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Contempt: Bawa must go to Kuje prison before any other action  — Olanipekun, SAN insists

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…As IGP’s office acknowledges receipt of order to arrest, send EFCC boss to prison

A renowned Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Ola Olanipekun, has called on the Inspector-General of Police, to comply with a court order that committed the Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Abdulrasheed Bawa to prison for contempt.

Olanipekun, who said Bawa was trying to cause anarchy in the country by flagrantly disobeying court orders, said Bawa had recently been committed to prison in a similar ruling by a Federal Capital Territory High Court in November.

He said this just as the office of the IGP received and acknowledged the order committing Bawa to prison on Wednesday.

Speaking on Arise Television, the Senior Advocate of Nigeria argued that no Nigerian or foreigner, no matter how highly placed should be allowed to rubbish the courts, noting that the same instrument put the EFCC boss in office.

“In fact, the higher the position you occupy, the greater the burden of responsibility on you to show good example and live within the ambit of the law.

“Nobody, nobody at all, no matter how highly placed, no matter the position you occupy, not even the President of Nigeria, can disobey court order,” he stated.

In this particular case, Olanipekun said, “The Inspector-General of Police is going to carry out that order, he is going to go to prison or at the earliest time possible, he goes back to that court to go and purge himself of the contempt. All he has to do is to go and release that particular citizen and if there are other orders that the court has made, like in this particular case, the court has made an order for an apology to the citizen for so detaining him in flagrant breach of his fundamental human rights.

“So he has to go ahead and make that apology. We must comply with the law. We must realise that this is a Federal Republic of Nigeria, a country that is founded on law, on procedure, on rule of law.”

Justice R.O. Ayoola of the Kogi State High Court, in his judgement on Monday, granted the application for commital to prison of the EFCC Chairman for disobeying a court ruling delievered on November 30, 2022, wherein the EFCC Chairman was directed to produce the applicant in the case, Ali Bello.

Ali Bello had dragged Bawa to court for arresting and detaining him illegally, with the court ruling in his favour, only for the EFCC to arraign him for alleged money laundering three days after the ruling.

Insisting that the anti-graft agency boss could not effect any action without first obeying the court order that sent him to jail, the learned silk noted that the actions of the EFCC boss amounted to lawbreaking and could trigger anarchy in the land.

Olanipekun said, “Over the years, EFCC had been having a running battle with the law, we must realise that Section 34, in fact, the entire Chapter 4 has to do with the Fundamental Human Rights of Nigerians, and this is the area where EFCC always has problems.

“Section 34 talks about the dignity of the Nigerian person. You don’t just treat people anyhow. The fact that somebody has a case doesn’t mean he has lost his citizenship.

“There is presumption of innocence, not only when you are taken to court, it also applies when you are being investigated. The degree of innocence when being investigated is even higher than when taken to court. A man has his right to fair hearing.”

Explaining why Bawa has to be jailed, the SAN said, “The order is that he should be committed to prison until he purges himself of the contempt. What was it that the court asked him to do that he failed to do? He was asked to produce Citizen Bello in court, he didn’t produce him. Let me make something clear. It was not as if when the court made the order, he didn’t comply and the order of commital was made, no.

“There is a procedure. He did not comply; Form 48 was served on him, to let him know that ‘your disobedience has consequences.’  He ignored it. Form 49 was served on him for him to come and show cause why he should not be committed to prison for contempt of court, he ignored it. A motion was filed and served on him, giving him notice that we are going to move the court to give an order for you to be committed for contempt and you will be committed to prison, he ignored it.

“Well, at the last moment, the lawyers came to court and they could not give any reasonable argument so the court granted the application and made an order of commital. So he goes to prison.

“The Inspector-General of Police is going to carry out that order, he is going to go to prison or at the earliest time possible, he goes back to that court to go and purge himself of the contempt. All he has to do is to go and release that particular citizen and if there are other orders that the court has made, like in this particular case, the court has made an order for an apology to the citizen for so detaining him in flagrant breach of his fundamental human rights. So he has to go ahead and make that apology.

“We must comply with the law. We must realise that this is a Federal Republic of Nigeria, a country that is founded on law, on procedure, on rule of law. He must comply with the orders. It is not something that he can just walk away from. And if he doesn’t purge himself of the contempt, he is going to remain in prison for as long as it takes him to purge himself of the contempt. If he purges himself of the contempt within 48 hours, he gets released from the prison, he doesn’t have to spend the whole of 14 days there. But the law has to be complied with.

“There is an order now for the Inspector-General of Police to comply with. So, we are now waiting to see whether the IGP will comply with this order. If he doesn’t comply, he himself will become liable for commital for contempt.

“We can’t just continue as if the law doesn’t exist. The EFCC or the Police or any institution whatsoever, they are all set up by statute, so, they must operate within the ambit of the law,” Olanipekun noted.

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Ondo 2024: APC will remain party of choice — Sanwo-Olu

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…Receives congratulatory letter as Zonal Coordinator for APC South-West

…South-West APC leaders back Lagos Governor as Zonal Coordinator

Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu, on Sunday said the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the South-West Zone will continue to work with stakeholders to ensure the party remains the party of choice.

