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Court threatens Emefiele with arrest warrant over $53m unpaid judgement debt

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A Federal High Court Abuja, on Wednesday, threatened to issue a warrant of arrest against suspended Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Godwin Emefiele, over his failure to appear in court to explain circumstances surrounding the 53 million dollar-judgment debt arising from the Pars Club refund.

Justice Inyang Ekwo, who ordered Emefiele to appear on the next adjourned date, said he was minded to exercise restraint in the proceeding to give the ex-CBN boss an opportunity to explain himself.

The development followed an intervention by Emefiele’s Counsel, Audu Anuga, SAN, praying the court to give his client another opportunity as they had been unable to reach him since the last order, directing him to appear in court.

Anuga told the court that Emefiele, who was suspended as CBN governor, had been in detention.

He said all efforts to reach him to communicate the directive of the court were unsuccessful.

The News Men reports that Justice Ekwo had, on Oct. 20, 2022, ordered the CBN governor to appear in court on Jan. 18 over his alleged refusal to obey the order of the court for the payment of the judgment debt in favour of a legal practitioner, Joe Agi, SAN.

Agi had dragged Linas International Ltd, Minister of Finance, CBN and Emefiele to court as 1st to 4th judgment debtors respectively, following an application for garnishee made by him as judgment creditor in the case.

However, on Jan. 18, proceedings could not go on as scheduled when the matter was called, prompting the court to subsequently adjourn the case till March 20, before it was fixed for June 6 again.

News Men reports that the judge, on June 6, ordered Emefiele to appear before it on July 19 (today).

But the CBN Governor was on June 9, suspended by President Bola Tinubu and directed to transfer his responsibilities to the Deputy Governor, operations directorate.

No sooner had Emefiele been suspended than the Department of State Services (DSS), on June 10, announced his arrest and detention.

Upon resumed hearing on Wednesday, Ayodele Arotiowa, who appeared for Agi, was about to make a submission when Justice Ekwo asked Emefiele’s lawyer if he had complied with the order.

“We made an effort to see how we can communicate with the 4th respondent (Emefiele) but the 3rd respondent (CBN) was unable to communicate with the 4th respondent.

“We rely only on public communication that the 4th respondent is incarcerated and have been unable to communicate with him,” Anuga responded.

He said there was another development now as to whether Emefiele could act on behalf of the CBN.

The judge, who said the CBN had no case to answer, said Emefiele was sued in his personal capacity.

Anuga said: “But the public information now is that he has been suspended. An opportunity has to be given to him to comply.”

“I have given you enough opportunity but you are taking it for granted,” the judge said while directing Anuga to give a good reason why the court should not issue a warrant of arrest against Emefiele.

The senior lawyer said since his client was still in detention after his suspension despite an order mandating his release, there was nothing they could do.

“My lord, we are at the mercy of the court, he said.”

“But there is an intervening event, as we have not had the privilege to see him.

“The last opportunity my lord gave to the 4th respondent has not been communicated to him.

“I feel opportunity should be given so that this can be communicated,” he pleaded.

But Anuga maintained that after this opportunity if Emefiele failed to comply, the court will take its action.

The judge, consequently, adjourned the matter until Oct. 31 for the CBN and Emefiele to show cause why an arrest warrant should not be issued against the former CBN governor.

“Upon listening to counsel, I am minded to exercise restraint in this proceeding to give the 4th respondent an opportunity to explain himself to me on the next adjourned date,” he said.

News Men reports that the dispute stemmed from an alleged $70 million judgment against Linas International Ltd for the lawyer’s (Joe Agi) assistance with the Paris Club refund.

Emefiele was said to have only released $17 million, leaving an unpaid balance of $53 million.

The court had on Jan. 23, 2020, ruled that Emefiele must appear “to be examined on oath.

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NSCDC arrests 51 illegal miners in FCT

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 The Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Command of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) has arrested 51 suspected illegal miners and three telecommunication mast vandals in the territory.

The NSCDC FCT Commandant, Olusola Odumosu, said this while briefing newsmen of the arrest on Monday at the command’s headquarters.

Odumosu said that the three suspected vandals were apprehended by the command’s intelligence and undercover operatives following a security tip-off of the dismantling activity at Giri area of the FCT.

According to him, before the decommissioning of a mast, an approval must be obtained from the NSCDC, being the lead agency in the protection of critical national assets and infrastructure.

He disclosed that the suspects, during interrogation by the command’s anti-vandal unit, were unable to show any approval paper. 

“Neither do they have any proper means of identification showing who they are and the company they are working for.

“Upon further questioning, they revealed that a a certain businessman had already been paid the sum of N4 million ahead of the dismantling which raised suspicion of a premeditated act of vandalism.

