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N20b Fraud: Court Fixes October 15 To Hear EFCC’s Suit Against Kogi Government

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Justice Chukwujekwu Aneke of the Federal High Court, Ikoyi has adjourned until October 15, the hearing of all applications relating to the N20 billion bailout loan allegedly belonging to the Kogi State government, said to have been warehoused by the Sterling Bank Plc.

The adjournment was sequel to the application made by counsel to Kogi State government, Sam Erogbo (SAN), who told the court that he needed time to study the counter affidavit filed by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission to the processes.

Kogi State Governor, Yahaya Bello.
At the resumed hearing of the matter on Tuesday, the counsel to Kogi State government, Erogbo told the court that his client has filed process against the interim order granted by Justice Ringim and that the EFCC has equally filed counter to the processes.

Erogbo told the court that he needed time to respond to the EFCC’s counter. Consequently, he asked the court for a short date.

Counsel to the EFCC, Rotimi Oyedepo, admitted being served with the processes and that he has equally filed counter to such.

Following the adjournment request of the Kogi State counsel, Justice Aneke, adjourned the matter till October 15, for a hearing of all applications.

Recall that a Federal High Court in Lagos on August 31 ordered the freezing of a bank account belonging to the Kogi State government over a N20 billion loan obtained from Sterling Bank Plc.

This followed arguments from the EFCC’s counsel, Abbas Mohammed, who informed the court that the order was necessary so as to preserve the remaining and abate further dissipation of the funds in the account.

Justice Tijjani Garba ordered that the account should be frozen pending the conclusion of the investigation or possible prosecution by the Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Abdulsalam Bawa.

It was also reported that the EFCC had approached the court for the order in an ex parte application brought pursuant to section 44(2) of the Constitution and section 34(1) of the EFCC Act, and under the inherent jurisdiction of the court.

The EFCC in its 13-paragraph affidavit in support of the ex-parte summons deposed to by a member of a team of investigators attached to the Chairman Monitoring Unit Lagos of the EFCC stated that the Commission received a credible and direct intelligence which led to the tracing of funds reasonably suspected to be proceeds of unlawful activities warehoused in account No. 0073572696 domiciled in Sterling Bank, Plc with the name Kogi State Salary Bailout Account.

He said the Commission acted on the said intelligence and assigned same to the Chairman Monitoring Unit, where it was discovered that on April 1, 2019, the management of Sterling Bank plc approved an offer of N20,000,000,000.00 bailout loan facility for Kogi State Government.

According to the deponent, on June 19, 2019, fiscal year, the Kogi State Government, Ministry of Finance and Economic Development, Office of the Honourable Commissioner, applied for a Credit facility of Twenty Billion Naira (N20, 000,000,000) with an interest rate of 9 per cent for a tenure of 240 months from Sterling Bank Plc”.

He added that the said facility was meant to augment the salary payment and running cost of the State Government.

He stated further that on June 26, 2019, the credit facility offer was accepted vide a memorandum of acceptance signed by the His Excellency, Yahaya Bello, the Executive Governor of Kogi State, Asiwaju Asiru Idris, the Commissioner of Finance Kogi State and one Alhaji Momoh Jibrin, Accountant General, Kogi State.

He stated that before the said application for a loan, Kogi State Government on the 19th June 2019 vides a letter to the Manager Sterling Bank Plc, Lokoja applied for an account opening in the Bank with the name Kogi State Salary Bailout Account with Alhaji Momoh Jubril, Accountant General of the State and Elijah Evinemi Ag. Director Treasury as the signatories to the said account.

“That upon the opening of the said account with No. 0072969301, Sterling bank Plc disbursed salary intervention loan to the tune of N20,000,000,000.00 to the account.

“That rather than used the intervention funds for the purpose for which it was granted, the State Government proceeded to open a fix deposit account No. 0073572696.

“That on the 25 day of July 2019 Sterling Bank Plc acting on the instruction of the Kogi State Government transferred the money from the loan account and placed same on the aforementioned fixed deposit account.

