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NJC Fires Appeal Court Justice Over N200m Bribery Scandal

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  • Enugu CJ too over N10m donation
  • Kano judge to be dismissed, prosecuted over N195m contract scam

The careers of three top judges including the Presiding Justice of the Court of Appeal, Ilorin division, Justice Mohammed Ladan Tsamiya and the Chief Judge of Enugu State, Justice I. A. Umezulike,are hanging by a thread.

The National Judicial Council (NJC) has recommended their compulsory retirement ,and the dismissal of a third – Justice Kabiru M. Auta of the High Court of Justice, Kano State with immediate effect -for official misconduct.

Auta is also to be handed over to the Assistant Inspector-General of Police, Zone 1, Kano State, for prosecution.

They are to proceed on suspension immediately pending the acceptance of the NJC recommendations by President Mohammadu Buhari (in the case of Justice Tsamiya), Enugu Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi (in the case of Justice Umezulike) and Kano Governor, Abdullahi Umar Ganduje (in the case of Justice Auta).

The acting Director (Information) of NJC ,Mr. Soji Oye, broke the news in a statement yesterday.

Tsamiya is said to have abused his office after,according to the NJC,he accepted bribe in respect of a 2015 election case pending before an appeal panel in which he was a member.

The council indicted Umezulike for conducting himself in a manner that conflicted with his position as a judicial officer,while Auta is said to have collected money from a contractor, promising to facilitate the award of a contract to him.

He failed to deliver on his promise.

Oye said the decision was reached at the last NJC meeting held on September 29, 2016.

He said: “ Hon. Justice Mohammed Ladan Tsamiya of the Court of Appeal was recommended for compulsory retirement from office to President Muhammadu Buhari, pursuant to the ‘findings’ by the Council in the petition written by Nnamdi Iro Oji against him and Hon. Justices Husseini Muktar, F. O. Akinbami and J. Y. Tukur, all Justices of Court of Appeal who sat on Election Appeal panel in the Owerri division of the court during the 2015 general elections.

“The petition contains the following allegations, among others:- Corruption, malice and vindictiveness; and giving perverse and conflicting decisions on the same issue in similar matters in appeal CA/OW/EPT/SN/50/2015: Chief Dr. David Ogba Onuoha Bourdex vs. Hon. Mao Onuabunwa & Anor;CA/OW/EPT/SN/47/2015; Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu & Anor vs Hon. Mao Ohuabunwa & Ors; and CA/OW/EPT/HR/61/2015: Nnamdi Iro Oji Vs Nkole Uko Ndukwe & 16 Ors.

“During deliberations, council found as follows:-

*That there was evidence that the petitioner met with Hon. Justice Mohammed Ladan Tsamiya thrice, in his residence in Sokoto, Gwarinpa, Abuja and Owerri where on each occasion, he demanded from him the sum of N200,000.000 (Two Hundred Million Naira) to influence the Court of Appeal Panel in Owerri or risk losing the case;

*That the allegations of giving two conflicting judgements on the same matter was not true as the two judgements were in respect of two different appeals: one was in respect of House of Representative seat, a Federal Constituency, while the other was in respect of a Senate seat, which covered one third of the state;

*That there was no allegation and no evidence that the petitioner ever met or discussed with Hon. Justices Husseini Mukhtar (JCA), F. O. Akinbami(JCA) and J. Y. Tukur(JCA) in respect of the appeal before them.

“In the light of the foregoing, that Hon. Justices Husseini Mukhtar (JCA), F. O. Akinbami(JCA) and J. Y. Tukur(JCA), were exonerated.

“Hon. Justice I. A. Umezulike, OFR, Chief Judge, Enugu State was recommended to the Governor of Enugu State, Rt. Hon. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, for compulsory retirement sequel to the findings by the council on the following allegations levelled against him by Barrister Peter Eze:-

*That the Hon. Chief Judge failed to deliver Judgement in Suit No E/13/2008: Ajogwu V Nigerian Bottling Company Limited in which final Addresses were adopted on 23rd October, 2014.

*That the judgement was however delivered on 9th March, 2015, about 126 days after addresses were adopted, contrary to constitutional provisions that judgement should be delivered within a period of 90 days.

*That Hon. Justice Umezulike, OFR, in suit No E/159M/2014, Ezeuko Vs Probate Registrar, High Court of Enugu State and 3 ors ordered the arrest of Mr. Peter Eze by police and be brought before his court after the matter was amicably resolved and judgement entered on terms of settlement.

