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Thursday, 12 June 2014

Alleged $620,000 bribe: Farouk Lawan, Emenalo re-arraigned

A former Chairman of the House of Representatives Ad Hoc Committee on Fuel Subsidy Regime and its ex-Secretary, Farouk Lawan, and Boniface Emenalo, were re-arraigned yesterday before a High Court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) in Gudu, Abuja.

They are facing a seven-count charge for allegedly receiving $620,000 bribe from the Chairman of Zenon Oil and Gas, Mr Femi Otedola.

The two allegedly took the bribe to exclude the names of Otedola’s companies – Zenon Petroleum and Gas as well as Synopsis Enterprises Limited – from the list of companies said to have defrauded the Federal Government of billions of naira.

The accused were earlier arraigned on the same charge before Justice Mudashiru Oniyangi (formerly of the FCT High Court, Maitama) before his elevation to the Court of Appeal some months ago.

Justice Oniyangi’s elevation led to the transfer of the case to a new judge – Justice Adebukola Banjoko – before whom the accused took their fresh pleas yesterday.

When the case was called, lead prosecution lawyer, Adegboyega Awomolo (SAN), told the court that the accused were to plead to the charge afresh.

When the judge asked if there was any application pending at the Court of Appeal on the matter, Awomolo answered in the negative. The lead defence lawyer, O. Jolaawo, confirmed same.
After listening to the charge, Lawan and Emenalo pleaded not guilty to the charge.

Jolaawo later applied to the court to enable the accused continue to enjoy the bail earlier granted them by the former trial judge. Awomolo did not object to the application.

Justice Banjoko, however, insisted on sighting the three men, who stood surety for the accused, before the earlier bail was granted, to know if they were willing to remain the sureties.

The case was stood down on that note to allow the sureties, who were not in court, to physically appear in court.

About an hour later, the proceedings resumed, following the arrival of the three sureties in court. Justice Banjoko asked them if they were willing to remain sureties for the accused, and they affirmed.

The judge ordered Lawan and Emenalo to remain on the earlier bail granted by Justice Oniyangi and adjourned till July 7 for further hearing.
 
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Monday, 9 June 2014

Bribery: Court sends chief security officer to 33 years imprisonment

A Delta State High Court sitting in Warri has sentenced the Chief Security Officer  of Delta State Polytechnic, Mr Peter Obonyamo, to 33 years imprisonment, having been convicted of corrupt acts.
The Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) had dragged Mr Obonyamo  to court for demanding N150,000  gratification from a contractor with the Delta State Polytechnic, Ozoro.
He was also charged for actually receiving N100,000 from the contractor.
His arrest came through a sting operation by the ICPC operatives as he was collecting N100,000 marked money.
Delivering judgment, Justice  Briki-Okolosi  held that the prosecution had proven its case beyond reasonable doubt in counts 1,3,4,6 and 11 of the charge while he struck  out counts 2 and 5 for duplicity.
The court further held that counts 8,9 and 10 were not proven beyond reasonable doubt.
However, the  court sentenced  Mr Obonyamo  to seven years imprisonment on each of counts 1,3,4 and 6 with an option of N20, 000 fine on each count.
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 The court also sentenced the convict to five years imprisonment without an option of fine on count 11.

