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Court Orders Final forfeiture Of $16.5 Million, N127 Million Diverted From NIMASA

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Justice Kehinde Ogundare of the Lagos Federal High Court, Ikoyi has ordered the final forfeiture of $16.5 million and N127 million which were fraudulently diverted from the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) to the federal government of Nigeria.

Justice Ogundare finally forfeited the monies, while granting an application for such orders, which was filed and moved by an Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) lawyer, Sulaiman I. Sulaiman, today.

The monies, according to the EFCC, were said to be proceeds of unlawful activities.

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The judge had on May 23, 2024, ordered the interim forfeiture of the monies, while granting an Exparte motion, brought before the court pursuant to Section 17 of the Advance Fee Fraud and other Fraud Related Offences Act No. 14. 2006; and Section 44 (2)(B) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (As Amended)

The court after forfeiting the monies in the interim on May 23, 2024, had directed the EFCC to publish the order in a national newspaper, to show cause why the monies should not be finally forfeited.

However, at the resumed hearing of the final forfeiture of the money today, counsel to the EFCC, Suleiman Suleiman, informed the court that pursuant to your lordship’s order made on May 23, 2024, that the order be published, the publication of the order was made on June 6, 2024, on a national daily.

“The said application is supported by 22 paragraphs deposed to by Oghare Ogbole, an investigator with the EFCC.

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“The application is accompanied with two exhibits, the Interim order of the court and Punch publication of June 26, 2024. And It’s supported with the written address.

“We most respectively adopt same and urge the court to grant the relief sought.”

Justice Ogundare after listening to the EFCC lawyer held that “order granted as prayed.”

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The EFCC in the affidavit support of the application made the followings: “That on the 2nd October, 2013, the management of NIMASA under the leadership of Dr. Ziakede Patrick Akpobolokemi vide letter referenced: NIMASA 2007/DG/NSA/2013/006 dated 2/10/13, requested for the release of the sum of N1,123,400 billion, for the implementation of International Ship and Port Security (ISPS) projects.

“That on the 4th day of November 2013, the then President, Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, through the National Security Adviser (NSA) approved the requested sum of N1,123,400 billion. And that upon the release of the first tranche in the sum of N1, 123, 400 billion, an account No. 0060559139, domiciled in Access Bank was opened on 03/1/14, in which Captain Bala Ezekiel Agaba, the Chairman of the ISPS Committee/Executive Director, NIMASA, Mr. Victor I. Onuzurike and Mr. Dele T, Ejekukor are signatories.

“That no sooner had the money hit the Committee’s account, one Mr. Uche Obilor, a close associate of the chairman of the committee, Captain Ezekiel Bala Agaba received that total sum of N437,726,666.66 million, through his company known as Seabulk Offshore Operator Limited with account number 005326440 domiciled in Access Bank.

“That the said Mr. Uche Obilor equally received another whopping sum of N402,480 million, through his company Southern Offshore Limited with Zenith Bank Plc., account number 1013224100. And that also, the said Mr. Uche Obilor used his company known as Ace Prothesis Limited to receive the total sum of N66,800 million, through its account number 1012583949, domiciled in Zenith Bank Pic.,

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“That out of the N437,726,666.66 million, paid to Seabulk Offshore Operator Limited, the total sum of N187 million, was transferred to Usaini Sabo on 06/03/2014, 10/06/2014, 12/06/2014 and 09/07/2014, who in turn converted same to US Dollars and handed them over to Captain Ezekiel Bala Agaba.

“That from the said sum paid to Seabulk Offshore Operator Limited, the total sum of N67 million, was on the 23rd July, 2014, paid to Kofar Fada Limited, who also converted the money to US Dollars and handed over same to Captain Ezekiel Bala Agaba. And that the sum of N66,800 million, received by Uche Obilor through his company Ace Prothesis Limited from NIMASA was equally converted to personal use without rendering any service to the agency.

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“That from the sum of N402,480 million, received by Uche Obilor through his company Southern Offshore Limited from NIMASA, the total sum of N268 million, was paid to one Usaini Sabo, who said sum to US Dollars and handed same over to Captain Ezekiel Bala Agaba.

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“That from the sum of N402,480 million, received from NIMASA by Mr. Uche Obilor through his company Southern Offshore Limited, the total sum of N103,100 million, was equally transferred to Haji Kawu Investment Bureau De Change and Lekay Leads Ventures Limited, which sums were equally converted to US Dollars and handed over to Captain Ezekiel Bala Agaba.

“That the various sums of money transferred to the companies of Mr. Uche Obilor from the treasury of NIMASA were fraudulent in that these companies neither rendered any service nor supply goods to the agency. Rather, the funds were largely converted to Dollars for personal use and the remaining retained by Mr. Uche Obilor.

“That during the course of investigation, the total sum of $16,500 USD cash, was recovered by the Commission, part of the funds diverted from the treasury of NIMASA. And that for using his companies as mentioned above, Mr. Uche Obilor, upon invitation to the Commission during the course of investigation agreed to return the sum of N118 million, admittedly received and retained by his companies from the funds fraudulently converted from the treasury of NIMASA.

