltd should be retried.

“Briefly, there is no dispute that there was a complete trial.

“All the features of a trial from arraignment, plea, evidence, legal submission, judgment resulting in either conviction or acquittal are there.

“All these features are complete. Before there must be a retrial, there must be an order of court,” Uche insisted.

According to him, it will be illegal for the 1st respondent (EFCC) to attempt to re-arraign or re-prosecute the applicant (Slok).

Counsel to Kalu (2nd respondent), Chuka Obidike, said a written address dated July 9 was filed July 12 in support of the applicant’s argument.

“We urge the court to uphold all the reliefs of the application of the applicant,” he said.

Also, Counsel to Udeogu (3rd respondent), George Ukaegbu, urged the court to grant all the reliefs in respect to the applicant’s motion on notice.

Opposing their prayers, the anti-graft agency’s lawyer, Jacobs, said counter affidavit was filed on July 12.

According to him, we have shown in the counter affidavit the circumstance and what led to this and the judgment of the Supreme Court.

Jacobs argued that the court would see “from the order of Hon. Justice Liman because the applicant did not show any nexus between this case and the sister case that was considered.”

He urged the court to dismiss the application and rule in their favour.

Justice Ekwo adjourned the matter until Sept. 29 for judgment.

Newsmen report that the anti-graft agency had, in 2007, preferred a 36-count charge against Udeogu and Kalu, who currently represents Abia North Senatorial District at the National Assembly.

While the former governor bagged 12 years imprisonment in December 2019, Udeogu was sentenced to 10 years in prison on December 5, 2019.

However, the Supreme Court on May 8, 2020, voided the trial after an appeal filed by Kalu’s co-defendant.

The Supreme Court nullified the trial on the grounds that Mohammed Idris, the trial judge, had no jurisdiction to hear the matter after he was elevated to the Court of Appeal.

Based on the apex court’s verdict, the EFCC, which prosecuted the case, filed a corruption retrial suit against Kalu and other defendants at a Federal High Court, Abuja, and asked the court to transfer the matter to the Lagos division of the court.

But Slok, in an exparte application, sought an Order prohibiting the Federal Government through the EFCC, her agents, her officers, servants, privies and any other person or bodies deriving authority from the Federal Republic of Nigeria from retrying the applicant on charge No. FHC/ABJ/CR/56/07 or any other charge based on the same facts.”

The company, which alleged that they were being embarrassed and harassed by the anti-corruption commission, urged the court to stop the EFCC from further retrial.

In the applicant’s processes, it also claimed that the apex court had voided the matter and “did not order its retrial.”

Newsmen also report that Justice Ekwo had, on July 2, fixed Sept. 20 for judgment in another suit wherein the ex-governor is seeking the court order prohibiting his retrial

In another development, the Civil Liberties Organisation (CLO) has decried the multiple litigation trailing the primary elections conducted by political parties in Anambra.

The Chairman of CLO, Anambra, Mr Vincent Ezekwueme, told the newsmenin Enugu on Tuesday that the development was unhealthy for the grow of democracy in the state.

Ezekwueme said that the latest development was a threat to democratic spirit and principle.

He attributed the litigation to the acrimonious primary elections conducted by the political parties.

According to him, CLO is pleading with the aggrieved aspirants to stop the litigation for the sake of sustaining the nation’s hard won democracy.

“It is pertinent for political parties to call their overzealous members to order and pacify those they have been wronged in the cause of conducting the primary elections,” he said.

The CLO boss noted that it was worthy of note that without internal democracy, it will be very difficult, if not impossible to guarantee external democracy during general elections.

“Anyone who manipulated the primary election will do everything to manipulate the main election.

“This will be contrary to democratic norms and one-man, one-vote principle which is the beauty of democracy,” he said.

Ezekwueme extolled some political parties that conducted credible, rancor-free primary elections in the state.

“It is a welcomed development and a step in the right direction that will contribute immensely to actualising democracy of our dreams and aspirations,” he said.

He urged the parties to think about the next generation, how to mobilise residents to obtain their voter`s cards and take active part in the Anambra governorship election scheduled for Nov. 6.

 

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Bello vs EFCC: Confusion As 2 High Courts Issue Contrasting Orders

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Bello vs EFCC: Confusion As 2 High Courts Issue Contrasting Orders

A Federal High Court, Abuja, on Wednesday, ordered that a warrant be issued to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for the immediate arrest of the former Governor of Kogi, Alhaji Yahaya Bello.

Justice Emeka Nwite, in a ruling on EFCC’s ex-parte motion, held that after listening to the submission of the commission’s counsel, Rotimi Oyedepo, SAN, and reading the affidavit in support of the motion, including the exhibits and written address, he was inclined to grant the application.

