Drama In Court As Maina’s Sister, Testifies Against Him
…Distances Self From Companies, Bank Accounts Linked To Her
There was a mild drama at the Federal High Court in Abuja on Wednesday when Fatima Abdullahi, a younger sister of Abdulrasheed Maina, was giving evidence as a prosecution witness in the ongoing trial of the former Chairman of the defunct Pension Reform Task Team.
Fatima, a civil servant and resident of Kaduna, told the court that she and Maina shares the same parents.
She gave evidence behind a screen where her face was only seen by the judge, Justice Okon Abang, while her voice could be heard through the public address system of the court.
However, while her evidence in chief was going on, Adeola Adedipe, counsel for Common Inputs & Investment Nigeria Ltd (2nd defendant), raised observation that he suspected that the witness was reading from a prepared document.
When asked by the court registrar, the witness said, “Well, I am not reading from any paper. They are free to come and check as I only have my bag with me. The reason why I am slowing down is because the judge is taking down his notes.”
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The judge ruled that the court did not see the witness reading from any document.
In her evidence in chief, the witness said she had never heard of a company called Common Input & Investment Nigeria Ltd.
She gave the narrative of how she found out about the company thus: “Sometimes in August, 2019, I went to the ATM of Diamond Access Bank to withdraw some money.
Unfortunately, I could not. So, I went inside the bank to see the manager to complain. The manager told me to hold on, that he would find out the reason..
“After waiting for an hour, the manager told me that I was under arrest and he took me to an office and asked me to wait for the EFCC official to come and take me to their office in Kaduna.
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“That was when the manager told me that my accounts were blocked. So when the EFCC official came, they took me to their office for questioning. When we got there, the officials were asking me if I know any company by the name Common Input, to which I told them I do not. In fact, that was the first time I was hearing about the name.
“They told me that there was a transaction in Common Input and I told them I am not aware of the transaction. So, they made me to write a statement.
“Afterwards, I was given an administrative bail on the same day and that I should proceed to the EFCC office in Abuja the next day.
“The next day, I went to the Abuja office together with my lawyer. The officials also asked me if I know any company by the name Common Input, to which I say I do not. So, they presented a CAC incorporation form of the company where the name Fatima Samaila Abdullahi was stated together with my date of birth but the phone number on the form is not my own.
Even the name as stated on the form is not my name as my full name is Fatima Abdullahi.”
The witness continue her evidence, stating that even her signature was not the one on the form, as well as the one on another CAC form for Kangolo Digital and Drew Investment.
“The name is my name, but the signature is not mine,” she said.
“So, I was asked to write a statement, which I did.
“Also, I was shown an account opening package of Common Input and Drew Investment with UBA. I was shown a BVN, which is my BVN and I told them I don’t know anything about those accounts. I was never given any form to sign in respect of those account. And I have never made any deposit or withdrawal from Drew Investment, Common Input and Kangolo.
“I have never opened any account with UBA. The other accounts I have are in GTBank, Access, Fidelity and First Bank.
All my genuine accounts were blocked together with those fictitious accounts. Even my salary account was blocked and I can not access it,” she said.
The witness also denied knowledge of shares bought in her name in the companies, adding that the photograph attached to the documents was a younger version of her before she got married.
Meanwhile, the matter has been adjourned to December 16 for cross examination and hearing of the bail variation application filed by Maina.
Edo Sets Up Task Force To Tackle Fuel Crisis
The Edo State Government has commenced inspection to check fuel scarcity, hoarding, and a hike in the price of premium motor spirits in the state.
According to the special adviser to the governor on media projects, Cruseo Osagie, The task force set up to regulate the product, on Tuesday, inspected fuel stations in the Benin Metropolis to check against hoarding, as well as address the issue of artificial scarcity and arbitrary hikes in prices of petroleum products in the state.
Speaking to journalists during the inspection, the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Energy and Mining, Ferguson Enabulele, said the state government will carry out further engagements with relevant authorities on the matter.
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He said, “We discovered under-dispensing in some of these stations, over pricing which cannot be fully justified as some are saying the sector has been fully deregulated but there is no formal letter from the state government concerning that. So, we still stand with the old prices of these products.
