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Court grants Maina’s plea for further bail variation

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A Federal High Court on Monday granted an application by Abdulrasheed Maina, ex-Chairman, Pension Reformed Task Team (PRTT) for further variation of bail conditions.

The court further varied the bail conditions eight months after his inability to meet the terms.

Justice Okon Abang, in his ruling, said he was inclined to granting Maina’s prayer on compassionate ground, especially after he had been able to produce a serving senator in the country.

Newsmen report that the ex-Pension Reform boss, through his lawyer, Joe Gadzama, SAN, had, on June 23, informed the court that Sen. Ali Ndume, representing Borno South, had decided to stand as surety for him.

Gadzama said though the condition had been met, the certificate of occupancy (C of O) of the Abuja property of the senator, which the court stated as a condition, did not bear his name.

The lawyer said the certificate was in the name of the original owner, one Lawan Ahmed.

Gadzama, who stated that Ndume was now the owner of the property, explained that there was an irrevocable letter of attorney (Exhibit G2) signed by the Director of Land in the FCTA, Mr G. Bawa, and addressed to the registrar of the court to back the claim.

“The power of attorney is irrevocable; the donor cannot get it back.

“That is why it is as good as the certificate of occupancy in this situation, it supercede the certificate because it is latest in time,” he stressed.

He also told the court to reconsider the condition that Ndume must always come to court at every adjourned date to sign the court register, considering the state assignment before the lawmaker.

Ndume, who is the Chairman, Senate Committee on Army, had, in a statement on June 24, had also admitted standing as surety for Maina.

He revealed that it took him six months of painful consideration to agree to be a surety for the ex-Pension boss and that it was part of the cross he had to carry as Maina’s elected senator.

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According to the lawmaker, it was a hard decision I had to make because I have a duty to represent the good, the bad and the ugly of Borno South.

Recall that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) had, on Oct. 25, 2019, charged Maina and his son, Faisal, before the court alongside his firm, Common Input Property and Investment Ltd.

Although Maina is charged with 12-counts bordering on money laundering, he had, however, pleaded not guilty to all the charges.

Justice Abang had, on Jan. 28, varied Miana’s bail conditions, following his inability to meet the bail terms granted him on Nov. 26, 2019.

Abang reduced Maina’s bail condition from N1 billion to N500 million with a surety in the like sum who must be a serving senator as opposed to the earlier order of producing two serving senators.

The judge ruled that the surety, who should not have a criminal case pending in any court, must have a landed property fully developed in Maitama, Asokoro, Wuse II, Katampe or Central Business Districts of Abuja, with Certificate of Occupancy attached as evidence.

Abang also ruled that although the senator would always come to the court at every adjourned date, the lawmaker only needed to come and sign a court register that would be opened at the registry, among other terms.

However, Maina had been unable to get a senator as surety for his release until Ndume decided to do so.

At the ruling on Monday, Justice Abang said he had carefully considered the arguments of parties.

Abang noted that it was within the court jurisdiction to either grant bail by vacating the existing conditions or grant new conditions.

He said though Gadzama, who is counsel to Maina, described the conditions of the bail as “suffocating and unbearable,” the judge said such submission was baseless going by the facts placed before the court by the EFCC.

“I felt the statement that the conditions were suffocating seems to portray the court as being inhuman in my view.

“I know the court is not inhuman. I take the fact of the case the way I understand the law.

“If you consider the fact of this case, u will agree with me because in the affidavit of the defendant (Maina), he said he was ready to fulfil the bail on any condition,” he said.

Besides, Abang stated that in the EFCC argument, Maina was said to be “a flight risk and that he comes into and out of the country through illegal routes.”

He noted that the anti-graft agency argued that “he will jump bail if granted; that he does not reside in the country; that his international passport does not indicate that he ever travels outside the country through legal means.

The judge said, with this development, he had to consider the competing rights of the parties.

“And that is why I arrived at a senator in standing surety for the 1st defendant, not somebody who does not have stake in the affairs of this country.

“That is why I said I took a risk in admitting him to bail, based on the weighty allegations by EFCC which the 1st defendant did not challenge,” he said.