It was earlier reported that a High Court sitting in Lokoja on Wednesday restrained the EFCC from arresting, detaining and prosecuting Bello

Justice I. A. Jamil, who gave the order in a two-hour judgment delivered in suit no HCL/68/M/2020, held that infringing on Bello’s fundamental human rights “is null and void”.

The judge, who dismissed the commission’s application challenging the jurisdiction of the court, said: “By this order, the EFCC is hereby restrained from arresting, detaining and prosecuting the applicant.

“This is a definite order following the earlier interim injunction given.”

However, in a ruling delivered by Justice Nwite on Wednesday, the judge ordered that a warrant be issued to the commission for Bello’s immediate arrest.

He also directed that the former governor be produced before the court on April 18 for arraignment.

“It is hereby ordered as follows:

“That an order of this honourable court is hereby made directing and/or issuing a warrant for the immediate arrest of the defendant to bring him before this honourable court for arraignment.

“That case is adjourned to the 18th day of April 2024 for arraignment,” he declared.

The EFCC, in the motion ex-parte marked: FHC/ABJ/CR/98/2024 dated April 16 and filed April 17, sought six orders.

These include “an order granting leave to the complainant/applicant to effect service of the charge together with the proof of evidence on the defendant by substituted means to wit; by pasting the charge at the last known address of the defendant within the jurisdiction of this honourable court being: 9, Benghazi Street, Wuse Zone 4, Abuja.

“An order directing and/or issuing an arrest warrant for the immediate arrest of the defendant to bring him before this honourable court for arraignment.”

In the alternative, the anti-graft agency sought an order issuing and directing the publishing of a public summons requiring/ commanding the defendant to appear before the court on a named date, among others.

Reports came in that the conflicting orders came after the EFCC had appealed against the initial order, and the appeal was scheduled for hearing on April 22 in Appeal No: CA/ABJ/CV/175/2024 between EFCC and Alhaji Yahaya Bello.

The Yahaya Bello Media Office had, in a statement signed by Onogwu Mohammed, alerted the nation to a siege on the former Governor’s Abuja residence.

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Ndifon: Suspended UNICAL Prof Asks Court To Quash Charge Against Him

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Ndifon: Suspended UNICAL Prof Asks Court To Quash Charge Against Him

Prof. Cyril Ndifon, the suspended Dean of Faculty of Law, University of Calabar (UNICAL), has prayed the Federal High Court, Abuja to quash the sexual harassment charge against him.

Ndifon, who told Justice James Omotosho in a further affidavit filed by his lawyer, Joe Agi, SAN, insisted that Osuobeni Akponimisingha, the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC)’s counsel handling the case, was not qualified to practise as a lawyer.

He restated that Akponimisingha’s name is allegedly not on the roll of Legal Practitioners in Nigeria pursuant to Section 2 of the Legal Practitioners Act.

The affidavit further deposed to by Ndifon’s co-defendant, Sunny Anyanwu, was in response to the ICPC lawyer’s counter affidavit filed against their motion on notice.

The suspended dean, in the earlier motion dated and filed March 15, had told the court that the amended charge was incompetent as a result of the disputed identity of the anti-graft agency’s lawyer.

He said the development had robbed the court of its jurisdiction to entertain the matter.

He, therefore, prayed the court to quash the four-count charge against him and his co-defendant, Mr Sunny Anyanwu.

Akponimisingha, in his counter affidavit dated March 20, accused the suspended dean and his legal team of being jealous of his academic qualifications.

The lawyer, who attached his Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) Practising Licence document dated 2016 with the counter affidavit, said he graduated from law school.

He said contrary to the defence argument, the appellation “Dr” added to his name was as a result of an additional academic qualification acquired by him after he had been called to the Bar as a legal practitioner.

He equally alleged that the names of the lead counsel to the defendants, Joe Agi, SAN and other senior advocates appearing with him in the criminal case, were not on roll of Legal Practitioners in Nigeria with the appendage of “SAN.”

He argued that the fact that the appellation “Dr” was added to his name did not make the amended charge liable to be struck out.

Akponimisingha said he was duly called to the Nigerian Bar and had been licensed to practise law in the country.

“That I know as a fact that justices presiding over cases in courts in Nigeria were called to the Bar only with their given names without the appellation ‘Hon. Justice.’

“Therefore, the appellation ‘Hon. Justice’ added to their names by reason of their appointment as judges does not render their judgments invalid because their names do not appear on the roll call of Legal Practitioners as ‘Hon. Justices.’

