Monday, 28 January 2019

Nigerian Govt educates EU, UK, US over Onnoghen

Sunday, January 27, 2019 11:19 pm

Samuel-Walter-Onnoghen, Chief Justice of Nigeria

The Nigerian government has clarified some misconceptions by the US, UK and the EU over Friday’s suspension of the Chief Justice, Walter Onnoghen, one of which is that he has not been sacked, but suspended.

Another point is that he is not the man that will conduct the February and March elections. He is only a final arbiter, in case there were disputes in the election.

The Federal Government made the clarifications Sunday night. It was the second statement by the government over the concerns expressed by the Western nations, the latest, in a joint statement.

Government’s clarification, stating the genesis of the case, was given in a statement by Garba Shehu, the senior special assistant on the media to President Muhammadu Buhari.

“CJN Onnoghen’s situation is one of his own making and, to a large degree, his own choosing”, Shehu said.

Read the full statement here:

Presidency notes with interest the coordinated statements of the US, UK and EU linking the suspension of CJN Onnoghen to the conduct of the upcoming elections. We appreciate the concerns voiced by the three statements and accept that the authors of the statements believe they were acting in friendship toward Nigeria with regard to making the statements.

However, we also note that friends, when not properly informed or acting in haste, can indeed make serious mistakes even with the best of intentions. Such is the case here.

The statements by the three seem more driven by unfounded assumptions and to be honest, a certain condescension to this African democracy. This is unfortunate. But this gives us an opportunity to clarify some points in the hope that these three friends reach a deeper understanding of the situation.

The statements by the US, UK and EU speak of their respect for constitutional practice and fair elections. However, the positions they take tend to contravene rather than strengthen these laudable objectives.

CJN Onnoghen’s situation is one of his own making and, to a large degree, his own choosing.

The CJN was brought before the CCT because of a serious breach of law regarding his assets declaration. This is not a mere technicality like innocently placing a document in a wrong file or mistakenly placing yesterday’s date on a document.

All credible evidence indicates the CJN owned and operated several secret bank accounts. Unexplained large sums of money, exceeding several million dollars have passed through these accounts. Several thousand dollars are currently parked in the accounts. Multiple deposits of equal sums of money were deposited in some of those accounts during the same day. Such rapid and equal deposits are indicative of a person attempting to evade banking reporting laws and regulations.

Thus far, CJN Onnoghen has given no plausible explanation for the funds or for failing to report the subject accounts in his assets declaration despite having ample time and opportunity to explain the omission. Given the amount of money involved and the CJN’s inability to explain the source of the funds, the most plausible explanation at this point is also the most unfortunate explanation. No one did this to CJN Onnoghen. He and he alone is to blame for this turn of events.

Given the amount of money involved and the CJN’s inability to explain the source of the funds, the most plausible explanation at this point is also the most unfortunate explanation. No one did this to CJN Onnoghen. He and he alone is to blame for this turn of events.

Over the years and with great frequency, the authors of the three statements have advised and even chided Nigeria about official corruption. Now we are presented with the sad and unwanted situation where the CJN is discovered to have a vast, unexplained amount of money in his pocket.

Because of this he has been thoroughly discredited. It is untenable that a person in such compromised circumstances would be allowed to preside over the entire judicial system of a great nation. That would travesty the nation and what it stands for.

Had the situation been reversed and the US, UK or any EU member government found that its chief judicial official is the recipient of large sums of money of questionable origin and Nigeria suggested that you retain the person in that position, you would question Nigeria’s bona fides. You also would swiftly move to suspend the official pending final determination of the causes against him.

Not one of your nations would allow a person enmeshed in legal uncertainty to preside over your legal systems until the cloud has been cleared from him. That would incentivize corruption and assault the rule of law.

Thus, the CJN should have and could have helped the process in this regard by recusing himself from the bench until this matter is settled.

Instead, he indefinitely postponed an NJC meeting for no plausible reason except to avoid any consideration of this matter by the NJC.

Again, this calls into question his motives while undermining the normal operations of the judiciary. The CJN cannot be allowed to use his office to shield himself from the normal operation of the law as applied to any other jurist or any other Nigerian for that matter. Such a ruse is effectively an abuse of office. His position is one of utmost public trust; it is not a shield to protect him from the fair consequence of his own actions.

