A Federal High Court in Abuja on Monday adjurned a case on an alleged money Laundering to October 4th to hear pending motions filed by parties in criminal charges against Mr Ahmad Salihijo Ahmad, Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, Rural Electrification Agency (REA), and four others.
The presiding judge, Justice James Omotosho, fixed the date for parties to exchange their processes and argue their case on all the pending applications in the next adjourned date.
Donnington Nigeria Ltd., Federal Government’s had filed four separate charges bordering on breach of Money Laundering Act before the judge on behalf of the Federal Government
While Donnington Nigeria Ltd is the complainant, Velocity Logistics & Marine Limited and Ahmad are 1st and 2nd defendants in the charge marked: FHC/ABJ/CR/175/2023.
The complainant alleged that Ahmad aided Velocity Logistics, a designated non-financial institution, between Jan. 2014 and Jan. 2018 in failing to report in writing to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) any lodgement or outflow transaction from the company’s Zenith Bank account number: 016639377 of the sums above N5 million.
This, it said, as required under Section 10(1)b of the Money Laundering Prohibition Act, 2011 (as amended) and thereby committed an offence under Section 18(a) of the said Act and punishable under Section 16 (2)(b) of the same Act.
The complainant, while prosecuting the matter, also filed three different charges against three other companies and their directors.
In charge number: FHC/ABJ/CR/183/2023, the complainant preferred 20 counts against Winslow Logistics Ltd and Mr Alkali Habib, a director and shareholder.
In charge number: FHC/ABJ/CR/176/2023, Sahams Crystal Investment Ltd and Abdulmumini Haruna are being sued on 14 counts also bordering on money laundering infractions.
The prosecution also filed 10-count charge marked: FHC/ABJ/CR/183/2023 against Equip Logistics Services Limited and Edwin Iyk Anyadigibe, its director and a shareholder, for failure to comply with the requirements of submitting to the Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment, a declaration of the activities of the company contrary to the money laundering act, among others.
When the matter involving Velocity Logistics and Ahmad was called, the prosecution counsel, Reuben Atabo, SAN, informed the court that the case was scheduled for arraignment and hearing of preliminary objection.
Atabo, who observed that the defendant was not in court, told the court that the defendant lawyer served them with their notice of preliminary objection on Friday and that they had to work all through weekend to ensure their response was ready.
The senior lawyer said their response, which was yet to be in the court record, would be filed today.
Justice Omotosho held that even if the defendant was in court, the motion challenging the jurisidtcion of the court had to be determined.
Lawyer to the defendants, Abdul Mohammed, SAN, called the court’s attention to media report of the last adjourned date.
Justice Omotosho, who advised lawyers in the matter to be careful of what they relate to public, adjourned the matter until Oct. 4 for hearing of pending applications, including other three sister cases.
Speaking with newsmen shortly after the sitting on the alleged use of media against the defendants, Atabo, who represented the prosecution, said the public had the right to know what transpired in court.
“It is the constitutional rights of the public for them to be aware of what transpired. Court is not a cult where what transpired should be restricted to the courtroom alone.
“But whatever transpired must be properly published to the public. Once that is done, no right of anybody would have been violated. It is part of fair hearing,” he said.
Also, speaking on why the defendants were not in court, Victor Opara, SAN, who appeared for Equip Logistics Services Limited and Edwin Iyk Anyadigibe, said every defendant would certainly face his trial any day.
Opara, however, said that if there were germane issues to be sorted out by the court before issues of arraignment would come into place, “then most necessarily, those issues have to be sorted out and actually adjudicated upon as it were.”
Imo guber: Achonu describes the Supreme Court verdict confirming his candidacy as victory for Imo people
***describes ordeal as a psychological warfare
Labour Party (LP) candidate for the November 11 Imo State governorship election, Senator Athan Achonu has described the Supreme Court decision that confirmed his candidature on Thursday as a victory for Imo people to liberate the State.
He described the cases challenging his candidature as a psychological warfare meant to confuse the people of the state.
The candidate said he won free and fair governorship primary and his name has already been published by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) as candidate of Labour Party.
The Supreme Court had dismissed an appeal brought before it by one Basil Maduka against the Labour Party over the rightful candidate of the party in the Imo state governorship election on the ground of locus standi.
