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Even if arrest warrant was illegally obtained, Bello should’ve appeared in court – Judge

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By Taiye Agbaje

 

Abuja, May 10, 2024 (NAN) A Federal High Court, Abuja on Friday granted the application by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for the former Governor of Kogi, Alhaji Yahaya Bello, to appear in court for his trial.

 

Justice Emeka Nwite, in a ruling, held that the former governor ought to appeared before the court before making any application.

 

He insisted that even if the arrest warrant was illegally obtained, the defendant (Bello) should have still shown up in court.

 

It would be tracked that the judge had, on April 23, fixed today for the ruling on the former governor’s application to set aside the arrest warrant against him.

 

The EFCC’s lawyer, Rotimi Oyedepo, SAN, had, on April 17, moved the ex-parte application for the arrest warrant.

 

But Bello’s counsel, Adeola Adedipe, SAN, on April 23, prayed the court to set aside the arrest warrant against their client

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He canvassed that the arrest warrant had become unnecessary since their lead counsel, Abdulwahab Mohammed, SAN, had accepted the service of the charge on behalf of the ex-governor.

 

He argued that the arrest warrant order, having been made before the charge ought to be set aside suo motu (on its own accord, without any request by the parties involved).

 

The senior lawyer argued that contrary to the submission of the lawyer who appeared for EFCC, Kemi Pinheiro, SAN, that the ex-governor must be in court first before any application could be entertained being a criminal case.

 

He said that the anti-graft agency also made an application on April 18 after the warrant arrest was issued to EFCC on April 17 and that the court granted it.

 

The lawyer submitted that the arrest warrant was issued in favour of the EFCC by the court in violation of fair hearing to their client.

 

He noted that the complainant made an application for substituted service on 18th day of April after the arrest warrant had been issued on 17th day of April and today, my noble lord granted it.

 

“The court must satisfy itself that the defendant (Bello) will not be prejudiced in fairness if the warrant of arrest continues to hang on his neck, having been made before service of the charge contrary to Section 394 of ACJA,” Adeola argued.

 

He argued that justice should be a three-way traffic; that is, justice to the prosecution, the defendant and the public.

 

He said for Bello to appear in court, he must have the notion that he would get justice.

 

Adedipe also argued that the EFCC was an unconstitutional body because its establishment was not ratified by the 36 states of the federation.

 

He said that for the EFCC to become a constitutional body, the 36 states of the federation must ratify the law establishing it as against the current position, that the EFCC Establishment Act was unilaterally ratified by the Federal Government.

 

He, therefore, asked the judge to vacate the arrest warrant against the former governor.

 

But Pinheiro vehemently opposed the application.

 

The senior lawyer argued that for the arrest warrant to be vacated, the former governor must be arraigned and take his plea in compliance with Section 396 (2) of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA), 2015.

 

Delivering the ruling on Friday, the judge agreed with the argument of the EFCC.

 

He said that the order of court subsisted until it is set aside, even if there is irregularity.

 

The judge said Yahaya Bello’s staying away amounted to disregard to the sanctity of the court.

 

“Therefore, the application by the counsel for the defendant cannot be moved unless the defendant is present in court.

 

“Bello should come to court in his own not through EFCC for arraignment on the next adjourn date,” the judge declared.

 

Meanwhile, shortly after the ruling, Mohammed, who appeared for the former governor, informed the court of a motion on notice filed on May 9.

 

He said the motion prayed the court to stay further hearing of the alleged money laundering suit filed against Bello until the Court of Appeal decides a pending case relating to same matter.

 

The senior lawyer said the anti-graft agency had, by a motion ex-parte, got an order of the Appeal Court stopping the contempt proceedings filed by the ex-governor against the agency at the High Court sitting in Lokoja.

 

He said the appellate court had already fixed May 20 to hear the case.

 

He said it would be important the Federal High Court, Abuja awaits the outcome before going further with the trial.

 

But the EFCC’s lawyer, Oyedepo, disagreed with Mohammed’s submission.

