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N109bn Fraud: Ahmed Idris, Suspended Accountant-General, Seeks Plea Bargain

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Suspended accountant-general of the federation, Ahmed Idris, is seeking a plea bargain in a criminal suit preferred against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

In criminal proceedings, a plea bargain is an arrangement between defendants and prosecutors in which defendants agree to plead guilty to some or all of the charges against them in exchange for lesser penalties.

The parties in the suit work out a mutually satisfactory disposition of the case, subject to court approval.

It was earlier reported that Idris was arrested in Kano after he failed to respond to invitations by the commission to answer questions over the allegation of N80 billion fraud.

Two days later, Idris was suspended indefinitely “without pay” by Zainab Ahmed, minister of finance, budget, and national planning.

On July 22, he was arraigned on a 14-count charge alongside Godfrey Olusegun Akindele, Mohammed Kudu Usman, and a firm — Gezawa Commodity Market and Exchange Limited.

The defendants were granted bail in liberal terms.

At the court session on Wednesday, Rotimi Jacobs, counsel to the EFCC, told the court that Idris and his co-defendants had, through a third party, requested to meet him to negotiate the plea bargain arrangement.

“My lord, the defendants sent a third party to me that they wanted a plea bargain meeting and that they wanted to meet me,” he said.

“But my reply to them was that I could not meet them in the absence of their lawyers.

“By the nature of our calling, we must be open and transparent.

“Since section 270 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act encourages settlement and plea bargaining, I told them to come with their lawyers and that I would also invite the investigators to come for the meeting.”

However, the prosecutor said the meeting, which was to hold last Monday, was called off after a lawyer from the chambers of Chris Uche, counsel to the suspended accountant-general, came to his office to protest their exclusion from the arrangement.

“One of the lawyers in the team of the first defendant, Mr. Kanayo Okafor, came to my office at the EFCC and protested that they were not carried along and that his client would not come for the meeting,” Jacobs said

“I later spoke with the senior counsel, chief Uche, SAN, for more than 30 minutes over the matter and he protested that we did not invite them.

“It was at that point that I decided to call the meeting off, even though the senior lawyer eventually pleaded that it should go on.

“I called it off because, in the first place, the meeting was at their instance. So, none of the defendants entered the EFCC premises or came for the meeting.”

Responding, Goddy Uche who represented the first defendant (Idris), insisted that his client and his co-defendants were at the EFCC office for the meeting, but declined to go further with the negotiation after they were asked to go to the office of the EFCC chairman.

“My lord, I could not interview my client on Monday as slated because he was at the EFCC [office],” he said.

“Surprisingly, he was at the EFCC [office] but his lawyers were not carried along. We had thought that one of the prerequisites for charging a matter in court is that the prosecution has concluded its investigations.

“We find it contemptuous that a matter already before the court could be tried in the office of the EFCC chairman. That is not good practice. We were deprived of the opportunity to meet our client to be able to properly prepare for his defense.”

Adeyemi Ajayi, the presiding judge, adjourned further proceedings on the matter till October 4.

BIG STORY

NDLEA Nabs 60-Yr-Old Grandma, Pregnant Woman, Others Over Illegal Drug [PHOTOS]

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Two women, a 60-year-old grandmother, and a pregnant woman were among those arrested during interdiction operations by operatives of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) across five states and the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja in the past week, during which 5,527.15 kilograms of methamphetamine and cannabis sativa, as well as 132,090 tablets of tramadol and 2,000 bottles of codeine were recovered.

A statement on Sunday by the spokesman of the anti-narcotics agency, Femi Babafemi said the grandma, Mrs. Ibinosun Esther was arrested in Ibadan, Oyo state in a follow-up operation following the seizure of 5.5 kilograms Loud variant of cannabis imported into the country from South Africa.

According to Babafemi, the grandma claimed the consignment, was sent to her by her daughter and concealed in two giant Speakers as part of a consolidated cargo that arrived at the NAHCO import shed of the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Ikeja Lagos on board an Air Peace Airline flight.

In a related development, NDLEA operatives also on Saturday 26th November intercepted 1.4 kilograms of methamphetamine concealed inside custard tins packed among cosmetics and foodstuffs going to Brazil via Doha on a Qatar Airways flight.

Babafemi said a cargo agent, Salako Omolara who brought the bag containing the illicit drug to the airport, and an intending passenger to Brazil, Anyanwu Christian who was to travel with the consignment were promptly arrested.

He said another attempt by a freight agent, Adebisi Aina to export 3,000 tablets of tramadol concealed in motor spare parts to Banjul, Gambia through the NAHCO export shed was equally thwarted by operatives who seized the consignment and arrested her on Monday 28th November, while a follow-up operation to Ebute-Meta area of Lagos the following day, Tuesday 29th November led to the arrest of the alleged actual owner, Afam Chibuke, who is a spare parts seller.

He noted that this was followed by the seizure of 100,000 tablets of Royal brand of Tramadol 200mg with a gross weight of 68.9 kilograms imported from Karachi, Pakistan on Ethiopian Airlines at the SAHCO import shed.

He disclosed that in Abuja, operatives stormed the warehouse of a notorious drug lord and an ex-convict, Ibrahim Momoh, alias ‘Ibrahim Bendel’ who escaped from prison custody to return to his criminal trade and recovered 81 jumbo bags of cannabis weighing 1,278 kilograms

He said though Though the fleeing drug dealer is still at large and is wanted by the agency, his warehouse keeper, 55-year-old Ghanaian, Richard Forson was arrested.

