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JUDICIARY

Kano PDP Appeals Against Tribunal’s Refusal of Witnesses List

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By Abdulgafar Oladimeji, Kano.

The Peoples Democratic Party(PDP), Kano state chapter, Wednesday disclosed that it would appeal against the verdict of the state gubernatorial election Petition  tribunal dismissing its request to amend the list of witnesses.

The Kano state Governorship Election Petition tribunal, last  Tuesday dismissed an application by the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP requesting for a Leave of the court to amend the list of the petitioner’s witnesses.

Barrister Salisu Sabo Kurawa, on Wednesday requested the court to furnish the petitioners with the records of proceedings.

He said the Peoples Democratic Party and its March 9 and 23 governorship candidate, Abba Kabiru Yusuf  want to   review, what transpired since the commencement of the court sittings.

According to him, the demand to review the court records, is banal stating that  Kano PDP would proceed to challenge the ruling of the tribunal delivered  on  August 6, refusing the duo of their demand to make typographical corrections on the list of witnesses  attached to their petition, stating that the  petitioners are bound by the court records .

Counsel representing the state governor , Abdullahi Umar Ganduje, Offiong Offiong(SAN) said the respondent did not object to the request by the petitioners.

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The petitioners then prayed the court to adjourn the matter to  August 8, for continuation of hearing.

The chairman of the tribunal, Justice Halima Shamaki granted the request by the petitioners. The matter was then adjourned for continuation of hearing.

JUDICIARY

Ekweremadu: Court Orders NIMC to Supply David Ukpo’s Biodata to AGF

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A Federal High Court, Abuja, on Wednesday, ordered the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) to supply the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) with the certified true copy (CTC) of biodata information of David Ukpo for onward transmission to the UK.

Justice Inyang Ekwo gave the order following an omnibus application made by Muazu Mohammed, counsel for  NIMC, to the effect.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), on June 27, reported that former Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu and wife, Beatrice had, in the application dated and filed on June 27 by their lawyer, Adegboyega Awomolo, SAN, sued NIMC and four others.

Others mentioned in the suit are the Comptroller General (C-G), Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS); Stanbic-IBTC Bank; United Bank of Africa (UBA) and Nigeria Inter-Bank Settlement System Plc as 2nd to 5th respondents respectively.

NAN reports that the couple were, on June 23, remanded in the UK police custody, after they were arraigned before the  Uxbridge Magistrate Court for alleged conspiracy to facilitate the travel of Ukpo, alleged to be a minor, for organ harvesting.

They, however, denied the allegations and the court adjourned till July 7 for hearing.

Ekweremadu also appeared before the Uxbridge Magistrate Court on June 30 where he was denied a bail.

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In the originating summons marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/984/2022, the couple prayed the court for an order directing all the defendants to supply them with the CTC of Ukpo’s biodata in their care for the purpose of facilitating the criminal investigation and tendering same to establish their innocence with respect to Ukpo’s age in the criminal charges against them before the Uxbridge Magistrate Court.

Justice Ekwo, on Friday, granted the couple’s prayers by directing all the defendants to release the CTC of Ukpo’s biodata to the Ekweremadus.

But when the matter came up today,  Awomolo told the court that NIMC was yet to comply with the court order.

The senior lawyer expressed concern that failure to obey the order of the court would give a setback to court judgment.

“As ministers in the temple, court has given a judgment, ours is to ensure it is followed,” he said.

Responding, Mohammed said NIMC was reluctant to release Ukpo’s biodata because it wanted to protect its system.

“It is not that the first respondent (NIMC) is not ready to comply. We have been talking with applicants’ counsel since the day of judgement,” he said.

“What is the difficulty you are facing in complying with that order,” the judge asked.

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“The difficulty is that we want to protect the system. If we comply with this judgment, the system will suffer in the future my lord,” he said.

Mohammed said although NIMC had reached 90 per cent compliance with the order, the commission was constraint to release the biodata to the applicants because of the Act which set up the agency.

He said the law does not allow the commission to release an individual biodata to another individual.

The lawyer stressed that if this was done because the applicants were highly-placed persons, this might be abused in future.

The judge, however, said that the order was not made because the applicants were high-placed.

