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Bribery Allegation: Zuma Trial Resumes at Pietermaritzburg High Court

former South Africa’s President, Jacob Zuma has arrived in court for the expected start of a trial in a 20-year-old bribery allegation case.

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The former South Africa’s President, Jacob Zuma has arrived in court for the expected start of a trial in a 20-year-old bribery case.

The 79-year-old Zuma, who was at the time serving as deputy president to Thabo Mbeki, is accused of accepting bribes amounting to four million rand from one of the firms, French defence giant Thales.

Over the years, the case has been postponed numerous times as Zuma lodged a string of motions to have the charges dropped.

In the latest snag last month, all of Zuma’s lawyers quit, without giving a reason.

Zuma is facing 16 charges of fraud, graft and racketeering relating to a 1999 purchase of fighter jets, patrol boats and military gear from five European arms firms for 30 billion rand — equal to almost $5.0 billion at the time.

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It is unclear whether at Monday’s hearing Zuma will ask for a new postponement to reorganise his defence, or whether he chooses to represent himself during the proceedings, which he has called a political witch hunt.

Dozens of people, including senior ruling ANC officials like the recently suspended party secretary general Ace Magashule, rallied in show of support for the embattled former head of state at the Pietermaritzburg High Court.

I am here to support president Zuma,” Magashule told AFP, dismissing the trial as “so political”.

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A crowd of supporters dressed in yellow party T-shirts and waving ANC flags, chanted outside the court house.

“We should allow president Zuma, with grace and dignity, to rest at home,” an ANC lawmaker and former North West provincial premier Supra Mahumapelo said.

He said Zuma has “consistently maintained no one is above the law. He has always submitted himself to the law. But at his advanced age, he should be allowed to go into obscurity and we to move forward as a society”.

In power between 2009 and 2018, Zuma was forced to resign by the African National Congress after a mounting series of scandals.

His successor Cyril Ramaphosa has vowed to root out corruption.

Top Court News is a product of a dedicated Journalist, owner of I-Wahab Media The Publisher started his Journalism career with Murhi International TV, MiTV in 2003 before working with Radio Nigeria, Lagos Operation, as a Judicial Correspondent. He is presently the Vice Chairman of the National Association of Judicial Correspondent, NAJUC, Ikeja Branch and occupied same office with Nigeria Union of Journalist, NUJ, Radio Nigeria Chapel. topcourtnewsng.com is out to serve you with informative and educative News in the Judiciary sector. To put an end to the under reported activities of the sector among the three arms of government

CRIME

N25.7 Billion Bank Fraud: Court Convicts Francis Atuche

N25.7 Billion Bank Fraud, Court Convicts former Managing Director of Bank PHB, now Keystone Bank, Francis Atuche and his former Chief Financial Officer, Ugo Anyanwu

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A Lagos State High Court sitting in Ikeja has sentence the former Managing Director of Bank PHB, now Keystone Bank, Francis Atuche to six years imprisonment over N25.7 billion fraud charges.

Delivering judgement after 13hours long analysis of the each count charge, Justice Lateefa Okunnu found Atuche and his former Chief Financial Officer, Ugo Anyanwu guilty as charge.

She sentence Anyanwu to four years imprisonment on each count charge consecutively.

They were convicted for 21 out 27 counts charges.

The judge however discharged and acquitted Atuche’s wife noting that the prosecution failed to prove conspiracy allegations levelled against her in the charges.

The judge noted that Atuche abused his position of trust by stealing from the bank.

“By stealing from the bank, they stole from innocent customers.

“I hereby make an Order of restitution against the first and third defendants to refund the sums stated in counts one to 11, 14 and 24.

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“The sums are to paid to the relevant agencies that recovered funds on behalf of the bank.

Justine Okunnu said Atuche and Anyanwu were able to defraud Bank PHB of billions of Naira using well recognised stock brokers to transfer money belonging to the bank under the guise of loans and shares.

“It was a well planned, well executed scheme but the bubble burst when the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) intervened” she noted.

The judge also noted that a large volume of documentary evidence was produced by parties in the case.