Taking the prayers one after the order in the affidavit deposed to by Maina’s wife, Laila, the judge refused to grant the plea by the senator on coming to sign court register at each adjourned.

“I think the issue of signing registrar has been settled by the surety. The court cannot revisit this again.

“The surety has already signed an affidavit of means, especially in Paragraph 9 which he said I shall fulfil the bond of oath.

“Having agreed to come to court with the defendant, this cannot be jettison by any person other than Senator Ndume,” he ruled.

He held that Ndume understood clearly what he deposed to in the affidavit of means on May 5.

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The judge, therefore, disagreed in the affidavit deposed to by Laila that it might be difficult for the lawmaker to be coming to court at every sitting, describing it as “documentary hearsay.”

However, Justice Abang granted Maina’s prayer on the acceptance of irrevocable power of attorney as C of O.

“I note here that the name on the C of O is not in the name of Senator Ndume. I also note that the certificate of occupancy cannot be issued twice.

“I also note that the applicant cannot wait until the FCT minister signs another certificate in his name.

“I think on compassionate ground, the court will accept the irrevocable power of attorney as a condition for a certificate of title.

“This is so because the defendant has met with the main condition of producing a senator,” he held.

Abang warned that if Maina jumped bail in an unlikely event, the court might either order the remand of Ndume in a correctional centre or for the surety to forfeit the penal sum.

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The judge also said that both penalties might be meted out against the surety if the defendant jumped bail.

He, however, advised Maina not to attempt to jump bail “by putting his surety in an embarrassing situation.

“In the light of the humane disposition of the court on compassionate time, there is the need to further vary the already varied conditions for the 1st defendant to meet his nail conditions and stand his trial,” he ruled.

The judge, therefore, ordered that Item 1(c) in the enrole order be varied.

He ruled that the surety should either produce a certificate of occupancy of a property in the Asokoro, Maitama, Wuse II, Katampe District or Central Business District of Abuja signed by the relevant department in the FCT or armed himself with irrevocable power of attorney.

He said the investigation officer in the EFCC should ascertain the validity of the power of attorney.

Except with the permission of the court, Abang ruled that Maina “shall not leave the FCT, Abuja, pending the hearing and determination of the charge.”

He then adjourned the matter until July 2 for trial continuation.

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Braimoh was a meticulous legislator, astute communicator- Hon. Kasunmu

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The Lawmaker representing Ikeja Constituency 2 at the Lagos State House of Assembly, Hon. Adedamola Richard Kasunmu, also known as ARK, has expressed total grief at the sudden demise of his colleague in the House of Assembly, Hon. Tunde Braimoh, who passed away on Friday.

In a statement from the Media Office of Hon. Kasunmu, the lawmaker stated that “the death of Hon. Tunde Braimoh is still like a trance to me and I am finding it difficult to believe”.

Hon. ARK described the late Braimoh as “a deft politician and meticulous legislator, whose contributions to the success of the 8th and current Assembly cannot be quantified.

“He was always full of life and his intellectual disposition reflected in his contributions in and out of the Chamber.”

“Indeed, we have lost an erudite parliamentarian and astute communicator. This is one death too many and an irreplaceable loss”.

“On behalf of the people of Ikeja Constituency 2 and the Lagos  State House of Assembly Committee on Lands, I want to specially convey our heartfelt condolences to the immediate family of the deceased, the Speaker, Rt. Hon. Mudashiru Obasa and the entire House of Assembly as well as the people of Kosofe Constituency 2 and APC family in Lagos State. May his soul rest in Aljouna Fridaous and may God console the family” Hon. Kasunmu stated.

The late Hon. Tunde Braimoh was the Chairman, House Committee on Information, Security and Strategy before his sudden demise via complications arising from COVID-19 in the early hours of Friday Friday 10th July 2020.

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How Magu used Pastors to launder funds abroad

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A report by the Presidential Probe Panel has shown details of how Ibrahim Magu, the suspended acting chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), allegedly used a cleric to launder funds abroad.

Magu is currently being interrogated by the panel headed by retired Justice Ayo Salami over allegations of lack of transparency in managing recovered assets and mismanagement of EFCC.