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“That Mr. Uche Obilor voluntarily raised drafts through First City Monument Bank in the name of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, which sums are reasonably suspected to be proceeds of unlawful activity.

“That the funds sought to be forfeited are reasonably suspected to be proceeds of an unlawful act of diversion of funds from the treasury of NIMASA, through Mr. Uche Obilor, his companies and other cronies.

“That I know as a fact that Captain Ezekiel Bala Agaba, the then Executive Director, Maritime Safety and Shipping Development of NIMASA was convicted, sentenced by this Honourable Court, per Buba, J (rtd) and subsequently granted pardon by the Council of State.

“That in view of the findings in preceding paragraphs and upon a thorough analysis of the evidence on record, this Honourable Court on the 23 day of May 2024 made an interim order of forfeiture to the Federal Government of Nigeria in favour of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) the assets sought to be forfeited.

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“That I know as a fact and verily believe that this Honourable Court on the said 23 day of May, 2024 also directed the Applicant herein to publish in any national daily the said interim order of forfeiture to enable any interested party to appear before the Court to show cause why the assets should not be finally forfeited to the Federal Government of Nigeria, in favour of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA).

“That in compliance with the order of this Honourable Court, the Applicant herein published in The Punch newspaper of 6th June, 2024, the interim order of this Honourable Court.

“That I also know as a fact and verily believe that notwithstanding the Order of this Honourable Court directing any interested party to appear and show cause why the assets sought to be forfeited should not be finally forfeited to the Federal Government of Nigeria in favour of NIMASA, no person or party had served any affidavit showing cause on the Applicant herein.

“That this Honourable Court has the requisite power and jurisdiction to grant this application. And that it is in the best interest of Justice to hear and determine this application.”

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JUST IN: Heavy Gunshots Erupt At Benin Airport As Shaibu Arrives

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There were heavy gunshots at Benin Airport today, Thursday 18, 2024 as political thugs took over the place.

It was the occasion of the arrival of the reinstated Edo State Deputy Governor, Philip Shaibu in Benin, and the All Progressives Congress, APC, governorship candidate, Senator Monday Okpebholo.

The duo were leaving the Airport on arrival when the shooting occurred.

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The gunmen had stationed themselves at the exit gate of the Airport in a Sienna vehicle and opened fire targeted at Shaibu and Okpebholo’s convoys.

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Shaibu was said to have arrived at the Airport alongside the governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the September 21st election.

The gun fire targeted at Okpebholo and Shaibu resulted a reprisal gunshot by armed security details attached to the APC candidate and Deputy governor Phillip Shaibu.

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Some unidentified persons were seriously injured, one person was feared dead.

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The shots, audible inside the Airport Arrival Hall and along Airport Road, near the Miracle Centre of the Church of God Mission, caused widespread panic.

Businesses closed, and drivers abandoned their vehicles in a rush to escape.

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It took the intervention of the Mobile Squad of the Nigeria Police to bring the situation under control.

Meanwhile, several officers continued shooting to disperse the said attackers as they fled in a Toyota Sienna bus.

The shooting occurred just one day after a Federal Court ordered the Inspector General of Police to restore the security detail of Philip Shaibu as Deputy Governor of Edo State, following the nullification of his impeachment.

 

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BREAKING: NASU, SSANU Protest Four-month Withheld Salaries

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The Non-Academic Staff Union of Educational and Associated Institutions (NASU) and Senior Staff Association of Nigeria Universities (SSANU) have commenced a one day nationwide protest over their four-month withheld salaries.

Their protest has led to disruption in administrative work in universities and inter – university Centres.

As early as 7:30am, the union members converged on the popular Unity Fountain, Abuja from where they would march on the Federal Ministries of Education and Labour and Employment.

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General Secretary of NASU, Peters Adeyemi said letters would be presented to both ministries.

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The workers are asking the Federal Government to pay “us what you owe us.”

The unions said meetings with the government over the withheld salaries have not yielded positive results.

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Former Minister of Labour and Employment, Sen Chris Ngige invoked the ‘No work, no pay’ policy when the four university based unions embarked on a prolonged strike in 2022.

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Salaries of members of the university-based unions who participated in the strike were withheld by the administration of former President Muhammadu Buhari.

But President Bola Tinubu in October 2023 granted amnesty to the university workers and directed that four months of the withheld salaries be paid to them.

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Details Shortly…

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APC Destroyed Nigerian Economy, All Institutions Built For 16 Years – PDP Governors

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Governor elected on the platform of the People’s Democratic Party, PPD, have accused the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, of running down the nation’s economy and inflicting untold hardship on Nigerians.

The governors, under the umbrella body of PDP Governors, expressed dismay and grave concern over what they called “unprecedented hardship faced by the majority of Nigerians as a result of the dismal performance of the APC-led federal government”.

