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Fraud: Court dismisses EFCC suit against Senator Ogunlewe, ex-FUNAAB VC

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An Ogun State High Court sitting in Abeokuta struck out the suit filed by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) against former Minister of Works, Senator Adeseye Ogunlewe, the immediate past Vice Chancellor of Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta (FUNAAB), Professor Olusola Oyewole, and the Bursar of the institution, Mr Moses Ilesanmi.

The court presided over by Justice Olatokunbo Majekodunmi, also discharged and acquitted the trio in the fraud allegations brought by the anti-graft agency.

The presiding judge ruled that the EFCC failed woefully in establishing a prima facie case against the accused persons.

The EFCC had, in November 2016, arraigned Ogunlewe, Oyewole and Ilesanmi separately and jointly on an 18-count charge bordering on alleged stealing, abuse of office and fraudulent conversion of the university property.

Ogunlewe, who was former Pro-Chancellor of FUNAAB, and the two other principal officers were arrested by EFCC operatives following a petition by some concerned members of the university.

The accused persons had all pleaded not guilty to the charges and the court subsequently granted them bail.

Shortly after his arraignment, Ogunlewe announced his resignation as the institution’s Pro-Chancellor, citing personal reasons, while Oyewole bowed out on May 23, 2017, after completing his five-year tenure as vice chancellor.

But delivering judgement yesterday, Justice Majekodunmi held that the EFCC failed to prove all the allegations against the accused persons.

The judge declared that all the evidence presented by the prosecution had been manifestly discredited through cross-examination such that the court could not rely on them.

He dismissed the suit for lacking in merit.

The judge, thereafter, discharged and acquitted the accused, all of whom were present in court.

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National news

EFCC grills former Kaduna governor for 4 hours over N700m campaign fund

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The Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC) on Friday interrogated Ramalan Yero, former governor of Kaduna state, for four hours at the commission’s office in Kaduna.

Yero was at the EFCC Kaduna office from around 9 am till around 1:30 pm, when he walked out smiling.

The former governor thanked his supporters who were outside the EFCC office, for their solidarity and asked them to go to the mosques for Juma’at prayer.

He, however, declined to make comment to the press.

His spokesman, Yakubu Lere, told NAN that the ex-governor was invited in connection with the N700 million campaign funds released to the state by the People Democratic Party headquarters in 2015.

Lere recalled that the former governor was at the EFCC office in Kano two years ago over the matter and was granted administrative bail.

“At that time, he explained during the interrogation that the N700 million was PDP money sent to him as the then governor of Kaduna state to finance 2015 general election with instructions, which he judiciously followed,” he said.

“What they are holding against him was that he kept the money in the office of the secretary to the state government instead of in a bank.

“Even last week he was here on the same issue, but as you can see, he came out smiling, meaning the commission has found nothing to hold against him for now.”

The spokesman urged Yero supporters to remain calm and be law abiding, adding that the struggle to “rescue the state from collapse” has started.

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National news

Speaker seizes mace to avoid impeachment

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The Speaker of Abuja Municipal Area Council (AMAC), Legislative Council, Mr Daniel Michael, on Friday, seized the mace, the symbol of authority, to prevent his impeachment.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that his action followed the move by his colleagues to impeach him over allegation of misconduct and abuse of privilege.

Mr Yusuf Kadir, the majority leader of the house, while moving a motion to pass a vote of no confidence on the speaker for alleged gross misconduct, called for his impeachment.

Mr Haruna Saidu, the deputy speaker, who presided over the house, directed the clerk to serve the speaker with the no confidence vote notice moved against him.

Saidu explained that the speaker had been given notice and the ultimatum to respond to the petition on or before May 30, but had to step down as the speaker in the meantime.

He further said that the impeachment would depend on his response to the notice served him.

Mr Aminu Barde, representing Kabusa ward, called on the house to strike out article B in the motion, which according to him, was strictly a party affair and should not be brought to the house.

Mr Isah Baushe, the Councillor representing Gwarinpa ward, said that the speaker should be given time to respond to the petition in writing before his the formal impeachment.

Baushe added that the petitioners should also provide evidence to back up their claims.

The petition reads: “abuse of office by taking unilateral decision without consulting this honorable chamber, which is tantamount to act of impunity and gross abuse of privilege.

“There was also an abuse of privilege by misinforming and misleading the honourable members to subconsciously disobey the party decision on state exco affirmation.

“This singular action has brought this honourable house to disrepute and ridicule.

“There was subversion of the legislative authority by unilaterally withdrawing an official communication from this chamber to the executive arm of the council without our collective consent.

“Desecrating the symbol of authority by removing and ordering mace to be deposited in an unconstitutional and unauthorised location,” it stated.

In his reaction, the speaker told NAN that he had not done anything wrong and would answer any question brought to him.

“I know myself, I have not done anything wrong, I’ll answer them,” he said.

NAN also reports that the glass door to the chamber was completely broken during the fracas that ensued at the chamber, following the event.

The lawmakers resorted to the use of the old broken mace to conduct the business of the day.

Some of the lawmakers, however, expressed happiness to the happening at the chamber, saying the crisis would allow members to sit up for serious legislative business.

(NAN)

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Police recover Gombe assembly’s Mace

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The Police in Gombe state on Friday, said they had recovered the Mace of the state’s House of Assembly, forcefully taken away a scuffle by some members during plenary on Thursday.

The Commissioner of Police in the state, Mr Shina Olukolu, told newsmen in Gombe that the mace was found around National Industrial Court in the state capital in the early hours of Friday.

The mace, the symbol of authority of the legislature, was said to have been whisked away by some aggrieved members of the assembly after a failed attempt to change their leadership.

“You will recall that yesterday, May 24, at about 1.30 p.m. the mace, the symbol of authority of Gombe state House of Assembly, was taken away by an honourable member of the house in the company of others.

“The incident was allegedly occasioned by the dispute over leadership change of minority principal officers of the house.

“On receipt of the information, the Commissioner of Police visited the scene and heightened the security architecture already in place in the command based on the directives of the Inspector-General of Police.

“The pressure made them consequently to abandon the mace by the National Industrial Court in the state and it was recovered early on Friday.

“The mace is therefore today being handed over to the Speaker for his retention and use,’’ he said.

Receiving the mace from the police, the speaker, Alhaji Nasiru Nono, commended the police and other security agencies in the state for the proactive steps they took, which led to the recovery of the mace.

Nono said the mace was taken by one of the APC members during plenary on Thursday. (NAN)

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