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N19.3bn bail-out saga: Kogi makes good it’s threats, drags EFCC to court

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***demands N35bn damages

The Kogi State Government has finally dragged the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission to court over unsubstantiated allegations that it fixed N19.3 billion bail-out funds received from the Federal Government.

This came as Justice J. Majebi of a Kogi State High Court also granted an interim injunction restraining the EFCC from issuing further official or unofficial publications over the issue involving a new generation bank (namewithheld) with Account No. 0073572696 or any other account purportedly belonging to Kogi State Government.

The Kogi State Government, Accountant-General of the State, Momoh Jibrin; and Commissioner for Finance, Budget and Economic Planning, Asiwaju Mukadam Asiru, were claimants in the suit, while the EFCC, a new generation bank and Central Bank of Nigeria were listed as defendants.

The state government is demanding:”the sum of N35 billion only as damages against the 1st defendant for the defamatory publication, titled, ‘Hidden N19.3 billion Kogi salary bailout funds returned to CBN’ made on November 19, 2021 on her Facebook page containing amongst others, false and unfounded allegations of N19.3 billion being returned from Kogi State bailout account, which portrays fraud and misappropriation of public fund against the claimant.”

The High Court granted the following: 

“An interim injunction restraining the 1st Defendant/Respondents, its allies, agents, representatives, associates or whoever is acting for them or through them from doing anything either by way of publication or print or electronic media or issuing any official or unofficial publication in any print or electronic media, including online publication on its website or social media, both locally and internationally, with respect to the issues involving Account No. 0073572696 or any other account purportedly belonging to the 1st Claimant/Applicant domiciled with Sterling Bank Plc or any other bank registered and operating in Nigeria pending the hearing and determination of the Motion on Notice for interlocutory injuction.

“An interim injunction restraining the 1st Defendant/Respondent, its allies, agents, representatives, associates or whoever is acting for them or through them from doing anything either by inviting officials of the 1st Claimant or requesting for any document with respect to the issue involving Account No 0073572696 or any other account purportedly belonging to the 1st Claimant/Applicant domiciled with Sterling Bank Plc or any other bank registered and operating in Nigeria or otherwise relating to or pertaining to the affairs of the 1st Claimant whatsoever or its employees, appointees or associates pending the hearing and determination of the Motion on Notice for Interlocutory injuction.”

The Motion on Notice shall be heard on December 17, 2021, according to the Court.

The plaintiff asked the Court to declare that the publication by the EFCC containing, amongst others, false and unfounded allegations of N19.3 billion being returned was defamatory of the character of the Kogi State government.

The Kogi government asked for “an order of this Court compelling the 1st Defendant to, within 48 hours of the order of this Court, publish in three national dailies, a retraction of her frivolous allegations and also tender unreserved apology to the Claimant for the defamatory publication written against the Claimant.”

While asking the Court to declare the publication as “misconceived, wrongful, illegal, null and void”, the plaintiff also asked the Court to declare that the conduct of the 2nd defendant (Sterling Bank) was wrong, illegal, null and void in opening a fixed deposit account number 0073572696 and naming it Kogi bailout account without an application, request, authority or consent of the government.

The Kogi State government had earlier threatened to take the EFCC to Court if the commission failed to retract and apologise over statements it continually made in the media with the aim of disparaging the state.

Particularly, the government said it could not understand how the EFCC kept attributing an account number to the state even after Sterling Bank had written to explain that there was never a time it gave the bank the mandate to open the said account.

It said it was also alarmed by what it described as “the falsehood in the activities of the EFCC claiming that N20 billion bailout funds, belonging to Kogi State, was hidden in a fixed deposit account with the said bank, which surprisingly now has a balance of less than the fixed N20 billion even after allegedly being kept for some years.”

Culled from the Vanguard

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Mambilla Update: Agunloye heads to Appel Court over ruling fundamental rights

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Justice Obiora Egwuatu at the Federal High Court in Abuja has dismissed a Suit filed by Agunloye in June 2023 to restrain EFCC from harassing him and breaching his fundamental rights because of the ongoing International Arbitration on Mambilla Power Project

The points made by Agunloye in the Civil Suit which had dragged for over nine months had become irrelevant or expired in reality because the EFCC, the Respondent, had, while the case was in progress, declared Agunloye wanted, detained him, maltreated him in detention.
The antigraft agency also arraigned him before another court and remanded him in prison until the court granted him bail.

The court under Justice Egwuatu, however, did not consider the merits of the case largely on the ground that EFCC has the power to carry out its statutory duties and can not be stopped by the Court. On this basis, Justice Egwuatu dismissed the suit and awarded costs.

