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EFCC Arraigns Former Kwara Governor Abdulfatah Ahmed for N10bn Fraud

The Ilorin Zonal Command of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, has arraigned the immediate past governor of Kwara State, Abdulfatah Ahmed before Justice Evelyn Anyadike of the Federal High Court sitting in Ilorin.

He was arraigned on a 12-count charge bordering on alleged mismanagement of public funds to the tune of N10billion.
Count one of the charges reads:
“That you, ABDULFATAH AHMED (while being the Governor of Kwara State) between 2015 and 2019 in Ilorin within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court used an aggregate sum of N1,610,730,500.00 (One Billion, Six Hundred and Ten Million, Seven Hundred and Thirty Thousand, Five Hundred Naira) property of Kwara State Government, meant for the security and running cost of the Government of Kwara State to charter private jets through Travel Messengers Limited on different occasions for your local travels and which sum you reasonably ought to have known formed part of the proceeds of your unlawful act, to wit: Criminal Breach of Trust or Theft and you thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 15(2)(a) of the Money Laundering (prohibition) Act, 2011 (As Amended) and punishable under Section 15 (3) of the same Act”.

Count three of the charges reads:
“That you, ABDULFATAH AHMED (while being the Governor of Kwara State) and ADEMOLA BANU (while being the Commissioner of Finance of Kwara State), between January and December 2018 in Ilorin, within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court, conspired between yourselves to commit an offence, to wit: Conversion of the sum of N411,000,000.00 (Four Hundred and Eleven Million Naira) property of Kwara State Government meant for the provision of security in Kwara State, which sum you reasonably ought to have known was a proceed of an unlawful act, to wit; theft/fraud and you thereby committed an offence contrary to section 18(a) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) (Amendment) Act, 2012 and punishable under section 15(3) of the same Act”.

The former governor was charged alongside his commissioner for finance, Ademola Banu who neither appeared in court nor had legal representation when the case was called.

Banu, who was listed as the second defendant on the charge sheet is facing a 10-count charge also bordering on mismanagement of public funds while he served under Ahmed’s administration as commissioner for finance.

When the matter was called, EFCC’s lead counsel, Rotimi Jacobs, SAN, informed the court that Banu jumped an administrative bail granted him by the EFCC and efforts to arrest him had proved abortive.

He urged the court to rely on Section 83 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA) to issue a summons against his surety, Salami Bashiru Ola and/or warrant of arrest against the second defendant (Banu).

The defence led by Kehinde Eleja, SAN, did not put any defence in favour of the second defendant as he said that his appearance was for the first defendant.

In a short ruling, Justice Anyadike issued a bench warrant against Banu.

Thereafter, the court took the plea of the first defendant on each count. When the charges were read to him, he pleaded not guilty.

Upon his plea, Jacobs urged the court to fix a date for trial, but Eleja through an oral application prayed the court to admit his client to bail. Citing Section 162 of the ACJA, the defence counsel said all the twelve counts against the defendant are bailable.

Therefore, he prayed the court to exercise its discretion in favour of the defendant
Jacobs in response, opposed the bail application by the defence, but conceded the fact that bail is at the discretion of the court.

After listening to the arguments and counter-arguments of both counsels, Justice Anyadike admitted the first defendant to bail in the sum of N50million with two sureties in like sum. According to the judge, the sureties must deposit their passports with the court’s registrar. One of the sureties must have a landed property in Ilorin with the title documents of the property deposited with the Registrar of the Federal High Court. The sureties must also produce evidence of payment of electricity bills for the last three years.

In addition to the listed conditions, the judge ordered that the sum of N50million must be paid as bond into the litigation account of the Federal High Court, which will be returned to the sureties after the final determination of the case, but forfeited to the Federal Government in the event the defendant jump bail.

As part of the bail conditions, the court also ordered that the international passport of the defendant be kept with the court’s registrar, which the former governor must apply to get if the need arises for him to travel abroad for medical reasons.

The judge thereafter ordered the defendant to be remanded in EFCC custody pending the perfection of his bail terms. He adjourned to April 29 and 30, 2024 for commencement of trial.

Ahmed, among sundry issues allegedly spent the sum of N1,610,730,500.00 meant for the security and administration of the state to charter private jets when he held sway as governor between 2015- 2019 in contravention of Section 15(2)(a) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2011 (As Amended) which is punishable under Section 15 (3) of the same Act.

He was also accused of failing to make a declaration in the Assets Declaration Form offered him by the officers of the EFCC after he was arrested contrary to Section 27(3)(c) of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (Establishment) Act No. 1 of 2004, which is punishable with a term of 5years imprisonment under Section 27(3) of the same Act.

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No one has been cleared in humanitarian ministry fraud investigation- EFCC

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, says it has not cleared anyone involved in the ongoing fraud investigation in the humanitarian affairs ministry.

Spokesperson of the commission, Dele Oyewale stated this in a statement tagged ‘Setting the Records Straight on Investigations of Humanitarian Ministry’ on Sunday.

According to him,  ongoing investigation have opened other fraudulent dealings involving Covid -19 funds, the World Bank loan, Abacha recovered loot released to the Ministry by the Federal Government to execute its poverty alleviation mandate.

