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$15b Arms Cash: Judges in Trouble Over Stipends

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repatriation
  • $15b Arms Cash: Judges in Trouble Over Stipends

More judges are under probe by security and anti-graft agencies for allegedly receiving monthly stipends from the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA).

The stipends were allegedly paid from the $15billion meant for arms procurement, which was mismanaged by the administration of ex-President Goodluck Jonathan.

It was also learnt that the National Judicial Council (NJC) has received more than 20 petitions against some judges.

A  Preliminary Complaint Assessment Committee is said to be sieving the petitions to establish whether or not there are prima facie evidence against their Lordships.

But the committee has found no merit in the four petitions against Justice Okon Abang of the Federal High Court because “he acted within the law”.

According to sources, security and anti-graft agencies are looking into the activities and conduct of more judges bordering on abuse of oath.

The NJC has sanctioned more than nine judges this year for some infractions.

They are: Justice O. Gbajabiamila (Lagos State High Court); Justice Idris M. J. Evuti (Niger State High Court); Justice Tanko Yusuf Usman (Niger State High Court); Justice Rita Ofili-Ajumogobia; Justice Mohammed Yunusa of the Enugu Division of the Federal High Court; Justice Olamide Oloyede (Osun State High Court); Justice Ladan Tsamiya of the Ilorin division of the Court of Appeal; JusticeI. A. Umezulike, Chief Judge of Enugu State; and Justice Kabiru Auta of Kano State High Court.

But many more judges may be shown the way out of the bench for corrupt practices.

It was learnt that security and anti-corruption agencies have stumbled on documents showing that some judges were on monthly stipends from the ONSA.

The said stipends were disbursed from an account which was tagged “Security Vote”.

Some judges benefited from the account in form of “assistance”;  others were bought Sports Utility Vehicles (SUVs) for official purpose, it was learnt.

A source, who spoke in confidence, said: “In one instance, there were allegations that some outstanding allowances and SUVs were purchased from the account for judges based on a request by some heads of some courts.

“Many contingency requests were accommodated from the three arms of government by ONSA under the guise of Security Vote. This is one of the reasons why the prosecution is opposed to the open trial of ex-National Security Adviser, Mr. Sambo Dasuki.”

Another source said since May, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) had been watching four high court judges in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) who allegedly frustrate the probe of high-profile corruption cases.

The judges were said to have developed a penchant for going soft with suspects who approach their courts to stop their trial by the EFCC for corruption.

“The affected judges have been indulging in ‘arrangee’ injunctions,”  the source added.

Meanwhile, the NJC has more than 20 petitions against judges in the lower and appellate courts.

A member  of the NJC said: “There are many outstanding petitions before the NJC against more judges. These allegations border on delay in delivering judgment, abuse of judicial oath, request for bribe and others.

“But the Preliminary Complaint Assessment Committee is going through the claims, affidavits in support and evidence against the judges.

“It is when a prima facie case is established against them that a report will be tabled before the NJC for investigation and disciplinary action.

“The process is cumbersome and painstaking. Those behind these petitions owe the NJC a duty to prove their allegations beyond reasonable doubt. Otherwise, petitions without evidence won’t be considered by the council.”

The source added: “For instance, four petitions were filed against Justice Okon Abang of the Federal High Court but all the allegations were frivolous.

“The committee discovered that the judge discharged his duties within the law; he committed no infractions and the petitions were dismissed at the preliminary stage.”

According to the rules, the Chairman of NJC may “ assess a complaint or may, at his discretion, refer it to  a  Preliminary  Complaint  Assessment  Committee  where  such  has been  established.

“The  Preliminary  Complaint  Assessment  Committee  shall  review  the complaint referred  to  it  and advise the  Council whether the  complaint should  be: • dismissed; • terminated  and  not  proceeded  with because  an  intervening event  has  taken  the  complaint; • terminated  because  remedial  action  has  been  taken  that  makes  action  on  the  complaint  no  longer  necessary; • referred  to  the  subject  Judicial  Officer  for  his  response; • referred  to  an  investigation  committee  should  his  response not  be  sufficient  to  dispose  of  the  matter  without  an investigation.”

Paragraph 21 of Part One of the Third Schedule to the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria( as amended) says: “The National Judicial Council shall have the power to:

  1. Recommend to the President from among the list of persons submitted to it by the Federal Judicial Service Commission, persons for appointment to the Offices of the Chief Justice of Nigeria, the Justices of the Supreme Court, the President and Justices of the Court of Appeal, the Chief Judge and Judges of the Federal High Court, and the Judicial Service Committee of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, persons for appointment to the Offices of the Chief Judge and Judges of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, the Grand Kadi and Kadis of the Sharia Court of Appeal of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja and the President and Judges of the Customary Court of Appeal of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja;
  2. recommend to the President the removal from office of the Judicial Officers specified in sub-paragraph (a) of this paragraph, and to exercise disciplinary control over such Officers;
  3. recommend to the Governors from among the list of persons submitted to it by the State Judicial Service Commissions persons for appointments to the Offices of the Chief Judges of the States and Judges of the High Courts of the States, the Grand Kadis and Kadis of the Sharia Courts of Appeal of the States; and President and Judges of the Customary Courts of Appeal of the States;
  4. recommend to the Governors the removal from office of the Judicial Officers specified in sub-paragraph (c) of this paragraph, and to exercise disciplinary control over such officers;
  5. collect, control and disburse all moneys, capital and recurrent, for the judiciary;
  6. advise the President and Governors in any matter pertaining to the judiciary as may be referred to the Council by the President or the Governors;
  7. appoint, dismiss and exercise disciplinary control over members and staff of the Council;
  8. control and disburse all monies, capital and recurrent, for the services of the Council; and
  9. deal with all other matters relating to broad issues of policy and administration.

BACKGROUND ON THOSE SANCTIONED

  1. Justice Gbajabiamila allegedly delivered judgment in a matter before him 22 months after written addresses were adopted by all the parties and 35 months after the close of evidence in the suit.
  2. Justices Evuti and Tanko Yusuf Usman, guilty of allegations that they falsified their dates of birth.
  3. Justice Rita Ofili-Ajumogobia of the Federal High Court barred from elevation to the appellate court for allegedly adjourning pre-Election matter severally until the termination of the life span of the Ogun State House of Assembly.
  4. Justice Mohammed Yunusa was recommended for compulsory retirement for making orders restraining the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission and other law enforcement agencies from investigating some persons, including a former Minister of Aviation, Stella Oduah.
  5. 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.
  6. Justice Oloyede was sanctioned because of the petition she wrote to the Osun State House of Assembly against Governor Rauf Aregbesola, and failure to conduct herself in such a manner as to preserve the dignity of her office and impartiality and independence of the judiciary.”
  7. The Chief Judge of Enugu State failed to deliver Judgment in Suit No E/13/2008: Ajogwu V Nigerian Bottling Company Limited in which final addresses were adopted on 23rd October, 2014. The judgment was however delivered on 9th March, 2015, about 126 days after addresses were adopted, contrary to constitutional provisions that judgment should be delivered within a period of 90 days.
  8. Justice Kabiru Auta allegedly received N125million from a litigant through an account approved by him.

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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