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EFCC Opposes Okorochas’ Plea asking Court to Free him Over Alleged fraud

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EFCC Opposes Okorochas’ Plea asking Court to Free him Over Alleged fraud

The EFCC has opposed a motion filed by Sen. Rochas Okorocha, praying for an order quashing the money laundering charge preferred against him.

The EFCC, in a counter affidavit deposed to by Iyabo Daramola, the agency’s senior legal officer, and filed before Justice Inyang Ekwo of a Federal High Court (FHC) Abuja, prayed the court to dismiss Okorocha’s application.

The agency, in its application dated and filed on Nov. 18, said it had seen and read through Okorocha’s motion dated Oct. 28, that “the depositions therein are grossly misleading and untrue particularly paragraphs 3 and 4.”

Okorocha, in a motion on notice, marked: FHC/ABJ/CR/28/22 dated and filed on Oct. 28, had prayed for an order quashing the charge and/or all counts of the charge preferred against him as a result of the investigation by the EFCC into his activities while in office as governor of Imo between 2011 and 2019.

Okorocha, who currently represents Imo West Senatorial District, described the suit as being “unlawful, baseless, oppressive and a gross abuse of the process of the court.”

He said that the investigation “on which the said charge was predicated, was the subject matter of suit number: FCH/PH/FHR/165/2021 wherein this Hon. Court, Coram Pam, J. had, in final judgment at the suit of the applicant. declared unlawful and made an order prohibiting the EFCC from further proceeding.”

But the EFCC alleged that sometime in 2019, it received various intelligence reports from members of the public; adding that the ex-governor allegedly connived with the then acting accountant general of Imo, the pay officer, the cashier and others, to illegally withdraw the sum of N1 billion and N8 million from the coffers of the state government for the purpose of funding the governorship and state house of assembly’s election in Imo.

It also alleged that the sum of N30 billion was embezzled and stolen from the treasury of the Imo government by Okorocha under the guise of project execution and laundered through companies.

“Based on the intelligence mentioned in paragraph 5 above, officials of the respondent (EFCC) commenced investigation which include making inquiries from the Zenith Bank on the state’s Federal Account Allocation Committee (“FAAC”) and Joint State Local Government Account (JAAC),” it said.

The anti-corruption agency said it interviewed the signatories to the accounts; interviewed some of the contractors for the state; inquiries from the banks with loan transactions with the state; made inquiries from the Code of Conduct Bureau; interviewed former and present government officials.

It said the preliminary findings showed that between 2014 and 2018, the aggregate sum of N1 billion and over N8 million was transferred from the local government account of the state.

It said this was done under the guise of mobilisation for building of 28 hospitals across every local government in the state through different companies, including Bureau De Change to a company that provided lease of Learjet 45XR Aircraft for the personal use of the former governor.

The commission alleged that between January and April 2019, over N6 billion was transferred to different companies from the Imo State Joint State Local Government Project Account domiciled in Zenith Bank based on Okorocha’s directives without contract documentation or evidence of contract execution.

It also alleged that over N50 billion was moved from the treasury of Imo government under the guise of execution of projects through proxy companies and nominees during his administration, among others.

He said Okorocha, upon realising that EFCC had begun investigation, rushed to file suit number: FHC/ABJ/CS/475/19 at FHC, Abuja, and surreptitiously secured an order ex-parte with a view to stopping the investigation.

The agency said it challenged the suit and also filed a motion alleging bias against the Hon. Justice Taiwo Taiwo granted the said ex-parte order. 

“In response, his Lordship, Honourable Justice Taiwo on 17’th December 2019, recused himself from the case and sent the case file back to the Hon. Chief Judge of the FHC for re-assignment.

“The case was reassigned to another court of the Federal High Court, Abuja to start de-novo and no ex-parte order has been made by the new court,” it said.

It averred that while the suit marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/475/2019 was still pending, the lawmaker filed another suit number: FHC/ABJ/CS/508/20 at the Abuja FHC with the relief to stop the agency and Imo government from investigating him, but the court had not made any order to stop the investigation.

