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Fayose vs EFCC: What happened in court on Friday

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Fayose vs EFCC: What happened in court on Friday

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The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on Friday abruptly stopped evidence by its 13th witness in the fraud trial of former Gov. Ayo Fayose of Ekiti State, saying that it appeared the witness was trying to be hostile.

The witness, Mr Adewale Aladegbola, who introduced himself as a former driver of a bullion van in Zenith bank, had testified that he didn’t have any operation on April 16, 2015.

“I didn’t have any operation; more so, the bullion van which I was using was grounded on that date,’’ he said.

EFCC counsel, Mr Rotimi Jacobs (SAN) had asked the witness to tell the court what transpired on April 16, 2015, in relation to cash operation in the bank.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the EFCC arraigned Fayose on an 11-count charge on Oct. 22, 2018, alongside a company Spotless Investment Ltd.

The former governor, however, pleaded not guilty, and was granted bail in the sum of N50 million with one surety in like sum.

EFCC opened its case on Nov. 19, 2018.

Led in evidence on Friday by Jacobs, Aladegbola testified that he worked in the Ado-Ekiti Branch of the bank as at 2015 and that his duty was cash picking.

The witness said that in absence of any cash to pick, he worked in the marketing section.

When asked about the vehicles he used for his job, he said he used two vehicles – a bullion van and an escort van.

When asked to tell the court what transpired between him and one `Alfa’ named Oputu Okiemute, the witness said that he got to know him in August.

“He told me about the cash they had picked and that we need to cover up as if we had gone to pick it up officially, and I asked him: `What do you want me to do now as you said I was not aware?’” he said.

At this point, Jacobs told the court that the witness was departing from the contents of his extra judicial statement to the EFCC.

“From the evidence this witness is giving, it appears he is trying to be hostile; he made a statement to the EFCC and now, he is trying to depart from the statement,” the counsel told the court.

He prayed the court for an adjournment to enable him to contemplate on the application to bring before the court on the development.

However, defence counsel, Messrs Ola Olanipekun (SAN) and Olalekan Ojo (SAN), objected to the request for adjournment.

According to them, departure of a witness from his extra judicial statement is not sufficient grounds for an adjournment.

Citing the provisions of Sections 230 of the Evidence Act, Ojo argued that the law required the prosecution in such a situation to cross-examine the witness.

Although, Justice Mojisola Olatoregun queried why prosecution could not instantly cross-examine the witness, she adjourned the case until May 14 for continuation of trial.

Earlier, the 12th prosecution witness, Mr Aliu Mukandaz, who is a Senior Manager with the Central Bank of Nigeria, told the court that N2.2 billion was paid into the Diamond bank account of Silva McNamara.

He said that the account was to fund any security agency’s account.

On the role he played in the disbursement, he told the court that he had no role but to disburse payments on the directives of the account signatories.

According to him, the payment was authorised by a former national security adviser, who was a signatory to the account.

NAN reports that EFCC accused Fayose and one Abiodun Agbele to have on June 17, 2014, unlawfully taken possession of the sum of N1.2 billion for purposes of funding his gubernatorial election campaign in Ekiti.

The anti-graft agency said that the sum formed part of crime proceeds.

It alleged that Fayose received a cash payment of five million dollars (about N1.8 billion) from the a former Minister of State for Defence, Sen. Musiliu Obanikoro, without going through any financial institution, saying that the sum exceeded the amount allowed by law.

It equally accused Fayose of retaining N300 million in his account and taking control of the aggregate sums of about N622 million which formed part of crime proceeds.

Fayose was also alleged to have procured De Privateer Ltd. and Still Earth Ltd. to retain in their accounts, aggregate sums of N851 million which formed part of crime proceeds.

The defendant was also alleged to have unlawfully used the aggregate sums of about N1.6 billion to acquire property in Lagos and Abuja.

The EFCC also said that the former governor unlawfully used N200 million to acquire a property in Abuja in the name of his elder sister, Moji Oladeji.

The alleged offences contravene the provisions of Sections 15(1), 15 (2), 15 (3), 16(2)(b), 16 (d) and 18 (c) of the Money Laundering Prohibition Act, 2011.

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CATHOLIC WORLD

Killing of Christians: Buhari lied to Trump – CAN fumes

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Killing of Christians: Buhari lied to Trump - CAN fumes

The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) has reacted to President Muhammadu Buhari’s revelation of his conversation with United States President, Donald Trump, on the massacre of Christians in Nigeria, saying President Buhari was economical with the truth.

President Buhari had on Tuesday, revealed that at the heat of the bloody clashes between herdsmen and farmers in Nigeria, the United States President, Donald Trump, unequivocally accused him of killing Christians.

Buhari said these in his closing remarks at the two-day ministerial performance review retreat held at the Presidential Villa, Abuja on Tuesday.

At a point, the President digressed from his prepared speech and narrated his encounter with Trump on the bloody clashes.

He said he managed to explain to the American leader that the clashes were not about ethnicity or religion.

He said, “I believe I was about the only African among the less developed countries the President of United States invited.

“When I was in his office, only myself and himself, only God is my witness, he looked at me in the face, and asked, ‘Why are you killing Christians?’

