The Lagos State High Court in Ikeja has ordered the permanent forfeiture of choice assets retrieved from two convicted internet scammers to the federal government.
A statement issued by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) said the trial judge, Oluwatoyin Taiwo, issued the order of forfeiture in her judgement convicting -Tobilola Bakare and Alimi Sikiru – of fraud on Monday.
EFCC’s spokesperson, Wilson Uwujaren, who signed the statement, said both men pleaded guilty to five counts of fraud,
Listed as part of the forfeited assets are the sums of N196.7 million and N7million totalling about N203.7 million in bank accounts.
They also include: two vehicles – a Mercedes Benz E500 and a Toyota Hilux 2020 – both of which are said to be valued at N30million.
The rest of the forfeited assets are three houses located in the upscale axis of Lekki, Lagos State.
One of the houses is a five-bedroom duplex situated at Ibrahim Eleto Street, Osopa London, Lekki, Lagos.
Another is a four-bedroom semi-detached duplex situated at Ologolo, Jakande, Lekki, Lagos.
The third house is another four-bedroom semi-detached duplex in Southern View Estate, Mayor Court, Chevron Alternative Road, Lekki, Lagos.
EFCC which successfully prosecuted the defendants said the three duplexes are valued at 230 Million.
The defendants “confessed to involvement in cybercrime,” the statement said in part.
It added that while Mr Bakare, 27, an indigene of Ijebu-Ode, Ogun State, confessed to involvement in Business Email Compromise (BEC) between 2009 and 2020, hacking into different companies’ email accounts outside.
EFCC said he hacked into the accounts of KLM, Turkish Airlines and British Airways.
The second defendant, in his statement to the commission , was said to have admitted that the majority of the funds found in his account were from the first defendant.
“The fraudsters gave up the assets as they could not give satisfactory explanation of the funds and properties linked to them,” the statement added.
They were subsequently arraigned before Mrs Taiwo of the Lagos State High Court, Ikeja on amended five counts of conspiracy and retaining stolen property, offences said to be contrary to Sections 411 and 328 of the Criminal Law of Lagos State.
The defendants pleaded guilty to the charges.
Delivering judgment, Mrs Taiwo noted that the action of the defendants was “responsible for giving Nigeria a bad image globally, whereby the average Nigerian is looked upon as being untrustworthy and fraudulent.”
She convicted and sentenced Mr Bakare to three years imprisonment on counts 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5, with the option of fine of N3m (Three Million Naira).
She also convicted and sentenced Mr Sikiru to three years imprisonment on counts 1 and 5 with an option of fine of N1 million (One Million Naira).
CJN Urges Judges To Remain Fair In Judgements
The Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Olukayode Ariwoola, has asked Judges to maintain the integrity that the Judiciary is known for and remain fair and firm in their Judgements.
The CJN was speaking at the opening of the special session of the 2023/2024 Legal year and Swearing-in of 58 newly conferred Senior Advocates of Nigeria In Abuja.
Ariwoola added that he expects every judicial officer to work very hard and also be very honest and courteous to the litigants, witnesses and members of the bar, and discharge all their judicial functions with all the humility at your command.
While pledging to safeguard the rule of law, the holistic independence of the judiciary and the trust and confidence of the public, the CJN further reiterated the determination of the Judiciary, not to be overwhelmed by the sentiments of the public in their decisions.
He stated that the law remained the law, no matter whose interest was involved.
He charged them that In all they do, as interpreters of the law, they should endeavour to severe the strings of emotion from logic and assumption from fact.
The CJN further reminded the judges that it is necessary to have at the back of their minds that public opinions, sentiments or emotions can never take the place of the law in deciding the cases that come before them.
He stated that the Judiciary, as it is today, is more deserving of public trust and confidence than ever before; and they are poised to reposition it for effective justice delivery to make the country a destination of note in the observance of the rule of law and tenets of Constitutionalism.
AGF seeks stakeholders’ collaboration on Criminal Justice review
Attorney-General of the Federation, Lateef Fagbemi, SAN has called for stakeholders’ collaboration in reviewing the implementation of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA).
Fagbemi made the call at the three-day national stakeholders’ forum for the review of the implementation of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015 and Administration of Criminal Justice Laws of States on Tuesday in Abuja.
He described ACJA as one of the few areas where both states and national share common grounds; adding that the federal government is keen to see that the country’s criminal justice system is responsive.
“ACJA is one of the few key legislations that both the federal and states governments share so much common grounds, as with common worries and concerns.
“The reason for this is not far-fetched, the effectiveness and functionality of the criminal justice system, and indeed, the entire justice sector, has direct effect on the overall development, stability and sustainability of any society.
“Our ministry as a leading stakeholder in the ACJA implementation will continue to collaborate with public and private sector in achieving a balanced and inclusive judicial system.
“We will ensure that the criminal justice system of our country is more responsive to the demands of Nigerians for a simple, fast, efficient, effective, fair and trustworthy system for dispensation of justice’’.
