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Court Admits Former FCT Minister, Bala Mohammed to N500m Bail



  • Court Admits Former FCT Minister, Bala Mohammed to N500m Bail

A High Court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) sitting in Gudu district, Abuja on Friday admitted former Minister of the FCT, Senator Bala Mohammed to bail in the sum of N500m and two sureties in like sum.

Justice Abubakar Talba in granting him bail said one of the two sureties must be a senator, while the other, a Federal Director.

In addition, all the sureties must have landed property in the Federal Capital Territory with a Certificate of Occupancy as well as evidence of payment of tax in the last three years.

The judge also ordered that the applicant deposits his international passport with the registrar of the court.

Justice Talba who granted the bail application in his ruling asked both the prosecution and defence counsel to agree on the bail conditions.

This, the judge explained, was to strike a balance in the light of their different positions.

Justice Talba said; ‘It is trite that no matter the gravity of the offences, an accused person is assumed innocence until proven guilty under our laws. Bail is a constitutional right and the purpose is not to set an accused person free but to grant him liberty to enable him attend trial.

“Although the prosecution has urged the court to consider the gravity of the offence as well as issues raised in the counter affidavit. It is my view that such issues will be considered in the hearing of the substantive matter. I am satisfied that the applicant has placed sufficient materials to warrant court to exercise its discretion in his favour.

“Accordingly, his application is hereby granted. However, the terms of conditions for his bail should be negotiated between the prosecution and defence.

This is in order to strike a balance of the case because the prosecution had argued that if the court is mindful to grant bail, it should come with some stringent conditions while on the other hand, the defence counsel urged that the bail should be on self- recognition.”

After stating this, the court stood down for 30 minutes to allow the prosecution and defence counsel to agree on workable bail terms.

Justice Talba on resumption, adopted the bail conditions agreed upon by counsel as the ruling of the court.

He further adjourned trial to July 4, 2017. Bala Mohammed was arraigned on a six- count charge by the Federal government on allegations of receiving gratification when he was minister of the FCT.

He pleaded not guilty to the charges and his lawyer accordingly applied for his bail.

The court however, remanded him in prison custody pending the ruling on his bail application yesterday.

The former Minister who pleaded not guilty to all the charges described his trial as politically motivated.

In moving the bail application, Bala’s counsel, Chief Chris Uche SAN, urged the court to release his client on bail pending his trial.

The bail application was brought under section 35(1) & (4) and 36 (5) and (6) of the 1999 constitution and section 158, 162, 163 & 165 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015.

Uche, submitted that the alleged offences are bailable, adding that his client had earlier been arrested, detained and investigated by the EFCC in connection with the account of his tenure as minister of the FCT, in respect of unsubstantiated allegations of conspiracy, abuse of office and money laundering, and had been in its custody between October 24, 2016 and December 9, 2016.

He further told the court that a High Court of the FCT had in November 29, 2016 released the former Minister on bail and he was subsequently arraigned before this same court on five count charge, which was later withdrawn by the EFCC.

The defence counsel further submitted that his client had a good defence to the charge as he did not commit any offences charged or whatsoever, and he was prepared to stand trial and offer his defences to the allegations, which he strongly believe were politically motivated.

He disclosed that the former minister had a health condition with a long history of lung collapse and disorder and his health situation deteriorated while in custody of the EFCC.

He averred in his supporting affidavit that any further detention pending trial would worsen the already deteriorated health condition of Bala who is currently under observation of a United Kingdom Hospital.

In opposing the bail, the prosecution counsel, Ikani urged the court to refuse the bail application on the grounds that some of the paragraphs offend the provisions of section 115(1)(2) of the Evidence Act.

He further argued that if granted bail, the defendant may not be available to stand trial since some of the offences attract a prison term of five years.

Ikani further urged the court to refuse the application in view of the prevailing circumstances in the country.

In the alternative, he urged to court to attached stringent conditions to his bail.

In the six count charge filed by Aso Larry Peters, the defendant was alleged to have in 2014 did accept gratification of a house worth N550 million only situate at No 2599 and 2600 Cadastral zone AO4 Asokoro District, Abuja from Aso Savings and Loans Bank Plc as reward for performing his official duties and thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 18(b) of the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act 2000 and punishable under the section 18(d) of the same act.

In count two, the defendant was alleged to have on October 24, 2016 in the course of filling his Assets Declaration Form at EFCC did knowingly fail to make full disclosure of his property No. 54, Mike Akhigbe Street, Jabi and thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 27(3)(a) of the EFCC Act 2004 and punishable under section 27(3)(c) of the same act.

In count three, Mohammed was alleged to have on October 24, 2016 in the course of filling his Assets Declaration Form at the EFCC office make a false declaration of his property known and situate at Agwan Sarki, Kaduna, Kaduna State as underdeveloped plot of land whereas it is a fully built house and thereby committed an offence contrary to section 27(3)(b) of the EFCC Act, 2004 and punishable under Section 27(3)(c) of the same Act.

