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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.

Government

COVID-19 Vaccine: African Export-Import Bank (Afrexim) to Purchase 270 Million Doses for Nigeria, Other African Nations

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African Export-Import Bank (Afrexim) Approves $2 Billion for the Purchase of 270 million Doses for African Nations

African Export-Import Bank (Afrexim) said it has approved $2 billion for the purchase of 270 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines for African nations, including Nigeria.

Prof. Benedict Oramah, the President of the Bank, disclosed this at a virtual Africa Soft Power Series held on Tuesday.

He, however, stated that the lender is looking to raise more funds for the COVID-19 vaccines’ acquisition.

He said: “The African Union knows that unless you put the virus away, your economy can’t come back. If Africa didn’t do anything, it would become a COVID-19 continent when other parts of the world have already moved on.
“Recall that it took seven years during the heat of HIV for them to come to Africa after 12 million people had died.

“With the assistance of the AU, we were able to get 270 million vaccines and financing need of about $2 billion. Afreximbank then went ahead to secure the $2 billion. But that money for the 270 million doses could only add 15 per cent to the 20 per cent that Covax was bringing.

He added that this is not the time to wait for handouts or free vaccines as other countries will naturally sort themselves out before African nations.

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China Calls for Better China-U.S. Relations

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China Calls for China-U.S. Relations

Senior Chinese diplomat Wang Yi said on Monday the United States and China could work together on issues like climate change and the coronavirus pandemic if they repaired their damaged bilateral relationship.

Wang, a Chinese state councillor and foreign minister, said Beijing stood ready to reopen constructive dialogue with Washington after relations between the two countries sank to their lowest in decades under former president Donald Trump.

Wang called on Washington to remove tariffs on Chinese goods and abandon what he said was an irrational suppression of the Chinese tech sector, steps he said would create the “necessary conditions” for cooperation.

Before Wang spoke at a forum sponsored by the foreign ministry, officials played footage of the “ping-pong diplomacy” of 1972 when an exchange of table tennis players cleared the way for then U.S. President Richard Nixon to visit China.

Wang, a Chinese state councillor and foreign minister, said Beijing stood ready to reopen constructive dialogue with Washington after relations between the two countries sank to their lowest in decades under former president Donald Trump.

Wang called on Washington to remove tariffs on Chinese goods and abandon what he said was an irrational suppression of the Chinese tech sector, steps he said would create the “necessary conditions” for cooperation.

Before Wang spoke at a forum sponsored by the foreign ministry, officials played footage of the “ping-pong diplomacy” of 1972 when an exchange of table tennis players cleared the way for then U.S. President Richard Nixon to visit China.

Wang urged Washington to respect China’s core interests, stop “smearing” the ruling Communist Party, stop interfering in Beijing’s internal affairs and stop “conniving” with separatist forces for Taiwan’s independence.

“Over the past few years, the United States basically cut off bilateral dialogue at all levels,” Wang said in prepared remarks translated into English.

“We stand ready to have candid communication with the U.S. side, and engage in dialogues aimed at solving problems.”

Wang pointed to a recent call between Chinese President Xi Jinping and U.S. President Joe Biden as a positive step.

Washington and Beijing have clashed on multiple fronts including trade, accusations of human rights crimes against the Uighur Muslim minorities in the Xinjiang region and Beijing’s territorial claims in the resources-rich South China Sea.

The Biden administration has, however, signalled it will maintain pressure on Beijing. Biden has voiced concern about Beijing’s “coercive and unfair” trade practices and endorsed of a Trump administration determination that China has committed genocide in Xinjiang.

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U.S. Supreme Court Allows Release of Trump Tax Returns

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President Trump Signs Executive Order In Oval Office Of The White House

U.S. Supreme Court Allows Release of Trump Tax Returns

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday paved the way for a New York City prosecutor to obtain former President Donald Trump’s tax returns and other financial records as part of a criminal investigation, a blow to his quest to conceal details of his finances.

The justices without comment rebuffed Trump’s request to put on hold an Oct. 7 lower court ruling directing the former Republican president’s longtime accounting firm, Mazars USA, to comply with a subpoena to turn over the materials to a grand jury convened by Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance, a Democrat.

“The work continues,” Vance said in a statement issued after the court’s action.

Vance had previously said in a letter to Trump’s lawyers that his office would be free to immediately enforce the subpoena if the justices rejected Trump’s request.

A lawyer for Trump did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The Supreme Court, which has a 6-3 conservative majority included three Trump appointees, had already ruled once in the dispute, last July rejecting Trump’s broad argument that he was immune from criminal probes as a sitting president.

Unlike all other recent U.S. presidents, Trump refused during his four years in office to make his tax returns public. The data could provide details on his wealth and the activities of his family real-estate company, the Trump Organization.

Trump, who left office on Jan. 20 after being defeated in his Nov. 3 re-election bid by Democrat Joe Biden, continues to face an array of legal issues concerning his personal and business conduct.

Vance issued a subpoena to Mazars in August 2019 seeking Trump’s corporate and personal tax returns from 2011 to 2018. Trump’s lawyers sued to block the subpoena, arguing that as a sitting president, Trump had absolute immunity from state criminal investigations.

The Supreme Court in its July ruling rejected those arguments but said Trump could raise other objections to the subpoena. Trump’s lawyers then argued before lower courts that the subpoena was overly broad and amounted to political harassment, but U.S. District Judge Victor Marrero in August and the New York-based 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in October rejected those claims.

Vance’s investigation, which began more than two years ago, had focused on hush money payments that the president’s former lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen made before the 2016 election to two women – adult-film actress Stormy Daniels and former Playboy model Karen McDougal – who said they had sexual encounters with Trump.

In recent court filings, Vance has suggested that the probe is now broader and could focus on potential bank, tax and insurance fraud, as well as falsification of business records.

In separate litigation, the Democratic-led U.S. House of Representatives was seeking to subpoena similar records. The Supreme Court in July sent that matter back to lower courts for further review.

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