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$130m Fraud: Court Remands Saipem MD, Peviana, Chinakwe In Port Harcourt Prisons

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Issues warrant of arrest for 3 expats, Zingali, Testaguzza, and Anelli…..

A Rivers State High Court has remanded the Managing Director of Saipem Contracting, Mr. Walter Peviana and Kelechi Sinteh Chinakwe in Port Harcourt Correctional Centre over an alleged conspiracy to cheat and with intent to defraud the Government of Rivers State of the sum of $130 million USD, being advanced payment for the construction of the OCGT power plant in Port Harcourt. The court, presided over by Justice Okogbule Gbasam, has also issued a bench warrant for the arrest of three expatriates staff of Saipem namely, Giandomenico Zingali, Vitto Testaguzza and Davide Anelli. At the resumed hearing in court to take pleas, after the case was adjoined last December 2021 in the lawsuit No. PHC/3106/CR/2021, Justice Gbasam ordered that the 3rd defendant, Walter Peviana and the 4th defendant, Kelechi Sinteh Chinakwe be remanded at the Port Harcourt Correctional Service until the next hearing date. The prosecution is the Government of Rivers State, while the defendants are: Saipem SPA (1st defendant), Saipem Contracting Nigeria Limited (2nd defendant), Mr. Walter Peviana (3rd defendant), Kelechi Sinteh Chinakwe (4th defendant), Giandomenico Zingali (5th defendant), Vitto Testaguzza (6th defendant) and Davide Anelli (7th defendant). The judge, who was observed with dismay the continual absence from court of three defendants, Giandomenico Zingali, Vitto Testaguzza and Davide Anelli, issued a bench warrant and placed the State Police Commissioner and other security agencies on notice to arrest and produce the aforementioned persons in court to face their trial having been duly served notice by the Government of Rivers State. The lead counsel to the Rivers State Government, Chief Godwin Obla, SAN, relied on section 195 of the Rivers State Administration of Criminal Justice Law 2015 to pray that those absent be tried in absentia since they have been duly served court processes. Opposed to that stance, the lead counsel to 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 6th defendants, Mr. Odein Ajumogobia, SAN, explained that though court processes have been served on his clients, the 6th defendant was absent in court on health grounds. Addressing the issue of absenteeism of defendants in court, Justice Gbasam noted that at the preliminary hearing stages, the court, on December 14, 2021, ordered that all parties should be in court since it is a criminal case. Justice Gbasam, who adjourned the next hearing and taking of pleas to Tuesday, 18th January 2022 said this will enable the counsels to the defendants including Mr. Odein Ajumogobia, SAN, and K. Akinwole (for the 4th defendant) to study the charges, other affidavits and complementary documents properly. Speaking to journalists after the court session, Obla explained that some years ago, the Rivers State Government had a contract with Saipem SPA and Saipem Contracting Nigeria Ltd in respect of Turbines and their building in Afam 11 in Oyigbo local government area of Rivers State. According to him, the Rivers State Government had paid Saipem a total of $130m (One Hundred and Thirty million Dollars) and N7 billion (Seven billion Naira.) He explained that despite such payment, the work did not progress beyond about 40 percent of the contract sum even when the total contract sum has been collected with the company still asking for additional $97m (Ninety-Seven billion Dollars) to be able to complete the contract. “So forensic analysis of entire contractual agreement as done and the amount spent so far revealed that there were criminal infractions in respect of this contract. “It is in relation of the criminal infractions that charges have now been brought against the company and individuals working with the company who were complicit in all those activities.” Obla spoke further saying that “trial has commenced after about two previous delays.” “The defendants asked for an adjournment, the state was ready to proceed, the matter has now been adjourned to Tuesday next week and the managing director of the 2nd defendant in Nigeria and the other accused person have been remanded in prison custody till Tuesday next week. “They are Mr. Walter Peviana and one Nigerian employee with the company, Kelechi Sinteh Chinakwe, the 3rd and 4th defendants respectively on the charge sheet.” Expatiating further, Obla said the 5th, 6th and 7th defendants are non- Nigerians who have all been served with the court processes in accordance with the order of court. According to him, because they have refused not to be present, the court has exercised its power under sections 195 Administration of Criminal Justice Laws of Rivers State to try them in absentia. “Under the criminal laws of Lagos State, criminal infractions are penal offence. In addition to the penal offences, there are provisions in the Administration of Criminal Justice Laws of Rivers State that provides for restitution. “So, after the trial, persons will serve their terms and restitutions will be made in respect of this monies. The total monies requested for restitution is about $59m (Fifty-Nine million U.S. dollars) and about N7.4 billion (Seven-Point-Four billion Naira)” he added.

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Despite his “expulsion”, ADC presidential candidate, Kachikwu, makes INEC list

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Mr Kachikwu was expelled from the party last Friday by the Ralph Nwosu-led NWC.

The embattled presidential candidate of the African Democratic Congress (ADC), Dumebi Kachikwu, has been named among candidates validly nominated by political parties for the 2023 presidential election despite his “expulsion” from the party.

Mr Kachikwu was among the 18 presidential candidates approved by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on Tuesday.

The Ralph Nwosu-led National Working Committee (NWC) of the party announced the expulsion of Mr Kachikwu from the party last Friday for alleged anti-party activities.

