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Asset declaration: Court dismisses application for issuance of bench warrant against Ekweremadu

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'Armed men invade' Ekweremadu's home -- Aide

The Federal High Court, Abuja, on Thursday turned down application for a bench warrant to be issued against the Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, following his absence in court to stand trial for non-asset declaration charges.

The charges were brought against Mr Ekweremadu over his alleged refusal to declare his assets to the Special Presidential Investigative Panel for the Recovery of Public Assets.

In her ruling, Justice Binta Nyako, held that the action was hasty and cannot be justified.

Mrs Nyako said she was not unmindful of the fact that Mr Ekweremadu had earlier filed processes to challenge the jurisdiction of the court.

She said the defendant had also challenged the legal competence of the two-count criminal charge the panel preferred against him.

Mrs Nyako, also held that it was not necessary for the court to issue a bench warrant against the defendant.

The judge then adjourned the matter until February 26, 2019, to hear Mr Ekweremadu’s preliminary objections.

Celsius Ukpong, counsel to the panel had argued that Mr Ekweremadu ought to have physically appeared before the court to either enter his plea to the charge, or to query the validity of his trial.

He informed the court that the defendant was duly served with all processes in the charge that was entered against him on May 11.

The prosecution accused Mr Ekweremadu of deliberately making himself unavailable in court so as to frustrate his trial.

He, therefore, applied for an order of court to compel security agencies to arrest and produce him before the court for arraignment.

However, Adegboyega Awomolo, (SAN), counsel to the defendant prayed the court to dismiss the motion which he described as “highly un-meritorious.’’

Mr Awomolo said it was more “honourable’’ for the panel to withdraw the charge since the Court of Appeal had declared its operations as illegal.

Mr Awomolo tendered a copy of the appellate court’s judgment that was delivered on November 5.

He further said the higher court made it known that the panel had no prosecutorial power under the law.

The panel had in the charge marked FHC/ABJ/CR/62/2018, alleged that Mr Ekweremadu refused to declare his assets in a manner it prescribed for him.

It also alleged that the defendant ignored several invitations extended to him to “clarify issues in the allegation of excessive wealth or suspicious assets.”

Nonetheless, the appellate court, in its judgment in a suit marked CA/A/278/2018, filed by Ibrahim Tumsah held that the penal lacked prosecutorial powers.

Mr Tumsah, a former Director in the Ministry of Power, Works and Housing, instituted the appeal after the Federal High, Court in Abuja permitted his assets to be seized by the panel.

(NAN)

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Alleged Gang rape: Court denies Babcock University student bail

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Nigeria News

A Babcock University student, James Aguedo has been denied bail by  Justice Abiola Soladoye of an Ikeja Sexual Offences and Domestic Violence Court.

Nigeria News

The student of Babcock University, James Aguedo, accused of involvement in gang-rape of a student of the University of Lagos (Unilag) was reportedly denied bail when bail applications were made.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Mr Soladoye in a ruling on Thursday said Mr Aguedo, 20, did not provide compelling circumstances as to why the court should grant him bail.

“The essence of bail is to ensure the defendant’s attendance at trial. In deciding an application for bail, certain factors must be taken into consideration such as the nature of the charge and the evidence adduced.

“Grant of bail of a defendant in a criminal offence is not automatic, it is at the discretion of the court.

“I am, therefore, of the view that the application before the court has not shown any compelling or exceptional circumstances to warrant the court exercising its discretion in favour of the applicant.

“The application for bail is hereby refused, and the court shall give this case accelerated trial; I so hold,” the judge said.

NAN reports that Mr Aguedo’s counsel, Lawal Pedro, had on March 25 prayed the court to grant him bail to enable him to write an examination at the Babcock University in April.

He also submitted that the undergraduate suffered from ill-health and needed constant medical attention.

“He has a recurring back ailment. We brought not just a medical report but the history because he has been attending an orthopaedic hospital.

“The prison facility is not conducive for him,” the SAN said.

Mr Pedro had attached Mr Aguedo’s school identity card and admission letter to the bail application dated March 13.