A copy of the report made available to the News Agency of Nigeria, NAN, on Saturday in Abuja disclosed that the founder of the Divine Hand of God Prophetic Ministry, Abuja, Dr Emmanuel Omalewas was used by Magu to launder funds.

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Omale’s name was uncovered through an investigative report on EFCC’s activities by the Nigeria Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU) and mentioned in the final report of the Presidential Committee on Audit of Recovered Assets (PCARA).

The report added that the unknown Pastor is alleged to have bought a landed property on behalf of Magu worth N573 million in Dubai, United Arab Emirate.

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Another individual who is helping in laundering funds for the Acting Chairman and who has been referred to in several petitions is one Pastor Emmanuel Omale of the Hand of God Prophetic Ministry.

“He’s reported to have travelled to Dubai with Mr Magu, and his name was used in purchasing a property in Dubai for Mr Magu.

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“As an unknown pastor, the NFIU’s report showed the huge movement of funds ranging from N573,228,040.41,” the report said.

However, efforts had been intensified to reveal the real identity of the Pastor and to arraign him for prosecution if found culpable.

Magu is being held at the Police headquarters in Abuja.

He is expected to reappear before the Salami probe panel on Monday, to defend himself against several allegations.

 

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Fresh troubles for Magu as PCARA uncovers re-looting of recovered funds

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Ibrahim Magu

The suspended acting chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Mr Ibrahim Magu, may be facing fresh cases of alleged re-looting of funds recovered by the agency as well as bribery.

It was gathered that interest rates accruing from N550bn recovered by the EFCC under Magu were allegedly re-looted.

Magu is being interrogated by a presidential probe panel headed by retired Justice Ayo Salami over allegations of mismanagement and lack of transparency in managing recovered assets by the EFCC.

It was observed that the Final Report of Presidential Committee on Audit of Recovered Assets (PCARA) that covered the period of May 29, 2015 to November 22, 2018, had also confirmed the concerns of the public about contradictory recovery figures emanating from Magu.

“It is quite disturbing that conflicting figures are being circulated in the public space by EFCC as the amount of recovered funds.

“For Foreign currency recoveries, EFCC reported a total naira equivalent of N46,038,882,509.87, while the naira equivalent of the foreign currency lodgments were N37,533,764,195.66, representing a shortfall of N8,505,118,314.21.

“These inconsistencies cast serious doubt on the accuracy of figures submitted by the EFCC.

“It is the committee’s view that the EFCC cannot be said to have fully accounted for cash recoveries made by it.

“While EFCC reported total Naira recoveries of N504,154,184,744.04, the actual bank lodgments were N543,511,792,863.47. “These discrepancies mean that EFCC’s actual lodgment exceeded its reported recoveries by N39,357,608,119.43.

“It must be pointed out that the discrepancy of more than thirty-nine billion naira does not include interest accrued in this account since it was opened.

“It, therefore, cast serious doubt on the credibility of the figures and means that a substantial amount of money has not been accurately accounted for.

“Failure to report on the interest on actual lodgments clearly establishes that interest element of over N550 billion has been re-looted relating to the period under review.

“This is an apparent case of manipulation of data in a very brazen and unprofessional manner and this has greatly eroded the public confidence in the anti-corruption efforts,’’ the report stated in part.

It was also gathered that the PCARA revealed how the investigative reports on EFCC’s activities by the Nigeria Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU) exposed acts of corruption and money laundering against some EFCC officials, including Magu.

“The NFIU reports established that the acting chairman has been using different sources to siphon money from the EFCC, and in some cases, collecting bribes from suspects.

“The report has shown that a particular Bureau de Change, owned by Ahmed Ibrahim Shanono, linked to the acting chairman based in Kaduna, has more than 158 accounts and has been receiving huge sums of funds.

“The link to Magu was also established by the payment of N28 million to FALANA, who is a close associate and ally of the acting chairman,’’ the PCARA report further revealed.

NAN reports that the Salami probe panel is expected to continue sitting on Monday while Magu’s lawyer, Mr Oluwatosin Ojaomo, had, on Friday, applied for an administrative bail for his client, who is facing corruption and other charges before the panel.

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(NAN)

 

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