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The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, was on Wednesday (today) ordered to produce the Chairman of Innosson Motors Limited, Innocent Chukwuma for arraignment.

The order was issued by a Lagos State Special Offences Court sitting at Ikeja, presided over by Justice Olusola Williams.

The judge arrived at the decision consequent upon the absence of the business mogul, who had earlier been slated for arraignment over allegation of forgery made against him by the anti-graft agency.

According to Justice Williams, “I believe it is the job of the prosecution to bring the defendant to court because they are the Executives.

“The judge is just to make an order that he should appear in court but we cannot enforce the order, the responsibility still lies on the EFCC to make sure he is in court.”

It would be recalled that Chukwuma had failed to appear before Justice Mojisola Dada of the same court.

This would be the sixth time the defendant refused to appear before the court.

His failure to appear before the court had equally prompted Justice Dada to declared the transport mogul wanted on the request of the EFCC.

But on the recommendation of the National Judicial Council, NJC, Justice Dada had to recuse herself after responding to the petition filed by Chukwuma against her on February 12, 2018.

The criminal matter was then re-assugned to Justice Williams for arraignment.

During proceedings on the matter today, lawyer to the EFCC, A.B.C Ozioko told Justice Williams that, “My lord, it appears that the second defendant and my learned colleagues from the other side are not in court.

“He has refused to come for his arraignment for the sixth time even when the matter was before your learned brother, Justice Dada despite all efforts to bring him here.

“He has also filed seven different applications in-between the period he was supposed to be arraigned.

“My lord, in view of the absence of the defendant, we shall be asking for an adjournment date.”

Before adjourning the matter until October 10, 2018, Justice Williams held that the Commission should do everything within its powers to ensure the production of Chukwuma in court.

Justice Williams said, “It is the prosecution’s duty to make sure the defendant is in court to answer his case.

“I can’t be issuing an order to a defendant that seems not to be existing.

“I will give you a date and anytime you are able to arrest the defendant, just inform the court registrars and bring him to court for arraignment.”

Specifically, Chukwuma alongside his firm, Innoson Motors Nigeria Limited were to be docked on a four-count charge of conspiracy to obtain property by false pretences, obtaining property by false pretences, stealing and forgery in a transaction with Guaranty Trust Bank (GTB).

The said offence was alleged to have been committed between 2009 and July 2011 in Lagos.

It was the contention of the anti-graft agency that the defendants with intent to defraud; conspired to obtain by false pretences containers of motorcycle, spare parts and raw materials, being property of GTBank from Mitsui OSK Lines Ltd, Apapa, Lagos.

The defendants were further alleged to have fraudulently induced staff of Mitsui OSK and Maersk Line to deliver to them via their clearing agents the goods which were imported from China in the name of GTBank by falsely pretending that they were authorised by the bank to clear the goods.

The prosecution claimed that the defendants in order to facilitate the fraud forged a bill of lading numbered 598286020 of Maersk Line Limited and 11007950841 of Mutsui O.S.K Lines by knowingly putting a false GTB stamp and signature of the bank staff.

The alleged forgery was in order that the forged documents be used or acted upon as genuine to the prejudice of any person within Lagos or elsewhere.

The offences contravened Sections 1(1)(b), 1(3), and 8(a) of the Advanced Fee Fraud and Other Related Offences Act 2016 and Sections 309(9), 388, 465 and 467(1)(j) of the Criminal Code, Laws of Lagos State 2003.

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BREAKING: INEC Resumes Collation Of Bauchi Governorship Election Results

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The Independent National Electoral Commission has decided to resume from Tuesday the collation of the governorship election result in Bauchi State and may declare the winner of the poll hitherto ruled as inconclusive.

The commission announced the decision in a press statement on Friday night after resolving some issues around the result of Tafawa Balewa Local Government and some polling units in Ningi Local Government.

INEC did not state whether by the decision, the scheduled supplementary election on March has been cancelled.

According to INEC, the number of cancelled votes in four polling units in Ningi Local Government was 2,533 and not 25,330 as recorded.

