Connect with us


N2.1bn fraud: Malami, Falana, Magu fail to testify for Maina



Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, Femi Falana (SAN) and others failed to attend court on Wednesday at the resumed proceedings in the trial of former Chairman of the Pension Reform Task Team (PRTT), Abdulrasheed Maina.

Maina and his firm, Common Input Property and Investment Ltd, are being prosecuted before a Federal High Court in Abuja by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on money laundering charge involving about N2.1billion.

The court had on March 8, 2021, at the instance of Maina’s lawyer, issued witness summons on Malami, Falana, the suspended acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Ibrahim Magu and seven others to appear between March 9 and 11 and testify as witnesses of the first defendant (Maina).

The court also invited M. Mustapha, Director of Compliance at the Central Bank of Nigeria; Ibrahim Kaigama of the National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies (NIPSS); Chief Kenneth Amabem of Central Business District, Abuja; G.T. Idris and Hassan Salihu of the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission (ICPC); and Commissioner of Police (CP), Mohammed Wakil (retd).

None of those invited attended the resumed proceedings on Wednesday.

Maina’s lawyer, Sani Katu (SAN). also did not inform the court that any of the subpoenaed witnesses was in court. Instead, he applied orally to withdraw from the case.

He was silent on why he sought to withdraw. Had his application been granted, Katu would have been the fifth defence lawyer to withdraw since the case started.

Those who earlier withdrew are Joe Gadzama (SAN), Adeola Adedipe, Francis Oronsaye and Anayo Adibe.

When Katu applied to withdraw on Wednesday, lawyer to the EFCC, Farouk Abdullah objected, arguing that the defence lawyer failed to comply with Section 349(8) of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA).

Section 349(8) of ACJA states: “Where a legal practitioner intends to disengage from a matter, he shall notify the court, not less than three days before the date fixed for hearing and such notice shall be served on the court and all parties.”

Ruling, Justice Okon Abang rejected Katu’s claim that he had discussed his withdrawal, off record, with the prosecution lawyer.

He described Katu’s request to withdraw as one “done in bad faith”.

“His application to withdraw is to compound issues and to hold the court to ransom. In any event, from the record from the court, a notice has not been filed before the court.

“If a law requires that notice should be filed, it should be filed. It is not a sentimental issue but an issue of law which cannot be overlooked.

“The obvious lapses on his part cannot move the court to grant this application. The application to withdraw legal representation and cause confusion in the matter lacks merit and is accordingly refused,” Justice Abang said.

He also rejected Katu’s further request for adjournment to enable him to file a formal application for withdrawal. The judge then ordered the first defendant to produce his second witness.

Rather than call his next witness, Katu told the court that his planned witness, Charles Enakaeno, was involved in an accident and could not attend court.

Katu sought a further adjournment, relying on Section 396 of the ACJA, a request Abdullah did not oppose.

Ruling, Justice Abang expressed displeasure that Maina failed to assemble his witnesses on time.


Pop star Shakira faces tax-fraud trial in Spain



Colombian pop singer, Shakira, will face tax-fraud trial in Spain, a Spanish Judge said on Tuesday.

The music superstar faces eight-year jail term after she rejected a plea deal on accusations of tax evasion,  Spanish prosecutors in July 2022.

Prosecutors in Barcelona will also demand a fine of nearly 24 million euros ($24.5 million) from the 45-year-old “Hips don’t Lie” songstress, whom they accuse of defrauding the Spanish tax office out of 14.5 million euros on income earned between 2012 and 2014.

The Spanish prosecutor had offered a deal to settle allegations she defrauded Spain’s government of 14.5 million euros ($15 million) in taxes.

The Colombian pop singer had claimed innocence and wanted the law to determine her fate.

But on Tuesday, the court in Esplugues de Llobregat near Barcelona said that Shakira would face six counts of tax fraud.

The date for the trial has yet to be fixed, according to AP.

The case hinges on where Shakira lived during 2012-14. Prosecutors in Barcelona have alleged the Grammy winner spent more than half of that period in Spain and should have paid taxes in the country, even though her official residence was in the Bahamas.

Shakira, whose full name is Shakira Isabel Mebarak Ripoll, has been linked to Spain since she started dating soccer player Gerard Pique.