They frowned at the long delay in the minimum wage negotiations.

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Rising from a meeting hosted by Enugu State Governor, Peter Mbah, the governors welcomed the autonomy granted Local Government Councils, and said that they believe in the efficacy of the Local Government system which ensures that governance is taken closer to the people as enshrined in the constitution.

The Forum also frowned at what it called the destruction of good institutions and developments put in place by the party when it was in power at the federal level by the ruling APC.

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The Forum expressed strong support for the Governor of Rivers State in his political battle and said that a political solution that would bring peace to the state would be initiated.

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A communique from the meeting read by the Forum’s Chairman, Governor Bala Mohammed of Bauchi State said:
“The meeting deliberated on a wide range of issues bordering on critical national interest. The unprecedented hardship faced by the majority of Nigerians as a result of the dismal performance of the APC led federal government, the minimum wage negotiations and the recurring issue of intergovernmental relations with special reference to local government autonomy and funding.

Following an exhaustive discussion and consultations with all the organs of the party as you can see here, the national Working committee of the party.

Upcoming congresses

“In the spirit of the founding fathers of our great party who adopted internal democracy as a fundamental principle on which our party was built, the congresses leading to the elections of the party leaders at the various tiers must be all-inclusive, transparent, fair and in compliance with the constitution of our party. To ensure the successful conduct of the congresses of the 36 states of the federation and the federal capital territory”.

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Off-season election.

“Of the off-season elections in Edo and Ondo, the Forum admonishes all parties in the election to ensure that campaigns are issue-based, violence-free and in strict compliance with the provision of the electoral act. The forum urges the Independent Electoral Commission INEC to provide a level playing field that guarantees transparent, fair and peaceful elections as any act of bias will be resisted. The forum urges the president to show leadership as a true democrat by refraining from making any statement suggesting political interference in the entire process”.

The economy

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“The Forum notes with dismay and grave concern the mismanagement of the economy by the APC led federal government”.

The Minimum wage

“The Minimum wage negotiations are becoming unduly protracted in the face of the attendant unprecedented hardship and impoverishment of the people. The forum resolves as follows: The Labour’s demand for a substantial salary raise is eminently justified and therefore commands total support of the forum. While the forum supports Labour’s demand, agreement must take into consideration the ability to pay by the sub-nationals, the federal government and the third tier of government.

“While negotiations are ongoing, we appeal for restraint in both utterances and actions that could lead to a complete breakdown of law and order and ultimately the collapse of the economy”.

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Supreme court ruling on LG autonomy

“The forum believes in the efficacy of the local government system which ensures that governance comes closer to the people as provided in the constitution. The forum will also support the autonomy of the local government as enshrined in the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

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Restoring the Nation’s Past Glory

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“The forum regrets that the 16 years of the tremendous development of the PDP-led federal government during which the country with single-digit inflation, the establishment of the existing anti-corruption institutions and higher standard of living by the majority of Nigerians has been eroded during the lifespan of the lacklustre APC led federal government.

“The forum identifies with the Nigerian populace in these troubling times and promises to bring back those good old days of low inflation rates, affordable food, fuel and transportation, steady FDI influx resulting in high Naira value and great quality of human life that was recorded.

“In that regard, the meeting commended the Governors of the PDP-controlled states for their innovative approach to governance in many fields, especially infrastructure, education, health, women and youth initiatives and the timely delivery of developmental projects across the country.

“The forum notes the crisis in Rivers State of the party and commits to supporting the governor of Rivers State and also resolved that the issue could be done through the political solution that will be required and other measures that all the leaders of the organs of the party will be committed so that we can go together and resolve this issue with minimal friction, division or rancour.

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“The forum therefore calls on all Nigerians to refrain from any anarchy as we all march towards the return of the PDP to power in 2027”.

Earlier the chairman of the Forum described the meeting as “an extraordinary meeting of the PDP Governors Forum and some of our major stakeholders, including our National Working Committee and various organs of the party. This meeting is very unique and auspicious because we are here to showcase our history as a party. We have been leading in this country as a party. We have all the structures established before the commencement of the APC administration”.

The governors in attendance were Siminalayi Fubara of Rivers State, Seyi Makinde of Oyo, Umo Eno of Akwa-Ibom, Sheriff Oborevwori of Delta, Godwin Obaseki of Edo, Caleb Mutfwang of Plateau, Agbu Kefas of Taraba, Dauda Lawal of Zamfara, and Ahmadu Fintiri of Adamawa, Douye Diri of Bayelsa, and the host governor, Peter Mbah.

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Also in attendance were the Chairman of the PDP Board of Trustees, Senator Adolphus Wabara and the Acting National Chairman of the party, represented by the Deputy National Chairman, South, Ambassador Taofeek Arapaja, former governor of Kaduna State and former Acting National Chairman of the PDP, Senator Ahmed Makarfi, and former governor of Niger State, Dr Babangida Aliyu.

 

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