Ahead of the March 23 supplementary elections in some states of the federation, the Nigerian Army and the Nigeria Police Force have reconciled their differences and promised to work together.
This was disclosed at a joint media briefing by the Nigerian Army and Nigeria Police in Abuja on Thursday, on the just concluded elections and the forthcoming supplementary elections.
Frank Mba, the Force Public Relations Officers (FPRO), who briefed journalists on behalf of other services, said they were no more at loggerheads with each other, having resolved their differences.
He revealed that no fewer than 1,119 electoral offenders have been arrested so far by the military, police and sister security agencies during the 2019 general election.
The breakdown showed that 322 persons were arrested during the presidential and National Assembly elections, while 796 people were arrested during the governorship and house of assembly polls. He disclosed that top on the list of arrests were from Akwa Ibom State with 256, 117 persons from Imo, while 109 people were from Kaduna.
He, therefore, warned that the figures would increase by Saturday’s supplementary polls if the troublemakers choose not to stay away from disrupting the polls.
While commenting on the alleged militarisation of the electoral process, the FPRO said there was no doubt that the Nigeria Police is the lead security agency tasked with the provision of security at the polls, while the military is to support the Police and other security agencies by providing security at the outer cordons, including checkpoints and other flashpoints, when called upon as provided in Section 217 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, as amended.
“We are, however, equally aware of some of the unfortunate security challenges witnessed during the elections, which have generated public outcry and condemnation. The alleged involvement of some security agents in some of these unfortunate incidents is of serious concern to the military and police high commands,” he said.
Mba disclosed that while some of these issues may have been as a result of the overzealousness of some personnel, others were instances of impersonation by political thugs clad in military and police uniforms.
“This information was later corroborated with the arrest of several fake soldiers and fake policemen during the last elections,” he said, while some of the fake soldiers and policemen who had been arrested were displayed on the screen.
He appealed to the general public to volunteer useful information to aid security agencies in this regard.
SaharaReporters, New York
The Delta State chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is concluding all plans to expel the former Minister of State for Education, Kenneth Gbagi, his son and others from the party for working against the interest and candidates of PDP in the just concluded general elections in his ward and unit.
Speaking in confidence with SaharaReporters on the planned expulsion of the ex-education minister, his son, Emuoboh Gbagi, Special Adviser to Governor Ifeanyi Okowa on DESOPADEC, and others, an executive member of the party in the state, who does not want his name mentioned, disclosed that “the expulsion followed a strong worded petition from some leaders of the party in Oginibo, Ughelli South local government area of the state, which was addressed to the state party chairman and copied the state governor and others”.
According to the party official, the petition was already being looked into and expulsion already being planned so as to serve as deterrent to others.
A petition, made available to our correspondent by the party official, signed by a group of party leaders Andrew Desi, Viv Pela, Ken Pela, Ochuko Mejire, Omoefe Pela and Freeborn Onokata, under the aegis of “Concerned PDP Leaders Of Oginibo in Ughelli South Local Government Area Of Delta State” accused some past and present political office holders in the area of aiding Gbagi in the anti-party activities during the elections.
The petition, which was addressed to the state Chairman of PDP, Kingsley Esiso, copied to Okowa, former Governor James Ibori, former Deputy Governor Amos Utuama, Chairman Disciplinary Committee of PDP Delta State, Chairman PDP Delta Central, Chairman PDP Ughelli South and chairman PDP Jeremi Ward II, noted that Gbagi allegedly worked for candidates of opposition political parties as against the candidates of the PDP.
The petitioners gave names of those allegedly involved in the anti-party activities and aided Gbagi, to include, the former Minister’s son who is a Special Adviser to the Governor on DESOPADEC matters, Emuoboh Gbagi, caught disbursing funds and canvassing votes for YES party in Units 15 and 16 of Oginibo; Tareri Avwomakpa, Special Assistant to the Governor on Legal Matters, who was seen disbursing funds and canvassing for votes for YES party in Unit 23 of Oginibo, Lucky Oniyan, current councillor representing DSIEC Jeremi Ward 16 who was said to have coordinated the disbursement of funds and canvassing for votes for the YES party in Imode.