He said the judgment was made for the whole of the country, saying it could have been an ordinary Nigerian making the application and that the court is there to protect everyone.

“If you need an order of court to carry out the judgment, it is a simple application,” Ekwo added.

Mohammed, therefore, made an omnibus prayer, urging the court to direct the agency to supply the biodata information of Ukpo to the AGF.

Awomolo did not oppose the application.

“We agree that the document be transmitted to the AGF for onward transmission to the UK,” he said.

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In his ruling, Justice Ekwo ordered NIMC to supply the information of biodata of David Ukpo’s national identification number which is in its care to the AGF for onward transmission to the UK.

“This is the order of this court,” he said.

The judge also warned the lawyer against making use of social media to discuss court matters

“When matter is in court, you must be careful how you deploy social media about court matters,” he warned.(NAN)

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CRIME

Court Jails Fraudster 235 Years  for N525m Fraud

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By Gom Mirian, Abuja

Justice Agatha Okeke of the Federal High Court, Uyo has convicted and sentenced a notorious international fraudster, Scales Olatunji, to 235years imprisonment for internet fraud and money laundering.


Olatunji was arraigned on July 2, 2019 on 45-count charges bordering on identity theft, money laundering and conspiracy.


He pleaded “not guilty” to the charges, thus setting the stage for his trial.  
One of the counts reads: “That you, Scales Olatunji Ishola “M”, Meraiyebu Charles “M”(at large), Gabriel Adeyemi Olugbenga “M”(at large), Ojomo Oluwatobi Ayodele “M”(at large) and Adekola Oluwatoyin “M”(at large), between January 2017 to October 2018, in Nigeria, within the jurisdiction of this honourable court conspired among yourselves to convert the total sum of N525,172,580.
00  (Five Hundred and Twenty Five Million, One Hundred and Seventy-two Thousand, Five Hundred and Eighty Naira) only, which sum you reasonably ought to have known forms part of proceeds of  unlawful activities to wit: fraud (Business E-mail Compromise and Identity Theft), and thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 18 (a) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act 2011 (as amended) and punishable under Section 15 (3) of the same Act”


Another count reads: “That you, Scales Olatunji Ishola “M” on or about the 15th day of May 2018, in Nigeria, within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court with intent to defraud did send electronic messages (email) using emailoffice01@aol.com to one Monica Goulmoen of the Charity Association for providing girls and boys in Kobane with a football pitch, while impersonating a certain Per Ravn Omdal, a former Norwegian Football Association President, demanding the sum of €64,000.00 (Sixty-Four Thousand Euros) to be transferred to you via IBAN GB74HBUK40062132722119 which was paid and you thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 22 (3)(b) of the Cybercrimes (Prohibition, Prevention, etc) Act 2015 and punishable under Section 22 (4) of the same Act”.
 EFCC counsel,  Nwandu  Ukoha opened the  case on November 7, 2019 and subsequently tendered 35 exhibits through four prosecution witnesses,   which were all admitted in evidence against the defendant.  

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Delivering judgment on Monday, June 27, 2022, Justice Okeke convicted  Olatunji on all the 45- counts preferred against him by the EFCC. He sentenced Olatunji to seven years imprisonment on counts one to five,   and five  years imprisonment on counts six to 45. The sentence, shall, however, run concurrently with effect from the date of arrest. 
 The court also ordered that the money in the convict’s account be forfeited to Norwegian citizens through the EFCC. Also, his properties: House No. 6, located on Road 2 West-end Estate, Ikota,  Lekki, Lagos State and  House No. 10, Donatus Odum Street, Ikate, Lagos State are to be sold by the EFCC and the proceeds restituted to the Norwegian victims.


The convict’s journey to the Correctional Centre started when operatives of the EFCC arrested him on March 20, 2019at his Ikota ,  Lekki’s residence based on a petition from the Oslo Police District in Norway, requesting  the assistance of the EFCC in investigating a network of Nigerians that had defrauded Norwegian citizens for years.
Investigations revealed that the convict belonged to a syndicate of internet fraudsters who specialized in Business Email Compromise-BEC.