The anti-graft agency said in the absence of any restraining order, it sent an invitation letter to Okorocha but failed to honour it

It said, having refused to honour its invitation, the EFCC applied and obtained an order for the senator’s arrest.

It said on April 13, 2021, Okorocha was later arrested after its operatives eventually got access to his Abuja house where he locked himself up to resist arrest.

It said Okorocha, on April 15, 2021, was granted administrative bail.

The EFCC said it did not violate any known law by carrying out investigation into the activities of Okorocha as the former governor of Imo.

It also said that the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, SAN, was well aware of the investigation and ongoing prosecution against him and other defendants in the case.

Besides, it said that Malami specifically directed the agency to ensure that the case is prosecuted to a logical conclusion.

It argued that the judgment by Justice Pam on Dec. 6, 2021, in the Okorocha’s fundamental rights suit at Port Harcourt division of FHC was delivered without considering the EFCC’s processes duly filed.

It said that the order granted by Justice Pam “is a gagging order designed to frustrate, prevent and discourage the respondent (EFCC) from discharging its statutory functions of investigation and prosecution of economic and financial crimes.”

It added that the order was not directed at proceedings before Justice Ekwo.

The commission said it, however, filed a motion to set aside the Dec. 6, 2021 judgment and it was refused, necessitating the filing of a notice of appeal.

The EFCC stressed that the charge filed against the defendants, including Okorocha, has three voluminous and comprehensive proof of evidence which showed the nexus of the defendants with the charges filed and the list of documentary evidence to be relied upon by the prosecution during the trial.

It said it would be in the interest of justice to refuse Okorocha’s motion.

Upon resumed hearing in the matter on Monday, EFCC’s counsel, Farouk Abdullah, told the court that Ola Olanipekun, SAN, who appeared for Okorocha, had just served on him a further affidavit which he would want to respond to.

Justice Ekwo, who directed all parties to regularise their processes before the next adjourned date, fixed Nov. 25 for hearing of the preliminary objection.

 Okorocha, who is the 1st defendant, was arraigned alongside Anyim Nyerere Chinenye, Naphtali International Limited, Perfect Finish Multi Projects Limited, Consolid Projects Consulting Limited, Pramif International Limited, and Legend World Concepts Limited as 2nd to 7th defendants respectively.

 Justice Ekwo, on May 31, had admitted Okorocha to bail in the sum of N500 million with one surety in like sum.

The judge also granted Okorocha’s co-defendant, Chinenye, bail in the terms of the administrative bail earlier granted to him by the EFCC.

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Police Arrest 30 Suspected Railway Vandals

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Motor Park Attacks: Osun Police Recover 5 guns, Arrest 10 Suspects

The Railway Police Command on Monday said that 30 suspected railway vandals were arrested between September and October 2022.

This is contained in a statement issued by CP Yetunde Longe, the Commissioner of Police for the Command.

President Muhammadu Buhari had given directives to all service chiefs and Nigeria Police Force to safeguard the railway infrastructure across the federation.

“Following the directives from the President, the Inspector General of Police, Usman Baba Alkali, directed the Railway Police Command to engage the Direct Action Response Tactics (DART), to effectively protect the railway corridors from vandals.

“The command recorded big success on Sept.8, acting upon credible information, as men of the Railway Police Command swooped on some criminal elements that had been involved in recurrent vandalism and theft of railway iron sleepers at the section KM 1086 Sheme Town in Faskari LGA of Kastina State; leading to the arrest of 14 suspects.

“It was gathered that the suspects after their exchange of fire with the policemen abandoned a trailer truck with Reg. No. Nasarawa LFA 307XB and a Sharon car.

“However, further relentless combing of the crime scene led to the arrest of the suspects on Sept. 10,” she said.

The CP identified the suspects as Muhammed Lawan, 35; Umar Garba, 28; Sahana iliyasu, 22; Bashiru Abdulrahaman, 20; Dauda Musa, 27; Ahmad Sani  21; Muhammed Haruna 20.

