Mon. Aug 15th, 2022

Day: June 22, 2022

When I read the letter recently written by 14 justices of Nigeria’s Supreme Court, my mind raced to contemplate how the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), might feel about it. I imagine him beaming with pride and thanking his stars for the final confirmation of his belief that the Nigerian judiciary is corrupt and

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The attempt to settle out of court, the allegation of fraud between Chief Cletus Ibeto of Ibeto Energy Development Company Limited; the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and Dozzy Oil & Gas Limited has hit the rocks.
At the resumed hearing on Tuesday of the case at the Port Harcourt High Court, presided over by Justice Boma Diepiri, the counsel for Chief Cletus Ibeto and Dozzy Oil & Gas Limited, Henry Bello and Okey Obikeze informed the court that settlement could not be reached between the parties.

The matter was subsequently adjourned to July 11, 2022, for a further report on the settlement.
Recall that Dozzy Oil & Gas Limited had through its solicitors, Messrs Anthony Stephens & Associates, written a petition on a case of obtaining by false pretence, fraudulent conversion of property, criminal breach of trust, forgery and deception against Chief Cletus Ibeto and his group of companies, Ibeto Energy Development Company Limited and Odoh Holdings Limited.
Dozzy, had in the petition to the EFCC alleged that Chief Cletus Ibeto, a close friend of the executive chairman on the basis of which it dealt on trust with him, offered to sell his company’s property situated at NITECO Shipyard Area, Reclamation II Layout, Port Harcourt, Rivers State to Dozzy and had collected an advance deposit of N4,800,000,000 from the company.

He said this was done before the company carried out due diligence searches at the Lands Registry office in Port Harcourt, wherein it discovered that the portion of land which Chief Ibeto sought to sell to it did not belong to him or his companies, but to Nigeria Technical Company Limited (NITECO).
The company, in its petition, stated that while Ibeto had by a Deed of Sub-lease registered as No. 48/48/280 in the Lands Registry office in Port Harcourt been granted a sub-lease of 7.8 acres of land by Odoh Holdings Limited, which had an earlier grant from Nigeria Shipbuilders Limited, a subsidiary of NITECO, he offered 20 hectares of land to Dozzy when it can only lay legitimate claim to 7.8 acres even at that; the said 7.8 acres of land was not part of the portion Chief Ibeto sought to sell to it.
The company further alleged that the copy of Ibeto’s title deeds that it gave to it was different from the counterpart copy in the Port Harcourt Lands Registry when it carried out its searches.
The company equally alleged that the Rivers State Government ground rent receipts given to it by Chief Ibeto as further evidence of its title to the land, purportedly issued by the Rivers State Inland Revenue Service, was forged, a claim corroborated by the EFCC in its counter-affidavit deposed to by Mohammed Bala, one of the investigating officers in EFCC’s opposition to the fundamental rights enforcement suit.
EFCC had in the counter affidavit stated that its investigation which extended to the Rivers State Inland Revenue Service raised a strong case of forgery against Chief Cletus Ibeto as the River State Inland Revenue Service denied authorship of the revenue collectors receipt given to Dozzy by Chief Cletus Ibeto.
After several failed appointments, Ibeto honoured EFCC’s invitations on January 27, 2022, and after making his written statement to the EFCC had his appointment rescheduled to enable him to produce his title documents to the subject property, which he claimed to own.
However, the accused person approached the Port Harcourt High Court to file the present suit for the enforcement of his fundamental rights and injunction to restrain the EFCC from investigating the allegations of fraud made against him.
The defence counsel, Henry Bello, had at the last hearing requested for adjournment of the suit to enable the parties to explore the settlement which has failed.

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Former Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, has said people in the South-East will not vote for Peter Obi, presidential candidate of the Labour Party, despite calls for Igbo presidency.

Obi had dumped the Peoples Democratic Party three days before its presidential primaries, for the Labour Party, claiming that there was a 'variance' with his personality and principles.

Reacting in a video trending on social media, Ekweremadu said though Obi is from the South-East region, the people from the geopolitical zone will not vote for him (Obi).

He noted that voting Obi in the coming presidential election is more like throwing away votes considering the political party the latter is now affiliated with.

Ekweremadu said the South-East will rather vote for Atiku and support the PDP because its vice-presidential candidate, Ifeanyi Okowa is from the region.

