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Fresh Crisis Hits Atiku As Firm Tackles PDP Presidential Candidate Over Unpaid $5.9m US Visa Procurement

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A firm, Legacy Logistics LLC Limited, has tacked Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, presidential candidate of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) over alleged non-payment of a $5.9million fee to secure a visa to visit the United States in 2018.

The firm alleges that Atiku was yet to pay the princely sum for the visa.

According to the firm, while Atiku’s trip was applauded by his teeming supporters, he did not pay for the services rendered.

It alleged that Atiku intentionally refused to honour his part of the service agreement despite repeated demands.

But Atiku’s legal adviser, Prof. Maxwell Gidado (SAN), who was named by the firm to be in the know of the agreement, said the company did not procure any visa for the PDP candidate.

He also said no agreement was signed with the company to pay $5.9million for the visa.

He said Legacy Logistics LLC Limited outsourced the service to retired Ambassador Kumba in Dallas in the United States, who admitted that what he did was not up to half a million dollars.

He said upon return from his shuttles to the United States in 2018, Atiku paid the aggrieved company some money for its “troubles.”

He said the protest letter was an attempt to “extort money from Atiku.”

After a 13-year break, it was difficult for Atiku to secure entry to the US in 2018.

The development made him hire some legal firms and lobby groups to be able to get a visa to prove that he was not banned from America.

In spite of the fact that the efforts paid off, the PDP candidate did not claim that a price was allegedly attached to the visa procurement.

But Legacy Logistics LLC Limited has come out to claim that it was one of those who made Atiku’s visa processing possible at $5.9million, which it claimed, remains unpaid.

The company has, however, indicated its preparedness for a legal battle, unless Atiku fulfills his obligation to it.

It made its position known in a letter, which was dated September 19, 2022, by a legal firm, Jurisperitus Associates.

The letter was titled: “Demand for payment of the sum of $5,900,000 Legacy Logistics LLC for processing and procurements of United States of American visa on your behalf.”

The excerpts of the letter, originally published by Saharareporters, read in part: “We are solicitors to Legacy Logistics LLC Ltd (hereinafter referred to as our client and on its behalf and instructions) we write you:

“Our client briefed us thus:

“That you instructed your legal representative Prof. Maxwell Gidado, SAN, and your advisor, Dr. Samuel Cornelius to seek the services of our client to process and procure United States of America visa on your behalf.

“Consequent upon your instruction, a scope of service agreement was entered into dated 15th October 2018. The service our client was to provide base on the agreement were specified in the addendum I to the scope of the service agreement.

“Our client diligently executed the agreement and you were successfully issued the United States of America visa which same was delivered to you.

“You subsequently used the said visa and traveled to the United States of America whereby your teeming supporters and admirers in Nigeria and the world over applauded you.

“Your Excellency sir, you have intentionally refused and neglected to honour your part of the service agreement despite repeated demands from our client.”

When contacted last night, Prof. Maxwell Gidado (SAN) said the firm did not do the job.

But he said the promoters of the aggrieved company were paid for their “troubles” to get Atiku a visa to the United States.

He said the drama about the $5.9m was about an alleged attempt to “extort money” from the PDP presidential candidate.

He said: “No. These people are just trying to extort money from Atiku Abubakar (AA). I agreed that they came in 2018 and wanted to offer their services to assist Atiku Abubakar (AA) procure a visa to America.

“They started and engaged the services of one Ambassador Kumba. And Amb. Kumba did try and got to a particular stage. But due to non-payment of money for the financing, he backed out. They were the ones that promised to pay the money but they didn’t pay him.

Samuel and Joseph promised to pay Amb. Kumba to procure the visa, also write a book, and also do an image of Atiku (a very, very good image of Atiku) in the international community. These were the three things they asked him (Kumba) to do.

“And they promised to pay him by creating an escrow account which Kumba will be working with. Amb. But when Kumba started work, these people didn’t put a dime in that account. So, the man stopped working.

“And then another firm continued with the process of getting a visa for Atiku and they got it for him. And even when he went and came back, they came and brought their bill.

“Atiku settled them (Joseph and Samuel). He paid them money for their troubles. And I was a witness when he was paying them this money. And they didn’t give Kumba a dime.

“And this matter was a 2018 case. If you knew you had a matter that involved $5.9million, you will sleep over it in 2019, 2020, and 2021. Haba! Haba! Rubbish.

“To me, they are just trying to extort money. And don’t worry Amb. Kumba has been contacted. He is going to do a disclaimer and his lawyer is even going to write.

“I did not play any role. They are just dropping my name because I am the Legal Adviser. And we went along with them to the United States where I went and met Amb. Kumba. And that was the complaint Kumba was giving to me.

“As I tell you, no agreement was signed by either Atiku Abubakar or me with them for this $5.9million. That is what I want to tell you as a lawyer and a senior Advocate. There was no agreement whatsoever. Ask them to bring any agreement where there was a signature and that agreement says process and procure a visa for AA and we will pay you $5.9million. Signed by AA and signed by them.