Others are Gaddafi Bala, 21; Ali Umar, 25; Wudeama Tahiru, 23; John Jaccob, 22; Ezekiel Gumeret, 26; and Sulaimon Musa, 20.

“Similarly, on Sept. 26, 2022, the Rigasa Railway Divisional Police Headquarters arrested five suspects in connection with the vandalism of some window frames at Gidan Buse substation,” she said.

Longe identified the suspects as Sadi Mohammed, 26; Nasiru Yakubu, 35; Yau Ibrahim 26; while two others: Buhari Samlia, 25;  and Aliyu Abdulahi, 24 were also arrested for the same crime on Oct.17, 2022.

The police commissioner said that the police officers at the Funtua Railway Police Division, Katsina State.

The commissioner added that her men also raided the hideout of some  notorious railway vandals and arrested four suspected vandals  who were in possession of 100  railway iron sleepers and 60 cut-to-size triangular iron pieces belonging to the Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC)

The CP said that on Nov. 4 and 14, “Men of the Kafanchan Railway Police Division and the men of the Nigerian Army School of Artillery intercepted two trucks with Registration numbers: MJB-367XA & DAL-754ZX.

“The trucks were loaded with 45 and 37-long rail irons respectively. Three suspects each: Adamu Lawal,32; Tajudeen Yusuf,27; Sulieman Lawal,19; Abdulkadir Idris  45; Garba Sule,37; and Bilyaminu Ahmadu,37; were arrested in connection with the crime,” she said.

The CP said that the Bauchi Divisional Headquarters upon a credible tip-off also intercepted a J5 bus with registration number XC318BAU.

“The suspects in the bus upon sighting the policemen fled, abandoning the bus loaded with 50 pieces of Railway sleepers concealed with firewood.

“The bus and exhibits have been taken into police custody, while investigations to apprehend the suspects continue.

“Recently, Port Harcourt Railway Police Division also made an arrest of one suspect at the Port Harcourt Railway station.

“The suspect, James Wisdom, 25; was caught stealing some seats of first-class train coaches parked at the railway station,” Longe said.

The commissioner of police said that investigations would be swiftly concluded and the culprits would be duly charged to court.

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NDLEA Arrests Cripple, Seizes 5.8 tons of Skunk, Cannabis in 5 States

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NDLEA Arrests Cripple, Seizes 5.8 tons of Skunk, Cannabis in 5 States

 The National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) has arrested a cripple, Ibrahim Yusuf, 45, amongst other drugs dealers, in an onslaught which resulted in the seizure of 5.8 tonnes of cannabis from dealers across five states

The agency’s spokesman, Mr. Femi Babafemi, said on Sunday in Abuja, noting that the cripple was in possession of 4kg of the psychotropic substance, at the time of his arrest.

He said that the cripple drug dealer was arrested on Nov. 21 at Gasline, Ifo in Ogun State.

The spokesman also said that a total of 36 bags weighing 570kg of the same substance were recovered in a raid at a forest in Ogunmakin, Obafemi Owode Local Government Area of the state.

According to him, the NDLEA operatives on Nov. 22, evacuated 141 bags of Cannabis Sativa with a gross weight of 1,884 kg stored in a warehouse in Okpe forest, Akoko Edo LGA in Edo.

“On Thursday, Nov. 24, NDLEA officers arrested Ismaila Abubakar, 50, at Okada junction, Ovia South West LGA with 22 bags of cannabis sativa weighing 216.5kg.

*The crippled drug dealer arrested by the NDLEA operatives

“A day after, operatives also seized 112 bags of cannabis sativa stored in Obi Camp forest, Ovia South West LGA weighing 1, 512kg.

“This was also followed by another seizure of 45 bags that weighed 529.5kg, while officers equally intercepted a Toyota Sienna bus with Reg. No. BDG 598 FZ (Lagos) loaded with 566.5kg cannabis.

“The bus was going to Onitsha, Anambra, and a suspect, Sunday Mathias, 30, was arrested with the seizure,” he said.

Babafemi said that NDLEA operatives also stormed Oke-Ogun forest on Nov. 25, where one Onyebuchi Chime was arrested with 88kg of cannabis, a gun and some ammunition in Ondo State.