Okowa is the governor of Delta State, which is in the South-South geopolitical. However, defending his Igbo lineage recently, Okowa described himself as an Igbo man from Delta. He said Igbo people from Delta State in the South-South have an “affinity with other Igbos in the South-East”.

But Ekweremadu noted that people in the region need not cast votes based on sentiments, adding that Obi may be qualified, but the future of the people lies with the PDP.

He said, “I assure you that South-East will vote for the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). I can guarantee that. No doubt Peter Obi is our son, but you need to be dynamic.

“You need to ask yourself, can Peter win the presidential election? Can the East afford to throw away their votes? “Can we afford to be sentimental in matters that concern our people, our children, and our future? No.

“We do not intend to do a thing which we will regret in future. So, while we believe that Peter is ably qualified, we believe that the future of our people lies with PDP.

“So we need to make that decision as the leaders. I am going to sit with our people and explain to them.

“Okowa, of course, is one of us, so there is no difference between Okowa and Peter in terms of protecting the interest of the South. So, we will go and give the people of the South-East that opportunity.”

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Armed Fulani men in police uniforms have reportedly invaded the Catholic pilgrims centre at Ibite Awhum community, in the Udi Local Government Area of Enugu State and kidnapped six worshippers

However, the kidnap victims later regained their freedom.

The abduction took place on Sunday, near Awhum monastery in the town, according to Daily Post report.

It reported that the kidnappers swooped on the pilgrims in broad daylight while they were praying at a popular hill near the Monastery and took them deep into the forest.

Meanwhile, information on Wednesday from the community suggested that the victims had been all rescued following the efforts made by forest guards from both the Udi and Enugu East local government councils to rescue them.

An eyewitness who managed to evade the abductors said the assailants were Fulani men in police uniforms.

The eyewitness identified as Clementina Ofor said she was at the pilgrims centre to pray when the incident occurred. "Immediately, they left with six prayer partners, I ran to the village and raised an alarm which drew the attention of villagers to the incident.

"Immediately, security agents were mobilised and they went after them in the forest," she said.

A source said the forest guards in the area pursued the kidnappers and contacted their counterparts at Ogbeke Nike, Enugu East Local Government, who also mobilised to provide reinforcement.

 It was learnt that the kidnappers were said to have fled, leaving the captives alone in their camp where they were found by the guards, along with a victim from another incident.

Narrating their ordeal, the victims, who were evacuated to the Monastery, said they were praying on a hill when suddenly, they were surrounded by about seven individuals in police uniforms but believed to be of Fulani extraction.

They said the bandits took all their phones and ordered them into the forest.

They said that after trekking a long distance, they got to the bandits’ camp deep in the forest, where other bandits numbering about ten were waiting for them.

They also met another kidnap victim there.

According to the victim, for reasons they did not know then, the kidnappers suddenly became panicky and subsequently ran into the forest, leaving them alone and confused before the forest guards appeared.

Meanwhile, the state police command has yet to issue a statement on the incident.

Efforts made by SaharaReporters to speak with the command's spokesman, Daniel Ndukwe, on the incident were unsuccessful as he did not answer calls to his mobile line. 

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A Nigerian scholar in Cuba, Kabir Sagir, has cried out bitterly that he is presently stranded after completing his scholarship programme in 2020 as the Nigerian Federal Scholarship Board has failed to pay his stipend.

Cuba is a country in the West Indies and one of the more influential states in the Caribbean region.

Narrating his ordeal to SaharaReporters, Sagir said he received a scholarship to study Medicine at the Latin American School of Medicine, Havana, Cuba and graduated in 2020 but he has not been able to translate his documents and buy his return ticket due to his unpaid stipend.

He said he had called and written to the director of the federal scholarship, Mrs. Ndajiwo H. Asta several times but he was told that the board had forwarded his stipend to the Central Bank of Bank (CBN) for remittance.

Asta also reportedly said she did not know what happened and could not do anything about it.

However, when he contacted the CBN, he was told the bank had not received the money from the board and that if it had received the money but experienced difficulties in remitting it to him, the bank would have returned it to the Federal Ministry of Education.

Sagir, who lamented that he is dying in Cuba, said, “I am Kabir Sagir presently in Cuba. I was awarded a scholarship to study medicine at the Latin American School of Medicine, Havana, Cuba, having succeeded in the tests and exams under the Federal Scholarship Board, Abuja.