Also attached were a National Orthopedic Hospital, Igbobi, Yaba, Lagos, appointment card, history of medical examination and a St Dominic’s Catholic Church’s letter of recommendation.

NAN reports that the student is standing trial alongside Moboluwaji Omowole, 19, Chuka Chukwu, 19, Peace Nwankama, 19 and Osemeka Josephine, 20.

The defendants were charged with serial gang-rape of a Unilag student (name withheld).

According to prosecution counsel, Fehinti Ogbemudia, the defendants committed the gang rape sometime in 2017 within the premises of Unilag.

The alleged victim had on February 26 testified that she was lured by Nwankama who was her roommate to High Rise, a staff quarters hostel, in Unilag.

She said she was gang-raped at High Rise by eight students, and that the sexual assault was video-taped.

According to the alleged victim, she was also blackmailed with the video and further gang-raped on other occasions by the defendants and their accomplices who are now at large.

The five defendants have been remanded in the Kirikiri Prisons since February 26, when they were arraigned.

The case has been adjourned until May 2 for continuation of trial.

(NAN)

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Sterling Bank Staff, Olanrewaju Yusuf remanded in prison for N36m fraud

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EFCC speaks on raid on Atiku's sons' apartment

 

Justice Bello Duwale of the Sokoto State High Court has remanded a Sterling Bank Plc worker, Olanrewaju Yusuf, in prison custody for cheating to the tune of N36 million and issuing of dud cheques.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission arraigned Yusuf, who is the Chief Executive Officer, Viclibo Ventures, on five counts bordering on the issuance of dud cheque, criminal breach of trust and cheating.

A complainant, Tunde Akinola, had alleged that sometime in January 2018, Yusuf, who worked with the Sokoto branch of the bank requested a N30 million loan for the establishment of a biscuit and juice production factory with a pledge to pay back the money with 10 per cent interest.

Akinola stated that he rallied round friends and colleagues to raise the money, which he gave to the accused via his United Bank for Africa account on condition that the loan should be paid back by March 2018.

Pursuant to the agreement, Yusuf allegedly issued three post-dated Diamond Bank cheques of N10m each and another for N6m, all of which were dishonoured by the bank on presentation.

Yusuf pleaded ‘not guilty’ to the charges.

Counsel for EFCC, S.H. Sa’ad, urged the court to fix a date for commencement of trial and asked that the defendant be remanded in prison custody, but the defence counsel, Ferdinard Okotete, prayed the court to grant his client bail.

Justice Bello, however, ordered that the defendant be remanded in prison custody and fixed April 25, 2019 for hearing of bail application.

The trial judge further granted an interim forfeiture order in respect of the defendant’s property, pursuant to a motion ex parte filed by the EFCC.

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Kenyan family sues Boeing over Ethiopia crash over Ethiopian Airline Plane crash

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A family of a Kenyan man,  who died in last month’s Ethiopia Airlines crash said it is taking the plane manufacturer Boeing to court in the US.

In all, 157 people died when the Boeing 737-Max 8 went down six minutes after take off on a flight from Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa, to Kenya’s capital, Nairobi.

The 29-year-old engineer George Kabau was one of more than 30 Kenyans on board.

At a press conference in Nairobi his siblings said they wanted the company to release emails relating to the plane, which has now been grounded, Reuters news agency reports.

“We cannot replace him, and he cannot and shall not be replaced. But we pray that by what is happening, my parents especially and us as his siblings and all other loved ones, can use his demise to ensure safe travel for all,” said Mr Kabau’s sister.

Boeing is facing three other law suits relating to the Ethiopia crash, including from members of the family of a Rwandan victim.

The Ethiopian Airlines plane nose dived several times before it hit the ground, a preliminary report released a fortnight ago said.

Pilots “repeatedly” followed procedures recommended by Boeing before the crash, according to the first official report into the disaster.

Boeing’s boss has admitted for the first time a failure in the jet’s anti-stall system was a factor in the crash.

But the company has not commented on the legal cases.

BBC

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