He added that the NDLEA operatives also recovered 149.5kg of the substance at Ipele forest.

“Not less than 12.42 hectares of cannabis farms were destroyed and 195kg processed weeds of the substance recovered at Efon Alaye, Ekiti State.

“Two drug dealers: Richard Ebong and Nze Abraham were arrested on Saturday Nov. 26 during the raid,” he said.

The NDLEA spokesman said that 27-year-old Mrs. Rahmat Adebayo was arrested on Nov. 24 at Sabo-Ilupeju, Atiba LGA of Oyo State with 136.3kg cannabis.

Babafemi said that no fewer than 84,000 pills of Tramadol tablets were recovered from a suspect, Muhsin Abdullahi in Bodinga area of Sokoto state on Thursday.

He added that 16,000 pills of Exol-5 and D5 concealed in palm oil were seized from one Lawal Rabe, 24, on Friday at Kokami village, Danja LGA, Katsina State.

Also, 54,500 tablets of Tramadol and Exol-5 were seized from the duo of Basiru Muhammadu and Saidu Yusuf in the same area on Saturday.

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Gunmen Kill Ondo Security Guards, Cut-off head, hand; Bauchi Police arrest 12-year-old, over kidnap of toddler 

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Gunmen Kill 2 Security Guards, Cut off head, hand in Ondo State

Gunmen have killed two security guards in different locations at Ikare-Akoko, Akoko Northeast Local Government Area of Ondo State, making the State’s security layer, popularly called Amotekun look flat-footed.

It was gathered that the gunmen raided the government-owned Mimiko Market and NASFAT Schools in the Ikare-Akoko metropolis, killed the guards and dismembered their bodies, leaving their remains in a pool of blood.

According to a source, the gunmen attacked the two places in the middle of the night on Friday while the deceased were found in a pool of blood on Saturday.

“The gunmen killed one of the guards and cut off his head and placed the head beside his body while the other man’s hand was cut and placed beside him too.

The source, who said that the killers did not take anything from the deceased before they left the scene, added that the way and manner the suspected bandits carried out the attack raised the suspicion of ritual killing.

Confirming the incident, the state Police Public Relations Officer, (PPRO) SP Olufunmilayo Odunlami, said that the police had deposited the remains of the deceased in mortuary of state specialist hospital, Ikare-Akoko.

“We have commenced investigation into the incident, and the criminals will soon be arrested,” the PPRO said.

In another development, the Bauchi State Police Commissioner, Mr. Aminu Alhassan has confirmed the arrest of a 12-year-old boy for allegedly kidnapping a three-year-old.

This is contained in a statement issued on Saturday in Bauchi by police spokesman in the state, SP Ahmad Wakil.

He stated that the 12-year-old kidnapped the baby in Magama Gumau community in Toro Local Government Area of the state.

According to him, the suspect lured the victim into an isolated area and placed a telephone call to her father demanding N150,000 as ransom for the captive’s release.

“A discreet investigation revealed that the suspect lured the victim to an isolated place near a football field at Kara Area of Magama Gumau and called the victim’s father on phone and made the demand.

“On hearing the demand, the victim’s father hung up and refused to take subsequent calls.

“After a while, the victim’s father called the suspect and identified him through his familiar voice.

“He called his name, but the suspect kept mute, hung up, swiftly took the girl to her parent’s house where he told the family that he sighted her crying near a football field,’’ SP Wakil stated.

He added that the victim’s family immediately reported the suspect to the police for necessary action.

Wakil stated also that during interrogation, the suspect confessed to the crime and said he would have used the ransom money to buy clothes and phones.

“Investigation also showed that the suspect got to know about kidnapping for ransom when some time ago, his friend was kidnapped in Kano State.

“Those who kidnapped his friend were paid ransom before he was released and that was how the suspect learned that money must be paid to set a kidnap victim free,’’ he stated.

Wakil added that the police commissioner in the state, Mr Aminu Alhassan, admonished parents and guardians to maintain strict vigilance over their wards and children.

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