Also mentioned in the anti-party activities in the petition are Gbenga Avwomakpa, former councillor; John Adjeke, former two-term supervisory councillor and Christian Ushevwitode, current PDP youth leader for Jeremi Ward II who were also seen disbursing funds and canvassing for votes for the YES party in their various polling units in Oginibo.
The petitioners alleged that Gbagi connived with others to collect funds meant for logistics for the said governorship and House of Assembly elections in Jeremi Ward II to fund an opposition candidate of the YES party to the detriment of his PDP candidates who had to go the extra miles to mobilise his teeming supporters to prosecute the said elections.
“Based on the foregoing, we believe we have established a prima facie case against Olorogun Kenneth Gbagi and the other 6 listed persons on the following counts of disobeying the lawful directives of the party by working for the YES party House of Assembly candidate instead of the PDP House of Assembly Candidate and engaging in anti-party activities.
“A prima facie case has been established against Olorogun Kenneth Gbagi and his son Olorogun Emuoboh Gbagi on the following counts of disobeying the lawful directives of former Deputy Governor, Prof Amos Utuama to involve other leaders of the community/ward in the deployment of logistics by using such to work against the interest of the PDP.
“An analysis of votes in the March 9 Election results in Agbaghara, Imode and Oginibo which makes up Jeremi Ward II, shows that because of the anti-party activities of Olorogun Kenneth Gbagi and 6 others listed earlier, the YES party got a whooping 1,049 votes from the 3 communities representing 83 percent of total votes of 1,258 gotten by the YES party in the entire local government area.
“Olorogun Kenneth Gbagi had engaged in such activities in the past but we were not bothered because he wasn’t operating in the mainstream PDP at the state level and as such we were prepared for his antics, however, having come to the mainstream PDP, such activities coming from someone benefiting from patronage and appointments from the government to the detriment of those who have remained loyal to the party over the years, could spell doom for the party in the locality if not contained.
“In view of the foregoing, we hereby recommend that Olorogun Kenneth Gbagi and the 6 others earlier identified be expelled from the party in line with the provisions of Section 58 (1) (c) (d) (f) and Section 59 (1) (g) of the constitution of the party,” the petition demanded.
Calls put across to Gbagi were not responded to as of the time of filing in this report. However, political associates and allies close to Gbagi said he is unperturbed over the issue, saying the ex-minister only worked against the reelection of the House of Assembly candidate of the party, in the area, Reuben Izeze, who is said not to be in good terms with Gbagi.
SaharaReporters, New York
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has faulted the report credited to the United States government claiming that there is massive corruption under the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari.
Noting that the report was “far from the truth”, the commission noted that Nigeria had made “remarkable achievements” in the fight against administration.
A statement issued on the report by ThisDay, published on Sunday, noted that the US claim is “unfounded” as the present administration’s war against corruption “is on course”.
EFCC said it had secured 943 convictions between 2015 and 2018, adding that as at March 19, 2019, it had recorded additional 142 convictions.
See EFCC’s Statement in Full:
The attention of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has been drawn to a misleading report of the United States Department of Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labour over Nigeria’s anti-graft war, published in ThisDay Newspaper of March 17, 2019 entitled: “Nigeria: Massive, Pervasive Corruption At All Levels of Govt – US Report”.
The report, among other things, said that “there is a climate of impunity in the President Muhammadu Buhari government that allows officials to engage in corrupt practices with a sense of exemption from punishment”. The Bureau, in its Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2018, said Nigeria had made little progress in efforts to limit corruption in its public service. This report is not only outdated and false but misleading.
The report is unfounded on the grounds of Nigeria’s remarkable achievements in the last four years as the war against corruption is on course.
The EFCC’s commitment to the fight against corruption in the last four years is not in doubt to any discerning and genuinely concerned observer. This commitment is benchmarked by the unprecedented record of convictions, non-conviction based forfeiture and stolen assets recovery.
We are surprised that the US report could ignore or downplay our convictions in such a brazen manner when it claimed that the EFCC secured only 13 convictions in 2016. That is false and far from the truth.
