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EFCC Denies Deal to Exclude ex-Customs Chief Dikko From Prosecution

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The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission ( EFCC ) has denied being part of any deal to exclude former Comptroller-General of Customs, Abdullahi Dikko Inde from criminal prosecution for fraud and money laundering.

EFCC made the clarification in a notice of preliminary objection it filed in a suit by Inde, in which the ex-Customs chief claimed to have entered an agreement with the EFCC to refund about N1.6billion to Federal Government’s coffers, following which he would excluded from prosecution.

Lawyer to Inde, Mahmud Magaji (SAN), while arguing his client’s counter-affidavit to EFCC’s objection on Thursday, contended that it was a breach of an existing agreement and contract for EFCC to seek to prosecute the ex-Customs chief after he has kept to his side of the bargain and made huge refund to the government.

Magaji also faulted EFCC’s claim that the suit was wrongly commenced by way of origination summons.

He argued that, contrary to EFCC’s contention, facts in the case were not contentious. He added that the issue involved in the case was simple.

Mahmud said: “Our case is simply about the interpretation of Section 174 of the Constitution and Section 14(2) of EFCC Act, and no more.

“Our decision to bring this action by way of an originating summons is the appropriate position. There is no hostility in the whole case.

“Our client was to be prosecuted for financial crimes. When he was invited, he was confronted by information the EFCC said it has against him by virtue of its investigation activities.

“He (Inde) was confronted with options of either to enter a refund agreement or be prosecuted. He agreed to a refund. And made refund in several tranches.

“At every payment, we ensured that we get evidence of payment from the bank,” Magaji said.

He identified the evidence of payment as reflected in some court documents marked as Exhibit 1 to 20D, and said “these are the evidence of the refund we made”

When asked by the judge, Justice Nnamdi Dimgba, aboutwhere the said agreement was reached, Magaji said a meeting was held at the instance of the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation (AGF).

Magaji added that after the agreement was reached by parties, an official of the EFCC, who he identified as Hajeed (who was the IPO in the case) provided an account number into which his client (Inde) made all the refund he made.

He added: “We have fulfilled our side of the agreement. It is for the EFCC to fulfil its own side of the agreement, by complying and allowing things to settle

“We are asking that under Section 174 of Constitution and Section 14(2) of EFCC Act, the EFCC is not bound by this agreement.

“We are asking this court to enforce this agreement on them. They should be bound by the agreement,” Mahmud said.

In a counter-argument, EFCC’s lawyer, Chile Okoroma urged the court to decline jurisdiction over the suit because it was wrongly instituted.

Okoroma argued that the case was brought under the originating summons rules when facts in the suit are disputed.

He added: “They said they made some payments by agreement and we said no, we are not aware of any payment.

“They claimed Magu (EFCC’s Acting Chairman, Ibrahim Magu) was part of the agreement, but we said no. We do not know anything about the agreement they claimed to have with the AGF.

“These are triable issues. There are contentious facts and we say, we need those disputed facts to be resolved by calling oral evidence. That is our ground of objecting to the suit.

Before entertaining arguments from the two lawyers, Justice Dimgba observed that while there was evidence that the AGF was aware of the case and had been served all documents relating to it, the AGF has not filed any process in response to the case since it was commenced last year.

In a ruling, Justice Dimgba uphled EFCC’s objection in part.

The judge agreed that facts were contested by parties and ordered them to file pleadings.

He said: “Having reviewed the processes filed, I am of the view that the suit was wrongly commenced. The facts are so hostile. Parties are to file pleadings.

The judge adjourned to March 1 this year.

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Investigations

Appeal Court Rejects Metuh’s Request to Seek Medical Treatment Abroad

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The appeal court has dismissed a suit filed by Olisa Metuh, former spokesman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), to travel abroad for medical treatment.

In a ruling on Wednesday, the appellate court maintained that Metuh’s application was “an abuse of court process”, as he failed to disclose cogent reasons for him to seek medical attention abroad.

The former PDP spokesman, through his counsel, Onyechi Ikpeazu, had approached the court of appeal seeking to upturn the decision of a federal high court which ordered that his international passport should not be released to him .

Metuh had asked for his travelling documents for him to travel to the United Kingdom for five weeks to attend to “his failing health”.

Okon Abang, the trial judge, had dismissed the application as “lacking in merit”, and sternly warned his counsel against deploying tactics to delay the trial, which has been on since January 6, 2016.

“There is nothing before this court, no substance in the application filed by the appellant, the court is urged to dismiss the appellant’s application,” Abdul Aboki, the presiding judge of the appellate court, ruled.

Aboki also dismissed the application on the transfer of the case from Abang based on bias.

“There is nothing before this court that shows that the trial court is biased. The appeal is without substance and is hereby dismissed,” Aboki ruled.

Metuh is being prosecuted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for alleged N400 million fraud. His trial is set to continue before Abang on February 25, 2019.

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BREAKING: EFCC Charges Babachir Lawal, NIA DG To Court

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The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has filed 10 charges bordering on allegations of fraud against the former Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Babachir Lawal.

The anti-graft agency also filed four charges of alleged fraud against a former Director-General of the National Intelligence Agency, Ayodele Oke, and his wife, Mrs Folashade Oke.

The charges are coming more than 15 months after they were sanctioned by the President.

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FG Launches Probe Into Onnoghen’s 13-Year Salary Account

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The Federal Government through the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit has launched a probe into the salary account of the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter Onnoghen, dating back to September 2005, SUNDAY PUNCH has learnt.

The probe predates the advent of the Bank Verification Number initiative of the Central Bank of Nigeria and is expected to expose some alleged questionable deposits made into the account of the embattled CJN.

A fact sheet from the NFIU to the Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami (SAN), stated that nearly N100m passed through Onnoghen’s salary account with Union Bank Plc between September 2005 and October 2016.

Onnoghen’s salary in 2005 was N240, 202 but rose to N751, 082.37 in February 2008. However, the funds in his account were said to have surpassed his salary.

The document read in part, “His salary in 2005 was N240, 202. 20 and it rose to N751, 082.37 in February 2008. The salary remains within range till date.

“However, the turnover in the account from September 2005 to October 2016 was N91, 962, 362.49.

“He did not spend from the salary account from March 2015 to October 2016. The salary and allowances accumulated to N22, 520, 636.27 in October 2016 from N6, 132, 885.24 in March of the same year.”

According to the NFIU, investigations showed that the funds deposited in the account of the CJN are questionable and probably proceeds of crime.

“From the investigations conducted so far, it is plausible that the payments into the various accounts are bribes. This is because the sources of inflows into his accounts other than the salary account in Union Bank are unknown and probably fraudulent and the nature of the transactions (including structured payments) are not typical of the transactions of a public servant,” the statement added.

The Federal Government had last week filed charges against Onnoghen for allegedly failing to declare some assets before the Code of Conduct Bureau.

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