She said documents such as bank records, emails and the statements of key actors in the case played a key role in securing the conviction of the defendants.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) had in 2011 arraigned Atuche, his wife and the then financial officer of the moribund bank PHB Plc (now Keystone Bank), Mr. Ugo Anyanwu, over the alleged fraud.

The commission in the charge sheet which was read to the former bank executives alleged that they committed the offence between November 2007 and September 2008.

Read Also: Baba Ijesha Saga: Lagos Reiterate Zero Tolerance To Child Molestation

EFCC alleged that the accused persons sold 241, 579, 284 units of Afribank shares, a joint property of Caverton Helicopters Ltd, and Bank PHB Plc and converted the proceeds for their personal use.

The three accused persons were alleged to have fraudulently converted some of the stolen money into loans to Congipar Nig. Ltd and using same for their personal use.

The EFCC claims the alleged offences contravene Sections 516 and 383 of the Criminal Code Law, CAP C17, Laws of Lagos State, 2003. .

In the charge against Atuche’s wife Elizabeth, she was alleged to have stolen N8.5 billion belonging to the bank between November, 2007 and April, 2008.

The EFCC alleged that Mrs Atuche fraudulently converted the proceeds of several loans for the acquisition of 337,500,000 and 168,750,000 units of Bank PHB shares on behalf of Ghazali Yakubu Investment Limited and AFCO Associates Limited.

The alleged offences contravene Sections 519 and 383 of the Criminal Code Law, CAP C17, Laws of Lagos State 2003.

The accused persons pleaded not guilty to all the charges.

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After about three years into the trial, Atuche and co-defendants approached Court of Appeal to challenge their trial by the lower court for lack of jurisdiction.

In a judgement delivered in September 2016, the Appellate Court stopped the lower court from going ahead with the trial.

The appellate court also failed to quash the charges against Atuche, his wife and others but ordered Justice Okunnu to hands off the trial.

The appellate court further directed the Chief Judge of Lagos State to re-assign the case to another judge.

Following the decision of the court of appeal, the EFCC approached the Supreme Court to set aside the decision of the lower court and order trial in the matter.

In an unanimous decision, the apex court overturned the decision of the appellate court.

The panel agreed that the lower court’s decisions on the matter was “perverse” and, therefore ought to be set aside.

Justice Ejembi Eko, who prepared and read the lead judgment of the apex court, said the order which the Court of Appeal made on September 23, 2016, for the remittance of case to the Lagos State Chief Judge for the purpose of re-assigning the case to another judge, was not aimed at serving the interest of justice.

 

 

 

 

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Sexual Assault: Magistrate Denies Baba Ijesha Bail for Lack of Jurisdiction

Sexual Assault: Magistrate Denies Baba Ijesha Bail for Lack of Jurisdiction to hear a similar matter pending at the state High Court

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The Police have arraigned embattled Nollywood actor, Olanrewaju Omiyinka, popularly known as Baba Ijesha, before a Lagos State Chief Magistrate Court in Yaba over the sexual assault case against him.

Baba Ijesha has been under media trial since April 22, 2021, when the Lagos State Police Command announced his arrest for allegedly sexually assaulting a 14-year-old girl in the care of popular comedienne, Adekola Adekanya, otherwise called Princess.

The Police were unable to institute charges against him in court due to the industrial action embarked on by the Judicial Staff Union of Nigeria, JUSUN.

As the judicial workers called off their strike last week and resumes activities yesterday, Baba Ijesha was brought to court today for the hearing of the case.

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Baba Ijesha who pleaded not guilty to the charges was however denied bail due to lack of jurisdiction because the state government through Department of Public Prosecutions, DPP, had filed same case at the High court.

He was charged with indecent treatment of a child, defilement of a child, sexual assault by penetration, attempted sexual assault by penetration and sexual assault – which contravenes Sections 135, 137, 261, 202, 262 and 263 of the Lagos State Criminal Law 2015.

The Prosecutor S. A Adebesin informed the court that an information had been filed before the High Court.

Responding Baba Ijesha lawyer, Kayode Olabiran made a fresh application for bail of the Mr. Olanrewaju.

