The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has prayed a Federal High Court in Abuja to order final forfeiture of 899, 600 dollars linked to former Bauchi State Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Ibrahim Ahmed Dandija.
Counsel to the EFCC, Ekele Iheanacho urged Justice Zainab Abubakar to make the order, following his application for final forfeiture of the funds to the Federal Government.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that while the EFCC is the applicant, Abdallah Suleiman, Ahmed Ibrahim Dandija and Sigma Apartments Ltd. are 1st to 3rd respondents respectively in the suit marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/1986/19.
Although the matter was formerly before Justice Folashade Giwa-Ogunbanjo, the case was reassigned to Justice Abubakar following Giwa-Ogunbanjo’s transfer to another division.
Justice Giwa-Ogunbanjo had, on Oct. 31, 2019, granted an interim forfeiture application in respect of the funds brought by the EFCC’s lawyer, Iheanacho, through an ex-parte motion.
The money, the lawyer averred, was established to be proceeds of fraudulent activities.
He said that the commission received intelligence bordering on money laundering regarding illicit funds stashed at Sigma Apartment Ltd. located at Wuse, Abuja.
Iheanacho said that based on the intelligence, the house was searched and a safe was found that contained the money.
He told the court that investigations revealed that the apartment was secured by a former SSG to the Bauchi State Government, Dandija, to store his valuables but that all efforts to get him were unsuccessful as he had refused to honour the invitation to explain his connection to the money.
The lawyer further revealed that one Abdallah Suleiman later came forth to claim the money, stating that “he engages in chartering of aircrafts through his company Montes Auri Ltd and that the money was received on behalf of a company.”
The EFCC counsel, however, said that investigations at the Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) by the anti-graft agency failed to establish Suleiman’s claim.
Justice Giwa-Ogunbanjo, then, granted the prayer sought by the EFCC and directed that the order be published in a national newspaper for persons with interest in the funds sought to be forfeited to appear before the court to show cause why the final order of the forfeiture of the funds should not be made in favour of the Federal Government.
Meanwhile, when the matter was called before the current presiding judge, Justice Abubakar, Iheanacho told the court that he had an application for “final forfeiture to the Federal Government of $899, 600 found by the anti-corruption commission and which funds are reasonably suspected to be proceeds of unlawful activities.”
He said he was ready to proceed with the application subject to court’s convenience.
The judge then inquired from lawyers to the respondents if they had been served with the motion on notice and they confirmed, adding that they had also responded too.
Counsel to the 1st respondent (Abdallah Suleiman), Blessing Anazodo, said a preliminary objection and also application seeking leave to regularise the said preliminary objection had been filed.
Justice Abubakar then granted leave to Iheanacho to move the motion.
Moving the motion, the the lawyer informed the court that he filed motion on notice dated and filed on Dec. 2, 2019, seeking for final forfeiture of the money.
He said the motion was supported by 37-paragraph affidavit.
He urged the court to grant the commission’s plea for a final forfeiture order of the funds to the Federal Government.
But Anazodo, after moving the application to regularise the processes, asked the court to set aside aside the earlier interim order granted for the forfriture of the funds.
The lawyer also prayed the court to compel the EFCC to return the money to the respondent.
Responding, the EFCC lawyer argued that a counter affidavit had been filed to oppose the 1st respondent’s preliminary objection.
He urged the court to dismiss the application.
However, counsel to 2nd respondent, A. O Usman, and lawyer to the 3rd respondent, Ademola Adeleye, informed the court that though they filed counter affidavits, they were not opposing to the reliefs being sought by the EFCC.
Justice Abubakar adjourned the matter until Jan. 31 for judgment.(NAN)
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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