A panel of five justices led by Iyang Okoro also cautioned the Appellant for abusing court processes and wasting the time of the courts all through from the lower courts.
Two other respondents in the matter were Independent National Electoral Commission, (INEC) and the Lamidi Apapa led candidate, Joseph Ukaegbu, alias Ikenga, whose request to seek for a consequential order was also rejected by the Supreme Court.
“I have refused to join issues with Ukaegbu and his cohorts because I think it was not necessary.
“In the first place I was not sued, secondly I won a free and fair election and, thirdly INEC gas published my name. It is when they say I am no more the candidate, that is when I will be bothered.
“I have been concentrating on my campaigns because the Imolites are bent on removing the present APC government in Imo State because of all the atrocities being committed.
“I want to make it clear now to Imo people because it was a psychological warfare. The whole idea was to make Imolites think that there could be a problem with my candidacy, so they will so, if I vote for Senator Achonu it will be a wasted effort.
“That was just the psychological warfare that they were waging against Imolites, but thank God the Supreme Court has laid that to rest today.
“So I am calling on all Imolites to come out in their numbers to campaign and champion the course of taking back Imo for themselves because what is happening there is atrocious,” he said.
Achonu promised to run people oriented government if elected governor of Imo State.
LP Legal Adviser Kehinde Edu and Okwudili Anozie, a member of legal team, said Supreme Court justices have put to an end the gimmick of Apapa group against the party’s governorship candidate.
Edu who maintained that Labour Party conducted only one governorship primary on April 15, which was won by Senator Achonu, said both Ukaegbu and Maduka participated but scored less than 10 votes.
Atiku tells Tinubu that he can’t hide under privacy law
***Asks judge to Fast-track process to beat deadline
You cannot use the excuse of privacy law to stop the release of your academic records from the Chicago State University (CSU), the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), in the last presidential election, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar has told President Bola Ahmed Tinubu.
Atiku, who stated this in his reply to Tinubu’s objection to the order of Magistrate Judge Jeffrey Gilbert, maintained that Tinubu’s objection was incompetent and lacking in merit.
According to the former Vice President, all the grounds of objections raised by Tinubu against the execution of the lawful order of the magistrate court were resolved by Justice Gilbert after listening to parties.
Recall that the court had on September 19, held that Atiku’s application for discovery outweighs Tinubu’s plea for protection under the privacy law.
Tinubu had, amongst other grounds, for the denial of Atiku’s request submitted that Judge Gilbert erred in directing the CSU to release documents bordering on Tinubu’s Diploma certificate, transcripts and admission letter amongst others.
But Judge Gilbert pointed out that the case of Atiku has merit as it has to do with Tinubu’s qualification for the 2023 presidential election, which he (Tinubu) won.
Dissatisfied, Tinubu last Thursday begging a Federal High Court presided by Judge Nancy Maldonado to delay the enforcement of the order till Monday, September 25, when he would formally file his objection.
At Monday’s proceedings, Tinubu had, amongst others, argued that the granting of the order violates his right to privacy and breached the US law regarding the release of academic records.
Specifically, Tinubu had argued that what the discovery Applicant seeks is intrusive because educational records are private and protected from disclosure under the Federal Educational Records and Privacy Act, 28 U.S.C. § 1232(g) (“FERPA”).
But Atiku, in his latest move, argued that the law of privacy pleaded by Tinubu to stop the release of his academic records was not relevant in this instance.
Atiku’s lawyer, Angela Liu, in her reply, pointed out that the FERPA and analogous state laws do not create an independent privilege for educational records and cannot serve as a shield against a court-issued subpoena.
According to the applicant, “the assertion of a privilege or privacy interest under FERPA is a nonstarter; the statute does not give individuals any enforceable rights”, adding that, “FERPA does not provide a privilege that prevents the disclosure of student records.”
Moreso, Atiku argued that Tinubu cannot plead protection when he “has placed its educational records at issue, ECF 40 at 25-26 (explaining that Intervenor put his diploma at issue by submitting it to INEC and Tinubu’s records have already been introduced into the Nigerian proceedings, including by Tinubu himself, and widely published in the media”.
Stating further that through various proceedings, Tinubu has submitted his own educational records for consideration by courts and indeed by the public, Atiku submitted that Judge Gilbert correctly decided that the balance of the Intel discretionary factors weigh in favor of granting the discovery.