Friday, 6 June 2014

Corruption: Tambuwal alleges impunity by govt officials

The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mr. Aminu Tambuwal, on Thursday described as curious, the growing trend by public officials to resist the scrutiny of the National Assembly.
In a veiled reference to the Minister of Petroleum Resources, Diezani Alison-Madueke, Tambuwal said government officials either ignored legislative invitations or simply refused to be accountable when asked to respond to alleged corrupt acts.
But he warned while addressing his colleagues in Abuja to mark the end of the third session of the current 2011-2015 legislative tenure, that   the House would not be intimidated by any official in its resolve to expose corruption in governance.
The House which is probing Alison-Maduke for allegedly spending N10bn on chartered aircraft in the last two years had said   she severally ignored its invitations. The minister had also filed a suit in court seeking to stop the House from going on with the investigation, saying it needed the President’s nod before it could summon her.
But Tambuwal noted that the “impunity” by government officials was intended to “frustrate” the legislature from performing its constitutional duties, adding that the intimidation would not work.
“I wish to assure Nigerians that the House of Representatives will not be intimidated into abdicating its sacred duty to provide robust checks and balances to executive action, especially for the purpose of exposing corruption in the polity and of ensuring the judicious management of our commonwealth,” he said.
The speaker also noted that “strange” things were happening to the country’s democracy, where government officials resorted to filing court cases in the hope of stopping legislative proceedings that called their actions to question.
He observed that some government officials did not know how to draw the line between the duties of the Executive and the Legislative arms of government.
Tambuwal spoke more, “This   House has only recently concluded the exercise of approving the 2014 budget. The problem which the House experienced in the budgetary process emanated from several factors, including the entrenched culture of lateness in budget preparation and submission to the National Assembly by the Executive branch.
“There have also been attempts to denigrate the National Assembly for our insistence on instilling sanity in the budgetary process. Only recently, a certain government spokesman was quoted as claiming that the National Assembly ‘distorted’ the 2014 budget.
“It is inconceivable that an institution endowed by the 1999 Constitution with the legal duty and power to perform a function can be said to be distorting the performance of that function.
“Those desirous of a National Assembly that will merely rubber-stamp a draft budget submitted to it by the Executive must look elsewhere.
“During the session, we witnessed the dawn of a disturbing trend whereby people now go to court to stop the National Assembly from exercising its constitutional mandate and conducting its internal operations. This is unheard of in jurisdictions where genuine democracy is practised and venerated.
“The usual democratic practice is that the powers of the courts are activated to challenge laws enacted by the legislature. This is the proper manner in which the judiciary is enabled to perform its constitutional function as the interpreter of both the constitution and duly enacted laws.”
He argued that the resort to litigation was “an encroachment on the powers of the legislature and a slap in the face of the principle of Separation of Powers.”
Tambuwal condemned the acts of terrorism by Boko Haram, which had led to the loss of many lives in the last three years.
He added that the abduction of over 200 schoolgirls by the sect was a new dimension to terrorism that Nigeria and the international community must do everything possible to confront and secure the release of the girls.
The Speaker stated that youth unemployment and abuse of citizens’ rights had also been on the increase and urged the Federal Government and its agencies to respect the fundamental human rights of Nigerians.
Tambuwal received a standing ovation from lawmakers after the speech, which also drove home the point that they had one year left in their four-year tenure.
The current tenure was inaugurated on June 6, 2011.
The House will resume on June 24 after a two-week end of session break.

Thursday, 5 June 2014

Nigerian court acquits former Mtel CEO, others in Siemens bribery case

A Nigerian court of appeals has freed a former Mtel CEO and three others accused of receiving bribes from Siemens.

The German telecom equipment maker company is alleged to have paid more than US$100 million in bribes to officials in Nigeria, Libya and other countries in order to win supply contracts.

Global suppliers including China's Huawei Technologies and ZTE are seriously competing for contracts in the region. There have been a number of cases over the last few years in which senior government officials and managers of telecom companies have been accused of offering bribes to win telecom equipment contracts.

In 2007, the Nigerian government canceled a supply contract with Siemens and suspended dealings with the company pending investigations into allegations that it gave more than $14 million in bribes to Nigerian government officials in order to be offered a supply contract.

One of the accused is the former CEO for government-owned mobile telecommunications company Mtel, Edwin Moore Momife. The other three are the former director of the Power Holding Company of Nigeria, Maigada Shuaibu; former general manager of finance at Nigerian Telecommunications (Nitel), Emmanuel Chukwuemeka Ossai, and former permanent secretary at the Federal Ministry of Power and Steel Mahmood, Sadiq Mohammed.

In its ruling, the court of appeal said the country's Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), failed to establish a lawful case against the accused.

Justice Tinuade Akomolafe Wilson, who read the judgment said, "Momife and the three other accused had no case to answer because the Siemens officials implicated in bribery case as conspirators were neither charged nor declared wanted in Nigeria."

The court held that the main accused person, Momife, "could not have conspired with himself to commit the alleged crime."

The court said in order to establish a case against Momife and the other accused, the EFCC could have taken the officials to court with Siemens officials who allegedly bribed the accused.

The ruling by the appeals court effectively overturned the decision of the High Court that earlier found all four of the accused guilty of bribery. Momife and the other accused officials were detained by the court but later released on bail. They appealed the decision of the High Court.

Momife and his co-defendants were also accused of having received for themselves and their family members air tickets to attend the FIFA World cup in Germany in 2006 in addition to receiving frequent sponsorship to Germany for medical check-ups.

Momife admitted having received air tickets from Siemens but the court said it found no evidence of a relationship, business or otherwise, between Siemens and the accused.

In 2007, Siemens was indicted by a court in Germany for paying bribes to government and officials in African countries including Cameroon, Libya and Egypt in order to win supply contracts, It was slapped with a fine of about $201 million.

Siemens accepted responsibility for misconduct and provided names of bribe recipients. The EFCC asked for a certified copy of the Germany court's judgement in order to help it identify the people who were involved in the bribery and how much was given to them. It is not clear whether the copy of the judgement was given to EFCC by the Germans.

In 2010, the World Bank, as a major funder of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) projects in Africa, imposed a two-year bidding rights ban on Siemens because of the company's alleged corruption in Africa's telecom sector.

