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Corruption: Lawal, Kalu, Amosu, Metuh top EFCC’s major arraignments for 2021

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THE Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) says it hopes to overturn the rulings that freed Orji Kalu, current Senate chief whip and Olisa Metuh, former national publicity secretary of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) from prison this year.

The commission, through its monthly publication entitled ‘EFCC Alert’ listed Babachir Lawal, former secretary to the government of the federation; Adesola Amosu, former chief of air staff; Abdulrasheed Maina, former chairman of the Pension Reform Task Team; Andrew Yakubu, former group managing director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC); Babangida Aliyu, former governor of Niger state, and Winifred Oyo-Ita, former head of civil service of the federation as some of the prominent Nigerians whose corruption cases would continue in court this year.

The publication also named Muktar Yero, former governor of Kaduna State; Doyin Okupe, Tanimu Turaki and Mohammed Adoke, former senior special assistant on public affairs, minister of special duties and inter-governmental affairs, and former minister of justice and attorney-general of the federation respectively in the administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan as former public office holders whose corruption cases would also continue in court.

Others in the roll call are Murtala Nyako and Gabriel Suswam, former governors of Adamawa and Benue state respectively; George Turnah, a former special adviser to Dan Abia, erstwhile managing director of Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC); and Abubakar Mohammed Sani, deputy comptroller of the Nigerian Correctional Service, Katsina Command.

The commission also expressed delight with the conviction of a former managing director of Finbank, Okey Nwosu, on January 5, 2021, by Justice Okunnu of the Lagos State High Court.

He is to serve a three-year jail term.

Nwosu’s conviction came nine years after the EFCC had filed a case, accusing him of 19.2 billion naira fraud at the Finbank.

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Deposed Emir of Kano and former governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) had on October 9, 2010, predicted Nwosu’s imprisonment.

Sanusi made the prediction when exposing the malpractices in the bank: ““In each of those banks, I know what I saw and I told you from the very first day that it was unbelievable, but I know what I saw. And I have no doubts in my mind that each and every one of those people will go to jail.”

According to the EFCC, mismanagement by Nwosu led to Finbank’s distress and its eventual acquisition by First City Monument Bank (FCMB).

EFCC logo. Source: EFCC Twitter

Babachir Lawal

He is standing trial before Justice Charles Agbaza of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) High Court over 544 million naira ‘grass-cutting scandal.’

Lawal was accused of  illegally benefitting from  approval of the 544 million naira, which was from irrigation/grass cutting contract on the camps of internally-displaced persons in the North-East.

The contract was awarded under the presidential Initiative for North East (PINE).

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Orji Uzor Kalu:

The former governor of Abia State, and current chief whip of the Senate was freed on May 8, 2020, by the Supreme Court after spending six months of his 12-year jail term at Kuje prison.

He had been sentenced by Justice Idris Mohammed of a Federal High Court, Lagos, on December 5, 2019.

The Supreme Court ruled that Mohammed had been elevated to the Court of Appeal before giving the ruling and was no longer a judge of the lower court.

READ ALSO: Maina, like other public officials accused of corruption, feigns sickness in court

It, therefore, ordered a retrial of Kalu for alleged 7.1billion naira fraud.

EFCC said the Abuja division of the Federal High Court had slated February 2, 2021, to re-arraign the politician in Abuja.

A chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Orji is rumoured to be a major contender for the 2023 presidency.

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Olisa Metuh

The PDP’s former national Publicity Secretary was convicted on February 25, 2020 by Justice Okon Abang of the Federal High Court in Abuja.

Among others, the court found Metuh guilty of fraudulently receiving 400 million naira from the Office of the National Security Adviser in November 2014. His case dragged for four years in the court.

“The Abuja Division of the Court of Appeal, on December 16, 2020 upheld the appeal of Metuh, and set aside the conviction handed down on him by Justice Okon Abang of a Federal High Court, Abuja, citing bias, without considering the merits in the money laundering case. Metuh at the time had already commenced his seven-year jail term at the Kuje Prison.

“However after a review of the ruling, the EFCC has approached the Supreme Court to set aside the judgment of the Court of Appeal on the grounds that the appellate court erred by restricting itself to only two grounds (12 and 14) of the appeal that dwelt on the alleged bias of the trial judge, without examining the merit of the judgment of Justice Abang,” EFCC Alert, January 2021 edition, said.

Adesola Amosu

The retired military chief is standing trial before Justice Chukwujekwu Aneke of the Federal High Court Court sitting in Ikoyi, Lagos. He is joined by two others, namely, Jacobs Adigun, an air vice marshall and former NAF chief of accounts and budget, and Owodunni Olugbenga, an air commodore and former NAF director of finance and budget for allegedly diverting about 21 billion naira of the Nigerian Air Force funds for personal use.

Babangida Aliyu

Aliyu is standing trial alongside his then chief of staff, Umar Nasko, on an alleged 2 billion naira money laundering charge contained in an amended three-count charge by the EFCC. He is also accused of diverting, for personal use, the ecological fund meant for his state where he served as a two-time governor.

Andrew Yakubu

Yakubu, former group managing director of the NNPC is accused of engaging in money laundering running into several billions.

The EFCC had, on a tip-off, raided his guest house situated at Sabon Tasha, Kaduna State on February 3, 2017, and reportedly recovered stacks of monies in a fireproof safe.

According to the anti-graft agency, 9.8 million US dollars and 74,000 pound sterling were discovered in the building.