“That the said Account sought to be frozen received the Sum of Twenty Billion Naira, (N20,000,000,000) on the 25th July 2019. That as at 1st day of April, 2021 the balance standing to the credit of the said fixed deposit account was N19,333,333,333.36. That we are still tracing why the sum of N666,666,666.64 has been deducted from the said funds and were not used for the payment of the salary.

“That the Commission has the statutory mandate to prevent the commission of economic and financial Crimes with the shores of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. That investigation in this matter is still ongoing and this application is pertinent to secure the funds in the said account to prevent them from being totally dissipated.”

After listening to the counsel’s submissions, Justice Ringim granted the request and ordered the EFCC to publish the order in a national newspaper and make quarterly reports to the court on the progress of its investigation.

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FG Launches Virtual Court Sitting At Correctional Centres

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The Federal Government on Monday launched the use of virtual court proceedings in Nigeria’s correctional centres.

The launch ceremony took place at the Kuje Correctional Centre in Abuja, the nation’s capital and had in attendance the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami; Interior Minister, Rauf Aregbesola, and the Comptroller-General of the Nigerian Correctional Service (NCS), Haliru Nababa among other top government officials.

In his remarks, the Justice Minister said the programme would reduce backlogs of court cases and the time spent on pre-trial of suspects.

Malami believes the virtual court proceedings would effectively aid in the administration of criminal justice in the country.

“This project, therefore, initiated to ensure the hearing and determination of urgent and time-bound cases using the digital platforms,” he said.

“This system will effectively ensure the speedy dispensation of trials in line with Section 36 (4) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 as amended which provides that every person shall be entitled to fair hearing within a reasonable time.”
The Kuje Correctional Centre in Abuja.

On her part, the Secretary of the Presidential Committee on Correctional Reforms and Decongestion, Leticia Ayoola-Daniels said the virtual court proceedings would augment the already existing virtual court facilities that are inherent in the nation’s judiciary.

The move, she noted, will fast-track the dispensation of court cases that would help save the Federal Government cost on the security and mobilisation of accused persons to court.

While giving a breakdown of the number of inmates awaiting trial, the Interior Minister, also spoke on the attacks of correctional centres in recent times.

According to Aregbesola, most of the attacks on the custodial centres are linked to suspects that are awaiting trial because they make up 74 per cent of the total population of inmates in the nation’s correctional facilities.

He said, “50,992 inmates representing 74 per cent of the total population of inmates in our custodial centres are awaiting trial suspects while only 17,755 inmates which is a mere 26 per cent area actual convicts.

“The challenges of safety and external attacks at the custodial centres for most parts come therefore from the awaiting trial inmates given their numerical strengths.”

The launch of the project followed the Federal Government’s collaboration with the United Nations Development Programme and the Japanese Government.

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COVID-19: Lagos Announces Beginning Of 4th Wave

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Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos State has alerted Nigerians of an impending fourth wave of the coronavirus pandemic, saying the positivity rate has indicated that Nigeria may soon be faced with surge in infections.

The governor, who stated this in a statement he personally signed on Tuesday, blamed the development on the non-adherence to preventive measures by Nigerians.

According to the governor, as of December 5, the state had recorded a total of 78,564 confirmed cases of COVID-19 with a total of, 71,977 certified to have recovered in community while 612 are still being managed actively in community.

He said: “…most of the continents of the world – including Africa – are now experiencing a fourth wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. Unfortunately, Lagos State is not left out as we are also experiencing the beginnings of a fourth wave with the current positivity rate at 6 per cent.”

The governor said the new positivity rate is against the rates of 0.1 per cent as of the middle of November 2021.

Details later

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Former PMAN President, Bolaji Rosiji Dies At 56

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Bolaji Rosiji, a former president of the Performing Musicians Association of Nigeria (PMAN), is dead.

Rosiji’s death was announced by one of his friends and colleague, renowned flutist Tee Mac Omatsola Iseli.

Until his death, he was the founder and brain behind Guarapad Charities.

In a statement by Olayemi Esan, the Public Relations Officer, Gaurapad Charities, Rosiji died in Lagos on Sunday after a brief illness.

He said burial arrangements will be announced in coming days.

The late Rosiji founded Gaurapad Charities in 2004, and was the former Secretary-General of the Nigeria Network of NGOs (NNNGO).

He is survived by wife and children.

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