He was expelled along with seven other key party leaders following the recommendation of a seven-member disciplinary committee earlier set up by the ADC NWC. The NWC had earlier on 2 September placed the presidential candidate on suspension.

Mr Nwosu, in a statement issued late Friday, said the disciplinary committee found Mr Kachikwu guilty of allegations of gross misconduct, and gross violations of its constitution, among others.

But in its reaction the following day, the interim leadership of the ADC dismissed Mr Kachikwu’s purported expulsion.

The interim National Chairman of the Party, Patricia Akwashiki, in a statement, described the action of the erstwhile chairman, Mr Nwosu, as the antics of a sinking man clutching at straws.

The crisis rocking the ADC has its genesis in the call for the resignation of the national chairman by 27 state chairmen of the party, having spent 17 years in the office.

At the time of filing this report, we could not confirm if the party’s leadership had made formal or legal requests to the commission to remove the candidate from the list.

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Stella Obasanjo’s brother, John Abebe, arraigned for fraud

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Dr. John Abebe, the younger brother of a former First Lady, Stella Obasanjo, was on Monday arraigned by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission on Monday before the Lagos State Special Offences Court in Ikeja over allegations of fraud.

Abebe was arraigned alongside a former Head of Firstbank Plc, United Kingdom Correspondent Office, Kamoru Alade Oladimeji, before Justice Olubunmi Abike-Fadipe on six charges of conspiracy, stealing, and obtaining money under pretence.

Part of the counts against the defendants read: “That you, Dr. John Abebe and Kamoru Alade Oladimeji, on or about the 4th day of June 2013 in Lagos within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court conspired amongst yourselves to commit felony to wit; stealing the sum of N120 million worth of property of Arsenal Technologies Limited.”

“That you, Dr. John Abebe and Kamoru Alade Oladimeji, on or about the 4th day of June 2013, in Lagos within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court conspired amongst yourselves to commit felony to wit; obtaining by false pretence the sum of N120 million property of Arsenal Technologies Limited under the pretence that your property lying being and situate at 9, Magbon Close, Ikoyi-Lagos State, which you pledged as the security to the Arsenal Technologies Limited was unencumbered, which representation you knew to be false.”

“That you Dr. John Abebe and Inducon Nigeria Limited, on or about the 4th day of June 2013, in Lagos within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court, with intent to defraud and to gain for yourself the sum of $1,000,000.00 or its Naira equivalent from Arsenal Technologies Limited by false pretence to procure the execution of valuable security to wit; a deed of assignment between Inducon Nigeria Limited and Arsenal Technologies Limited, wherein you falsely claimed that the property lying being and situate at No. 9, Magbon Close, Ikoyi-Lagos was unencumbered and that you have full powers to assign and transfer the said property to the assignor; Arsenal Technologies Limited.

According to EFCC, the offences committed are contrary to Sections 280(1), (12), 8 (7), 285(1) and 278(1)(b) of the Criminal Laws of Lagos State, 2011.

The defendants, however, pleaded not guilty to the charge.

Following their plea, the prosecutor, Sulaimon urged the court to fix a trial date and to remand the defendants in the custody of the Nigerian Correctional Services until the hearing and determination of the charge.

However, the defense counsel, Anthony Popo and Sam Etaifo urged the court to grant their clients bail in the most liberal terms.

While moving the bail application on behalf of Abebe, Popo told the judge that the matter before her is a commercial transaction between the first defendant and the nominal complainant, which he is ready to settle out of court.

He also claimed that Abebe had paid back the sums of $100,000 and N30 million to the complainant and had also deposited the title document of 26 acres of land and the documents of a property in London to show his seriousness to resolve the matter.

The lawyer further submitted that the defendant would not jump bail since he never violated the terms of the administrative bail granted to him by the EFCC.

The prosecutor did not oppose the application but urged the court to impose stringent terms that will ensure the defendant’s appearance in court for their trial.

In her ruling, Justice Abike-Fadipe granted the first defendant bail in the sum of N20 million with one surety in like sum.

She directed that the surety must be a resident of Lagos and must deposit the title document of a land property whose value must not be less than N20m

The judge also admitted the second defendant to bail in the sum of N10m with one surety in like sum, who must be a resident of the state.

Justice Abike-Fadipe further ordered that the defendant shall continue to enjoy the administrative bail earlier granted to them by the EFCC but if they failed after seven days to perfect the terms of the bail she granted them, they shall be arrested and remanded in prison.

She adjourned the case to December 6 for commencement of trial.

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HIGHGARDEN CELEBRATES WORLD CLEANUP DAY

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The Eleko Beach stretching over 5km was cleaned on the 17th of September 2022 by Volunteers from HighGarden Private Beach Club to celebrate the world Cleanup day.

World Cleanup Day is an annual global social action program aimed at combating the global solid waste problem, including the problem of marine debris. It is coordinated by the global organization Let’s Do It! World.

 

According to the MD of Highgarden Mr Wale Ewedemi “Environmental cleanliness and awareness is key to our values as a lifestyle brand, so we use the world Cleanup day to indoctrinate our customers and friends into one of our core lifestyle values”

 

The event that started at 9am rounded up about noon. Plastics and debri Collected were separated and marked for pickup.

 

The HighGarden Private Beach Club in Eleko boast of the first Glamping site in Nigeria.

@highgardenprivatebeach

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