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Alleged Pension fraud: Maina uses his son, Faisal as front for UBA N58m bank account – prosecution counsel

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A Federal High Court, sitting in Abuja, Wednesday heard an evidence against the former Chairman of the Pension Reform Task Team, PRTT, Abdulrasheed Maina revealing a UBA account where he deposited a huge sum of N58 million naira suspected to be proceeds of crime with his son, Faisal as the only signatory.

It was also uncovered that Maina opened the controversial account under a business name called Alhaji Faisal Abdullahi Farms 2, pand, not as a private limited liability company.

Besides, it was affirmed that while Faisal was the signatory to the account, the company is entirely owned by Maina and he was in possession of its ATM to make withdrawals anywhere he goes.

The prosecution counsel, Mohammed Sadisu Abubakar, therefore, pointed out that Maina was running anonymous bank account using his son as front because it was inconsistent with the law for a man to run a venture and have a bank account where another individual is the only signatory.

It would be recalled that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, is prosecuting Maina over alleged operation of anonymous bank account, money laundering and false asset declaration.

This development followed the recent arrest of Maina in an Abuja hotel with his son where the latter also allegedly pulled out a gun at the operatives of the Department of State Services, DSS.

But when Maina’s son who already has been in police custody was made to appear today before the court presided by Justice Okon Abang, the defence counsel, Francis Oransaye urged the court to order the Police to transfer his client from the Police Special Tactical Squad to Kuje Correctional facility.

Oransaye predicated his plea to the court on accessibility saying, he had no access to his client.

In his words, “I wish to make an application for the defendant to be transferred from the Police Special Tactical Squad to Kuje Correctional facility as that will make it easier to have access to him as against the current situation”.

“We strongly believe that access to him is very fundamental in preparation to his defence”.

In his ruling, Abang said, “That the police refused them access to the defendant. There is no credible admissible evidence placed before the court that they were refused access.

“Learned counsel gave evidence from the bar reporting what he claimed another person told him. Court can’t take hearsay. His source is not in court to be put on oath to ascertain the truth. I’m not prepared to act in vain.

“I have no jurisdiction to vary my order. Application to transfer the defendant is hereby refused”.

Further, there was legal fireworks by the prosecution and defence counsels on whether or not the United Bank for Africa, UBA, account opening form by Maina for his Alhaji Faisal Abdullahi Farms 2, be admitted as exhibit.

While the prosecution counsel, Abubakar who cross-examined the UBA business manager, Mairo Mohammed Bashir, PW1, maintained that the account document be admitted as exhibit , the defence counsel, Oransaye opposed it.

It was also gathered that Bashir sourced for the deposit from Maina and subsequently created the account.

But Oransaye argued that it was contrary to evidence act for Bashir to tender the document for admission as exhibit before the court.

In his ruling, Abang said he entirely agree with the defence counsel that the document in evidence must be tendered by maker of the document but it would cause undue delay.

He said, ” PW1 can give evidence to avoid delay. The document is hereby admitted and marked exhibit A series.

Abang also adjourned the case to November 21 and 22 for continuation of trial.

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Bayelsa/Kogi guber: No card reader, No voting — INEC

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The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has said that no voter will be allowed to vote without his card being recognised by the Smart Card Reader in the November 16, elections in Bayelsa and Kogi states.

Prof. James Apam, the Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC), disclosed this to NAN on the sidelines of a one-day Training on Election Duties, organised by Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) for its Staff at Kogi Sector Command Headquarters in Lokoja.

Speaking on behalf of Apam, Olugbenga Ajayi, a staff officer of the commission, warned that no person would be allowed to vote without being accredited using the card reader.

“We keep learning everyday, and we want to obey what we have said as electoral umpire; if card reader cannot identify you, you cannot vote.

“It is either card reader or no voting in Kogi and Bayelsa elections; anything apart from the use of card reader for accreditation and voting will be disqualified.

“No manual accreditation would be allowed; it is either card reader or no voting,” he added.

He enjoined all the personnel participating in the elections to conduct themselves well without compromise but respect their dignity and protect the sanctity of the elections.

He further urged other security personnel to adequately secure electoral staff and election materials, stressing that all eyes are now on Kogi and Bayelsa elections.

“We urged the security personnel to live by the oath they swore to and not chasing after politicians for money,” he said

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EFCC docks man, son for alleged $108,000 USD fraud

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The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, Lagos office, Wednesday arraigned John Isang and his son, Martins over alleged obtaining of $108,000 under false pretence.

The duo were made to appear before Justice Sherifat Solebo of the Special Offences Court sitting in Ikeja.

EFCC spokesman, Wilson Uwujaren disclosed this in a statement to TIMELY POST.

Uwujaren affirmed that the duo allegedly obtained the said sum from Ikechukwu Eze on the pretext of providing him a vessel to transport Automotive Gas Oil (AGO) outside the country.

But the defendants, however, pleaded not guilty when the charges were read to them.

One of the counts reads: “That you John Isang, Martins John Isang, David Ola (now at large), Ferdinand Lolo (now at large), Frank Aku (still at large), Agare Celebrate (still at large), Sani Abdulllahi (still at large),Mark Aku (still at large) and Ibor Ferdinand Agbor (still at large) sometimes in August 2018 in Lagos within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court conspired to obtain money from Mr. Ikechukwu Eze by falsely representing to Ikechukwu Eze that you had a vessel to transport 5000 Metric Tons of Automative Gas Oil (AGO) for him from Nigeria to Ghana which pretence you knew was false.”