“I graduated from the medical school in 2020 but I’m still stranded here. The Federal Scholarship Board refused to send my stipend to enable me to translate my documents and buy a return ticket.

“I have called the Director of the Federal Scholarship Board, Abuja several times, she said that they have forwarded my stipend to CBN for remittances; that they don't know what happened; they can't do anything about it.

“I also called the person in charge of remittances of stipends in the Federal Ministry of Education and according to him, they have sent everything to the CBN. I recently contacted CBN and the person I spoke with in the CBN said that it is not true, that if there is any difficulty in sending the stipend, it should be returned to the Federal Ministry of Education immediately.

“I am dying here in Cuba. I just want to come back home and work for my people. I am a good doctor, who graduated with honours. My GP is 4.”

When SaharaReporters contacted the Director of the Federal Scholarship Board, Mrs Ndajiwo Asta, for clarifications on Sagir’s complaint, she said the Federal Ministry of Education was in a better position to speak on the matter.

“Kindly note that the FSB is a Department in the Federal Ministry of Education. Kindly send your enquiry addressed to the honourable minister who will direct the relevant department to respond according to the civil service rules. Thank you,” she said.

However, responding to an email SaharaReporters also sent to the Federal Scholarship Board on the same issue, the Board provided a letter dated March 14, 2022, sent to Sagir through the Embassy of Nigeria in Cuba, clarifying that the Board paid his stipends up to September 2020.

The letter with the caption, ‘RE: Complaint of non-receiving monthly stipend a Nigerian scholar’ and signed by the Director of the Board, Mrs. Ndajiwo Asta H, reads, “I wish to acknowledge the receipt of your mail dated 31st December, 2021 with Ref.NEMCU/P/V on the above subject and to inform you that Federal Scholarship Board has paid his stipends up to September 2020 and he has graduated.

“Sequel to the above, the Embassy is advised to contact the Finance Attachee for mandate of the payments for more clarification.

“While thanking you for your usual cooperation, please accept my highest regards.”  

SaharaReporters then contacted the Director of Press and Public Relations in the Federal Ministry of Education, Abuja, Ben Bem Goong, for clarifications on the issue but for three days, the mobile phone line did not connect.

A text message was sent to the same phone number but at the time of filing this report, the Director of Press had not replied to the message.

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Gunmen suspected to be bandits on Tuesday night struck at the Millennium City, Kaduna where they kidnapped the wife of a military officer and six others at the Keke ‘A’ and Keke B communities.

According to Vanguard, people in the affected area said that the hoodlums attacked the communities at about 11 pm.

“The bandits operated for about an hour before security operatives came. They went away with three persons at Keke ‘A’. They targeted a big house in the area,” a resident was quoted as saying.

“The bandits came around 11 pm. I think their main target was a house at Keke A. The house belongs to a military officer. But at the time of the attack, the officer was not at home. So, the kidnappers broke into the house and picked (up) his wife.

“They also kidnapped another man who is the immediate neighbour of the military officer. In fact, the neighbour was picked (up) alongside his 8-year-old daughter, but they eventually dropped the daughter when her mother was shouting at the top of her voice.

“I think it was at the point they started shooting sporadically to scare away people who might think of coming to their aid. While all that was happening, another man who was just returning home in his car ran into the kidnappers. He was the third person that was taken away.

“Other people who were still outside including neighborhood shop operators escaped the bandits, as they had to run to safety. As at this morning, we saw many shoes on the ground and we became scared that those must be the shoes of the people kidnapped. But, one of the people who escaped the attack told us the shoes belonged to those who ran away.”

At Keke ‘B’, another resident said, “A man, his wife and their two house girls (home helps) were kidnapped by the bandits. I was so terrified. I just got out of the bathroom abruptly and switched off all the lights inside my house. The gunshots were so close, it was like the bandits were inside my compound. I later discovered that one man, his wife and their two house girls (home helps) were kidnapped.”

In a related development, five people were reportedly kidnapped on Monday from Gwando village in the Kajuru Local Government Area of the state.

“Gwando village is not far from Roboh village where worshippers were abducted on Sunday around 7 am after killing three people,” a source said.