Sanwo-Olu stated this position as the preparation for the November 16 governorship election in Ondo state is in top gear.

According to a press release signed by the Special Adviser to the Governor on Media and Publicity, Gboyega Akosile, Sanwo-Olu said members of the National Working Committee and Zonal Working Committee in the zone had resolved to intervene on issues and engage with critical stakeholders to ensure they were not only taken care of but also enjoyed the dividends of democracy.

Governor Sanwo-Olu who is the APC Zonal Coordinator for South-West pledged to live up to the responsibility by working with the entire team to reposition and strengthen the party in the South-West.

It would be recalled that the APC National Chairman, Dr Abdullahi Ganduje, inaugurated and presented letters to six governors at the party headquarters in Abuja on Wednesday, March 26, to coordinate party activities and reconcile aggrieved members of the party in each of the six geo-political zones.

The zonal coordinators are Governors Babajide Sanwo-Olu (South-West), Hope Uzodinma of Imo (South-East), Bassey Otu of Cross River (South-South), AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq of Kwara (North-Central), Mai Mala Buni of Yobe (North-East), and Uba Sani of Kaduna (North-West).

Speaking to journalists after a meeting with the APC National and Zonal Executive members from the South-West at Lagos House, Marina, on Sunday, Sanwo-Olu said the inaugural meeting with the party’s national and zonal executives was to deliberate and come up with far-reaching decisions that would put the party on its feet and the right pedestal.

Governor Sanwo-Olu, who was handed a congratulatory letter on his appointment as the Zonal Coordinator for APC South-West by the officials.

He said, “We are engaging in all the issues that we have in all our states and trying to bring all of us together. We are beginning to look at areas where we can indeed intervene as a zone, especially with critical stakeholders. We have identified students, youths, and people living with disabilities. We all have things we can do differently.

“We all have things from the South-West that we can continue to push into our national conversation to ensure that the stakeholders in the region are very focused and ensure that people feel the real dividends of democracy. And to generally put APC as the biggest party in Africa, the biggest party in the country, and to continue to remain the biggest party in the South-West.

“We have identified the places we need to work, and the work is continuous. We are working in Oyo State. We will continue to work in Osun State. We will continue to work in Ondo State. Ondo State has a unique issue because we have an election coming up that affects all parties.

“There are candidates that have been thrown out; there are people who have aspired to be aspirants and will turn out to be candidates after the primary elections. We are all brothers and sisters; we will resolve all our issues in-house, and I want to assure you that APC will continue to remain the party of choice in Ondo State.”

Also speaking at the inaugural meeting, the national and zonal officers of APC in the South-West passed a vote of confidence in Governor Sanwo-Olu, saying the appointment of the Governor as zonal coordinator by the national leadership of the party is well deserved.

The APC national and zonal officers from the South-West, while presenting a congratulatory letter to Governor Sanwo-Olu during their inaugural meeting with the Governor, pledged their support and loyalty to the Zonal Coordinator as he leads the South-West of the party to strengthen and reposition it for the future.

Reading a communiqué after the meeting, APC National Vice Chairman (South-West), Hon. Isaac Kekemeke, said they have decided to ensure harmonisation and reconciliation in all the states in the South-West, particularly in Oyo, Osun, and Ondo State, where the party will participate in a governorship election later this year.

He said they also resolved to prioritise empowerment and engagement with students, youths, women, and persons with disabilities, amongst other initiatives.

The communique read, “After discussing the challenges facing the party in the South-West zone, the meeting resolved to immediately set up a zonal office of the party in Ibadan and also to immediately set up a liaison and operational office in Lagos since the zonal coordinator is the Governor of Lagos.

“The meeting also resolved, as part of engagement with the leadership, formal and informal, of the party, to convene a South-West Assembly of the All Progressives Congress in early June this year.

“The meeting also resolved that, under the leadership of Governor Sanwo-Olu, this forum will continue to engage with relevant stakeholders, to ensure their empowerment and productive engagement by the government of the federation and various governments in the South-West.”

Among the APC national and zonal executive members from South-West who attended the meeting are; National Secretary, Senator Bashir Ajibola; National Youth Leader, Mr. Dayo Israel; Deputy National Auditor, Hon. Femi Egbedeyi; National Ex-Officio Member (South-West), Hon. Olubunmi Oriniowo; National Vice Chairman (South-West), Hon. Isaac Kekemeke; Zonal Secretary, Hon. Vincent Bewaji; Zonal Organising Secretary, Dr. Lateef Ibirogba; Zonal Publicity Secretary, Chief Ayo Afolabi.

Others are Zonal Woman Leader, Hon. Yetunde Adesanya; Zonal Leader of People Living with Disability, Comrade Moshood Erubami and APC Chairmen in South-West states, Hon. Cornelius Ojelabi (Lagos), Chief Yemi Sanusi (Ogun), Chief Isaac Omodewu (Oyo),  Sooko Tajudeen Lawal (Osun), Engr. Ade Adetimehin (Ondo) and  Hon. Sola Elesin (Ekiti).