Agunloye’s lawyers have expressed preparedness in respect of the appeal considering that the court admitted basing its ruling on the suit being “an attempt to use the instrumentality of the Court to shield the Applicant from criminal investigation and to interfere with the statutory authority of the Respondent to investigate crimes or allegations of same in line with the EFCC Act.”

It is believed that the duties of EFCC must be performed in accordance with the law, and the court has the powers to stop any infraction by the EFCC in the course of performance of its duties. Such does not amount to interference with the statutory duties of EFCC but a legal checkmate of its powers to deter likely abuse.

With the Agunloye heading to
appeal against the Judgement, the case is far from being over, and the Court of Appeal will take the opportunity to look at the case extensively.

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Oyowoli Vs Delta Governor: Court fixes March 27th to hear preliminary objection

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High Court 2 in Asaba, Delta State, Presided over by Justice G. Brikinns Okolosi, has slated March 27, 2024, to rule on preliminary objection for extension of time, raised by Counsels to two defendants in the case instituted by Prince Oyowoli Emiko against Prince Utienyioritsetsola Emiko, Delta State Governor, Hon Sheriff Francis Orohwedor Oborevwori and 23 others.

The Court took the position at its proceedings on Monday.

Prince Oyowoli Emiko, in a suit
had dragged Prince Utienyioritsetsola Emiko, Pa Akoma Dudun (The Olare-Ebi of Ginuwa 1 Ruling House, Warri Kingdom) Chief Ayirimi Emami (the Ologbotsere of Warri Kingdom/member of the Olu Advisory Council) Prince Emmanuel Okotie-Eboh (The Olori-Ebi of Ginuwa 1 Ruling House, Warri Kingdom) The Governor of Delta State, The Attorney General of Delta State and Chief Johnson Atseleghe (the Iyatsere of Warri/member of the Olu Advisory Council) and 18 others to the court in Asaba as defendants
He is praying the court to declare him as the rightful heir to the throne of Warri Kingdom, following the transition of the then Olu of Warri, Ogiame Ikenwoli.
The stool had since been occupied by His Majesty, Ogiame Atuwatse III.
At the Court proceedings, Counsels to some of the defendants in the suit had challenged the jurisdiction of court to entertain the matter and sought for preliminary objection for extension of time.
Findings revealed that at the last
adjourned date, the court made an order, setting down the preliminary objection for hearing and subsequently gave defense Counsels seeking the preliminary objection, two weeks to file in the objection.
At the resumed hearing on Monday, Chief Emmanuel Uti, who is counsel to Chief Ayirimi Emami, opposed the application brought by Barrister Orhiaki and Chief Robinson Ariyo, on the ground that a new law that is called Administration of Civil Justice Law of Delta State 2022.
The law provides that if a preliminary objection is to be filed, it should be done within 30 days upon being served with the statement of claim.

Chief Robinson Ariyo argued that the court lacks jurisdiction to entertain the matter, which according to him has been discontinued by the claimant.

Chief Emmanuel Uti, however argued that since the preliminary objection wasn’t filed, within the aforesaid time, the court can as well hear the matter on merit and decide at the end of the day, that both the preliminary objection and the substantive matter should be heard on merit.

Speaking to newsmen shortly after the court proceedings, Chief Emami, the erstwhile Prime Minister of the Warri Kingdom likened his role in the case to that of an electrical umpire like the INEC (Independent National Electoral Commission) which according to him, is to supervise the electoral process for the emergence and crowning of Olu of Warri Kingdom.

When asked about the presence of some persons who wore branded T-shirts to the court premises, Chief Emami, explained that “their action was occasioned by happenings in Warri kingdom, especially because I stand for truth and fairness as it relates to the succession controversy in Warri Kingdom.”
Spokesperson of the Ologbotsere Descendants Worldwide, Mr. Alex Eyengho and other supporters of Chief Emami, were in the court premises to show solidarity .

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Tension in 7 States as Supreme Court delivers judgements on Friday

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Apprehension has gripped Seven States, as the Nigerian Apex Court has hinted it will deliver judgements in seven governorship appeals on Friday, January 12, 2024, beginning from 9am.

The states includes Lagos, Kano, Zamfara, Plateau, Ebonyi, Bauchi and Cross River.

Sanwo-Olu VS GRV, Jandor
The Appeal Court in Lagos in November affirmed the judgment of the tribunal, confirming the return of Babajide Sanwo-Olu and Obafemi Hamzat as the Governor and Deputy Governor of Lagos state.

The justices of the court of appeal in a unanimous decision dismissed the appeal of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the Labour Party (LP) for lack of merit.

In March, INEC declared Sanwo-Olu as the winner of the Lagos governorship election.

Sanwo-Olu polled 762,134 votes to defeat his close challenger, LP’s Gbadebo Rhodes-Vivour also known as GRV, who scored 312,329 votes. PDP’s Abdulazeez Adediran popular as Jandor came a distant third with 62,449 votes.