“Gwando is also before Dogon noma and Maikori villages where 32 people were killed on June 5, allegedly with the aid of a helicopter, though the state government denied it on 9th June – four days after the villages were attacked.

According to the state government, the helicopter was there to repel the bandits.

“What is happening around these rural communities is that armed kidnappers are ‘harvesting’ human beings. They followed them into their communities or farms and kidnapped those they can and kill those who resist. Then they asked for ransoms in figures their victims had never seen,” the source said. 

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The President of the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN), Festus Osifo has explained the reasons behind the recent fuel scarcity experienced across Nigeria.

Osifo, during an interview on Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily on Wednesday, identified the issue of ‘bridging funds’ between the Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority (NMDPRA) and truck drivers who deliver the Premium Motor Spirits (PMS) as central to the problem.

He said: “The NMDPRA are the ones administering a bridging fund. At a particular time, they agreed with truck drivers that the bridging fund is going to be about N10 per litre depending on the destination you’re going to all over the country.

“As at when they agreed, the cost of diesel was about N250 so it was fashionable and the N10 was a bit okay but today, the cost of diesel is over N700. It has tripled. So, the expectation from the tanker drivers is that since the cost has gone up, instead of paying me N10.40 as the case may be, you have to multiply it by three.

“At the end of the day, that is the first problem.”

According to Osifo, there are at least two billion litres of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS), also known as petrol, available contrary to the belief that the product is scarce.

“As at today, we have close to 2 billion litres of PMS, so the problem is not the stock,” he said.

He explained that while the stock is available, most of the truck drivers are not willing to move these products “because of the previous problem I just enumerated”.

“One of the issues again is that today, NNPC is the sole importer of PMS, so they import PMS into the country, and this PMS is brought to the high sea. So they rent some smaller vessels to bunker the PMS and take it to the various tank farms or depots.

“So, if it’s the NNPC depots and you are loading from the NNPC depots, you are going to pay about N148 as the ex-depot price. But some of the PMS are also stored in private depots and those private depots don’t sell to the retailers for N148; they add some premium to it. At the end of the day, they sell between N152, N155, N160 and N162.

“So, if they sell at that amount, it will now be difficult for the retailer to go and sell at the same amount.”

For over one month, between February and March 2022, Nigerians experienced fuel scarcity as a result of the importation of contaminated fuel which was later taken off the market.

So, the current fuel scarcity is the second time Nigerians would experience it this year. 

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Sesugh Akume
Sesugh Akume

A Nigerian human rights activist, Sesugh Akume has accused Justice Augustine Ityonyiman of Makurdi High Court in Benue of being biased in his treatment of a suit filed against him by the Benue State governor, Samuel Ortom.

Ortom had instituted a N150million libel suit (MHC/284/2021) against Akume and the Publisher of Sahara Reporters, Mr. Omoyele Sowore.

Sesugh Akume

The activist in a letter dated March 18 had asked the Chief Judge of Benue, Justice Aondover Kaka’an to reassign the case to a neutral judge.

He accused Justice Ityonyiman of impunity, bias and violation of the code of conduct.

However, three months after, the judge refused to recuse himself from the case and it was not reassigned, Akume said in a statement released on Wednesday.

He said, “The Chief Judge of Benue, the Honourable Mr Justice Aondover Kaka’an, has given the Honourable Mr Justice A. I. Ityonyiman, the bias judge, the authority to continue in the libel suit instituted against me by Benue governor, Samuel Ortom.

“In a letter dated and delivered on 18 March 2022, I applied to the honourable chief judge to kindly reassign the matter (with suit number MHC/284/2021) to a neutral judge.

“My reason was due to a rather unsavory experience with this judge in another case and the outcome, I not only took it up to the appellate court but referred the judicial bias I suffered and other misconduct of the judge in the case to the National Judicial Council (NJC) for interrogation and disciplinary measures on the judge, in a petition dated and submitted on 22 October 2021, a petition still pending before the NJC. A copy of the petition to the NJC was attached.

“In the light of the above circumstances, it was expected that the trial judge, would going by standard practice, quietly recuse himself from this matter involving me.

“I referred his lordship to the Code of Conduct for Judicial Officers of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Rule 12(1)(a) which states: 12.1 A Judicial Officer should disqualify himself in a proceeding in which his impartiality may genuinely and reasonably be questioned, …where: (a) he has a personal bias or prejudice concerning a party.