The statement read;

“The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, has noticed the rising tide of commentaries, opinions, assumptions and insinuations concerning its progressive investigations into the alleged financial misappropriation in the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development.

“At the outset of investigations, past and suspended officials of the Humanitarian Ministry were invited by the Commission and investigations into the alleged fraud involving them have yielded the recovery of N32.7billion and $445,000 so far.

“Discreet investigations by the EFCC have opened other fraudulent dealings involving Covid -19 funds, the World Bank loan, Abacha recovered loot released to the Ministry by the Federal Government to execute its poverty alleviation mandate.

“Investigations have also linked several interdicted and suspended officials of the Ministry to the alleged financial malfeasance.

“It is instructive to stress that the Commission’s investigations are not about individuals. The EFCC is investigating a system and intricate web of fraudulent practices.

“Banks involved in the alleged fraud are being investigated. Managing Directors of the indicted banks have made useful statements to investigators digging into the infractions.

“Those found wanting will be prosecuted accordingly. Additionally, the EFCC has not cleared anyone allegedly involved in the fraud. Investigations are ongoing and advancing steadily.

“The public is enjoined to ignore any claim to the contrary.”

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Junior Pope: NSIB launches investigation, sends team to accident site

The Nigeria Safety Investigation Bureau (NSIB) has launched an investigation into the boat accident that claimed the lives of Nollywood actor, Paul Odonwodo, popularly known as Junior Pope; Abigail Frederick; Precious Oforum, and Joseph Anointing, while returning from a movie location.

THN reported that the boat accident involved a commercial speedboat and a fishing canoe on the Anam River in Anambra State on Wednesday, April 10, 2024.

The boat carrying 12 film crew members and a boat operator reportedly crashed into the canoe, resulting in the loss of five lives.

Tthe director, Public Affairs and Consumer Protection, NSIB, Bimbo Oladeji in a statement on Sundat, said the Bureau has dispatched an investigation team to the accident site.

According to Oladeji, examination of the wreckage from both boats involved in the collision, interviews with surviving crew members, eyewitnesses, and a review of operational procedures for the commercial speed boat would be analysed, among others.

“The NSIB extends its deepest sympathies to the families and loved ones of those who lost their lives in this heartbreaking accident.

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“Also, the director general of NSIB, Capt. Alex Badeh Jr, share in your grief and NSIB is fully committed to conducting a thorough investigation to determine the cause of this tragedy and prevent similar occurrence in the future.

“An investigation team has been dispatched to the accident site, and inquiry has begun. The investigation scope includes, but is not limited to: examination of the wreckage from both vessels involved in the collision, interviews with surviving crew members, and eyewitnesses, review of operational procedures for the commercial speed boat, analysis of weather and environmental conditions at the time of the accident, and assessment of compliance with relevant safety standards and regulations for inland waterway transportation,” NSIB spokesperson said.

Oladeji further assured Nigerians that the Bureau will release the preliminary reports of the investigation to the public.

“NSIB will collaborate with relevant authorities, including the Marine Police section of the Anambra State Police Command, maritime authorities, and industry experts during the investigation.

“The bureau will release its findings in a preliminary report, followed by a final report upon the investigation’s conclusion. These reports aim to enhance safety by providing recommendations to prevent similar accidents in the future.Our thoughts and prayers are with the families and loved ones of the victims affected by the Anam boat mishap,” she added.

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Invasion of Assembly: Police arrest 20 Yoruba nation agitators, recover 67 cutlasses, others

The Police in Oyo State have arrested 20 suspected Yoruba nation agitators over Saturday’s invasion of the state’s House of Assembly complex in Ibadan.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that a group of persons allegedly invaded the complex located at the Government Secretariat vicinity in an attempt to take it over.

Police spokesman in Oyo State, SP Adewale Osifeso confirmed the arrest of the suspects in a statement he issued in Ibadan.

Osifeso stated that the 20 suspects arrested had in their possession three pump action guns, 29 life cartridges, two expended cartridges, 67 cutlasses, five bulletproof vests and six pairs of boots,

They also had in their possession, 10 Public Address Systems, three berets with Oodua insignia crafted on them, seven belts, 11 Oodua Nation camouflage uniforms, one unregistered bus and three motorcycles, he added.

Osifeso stressed that the police, in collaboration with sister security agencies successfully thwarted the attempt by the agitators to forcefully take over the secretariat.

“The suspects who wore military camouflage came heavily armed in an unregistered bus and had cutlasses, pump action rifles, cartridges, assorted charms and an Oodua Nation agitation flag with them.

“They were overpowered and completely suppressed by officers and men of the police in concert with those of sister security agencies,’’ he stated.

Osifeso described the act of the suspects as criminal and unpatriotic and a clear case of treasonable felony and terrorism.

He assured that appropriate punishment would be meted to those found culpable, while the police would continue to protect law-abiding citizens.

The spokesman stated that the Commissioner of Police in Oyo State, Mr Adebola Hamzat already ordered an investigation and an enlargement of the dragnet to arrest others connected with the incident.

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