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Court Remands Ex-INEC Chairman, Maurice Iwu In EFCC Custody Over N1.2bn Fraud

Peter Okunoren

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The Federal High Court, Lagos, yesterday, ordered for the remand of former chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) Prof. Maurice Iwu, in custody of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), till Friday, when his bail application would be heard and decided.

Iwu was docked before Justice Chuka Obiozor by EFCC on a four-count charge bordering on money laundering, yesterday.

Among the offense preferred against the ex-INEC boss was alleged aiding and concealment of a total sum of N1.203 billion, which was said to proceed of an unlawful act.

He was alleged to have between December 2015 and March 27, 2015, used his company, Bioresources Institute of Nigeria (BION) Limited, whose account with number 1018603119 domiciled in Untied Bank of Africa (UBA) Plc.

The EFCC also alleged that Iwu and a lawyer, Victor Chukwuani retained the sum of N407 million, said to be proceeds of an unlawful act, in Bioresources Institute of Nigeria (BION) Limited’s Account No. 1018603119 domiciled in the United Bank for Africa Plc,

The offenses according to the prosecution, are contrary to Sections 18(a),15(2) (a) of the Money Laundering Prohibition Act, 2011 as amended and punishable under Section 15 ( 3) of the same Act.

Upon the reading of the charge to the former INEC boss, he pleaded not guilty to all the counts.

Following his not guilty plea, the prosecutor, Rotimi Oyedepo asked the court for a trial date, while also urged the court to remand the defendant in prison custody, pending the hearing of his bail application.

Responding, Iwu’s lawyer, Ahmed Raji (SAN), informed the court that he has two applications, one challenging the court jurisdiction and another one for the bail application of the accused.

Raji, however, withdrew the application challenging court’s jurisdiction on the ground of his client’s freedom. And urged the court to hear the bail application.

Upon his withdrawal of application challenging court’s jurisdiction, Justice Obiozor, instantly struck it out.

Following the striking of the application challenging court’s jurisdiction, Raji (SAN) informed the court that bail application had been served on the prosecution but yet to be responded to.

He urged the court either to let his client be with the prosecution till tomorrow, Friday, or be released to him, as he undertook to personally produce him in court.

He informed the court that ever since his client had been admitted to administrative bail, he has never defaulted.

However, the prosecutor, Oyedepo, told the court that the appropriate place to remand a defendant after the plea was taken is a prison.

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BREAKING: Many Feared Dead In Multiple Accident At Otedola Bridge, Lagos [GRAPHIC PHOTO]

Peter Okunoren

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Tragedy occurred again at the notorious Otedola Bridge, Lagos, along Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, in the early hours Wednesday, when many were feared dead in fatal multiple-accident.

According to an eyewitness, Remilekun Abiola, the accident involving five vehicles, occurred about 8 am during the early morning downpour at Otedola Bridge, out ward Lagos to Berger.

Though, the immediate and remote cause of the accident could not be ascertained at press time, but eyewitness attributed over speeding and sloppy nature of the road by Otedola Bridge, coupled with the heavy rainfall which affected visibility of motorists.

At press time, one of the victims, an unidentified male, has been confirmed dead by men of the Lagos State Emergency Management Agency, LASEMA and Lagos State Ambulance Service, LASAMBUS, who raced to the tragic scene.

There were different versions on the number of casualties.

While eyewitnesses said many people died, LASEMA confirmed one person dead so far.

The injured victims have also been taken to various hospitals for treatment. Other rescue team at the scene, include: Men of the Rapid Response Squad, RRS, of the Lagos State Police Command, Lagos State Fire Service, Federal Road Safety Ciro’s, FRSC, among others.

The accident led to chaotic gridlock along the axis as motorists were trapped in the resultant traffic.

Meanwhile, motorists have been urged to make use of alternative routes.

“Anyone going out of Lagos should take either Otedola under bridge or go through Ogba-Ojodu-Berger axis to connect the Lagos Ibadan Expressway and move on their journey,” LASEMA source stated.

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ICPC Declares Buhari’s Former Aide, Obono-Obla, Wanted Over Fraud Allegations

Peter Okunoren

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The Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) has declared the suspended Chairman of the Special Investigation Panel for the Recovery of Public Property (SPIP), Mr. Okoi Ofem Obono-Obla, wanted due to his repeated failure to appear before it to answer questions bordering on allegations of fraud and corruption.

The spokesperson of the ICPC, Rasheedat Okoduwa, in a statement Tuesday, said Mr. Obono-Obla is facing a series of allegations levelled against him by members of the public on his role as head of the government panel on asset recovery.

She said the Commission was in receipt of petitions accusing him of abuse of office, falsification of admission records, living above his income and collection of gratification from suspects under his investigation.

She said the suspended chairman is also facing allegations of working outside the guidelines governing the panel by investigating unauthorized petitions and prosecuting suspects without recourse to the office of the Attorney-General of the Federation.

Okoduwa said the ICPC had conducted series of investigations on the allegations with preliminary findings showing that some provisions of the Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act, 2000 and extant laws of Nigeria had been allegedly violated by Mr. Obono-Obla.

“Consequently, ICPC had extended several invitations to him, which he had failed to honour without giving any reason.

“Attempts to track and make him appear before the Commission also failed to lead ICPC to contact other law enforcement agencies for assistance concerning his whereabouts,” she noted.

She explained that “one of such contact has yielded results as records from the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) show that Mr. Obono-Obla had travelled out of the country.”

She said the NIS records revealed that he left the country to an undisclosed location on 17th August 2019, through the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Ikeja, and has not returned two months after.

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VIDEO: How We Arrested Mompha With N20million Watches On His Way To Dubai — EFCC

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The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has revealed how its operatives from the Lagos Zonal Office arrested Ismaila Mustapha, a social media celebrity, popularly known as Mompha.

EFCC spokesman, Wilson Uwujaren, in a statement, on Tuesday, said: “The suspect was arrested on Friday, 18 October 2019, at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, on his way to Dubai, United Arab Emirates, following series of actionable intelligence reports linking him to organized transnational cyber fraud and money laundering.”

He added Ismaila allegedly perpetrates his fraudulent activities under the cover of being a Bureau de Change operator, to launder his proceeds of crime.

The five wristwatches with a total value of over N20,000,000 was recovered by the EFCC from Mompha.

Also in a series of tweets by the commission, it quoted EFCC operatives saying, “actionable cross border intelligence received from collaborative law enforcement agencies about his alleged involvement in the criminal activities further strengthened our suspicion.”

It added: “Ismaila who allegedly perpetrated his fraudulent activities under the guise of being a Bureau de Change operator is always seen with his little son flaunting huge amount of foreign currencies on his social media platforms.

“Investigations have also revealed that Ismaila is only using the BDC business, he jointly owned with his siblings, as a decoy to launder his proceeds of crime.

“However, the suspect has volunteered useful information to the operatives and has admitted being reasonably involved in the first two cases he was alleged to be involved.”

Uwujaren further noted that the suspect had volunteered useful information while the investigation continues.

“At the point of arrest, five wristwatches with a total value of over twenty million Naira (N20, 000,000:00) was recovered from him.

“The suspect will be charged to court as soon as investigation is concluded,” the EFCC spokesman added.

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