“I further called his lordship’s attention/memory to the matter of Sesugh Akume v Government of Benue State and 4 Others (MHC/294/2020) dated and filed on 27 August 2020, which being first assigned to the Honourable Justice J. M. Ijohor, and going by Rule and normal convention, recused herself and returned the case file to the chief judge for reassignment.

“I informed him that the judge, in this case, having not done that which ought to have been done, an application was brought before him for recusal, but was vehemently denied and dismissed.

“I respectfully called the honourable Chief Judge’s attention in this letter to the impression created in the mind of the reasonable person of a judge insisting on himself hearing a case where there is a clear conflict of interests; the negative impression it creates of a teleguided judiciary, of a judicial officer taking partial decisions to please certain quarters and/or descending into the seeking to exact personal vendetta; all having the negative potential of bringing the judiciary to disrepute.

“I, therefore, appealed to the honourable Chief Judge, in the interests of justice, to use his good offices to avoid these and reassign this matter to a neutral judge. I assured him that assigning this matter to a neutral and disinterested judge will in no way be prejudicial to the plaintiff nor imperil his case.

“I have received no response from the Chambers of the Chief Judge of Benue. The Honourable Mr Justice Augustine Ityonyiman continues to sit on the case whose next adjourned date is 28 June for the continuation of hearing.”

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The Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities (SSANU) and the Non-Academic Staff Union of Universities and Allied Educational Institutions (NASU) have extended their ongoing strike by another two months.

The Joint Action Committee of the two unions, in a statement dated April 21st, 2022, by the National President, SSANU, Comrade Mohammed H. Ibrahim and General Secretary, NASU, Prince Peter A. Adeyemi respectively, informed members that the strike has been extended by one month.

The statement said it was unfortunate that the government had remained indifferent to the demands of the Joint Action Committee (JAC) of NASU and SSANU.

SSANU and NASU started their agitation with a 14-day warning strike in Nigerian universities on Sunday, March 27, 2022, but that was later extended.

For instance, it was extended by one month in April.

“Deriving from the feedback received from our branches in respect of the resolutions conducted which supported fully the ongoing strike and other actions taken by the leadership of JAC, this is to inform members that the strike has been extended by one month to commence on midnight of Sunday, 24th April 2022, pending when the Federal government would have change of heart and be favourably disposed to our demands as highlighted in our letters dated March 1st, 2022, to the representative of the government, the Hon. Minister of Labour and Employment,” a statement had read.

However, in a statement signed by the National President, SSANU, Mr. Mohammed Ibrahim, and General Secretary, Mr. Peter Adeyemi on Wednesday, the unions informed their members that the strike has been again extended by two months.

The statement partly read, “In view of the fact that government is still a long way from effectively resolving the issues in contention, it is only expedient that we allow the process to be fully concluded before directing the end of the strike. Consequently, you are hereby informed that the strike has been extended by two months, within which we are hoping that all the contentious issues would have been effectively laid to rest. The two-month extension is with effect from Friday, June 24, 2022.’’

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The former Deputy National Publicity Secretary of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), Yekini Nabena, has said that the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) does not hope to secure the votes of Nigerians but to hack the server of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in the 2023 general elections.

According to him, PDP will not be a stumbling block to the APC in 2023.

“PDP is nothing to talk about as far as the 2023 general election is concerned, although we are watching them keenly based on their past records because we already know their plans and what they are banking on are their Dubai connections and Hushpuppy strategies,” he said.

Nabena called on the INEC to protect its server as “The only hope for the PDP is to hack the INEC server, not the votes of Nigerians to win the election”.

“You can see practically that even in the recent governorship election in Ekiti State, PDP lost its usual second place and I doubt if it can regain that second position anymore in the coming 2023 general elections,” Nabena said.

Nabena also mocked supporters of the presidential candidate of the Labour Party and former Governor of Anambra State, Peter Obi, saying that the “so-called Obedient movement” only exists on social media.

The APC former Deputy National Publicity Secretary who spoke with journalists on Wednesday in Abuja, said that the Obedient Movement would cease to exist when Obi loses in the 2023 presidential election.

“I can tell you that the so-called ‘Obidient movement’ only exists on social media and after the coming elections, they will naturally turn to ‘disobidient movement’, and later obituary because the movement will naturally vamoose,” he said.

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