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Alleged misappropriation: EFCC recovers N32.7bn, $445,000 from Humanitarian Ministry amid corruption probe

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..Uncovers extensive fraud in COVID-19 funds, W’Bank loan, Abacha loot allocations

…Vows crackdown on Naira abuse, reveals several celebrities are under investigation

By Sodiq Adelakun

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has made significant strides in its investigation into alleged corruption within the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management, and Social Development.

According to a statement released by the EFCC’s Head of Media & Publicity, Mr. Dele Oyewale, the Commission has recovered a staggering sum of N32.7 billion along with $445,000 from the ministry.

This revelation comes amidst a flurry of commentaries, opinions, and assumptions surrounding the ongoing probe.

The EFCC emphasised the importance of setting the record straight, as misinformation and speculation have been rampant.

According to the statement, “EFCC has noticed the rising tide of commentaries, opinions, assumptions and insinuations concerning its progressive investigations into the alleged financial misappropriation in the Ministry Of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development.

“At the outset of investigations, past and suspended officials of the ministry were invited by the commission and investigations into the alleged fraud involving them have yielded the recovery of N32.7billion and $445,000 so far,” Oyewale said.

…EFCC uncovers extensive fraud in COVID-19 funds, Abacha loot allocations

The EFCC revealed that its discreet investigations have uncovered additional fraudulent activities related to COVID-19 funds, the World Bank loan, and allocations from the Abacha recovered loot designated for poverty alleviation initiatives within the ministry.

These investigations have also established links between the alleged financial malfeasance and several interdicted and suspended officials of the ministry.

The EFCC also said the investigation did not focus on individuals but on the ministry as a whole.

“It is instructive to stress that the commission’s investigations are not about individuals. The EFCC is investigating a system and intricate web of fraudulent practices. Banks involved in the alleged fraud are being investigated. Managing directors of the indicted banks have made useful statements to investigators digging into the infractions. Those found wanting will be prosecuted accordingly.

“Additionally, the EFCC has not cleared anyone allegedly involved in the fraud. Investigations are ongoing and advancing steadily. The public is enjoined to ignore any claim to the contrary,” the statement added.

On the issue of the works of the commission against Naira abuse, dollarisation of the economy and the enforcement of all extant laws relating to them, the EFCC said it appreciates the avalanche of public awakening, support and involvement demonstrated so far.

“Increasingly, members of the public are drawing the attention of the commission to video recording of abuse of the Naira by Nigerians from all walks of life. These gestures amply demonstrate rising consciousness of the public to the sanctity of our national currency and the need for collaborative engagement to sustain the tempo,” Oyewale said.

He stressed that the commission will always investigate and prosecute anyone involved in the abuse of the Naira, saying old videos being exhumed and flying around for the attention of the Commission are noted as the Commission is sensitive to the fact that its Special Task Force against Naira Abuse and Dollarization of the economy commenced operations on February 7, 2024.

“However, going forward, new videos of such infractions will be investigated and prosecuted.

…EFCC vows crackdown on Naira abuse, reveals several celebrities are under investigation

At the moment, “the commission is investigating several celebrities involved in Naira abuse. Many of them have made useful statements to the commission and many more have been invited by investigators working on the matter,” the Commission said.

The EFCC has also committed to maintaining its unwavering stance of holding all accountable, without exceptions. It warns the public to remain vigilant against violating laws related to this crime.

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Junior Pope: NSIB commences investigation into boat accident

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The Nigeria Safety Investigation Bureau (NSIB) has commenced an investigation into the devastating boat accident that claimed the life of actor, Junior Pope.

Junior Pope was found dead following an accident last week on the Anam River in Anambra State while shooting.

Among the victims were Abigail Frederick, Precious Oforum, and Joseph Anointing.

In an official statement released on Sunday, NSIB’s Director of Public Affairs and Consumer Protection, Bimbo Oladeji, confirmed the initiation of the investigation.

The objective of this inquiry is to uncover the circumstances surrounding the accident, pinpoint any contributing factors, and propose preventative measures to avert similar tragedies in the future.

The accident occurred when a speedboat, transporting twelve film crew members and a boat operator, tragically collided with a canoe on the Anam River.

In the statement, NSIB Director General, Captain Alex Badeh, said an investigation team has been dispatched to the accident site, and an inquiry has begun.

He said, “The investigation scope includes, but is not limited to, examination of the wreckage from both vessels involved in the collision, interviews with surviving crew members and eyewitnesses, review of operational procedures for the commercial speed boat, analysis of weather and environmental conditions at the time of the accident, and assessment of compliance with relevant safety standards and regulations for inland waterway transportation.”

The NSIB, according to its DG, will collaborate with the Anambra State Police Command’s Marine Police section, maritime authorities, and industry experts to investigate the recent boat accident on the Anam River.

The investigation will produce both preliminary and final reports, aiming to provide recommendations for preventing similar accidents in the future.

The DG said, “The NSIB extends its deepest sympathies to the families and loved ones of those who lost their lives in this heartbreaking accident.”

“We share in your grief and are fully committed to conducting a thorough investigation to determine the cause of this tragedy and prevent similar occurrences in the future,” he said.

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