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Court rejects EFCC’s plea to play video against ex-NNPC GMD

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A Federal High Court, Abuja, on Wednesday, rejected the request by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to play video evidence in the ongoing trial of Andrew Yakubu, former Group Managing Director (GMD), Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).

Justice Ahmed Mohammed, in a ruling, dismissed the application on the grounds that Yakubu was not the maker of the exhibits and as such, he could not be cross-examined based on those documents.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Justice Mohammed had, on June 30, fixed today for ruling on the anti-corruption agency’s application.

The agency’s lawyer, Farouk Abdullah, had sought an order of the court to play video documents which were tendered while taking the evidence of the sixth prosecution witness (PW6) on Oct. 17, 2018, and admitted in evidence by the court in cross-examining Yakubu, who was in the witness box as the first defence witness (DW1).

The court had marked the documents tendered as Exhibits “M,” “N” and “N1.”

While Exhibits “M” and “N” were compact discs, Exhibit “N1” was a memory card.

However, Counsel to the defendant, Ahmed Raji, SAN, opposed the EFCC’s application.

Raji had argued that Yakubu was not a maker of the exhibits which in the eyes of law were documented.

“This ought to have been done through the witness who produced the document (PW6) and who is the maker and who tendered exhibits in them,” he had said.

The senior lawyer also argued that allowing such application would be going contrary to “the directives of the Court of Appeal as to what is to be done in the suit.”

The EFCC lawyer also disagreed with Raji.

Abdullah had enjoined the court to look at the provisions of the Evidence Act as to whether a counsel in a trial has a right to make use of exhibits already before the court at any stage of proceedings in determining an issue, particularly in cross-examination.

He submitted that an exhibit already before a court could be used to either establish a fact or dispel a fact at any stage of a proceeding.

“It is a right that can be enjoyed by both prosecution and defence.

“We urge my lord to so hold and answer this in affirmative,” he had said.

The Judge, however, disagreed with the EFCC in his ruling.

Justice Mohammed also deferred the agency’s fresh application to recall two prosecution witnesses (PWs) for a re-examination pending when Yakubu’s cross-examination is completed.

Abdullah had applied for a recall of two of the agency’s PWs in the trial following the court’s rejection of his request to play the video evidence.

But Raji opposed the prayer, arguing that since the EFCC had called all its witnesses and closed its case, “recalling those witnesses when the defendant had already opened his defence and he is in the witness box will only interrupt the proceeding.”

He also argued that allowing the prayer would not be doing justice to the defendant who had been in the witness box for over a year.

He urged the court to defer the anti-graft commission’s application until his client’s cross-examination is completed.

Ruling, the judge noted that Yakubu, who had been in the witness box as DW1 (first defence witness) since July 8, 2020, had already given his evidence before the court.

Mohammed held that it would be unfair to keep the defendant in the witness box for over a year and grant such prayer when the cross-examination was yet to be completed.

“Therefore, the application to recall two witnesses is defer until the DW1 cross-examination is completed,” he ruled.

Abdullah then applied for a short adjournment to enable him to produce some documents which would be relevant in cross-examining Yakubu.

Raji described the application as “a deliberate attempt to prolong the proceeding for reason known to the prosecution.”

He said in order to delay processing, the EFCC lawyer had been coming up with one application or another.

“My lord, I want it to be on record because if a defence counsel does this, especially senior lawyers, the same song will be ‘oh, they don’t allow criminal trials to move.

“My lord, a diligent prosecution would have come with everything,” he said.

Raji, who said the application for adjournment was lacking in merit, urged the court to refuse it.

“It is against the spirit of justice and Administration of Criminal Justice Act),” he said.

The judge said though the court was not inclined to granting the plea considering the time the exercise had taken, he adjourned the case until July 29 for the continuation of the cross examination of Yakubu.

NAN reports that the anti-graft agency had, in 2017, raided the residence of the ex-NNPC boss in Kaduna and found 9, 772, 800 dollars and 74, 000 pounds (9.7 million dollars and 74, 000 pounds) in a safe.

Yakubu was, however, arraigned on March 16, 2017, on six counts but the trial court struck out counts five and six.

The Court of Appeal also ordered the former GMD to defend only counts three and four which bordered on failure to make full disclosure of assets, receiving cash without going through a financial institution. (NAN)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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UNGA: Nigeria ready to reverse biodiversity loss, says Buhari

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President Muhammadu Buhari says the Federal Government has initiated some specific actions to reverse the severe trend of biodiversity loss affecting the world.

