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FG Withdraws Forgery Charges Against Saraki, Ekweremadu

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  • FG Withdraws Forgery Charges Against Saraki

The federal government on Thursday withdrew the charges of criminal conspiracy relating to the alleged forgery of the Senate Standing Orders, 2015, filed against Senate President Bukola Saraki and his deputy, Ike Ekweremadu, at the Abuja High Court.

In doing so, the Ministry of Justice filed an application to amend the charges and attached the amended charges. In the new charges, only the former clerk of the National Assembly, Mr. Salisu Maikasuwa, and a former deputy clerk, Mr. Ben Efeturi, were listed as the accused persons.

Saraki and Ekweremadu were charged alongside Maikasuwa and Efeturi for allegedly forging the Senate Standing Orders. All of them pleaded not guilty to the charges and were granted bail. They were first arraigned before Justice Yusuf Halilu on June 10, 2016.

However, a litigation officer from the Ministry of Justice, Odudu Loveme, yesterday deposed to an affidavit, which was attached to the new charges.

Loveme averred that the prosecutor, Aliyu Umar (SAN), had on September 30, in the Office of the Director of Public Prosecution told him that he had studied the case diary and “had decided to amend the charges in the manner stated on the face of the motion paper”.

He stated that he had consequently filed the amended charges. He said: “That I depose to this affidavit in good faith believing same to be correct to the best of my knowledge and information and in accordance with the Oaths Act Cap 01 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria.”

On the face of the new charge, only Messrs Maikasuwa and Efeturi would now face prosecution.

Count one of the new charge reads: “Salisu Maikasuwa and Benedict Efeturi, on or about the 9th day of June 2015 at the National Assembly Complex, Three Arms Zone, Abuja, within the jurisdiction of this honourable court, agreed to do an illegal act, to wit to make the Senate Standing Orders, 2015 (as amended), without the authority of the 7th Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, which act was committed by yourselves and that you thereby committed the offence of criminal conspiracy.”

They were also accused of fraudulently amending the 2015 Senate Standing Orders without the authority of the 7th Senate “with the intention that the senators-elect of the 8th Senate would believe that the said Senate Standing Orders, 2015 (as amended), was made by the authority of the 7th Senate of the Federal republic of Nigeria”.

They were accused of forging a document punishable under Section 366 of the Penal Code Act (Northern States) Federal Provisions Act, 1960, Cap 345, Laws of the Federation, 1990 (as amended).

The federal government also accused them of giving false information with the intention to mislead the public.

The court had on September 28 adjourned the matter to today, October 7 for commencement of hearing.

Justifying the amendment, Umar said that the sole issue for determination was “whether the court can permit the amendment of the charge in terms of the amended charge”.

According to him, the court has the powers to permit the amendment based on the provisions of Section 216(1) of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act.

The section states that “a court may permit an alteration or an amendment to a charge or framing of a new charge at any time before judgment is pronounced”.

He also quoted Section 216(3), which states that “where a defendant is arraigned for trial on an imperfect or erroneous charge, the court may permit or direct the framing of a new charge, or any amendment to, or the alteration of the original charge”.

When the federal government charged Saraki and Ekweremadu for the alleged forgery, both of them had maintained their innocence, saying that it was politically motivated arising from their emergence as Senate President and Deputy Senate President, respectively.

Their election did not sit well with the presidency and the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), which had backed Senators Ahmed Lawal and George Akume to lead the Senate.

The decision to withdraw the charges against them may also not be unconnected to weakness of the federal government’s case against them.

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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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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