He said passage of the ACJA by all the 36 States of the federation had provided a common ground to address the critical issues and challenges confronting Nigeria’s criminal justice system.
“It has provided us a shared platform that would enable us scale up our efforts and seek new pathways practical solutions to identified challenges’’.
Also speaking, the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Olukayode Ariwoola urged all stakeholders in judiciary to forge a common front in the implementation and administration of the ACJA 2015.
Ariwoola, who was represented by Justice Tijani Abubakar commended the federal government for initiating conversation around ACJA, noting that it would afford authorities from states and federal to interact and forge a common front.
“This forum is a right step in the right direction as it would afford authorities from federal and state to interact and seek common front in the implementation and administration of the law,” Ariwoola said.
Stakeholders who were present at the forum were the Presidents of the Court of Appeal, the Nigerian Bar Association, the Inspector General of Police, the Solicitor General of the Federation, Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences (ICPC).
Others are the Nigerian Custom Service, the Nigerian Prison Service, RoLAC, National Drug, Law and Enforcement Agency, , the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, Code of Conduct Bureau and representatives from the European Union.
Police officer to die by hanging for killing Lagos lawyer
The Lagos State High Court sitting at Tafawa Balewa Square has sentenced ASP Drambi Vandi, the police officer who killed a lawyer, Bolanle Raheem, to death by hanging.
The presiding judge, Justice Ibironke Harrison, while delivering judgement on Monday, October 9, 2023, convicted Vandi of a one-count charge of murder.
“The court finds the defendant guilty on one count of murder. You will be hanged by the neck till you are dead,” the judge held.
While delivering judgment, Justice Harrison said that none of the eyewitness actually saw the defendant pull the trigger.
She, however, held that circumstantial evidence was overwhelming to prove that Vandi murdered Raheem.
According to the judge, a defendant can be convicted when circumstantial evidence is overwhelming.
The judge said: “The question in the mind of the court is: Did the prosecution provide any additional evidence?
“The court finds that the ammunition of the other officers who were on patrol with the defendant remained intact but two of the defendant’s ammunition were missing.”
Harrison said that the defendant had alleged that the shortfall in his ammunition was because it was counted in his absence.
The judge also noted that Vandi testified that the bullet tendered in court was not his, saying, however, that Vandi constituted himself as a ballistician pathologist without tendering a certificate to that effect.
She, therefore, dismissed the evidence.
“The court finds that the forensic expert and the medical doctor’s evidence confirm the circumstantial evidence that the defendant had the opportunity to shoot the victim and that the victim was shot and died from the gunshot.
“Every eyewitness heard the loud noise and passers-by shouted in Yoruba Language (oti pa eyan) meaning: you have killed someone,” she said.
Harrison held that the prosecution proved its case beyond every reasonable doubt that it was the convict who shot the gun that killed the deceased.
“The death of the deceased was instantaneous. There is no other explanation, it was the gunshot that shattered the side glass and pierced the victim’s chest.
“It was the defendant who had an AK-47 riffle whose ammunition was missing after the armourer counted it,” she held.
She also held that the defendant did not say that he pointed the gun to force or scare people in the vehicle to obey order and park the vehicle.
She added that the defendant did not say that the shooting was accidental which would have earned him a smaller sentence of manslaughter.
“Therefore, the defendant is found guilty of the one count charge and sentenced to death by hanging until he dies,” she held.
The court had, in July 2023, fixed today to deliver judgement after the adoption of final written addresses by parties in the suit.
Vandi was arraigned on January 16 on a count charge of murder but he pleaded not guilty.
The Lagos State Government alleged that the police officer shot the lawyer in the chest at Ajah Roundabout on the Lekki expressway in Lagos State on December 25, 2022.
It stated that the murder contravenes Section 223 of the Criminal Law of Lagos State, 2015.
A police Inspector, Matthew Ameh, who was a colleague of Vandi, had told the court how the policeman shot the deceased on Christmas Day.
Ameh told the court that on December 25, 2022, he was posted to Ajah Under Bridge with the defendant (Vandi) and another officer, Inspector Dimini.
Ameh, who said he had been working with the police since 2001, stated that he worked at the Lagos State Police Command and was attached to the Ajah Division.
The witness disclosed that the Divisional Police Officer had instructed them to go and protect lives and property, adding that their duty on December 25, at Ajah Under Bridge, was to conduct a stop-and-search operation.
He said: “We were armed while conducting our duty but we were instructed not to use our arms unless someone’s life or our lives were in danger.
“As we were at our duty post, Insp Dimini was in front, I was in the middle while Vandi was behind me.
“There was a Toyota car with no number plate which Inspector Dimini tried to flag down but it didn’t stop. I also flagged it down, it didn’t stop. The next thing I heard was a gunshot.
“I looked back and saw the screen of the car falling down. The next thing: a dark woman jumped down from the vehicle, held the defendant, shouting oga you have killed my sister.”
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