In addition, in count four, Mohammed was alleged to have on October 24, 2016 in the course of filling his Assets Declaration Form before the EFCC did knowingly make a false declaration that a house known and situate at CITEC KWARA 5, A9 Street Mbora, Abuja FCT belonging to Abubakar Abdu Mohammed as his own asset and thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 27(3)(b) of the EFCC Act 2004 and punishable under Section 27(3)(c) of the same Act.

In count five, Mohammed was alleged to have on October 24, 2016 made a false statement to Detective Ishaya Dauda investigating officer with Economic Governance section of the EFCC Abuja to wit: that you acquired house situate at No. 2599 and 2600 Cadastral Zone AO4 Asokoro District, Abuja through mortgage facility from Aso Savings and Loan Bank, Plc and thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 39(2)(a) of the EFCC Act 2004 and punishable under Section 39(2)(b) of the same Act.

In count six, Mohammed was alleged to have while being the minister of the FCT and Chairman, Board of Directors of Aso Savings and Loans Bank, plc use his office and position to confer corrupt and undue advantage upon his Associates by allocating four numbers fully detached duplexes and 11 numbers semi-detached duplexes valued at N314 million only through the Presidential Task force on sale of Government Houses to them and thereby committed an offence punishable under Section 19 of the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission Act 2000.

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Kenya Sends 400 Officers to Haiti to Help Quell Gang Turmoil, Says Ruto




Kenyan President William Ruto has announced the deployment of 400 police officers to Haiti, marking a significant step in international efforts to combat the escalating gang violence in the Caribbean nation.

The officers were sent off from the National Police College in Nairobi, where Ruto expressed his confidence in their mission to restore peace and stability in Haiti.

In a statement released on Monday, the Kenyan presidency detailed the mission, emphasizing its importance in the history of global solidarity.

“This mission is one of the most urgent, important, and historic in the history of global solidarity,” Ruto said. “It is a mission to affirm the universal values of the community of nations, a mission to take a stand for humanity.”

The deployment is part of a broader international effort supported by the United Nations Security Council to assist Haiti’s beleaguered security forces.

Haiti has been grappling with severe gang violence, particularly in the capital, Port-au-Prince, and across large parts of the countryside.

The gangs have paralyzed the local economy through kidnappings, extortion, and turf wars.

The United States has also shown support for the deployment, viewing it as a crucial reinforcement for Haiti’s security forces.

The U.S. hopes that the additional personnel will help restore stability without overshadowing existing police efforts.

Initially delayed by a Kenyan court decision, the deployment has now gained momentum. Ruto assured that the government remains committed to the welfare of the deployed officers, announcing an increase in police salaries and improved welfare measures starting next month.

“This is a pivotal moment for our police force, and I have full confidence in their ability to make a significant impact in Haiti,” Ruto stated. “Their dedication and professionalism will shine through in this critical mission.”

The deployment comes at a time of domestic unrest in Kenya, where police recently clashed with protesters opposing President Ruto’s proposed Finance Bill 2024.

The bill aims to raise $2.4 billion through new taxes on various goods, including sanitary pads and bread, sparking widespread opposition.

Despite the domestic challenges, Ruto emphasized the importance of the international mission. “Our commitment to global peace and security remains unwavering, even as we address pressing issues at home,” he said.

The Kenyan officers’ mission in Haiti is expected to provide much-needed support in restoring law and order, reflecting Kenya’s commitment to international peacekeeping and humanitarian efforts.

As they embark on this historic journey, the eyes of the world will be on them, hoping for a swift and lasting peace in Haiti.

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Russia and North Korea Revive Military Pact, Heightening Tensions with US



Russian President Vladimir Putin and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un have revived a Cold War-era military pact.

The agreement, signed on Wednesday during Putin’s first visit to North Korea in 24 years, commits the two nations to provide immediate military assistance to each other if either is attacked.

This development is likely to exacerbate tensions with the United States and its allies.

The Comprehensive Strategic Partnership Treaty, as the pact is officially named, represents the most powerful treaty signed between the two countries, according to Kim.

“This treaty elevates our ties to an alliance,” he declared during the signing ceremony. The deal stipulates that if either nation is invaded by an armed force, the other will provide military and other assistance “with all the means at its disposal,” in line with Article 51 of the United Nations Charter and the laws of both nations.

Putin’s visit to Pyongyang and the signing of the pact come on the heels of Kim’s trip to Russia in September, an event that has already resulted in a notable increase in arms transfers between the two countries, as confirmed by satellite imagery.

Despite the mounting evidence, both Moscow and Pyongyang have denied any such exchanges.

The renewed military alliance marks a significant escalation in the strategic partnership between Russia and North Korea, which had been relatively dormant since the end of the Cold War.

Analysts suggest that this move is a clear message of defiance to Western powers, particularly the United States, which has been involved in ongoing disputes with both nations over various geopolitical issues.

