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Ogun Governor’s Aide, Abidemi Rufai Bail Halt Pending Appeal

A Federal Magistrate Judge, Ramon Reyes has halt the release of suspended aide of Ogun State Governor Abidemi Rufai, $300,000 bail bond pending federal prosecutors appeal over the bail verdict.

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Abidemi Rufai and Governor Dapo Abiodun

A Federal judge in New York city has granted the suspended aide of Ogun State Governor Dapo Abiodun, Abidemi Rufai, $300,000 bail bond pending his trial for unemployment fraud.

However, a Federal Magistrate Judge Ramon Reyes delayed his release to let federal prosecutors appeal the bail verdict.

He was initially denied bail after his brother, a New York attorney, declined to post a $300,000 surety bond.

Rufai, was arrested on May 14 as he tried to travel from New York to Nigeria.

He is accused of using stolen identities to take more than $350,000 in jobless benefits from the Washington State Employment Security Department last year.

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Prosecutors had argued that Rufai was an extreme flight risk, but Reyes ruled that a New York state resident and family friend of Rufai could post the bond and serve as Rufai´s custodian until his trial in Tacoma.

Nekpen Soyemi, a registered nurse whose family comes from the same region of Nigeria as Rufai, told Reyes she would guarantee a $300,000 bond and allow Rufai to stay at her home pending trial.

Rufai also would be restricted in travel in New York City and Western Washington and would be monitored with electronic surveillance.

On Thursday, federal prosecutors in Seattle sent a letter to Reyes raising questions, including one about money allegedly deposited into a bank account in Soyemi´s name.

Soyemi told the judge that her father had opened the account for her when she was in college. Soyemi said she had no knowledge of the transaction referred to by prosecutors.

Also Read: Court Grant Okorocha’s Aides N5m Bond Bail

Reyes delayed Rufai´s release until Tuesday. He also noted that Rufai would need to address an immigration detainer issued against him Sunday by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

Under that detainer, Rufai could be picked up by Immigration and Customs enforcement officers after his release and potentially held for deportation.

Michael Barrows, Rufai´s attorney, said the conditions of his bail “were appropriate to secure his future attendance in court.”

Federal prosecutors said they were preparing their appeal.

Source: London Daily Mail.

 

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.

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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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CRIME

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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CRIME

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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