Despite these errors and omissions by the CJN, let us make this very clear, he has not been removed from office. Nor has he been permanently replaced. Those who claim that he has been permanently removed, do so out of imprecision of thought or mischief.

CJN Onnoghen has been suspended pending the final determination of the substantive issues in his matter. The suspension is only temporary. This is only as it should be. He cannot sit as both defendant and umpire in his own matter. No legal system allows for such self-interested adjudication; the US, UK and EU should not now ask us to embrace such an anomaly.

While the three friends seem to give much credence to those who question the constitutionality of the suspension, they seem to give less to those who believe what we did is constitutional and protective of the integrity of the judiciary. Only the three can answer why they have assumed this bias.

Last, the three make a curious direct linkage between the CJN suspension and the elections. However, in Nigerian law there is no such linkage. The CJN does not run the election. Nor is he the first arbiter of any electoral complaints. He and the Supreme Court will only get involved as the final arbiter at the end of the appellate process.

For the authors to link the CJN to the elections in this way is illogical unless they assume that election complaints will be filed and will go all the way to the Supreme Court. Here perhaps they know something about the intentions of certain political actors to which we are not privy.

Yet, even with that, the US , UK and EU should want any such matters to be heard by a Supreme Court led by a CJN without an obvious and outstanding ethical and legal blemish on his ledger. To have such a person preside over any case, would call into question the impartiality of any decision rendered and undermine the rule of law.

This cannot be what these three friends of Nigeria intended. Thus, they should do a bit more research on this matter and refrain from being too hastily attracted by the arguments of those who have partisan agenda at odds with the government’s positions on most matters and who thus hope to use this issue as a new arrow in their quiver of partisan contestations.

Thursday, 24 January 2019



The trial of a former Minister of Aviation Chief Femi Fani-Kayode and his finance (state) counterpart Mrs Nenadi Usman was stalled at the Federal High Court in Lagos on Thursday.

Mrs. Usman’s lawyers, Chief Ferdinand Orbih and Abiodun Owonikoko, both SANs, were absent.

The case therefore could not go on despite the presence of Fani-Kayode’s lawyer Mr Norrison Quakers (SAN).

Little progress has been made in the case since Usman filed an application last June seeking to summon Minister of Information Alhaji Lai Mohammed for publishing her name as an alleged looter.

She initiated contempt proceedings against Mohammed after he released her name as one of the looters of the treasury.

Dismissing the application, Justice Rilwan Aikawa held that the contempt proceedings were a distraction capable of interfering with the trial.

The judge held that the publication of Usman’s name as an alleged looter was not prejudicial to her case.

He therefore dismissed the application for lacking in merit.

The EFCC arraigned Mrs Usman and Fani-Kayode for alleged N4.6billion fraud, to which they pleaded not guilty.

The former ministers were charged along with former Chairman of the Association of Local Government of Nigeria (ALGON) and ex-Chairman of Kagarko Local Government Area of Kaduna State Mr. Yusuf Danjuma and a company, Jointrust Dimensions Nigeria Limited.

The four were also accused of violating the Money Laundering Act by indirectly retaining N300million, N400million and N800million, all proceeds of corruption, according to EFCC.

The prosecution said they allegedly committed the offence between January 8 and March 25, 2015 ahead of the general election.

The case was also stalled last June 5 when reportedly Danjuma slumped while having a bath and was hospitalised.

Trial was billed to resume that day, but Danjuma, a former Chairman of Kagarko Local Government Area of Kaduna State, was absent.

His lawyer K.C Nwofo told the court that he received a call from Danjuma’s wife that the third defendant collapsed in the bathroom.

Due to the absence of Usman’s lawyers on Thursday, Justice Aikawa adjourned until February 4 and 5 for trial.

Source: The Nation

Tuesday, 22 January 2019


Efe Sodje. Photo/Wikipedia

Super Eagles former defender, Efe Sodje and two of his brothers have been jailed for siphoning tens of thousands of pounds from a charity set up to help poor African children, reports telegraph.co.uk.

Efe, 46, fellow footballer Stephen Sodje, 43, and ex-rugby player, Bright Sodje, 52, were condemned by a judge for bringing “shame on their family” as they were convicted of milking their own fundraising campaign, the Sodje Sports Foundation (SSF).

The brothers’ convictions in 2017 can only now be reported at the conclusion of a separate money laundering case involving the former Nigeria and Reading defender Sam Sodje, 39, who was cleared.