*That the Hon. Chief Judge in a speech delivered by him to the Eastern Bar Forum on Friday 4th March, 2016, openly made uncomplimentary remarks containing vulgar language against the petitioner, contrary to Rule 1.3 of the National Judicial Council Revised Code of Conduct for judicial officers.

*That at the time of the book launch of the Hon. Chief Judge, donation of N10 million was made by Prince Arthur Eze during the pendency of the two cases in His Lordship’s Court, both of which Prince Arthur Eze has vested interest.

*That there have been many instances of abuse of judicial powers, by the Chief Judge, particularly against the two defendants in suits Nos. E/6/2013 and E/88/2016.

*That the Chief Judge clung to these two suits to remain in his court, despite all genuine efforts made by the defendants to get the suits transferred to another court.

*That the Chief Judge, sitting at a vantage position of senior judicial officer and Head of Court for that matter, should not have allowed his emotions to dictate his judicial functions to the detriment of the defendants in both suits.

“In the case of Hon. Justice Kabiru Auta of the High Court of Justice, Kano State, he was recommended to the Kano State Governor, Alhaji Abdullahi Umar Ganduje, for dismissal and be handed over to the police for prosecution following the findings of the Council on the allegations levelled against him by Alhaji Kabiru Yakassai as follows:-

*That the petitioner paid the sum of N125, 000.000.00 (one hundred and twenty-five Million Naira) into an account approved by the Hon. Judge.

*That the petitioner also made cash payment of N72,000,000.00 (Seventy-five Million Naira) to Hon. Justice Auta in several instalments through his personal assistant, Abdullahi Bello, ostensibly for the purpose of assisting a former Chief Justice of Nigeria, who had just been appointed, to secure accommodation and for the petitioner to be in turn rewarded by the award of some contracts by the said Hon. Chief Justice of Nigeria.

*That Hon. Justice Auta facilitated telephone communications in his house between the petitioner and purportedly the former Hon. Chief Justice of Nigeria on the other end.

*That Hon. Justice Auta facilitated meetings between the petitioner and a lady who introduced herself as the purported Hon. Chief Justice of Nigeria in a Prado Jeep, escorted by armed Police Officer in a hotel in Kaduna.

*That after the petitioner suspected foul play and reported the matter to the police, Hon. Justice Auta agreed to pay the petitioner the sum of N95, 000.000.00 (Ninety-five Million Naira) as part of his claim while Abubakar Mahdi was to pay the sum of N125, 000.000.00 (One Hundred and Twenty-five Million Naira) to the petitioner.

*That pursuant to the agreement, Hon. Justice Auta made a part payment of $11, 000.00 (Eleven Thousand U. S. Dollars) and N16,000.000.00 (Sixteen Million Naira) cash to the Petitioner and undertook to pay the balance before the commencement of the Fact Finding Committee set up by the National Judicial Council to investigate the allegations.

*That Hon. Justice Kabiru Auta admitted accepting to pay the money as agreed in AIG’s Office in Kano according to him ‘having suffered humiliation, and incarceration and had nowhere to go for help and in order to protect my image and the image of the judiciary’.

“He however, said that the settlement was for him to pay N35 million and not N95 million and that to that effect, he paid N20 million so far including the $11,000.00; and

“Hon. Justice Kabiru stated in his evidence, that the purpose of the Petitioner visiting his house at times was that as a friend, he used to seek favours for his people who had matters before him, a conduct that is in itself self-indicting and a serious abuse of judicial oath.

“The above allegations against the three judicial officers constitute misconduct contrary to Section 292 (1) (b) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, as amended and Rules 1.2, 1.3, 1.4, 1.5, 2.1, 3.2, 3.7, 4.1, 4.2, 8.4a, 13.1, 15.2 of the 2016 Revised Code of Conduct for Judicial Officers of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

“Meanwhile, the National Judicial Council, in the exercise of its disciplinary powers under the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, as amended, has suspended Hon. Justice Mohammed Ladan Tsamiya, Presiding Justice of the Court of Appeal, Ilorin Division, Hon. Justice I. A. Umezulike, OFR, Chief Judge of Enugu State and Hon. Justice Kabiru Auta of Kano State High Court from office with immediate effect, pending the approval of the recommendations of the council for their compulsory retirement and dismissal respectively, from office by the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR; Governor Lawrence Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Enugu State and Governor Abdullahi Umar Ganduje, OFR, of Kano State, respectively.”