Siemens has since committed to paying $100 million to support global efforts over the next 15 years to support anti-corruption efforts.

Source
A Nigerian court of appeals has freed a former Mtel CEO and three others accused of receiving bribes from Siemens.
The German telecom equipment maker company is alleged to have paid more than US$100 million in bribes to officials in Nigeria, Libya and other countries in order to win supply contracts.
Global suppliers including China's Huawei Technologies and ZTE are seriously competing for contracts in the region. There have been a number of cases over the last few years in which senior government officials and managers of telecom companies have been accused of offering bribes to win telecom equipment contracts.
In 2007, the Nigerian government canceled a supply contract with Siemens and suspended dealings with the company pending investigations into allegations that it gave more than $14 million in bribes to Nigerian government officials in order to be offered a supply contract.
One of the accused is the former CEO for government-owned mobile telecommunications company Mtel, Edwin Moore Momife. The other three are the former director of the Power Holding Company of Nigeria, Maigada Shuaibu; former general manager of finance at Nigerian Telecommunications (Nitel), Emmanuel Chukwuemeka Ossai, and former permanent secretary at the Federal Ministry of Power and Steel Mahmood, Sadiq Mohammed.
In its ruling, the court of appeal said the country's Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), failed to establish a lawful case against the accused.
Justice Tinuade Akomolafe Wilson, who read the judgment said, "Momife and the three other accused had no case to answer because the Siemens officials implicated in bribery case as conspirators were neither charged nor declared wanted in Nigeria."
The court held that the main accused person, Momife, "could not have conspired with himself to commit the alleged crime."

The court said in order to establish a case against Momife and the other accused, the EFCC could have taken the officials to court with Siemens officials who allegedly bribed the accused.
The ruling by the appeals court effectively overturned the decision of the High Court that earlier found all four of the accused guilty of bribery. Momife and the other accused officials were detained by the court but later released on bail. They appealed the decision of the High Court.
Momife and his co-defendants were also accused of having received for themselves and their family members air tickets to attend the FIFA World cup in Germany in 2006 in addition to receiving frequent sponsorship to Germany for medical check-ups.
Momife admitted having received air tickets from Siemens but the court said it found no evidence of a relationship, business or otherwise, between Siemens and the accused.
In 2007, Siemens was indicted by a court in Germany for paying bribes to government and officials in African countries including Cameroon, Libya and Egypt in order to win supply contracts, It was slapped with a fine of about $201 million.
Siemens accepted responsibility for misconduct and provided names of bribe recipients. The EFCC asked for a certified copy of the Germany court's judgement in order to help it identify the people who were involved in the bribery and how much was given to them. It is not clear whether the copy of the judgement was given to EFCC by the Germans.
In 2010, the World Bank, as a major funder of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) projects in Africa, imposed a two-year bidding rights ban on Siemens because of the company's alleged corruption in Africa's telecom sector.
Siemens has since committed to paying $100 million to support global efforts over the next 15 years to support anti-corruption efforts.
- See more at: http://www.cfoworld.com/operations/88714/nigerian-court-acquits-former-mtel-ceo-others-siemens-bribery-case#sthash.xi1ffT2i.dpuf

Monday, 2 June 2014

INEC honours corper for rejecting bribe to rig during Ondo by-election

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) today honoured a member of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC), Ismail Lawal, who rejected a bribe to rig the inconclusive Ilaje-Ese-Odo House of Representatives By-election in Ondo State in favour of a particular party.
Lawal was said to have been put under duress by loyalists of the party, who offered him N8000 to turn the result in their favour but rejected to do their wish.
The INEC Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) Mr. Akin Orebiyi made this known at the inauguration of the State Advisory Committee on Voter Education and Publicity.
Orebiyi said Lawal showed probity, honesty and integrity in the
conduct of the election, saying Nigeria needed the likes of the Corps member for its progress and development.
The REC noted that the Commission had put in place some structures that would make it difficult for officials to rig elections.
According to the REC, the electoral process and structure put in place did not permit influence or interference from within INEC or outside it.
His words “With the process and structure put in place by the Commission under Professor Attahiru Jega’s watch, no one,not even he, the Chairman, or the National Commissioner, Resident Electoral Commissioner or Electoral
Officer can rig election successfully in this country. And we are not
willing to do so”.
Orebiyi therefore urged the people of the country to adopt the electoral process as there own and make it work.
He said the committee was put together to achieve a hitch free Continuous Voter Registration (CVR) exercise slated for July 23 to July 27 in the state, adding that it would be preceded by the distribution of Permanent
Voters’ Card (PVC) from July 18 to July 20.
The REC said the committee would work together and closely in order to ensure adequate voter education and public enlightenment on electoral activities going forward to 2015 and beyond.

Source