Ex-NSITF chairman, Olejeme remanded in EFCC’s custody
… N3billion is said to have been involved.
A High Court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) in Jabi, Abuja has ordered that a former Chairman of the Board of the Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF), Ngozi Olejeme be remanded in the custody of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
Justice Maryam Hassan Aliyu issued the order on Thursday after Olejeme was arraigned on a nine-count charge in which she was accused of abusing her office, receiving bribe, awarding contracts without due process, among others
About N3billion is said to have been involved.
In one of the counts, Olejeme was alleged to have “dishonestly received the sum of N22,200,000.00” from a contractor with NSITF into her personal account No. 32327505058110 in a new generation bank.
Olejeme was also accused of receiving $48,485,127.00, which was dollars equivalent of some funds received from contractors as “kickback.”
She pleaded not guilty when the charge was read following which the prosecuting lawyer, Steve Odiase sought a date for the commencement of trial.
The defence lawyer, Paul Erokoro (SAN) informed the court about his client’s bail application, which he proceeded to move. He urged the court to grant her bail either on self-recognition or on liberal terms.
Erokoro said the defendant returned to the country in 2017 on her own volition on hearing that she was being wanted for questioning by the EFCC.
He said she reported to the EFCC, questioned and was granted bail, adding that she has been reporting to the EFCC since then.
Erokoro assured that since the defendant has remained faithful to the bail granted her by the EFCC, she will be available for trial.
He added that the bail application was based on medical grounds, which include that she has been diabetic and hypertensive for 30 years.
Also she, in recent time, had four surgeries in the United States and South Africa.
Erokoro told the court that the defendant suffered heart failure four months ago and contracted COVID-19 but recovering from it.
He said the defendant is scheduled for one follow-up surgery next month in South Africa, and that his client would apply for permission to travel for that purpose.
Odiase said he was no opposed to the defendant being granted bail but would prefer that she be granted conditional bail, requiring that she produced a surety pending the conclusion of the trial.
Ruling, Justice Aliyu adjourned till Friday for ruling on the bail application and ordered that the defendant be kept in the custody of the EFCC.
Presidential Election Tribunal: Hearing To Begin May 30 As Court Merges PDP, LP, APM Petitions
The Presidential Election Petition Court has consolidated all the petitions filed by the three petitioners, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Labour Party (LP), and the Allied Peoples’ Movement (APM), and their presidential candidates.
The Chairman of the Tribunal, Justice Haruna Tsamani, made this known on Tuesday while presenting the court pre-hearing report.
All three parties are challenging the outcome of the February 25 presidential election, in which the All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate, Bola Tinubu, was declared the winner by the Independent National Electoral Commission.
Tinubu polled 8,794,726 votes, while PDP’s Atiku Abubakar scored Abubakar 6,984,520 votes and his Labour Party (LP) counterpart, Peter Obi, finished with a tally of 6,101,533.
The Tribunal, in Tuesday’s proceeding at the Court of Appeal in Abuja, said the Labour Party and its presidential candidate, Peter Obi, had three weeks to prove their case.
To ensure a speedy hearing of the Labour Party’s petition, there will be no oral examination of witnesses as what will be required is the adoption of witness statements.
For a start (or expert) witness, 30 minutes shall be used for evidence in chief while 20 minutes will be for cross-examination and 5 minutes for re-examination.
Peter Obi’s hearing is to commence on May 30 and end June 23.Presenting the hearing report, Justice Misitura Bolaji-Yusuf said the APM is being given one day to prove its case as it had only one witness to call.
In line with Section 41(3) of the 1st Schedule of the Electoral Act, the court added that there shall be no oral examination of witnesses as witnesses will only be allowed to adopt their written statements.
APM’s hearing will begin on May 30 to end July 3 and is expected to close its evidence on June 6.
For the PDP, Atiku has three weeks to prove his case, with hearing commencing on May 30 and ending on June 20.
The First Respondent (INEC) was given two days, while the 2nd and 3rd respondents (Tinubu and APC) have five days.