In a short ruling, the Magistrate noted that Baba Ijesha will remain in detention till he would be tried at the High Court.

Magistrate Nwaka directed that full medical attention should be accorded to the actor who had complained about his state of health when dock.

Also Read: Bank Boss, Atuche, Knows Faith Today Over N25.7 Billion Fraud

The matter was thereafter adjourned till July 21 for further directives.

Baba Ijesha colleagues like Yomi Fabiyi and other supporters as well as family members were seeing in court in solidarity with him

Fabiyi, while speaking with reporters, said, “I am in court because I believe in the rule of law and I have right to come to the court and observe the case.

“The young man is my colleague; I cannot deny him at this stage, I am too refined for that.

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Panel Orders Pathologist To Produce List of Corpses During EndSARs

A Lagos State Judicial Panel probing police brutality orders Chief Pathologist, Dr John Obafunwa, to produce record of 99 corpses that the hospital received from different parts of the state and on which it did autopsies during and after the #EndSARS protest

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A Lagos State Judicial Panel probing police brutality has ordered Chief Pathologist of the State University Teaching Hospital, LUTH, Dr John Obafunwa, to produce record of 99 corpses that the hospital received from different parts of the state and on which it did autopsies during and after the #EndSARS protest.

Chairman of the panel, Justice Doris Okuwobi gave the order following the request of a petitioner counsel, Olumide Fusika who faulted the testimony of the Chief Pathologist, Dr. Obafunwa.

In his testimony, Dr. Obafunwa, a Professor of Medicine, anatomic and forensic pathologist as well as Head of Department, Morbid Anatomy at the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital College of Medicine (LASUTHCOM), had told the Panel that 99 corpses were recorded between October 19 and 24, 2020.

Obafunwa’s testimony followed his invitation by the panel chairman, Justice Doris Okuwobi (rtd) to assist the panel in its investigation of the Lekki Tollgate incident.

He noted that it received three corpses said to be from the Lekki Tollgate incident of October 20, 2020.

Obafunwa told the panel that the trio was part of the 99 corpses that the hospital received from different parts of Lagos and on which it did autopsies during and after the #EndSARS protest.

Read Also: Police Dismisses Sergeant Aiwansoba Over Misuse of Arms

No fewer than 14 petitioners have accused the Nigerian Army and Policemen of shooting several protesters dead and injuring several others during the #EndSARS protests against police brutality.

The army, which entered a defence denying the allegation, failed to honour subsequent summons requiring it to respond to further questions by petitioners.

Dr. Obafunwa while being cross-examined by some of the #EndSARS protesters’ counsel, Mr Adeyinka Olumide-Fusika, SAN.

He presented the autopsy reports and pictures of three bodies from Lekki to the panel, showing different degrees of injuries.

“Those are the three bodies I was told were from Lekki as recorded by the people who brought them in,” he said.

But Fusika disputed the testimony, arguing that the number of dead protesters from Lekki was higher.

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He said: “I want to prove to this panel that the claim that only three dead bodies were brought in from Lekki is not true.”

Fusika requested that the Chief Coroner be ordered to produce records of the 99 cases to the panel, including autopsy reports.

“Since he was told that only those three are from Lekki, he might have been told the wrong thing,” Fusika added.

But Obafunwa explained that the bodies were deposited by the Lagos State Environmental Health Monitoring Unit (SEHMU), an agency in charge of recovering dead bodies.

Also Read: EndSARs Panel Issues Subpoena on Reddington Hospitals For Victims Medical Records

“I don’t go about scavenging for dead bodies. It is when they are brought in that we are told and it is recorded where they were taken from,” he added.

The Chief Pathologist said according to their records, the bodies were recovered from different parts of Lagos including Ikorodu, Lagos Mainland, Yaba, Mushin and others.

Granting his request, Justice Okuwobi ruled that the chief pathologist should produce the records at the next adjourned date.

However, she said autopsy reports would not be required as that would expand the work of the panel beyond the terms of reference.

The matter was adjourned till June 19.

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