Efe – a journeyman defender with Crewe, Huddersfield and Bury – and his two brothers set up the charity in 2009 to help provide sporting facilities to youngsters in Nigeria, but the brothers are believed to have milked much of the cash raised at black tie dinners, auctions, charity football matches and a clay pigeon shoot.

Ashley Carson, a businessman and director of Sheffield Wednesday Football Club, and one of the city’s MPs, Clive Betts, were recruited to give the charity respectability, but when they asked for bank statements and financial reports, they were fobbed off.

Once the pair resigned as trustees and directors in 2013, “the amount of money being transferred to the Sodje family increased dramatically”, prosecutor Julian Christopher QC told the Old Bailey.

The SSF held a charity football match at Sheffield Wednesday’s grounds in 2009, and arranged a fundraising dinner at Charlton Football Club in September 2010.

In 2011, there was a gala dinner at the Lowry Hotel in Manchester for the SSF and the Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital – a charity supported by England women’s football coach Phil Neville.

Efe handed out Easter eggs – provided by the hospital – to child cancer patients, while five Sodje brothers attended a £150-a-head black tie dinner. The event raised almost £11,500, but Mr Christopher said: “Not a penny went to the Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital.”

Judge Michael Topolski QC told the defendants: “You have brought shame upon yourselves and your family.”

Stephen, of Bexley, was sentenced to two years and six months in prison. The judge said he lied repeatedly to the jury and was a “self-regarding and arrogant man with a strong sense of self-entitlement”.

Father-of-one Efe, who was “the face” of the charity, was given 18 months in jail, having received around £7,500 plus an unknown amount of cash from the clay pigeon shoot.

Bright, of Sale, Greater Manchester, was jailed for 21 months for his part in “milking the charity”.

Source: Guardian

Monday, 21 January 2019

NAN

Chairman of the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT), Mr. Danladi Yakubu Umar

The National Industrial Court, Abuja, on Monday ordered the service of an interim order and hearing notice on the Chairman of the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT), Malam Danladi Umar.

The orders follow the suit seeking to restrain the tribunal from persecuting the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Mr. Walter Onnoghen.

At the hearing, counsel to the claimant, James Igwe (SAN), informed the court that originating processes and interim order had been served on all parties except the tribunal’s chairman and the Senate President.

Igwe said it was the secretary to the tribunal’s chairman that received the document and not the chairman personally.

He, however, said the senate president was not served as an oversight that should be corrected immediately.

The judge, Justice Sanusi Kado, therefore ordered that the processes and interim order be served on the tribunal’s chairman through substituted means.

He equally ordered that notice should be placed on the wall of the tribunal’s office.

He held that hearing notices should be served on all parties.

He also gave the order that the interim order made on Jan.14 restraining the defendants from further proceeding with the trial against the CJN should subsist.

The judge adjourned the matter until Jan. 30 for hearing of motion on notice of the interlocutory injunction in the substantive suit.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) recalls that the CJN is facing a six-count charge before the CCT over an alleged non-declaration of assets.

NAN further recalls that the trial is based on a petition filed by a group, the Anti-corruption, Research and Data-based Initiative.

The claimant in the suit, one Mr Peter Abang, therefore, filed an ex-parte motion before the court seeking an order to suspend the trial at the tribunal.

Joined as co-defendants in the suit are Code of Court Bureau, CCB, CCT chairman, Danladi Umar; Attorney General of the Federation and The National Judicial Commission.

Others are The Federal Judicial Service Commission, the Inspector General of Police, the Justice Minister, Abubakar Malami, Senate President, Bukola Saraki, and National Judicial Council.

NAN reports that Mr Garba Tetengi, Defence Counsel to NJC was the only defence counsel in court.


Saturday, 19 January 2019


[FILE PHOTO] Atiku

The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has described as laughable, threats by the Federal Government to question its Presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, over alleged involvement in a N156 million financial scam.

Addressing an emergency press conference in Abuja yesterday, the party said the threat was borne out of fear that he (Atiku) is already coasting home to victory in the February 16 Presidential election.

The press conference presided over by PDP spokesman, Kola Ologbondiyan, noted that: “While we understand that President Buhari and his dysfunctional All Progressives Congress (APC) are jittery over Atiku Abubakar’s soaring popularity ahead of the elections, it is reprehensible that Mr. President would descend abysmally low to fabricate outright lies and falsehood in a bid to discredit a more qualified and acceptable Presidential candidate.”