“I wonder, if you were the person, how you will react. I hope what I was feeling inside did not betray my emotion, so I told him that the problem between the cattle rearers and farmers, I know is older than me not to talk of him. I think I am a couple of years older than him.

“With climate change and population growth and the culture of the cattle rearers, if you have 50 cows and they eat grass, any root, to your water point, then they will follow it. It doesn’t matter whose farm it is.

“The First Republic set of leadership was the most responsible leadership we ever had. I asked the Minister of Agriculture to get a gazette of the early 60s which delineated the cattle route where they used meager resources then to put earth dams, wind mills even sanitary department.

“So, any cattle rearers that allowed his cattle to go to somebody’s farm would be arrested, taken before the court. The farmer would be called to submit his bill and if he couldn’t pay, the cattle would be sold, but subsequent leaders, the VVIPs (very important persons) encroached on the cattle routes. They took over the cattle rearing areas.

“So, I tried and explained to him (Trump) that this has got nothing to do with ethnicity or religion. It is a cultural thing.”

However, CAN’s Vice President and Chairman of the association in Kaduna State, John Hayab, was not impressed with Buhari’s submission, saying “Buhari and his government will never stop from amusing us with their tales by moonlight because what is happening in Zamfara, Sokoto, Katsina, Birnin Gwari, Southern Kaduna, Taraba, Plateau and others cannot be described as a cultural thing.

He told Punch correspondent in an interview: “President Buhari’s weak story about his conversation with President Donald Trump further confirms why his government does not care about the killings in our country by calling them cultural things.

“Just this (Tuesday) evening, I received a report from the Kaduna Baptist Conference President about the number of their members that have been killed by bandits in Kaduna State from January 2020 to date to be 105 and our President will call it a cultural thing? All we can say is may God save our Nigeria.”

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NATIONAL NEWS

CAMA: Bishop blasts Christian lawmakers

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CAMA: Bishop blasts Christian lawmakers

The Catholic Bishop of Nsukka, Most Rev. Godfrey Onah, has blamed Christians in the National Assembly (NASS), for the passage of the 2020 Companies and Allied Matters Bill (CAMA), signed into law by President Muhammadu Buhari recently.

Bishop Onah, said in a remark during the Sunday Mass that if Christians in NASS had opposed the bill, it would not have been passed into law.

President Muhammadu Buhari had on Aug. 7, signed the CAMA bill into law, giving provision for religious bodies and charity organizations to be regulated by the registrar of the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC), and a supervising minister.

“The question many Christians have been asking is, where were Christian legislators during the debate of this bill and its passage in the National Assembly?

“Because, if they had opposed this bill on the floor of the house, it would not have been passed and sent to the president for assent.

“I blame Christian legislators for doing nothing and allowing the passage of the 2020 CAMA Act,” he said.

“When I say that Christians are too divided and too selfish, don’t forget that the second in command in this country is a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, a professor of Law and a pastor.”

Onah, however, wondered what the Federal Government wanted to achieve in monitoring how the finances of churches in the country are managed when it contributed no dime to the church, NAN reports.

“Government should focus and monitor its ministries, agencies and other government institutions where it budgets billions of Naira annually and not church offerings.

“Had it been that the government gave allocations to churches and decided to monitor its usage, nobody will question the government,” he said.

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NATIONAL NEWS

Nigerians spit fire over fuel, electricity prices hike

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Increasing Fuel and Electricity Prices

Anger and condemnations, across the country, have continued to trail last week’s take off, of new increases in pump price of petroleum products and electricity tariffs, as directed by Federal Government.

Recall that the Petroleum Products Marketing Company (PPMC) official, D.O. Abalaka announced on Wednesday September 3, on behalf of Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) that the new price of petroleum is now N151.56k per litre instead of N149 – N150 per litre which it was previously.

The new electricity tariff which the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) tagged “Service Reflective Tariff” has also come into effect. It requires consumers to pay N53.87 – N66.422 per kwh of electricity.

Outraged consumers of fuel and electricity have therefore warned government to get ready for collision with the masses if it fails to rescind these new prices.

Those who have expressed outrage over the new prices regimes include, the Organized Labour, Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC), Nigerian main opposition political party, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Nigeria Employers Consultative Association (NECA) and the Major Marketers Association of Nigeria (MOMAN).

Others are: Petroleum Products Retail Outlets Owners Association of Nigeria, the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN) and the Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce (NACCIMA).

The NLC said, “The frequent fuel price increase will no longer be accepted. We will not allow Nigerians fall victim of government ineptitude and negligence to make the country self-sufficient in terms of refining petroleum products at home.”

On its part, the PDP has described the price hike as “callous, cruel and punishing” and demanded an immediate reversal to avert a national crisis.

The All Industrial Global sees the incessant increase as a confirmation that deregulation means just price increase.

“This is unacceptable! Under a pandemic, we should put money in the pockets of citizens to revive collapsed livelihoods and preserve lives.” In its reaction, NECA said it has always urged Federal Government to adopt deregulation policy in the oil and gas downstream sector.

The MOMAN in its statement insists that monthly price variation of fuel was no longer sustainable. It urged PPRA to adopt quarterly price mechanism which would save the market the hassles of price volatility. The statements by IPMAN and NACCIMA also followed along the same line that the hike “…serves only to increase the severity and duration of the looming economic recession.”

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