CEO/Founder Investors King Ltd, a foreign exchange research analyst, contributing author on New York-based Talk Markets and Investing.com, with over a decade experience in the global financial markets.

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Envoy Considers Establishment Of Chinese Banks In Nigeria To Boost Economy

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Mr Cui Jianchun, the Chinese Ambassador to Nigeria, says he is in talks with Chinese owned Banks to establish operations in Nigeria.

This, the envoy said, is to boost Nigeria’s economy and expand trade relations between the two nations.

Cui made this known on Tuesday in Abuja while addressing Journalists during the commemoration of the 2021 Chinese Moon Festival and China-Nigeria Cultural week.

According to Cui, the establishment of Chinese Banks in Nigeria will also be one of the key areas of discussion during the China-Nigeria Binational Committee meeting, which he is also pushing for the establishment.

He said that an efficient financial institution was a key driver to achieving a strong economy, one Nigeria can learn from China’s experience.

“Before my departure from Beijing to Abuja, I talked to several banks in China. When you list the World’s 10 big banks, six are in China.

“The Banking sector is very important, because, without money, we cannot build our industries.

“What I am thinking here is best to talk to the governor of Central Bank and how we can allow the Chinese Banks to run office here and now, they are doing the feasibility studies on that.

“I am working hard that in the Bi-national meeting, I hope we can make a big decision and give a big push to let the banking industry and insurance industry because financial integration and institutions are key.

“If you go to China, you will find our banking industry is very powerful, not only for business but the change in the way of life.

“Because of the COVID-19, the Banking Industry is a little hesitant, but I told them Nigeria has a lot of human resources and as long as we work together, we can do big things.

“And that is why it is important to invest in the banking industry, to solve this problem,” Cui said.

Extolling the extant China-Nigeria trade relations, Cui noted that the volume of trade between China and Nigeria is nearly 20 billion US Dollars, with an increase from 2020’s 19.2 billion dollars.

Cui said the Chinese economy is restoring to the normal post-COVID-19 pandemic and both governments are working hard on how to expand imports and exports.

Speaking on the event, Cui said the China’s moon festival is a very important and significant one for China as it symbolises family reunion, national peace and social harmony.

The envoy said the 2021 celebration is also a special one as it coincides with the 50th Anniversary of China-Nigeria’s bilateral relations.

He said that both countries also share Oct. 1 as their National Days.

He said it is also on that note that the Chinese Embassy is honouring 50 Nigerian employees of Chinese Companies in Nigeria for their outstanding performance and contribution to strengthening diplomatic ties.

Dr Ifeoma Anyanwutaku, the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Information and Culture, also lauded the Nigeria-China relations.

She said the relations had recorded great successes over the past five decades.

“The five decades of co-operation had since witnessed several cultural activities and exchanges in the spheres of arts, music, dance, exhibition, cultural administration, training and capacity building of cultural officers.

“And recently, the development of Cultural Industries centres in Nigeria, among others.

“I must add that China, through the youth-oriented programmes such as the photos competition and similar activities in the past is surely a dependable ally.

“In redirecting the energy and mind of our youth to creative ventures, thereby furthering the Nigerian government’s policy of lifting a hundred million Nigerians out of poverty in the next 10 years”, Anyanwukatu said. (NAN)

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Lagos Prohibits Open Cattle Grazing, Sanwo-Olu Signs Bill Into Law

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Lagos State Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, on Monday, assented to the bill prohibiting Open Cattle Grazing and Trespass of Cattle on Land, signing the legislation into law 11 days after it was unanimously passed by the State House of Assembly and transmitted to the Executive arm for authorisation.

By implication, it is now criminal in Lagos for cattle rearers to occupy unapproved public areas and private land with their livestock for grazing. The law also prohibits the act of moving cattle round public places by herders.

The signing of the anti-open grazing law by the Governor followed the decision of Southern Governors’ Forum last August, setting the September deadline to pass the law across member States.

There have been crises witnessed in some States, resulting from alleged open grazing.

Although farmer-herder crisis is not pronounced in Lagos, the anti-open grazing law is expected to prevent the spillover of the menace into the State.

Sanwo-Olu, who assented to the bill during the State’s Executive Council meeting in Alausa, directed the security agencies to swing immediately into action and enforce provisions of the law.