“Ongoing investigation is being carried out to determine his level of culpability and ownership claim, after which necessary action will be taken,” he said.

The commandant disclosed that in a similar operation, 51 suspects were akso arrested in Gwagwalada area of the FCT for engaging in illegal mining activities.

Odumosu explained that the suspects, all male, had been profiled and had no evidence of operating under a registered company, as well as no exploration and mining licence.

“All acts of illegal mining encroaches on the soil and causes environmental degradation and erosion, and that is why most of these areas are no longer useful for agricultural and human activities,” Odumosu said.

He said that after a thorough investigation of both cases, the suspects would be charged to court for further disciplinary action.

The commandant listed the exhibits recovered from the 54 suspects to include dismantled metal mast parts, and five pumping machines.

“Unquantified amount of substance alleged to be gold dust, pumping holes, ten litres of fuel, shovels, diggers and head- pan were seized. 

“Henceforth, we will not relent to arrest any form of sabotage on the economy.

“The Federal Government is trying so hard to provide infrastructure to make life easy, but some miscreants in the name of vandalism and illegal mining are trying to destroy what has been provided.

“People are quick to condemn the government, but people like these are the ones dehumanising the efforts of the Federal Government,” Odumosu said. 

He warned vandals and other criminals in the FCT to relocate because the NSCDC will not allow the sabotage of the economy to continue in the territory.

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FEC adopts Oronsaye report on civil service reform

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The Federal Executive Council has adopted the Steve Oronsaye report on the reform of the civil service to cut cost of governance.

Minister of Information and National Orientation Mohammed Idris disclosed this at the end of the council meeting on Monday in Abuja.

He said that some Ministries, Departments and Agencies would be scrapped, merged or subsumed into relevant organisations of government.

Idris, however, said that the aim was only to cut cost and not throw Nigerians into the labour market.

The minister, who said that details of the affected MDAs would be made available soon, disclosed that a committee had been set up for its implementation.

Idris also revealed Council’s deliberation on the proposed  by the Nigeria Labour Congress, urging it to shelve the plan.

He said that government had fulfilled more than 85 per cent of the agreements entered into with Labour in September 2023.

The Minister said that Labour should consider the efforts of government in addressing the challenges and not allow mischief makers to hijack the situation at this critical period.

Similarly, the council approved the continuation of payment to vulnerable households under the National Social Investment Programme (NSIP).

Minister of Finance Wale Edun said that appropriate measures would be put in place to verify all beneficiaries.

He said all beneficiaries would be identified through their BVN, NIN and account numbers or electronic wallets even after the payment.

Edun said that the reintroduction of the NSIP was in line with the administration’s desire of addressing the challenges faced by vulnerable Nigerians.

He added that 12 million households would benfit immediately from the payment of N25,000 NSIP initiative.

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LASG denies alleged plan to lure communities for petrol project

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The Lagos State Ministry of Physical Planning and Urban Development has debunked reports claiming the ministry is enticing residents of four communities in Ketu to accept the building of a petrol station in their area.
The Deputy Director, Public Affairs of the Ministry, Mr Mukaila Sanusi, said this in a statement on Monday in Lagos.

Sanusi, who named the four communities as Demurin, Oba Nle- Aro, Doyin Omololu, and Irawo Osan, said the allegation was false, biased and unfounded.

He said,  “Contrary to the insinuation of bias by a section of the media, the Commissioner for Physical Planning and Urban Development, Dr Oluyinka Olumide, has disclosed that the stakeholders meeting at Demurin, Oba Nle- Aro, Doyin Omololu, and Irawo Osan community was part of the routine of treating such technical proposals to ensure fairness to all sides.

“Advocacy by proponents for supposedly non-compatible proposals is a welcome development in town planning which, once received by the ministry, must be validated with the host community through dialogue.

“Advocacy has been made to the ministry by the proponents of the project on the basis that Demuren and the adjoining roads are axial roads, serving the Lagos Ikorodu road, with appreciable vehicular coverage.’’
Sanusi explained that the meeting with the community aligned with the Lagos State Urban and Regional Planning and Development Law 2019 (as amended).

He further highlighted that the meeting was consistent with the Lagos State Government’s established approach of involving the public in decision-making, particularly regarding physical planning and governance in general.
He said that such open discussions would help to consider different perspectives and reach the best decision for the state and its residents.

Sanusi added that such dialogues had led to approvals or rejections of various facilities such as markets, cemeteries and petrol stations, among others.

He pledged the ministry’s commitment to fair and transparent procedures, including community involvement, in making decisions related to urban development projects.

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