On Tafawa Balewa Local Government election result, where collation was disrupted by armed gangs, affecting seven out of 11 registration areas for governorship and six out of 11 for state assembly elections, INEC said a committee set up has found that the results in polling units and registration areas are “available and in safe custody”.

INEC thus decided to resume the resumption and conclusion of the collation of results of the council area for both the governorship and state assembly elections

A new collation and returning officer for Tafawa Balewa has been appointed “to continue and conclude the collation process in place of the original collation officer, who withdrew from the exercise citing threats to her life and those of her family members”.

The threatened collation officer was Dominion Anosike.

The governorship election in Bauchi State is a straight fight between incumbent Mohammed Abubakar of the All Progressives Congress and former minister, Bala Mohammed of the Peoples Democratic Party.

Bala was said to have won the Tafawa Balewa Local Government election, putting him in an overall lead of his APC counterpart, but the INEC returning officer, Prof. Mohammed Kyari, declared the election inconclusive.

In declaring the election inconclusive, Kyari gave the scores of incumbent governor as 465,453 votes and Mohammed as 469,512 votes.

“The margin between the winner and opponent is less than the total number of votes cancelled in some polling units.By law, since the margin of winner is less than the total number of votes cancelled and registered voters in the areas where the votes have been cancelled, this elections is hereby declared inconclusive,” he said.

He said his decision was in line with section 26 part 53 of the Electoral Act.

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DSS Gave Me $500,000 To Set-Up Lawan — Femi Otedola

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The trial of former Rep. Farouk Lawan resumed in Abuja on Monday with Mr Femi Otedola, testifying that the $500,000 offered to the accused was from Department of State Service (DSS).

Business magnate Otedola appeared before before Justice Angela Otaluka of the FCT High Court, Apo as a prosecution witness in the ongoing trial of Lawan.

He said the money was given to him by the DSS to set a trap for Lawan after he wrote a petition against him.

He accused Lawan of demanding 3 million dollars as bribe from him to exonerate his oil company, Zenon Petroleum and Gas Ltd, from the alleged subsidy scam in 2012.

He further told the court that the 500,000 dollars was part payment of the 3 million dollars being demanded by Lawan, which was eventually given to him under the supervision of the DSS.

Otedola said he petitioned the DSS immediately Lawan demanded for the bribe.

“Lawan said he was going to exonerate my company after giving him the money, security cameras were mounted in my living room to capture the exchange of money between me and the defendant.

“The video is with the DSS, the money was given to him in two tranches $250,000 each,” he said.

When reminded by Chief Ozekhome, that the best time “to catch a thief is when the operation is ongoing,” Otedola said he did not know why DSS failed to arrest Lawan at that moment.

The Judge, however, adjourned the matter till March 8 for continuation of cross examination of the prosecution witness.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Lawan is being prosecuted by the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission (ICPC) for allegedly collecting 500,000 dollars out of 3 million dollars bribe.

The money was said to have been requested to remove Otedola’s company’s name from the list of firms indicted by the House of Representatives Adhoc Committee on Fuel Subsidy in 2012.

(NAN)

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Minimum Wage: Nationwide Protest Begins Tuesday — NLC

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There will be a nationwide protest on Tuesday by Nigerian workers to press for a higher minimum wage, the Nigeria Labour Congress said today.

However, the union’s general secretary, Dr. Peter Ozo-Eson clarified that the action is not a strike.

The umbrella labour union, along with the Trade Union Congress, wants minimum wage jacked from N18,000 to N30,000.

“It has come to our attention that some sections of the news media have largely misrepresented our action plan in reaction to the delay in transmitting the recommendations of the Tripartite Committee on a new national minimum wage to the National Assembly by President Muhammadu Buhari.

“It should be recalled that the National Executive Council of the NLC met on December 17 last year and directed that we hold nationwide mobilisation of workers and our allies if, by December 31, 2018, the bill on the national minimum wage has yet to be sent to the National Assembly to be passed as an Act of Parliament.

“We immediately announced then that on Tuesday, January 8, 2019, there will be a nationwide mass mobilisation and protests simultaneously across all states in Nigeria. This does not translate to a strike.” (NAN)

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