For the avoidance of doubt, the EFCC has secured 943 convictions since 2015 till date. The agency recorded 103 convictions in 2015, secured 195 convictions in 2016, got 189 convictions in 2017. It is important to state that the EFCC secured 314 convictions in 2018 including two former state governors who were sentenced to 14 years imprisonment without option of fine. It is instructive to note that the two former governors serving their jail terms in prison are members of the ruling All Progressive Congress (APC). The Commission has so far recorded 142 convictions as at March 19 this year. These are verifiable facts.
We wish to state unequivocally that these convictions being celebrated included high profile persons among who were top ranking military personnel and other politically exposed persons.
It is instructive to state that no other agency in Africa has this record of convictions and recovery of stolen assets which were achieved in spite of great encumbrances faced by the Commission in the discharge of its assignment as it has come to be known that when you fight corruption, corruption fights back.
Assets Recovery and Forfeitures
As a quick reminder, the Supreme Court of Nigeria had on Friday, March 8, 2019 in a unanimous judgement, dismissed the appeal of a former First Lady and wife of former President Goodluck Jonathan, Patience, against the interim forfeiture order of a Federal High Court, Lagos, for $8, 400, 000 (Eight Million Four Hundred Dollars) traced to her by the EFCC and believed to be proceeds of illegal activities.
Subsequently, on March 14, 2019, the Supreme Court dismissed another application by Mrs. Jonathan, seeking to upturn the interim forfeiture order by a Federal High Court, Lagos placed on the sum of N2.4 billion linked to her.
Also of interest is the fact that the former Chief of Defence Staff, the late Alex Badeh forfeited six choice properties and $1, 000,000 (One Million Dollars) to the Federal Government, few days ago on the order of Justice Okon Abang of the Federal High Court, Abuja.
It could also be recalled that the EFCC on Friday, March 1, 2019, secured the final forfeiture of the sum N732.85 million being proceed of fraud perpetuated by 17 individuals in the Presidential Amnesty Programme Office. These are no rhetoric, but hard facts!
We further wish to state that in the area of convictions, Air Vice Marshall Tony Omenyi (retd), was jailed by Justice Nnamdi Dimgba of a Federal High Court, Abuja, on Thursday, February 28, 2019. He was found guilty of the amended three-count charge brought against him by the EFCC and was sentenced to seven years imprisonment without an option of fine.
Justice Dimgba, also ordered Huzee Nigeria Limited, a concern owned by Omenyi being a corporate entity to forfeit N60, 000, 000 (Sixty Million Naira) to the Federal Government.
Indeed, the EFCC has revolutionized the process of assets tracing and recovery. From the available records, the Commission recovered assets worth several billions of naira and different foreign currencies between 2015 and 2017.
Breakdown of the recoveries for the three year period (2015- 2017) show that N676, 522, 889, 647.05 (Six Hundred and Seventy Six Billion, Five Hundred and Twenty Two Million, Eight Hundred and Eighty Nine Thousand, Six Hundred and Forty Seven Naira and Five Kobo); $254, 563, 877.27 (Two Hundred and Fifty Four Million Five Hundred and Sixty Three Thousand Eight Hundred and Seventy Seven Dollars, twenty Six Cents); 486, 736.82 Pound (Four Hundred and Eighty Six Thousand Seven Hundred and Thirty Six Pounds Eighty Two Pennies); Euro 8, 136, 071.13 (Eight Million, One Hundred and Thirty Six Thousand and Seventy One Euro and Thirteen Cents); 80, 931, 500 CFA; 3, 729.50 RMB/YUAN; 452, 175 DIRHAM; 90, 956SR; 117, 004 CAD$ (ONE Hundred and Seventeen Thousand and Four Canadian Dollar); 120, 141.50 YEN; 5, 000Francs and 2, 000 Ruppies.
In 2018 alone, various sums amounting to billions in Naira and other foreign currencies were also forfeited to the Federal Government through the unrelenting efforts of the EFCC. The sums are: N171, 131, 700, 541.17 (One Hundred and Seventy One Billion, One Hundred and Thirty One Million, Seven Hundred Thousand Five Hundred and Forty One Naira and Seventeen Kobo); $14, 490, 174.49 (Fourteen Million, Four Hundred and Ninety Thousand One Hundred and Seventy Four Dollars Forty Nine Cent); 873, 278. 09 Pounds (Eight Hundred and Seventy Three Thousand Two hundred and Seventy Eight Pounds and Nine Pennies); 298, 055 (Two Hundred and Ninety eight Thousand, and Fifty Five Euros); 391, 838 (Three hundred and Ninety One Thousand Eight Hundred and Thirty Eight Riyals) and 10, 135 Dirham (Ten Thousand One Hundred and Thirty Five Dirham). These recoveries are unprecedented as no other agency can boast of such record.
