N1.351b Fraud Charge: Court Remands Lamido, Sons In Kano Prison | Independent Newspapers Limited
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N1.351b Fraud Charge: Court Remands Lamido, Sons In Kano Prison

Posted: Jul 10, 2015 at 2:24 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

•  Ohakim Gets Bail   • Judge Reserves Ruling In Sylva’s Application

By Joe Nwankwo (Abuja) and  Ejikeme Omenazu (Lagos)

 

A Federal High Court in Kano, on Thursday, ordered the immediate past governor of Jigawa State, Sule Lamido, and his two sons, Aminu and Mustapha, remanded in prison custody over an alleged N1.351 billion fraud.

Justice Evelyn Anyadike ordered that the accused persons be remanded in custody in Kano Prison until September 28, rejecting pleas by the defence counsel, Effiong Effiong (SAN) that the accused be kept custody of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC). Effiong had argued that remanding the accused persons in prison would amount to trampling on their fundamental human rights, pleading that they be sent to EFCC facilities in Abuja or Kano.

Lamido and Son's trail

Lamido and Son’s trail

However, the EFCC’s counsel, Chile Okoroma, objected to the plea, arguing that EFCC facilities were full to capacity both in Kano and Abuja.

The commission, the judge noted, had complained of inadequate facilities.

Ex-governor Sule Lamido, his sons: Aminu Sule Lamido and Mustapha Sule Lamido and one Aminu Wada Abubakar, were arraigned on a 28-count charge bordering on alleged breach of trust. They were accused, among others, of receiving N1.35 billion kickbacks from a government contractor.

The money was allegedly paid into accounts controlled by the governor and his sons.

The EFCC accused the quartet of money laundering, among other charges. They pleaded not guilty to the charges.

The judge ruled that the accused persons be remanded pending the hearing of their bail applications.

Ahead of the hearing, security was stepped up around the court vicinity, but there  was however pandemonium between Lamido’s supporters and those against him, forcing the police to fire teargas canisters into the air to disperse the crowd.

Lamido, his sons and Abubakar are accused of using their positions to siphon Jigawa State funds.

It would be recalled that in 2014 a construction firm, Dantata and Sawoe, allegedly paid N1.3 billion as 10 per cent kickback for contracts it won, into accounts owned by the governor and his sons.

Also, between 2007, when Lamido assumed office, and 2014, Dantata and Sawoe Construction Company was awarded contracts amounting to N13.5 billion.

The state government allegedly made payments for the contracts to the construction firm through five banks – Zenith, Access, Diamond, Sterling and the United Bank for Africa.

Within the same period, according to a probe of the transactions by the EFCC, Dantata and Sawoe paid over N1.3 billion into the accounts of companies in which the governor and his sons allegedly had interest.

Meanwhile, a Federal High Court in Abuja, on Thursday, granted former Governor of Imo State, Ikedi Ohakim, bail in the sum of N270 million with one surety in like sum.

 

The court, presided over by Justice Adeniyi Ademola, in granting the bail application, said the surety must be resident within the jurisdiction of the court and also own a landed property in the Federal Capital Territory.

Alternatively, he or she should swear to an affidavit of means, which should be verified by and approved by the court.

Justice Ademola also ordered that Ohakim deposits his international passport with the Chief Registrar of the Court and in the event that it is with the EFCC, it should be handed over to the Chief Registrar of the Court.

Ohakim was arrested by operatives of the EFCC on Tuesday, July 7 and was arraigned on three-count charge before Justice Ademola for allegedly making a cash payment to the tune of $2,290,000 (about N270,000,000.00) for the purchase of a property at Plot No. 1098 Cadastral Zone A04, Asokoro District, otherwise known as No.60, Kwame Nkurumah Street, Asokoro, Abuja.

The EFCC contended that the amount is above the threshold approved for an individual going by the provisions of Section 1 of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act 2004.  He is also accused of deliberately neglecting to disclose all his assets in the declaration submitted to the EFCC and the Code of Conduct Bureau.

In another development, another Federal High Court in Abuja, also on Thursday, reserved ruling in an application filed by former Bayelsa State governor, Timipre Sylva, to quash the new charges brought against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

The court presided over by Justice Adeniyi Ademola, reserved ruling in the case after the parties made their submissions with EFCC asking the court to dismiss the application.

Sylva’s counsel, Prince Lateef Fagbemi, SAN, had urged the court to set aside the charges against his client on the ground that he could not be re-arraigned on the charges that had been dismissed by the same court.

According to him, the ex-governor  “cannot be re-arraigned on the same fact, same event and same investigation. We are challenging the jurisdiction of this court to hear the charges against the accused person. We urge the court to decline jurisdiction.”

Counsel to the EFCC, Rotimi Jacob, SAN, in his objection to the application, told the court that the new charges were different  from the one earlier dismmised by the court last month.

He said the charge had been expanded to 50 from the 42-count charge that was dismissed by Justice Ahmed Mohammed of the same court.

He said: “The motion asking for the dismissal of the charge is misconceived. What the court should look at in criminal matter is the constitution and the Criminal Procedure Act (CPA)”, Jacob argued.

Justice Ahmed Mohammed had on June 10 dismissed one of the two charges earlier brought against Sylva by the EFCC on the ground that it amounted to an abuse of court process.

However, EFCC disagreed with the judgment  on the ground that it was premature as the accused persons had not taken any plea before the court.

Earlier on June 1, Justice Evoh Chukwu (also of the Federal High Court, Abuja) struck out the other charge upon EFCC’s application for withdrawal.

In the fresh 50-count charge, Sylva is charged alongside Francis Okokuro, Gbenga Balogun, and Samuel Ogbuku.

They are accused of using three companies – Marlin Maritime Limited, Eat Catering Services Limited, and Haloween-Blue Construction and Logistics Limited to move about N19.2 billion from Bayelsa State coffers between 2009 and 2012, under false pretence of using the withdrawn money to augment salaries of the state government workers.