The President spoke in New York, at the hybrid High-Level event tagged “Transformative Actions for Nature and People” on the margins of the 76th Session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA 76).

Buhari championed regional and inter-regional cooperation towards addressing the scourge.

He outlined other measures to include: “Expansion of protected areas including the establishment of ten (10) new National Parks across the country as well as the creation of Marine Protected Areas pursuant to the 30X30 Agenda of the Convention on Biodiversity (CBD); and domestication of relevant International Agreements, Conventions as well as Laws and Policies for the protection and conservation of biodiversity.”

The President, in a statement issued by his spokesman, Femi Adesina, added, “Leveraging the cooperation and partnerships of the development partners as well as international organisations and coalitions for concrete action against deforestation and biodiversity loss; and promotion and increased investments in climate-positive and nature-positive economy for sustainable environment and land use practices” were other areas being worked on to confront the challenge.”

He expressed gratitude to the President of Costa Rica, Carlos Alvarado Quesada, whose country currently chairs the High Ambition Coalition for Nature & People (HAC) of which Nigeria is also a member and co-chair for the opportunity to be part of “this great event.”

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IPOB: There’ll be one-month lockdown in south-east if FG fails to bring Kanu to court

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The Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) says the south-east region will go on a one-month lockdown, if the federal government fails to bring Nnamdi Kanu, its leader, to court on October 21.

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On July 26, Binta Nyako, judge of the federal high court, Abuja, adjourned the trial of Kanu till October 21, owing to the failure of the federal government to produce him in court.

In June, Nnamdi Kanu was arrested and extradited to Nigeria to face trial. He was remanded in the custody of the Department of State Services (DSS) after he was re-arraigned before the judge.

On August 9, the proscribed group announced the enforcement of a lockdown every Monday until Kanu is released but later suspended the directive, a few days later.

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Reacting, IPOB, in a statement, by Emma Powerful, its spokesperson, alleged that the federal government has perfected plans not to bring Kanu to court on the next adjourned date.

The group said its “peaceful resolution” towards the trial of Kanu should not be misconstrued as weakness, while stressing that there will be one month lockdown in the south-east, if the federal government fails to bring Kanu to court.

“The attention of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) ably led by our great prophet and liberator of our time, Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, has been drawn to the plot by Nigeria government and DSS in Abuja not to produce our leader Mazi Nnamdi Kanu to court on 21st October 2021, the date he is due to appear in court to start his case,” the statement reads.

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“The federal government of Nigeria has again perfected plans not to bringing him to court on that day. Their wicked plan is to perpetually keep him behind bars without trial to see if they can demoralise him and Biafrans but they are late.

“If the federal government refuses to bring him to court in his next court appearance on October 21, 2021, the entire Biafra land will be on total lock down for one month. The federal government will know that they cannot take us for granted any more. Our peaceful disposition as a people should not be misconstrued as weakness.

“Their plan is to suppress agitation and force everyone into submission but Biafrans won’t succumb to their intimidation.”

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Reps summon Sunday Dare over athletes’ disqualification at Tokyo Olympics

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The house of representatives has summoned Sunday Dare, minister of youth and sports development, over the disqualification of 10 athletes at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

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The lower chamber passed the resolution during plenary session on Wednesday following the adoption of a motion sponsored by Lawrence Ayeni, lawmaker from Osun state.

The minister is to brief the lawmakers on the level of Nigeria’s compliance with extant regulations set by the International Association of
Athletics Federations (IAAF) and Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU).

TheCable had reported how the AIU disqualified 10 Nigerian track and field athletes for failing to comply with the out-of-competition testing (OCT) requirement.

AIU said Nigeria is among countries deemed to have the highest doping risk, and the athletes were expected to undergo “at least three no-notice out-of-competition tests (urine and blood) conducted no less than 3 weeks apart in the 10 months leading up to a major event”.

Leading the debate on the motion on Wednesday, Ayeni said Nigeria was disqualified despite the “huge funds” available to the sports ministry and preparation made by the athletes.

“Nigeria delegation to the Olympic Games fared well in terms of performance, thereby raising the country’s rating the comity of nations,” he said.

“Concerned that despite the huge funds being made available yearly for the regulatory agencies in the sports sector, adequate efforts have not been made to get Nigeria into the category where they would be deemed to have made significant improvements in anti-doping tests.”

The motion was unanimously adopted after it was put to a voice vote by Femi Gbajabiamila, speaker of the house.

While mandating its committee on sports to investigate the cause of the “failed doping test to forestall future occurrence,” the green chamber asked the ministry of sports to put measures in place to “ensure compliance with extant regulations at both local and international competitions”.

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