“It’s a bit difficult to reach a specific position on this issue now (pricing). We will hold further conversations with the DPR Office in the State and thereafter, inform the state governor of our findings.
“We will invite owners of filling stations to engage with them also. It is when we have that information that we will now know what to do because as we stand, there is no formal authority deregulating that sector but as against what most of these petrol stations are acting on – as if the sector has been fully deregulated and they have control over their pricing.”
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He appealed to the residents to be patient as there is going to be more engagement with the Department of Petroleum Resources to arrive at an authoritative position.
Senate Amends ICPC Act, Slams 2 Year-imprisonment On False Petitioners
The Senate on Tuesday passed an amendment to the Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission, ICPC Act with stiffer punishment for false petitioners.
Specifically, the amendment to Section 25 of the Act, now provides two-year imprisonment with no option of fine on anyone whose petitions to the commission is found to be false or intended to mislead.
This was sequel to the consideration of a report by the Senate Committee on Anti-Corruption and Financial Crimes, chaired by Senator Suleiman Abdu Kwari (APC Kaduna North).
In the principal Act, the offence of false petition attracts a fine of N100,000.
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The amendment in Section (25) (1) says Any person who makes or causes any other person to make to an officer of the commission…any statement which to the knowledge of the person making the statement, or causing the statement to be made is false, or intended to mislead shall be guilty of an offence and shall, on conviction, be liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding two (2) years.
The Red Chamber had in the past, planned to streamline the operations of the ICPC with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC so as to make it more proactive.
EFCC Told To Start Probing Buhari, Leave Ortom
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, has been urged to start probing the immediate past President, Muhammadu Buhari and leave ex-Governor of Benue State, Samuel Ortom.
Unconfirmed reports had it that EFCC had allegedly invaded Benue State, in an attempt to arrest Ortom.
It was claimed that the anti-graft operatives were invited on the orders of the Minister of Interior, George Akume.
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Reacting, Ortom had said the anti-graft agency operatives were welcomed into the state because he had nothing to hide.
However, a civil society organization wondered why EFCC was looking away from the alleged corruption allegations against Buhari’s government, but opted for Ortom.
Ternenge Bendega, the President of Benue Coalition for Democracy, BCD, recalled that in August 2018, after Ortom dumped the All Progressives Congress, APC, for the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, on account of gross insecurity and his maltreatment by the leadership of APC in Benue State, the EFCC had went after him like a rabid dog.
A statement by Bendega reads: “Yesterday, the media were awash with reports that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC was laying ambush to apprehend the immediate past Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom on alleged corruption charges. The reports however did not state what Chief Ortom’s offense was.
“The government of Muhammadu Buhari is on record as the most corrupt administration in the post-independence history of Nigeria! Trillions of naira have been stolen under the watch of “Mr Integrity”, but the EFCC and other anti-graft agencies always look the other way while the country is being raped. They prefer to oppress those who have volunteered to fight for justice, like Samuel Ortom.
“Former President Muhammadu Buhari did not hide his disdain for Ortom. He wanted Ortom removed at all costs and his agent for executing the “project” was Senator George Akume, the leader of APC in Benue State.
“Today, the EFCC, apparently following the wink and prompting of the immediate past President, has resumed the witch-hunt of Ortom? But what is the former Benue Governor’s crime? His only “sin” is his boldness to challenge the powers behind the Fulani occupation agenda. He has dared to take the tiger by the tail. Ortom is apparently the first Governor to directly question the Fulani subjugation machinery and refuse to shift even a foot backwards.
“The immediate past Benue State Governor also knew that the beast would fight back and he prepared his mind for the war ahead. In the last couple of weeks, he often told his audience that he was ready to visit the EFCC if the commission wanted him to appear before it. What is not clear is why the commission would want to arrest a man who is willing to answer charges against him.
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“EFCC has exhibited the height of impunity by its selective war against financial crimes in the country. The situation where the commission harasses innocent citizens on politically motivated grounds is unacceptable.
“We task the EFCC to beam its searchlight on corrupt officials in the immediate past administration of President Buhari who turned the national treasury to their personal estate.”
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