 

In a short ruling, Justice Nwite refused Mohammed’s application.

 

The judge said that the matter had generated controversy all over the world and was unnecessary.

 

Reacting, Mohammed responded that the former governor was not afraid to come to court but was only afraid of his life.

 

Justice Nwite, however, said that Bello should not be misguided but should be advised to come and answer to the alleged charge.

 

“It is just a charge. It has not been proven. Counsel, it is your duty to bring him and you prepare yourselves.

 

“We thank lordship. We will take your admonition to him because that is just his fear,” Mohammed said.

 

He assured that efforts would be made to contact the former govenor to appear in court in the next adjourned date.

 

Justice Nwite consequently adjourned the matter until June 13 for arraignment.(NAN)(www.nannews.ng)

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INTERNATIONAL DAY OF MENSTRUAL HYGIENE – ELEGUSHI FOUNDATION DONATES SANITARY PADS TO 2000 SCHOOLGIRLS

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International Day of Menstrual Hygiene, observed annually on May 28th, is dedicated to breaking taboos and raising awareness about the importance of good menstrual hygiene management (MHM).

The day provides an opportunity for all stakeholders to highlight the importance of menstrual care, and raise awareness about the issues faced by those who don’t have access to menstrual products, safe, hygienic spaces in which to use them, and the right to manage menstruation without shame or stigma.

In celebration of this year menstrual hygiene day and in continuation of its tradition of donating sanitary pads to young girls, the Oba Saheed Elegushi Foundation donated sanitary pads to 2000 secondary schoolgirls in Lagos State.

The distribution, which was done in collaboration with the Lagos Island Maternity Hospital, underscores the importance of community collaboration in addressing menstrual hygiene challenges and demonstrates the power of joint efforts in creating lasting change in young girls.

Speaking at an event to mark this day, Executive Director of the foundation, Aiki Odiawa said the collaborative effort with Island Maternity Hospital is essential to extend the reach of the program, ensuring that every girl in need receives adequate menstrual hygiene products. By pooling resources and expertise, we can also develop comprehensive educational campaigns that address menstrual health and advocate for policies that support this critical aspect of women’s health.

She added that in the last one year, more than 200,000 girls have benefitted from the sanitary donation, which the Elegush i foundation embarks on a monthly basis to young schoolgirls within Ikate-Elegushi kingdom.

The Apex Nurse of Island Maternity Hospital, Mrs Oluwatoyin Champion thanked the foundation for the donation of the sanitary pads, saying that every girl of adolescent age have access to hygienic menstrual cycle.

Over 2000 schoolgirls from Eko Akete Junior Secondary School, Lagos Island, Ilasan Secondary School, Eti-Osa, Gbara Secondary School, Jakande, Eti-Osa and Girls Academy, Lagos Island, benefited from the initiative.

 

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Emefiele didn’t get approval to redesign naira – Ex-CBN director

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The trial of the immediate-past Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Godwin Emefiele, continued on Tuesday with a former Director of Operations at the apex bank, Ahmed Umar, telling the court that the naira redesign embarked upon by Emefiele late 2022 did not have the approval of the Committee of Governors.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission had on May 15 arraigned Emefiele before Justice Maryanne Anenih of the Federal Capital Territory High Court on charges bordering on alleged unlawful redesign and printing of the new naira notes.

In the charge marked CR/264/2024, the EFCC alleged that Emefiele carried out the naira redesign policy without the approval of the CBN Board and President, Buhari.

The anti-graft agency said without the approval of the CBN Board and the President Muhammadu Buhari, Emefiele spent N18.96bn for the printing and swapping of new naira notes worth N684.5m

It alleged that Emefiele, “knowingly disobeying the direction of Section 19 of the CBN Act, 2007” approved “the printing of N375,520,000.00 pieces of colour swapped N1,000 notes, at the total cost of N11,052, 068,062 without the recommendation of the Board of Central Bank and the strict approval of the President, Federal Republic of Nigeria, among other things.”