He noted that Ibrahim Momoh was first arrested on 27th November 2014 with the same substance weighing 385.1 kilograms He subsequently prosecuted, convicted, and sentenced to seven and a half years in prison on 22nd April 2020 but escaped from jail after three months.

He also disclosed that no fewer than 2,000 bottles of codeine-based syrup were seized in a commercial bus by operatives on Friday 2nd December along Lokoja – Abuja expressway.

In Rivers state, operatives on Saturday arrested a 29-year-old pregnant woman, Kate Ibinabo with 34.4 kilograms  cannabis sativa in Okrika area of the state.

He said the Chairman/Chief Executive of NDLEA, Brig. Gen. Buba Marwa (Retd), has however directed that she be granted administrative bail pending when she’s delivered of her baby and thereafter return for her prosecution because at the time of her arrest, she’s in her ninth month of pregnancy.

In Ondo state, 241 bags of the psychoactive substance with a gross weight of 3,133 kilogrammes were recovered from a building at Ilale Cashew, Ehinogbe, Owo, last Tuesday; and at least, 507.9 kilogrammes of cannabis were also seized during a raid at the hideout of a fleeing drug dealer in Mushin area of Lagos last Thursday.

In Cross River, 53 jumbo bags of cannabis sativa weighing 567.05 kilogrammes were seized from three suspects: Bassey Boniface, 38; Effiong Akiba, 30 and Ngbong Raymond, 45 at Mpara junction, Odukpani local government area last Thursday while conveying the consignment in a bus marked CKK 74 AA.

Babafemi said operatives equally arrested another suspect, Ali Mohammed along Potiskum- Damaturu road after they found 29,090 tablets of tramadol in his personal Honda car marked ABC 914 RW coming from Gombe to Damaturu, Yobe state.

Meanwhile, while commending the officers and men of the MMIA, Rivers, Ondo, Lagos, Cross River and Yobe commands of the agency for the arrests and seizures, Marwa charged them and their counterparts across other formations to continue to step up their offensives against drug cartels.

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13% Derivation: I Owe No One Apology For Commending Buhari — Wike

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The executive governor of Rivers State, Nyesom Wike, says he does not owe anyone an apology for commending President Muhammadu Buhari for approving the payment of funds owed to states in the Niger Delta since 1999.

Wike spoke on Saturday during the 2022 Rivers state honours and awards ceremony, in Port Harcourt, the state capital.

On November 18, the Rivers governor had announced that the Buhari-led government paid his state and other Niger Delta states funds owed from the 13 percent derivation fund.

Wike said the funds paid by the federal government have significantly aided his infrastructural strides in the state.

Wike’s comments elicited varied reactions as Nigerians called on other state governors who had received the fund to account for it.

On Friday, the presidency also said nine oil-producing states received a total of N625.43 billion as 13 percent oil derivation, subsidy and SURE-P refunds from the federation account between 2021 and 2022.

The states that benefitted from the derivation refunds include Abia, Akwa-Ibom, Bayelsa, Cross River, Delta, Edo, Imo, Ondo and Rivers.

Wike said he is currently battling “problem” because he appreciated Buhari for approving the refund to the nine oil-producing states.

“Instead of human beings to say they appreciate you, they become envious that why were you appreciated. Because I said Buhari thank you, I’m having problem today,” he said.

“I’m not a fan of Buhari. I told the honourable attorney-general but when a man has done well say he has done well in that area. On the other area, he has not done well, you equally say so.

“I have no apology to anybody. Today, Wike did this and that projects. Look if Buhari did not release the money, from 1999, which my party did not even release, I won’t have done what I did.

“I don’t give a damn to anybody. I don’t care. I got the money. I’m not a fan of Buhari. He has not done well in so many areas but with this payment of money, he did well.

“My friends and party members may not be happy. Make una no vex oo. This one, Buhari did well. He gave me money and I used it to do something for people in Rivers state. The other ones will talk about their own later.”

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BIG STORY

2023: Peter Obi Finally Releases Manifesto, Promises To Move Nigeria From “Consuming To Producing”, Others

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Peter Obi, the presidential candidate of the Labour Party (LP), has unveiled his manifesto.

Obi unveiled the 72-page manifesto via his Twitter handle on Sunday.

The manifesto is titled “It’s POssible: Our Pact with Nigerians”.

In the manifesto, the former Anambra governor listed seven priorities his administration would concentrate on if elected president in 2023.

Over the past few days, Obi had come under criticism in some quarters, especially among members of the All Progressives Congress (APC), for not having a manifesto.

In October, the LP presidential distanced himself from a manifesto attributed to him.

Obi had said he would personally release the LP manifesto to the public when it is ready.

In the manifesto released on Sunday, the former Anambra governor promised to move Nigeria from a consumption economy to a production-centred economy.

The LP presidential candidate said he would end banditry and insurgency if elected president.

“Restructure the polity through effective legal and institutional reforms to entrench the rule of law, aggressively fight corruption, reduce cost of governance, and establish an honest and efficient civil service,” the manifesto reads.

“Leapfrog Nigeria into the 4th Industrial Revolution (4IR) through the application of scientific and technological innovations to create a digital economy.

“Build expansive and world-class infrastructure for efficient powers supply, rail, road and air transportation, and pipeline network, through integrated public-private partnerships, and entrepreneurial public sector governance.

“Enhance the human capital of Nigerian youths for productivity and global competitiveness through investment in world-class scholarship and research, quality healthcare, and entrepreneurship education.

“Conduct an afro-centric diplomacy that protects the rights of Nigerian citizens abroad and advances the economic interests of Nigerians and Nigerian businesses in a changing world.”

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