Not satisfied, the LP and PDP candidates approached the Lagos State Election Petitions Tribunal to nullify Sanwo-Olu’s victory.

In its ruling on September 25, the tribunal dismissed Adediran and Rhodes-Vivour’s suit seeking to nullify the victory of Sanwo-Olu at the poll.

Displeased with the verdict, the duo approached the appellate court but the higher court dismissed their suits. Both men subsequently approached the apex court which is expected to deliver a judgement on Friday.

Nwifuru VS Odii
The Supreme Court had on Tuesday reserved judgement in the Ebonyi State governorship election appeal.

Last November, the Court of Appeal in Lagos had affirmed the election of APC’s Fran­cis Nwifuru as the duly elected governor of Ebonyi State in the March 18 governorship election.

The three-member panel presided over by Justice Jummai Sankey, in its unanimous decision, dismissed the appeal filed by PDP’s Chukwuma Odii and upheld the earlier verdict of the tribunal but the PDP candidate approached the apex court to seek redress

Yusuf VS Gawuna
Late December, the apex court reserved judgement in the appeal filed by the Kano State Governor, Abba Yusuf, challenging the verdict of the Court of Appeal and the State Election Petitions Tribunal, which removed him from office.

The five-member panel led by Justice John Okoro reserved the judgement after the parties adopted their brief of arguments.

In September, the tribunal nullified the victory of Yusuf, the candidate of the New Nigeria’s Peoples Party (NNPP) in the March 18 governorship election.

The tribunal also affirmed Nasiru Gawuna of the All Progressives Congress (APC) as the duly elected governor of Kano.

On November 13, the Court of Appeal upheld the verdict of the tribunal. In its ruling, the Appeal Court agreed with the judgement of the tribunal, ruling that the fielding of Abba Yusuf was in breach of the Electoral Law as he was not qualified to contest that election. But the governor proceeded to the Supreme Court to seek redress.

Lawal VS Matawalle
Last November, the Appeal Court nullified the election of Zamfara State Governor Dauda Lawal.

Lawal, of the main opposition PDP, was declared the winner of the March 18 governorship election. In a shocking victory that dislodged then-incumbent Bello Matawalle of the All Progressives Congress (APC), he polled a total of 377,726 votes. Matawalle scored 311,976 votes.

The PDP candidate, now serving as the Minister of State for Defence, had accused INEC of subverting his victory at the poll by failing to include the results of some ward areas.

In an earlier ruling on September 18, the Zamfara Election Petitions Tribunal held that the petition was devoid of merit. While upholding Lawal’s victory, the tribunal awarded the N500,000 fine against the petitioners.

An unsatisfied Matawalle, as observers expected, took the matter to the Court of Appeal in Abuja, to challenge the decision of the lower court.

Respite came for Matawalle on Thursday as the three-member panel led by Justice Oyebisi Folayemi, nullified the return of Governor Lawal as the winner of the governorship poll.

Justice Sybil Nwaka ordered INEC to conduct a fresh election in three local government areas of the state, where elections had not been held previously or where results from various polling units were not counted.

But the governor proceeded to the apex court to seek redress.

Mohammed VS Abubakar
Also in November, the appellate court affirmed the victory of Governor Bala Mohammed of Bauchi State in the March 18 governorship election.

The appeal was filed by the All Progressives Congress (APC) governorship candidate, Sadique Abubakar, following the tribunal judgment upholding Mohammed’s victory.

The panel of three justices were unanimous, awarding no cost as the court ruled that each party to the matter should bear their costs.

The presiding judge, Justice Chidi Nwaoma Uwa, read the judgment in the order of the appellant’s plea before the appeal court.

On plea number one, the appellant pleaded that the election be nullified because the forms and booklets used in the election were not properly filled. The court ruled that the appellant failed to prove this allegation with the needed evidence.
Mutfwang VS Goshwe
On January 9, 2024, the Supreme Court reserved judgement in the appeal filed by the Governor of Plateau State, Caleb Mutfwang, seeking to overturn the verdict of the Court of Appeal which nullified his election.

A five-member panel of justices led by Justice John Okoro reserved judgement after hearing arguments from parties for and against the appeal.

The governor through his counsel, Kanu Agabi, prayed the court to uphold the judgement of the Tribunal and set aside the judgment of the appellate court because the respondents have no right to question how a party elects its state executives.

He said the respondents (Nentawe Goshwe and the All Progressives Congress) can not plead that the governor did not score the number of lawful votes ascribed to him at the same time say the election was invalid.

In November, the Appeal Court in Abuja sacked Mutfwang and ordered the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to issue a Certificate of Return to Goshwe but the governor proceeded to the apex court to seek redress.

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