“The name Joe Odey Agi, SAN is not on the roll of Legal Practitioners in Nigeria. What exists on the roll is Agi Joseph Odey, year of call, 1985,” he said

Akponimisingha told the court that the present application by the defence was a delay tactic deployed to stall the smooth trial of the charge.

He urged the court to discount their plea.

But Ndifon, in a further affidavit deposed to by Anyanwu, a co-defendant, stated that contrary to Akponimisingha’s argument, the defence was not challenging the appellation “Dr” added to his name.

Rather, he said their contention was that the name “Osuobeni Ekoi Akponimisingha is not on the roll of Legal Practitioners in Nigeria and that a search conducted on the roll of Legal Practitioners in Nigeria revealed that one Ekoi A. Osuobeni was called to the Bar in Nigeria in the year 2012.

“A copy of the computer print-out of the name of the said Ekoi A. Osuobeni from the Nigerian Bar Association Portal showing the names of Legal Practitioners on the roll in Nigeria as well as
the certificate of compliance is attached as Exhibits B and C.”

The suspended dean contended that there was a word difference between “Osuobeni Ekoi Akponimisingha” and “Ekoi A. Osuobeni.”

According to him, both names are not the same person for a professional register sanctioned by law pursuant to the Legal Practitioners Act.

He urged the court to strike out the suit in the interest of justice.

When the matter was called on Monday, the ICPC lawyer told Justice Omotosho that the defendant brought a letter stating that the learned silk in the matter was having another matter at the Supreme Court.

Fisong Fidelis, who appeared for the defence, confirmed filing the letter before the court.

Justice Omotosho, who expressed his displeasure about the way the matter had degenerated, said parties had left the main issue “and are now attacking their academic qualifications.”

“I owe a duty to this court to protect the integrity of the legal profession. I don’t like the way this matter is going,” the judge held.

The judge, therefore, directed the lawyers of the parties, including representatives of the Federation of International Women Lawyers and NBA, to meet with him in his chambers on Wednesday so they could take a position on the development.

Justice Omotosho consequently fixed April 19 to rule on Ndifon’s motion seeking an order allowing the defendants to have an independent forensic examiner to look at some of the exhibits tendered by the ICPC.

Ndifon was, on Jan. 25, re-arraigned alongside Anyanwu on an amended four-count charge bordering on alleged sexual harassment and attempt to perverse the cause of justice.

Anyanwu, who is one of the lawyers in the defence, was joined in the amended charge filed on Jan. 22 by the ICPC on the allegation that he called TKJ, the star witness, on her mobile telephone during the pendency of the charge against Ndifon to threatened her.

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Bobrisky Jailed 6 Months Without Fine Option For Naira Spraying

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 Naira Abuse: Court sentences Bobrisky to 6 Months in Custody

…Okuneye sprayed about N400,000 in various tranches of N20,000 and N50,000

A Federal High Court in Lagos State, on Friday, sentenced convicted crossdresser, Idris Okuneye (alias Bobrisky), to six months in prison for abuse of the Naira.

The court did not give the cross-dresser the option of fine.

Bobrisky was prosecuted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

The court convicted him on April 5, following his guilty plea, but reserved sentence until April 9.

The court had ordered Okuneye to be kept in the custody of the EFCC pending sentencing.

However, due to the Federal Government’s declaration of April 9, April  10 and April 11 public holidays, the case could not proceed as scheduled.

On Friday, Justice Abimbola Awogboro sentenced the convict without an option of fine.

The judge held that imprisonment would take effect from the date of the cross-dresser’s arrest.

Okuneye was taken away by EFCC operatives immediately after his sentencing.

The EFCC had, on April 4, filed a six-count charge against Okuneye.

The charge bordered on Naira mutilation and money laundering.

He was consequently arraigned on April 5 and he pleaded guilty to the first four counts.

The court struck out the last two counts following an application by the EFCC.

On April 5, Mr Bolaji Temitope, a prosecution witness and  Assistant Superintendant of  EFCC,  gave evidence before the court and narrated the circumstances surrounding the prosecution of Okuneye.

After review of the facts of the case, EFCC counsel, Mr Suleiman Suleiman, prayed the court to convict the cross-dresser.

According to EFCC, Okuneye committed the offences on March 24, at Circle Mall, Jakande, Lekki, Lagos State.

The commission stated that Okuneye tampered with the cumulative sum of N400,000 while dancing during a social event, by spraying same.

Okuneye also sprayed various tranches of money such as N20,000 and N50,000 at various events in 2022 and 2023, according to EFCC.

The offences contravene  Section 21(1) Central Bank Act of 2007 and Section 19 of the Money Laundering Act of 2022

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