“The Objections are meritless.”
Apparently justifying the need for Tinubu’s contentious academic records to be released, Atiku insisted that a mechanism exists in the Supreme Court of Nigeria to admit fresh evidence.
He cited Supreme Court Order 2, which reads in part, “A party who wishes the court to receive the evidence of witnesses (whether they were or were not called at the trial) or to order the production of any document, exhibit or other thing connected with the proceedings in accordance with the provisions of Section 33 of the Act, shall apply for leave on notice of motion prior to the date set down for the hearing of the appeal.
“The application shall be supported by affidavit of the fact on which the party relies for making it and of the nature of the evidence or the document concerned.
“It shall not be necessary for the other party to answer the additional evidence intended to be called but if leave is granted the other party shall be entitled to a reasonable opportunity to give his own evidence in reply if he so wishes”.
While stating that his application is a straightforward Section 1782 application, Atiku submitted “Contrary to Intervenor’s inflated rhetoric, Applicant is not seeking “to conduct a fishing expedition into Intervenor’s private, confidential, and protected educational records.
“Rather, Applicant seeks to test (1) the authenticity and origin of twelve (12) pages of documents (including two very different diplomas) that purport to have been issued by CSU (the “CSU documents”) —all of which have already been submitted to the Nigerian courts and widely published in the media; and (2) the basis for CSU’s categorical assertion that Tinubu received a B.S. degree in 1979, given discrepancies between information in the CSU documents and information in his affidavit submitted to INEC.
“If, as Intervenor asserts, he graduated from CSU in 1979—and the CSU documents are authentic copies issued by CSU—there is no reason why he should oppose the limited discovery Applicant seeks.
“For the foregoing reasons, the Court should overrule the Objections in their entirety.
“If the Court overrules the Objections, Applicant respectfully requests that it enter an order requiring production of documents no later than October 2, 2023, and the deposition scheduled no later than October 3, to allow time for transcripts to be finalized, and the discovery obtained to be sent to Nigeria (which is six (6) hours ahead) by October 4 so that such evidence may, in turn, be filed with the Supreme Court by October 5, which is when Applicant’s Nigerian counsel intend to submit any new evidence to the Supreme Court”, he said.
Tinubu asks US Judge to conceal his Gender, School Records From Atiku
President Bola Tinubu through his counsel has prayed the Federal Judge in the United States to only release his university certificate to Atiku Abubakar, the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, (PDP) in the February 25 election.
He, however, pleaded with the court to conceal his gender and other school records from his political rival, Atiku.
Arguing further, he said releasing all his academic records, including his gender would be costly to him.
“There is harm in allowing discovery on issues and documents outside the diploma,” Tinubu had pleaded while seeking a review of Judge Jeffrey Gilbert’s order by Ms Maldonado, a district judge.
The judge, while adjurning his ruling to Monday, called both parties to make their presentation before him.
Following many years of the mystery surrounding his state of origin, gender, age, academic records among other biodata, Atiku had approached the court to compel the Chicago State University (CSU), to release complete information of the president to unravel his true identity.
One of the controversial documents showed the person Bola Tinubu as a ‘female’ while others contained conflicting information and discrepancies that the president has failed to explain.
Atiku said, causing the CSU to release all documents linked to the president, will put to rest the controversy as well as aiding his case in Court regarding the outcome of the presidential election.
But after vehemently opposing the release of his documents a week ago, the president has at the hearing today (Monday) pleaded that the court can cause only partial release of the documents, which is his certificate while blocking the CSU from releasing others.
Tinubu argued that, “The Magistrate Judge clearly erred in granting the application for discovery and concluding that Chicago State University must respond to the document and deposition subpoenas.
“Even if a narrow subset of information can be considered ‘for use’ in the foreign proceeding, that is limited to the diploma submitted to INEC.
“Fishing expeditions into other documents and more document productions must be precluded,” Tinubu further argued.
In giving his order, the court ordered the university to provide the 1979 diploma it issued but with the owner’s particulars redacted.
It also ruled that the certificate it issued to Tinubu in 1979, a certificate issued in 1979 that carries “the same font, seal, signatures and wording” as that issued to Tinubu, and a deposition of officials to certify that the records have been released among other rulings to certify the applicant’s request.
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