“Secondly, let them also prove that they were the ones that procured the visa (they did the visa procurement). They never did it, so it is just a scam. They just want to extort money from Atiku. So, Atiku’s lawyers are going to get at them.”

Responding to a question, Gidado said the petitioners were not the ones that processed the visa.

He added: “No, they were not the ones. First, the law firm and the people who assisted are going to talk. “The law firm is from Washington D.C. They are going to take it up too. In fact, they want to even sue them for passing off.

“That was when they came to inform AA that they had one Amb. Kumba and as one of the legal advisers, I wanted to go and meet Amb. Kumba to see the veracity or otherwise of what they were doing. That was why they were mentioning my name.

“As far as I am concerned, we never signed any agreement with them, nor was there any written agreement.

“The only thing was that Amb. Kumba was to be given some money for his troubles if he is able to.

“And there is no way the procurement can cost $5.9million. Are you going to give them a new heart, a new head? Even you journalists, if you are writing anything, do some investigation.

“The man (Kumba ) is even claiming $300,000. He said all he did up to the time he stopped this work was $300,000. And he said if Atiku gives him or he doesn’t pay him, he doesn’t give a damn. That was why the matter died like that. Otherwise, Kumba would have taken Atiku to court. He also knows that he didn’t sign any agreement with Atiku.

“Kumba was a retired Ambassador at that time but very influential in the United States. He is based in Dallas.

“They were not to procure the visa. They didn’t get one paper. I want you to quote me, Samuel and Joseph never touched one paper to procure a visa. All they did was to go through Kumba. Kumba was the one that was to do the job. And Kumba is saying what he did was not up to half a million dollars. Where did they get $5.9million claim from?”

When contacted, the spokesman for the Atiku campaign organization, Paul Ibe, told The Nation that, “They are fraudsters. Their objective is to extort money.”

BIG STORY

Court Restrains CBN From Extending Deadline On Use Of Old Naira Notes

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A federal capital territory (FCT) high court has compelled the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to go ahead with the full implementation of the naira redesign policy.

Delivering a ruling on Monday in a suit marked FCT/HC/CV/2234/2023, the court restrained the CBN from extending the deadline on the use of old naira notes.

The CBN, President Muhammadu Buhari, and several banks were included as defendants in the suit.

Eleojo Enenche, the judge of the FCT high court, ordered the CBN not to extend the deadline pending the determination of the suit.

“An order of interim injunction is hereby made restraining the defendants whether by themselves, staff, agents, officers, interfacing banks or whosoever not to suspend, stop, extend, vary or interfere with the extant termination date of use of the old N200, N500, and N1000 bank note being 10th day of February 2023, pending the hearing and determination of the motion on notice,” the court held.

The judge also made an order of interim injunction “directing and mandating the defendants whether by themselves, staff, agents, officers, interfacing banks or whosoever described to comply with, implement and give effect to the currency redesign and restructuring of the old N200, N500, and N1000 bank note on or before the last day of 10th of February, 2023, pending the hearing and determination of the motion on notice”.

The court further directed the bank heads, chief executive officers, managing directors, and/or alter egos “to forthwith show cause as to why they shall not be arrested and prosecuted for the economic and financial sabotage of the Federal Republic of Nigeria by their illegal act of hoarding, withholding, nor paying or disbursing the new N200, N500, and N1000 bank note, being the legal tender of the federal republic of Nigeria to their respective customers, despite supplies of each such currency note by the 2nd and 3rd defendants, thereby leading to the present scarcity of currency notes in circulation”.

The order will be for an initial period of seven days until the motion of notice is heard on February 14.

The plaintiffs are Action Alliance (AA), Action Peoples Party (APP), Allied Peoples Movement (APM), and National Rescue Movement (NRM).

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BIG STORY

JUST IN: Court Jails Fidelity Bank MD, Onyeali-Ikpe, Bank’s Secretary

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A Chief Magistrate Court at Ogba, Lagos on Monday morning sentenced the Managing Director of Fidelity Bank, Nneka Chinwe Onyeali-Ikpe to six weeks imprisonment over disobedience of a garnishee order of court restraining the bank from allowing a judgment debtor access to his account.

Joined with the Managing Director to serve the imprisonment is the Company Secretary of the bank, Ezinwa Unuigboje.

Magistrate Lateef Owolabi gave the sentence sequel to a garnishee order he gave on December 6, 2022 asking 16 banks not to allow a judgment debtor, Prince Enabulele Ozaze access to his bank accounts pending the payment of N2.8 million judgment debt in suit involving the sale of a Toyota Corolla car.

In the main suit, Magistrate Owolabi had given judgment on October 13, 2022 in favour of the plaintiff, Jibrin Ahmed who sued the defendant over the payment of N2.8 million he made to the defendant for the purchase of a Toyota Corolla car. Magistrate Owolabi in the judgment said that the claim before the court is summons used in action for debt or liquidated money demand with or without interest. Liquidated demand, according to him, is one ascertainable as a matter of arithmetic precision without further investigation.