The couple, who have two children, used to live together in Barcelona but recently ended their 11-year relationship.











Continue Reading


Retired soldiers protect against non-payment of security allowance



Some retired soldiers on Monday protested in Abuja over non-payment of their security debarment allowances, among others.

The protesters who defied the rains demonstrated in front of the Ministry of Defence headquarters, clutching mats and banners as well as singing.

The protesters lamented the non-payment of their Security Debarment Allowance, among others.

They were joined by some relatives of deceased military personnel, blocking access road to the ministry located at Ship House on Olusegun Obasanjo Way in the Federal Capital Territory.

The military veterans under the aegis of the Retired Members of Nigerian Armed Forces and the Coalition of Concerned Veterans, accused the Minister of Defence, Maj.-Gen. Bashir Magashi (retd.), of being insensitive to their plight.

Addressing reporters during the protest, spokesman for the CVV, Abiodun Durowaiye-Herberts, vowed that they would not leave the ministry’s entrance until their demands were met.

He said they had already made arrangement to sleep overnight if the situation warranted it.

“We are here alongside our wives and children, and the widows of late military personnel and veterans who died in service, some of whom died fighting Boko Haram terrorists. We’ll be sleeping over at this place until the Minister of Defence, Magashi accede to our demands,” he said.

On his part, the National Secretary of RMNAF, Roy Okhidievbie, explained that the demonstration was to demand the payment of their security debarment allowance owed them by the Federal Government.

He accused the minister of refusing to disburse the allowances despite approval by President Muhammadu Buhari.

“We have had meetings with the Defence Minister, Magashi, but he appears to be headstrong, heartless, and unperturbed concerning the grievances of retired military officers, as he never paid nor showed any interest or concern to pay these allowances, especially the Security Debarment Allowance.

“Interestingly, President Buhari-led administration has approved the payment of this allowance, but Magashi has refused to make disbursements,”

In January, some retired soldiers under the aegis of the Coalition of Concerned Veterans protested against the non-payment of their pension arrears for 24 months.

The veterans who gathered at the Ministry of Finance headquarters, Abuja, insisted on getting answers to their demands, or else they would continue protesting.

They were seen with placards on which various inscriptions were written. One of the placards reads, “CCV demands immediate payment of security debarment allowance.” Another read, “Military veterans demand 24 months arrears of minimum wage approved.”

Continue Reading


Nationwide outage as grid collapses to zero megawatts again



Nigeria was thrown into a total blackout Monday morning as the national grid collapsed to zero megawatts (MW).

The latest incident, which reportedly occurred at 10:51am Monday, is the seventh time the power grid would collapse this year.

This came just days after electricity consumers said they had enjoyed improved supply.

Some power distribution companies including Kaduna Electric, Enugu and Kano have already communicated the nationwide outage to their customers, adding that efforts were being made to restore supply.

The national electricity grid as of 10am on Monday had 3,712MW generated from 21 power generation companies (GenCos) before it dropped to 0MW one hour after, Daily Trust reported.

It stated that information from the System Operations, a section of the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN), indicated only Afam IV was on the grid but with zero supply as of 12noon.

It also showed that as of Sunday, the highest generation was 4,100MW while the lowest was 3,652MW with the frequency hovered between 49.04 Hertz (Hz) and 50.34Hz.

Electricity consumers have attested to improvement in supply in their various areas since July this year.

For instance, the Abuja Electricity Distribution Company (AEDC) recently confirmed increment in its daily allocation to over 500MW from the actual 300MW it had distributed before then.

Though the national grid had not cross 5,000MW, Daily Trust observed that level of load rejection especially around the DisCos’ networks had dropped significantly with some customers entitled to five-hour supply, recording over 12 hours daily.

The Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) had attributed the improvement in power supply nationwide to the partial activation of contracts seeking to hold sector operators liable for deliberate incompetence.

The national grid collapsed twice, in July and in August but was quickly restored and power supply improvement was sustained before the latest system collapse on Monday.

Although the TCN, the national grid manager, was yet to establish the cause of the crash, some insider said it could be as a result of a maintenance of the 330 kilovolts Jos – Bauchi transmission line maintenance slated for Monday.


Continue Reading