Hearing for the consolidated suit is to commence on May 30 across the board while Labour Party and the PDP would close theirs on June 23.
The Tribunal is also expected to sit all week, including Saturdays.
Tribunal Dismisses PDP, LP’s Request For Live Coverage
The Chairman of the Presidential Election Petition Court, Justice Haruna Tsammani, has dismissed the application for live coverage of court proceedings.
At the proceeding in Abuja on Monday, Justice Tsammani said the application by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and Labour Party (LP) lacked merit.
In a unanimous decision, the panel held that the order sought by the petitioner was outside the scope of the petition, adding that televising of proceedings is not provided for in any law.
The panel stated that the court is created by the constitution and operates under the law by the Court of Appeal and that it was created to hear and determine the petitions before it and cannot act as a vanguard.
According to the justices, the undue pressure of allowing cameras into the courtroom should be avoided as the impact it will have on witnesses can not be predicted.
The court is created to find out the truth and should be allowed to do so, said the panel, which held that the request was a novel and not supported with any law in the country for now.
The panel further held that the request was not rooted from the petition Atiku filed before the court.
Justice Tsammani added that the request was capable of turning the court to a stadium or marketplace and that must not be allowed for now.
The panel held that granting the request for a live broadcast of proceedings of the petition would not add any value to the petition.
Justice Tsammani finally held that the petition was without merit and subsequently dismissed it.
Atiku, Obi’s Applications
The presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar, had filed an application on May 8 for an order to allow the live coverage of the daily court proceedings on the case they brought against the President-elect, Bola Tinubu, following the February 25 election.
The Labour Party (LP) and its presidential candidate, Peter Obi, followed suit with a similar application asking that proceedings of the tribunal be televised.
However, counsels for the President-elect, Bola Tinubu, and the All Progressives Congress (APC), opposed the move to consolidate the three different petitions.
They insisted that merging all the petitions, would affect their ability to effectively defend all the issues that were raised by the petitioners.
They maintained that the petitioners did not only raise various issues, but are seeking different reliefs.
Court orders school to pay teacher N2m for unlawful dismissal
The National Industrial Court has ordered a school, Trinity Model Academy, to pay its former staff member, Lucy Agabo, N2 million for psychological trauma which resulted from unlawful termination of her employment.
The presiding judge, Justice Isaac Essien, on Monday, May 15, declared the action of the school as unlawful, null, and void, saying it was done in breach of the claimant’s fundamental rights to fair hearing.
Justice Essien also ordered the school to pay the claimant (teacher) N200,000 as cost of action within 30 days.
From facts, the claimant stated that she was employed by the defendant as a classroom teacher in September 2017 and was issued a letter of termination on April 5, 2019, on the grounds of alleged gross misconduct.
She asserted that she never engaged in any act of misconduct and was never issued a query before her termination.
Agabo added that the termination was an attempt to destroy her teaching career which she worked tirelessly to build over the years and to further prejudice her chances of job prospects in the future.
The school, however, said Agabo was found guilty of the offence of gross misconduct.
The school in addition argued that because the appointment of the claimant was temporary in nature, it did not need strict adherence to statutory provisions but from the condition of service drawn from the instrument of employment.
It further urged the court to dismiss the case in its entirety.
In response, Agabo’s counsel argued that the probation period was supposed to be for one academic calendar year, adding that his client had become a permanent staff from September 2018 when the new academic session commenced.
The lawyer stated that the claimant was no longer a temporary staff when her appointment was terminated, urging the court to grant the reliefs sought.
Justice Essien, after evaluating the submissions of both parties, declared that the failure of the school to confirm the employment of the claimant after one academic session and continuing to hold her in the employment was nothing but an unfair labour practice.
He added that the claimant was deemed to have been confirmed by operation of the law after one academic session.
The judge equally ruled that the failure of the defendant to issue the claimant a query as provided in the contract of employment which would have afforded her the opportunity to defend the allegation of misconduct made against her was a clear breach of the right to fair hearing as guaranteed by the 1999 Constitution as amended.
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