Justice Agwu Umah Kalu of Abia State High Court sitting in Isuikwuato has ordered the Senate of the Abia State University, Uturu, to immediately restore the degree result and certificate of a former governor of the state, Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu, withdrawn from him over allegations of fraud and breach of regulations concerning admission and graduation. In a judgement delivered on Wednesday, the court held that the action of the Senate of the institution in withdrawing Kalu’s result and certificate over the allegation without giving the former governor an opportunity to defend himself is a breach of his constitutionally guaranteed right to fair hearing. The court also quashed the proceedings, decisions, findings and or report of the Abia State University’s Ad-hoc Senate Investigation Panel that was set up to investigate the allegations.
The judge held: “In the case before us, it is clear that the defendants (Abia State University and its Senate) did not accord the claimant (Dr. Kalu) his right to fair hearing. He was not informed of the petition written against him. He was not shown the exhibit “E”. “The claimant was not informed of the setting up of the Senate Ad-hoc Panel to investigate the matter of the exhibit “E” as it concerned the claimant. “The claimant was not invited to the sittings of the said Ad-hoc panel and the 2nd defendant (Abia State University) before each arrived at the decision adverse to the interest of the claimant.
“In a nutshell, the defendants did not afford the claimant common courtesy, decency and natural justice. Even God, in all His omniscience, did not pass a sentence upon Adam before he was called upon to make his defence. “Following all I have said above, the court holds that the suit of the claimant is meritorious and grants all the reliefs sought by the claimant.
The court proceeds to declare that the report of the Ad-hoc Senate Investigation Panel on allegations of Fraud and Breach of Regulations concerning the admission and graduation of the claimant (Kalu, Orji U. 00/42226- GDP) and the decision of the Senate of the Abia State University of 1st March, 2013, which cancelled and withdrew the degree result of the claimant (Kalu Orji U. 00/42226-GDP) without affording the claimant an opportunity to defend the grave allegations against him amounted to a breach of the claimant’s right to a fair hearing guaranteed under the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended).”
The court held that: “Now, in consequence of the above declaration, the court issues an order removing into this court for the purpose of its being quashed, the proceedings, decisions, findings and or report of the Abia State University’s Ad-hoc Senate Investigation Panel on Allegations of Fraud and Breach of Regulations concerning the admission and graduation of the claimant, (Kalu, Orji U. 00/42226-GPD) for breach of the claimant’s right to fair hearing guaranteed under the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended).
“The court further issues an order removing into this court, for the purpose of its being quashed, the decision of the 2nd defendant made on the 1st day of March, 2013, which was based on the report of the Abia State University Senate’s Adhoc Investigation Panel on Allegations of Fraud and Breach of Regulations concerning the admission and graduation of the claimant, (Kalu Orji, U. 00/42226-GPD) for breach of the claimant’s right to fair hearing guaranteed under the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999, (as amended).
“Finally, an order issues from this court mandating and/or directing the 2nd defendant to immediately restore the degree result and certificate of the claimant Kalu Orji, U. 00/42226/- GPD.” The court also directed the defendants to pay N100,000 as cost of filing the suit to Dr. Kalu.
The former governor had filed the suit on May 27, 2013, to challenge the decision of the Senate of Abia State University to withdraw his degree result and certificate over the alleged offences without giving him fair hearing. Abia State University and the Senate of the institution were joined as 1st and 2nd respondents respectively in the suit.
While testifying in the matter, Dr. Kalu told the court that at the regular meeting of the 2nd defendant held on Wednesday, 30th October, 2002, his degree result (Kalu, Orji U 00/42226 GDP) was approved by the defendants. However, the claimant said that on or about Monday, March 4, 2013, he was inundated with phone calls from his political associates, well-wishers and other well-meaning Nigerians concerning a publication in some national newspapers indicating that his degree result and certificate has been withdrawn over alleged breach of the extant academic regulations of Abia State University, in the process of his admission and graduation.
In his further evidence in chief, the claimant told the court that in arriving at their various decisions that were adverse to him, neither the Ad-hoc Panel of investigation into the allegations nor the Senate heard from him. Specifically, the claimant testified that the defendants and their agents did not inform him of the existence of any allegation concerning him, the identity or identities of those making the allegation and he was not afforded an opportunity to make representations in respect of the said allegations made against him.
The claimant said that defendants, in addition, denied him of the opportunity of confronting his accusers as the defendants and their agents carried on with their investigations behind him and without concern for his right to fair hearing as guaranteed by the Constitution, the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights (Ratification and Enforcement) Act, Cap 10 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004 and, indeed, the laws of natural justice. The claimant contended that he has a right to be heard from before the defendants and their agencies took such an adverse decision against him.
In their notice of objection, the defendants contended that the suit is premature and that the claimant did not seek or exhaust the domestic remedies as provided in section 9 of the Abia State University Edict No. 5 of 1995 before approaching the court. They, therefore, urged the court to strike out same.
Police storm Kuku’s house in search of kidnappers
Men of the Nigerian Police Force stormed the resident of former Special Adviser to President Goodluck Jonathan on Niger Delta Affairs, Hon. Kingsley Kuku and made away with some undisclosed items.