The other charge reads: “That you John Isang, Martins John Isang, David Ola (now at large), Ferdinand Lolo (now at large), Frank Aku (still at large), Agare Celebrate (still at large), Sani Abdulllahi (still at large),Mark Aku (still at large) and Ibor Ferdinand Agbor (still at large) sometimes in September 2018 in Lagos within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court obtained the sum of $108, 000 (One Hundred and Eight Thousand United States Dollars) from Mr. Ikechukwu Eze by falsely representing to Ikechukwu Eze that the money was the cost of hiring a vessel to transport 5000 Metric Tons of Automative Gas Oil (AGO) from Nigeria to Ghana which pretence you knew was false.”

On this premise, the prosecution counsel, C.R. Edozie asked the court for a trial date and an order to remand the defendants in prison pending the outcome of the case.

Also, the defence counsel, H.E. Igbenemo informed the court that he was yet to file and serve bail applications on behalf of his clients because he was briefed about the arraignment the previous day.

He, therefore, prayed the court for a short date to allow the defence file and serve the court and the prosecution with the bail application.

In his ruling, Justice Solebo adjourned the case to December 12, for hearing of bail application and ordered that the defendants be remanded in a Nigerian Correctional Centre.

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Sowore: Soyinka flays FG over attack on protesters, says Buhari govt insecure, paranoid

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The Nobel Laureate, Wole Soyinka, has called on civil society organisations to strategize and coordinate their responses to attacks on human rights by state agents under President Muhammadu Buhari.

Soyinka, in his statement sent to TIMELY POST, reacted to the attack on protesters on Tuesday in Abuja for demanding the release of Omoyele Sowore by the State Security Service.

“The sporadic, uncoordinated responses as in the case of Omoyele Sowore, the absence of a solid strategy, ready to be activated against any threat — these continue to enable these agencies in their mission to enthrone a pattern of conduct that openly scoffs at the role of the judiciary in national life,” the don said.

He condemned “the level of arrogance” by agents of the state under President Buhari, saying it “has crossed even the most permissive thresholds.”

“As I remarked from the onset, this is an act of government insecurity and paranoia that merely defeats its real purpose,” he said.

TIMELY POST reported how protesters demanding the release of Mr Sowore were violently dispersed with gunshots in Abuja with some of them including journalists covering the protest sustaining injuries.

Sowore, publisher of Sahara Reporters, is being detained by the SSS despite meeting his bail conditions set by the court.

The activist and former presidential candidate is being prosecuted for calling for a revolution against bad governance. He is charged with treasonable felony and money laundering.

Below is Soyinka’s full statement:

SOWORE, HUMAN RIGHTS AND THE RULE OF LAW

It should become abundantly clear by now that Civil Society organisations, committed to the entrenchment of the Rule of Law and the defence of fundamental human rights must come together. This is not a new cry. They must meet, debate, and embark on a binding pact of tactical responses whenever these two pillars of civilized society are besieged by the demolition engines of state security agencies. The sporadic, uncoordinated responses as in the case of Omoyele Sowore, the absence of a solid strategy, ready to be activated against any threat — these continue to enable these agencies in their mission to enthrone a pattern of conduct that openly scoffs at the role of the judiciary in national life. Result? A steady entrenchment of the cult of impunity in the dealings of state with the citizenry – both individuals and organizations. The level of arrogance has crossed even the most permissive thresholds.

It is heart-warming to witness the determined efforts of “Concerned Nigerians” in defence of these rights. Predictably, the ham-fisted response of the Directorate of State Security (DSS) continues to defy the rulings of the court. The weaponry of lies having been exploded in their faces, they resort to what else? Violence! Violence, including, as now reported, the firing of live bullets. Why the desperation? The answer is straightforward: the government never imagined that the bail conditions for Sowore would ever be met. Even Sowore’s supporters despaired. The bail test was clearly set to fail! It took a while for the projection to be reversed, and it left the DSS floundering. That agency then resorted to childish, cynical lies. It claimed that the ordered release was no longer in their hands, but in Sowore’s end of the transfer. The lie being exploded, what next? Bullets of course!

Such a development is not only callous and inhuman, it is criminal. It escalates an already untenable defiance by the state. As I remarked from the onset, this is an act of government insecurity and paranoia that merely defeats its real purpose. And now – bullets? This is no longer comical. Perhaps it is necessary to remind this government of precedents in other lands where, even years after the event, those who trampled on established human rights that generate homicidal impunity are called to account for abuse of power and crimes against humanity. The protests for Sowore’s release go beyond only acts of solidarity, they are manifestations of the judgment and authority of courts of law, under which this nation is supposedly governed. Either it is, or it isn’t. The answer stares us all in the face. The principles that now fall under threat implicate more than one individual under travail. They involve the very entitlement of a nation to lay claim to membership of any democratic, humanized union.

Enough of this charade, nothing more than a display of crude, naked power. Release Omoyele Sowore and save us further embarrassment in the regard of the world. An apology to the nation by the DSS and the judiciary would also not be out of place. It would go some distance in redeeming the image of an increasingly fascistic agency and reduce the swelling tide of public disillusionment.

Let the rule of law reign. Failing that, have the honesty to proclaim the death of ordered society. Then we’ll all know just where we stand.

Wole SOYINKA
WS Foundation for the Humanities
Abeokuta, Ogun State
November 12, 2019

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