Judging by the dexterity with which the Commission has prosecuted its cases from the High Court to Court of Appeal up to the Supreme Court, the Commission is by far the major contributor to case law and jurisprudence in Nigeria. The major Law Reports are replete with successfully concluded cases by the Commission. Again, these facts are verifiable!
Burden of Proof Now Resides With Defendant
Until recently, the practice has been that the burden of proof in criminal prosecution resides with the prosecution. But that was overturned in FRN v. YAHAYA which was decided on January 25, 2019. SC.645/2014.
This was a case in which the Supreme Court upheld the argument of the EFCC that the burden of proof had now been shifted from the prosecution to the defendant in terms of ill gotten wealth.
The apex court further held that the defendant would have to show that his income was in tandem with what he acquired otherwise such ill gotten wealth and properties would be forfeited to the Federal Government.
This is a landmark decision with potential to improve the fight against corruption in Nigeria. It is regrettable that this feat failed to impress the United States Department’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labour.
Worrisome Report with Inaccuracies
Indeed, the US report’s portrayal of the work of the EFCC which is replete with inaccurate information is worrisome considering the close relationship between the Commission and some US entities.
Agencies of the US Government, especially the Department of Justice and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), US Securities and Exchange Commission, Post and Telecommunications Department and the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) have very strong collaboration with the EFCC in the delicate task of tracing and seizing assets stolen but stashed abroad by rogue Nigerian officials. We also have FBI agent domiciled in the EFCC.
Even as many of those assets are still stashed in US financial and property markets, these US agencies are familiar with the determination and passion with which the Commission is going about the fight against corruption.
10 Different Countries Seek Mutual Legal Assistance from EFCC
Unfortunately, the US Report does not reflect this deep knowledge of the EFCC and its work, which is enough reason to be suspicious about the motives behind the publication.
To underscore the important role which EFCC is playing in the fight against economic and financial crimes, no fewer than 10 countries on Monday, March 18, 2019, requested for Mutual Legal Assistance (MLA) with the Commission. This is unprecedented in the history of any agency in Africa in general and Nigeria in particular.
The prowess of the EFCC’s investigative power is worthy of note in the celebrated Malabu’s case. The historic trial of prominent major oil companies- Shell and ENI in Milan, Italy by the public prosecutor was made possible by the political will of President Muhammadu Buhari and dexterity of the EFCC.
The comprehensive investigation of the commission and evidence generated in prosecuting the corrupt deal formed part of documents used in prosecuting the criminal aspects of the notorious deal by the Milan prosecutor.
The EFCC recorded another first in Africa with its prosecutor appearing in the Milan trial as a witness, the first of such to happen in Italian prosecution.
Some individuals including an Italian, Gianlura Di Nardo and a Nigerian, Emeka Obi, were last year convicted in the matter while the Dutch prosecutor just recently notified Shell of his readiness to prosecute the oil giant over the controversial deal.
US Report, a Disservice to EFCC
From the foregoing, it is clear that the report authored by the American agency has done a great disservice to the work of the EFCC in particular and the fight against corruption under the leadership of President Buhari, an administration that is globally acknowledged for the enormous political will it has brought to the fight against corruption in Nigeria.
We are conscious of our past with previous government officials’ involvement in corrupt practices with impunity but that history is being re-written by this government and the commission.
The rest of Africa appreciate the administration’s work in terms of fighting corruption in Nigeria which was the impetus behind the designation of President Buhari as the Anti- Corruption Champion early last year by the African Union (AU). In that capacity, President Buhari is saddled with the responsibility of leading the rest of Africa out of the corruption quagmire.
At the level of the EFCC, the Acting Chairman of the commission, Mr Ibrahim Magu, attained the leadership of the Heads of Anti- Corruption Agencies in Commonwealth Africa (HACACA) in May 2018. This was based on his antecedents and acknowledged track records in the fight against corruption.