Justice Ahmed Mohammed of the Federal High Court Abuja has fixed February 17, 2021, to rule on the request by the EFCC which urged the court to visit the Kano branch of the CBN and inspect the sums of 9.77 milion dollars  and 74,000 pounds traced to him.

Abdulrasheed Maina

Maina is standing trial for two billion naira pension fraud. He allegedly committed the crime using his office as the chairman of the Pension Reform Task Team.

After reportedly jumping bail and fleeing Nigeria, he was caught by Interpol on November 30, 2020, in Niger Republic and was later extradited to Nigeria.

“Maina on December 9, 2020, filed a no-case submission before Justice Okon Abang of a Federal High Court, Abuja.

“Justice Abang had adjourned till December 10, 2020 for the defence to argue the application and for the prosecution to respond to same orally, but on the said date, there was some drama in court as Maina collapsed in the courtroom.

“Before then, Maina had jumped bail, prompting the court to jail his surety, Senator Ali Ndume. With collaboration between the EFCC and INTERPOL, Maina was arrested in Niger Republic and brought back to Nigeria to face his trial,” EFCC stated in its publication.

Winifred Oyo-Ita:

The former head of civil service is facing an 18-count charge of official corruption and money laundering to the tune of 570 million naira, which allegedly involved obtaining estacodes and duty travel allowances for journeys either not undertaken or non-existent.

Standing trial alongside Oyo-Ita are Frontline Ace Global Services Limited; Asanaya Projects Limited; Garba Umar and his companies: Slopes International Limited and Gooddeal Investments Limited.

Others are: Ubong Okon Effiok and his companies, U&U Global Services Limited and Prince Mega Logistics Limited.

EFFC operatives in action. Source: BusinessDay

Their trial continuedbefore Justice Taiwo Taiwo of a Federal High Court, Abuja, on January 28, 2021.

Muktar Ramalan Yero:

The former governor of Kaduna State is standing trial before Justice Z.B. Abubakar of the Federal High Court sitting in Kaduna over his involvement in the ‘sharing’ of 700 million naira provided by a former minister of petroleum resources, Diezani Alison-Madueke, to allegedly influence the outcome of the 2015 presidential election.

Yero is standing trial alongside a former minister of state, Nuhu Somo Waya; former Kaduna State PDP chairman, Abubakar Haruna Gaya, and the former secretary to the state government, Hamza Ishaq, on an amended eight-count charge.

The case has been adjourned till February 23, 2021, for continuation of trial.

Kabiru Tanimu Turaki

The trial of the former minister of special duties and inter-governmental affairs, alongside his personal assistant, Sampson Okpetu, continued on January 25, 2021.

They are standing trial before Justice Inyang Ekwo of the Federal High Court, Abuja, for an alleged 714.6million naira fraud.

Two companies standing trial alongside the former minister are: Samtee Essentials Limited and Pasco Investment Limited. The case has been adjourned till February 9 and 10, 2021.

Mohammed Adoke:

Adoke is in court over alleged money laundering involving about 400 million naira.

The trial was stalled on January 11, 2021, before Justice Inyang Ekwo of the Federal High Court, Abuja, due to the absence of the defendant. He was reportedly stranded in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, after he tested positive for the coronavirus disease. The court had earlier granted his request to travel to Dubai for medicals. He was said to have been on the verge of returning to the country when he found out that he was positive for the virus.

Adoke, who is reported to have tested negative, was said to have been unable to fly back in good time for his trial.

He is standing trial alongside Aliyu Abubakar on an amended 14-count charge of money laundering. They are expected back in court on March 1, 2021.

Abubakar Mohammed Sani

The deputy comptroller of the Nigerian Correctional Service, Katsina Command, is alleged to have obtained money running to about 2.8 million naira from unsuspecting jobseekers, under the guise of securing government jobs for them.

Sani, who was the works officer at the headquarters of the Correctional Service, was first arraigned on December 9, 2020, before Justice Hadiza Sabi’u Shagari of the Federal High Court Katsina and he pleaded ‘not guilty.’

The case has been adjourned to February 3 and 4, 2021, for the defence to cross-examine the prosecution witness

Murtala Nyako

The EFCC had, on January 16, 2020, closed its case in the 29 billion naira fraud trial of the former governor of Adamawa State.

In its publication, the commission said rather than open defence, Nyako, and his co-defendants – his son, Abdul-Aziz Nyako; two companies – Sebore Farms and Extension Ltd and Pagado Fortunes Ltd; Zulkifik Abba, Abubakar Aliyu, Blue Opal Ltd, Tower Assets Management Ltd and Crust Energy Ltd filed a no-case submission.

Following their application, Justice Okon Abang has fixed February 26, 2021, to enable the defendants reply to the prosecution’s counter-affidavit on point of law.

Gabriel Suswam

Suswam is standing trial for alleged 3.1billion naira fraud.

On November 2, 2020, the former Benue State governor alongside his then commissioner of finance, Omodachi Okolobia, was re-arraigned before Justice Ahmed Mohammed of the Federal High Court, Abuja.

The trial judge was the one presiding over the case, before it was reassigned to Justice Okon Abang, and then brought back to Justice Mohammed.

The trial judge ordered the court registry to go through the records and sort out the exhibits earlier admitted by the court and to make sure that they were marked accordingly, in order for the trial to continue from where it stopped.

Doyin Okupe:

Okupe is being prosecuted by the EFCC alongside his two companies: Value Trust Investments and Abrahams Telecoms on a 59-count charge bordering on money laundering and criminal diversion of funds to the tune of 702 million naira.

Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu of the Federal High Court Abuja, on November 16, 2020, adjourned his trial to February 8 and 9, 2021.

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