The PDP stated that Atiku Abubakar has nothing to do with the alleged issues leading to the collapse of Bank PHB, adding that, “he is an honest and hard-working Nigerian who has no skeleton of any sort in his cupboard, unlike President Buhari, who is now entangled in series of corruption allegations.”

The PDP further stated that, “even the Chairman of President Buhari’s Advisory Committee Against Corruption, Prof. Itse Sagay, had since told the world that the Buhari Presidency has searched everywhere and could not find anything incriminating on Atiku Abubakar.”

The opposition party said: “The world already knows that this attempt to mudsling our Presidential candidate is coming out of President Buhari’s frustration over Atiku Abubakar’s successful outing in the United States, for which the Buhari Presidency has gone into full hallucination.”

“This is in addition to their frenzied face-saving effort to divert public attention from President Buhari’s humiliating appearances in the respective rallies and Television shows he has had,” the party added.

The PDP challenged the President “to open the books and provide explanation for the N9 trillion stolen under his watch as Minister of Petroleum Resources as detailed in the leaked NNPC memo.”

The party continued: “President Buhari should as well allow an open inquest into the alleged involvement of his relations in the N1.032 trillion alleged corrupt acquisitions in 9Mobile and Keystone Bank PLC.”

The Federal Government had earlier yesterday said that it would subject Atiku to serious questioning when he returns from his current trip to the United States, pointing out that it was investigating his alleged role in the collapse of former Bank PHB.

The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, who said this while briefing State House correspondents stated that the decision to question Atiku had to do with “fresh evidence that he benefitted from slush funds that led to the collapse of Bank PHB.”

The government spokesperson said the government has in its position “paper trail which shows that he benefitted from N156 million.”

“It started from an internal memo dated 13 January 2009 asking that a draft in favour of Atiku Abubakar of 156 million should be raised,” he said.

He said the government has proof of the account mandate, cheque and account statement showing Atiku as the signatory to the account that received the money.

“We want him to stay in the US for as long as he wants but he has to explain to Nigerians when he returns,” he said.

Source: Legal Nigeria

NBA IKEJA, SET TO STOP CHIEF JUDGE
Chief Judge of Lagos State, Hon. Justice Opeyemi Oke


The Chairman of the Nigerian Bar Association, Ikeja Branch, Prince Dele Oloke, has summoned members of the branch to an Extraordinary General Meeting following the Chief Judge of Lagos' invitation to the launching of the new Lagos State High Court (Civil Procedure) Rules 2019. The essence of the meeting as gathered from the statement of the Publicity Secretary of the branch, Charles Ajiboye, is to discuss issues and developments surrounding the proposed rules. 
The meeting is scheduled to hold on Monday 21st of January, 2019.

Click Below to read the statement signed by Charles Ajiboye,Esq. the Publicity Secretary of the branch. 

Send your press release/news and articles to legalnigeria@gmail.com info@legalnigeria.com

Friday, 18 January 2019


Fani-Kayode and Yinka Odumakin

Nigeria’s former Minister of Aviation, Femi Fani-Kayode; and Yinka Odumakin, have sued the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, and the Nigeria Police Force over attempts to arrest them.

They also asked a Federal High Court in Abuja to restrain the Department of State Services from detaining them.

The move comes barely 24 hours after the EFCC vowed to invite and possibly prosecute them for breaching the Cyber Crime Act, Punch reports.

Both Fani-Kayode and Odumakin, who is the Spokesman for pan-Yoruba group, Afenifere, had alleged that the EFCC had surrounded the home of the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter Onnoghen, who is facing prosecution for alleged corruption.

They instituted the fresh court action marked FHC/ABJ/CS/49/2019 before a Federal High Court sitting in Abuja on Thursday.

In the originating summons filed on their behalf by Chukwuma-Chukwu Ume (SAN), the plaintiffs asked the Federal High Court to rule that the respondents’ public declaration to arrest them on the basis of spreading false rumours is an infringement of their fundamental rights as enshrined in Section 34(a) 35(1) (4) and (5) of the 1999 Constitution.

They are also seeking an order “restraining the respondents, their privies, their agents from inviting, detaining or arresting the applicants for any reason without following due process.

“And an order that the respondents pay the sum of N20,000,000 as damages for the unlawful threat to arrest the applicants.”

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