Assets Forfeiture: Court Strikes Out EFCC’s Suit Against Gov Bello
A Federal High Court in Lagos, on Wednesday, struck out an interim order of forfeiture obtained by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, seeking to seize 14 properties linked to Governor Yahaya Bello of Kogi State.
Justice Nicholas Oweibo struck out the suit on the ground that Section 308 of the 1999 Constitution prevents the institution of any criminal or civil case against a sitting governor or the President.
The judge had, on February 22, granted the temporary forfeiture order, following an ex parte motion filed by the anti-graft agency seeking to seize 14 properties located in Lagos, Abuja and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
The court also directed EFCC to make publication in two national dailies for any interested parties to show cause why the order should not be made absolute.
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However, consequent upon the publication of the preservative order, Governor Bello had filed Notice of Intention to oppose, and an application seeking the vacation of the interim forfeiture order.
The governor premised his application on the ground that the property listed were not proceeds of unlawful act, as they were acquired long before he was elected as Kogi State Governor and could not have been acquired from Kogi State funds.
He further stated that by Section 308 of the Constitution, the EFCC is prevented from instituting any civil or criminal suit against him.
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He also protested the illegality in the filing of the suit by the EFCC on the ground that the case was in flagrant disobedience to a state high court order, which restrained the EFCC from investigating any account of the Kogi State government pending the determination of the Motion on Notice.
He stated that the interim forfeiture order was obtained by either suppression or misrepresentation of facts by the Commission.
Bello also said that the Proceeds of Crime Act could not take effect in retrospect as the properties in dispute were acquired before he became Kogi State governor.
He said the validity of the Proceeds of Crime Act, 2022 was being challenged at the Supreme Court.
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Regarding jurisdiction, the governor stated that the properties listed were in Abuja, Kogi and UAE, and the personality involved is based in Lokoja, adding that the suit ought to have been instituted either in Abuja or in Kogi State.
He, therefore, asked the court to vacate the case for lack of jurisdiction.
In his response, EFCCs lawyer Rotimi Oyedepo (SAN) said that the applicant had brought nothing before the court to convince the court to vacate the order.
He said contrary to the submissions of the applicant, Kogi State High Court or any other court in Nigeria had not stopped the EFCC from carrying out its constitutional duties.
In his ruling, Justice Nicholas Oweibo held that given Section 308 of the Constitution, which provides immunity to a sitting governor from any civil/criminal prosecution, the court lacked jurisdiction to entertain the matter.
Consequently, the court struck out the suit for lack of jurisdiction.
Police Dismiss Sergeant Over N98,000 Extortion
The Police Command in Lagos State has announced the dismissal of Sgt. Ekpo Shimuyere was attached to Sogunle Division for extorting a young man of N98,000.
The command’s spokesperson, SP Benjamin Hundeyin told newsmen on Wednesday that the Provost Department of the command had already disrobed the dismissed sergeant.
According to him, the dismissed sergeant collected the phone of his victim and used a POS operator to transfer N98,000 out of the N100,000 in the young man’s bank account.
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Hundeyin said that the action of the policeman was contrary to the ethics of the profession.
“Police got the complaint from the victim and the officer denied the crime when he was contacted. The command placed him under detention so that he will not tamper with the evidence.
“We wrote to his bank and obtained his statement of account. We were able to trace the money to where the POS operator transferred it to before transferring the money to the officer’s account.
“We followed due process to get his account. The victim was invited in the course of the investigation, and he testified.
“The POS operator was also invited, and he said the officer requested him to transfer the money from the victim’s account to another one,” Hudenyi added.
He said that the Sergeant was consequently subjected to an Orderly Room trial in line with extant laws.
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“The Commissioner of Police, Lagos Command, Mr Idowu Owohunwa, have reviewed the orderly room procedure of the officer with Force No. 461654, attached to Sogunle Police Division and has approved the punishment of dismissal from the Force,” he said.
Hundeyin said that the commissioner warned officers and men against any form of corruption, stressing that the dismissal was to serve as a deterrent to others.
He further warned that the command would continue to punish any police officer found to have engaged in unprofessional conduct.
VIDEO: Dismantle EFCC, Sack Bawa For Successful Anti-corruption War – Agbakoba
Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Olisa Agbakoba, has asked President Bola Tinubu to dismantle the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, in his bid to have a successful anti-corruption war.
Agbakoba stated this while speaking in an interview on The Morning Show of Arise Television on Wednesday.
The legal luminary also urged the President to relieve the EFCC chairman, Abdulrasheed Bawa of his job, in order to have a fresh leadership for the agency in the new administration.
He said, “We need to talk about anti-corruption. The anti-corruption process is not working. I have challenged the constitutionality of the EFCC. The EFCC is a behemoth and it needs to be dismantled.
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“Mr. Bawa needs to go because what he’s doing is not attracting people’s confidence. He needs to go. He’s always in battles with everybody. Now, he’s battling Metawalle. That’s not the way to fight corruption.
“We need to see Mr. Bawa step aside honourably so that the anti-corruption process can be seen to be genuinely fought by the President without any equivocation,” he said.
Tinubu needs to dismantle EFCC, sack Bawa for successful anti-corruption war – Agbakoba
Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Olisa Agbakoba said President Bola Tinubu needs to dismantle the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, in his bid to have a successful… pic.twitter.com/CJXdhlw2SI
— Vanguard Newspapers (@vanguardngrnews) May 31, 2023
NAPTIP Sacks Director, Four Officers For Misconduct
The National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons has dismissed a deputy director and four other officers for various offences including bribery, corruption and leaking confidential information to suspects.
The Press Officer of the NAPTIP, Vincent Adekoye, disclosed this in a statement on Wednesday.
Adekoye explained that the offences range from corruption to demanding and receiving bribes from suspects and relatives.
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According to him, other offences committed by the officers were leaking confidential information to suspects that endangered the lives of colleagues, violating the oath of secrecy, stealing and alteration of official records and being absent without official leave.
He said, “These offences are all contrary to provisions of the Public Service Rules and other extant laws and regulations. Two other officers were demoted by two ranks for soliciting bribes from a suspect of human trafficking, while one officer was demoted by one rank for negligence of duty.
“The disciplinary actions followed the approval of the Governing Board of the Agency at its meeting of May 25, 2023. At that meeting, the board considered and ratified the decision of the agency’s Senior Staff Committee which earlier sat on the disciplinary matters in accordance with the Public Service Rules and other extant laws and regulations.”
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Adekoye also announced that a Federal High Court sitting in Sokoto State convicted a law enforcement officer and sentenced him to prison.
He said the officer was convicted on two counts of trafficking, contrary to section 26 (2) of the Trafficking in Persons (Prohibition) Enforcement and Administration Act (2015) and was sentenced to five years on each count.
He added, “This is NAPTIP’s 37th conviction and counting for the year 2023.”
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