Led by Sunday Alli, a Supretendent of Police in the IGP Tactical Squad for Armed robbery, gun running and Kidnapping, the men stormed the Arogbo in Ese-Odo Local Government area of Ondo State and shot sporadically into the air to scare away residents.
Kuku had left Nigeria for the United States of America (USA) for what he called medical reasons shortly after the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) lost the 2015 elections.
Since then, he has not returned to the country to answer some of the charges prefer against him by the Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC)
Sources said armed policemen, numbering over 20 stormed the residence of former Special Adviser to the President on Niger Delta Affairs and started shooting sporadically into the air to scare away everybody in the house and neighbourhood.
According to a source in the neighbourhood, who pleaded that his name should not be mentioned in press, said the policeman ” forcefully broke into every room and everywhere in the house claiming to be in search of kidnappers.
“After combing all the rooms in the house in a commando style, they left without anything incriminating nor any kidnapper in the house,”
Another source, a woman in the neighbourhood who also spoke on condition of anonymity said “this is actually a worrisome and a condemnable act exhibited by the Police.
“How can the Police who are supposed to protect the citizens be the source of panic in a peaceful community by storming a private residence without a search warrant, and shoot sporadically to scare away unharmed citizens, claiming to be in search of kidnappers? This shouldn’t be happening in a democratic state.”
Africans richest woman, Alakija narrates how 3 siblings defrauded her
A business tycoon and one of the richest women in Africa, Mrs Folorunso Alakija has narrated to an Ikeja High Court how Vincent Ayewah, a staff of her Rose of Sharon Foundation and his two siblings defrauded her of N3million.
Vincent, who works as a clerk and admin officer for the foundation was arraigned by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) alongside his siblings Florence Ayewah and Emmanuel Ayewah and four others; Onuwa David, Okoronkwo Chikadibia, Ehizibolo George and Chinyere Awanah.
The EFCC alleged that Vincent conned Alakija’s foundation of the funds by forging cheques while conniving with his siblings and cohorts to pose to banks as beneficiaries of the foundation.
While being led in evidence by the prosecuting counsel, Mr M.D Aliyu, Alakija said, “On November 13, 2012, my treasurer Gladys Efiozor called me to say that she received a call from Stanbic IBTC concerning a forgery of a cheque.
“I told her to send me an email of the forged cheque and when I saw it I told her that the signature was not mine, there are three signatories to that account and the forged signature did not match those of the other signatories.
“Florence (Vincent’s sister) was the one caught with the cheque, tge bank called EFCC to investigate and Florence was handed over to the EFCC.
“It was discovered that the bag she was carrying had 12 different Identity cards of beneficiaries of the foundation with her pictures on the identity cards.
“The bag also contained cash collected from other banks from the foundation’s account.”
Alakija further said that she confronted Vincent and seized his mobile phone after he had received a suspicious call and that he had also deleted an incriminating text message from his phone.
“He admitted to the fraud and begged for mercy, he had done other infractions in the past and had begged for mercy anytime he was caught.
“Vincent enjoyed a new lifestyle with proceeds from the scam, buying a new car which he parked far away from the premises of the office to avoid detection.
“A blank cheque and a survey plan of a property was in his car.
“He had committed infractions before, begged for mercy and I forgave him, I thought that with warnings, he will change,” the billionaire said.
During cross-examination by the Defence Counsel, Mr Obiora Umeh, she said: “There are widows and orphans that need to be empowered, I have one project manager at a time that Vincent Ayewah was reporting to.
“When he needs to write the cheques he had to handle the cheque book, I knew he was issuing the cheques because it was part of his duty.
“The auditors must have gone through the list of beneficiaries and approve it, I can’t remember now if they were going through the cheque books because our systems have since changed.
“The issue at hand is that the first defendant (Vincent) had taken blank cheques and written the names of the beneficiaries on them.
“Vincent’s siblings had gone to pose in banks to pretend that they were the original beneficiaries.
“Even if it wasn’t a blank cheque he had torn out and he had followed the normal sequence of things, they will still go and pose as beneficiaries,” she said.
Justice Hakeem Oshodi adjourned the case until October 25 for a continuation of trial.
School feeding: Vendors steal 200 crates of eggs, yam, rice in Niger
A desk officer has been caught with 200 crates of eggs stolen from the store of food meant for pupils in the homegrown feeding of primary school pupils in Niger state.
While responding to questions on Thursday at a post Exco briefing, the Commissioner for Women Affairs, Barrister Amina Musa disclosed that the person involved has been reported to the State Security Service (SSS) for further action.
Speaking on the implementation of the programme in the state, she said over 560,499 pupils benefited from the programme in the state while 4,929 food vendors have been engaged.
According to her “my ministry has organised stakeholders meeting to ensure elimination of challenges and I have also warned vendors to desist from stealing food and other condiments.
“We also gathered that some tubers of yam and rice were stolen thereby reducing the ration for schools. Luckily, we eventually discovered and recovered the items.”
She added that N392,300,000 was allocated to the state by the presidency for a period of ten days.
Barrister Musa also disclosed that the free feeding programme has led to increases in school enrolment of pupils in the state.
She said that the programme has also boosted the economic empowerment of farmers and women in the state due to the patronage of local food items while several women were engaged as cooks.
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