“The Comprehensive Strategic Partnership Treaty is for defensive purposes,” Kim stated, but experts warn that the alliance increases the risks for the US and its partners in responding to provocations from Moscow and Pyongyang. The treaty not only includes mutual defense commitments but also outlines plans to enhance cooperation in trade and investment, further solidifying the bilateral relationship.

Russian officials emphasized that the pact is a natural progression of the countries’ shared interests.

“This treaty is a testament to the deepening strategic and military cooperation between Russia and North Korea,” said Sergey Lavrov, Russia’s Foreign Minister. “It is essential for maintaining regional stability and countering external threats.”

The US and its allies have expressed grave concerns over the implications of this agreement. “This treaty significantly alters the security landscape in East Asia,” stated a senior US State Department official. “It underscores the need for vigilance and reinforces the importance of our alliances in the region.”

Military analysts are closely watching the developments, noting that the alliance could embolden both nations to take more aggressive stances on the international stage.

“With this treaty, North Korea gains a powerful ally, while Russia secures a foothold in East Asia,” said Alexander Gabuev, a senior fellow at the Carnegie Moscow Center. “It is a strategic maneuver that complicates the geopolitical calculus for the US and its partners.”

The reactivation of the military pact also comes at a time when Russia is deeply involved in the conflict in Ukraine, where it faces significant opposition from Western nations.

North Korea’s unreserved support for Putin’s actions in Ukraine, as articulated by Kim, further aligns the two nations against common adversaries.

As the international community grapples with the potential ramifications of this treaty, it is clear that the renewed alliance between Russia and North Korea represents a formidable challenge to the current global order.

The coming months will likely see increased diplomatic activity as nations reassess their strategies in light of this development.

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Cyril Ramaphosa Begins New Term Under Coalition Government



Cyril Ramaphosa

Cyril Ramaphosa was sworn in for another term as South Africa’s president on Wednesday, the beginning of a new era under a coalition government.

The ceremony held at the Nelson Mandela Amphitheater in the Union Buildings saw Ramaphosa take the oath of office before Chief Justice Raymond Zondo.

The event was attended by prominent dignitaries, including Nigerian President Bola Tinubu, Democratic Republic of Congo leader Felix Tshisekedi, and Zimbabwe’s Emmerson Mnangagwa, and was marked by a 21-gun salute and an air force flyover.

Ramaphosa’s reappointment comes three weeks after elections saw his party, the African National Congress (ANC), lose its parliamentary majority for the first time since the end of apartheid.

The ANC secured just over 40% of the vote on May 29, with millions of former supporters either backing a splinter party led by ex-leader Jacob Zuma or abstaining due to dissatisfaction over high levels of poverty, unemployment, and crime.

In his inauguration address, Ramaphosa emphasized the resilience of South African democracy and the need for unity.

“The resilience of our democracy has once more been tested, and the people have spoken loudly that they choose peace and democracy over conflict,” he said. “The voters of South Africa did not give any single political party the full mandate to govern our country alone. They have directed us to work together to address their plight and realize their aspirations.”

The ANC’s unprecedented electoral outcome necessitated a power-sharing agreement with long-time rivals. The main opposition Democratic Alliance (DA) and four other parties have agreed to join a government of national unity, supporting Ramaphosa’s leadership in exchange for cabinet and parliamentary positions.

This coalition is expected to prioritize economic growth, investment attraction, structural reforms, and sustainable management of state finances.

The rand strengthened to a level stronger than 18 per dollar for the first time in over ten months, and Johannesburg’s benchmark equity index reached a record high on Wednesday.

Market optimism is driven by the inclusion of business-friendly parties in the government, anticipated to bolster Ramaphosa’s reform agenda aimed at addressing power shortages, logistical challenges, and other economic impediments.

Despite criticism in his previous term for his consultative approach, which opponents labeled as indecisive, Ramaphosa reaffirmed his commitment to inclusive governance.

“Those who would like a president that is dictatorial, who is adventurous, who is reckless, will not find that in me,” he stated last month. “In me they will find a president who wants to consult. All these processes have often been seen as, ‘he is weak, he is not decisive.’ I am decisive, but I want to take people along with.”

The new coalition government faces significant challenges, including negotiating policy differences and accommodating politically powerful figures within the ANC and its partners.

The DA has already expressed concerns over the ANC’s uncosted national health insurance plan and its foreign policy stance.

Susan Booysen, director of research at the Mapungubwe Institute for Strategic Reflection, noted the complexities ahead. “South Africa is really moving into this with minimal on-the-ground preparation and justification,” she said. “The devil is going to be in the exact detail. Once cabinet is announced, some basic agreement will have to be reached on policy positions and on what the red-line issues will be.”

As Ramaphosa begins his new term, the nation watches closely, hopeful that this coalition government can navigate the intricate landscape of South African politics and bring about the much-needed reforms and stability.

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