At the trial opening on Tuesday, the EFCC fielded ex-CBN Director of Operations, Umar, as its first witness.

Led in evidence by the EFCC prosecutor, Rotimi Oyedepo (SAN), Umar told the court that his department in 2022 was directed to come up with the new design for the naira.

“The management of CBN directed my department to come up with a memo on the design of the naira note sometime in August 2022.

“We prepared the bill with the Committee of Governors and passed it through the line Deputy Governor Operations, which he forwarded to the Governor and it was listed for consideration by the Committee of Governors.”

The ex-director, who told the court that he joined CBN 35 years ago and retired in July 2023, explained that the Committee of Governors comprised five members, including the CBN Governor as chairman.

The witness told the court that the naira redesign memo was presented to the Committee of Governors for their consideration/ review on October 26, 2022, but the committee did not approve it.

Umar said, “We humbly requested the implementation of the amendment. (But) the extract from the COG did not approve item one and item three. While item two was modified to include N200 denomination, the proposal for the exercise in 2023 wasn’t approved by the COG.

“The procedure requires the Board of Directors to recommend to the President for design and form.

“The design shall be contained in the currency after the approval of the President then the production of the currency will commence.”

Justice Anenih, admitted in evidence, the Certified True Copy of the memorandum filed by the Operations Department and marked it as Exhibit A.

The EFCC, in the charges, accused Emefiele of spending N4.4bn to print “coloured swapped N500 notes.”

According to the EFCC, Emefiele spent N3.4bn to print “137,070 pieces of coloured N200 notes.”

The EFCC said Emefiele carried out the alleged actions between October 2022 and March 2023 in Abuja in clear violation of Section 19 of the CBN Act.

The EFCC alleged that Emefiele disobeyed the direction of the law with the intent to cause injury to the public with the manner in which he implemented the naira swap policy.

Emefiele was also accused of unlawfully approving the withdrawal of N124.8bn from the Consolidated Revenue Fund of the Federation.

The ex-apex bank chief, however, denied all the allegations, pleading not guilty.

 

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TROUBLE LOOMS FOR CULTURE MINISTER, HANATU MUSAWA, OVER N290M STREET LIGHT PROJECT

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The Minister of Art, Culture and the Creative Economy, Hannatu Musawa is at the center of yet another scandal.

This time, she was accused of voting 290 million naira for street lights to be located in her local government and if not properly handled might culminate into a major crisis.

According to an article published by Daily Trust Newspapers on
May 22, 2024, the Ministry of Culture voted 290 million naira for street lights to be located in Minister Hanatu Musa Musawa’s local government.

While reacting to Daily Trust article, the permanent secretary of the ministry, Mr James Sule, said the project was a strategic one but industry watchers are peeved that the Perm Sec did not disclose the cultural jobs, culture attractions and the emerging innovations that the project will contribute to gross Domestic productivity of the nation.

The minister was also alleged to have budgeted a whopping sum of three billion naira for culture research and development in her 2024 budget.

Sources squealed that prior to this current scandal rocking the ministry, Musawa had used her appointees to falsely lay claim to culture projects done by the immediate past administration and now have resorted to deploy a tested technocrat like her permanent secretary to accuse Daily Trust of alleged misinformation on the budgeted solar lights to be domiciled her local government.

A staff of the ministry who spoke on the condition of anonymity said “If all our ministers, agency heads, and legislators now compete to domicile constituency projects exclusively in their local governments, other areas in Nigeria that did not produce ministers will end up with nothing, no roads, lights, railway, hospitals, airports and etc. What a clever way to practice nepotism and misappropriation in the name of budgeting for constituency projects”

It would be recalled that Musawa was embroiled in NYSC status scandal.

This started about three years ago when Musawa could not provide evidence of national service to senators during the screening for an appointment she was nominated for by former President Muhammadu Buhari.

But the controversy resurfaced when following the confirmation by the management of the NYSC that Ms Musawa, who was inaugurated as Minister by President Bola Tinubu, was still undergoing her national youth service.

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