He then said: “I have examined the whole process filed by the claimant and hold that the claimant is entitled to judgment not necessarily because the defendant is absent, but because the claimant has made a case worthy of being entitled to judgment. The totalities of evidence presented are relevant and reliable”.

There magistrate thereafter entered judgment against the defendant in the sum of N2.8 million which is due to the claimant over the transaction that took place in July 2022.

In order to reap the fruit of the judgment, the claimant’s lawyer, Alayo Akanbi filed a garnishe proceeding before the court and attached 17 banks, and asked the court to stop the banks from allowing the defendant to draw money from his accounts with them pending the liquidation of the debt. The garnishe order was granted on December 6, 2022.

However, on January 25, 2023, the claimant, now judgment creditor deposed to an affidavit before the court where he showed that the garnishe order have been flouted by Fidelity bank. He showed instances of how the judgment debtor had been withdrawing funds from his account to the extent that he had depleted the funds in his account with Fidelity bank. He claimed that the judgment debtor has N3, 165, 759.05k in his account with Fidelity bank as at January 12, 2023 when the garnishe order was served on the bank.

By January 15, three days after service, the judgment debtor had withdrawn N725,547.80k from the account. The following day, January 16, 2023, another N251,305.90 was transferred out of the bank. On January 17, the legal officer of the bank Obianuju Nwosu confirmed service on the bank as at December 22, 2022 and further apologized for the transactions on the account.

On January 18, 2023, the court ordered that ordered that the Managing Director, and Company Secretary to appear in person before the court to explain why they should not be committed to prison for allowing the judgment debtor to dissipate the funds in his account after the service of the garnishe order nisi.

At proceeding on Monday February 6, the Managing Director and Company were not in court as ordered. Lawyer to the judgment creditor told the court how the two had disobeyed the garnishe order of the court.

Magistrate Owolabi in his ruling sentenced the Managing Director and Company Secretary to six weeks imprisonment each. He further ordered Lagos State Commissioner of Police and any officer under his command to arrest the duo, bring them to court for onward transfer to the appropriate correctional center.

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JUST IN: EFCC Chairman, Bawa Sent To Prison For Disobeying Court Order

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The Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Abdulrasheed Bawa, has been committed to prison for disobeying court order.

The court also directed the Inspector-General of Police (IGP), Baba Usman Alkali, to effect Bawa’s arrest and remand him in Kuje prison for the next 14 days until he purges himself of the contempt.

Justice R.O. Ayoola of the Kogi State High Court, in his judgement on Monday, granted the application for committal to prison of the EFCC chairman for disobeying a court ruling delivered on November 30, 2022, wherein the EFCC chairman was directed to produce the applicant in the case, Ali Bello.

Ali Bello had dragged Bawa to court for arresting and detaining him illegally, with the court ruling in his favour, only for the EFCC to arraign him for alleged money laundering three days after the ruling.

The EFCC’s applications for setting aside and stay of execution of the ruling were refused for want of merit.

The Court had, in Form 49, Order IX, Rule 13, marked: “HCL/697M/2022” and titled: “Notice to Show Cause Why Order of Committal Should not be Made,” asked the EFCC Chairman to appear before it on January 18, 2022 to explain why he should not be jailed for flouting the order given on December 12, 2022 in a case filed by Ali Bello against EFCC and Bawa, as the 1st and 2nd respondents, respectively.

The court ordered that EFCC and Bawa be served the motion of notice together with Form 49 by substituted means.

The court had declared the arrest and detention of the applicant in the face of a subsisting court order made by a court of competent jurisdiction and without a warrant of arrest “or being informed of the offence for which he was arrested” as unlawful, unconstitutional, and in contravention of the personal liberty and dignity of human person guaranteed under Chapter IV of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended).

The court had also ordered the respondents to tender an apology to the applicant in a national newspaper and awarded N10 million compensation for him.

The Form 49, issued on December 15, 2022, and addressed to Bawa read, “Take notice that the Applicant will on the 18th day of January, 2023 at the hour of 9 o clock in the forenoon or so soon thereafter, apply to this Court for an order for your committal to prison for having disobeyed the order of this Court made on 12th day of December, 2022 that:

“That arrest and detention of the Applicant on the 29th November, 2022 by the 1st and 2nd Respondents in the face of a subsisting Court Order made by a Court of competent jurisdiction and without a warrant of arrest or being informed of the offence for which he was arrested is unlawful, unconstitutional and contravenes the Applicant’s right to personal liberty and dignity of human person guaranteed under Chapter IV of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended) and Articles 5 and 6 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights.

“Perpetual injunction restraining the Respondents, their agents, servants, privies, or however called from further arrest, detention, harassment and intimidation of the Applicant.

“An order directing the Respondents to tender an apology to the Applicant in any of the National Daily having nationwide coverage for the illegal detention and harassment of the Applicant.

“An Award of the sum of Ten Million Naira as general damages jointly and severally against the Respondents for the unlawful detention and harassment of the Applicant.”

This followed an application by Counsel to Ali Bello, S. A. Abass.

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