He said: “By the powers vested in me as the Governor of Lagos State, I am signing the bill on Open Cattle Grazing and Trespass of Cattle on Land into law to prohibit issues associated with open grazing of livestock.”

The Governor also signed legislation transforming the Lagos State Domestic and Sexual Violence Response Team (DSVRT) into a full-blown agency.

The development coincided with the commemorative month dedicated to raising awareness on gender-based violence in the State. The Governor and members of the State’s cabinet wore attire with purple shades to support the campaign against sexual violence.

The DSVRT legislation provides for the establishment of Sexual Offenders’ Register that would help the State efficiently tackle violations in the communities.

After signing the law, Sanwo-Olu said: “Raising awareness about domestic and sexual violence is an important piece of working to end the cycle of violence. It is important to reiterate the State Government’s zero tolerance to all forms of sexual and gender-based violence. We will not rest on our oars until the menace is reduced to the barest minimum in Lagos.”

The Governor appointed Mrs. Titilola Vivour-Adeniyi as the Executive Secretary of the new agency.

Vivour-Adeniyi was the coordinator of the response team before the legislation was signed into law.

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ECOWAS Imposes Sanctions on Guinea Junta Over Coups

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West African leaders have decided to impose travel bans and freeze the financial assets of members of Guinea’s ruling junta and their families after a coup more than a week ago.

The decisions were announced Thursday after an Extraordinary Summit on Guinea in Ghana’s capital, Accra. Mediators with the regional group had traveled to Guinea to meet with junta leaders and check on the condition of deposed President Alpha Conde.

ECOWAS president Jean Claude Brou said the West African leaders have also insisted that there should be no “need for very long transition for the country to return to democratic order.”

The targeted sanctions come after Guinea’s coup leaders set a number of conditions for releasing Conde, according to the foreign minister of Ghana.

ECOWAS had already warned it will impose penalties on the junta in Guinea unless it immediately releases Conde, who has been held at an undisclosed location since being detained during the Sept. 5 coup in Conakry.

“We are coming to address a burning issue in the region,” said Ghana’s President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, the current chair of the regional bloc, ahead of the summit. He was joined by presidents or high-ranking officials from eight of the other 15 ECOWAS countries.

Members of the ECOWAS delegation that visited Conakry after the coup presented their reports at Thursday’s meeting, said Ghanaian Foreign Minister Shirley Ayorkor Botchway. The junta has set a number of conditions for complying with the demands of regional mediators, she said but declined to disclose what they are.

The delegation has spoken with Conde’s doctor “who ascertained that indeed physically, he’s very well,” she said. However, she said, the ex-president is still coming to terms with the fact that his government has been toppled after more than a decade in power.

“For anybody who has gone through such a traumatic experience like he did, mentally, it’s not the best, not to say that mentally we found anything wrong, but he was quite shocked; he’s still in a state of shock,” she added.

Meanwhile, in Conakry, junta leaders were also set to meet with mining company representatives on the third day of a special summit to chart Guinea’s political future. Junta leader Col. Mamady Doumbouya has sought to reassure the country’s most vital economic sector that the political changes will not impact existing mining projects in the country, which has the world’s largest reserves of bauxite.

Guinea’s coup leaders have yet to make public their proposed timeframe for handing over power to a civilian transitional government, nor have they outlined how quickly new elections can be organized.

Conde had sparked violent street demonstrations last year after he pushed for a constitutional referendum that he used to justify running for a third term, saying term limits no longer applied to him. He ultimately won another five years in office last October, only to be toppled by the coup 10 months later.

At the time he came to power in 2010, he was Guinea’s first democratically elected leader since independence from France in 1958.

The regional bloc also planned to tackle concerns over whether a second member state, Mali, is making enough progress toward a return to democracy more than a year after a military takeover there.

In Mali, the ruling junta led by Col. Assimi Goita has committed to holding new elections by February 2022, though mediators who recently visited have expressed concern about whether that deadline now can be met.

Goita overthrew Mali’s president in August 2020 and then agreed to a civilian transitional government and an 18-month timeframe for holding a vote. However, only nine months after the first coup he effectively staged a second one, firing the civilian interim leaders and ultimately naming himself as president of the transition.

ECOWAS has not reinstated Mali’s membership in the bloc, marking the first time since 2012 that two of the 15 member states are suspended concurrently.

ECOWAS President Brou said there was the need to revisit the organization’s 2001 protocol on good governance “because a lot of things have changed or improved.”

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