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COVER

Justice Ariwoola Becomes Third CJN in 7 Years

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By Eze Okechukwu and Mathew Dadiya Abuja


President Muhammad Buhari yesterday at the Council Chambers of the State House, Abuja swore in Justice Olukayode Ariwoola as the acting Chief Justice of Nigeria, to replace Bauchi-born Justice Tanko Mohammad who resigned from the position early yesterday on health grounds. 

By the swearing in Chief Justice Ariwoola, who hails from Iseyin District of Oyo State becomes the third CJN in the seven years of President Buhari administration cumulatively in both in acting and substantive capacities.

In March 2017, Professor Yemi Osibanjo in his capacity as Acting President  nominated Justice Walter Onnoghen as the Chief Justice of Nigeria to replace Justice Mahmud Mohammed. And in January 2019, Justice Onnoghen was suspended for alleged false asset declaration, paving the way for Justice Tanko Mohammad.
 

Justice Ariwoola, born on August 22,1958 started out at the Local Authority Demonstration School, Oluwole in Iseyin Local Government Area of Oyo State between 1959 – 67. Afterwards, he proceeded to the Muslim Modern School in Iseyin between 1968-69, before going to Ansar – Ud – Deen High School, Saki in Oyo North District of Oyo State. 

He studied Law at the then University of Ife, now Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile Ife, Osun State where he bagged his bachelor of law’s degree with honours in July 1980. In July 1981, Ariwoola was called to the Nigeria Bar and he got enrolled at the Supreme Court of Nigeria as a Solicitor and Advocate soon after. The jurist served as a Justice of the Court of Appeal between 2005 -2011 in Kaduna, Enugu and Lagos divisions within the period. He was also a judge of the High Court of Oyo State, a position he was appointed to in 1992 from private legal practice.

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Justice Ariwoola was the next most senior among the Supreme Court justices after the voluntarily retiring Justice Mohammad. Observers had watched out if the administration of President Buhari would flout orderly procedure in the appointment of Justice Mohammad’s replacement.
Former senator representing Kaduna Central Senatorial District, Senator Shehu Sani had urged the government not to cut corners “in order to find a person who will fit into the political, sectional, religious or ethnic peg of the ruling establishment” but rather do the needful by following the established order for such appointments by the Apex Court. 

Though the resignation of Justice Mohammad has been put down to Ill health, it’s in the public glare that crisis of monumental proportion has bedeviled the Supreme Court for a while now, leading to an allegation of corruption by 14 Justices of the Supreme Court against him. The allegations, which the justices conveyed in writing to Justice Mohammad  captured non replacement of run down vehicles, accomodation challenges, epileptic power supply to the Supreme Court, lack of drugs at the Supreme Court clinic, increase in the electricity tariff, non- increase in the allowance for diesel, lack of internet services to residences and chambers.

But in a swift response to the allegations, Justice Mohammad through his media aide, Mr. Ahuraka Isah berated the fueding justices for taking the issue to the public realm; an action he likened to “dancing naked in the market square”. His spokesman would later advise the public that there’s no hostility or ill feelings among the justices of the Apex Court, adding that Justice Mohammad had held a meeting with the aggrieved justices to assuage their grievances. 

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Meanwhile, prior to the climax of the feud, Justice Ejembi Eko who retired from the Supreme Court on May 23,2022 had called on the Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission, ICPC and other investigative agencies in the country to probe and expose what he described as internal fraud in the management of the budgetary resources of the judiciary. 

” The vandalization of the judiciary budget, despite increase of the budgetary allocation calls for investigations by the ICPC and other investigatory sgencies, “he said. 

Similarly, Justice Walter Onnoghen who was forced out  out of office by the President Buhari administration in 2019 and replaced with Justice  Mohammad had at a book launch on June 16,2022 warned that the Supreme Court was gradually turning to “a glorified High Court”, owing to the ill treatment of the justices. 

DAILY ASSET recalls that in a bid to restore calm and order at the Supreme Court,both the Body of Benchers and the Nigeria Senate, through the Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters,as mandated by the Senate President, Ahmed Lawan waded into the crisis “to as a matter of urgency intervene and bring normalcy to the troubled Apex Court. 

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