There can be no greater validation of the revolutionary impact of the fight against corruption in Nigeria in the last four years than these milestones achievements. But for those who cannot see any good in what Nigeria is doing, it is better to leave the country alone than distract it with bogus reports.
SaharaReporters, New York
After calling three of its proposed six witnesses in the case filed against Walter Onnoghen, the suspended Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), the Nigerian government has closed its case.
Onoghen is standing trial on allegations bordering on fraudulent declaration of assets.
At the resumed hearing on Thursday before the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT), Aliyu Umar (SAN), who led the prosecution counsel, closed its case after the third witness, Ifeoma Okeagbue, an official of Standard Chartered Bank, concluded her testimony.
Umar also offered to hand over the remaining three witnesses to the defence team. However, Chief Adegboyega Awomolo (SAN), the lead defence counsel, rejected the offer.
Afterwards, with the permission of the three-man bench chaired by Danladi Umar, Awomolo consulted with Onnoghen, who was docked. He then announced that the defendant had taken the option to file a no-case submission, but sought time to write an address.
“We intend to take advantage of Section 303 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015 on no-case submission. If your lordship permits me to write a written address, I am praying to be given proceedings of 18th and today,” he stated.
The CCT Chairman then fixed March 29 for counsel to adopt their written addresses.
SaharaReporters, New York
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has rolled out timelines and activities for the conclusion of the collation of results and supplementary elections in the country.
Festus Okoye, the National Commissioner in Charge of Information and Voter Education, disclosed this on Thursday at a press conference in Abuja.
He said the supplementary elections would be conduct in 13 states of the federation on March 23, 2019, adding that details of the states and constituencies where elections would take place would be updated on the commission’s website before the close of work on Thursday.
He said all observers and journalists accredited to cover 2019 elections by the commission are free to observe the election.
“While the election was suspended in Rivers, it was declared inconclusive in six states, namely: Bauchi, Adamawa, Benue, Sokoto, and Kano. Following the inconclusive governorship elections in these six states, the commission has fixed election for the 23rd day of March, 2019,” he said.
“Therefore, the supplementary governorship elections earlier scheduled to hold in Bauchi State is now a subject of litigation, which was initiated by the All Progressives Congress (APC) and its candidate, Muhammed A. Abubakar. An interlocutory injunction to suspend the process has been served on the commission by the Federal High Court, Abuja.”
He said the commission would comply with the policy to obey court orders in defence of rule of law, adding that the commission had taken cogent steps to vacate the order and dismiss the action.
“It should however be noted that the litigation and consequential order only affects the collation of results for the governorship election in Tafawa Balewa Local Government Area. Consequently, the supplementary election will proceed as scheduled on Saturday, 23rd of March, 2019, in the other 15 Local Government Areas of Bauchi State,” he added.
He said the commission had complied with the order by the Adamawa State High Court, which stopped it from proceeding with the supplementary elections following the application by the Movement for the Restoration and Defence of Democracy (MRDD), a registered political party, which did not take part in the main election. He noted that the commission has taken steps to vacate the order.
He explained that elections would hold in those constituencies where a candidate died before the polls.
On the resumption of electoral process in Rivers State, Okoye said the commission has applied activities and timeline for the resumption of the electoral process in the state.
“The commission will have engagement with security agencies on the 19th of March, 2019. On 29th March, the commission will hold inter-agency consultative committee meeting on election security, and it will take place in Rivers State, while INEC will hold meeting of the critical stakeholders in the electoral process on 30th March.”
Okoye stated that the national headquarters of the commission would issue guidelines for the resumption of collation of results for the state, adding that there will be a revalidation of party agents and observers for the collation of results, which will commence on 25th March.
“Thereafter, there will be resumption of collation and announcement of results, which will take place between the 2nd to 5th April, 2019, and it will take place in Port Harcourt and the venue for the particular activities will be agreed upon between the commission and critical stakeholders on electoral reform. Then on the 13th of April, there will be supplementary elections where necessary. Thereafter, there will be announcement of all results between 13th and 15th April.”
The commissioner added that all outstanding certificates of return that fall into these categories of elections would be issued on April 19.
SaharaReporters, New York